Friday, December 28, 2007

Blogging activity

After posting my most recent blog entry, I looked at the summary of blog posts by year. I used the new chart feature in Google Docs to create this chart. I need to step up my activity in 2008!

Reflections

It’s that time of year again when we reflect upon the past year and look forward (usually) to the coming year. I guess that’s the case this year. For me personally, 2007 was not a good year and I’m hoping that ‘08 is a better year for me and for civilization in general.

My move into the new house totally consumed my year. Before we could even think about moving, we had to get our old house ready to be sold. That involved painting (Lisa’s area of expertise), changing light fixtures, refinishing wood floors, installing new carpeting and the like. Somewhere, I have the cost of doing all of this, but I really don’t want to know right now. I’m well aware of the physical cost of doing all of this.

Going through the trauma of selling a house in this real estate market is horrible. Although she probably meant well, all I could hear from our real estate agent was that we needed to reduce the price of the house or we needed to give in on this request or we needed to do something else. Fortunately, our house sold early in the process — maybe because we did follow our agent’s instructions — so that stress was lessened.

The actual move was the worst part. All of the family members we counted on to help were not around when we needed to move in lae September. I personally think Michael going to Iraq was a bit extreme, but neither he nor Jessica were around to help, especially since they have a lot of their stuff still at the house. We rented three PODS and two U-Haul trucks and still did not have enough to contain all of our stuff. We were still moving out of our house at 5:00 a.m. the morning of our closing! I still don’t know how we managed the strength to do it.

Moving into the new house was a little better, but I absolutely hate just putting stuff into the basement or the garage before sorting it out. That’s what we did and the basement is still in shambles! It’s going to take many months to get it straightened out. Mom is moving in with us in mid-February (another story!) so her stuff will also be in the basement.

Now Lisa and I are trying to begin the improvements. Actually, Lisa is excited about painting and decorating. We bought a new Dewalt miter saw in November which counted as my Christmas present. We want to install chair rails and crown moulding throughout the house.

In October, we lost two family members. My dad’s brother, Lowell Cornelius, passed away from cancer. I attended his funeral and was able to reconnect with many of my cousins. Hopefully we can get together under better circumstances. Earler in the month, my beautiful Papillon, Mozart, was taken from me by a coyote. I did find his remains so I do hav some closure, but it has taken me a long time to recover from it. Strange how a pet impacts your life!

In 2008, Mom moves in with us so that will be an adjustment for all of us. We look forward to Michael safely returning from Iraq later in ‘08. Christine is making noise about moving to Seattle and attending art school.

So ‘08 will be a challenge, but hopefully not to the extent that 2007 was a challenge.

I hope everyone has a good year.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

First Thanksgiving

Virginia is now laying claim to being the site of the first Thanksgiving. Massachusetts still gets credit for the Salem Witch Trials!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Getting up to date

It's been quite a while since I'm made an entry into this space. There have been quite a few things going on in my life -- some good and one bad -- and I just haven't had the time nor the energy to post.

Late in September, we moved into our brand new house in Elgin. It was really tough to leave our old house after living there for just over 13 years. It was tough on the family, especially Kevin who has not known any other home. He was excited about the move until it came to the moment when he said goodbye to his room for the last time. I was fighting tears myself as I watched him deal with this change. The night we actually moved, we were up until 4:00 a.m. packing everything. We ended up using three PODS, two rental trucks plus a number of trips between the old house and my in-laws to just move our stuff.It was completely exhausting.

On Friday, September 28, we closed on our new house and began the unpacking process. It took about 3+ weeks to move boxes and furniture from the garage and to have any semblance of a "home." Even now, six weeks after the move, I don't feel entirely comfortable in this house. It will come with time, but I don't feel that sense of "intimacy" (for a lack of a better word) with the house.

The real bad news happened the evening of October 9th. My little dog, Mozart, was captured and killed by a coyote while on his leash. To make a long story short, he was outside along with two other dogs, before they went to bed. While I was bringing one of the dogs in, a coyote sneaked up in the dark and grabbed him. Of course, I did not know this at the time. I stayed home from work the next day looking for him. Finally, around 3:00 p.m., I literally stumbled upon his remains. There was literally nothing left of him but blood, fur, bones and tissue. The fur did give me enough to identify him. The only good thing about this is that I have closure, but I am saddened beyond words about this. Even though we still have three other dogs, there is a discernible void in my life right now.

