Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Chicago Trip

Happy Labour Day! Well ok, it is the day after, but usually this is the day that most parents are most happy about anyway. Back to school day. My blog today isn't going to be about that, it is going to be about my trip to Chicago. It is also going to discuss modes of transport and other silly things I noticed during my trip.

The first silly thing was booking the mode of transportation. Why in the world would anyone want to travel by train. From my house to Chicago and back was $196 with a whopping 20 hours total on the train. Or $204 round trip for a plane ticket with less than 3 hours on the plane. No brainer. Trains are definitely not the mode of transportation if you are just trying to get away for a weekend.

Airports - Buffalo "International" is like a portable behind a Catholic High School compared to O'Hare in Chicago. Wow, almost overwhelming. Also, have any of you arrived at O'Hare and had to get picked up? You walk out of Terminal 3 to see 6 lanes of traffic with a sidewalk between every two lanes. I had to get to the second sidewalk to be picked up by regular folk as the first two areas are for cab pick ups only. No cops directing traffic, no lights. Look to my left, look to my right - a "flambouyant" flight attendant. I guess he read my facial expression.

"Just walk right out", he says.

Sounds of screeching tires as cabbies try and break when he steps off the curb with nary a concern.

"If they hit you, you sue them!", he yells.

We make it to the first sidewalk. I try and gather my wits.

"Don't stop, two more lanes to go!"

Additional sounds of screeching.

Second sidewalk, now I wait for Bob (pseudonym).

"Bub-bye", he says (as he strolls out into the final set of lanes before the parking garage) 

Now we have screeching and the added horn blowing.

As he walked away all I could think of was unicorns, rainbows and faery dust (Not that there is anything wrong with that - really there isn't!). I was surprised he was still alive based on how he walks out into traffic.

The Night Time Tour
Bob (pseudonym) picks me up moments after my white knight walks off into the darkness that is O'Hares parking garage system. He proceeds to take me through downtown Chicago to show me some of the sites - its dark so I am not sure how much I am going to retain. We get to his place, I unpack (basically throw my suitcase into the corner) and we head out into the Chicago night.

He takes me to Taylor Street, which is "little Italy" to a place called Hawkeye's. Absolutely wonderful - you can get tater tots instead of fries and you get to "build" your burger (with a pretzel bun). Yum.

The Ball Game
Friday was a relaxing - Bob (a pseudonym honestly) had to work but when he got home around 3:30 we were going to head to US Cellular Field to watch the White Sox play the Seatle Mariners.

The Waitress
This requires a separate subsection. Before the game we stopped into the Bacardi Restaurant for a few drinks and some food before be entered the stadium. We order a couple drinks and they are brought to the table behind us about 10 minutes later. She sets them down in from of a black guy and a white guy. They say they didn't order them. She proceeds to fight with them saying they did and that she was going to get them thrown out if they don't pay for them. We lean over and remind her that they were our drinks. She then takes our food order. You guessed it, about 15 minutes later she brings the food to the table on the other side of us that had 5 guys sitting at it (including a black guy) and argues with them about ordering the food and needing to pay up. Again we let her know that it was our food. She brings it over. Now really - 2 pastie white guys being confused with 2 other guys (one black) and a whole table of 5 guys (including a black guy). Wow this waitress can truly fit into the "dumb as a stump" category.

It gets better, we realize that game time is quickly approaching. We decided we are going to ask her for the bill (we did ask for two more drinks earlier but never got them), and see how long it took her to get it to us. We asked for the bill, after she left I throw out there that my prediction would be 13 minutes before our bill comes back. Well thirteen minutes later she comese to our table and askes if we would like anything else. We said, "no - just the bill". Yup another 13 minutes before if finally arrived. Luckily the missing drinks were not on our bill. It would have been difficult to prove that we didn't get them. No tip for her.  

Back to the game...Typical baseball game - yawn until the 9th inning when is got exciting. Sox lose like a 6 run lead to be down one in the top of the ninth. Bottom of the ninth they score 2 to win the game. Pretty exciting, sort of like the Toronto Maple Leafs, without the coming back to win part.

