Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Gust of August!

A Gust of August!

Very ominous clouds the first week of August.
Mocking Hills, 10S771 Clarendon Hills Road.


August was extremely busy for work, but I did manage to pull off a gust of a blog for this month. Aside from this being my 1st full year at Diebold, the month was very busy and I was away from home for the most of it. I spent weekends at home, mainly doing laundry, paying bills and repacking again for the next week being out of town. Interesting month. It is all I have to say. I did manage to do some fun activities as well after work and with Venture Around. Keep busy! With social media turned off for the month (albeit except Foursquare), a gust of August is what I got!  Having Facebook shutdown again really helped me focus on the important things here, like WORK, new friends, and my own goals.

A Sunset over Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve
Mocking Hills

Living out of my Suitcase at home.

One thing that I felt like I was doing was this month was "riding on the wind" each week, so I planned my blog theme accordingly for each week.  There's nothing like living out of your own suitcase from your own home.  It was an odd feeling to have at home.  I literally lived out out of my suitcase, even with all my toiletries.  Last month I was unsure about there being blog this month, but I figured, what the heck.  I can devote the weekends at home for blogging.  I have a few faithful readers of my blog, so I reconsidered and did one for this month.  I ALSO GOT A TAN THIS SUMMER!  It started early in the month with some sunburning [River Tubing and the Chicago Air and Water Show], but by the time I got to San Diego later in the month, I had a tan, albeit a farmer's one.

The weeks were devoted primarily and strictly to nothing but work and away from home.  I found myself not only living out of my suitcase at home, but my grocery shopping was very light this month.  A bare refrigerator is a weird thing.  The freezer stayed full though.  Nutrition bars and Milk were the only staples I really bought.  For the month, my apartment literally felt like a hotel room!  I also missed my Bowflex and Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve this month for exercise.  I am trying to get out and do a jog/walk when I'm travelling.  At least it's something.  I joked with a co-worker and said that I also was going to miss Dating this month too.  So, one song comes to mind when thinking about this month and "a gust of August."  Ride Like the Wind!

"Light groceries this month!"

"Ride Like The Wind"
Christopher Cross

♪ It is the night
My body's weak
I'm on the run
No time to sleep
I've got to ride
Ride like the wind
To be free again

And I've got such a long way to go
To make it to the border of Mexico
So I'll ride like the wind
Ride like the wind

I was born the son of a lawless man
Always spoke my mind with a gun in my hand
Lived nine lives
Gunned down ten
Gonna ride like the wind

And I've got such a long way to go
To make it to the border of Mexico
So I'll ride like the wind
Ride like the wind

Accused and tried and told to hang
I was nowhere in sight when the church bells rang
Never was the kind to do as I was told
Gonna ride like the wind before I get old

It is the night
My body's weak
I'm on the run
No time to sleep
I've got to ride
Ride like the wind
To be free again

And I've got such a long way to go
To make it to the border of Mexico
So I'll ride like the wind
Ride like the wind ♪

If you know the song, you can now thank me for having it stuck in your head all day, lol!  With more work upcoming in September, the Fleet Vehicle is definitely getting its workout, adding over 2000 miles in a month.  There was a lot of mileage put on the car.  I am thankful that Diebold provides the fleet vehicles for their employees, seeing how my position has been expanded to include travel.  Being away from home the whole month, it was a different experience altogether!  Never had I had such a job where I had to do this.  Experience is the word for this.  You begin to learn how to plan trips, plan hotels, gas, mileage, highways, even your refrigerator, and most of all, get out and see the world!  So, once again, having shut down social media was a great help to this.  I still kept in contact with friends on the phone and some brief texts.  A lot of the people missed me on Facebook this month, even the new friends here in Chicago.  At some of the events this month, a couple noticed this when trying to check me in or tag me in their photos.  "It's not permanent," I assured.  "I just need a break from it and some of the dramatics."  They agreed.

I would like to file a complaint with White Star!

"Why is it that when my heart genuinely cares about someone and an ill-situation one is facing, that it later comes back and bites me in the ass?  Is this a special way of saying thank you? Why bother caring about people if they end up disregarding you and being ungrateful, undeserving and disrespectful of you later?  This seems to be a character flaw of mine!  Sometimes a friend will tell you what you DON'T want to hear!  Maybe . . . um . . . a true friend sees more in you than you do!  So, if you are truly a sincere friend, maybe you would listen instead of taking an arrogant approach, thinking I'm wrong and distancing yourself from me!  IT MEANS I CARE!"  I said those words to a friendly confidant recently

I thought long and hard on this after a recent event.  Kudos if you understand the heading and see where this topic is going.  I will no longer read into cryptic text messages of whatever nature of a problem one is facing.  If it's that dire, then get me on the phone and TALK!  And, just remember, there is a human being on the other side of those text messages too.  I will no longer decipher text messages and stress myself over this (like back in April).  After dealing with some issues last month, I have decided wholeheartedly to focus on things here in Chicago and WORK.  It's still a learning experience and a challenging experience and, yes, I've come to be acquainted with a comfort zone again.  Work was a challenge this month!  I'm glad Facebook was shut down!  Who knows, I may not turn it back on!  There was no time to deal with dramatics or worrying about people.  There was just so much new stuff I was never exposed to and I learned quite a bit including on one of my trips where NOTHING worked right.  I even learned that a co-worker of mine that lives nearby had to return to that site after I left.  It was nothing I had done, but again, LEARNING, LEARNING!  As it stands, I WILL be returning to Ohio TWICE soon.  Once in September for School and once in October for an actual job assignment.  I don't intend to do any visiting or whatever.  Yes, my folks of course, but those whom I've already talked to about my visit, I hope we can meet up.  If you are reading this and if you expect me to be the one who admits, second guess myself or come crawling back, you can just forget it!  I will not be ignored or "distanced" from only to have heard from you when I "screw up!"  Yes, when I admit to screwing up!  How arrogant of you to use that approach towards me!  Am I saying this out of anger or hate?  Anger, some (not as much as I felt last month).  Definitely, a 'No' on hate.  I'm still here if you should need me, but as far as I'm concerned my time in Ohio is over and that ship has sunk!

Ok, this will be the last time I'm changing a phone number.  If you have it, good.  If not, I'm not sorry, more like too bad.  The last time I had to change my number was April, so I am taking extra care this time as to whom has the new number!  Anyways, several have tried sharing pictures with me since I'm not on Facebook and I never get them because Google Voice doesn't accept MMS, just only SMS.  Sorry.  ADDENDUM: I will no longer deal with other people's dramatics and if you want to text me and never take a call from me, then sorry, I don't know who you are!  Plain and Simple!  I will no longer carry long text conversations that only leave me confused and flummoxed.  I've already reached out to those with the new TEXTING number on August 16th of this month!  Google Voice saves all my text transcripts.  I will be deleting all those! I am trying to move into Chicago next year, so I can be closer to friends, so hopefully I won't have to change anything else but my street address.  773 is a Chicago NPA.

"CQD!"  A little too late for the rescue.  You had a "warning." This matter is closed!  Good luck with whatever perpetual happiness you live by.  Now on with my life in Chicago, Illinois...


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Boarding the Bus at Ed Debevic's to Winamac IN for the day!

On Saturday, August 3rd, I went on a trip into Indiana with Venture Around.  Originally, I was planning to go back to Ohio to see some friends and family that weekend, but with something that happened earlier in the week, that pushed me in the opposite direction and, instead, I spent the day enjoying the company of friends, the sun, Kurt's Rum and floating on a tube down a river.  Actually, it was Kurt that noticed I wasn't too thrilled about Ohio and convinced me to have fun with him instead.  "You really should do river tubing with us instead; it'll be a lot of fun," was how that went down.  Calling my folks before, I told them that I wasn't going to visit but I was invited out to do "River Tubing" on Indiana's Tippecanoe River.  It looked like it would be fun and I'm glad I did it.  They were good with it and understood my reasons for changing my mind.  Mom said, "I'm glad you kids took swimming lessons when you were younger."  Actually, my Mom was even happier that I did this event instead of the visiting.  IT WAS FUN!  After looking at the first picture in this topic, where we are boarding the bus at Ed Debevic's, I can see my old home in the back (brown tower) when I first lived in Chicago.  Culbertson Hall, 800 N. LaSalle Street.

I got up early to get down to Ed Debevic's on Wells Street (600N).  I wasn't sure how early Lollapalooza 2013 traffic would start, so I just tried to get on the expressway early.  I got there around 10am and the traffic was starting to pick up.  Driving downtown on Michigan Avenue and State Street, you could already see crowds of people heading to Grant Park for Lollapalooza.  After finally parking in Northbridge/Streeterville near Grand Avenue, I walked over to the restaurant.  I found Kurt and Sue and they already ordered me a breakfast.  Surprisingly, the wait staff wasn't rude.  I was expecting another straw thrown in my face like the last time I visited.

Ed's Rules

After eating our breakfast's at Ed Debevic's, Kurt checked our group on for the bus.  Our meetup was doing the "River Tubing" event through LivingSocial Chicago.  We finished our breakfasts and quickly boarded the bus.  Our LivingSocial hosts were Tabitha (oo-la-la) and Ryan.  Finding some seats, we enjoyed a 2hr drive out to Tippecanoe River.  On the way there, we participated in a Bus-like Trivia Tournament.  There were 5 people on our team.  We didn't place but we came up with the Team Name, "6th Row Under."  I just pointed out we were six rows back.  Kurt added "...row under" to the name.  Hahaha!  I still think finger nails continue to grow after one is dead, as well as hair.

Exiting the bus, Tabitha, acting as "mama bear" for the event said to play nice and don't be "that guy or in PC terms, that girl."  Be nice, play nice, have fun.  "I don't want to have to go all mama bear on any of you," lol!

Ed Debevic's
"Breakfast then on a bus for River Tubing! >>"

We arrived at the park and changed into our "wet clothes."  I didn't take any pictures while out on the river.  I didn't want to risk losing my phone so unfortunately, there are no pictures of that.  Everyone left their phone, wallet, purses and other valuables on bus.  After getting into our wet clothes, putting sunscreen on, we got our tubes and a raft for our food and drink cooler and anchored our tubes to the raft.  We pushed off at Riverside Rentals at Old Indiana 14.  We coasted from there downstream.  We started at the red dot on the map below and finished at the "drop pin."

River Tubing Map

It was really fun!  It was so relaxing and soothing just laying there and enjoying nice weather, Kurt's Rum and other assorted food and drink.  There were other groups there for LivingSocial and they all had their own tubes and rafts.  We bumped into a few of the groups on the way downstream.  Tabitha and Ryan were on kayaks keeping the group all accounted for.  A few skiffs road down the river and churned up the water a bit from their motors.  Ooo---aaaahhh!  Lol!  As we continued downstream, we steered away from shallow parts in the river and some forks.  Other than that, it was a smooth and relaxing day.  I'm so glad I got invited out to do this event.  Kurt's Rum.  Wow!  Enough said, lol!  I drank a few glasses of it, still awaiting for the actual ingredients though, lol.  Whatever he concocted it was delicious.  There were some other concoctions in the cooler.  Also, I just can't get over how white and pasty I really am, lol!  I have two colors RED and WHITE.  I told Sue that if I were to be punched by someone I'd be a patriotic red, white and blue, lol.  Plus, while we were heading downstream, I put my leg up jokingly saying that you can use this as a beacon in case we get seperated!

Continuing downstream, we met up with Tabitha in her kayak and she informed us that LivingSocial was ending, but the Chicago affiliate was going to continue under a new name.  She told us to sign up on their new mailing list "Bucket Items List Chicago."  Chicago was their most loyal customer of LivingSocial out the entire country and they felt they wanted to keep the Chicago LivingSocial alive!  Kurt later gave her our Venture Around card so she could sign up on our meetup.

