Sunday, October 27, 2013

Out of the fire, and into the Embers!

Out of the fire, and...

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871


Happy October everyone!  It is hard to believe that the year is 3/4 of the way through.  Looking back at this year, it just amazes me that there was so much accomplished this year and it's got me thinking about what I would like to continue on and accomplish.  I've set some new goals as of September.  I may even EXTEND my original New Year's Resolution this year for another year.  There are just so many things to do and try.  2013 has been good so far, but here is hoping that continues on.  It's been a challenging month and this month I also celebrated my 40th birthday on October 13.  Wow, where has the time gone?  You're only as good as you feel, so one goal I want to keep for myself after this month is try to stay in shape and keep a youthful outlook on life.  I did something special for this month's blog too.  Please be sure to read to the end and to my NOTEWORTHY OF WORTHY NOTES section.  I included your Ghost Stories and Unexplained Phenomena stories there.  As one whom has experienced strange, unexplained things in my life, I truly believe there are things that cannot be explained in our physical world.  Thank you to all whom contributed a story!  This month, I started seeing Christmas Posts on Facebook as early as my birthday this year and that bothered me to an extent this year.  I'm not ready for this year to end yet.  It's been a great year and I don't want it to end yet.  People, sllllooowwww iiitttt dddooowwwwnnnn!!!  First Halloween posts, then Thanksgiving (if you're in the USA), THEN Christmas and New Year's!

"Out of the fire, and into the 'Embers" is the the theme of this blog for this month, meaning 3/4 year is through, starting in September.  As I mentioned last month, it was finally great to complete some goals in my life and Chicago is still slowly becoming home to me.  Those goals I made for myself last September were about "new friends," "getting out of my shell and exploring," "a new attitude."  I'm happy to say that I've lived up to those goals, and I hope I can continue on with them.  What goals have you set for yourself and have you met any of them?  What do you plan for yourself as the year reaches an end?

This month, I even started my apartment search in Chicago.  I've embraced "Irving Park," "Albany Park," and "Ravenswood" as the areas I am looking at for my new home.  Secondary, I've expanded the search to "Edgewater" and "Uptown."  So, one goal I set forth this month is to find a new apartment closer to "new friends."  I have until April 2014 to make my final decision, and I've linked onto "Apartment Finders Chicago" as a way to help me find my ideal home.  I'm excited at the fact of trying to find a nice 2 bedroom apartment on the Northside.  So, here's hoping I find a nice one in a nice neighborhood.


Chicago Municipal Flag

October 8-10 marked the 142nd Anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  The Second Star on Chicago's Flag represents the fire and Chicago's rebirth from the ashes.

The Hallelujah Campfire Song!
(Both verses sung in unison
with each round singing quieter than the previous round
until the unison is a whisper.
The Spoken parts are shouted out each round)

Late one night
When we were all in bed
Old Mother Leary
Left a lantern in the shed

And when the cow kicked it over,
She winked her eye and said,
"There’ll be a hot time
In the old town, tonight."


One, two, three, the devil's after me;
Four, five, six, he's always throwing bricks;
Seven, eight, nine, he misses all the time.

“Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Amen.”

On October 8, 1871, one cow made headlines and became famous for a major disaster in Chicago's history. She has been blamed for this event until recently with research and according to CPD she is now finally exonerated of this catastrophe. October 8-10, 1871 was the Great Chicago Fire. It was also a major milestone for, not only Chicago, but for Diebold as well.  Buried in the rubble and ash of Chicago after the fire, Diebold safes & vaults survived.  It was a major turning point for Diebold!!!


I put forth an early New Year's Resolution for 2014.  Call it "new goals" but, continuing my "High Definition Resolution" from last year, I started a new one.  I'm calling it "About Face."  By the end of the year 2014, I want to be totally free from Facebook and its sickness.  I want to create my own "face in the world," a new "face look" on life.  Turning 40 this month, I made a decision whether to start this early or wait until next January.  I've noticed the times I'm completely go off of Facebook and shut down, how much "freer" my life is and how much I have more fun in life.  Then, when I go back on, I get the Facebook sickness.  Sssssooooo...

Each year on my B-Day, I notice how few wishes I get on my page, and I also notice how much others get on theirs.  I notice that I only add people that I've met in person, while others add whomever they want without care.  I notice how few likes and comments I get on my posts.  So, this year, I made up my mind about the Facebook SicknessIf at least 1/3 of my friend's list post a wish, I'd keep Facebook. . .at least for awhile longer.  It's a goal and nothing more!  However, by the end of 2014, I want to be completely OFF of Facebook.  It's a reasonable goal at best!  I find more joy out of blogging and using Google+ so those will stay with me if anything else.  This goes back to that Illinoid Attitude I'm trying hard to adapt for myself.  I'm looking at it with a reasonable approach.  "On Facebook, I just don't randomly add people without first meeting them.  I find it disturbingly creepy that people actually do that.  So, my list is always small.  Well, I don't know a lot of people anyway so what's the point for having a Facebook page anyways, right?"  I have never gone over 100 friends EVER on my page, and I'm tired of flushing it all the time with people that just "loiter in my freind's list."  Plus, I want to worry about people the old-fashioned way before we had social media, right?

Well, this month I set forth the goal, "20 wishes on Oct 13 or bust."  So, at the end of the night on October 13, I was overjoyed this year to have over HALF of my friends post a birthday wish.  I even got a nice birthday wish from ABC7 Chicago's Own Cutest Reporter, Diane Pathieu!  Yeah, I know, it may sound foolish to see it this way, but that'll mean I'll keep Facebook for just awhile longer.  January, I hope to start getting rid of it entirely, and if I don't find a new apartment by the end of the year, at the end of January, I will start again, so I'm most assuredly OUT of my current place by April!


«   »

Крокодилье время.
Даже если крокодил съел вас у вас есть два выхода.


Wheeling WV

Super 8 Motel Wheeling
"Getting ready for work."

Finishing last month's blog, I was staying at my folks for the weekend of September 28 and 29th.  I published my September blog in Hinckley OH.  On September 30, I drove down to Wheeling WV for the week to work on a Deposit Automation project for Diebold.  I drove down I-77 and enjoyed the scenic drive.  The leaves on the trees were starting to change for Fall; driving in the Mountains was nice too, especially closer to I-70, passing New Philadelphia OH.  I checked into Super 8.  After checking in, I did some exploring around Wheeling and had a nice walk on the Greater Wheeling Trail alongside the Ohio River.  Autumn is my favorite season of the year and taking a nice walk in crisp weather is always great.  I had a nice walk on the trail!

Bellaire, Ohio

River Road
"Great Wheeling Trail."

Getting back to the hotel and getting ready for the work week, I caught up on e-mails and got ready for the morning.  I would be driving back over the Ohio River into Bellaire OH.

Belmont Savings Bank, 3301 Guernsey Street, Bellaire OH

Bellaire Ohio

I worked on a DA project for Belmont Savings Bank for a few days until I got to a certain point where I had to stop.  There were two locations for this project ant, at the time, I didn't realize the two ATMs were 40 minutes apart.  So, I had to drive out to the middle of Nowhere (Barnsville OH) for the second ATM, lol!  The ATM at the second location was a drive through ATM and it was interesting to "crank the ATM" out to get to the back of it.   It was housed in a little room!  The project was pretty straight forward but it encountered a "snag" which I could not get around.  The Bank had to correct the issue, so guess what?  This was a short trip and the project was put on hold.  I ended up leaving the site early due to the "snag."  My Manager told me to check out as soon as possible.  So, I left the Hotel at Wheeling on Wednesday, October 2.

Belmont Savings Bank

The second ATM had a crank to access the back of it.

After I got the call to "drop what I was doing" and to return home, I was informed that I would be revisiting the site later in the month after the Bank fixed their issues.  So, I got onto I-70 and drove home through Columbus and Indianapolis, then up I-65 to Chicago!  It was a grueling 8 hour drive.  I'll have to drive it again.  I found out that my return visit would be October 21st for another week.

Super 8 Motel Wheeling
"<< Home. I-70, Columbus and Indianapolis. I-65. 7hrs 40min."


The last stand of John Dillinger, or Jimmy Lawrence.  "We got the wrong guy."

Athenian Room
"It's all Greek tomorrow. — with Rhonda"

On Friday evening, October 4th, I "hung out" with a friend and we went out for dinner.  It was fun and my taste buds were introduced to some new foods.  She, yes she, has been encouraging me to try new foods -- even trying Sushi.  Well, that wasn't for that night.  I told her that eventually I'll brave Sushi.  We had a great Greek Dinner that night instead.  Well, that's what we thought.

I picked Rhonda up in Edgewater, then we drove over to Athenian Room in Lincoln Park at Halsted and Webster.  It was a very nice evening, so we sat outside and enjoyed a nice, quiet Chicago evening.  When we arrived, they were busy.  We were asked if we wanted to wait 20 minutes or eat outside.  We didn't mind eating outside.  In the lobby, we were able to see some of the dishes being served, Gyros, Greek frieds, etc.  By now, I was a hungered!  Going outside, we looked over the menu and I mentioned to her that I wanted to try "that flaming cheese" where they shout "hopa," er "opa."  She corrected me with "opa," and told me the cheese was Greek Saganaki. They didn't have it on the menu!!!  Ungh!  She asked me if I wanted to try another place.  I said nah, it's all good.  When I checked into the restaurant on Foursquare, my swipe text autocorrected "to me" with "tomorrow."  Argh!

