Friday, September 29, 2023

Today on Facebook

 If you don't want to pay the fee to go to the highest floor of the Hancock, a hack was to go to the Signature Room and order a drink, appetizer, or whatever.  You got the same view and at least something
for your money.  An employee told me that the best time to go is just before Sunset, he swore you could see ghosts floating around ChicagoHedge (we didn't call it that then).  Never made the effort to do that.

As a native Chicagoan, I've been to the Signature Room exactly two times that I can remember.  Once because a friend wanted to have a birthday drink there.  another time was for a date.

both were F-ing lame.  

Most Chicagoans only do stuff like this when they have friends from out of town visiting.  Oh, and the Sears/Willis Tower has or had a similar room.  We ended up there one New Year's Eve and it was also...lame.

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Shelves and Steaks

 I did a couple of things around the house.   First, I finally used these shelves I bought at my in-laws bi-annual yard sale.   

I've always wanted to set up a coffee bar (with hidden liquor bar components) but didn't have the chance to do so until now.

Next, I created this shelf from a shelf we used on our old sectional.  The kids destroyed the sectional and parts of it are in the Master Bedroom and Kid's room.  

Finally, here are some steaks I grilled for Nightingale's 49th birthday.  I thought about buying some lobster tails but as I have never cooked those before, I didn't want to screw up a $29/lb purchase.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Overcoming Home Stretch Complacency

 Two additional items to check off my ToDo List.  Yesterday I painted the Ultimate Playset after powerwashing and preping over the weekend.  

When the set arrived, the builders put it together and did some painting.  Most of it was pre-painted but apparently, there are some components that don't get painted until post-assembly.   It didn't take long for the paint to start to flake and chip.  I suspect it was because they rushed it trying to make up for their Colossal Fuckup of not having the Playset ready on time.  

Note: Those three boards look bad but they are just dirty;
They were the only ones that didn't need painting

I don't have the exact timeline and am too lazy to look it up, but at some point, I went to a local paint franchise and asked if they could sell me smaller sizes of the paint I needed for both the workroom and the playset.  They were able to do so.  I can only assume their business model allows them to do this on the assumption I'll come back for all my paint needs (I will) or the Big Box stores are lying when they say they can only sell me a gallon of some paint that  I only need 8 oz.

To Review:

Home Stretch Complacency.  

"The symptoms of HSC are, after spending years on a difficult and time-consuming renovation project, crashing on the last lap. That final room doesn’t get done, the trim doesn’t go up, and the primer doesn’t get painted. You sink into lethargy and just live with it."   Brooklyn Row House

For the Playset, it started out as just a few flakes off one or two boards.  But over time, it became more and more.  

For the WorkRoom, even painting a small 9 sq ft section like this still involves prep work and mess.  I washed the floor and taped the wall.  And even though I was careful with the paint, I still got some on my hands and it wasn't easy to get a good clean stroke.  But then again, it's just a workroom and it will be fine.  

The nice thing is that Farrell Calhoun Paint was able to make it happen.  You cannot tell that these are different source paints.  

Monday, September 11, 2023

Keeping Busy

 While Nightingale is away at her new job, I have been trying to keep busy and be productive by working on projects around the house.  The weather is more favorable and I can do outdoor things in the morning before it heats up, then switch to inside stuff just before picking up the kids from school.

  • patched a small dent in the kids room wall 
  • painted scratched paint in the master bedroom 
  • various garage organizations/cleaning/purging  
  • installing bike racks
  • Cut some dead tree limbs 
  • cleaned and polished printer stand

It might be hard to notice but the stand looks much cleaner and has a darker finish.  I don't dare try to sand, stain, and seal this antique.  

There are many more things on my ToDo list.  Some are actually quite ambitious.   Stay Tuned.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Last Day of August

We got another good week of what qualifies as Cool Weather down here.  I was able to get some stuff done in the garages, which always makes me happy.  I hung the bike racks and put some other racks.  I'm glad I talked myself out of moving the lumber racks because that would have been a PITA.

There's still about 10% that could/should go away but I will take it for now.  One morning I need to just take everything on the floor out to the driveway and put it back in whatever order makes sense.  I want to epoxy the floor but for now, that's a pipe dream.  

Nightingale started her job at the VA this week.  Because she has to be there so early, she gets up and gets ready and packs moose and squirrel's lunch for school.  Now that orientation is over, she literally leaves just as we get up.  We have also moved the wakeup time from 7:30 to 7 am...ish.   Boris has no trouble getting up early, but Natasha hates mornings.  Our cat Ryder does his best to mitigate this by gently purring next to her.

The kiddos have been great.  Very helpful and cooperative in eating breakfast (as in telling me what the F they would like to eat), getting dressed, brushing teeth, and out the door just before 8 am all this week.   

