Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Democracy in Action

Ah, the American Dream, getting to vote and choose your leaders.  Wanting to avoid long lines on election day, today I decided to take advantage of the opportunity to vote early.  Not exactly confidence inspiring...

I wandered around the Lincoln Park Library for a good long time before finally finding the small room in which they had the voting machines set up.  The room was overcrowded, but luckily there was an eighty year old Hispanic lady there to point me in the right direction.

She pointed me towards the registration desk, saying "si, si," where I interrupted three more old Hispanic ladies telling a joke.  I smiled, but they somehow knew I didn't speak Spanish.  I filled out a form they tossed at me--name and address--, gave them my driver's license (which incidentally has my name and address on it...guess they wanted to make sure I wasn't up to anything), and waited for 15 minutes.  

In order to get to vote, you had to receive a keycard from the old ladies, and in order to issue you your keycard, they simply had to enter your address and name, and find you on the roll.  Unfortunately, it seemed that none of the four ladies had ever operated a computer before.  When they lucked out and got someone a keycard, the eighty year old would do her Bob Barker impersonation, and say "Step on up."  Every time.  And laugh every time.  Like it was a new joke.  Please never let me get old.  Or Mexican.  Just kidding.  We all get old.  Okay, really, just just kidding all under and I'll stop.

So apparently, my name was unfindable!  
"Aye Chihuahua.  Meeeeeester?" she said looking in my direction.
"Yes?"  
"Are you registered to vote?"
"Yes."
"Aye Chihuahua.  No, I can't find you in the system."
"I know that I am registered."
"Aye Chihuahua.  Well lemme find my supervisor, she can do a trick to find people."

Her supervisor arrived 5 minutes later, performed some of sort advanced trick, like, I dunno, searching by social security number, and there I was!  Hurray, I get to vote.

"Now just lemme know if you need any help with that machine.  It's tricky!"  
"Um, I think I'll be okay."
Jesus Christ!  If these ladies had a clue, I'd be worried about voter fraud.  As it is, I just worry that if an old person shows up to vote they may spend the whole day trying to operate the touch screen.

Anyway, having been deemed to be a real person by the computers and the old ladies, I began my democratic journey.  Page one contained the presidential ballot, and two ballots for congressional elections.  Great, knew who I liked in all three.  Page two: state senators...hmm, heard of one of them, sounds like a plan, state supreme court...well, don't trust people with androgynous names like Pat, so he's out, easy enough.  Page three:  water commissioner....seriously?  Gotta go green party.  City garbage supervisor?  Green party.  Roads commissioner?  Don't care, green party.  State senate again:  shoot me now! But wait, this fucking ballot went on for a grand total of fifteen pages!  I probably had the opportunity to vote for 150 positions.  I think I cared about 4, voted for about 10, randomed 20, and left the rest blank.  Because I skipped so much, it took less than 2 minutes.  But an old person who couldn't operate the machine too well?  And didn't realize that there was nothing interesting to vote for past page 2?  They're fucked!  I'm willing to bet people pass away in front of those machines.  

Also, I can't see a single good reason that you can't vote online.  If you really wanted to commit fraud on the current system, I'm willing to bet you could hack into it.  Fuck, with the room being policed only by the four Mexican ladies, I'm willing to bet I could plug my laptop into the LAN and go nuts.  If only I could hack.

So in summary...I dunno, I guess get your ass out and vote, or if you don't at least don't complain.  I realize my presidential vote couldn't matter less (thanks, Electoral College) but I think I might be the only person who voted for the 12th judge on page 14, so he definitely owes me.  Overall though, it's pretty scary.  I bet at least 10% of people vote for the wrong candidate by mistake.  Statistically that should even out to have no effect, but you know statistics...  

But what will be priceless, though, is when that retarded Luddite McCain accidentally votes for Obama.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bailout

The war and occupation of Iraq has, thus far, cost the American taxpayer $800 billion.  Thus far.  Do we have anything to show for that money?  Not really.  Is oil cheaper?  Nope.  Hmm.  It's like Chris Rock says, If I invade a KFC, you'd better believe that wings are going to be cheap at my house.  

The proposed bill to help financial firms deal with bad mortgage exposures, if passed, may cost the American taxpayer up to $700 billion.  What would we have to show for that money?  Well, a functioning credit market would be nice.  More lending between banks would reduce the burden on the Federal Reserve as lender of last resort.  And, get this: it might well end up making the taxpayer money.  This isn't a black hole that money is going to be poured down.  The Treasury proposes to use the money to purchase bad mortgage debt and derivatives.  If those perform, the taxpayer reaps the benefit.

If you're opposed to the Iraq War, and opposed to the rescue bill, I can understand that.  What I can't understand is the legion of fuckwits in Congress who refuse to support this bill, yet support flushing hundreds of billions into the sewers of Iraq.  If you have one red cent invested in a 401(k), IRA, pension plan, 529, house, gun, dog, truck, really anything that isn't FDIC guaranteed, there is no logical explanation for not supporting this bill.  

There are few things I dislike more than government spending.  Stupidity and ill-reasoned dogmatics though, are a few of those things.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

ARGH!

I've been taking some time off to help manage the financial crisis, just like John McCain. 

 "Honey," my wife asks, "won't you take out the trash?"  
"No sweetheart, the future of our country is at stake!"

I wanted so badly to like McCain and vote for him, but I absolutely can't.  He is such a cynical, old, tired, old, same-old, same-old, typical, old, Republican, old, douche bag.  If President Obama sends me a bill for a bit more in taxes than great-grandpa John would, so be it.  

Clearly, McCain realized he was going to get chewed up and spit out at the debate this Friday, so he had to find an ingenious way to get out of it.  This is pathetic.  Perhaps his 100 year old mom can write him a note:

"Dear United States of America,
Young Johnny wasn't feeling well today.  He had quite the fever.  Reminds me of when my sister got the plague and George Washington healed her.
Please excuse him from the debate.  
Oh look, I've pooped my pants!
Yours Truly,
John's Mom"

Had McCain taken the time to figure out the internet and discover email, perhaps he'd realize that he could communicate with Congressional leaders that way.  Instead, he just yells, "Hello?  Operator?" at a laptop someone put in front of him to make him look like less of a dinosaur.  But really John, that LCD light makes your botox pretty obvious.

I think the reason that I am so frustrated and upset with McCain's performance, from picking Palin, to blatantly stealing Obama's "change" platform, to excusing himself from debating, is that I really wanted to like him.  I wanted to be a Republican just like most of my peers.  But John, your lackluster display leaves me no choice:  GO OBAMA!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Best of Chinglish







A friend of a friend took these on a recent trip to China.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

I'm Back...

Nothing much has been going on,  but hey, when has having nothing to say ever stopped me?

The Olympics have become much less interesting since Michael Phelps hauled in his eighth gold.  I had hoped that the track and field events would be good, but since Tyson Gay flamed out of the 100m in the semis I didn't even get to make any bad jokes about him and Walter Dix.  I know you share my disappointment.  At least I got to use "flamed".

The IOC seems to be disappointed with the lack of competition in the 100m and 200m races as well, where Usain Bolt smoked (he's Jamaican) everyone while setting new world records in both events.  The IOC president complained that Bolt didn't have the Olympic spirit because he didn't congratulate his fellow runners.  What should he have said?  Congratulations on getting absolutely scorched?  Congratulations, now no one will want to sign you to any endorsement deals because you got crushed?  Congratulations, maybe next time; oh wait I'm 22 years old, I'm going to be dominating your sorry ass for the rest of your miserable career?  So stupid.  I always thought that congratulation implied the loser complimenting the winner, but I guess that's not the Olympic spirit.  Doesn't the IOC have better things to do, like bury its head in the sand while China clubs some Tibetans?


Friday, August 15, 2008

WTF?

Being a parent gives you a brand new perspective on lots of things. Like air shows. Last year I remember watching the show from my deck while grilling out and drinking wine. Tough work, but someone had to do it.

This year, here it is 8:45pm on a Friday, and I've just put my daughter back to bed for the fourth time because she keeps getting awoken by some World War II era shitbox that sounds determined to land on my roof.