Riverside Rentals
"Tippecanoe-tip-a-tube. — with Kurt, Sue."

All you can eat Tacos.  Volleyball, basketball, etc.

After getting towards the end of the tubing, we were all supposed to pass under the bridge and keep right.  Now, factor that in with Kurt's Rum and a strong under current.  Yes, that means I tipped over, lol!  It's all good though.  I can swim and I was fine, except I really stepped on something that bruised my foot.  Ouch!  Nothing piercing, just something rocky!  After saving our raft with items, and my tube, I walked over towards the place to get out of the river.  Wow!  You don't think about it when you're on a tube, the under current was really strong!  Again, I'm grateful for knowing how to swim!  Kurt came out to the rescue to help me walk onto shore.  Everything was accounted for and nothing was lost.  Ok, I got out of the river, but the river was still moving!!!  LOL!  Kurt's Rum!  I REALLY felt it now!  Stop the river I want to get out now!

After finding a tree to do my business, we all boarded the bus back to the park.  There we had all you can eat Tacos and you could play volleyball or basketball.  We ate our tacos and talked with other people from the LivingSocial group.  It was a nice time and the weather was just perfect for this.  Finally boarding the bus back to Chicago, I was told that I was really burned (even after putting sunscreen on).  I saw it more when I got home and looked in the mirror, including some weird sunburn marks on my legs, and raccoon eyes.  Ungh!  Also, whatever I stepped on when I tipped, really made the soles of my feet sore for a few days.  Ungh!  It's the price to pay to have fun though and it was really fun to do this!

After boarding the bus and returning to Chicago, they played "40 year old virgin" on the screens in the bus and we all just relaxed, fell asleep or watched the movie.  Crossing the Skyway Bridge, the sun was setting magnificently in the west.  Getting back to Ed Debevic's at about 8pm, we all departed and went home.  I told Kurt and Sue that I wanted to do Ren Faire in Kenosha WI but I had to pack and get ready for my trip on Sunday.

A Gust of Week One

Louisville KY
Ketucky-ana Side

Holiday Inn
"Checked in finally."

Back to Louisville!

The First week of August, I was back down south.  Braving I-65 again and the awful highway system in Indiana, it was a long 5 hour trip.  Arriving at the Holiday Inn at Exit 1 and Exit 0, I got to my room and got everything ready for the morning to be on site.  This time, it was implementing a second phase to the ATMs I previously worked on the last time I was down here.  I started my work in New Albany IN, then went back to Corydon IN later in the week.  The New Albany branch is a brand new location and as I learned upon reaching the site, there was a lot of construction going on with it.

First Savings Bank of New Albany IN
2218 State Street
Under Construction

First Savings Bank

At New Albany, it was very intense and a HUGE learning experience.  On top of the the mishaps in the process, there was a Construction Crew at the bank each day, building the bank, so it was tough working around that and talking to associates on the phone with the noise.  Ungh!  The project plan was that I was going to spend two days at New Albany then two days at Corydon.  That did not go as planned.  From everyone's angle, there were things not considered in the process in the implementation of the "Pilot ATM," as it were.  Stressful at times, everyone kept their cool and worked through the issues.  Everyone pulled together; Ha, even the Construction Crew was having issues with some of the electrical stuff.  One guy said, "I can't work under these conditions!"  It made me chuckle.  I wasn't laughing at him, but I thought back to my experiences at Broadvox and with former co-workers there.  Karen Sobolewski, if you are reading, I am SLOWLY learning now where KARENISH has its origins, lol!  Seriously.  Very similar vocabularies!  Another phrase I heard constantly was, "It's all gggoooooddd," in perfect Karenish.  As a matter of fact, I previously shared this blog portion with Karen, and her response to this utter disregard was given in perfect and unaltered Karenish: "Those Idianan's stole my vocabulary.....damn bastages!!!  It's all gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooood!"  Abso-flippin-lutely hilarious!  She once lived in that area for awhile, so she has a right to her own language! Another thing I learned was about the coined term of Ketucky-ana!  "There is no Indiana when it comes to Louisville.  It's called Ketucky-ana!" said Robert, the Diebold Tech I was working with.  "Whenever there is something in the news from the Indiana side, they don't refer to it as Indiana.  It's called Kentucky-ana."  LOL!  I told him about Cleveland and the "correct location" of the Mason-Dixon Line.  I opened Google Maps to Cleveland, pointed to the OHIO TURNPIKE and said in a pseudo-southern accent, "...this here be the Mason-Dixon line!"  I told him about cities south of the Ohio Turnpike ending with '-tucky' in their names, like Brunstucky (Brunswick OH) and Streetstucky (Streetsboro OH)!  Robert got a good laugh from that and thought that was hilarious!  I told him that natives of the area have defined the Ohio Turnpike as the true Mason-Dixon line, ha!

"I can't work under these conditions!" Karenish.

This was my work area for the week.

I literally had to solve a labyrinth to the ATM each day.

Co-working with Robert, the Diebold Technician

The Bank Staff was there inspecting the work each day at their site and I worked with their IT Guy there too for a lot of the networking issues.  I really enjoyed listening to EVERYONE talk down there, like I did last time.  It brought a smile to my face.  The people seem friendlier and a more hearty folk as opposed to the Northerners.  Ha.  I was also working with Robert, the Diebold Technician a few days.  He was onsite installing some new hardware like touchscreens and cleaning up the IDMBd (Check Depositor).   Awesome dude and really friendly too.  We had lunch the few days we were working on the ATM.  One day we went to Bob Evans; yeah, that surprised me too if you are reading and from Ohio.  I thought Bob Evans was strictly an Ohio thing (Rio Grande OH more specifically).  Yes, I worked there and I remember the history.  The second day we went to Chick-fil-A for lunch.  Surprisingly the food was healthier than I anticipated.  I had a charbroiled chicken sandwich (number 8).  I'm not caught up in the whole hype of the President of this company and the exploiting of someone's view on a topic.  I was wanting to try the selection here anyways, and the Diebold Tech said there were healthy choices on the menu, and it was across the street from the bank.  Same for Bob Evans.  The restaurant was literally next door from the bank, and that's where we took care of our bathroom business, while at work, ha.  Actually, another thing I remembered while driving down, but Ponderosa still exists.  There is an exit near Scottsburg IN on I-65 for Ponderosa.  Ponderosa started in Kokomo IN.

Bob Evans Restaurant


The Bright Side of the ATM

By the end of the Thursday, things were becoming more promising with everything at the New Albany location and I was able to to get the ATM online with the Transaction Host, the Campaign Office Server and the Deposit Automation.  I was working with one of the Bank Associates and told her we could test first thing on Friday morning.  Upon leaving, their IT Guy was there and gave the ATM my kiss of blessing.  Having a full functioning ATM at the end of Thursday, I pulled the Network cable (security reasons) and got ready for the morning.  Robert, the Diebold Tech bid me farewell and to stay in touch.  He works out of the Louisville Metro Area so it was a bittersweet farewell for us.  I would love to work with him again.

A happy ATM.

Last Stop . . . Corydon IN.

Thursday night after work, I went up to Clarksville IN and ate at "Famous Dave's" on Veteran's Parkway.  I saw this place the few times I went into the local Wal-Mart across the street.  Each time I passed the restaurant, all I could think was "RIBS!"  Even, Robert, the Diebold Tech recommended the place.  After his urgency the hunger for the RIBS was more and more, so after passing the place many times, I finally stopped in.  I'm noticing a trend with my travel experience.  Thursday Night is "celebrating" night, because it follows the work week and completing an assignment successfully.  Friday is ususally a testing day and packing up and going home day.  So, I find that I'm going to a cool restaurant on Thursdays after work.  Last time I was here it was Buckhead Mountain Grill and  In Montana, it was Montana Club.  I don't usually take pictures of my food, but this plate was filled with a ginormous slab of St. Louis Style ribs.  After looking at the logo of "Famous Dave's" inside the restaurant, it dawned on me.  D'oh!  "Memorial Day Rib Burn offs" in Cleveland, Ohio each year!

Famous Dave's Bar-B-Que
"BBQ ribs. St. Louis style!"

A Memorial Day Rib Cook off
Cleveland OH

On Friday morning, we all reconvened at the New Albany branch one last time to do some testing which was all successful.  From there, I drove 30 minutes to Corydon and wrapped up the Second Phase of the software deployment process.  I wasn't at the Corydon branch no more than a couple hours.  Learning from our previous mishaps, this process was a lot smoother and quicker.  So, after installing, configuring and testing with a Bank Associate, I quickly packed up my laptop at 1:30pm (local time), so I could check out of the hotel by 2pm to avoid a charge for another night.  Finishing up the Withdrawal Transaction testing, the bank associate was worried she would be missing $20 since the machine did not dispense her money.  I pointed the red light on the dispenser.  "You're good.  The dispenser was out of money and unable to dispense.  The network rejected your transaction."  She was relived since she was using a Live On-us Card.  Finally saying farewell to the women next to their IT department, I got in the Ford and drove back to Clarksville.  I checked out of the hotel and gassed up the car.  It timed pefectly, because I was able to get on the road and head homeward . . .with a pisstop near Rest Area (Milepost 231) and with a pitstop at Navy Pier. One thing I noticed while driving through Louisville KY was the signage for "I-71, Cincinnati."  I-71 starts in Louisville.  I kept thinking each time, well if I stayed on here, I could eventually see Mom and Dad, lol!

I-64 over the Ohio River
A Double-Decker bridge

First Savings Bank

Tallships 2013 at Navy Pier

Sail Away - Eithne
♪ Let me sail, let me sail,
let the Orinoco Flow,
let me reach, let me beach
on the shores of Tripoli.
Let me sail, let me sail,
let me crash upon your shore,
let me reach, let me beach
far beyond the Yellow Sea.

Sail away, sail away, sail away.
Sail away, sail away, sail away.
Sail away, sail away, sail away.
Sail away, sail away, sail away.

I checked out of the Holiday Inn promptly at 2pm.  Whew!  After getting on the road and once again braving the dreadfully, distressing and discordant I-65, it was a lengthy 4hr 30min drive from Thorton's Gas Station on 10th Street!  Ungh!

I-90 West over Chicago Skyway Bridge
ADDENDUM: Sorry about the bug splats.

Music provided on Video:
Reality Used to be a Friend of Mine ~ PM Dawn
Level ~ AVICII
Call of the Muezzin ~ Kamal

Somewhere through Indianapolis, Kurt called me and I was Teledental at the time so I took the call -- that is "connected to my bluetooth" for the layperson.  I told him that I was a little over 2hrs away from Navy Pier.  I told him was worried I'd miss the 6pm (Chicago Time) meetup for the event and told him I may go home.  He assured me that I'd still meetup and the 6pm mark was strictly to assemble the meetup.  The event would start an hour later.  He also told me about an apartment open in Albany Park and sent me a Realtor to contact.  Ssooo, guess what I hope to do now? Ha!  Rhonda, another friend, also contacted me to, asking me if I were coming.  "I hope so.  I'm gonna get there by the skin of my teeth."  She said she'd make sure that the 6pm time was the time for the meetup because she knew that Kurt adds an extra hour before the actual Venture Around event, enough time to assemble and find the group.

The Bridge Skyway

Passing through Indianapolis and finally reaching the I-65 Terminus at the Indiana Toll Road, I felt home.  Kurt called me again as I finally exited onto Lake Shore Drive.  I was 20min out.  Finally, arriving and parking in the West Garage at Navy Pier, I asked Rhonda where everyone was at.  She said to head towards the Beer Garden.  I went to the ATM, got some money out and headed that way.  I finally met up with the group and met some new faces!

Venture Around meeting at the Beer Garden

North East end of Navy Pier
Tallships 2013

Navy Pier
"Just parked. I took the long way in from Louisville KY."