We ordered our meals.  I ordered the "Skirt Steak Alexandros Style" and Rhonda ordered the "Chicken Breast shish kebob."  It included Greek Fries and a Tossed Salad.  We also ordered the "Feta Cheese" as an appetizer.  It was really good with the Pita Bread.  Oddly, our Drink orders came from the Bar next door of the restaurant (Glascott's Grocer), lol!  So, there were two bills in the end.  I picked up the RECKONING in the end.  One of the conversations we had involved weird ways of saying different things.  For instance, growing up, we would say "close the light" when turning a light off.  I grew up hearing "car-a-mel" not "car-mel."  It's "soda" not "pop" or "cola."  We had an interesting discussion about word origins and phrases, lol, including the word "davenport" and "the reckoning!"  The reckoning is an older term for the check or bill, lol.  I told her that I would consider this a "date."  She disagreed, but I insisted that's why we have these things called Adjectives and Adverbs to define nouns.  So, I told her, this was a "friendly date." We also talked about things going on in our lives too.  I insisted guys can "date" in a friendly manner without being serious.  We also talked about "personal dreams" or things we wanted to do in our life.  I mentioned a "dream" about being on a boat out on the ocean, stuck in a doldrums on an a very clear, moonless, starry night. "Close your eyes and picture it in your mind!"  She thought that was clever.  I've never been stranded on a boat in a doldrums , but that "sight" has got to be amazing!  It was one "dream" that inspired my "Valentine's Poem" about the Distant Star in the Corner of the Sky!

After eating, we walked into Glascott's on the corner and Rhonda showed me an old-style phone booth there.  I snapped a picture talking on her cell phone.  I captioned her photo in FB as "Hey Capone, I have your informant right here. Send Frankie the Nose right over." So, "hanging out" the rest of the evening, we walked up Halsted street to the Fullerton, Lincoln triangle.  We walked up Lincoln Avenue and we both recalled that the Biograph Theater being located there near the corner.  We walked past the the alley where Dillinger was caught and shot by the FBI, er was it Jimmy Lawrence.  Biograph Theater was on the "Weird and Haunted Tour of Chicago" last year when I went on October 26, 2012.  Actually, that was my first Venture Around event too.  After walking off dinner on Halsted Street and Lincoln Avenue, we walked down south to Armitage and had Frozen Yogurt at Red Mango.

Red Mango
"— with Rhonda"

And, suddenly, out of nowhere, a 'no parking sign'...

There we finished off the evening.  Getting back to my car, I discovered a parking ticket on my windshield.  When I first parked, I looked for signs that said "no parking."  I didn't see any, so after close observation, I saw this on a TREE!  Thanks "City of Chicago Finance" for making this hard to find!  "Movie Location" caught my eye too, so I don't know what that means other than filming a movie there?


The Avondale Mural

Old Irving Park Neighborhood

On Saturday, October 5, I went into Irving Park's Villa for a neighborhood walk.  Meeting up with Venture Around around Noon, I parked on Kurt's old street in Old Irving Park.  Before Irving Park was incorporated into Chicago, it was a suburb.  I walked over to McNamara's Pub on Irving Park Road.  I was there for a couple minutes, then we all walked over to the Villa for the Guided Tour.  It was a nice afternoon to do this, although it felt like walking in a "wet sponge" meaning humidity, ungh!  We all met at the corner of Pulaski (4000W) and Avondale.  There, we split up into two groups.  Some of our meetup went with one group.  I was in the group with Kurt.  After getting together, the Guided Tour started.  We started right there at the mural underneath the Kennedy Overpass over Pulaski and Avondale near the mural.

The Villa vision started in 1896 with the Osburns

The Villa
"Neighborhood guided walk with Venture Around."

The tour was led by a 10 year resident in The Villa, so he had a lot of insight regarding the neighborhood.  Entering therein, I could not get over how QUIET the blocks were.  It truly felt like an "off the beaten trail" part of Chicago.  It felt like I was out in the SUBURBS!  It was truly remarkable.  With the occasional Metra bell sounds and some dogs, it truly felt like I was in the suburbs.  It was absolutely beautiful too with the gardens and the architecture.  The popular Architect, Clarence Hatzfeld, is notable for many of the houses in the neighborhood and its many "covenants."  The Covenants were building codes (much like zoning) that the neighborhood adhered to in design and tradition.  Most covenants required a certain design to a house.  It included the look and feel of the house and what rooms one could build.

Chicago Landmark

Villa District

Attracted by landscaped parkways and a requirement that all houses be in the bungalow mode, buyers in this development build residences, largely between 1907 and 1922, that show the influence of the Prairie and Craftsman styles and also the popularity of the foursquare house.  The Villa Improvement Leauge has worked to preserve and enhance this enclave since the first houses were constructed.

Designated a Chicago Landmark on November 23, 1983 by the City Council of Chicago.
Harold Washington, Mayor

Commission on Chicago
Historical and Architectural Landmarks.


This was not part of the tour.  This the Courtyard to Kurt's old residence!

One of the houses we toured we actually went inside for the guided tour.  It belonged to a resident and she showed us around and what she found likable of The Villa.  Walking with Kurt and others in the group helped me get the feel for the area especially for moving to.  I've been looking in Irving park and surrounding parts for an apartment.  Kurt pointed out his "family homestead" on Harding Avenue.  Enjoying the weather and the architecture, I took some pictures which I included here.

Just towards the end of the tour, it started raining, so it was cut rather short after that.  Overall the tour lasted 2 hours and there were a lot of houses that made the Villa unique!  It was a fun tour and a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  Just before it started storming, Venture Around reassembled at Pulaski and Addison and took off from there.  Some of us hung out longer and had Lunch at Brudder's Lounge.  Just as we sat at a table at Brudder's it DOWNPOURED and THUNDERSTORMED!  Hahaha!  It also cooled off too.  I ordered a hefty and huge Caesar Salad lol!

Brudder's Lounge
"After guided neighborhood walk meal. — with Kurt, Natalie, Rhonda"

Lawrence Avenue 4800N westward

After the thunderstorms, I walked back to my car with Kurt and we went up to his new place where I could write down a phone number for an apartment on his street.  Kurt was very knowlegable of the area since ha had lived there for awhile, so he pointed out some nice places to eat at near his old street.  By this time, the storms had passed, leaving an awesome sunset on the horizon as I drove home on Lawrence Avenue towards the Kennedy.


Blackbeak, "Like a glove!"


On Friday, October 11, I drove down to the Lake View neighborhood for a consultation with Apartment Finders.  I drove the Honda specifically for this day since I knew it'd be much, much easier to park!  Remembering how busy Lake View was previously with people and filled side-streets, I thought it would be better to drive the Honda for work that day instead of the Ford.  So, from work, I drove to Lake View to meet with Apartment Finders.  I guessed right!  Parking was hard to come by, especially by Belmont (3200N) and Broadway where Apartment Finders was located.  I do have to say that I am PROUD of myself for parallel parking the Honda in a very tight squeeze of a space on Briar and Halsted.  LIKE A GLOVE!

After parking Blackbeak like a glove in one shot, I walked over and met with Jennifer at Apartment Finders.  She was very helpful and we started talking about what neighborhoods I was interested in.  I told her I was interested in Albany Park, Irving Park, Ravenswood, Lincoln Square (not Park), Edgewater and Uptown.   After updating my information on the computer, we talked at great lengths about my current lease and my price range.  I brought my current lease with me, two pay stubs and photo ID.  It made the process smooth.  I told her my absolute price ranges ($1000-$1200) and absolute search ranges (4800W, Cicero - 5600N, Bryn Mawr), 2 bedrooms (1200 sq. ft), pets.

Chicago Apartment Finders (Lakeview)
"Looking for a new home."

We looked at some searches.

★☆☆☆☆ 5158 N. Avers, #3W (5200N Foster) - Viewed on October 18th
★★☆☆☆ 931 W. Leland #305 (1000W Sheridan)- viewed on October 11th
★★★☆☆ 3359 W. Berteau #3 (3200W Kedzie) - viewed on October 11th
★★★★☆ 4526 N. Central Park, #2 (4400N Montrose) - viewed on October 18th

Actually the one I was most interested in was the first one!  Notice where I put 5 stars! The one on AVERS was the best and most awesome to look at!  Do I have myself a new home???

After looking at the top searches, we went and looked at all the apartments.  Each one was unique in its own way and I have a lot to look forward as I continue to look at apartments.  I told Jennifer that I'm trying to break a lease, but if I can't break it, I have until April 2014.  She told me the best thing to do is come back at the end of January 2014 to start searches again.  I took some pictures of the apartments.  We spent a good portion of the evening looking at a few places.  It was enjoyable!  Getting back to Apartment Finders, Jennifer gave me her card and e-mailed me my searches.  I'd return on October 18th, the following Friday, to finish looking at my searches.


On Friday the 11th, after looking at some places I met for dinner with Rhonda at Melanthios Greek Char House on North Broadway (by Barry and Briar) in Lake View.  It was a very pleasant, fall evening and a fun time.  Rhonda treated me for my birthday!  I found the place on Yelp after just simply typing "Greek" in the search, lol!  I was sitting in my car at Halsted and Briar looking to make up for the "Greek tragedy" Rhonda and I had last weekend, lol.  This place was the first hit and the reviews looked great!  So, I told Rhonda to meet me there and I would reserve a table for 2.

Melanthios Greek Charhouse
"It's all Greek to me, the Director's Cut with Saganaki! — with Rhonda"

We did the Director's Cut version of Greek that night, since the previous week's Greek experience wasn't the best Greek, lol!  Aaaannndddd, ACTION!!!!  I actually got to finally experience the mouth-watering totally, tasteful and terrific Saganaki, flaming cheese.  It was to die for!  It melted in my mouth!  Yum!  LOL!  Rhonda ordered the "14oz Pork Chop" and I ordered the "Lamb Scharas!"  This was the third time I've tried Lamb and it was absolutely good.  For desert, I went with "Baklava" and Rhonda had "Galaktoburiko."  We shared our meals too, so we both were able to experience the menu together!

Rhonda and I had a great night just talking about life and things.  We've become good friends and it will be nice to when I finally move into the City to just to meet more people.  It's a wonder how things work, but I remember being a shy, introverted individual my whole life.  Who would've ever thought I'd want to move into a populated city like Chicago?  For someone, that would shut himself into his apartment and hide, I look back at this last year and see how much I've changed and have overcome my shyness.  I remember reading self-help books how to overcome shyness.  It goes back to change.  It goes back to me being the one who makes the change.  No one is going to do it for me.  The "Full Circle" blog from last month has taught me new things and after I composed that blog and re-read it, I've learned how far I've come in one single year by changing my OWN ATTITUDE in life.  I can't hide.  It's one more step in a new direction.  It's another step for learning.  It's a new step into change.  I look at that picture of the "lever" again in last month's blog!  In a nutshell, that's the ATTITUDE I need to take.  It's the "bring it bitch lever."