Segway Tour
You have to get one of these things, what a freakin' blast. We went on an Architectural Tour of Chicago with a very knowledgeable guide that made the tour extremely enjoyable. Totally recommend this tour if you are in Chicago, but remember don't lean too far forward or you will fall on your face and be spitting "chiclets" for the rest of the day (say the "remember" line with a Boston accent and I guarantee that you will chuckle on the inside). Watch out for Pomeranians.

Lunch at the Cheesecake Factory
Nothing can be added here except for us having an excellent waiter. Everyone needs to go to at least once to a Cheesecake Factory in their lifetime.

Shopping and the Navy Pier
After lunch we went to a mall in downtown Chicago that had a 4 or 6 storey Macy's in it. Picked up a pair of jeans for my daughter using quite a bit of electronic communications (photo of jeans, text to wife for approval, then discussion of size). Got jeans, took a cab to Navy Pier. Got the souvenir shopping done for the kids. Best part is the walking through the gate at Navy Peir and buying an alcoholic beverage to sip while you stroll the pier. Public drunkeness is totally acceptable I guess.

Quiet Sunday
Well we were pretty tired. We got up had waffles and watched the clouds open up - so much so that Bob (really not his name) was getting flash flood warnings sent to his smartphone for the greater Chicago area. We decided the museum could wait for when I come back (with my wife). So we went shopping (I needed some clothes desparately - Kohl's all the way). Returned to his apartment and played video games and watched movies for the rest of the day. Early to bed - had to get up early for my flight. Had to be at O'Hare by 6:00am.

The Flight
Early morning flight was relatively peaceful. The bus ride home was entertaining. Eleven persons on the bus, we get to the border, 10 get through immigration, the last one forgot some of their paperwork and the immigration officials decided a strip search was in order. That was 45 minutes. Now some of you are thinking - that is not too bad, however; considering the actual drive from my house to the airport is 45 minutes, the strip search doubled my travel time.Although it gave us something to chat about while we were waiting the other passenger to come back to the bus.

I was home about 1:00pm Monday, handed out the souvenirs - the one that particularly mademe chuckle was the t-shirt I got my son that read, "my momma thinks I am special", which I got from the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. My daughter thought it hilarious until I pulled a gym clothes bag out of my suitcase that said the same thing. Funny thing is she has been carrying it around quite a bit. I guess I was successful with the souvenirs.

Have a pleasant back to school.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The Toast

A lot has happened over the last couple months. You would have read my last post about the mid-life crisis. Now I am writing to you about The Toast. There's a photo of him included. We got a new puppy. The photo of him is at about 9 weeks. Now he is about 14 weeks old and growing into his ears and feet quite nicely.

He is a pure bred German Shepherd named - Toast with raspberry jam Kallie VonBaron Goodheart. "Toast" for short (I throw the "with raspberry jam" in there just to bug my daughter).

We used to have Bear a wonderful Golden Retriever that we had for 14 years. Everyday I think our whole family misses him greatly. When he died we decided to take some time before deciding to get a new dog. A year later it felt right and we began to talk about it. We talked about another Golden - then decided it wouldn't be right. We would always be comparing him to Bear. Then we thought that maybe a German Shepherd/Golden Retriever cross, but found the photos of them on the Internet also had too much "Bear" in them. So it was decided that a pure bred German Shepherd was the way to go.

We brought him home on July 11, 2012. We don't compare him to Bear, although the odd "Bear" slips out sometimes. I attribute that faux pas to becoming senile like my mom. We compare him to TRIPLETS. Wholly crap - a puppy is work. We couldn't think back far enough to remember if Bear was like this. He is getting a lot better though. We have been working with him and he had his first puppy training class last week. His next one is tomorrow. He is a smart cookie - err Toast.

A couple of times however he did a few things that Bear would do. I had the chill down my spine. I think he (Bear) is in there looking out for us. Things will be fine. If Bear is in there for the second time around, he learned a few things in dog heaven. He can now play fetch.

Well, I am crying now. Bear I love and miss you, Toast, I can't wait to see how you have grown when I get home. Wife - Chicago is scary shopping. All the stores - Tiffany's, Bloomingdales, The Disney Store, Gucci - my itinerary item of "get something for wife" is looking expensive. Girl - You and the boy better not be getting in trouble, The Plug - go have a shower and register for school.

WOW Stuff

On hiatus.