After ordering some drinks, we socialized some at the Beer Garden.  Sue mentioned that she took the Water Taxi to Navy Pier and her Foursquare check-in reflected this.  I jokingly commented to her, "Does it make a difference if I drove all the way in from Louisville KY?  I checked in appropriately for that, lol."  We went to the north side of the pier and starting boarding some of the tallships that were docked.  Turning the North East corner of the Pier, the second picture above for this section is what I captured.  I immediately thought, seeing the setting sun over the Chicago Skyline, ok, this is going to be an awesome event now.  I also learned from Rhonda that we both have the same tastes when taking photographs.  We pick the good spots to take pictures!  So, we were copying each other's locations for pictures frequently, even aboard the ships!  Check out some of these awesome ship pictures against our awing and lovely Chicago Sky!  I told Rhonda that the event was timed perfectly for the sunset over Chicago.  We all got some good pictures in.  And, the good thing: I DIDN'T HAVE TO PUT SUNSCREEN ON!  Having the awesome sunset we had, it just made Tallships so surreal and ethereal, like sailing off into the heavens.  I thought of my Poem that I wrote to my "Distant Star in the Corner of the Sky."  The event was that heavenly!

Tall Ships Festival
"Tallships. — with Sue, Kurt."

Kurt and the gang!

The Peacemaker (#6)

This photo gave me the feel of being out at sea and approaching Chicago over the Horizon

The sky was really talking to us this evening!
"...and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by" 

"Ramming Speed!"
:: fast drum beat ::
Think about it!

The Unicorn

Wearing our "sea legs," we boarded several of the ships at the pier.  We were all astounded.  Rhonda brought up a good point on one of the ships.  "How many feet of rope do you think this ship has?"  It makes you think.  Ha!  "We should ask." Actually, my favorite tallship was the Unicorn, which is commanded by a Female Crew ONLY!  Yep, you read that right.  It was a pleasure boarding their ship and meeting some of the crew.  The crew talked about some of their ports and that their next stop was going to be Green Bay WI after Chicago.  I laughed when Rhonda said, "I want to take a picture of you at the steering wheel and driving the boat."  I said, "...don't you mean at the helm and steering the ship?"  LOL!  Hey, I had a brother that was in the Navy and a Father that was in Coast Guard.  You learn maritime and nautical terminology being around them.  Most of the ships used GPS navigation for their course plotting, BUT we learned that there were some "old fashioned crews" that plotted courses using a sextant and doing things the "old way."  I asked one of the crew aboard one of the ships if I could see their sextant.  They quickly pulled it out and I was astounded that it was PLASTIC and not BRASS which I thought.  He said that these are expensive.

Plotting courses using New Technology

GPS coordinates of Chicago, Navy Pier area, lol!

A Sextant. Plotting courses the old-fashioned way.

Tallships 2013 Tour Map

We toured about 6 ships.  Some of them were docked at the north pier.  There were some that we could not board, mainly at the East end of the pier.  We finished the touring at the entrance to Navy Pier, where there were 3 tallships docked.  It was getting dusky by this point and we decided where to meet for dinner.  The ships we toured included: (7) SS Sørlandet, (6) Peacemaker, (5) Niagara, (3) The Unicorn, and (2) Madeline.  At the Entrance to Navy Pier, we went aboard the (15) Denis Sullivan.

I like when Google does this sometimes!  Haha.

We all decided to eat at Harry Caray's.  So, walking over there, we gathered and ordered some food.  It was a good time to recapture all our moments with Venture Around events starting with New Year's Eve Bash at Bar Louie, Jim Belushi's Comedy Bar and all the events after that like Adler After Dark (Geek Chic) in January, throwing spoons at The Room and the Chicago Auto Show in February, Caddyshack, the Scavenger Hunts (Murder Mystery at the Art Institute, The Loop Movie Scavenger Hunt) in March and April, the Walking Tour on Dearborn Street in May, the St. Patrick's Day Mixer in March at Lizzie McNeil's, and all the other ones in between.  It was also nice to socialize with some members that hadn't been to several of the events.  Those people enjoyed being part of the discussion and hopefully it will encourage them to come out to more in the future.  It was such a great time to debrief the fun we all shared with each other this year at these events, recapturing fun moments!  Awesome!  The Bonus? I've also made some nice friends from the Venture Around group to, just by hanging out with them!  Kurt plans some really awesome and FUN events!  You begin to learn there are a lot of regulars in the VA group, just because the events are fun and well planned accordingly.  Kurt, you ROCK!

Venture Around on August 9, 2013
Tallships at Navy Pier

Harry Caray's Tavern

Finishing up for the night, we all stuck around for the Fireworks Show at Navy Pier.  The music they played for the show was all "Sailing, boat themed music," including some of the Score from Pirates of the Caribbean, as an homage to Tallships, hahaha.  Then, we departed.  I drove Sue, Kurt and Rhonda to their cars and train stops in Chicago and I was really ready by now to meet my own PILLOW again after a week of missing its company, lol.  I was just tired.  I just have a hard time sleeping in hotels!  Saturday, I worked on my blog!

Sail Away - Sister Hazel
♪ Azure water, south of the border
Takes me to higher ground
Lost in the weekend
Ain't it funny how the sea can
Make you feel found

We'll just sail away into the summer night
Everything gonna be all right if you're lost at sea
Baby we'll sail away into the southern sky
Everything gonna be just fine, sail away with me ♪

Mocking Hills

A Gust of Week Two

Beginning the week of August 11, I did laundry, travel expenses and re-packed for my trip to Busey Bank in Champaign IL.  I had nice text chat with Rhonda on August 10 about the Perseid Meteor Shower on August 12.  I haven't really seen it; it always seems to be cloudy out.  We chatted about the "night sky" and she mentioned she really missed seeing the night sky from AZ.  I told her it was sort of dream of mine to be out at sea on a ship at clear night in a doldrums.  Now, picture that and the reflection of the night sky on the sea.  That's got to be a sight to see.  Kurt also called and told me more about some apartment vacancies in the Albany Park neighborhood.  I wrote down some phone numbers to call.

August 13, Happy One Year Diebold Anniversary!

Beginning the week of August 12, I drove down to Champaign IL for another work assignment.  I spent Sunday evening making sure I was packed and ready to go.  Leaving Monday, it was a nice smooth drive 3hr drive down I-57.  There was some construction near Kankakee and north of Champaign, but other than that the drive was fairly smooth.  I checked into Hawthorn Wyndham suites near Kirby Avenue and Neil Street.  Driving downtown had a very "Colonial American" feel to it.  It reminded me of Town Square in "Back to the Future."

Comfy-cozy Suite at Hawthorn

 Busey Bank, Main Branch
Downtown Champaign IL

Downtown Champaign

Downtown Champaign

I checked into the hotel about 3pm and got dressed for work.  I was assigned to work a project at Busey Bank.  First, I drove back downtown to the main branch on University Avenue.  The hotel suite I had was VERY NICE and comfortable.  It was quiet and the AC noise wasn't a real problem at night.  I travel with "concert ears" to deal with noise at night and one night I didn't even put them in when I went to bed.  The hotel even offered complimentary ETHERNET.  After getting settled into the suite, from there, I was directed to go to their Kirby Ave branch, a mile down the road from the Hotel.  I chuckled a bit because the assignment bank was down the street from the Hotel.  I planned the hotel just perfectly, I thought to myself.  After arriving to the Kirby Ave branch, I started working with the tech already onsite.  We worked together for the first few days.  He was setting up hardware and I was there to deploy software the rest of the time.  He was just finishing up his portion when I arrived.  Busey Bank is a popular bank chain in the area, and I asked one of the associates about that.  I told her that I can't help not to think about Gary Busey when I see the name of your bank.  She laughed and said that was pretty common.  There is no relation to him and the bank though, lol.

Hawthorn Suites By Wyndham
"Checked in to Champaign IL."

Busey Bank
Kirby Ave Branch

"Customer site.."

The deployment went rather smoothly and I was very happy with the results.  There were a few snags but we both got the ATM functioning with the bank conversion to a new network.  It was not a very intense project and the ATM was ready to go on Thursday.  It was rather nice working with the tech and we talked about where we lived and what jobs we were working on next.  I told him that August 13 was my first full year at Diebold.  He mentioned he was with the company for 32 years.  I found that rather encouraging to hear.  I told him I was still rather "wet behind the ears" but learning new things with each job assignment.  You never stop learning.

By Wednesday afternoon, the ATM was set to go for the bank's conversion.  I wrapped up the day and went to Outback Steakhouse that night.  Thursday afternoon, I checked out of the hotel and headed home.  Champaign was a very nice town and I noticed that there were some folks that had a Southern Accent in their speech.  I asked the tech about this and he said that when you get south of Springfield (oh, right, that's our capital, lol), you get closer to the South and the speech gets a bit twangy.  It's much like South of Columbus OH I told him.  We also found that the "bank" on the corner of Kirby and Prospect was indeed a bank and not a gas station.  One morning, the tech brought in a drink and I asked if he got it at the "gas station" next to the bank.  He laughed and said, "I thought that was a gas station too. No, I got the drink somewhere else."  Apparently, the bank was once a gas station, so if you're at this corner and need to fill up, just remember that this picture below is not a gas station.  It's a BANK, lol!

Outback Steakhouse

"That's no BANK, It's a GAS STATION!"

I drove home on Thursday and finished work at my apartment for the day.  In the evening, I got home and semi-unpacked.  I got things ready for my San Diego trip on Monday, calling "303 Regional Cab" for a pickup to Midway.  I was also looking forward to the "Chicago Air and Water Show" on Sunday.  I also learned that I would be going to DEC for some training in September and I was also assigned a project in Cuyahoga Falls OH in October.  I finished the week with a short work assignment, doing bills and trip expenses.

My neighbors, chillaxin and enjoying summer.

Mocking Hills

Chicago Air and Water Show 2013

When I saw this formation overhead, it reminded me of Time Pilot on ColecoVision.  I even heard the BEEP BEEP in my head, lol.

Last year, I went to the Air and Water Show around this time as a way to celebrate my first paycheck with Diebold.  I remember how crowded it was and, even though it was really fun to watch the show, there was no elbow room and Lakefront Trail was so crowded between North Avenue Beach and Oak Street Beach.  This year, I bought a voucher through LivingSocial Chicago deal.  I passed this information onto Kurt and the rest of Venture Around.  The voucher included: Private reserved seating, private restroom, A catered lunch from Smoke Daddy's and drinks!  I saw the deal come through in e-mail originally and JUMPED on it before the deal closed.

Albany Park
"Meeting with Kurt for Air Show!"

On Sunday, August 18th, I drove over to Kurt and Sue's place in Albany Park.  I got up early so that I could beat the traffic on the Kennedy Expressway.  The last few times going over there, I had to battle the traffic.  I was up at 7am that day, leaving plenty of time.  Arriving in a timely matter, I called Kurt and told him I parked on the street.  It was 8:30am.  From there, I got my CTA ticket ready and we boarded the Brown Line at Kimball Yards to Sedgewick.  We caught up on events and things going on in our lives while on the train.  Sue did not come to this one.

CTA - Kimball
"Sedgwick. >>"

North Avenue Beach
"Getting ready to see some planes!"

We endured the sour smells on the EL train and arrived at the stop close to 9:30.  We did some walking from there to North Avenue Beach near the NAB Sports section.  We got to North Avenue Beach, presented our LivingSocial Vouchers and got into the event.   We met up with the rest of the group there and we were free to move around anywhere we wanted after being branded with a bracelet for identification.  There was free food (well sort of), beer and other drinks.  It was a very nice and hot summer day to enjoy, not only the planes, but the weather too.  Promptly at 10am the show started and we all watched, took pictures, socialized walked around the beach and went down to Castaways later in the day.  The show was short some planes this year.  The BLUE ANGELS did not make an appearance, but nonetheless, the time was fun to spend with friends, enjoying weather, food and even some girl watching, lol.  Kurt and I took several videos and pictures of the event.  The "skytypers" were pretty cool.  "Switch to Geico...School is back on 8-26," lol.  The lettering, according to NewsRadio WBBM 780 Chicago, was the same height of the John Hancock Building.