One thing Rhonda mentioned to me why it was a "big deal" for being noticed.  I told her that most of my life I've either hid away or just don't stand out.  I told her that I've changed my attitude about that.  I don't want to be famous.  I don't want tons of friends.  I JUST WANT TO MATTER!  I've spent most of my life just being a doormat for people and it even bothered my own Mom and Dad to a point.  I remember my Dad pulling me aside a few times saying, "you cannot live your life as a doormat like this!  You cannot be passive."  He was right.  "You need to step up and have a voice!"  He was right!  Talking about this with Rhonda and my "Full Circle" blog showed her that "even though you haven't known me for a long time, I'm trying to change my attitude in my life."  I've come a long way just in one year!


Ten-Thirteen 1973

21:29: I was born in Wilmington NC at New Hanover Memorial Hospital.  For some reason, I don't remember it, just some stories about a Bridge being up or down near Southport en route to the hospital, lol!  And, I remember a story about a dismembered Air Conditioning unit, lol!

"Aragorn, Frodo and the Hobbits safely cross the Bridge of Mitheithel."

Meanwhile, on that same night...

22:56: "The Alien Colonists and the Syndicate form an Alliance and Truce at El Rico Airbase.  The 'Cigarette Smoking Man' forges the alliance with the American Flag.  Each member in the Syndicate (former members of the State Dept) pledge one of their offspring to the Alien Colonists.  Bill Mulder originally had Fox Mulder in mind, but later, his daughter, Samantha was chosen for the pledge." [X-Files, Episode 6x12, "One Son"].

With the exception of last year's #!/bin/bash/declare \ birthday, birthdays have sucked, especially the one year when I was fired from a job!  So, having this misfortune, I never really look forward to celebrating anything.  Last year was a "better" birthday than most of the ones I've had before.  I can say that this year superseded them all.  LOL!  I guess the magic number of 40 has something to do with that.  So, this year, I was looking forward to it.


Saturday October 12, 2013 · 5:24 PM

On Saturday, October 12, I made a hotel reservation at Chicago's Doubletree Inn in Streeterville.  Kurt planned a Venture Around event for the "Haunted Chicago Pub Crawl."  Last year, he planned the Chicago Weird and Haunted Tour, which actually was my FIRST official Venture Around event with the gang!  So, this year, keeping the theme of Autumn and Fall, Kurt planned another "Chicago Ghost Tour."  He put the event out on meetup in September, and by the end of the week of the meetup, the event filled up rapidly and unfortunately, some people were turned away because it was so full.  The bus could only seat 27 people so considering the response to the event the week prior to the event, he was happy that the event filled up the way it did.  It was one of those events with such a large turnout.  There have been several like that: St. Patrick's Day Mixer in March, and the Party on the Tiki Boat in July!  The events have been really fun and participating in them has helped me get out of my home each weekend.  In the case for this event, Kurt previously told me to reserve a hotel room, knowing that I lived in the 'burbs.  "Get a hotel room.  You're not going to be driving the night of the crawl."  I'm glad I did the reservation although the rates were rather high for the weekend, higher than the time for New Year's Even when I reserved a room.  I learned later that the "Chicago Marathon" was in town for the whole week, which may've affected the hotel rates.  Even with my AAA Membership, the cost was still very high.  Luckily, I did the reservation for only one evening.  It's all I needed BUT in the interim, I'M STILL GLAD LOOKING BACK THAT I DID THE HOTEL RESERVATION!  IT WAS WORTH IT!

Saturday October 12, 2013 · 3:23 PM
"Checked in for the weekend."

Bub City
Saturday October 12, 2013 · 5:24 PM

After checking into the hotel, I walked over to "Bub City" in River North on Clark Street and Illinois Street.  There I met with Kurt and Sue for dinner.  I arrived first so I sat at the table and watched some of the Cardinals/Dodgers game on the TV.  Way to go, Cardinals!  Kurt and Sue arrived and wished me a Happy Birthday.  Sue bought me some small gifts, like a "40 sucks" sucker, lol.  Thank you, Kurt and Sue!  We ordered our dinner and Kurt started ordering me Whiskey Shots, lol!  "You have to try this whiskey."  Hahaha.  I loved the Presidential Bourbon he ordered.  Very good, lol! So, eating dinner, catching up on the "gaps," I started feeling the affect of the Bourbon, swimmy in the head.  Haha.  I made sure I ate plenty though.  I ordered the "Big Pig" and had plenty of water for my main drink.  Originally, I was going to try the regular "pulled bbq sandwich," but the waitress recommended trying the "Big Pig," which was really good with 86 Jalapenos, lol.  We also had an appetizer.  The waitress learned that it was my 40th birthday after she saw me wearing a "40 birthday badge" that Kurt and Sue bought.  "You're only allowed to enjoy the event tonight under one condition," Sue started.  "You have to wear this badge and necklace letting everyone know you are 40!"  LOL!  "Tomorrow, 9:29pm." I kept telling them.  "Don't rush it, lol.  Let me enjoy the last few hours of my 30s, lol."  So, hoping that the staff would NOT sing Happy birthday (which I'm glad they didn't), she brought out a small slice of birthday cake.

Boarding the "Ghost Tour" bus at Clark Street and Ontario Street

Hard Rock Cafe Chicago
Saturday October 12, 2013 · 7:02 PM
"Haunted Pub Crawl starting at Hard Rock Cafe. — with Sue, Natalie, Kurt, DatLy, Viki."


October 12 · 7:30 PM
600 N Clark St

This tour is based on Ursula Bielski's nearly 20 years of Chicago ghost hunting and her "Chicago Haunts" series of books, as well as the collective writings and ongoing research and investigations of the entire Chicago Haunting's ghost hunting team. They work hard to provide you with the most authentic and credible tour possible. Their many fans have called our tours of haunted Chicago provocative, dark, scary and creepy, but also intelligent, sophisticated and fun.  Many find that they're the best way to discover the city - period.

Be sure to join us on one of the most exclusive Chicago Haunting's pub crawls, when we visit the "spirits" inhabiting several local drinking establishments around the Windy City. We are doing this as a private charter. 

The tour often includes a stop at the infamous Gold Star Bar at 1755 W. Division Street, on Chicago's Near West Side. In earlier years, this stretch of West Division Street was known as "Polish Broadway," and featured many storefront taverns. It was here where Nelson Algren hung out and received much of his inspiration, using the neighborhood and its saloons as the settings in many of his stories and novels.

And it was inside the Gold Star Bar where, one night in the 1950s, the bartender shot and killed a would-be robber who stormed into the place brandishing a handgun. Legend has it the Gold Star to this day is haunted by the gunman's spirit, as well as the mysterious "Woman in Green" who lurks near the front doorway and inside stairway.

In addition, the haunted pub crawls visits many other ghost-ridden Chicago spots, which may include the Ole St. Andrews Inn -- where you can lift a glass with the spirit of the former owner; the Hange Uppe, where a past bartender took his own life and now lingers behind; the Fireside, a haunted former roadhouse and bar across from Rosehill Cemetery in spooky Ravenswood; the Clark Bar, a former speakeasy just steps away from the ghost-infested site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre; the Tonic Room; and many others.

Their fans have called their tours of haunted Chicago provocative, dark, scary and creepy, but also intelligent, sophisticated and fun.  Many find that they're the best way to discover the city - period. Accept no imitations!

They can't guarantee a paranormal experience will occur or be experienced on each and every tour. Nor can they say one won't. 

I can promise that you'll be haunted by Chicago's very real, often shocking past.

Come find out for yourself!

Boarding the Bus at Clark Street

After we ate, we all walked over to the meetup for the "Ghost Tour" in front of the Hard Rock Cafe and Old Fashioned McDonald's at Clark and Ontario.  The gang was already starting to meetup.  It was a FULL event and everyone was accounted for.  I already was starting to feel swimmy in the head because of the Bourbon, haha.  Meeting up with some familiar faces and some new ones, it was nice to catch up with the familiar and get to know some new faces too.  We all boarded the bus and took off at 7:30pm.  Finding a seat towards the back, a really cute girl sat next to me.  She was meeting up with the "Chicago Northside Professionals Group."  Her name was Catrina and for the rest of the night, I'd be talking with her!  She was extremely cute and had a great smile (:D).  I hope I see her again at other events.  Our tour guide took us to 4 stops (well, that is how I remember it).

The curse of the Billy Goat

Billy Goat Tavern
Saturday October 12, 2013 · 7:59 PM
"1st Stop."

The First Stop was the Billy Goat Tavern.  Being World Series time of the event, the first stop was at the "Billy Goat Tavern" on Michigan Avenue's Lower Level.  According to Wikipedia, "The Curse of the Billy Goat was supposedly placed on the Chicago Cubs in 1945 when Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis was asked to leave a World Series game against the Detroit Tigers at the Cubs' home ground of Wrigley Field because his pet goat's odor was bothering other fans. He was outraged and declared, "Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more," which has been interpreted to mean that there would never be another World Series game won at Wrigley Field. The Cubs have not won a National League pennant since this incident and as of 2013 have not won a World Series in 105 years."

The Congress Plaza Hotel in Chicago

Congress Plaza Hotel
Saturday October 12, 2013 · 8:19 PM
"2nd Stop."

The Second Stop was Chicago's most haunted site, the Congress Hotel, gangster Al Capone's old mob HQ.  According to Chicago Quirk, "The Congress Plaza Hotel was built in 1893 to house the visitors streaming into Chicago for the World’s Columbian Exposition. It was originally called the Auditorium Annex to match the Auditorium Building across the street. The hotel's south tower, which includes a banquet hall now known as the Gold Room, was constructed in 1902 and 1907. In 1909, another banquet room was added, called the Florentine Room. The hotel was renamed the Congress Plaza Hotel in 1908.  The hotel has had many different owners, and one of them was supposedly Al Capone who used the hotel as his headquarters. Jake “Greasy Thumb” Guzik, a member of Capone's gang, lived at the hotel for years. I read that some people think that Capone and Guzik's ghosts still reside in the hotel.  One of the hotel's most famous apparitions is Peg Leg Johnny, the ghost of a hobo who was murdered there. Hotel staff have reported sightings of a ghost with one leg in the south tower. There used to be a tunnel connecting the Auditorium Building to the Congress Plaza Hotel, called Peacock Alley. The marble passageway was walled up in 1911. I wonder what that looks like today. A roller skating rink was torn down to make way for the hotel. The Florentine Room sits where the rink once did, and guests and security guards have reported sounds of roller skates throughout that room. If you ever find yourself staying at the hotel, avoid room 441. Security is called there more than any other room. Objects move, strange sounds are heard and guests have even seen the shadowy outline of a woman.