Mozart

Mozart's legacy is the fence that has just been built. We had planned on building a fence, but held off because of the cost. After what happened to Mozart and hearing other coyote "incidents" in our new neighborhood, we decided to press forward with the fence. It's too late for him, but this will save our remaining dogs. Even with our other dogs, Mozart was my dog, my companion and my friend. For those who are interested, I created a Flickr set dedicated to him. He was a beautiful little dog and I miss him greatly.

Now with Thanksgiving and the holiday season approaching, things will hopefully slow down so we can settle happily into this house.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

New toy

My birthday was in mid-August and my wife and son bought me a new cordless drill. I've wanted one for quite a while and I know I'll be using it once we're moved into the new house.

Dewalt

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2007

Scientists simulate jet colliding with World Trade Center

A team of researchers at Purdue University have created a 3-D simulation of a jet colliding with one of the Twin Towers. The simulation was created to help engineers develop better construction materials (although rooftop surface-to-air missiles probably aren't practical!).

The video is hosted on YouTube.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Born to be Wild

My wife and I have taken an interest in NASCAR racing this year. TNT is now carrying some of the races and, as a promo, they hired Hinder to do a cover of Steppenwolf's "Born to be Wild."

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sticker shock

Today being a beautiful Sunday, and the car dealers in the Chicago area being closed, provided the perfect opportunity to visit a couple of car dealerships to walk around unimpeded. I was at the local Toyota dealership and was looking at a beautiful bright red Tundra pickup. The M.S.R.P. was $44,000. (Full disclosure: this was just for fun. That price is way out of my league!) I started to read about all of the options it contained. One of the options, by the way, was leather seats which seems odd for a pickup. Anyway, the last item caught my attention: the vehicle is delivered with a full tank of gas!

That explains it.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Paris Hilton

When I got to work this morning, a co-worker told me about Paris Hilton being released from prison. This is one of the funniest things I've heard in a long, long time. Apparently she was released for "medical reasons."

Mainly she stopped eating and was crying all of the time.

What was especially funny was a petition her lawyers filed in May with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. What I found especially humorous was this little nugget (from People.com):

The petition, which had more than 900 signatures by Tuesday morning, urges the California actor-turned-governor to pardon Hilton because she provides "beauty and excitement to (most of) our otherwise mundane lives."

Oh dear God!

Update: Justice may yet be served. Apparently Paris is due in court Friday morning for a hearing that may put her back in jail and hold the sheriff in contempt for releasing her early!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Nintendo Wii

We bought a Wii game console for Kevin for his birthday last week. Actually it was a combination birthday and school recognition gift. He had perfect attendance going until the second-to-last week of school when he got the flu. He stayed home from school, but as far as I'm concerned, he had perfect attendance.

Anyway, he wanted a Wii, but none of the usual suspect stores had them. Target was out. Toy-R-Us was out. Everyone. Lisa finally bought one on eBay. The price actually wasn't too bad. He also received a couple of games and a Best Buy gift card that turned into another game. Now he's set for the summer!

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Where are all the Cicadas?

Rumor has it that the Chicago area has become infested with Cicadas.

You wouldn't know it where I live.

I back up to Poplar Creek Forest Preserve in northwest Cook County and I fully expected to be inundated with Cicadas. But there is nothing yet. I thought I heard some last weekend, but nothing ever became of it. Even with the nice warm weather we've enjoyed this week, I still hear more birds than Cicadas.

I'm not complaining. I'm just curious why they haven't reached us yet.

Friday, June 1, 2007

More on selling a home

I'm slowly getting used to the idea that my home is not really "my" home anymore. It's not "their" home either, but somewhere in between. In Illinois, home buyers have the right to request a home inspection. Our inspection took place yesterday.

When Lisa and I bought this home back in 1994, it was new construction so our "inspection" took place with a representative of the construction company and occurred within the guidelines of our home owners warranty. I have never bought an existing home in Illinois so was not familiar with the protocol.

