Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Resolution in High Definition!

A Resolution in High Definition.

Layers of time define a big picture and a hope to attain a glorious end.  The layers of time shadow our future.

Happy New Year Everyone!  2013 is here.  What are you all resolving to do?  Do any of you keep your resolutions?  Have you made new ones?  Are you continuing some?  New Year's Day is a day where we all resolve to change something in our life, mainly setting new goals.  Whether it's losing weight, toning up, achieving a new goal, going back to school, calling an old friend, forgiving someone, etc, we set goals and try to achieve them.  Do we really achieve them?  How many gyms are empty after one month or day of making a resolution to tone up?  How many empty promises do we say we keep but don't live up to?  Yes, we are not perfect.  We strive.  We try to keep our goals.  Hopefully, this is a year for everyone to go beyond themselves, including me.  That's what I'd like to call the High Def Resolution.

Do you celebrate the year before, or the year ahead?  Hmmm, good question to think about.  This past year, I celebrated the year behind me, but I'd like to continue that celebration into the new year, not using one day for the celebration.  Life is a celebration.  Try to live its fullest.  Don't let it pass you by.  This year, I'm continuing my weight loss and toning up, BUT I'm also resolving to live life in High Definition.  I want to keep the big picture and TRY to explore each pixel of it as best as I can.  This will include continuing to take new risks, having faith, having hope and perseverance.

In a few stories I've written previously, I described the words "to hope" and "to pray" as being the same word, and deriving from the word for "tower." Climbing to the top of a tower allows one to see the road clearer and with more depth and definition.  High Definition!  That is what hope and prayer are.  They are a fortress and a tower amidst our despair, even amidst our praise and fortune.  A Tower.  High Definition.  A hope to an expected and glorious end [tírnáin].  Below, please note the person to whom I attributed the database word entry to.  She has an amazing story linked to this. [Picture in heading is a blend of two pictures I took: Sunset over Hinckley Lake in November 2011 and Dawn over Prairiewood on November 15, 1996].

From my Word DB. Hoping and Praying.

Make this year stand out.  Climb that tower of faith.  Look beyond the horizon.  Look towards a glorious and expected end.  See it in High Definition.  I hope and pray that for myself as well!

I-PASS FREELY

If you've lived in Illinois long enough, you'll learn that it's hard to get around the roads without paying for them one way or another.  Get yourself an I-Pass transponder.  Jewel-Osco grocery store has them at the customer service desk.  They are $50.00 for one unit.  At that price, you buy $40.00 worth of tolls up front.  Once you've purchased a unit, call the number to have it activated, then go online to setup your I-Pass account.  Link it to your bank account.  There, you can also look at your usage history, your account details, and setup a "account replenish."  If your account falls below a certain amount, it will pull money from your bank account and replenish the I-Pass account.

 An example of Usage History.  Check frequently if you "pass" the toll gates.

I-Pass Transponder Unit

Place the unit on the back of your rear-view mirror.  Make sure it's in a spot where it can be detected by the Sensors at the toll gates or the open I-Pass hotspots on the open road.  Be prepared to see these on the roads.  Illinois is full of them!

 Whatever the destination be, you pay a price!

We don't get a free ride.

"Pay as you go."

 Open road I-Pass "Hotspots!" You don't need to stop.  Keep going.  The price is already paid for.

Life is not a free ride.  We pay as we go.  Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, or sometimes all you have.  With the new year, I would like to resolve to live life in High Definition.  By this, I mean taking new chances, fighting the fight, persevering, hoping, looking forward with faith and looking back with no regrets, living it as if it were my last day, climbing a tower of faith and daring to take a stand!  2012 taught me to live this way, so I would like to resolve this again for this year as well.  In the end, it's important to remember the open "hotspots" on the road.  "THE PRICE WAS PAID AND BOUGHT."  That is the ultimate achievement to living life in High Definition.  If you have an I-Pass account, the price is paid for.

"This is a cash and carry world. You pay as you go. Sometimes it's a little. Mostly it's a lot. Sometimes it's all you have."  Storm of the Century, Stephen King.

"Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." 1st Peter 1:18-19.

Jewel-Osco
"I-Pass for Ford."

LIFE!  DON'T LET IT PASS YOU BY! SOME OF US DON'T GET A SECOND CHANCE.

"A Miracle of Sorts" by Karen Sobolewski

"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." Attributed to John Lennon.

In 2008, I was fortunate to meet a very good friend while working at Broadvox.  Her name is Karen Sobolewski.  I believe that people come into your life for a reason and it's not just by chance.  Karen was one of those people.  Having the privilege to work with her daily was a tremendous blessing while being employed at Broadvox.  Karen teaches by example to live life as if it were your last.  She is a caring mother of two daughters and a Warrior Mom, having a candidly caring and courageous outlook on life.  Having CARE in her name is no mistake.  She gives with no expectations.  She has an amazing story with "A Miracle of Sorts."  She is survivor of PPCM.  While I don't know all there is to know about it, I do know that Karen was blessed with a "new life" and, quite literally, a "new heart" both physically and spiritually.  She is a great encouragement and her example is all about perseverance and not giving up!  She is a very giving and caring friend, and very patient.  She is blessed by a wonderful boyfriend and her two daughters.  Her success is that she is true fighter and over comer.  In spite of her many ailments, she doesn't give up and sets a good example to others who are going through troubles.