Okay, I know that air shows are public goods, people like them, etc. But I have to believe that at 8:45pm noisy biplanes are at least as big of a nuisance as a good. It is dark. They're not emitting trails of flames or anything cool like that. Go away!

What sucks for me is that they'll be doing this again tomorrow. Luckily, I think I saw that Home Depot is having a sale on anti-aircraft guns, so I can probably have one mounted on the roof by tomorrow afternoon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another day...


...more goofy Bush pictures.  They look related.



At least it's not upside down, like when he tries to publicly read a book.




Some more grabass




U, S and A!!!

Monday, August 11, 2008

George Bush is still at it...
































































And by "it" I mean spreading the glory of America worldwide by trying to hit on Jennie Fitch and the two volleyball players.  It's probably not helping him that he's shorter than all of them, nor that he is a total douche.  He was also waving a tiny American flag at the aforementioned swimming events earlier, but I couldn't find any pictures of that.  Maybe tomorrow...

Suck it, France

I don't have anything ideologically against France like some Americans seem to.  I like their wine and food, they've made some cultural contributions to the world to be sure.  It does seem, though, that Frenchmen can't help but be pompous asses.  No surprise then, that I thoroughly enjoyed the Men's Swimming 4x100 Freestyle Relay from this morning.  Having talked some serious shit, the French got their asses handed to them (you would think they'd be able to recognize that pattern after what, 100 years?  Guess not).

The French team anchor (the guy who swims the fourth and final relay leg) informed the media, in his best Borat impersonation, that his team would "smash" the Americans, that "that's what we came here for."  Going into the final leg with a serious lead, Borat, who is the world record holder in the 100m Freestyle, held his lead for the first 50m only to completely puss out in awesome French style over the last 50m.  When the American anchor caught and passed him in the last 5m, he stayed in the pool for several minutes afterward and pouted while his teammates walked around scratching their heads and asses.  Hilarious.  Vive le France!

If you didn't see the race, it's available at NBC's Olympic site, which I have to say is really good.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

I love George Bush

AP Photo

Olympics

I gather that the Olympics are underway, although I think NBC is showing everything on about a 10 hour delay here, so that kind of sucks.  Considering about all I do in life these days is change diapers and check sports news on the internet, I may have to modify my behavior if I want the TV coverage to be suspenseful at all.  

The air quality in Beijing, by most accounts is still awful despite the Chinese government's great plans such as seeding clouds, taking millions of cars off the road, closing factories, and ordering 250 million citizens to stop breathing.  One of the Washington papers, I think The Post, but I don't remember for sure, has a correspondent in Beijing who is a semi-serious runner.  He runs a few miles every morning in Beijing and reports on how he feels, and it sounds pretty terrible.  He says he gets more tired, dizzy, and much thirstier than running on a humid, summer day in DC.  The thirst thing really confuses me--how filthy must the air be?  

So probably a good move by the organizers to have indoor events first.  Swimming, gymnastics,  that stuff.  Although I have to say, if the air makes you thirsty, I wonder what the water in the pool does.  There's probably a good chance that the swimmers will come out glowing.  

In all seriousness though, I hadn't really thought too much about the global political implications of China hosting the Olympics until this week.  Some people have gone so far as to compare these games to Hitler's 1936 games in Berlin.  Well, China isn't invading anyone, you might say.  No, but neither was Germany in 1936.  Just as Hitler did, China brutally suppresses politic, religious and social freedoms.  

In 1936 Hitler was just a crazy nationalist in the eyes of the US, restoring Germany to it's pre-1918 glory.  The US didn't care too much, because they had such a vested interest in the success of the German economy.  Reparations could be paid, American goods could be purchased, all good stuff.  Of course, a few short years later, the US was defending Europe from Hitler's advances, the Holocaust was exposed, and the image of American athletes showing Hitler the Nazi salute wasn't a happy memory.  

That's not to say that China will become aggressively expansionist.  However, given the US's vested economic interest in China's growth and success, and thus it's willingness to turn a blind eye to the brutality of the state, the parallels are undeniable.  You can make the argument that China has worse human rights than a couple of places in which the US is currently militarily involved.  But Iraq didn't produce millions of tons of cheap stuff for Americans to buy at Wal-Mart.  

Anyway, my goal isn't to go on an anti-Chinese rant.  Neither is it to criticize George W. Bush for making the Beijing opening ceremony the first non-American-hosted Olympics to be attended by a sitting American president (it's not like he has anything better to be doing, and at least this way he isn't fucking anything up at home).  Simply, I hope everyone reflects on the message that China is receiving--keep on doing what you're doing, it's great.  And after reflecting, is that the right message?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Packers


Unless you live under a rock you're no doubt aware of the Brett Favre retirement-unretirement debacle that's playing out in Green Bay.  I sort of like Favre, and I like the Packers, but this whole thing is a total disaster.  ESPN's Page 2 had a great chart up today, mocking the supposed "fair competition" that would go on between Favre and Aaron Rodgers for the starting quaterback job.  

(I guess you have to click on the image to be able to read it...stupid blogspot.)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

3 Months Old!, Thermostat Wars

My daughter turned 3 months old today.  To mark the occasion, she rolled over about 3/4 of the way and pooped at least 12 times.  A busy day.  She can also hold her head up expertly, and looks tremendously cute sitting upright leaning back on our huge couch.  I celebrated by running 9 miles and having an aching knee, although the bottle of wine that my wife and I shared over lunch helped that a great deal.  

When I returned from running some errands my wife urgently informed me that it was freezing in our house.  In fact, it was the same 73F that it has been all summer, much warmer than the 68F I would prefer.  My wife is convinced that our daughter is always cold--despite pediatricians recommending keeping a home with a baby in it 68-72F.  So I'm pretty sure our daughter is fine, if not hot.  So, here's the question: why are women always cold and men always warm?  It seems counter-intuitive because women have more body fat and typically more hair.  Are they secretly reptilian?  It sucks.  And now, of course, our thermostat is set to 75F because let's face it, life is too short.  At least now I won't feel bad about spending the entire day in my underwear.  Of course, as my daughter grows up and becomes one of the vocal, cold-blooded females of the world, I'm going to be outnumbered, and it's going to suck.  Bottom line: I need a  son, ASAP.  But having a second kid scares the crap out of me, because my daughter is so fantastic.  And having an ally in the thermostat wars might not be the best reason to have Irish twins.


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Getting Out

We went to a friend's wedding yesterday afternoon and evening, the first time we've left our daughter with a babysitter to whom she isn't related.  

It's very stressful to leave your baby, very unnatural.  After a long, long tour and explanation of everything to the sitter--"the number for 911 is 911"--we left and looked at each other in a 'here goes nothing' sort of way.  We texted the sitter from the wedding, gotta love modern conveniences, and were told that our daughter had been great but was lately "kinda fussy."  We took that as a euphemism for crying inconsolably which is probably about accurate, but we were happy to receive a follow-up text that she had since fallen asleep.  And in spite of eating almost nothing, she slept through the night!  Rockstar baby.

The good news is that we're now pretty comfortable with the idea of leaving our daughter with a sitter in future--no adverse effects, house didn't burn down, wasn't struck by a meteor--so look out Chicago nightlife, here we come.  An ironic parting fact: we spent more on the babysitter than on the wedding gift.  C'est la vie.


Friday, August 1, 2008

Lollapalooza

I just got home from the first day of Lollapalooza, and here in print is what rock critics the world over are afraid to write: Radiohead sucks.  The music press is always in such a rush to blow them; I can't figure it out.  They played two hours of downright depressing, if musically sound, songs.  It's a fucking festival.  Maybe something upbeat?  That people have heard before?  Very disappointing.  

Bloc Party, on the other hand, were fantastic--if you have a chance to see them this summer you should.  Duffy, too, put on a good performance, and Stephen Malkmus (of Pavement fame) was solid.  The Black Keys were horrendous, maybe victims of bad sound on their stage, but either way, awful.  The Go! Team played an hour of super-enjoyable cheerleader rock, I only wish I had caught their whole set.  