Chicago Air & Water Show 2013
"Enjoying some planes! — with Kurt"

Later in the afternoon, we walked over to Castaways and watched some parachuters fly down to the ground.  I took a video of this.  Below are some videos I took throughout the day.  I asked Kurt why they call it the Chicago Air and WATER show?  He said at one time they did WATER events on the Lake before they started cutting the budget and he also said that each year it seems less crowded.  I must say but by the end of the day, I was really getting sunburn and even after putting lotion on.  Ungh.  The sun was starting to get to me.  Actually, that night, I didn't feel all too well from the heat and I had a flight out the next day to San Diego for Vacation.  I didn't realize how sunburned I really was until the next day.

 Chicago Air and Water Show 2013: Beginning

Chicago Air and Water Show 2013: Stunts

Chicago Air and Water Show 2013: Parachutes

I took some videos of the stunts at the Air Show and there is one of the para-jumpers timed with Jamie Tate's song of "I will give my all!"  It was fun to hang out with Kurt and some other people with the meetups and LivingSocial Chicago.  Last year, I celebrated my first paycheck with Diebold by going downtown to the Air and Water Show.  I remember how crowded it was at Oak Street Beach and walking up to North Avenue Beach.  This year, it was nice to pay ahead of time, have a guaranteed spot with no bumping elbows, with good food, AND the freedom to walk around anywhere on the beaches.  I'm glad I was able to go to the Air and Water show again this year!  Hanging out with Kurt was awesome too!

Crosswalk over Lake Shore Drive

Lake Shore Drive, looking North

After the Air Show, Kurt and I went back to the "L" Train at Fullerton and finished the evening with Sue and had dinner in Albany Park at Golden Crust Pizzeria on Kedzie, where we heard mellow 80s music, lol.  I ordered a "Long Island Iced Tea" and our tables were not earthquake proof.  When I got home, I finished packing for my San Diego Vacation!

Golden Crust Pizzeria
"Drinks then home. — with Sue, Kurt."

I've been having a great summer again in Chicago, just like last year's summer!!!  I just hope it continues again and the rest of this year is just as fun!  New friends have made it even more fun!!!

A Gust of Week Three

Midway International Airport (MDW)
"Off to San Diego. >>"

Off to see my brother and have fun in the sun!  Look closely at the pictures below and NOTE THE CONTRAST IN COLORS!  This was my whole week and even I got some color too from the sun!  No, not the red variety!  My stubborn Norwegian/Irish skin actually tanned some!

Southwest Terminal 1 at Midway

Coronado, San Diego CA

Gate A17
"Flight 611. >>"

On Monday, August 19th, I boarded a plane and headed down to see my brother in San Diego!  This was the first vacation -- ever -- where I actually went away and did something, other than the usual unvacated vacation that I usually do each year.  By "unvacated," I mean, the usual staying at home and doing stuff at home shtick.  Originally, I was going to spend it with Mom too, but she booked for a later time to go with my Dad.  In the interim, it was nice to vacate, getaway and hang out with both my brothers again and enjoy the heat and summertime in San Diego.

The temperature wasn't humid at all, but it was hot in the sun. I booked my trip with Southwest back in April, so I had plenty of time to get ready for it after my vacation was approved by my manager.  Unfamiliar with Southwest, I checked into the flight early to ensure a "window seat" on the plane, since there is no assigned seating.  You must check in 24 hours before your flight to grab hold of the "early bird check in."  So, while I was at the Air and Water show the previous day, I setup a reminder to do this.  It was worth the trip and the expense, and my brother knew his city well to do all the Tour Guiding and driving around.  With as much fun as I had, I'm going to try divulging as much as I can in an orderly fashion for this blog.  There was so much to do though and I doubt the blog will do it justice.  Hey, and the good thing in this?  I saw palm trees and a totally different type of landscape entirely!  Mountains, sage brush, trees and even the grass was all different than usual!

San Diego International Airport (SAN)

From Midway to Midway

The Lazy Dog Restaurant

Lazy Dog Restaurant & Bar

After spending nearly 4 hours in the air away from the Earth, I arrived safely at San Diego Airport in the heart of Downtown San Diego.  Quickly claiming my luggage, I spotted my brother, Wayne, and loaded up his BMW.  The first stop of my trip was checking into Worldmark Wyndham Hotel in Mission Valley.  The hotel was a timeshare that my brother is involved with so he earned enough points to open a room up for the vacation.  He was also on his vacation this week too so it was fortunate.  My other brother, Kevin, also joined us later in the week after his workshift and haul was done.  He drives trucks and is always on the road.  Wayne joked at how sunburned I was [from Chicago Air and Water Show].  "You just landed in San Diego and you haven't been out in the sun yet, lol.  Why are you so red?"  I told him it was the day before at the Chicago Air and Water Show.  If there was one thing I was sure to pack, it was sunscreen!

Worldmark By Wyndham
"Very scenic location. It's the second time I've seen palm trees that I remember."

After checking into the hotel, Wayne drove me around the city to get familiar with the sites, the roads and even some cool landmarks.  So, while getting situated into the hotel, I was also getting a crash course of San Diego and its beautiful splendor!  Wayne did an awesome job pointing out some of the city's finest places, including historical landmarks, restaurants and, most of all, the confusing roads!  Driving around a bit, showing me around, we ate at a new restaurant nearby the hotel, called the Lazy Dog of San Diego.  My first take on the name was some Asian place where a lazy dog wandered off accidentally and became a delicacy, lol, since in Asia they serve Dog.  Luckily, it had nothing to do with that, and it had more of a Latin American selection.  In fact, most places in the area were either Mexican, Latin American or Asian restaurants.  So, I was in for something new all around as far as food.

We found a place to sit in the restaurant and ordered.  It was a very pleasant environment and an enjoyable dining experience.  The menu had delicious items to choose from. I ordered a Garlic-Butter Glazed Flatiron.  It consisted of "USDA Prime Flat Iron Steak grilled & topped with our garlic-herb butter, served with mashed potatoes, burgundy wine sauce & seasonal vegetables."  We had "Sweet Potato Tots" as an appetizer, and Wayne ordered the Pesto Chicken and Hummus.  While dining, we discussed the activities of the week and what I wanted to do and see.  It was great just to sit and talk and catch up on the times when we were all last together at Thanksgiving in Chicago last year.

Sky and Dreamer
Wayne's Place at Arcadia
Hillcrest, San Diego CA

After eating, I went over to Wayne's place on the outskirts of Downtown in the Hillcrest Neighborhood.  There, I met his two cats, Dreamer and Sky, lol, and was able to see his place. He has a cool place and I was amazed how tame his cats were!  In fact, keeping tradition of the family the behavior habits of the cats closely resembled and reflected from our family cat growing up.  I guess good things are passed down from generation to generation, including the training of animals!  Growing up, our family cat, Tigger, was trained to stand behind the metal trim of the carpet that was the division between the kitchen and living room when we'd feed him.  After his bowl was filled with food and water, we'd call him in.  Wayne has also trained both of cats in a similar matter and the synchronization of the two cats being called to supper was hilarious!  They waited until their bowls were filled and then ate after being called to.  He's had both cats since they were small kittens and he's lived in various places in San Diego with them too.  In fact, I didn't realize until Wayne mentioned it, but he's lived in San Diego since 2002!

We went back on the road and attempted to catch a sunset over the Pacific Ocean but I learned a new term from Wayne.  It's called "Marine Layer."  What this means essentially is the best time of the year to catch a good sunset over the Ocean is May and June.  This is San Diego's Spring.  Each day, I noticed how clouds rolled in for awhile around sunset.  Wayne called this the Marine Layer.  We went to Point Loma to try and see the sunset the first night I was there.  The second night proved somewhat better for picture taking.  Here were a few pictures from the "first night" and attempt at "Sun touchdown photos."  I'll explain later why I called this a "touchdown" and not a traditional "sunset."

Do not disturb these stones or thou shalt be accursed.

On Tuesday Morning, I got up early at the Hotel and Wayne picked me up so we could go to the Bay and tour the USS Midway.  We first ate breakfast at a nice "Mom and Pop shop," called Adam's Steak and Eggs.  I also learned that Mom and Dad enjoyed several of these places picked out by Wayne previously. The USS Midway is docked in San Diego's harbor and this is its permanent home now.  It was decommisoned in April 1992 after serving 47 years of service, including the Persian Gulf and Vietnam.  Named after a famed and turning point battle of WWII, the Midway was the first Aircraft Carrier built after WWII and the second ship to be named Midway.  It is noted for its steam-driven catapults and unique "flight deck" design.

Adam's Steak & Eggs
"Checked in by Wayne C."

She was originally launched on March 20, 1945 and commissioned on September 10, 1945 under the command of Captain Joseph Bolger.  This four turbined, 212,000 horsepower vessel carried 45,000 men aboard its decks and it could hold a hangar of 80 planes.  After Wayne parked, we purchased our tickets and went aboard.  With permission to board this awesome and seaworthy craft, we first entered into the Aircraft Carrier in the bowels of the vessel.  Inside were real live planes that once flew and served their time in peace time and war.  There was a lot to digest aboard the carrier and luckily we had an "audio unguided tour" of the various decks on the carrier.  These included the Brig, the Engine Room, the Bridge, Hangar Deck, the Flight Deck, the Forecastle (Foke'sil), Sick Bay, the Mess Deck/Galley (for both crew and officers), and even the Room where the ship's Gyro-compass computer was at (called the SINS, or "Ship's Inertial Navigation System") with its 15 MB UNIVAC Tape Drive to store gyro-compass data.  Also, this happened to be my favorite part on the ship, lol.

We got to the USS Midway early and beat the crowds, but by 11am, the ship was full of tourists and people of all sorts.  It was fortunate to have Wayne there to explain much of the ship's technical data and even what the "addresses" on each of the frames were and even how decks were laid out.  We got a good look at the engine room with its 4 propellers and we had a veteran aboard to describe the process and how the 12 boilers worked to fuel the ship with steam to drive it across the water.  He went on to say that the temperature could reach as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the engine room and the the room contained cooling ducts that forced cooler air down below from above.  The officer said this didn't always work especially in the Persian Gulf.  He even offered a thorough explanation to a "dead reckoning" or "deduced reckoning" (DR) in navigation.

I really enjoyed the tour, especially the explanation of the catapult system on the flight deck by a veteran.  It was fascinating to hear that the catapults slingshot the planes upward at a speed of 150mph is 2.5 seconds.  Wayne said that he was "slingshot" off one of the decks of carrier once and told me about his experience with the feet and arms flailing out in front of him.  He said the officer on deck did not give the pilot a "thumb's up" to go.  The explanation of the two catapults, done by the veteran, was really informative, namely how the process worked with the green, yellow and red shirted deck officers.  With the involvement of several officers to launch the plane off the deck, the process only takes 90 seconds!

Our last stop on the ship was on the Bridge.  We had a "guided tour" of the bridge, the chart room and the Captain's quarters.  I couldn't believe how small the bridge was, and it was interesting to learn how the navigation of the ship was done by using different instruments (like celestial navigation).  We finished the tour probably about 3pm and went across the bay into Coronado afterwards for lunch.  Here are some pictures of the Midway.

The Gyro-Compass Computer Terminal

A 15 MB Tape Drive for the SINS

I'm standing in front of an F-14, Tomcat.

Wayne's standing in front of a Sikorsky Helicopter.

The Catapult attached to the nose gear of a fighter plane.

A guided tour of the Bridge!

USS Midway Museum
"Hanging with brother — with Wayne."