Broadvox Days, August 2011.
Karen Sobolewski, Me, Holly Runyon,
Kristen Nelson and Michele Sharif.
Cleveland OH

An Excerpt from Karen's Story, "A Miracle of Sorts."

...We moved to Austin, Texas when Amanda was a few months old. No matter how much sleep I got I always felt like I needed more, I never felt rested. How I was feeling was attributed to the move cross-country and the complete upheaval of everything familiar and the stress related to that. We moved mid to late summer of 2001 and I started work shortly after we got settled at BHESC.

In September, Scott and I decided to take the girls to Sea World in San Antonio so we both took the weekend of the 14th off so that we can have a long weekend to make the trip. I had found a wonderful pulmonologist by the name of Dr. James Pohl and in fact had seen him prior to our planned trip. I had gotten over a cold and was given the okay to take the girls. We took the girls to the daycare that morning so that we could pack and get everything ready. Scott said I was watching coverage of the September 11th bombings and he said I had taken it very hard. I guess there was a story of a father on a plane handing his child off to someone so that he could go and get the terrorists; I was riveted by that apparently. I got up to give him a hug and as I turned to walk away I fell backwards hitting my head twice at the base of my neck on the corner of our dining room table before I hit the ground.

Scott started C.P.R. as he had done for me when I had respiratory failure in the past and called 911. He continued to work on me until the ambulance crew came knocking on the apartment door. He had to leave me on the floor to answer the door and at that time I was flat-lined so they immediately began C.P.R. again, intubated and shocked me with the paddles twice and then administered medication by literally driving roughly a 12 inch needle directly into my heart.

Scott was hysterical and was physically removed from the room by one of the paramedics because they told him that if he saw what they had to do to me that he would probably faint and they did not have the time or manpower to take care of him while they were dealing with me. In the ambulance on the way to Seton Northwest Hospital my heart arrested again. They had to pull over on Highway 183 in order to stabilize me, as a result of that Scott got to the hospital before we did and they had no idea what he was talking about which certainly didn't help his state of mind at the time.


Just after the September 11, 2001 attacks on September 14, Karen died with complications due to PPCM.  The trauma of that day hit her very hard.  The "Miracle of Sorts" came when she was revived by doctors and blessed with a second chance at life.  She commemorates every September 14 as her HEART DAY each year.  She has written about her life and has encouraged many with it, including me.  Her life is a demonstration of hope and perseverance.  Don't give up!  Fight the fight.  Karen is a fortunate person to be blessed with this "new life."

Karen's Song
"I'm Already There,"
Lonestar.

I was so fortunate to have worked with Karen at Broadvox.  She was also a great source of comfort and inspiration when I was unemployed and when I was packing up and moving to Chicago last year.  Karen thank you for being an inspiration and an encouragement in my life.  You've given me courage to continue to fight the fight and to help me live life in High Definition.  You've given me perpetual happiness!  I'm fortunate to be blessed with a few good friends of depth and quality.  Karen, you are one of those few!  Thank you!

Karen and her boyfriend, Brian.
Last Stop Inn, Parma OH.

LAUGHTER IS GOOD MEDICINE

Beginning the year (January 5), I spent the evening with the Venture Around Chicago group at Jim Belushi's Comedy Bar in Chicago's River North Neighborhood.  Venture Around is a Chicago based meetup group.  It is organized for Singles, but not limited to that.  It's people just getting together and exploring Chicago in a group.  Kurt Poppenhouse is the event organizer or "Captain."  He puts the meetups on Meetup.com.  I've recently started doing more social activities with this group and I first got involved with the group back in July 2012 with another Single's group called Mingle Around Chicago, which is more a dating type social group.  Going to the first meetup of the year was great though.  I've downloaded the App even onto my phone.

So, hanging out with this group has been a lot of fun especially with the New Year.  Laughter.  What a good way to start a new year.  It was an awesome night of fun.  Before we went to the Comedy Bar, we all met up at "Ed Debevic's" on Ontario Street to eat. There, the server was good enough to throw a straw at my face and rudely take my order.  LOL!  Not to worry though, if the service isn't rude, then they're not doing their job, lol!  Ed Debevic's is also famous for the extra entertainment and "side show" like standing on the tables, singing and dancing to songs like YMCA!

Shazam

The most hilarious part of the night was when the song "Blame it on the Rain" played.  Hearing it, I turned to Kurt (the Venture Around Captain) and said, "Oh, I have to see if Shazam tags this song!"  Sure enough, Shazam tagged it with Milli Vanilli, lol!  He got the joke.  Shazam didn't though, haha.


Ed Debevic's.  Expect bad service here!

Ed Debevic's
"Venture Around."

After the group was assembled and we all ate, we walked over to the Comedy Bar to be entertained by Jim Belushi and the comedy troupe for the evening. There were several other comedians that performed the night  The lineup included: Lil' Rel and Adam Burke!  They provided a unique comedy blend.  Jim topped the evening off with Canadians, learning from divorce, benefits to a male-voiced GPS system, and the playoffs with Green Bay.  He even commemorated some of his closest Canadian friends like the late John Candy and Dan Aykroyd.

Jim Belushi Comedy Bar

Jim Belushi

The Comedy Bar
"Jim Belushi."

The Venture Around Chicago group has some awesome meetups coming up this year and I hope to be a part of many of them.  It's great to get out and, not only meet new people, but explore Chicago together!