Finally, I just had a "Burrito as Big as Your Head" from La Bamba just down the street from me.  Bad decision.  May be a long night...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Use of taxes

You may not know this, but sales tax in the city of Chicago just went up to 10.25%.  The highest in the country.  Not only does that suck, but if sales tax is going to be 10.25%, you'd hope to have fewer potholes and less crime obviously, but I would really like to address two pet peeves.  
First, the mileage markers on the lake shore running trail need replacing.  Today, I set out to run 6 miles and ended up running 7.5.  The mileage marker I was looking for to turn around never came, so I decided to keep going to the next one, half a mile away, and it didn't come either, at which point I was half way to Evanston and decided I better turn back, seeing as though the furthest I'd run before away was 5 miles.  Overall, it went fine, though I did lose almost 5 pounds of water weight in the process, which probably isn't too good.  So now here I sit guzzling water, unlike to pee ever again.  

My second pet peeve is cyclists riding their bikes on the sidewalk.  Let's be clear: in the city of Chicago, IT IS FUCKING ILLEGAL to ride your bike on a sidewalk.  ILLEGAL.  Besides some pending litigation stemming from a cyclist on the sidewalk riding her bike into my car (and yes, she's suing me) that I shouldn't probably discuss here, a huge girl on a bike almost rammed into the back of me as I was running home on the sidewalk.  She took evasive action at the last second and almost wiped out into a bush.  Then she flipped out about how I was taking up the whole sidewalk and was, quite frankly, a total bitch.  I might point out that her width was at least double mine, so me taking up the whole sidewalk that she fit on is a mathematical impossibility.  Rather than get upset, I asked her if she was aware that it was illegal to ride on sidewalks in the city.  "No it isn't, no it isn't," she retorted, like some sort of retard who says everything twice, and wobbled off down the sidewalk.  

I am so pissed off about this that I am going to talk to my alderman tomorrow.  Since I won't be bringing a brown bag of cash, I'm not sure anything will get done, but I'm going to ask for signage, at least around my place, telling cyclists to keep the fuck off the sidewalk.  Either that, or I'm going vigilante and poking a golf club through their front spokes until word gets out.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Why Small Talk Sucks

Seeing as though we have a wedding to attend this Saturday, Mrs. Bumdad suggested that I might consider getting my first haircut in almost three months.  I think my hair looked just fine, but anyone who's married knows that doesn't matter.  So off I went to get a haircut.

The girl who was cutting my hair was nice enough, the typical Midwestern farm girl type--pretty, but 30 pounds overweight and working towards making it 60.  We made the required small talk, and she revealed that she had a dog of whom she was very fond, a French Bulldog.  Still not sure exactly what a French Bulldog is, but I'm willing to bet it runs away yelping if another dog sets foot in it's yard.  But anyway, we chatted for a while about the dog before I asked what she did with him all day while she was at work (she lived in an apartment in the city).  At that point she paused and a look of grief came over her face--had her dog just died?  She maintained the silence for a good 10 seconds while I contemplated what the hell was going on.  "Actually he lives most of the time with my ex-boyfriend.  We broke up and now we have joint custody of the dog."  Having explained her sorrow she reverted to her grief stricken look and eventually went back to pecking at my hair with her scissors in silence.  

Neither of us said anything for the next 5 minutes.  Awesome...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A Long 18 Years...

I always thought, and I guess I still do, that I'd want a smart alec kid.  The sort who sees the humor in someone stubbing their toe, rather than a kid who'd cry in sympathy.  Well, today my daughter was having a rough patch, fussy, nothing would make her happy.  Finally, I tried lying on the couch and holding her above me, doing the "flying-baby" of which she is quite fond.  She was okay with that, but still not thrilled.  As I was about to lower her, she puked all over me.  And proceeded to giggle--happy as could be--as I surveyed the scope of the barf with a gagging look on my face.  If that's how it's going to be, it may be a long 18 years for Bum Dad.


Friday, July 25, 2008

Fart sounds

My daughter is wonderful.  Yesterday she was unhappy about something, so I stuck my tongue out at her and made a fart sound (I don't recommend this for dealing with unhappy women over the age of 3, however).  She immediately smiled, so I did it again and again, and she became more and more excited and giggly each time.  Finally, she decided she wanted in on the fun, and stuck her tongue out.  She crossed her eyes and fixed them on the tip of her tongue and looked expectantly at it, waiting for the sound.  She starting straining her neck forward, trying to figure out why her tongue wouldn't make a noise.  When she surmised that that wouldn't work, she tried darting her tongue in and out like a little frog.  Still nothing, so she decided it wasn't going to happen for her and reverted her attention to my tongue farts, a big grin on her face.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rich? and Fish and Chips

I was sent a news story today about a girl who was made a ward of the court so that a judge could change her name from "Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii."  Are you fucking kidding me?  I may have a zany sense of humor, but even I think that just sucks.  Oh yeah, by the way, this happened in New Zealand.  I would have suspected California, but no.  I guess proximity to the Pacific makes you crazy?  Other names that were allowed in New Zealand: "Number 16 Bus Shelter."  Not allowed: "Fish and Chips" and "Sex Fruit."  Personally, I'll take being named Fish and Chips over a bus stop.  Maybe the kid was conceived there? [Must. Not. Make. Mom. Joke.  It hurts.]

We have a wedding to go to next weekend, and I had to go downtown and buy a new suit today.  I'd been nursing my old one along for almost 10 years, it was time (Yes wife, you're right.).  So I headed down to Nordstrom and after various parking debacles--I really hate downtown Chicago in summer; tourists everywhere!--made it in and asked a sales guy for some help.  Sure thing, he said, and led me over towards the suit area.  As were walked he looked over at me and says, "Rich?"  I did a double take and realized I hadn't misheard him, and said, "What?"  Was he trying to ask how much I wanted to spend?  Did I look homeless?  Was he confused because I had on shorts and flip-flops but a nice watch?  Seriously?  "What?"
"Rich," he says, thrusting his hand towards me.  Oooohhhh.
"Bumdad."






Smartest Baby Ever

I started running 3 weeks ago, and I'm addicted.  Nothing too ridiculous yet, 5 miles 4 or 5 times a week.  I never had the combination of time and energy while I was working, but now burning 45 minutes is no big deal, and I get plenty of sleep.  I think when I reach a plateau and am not going faster each time out I may get bored, but for now the obvious improvement every time makes it enjoyable.  Well, yesterday I went running by the lake, and headed south.  I was flying.  I couldn't believe how fast I was going, I thought maybe I had seen the wrong time on my iPod when I started, or something.  I stopped for a drink at my usual water fountain and turned to head back home.  Holy wind, Batman!  Apparently I had had a 20 mile per hour tailwind the whole way down.  Going back home I swear it felt as if I were running but going backwards.  It sucked.  From now on I will always check the wind direction, and run into the wind first. 

What made it all worth it, though, was about a block from home I jogged by a woman trying to parallel park on the street.  I saw her first attempt from a distance, and was alongside her as she tried for the second time.  No luck.  This was a huge, huge space.   A large SUV could easily have parked there, yet she couldn't get Corolla into the spot.  I saw two more attempts before she realized I was watching and laughing, at which point she peeled out, ran a stop sign and disappeared.  Note to self:  I will personally teach my daughter how to park.

The highlight of the day, though, was of course my daughter.  She's had an interest in playing peekaboo for a while now.  I'll lift her shirt over her eyes, she'll squeal, I'll lower her shirt and she'll be oh so happy to see me.  Sounds boring, but trust me it's awesome.  Anyway, last night we were playing, and instead of giggling when I covered her eyes, she strained to lift her whole body up so she could see me over her shirt.  She was pleased with herself, but I was beside myself.  I got my wife to video it and everything, it's on YouTube now.  If you can find me another 2 month old who can figure that out, I'll be very surprised.  In sum, I have the smartest kid ever.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Boasting Dad Alert

Happy Birthday Dad!

You'll hear a lot of parents, especially dads, proclaiming that their child is the greatest, smartest, best, cutest, whatever.  Guess what?  They're all wrong, because my daughter is the greatest.  I don't brag about her much because it's tacky, but today is an exception.  It's grandpa's birthday, so let's hear how awesome his granddaughter is.