This was also the week that my in-laws decided to visit Michigan, so we were flying without a parachute.  We had to watch their purse dogs, who are old and have health issues.  When they stay here, we have to move our cats' food dishes to the top of the washing machine.  They also need to go outside to do their business every 3-4 hours which makes it tough to sleep through the night.  

A Perfect Month

I managed to get 10K steps every day for August, something I don't know if I have achieved ever before.  The two weeks Nightingale was between jobs and the kids were at school were the easiest; I'd hit 10K before noon most days because we were purging and organizing.  I even hit the 20K one day and could have hit it more if I really wanted to.  Back in my running days, I would have hit the top steps that the app tracks, and maybe when the weather gets even cooler, I will attempt a short run to see what I got.

But there were also days where I was trying to get the last 2K just before bedtime as well, just not as many as most months.  Now are these quality steps?  No.  But every little bit helps.  

Now that I have achieved the Perfect Month, I'm gonna try and relax on the steps.  But I do have to find a way to lose some weight.  

Monday, August 28, 2023

My LinkedIn Diet

 Last Wednesday I decided to take advantage of the option in the settings of my LinkedIn account and "take a break" from LinkedIn.  What this does is log one out of LinkedIn and make your profile invisible to searches.

and it was necessary.  LinkedIn is one of the 6 or 7 places I browse constantly, looking for new content.  Not to mention hope for a new job.  but unfortunately, the possibility of a new job is gone while I live in Miss.  And honestly, my No-Name Software Skillset isn't getting any sharper.  I'm not likely to re-enter that sphere ever again.  

I only plan for this LinkedIn diet to last until after Labor Day.  It's a slow time of year anyway and I doubt I'm missing anything besides the cagey recruiter who wants to see my cards before telling me anything useful.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

About that weather

 Remember how I said 

"It won't get cool enough to work on the garden for at least another month but we need to get that done too.  Right now we have bags of mulch and dirt sitting on the driveway."

As it turns out, The Weather gods gifted us two wonderful, relatively cool (70s to low 80s) days this week.  We were able to finish the garden and clear up that driveway space.  I am also able to start my project of organizing the detached garage.

Last year, I installed some racks to store the lumber more neatly.  I was thinking of moving those to the other side of the window and putting bike racks in their place.  Upon dwelling on it for a few weeks, I think it might be better to leave them alone and just put the bike racks closer to the garage door.  Less work and it makes the back of the garage more of a work area.  

So far we have organized the linen closet, and a back bathroom closet, and culled a lot of kids' clothes.  Next up is purging the toys they no longer play with.  That will likely take the rest of this week.  Then we tackle the pantry and the office.  We have a few sit-down and research projects too like getting cheaper car insurance.

Friday, August 11, 2023

The End of An Era

|Two quick factoids to mention.  First, the kids went back to school last Thursday and this is the end of their first full week.  They are Third Graders now.

Second, I have lived here for two years.  We loaded U-haul #1 on July 31st and came down here with the kids.  I think we brought the cats on the second trip.  Nightingale was able to join us on October 1st.

Now for the really big news

In May of 2022, Nightingale took a contract remote job with Big Pharma.  The work was glorified data entry but she hoped it would lead to an opportunity to come on board FTE.  The timing was good because my contract gig was about to end.  While I did get another gig, it was short and I haven't found anything since.

Today is Nightingale's last day.  She gets two weeks off and then starts her new gig at a Veterans Administration Hospital.  The pay is substantially better but will require her to go into the office.

Since moving down here we have not been unemployed at the same time.  We had planned to spend October of 2021 exploring Memphis but then I got a contract job.  

We have big plans for the two weeks off. We hope to purge, purge, purge.  We also hope to organize, organize, organize.  I know her goals are ambitious and it will be my job to help keep them in check and avoid scope creep.  It will be better to have a few finished items than to have more unfinished ones before she goes back to work.

If there is any time left, we will start the framework on some home upgrades.  I'm thinking of tackling what we call the kids'/guest bathroom.  I believe I can sand, prime, and paint the vanity a better color than the 80s dark faux wood.

Part of that is predicated on it getting cooler so I can organize the detached garage and then use it as a workshop to paint the doors.  And eventually, maybe do real furniture flipping.

It won't get cool enough to work on the garden for at least another month but we need to get that done too.  Right now we have bags of mulch and dirt sitting on the driveway.

I'm also thinking of epoxying the detached garage, assuming I get it organized enough that moving things out of it is easier.  

Monday, July 31, 2023

Last Day of July

 We are about halfway through the Summer Weather here in lovely and exotic Olive Branch, Mississippi.  The Summers are brutally hot.  June is Hell's porch.  July is Satan's crotch.  August makes you long for June.  May starts out okay but gets hot mid-month.  September is the mirror opposite.  