The Mid-Life

Yes, I know I am always apologizing. I guess it would be difficult for me to be a writer. Or least it would be difficult for me to be a writer that has to have a weekly column in order to get a paycheque. I am a bit inconsistent. Then again writing could be my full-time job. I would be a bit thinner and, "oh yeah", I would have that writers block and it would be over.

So the day job it is and the inconsistency that comes with it.

I am in Chicago this weekend, I will get to that story later, but first I have to get you caught up on the last couple months. I might have about 3 posts this weekend (intoxication permitting). If writing was feast or famine - this would be a feasting month.

I had permission to have my mid-life crisis in July. Yeah I bought the Jeep pictured above.  35" tires - like gliding along on 4 water balloons. It's a lot of fun. How did it come to pass? Well, I'll tell you. Several years ago I mentioned to my wife that for my 50th birthday I wanted to get a Jeep. I always wanted one and I wanted to make it happen as a birthday present to myself. It was agreed.

However; in July (the 2nd) to be exact, I received a phone call at about 3:30am.

Alt37's bedroom, wife blissfully snoring away


Alt37: Hello (groggy)

Unidentified person: Dad (person now identified - to be referred to from now on as "The Plug")

Alt37: What's up (still very groggy)

The Plug: You know on the highway, the turn, the Aveo, the...

Alt37: (still groggy but starting to get near the edge of the fog) Not quite sure what you are talking about. (cut off by The Plug)


Alt37: Are you ok? Was anyone with you?  blah, blah, blah

The Plug: I am fine, no one was hurt.

Alt 37: We will talk in the morning.

The Plug: Can you come and get us.

Alt37: No (disconnect phone)

I actually totally enjoyed my film class that I took earlier this year. Writing a story as a screenplay is fun. I really should film that donut shop short.

Anyway back to the story. My son found his way home and sat on the floor in the dining room awaiting his scolding and subsequent beating. I ended up coming out there to take care of the cats and almost tripped over him (I didn't expect a kid to be sitting in the middle of the floor - yes I was pretty much walking around with my eyes closed).

I told him to go to bed and I would give him shit later.

Enough of that - a day or so later I got word that my car was a write off. I looked at my wife and she told me that I could start my mid-life crisis about a year and a half early.

I got my Jeep - however; every Sunday I have to take her for a drive in it with the top off. I guess it is a small price to pay.

The Plug - well  he has no car to drive. Charges pending. Life's lessons learned. He will be OK.

WOW Stuff

Taking time off from the game. I was in the Mists of Panderia beta and it drove me nuts. I realized that I was leveling characters that would disappear when the game came out. I thought, "what a waste of time". Yes that was a Sheldon Cooper oxymoron moment. Watch the Big Bang Theory - WOW account getting hacked episode - you will understand.

Instead I have been playing World of Tanks. My son recommended it and it is absolutely awesome. Free to play. I am sure I will get the new WOW expansion in September, but for now this is a lot of fun.


I think I am done this installment. I have one more before I begin the current - Chicago Trip installment.

Have a great day!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Mmm - Frozen Concoction Maker

So you were wondering where I was for the last month or so. Well my buddy from Chicago sent me the "Maragaritaville - Frozen Concoction Maker" and I guess the rest is history.

We re-outfitted the backyard and it is pretty close to being a piece of paradise, with no annoying sand in the shorts, and all I need is the straw hat.

So, spending a lot of time slurring my words and sitting in the backyard.

WOW and other assorted video games

Haven't played regular WOW in ages. I was on the Beta for a bit and after that last patch it won't let me log in anymore. So to hell with them - I stopped playing that. Been playing Diable III a little bit (since it was free) but even then I haven't been on the computer much.

The Bear

Well as a family, we completed a full year without our beloved dog - Bear. I miss him so much, I took some time today to wash his statue we put in the garden. We talked about getting a new puppy and I think we will be getting one in July. We agreed that he won't be a Golden because it would be a little too hard on the family. So in about a month I will be introducing to you - our new German Shepard puppy. We already have a name for him (my daughter came up with it) - his name will be "Toast".

Have to go, my glass is empty - it's Mojito day.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

/facepalm - The Screenplay

It's like a broken record. I write something then a couple of months go by and I write some more. I usually say that I am busy. Well in addition to the number of hats I wear at my day job, I also took the time to participate in a 7 week film course. I learned a bit about all aspects of the film industry - camera work, lighting, editing, screenplay writing and all the rest of the jobs. Our instructor is planning to offer a 2 year college course for people wanting to get involved in the industry.