One of the theaters near our place has a "family matinee day" for the first screenings of all movies on Tuesdays.  By family, they mean potential screaming babies and loud children are allowed.  We decided to go see The Dark Knight, since everyone says it's the greatest movie etc etc.  There were maybe six or eight other babies there besides ours, and they all started screaming at one point or another.  One screamed pretty much the entire movie, and his dad saw fit to stand beside the last row (which happened to be where we were sitting) and hold the screaming baby rather than address the problem.  Not too cool.  But anyway, my daughter didn't cry once.  She made her hungry grunt and wave once, and got fed.  She napped a little, but mostly entertained herself.  She looked puzzled at the crying babies, peering down her nose at them from her car-seat throne, Queen of the Babies.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Lack of motivation

I'm not feeling very inspired to write anything entertaining, so I'm going with the funny baby clothes and a funny video.  I don't know if airbags are typically that sensitive, but if they are I may have found a new hobby.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Facebook


I took the plunge and got a Facebook page.  Since I think I am the last person on Earth under 30 to get a Facebook page, I imagine there is much celebrating at Facebook headquarters as their world domination is now complete.  In some ways, I see what I was missing.  It is definitely an easy way to get in touch with people.  On the other hand, it is sort of lame to contact a person you haven't been in touch with for ten years via Facebook.  It's great to get back in touch, but if you had really, really cared to know what that person was up to, I'm guessing you could have made the effort to find out their contact information.  That said, I just sent out a ton of friend requests to people I haven't even thought of, let alone talked to, in 10 or 12 years.  

Mainly, though, I see Facebook as a great opportunity to share a ton of pictures of my beautiful daughter with everyone I've ever known.  Facebook says you can add unlimited photos.  We'll see just how many unlimited is.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Oh man, still laughing.

 I'm too tired to write anything today.  My daughter wouldn't go to sleep last night, so we had her in bed with us.  It was like trying to sleep next to a bear cub.  A hungry bear cub that smelled honey or salmon or whatever the hell bear cubs eat.  Luckily, my sister-in-law sent me this wonderful little picture, and I think it's funny enough to warrant its own post.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Herding Cats

I was running on the trail that borders Lake Michigan today.  There were all sorts of 3 and 4 year olds running wild, part of some pre-school group I think.  I felt bad for the poor ladies who were chasing after them, trying to keep them semi-orderly, and to lose less than 20% of the kids (that's the acceptable rate, so I hear).  Whoever coined the phrase "herding cats" was spot on--no sooner would one of the tenders retrieve a straying child than another child would start wandering off in another direction.  I can't think of many worse jobs.

I ran on, dodging kids hither and thither, until I came upon a very strange sight.  There were 12 or 15 kids in a group, walking in single-file, and as I got closer I saw that they were wearing matching reflective vests.  As I came up beside them, I saw that they were all holding on to a rope with loops attached for them to grab onto.  I don't think they have juvenile hall for 3-4 year olds, but if they did, this what the chain gang would look like.  I half-expected them to be picking up garbage, but they didn't appear to be.  Bummer.  Guess I won't be able to threaten my daughter with having to go pick up trash near Lake Michigan if she doesn't finish her dinner.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Rampage

I haven't really gotten into the whole Ultimate Fighting Championship thing, although I can definitely see the appeal.  Boxing isn't as interesting as it used to be, so the various mixed martial arts organizations are filling the void.  

This was all over the news yesterday, but if you haven't heard it about, you should because it's pretty ridiculous.  
"Rampage" Jackson (bio here), pictured here next to his slightly modified Ford F-350, is the former light-heavyweight champion of one of the MMA organizations.  According to his bio, he has three sons, all with the middle name "Rampage," and a daughter whose middle name is just "Page."  He is also a born-again Christian.  Sounds a little like he is trying to be the MMA's answer to George Foreman.  I wonder if he's coming out with a grill named after him.  The Rampage Grill--I'd buy one!

Anyway, Rampage had a little driving incident yesterday in which he drove into another car and fled the scene.  Unfortunately for him, he must have forgotten that he was driving a monster truck with his picture and name on the side.  After leading police on a low-speed chase in which he drove on sidewalks, hit a few more cars, and probably had an "oh shit!" moment when he realized what he was driving, he was apprehended.  I think you'd have a better chance of making a clean getaway in the Goodyear blimp.  

Even if he ends up going to jail for a little while (which is unlikely, given that this happened in California, and he is vaguely famous, although his skin color isn't helping him), I somehow don't imagine that jail would be all that tough for him.  Call me crazy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dress Up

If my daughter ever has trouble deciding on a Halloween costume, I think Harry Caray would work.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Motion Sickness

My parents are going to read this with big smirks on their faces: my daughter has severe motion sickness.  Up until about the age of 12, just about any sort of movement would make me vomit.  I puked on planes, in cars, on boats, in buses.  I even threw up in a planetarium in Denmark--apple cinnamon pancakes, I remember it vividly.  To their credit, my parents never got visibly upset with me, though I'm sure they were livid.  I guess there's not much to do about it, you know the kid feels like total shit too.  I think possibly my earliest memory is being 3 or so, and eating at least a pound of strawberries at the airport as we were embarking on a trip to the US from Botswana.  As soon as the plane took off, I vomited all over myself and my parents.  We had another 30 hours of travel ahead of us.  I don't remember that part.  I bet they do.

Motion sickness is no joke either.  Maybe the worst I've ever had it was in Mozambique when I was attempting to get scuba certified.  I was wearing a wetsuit that fit too tightly around my neck, and we were in a small inflatable boat that was belching diesel fumes straight at me, charging through pretty big swells.  I really didn't want to barf in front of everyone on the boat, so I managed to keep things under control until I was in the water, floating, waiting to go down.  At that point, having my snorkel in my mouth put me over the edge, and I threw up my breakfast.  I decided to say fuck it to scuba diving, and swam back to the boat.  Not a good move.  Once one the boat I thought I was going to die.  We were over a mile offshore but I decided the best course of action would be to swim for it.  I told the captain this, and tanks and all I prepared to jump back into the Indian Ocean and make my way to shore.  Luckily, he stopped me and hailed a passing boat, put me on that, and I made it back to shore alive.  I lay face down in the sand for a while, ecstatic to be on solid ground.  

So a few weeks ago we received a baby swing as a gift.  For those of you who don't know, its basically a car-seat looking contraption that is suspended by a pole, connected to a stand.  It is battery-powered and rocks from side-to-side.  Babies supposedly become completely sedate when placed in swings, hence their nickname, "neglecto-matics," because you can leave most babies there for long periods without a peep.  

The first time we put our daughter in it she didn't seem very happy, so we took her out quickly, and that was that.  The second time, she was quiet and got a glazed-over look on her face.  She whimpered a bit, so my wife picked her up--barf!  Hmm, maybe she just didn't feel well to begin with.  We tried it again a few days later, no whimpering this time to warn us, just barfing.  A lot of it.  And for those of you who don't know, baby barf is pretty bad.  It looks like cottage cheese and smells like the sourest milk you've ever smelled.  These episodes, coupled with a few incidences of barfing in the car (most babies fall asleep instantly in car-seats) has lead us to the unfortunate realization that she has very bad motion sickness.  I have to say, if she ends up flying before she's a teenager (a bragging point in the South--"I rode a plane!!") she will be so drugged up she won't have any recollection of the trip.  

So Mom and Dad, guess its my turn to deal with a barfer.  In retrospect I'm glad I had the same problem so I can relate to her and not get upset.  Also, before we try any inter-continental flights such as to visit the grandparents, I'm going to need a supply of elephant tranquilizer.  Anyone in southern Africa have any black market leads on that?  I'll trade you some manhole covers for it.  

Disclaimer

To clarify
Mrs. BumDad has, ah, kindly requested that I provide a disclaimer:
 
My mother-in-law is many things,* but a meth-manufacturing prostitute is not one of them.**
 
As with many of my attempts at humor, the yo' mama jokes aimed at my mother-in-law failed to register with some readers (well, one reader...thanks again, Dad!)
 
So please stop asking me for her beeper number.
 
Thank you.
 