We spent the rest of the day in Coronado, which is just across the bay in San Diego.  It is connected by a 2 mile long bridge, the San Diego/Coronado Bay Bridge.  This main route connects the two through the bay area, but there is another entrance to the south of San Diego called the Silver Strand, which is a tiny strip of land that acts as a barrier in the bay area.  I recorded two videos going over the bridge: one going over into Coronado and one going back to San Diego.

In Coronado, we visited the Beach in front of the Hotel Del Coronado and actually went into the Hotel and walked around a bit.  We first had lunch at Candela's, a Latin American restaurant (no, not Mexican).  There is a difference in the choices.  I tried the "Pollo al Mole."  It's a Chicken breast with mole sauce and served with a side of rice and beans. The sauce also consisted of chocolate and it enriched the flavor of the chicken.  I used the left over sauce on my rice.  I wasn't too fond of the beans.  We sat near the picture window in front and got a nice view of the pier out front and some of the military action in the bay, including the arrival/departure of a Dole Cargo Ship.  We couldn't make out if it was coming or going.  Wayne also talked about his time in the military, his different ship captains and their "quirks."  Good times!

Hotel Del Coronado

 The Beach at the Hotel Del Coronado

Candela's On The Bay
"Checked in by Wayne C."

After we ate, we drove to the front of Coronado and strolled in the beach and visited the Hotel Del Coronado, which was built in the 1800s.  It plays an important part in San Diego's history.  Wayne also pointed out a brown filthy skyline to the south, noting that it's sure way to find Mexico, lol, or at least Tijuana, hahaha.  "Look for the brown cloud.  That's Mexico."  On the beach, I insisted that I HAD to put my feet in that "blue watery looking thingamajig over there" or, what they call the "Pacific Ocean" in San Diego, lol.  We also went over to Rosecrans Cemetery to take some sunset photos as well.  There was a Marine Layer, but Wayne insisted it would still be good to take pictures.  He said he's already taken plenty and very familiar with the weather patterns of San Diego.

No, we did not go into Mexico and I was warned about the Mexican Customs and trying to return to the United States.  Wayne said he had gone down there before and it's harder coming back into the US than it is leaving.  He said that it's not a problem with US Customs either; it's the Mexican side that gives you problems.  And, if you are travelling with someone that speaks Spanish, it's far better to feign any fluency with speaking it too, because they trap you that way.  I learned that US Customs have border patrols just before entering Orange County (LA) too.  Finishing off our day of fun, I captured these "touchdown photos" and with Wayne and me on the beach.  Ok, when I refer to "touchdown of the sun," I'm referring to the fact that it's the only time I've seen the sun set on one side of our country over an Ocean, so I called it a "Sun touchdown" just as the sun fell beyond the horizon at precisely 19:29 on that day, lol!  We had to drive over to Point Loma to get to Rosecrans Cemetery quickly too.  This cemetery is devoted to both Men and Women who served in the military.  It reminded me of Arlington Cemetery outside Washington DC, only somewhat on a smaller scale.

Rosecrans Cemetery


Hotel del Coronado
"The blue looking watery thingamajig. They call it the Pacific Ocean here. — with Wayne."

All Thai-ed Up in Los Angeles

The greatest conundrum out there.  LAPD!  Why does the City of Angels need a Police Department?  On Wednesday, it was a whole day in LA!  Wayne picked me up early and we spent the day with Paxton too.  It was a day of Art and Stars, both in the sky and in Hollywood.  Hmmm.  Hollywood?  Ok, it was not the most glamorous city I visited, and I've seen better parts of run-down Chicago than Hollywood.  Maybe Hollywood should've stayed in Chicago after all!

From Griffith Observatory.  Yes, I did take this photo.

The Hill with the famous Hollywood Sign

"...Next stop, Hollywood!"  Yep, that's right; When I hop on my train in Westmont, I often hear that announcement when taking the BNSF Metra train here to Downtown Chicago.  It often makes me think of the Hollywood in CA.  Well, just a little history here, it's not just a ZOO stop after Brookfield, Hollywood started in Chicago!  That announcement IS referring to the FIRST Hollywood, the Hollywood where stardom started. . .right there on the Des Plaines River in Illinois!  Eventually, that Hollywood would move out west to a climate more tolerable for movie-making! Now, going back to "City of. . ."  I also learned that any area with "City of. . ." in the front of it, is a ghetto.  Hahaha.  Well, anyhow, driving into LA took a good three hours of I-5 and I-405 and we did get stuck in LA traffic.

♢ Car Pooling aka a Kalaka.  I learned what the symbol (diamond) on the freeway lanes means when driving on California Freeways.  I wish Chicago had Car Pool lanes. We have reversible lanes on the Kennedy, but that's about it.  The Diamond means if you have more than one person in the car, you can use the "Car Pool" lanes free of charge.  If you don't have anyone else in the car besides the driver, then you have to pay to use them, if not some being restricted specifically for one or more passengers in a car.  Just like here on Chicago Tollways, there are open transponder "hotspots" on the freeways that check this and deduct a toll.  We were fortunate to use the car pool lanes, free of charge today, having two passengers in Wayne's car: Paxton and I.  The other thing noticeable about CA expressways (er...freeways) is the Drive-by Braille in the roads (as Wayne called it).  It works to your advantage if you're drunk or tired.  To be specific as to what they are, they are the "cat eye reflectors" in the lane lines (– •• – •• –).  The ones in CA are literally bumps and when you change lanes you can here the Morse Code on the car tires, lol.  Wayne had his XM jammin in the car and I tagged a few cool songs on Shazam, including Katy Perry's new released single of Roar [August 12].  We both have the same taste in music.  When I heard Safe and Sound play it, for whatever reason, made me think about the score in the movie of Conan the Barbarian.  Yes, the one with Arnold.  I think it was the fanfare, trumpet melody in the song that made me think that.  My mind works weirdly.
  • Safe and Sound by Capital Cities
  • Best Song Ever by One Direction
  • Roar by Katy Perry
Our first stop in LA was at a beautiful Art Museum at the top of one of LA's hills, just off I-405.  Envisioned by Architect, Richard Meier, it's called the J. Getty Museum.  It is six buildings with great architecture to it, an art form to contrast LA's skyline in the distance and the hills of sage brush surrounding LA.  Parking the car in a garage, we had the option to walk up the steep hill to the top, or take the Getty Tram up the side of the mountain.  Guess which one we decided on with it being really hot out, lol?

Getty Tram
"In LA today. — with Wayne."

Los Angeles

J. Getty Museum Campus

Doesn't this place seriously stand out prominently against the bleak smog-ridden skyline of LA?  We arrived at the museum and took the "Architectural Tour" of the Museum.  The Tour Guide pointed out the detail put into the structures.  I should note but the picture I used here of LA was taken from the Griffith Observatory later, because we were closer to it.  I used it here to demonstrate and make the museum more notable because it was just a great place to visit with its art, architecture. . .as an art, and its lush and serene gardens!  It amplified the hill outside of LA!  Anyone who loves Art Museums must check out this place.

Wayne and I

Wayne and Paxton against LA skyline

We spent a good portion of the day enjoying the serenity of the place even capturing women practicing yoga in one of the tree gardens.  It was such a relaxing feel, and even watching her in her meditative dance!  The gardens here were simply extraordinary.  Architecture isn't just about drawing a building plan.  IT'S AN ART!  Wayne, Paxton and I walked around and enjoyed the finest of these lush gardens.  We also enjoyed some paintings and art displayed in the buildings, especially the Oil Paintings.  The Architect designed the building to angle the sunlight in the building to hit the oil paintings just right for viewing as intended by the artists who originally painted them in sunlight!  Here are some of my favorite photos.  This was a place you could not do in one day, but what we did visit was awesome!

J. Paul Getty Museum
"— with Wayne."

This was life size

The circle on the floor is the "Center" of the whole campus as the Architect designed the entire campus.

Try not to yawn here. I hope you aren't bored and tired yet with this blog.  It is a Gust after all.  After we visited the Getty, Wayne took us over to Griffith Observatory.  Originally, when I was looking at ideas for my visit, I mentioned Palomar Observatory in San Diego County to Wayne.  There we went into the Planetarium and enjoyed an "old fashioned" projector pop out of the center of the dome.  They actually had an old one in one of the exhibits in the observatory.  The host had a very quiet speak and calming narration of the stars and the cosmos.  We were taken on a tour around the Universe and I really enjoyed the narration.  We all thought that it was a recording, but it wasn't.  The guy who did the narration was that good!!!  It was not staged or pre-recorded.  It was LIVE!

Before the show started, I talked with a woman sitting next to me.  She asked me if I was visiting.  I told her I was from Chicago and enjoyed Adler Planetarium back home.  "They don't have a projector though.  It's all done on the dome itself."  I told her I was visiting my brother in San Diego.  She's been around the world including Cleveland and Chicago.  During the show, they made mention of "one day having the technology to deflect asteroids from hitting the earth."  I looked over to Paxton and whispered, "Bruce Willis."  He laughed.

After the show, I thanked the host for the show and we went around and visited several of the exhibits and even looked through the "daytime telescope" aimed at Venus.  On the other side of Griffith is the "night time telescope."  I really enjoyed the tour and there were several guides there leading the tour, including one at the telescope.  He gave us insight in one of Sol's most volatile planets, Venus.   It is the brightest object after the moon because it is covered entirely by clouds, ever since it was first observed.  With X-Ray and the technology to penetrate deep on the surface, Venus is covered with volcanoes and an atmosphere almost entirely made up of carbon monoxide.  Named [appropriately] after the Goddess of Love, hmmmm, think about that, it made me think about the line, "hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."  LOL!  I captured a lot of pictures here too, so I'll share a few from that.

Griffith Observatory
"— with Wayne."

Wayne looking at Venus through the Daytime Telescope

The sunset really brought definition to the mountains!

Sunset over the famous Hollywood Sign

Ok, so why Thai-ed up?  Paxton is Thai and we preplanned this event to have Thai food after the day and Paxton knows of only one good place in Hollywood.  I told Wayne that I'd try it, but I didn't want anything too spicy, since a lot of Thai food IS spicy.  After visiting Griffith, we drove back down the hill and went to a Thai food restaurant in Hollywood on Hollywood Blvd.  It was called Ruen Pair Thai Restaurant.  Wayne paid a valet to park his BMW and we walked in the plaza.  It was THAI TOWN, so there were shops and places that were all Thai.

Ruen Pair Thai Restaurant
"In Hollywood with Wayne and Paxton. — with Wayne."

Inside, we found a booth and Paxton placed the order with the server, spoken all in Thai of course, lol!  My first thought was, "I can only hope he's placing a good order," lol.  I think we had (44) The Nam Tok Pork, (11) Fried Fish Cake, and other items that I could not remember.  In Asia they have a leafier broccoli than we have in the US, but it was good and all the food wasn't too spicy.  Although, a few times, I was sipping on my Thai Iced Tea and Water of course with eyes watering, nose running.  I wasn't alone because even Paxton was wiping his eyes and nose too, lol, so it was spicy enough, lol.  All the items that were ordered were topped with rice.  I also learned how Thai people use dinnerware too.  They ONLY use chopsticks if they are eating noodles, otherwise they use a fork and a spoon.  Yes, a spoon, cousin.  The fork is used for cutting the food and placing the food on the spoon!  I seem to remember a Big Bang Theory episode where this was mentioned by Sheldon, lol!  The Thai Iced Tea was VERY sweet, and made from condensed milk.  It was very good!  After we ate our meal, we walked over to a Thai Grocery where he bought us dessert.  I tried a Taro Dessert which had a very tarty flavor to it.  Taro is a root.  From there, we went drove up Hollywood Blvd and I took a picture of the "Sidewalk of stars," which is the only notable highlight of Hollywood.  I wasn't too impressed with Hollywood.  As I mentioned in this section, maybe it should've stayed in Chicago, lol!