Anyway, to my surprise, the buyer, his Realtor and the home inspector showed up at my door late yesterday afternoon. To say it was awkward would be an understatement. The buyer seemed like a nice guy, but meeting face-to-face on my turf was a bit strange. I thought I would be meeting solely with the inspector who would spend time around the house, asking questions and searching for defects. I felt like I had no representation and was/am irritated with our Realtor for not telling me what was going on.

The inspection took three hours and the inspector was very thorough.

Our Realtor called this morning with preliminary results. A few "minor" things were found in our 13-year old house and a written report is due by Monday. I told her I was upset that I was not informed about the participation of the buyer and his representation. My Realtor expressed surprise that I was not aware of Illinois law. A weak explanation from someone who is supposedly the top Realtor in Hoffman Estates!

I'm sure more surprises lurk!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Selling a house

After less than a week on the market, we sold our house last Friday. The whole home-selling experience has been very emotional...for me at least. I really love the place we're at (we built the house 13 years ago) and will miss it when it's time to move. On the other hand, I am excited about our new home which should be finished in September and will be larger.

We will close on our current house in August meaning that we will be in temporary quarters for no more than a month. I'm trying to decide if it's worth getting an Internet connection for so short a time. We both get access at work so going without a connection isn't a problem. Of course, I can't surf at work!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Sprint Ambassador Program - Phase III

I was recently asked to again participate in the Sprint Ambassador Program. I participated over a year ago in what they refer to as "Phase I." This is now considered "Phase III" of the program. Yesterday I received my new phone from Sprint Corporate. It's a new phone from Samsung called the UpStage. They refer to it as a flip phone, but the "flip" has to do with it being a 2-sided phone. One side is the conventional phone while the other side is all the multimedia features that we've come to expect from modern phones.

Here is a photo of the phone:

The photo does not show you how small the phone really is. I have never had such a small phone! The phone is only 4" high and 1 3/4 inches wide.

The parameters of the Ambassador program are the same as before. In exchange for free use of the phone for 6 months, I offer feedback back to Sprint on the phone and/or their service. There is no stated expectation from Sprint that I "blog" about the phone, but since they have chosen bloggers in the past, I'm sure they are expecting some of us to write about the phone. Obviously, I am doing so now.

Anyway, I will post information about the phone as I use it. One thing I have found interesting is the battery wallet that comes with the phone. It's a leather cover that contains, in essence, a backup battery. I haven't completely figured it out yet, but it is an interesting concept.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

New JFK film released

This 40-second home movie of JFK’s last moments has now been donated to The Sixth Floor Museum in Dallas. Interesting how an event – now over 40 years in the past — looks like it could have happened yesterday.

I still remember where I was when I heard the news (schoolyard at recess)! I was 11 years old . . . the same age as my son right now!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More winter "fun"

I took this picture Tuesday morning. We had snow overnight and discovered (late) that Kevin's school was closed. We discovered it when we pulled into the school parking lot and it looked like a ghost town! He was elated, but I was annoyed that I drove all the way to school! Anyway, I took a "snow day" myself and snapped this photo out the back door. I changed it into a black-and-white shot and then tinted it using Picasa.

Winter tint
Hosted on Flickr

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Baby it's cold outside!

Chicago is getting it's first real serious cold blast of the season this weekend. It's really been a fairly mild winter up until the past couple of weeks when we started getting some snow and now the cold. With all of the Chicago area immersed in Super Bowl talk, the weather went unnoticed until this weekend. The temperature is in single digits with sub-zero wind chill readings.

Hopefully the Bears will keep us warm Sunday afternoon and evening!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Sunrise photos

I usually try to be at work by 7:00 a.m. During this time of year, that usually means arriving during the dark (and sometimes coming home in the dark). One of the advantages, however, is viewing the sunrise from our part of the office building. The past few days we have witnessed some beautiful sunrises and I took our office camera (Nikon D-70) and snapped several photos. These photos were taken of separate sunrises over the Chicago skyline.

Sunrise

Sunrise over Chicago

Still another sunrise

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Boise State Oklahoma Fiesta Bowl 2007 Overtime

For those who went to bed early on New Year's night (like me) and missed the ending of the Tostito's Fiesta Bowl, here is what we missed. Oklahoma and Boise State went into overtime and ended up with a fantastic finish.

Woman ‘over intoxicated’ from Trivial Pursuit

You just can’t make this stuff up!