After leaving this bar, I almost missed the bus because of the line by the bathroom.  Everyone cheered when I came aboard.  Word got out that it was my birthday by then.  After being the last to board, Kurt and Sue announced it was my 40th birthday to the entire busload of people and I also learned that there was another girl on the bus that celebrated the same birthday (different years) as me so we both got a nice warm singing of ♪♫ Happy Birthday ♪♫ from everyone on the bus.  Egad!  I asked her what year she was born.  She shook her head.  Catrina sat next me again and she mentioned that her birthday was Oct 19th.  October seems to be a popular.  The other girl with the same birth date looked over at me and said we need to do a shot for our birthdays at the next bar, lol!

Ethel's Party


Ethel's Party
Saturday October 12, 2013 · 8:56 PM
"3rd Stop."

Our Third Stop was to Ethyl's Party, a converted Dive Bar from Funeral Home.  By this stop, I was starting to get a bit more dazed and schnokered, lol.  According to Ghost Research, "Tito’s on the original edge of Chinatown was at one time a funeral home, Coletta’s around 1908 which served the Italians in the area of Chinatown .  The funeral director lived in the upstairs apartments.  As the neighborhood changed in the 1960s and ‘70s, the Italians moved elsewhere and “Tito’s On The Edge” came into being.  It was so named because it is located on the edge of Chinatown . The restaurant operated by brothers opened up in 1995 and the regulars are local Italians and Chinese.  However, one thing is certain; the place is truly haunted by those who frequent the place."

Clark Street Ale House

Clark Street Ale House
Saturday October 12, 2013 · 9:42 PM
"4th Stop."

Our Fourth Stop was at the Clark Street Ale House.  While I don't remember what the "haunting" specifically was here, I learned afterwards with some good 'ol Google Research that Clark Street itself in River North is a haunted street in Chicago, mainly with several of the Irish Pubs on the street.  After making this stop, my mind fizzled out and I don't remember much of anything from this point.  So, to anyone reading that was with me that night, you can fill in the gaps.{...}

The Last Stop at the Kerryman

Sue's Facebook Page
Birthday boy is okie dokie!!! — with Eric Chatham
The Kerryman
Saturday October 12, 2013 · 10:39 PM
"Checked in by Sue"

I don't recall a thing here, but I was told things afterwards.  This picture was taken by Sue that night, so I can see I was really drunk by this point. I even failed to realize I was drinking something with a glowstick in my glass.  I hope this was the only incriminating evidence of me after that Last Stop.  "Is that to help me find my drink?" I commented later.  According to Kurt, I guess we were turned away at "Stout and Ale" because I had shorts on????  Weird.  I don't remember walking out of "Clark Street Ale House" at all.  So the discourse of events I got from Kurt the following day after Clark Street Ale were these:

KURT: "Well, first, we had to keep waking you up. . .you don't remember eating a burger even though you ordered one. . .you kept asking where the burger was even though you already ate it. . .you argued with us about going back to the Hotel because you thought we were sending you back to the STATE of Ohio. . . [the hotel was located on Ohio Street]. . .you kept saying I live in Chicago now not Ohio. . .you stumbled out of Kerryman at the end of the night. . .you didn't even know that we were dropping ice cubes down your back [I think that was Arvind]. . .you were too drunk and you didn't get Catrina's phone number [that one was emphasized strongly by Kurt]. . .you made it back to your hotel room safely, because we sent you off with Arvind in a Cab."

I woke up in the hotel room on Sunday and first had my shell shock reflex being there.  "How did I get her?"  Then, "I'm so glad I made a hotel reservation and that I made it back here ok."  As good as that may be, "...but, how did I get here?"  I'm so thankful that I made it back to the hotel and that I had friends help me back there!!!  Thank you Kurt, Sue AND Arvind!  Oh, ok, so hangover???  NOPE!  Once again, no hangover, just a headache and a severe case of cottonmouth, hahahaha!  I just don't get them.  After drinking a lot of water, I went back to sleep and awoke at about 10am on Sunday.  I checked out of the Hotel and safely drove home.  The Chicago Marathon was in town and most of the streets were blocked off; finding a way around it was VERY HARD.  Streets going to the Ryan or Kennedy were blocked off.  Everything was enclosed in for the Chicago Marathon.  Police were patrolling all the streets.

I finally got on LSD at Chicago Avenue.  To non-Chicagoans, LSD is Lake Shore Drive.  I don't do drugs!  I was lucid and perfectly fine for driving in the morning.  I got home around 11am and got a phone call from Kurt, making sure I was ok.  He went on to tell me about my night then, and asked if I were hungover.  Nope!  I did go back to bed for awhile though after talking to Kurt.  For the rest of my birthday, I just relaxed at home and enjoyed watching the rest of "MY NAME IS EARL" which I had in my "to-watch cue" for the month.  Finishing the series, I forgot why I hated the series finale for this show.  The story really builds up at the end of "Season Four," and, then, abruptly, the series was CANCELLED!  UNGH

I later told Sue that I wasn't sure how to compose some of October's blog because I don't remember what happened on my birthday.  She laughed, agreed, and scrutinized though that I didn't get Catrina's phone number too, just like Kurt mentioned to me on the phone.  "Why didn't you get her number?  You two were talking it up all night," Kurt said.  Luckily, she said that she joined "Venture Around" in the morning after the "Haunted Pub Crawl."  I hope I go on some events and she is there.  She was fun to spend the night with.  She was super cute and had an amazing smile!!!

Mocking Hills
Sunday October 13, 2013 · 10:54 AM

I had a great birthday!!!  Thank you to you all that made it a truly, tremendous and triumphant way to celebrate 40 years on Earth!!! Going back and composing events for October's blog, I discovered that I got "+5 points" on Foursquare for it being my birthday, lol!  Thank you also for the 30+ birthday wishes on Facebook too!!!


One thing I finally got around doing one week in October was getting my "Screen Capturing Software" to work.  I previously purchased NCH Video Software last December but never got the "Debut" software working.  So, what finally pushed that into motion (ha, no pun intended) was my Mom!   After finally getting the software to work and saved.  I made several Facebook demonstration videos for Mom, helping her with some of the features in FB.  I completed 4 or 5 of them and uploaded them to Dropbox for Mom!  I didn't upload these to Youtube by the way.  I strictly produced these demonstrations for Mom and Mom only!

After producing a few of these videos, I did a few of my own, demonstrating how to use Smokeping, Nagios, and one demonstration with Linux IPTables.  So, here are some of those.  Enjoy some GEEK STUFF at your own leisure!

After producing those Debut videos and sharing them out on YouTube, someone commented to me about my "nasal sounding vowels," saying I had a Chicago Accent because the way I stressed my vowels, hence the title to this Blog Section.  Yes, I did take offense from the comment.  I think it was the way he wrote the comment to me.  The guy that criticized my nasal vowels said he was born and raised in Chicago and said ". . .I sounded like I was born and raised in Chicago too."  I think what upset me the most is how he criticized the nasal accent in my voice.  This disturbed me even and when I went back to listen to my own voice in the YouTube videos, it put me in a depressed mood actually!  I shouldn't be down on myself about it, but it bothered me hearing the way I pronounced words!  Ungh!  So, keeping the videos out on youtube, I deleted/disabled comments and described each video with an addendum.  I can't believe how bothered I was hearing my own voice after that comment!!!!  In the end though, I was fine.  This was the attitude I took later in the week: This is how I TALK!!!!  This is how I've always TALKED!!!!  DEAL!!!  Later in the week, I listened to a few YouTube videos comparing my own voice against notable "Chicago Accents" even listening to some old Saturday Night Live Skits!  I even did some research into this, and learned that the "Chicago Accent" is not inclusive to just Chicago.  It's called the Northern Cities Vowel Shift.

I live in Chi-CAAAAA-go!

I grew up in the "rust belt" also known for its vowel mutation called the "Northern Cities Vowel Shift," which includes Cleveland, Detroit, Buffalo, Rochester AND Chicago. It's not inclusive only to Chicago; it's inclusive to the entire Great Lakes region.  According to Wikipedia, "The Northern cities vowel shift is a chain shift in the sounds of some vowels in the dialect region of American English known as the Inland North."  So, once again, this is how I talk.  DEAL!  No, seriously.  DEAL!




I also started playing around with some old C# Projects as well, trying to reload some old SQL Server 2005 Databases for them.  Looks like it's time to load SQL Server 2008 (have a license for it) and Exchange 2010 (have a license for it with 10 CALS).  Hope I have some time next month between work and play.  I also signed up for the "Shootin' and then Drinkin'" Venture Around Event on November 2, encouraging my friend, Rhonda, to try it.  The Event Host is part of BuckIt Items (formerly Living Social Chicago).  I first met the Host at the River Tubing Event back in August!

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve
Monday October 14, 2013 · 6:13 PM
"Nice Autumn walk."

During the week, I tried to take some FALL PHOTOS (for a friend's blog) in Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve, but unfortunately, the leaves aren't turned enough yet.  Lauren Strec, I hope these are nice photos for your FALL BLOG, lol!  Next week, I'll be in Ohio for TWO WEEKS and will probably miss the leaves changing colors in the Forest Preserve.  Here are a few I tried taking though.  They aren't my finest, but good enough to include in the blog.  I also made a trip to the Dentist in Oak Brook IL for my 3 month visit.  Another thing I had done this week was the water in my apartment. . .AGAIN!  Why can't maintenance do the job CORRECTLY the first time?  So, after maintenance left my place. . .again, they failed to do the job correctly once again.  They reversed the HOT and COLD taps on my faucet in my Kitchen, giving me the European Version.  Ungh!