Silom Supermarket
"Introduced to Thai. — with Wayne."

Downtown Hollywood...

Sidewalk of Stars

Downtown Hollywood

Cruising Along in "San Miguel"

On Thursday, Kevin had joined us.  He checked into Worldmark Wyndham on Wednesday night, so he was already there when Wayne, me and Paxton returned from LA the night before.  Kevin was already fast asleep.  There were two bedrooms in the suite so I told him to take one.  Kevin parked his truck alongside road, "Camino Del Rio South."  It was easily accessible from the hotel for him.

Wayne picked us up in the morning and we were all three together once again.  The last time we were all together was in Chicago at Thanksgiving last year.  It was nice to be together once again to enjoy the nice hot weather in San Diego.  We all went over to the San Diego Mission Valley Cafe near the hotel and ordered breakfast.  We sat and ordered our meals.  I had "Bacon and Eggs with a side of Kielbasa."  It was good.  We talked about life and even about memories of our childhood.  It was a nice time.

San Diego Home Cooking Mission Valley Cafe
"All three of us together."

All three of us: Me, Wayne, Kevin
with San Diego Skyline in back.

After we ate, Wayne took us to the Bay where we bought tickets for San Diego Flagship Cruises.  We bought tickets for the "Two Hour Cruise," which composed of a tour of both the North and South Bay area.  The tours were split in half.  When the first hour of the tour was done, the ship would return to the harbor, offload those whom paid for one hour and then on load a new bunch.

After standing in line and getting our picture taken, we boarded the boat and made our way to the top.  There we enjoyed the nice breeze and hot weather.  Yes, I brought suntan lotion [having to buy a new bottle beforehand].  We lathered up and enjoyed the sites.  Wayne knew all the areas, so he was ahead of the tour guide giving the guided tour of the harbor.  Wayne pointed out some notable landmarks in both the North and South bay area.  San Diego has the largest Naval activity in the Pacific and is second after Norfolk VA as var as Military presence.  The second half of the tour consisted mainly of the Naval fleet docked at the 32nd Street Base.  The North part of the bay was for entertainment and for the locals, especially with sailing and bay restaurants.  Wayne, Kevin and I all took lots of photos of both the North and South bay area, even the San Diego/Coronado Bay Bridge that connects Coronado to San Diego.  Here are some of my photos.

Sea Lions!  They are not an endangered species.

A lot of Helicopters and Fighter Jets fly overhead here

The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)
San Diego North Bay

Flagship Cruises & Events
"2 hr Harbor tour. — with Wayne"

We all enjoyed the south tour the most about the Naval Fleet.  I didn't know that the fence around the naval fleet was due to a 9/11 thing, but apparently it is to protect the fleet from the proximity of sailboats and regular nautical activity in the Bay.  After enjoying some drinks aboard, some local beer (Stone), we finished the cruise and made our way over to the Trolley to go into Old Town with San Diego's first settlements when San Diego was part of California as its one nation before Spanish and American influence.  The trolley was a traditional red like in San Francisco but more metallic.  It was driven by overhead cables, just like seen in San Francisco.  We boarded the trolley at Santa Fe and talked to a local on the way over to Old Town.  The ride reminded of the EL trains in Chicago, although a little cleaner!  After making our stop at Old Town, we walked over to get lunch at the Casa De Reyes in Old Town.  It was my first experience with real Mexican food and it was really filling.  We also had Pina Coladas there.

Casa De Reyes in Old Town

Casa de Reyes

The food was really good and not very spicy.  I ordered a Chicken Burrito, and we all had Margaritas!  After eating, we around to the various historic landmarks in Old Town.  Old Town is the first settlement in San Diego, er "San Miguel" as it almost was called.  The Spanish Influence of California started with several missions up and down the coast of California, including some in San Diego and San Francisco (Yerba Buena).  The Mission Valley area of San Diego was appropriately named for this as it is the location of the Spanish Mission that started San Diego, er "San Miguel."  San Diego was the first permanent settlement of California and historically was a very important city for the growth of California.  San Diego even had immigrations from Russia!

A history of San Diego

An old Telegraph

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
"— with Wayne"

We walked around to most of the historic buildings on the square.  There were also a few shops there too and did some souvenir shopping.  The Well Fargo Wagon made me think about the song "Wells Fargo Wagon is a comin'" from Music Man, lol!  I was waiting for Winthrop (Young Ronnie Howard) to start singing.  We also learned about a man named Robinson convicted of stealing a canoe and being hanged at the Courthouse.  There is a street nearby called Robinson Avenue.  I joked to Wayne saying "Do you name your streets after criminals, lol?" After enjoying Old Town, Wayne took us over to Balboa Park for the remainder of the day.  We took the Trolley back to the Santa Fe stop to get the car.  The day was nearing a close.

Old Town Trolley Station and Transit Center

Taking CA-163 over to the park, we took the Quince exit.  I'm glad Wayne knows his way around because I didn't know where were most of the time.  He told me about the "bottleneck" problems of 163 and how all lanes merge into ONE SINGLE LANE on a freeway.  It starts CA-163 at Ash Street.  I saw this for myself and said, "why engineers design freeways like this and don't think about traffic problems."  After arriving at the park, we walked over to Spreckels Outdoor Concert Hall and heard the Concerto de Coronado play on the stage.  It was great.  The name Spreckels is synonymous with a lot of San Diego.  That person was John D. Spreckels.  He donated a lot of money to the city historically for realty, parks and even the RAILROAD.  It was also interesting to note a BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) commerical train go by in San Diego.  Wayne told me that San Diego is the end of the line for the Santa Fe line (or BNSF now).  I told him that line starts in Chicago and the BNSF shares a rail with the Metra train there.

Spreckels Organ Pavilion

Spreckels Organ Pavilion

We sat and listened to the concert play and even applauded the performances.  There is a HUGE ORGAN that is behind the stage too.  We didn't get to see that part, but Wayne said you can walk in and walk over it.  We didn't get a chance to go to San Diego Zoo, minutes from the park or any of the museums there, but Wayne pointed them out to us for when we visit again.  There is plenty to keep you busy in Balboa park and the landscape was very lush and picture worthy.  I even took a picture of some mountains here.  They came out pretty nicely.  Here were some pictures I took until the day finally came to a close.  We walked through some of the gardens too.  We all had fun and enjoyed the sights and did plenty of picture taking -- all three of us!  Kevin was even having a great time.

Balboa Park
"— with Wayne"

"It's awfully warm in these Rhinos."

Friday was my last day in San Diego.  I previously started packing up the hotel suite before getting started with the day and did a vacation "no-no" and that is check work e-mails, lol!  Yeah, guilty as charged.  I addressed the e-mail later in the evening on Friday.  It was an important one!  Getting ready for the day ahead, Kevin and I got ready for Wayne to pick us up very early to beat the heat at Safari Park San Diego in Escondido.  We were given a choice too: San Diego Zoo or Safari Park.  We agreed on Safari Park!  At least I did I should say.  According to Wayne, it a very arid and hot climate making it possible for animals found in Africa to survive.  He wasn't joking!  IT WAS HOT!  I made double sure I brought my suntan lotion with me to block out the rays.  The one thing I did notice while I was on my trip in San Diego is the Heat Index.  It is hot in the sun, but it is VERY cool in the shade, not like back home with Humidity.  Shade or Sun, it is still HOT!  After eating some breakfast at the hotel, Kevin and I met Wayne and we drove up to Safari Park.  It was a 45 minute drive, not too far away.  We took a few back roads to get to San Pasqual where the park is at.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

We spent the whole day at the park.  We first took the African Tram and enjoyed some African Animals, some near extinct and some well known.  "It's awfully warm in these rhinos."  Yes, it was, and we saw white rhinos on the African Tram Tour.  The Tram we took had a guide aboard and she pointed out all the animals found on an African savannah.  It was fun!  We took pictures.  Kevin, too, lol.  We did several of the exhibits and shows too, like the Frequent Flyers Bird Show, the Cheetah Run, [which I took a video of and included it here] and three of the "Animal Encounters" shows [Honey Badger, A Macaw, and the Tortoise].  I enjoyed the Honey Badger "Animal Encounter" and learned how badgers are animals you DON'T mess with and how they throw hissy fits, lol.  At the Cheetah run we saw the world's largest CAT CARRIER!  LOL!  We were able to interact with some of the animals even like the Lemurs and some of the exotic birds.

Honey Badger Animal Encounter
Benzi the Honey Badger

The Tortoise Animal Encounter

Macaw Animal Encounter

Getting ready for the Cheetah Run!

We walked all the way around the park for the most part, end to end.  We saw animals that we liked as kids going to Cleveland Metropark Zoo.  Wayne and I recalled Kevin's misgivings with certain animals, lol.  We recalled the Gorilla that pounded on the glass at Cleveland, the Skunk that sprayed him at a Family Reunion one year, a Bird that crapped on his cheek.  LOL!  Poor Kevin!  Wayne also mentioned his "luck" with bees, which I forgot.  He told us the story how a bee landed on his arm and Kevin and I told him not to provoke it so you don't get stung.  It stung him anyways.  We were just kids.  So, Wayne avoided, at all costs, any encounter with bees while we were at the park.  There were a lot.  I just reassured him that "they are doing there jobs," for pollination, lol.  Below I tried to organize photos based upon events.  We even had some snacks there and enjoyed some booze even to cool off. We drank plenty of WATER too.

African Tram

Cheetah, no not the run yet.

A wildebeest

"It's awfully warm in these rhinos."

Random Park Photos

Frequent Flyers Bird Show

A California Condor
They are endangered!

Condor Ridge

Ungh, the sign warned us to watch for SNAKES!  They inhabit the mountain side and hide in the sage brush according to Wayne.

And, now, here is the Cheetah Run...

The Cheetah Run at Safari Park San Diego Zoo

Cheetahs are the fastest land animal averaging speeds over 70mph.  They have larger lungs and even at 40mph, their feet barely touch the ground at times.

Sammy's Woodfired Pizza & Grill

We did plenty of walking around and were at the park for the whole day. We wrapped up the day at the Park at Condor Ridge and took off back into town to eat some dinner and dessert.  We stopped at Sammy's Woodfired Pizza & Grill to have dinner.  There, we all ordered salads, lol.  I had a Caesar Sald.  Then we went over to Ruby's Diner for dessert before going back to hotel suite just to chat and talk about life!  There, I went back to an e-mail I had to address for work and then we just spent the rest of the night in the hotel talking and getting ready to depart.  I had an early 6:30am flight out of San Diego, so I wanted to get to bed as soon as I could.  Kevin even got set up on FOURSQUARE at the Park too and Wayne and I were exclaiming how he'd be always winning with points since Kevin is always travelling around the country in his Truck, lol!

Ruby's Diner

Back in town

Missouri/Illinois Border
Mississippi River

San Diego International Airport (SAN)
"<< To Midway."

On Saturday morning, I got up at 4am and Wayne picked me up and took me to the Airport.  I quickly got everything together.  Kevin was still sleeping when I left.  Arriving at the Airport wasn't bad at all.  The Flight I was on was FULL though and my early bird check-in put me in Boarding Group B4.  I wasn't B4 anyone this time, lol!  Wayne wished me well and I had the MOST FUN VACATION IN A LONG TIME!  I thanked him for taking me around and I tried to help as much as I could since he was doing all the driving and making the hotel reservations!  Getting into the Airport and passing  through security was swift and I waited a short time in the terminal before the plane allowed boarding. The 4hr plane flight took me over Arizona, New Mexico, Kansas, part of Oklahoma, Missouri, then finally Illinois.  Passing over Kansas made me think about my Work Project the next week in Kansas City and not looking forward to a 7hr 48min drive to Kansas City.  There was a point in the flight where I thought about "time loss" as I looked down and my phone updated to two hours later.  "Did we just get overflown by a UFO and abducted?"  I thought about that episode of X-Files where that happened, lol!  It just so happened that the Wireless aboard the plane only updated the time to Chicago Time.