AT LEAST IT WAS LEASED

On January the 9th, I resigned my lease at Waterfall Glen.  I can't believe it's been a year almost.  I originally signed the first lease back on March 25, 2012, and my first "official residential day" in Chicago was April 1, yeah no fooling there, haha. I found this place on a whim almost, not knowing where to move to and little research.  I believe it was part of the plan for a new start.  The real confirmation that this was part of the plan was when the Landlord stated before I moved in, "...oh, you have a nice view of a Weeping Willow from your bedroom window."  It "stamped" my dream about Chicago last year.

My neighbors!

It's a beautiful area to live in and the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve sits right on the other side of Clarendon Hills Road.  It's perfect for hiking, biking and running.  Maybe next year, I'll consider moving Downtown.  I've had a few people encouraging me to do that, but most of the places I've looked at are a bit pricy.  I like the second bedroom as a Home Office.  One bedrooms are cheaper Downtown.

Waterfall Glen

A LAKE FACING THE WRONG DIRECTION.

There is no need to turn the lake off for snow here.  Moving into the next week, I concentrated on getting some work projects done.  Yes, work is keeping me busy these days, and if the time ever comes where snow is a problem, I have an option to work remotely.  Hehe.  Luckily, thus far, Chicago has not had a huge or lasting snowfall, which I was accustomed to back in Cleveland with the turmoils of Lake Effect Snow.  Luckily here, the Lake is on the "wrong" side for this occurrence here; however, on January 11, we got our Weather report here saying Gandalf would be making its appearance in Chicago with snow, ice and extreme cold temperatures.

Winterstorm Gandalf is announced

A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE

Starting the weekend of January 11th, I stopped at "The Reel Club" in Oak Brook Mall on the way home from work.  The food there was delicious and the service was excellent.  Though I didn't order seafood there, the steak was very palatable, moist and juicy.  Wildfire Steakhouse is upstairs.  I tried getting in there first, but I would've had to wait 2 hours for a "party of 2."  Yes, I still reserve a seat for a party of 2 when I dine, and yes, it's very hard going out by myself, especially when a restaurant is full of couples.  There's a lot of pressure and sometimes, yes, I feel very awkward and out of place.  "What's wrong with him that he doesn't have a date?"  That runs through my head when I'm sitting alone at a table.

Reel Club

On Saturday the 12th, I packed an overnight bag and drove up to Wisconsin for the rest of the weekend.  My friend Todd Florian gave me a good idea to go visit where "time stopped" for me years earlier.  It was an excellent idea.  Thanks, Todd!  The roads were clear and "Gandalf" hadn't made his appearance yet -- luckily.  Driving up I-294, crossing into Wisconsin, the memories were triggered.  As I made my approach into Downtown Milwaukee, it was getting dark out.  Finally arriving at the hotel, I settled in and did some walking around.  I had dinner at the Milwaukee Chophouse.  There, the game was on TV.  I could finally let loose and root for my team, Green Bay, without fear of belligerency or reprieve.  LOL!  Yes, I flew my true colors and this trip had nothing to do with Green Bay playing either.  It was just mere coincidence.  Hey, I lived in Wisconsin for a time, so I can "legitimately" root for the "other" team.  I know I live in Chicago and they are a rivaled team.  Da Apology.  Da Bears.  Sorry.

@HiltonMilwaukee City Center

This was a weird check-in.

Milwaukee Chophouse



Dinner consisted of an 18oz Ribeye steak, topped with sauteed mushrooms (garlic flavored), green beans, and wine.  I don't normally take a picture of my food, but THIS was an awesome cut of steak.  The server asked me if I wanted "fresh" pepper on my salad, so naturally chuckling about the humor from Jim Gaffigan's "Into the Pale," I replied, "sure wave your magic wand."  LOL!

"Enjoy your magic salad!" Jim Gaffigan.

Milwaukee Chophouse

After dinner, I went back up to my hotel room and turned the TV on to watch more of the game between Green Bay and San Francisco.  Falling asleep somewhere where the game was tied a few times, I woke later and learned that Green Bay lost.  Ah, well.  Someone wins; someone loses. They had a great season!

The following morning, I woke up rather early to a wintery snowfall.  I looked out my window towards Downtown Milwaukee and saw snow plows out and snow on the roads.  I started hoping that this would not impede my journey down memory lane into East Troy for the day.

Downtown Milwaukee Skyline


Downtown Milwaukee
"Snowy morning in Milwaukee."

On Sunday, January 13, After checking out of the hotel and loading the car back up, I walked up Wisconsin Avenue towards the Pfister Cafe for breakfast; the cafe was located in the Pfister Hotel lobby.  It was very cold and snowy, and the sidewalks were very slippery.  There were some people out and about, but for the most part, downtown was rather quiet this morning.  Maybe it was the game from the previous night.  Downtown Milwaukee is very beautiful and very "new" looking.  Living in Wisconsin before, I don't remember how beautiful of a city Milwaukee truly was.  Very elegant, even on a cold winter's morning.

Daylight breaks!


Wisconsin Avenue

Milwaukee River

Wisconsin Avenue Bascule

Pfister Hotel

The Cafe At The Pfister
"Have a taste for Bacon!"

Breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs and bacon.  Yum!  After breakfast, I walked back to to my car and drove off towards Mukwonago on I-43 south.  There, the journey down Memory would begin for me.  I arrived in Mukwonago on Route 83 at about 11am.  Getting off exit 43 on 43, the memories began hitting me more, especially after crossing the Mukwonago River into the city center, where County ES junctions.