My job hunt is showing no signs of improvement.  I did have an interview with a law firm that seemed positive and I was advancing to the next round.  Unfortunately, they would want me in Chicago immediately, no remote until we can move there on our schedule.

And that is part of the problem.  Even when remote work was more prevalent, law firms -- where the bulk of my potential employers are -- require you to live in a state where they have an office for tax compliance reasons.  

And now the Return To Office (TRO) is being pushed so it makes it even more unlikely I will find anything again.

July was also a bad month for steps.  Between the heat down here, and spending most of our time at the beach (where my phone would be in my backpack) I did not hit my target 99% of the time.

States I have visited in the USA

 Gonna put this here for a gimmick.  This represents, to the best of my memory, the state I have visited in the United States of America.  This is including states I may have had a short layover via airplane or just drove through on the way to somewhere else.  

This map probably isn't entirely correct.  I find it hard to believe I haven't somehow wound up driving through Oklahoma or New Mexico, but I cannot remember a specific instance where I would have. 

In the mid 90s, when I went to Yellowstone, my friend drove from New York to Chicago to pick me up.  We then drove through Wisconsin, Minnesota to get to South Dakota to visit other friends.  Did we technically touch North Dakota on the way?  No idea.  

BTW: The Blogger dot com HTML editor will let me paste the code for this map but won't let me edit it.  It's very annoying how limited Blogger has become but since it's free, I cannot really complain.

Create Your Own Visited States Map

Friday, July 28, 2023

A step in the right direction

First, a story.  When we were getting married NG and I did the wedding protocol.  We sent out Save-the-dates and subsequently, wedding invites.  A particular person was dodgy on providing their address the first time I asked and I should have taken that as a hint.

Fast forward, on our wedding invite RSVP they wrote that not only couldn't they attend, they couldn't attend because they had a block party they had to be at.  As someone who has been accused of being tactless, not reading the room, social manners lite, etc, I fail to understand why people overshare shit like this.  What is the thought process?  why share that the most important day of my life gets trumped by a bouncy house and drunk neighbors!  And the kicker?  this asshat went through a wedding themself so they should know how precious each limited seat is.

Now to the present.  Another friend is getting married soon and we are invited to the wedding.  It's impractical to attend, especially since we have had plans to be in Chicago two weeks prior.  But there is also the "this friend has been on radio silence" for a bit factor.

Dark Icarus would look at it like, oh you reach out when you need something from me but have ignored my texts and messages.  But trying to be a better person Icarus is thinking that the right thing to do here is not hold a seat hostage until the last minute.   

So I declined the invite well in advance of the RSVP date.  

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

We are back from a week in Chicago

 We are back from a week in Chicago.  We visited the MSI but spent most of our time at Montrose Beach.  It took a little bit of practice but once we got our groove, we figured out that Montrose had the best free parking and was easier to get to.  

Nightingale and I had dinner at Las Tapas, a place that is around the corner from our PP HOUSE.  I miss living there and wish I COULD get us back there.  alas, without employment, it is a pipe dream.  If my mom would sell her crapshack, we could buy this house.  but she won't.

did I get to do all the Chicago things I wanted to do?  no.  but what are the Chicago things anyway? 

Saturday, July 15, 2023

headed to Chicago

 We are headed to Chicago for a week via Mt Vernon.  We stay at the Drury Inn to split the drive into two manageable 4-hour legs.

Katniss has graciously offered her house for us to stay in since she and the family are going out of town for a vacation with some extended family.

I didn't tell a lot of people we will be in town but I did tell a few.  It's hard to see everyone and it's just easier to do our own thing with an occasional lunch or dinner with another adult.

financially, we really shouldn't be doing this trip.  We are doing it so my mom can see her grandkids again, especially since I'm not sure we will make our annual Thanksgiving Day visit.  But it will be good for the kids and for me.  

If my mom could be a functional adult, we would have a better solution.  She could sell her crapshack in Humboldt Park and buy a nicer home.  Then we'd have a place to stay and could visit more often.  But she is afraid of change and doesn't care that I will have to spend tons of money when she finally dies and I have to deal with her hoarder issues.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Down the Zombie Rabbit Hole

On the Svengoolie Fans Group on Facebook a user asked

I answered with my theory is Zombies refer to the reanimated dead via VooDoo.


This is a throwback to something I wrote here a decade ago.  Which wasn't entirely correct as it turns out.

 and look at the rabbit hole I went down for this question:

Types Of Zombies
Biological zombies. Parasites modify the host creature's behavior. ...
Supernatural zombies. These are zombies that are created in a supernatural way. ...
Chemical zombies. Strange chemicals are discovered and are meant to bring back the dead to life. ...
Technological zombies. ...
Constructed zombie. ...
Magic zombie.