*The inspiration behind this blog (the funny parts, anyway, and none of the four-letter words or references that include the phrase "pimp-slapping"), the baker of delicious brownies, and loving Taddy to my pride and joy
 
**To my knowledge

Friday, July 11, 2008

Amazon in South Africa

A friend of mine in South Africa sent me this link about the theft of Amazon.com packages in South Africa.  This article alone is hilarious, and the rest of site is equally awesome.

Somebody's not happy...

Shout out to my stalker, i.e. the anonymous reader who penned an odd but surprisingly well-spelled and semi-coherent comment accusing me of being, in sum, a bore (This is in addition to the anonymous comment calling me a putz.  Is there a link to this blog on the AARP website?)  Since he's one of the people who's actually left a comment (besides my immediate family...thanks, Dad!), I'm almost flattered, and figure I'll take what I can get. Bloggers and their readers, after all, occupy a similar place in the food chain--far below functioning members of society like, uh, traffic cops and the entire cast of The Hills, but, I'd like to think, at least a notch or two above lawyers and pigeons.
 
Anyway, the gist of the aforementioned comment being that I'm jerk and should watch out, because he knows people who know people...something about never working in this town again if word gets out what an asshole I am, and wow how proud my family must be.  I'd prefer to leave my family out of this.  But if you must know, being that they're not humorless stiffs, they do at least occasionally find this funny.
 
Let's pretend to ignore the fact that the type of person to troll strangers' blogs leaving anonymous comments probably isn't the most high-powered, well connected individual...instead I imagine a middle-aged loner, the type who many years ago huddled in his basement over paste and letters of the alphabet clipped from magazines, drafting threatening letters to radio stations and the President which may have occasionally included a reference to JFK or extraterrestrial life, but inevitably ended with the words "...or else!" Then he finally convinced his mom to get the internet, and the modern-day internet stalker was born.
 
Anyway, dear reader, I beg you to reconsider your threat to expose me as a jerk to the powers that be in the trading industry. I would be mortified if the secret got out that I'm an offensive asshole with the social delicacy of an Amy Winehouse groupie. My colleagues would be shocked. "BumDad?" they'd say in disbelief. "But he's such a sweetheart!" As everyone who has had the pleasure of working with me would attest, it's just not in my nature to stir the pot, to put the cat among the pigeons, if you will.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Anonymous Comments

Some cool guy decided to leave the anonymous comment, "You are sort of a putz.  Actually a complete one."  Well done, my friend.  Faulkner couldn't have said it better.

And I'm not sure who uses the word "putz" anymore.  My guess is, though, that this blog has a wide appeal to the 80+ demographic.  So that might be it. 

In future, please take credit for your lame comments.

Jesse Jackson is awesome

If there was any doubt that Jesse Jackson was even crazier than Al Sharpton, I think this may clear it up.

Having publicly backed Obama and even campaigned for him, Rev. Jesse Jackson had this to say about the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

What I don't understand is why Obama doesn't tell him to go fuck himself.  What's Jackson going to do, convince black Americans to vote for McCain?  Hahahaha. 


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Bulls

Remember me  complaining about the Bulls' new coach a while back?  Well, here's what The Onion has to say about the hiring.  Hilarious.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Olympics again

Turns out that I'm not the only person who thinks the Olympics are going to be a disaster.
Slate Magazine (which I generally think is a piece of shit, so forgive me for sending you there) has an interesting piece up about it.

Doctors, Doctors, Bottles

Good day medically for the family.  This morning I went for my yearly check-up with my dermatologist.  Seeing as though I grew up in Africa, got sunburned quite a bit as a kid and am on the paler end of the pigmentation spectrum, I'm always a little bit concerned that this is going to be the year that I'm diagnosed with skin cancer.  But good news, looks like that isn't going to happen until I'm older than 30.  Oh yeah fuck, I'm turning 30 next year.  

Then this afternoon my daughter had her 2 month pediatrician visit.  She is still on course to be about 15 feet tall and weigh 500 pounds.  97th percentile weight and 90th percentile height.  Not quite sure how, since neither my wife nor I are huge people--both a few inches taller than average--but the pediatrician says its all good, so I think its great.

I'm not sure why having a big, fat, healthy baby is a point of pride, but it is.  I was in the grocery store the other day and saw a mom with her daughter.  The daughter was walking around--staggering might be more accurate--but was no bigger than my daughter.  I felt a tinge of pity for her parents.  I do hope, though, that people realize that my daughter is a huge 2 month old, and not a dim-witted, not crawling, not walking, not talking 18 month old.  If they don't, I'll be sure to kill them.

Besides the good medical news we received today, my daughter finally willingly and happily drank a whole bottle that I fed her.  Lately she has despised drinking from one, and would rather go hungry until my wife breast feeds her, but today she guzzled her 3 ounces like a champ.  The best part was that she started gripping the bottle with her left hand, and had only her middle finger raised, straight in my direction.  Fuck you guys for giving me a bottle, but I'm so hungry I no longer care to fight you.  My girl.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Ow my ribs...

Whoever said that 2 month olds are blobs forgot to mention that their heels are not especially blobbish.  Last night my daughter was sitting on my lap, facing me, and managed to kick me in the ribs.  It hurt a little bit at the time, but I didn't think twice about it.  Today, though, I am in agony.  I got hit in the ribs by a softball traveling at a pretty rapid rate of speed three summers ago, and this definitely hurts worse.  And apparently you use your intercostal muscles for just about everything.  I went jogging today and it hurt like hell.  Even putting my arms over my head hurts. I'll quit my bitching, but good lord, you spend so much time and effort trying to not damage your baby, you never think she'll maim you.  

New Zealand seems like a pretty nice place.  Outdoorsy, picturesque, produces great wine, residents have an affinity for having sex with sheep--I'm not hurling accusations, just reporting the facts.  So the place has lots going for it.  Add to the list broadcasts hardcore porn in the middle of the afternoon.  Wait, what???  Apparently a rugby match on TV was interrupted when the broadcaster inadvertently switched feeds to Desperate Black Wives 2 (I preferred the original) which was on another channel on the same satellite.  Mildly amusing, since the New Zealand rugby team is known as the All Blacks.  I think for different reasons, though.

Here's a quick New Zealand wine recommendation for you.  Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc 2007.  Smells like freshly cut grass and has a refreshing, limey tang to it.  The perfect wine for a summer afternoon/evening (or morning if you like, I won't judge you).  The good news about it is that it should be widely available, maybe even at your supermarket, and it costs about $15 making it an affordable everyday drink.  All that being said about the Kim Crawford, I have never tasted a bad New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, so if you can't find the Kim Crawford I strongly recommend you try any other one you come across when you're next shopping for white wine.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

Tennis, Shots

Wow, if you didn't see the Wimbledon men's final between Federer and Nadal you really missed out.  It will probably be on ESPN Classic for the next 20 years, so you'll have plenty of chances to see what happened.  I played a game myself while watching.  Try to spot a single black person in the crowd.  The Williams sisters don't count.  Its like Where's Waldo?, but harder. 

My daughter's two month pediatrician visit is Tuesday, and we're trying to figure out which vaccinations she should get when.  Its really pretty fucked up, the system now.  The doctors all try to pump the kids full of 3-4 shots per visit, their rationale being, "Well there's no definitive proof that's it bad, and it'd sure suck if your child got Polio.  Wouldn't it?  Huh, huh?"  Well yeah, no shit, I don't want my kid getting Polio, but here's the thing:  there's a lot of anecdotal evidence that vaccinations can cause an increased risk of autism, and the risk seems to be higher the more shots that are given at once.  So while I agree that Polio would suck, autism would suck as well.  

Of course, the American Association of Pediatrics recommends their approved schedule, which is a crap load of shots every visit for the first year or so.  Hmm, could the pharmaceutical companies have something to do with this?  The pediatricians need the drug companies to produce the shots so they have an excuse to see your kid every month and get paid, so why would they rock the boat?  The whole thing is a cluster fuck, and its hard to get straight answers.

The worst thing about it is, we have one of the more liberal doctors in Chicago, and she still isn't thrilled that we're delaying our daughter's shots, and spacing them out more.  A lot of doctors won't see your kid as a patient unless you're on their vaccine schedule.  "You wouldn't want her to get Polio, now would you?"  No, but I wouldn't mind you getting it.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Locusts and fireworks

I'm having a very tough time sitting down and writing anything intelligent right now.  I just got two new video games--Civilization 4 for the Mac, and Mario Olympics for the Wii.  Both are fantastic.  The weather is superb, which doesn't encourage typing, the Cubs are in first place and playing the Cardinals this weekend, and oh yeah, I have a baby!  Where is she?