Exit 43

 Wisconsin 83 and Illinois 83 are the same!

Mukwonago
"Memory Lane."

Mukwonago was a small city, where I used to do all my shopping and do some hanging out with friends.  I remember saying "Do ya wanna go to Mukwonago?"  Haha.  It was closest to where I lived and most visited outside of Milwaukee.  It's also interesting to note, but the same stretch of Route 83 in Wisconsin is the same stretch of Route 83 in Illinois where I currently live by.   Sorry, that's just a pointless map geek observation on my part.  Follow Illinois 83 into Wisconsin.  It's the same 83, just a different State, lol!

Downtown Mukwonago at ES and 83.

After driving through Mukwonago, filling Blackbeak up with gas, and enjoying some of the memories, I drove west down ES towards Hwy. J.  Oh, yes, how can one forget Wisconsin and their love for Letter People?  LOL!  All their roads are letters.  J was the main east west route between Mukwonago and Troy Center, very close to where I used to live.  The roads were not salted, so I took extra care driving on the roads here.  Plus, remembering how the drivers were in this State before made me think back to that Car Accident I was in.  So, it was best to allow the Wisconsin Drivers the right-of-way at all times.  No need for Whiskey Turns or Stops again.  Hehe.  I drove through Troy Center (Hwy N) which is just made up of a Fire Station and a Town Hall.  There is nothing spectacular in Troy Center, which is why we all hung out in Mukwonago.  That's where I voted for the Clinton/Perot/Dole General Election in November 1996.  Other than that, that's all I did in Troy Center then.

A SETTING SUNRISE OVER PRAIRIEWOOD

As I was traveling down J, I was beginning to have flashbacks and strong memories now, remembering what Prairiewood used to look like, even the other guys whom had lived there too.

 Me, sitting on the front porch, September 1996.

My last day there.

My old bedroom




The cat we hired just to take care of our rodent problem.


Yes, even this catastrophe!

Even my new apartment in Brunswick (November 1996), when I moved back to Ohio.

Brunswick OH.

Pinewood Apartments (S. Carpenter Road)

Concentrating on the very slippery roads, it was hard not to recall every inch of the road and every step of the way, even all the other guys I lived with at the house there.  The town seemed just as untouched by time as I was.  Time had not moved there, just the same as I.

At about Noon, I turned off J and drove down Little Prairie Road towards my old house near Sterman Road.  Well, I passed it up the first time.  With the snow on the ground and the missing Silo in the field, I was thrown off, even when I drove up the driveway and looked around the SECOND time.  The property was very different.  So, unsure about its location, I drove back into Troy Center, parked Blackbeak and looked at the Wall Picture of the Sunrise over Prairiewood that I took on my very last morning in Wisconsin of 1996.  Still perplexed a bit, I then drove up the road again, parking in the driveway again.  Once I got out of the car, I could tell I was in the right spot.  So, just a tad unnerved, I knocked on the door, hoping the people that lived there wouldn't be uneasy with my "intrusion."  They had dogs to greet me at my car door, so I'm sure the residents were alerted to my arrival.

Troy Center, Wisconsin

A NEW DAWN OVER PRAIRIEWOOD

Knocking on the door, I heard a woman inside say, "just come on in!"  I thought, Are you kidding me? I could be crazy and have a gun.  So, I knocked one more time and politely waited for the door to be answered.  The woman opened the door; I had my Wall Picture in hand.  I politely introduced myself to the woman and she invited me inside.  Quickly trying to "ease" my reason for being there to her, I started off by saying, "I'm a former resident of the home and was in the neighborhood."  The woman smiled and made me feel comfortable.  She replied, "you're not the first former resident to visit."  My eyes widened.  "Really?"

I was quickly and warmly introduced to the rest of the woman's family, the DeMoras.  The woman whom invited me was named Joellyn.  After awkwardly explaining my reason for being there, I was reassured by showing Joellyn my Wall Picture of Prairiewood.  Also, previous to leaving for Wisconsin, I downloaded some old photos of me at the house onto my phone and showed them to her.  I came prepared and I thought it would be best to have some pictures to show and validate my reasons AND story.  Joellyn was very friendly and very hospitable.  She and her husband put a lot of hard work into renovating the home.  It was absolutely beautiful.  They took me on a tour of the home; memories were now hitting me like a ton of bricks, especially when they showed me my old bedroom.  I explained to Joellyn how badly kept the house was at the time when I lived there and how we had a cat which hunted the mice.  She told me how much worse it was when they bought the home in 2003.  She said the entire bathroom had FALLEN through the floor!  Wow!  It was so nice to see how much dedication and hard work her family put into renovating and gutting the house, making a livable place.

Prairiewood's new residents, the DeMoras.

After taking a tour, I told Joellyn my life story and about "The Spot" where I took the photo.  I explained to her that I had to do this and I had to revisit the place where one chapter of my life ended years ago.  She liked my story, even the part with my Dream about Chicago (the Weeping Willow, The Lake and the Wind).  She believed me and she understood.  She said she was no stranger herself to dreams of that magnitude, and she told me her story about moving from NC back to Wisconsin and "following the Call of God" as I was.  She explained that my visit was not an accident and that several former residents have come back to revisit the farm and hear the historical stories behind Prairiewood.  She said that they want to turn Prairiewood into a Historical Landmark in Wisconsin.  It would be so nice if they did.  I was so blessed to meet this family and to be encouraged about following the "call of God" in your life.