Let's not forget that Vampires are simply intelligent, self-aware, zombies. 🙂

Thursday, July 6, 2023

This house has some serious electrical issues

 The other day I noticed the deck lights didn't turn on automatically.  We only have an outlet on one side of the deck, from which we run two power strips.  We have the deck lights and a few other things connected to these.

After some light investigation, I determined that the outlet wasn't providing any power.  Unfortunately, troubleshooting requires turning the junction boxes on and off and that isn't something I can do when Nightingale is working.  Last night I finally got a chance and while that didn't solve the problem, it did point me in the right direction.  We have a light switch in the kids' room that always throws a breaker on the circuit board.  I flipped it on, then reset the breaker, and then the deck lights worked again.

BUT...last night one of our Air Conditioning units stopped working.  The air was coming out but it wasn't cold.  After a bit of troubleshooting, I determined it was the same problem as last year.  In fact, it has been 11 months since a repairman charged me $240 to fix it.  

  • $70 for a capacitor (they average $20)
  • $50 for freon (this was just a precaution)
  • $120 for labor, about half an hour of work IIRC.

I wanted to avoid that this time so I will replace the capacitor myself.  Amazon had one and I could have had it here tomorrow between 4 am and 8 am but I needed to find one more item for $1.10.  I could have selected literally anything, even two capacitors ($23.90 ea), and returned it.  But I wanted to find something we could use.  It indicated that I had until 5 pm to place the order so I put it down to go deal with feeding my kids lunch.

at 2:30 I picked this up again and now no option for tomorrow is available.  the earliest will be sometime Saturday and it might bleed over into Sunday.  I don't know if it is because Amazon just baits and switches the rapid delivery or because we live in such a shithole state that they only deliver here when it is convenient for them.

Update from the future:  While getting an estimate for a water tank replacement, the person was able to troubleshoot my AC and figured it was just the circuit breaker.  Since I had already tried that, I'm gonna say that the problem was the Capacitor and the breaker.

Friday, June 30, 2023

Look what I've done now

One of the blogs I frequent is  I'm probably more of a lurker but I do contribute now and again.  Usually, my comments are ignored don't lead to anything or there is a 1-2 response.  This is how most of the comments there work.

The other day I shared my unpopular opinion ...

Of course, I have an unpopular opinion that Sentence Diagramming is just an excuse to give Neurodivergent students lower grades and that cursive writing should go the way of the Dodo.

... and it seems to have short-term thread jacked the post.  I actually wrote a thing about Cursive Writing at ChicagoNow but since Alden Global Capital killed the site, you can find it here:

Who cares if Cursive Writing becomes Extinct?

I've met Nancy once, we had a beer in Grosse Pointe.  Her blog is a bit different as she posts a variety of things and readers comment on one or more of them, but then after a day or so the commentary takes over and talks about whatever until Nancy posts again.  

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Speaking of Defunct Blogs

Here's one I happened across when looking for this particular piece.

Chicago History Today 

As a kid, whenever my mom drove us to the Brickyard Mall, we'd notice this Highway to Nowhere.  I thought it might have once been part of an expressway system and this was all that was left.  When I got older and more cynical, we joked that it was a construction pork project.  It turns out, there was a legitimate purpose to it.

This structure was located at 6650 West Grand Avenue. A curved driveway, supported on concrete pillars 40 feet above the ground, with no ramps. For most of the thousands who passed it everyday, it was an intriguing mystery. A Northwest Side prototype for the Skyway, perhaps?

The Grand Avenue whatsis was actually a relic of World War II. Built by Western Electric in 1943, it was a track used for testing mobile radar equipment. The location at the top of a ridge made it higher than any buildings for miles around.

Originally a wooden ramp connected the track to the ground. The mobile radar units would drive up to the top, then planes from Glenview Naval Air Station flew over. The data collected was used to determine the efficiency of radar, which was then a new invention.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Tales from Pidgeon Forge

 We got back yesterday from our trip to Pidgeon Forge.  It was a fun time without too much stress or drama.  Note, there's always a little bit of that, especially when you are spending extended time with friends in confined quarters.  

You see their daily habits and as they likely differ from yours, you cannot help but wonder, how do they live like this?  At the same time, they are thinking the same thing about you.  J and I had a secret "cold war" over the thermostat setting.  Admittedly, I'd set it too low and he would crank it back up, not realizing that the cold setting doesn't act like heat so all it does is effectively turn off the air.  It also irked me that he would leave empty bottles on the counter instead of putting it in the garbage (there was no recycling here: everything had to go in Bear-proof containers).