On the topic of the Olympics, as if an invasion of algae blooms wasn't enough, China is now battling a plague of locusts in Inner Mongolia which is heading east, and figures to be in Beijing, oh, right during the games.  Between earthquakes, riots, floods, now this, China just can't seem to catch a break.  If I were Chinese, I might be considering building myself an ark, because this shit doesn't seem to be letting up.

But of course, the Chinese government is drafting in volunteers ("Harvest that algae and swat those locusts, or you die") so everything, they claim, will be great for the games.  That may be the case, but doesn't it seem a little fucked up that the vast majority of Chinese live like medieval serfs--except their lords have machine guns--and they're trying to put on this modern international spectacle?  They're also shutting down thousands of factories around Beijing to try to make the air breathable.  God bless them for making lots of cheap manufactured goods, but what a shit hole.

Last night Americans everywhere used what may be my favorite Chinese export:  fireworks.  I didn't see any though, because at 9pm when it gets dark in Chicago in summer, we had just put my daughter to sleep.  Rather than watch the fireworks we cursed how loud they were, and hoped they wouldn't wake her, and prepared for bed ourselves.  They weren't joking when they said having kids changes everything.  We went from last year being drunk enough on the 4th that the fireworks looked extra cool, to being in bed for most of them this year.  

Friday, July 4, 2008

Quick fix for gas prices--Happy 4th of July!

Everyone is all shitty about the cost of gasoline, especially it being summer and Americans having a god-given right to cheap gas for their road trips and all that.  Luckily, the end of expensive gas is apparently in sight.  The answer?  Prayer

Yes, that's right, a guy is organizing prayer vigils at gas stations, hoping that god will listen and by way of a miracle, lower the price of gas.  Interesting use of time.  My question is, where is this guy getting his money from?  Because you know he's found some angle to defraud people.  Oh, you're a poor, blue-collar American who can't afford to drive to work anymore?  I tell you what, give me, I mean my ministry, a $50 donation and that will help me pray better for lower gas prices.  

Wow.  I don't know if I'm more annoyed that he can get away with that, or that I didn't think to do it first.  Either way, if anyone would like me to pray about anything for them, please send $20 to my Paypal account and I'll see what I can do.

Of course, he's also assuming that God gives a shit about the price of gas, and also that he can do anything about it.  I know, I know, God can do anything.  I'm not so sure, though.  I'm pretty sure he understands supply-side economics well enough to know that there's nothing to be done, short of turning the Atlantic into an ocean of oil.  

The guy organizing the vigils seems to feel like its kind of pointless, himself, explaining that's why he is moving on to activism.  Nothing like donating your hard earned money only for the beneficiary to say, Oh yeah, that was a bad idea.  Don't you love America?  Happy 4th of July!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Infidelity Industry

I guess since I've had occasion to mention hookers, strippers, crystal meth users, all that good stuff, Google thinks that this is blog has a fairly sketchy readership.  I was looking at what kind of ads Google was putting on my page, and I found a couple of sites that are weird and noteworthy.  I had no idea that there was so much money to be made in the business of either facilitating infidelity or playing into people's fear that they are victims of a cheating spouse.

The first site is www.affairmatch.com.  This seems to be a social networking site for people looking to have extramarital affairs.  You submit your information and build a profile and supposedly a rendezvous with an attractive and like-minded fellow adulterer can be yours.  I can't think of anything stupider than signing up for that site.  If it becomes popular, the first question divorce attorneys will ask will be, Has he used Affair Match?  Yes?  Sweet, he is totally fucked!  You're going to get everything.  He'll probably end up homeless.  Its Darwinian, using sites like that.  If you end up getting caught, how could you say you don't deserve whatever comes to you?  I think I would sooner rob a convenience store.

So let's say you suspect that your spouse is cheating on you, maybe using above-mentioned website.  But you can't access their computer to check.  Maybe they do it from work.  What do you do?  Duh, the same thing any sane person would do:  you install a GPS tracker in their car!  And now with www.track-gps.net you can, for the low price of $59.95 a month.  The tracker looks to be about the size of an old-school pager, and its location is viewable in real time on the web, accurate to a distance of 10 feet.  Technology is awesome, I sort of want one, even though I have no use for it.  You would think this would be a great anti-theft device, too.  And the reality that I'm going to have a teenage daughter before I know it makes me think it could be useful then as well.  Although I will probably prefer to stick my head in the sand and loudly sing "LA LA LA!" when that time comes. 

On a somewhat related note...ok, not really related at all but I was trying for a smooth transition...  Anyway, scientists have discovered that watermelon has Viagra-like properties.  I love watermelon, always have, and now I'm a little confused as to what to make of that.  Cause or effect?  Self-medication?  Eh, who cares?  Its delicious.  And according the article it has a myriad of other health benefits, which must be why I like it.  Really.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

What about 'Daddy and Me'...?

Everywhere you look around my neighborhood in Chicago, there are signs and advertisements for "Mommy and Me" classes and events.  The target demographic is stay-at-home moms who are looking for activities that they can do with their kids.

There's Mommy and Me Yoga, regular yoga modified to incorporate occasionally holding your baby.  There's Mommy and Me Pilates, again a modified class where the baby is used for weight and resistance.  And there are pottery classes, outdoor exercise classes, special movie showings, picnics, aerobics.  You name it, there's a Mommy and Me version.  And the genius thing is, even though the cost to the facilitator is the same as a regular yoga or Pilates or pottery class, they can charge more because moms will pay it--and who are you to question what a mom thinks is best for her child?

Now that's all well and good, and being unemployed I definitely appreciate having some peace and quiet around the house when my wife takes our daughter to one of these things.  I do wonder, though, where are all the Daddy and Me classes and events?  

How about Daddy and Me instruction down at the driving range?  If you can concentrate on your swing with a screaming child right there, those loud assholes on the next fairway over shouldn't be an issue again.  There could a Daddy and Me day at the Porsche dealership.  Find out once and for all, can a child's car-seat fit into the back of a 911 Carrera?  (For the record, I think it can).  Daddy and Me Cubs game?  Actually, trying to change a diaper in the Wrigley Field men's room should probably be number one of the list of things never to do with a baby.  Definitely at least not until she's had all her vaccinations.  That place is like a Turkish prison.  Oh, how about Daddy and Me day at the strip club?  The strippers could bring their kids too--sorry to burst your bubble, they all have kids--, it would be social and the kids could meet other kids from different socio-economic backgrounds.  Diversity and shit.  What's that, wife?  You don't want our daughter hanging out either at strip clubs, or with the children of strippers?  See what I have to deal with on a daily basis???  

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Ads

Monday's ad income was $2.69.  Not bad!  That's almost $1000 a year.  Now if I could just get 100 times that, I wouldn't have to get another job.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Crossed-eyed babies, dead dogs

My daughter turned 8 weeks old today--hurray, haven't broken her yet--and she continues to get more and more interesting every day.  She smiles all the time, and is trying her best to laugh, but it comes out sounding a little like a donkey, I think because she only laughs while inhaling.  And now you're thinking about how you'd hee-haw, yup, I can read minds.  

The other slightly worrying thing is a face she makes.  She can somehow manage to completely cross her eyes, and only does so when her tongue is stuck out.  It looks hilarious.  I told my wife today that I thought that our daughter only did it because I laugh when she does--she's just that smart.  I got: "well honey, maybe that's true (eye-roll, eyebrow-raise)."  She's a great mom.  I mean wife.  Okay, both.

I read today that the University of Georgia's mascot, a bulldog, died this weekend.  In a good use of state funds, the university is planning a funeral service for the dog in its football stadium, before it is buried in some decorative tomb in front of the stadium, next to its ancestors, the previous mascots.  