Kitchen

Kitchen

Dining Room

Stairwell

My old Bedroom


After chatting about current events, exchanging contact information, and sharing life stories, I bid them farewell and a heartfelt "Thank You" for allowing me to visit.  Still being bombarded with memories walking out the door, it all finally hit me emotionally when I stood on the VERY SPOT I took the picture of the sunrise.  I wish I could find the original photo or even the negative.  At least I have the wall photo.  When I showed my Wall Photo to Joellyn, she said she never remembered there being a Silo on the property, but her husband said that there remains to be what is left of a foundation in that area where stone and rock penetrate deep into the ground.  They were very pleased with the pictures I brought and were blessed to see what the area looked like before they moved in.

 Dawn over Prairiewood, November 15, 1996

Da Spot!

Without vehicular blockage!

The View with no Silo

Standing on the VERY spot where I believed time stood still in my life, it was hard to hold back the tears, and I felt the rush of time move past me all at once.  The floodgates opened. It was a breathtaking moment to pause and reflect on my life and where it went from that point after November 15, 1996. That was the VERY spot where one chapter in my life finished, 15 years ago. And, the chapter that started after that point recently had its ending on October 13, 2011 (My 38th birthday).  November 15, 2011 marked the new Dawn, a date which I did not make an immediate connection to until I looked at the time stamp of my Wall Photo of the Sunrise.  So, standing there, it was a refreshing, tear-jerking moment.

Troy Center, Wisconsin
"I'm standing on the VERY spot where I believe time froze for me, 15 years ago. Little Prairie Road & Sterman Road."

After leaving, my last stop on Memory Lane was driving down ES towards the Town Center of East Troy, where I remember going to a few shops there and hanging out there on the 4th of July.

Town Center of East Troy

End of Memory Lane at the Center of East Troy

East Troy Town Square
"Town Center."

After pausing at this last stop, I drove homeward, taking with me new and old memories of Wisconsin. A time to reflect and a time to look back and not regret, but to be patient with life and what it hands you. You don't always have clear horizons, or a sun to guide you. The courage comes in to keep hoping and to keep journeying towards the horizon even when you can't see beyond it.  That is one lesson I have learned and that life has taught me.  It was nice to go back to where one chapter of my life finished years ago.

Border Of Illinois/Wisconsin

Memory Lane

SOMEONE TURN OFF CHICAGO TONIGHT, WE HAVE STARS TO SEE HERE!

Venture Around Chicago and Adler After Dark!

Sometimes, it would be nice to have a master switch to turn off the city to see the heavens here.  January 17, Thursday, I spent the evening once again with Venture Around Chicago at Adler Planetarium for their monthly "Adler After Dark" program.  The theme was called "Geek Chic" and so the event hosted characters in Sci/Fi movies and stories, like Star Wars.  So, walking around the planetarium was almost like walking on the Death Star, lol.  Stormtroopers patrolled the corridors and even Darth Vader made an appearance.  Haha. I don't usually like pictures of myself, but I had someone from the group help me take some.

"Aren't you a bit too tall to be a Stormtrooper?"

"I find your lack of faith disturbing!"

"TK-421!  Why aren't you at your post?"
"Um, cute girl?"

Han Shot First. Me on left, Vicki in middle, Kurt with the fedora, and Padraig on the right

Doane Observatory Telescope

Usually a common place for me to visit, it never gets dull going to Adler, even with the company of people and some cute girls.  LOL!  As a group, we did some of the activities like the Sci/Fi Trivia and we went outside to the Doane Observatory to see Jupiter!  For the trivia, one of the ladies in the group came up with "Han shot first" as our group name!  So AWESOME!  A Geek chick, lol!  We didn't place in the trivia but it was reminiscent of weekly Pub Trivia, which both Kurt and I had played before.  Did I ever tell you all how much I like Stargazing?  Er, yeah, you probably guessed it.  One of the other things we did was go into the planetarium part to see the Winter stars on the dome.  One of the women and I in the group remembered the times where they had a spherical projector in the middle of the room to project the stars on the ceiling.  Now it's all done from the dome itself.  "Stop the room, I'd like to get off now.  Was that the drink?"  It's always a fun inner-ear experience when the host "spins" the stars around the dome to make you feel like you had too much to drink, lol!  Oh, you mean that wasn't the drink?  Do not do this activity if you have vertigo.

Chicago Skyline at Night from Adler.  
Someone left the lights on again.

Adler Planetarium
"After Dark."

It was a fun night and well worth going to do, and I can't wait to do more activities with this group.  It's nice to meet new people in the group and not feel pressured to do anything else but have fun exploring Chicago together.

DARE TO TAKE THE FALL...ER...STAND, ONE YEAR LATER!

A year ago on January 17-20, I first visited Chicago to go on some job interviews, but I believe to get the feel for home!  So, between the job interviews, I did some sightseeing in the city.  January 19, I dared to take the stand in the Sears Tower.  To "Dare and take the Stand" means standing in a glass alcove outside the building.  So, standing there, it's like you're standing in "mid air" over Chicago.  To me it meant that, but it also had a "life altering" tone to it (read the intro of this blog about "hope," "praying" and "towers").  Dare to take the stand for a new life!

Me, daring to take the stand!

