Dream weekend

Kates is upstairs decorating the house for fall and I'm downstairs watching the Red Sox and Yankees battle it out ...

Game No. 160. Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox and Indians fighting for their lives and three playoff spots with three games to go ... It does NOT get any better than this ...

More baseball ...
Twins still squeezed in game's 'golden era'
Everyone's invited to the parity party
Indians' rally has heartbroken Cleveland believing again

News of the weird ... this is HA-larious!

City Officials Who Know How to Make News of the Weird: Mayor Felipe Santolia of Espertantina, Brazil, declared last May 9 as "Orgasm Day," pointing out that orgasms seem to make people happier and more productive. And Mayor Gabor Mitynan of a municipal district in Budapest, Hungary, declared in August that female workers should not wear revealing skirts to work unless they have "completely perfect legs," nor crop tops unless they have "well-trained bellies." [ABC News-AP, 5-9-05] [Reuters, 8-26-05]

Catching up on my political cartoons ...

Here's a crazy story from this morning's K-News...

A toddler was successfully extracted from a ventilation duct by the Kenosha Fire Department on Thursday night.

Officials had not released the name of the family involved by press time Thursday night.The young girl, approximately 1 year old, was on the second floor of a house in the 6400 block of 11th Avenue when she fell through a cold air return at about 7:20 p.m., said Kenosha Fire Battalion Chief John Poltrock.

A grate to cover the vent had been removed, forming an approximately 8-by-10-inch hole in the floor, Poltrock said.The girl fell from the second floor level about eight feet into the ductwork and was trapped in the ducts just below the first floor.

Fire personnel then evaluated where they could cut through the sheet metal without causing any injury to the toddler. Rescue personnel cut into the ductwork from the basement. Fire personnel then extracted the girl safely, Poltrock said.

The girl was alert, awake and "crying profusely" during the extraction process and was transported to a hospital for further examination, Poltrock said.

While there was no further detailed medical information, Poltrock said the toddler's injuries appeared to be minor despite her ordeal.


iPod dreamin'

So close …

As Kates was coming to wake me up this morning I was in the middle of a vivid dream involving Joel agreeing to buy me an iPod if I washed his car. Kates woke me up just as I was sitting down in front of a computer -- I think it was an iMac -- and showing Joel exactly what type of an iPod I wanted …

And then I woke up. … and groaned in disgust that my dream was over …

The dream (and the obsession) continues …

* * *

I rediscovered Fiona Apple this summer … I’d acquired her Tidal CD several years ago and it fell to the bottom of my CD stack after only a few listens until I pulled it out this summer in one of those crazy-cool moods when you long to hear anything but the packaged pop crap that gets played over and over and over and over on the radio … The decision had me listening to ‘Tidal’ this summer about as much as I listened to ’Songs for Silverman.’ = A LOT. …And during one play I said to Kates, ’Whatever happened to Fiona Apple?’ … It was like a week later that I learned about the illustrious ’freefiona’ campaign and her soon-to-be released and long-awaited new album …

Today, one of my cohorts lays the latest edition of ‘Entertainment Weekly’ on my desk and, lo and behold, there’s Fiona on the cover with Sheryl Crow. Awww yeah. … I immediately read the cover story and enjoyed every word. She’s an amazing talent, in my opinion, who’s simply misunderstood -- and under a lot of pressure. I think it’s cool that she took so much time off and I hope she continues to record her songs her way …
10.06.05 UPDATE: Fiona Apple's long, tortured trip to musical happiness

* * *

Ok. ‘Lost’ last night -- the best part was like the last 20 seconds when we actually got to see ’the others.’ … Sure, it was cool to see all the stuff that wasn’t shown in last week’s episode (a la Kate being tied up and crawling through the heat duct while Locke negotiates with the crazy man and before Jack even enters the hatch’). But seriously, spending half the show with Michael and Sawyer arguing on the raft about whose fault it was that they shot off the flair, lost their boat and Walt was kidnapped was a little much …

… the 'Will & Grace' live premiere? Awesome … I was amazed and impressed with how well the cast kept their focus in front of the live audience -- although Debra Messing did break into a giggle fit a couple times including one bit with Sean Hayes that deserved a good laugh. Plus the show played up a couple gimmicks and political jokes for the live audience …
Grace: "I'm just going to close my eyes and do what I want. Ha! I'm George Bush!"

* * *

The White Sox clinched today …. Yay. They’re the hometown team, but geez, it would’ve been pretty sweet to see the Indians come back and put ‘em away ….

I guess Ozzie finally got his guys motivated: “Most of these guys have never been in this situation, but I have, and I have to lead them. You might want to go to your room, call your mom and cry, but when you come to the ballpark and put on the uniform, you have to be a man. I have 30 men to lead.”

I still hate the White Sox broadcaster's homerun call with a passion ...You can put it on the board -- blah!

Here's a couple good Sox stories...

a 3 nights in September

a The White Sox, baseball's other historically pathetic team

a Falling White Sox can't win for losing

* * *

Four people were found dead today in a suburban Chicago subdivision where Kates student taught …


* * *

By the way, no burnt popcorn tonight … woo hoo!


This is life ...

So did anybody watch 'The Office' last night? Yeah. We had sexual harassment training at work today too. ... It was like living a 45-minute episode of 'The Office' or any other workplace sitcom. You know -- the overly cheery leader of the session, the mind-numbing surveys and tests you're told to fill out and the cheesy video...

* * *
I was driving during my lunch break today, behind this little red Geo-like beater of a car. Now this guy was trucking a long pretty good as we're nearing a stoplit intersection. The light turns yellow, and this guy's showing no signs of slowing down. THEN, at the last mili-second, he slams on his brakes and does a slight fishtail as his car screeches to a halt on the crosswalk lines...