Midway International Airport (MDW)

Finally getting home, I waited for over about an hour for my baggage as it was on another flight with cargo, according to the public annoucement in the Airport.  I didn't get home until about 3pm.  The flight landed at 12:20pm.  Ungh!  Even the taxi I reserved screwed up my fare.  Ungh!  I just wanted to get home to do laundry and re-pack for the following week in Kansas City.  I didn't really have a relaxing weekend.  I did update my blog, do laundry, cleaned my bathroom and re-packed.

I was previously invited out by Kurt and Sue to go to their Block Party in Albany Park.  I was just too tired, so I cancelled that.  They understood.  I told Kurt I'd hang out with him over Labor Day Weekend.  I slept in on Sunday -- llllaatttteeee.  I also took note of my Foursquare.  I had a score of 313 on Foursquare!  Busy exploring this whole month broke my previous record of 142. A Gust of August was what I got this month!  So, which part of my vacation did I enjoy the most?  ALL OF IT, especially being able to hang out with my two brothers!  Wayne really played up the tour guide shtick and said he wants to try to come out to see me again in Chicago to do more stuff since there wasn't a lot of time last year at Thanksgiving!  Kevin also had a good time.  He left on Saturday too, doing a haul in San Diego then off back on the roads again in his Truck.

Caught in the act

Mocking Hills

A Gust of Week Four

KCB Bank in Liberty MO

Starting the last week of August and a "gust of August" was a challenge to say the least.  I told myself that next time I go to Kansas City, I'm going to fly or at least take a different route.  I chose to take the route through St. Louis (to and from) which is the longer route, because I never had been to the Gateway Arch.  Although, talking to my folks about this last week in Kansas City, they said that I DID go to the Gateway Arch; I was a mere inkfink though!  My Mom told me that they took me up the "capsule" that goes up to the top.  Sooo, I thought maybe I'd try to do this.  Bzzzzt!  Not enough time and coming come, I got hit with all the Labor Day/Holiday Traffic on the roads.  Sooo, I didn't go see this.  Maybe next time.  I have been planning a St. Louis Trip since the beginning of this year, but I just haven't had any time to do it.  Work this week was extensive and I had no time for other stuffs after work.  I was actually WORKING at nights from the hotel, so this trip was rather boring as far as other activities.

Mocking Hills
"Off to Kansas City via St. Louis. 8 hrs. >>."

Where W becomes K

A Bug-splatted view of an Arch (Illinois Side on I-55)
A Ford A Fussin Dashcam

A Ford A Fussin Dashcam

On Monday, August 26th, I finished doing laundry, and packing my suitcase.  I left my apartment by 12pm.  It was kind of late, but washing machines at my place are hard to get.  There are only two of them for two buildings (16W731 Mockingbird, 10S771 Clarendon Hills Road), so it sucks trying to get one that is readily available.  After packing my car, I was off.  It was a really smooth ride down.  Traffic was very light down I-55 through Joliet, Bloomington/Normal, Peoria and that other City that is supposed to be our capital, um Springfield, lol!  I often forget that city exists, lol.  Heading into St. Louis and crossing the Mississippi where W becomes K, I found a place to fuel up and eat lunch near University of St. Louis at the Grand Avenue and I-64 exit.  Well, I drove past the Arch (as seen in picture above).  That at least was something.  I walked up Grand Avenue and enjoyed my lunch at the "Best Steak House."  I parked the Ford in a parking lot near Franklin and Grand and just walked up towards the University and back.  I learned that neighborhood changed rather quickly near the University and was a bit more "challenging" to walk through.  It reminded me of Southside Chicago some, so I was extra careful walking around people.  I even got asked for some change.

The Best Steak House
"Crossed the Mississippi at about 15:30. >>."

At the "Best Steak House," it wasn't all that impressive food-wise; the food was rather bland and left a terrible after taste that stuck with me until I got to the Hotel in Kearney MO later that night.  The staff was courteous and helpful in spite of the food.  It was a "cafeteria type restaurant," so upon entering, you grabbed a tray and went down the service line.  I still tip for good service!  Getting back to the car, I drove off towards Kansas City.  I spent no more than 1 hour eating and gassing up.  I drove to the I-64 terminus and took I-70/US-40 all the rest of the way through Missouri. 

Once again, the roads were light and the day was coming to a close just as I passed into town.  Ok, so here is a test for you all.  First of all, I call States like Missouri, Illinois and Washington Mis-capitalized States.  What does that mean?   Ok, for starters, "What is the Capital of Missouri?"  Most people will either say St. Louis or Kansas City.  Well, they're wrong.  Just south of I-70, there is this small town called Jefferson City.  Well, it's not just some small town; it's a "Mis-Capital" as I call them.  Jefferson City is the Capital of Missouri.  The same applies for Illinois.  Springfield is the "Mis-Capital" of Illinois, not Chicago.  For Washington, it's Olympia, not Seattle, and so on.

Kearney, MO

Anyhow, finally arriving into the greater Kansas City MO area around sunset, I drove up I-435/I-35 and reached Kearney MO.  Hmm, is that KEER-nee?  Well, no, technically, it's pronounced CAR-nee as I learned the following day at work.  I checked into Quality Inn at Missouri Route 92 and I-35 probably about 9pm.  I got to my room which so happened to be the same number as my own apartment here at home.  I made a quick stop for a snack after settling in at a Gas Station near the Interstate.  After going through some work e-mails, I retired for work the next day.

Quality Inn
"Checked in."

Show me the Money in the "Show Me State"

Work for the week was at KCB Bank

KCB Bank

On Tuesday, I arose bright and early and headed down to Liberty MO to KCB Bank.  It was a 10 minute drive down.  While driving down, I tended to notice how "filthy, dirty and dusty" vehicles were.  I saw a few cars say "Dust Me" or "Wash Me" on them. . .quite a few of them actually.  It was kind of hilarious to see these.  I'd see this all week with cars actually.  "Wow, what a dusty State!"  Arriving at the site, I met the staff and got right to work.  My office for the week was outside in the drive through lanes.  IT WAS HOT!  The project involved two ATMs for a Deposit scenario.  It took the whole week to Engineer this on two machines.  I was working at the Hotel even after being onsite for the day.  The staff was very friendly there, especially Jenny, the Bank Manager.  "A smile says a million positive words at once," I thought to myself.  Her smile is what made the whole process run smoothly as it did even with the bumps and the snags.  Diebold came together as a team this week and really pulled their stuff together for this customer.  It was a GREAT PLEASURE to work with this staff and they were very patient with us!  Kudos!

We are but "Dust in the Wind. . .on automobiles. . ." by Kansas

For lunch each day, I picked a location near the Bank to eat, like Culver's and Chick-fil-A.  Ok, yeah, I don't want to hear the banter about this, because the powers that be, had no right to say what they said to the CEO.  I really think the Mayor of Chicago scared the CEO out of my City and I really disliked his approach calling the CEO an "Un-Chicagoan" with no "Chicago Values."  Booo!  So, I ate there anyways.  Hey, it was conveniently across the street from the bank and they had some healthy choices for lunch.  It was close!  On top of that, the few of them I've eaten at, the staff is always very polite and friendly!  I don't even know if Chick-fil-A even exists in Chicago anymore after that spat from last year, so the experience dining there will be cherished.  That spat is one reason I REALLY dislike Mr. Rahm Emanuel.



On Wednesday, we had the Outerlane ATM working perfectly with the new environment, so Thursday and part of Friday were devoted to the Innerlane ATM.  The Innerlane ATM was easier to "conquer" since the other ATM was tweaked to its best.  Again, this was a new learning process for me, and I'm becoming more and more acquainted with my job and my position each time I work on an ATM.  I am thankful that I am being assigned to be "on site" with some of these jobs with "hands on."  I discover each ATM is different in its own right and each ATM has its own personality.  Yes, as weird as that sounds, but no two ATMs are alike even with Hardware and Software.  Each one behaves differently; they have their own quips and quirks.

By Thursday, we were about to wrap up the project and I ALMOST checked out of the Hotel until we found a problem that needed immediate attention, so once again, I worked from the Hotel.  The Innerlane ATM also suffered a Hardware fault, so it was left with a sign to use "other ATM."  I was ready to go home by Thursday, ready to enjoy the holidays, but I ended up extending my stay at the Hotel to Saturday just in case!  Luckily, by 8:30pm on Thursday, the problem was fixed with a workaround.  Trial and Error.  I went to sleep easily on Thursday night after the problem was fixed.  So, on Friday, I was able to deploy the new updates.  The Innerlane ATM was left with a sign instructing customers to use the other ATM that night.

Friday, I was ready to apply the new changes that were made.  I arrived at the Bank early to get things going so I could check out on time from the Hotel.  Well, more issues arose.  This time it was the Hardware that was complaining.  This time the Hardware fault was on the Outerlane ATM, ungh!  The EPP (PIN Pad) faulted.  Being the software guy, I was able to do some basic troubleshooting of the hardware and get it fixed, but a service call was made to a Hardware Tech to come onsite immediately, because both ATMs were down.  Luckily, this wasn't as complicated to address, because as I left the site, both ATMs were working, even with the call open for the Hardware Tech to come onsite STAT!  It also feels good when your higher ups see that you handled the issue that wasn't in my scope of the job.

The Sacrificial Breakfast on the altar of the ATM

My work was blessed and completed with this event...

The blessing of the Praying Mantis!

Friday, August 30th, just before heading back to the Hotel to check out before it was too late, I was "blessed with a sign."  After correcting the Hardware Issues on the ATMs, so customers could at least use the ATMs until the Tech arrived, I was blessed by a PRAYING MANTIS making a sacrificial offering on top of the Innerlane ATM.  I took this as a "sign" that the work was complete and I had the Praying Mantis' blessing, hahahaha!!!!  I returned to the Customer after checking out of the Hotel to discuss the final scope to the project details.  I had a final meeting with the KCB Bank staff and gave them an update on the work, the service call, and the sacrificial blessing on the ATM.  The Bank Manager thought that was hilarious.  The staff was extremely receptive of our work and thanked me (um, Diebold) for their extra efforts.  Hey, when I'm told that I did well, I associate that, not only to myself, but for the Diebold Team!  After wishing them well with a happy Labor Day, and thanking them for my visit, I headed off homeward...

KCB Bank
"<< Last check with customer and homeward. I had the blessing of a Praying Mantis on the ATM."

Back over the Mississippi, where K becomes W...

The drive home on August 30 was very uneventful to say the least.  As stated at the beginning of the section, I aimed to stop at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. . .again.  Bzzzt!  Nope!  The traffic was awful (holiday traffic) and by the time I passed Jefferson City, I changed my destination to HOME instead!  "I'll have to make a special trip to come back to visit St. Louis again," I thought to myself.  "The next time I drive 8 hrs somewhere, I'm flying."  I could've once again, taken the shorter route up through Des Moine IA to get home, but I wanted to try the Gateway Arch thing again.  It didn't happen.  I was just too exhausted by now.  So, rerouting my destination to I-270 around St. Louis, I crossed the Mississippi again and gassed up at Exit 6A on I-55.  It only got worse after that!

How did I do this picture?

Exiting my car to gas up, I dropped my phone against the curb.  Well, if that weren't bad enough, adjusting myself to get out of my car, my foot snapped out, and I KICKED the phone against the curb, shattering it!  UNGH!  I was not a happy camper by then, and after eating a quick snack and gassing up at the Mobil there, I quickly took off up I-55.  Traffic was smooth!  I-55 was light with traffic all the back North, until I got to the Kankakee River.  There, traffic grinded to a dead stop because of a single lane there.  There was bridge construction over the Kankakee River and one side of the freeway was completely crippled for the bridge construction.  I chose an alternate route from there, but it extended my drive time.  I picked up Illinois Route 53 instead and drove for awhile and got back onto I-55 via I-80.