"I think I see my Dad. That SOB is down there somewhere."

So, why did I dare to take a fall?  Well, I plainly remember that day in the Sears Tower.   I remember the sightseeing and "seeing my Dad" from the SkyDeck, but the most unforgettable experience was getting into the elevator to go back down to the street -- mind you from the 103rd floor of the building.  Well, getting into the car was no problem; not many sightseers in the SkyDeck that day.  The problem occurred just after the doors closed.  The elevator operator pressed the button, and then SUDDENLY the car DROPPED TWO FLOORS before the brakes squealed and stopped the falling car, halting its 1400' plummet to the ground!  Ayuh.  Wits, sir, as in frightened out of.  Yeah, talk about a wake-up call and an unforgettable moment.  This was it.  Trapped in the car for 30 minutes at the mercy of elevator brakes, I remember after the brakes kicked in, the inner doors of the elevator opened between two floors.  Here's a picture of the moment from that day.  Haha.

Car dropped and braked between 101 and 100 in Sears Tower!
Doors opened between floors!  1/19/12.

I remember there was a family in the car with kids.  The woman panicked.  Trying to keep her calm, the husband chuckled, "Anyone have any Jameson?"  Also trying to keep her calm, I said, "It probably was that last hot dog I had which did this.  Sorry."  The elevator operator looked at us, added to the humor, saying that this wasn't part of the tour. Haha.  Being trapped in the car for awhile, I just remember we had to vacate that car and use another one, once they got the maintenance to level the car off with the floor to let us all out.

The Circle Interchange

This year, Saturday the 19th, I thought about the date and remembered what I did the previous year in 2012, so on the spur of the moment, I hopped in the car and darted Downtown to hang out in the city.  I had no real agenda, but I got down there early.  Driving inbound, I captured a nice Dashcam Video in the car of my driving.  Using VideoPad (NCH Software), I've compiled a few of these types of videos and overlayed them with songs and images.  I've featured this video in this month's blog, so enjoy the YouTube version at your leisure.  One of the songs I used in the video (Circle by 65dBA) is a 'tip of the hat' to the Circle Interchange here and getting stuck in it.


Chicago Inbound on the Stevenson

The Song tracks I used in the Video were all songs I enjoyed the first time when I lived in Chicago and Wisconsin (1994-1996) with the exception of two songs on the list; the one done by Erasure (2007) and the other one by U2 (2000).  Aside from the love to the uptempo of the song, "Beautiful Day," the verse stating "...the traffic was stopped..." was a nice touch for driving Downtown.  Haha.  Primarily, they are all songs from 1991-1996.  I always loved the voice of Martha Wash in Black Box, so that track was a must have.  The song "Spirits in a material world" was obviously done by "The Police," but I liked the Raggae version a little more.  It does feature Sting.

Ultimatum (Immediate Music) - Kingery Hwy, Burr Ridge (0:37)
All This Time (Sting) - La Grange Road, Hodgkins (2:37)
I Don't Know Anybody Else (Black Box) - Harlem Avenue (7:39)
Spirits In A Material World (Pato Banton ft. Sting) - Damen Avenue (12:16)
Beautiful Day (U2) - Cermak Road (16:50)
Circle (65dBA) - State Street, 0/E, 0W (20:58)
Rain, Set Me Free (WWMT) - Lake Street (26:06)
I Coud Fall In Love With You (Erasure) - Ohio Street (28:37)
Where Are You Going? (WWMT) - End

Chicago Street Zero
"Some sort of protest going on here, holding up all the traffic. Ungh."

Driving up State Street, there was a protest in progress and police were on the scene insuring its peaceful transition up the road.  You can see this on the Video actually.  You can also see the "Go Red" signs all over State Street, making me think about both my Mom and my friend, Karen Sobolewski, mentioned earlier in this blog.  When I finally parked, I had lunch over at the Grand Lux Cafe on Michigan Avenue.  I ordered Filet Mignon and a Long Island Iced-Tea.  The meal was good and the restaurant was packed for lunch.  I had a 30 minute wait for a party of 2 before getting a seat.  Darn, I didn't sit in the Spire like the last time I was there.  The Spire has a nice view of Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile, and a good view of people.  Ah well, here is a picture of the "other side" of the restaurant.

Grand Lux Cafe

Grand Lux Café

After finishing my meal, and hoping to top both my brother and Dad in Foursquare points for the week, which I managed to pull off for a bit, I walked down the "Magnificent Mile."  I tried checking into to random places to try and forge ahead.  Haha.  Plus, I had no real agenda at the time, until I decided to go over the Sears Tower when it became dusky!

The Magnificent Mile

I captured some cool photos of the State Street Bascule Bridge and some photos from Wacker Drive.

State Street Bascule, looking east towards Trump Tower and IBM.

State Street Bascule, looking west Chicago River.

From Wacker.  Trump Tower and IBM Building.  Reflection of Sears in Trump.

State Street Bridge

After taking the pictures, I walked down toward the Sears Tower to revisit the place I was exactly one year ago.  Dusk was coming rapidly, so I quickened my pace. Did I forget to mention? Usually going Downtown, I always have a sudden urge come over me to kick a field goal between the two antennae on top of the Sears Tower.  Well, the goal post sits at 1450 feet.  I would have to have superpowers like those kids in the movie "Chronicle."

 Wesley with Icicles
He kicks and it's good!

Photo from Wacker/Jackson corner.