This dog really summed up what it means to be a southerner.  He died with no pants on, of a heart attack, at the age of 9 (That's 63 in dog-years, so he did way better than his kin folk).  He also couldn't read, had funny looking teeth, never finished high school, and hated black people.  If that's not a portrait of a fine southerner, I don't know what is.  Rest in peace, bulldog, its values like yours that General Lee fought to defend.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

US Track and Field, Ad Revenue

You know how I said there is nothing to watch on TV?  Well, I was surfing ESPN.com because there really is nothing on TV, and I came across some entertaining news.  The US held its track and field Olympic qualifiers this weekend, and in the Men's 100m we will be represented by guys named Gay and Dix.  On the women's side, the 100m was won by Hooker.  Please fact-check me.  Yup, I'm right.  Sports bloggers the world over are salivating over this one..."Gay, Dix upstaged by Hooker."  And that's just off the top of my head (ie not very funny).

Today was the Gay Pride Parade in Chicago.  My wife, daughter and I went very briefly to watch, but apparently my wife thought it was too loud for our daughter, so we left.  And so starts her career as the not-cool mom.  But someone has to be sensible.  Thank god for my wife, or I would have definitely broken our daughter by now.  Anyway, a few hours into the event, it rained on the parade, seriously poured.  Right afterwards, though, the sun came out and there was a big rainbow.  Talk about great advertising!  God clearly loves gay people.

In other news, the ad revenue for this site for the month of June is $21.24.  Given that I started on June 9th, that is exactly $1 a day.  Considering the number of people who read this, that is fantastic--if I could increase readership, and more importantly clicker-ship, by a factor of 50 I could do this for a living. 

There is nothing but baseball on TV!

I love summer and all, but my god, TV sucks right now.  There are only a couple of good network shows on in the dead of winter: 30 Rock, The Office, um yeah that's about it, but right now there is nothing.  And the only sport that's on is baseball.  Now, the Cubs are great and all, but you can only watch so much baseball (I can hear my wife quoting this line already as she lobbies for the remote!  Women need to understand that live televised sports always supersedes non-live shows.  Always.  Or we can get a second TV, and that's my final offer.).  No football, no basketball...well, besides the WNBA and here's what we all think about that.  

There's some tennis on occasionally, but with Sharapova and Ivanovic already out of Wimbledon, do I really care to watch?  The Williams sisters look like they belong in the WNBA, themselves.  And that's not racist, just so we're clear.  Its fat-ist and tall-ist, respectively.  Gotta keep your discriminations straight.  And Tiger Woods is out of golf indefinitely, so screw watching golf.  And screw watching women's golf.  I can hit the ball further than most of them, so they're boring to watch, and those of them that hit the ball further than I do, I never ever ever want to look at.  Oh, and you have the European Championships (of soccer) being played.  The final is actually today.  And guess what, its being played in an old stadium in Vienna that the Nazis used as a prison shortly after the Anschluss, right at the beginning of the holocaust.  That's a feel good story...oh, and guess which two teams are in the final?  Germany and Spain.  Hitler and Franco would be so proud.

So since there's nothing worth the time on TV, you've got to look elsewhere for your entertainment.  Now, I think Kobe Bryant is an asshole just like everyone else does, but he has made a couple of great viral videos in support of the new shoes he is peddling through Nike.  Here's the first.  As a follow-up, he did this mock-Jackass episode, which is awesome too. 

Seems like we're fending for ourselves this summer, so if you have good videos, send them this way and share!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cookware, southern-ness

About two years ago my wife decided that we should only cook with cast-iron pans.  Apparently, all the non-stick pans that have been popular for twenty years actually cause global warming, or leach carcinogens into your food, or something like that.  Anyway, I've been married long to enough to know to pick my battles, so it wasn't a big deal.  Plus, cast-iron looks nice.  Sort of backward and romantic.  Like the south, except romantic.

What I didn't know is that when you buy new cast-iron pots and pans, they aren't ready for use.  Actually, first things first, my wife decided to order them online, which seemed like a plan to me--where do you even get cast-iron cookware in Chicago?  The gun store?  Guns are illegal here!--until it arrived all in one box, which I swear weighed over 100 pounds and I had the pleasure of carrying up 4 floors of stairs.  So I got all this stuff upstairs finally and sweatily, and started unpacking it and putting it away.  No, no, no says the wife, We have to "season" them first.  What the hell?  Are we eating the pans?  Is this a suicide cult?  Do they teach little girls this stuff in home economics in the south?  Remember to season your pans!  Wouldn't want your collard greens to stick.

So seasoning a pan, how the fuck do you do that?  Well, the idea is to slather the thing in fat of some kind (this is one of a southerner's favorite games) and bake the fat into the pan.  Again.  And again.  And again.  We did this is mid-summer and had the oven blasting all day.  It is wastes of time like this that may be to blame for the confederacy's demise--"these'n guns is ready, Hoss, but we's justa got season 'em first."  And then Atlanta was burned to the ground by Sherman.  But, the fire helped the seasoning and those guns made some tasty biscuits 'n gravy so it wasn't a total loss.

While you think all our seasoning must have been in vain, because god knows I can't tell a difference, you're wrong.  My mother-in-law was in town (crystal meth sales convention) and used the cast-iron cookware.  I was brushing my teeth at the time, but heard some commotion in the kitchen and decided to investigate.
"Oh, honey, your cookware is so perfectly seasoned!  Its like a 90 year old great-grandmother's!"  She was beaming, beside herself over how HER daughter had perfectly seasoned cast-iron.  That may be the proudest she has ever been of any of her children.  Incidentally, I think most southern 90 year olds are actually great-great-great-great-great-grandmothers, or Eve, take your pick.

Funnier than that, my wife looked and me and said "See, see?  I told you I was right to season it," with a look of a prideful child whose parent has just approved of, and validated, their life's work.  Apparently, praising another woman's cast-iron seasoning in the south is one of their highest compliments.  It is right up there with "your grits are so smooth," "your flag is so big," "your church has a Starbucks!" and "your slaves are so well-behaved."

In all seriousness, I really like cast-iron cookware.  I highly recommend it, but I suggest you wait until winter to do the seasoning.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mourvedre, Dog Strangler

A lot of people tend to prefer one style of red wine.  One side of the spectrum is the light and nuanced pinot noir used to make the fantastic wines of burgundy.  Very good pinots are also being produced in California and Oregon, as well as New Zealand.  On the other side is the jammy, thick, fruit-bomb style of Zinfandels, and pure Cabernet Sauvignons.  I happen to like both ends of the spectrum and most things in between.  Last weekend I had the opportunity to drink some of Kosta Browne's 2006 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, which was fantastic.  It went perfectly with the ground pepper I had seasoned our grilled salmon with.  It is pretty costly though, and near impossible to find.  The previous weekend I tried Orin Swift's "The Prisoner" Zinfandel 2006 from Napa Valley, and thoroughly enjoyed it as well.  We drank that with medium-rare steak, and the moist, rummy tobacco bouquet was a great complement to the char on the steaks.  It is a huge production wine and should be available just about anywhere for $30.

My favorite red wine varietal, though, is an esoteric one.  It is more on the heavier, darker side of the pinot-zin scale, and has the potential to be very bad when poorly made.  When done right, though, Mourvedre is an interesting and rewarding, not to mention delicious, wine.  On its own it can be what a wine critic would call gamey, and I would call wet dog.  Maybe a little mildewy.  As a result, it is usually blended with another grape variety to give it more fruit--Syrah and Grenache are its typical blending partners, and Cabernet Sauvignon is sometimes added as well.  And while pure mourvedre can be problematic--its nickname in France is "Estrangle-Chien," or dog-strangler!--, blended, properly aged mourvedre is, to my mind, the most enjoyable wine to drink in the world.  I definitely agree that the great growths of Bordeaux are technically better wines, but they require a lot of aging and then decanting, etc.  Too much effort.  I think mourvedre is the best of both worlds on the continuum I mentioned above--big and fruity, yet elegant and nuanced.  Many wines with a lot of fruit and alcohol burn out your taste buds after one glass, but mourvedre remains interesting for an entire evening. 