That being said I was out doing my infamous health & safety audits at our local school board, when I happened to stop at a local donut establishment. What ensued inspired me to write a 5 minute film short. If you like it and want to produce it let me know. Spielberg - I am looking at you.


Screenplay by


Current Revision
March 8, 2012

Opening Credits
“Pinball Wizard” music plays.
Views of a silver Aveo are seen driving around.

Driver singing along with “Pinball Wizard”
View from vehicle as if first person (see hands on steering wheel).
Looking out to right at Tim Horton’s
Music continues from radio (classic rock).
Turning into the Tim Horton’s

Walking towards entrance
Reaching for door

Standing in line, six patrons ahead
(loud voice)
                                Next!  I can help the next person!
First person in queue nods and indicates to the second person that they can go ahead.
(loud voice)
First person moves forward, satisfied he will be served by his favorite Tim Horton’s staff member.
Camera view pans around restaurant, scanning the patrons.
Camera is jolted back to the left of the store as patron screams excitedly.

(squeals with happiness)
                                I won! ...              I won! ...
Excited Patron stands up, clutching a Tim Horton’s cup.
Excited Patron moves around the store hugging other patrons. Times stretches.

Excited Patron moves to counter, pushing First person out of the way.
(almost hyperventilating)
                                I won! ... I want my prize! ... I won!
Excited Patron thrusts cup towards Employee #2.
(trying to calm things down)
                                You need to tear the rim...
Excited Patron continues pressing the cup forwards.
I can’t accept the cup; you must tear the winning rim off.
Excited Patron tears the winning section of the rim, presenting it to Employee #2.
(on verge of heart attack)
                                I won! ... I want my prize!

Excitement grows amongst the Queued Patrons (did she win the car?).
Employee #2 takes the torn rim and reads the words on the rim.
Your prize- what would you like?
(muffled by the buzz of the crowd)
(even more questioning)
What would you like?
Queued Patrons are becoming confused, First person beginning to look annoyed
(very loud)
                                An oatmeal raisin cookie!
An audible groan can be heard from the Queued and sitting Patrons, many bringing a palm to their foreheads.
Excited Patron accepts her cookie and retreats back to her table.
The queue begins to move again.

Happy Easter

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sound Bite

Ok, so I didn't manage to get myself writing another article last weekend. Just very tired after doing three weeks of high school health & safety inspections. I wanted to rest over the weekend and clear my head or it would just turn into a rant session.

I do have one sound bite to share to sum up what I went through. This is from a teacher at one of the schools, "I don't have time to be safe. I haven't been trained to be safe. If they want me to be safe they will have to provide me with more prep time."

Outstanding. If Ronald Reagan were alive I think we need him to come up here and take care of these teachers. Fire the lot of them and hire new ones. Out of the 45 or so teachers I met during that time only 5 or so were in it because they loved it and it showed.

So, last Monday was the start of a new week. My alarm goes off, I am tired, I have a shower and get dressed and go to work. Report writing, playing a bit of catch up etc. Half dozen coffees and a trip to the bathroom. Standing there, fly down, rummaging around looking for the little guy. Then it dawns on me. I have my underwear on backwards. No opening to be found. Panic sets in, must (pause ) drop (pause - work it like Shatner) pants. Made it.

Now you know you're tired, when you mess up getting dressed in the morning.

WOW Stuff

During the three weeks I was away I didn't have much time to play. Leaving at about 6:00am and returning on some days at 10:00pm. I noticed that when I did play it was to do more relaxing stuff. I managed to get all my toons through the Darkmoon Faire stuff. Happily, I have another week to do the "Love is in the Air" stuff.

My pet peeve about that holiday boss is the drop rate on the good stuff. I think it is non-existant. If anyone has received the "Love Rocket" from the holiday boss let me know.

Have a good one.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yes - I know

I know, where have I been all month. I have been busy, from spending the last 3 weeks doing a health and safety audit for a school board to finishing up the martial arts program I have been working on for the City of London's Parks and Recreation Department. I am absolutely beat.

So this really isn't going to be my blog. It is really more of a notification that I am still alive. I hope to write a new article this weekend and get back to a more reproducible schedule.

Going to bed now. G'Night