Skydeck Chicago
"I can see my house from here!"

When I arrived at the Jackson Street entrance for the SkyDeck, the people in charge were saying that it would be an hour wait to get to the top.  I thought, well at least I can see the night skyline from the city.  I stood in a long line with a lot of foreigners, including some German ones who didn't think I could understand them.  Having plowed in right in front of me, I said to them, "Entschuldigen Sie bitte, aber versteh Ich euch am bißchen!"  They were rather rude even when they saw I understood what they were saying. Finally making it to the top at about 7pm, I walked around and got my pictures in.  I was really curious to see if I could see my highway exit on the Stevenson at IL-83.  Being the dork I am, I opened Google Maps on my phone and "angled" with the camera to try to get a picture of where my house would be.  Did I tell you I was a dork?  Maybe, I can make January 19 a formal ME holiday too, haha.

 I live in that circled area, so it would stand to reason for me to assume that...

...if I can see it from here...

Or, here...

...then "I can see my house from here!"

Even better.  I know my roads.  My house is in there somewhere.

So, somewhere between the white arrows, that's where my house is at.  In the Video I posted in the blog, I put an image overlay of seeing the Sears Tower from IL-83.  If I see it there, I can see it from here.  Haha.  Once again, yes, I'm a dork.  Here were some other nice photos of city lights!  Seeing the city lights reminds me of looking at a computer circuit board!

Looking North

Looking South

Looking East

Looking west, and trying to find Oakbrook Terrace Tower.

After getting my night shots in, I waited in a long line to go back down.  Luckily, there were no nose-diving, elevator cars to contend with and it was a smooth ride all the way back down.  I walked over to Cosi for a quick sandwich and then went home for the night.

Cosi

YOU KEEP USING THAT WORD...

"A lie cannot live." Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"You know what that sound is highness?  Those are the shrieking eels."
"We've passed that, Grandpa. You read it already."

"I just don't think it's right, killing an innocent girl."
"Am I going MAD, or did the word "think" escape your lips? You were not hired for your brains, you hippopotamic land mass."
"I agree with Fezzik."
"Oh, the sot has spoken. What happens to her is not truly your concern. I will kill her. And remember this, never forget this: when I found you, you were so slobbering drunk, you couldn't buy Brandy! And YOU: friendless, brainless, helpless, hopeless! Do you want me to send you back to where you were? Unemployed, in Greenland?"


For some odd reason, I had Princess Bride quotes stuck in my head that whole week, so Sunday and Monday were stay at home days for home movies AND to watch Princess Bride too, lol!  I needed to get it out of my system I think.  My MLK Weekend movie lineup included:

  • Princess Bride
  • Jim Gaffigan, Into the Pale
  • Stargate (Original Movie)
  • Lost Souls
  • Star Wars, Ep I
  • Omega Code I & II
  • The Fountain
  • Snowball Express (Disney)

"Death is the Road to Awe"
The Fountain

The Fountain has always been one of the most intriguing and fluid movies I enjoy to watch.  The movie transcends past, present and future all at once.  It really makes the film omnipresent.  I'm glad they did not use Brad Pitt in this film and used Hugh Jackman instead.  The story is really good too, using information regarding the Tree of Life in the Book of Genesis and the Mayan myths.  I remember wanting to see this in the theater in 2006, but never did.  I highly recommend this movie!  There was no work on Monday, so I watched movies again.  I should also point out but I've always been a fan of the movie Stargate and never the Series.  I just feel that the series killed the Daniel character and the Shau'ri story line and, most of all, the "happily-ever-after-shtick" from the movie.  Having watched the movie with the commentary on before, I remember the director pointing out "The End" at the end of the movie.  It goes without saying and I have to agree.  So, I'm a fan of the movie not the series.

"Monsters out there, leaking in here. Weesa all sinking and no power. Whena yousa thinking we are in trouble?"   Still the best line of this whole movie.

What made "Star Wars, Episode I" a fair movie?  4 words: Pod Race and Darth Maul.  That's pretty much it.  Well, having watched it over MLK weekend, it is very interesting to point out something of the movie.  Watch closely after the Gungans "defeat" the Droid Army towards the end?  Look very closely to how they celebrate.  They're dancing Gangnam Style, lol, Gungan Style.  I don't have the full facts on the origination to PSY's Gangnam Style, but it looks to me the Gungans invented it first!  Watch Jar Jar Binks very closely.  I think PSY has an ensuing lawsuit coming from Jar Jar Binks, haha.

Gungan Style -- Jar Jar Binks
Battle of Grassy Plains on Naboo

RECORD SNOWFALL FOR ONE WHOLE DAY

First Snowfall, lasting snowfall near my apartment.  On January 25, I woke up to snow on the ground.  When I got home later, the snow was still on the ground.  This has been the first snowfall to "stick" on the ground for a whole day here.  No, luckily, we don't get Lake Effect Snow here (Downers Grove area).  The Chicago Lakefront and Lake Shore Drive get Lake Effect Snow, according to the weather reports on the news.  Western Michigan and Northwestern Indiana all have Snowbelts, just like back in Ohio.  They were showing the record snowfalls for LaPorte, Chesterton (Jim Gaffigan's hometown), Kalamazoo and the Lakefront.  Apparently, downtown got hit bad with the Lake Effect stuff, even though, looking outside here, there was nothing earlier this week, until January 25th.