I've known the entity known as K&J for twenty years now, give or take.  I've also technically known Katniss since high school although we weren't close back then and there was the decade between college and re-acquaintance when we weren't connected.  Katness doesn't let J drink alcohol anymore, which while likely a good thing in the long run, is affecting his short-term dopamine intake.  Like many of us, he has ADHD tendencies and he now only has smoking to get his fix.  

In any event, I'd say we all had a good time (except for J) and the kids enjoyed it, which was the point.  The key was we had very lazy morning and didn't try to cram too much into each day.  The kids also took turns being sick from some sort of virus, which Nightingale and I went through when we got home.  That meant among other things that we couldn't go back to The Island for a second day of rides.

The cabin actually had a vintage video game machine with at least 60 different retro games from the 80s and 90s.  I was reminded quickly how frustrating those games could be.  For one thing, the device is analog so moving your ship, character, or whatever would sometimes not work the way you want it to or might be used to with today's video games.  A lot of video games from that area couldn't handle your ship and an enemy ship or bullet was too close on the screen so it registered a kill even though you could see space between the two entities.  

Let's not forget that often people would get frustrated and hit the controls too hard, which I'm sure adds to them not working optimally.  

I spent the bulk of my video game experience playing Burger Time and Time Pilot. 

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

No New Tales to Tell

This is the last regular week before we head off on a vacation.  We are meeting Katness et al and going to Pidgeon Forge. Then we have a month before we visit Chicago for a week.  Then hopefully Nightingale gets a month off before starting her new job.

As for me, I have been unlucky in getting re-employed.  A guy I use to work with at the No-Name Software Company, former Tech Lead JT, reached out to me last month.  He was let go and freaking out.  The thing is, he got a new job within a month.  

I've written about him here before.  I suspect he reached out to me because he thought I could get him in somewhere and then he realized that he hasn't kept in touch.  he also discovered that very few people were in his corner.  I guess I was probably one of the few people who didn't write him off entirely, although I had every reason to.

Now that he has a new job, he has disappeared, which is all well and fine.  A year ago I interviewed at the place he was let go from and I didn't reach out directly to him because...the year before I reached out about a similar position and he was his usual toxic self.  I might have faired better if I had tried being more humble.

Life isn't fair and this guy JT knows how to play the game.  He has all the confidence of a sociopath with the ego of a narcissist and the unawareness of an old white guy. He will be a director someday.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Last Day of May

We went to Huntsville, Al for Memorial Day weekend to see the NASA Rocket and Space Center.  We thought the kids, especially Boris, would love it.  They did have a good time, but we set our expectations too high on how much they would want to be there.  

Huntsville is a very nice blue dot in the middle of a Red State.  And we had a genuinely nice time there.

I was worried about getting my steps in but managed to get them in quite early each day.  As of right now I'm 29/31 and will likely get today's in as well.  What does this do for me?  nothing much.

Before we left for vacation, I tried to get my haircut at the place I go to down here.  I had an appointment but when I arrived, they were taking walk-ins before me.  After 15-20 minutes I got up and left.  No point saying anything and I don't think it was personal.  Another person experienced the same thing.  I suspect they were being loyal to their regulars although I've been going there for about a year so I would hope I was recognized.  Of course, I will never go there again so it doesn't matter.

I got my hair cut yesterday where I take the kids.  Not only is it closer to the house, but it's an even better overall experience.  MC wasn't much on creature comfort.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Step by Step, slowly I turn

Do these steps mean anything:  With eight days left in the month, I am on pace to have 30 out of 31 days with 10K steps.  The one day I missed so far I had 9583 steps.  It was a Sunday and I got a late start on everything such that I was trying to get the last 1K steps in before bed, but obviously failed.

And we are going out of town for Memorial Day weekend so it's possible I'll miss the travel days since we spend 4 hours in the car.  

Nightingale and I go for a 2-mile walk almost every day, which gives me about 4K steps.  But do the other steps count for much?

Speaking of cars, I just put about $5K in my Element on a new exhaust system, tires, and rear wheel brakes.  I'm positive Midas took advantage of me.  Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of nearby options for mufflers and I didn't want to drive around for a 2nd opinion.

Friendship Dynamics:  Lastly, a dear friend from College sent me a card for my birthday.  It arrived two days after my Bday and after she had sent me a birthday text.

Last year, I suggested to Jewel that we didn't have to wait for our birthdays to give each other a call.  I suggested maybe one quick call a season or so and we did slightly better than that in 2022.  

We talked in January for her birthday but not since.  I figured time just moved quickly for her and she was waiting for my birthday for our next live talk.    Her text didn't mention calling to chat, but her card did, so a few days later I texted about it.  She said she's on a crazy schedule for the next few weeks and would let me know when she catches a break.  