DentalWorks Oakbrook (Sears)
Wednesday October 9, 2013 · 4:50 PM

More Apartment Searches...

Chicago Apartment Finders (Lakeview)
Friday October 18, 2013 · 5:48 PM

On Friday, October 18, I looked a few more apartments on Chicago's Northside and then I met up with Rhonda for dinner in Edgewater, Chicago.  We ate at Francesca's Brywn Mawr for dinner.  First, I went into Lake View again for my apartment searches.  I met up with Jennifer again and we looked at some new places in Albany Park.  I told Jennifer that if I don't find an apartment this year, I still want to keep proactive with my searches until I my lease DOES finally expire where I'm at currently.  She said that was a good approach for searches.  She said she would continue to work with me until I found my "new home."  Here were a few I liked.  We looked at one on Avers/Foster and another one on Central Park/Wilson.


The one on Foster/Avers was decent although I was deceived by the pictures in the Ad for the apartment.  THERE IS NO LIVING ROOM.  Two bedrooms and a nice gourmet-style Kitchen!  No living room.  That was the catch to a 1200 sqft place at $1200/month.  The apartment did have its own laundry area though.  That was a plus.  The absence of the Living Room though made me change my mind about the place.


The one on Central Park/Wilson was nicer and it was 3 bedroom apartment.  Well, guess what?  TOO BIG for me!  No really.  TOO BIG!  If I find a roommate then yes, I would jump on this apartment.  The bedroom sizes were awesome, a large Front Room with Sun Area for plants.  It had a hearth, a large dining room and kitchen!  I don't think I'll be taking it though, unless I did have a roommate.  1500 sqft at $1240/month isn't bad either.

 Francesca's Bryn Mawr
Edgewater, Chicago IL

Friday October 18, 2013 · 7:55 PM
"Magnolia & Balmoral."

After looking at apartments, I drove over into Edgewater and met up with Rhonda for a nice evening Dinner.  The previous week, at dinner, I quoted, ". . .put ze candle back," which was immediately followed by "man, I wish I could watch that movie now!"  Hahahahaha.  I told her that I owned the DVD and she could come to my place to watch it, which is what spurred this "second hang out," hahaha.  I met near her home and we walked over to Francesca's Italian Restaurant on the corner of Kenmore and Bryn Mawr.

Making our way to the restaurant, it was REALLY COLD.  Leaving home in the morning, I didn't realize it was going to be THIS COLD OUT!  I braved it though and it wasn't a long walk to the restaurant from the place I parked and Rhonda's.  Making our reservation at the restaurant, I was caught in the wake of a waft from the wonderful aroma of the food in the restaurant even when the Host said it would be a 20 minute wait for a table!  "The waft of the good aroma did it and I can wait the 20 minutes," I told Rhonda.  It gave us time to look at the menu too.  Rhonda was familiar with the selections since this was her neighborhood and has frequently dined there.  "You'll love the food here!  I just hate waiting," she said.

Francesca's Bryn Mawr
Friday October 18, 2013 · 8:39 PM

After we got our table, we had a very friendly and informative waiter that helped us with our menu selections.  He recommended a nice bottle of Chianti for our drink choice, which we ordered.  The menu choice ALL looked appealing and delicious.  I went with the Dinner Special, an Entree selection, which was "a 14oz New York Strip." Rhonda chose the "Pollo Saltimbocca," which was a "sauteed chicken breast in prosciutto sauce (a white wine) and sage."  We shared our meals with each other and had a great evening with Chicago locals there.  I EVEN heard a few people there that talked with the same "nasal accent as me" and felt even TONS better about myself too.  Yeah, I'm a dork!   I noted how I like the design of the ceiling of the restaurant, but the restaurant was notably lit bu ambient candlelight so getting a nice picture of the restaurant was not gonna do it.  I found a picture of the restaurant later and added it here.  We sat at the second table in front of the bar.

After we ate, Rhonda gave me a tour of her neighborhood, pointing out some nice places to eat in the future and some places to check out.  After walking down Winthrop and heading over to Balmoral where I was parked, Rhonda noted how nicely I parked the Honda, hahaha.  Another tight squeeze for parallel parking.  "You're becoming a pro at this," she laughed.  "That is a tight spot."  I mentioned that is why I drove the Honda for today.  I knew it would be harder to park the Ford.  I'll have to practice my parallel parking on the Ford sometime.  Ungh!  Driving off LSD to the Stevenson, she mentioned some stuff to do at the Drake Hotel for a future time.  Just to be clear in my blog, we are FRIENDS.  Guys can have girls that are just friends, lol.

"Two nasty looking switchers over here. . ."
"Damn your eyes!"
"Too late!"

She laughed at my address being on Mockingbird Lane.  I told her, ". . .no, haven't seen any of the Munsters yet. . ."  We highlighted the rest of the night with "Young Frankenstein."  We both love this movie and were quoting it as it played on my TV.  I told her that Mel Brooks purposely did the movie in Black & White, and I'm glad he did.  It's the ONLY WAY TO WATCH A MOVIE LIKE THIS.  Rhonda did not know that they used the actual "Frankenstein Set" for this movie after I told her about that.   After the movie was done, we talked some and it was getting late.  She had stuff to do in the morning and I took her home.  She was dozing around the "darts scene" of the movie.  I warned her about the couch.  "It's deceiving.  As many times as I try to get through a movie or TV show lying on that couch, I have to re-watch stuff because of me falling asleep on it."  It was a fun night nonetheless.

Mocking Hills
Friday October 18, 2013 · 11:26 PM
"Watching Young Frankenstein with Rhonda. :)"


Tree in front of Mom and Dad's house

Well, it looks like I'll be publishing another blog "out of state."  It's two more weeks in Ohio.  I keep wondering where the Illinois and Wisconsin job assignments are at. . .closer to home!!  On Monday Morning the 21st, I packed up the Ford again and drove back down to Wheeling WV.  It was an 8 hour drive down I-65 through Indianapolis on I-70, through Columbus OH.  It's starting to get darker sooner now so part of the drive was when it was night time.  In a way it's nice, because there isn't much traffic on the roads.  I arrived at the Wheeling Super 8. . .again. . .and checked in.  It was about 11pm when I arrived, so I quickly showered and went to bed for work in the morning.

Super 8 Motel Wheeling
Monday October 21, 2013 · 11:09 PM
"Back in Wheeling/Bellaire."

The Return to Bellaire

In the morning, it was meeting with the customer again in Bellaire OH.  On my previous trip, I had to pull out early because the customer wasn't ready for us.  This time the customer was ready for us there.  I spent most of the week working on the Bellaire site and Barnesville OH site (which is 40 minutes away).  This was a challenging week because of the distance of the two locations.  I worked at both locations most of the week.  The Fleet Vehicle is nice, but the travel gets a bit tedious, because you have to plan your work around the traffic, especially on I-70 mainly.

Belmont Savings Bank
Tuesday October 22, 2013 · 10:06 AM

I spent most of the time at Barnesville prepping the one ATM with current settings and configurations.  This took a long while, most of the day to complete.  By the end of the day on Wednesday, the ATM at Barnesville was ready for a new DA solution.  Luckily, I did some extra prepping earlier this month when I was first there.

Belmont Savings Bank
Tuesday October 22, 2013 · 12:27 PM

No Sprechen Sie

By Thursday, things looked like they were falling into place. . .so I thought.  This bank has a complex network and when transactions were leaving the ATM, going up to the host, there were a lot of networking issues.  I almost had to extend my time again on Thursday night.  Luckily, when I made it back to the hotel and worked on looking at some traces and logs on the ATM, I was able to determine that the problem wasn't on the ATM but somewhere deep within the bank's network.  My solution worked fine so it was time to pack up and go.  So, Friday, after some conference calls in the morning, I wrapped up my time at the Hotel and took off to my Mom and Dad's for the weekend.


West Virginia was really awesome to visit especially during the Fall season.  It was nice to drive through and spend time in.  For a few nights, I drove through the mountains just to enjoy the scenery with the leaves changing colors.  When I drove to work one morning, I did a "A Ford A Fussin'" Dashcam video of the drive in.  Anytime I drive through mountains, I have an urge to yell out, "Riiiiccccooolllaaaa!"  I didn't this time, but last time I was here I did, lol.  Yes, I'm a dork.  I-70 has some very steep grades going down into the Ohio Valley across the Ohio River.  Driving through Wheeling and Triadelphia was the same.  There were a lot of steep grades, a lot of trucks with their hazard lights flashing as they ascended the grades and there was sleet one of those nights, so I was extra careful travelling up and down the grades on the mountains.

Bellaire OH featured three notable movies.  Unstoppable with Denzel Washington, Silence of the Lambs and Night Shift.  If you've seen Unstoppable, you'll recognize the train trestle.  It is the one located in Bellaire.  If you've seen Silence of the Lambs, you'll remember the scene where they pull the woman's body out of the river and the funeral scene.  That was done in Bellaire OH.  Actually, the Bank Manager I was working with KNEW the woman who "played the part" of the dead woman in that autopsy scene.

Triadelphia WV
Thursday October 24, 2013 · 6:58 PM

Hinckley OH

A Felix in a hole!

Township of Hinckley
Friday October 25, 2013 · 1:18 PM
"Mom and Dad."

After checking out of the hotel on Friday, I drove I-70 to I-77 towards my Mom and Dad's for the weekend.  I arrived at their house in the afternoon and it was good to see Mom and Dad again. I was greeted at their door by Felix.  Getting situated and finishing up work there, I caught up on events. Talking about events and what happened on my Birthday with the Haunted Pub Crawl, my Mom was glad I had an enjoyable 40th birthday celebration with Kurt, Sue and new friends.  I also told Mom about "forgetting to get a girl's phone number, because I was so drunk."  She laughed and was especially glad that I had a hotel reservation and didn't drive.  I helped Mom with her computer and had a small meal.

Panini's Bar and Grill
Friday October 25, 2013 · 6:58 PM
"Having a nice dinner Dena."