Meanwhile, 16W of State Street, a courtyard with a whole day of lasting snow.  How about them apples?

From my porch

Mocking Hills

NA-NA-NA-NA-NA-NA. DE-DE-DE-DE-DE-DE.

"Be the ball!  See your future.  Be your future!" Ty Webb.

Saturday the 26th, I drove into Chicago's Logan Square to meet up with the Venture Around Chicago group.  We were meeting to watch a classic 80's movie, Caddyshack, at Logan Theatre.  I drove down around 6pm and parked my car on a side street by Diversey Avenue.  Next time I am in this neighborhood, I'll have to remember parking is free after 9pm on Milwaukee Avenue.  The street was filled with meters, so I looked for a side street instead.

Logan Square

Starting the Evening, I had Chicago Deep Dish Pizza at Giordano's Pizza on Milwaukee Avenue, just north of Diversey Avenue.  Being on the diet, every once in awhile it's a nice treat, considering that the pizza is like a PIE.  It was good and I ordered the smallest size, and still was full.  How can one pass up something as good looking and delicious as this?

Chicago Deep Dish Pizza

Giordano's
"I don't do Chicago pizza all the time. Nice treat every once in awhile."

After eating, I walked back down through Logan Square and started meeting some of the others from the group by that time.  It was a very cold night and I'm glad I wore my hat and gloves.  I took a phone call from my friend Richard Trigg that night and it was good to talk to him before starting to meet up with everyone.  Walking on Milkwaukee Avenue, Rich was asking, "what's all that noise?"  Laughing, I replied, "That's normal Chicago traffic you're hearing."  Haha.

Logan Theater on Milwaukee Avenue


Kurt and Padraig, Logan Bar.

I walked back up the street to the Theater with some of the group.  Everyone started arriving at the theater probably about 10pm.  We all mingled in the bar on the side of the theater and enjoyed some laughter, chat and some drinks.  There were some new faces in the group tonight too.  Three new people to introduce.  Once we were all gathered, at 11:15pm, we all went into the theater.  There was a good turnout crowd for this classic, so several rows were filled with people already.  The movie started with a resounding cheer, when the gopher popped his head out of the ground and Kenny Loggins' "I'm alright" started playing.  Kurt and the many "older" members of the group (and I) were quoting the movie all night.  It was a fun time!  Rodney Dangerfield, Chevy Chase,  Michael O'Keefe, Ted Knight, Bill Murray and Oo la la, Cindy Morgan. 

Everyone in the group had fun.  Still a classic movie with comedy, there was not a dull moment.  After the movie, we all went on our way and talked about the next month activities, including the Chicago Auto Show 2013 at McCormick Place.

Logan Theatre for Caddyshack
"Caddyshack."

IN OTHER NEWS, A WAREHOUSE ICY FIRE IN CHICAGO

Chicago, just as much as most of the country, suffered sub zero weather and, on January 23, the Bridgeport Warehouse in Chicago caught fire -- MORE THAN ONCE. Look how quickly it iced over.  That fire is NOT going to dare and re-ignite after this.

Fire 0, Ice 1.

Now that's Icy hot!

Getting ready to Cat-Proof my Office and apartment for cat adoption!

"Dogs have owners; cats have servants."

Early this month I bought the OEM version of Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard at MicroCenter.  The next phase includes building the server and purchasing a license for Exchange 2010.  Once that is in place with a new Desk and Chair, the horrible wire mess in my office will be cat-proofed somewhat, lol.


MicroCenter
"Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard. I'm getting ready to build my new server. Just need 2010 Exchange Server now."

A New Router.  Later this month, the wireless on my Router finally gave out.  The router I owned was a LinkSys Wireless-G WRT54G.  I bought it in 2006 and it lasted me this long.  So, the last week of January, I stopped at MicroCenter in Westmont and bought a new one.  I will be setting it up next month.  I bought a Cisco Small Business Wireless-N RV 120W.  It wasn't part of the original network phase, but it was time for a new one.

Cisco Small Business Wireless-N RV120W


BLACKBEAK MAINTENANCE

Blackbeak needed an oil change and a regular checkup, so taking a half day of work, I went to the dealer on January 31st.  With the company car, I've been using that more for driving.  My company automatically deducts for personal use, so I haven't driven the Honda too much, just on weekends.  I thought the Honda was due for a "Multi Point Inspection" -- brakes, oil, and other.  I still intend to keep the Honda and make regular monthly payments on it.  I took the car in for maintenance at Continental Honda in Countryside.  I hope to keep a nice car!  It only has about 22,800 miles on it, still rather new.  Brakes and major points of the car all checked out GREEN.  I'll need to buy new tires for the back soon though.  That was the only part in YELLOW.  I'll have to take it up to Firestone though, since the dealer doesn't have my brand of tires.

Continental Honda
"Blackbeak maintenance. Oil change, tire/brake inspection. Multi-point."

NOTEWORTHY OF WORTHY NOTES

The Last week of January was MOM week, so I was linking her favorite songs on Facebook from the 50s and 60s like "The Zombies," "Lovin' Spoonful," "The Mamas and Papas," and this one from "5th Dimension."


Can you surry? Can you picnic?

Anniversary
January 15: Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Birthday
January 5: Happy Birthday, Julia Masiella!
January 13: Happy Birthday, Lauren Strec!
January 17: Happy Birthday, Michelle Obama!
January 28: Happy Birthday, Wayne!


Thank you for reading and until next month...



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