I've never been a high priority with Jewel and she's not one for continuous communication through texts or emails.  But this really hit the feels in a hard way.  She's one of the few people I do talk with on the phone and one of the handfuls of friends I still have left in this stage of life.  My neurodivergent brain asks, how hard is it to hammer out a half hour in your day?  I also know this time of year might make her feel wiggy since her younger sister died from a sudden heart attack a few years ago.  I wouldn't think the two are related but you never know.


Friday, May 12, 2023

Crab Fried Rice

 Don't worry, this isn't turning into a recipe blog.  I found another easy yet tasty dish to make.  What's even better is the ingredients are a subset of other dishes I make around here so it is likely they will often be in supply.

Nightingale had bought some artificial crab meat last weekend and I wanted to use it up.  She also happened to have some leftover cooked rice.  I googled crab meat and rice recipes and this one came to the top.

 I did skip/substitute a few things but it turned out fine.  

  • we didn't have any medium onions.  
  • We usually use minced garlic that we keep in the fridge which often works better than cloves.
  • Skipped the white sugar and cucumber, even though we have both.

Edit from the Future:  I've said it before, but whenever I attempt a new recipe, I use the required ingredients (unless I don't have them) and follow the directions.  The second time I made this, I used a couple of packets of these:

In addition to using up the rest of the green onions and cilantro on hand.  It worked out just as well and saved me a little time.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Zupa Koperkowa - Creamy Potato Dill Soup

I've been wanting to make this soup for some time but could not find any fresh dill.  You can substitute rice or even pasta for the potatoes.  and you can add celery or even mushrooms in addition or instead of carrots and scallions.  But Dill is in the name of the soup and dried just won't do.

Friday, May 5, 2023

Looking for the good news

 So let's talk about some minor good news.  For years I've been managing a Facebook Page and a Twitter account, initially for promoting the stuff over at ChicagoNow, though the FB Fan Page is more of a MEME page for the last couple of years.  I'm finally getting the kind of traffic I would have killed for when I first started.  Although not nearly as much as the heavy hitters get on an hourly basis.

How did it happen?  Well in the beginning very slowly.  I begged friends and fellow bloggers to like my page and only a small minority acquiesced.  We were told not to buy followers but for some reason, that sounded a tad suspicious.  I mean I know that most of the purchased likes are likely fake accounts but what if everyone else is doing it?  I did a little experiment and invested a measly $25 (I think, it's been a while) and bought a few followers to get me up over some number.  After that, it seemed that my visibility increased slightly.  More of my organic likes were seeing my Page.

Months or perhaps even a year or more later (maybe I'll spend some time looking up the stats) I invested $100, a birthday present to me.  I managed to surpass the 2K mark and now my page seems to get more traffic.  Some of my friends don't even remember that it's my page but they share it as if it's a real celebrity lol.

As for Twitter that's even more of a mystery.  I had an account since nearly the beginning but didn't do much with it.  It was a long time before I surpassed 1K.  I think I worked the TwitterVerse slowly and steadily and the number increased the same.  Then one day (March 19, 2014) I started getting tons of followers, most with middle eastern and Arabic handles.  Our theory is someone with a similar Twitter name or ID bought some followers and I got them instead.  I'm still short of the magic 10K which supposedly makes you an influencer unless that number has increased but I don't mind.  

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Life in a Southern Town

 Every Wednesday I have to take Boris to his OT at 8 am.  It's only a half hour so I wait in the parking lot and then drive him to school.  At first, I used to stress about getting him there as soon as possible because, even though he has a note, he's technically tardy and missing some class time.

However, as the days and weeks pass in this Mid-South town, I realized: it didn't really matter.  He's in 2nd grade, it's not like he is missing out on anything crucial.  I still get him there quickly, but I don't stress if I miss a light or if the Therapist talks too long while giving me the summary report.

My FIL sometimes complains about traffic down here.  I know it's mostly an "I'm an old guy, that's what we talk about" thing.  But on some level, he really feels like there is traffic here.

The worst traffic here is nothing compared to the "best" traffic in Chicago.  

The annoying thing is how most people who are turning left don't pull out into the perpendicular street.  It's annoying because as it is when the light or arrow turns green, the first person is typically slow out of the gate.  If you are more than 5 cars back, you're chances of making that light are slim to none.  

Also, honking your horn at a car for vehicular misdemeanor is frowned upon here.  And given the recent landscape, you don't want to find out the person has a short temper and is armed.  So it goes.

Monday, April 17, 2023

FaceBook Friend Catagories

I always wanted to do a post about some of my Facebook Friend groups so why not.  At one point I almost had 1000 "friends" but I whittled that down to under 400 over the last decade.  At first, I was friending anyone I had ever met but then I got more selective.

Virtual Friends:  In this first group are people I've never met IRL but am connected to somehow.  This includes a good number of former ChicagoNow bloggers.