In the evening, I made plans with Dena to meet up for dinner.  The check-in here should've said, "...WITH Dena," lol.  I sent her a text and she was happy that I was in the area for the weekend.  So, after setting up at Mom and Dad's, I took her out to Panini's in Brunswick OH.  It was great to see her and talk about events again.  She told me that she had some things going on in her life but is managing.  I just hope the best for her.  We spent awhile at Panini's just talking about things and catching up.  She hopes she still can come out to visit me in Chicago some time.  She mentioned she wants to but she won't be able until next year.  We both ordered salads there, mixed drinks and an appetizer.  The staff were all dressed in Halloween costumes.  The whole restaurant was filled with Halloween decorations and we were greeted by a creepy zombie statue when we made our reservation.  Our server was dressed as a vampire, lol!  We both had a fun time and enjoyed it.  In spite of the 20 minute long wait, it was a great night.  After eating, she invited me over to her apartment where we enjoyed some wine and watching some Adam Sandler Movies like "Just Go With It" and "Grown Ups."  We both were laughing so hard by the end of the night.  The "Sheep PR scene" in "Just Go With It" had us rolling and in tears with laughter.  OMG!  LOL!  After enjoying some movies, we talked some more and I took off.

Walnut Hill Apartments
Friday October 25, 2013 · 8:21 PM

In the morning, I got up and spent the day with Mom and Dad in Amish Country.  We all drove down to Dover OH to Breitenbach Winery.  I was there previously back in March.  Although we didn't spend a lot of time outside, it was rather windy and cold.  The trees (for some reason) were all still GREEN too, despite the nice scenic drive down I-77 to get there.  I kept telling them, "I just drove UP this way yesterday, lol."  The drive down was nice, very scenic.

Breitenbach Wine Cellars
Saturday October 26, 2013 · 11:26 AM
"In Amish country. — with David, Mollie."

When we arrived, we sampled some wine in the back and made our selections.  I tried some new ones this time.  I'm not a big fan of dry wines.  I like sweet wines, so I made selections for those.

• Old Dusty Miller
• Sweet Gewurztraminer
• Spiced Apple
• Sweet Riesling

It was a fun time to spend with Mom and Dad and, even though it was cold and windy with intermittent sun/cloud mix, it was a great day to spend a day with them.  After we made our wine selections, we went over to Dutch Valley for Lunch.  Although the food wasn't very tasty, it was nice just to be with Mom and Dad.  While we were dining, I caught glimpse of several pictures of FORKS on the walls, lol.  It made me think back to the movie "The Room" which I went to see with Kurt and friends back in February, earlier this year, lol.  I was telling Dad that this movie was so horrible but the guy that made the movie had several scenes in the movie with spoons in them.  I told him that when Kurt and I saw the movie the first time, we didn't understand why we had to BUY picnic spoons beforehand.  When we understood the movie was a cult-classic much like the "Rocky Horror Picture," we understood.  I told my Dad that anytime the movie came to a scene with a SPOON in it, you threw the spoons in the theater, lol.  The movie sucked but the experience was fun.  So, I captured a photo of the FORK PICTURE and sent a copy of it to Kurt, titling it, "FORK!"  Finally, after finishing our meal, we stopped over to the bakery next to the restaurant and I ordered some Popcorn, Amish-style Popcorn.  We left and got back to the house about 2pm.  It was a fun morning with them!

Dutch Valley Restaurant & Bakery
Saturday October 26, 2013 · 11:26 AM

Happy Birthday, Shelley!

Elyria, OH
Saturday October 26, 2013 · 7:39 PM
"Shelley's Birthday."

On Saturday Night the 26th, I went to see Shelley at her place in Elyria OH where she lives.  She was celebrating her birthday with a Halloween theme. I was invited to her "Birthday Bash" in Facebook Events earlier in September, so I told her I was planning to go.  I had work in the area for the week, so it was nice to be able to go.  I told Shelley that I wanted to come and she said she wanted me to come too, since the last place and time we saw each other was Ponderosa Steakhouse in Brunswick OH, probably 2003.  For awhile, Shelley moderated a meetup group called "Motivating Minds" and "Drummer's Circle."  She invited all her friends from work, meetups and other places.

I got to her house about 7:30pm.  The invite was for 7pm.  When I got there, I met one of her friends as we parked.and tried finding her house.  All the house lights were on for her street, "...maybe because of trick-or-treaters," I joked with the other guy whom introduced himself as Brian.  Finally, finding her place, we both knocked on the door and Shelley let us in.  She was excited to see us.  We got hugs and she looked great.  We started catching up on things and events and she introduced to a few of her friends already there.  So, she instructs us to put on a name badge and then puts us to work, lol!!!  "Someone needs to hang streamers and someone needs to finish spider webs," lol!  We helped, ha!  So, while helping Shelley, she was asking me about Chicago and how I liked it there.  She said she wanted to come out and visit in Spring of 2014.  "I love it there; I'm not moving back here, lol."  I told her.

I was talking with the guy whom walked in with me too.  His name was Brian and he was dressed in medieval attire (Halloween theme).  I think he was a Bard or Minstrel.  He was talking about a cool goth band called "Dead Can Dance."  It got me interested in listening to them.  I told him I've started listening to some Indie Bands and trying to find new music to listen to.  He urged me to give them a listen.  He said listen to 3 bands not related to Goth then go back and listen to "Dead Can Dance."  "You'll be hooked for sure," he insisted.

By now, it was later, and her house was filling up rapidly.  I told Shelley that I came as a "Chicago Blackhawks' fan."  She laughed.  There were other people arriving in costumes though.  Gumby, mad scientists, Bonnie & Clyde, the Grim Reaper, etc.  It was a fun night.  I only knew Shelley for the most part, but I did introduce myself to a few of her friends there.  I didn't drink too much because I was just too tired and wanted to get back to Mom and Dad's.  So, I only had two beers.  After 10pm, I was getting exhausted and left.  I had a great time and I'm glad I went to her party.  I told Shelley that Viki in Chicago wanted to meet sometime too, so hopefully they do.

On Sunday the 27th, I spent some time with Amy and John and I helped Amy with her computer.  We talked about things and John was enjoying a video game on the PS3.  I told him that now that they upgraded to DSL, they can put the PS3 on their home network now.  It was good to see them and enjoy a nice Autumn Afternoon in Brunswick.  One more week of Ohio, then it will good to be HOME again...

"One Week"

It's been one week since you looked at me
Cocked your head to the side and said "I'm angry"
Five days since you laughed at me saying
"Get that together come back and see me"
Three days since the living room
I realized it's all my fault, but couldn't tell you
Yesterday you'd forgiven me
but it'll still be two days till I say I'm sorry

Hold it now and watch the hoodwink
As I make you stop, think
You'll think you're looking at Aquaman
I summon fish to the dish, although I like the Chalet Swiss
I like the sushi
'cause it's never touched a frying pan
Hot like wasabe when I bust rhymes
Big like LeAnn Rimes
Because I'm all about value
Bert Kaempfert's got the mad hits
You try to match wits, you try to hold me but I bust through
Gonna make a break and take a fake
I'd like a stinkin achin shake
I like vanilla, it's the finest of the flavours
Gotta see the show, cause then you'll know
The vertigo is gonna grow
Cause it's so dangerous,
you'll have to sign a waiver

How can I help it if I think you're funny when you're mad
Trying hard not to smile though I feel bad
I'm the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral
Can't understand what I mean?
Well, you soon will
I have a tendency to wear my mind on my sleeve
I have a history of taking off my shirt

It's been one week since you looked at me
Threw your arms in the air
and said "You're crazy"
Five days since you tackled me
I've still got the rug burns on both my knees
It's been three days since the afternoon
You realized it's not my fault
not a moment too soon
Yesterday you'd forgiven me
And now I sit back and wait til you say you're sorry

Chickity China the Chinese chicken
You have a drumstick and your brain stops tickin'
Watchin' X-Files with no lights on
We're dans la maison
I hope the Smoking Man's in this one
Like Harrison Ford I'm getting frantic
Like Sting I'm tantric
Like Snickers, guaranteed to satisfy

Like Kurasawa I make mad films
Okay, I don't make films
But if I did they'd have a Samurai
Gonna get a set a' better clubs
Gonna find the kind with tiny nubs
Just so my irons aren't always flying off the back-swing
Gotta get in tune with Sailor Moon
'Cause the cartoon has got the boom anime babes
That make me think the wrong thing

How can I help it if I think you're funny when you're mad
Tryin' hard not to smile though I feel bad
I'm the kind of guy who laughs at a funeral
Can't understand what I mean?
Well, you soon will
I have a tendency to wear my mind on my sleeve
I have a history of losing my shirt

It's been one week since you looked at me
Dropped your arms to your sides
and said "I'm sorry"
Five days since I laughed at you and said
"You just did just what I thought you were gonna do"
Three days since the living room
We realized we're both to blame,
but what could we do?
Yesterday you just smiled at me
Cause it'll still be two days till we say we're sorry

It'll still be two days till we say we're sorry
It'll still be two days till we say we're sorry
Birchmount Stadium, home of the Robbie
<End Body>


Of falling leaves and early sunsets...

It's Autumn, MY FAVORITE SEASON OF THE WHOLE YEAR!  NUFF' SAID!  Cooler weather, pumpkin pie, ghost stories, leaves changing colors, comfortable sleeping weather, lol...

Of delicious Holiday and Healthy foods...

• Recipe: Homemade Nutella

My friend, +Lauren Strec, puts out very healthy recipes and one she featured in her blog this month had me wanting to prepare it for a Holiday Snack Dish.  Trying to eat healthier, which we all should try, she has some really delectable concoctions.  I am going to make this for a Thanksgiving Item.  Please check out her YouTube video presentation and learn how you can make Healthy Homemade Nutella.

• Lauren Strec's Recipe

2 cups hazelnuts
1 cup powdered sugar
⅓ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 tablespoons hazelnut oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon salt

First thing to do is to roast the 2 cups of hazelnuts until they're dark brown. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread the hazelnuts out as a single layer, on a rimmed baking sheet, and roast about 12 to 15 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through this time. WATCH them closely, as they can go from perfect to burnt if you step away for too long.