One of the main reasons that mourvedre isn't as widespread as it might be is that it is notoriously difficult to graft.  In the late 19th century a large percentage of Europe's vineyards were wiped out by phylloxera, an aphid that decimates grape vines.  Following that plague, Europe's vineyards were replanted, largely from New World vines that had themselves been grafted from European vines in Columbian times.  Mourvedre, however, proved almost impossible to graft until a new method was introduced in the 1980s, and thus is fairly obscure whereas in the 1800s it was one of the most important varieties of grape.  

There are several regions in France that produce Mourvedre-blend wines.  It is prominent in both the north and south Rhone regions, but comes into its own in the small appellation of Bandol in Provence, near Marseilles on the Mediterranean coast.  My favorite Bandol wine is Domaine du Gros Nore.  I love it because it runs the gauntlet from plum and strawberry aromas to charcoal on the finish (aftertaste).  The 2005 is available in better wine shops, and costs about $26, a huge bargain.  The most famous Bandol producer is probably Domaine Tempier, and is also consistently good.  Their wines should be easier to find than Gros Nore.

The other main producing area of mourvedre is the south-eastern Spanish region of Jumilla.  Known as monastrell in Spain, mourvedre is at its best in this warm, seaside climate.  If I could only drink one region's wine for the rest of life, Jumilla would be it (besides good Bordeaux, and who can afford that?).  On the budget end, you have Bodegas Luzon's, "Altos de Luzon" 2005.  At about $14 a bottle, I challenge you to find a better bottle of wine for the price.  This is a wine that would cost $50-60 if it were made in California.  Its immediately fruity--maybe raspberry?--but has a long finish with great acidity that will make it a happy companion for anything with a decent amount of fat in it.  Red meat, soft cheese, your mom.  This could be tricky to find, so if you see it I suggest you snap it up.  

A second Jumilla bargain in Bodegas Juan Gil 2005.  This wine smells like a trusty leather jacket that has kept you dry in the rain, but tastes first of berries and then of cocoa on the finish.  Again, this one will go with about anything, and at $16 a bottle is a spectacular value.

My favorite Jumilla wine, though, is Bodegas El Nido "Clio."  I've had the 2003, 2004 and 2005, and this wine features prominently in my limited collection.  Of those vintages, the 2004 is probably the best.  It smells like melty vanilla ice cream, and initially tastes like warm, buttered toast.  This is because it is aged for a good while in new oak barrels.  The finish is very nuanced though, something hard to find in wines that have been heavily oaked.  It ends with acidic, smoky tones, something like the smell when you open a humidor.  At about $43 a bottle, this is a little more expensive, and also challenging to locate.  If you're in Chicago though, stop by my place and we'll break out a bottle.  

Besides France and Spain, mourvedre is grown in Australia, California and South Africa.  The Californian stuff is not impressive in the limited contact I've had.  In Australia, mourvedre is exclusively a blending grape, and used to produce GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) wines which are a great value, though not as intricate as the wines of Jumilla.  One producer in South Africa, Eben Sadie of Sadie Family Vineyards, however, does it right.  His Columella 2004 mourvedre blend is the best South African wine I've tasted by a long ways, and the 2005 is supposedly even better.  These aren't cheap bottles--$70 range--but if you ever come across a Sadie Family wine and want to treat yourself, I highly recommend it.  

I hope those of you that have access to decent wine stores will try out a mourvedre (or monastrell if its Spanish) in the near future.  Start with a cheaper Jumilla, and you won't go wrong.  If you like it, great.  If not, it was $15.


Daily Rant?

This is why a "daily rant" is a bad idea.  
Not sure why this guy is taping a rant on the sidewalk, but there you go.  Its kinda like an American suburban slacker version of an al-Qaeda video.  

End of Days...

There is a lot of stuff going on right now that, if you were so inclined, you could use to convince people that the end is near, the sky is a-fixin' to fall, that sort of thing.  So, you start a cult, convince your followers to give you all their money and possessions--the world is fucking ending people, that money in your savings account isn't going to help you--and serve everyone some anti-freeze flavored Gatorade.  Presto!  You're rich.  Not that I've given this any thought, I'm just saying... so fuck off FBI!

The American economy is really, really fucked.  This is going to be one of the worst years for the average American in a long time.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost almost 3% yesterday, capping a month of getting horse-pounded.  The reason?  Well, oil, which I've already discussed a while back, and a bad combination of inflation and low interest rates.  For starters, oil is not going to get cheaper.  You can drill the Alaskan reserve or the US coastlines until you're blue in the face and the Pacific coast is as filthy as the Jersey shore, but it doesn't matter.  China and India have discovered that they like oil, and at this point we're just along for the ride.  

Next, you have Fed Funds at 2%, and inflation on the rise thanks to, yes you guessed it--oil!--and you have negative growth  (If prices increase at a higher rate than your money can grow in the bank or your wages are growing, that is really, really bad and means you can afford to buy less stuff and/or your standard to living goes down).  So to combat inflation, the Fed has stopped lowering interest rates, and this week indicated that they may soon increase them.  Well, that is textbook for fighting inflation, but now stocks are going to take a huge shit, because corporations can't borrow money as cheaply, so their profits decrease.  Higher interest rates in theory encourage you to save more money.  This means there's less money chasing the same amount of goods, so inflation should abate.  However, it also diverts investment away from equities.  So long story short, the stock market is going to take a beating.  I wouldn't buy anything.  This is going to be an rare example of when stocks and bonds both get hammered.  Honestly, my best investment right now is my Lexus Hybrid and my 75 bottles or so of good wine.

What else is fucked up?  Floods everywhere, the Midwest of the US and parts of Australia, coupled with crippling droughts in both countries, mere hundreds of miles away from the floods.  And that's not even mentioning the floods in Asia, because those seem to be a yearly occurrence so it might be more remarkable if parts of Asia weren't submerged and China wasn't having massive earthquakes.  

But what has really convinced me that the end is coming is that Chicago sports teams are doing what I'd like them to.  Yesterday, the Bulls drafted Derrick Rose with their super-lucky 1st pick in the draft.  That is a great pick!  I think Rose will be one of the three best NBA players in five years from now, so I am very excited by the prospect of him being a Bull.  I was sure that Chicago would find some reason to draft someone else, or trade the pick, or something typically asinine.  This also means bye-bye Kirk Hinrich, the Bulls' current way, way too white point guard who sucks.  Hallelujah!  Pass the Gatorade!  And if that's not enough, the Cubs have the best record in all of baseball half-way through the season, and if that's not enough, the Bears are totally fucked!

The economy may suck and there may be natural disasters all around, but providing the world can hold its shit together and not end in the next few years, it should be a good time for Chicago sports.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Posts about wine

Most of the writing that is done about wine these days is highly convoluted stuff, in which the writers use a collection of upwards of 300 different tastes, flavors, colors and aromas to describe the qualities and characteristics of the wine.  The wine is then typically given a precise score out of a possible 100 points, the idea being that that gives you the closest possible thing to an apples to apples comparison.  As a result, I never thought of writing about my thoughts regarding wine because I don't have the background knowledge to speak in that language.  I also happen to disagree with the methodology in principle--I have tasted many wines that have scored in the low 90s that I've found much more enjoyable and interesting than wines scoring in the upper 90s.  While its true that a rating system like that keeps you away from truly bad wine, so would a review that says "tastes like balsamic vinegar," or "what do you expect from a $4 Cabernet?"  Regardless, I never gave writing about wine a second thought.

I recently read a book that changed my mind.  Its called "A Hedonist in the Cellar" by Jay McInerney.  It is basically a collection of essays that he has written about wine for some or other magazine over the years, I think it might be "Home and Garden"?  Anyway, in the preface he says pretty much exactly what I've said--he didn't have the traditional knowledge of wine to be a wine writer, but he liked wine and could write, and had enough experience drinking wine to be able to pick out bottles that people would enjoy most of the time.  I'm not saying that I can write well, but besides that we're on the same page.

Besides blogging about the minutiae of my day to day life and going on various rants and raves, I'm going to start occasionally discussing wines that I've had that I think are worth spending the time and money to seek out.  While I'm never going to get a job tasting wines for Wine Spectator, I hope you'll find bottles that I recommend to be at least drinkable and enjoyable, and hopefully memorable.  

And as always, feedback and suggestions are welcome.  Had a great bottle lately?  Tell me about it, I'd like to have readers' selections, too.