Virtual Randoms: These are people I've also never met but also have no tangible connection that I'm aware of other than we both lived in Chicago.  There's probably one random leftover from MySpace.  

Actual Acquaintances: These are usually people I met once or interacted with long ago.  Former running group people come to mind.

Actual Friends:  People I actually know and give a sh*t about.

Somebodies that I use to Know: People that use to be important to me but are no longer.  But we kept the vestiges of our friendship through FB stalking and occasionally liking or the random comment.

Thursday, April 13, 2023

Ten Bucks a Day so far

We have had our playset for approximately 15 months, give or take a week.  I'm trying to figure out the Unit Cost so far.  Anne Landers had a formula to justify buying something, say an article of clothing.  If it cost $100 and you wear it once, it cost you $100 per wear.  if you wear it twice, then it's $50 per wear, and so on.  The more you use something, the lower the cost.

Now my kids do not use the set every day.  Some days it rains and then it takes a few days for the ground to dry.  Or it's too hot to be outside.  But this is offset by the fact that there are two of them, plus occasionally cousins come over.  

There are lots of ways to crunch the numbers but I'm gonna just do a very conservative look and a slightly optimistic one.

Conservative Estimate:  I'm gonna assume that 4 kids using the playset most days equals one kid using it every day.  So using the time and date duration calculator to figure the time between January 14, 2022, when it finally arrived, and April 14 this year, I get 455 days.  

that works out to $6000/455 = $13.19 per use.

Slightly Optimistic Estimate:  If we get more optimistic, then we can assume 4 kids using the playset most days equals two kids using it every day.

that works out to $6000/455/2 = $6.59 per use.

And if we take the average of these two values, we get the more like CPU of $9.89.

So after a little over a year, it cost ten bucks to keep my kids entertained and off their iPads.

Monday, April 3, 2023

Counting the Steps update

Last month I managed to get my 2nd best month of steps.  I got 27 out of 31.  It turns out my best month was the first month I started this thing when I got 29 out of 31.  Since then I'm averaging missing 4-8 days per month because of weather, sick kids, or something else that prevents me from getting off my butt.

Getting 10K steps a day isn't gonna help me with my weight loss goals.  I actually need to get two or three times that if I'm gonna limit it to walking.  

Also, the first two days of April I only got in about 5K.  Mostly because I was hit with a virus of some type.  Maybe a mild case of COVID but we did not test.  I've had all my shots and Nightingale believes it was more likely allergies.  I'm not certain but whatever.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

When did Furniture Flipping become a thing?

 As a distraction, I thought I would take up Furniture Flipping as a hobby.  For those who may not be aware, Furniture Flipping is taking a used piece of furniture and fixing it up to resell, hopefully for a profit.  I did not expect to make a ton of money or even turn into a side hustle.

I actually inadvertently dabbled in FF back in Chicago when I got a couple items off that didn't work out and had to get rid of them.  I don't recall the exact timeline or precise price but going off memory:

The first was a table that I thought could work for something.  I got it for $5 and found that with some good cleaning and posting at a different virtual garage sale, I sold it for a small profit.  

Another was a free table our neighbors had on their lawn the afternoon of the annual neighborhood yard sale.  it had a sign that said, please take it away.  We tried to make it work but Moose and Squirrel were only going to destroy it.  I cleaned it up and sold it for about $50 (at least six months later).

The last piece was a dresser from my mom's house.  I tried to bring it to Salvation Army to give away but because it was in the vehicle upside down, it looked like the drawers were falling apart and they refused to take it.  Again, some clean up, and new hardware sold for around $30.

Had I known about FF in 2020 when I was laid off, I might have tried to make it a side hustle.  People give away a lot of stuff in big cities, especially around moving days.  

Alas, this piece that I found for $12 isn't going to work out.  The time investment is too high. There is just too much sanding involved.  I also let Moose and Squirrel do some work on it and they went overboard.

I might still try to work on it just for practice to take my mind off other things.  We'll see.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

2023 Bears Playoff Prediction: take it with a grain of salt

 I was asked the following on Quora so here is my answer.

ATA OQ: Will the Chicago Bears be able to make it into the playoffs next season? This answer is for the 2023 season.

The Chicago Bears have two ways to make the playoffs: Win the Division, or via WildCard.

Winning the Division:

Currently, in the NFC North, the Lions are trending up, the Vikings are trending down and the Packers are in disarray. Whether Aaron Rogers stays or leaves, they are not the juggernauts they have been for the last decade.

Therefore it is possible that the Bears could win the division but they have to win at least one game against the Lions and sweep the Vikings and Packers, along with winning more games than the other teams in their division. Because the Bears often do not control their destiny and lose tiebreaker scenarios.