Transfer the hazelnuts to a bowl, and allow them to cool. When they can be handled, the next step is to remove the skins. Place a lid or another bowl on top of the present bowl, and shake aggressively for 30 seconds. Repeat as necessary until all the skins have fallen off. In between shakes, separate the "naked" hazelnuts by putting them in the food processor.
Side note: they do sell blanched hazelnuts, so if you have those, you can skip this entire "skin-removing" step.

Once you have all the hazelnut bare and in the food processor, grind them into a loose paste. This will take 2 to 5 minutes; scrape the sides often.

Next, add the remaining ingredients: powdered sugar, cocoa powder, hazelnut oil, vanilla extract and salt. Process until it is all completely married, and don't forget to scrape those sides again. About 2 minutes later, you will feel the mixture loosen, and it will get glossy. It's done!

Transfer the goodness to an airtight or tight-lidded container, and enjoy this natural version of a yummy spread anytime over the course of a month.
It can be stored in the fridge or in the cabinet.
It's easy, and the ingredients don't mess with your brain and health!

Here is her YouTube Video Link:

Recipe: Homemade Nutella

Of Ghosts, ghouls, goblins and other legends...

Plug your Ghost Story!  For the month October, I decided to devote this section of my blog to those whom have experienced a strange occurrence or unexplained event, seen a ghost, or just have a legend they wanted to share.  So, below are a few of your stories. Fact or Fiction?  One of the stories below is fabricated.  Can you tell which one it is?  I do believe there is a layer of our physical world that is immaterial, unexplained and supernatural. Thank you to all for sharing them, since especially there is validity to the truths of them!  I enjoyed them all and they are stories I'd tell around a campfire on a brisk Autumn Night on a full moon!!!

• The Return of the Butterfly from Heaven

Thank you, Karen Sobolewski!  After you shared your story, I found this information on butterflies.  The hair is standing on the back of my neck!  Butterflies are VERY TIMID!  There are many links with butterflies in mythology from all over the world, many of which, in particular Greek mythology, link butterflies to the human soul. The Ancient Greeks also considered butterflies as the souls of those who had passed away.  In ancient Greek the word for butterfly is "Psyche", which translated means "soul." This was also the name for Eros' human lover and when the two figures are depicted they are often surrounded by butterflies.  Urged by her sisters, she hid a knife and candle by the bedside one evening before Eros came. After he had fallen asleep, Psyche silently lit the candle and gazed on the face of her husband. She saw not an ugly beast as she had expected, but a most handsome young man with wings. In her surprise she spilt some wax from the candle on his sleeping face, waking Eros from his sleep. As he flew away he cried "Oh foolish Psyche! Is it thus you repay my love? But go; return to your sisters whose advice you seem to think preferable to mine! I inflict no punishment on you, other than to leave you for ever."  Compare this with stories about the Mothman that was sighted in Point Pleasant WV in the 1960s.

Karen's story!  "My Dad visits from heaven.  My girls will be talking in the middle of the night.  I go to check on them and ask them who they are talking to and they've said, 'Grandpa. He's right there, don't you see him, Mama?'  The dogs must see him too because they sit like statues staring at where the girls are talking.  My girls have full conversations and appear to answer questions that my Dad apparently asks them.  Seriously, it used to scare the shit out of me but it doesn't anymore.  We'll also smell my Dad's cologne and his favorite flowers periodically, neither of which are in or near my home.

Another oddity....butterflies actually LAND ON my girls...I've always said it's my Dad and I truly believe it. I've never seen butterflies land on any other people except my girls.  When they land they don't just stay for a second and fly off.  No, they stay for minutes and the girls can walk around and the butterflies stay put. It's like my Dad is going for a walk with them. It's always a white butterfly too, a sign from heaven in my opinion."

• A Spooky tale of Centrifugal Force in Maple Heights

My tale of unexplained phenomena!  My Aunt was a Science Teacher at an elementary school, so each year on my birthday or Christmas, she would give gifts that were science projects.  One year, she got me a Gyroscope.  Basically, it's just a device very similar to a "spinning top."  The way you used the Gyroscope was you wound it up with string and pulled it.  It would spin, creating a centrifugal force, keeping it up.  Noticeably, when I'd release the string, it would make a loud, grinding sound on the floor.  Ok, do you see where I'm going with this now?  Hehe.

I have even witnessed some strange, supernatural events in life.  There was one that I encountered and shared with a friend of mine one night.  In January 1986, I had a friend over at my house in Maple Heights OH.  He was spending the night.  I think we were going to one of my Dad's Hamfests the next day and my friend wanted to go to one.  We both witnessed a supernatural event one night.

On the night my friend, Chris Schodowsky, spent the night, I had the gyroscope setting on the back of my dresser (against the back wall). We were talking quietly.  Suddenly, we BOTH heard that gyroscope slide across the dresser to the front, fall on the floor, and we both saw it SPIN in front of us!  We both heard it grinding on the floor like someone releasing the string on it (no the string was not wound up in it beforehand)!  We freaked out, but layed there QUIETLY!  My Dad heard it through the floor and came upstairs!  "What was that noise?" He said.  We were so dumbfounded that we didn't know how to respond.  We didn't sleep that night!

I remember before we moved into that house that the one kid who was my age living there at the time said he witnessed strange stuff in that house.  At the time, I was skeptical.  "Yeah, right!  You just don't want us to move in."  That was what I told him.  He insisted though.  He said weird sounds could be heard in the bathroom, the shower would drip uncontrollably anytime someone sat on the pot, seeing weird things.  Other than odd stories of launching fireworks out my bedroom window and setting the room on fire, I thought he was joking.  I was in 6th grade at the time of this Gyroscope Haunting, so I truly believed at that time even there was a world that's not visible to our 5 senses.

• Looking into the Ghostly Mirror

Thank you, Richard Trigg!  I remember this one too when you told it to me when we were just kids!  Scared the crap out of me especially when you showed me that mirror in your basement!  Trust me too, this story doesn't need to be skewed to make it any scarier either!  The fear in your voice when you told it originally still scares me!

"...And I was looking into the mirror horrified as to what I saw. You have heard as a child never look into the mirror for long periods of time. Well let me tell you Bloody Marry has nothing on what I just saw.

I was just in the shower at Waunita Hot Springs Ranch. I was sitting on a chair in front of the mirror in just a daze; When suddenly my face started to move across the mirror. I saw an evil face appear for a moment and as fear gripped me I snapped out of it. Later my grandma and grandpa asked me why I was so distant for most the day and when I told them what happened  they told me stories about how people have gone crazy by staring at a mirror for long periods of time. They chalked it up to your mind playing tricks on you. I chalk it up to Satan is an evil being seeking who he may devour. He has no grip on the one who calls Jesus his own. There for he (Satan) uses scare tactics to try and scare us. Let me tell you...That scare almost worked."  By Richard Trigg

"This was a true story that happened to me at about the age of 13, when my grand parents took my brother and I to, Waunita Hot Springs Ranch in Colorado. One of the best 3 weeks of my life."

Hey Eric,

Let me know if you post this one. I can actually skew the truth to make it scarier. I am enjoying screen writing so much that I keep coming up with story lines all the time now. The above though is a true story. I will talk to you later bud. 

• Unexplained Lights in the Bermuda Triangle

David Chatham. My Dad's tale of Unexplained Events near the Bermuda Triangle.  My Dad was in the Coast Guard for many years, and just around the time I was born, he was stationed in North Carolina.  When I was a kid, he told me this story about being underway in the Atlantic one time, just near the edge of the Bermuda Triangle.  When he told me the story as a kid, it didn't make any sense to me.  I didn't understand it until I was older when he retold it.  It wasn't until I had a better grasp of Mathematics where the tale of "unexplained events" finally made sense to me.

"When we lived in Southport NC around the time you were born, I was underway one night near the Bermuda Triangle.  Our ship didn't go into it, we were just along the fringe of it.  You've heard the stories about strange occurrences about the Bermuda Triangle.  Well, we had one of our own that one night.  All our compasses registered and weren't spinning like the stories you've heard.  We had our bearings.  I was the one charting the courses that night for our ship.  I was on duty when we got the report of some strange lights directly ahead of us on the bow of the ship!" 

Here is where the math got me confuzzled as a kid.  ". . .Plotting the distance of the reported lights on the horizon, they were just on the edge of the horizon.  Out at sea, you have to understand the horizon is 14 miles away at sea.  That's the distance to when the Earth curves.  So, whatever those lights were, we thought it was an oncoming vessel, 14 miles away in the Bermuda Triangle.  Well, we had to act fast because the lights were close.  We had to act fast for this other 'ship.'  We signaled to the foreign ship, but we got no response from them.  So, we had to give that 'ship' the right away and veer away from it.  It was coming at us. . ."

When I was older, I started to understand the rest of my Dad's story by now. ". . .Well we veered right and those lights from that other ship STAYED ON THE BOW OF OUR SHIP.  They stayed there the whole time we veered away!  Everyone aboard witnessed this as a strange phenomena.  Son, think about this now.  Something that I plotted 14 miles away. . .another ship which we all thought. . . followed us as we veered away.  Those lights stayed on the bow of our ship as we veered away!  Do you realize how fast that 'ship' had to travel to keep up with us if it were right on the horizon?  VERY, VERY, VERY FAST, SON!  The Captain of our ship documented this event as an 'unexplained phenomena' that night in the log and no one could explain that other ship.  We managed to finally get away from it but several aboard saw this event.  It was the weirdest thing I ever saw in my life up until that point!"

• Let's shed some light on the subject

Thank you, Sandy Davis Nowak! "Ok... This happened ten years ago this month...  We were only living in our house (built in 1919) a few months when we headed out for a 'howling at the moon party.'  I had asked my husband if we should leave extra lights on for our new kittens (they had just had surgery) but he said they would be fine.  We returned home very late that night and had 3 sleeping kids to carry in, so I went in first to open the door and get beds ready.  When I walked into our living room, a candle was lit on top of my TV console!!! We had been gone for hours, and obviously had not left any candles burning when we left!  I always thought that someone else thought the kitties needed a little extra light too!  Shortly after this evening, I was in the house by myself for the first time, and walking from the kitchen into the dining room, a little blonde haired boy, in a striped shirt, was standing in front of my dining table!! I was surprised, and gasped- and he disappeared. I have not seen him again.  Other than these two "visits" and many pics with orbs in them and numerous times of chunks/pieces of glass mysteriously showing up around the house (inside and out) for a few months after seeing the little boy, it's been very quiet here.