Just before passing by Joliet, I noticed how DARK and ANGRY the sky was.  I switched a Chicago Station on the Radio to listen for Tornado Warnings or Watches because the sky looked very mean weather-wise.  The wind was strong, the rain was heavy and the lightning was extreme!  Previously, since my phone broke, I had no TUNES to listen to, so it was a quiet drive home from that point with no tunes!  I finally got to my exit at Cass Avenue (Exit 273) around 8pm.  Traffic was fine.  I immediately drove over to Verizon Wireless on 75th Street and IL-83 to order a new phone!  Luckily I had insurance on the phone and just paid a deductible for the new phone.  Well, feeling somewhat better when the Verizon Associate told me my new phone would arrive in 1 day, I left and the Weather was really Intense.  The Big Storm was a passin through.  When I finally got home, my power was out in my apartment, UNGH!  I unloaded my car in the dark, and a neighbor told me that power wasn't expected to return until 10pm.  UNGH!  Luckily, just as I entered my apartment, the power came back on, so I had some "clock resetting" to do with my "unpacking."  Maybe I'll revisit Kansas City again and St. Louis.  When I was younger, I was interested moving to Kansas City at one time, almost felt like I was being led there.  Who knows?  Maybe there is still something there for me.  For now, Chicago is HOME for me!

Severe Cloud-to-Cloud Lightning on the way home!

Finally unpacked and settled in at home again, I did my Final Foursquare check-in for "A Gust of August" on the web, since my phone was busted.  Talk about an uneventful way to get home.  August started as A GUST but ended with A BANG!  I got my new phone on the last weekend of August (it was covered by Asurion Insurance).  Oddly, this next section below was drafted BEFORE my Kansas City trip, but it ties in with some of my writings actually...

Mocking Hills
"Checking in on web. Phone is broke, and no power when I came home."

[Text Removed: September 29, 2018]


Of llloonngg llliivveedd unending friendships...

Last month I featured a friend's recipe for this section.  This month I'd like to feature another friend of mine, Richard Trigg.  He is Producer, Writer, Director, Director of Photography, Editor and Effects Artist at Artēst Production located in Garfield Heights, Ohio.  He is a devoted father and husband, and we've been friends for such a lllooonnnggg time, longer than a roll of toilet paper.  The longer than toilet paper thing taken to the extreme.  I'll explain...

Richard Trigg

This photo is from Rich's Website.  Rich and I go wwwaaayyy back to High School times, well, sort of.  Here's the whole strange thing about our long friendship.  IT STARTED BEFORE WE WERE BORN!  Ok, so here's the story on that, then I'll go into other details.  

Rich, and a Strange Meeting of Sorts

The story as it were begins in the early 1900s.  Yes, you read that right.  1900s.  One family reunion, I came across a Postcard dated very early, probably 1918, about the time the Chathams came to Cleveland OH and about the time our last name was changed from Cheetham.  The Triggs were in England.  The Postcard was addressed to my Great-great  Uncle Ernest Chatham and his wife, Victoria Catchpole (sister of my Great Grandmother too; two brothers married two sisters in my family).  It was correspondence between two friends looking to find a new life here in America.  My family came over in spurts.  The sons immigrated from Nottingham, England originally and found work here.  The rest of the family came later.  Well, it turns out that my Great-great Uncle still had a good friend in England, who also wanted to immigrate his family and find work here too.  That was the basis of the correspondence in the Postcard, and I had to ask my Aunt for the details of what really happened with both our families.  I don't have a copy of the postcard but the postcard came from a small town in England and my Great-great Uncle was living in Westlake OH.  After reading the postcard and the heartfelt content in the message, I read the signature.  "Signed, John Trigg."  

Hmm, ok.  That is not a common last name I thought to myself and I was friends with Rich Trigg.  The year was probably 1990 or 1991 when I saw that postcard.  Rich and I were living in Maple Heights OH and went to Maple Heights Senior High School at the time.  So, I asked my Aunt if I could borrow the postcard and take it over to let Rich see it.  She said sure.  I was careful with it, putting it in a zip lock baggie and took it over to let Rich see.  I showed him the signature.  He chuckled at the name but he didn't know who it was.  Rich's Dad was nearby and was curious as to what I showed him.  He asked if he could see it.  So, I did, once again, showing him the signature on the postcard, dated probably 1918.  He looked up at me astoundedly and said, "Where did you get this?"  I replied, "It was at my Aunt's house in Hinckley."  He was amazed.  "That is my GRANDFATHER!"  Rich and I looked at each other in utter amazement, mouths dropping to the floor.  "WHAT A SMALL WORLD WE LIVE IN! Our families were friends before we were born!"

Dave Trigg, Rich Trigg, Chris Wood, and Me.
Maple Heights, Ohio (1990)

Look how thin I was back then. . .ungh.

Rich, and an Epiphany of Sorts

Rich has a great talent, which he discovered long after we went to Maple Heights High School.  There, Rich took the vocation of Printing and Graphic Arts.  In an age of computer technology and digital photography, this market has rapidly changed.  After a few years gap in our friendship, I met up with him one day at his house in Garfield Hts and discovered that he has a very ARTISTIC side to him that I never knew about ever before.  Showing me his work, sketch drawings and computer art, I was astounded.  "Rich, that's awesome.  I wish you discovered this talent in High School."  He agreed. "I know."  For awhile now, Rich has been trying to transition out of Graphic Arts into Film and Digital Photograpy.  He's come a long way in such a short amount of time, even with times being tough the way they are, especially in Cleveland.  Rich currently holds down multiple odd jobs to keep things afloat and is trying to break into the mainstream of Digital Photography.  He's already produced a few movies, including "The Return," "The Conscience," and the current in production film of "Reflected."

Rich's Demo Reel, Summer 2013

Having viewed some of these films on Rich's YouTube site, I am just taken back at the talent and the detail put into his work.  I encourage you to go to Rich's YouTube site and watch some of his work.  Currently, Rich is producing "Reflected" and trying to get into his career.  I have encouraged him to look outside Cleveland for work.  I told him that I had to do that.  I wasn't finding any work in Cleveland.  He's broadened his job search to Chicago, Houston and California.  If you are reading this and can help him out, open the link to his website and contact him.  He is a talent in the making and I would love to see him succeed in this venue.  We've been friends forever and ever.  So, if you can help him out, contact him today.  I've already offered my apartment to him if he decides on coming to Chicago.  He has a loving wife and six wonderful children, and MY old cat, Tigger, lol!  I spent Christmas with his family last year and it was a blessing to see him, his wife Kelly again, and his six kids.  He also celebrated a birthday this month as well.


I heard this song on the radio one day while driving in Chicago and, it not only made me think back to the 80s, but it made me think about myself and where I've come in the past year.  The lyrics ring true of  "the chance for love and losing out."  Keeping a positive outlook on myself, I am thinking about a few people who had their chance, but lost out.

Kate Bush, "Never Be Mine."

I look at you and see
My life that might have been
Your face just ghostly in the smoke.
They're setting fire to the cornfields
As you're taking me home.
The smell of burning fields
Will now mean you and here.

This is where I want to be
This is what I need
This is where I want to be
This is what I need
This is where I want to be
But I know that this will never be mine.

Ooh, the thrill and the hurting
The thrill and the hurting
I know that this will never be mine.

I want you as the dream
Not the reality
That clumsy goodbye kiss could fool me
But I'm looking back over my shoulder
At you, happy without me.

This is where I want to be
This is what I need
This is where I want to be
This is what I need
This is where I want to be
But I know that this will never be mine.

Ooh, the thrill and the hurting
Will never be mine.
The thrill and the hurting
It will never be mine.
It can never be
The thrill and the hurting
Will never be mine. ♪

This is my "Just sayin..." for this month.


Google maps "paints" a ghost interchange in its navigation.  There is no Interchange at the Tri-State Tollway and I-57!  They are constructing it.  You have to use 159th Street (US 6) or I-80 to get to I-57.  When I used I-57 for my Champaign IL trip, luckily, I knew an alternate route and used the 159th Street (US 6) exit for Oak Forest and Midlothian to get to I-57.  Google maps fail!   Another thing I dislike about the Google Navigation is that it does not show you "red areas" on roads with heavy traffic.  It only shows you the "red" in the ETA, so you don't know where the heavy traffic is.  Turn that stupid blue route into a "red" or "green" route.


Say HELLO to Hank!

Flip USB device. . .insert. . .flip USB device. . .insert. . .flip USB Device. . .insert into Ethernet connection. . .Pete and Repeat sat on a fence. . .over and over again.  Fail.  GUILTY!


Do not swim in Willow Springs!

There's now a disturbing warning about a rare but extremely deadly brain-eating amoeba.  Two children have now contracted the parasite -- while playing in freshwater lakes and ponds this summer. The latest case is a 12-year-old boy in Florida -- where some officials are now warning families to take precautions..."

There was a case with this same issue here in Willow Springs IL.


Elvis Presley fans from around the world made their annual pilgrimage to Graceland on Thursday to pay their respects to the rock n' roll icon with a solemn candlelight vigil on the 36th anniversary of his death..."

Catherine and Michael split after 13 years?

A spokeswoman for Catherine Zeta-Jones says the actress and her husband, Michael Douglas, ''are taking some time apart to evaluate and work on their marriage.''

The Iron Curtain goes up here in America

San Antonio Proposal Could Bar Christians From City Council

This is outrageous...
I saw this news when I was in Kansas City, Tuesday, August 27th.  It angered me and made me think about my civil rights being violated.  I believe in a traditional marriage only, and it has NOTHING to do with hate.  There I said it. Notice I said it has nothing to do with hate, but see that doesn't matter anymore.  So much for freedom of speech and religion.  I don't usually voice my beliefs openly or abuse my freedom of speech, but when I see such an utter disregard for something I hold dear, it's hard to keep silent.  Most times, it's wiser to 'grin and bear it' as my Mother used to tell  me, but I am truly angered by this article and it's time to speak up!  This Proposal is totally Unconstitutional, violates EEOC and is discrimination!  Once again, the Constitution of the United States has been used as someone's TP.

"Churches across San Antonio are expressing outrage over a proposed anti-discrimination law that would protect LGBT workers but would not provide a religious exemption and would effectively prohibit anyone who opposes homosexuality from holding public office or getting a city contract."

Diebold Milemarker and Agilis 3

"NORTH CANTON, Ohio, Aug. 27, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Diebold, Incorporated (NYSE: DBD) continues to gain momentum when it comes to certifying its latest software platform on the Windows 7 operating system. Available today for deployment, Agilis 3 automated teller machine (ATM) software has been certified by many of the industry's leading network processors across the United States, including First Data, Elan Financial Services, Fiserv, NetWorks and Vantiv..."

Quequog's coffin flies!

Shackled and locked in a coffin thrown from the plane, skydiver Anthony Martin freed himself and parachuted into a field in Serena, Ill., which is about 60 miles southwest of Chicago..."

27 Problems Only Introverts Will Understand

There is a difference between Introverted and Shy.  I am both.  While the former will never change of me, the latter is looking a lot better for me as I keep getting out and meeting new people and building confidence in groups.  Ok, I love you, but no more talking.  I am partial to numbers 1, 13 and LOL 15!  I hate the moment when the phone rings, I look down, it's a friend, and I'm not in the frame of mind for talking and don't pick up, lol!

The Cheese stands alone...

Poor Blackbeak.  I didn't drive you much this month.

"First time filling up Blackbeak since July."

Thanks for reading again.  I'm glad I got to do a blog this month...Chinchalater...


August 9: Ruta Shapochkina
August 12: Richard Trigg
August 16: Aunt Diana
August 26: Kurt Poppenhouse

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My Life starts at the Chicago Water Tower!
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