In theory, this should be easier. Last year's Bears lost a majority of games by one score or less. It was only a combination of bad luck, bad execution on final drives, turnovers, and not playing to win (to get a higher draft pick) that led to their fate. They are making some good moves in Free Agency and we will have to see how they do in the draft, but I'm gonna say they are only gonna get better than last year's team.

We know who they are playing but we don't have the schedule set yet. A lot of winning in the NFL depends on when you play a team as much as how you play them. Catch a team before they find their identity and it looks like an easy win. Catch them during a winning streak and they blow you out. Or if they haven't won in 5 or more games, you are the trap game.

We have to see what moves all the teams make during and after the draft but based on what we know, here is what the Bears would have to do based on last year.

HOME (6 - 2, worse case 5 -3)

Lions - gotta win.

Packers - gotta win.

Vikings - gotta win.

Falcons - they almost beat them last year and the Falcons are with a QB committee. Should be a win, especially at home.

Panthers - they are rebuilding. if this game is early in the year, the Bears win.

Broncos - We all laughed at Russell Wilson last year but now that he has had a year and a new coach, I think Bears are upset at home.

Raiders - The Raiders had a lot of pieces last year but bad luck. I think with Jimmy G at the wheel, the Bears lose this one.

Cardinals - This team starts hot and then fades so if Bears get them later in the season at home, in the cold, count this as a win. Update from the Future:  Now that the schedule has been released, count this as a win.

AWAY (4 - 5, best case 6 - 3(5 -4, best case 6- 3)

Lions - Last year the Lions were in most games until the end. I expect very few losses at home. Bears lose a close one.

Packers - gotta win and it's possible the Bears win in Lambeau for the first time since 2015.  Update from the Future:  Now that the schedule has been released, count this as a loss, unless a playoff berth is on the line.

Vikings - Last year was a fluke. This year Bears sweep.

Chiefs - This is expected to be played in Germany. If the Bears arrive early and the Chiefs fly in late, Bears take this one.  Update from the FutureChiefs got to decide which game gets played in Germany and they absolutely did not want to lose Bear fan revenue for a home game, so this will be at Arrowhead.  The only hope for the Bears is this is Week #3 so Mahommes might still not have found his rhythm.  

Chargers - Chargers seem to get hot later in the season so it depends. I'll count this as a Bears loss.  Update from the Future:  Now that the schedule has been released, count this as a win.

Saints - I'm gonna say Bears take this in an upset only because they have lost to New Orleans over the last half-decade, including the playoffs.

Buccaneers - Baker Mayfield has something to prove and the Bucs' defense is still stout. Bucs win.

Commanders - Bears should have beat them last year. I think they take this one.

Browns - It seems if the Bears play the Browns early in the season they lose, if it is later, they win.  Update from the FutureNow that the schedule has been released, count this as a win.

So conservatively they go 9 and 8 (I cannot calculate potential tiebreakers at this point) which might get them the last wildcard. It comes down to the Browns and Cardinal games. Anything better than 9–8 likely gets them in.

If my optimism is correct, they are 12 and 5 and easily secure a wild card berth well before the season is over, and might even be able to rest players if the math shows they cannot improve their position.

Note: I do not believe they can make enough changes in 2023 to go to the Super Bowl or deep in the playoffs. Most likely they are one-and-done in the playoffs. Best case they move on to the divisional round.  

Sunday, March 12, 2023

an incesstrious industry

 This happened.

Senior recruiter reaches out to me at 12:24 pm 3/8/3023

we talk at 3:30 pm.  I explain how it's very likely one or more persons in his organization know me and doesn't like me.  he says he's going to submit my resume anyway.

this morning at  8:06 AM

Hi, I spoke with the team this AM. At this time, they are moving forward with another candidate already in the interview process. I appreciate your time yesterday. Feel free to keep in touch!


Sent the following messages at 8:38 AM

I had a feeling.   :-)   Things do change and directors come and go so if there is a changing of the guard, please keep me in mind for future opportunities.

I give the recruiter props for reaching back with the best letdown message he could come up with under the circumstances.  He is lying and knows that I know he is lying.  

I've burned many bridges in my career.  Some of it was my immaturity.  But some of it was also standing up for myself, setting boundaries and not letting people treat me like crap.  

I cannot say who this company is but I did apply with them in 2015 and also got this after a first-round interview:

It was a pleasure speaking with you to discuss your background and interest in HBR Consulting.  We appreciate your time, attentiveness and patience throughout the interview process.  While we were impressed with your qualifications, we are unable to offer you a position at this time.  We will retain your resume on file and should our needs change, we will contact you.

And then a few months later I was hired by a Big Audit and we engaged said company to work on a project.  It doesn't look like lightening will strike twice though.