Shortly after finding the lit candle, I had emailed Chris Woodyard, (author of the 'Haunted Ohio' books) and asked her for suggestions. She put me in touch with one of her dear friends, Nicholas Reiter, who I have kept in contact with this whole time. He has come to my house with all of his equipment, but short of a few sounds on his EVF recorder, nothing was ever found.

Thanks for letting me share my experiences!! Sandy."

> Truly amazing story.  Howl At the Moon?  Is that the Night club?  We
> have one here in Chicago too.  Also, question, was the candle placed
> there or was it there originally before you left?   Thank you for your
> story.  Campfire worthy!!!

"Howl at the moon is a party My husband's co-worker used to hold every year (before he moved to Mexico) on his Christmas Tree Farm. He would have a HUGE bonfire- at least 20-30 feet high during the full (harvest?) moon of October. The party involved really fun, but crazy fast (drunken) hay rides thru the woods!!  The candle was in a glass holder I had bought years before, and it was already sitting on top of an older model console TV. A year or two after this event, my youngest broke the glass on accident.  :("

• The Cabunga Trees of Hinckley, Ohio, a true Local Legend?

RIP John Minch!  "According to local lore in Hinckley, on a windless, clear, moonlit night when the moon is full, the Cabunga Trees come to life in the woods. . .they are the lost souls that were cursed from the Great Hinckley Hunt of 1818."  This was his tale about the Cabunga Trees living behind his house.  It actually inspired some of my own fantasy writing.  The Cabunga Trees are used in a mythical swamp in my writings, called "T'Bleth Swamp."  There, the trees guard treasure.

When I was a kid, I was first told this bizarre story about trees assuming form on a moonlit night in the deep woods around Hinckley.  Did it have to do with the local legend of the Buzzards and the Great Hinckley Hunt of 1818.  Do trees assume life and protect Hinckley?  Questions have been raised or dismissed of this phenomena.  The Great Hinckley Hunt led by a band of men on that Christmas Eve was merely a witch hunt.  Was it an Acient Native American curse brought on by the Wyandots?  Whatever it were, it awakened the deep forests of Hinckley, Ohio.  What was the forest protecting?  Are they linked to the buzzards that return to Hinckley each March 15th?

One summer, my Dad took us to one of his Company Parties at his friend's place in Hinckley.  His name was John Minch.  It had to be 1984.  I started remembering a lot of things in my life around that time.  It was an eerie night and John Minch lived on Mattingly Road [down the road from our family homestead], a heavily forested part of the Township.  My brothers were there and John sat down at a picnic bench and asked us if we wanted to stroll around the lake in his backyard, where it was heavily forested.  It was a windless, clear, moonlit night.  We were just kids, somewhat afraid of the dark still, but we all braved the request.

Starting to walk away from the party-goers, John warned us.  "I should warn you about local lore here in Hinckley," John began.  "Let's walk a bit farther in."  We started walking with him around the lake, deep in his backyard now completely far away from all the other party-goers at his place.  We were intrigued. "When the moon is full like it is tonight, that is when the Cabunga trees come to life."

Startled by this, I watched the trees along the edge of the lake.  "What is a Cabunga Tree?"  The trees began swaying with an eerie writhe.  "I saw one move.  There is no breeze," I stammered.  "Its branches are like arms." I gulped.  "I saw it reach out."

"They are souls trapped in trees.  Stay close to me.  They only sense fear in children," John assured.  "This land is sacred to them and they don't like technology."  His words were believable, and me and my brothers were scared as crap by now, watching these trees writhe in the windless moonlight.  We were half way around the lake by now and we had quickened our pace.  John stayed close to us and watched out for us.

"Don't provoke them or walk close to them.  They'll grab you," he emphasized.  "They are the cursed souls from the Great Hinckley Hunt, those that went deep into the forest to Hunt on that Christmas Eve of 1818.  The Wyandot cursed these men and put their souls in these trees for killing all those animals."

Finally, we made is safely back to the party tent.  I sat on the picnic bench there in the dark with my brothers.  We were terrified of the Cabunga trees.  The story was legend and believable.  John Minch was sure of the existence of these trees and that they were the souls of those from the Great Hinckley Hunt trapped in the trees because of a curse by the Wyandot, Native Americans of the area.

• The Bray Road Beast

When I lived in E. Troy, Wisconsin in 1996, this story and legend was popularized each Halloween --- and freaky! I lived minutes away from the actual reported sightings of it! I remember the locals in Walworth County telling the legend one night of a full moon. Spooked me for weeks!  The stories told by the locals there were believable.  I just remember that one night when the moon was full and one person I was hanging out with said, "You hear that howl?  It's the Bray Road Beast.  It roams the woods around Highway J and Scout Road," he went on to tell.  "You're joking, right?" I said.  "No, the story is true."  His warning was believable.  That is when I first heard the story and the local legends of this 7' tall half man, half wolf creature that roam the woods around Elkhorn WI.  The first time werewolves freaked me out was when I first saw Michael Jackson's Thriller back in 1984 when I was a kid.  That fear stayed for years.  After that childhood fear subsided as I grew older, that fear was revisited 10 fold when I was introduced to stories about the Bray Road Beast of Elkhorn WI.  By the way, this legend did not scare me enough to move back to Ohio that November.  For other reasons...

". . .Ever since the mid-1930s, a strange beast has been reported around Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Named for the location where it was most sighted, the Beast of Bray Road has sparked fear in those who live in the area. While some remain skeptical, those who have seen it have no doubt about what it is. The creature is often described as a hulking beast, possibly a werewolf. Its name has been applied to other beasts reported in Wisconsin with matching characteristics.

1936: Mark Schackelman claimed he saw a talking half wolf, half man creature east of Jefferson, Wisconsin along Highway 18. He was driving down the road when he saw the beast digging in an old Indian mound. He described it as covered in hair, over six feet tall when standing upright, with a muzzled face and features of a canine and ape. He said the beast’s hands were very strange, with a twisted thumb and only three fingers. Shackelman also described a stench that emanated from the beast, similar to decaying meat. He returned the following day to see if the creature was still there. It was, and this time it spoke a three syllable word that sounded like 'gadara' with the second syllable emphasized.

1964: Dennis Fewless had an encounter with the beast described by Shackelman, only this time in Harvard, Illinois. Around midnight, while driving home from his job at Admiral Television Corporation, Fewless turned onto Highway 89 from Highway 14 when his headlights illuminated a strange creature running across the road.  He described it as dark brown in color and possibly weighing around 400 to 500 pounds with a height of seven or eight feet. During the incident, the beast ran across the road and jumped a barbed wire fence before Fewless lost sight of it. A return to the location during the day presented little evidence except for the area where the beast pushed corn aside as it ducked into a field. In an interview with author Jay Rath, Fewless stated that “I was awful scared that night. That was no man. It was all hairy from head to feet.”

1972: A woman called police to report an attempted break in. When interviewed by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources during an investigation, the woman stated that the intruder was a large, unknown animal. It approached her home and tried to enter through a door. She also later reported the beast returned to her home and injured a farm animal, inflicting a deep wound that extended from one shoulder to the other. Her description matched that of the Beast of Bray Road. The only evidence left behind was a footprint, which measured over twelve inches in length."


• It's Samhain, or Celtic New Year.

"October 31, Ireland.  Hallowe'en as we know it technically starts at sundown Oct 31 and is celebrated through Nov 1. Samhain (Sa-wen) was the day that the Ancient Celts celebrated their fallen dead and commemorated the occasion with huge bonfires. It was also the Celtic New Year and the end of Harvest. Celtic tradition has survived in Ireland to this day and it was the Irish who brought Hallowe'en with them to America in the 1800s. The Church recognizes this time as All Hallow's Eve/All Saints' Day today or All Souls' Day, similar to the Ancient Festival (where saints are remembered). Samhain is also the Irish month of November.  It was the day the Irish Hero Cú Chulainn road into battle.. Reference the "Cattle Raid of Cooley" or "Táin Bó Cúailnge" in Irish Mythology.  It was the Irish that forst introduced Hallowe'en to America.  In the Chronicles of Tristan (Me), October 31 is called the 'Day of Silence.'"

• Chicago Marathon 2013

"Sunday, October 13, 2013, Chicago IL.  Bank of America Chicago Marathon spectators and fans, whether you are planning to support a specific runner or looking to cheer on the masses, we have all the information you need to prepare for race day viewing along the course or from home.

• Chicago Marathon final runner Maickel Melamed completes race Monday in triumphant finish 

"October 14, 2013 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Winners do not usually come in last place- but Maickel Melamed's story may change your thinking about that.

Melamed was the last person to cross the finish line at the Chicago Marathon. The Venezuelan finished 17 hours after he started..."


• After the utter demise of Romeo and Juliet, it caused two cities in Illinois to be renamed as Joliet and Romeoville.

• Michigan Avenue in Chicago was the edge of Lake Michigan before the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  After the fire, everything east of Michigan Avenue is left over debris from the fire.  They used it to extend the city further out into the Lake for the Gold Coast and Streeterville.

• The Stevenson Expressway here in Chicago is a pretty straight-on freeway to its terminus at LSD.  There is a strange "divot" by the Cicero exit though.  This is probably due to engineers constructing the expressway away from the railroad tracks by the southern side exits.  Yes, I'm a dork but I wondered why I do this weird parabolic-like steering on the expressway at this exit.

• The FIRST and foremost used pencil ever is the number TWO pencil.  Think about it.

• So the government shutdown on 10/1 and "booted" back up on 10/16.  It's been my experience that to fix a "bug" you need to reboot three times.

• I take that one lost hour of Central Time for granted when I'm in the Eastern Time Zone. Ungh!


October 3: RIP Uncle Jon Taylor (May 25, 1995)
October 13: ME
October 29: Shelley Theman
October 30: Crystal Bogdan

Thank you again for reading, buh bye...

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