My jaw had barely finished dropping when I noticed a cop car waiting to turn on the adjacent street and smirking at this guy in the beater. The turn signal for the cop's lane turns green and he turns left in front of Beater Guy, politely waving and continuing on.

For a few seconds, it was as if everything stopped except for the guy in this red beater and the cop, while all the rest of us around the intersection waited to see what would happen ...

When the cop was out of sight, Beater Guy does this exaggerated wipe of the sweat from his forehead, clearly aware I'm watching him through his rear window. ... I burst out laughing, raised my hands and applauded. ... the light turned green, and I was laughing for blocks.

* * *
After weeks of badgering, my cohort finally let me borrow the new Coldplay CD from him (cue angel chorus) ... But I started listening to it over my lunch break and I, sadly, wasn't immediately impressed ... I was so blown away when 'Speed of Sound' and 'Fix You' hit the radiowaves, and all the other buzz surrouding the new album that I expected it to be, well, phenomenal. ... Aw shucks. Here's hoping it grows on me...


Drew's world

Letterman is a rerun tonight, but I’m staying up just to see Drew Rosenhaus make a fool of himself again because it was so fun to watch the first time it aired this summer …

Drew Rosenhaus is a creep.

Letterman starts the interview the same way he sits down with every other guest…But it gets good when he starts asking Drew about his motivation, to which he responds by saying football is a brutal sport and he’s going to do everything within his power to get as much for his players. “It’s a passion, you gotta go and get it. They risk their lives out there.”

Blah, blah, blah. Wha, wha wha.

I’ve risked my life a few times at work -- speeding through traffic to the big story, standing in the middle of a street where shots were fired minutes earlier and could be fired again, walking through a still-smoldering and fragile apartment building minutes after firefighters finished putting out the fire that gutted it…. It’d be nice if I had an agent who could negotiate even a $10,000 a year contract to help me pay off my mortgage, landscape my yard, buy a new car for my wife, pay off college loans, buy an iPod.

Letterman continues the interview by asking Drew: “What would happen if a guy like you represented teachers of America or nurses of America?”

(Dave, you’re awesome)

“I just want to get what’s fair for my client,” Drew says.

(I just want an iPod … and to pay off my mortgage.)

Letterman continues: “The ticket prices are only going to go up if Larry gets the $4 billion contract ...in any way don’t people like you have a responsibility not to push this as hard as you do for the sake of the game and the fans …people are working very hard to make a paying fraction of what these guys make on a Sunday afternoon.”

(That’s right, Dave. Shove it to him. Stand up for the common man)

Drew answers: “You really don’t see me or anyone pushing contracts … if a player is making a fair income it’s not an issue …if I feel a player’s not making as much as he should, I take exception to that. …” Drew adds that he and Terrell Owens were equal in determining T.O. was not making enough money and says, “He makes about $10 million over the first two years of his contract and he’s not even among top 10 paid players.”

(Drew, Drew, Drew …you’re such a fool. Oh, to think how many iPods I could buy with $10 million dollars -- and still pay off my mortgage.)

Dave: “Yes, but at the end of the day, you cut to the chase, it’s just guys playing a game.”

(Amen, Dave! Suck it, Drew)

Drew: “It is a game, but it’s their life.”

(Yeah. Working hard from 8:30 to 5 in a small cubicle everyday to chase down newspaper stories, and then coming home and cleaning, taking care of our house and being a good, loving husband is my life. Now give me my $10,000 contract. Seriously, $10,000. That’s all I’m asking for…And an iPod.)

Dave: “Are you old enough to remember when baseball players played 162 game a year … and in the offseason they’d sell insurance and have beer distributorships. What’s wrong with that?”

Drew: “All I’m asking is for the players to get their fair share.”

If only the world was fair.


Keepin' up with the tube

The cable guy is coming Wednesday … He’s actually coming to upgrade us for digital cable, but I say Kates and I are sooooo getting a DVR.

Because it’s happening. My worst fear is coming true …

At the start of summer I heaved a huge sigh of relief when the last season finale aired and I could turn off the tube set for the summer -- well, except for Cubs games and a few episodes of ‘Hit Me Baby One More Time.’



We’re barely two weeks into the fall TV season and there’s gotta be like a record number of new -- and very good -- shows on TV. Forget baseball pennant races. I now find myself glued to the TV about two hours each night to watch the most talked about shows just so I can keep up with the talk. … I don’t even want to think about the VCR tape full of the hours of television I couldn’t watch last week because I was too busy watching other shows.

And yet I love every bit of it. I just hate that I can’t pull myself away and I’m becoming one of the people I hoped I’d never become …

Sunday nights are loaded. In a season of change, the opening scene of ‘West Wing’ couldn’t have been more clever -- a graying Jed Bartlet, cane in hand, walks into his presidential library three years into the future and happily greets CJ and Toby, although it’s no secret they’ve had some great disagreements. Although I would’ve liked to see Rob Lowe’s character in there too

… And then Josh suddenly scurries into tell Bartlet that ‘the president’ has arrived. But of course we only see ‘the president’ step from his vehicle and the opening credits begin before the camera can focus on his face. But the bigger question was, ‘what was Josh’s role!?’

Then you’ve got ‘Desperate Housewivesreturning over on ABC. Ooooh yeah! … So we know for sure now that Rex died, but we saw no signs of Paul, although Mike said he didn’t shoot him, which Zack didn’t do to Mike. And Susan knows that Mike is Zack’s father. Got all that? It’s ok if you didn‘t, the best part of the show was watching Bree duke it out with Rex’s mother and then change Rex’s ugly orange tie DURING the funeral. I laughed hysterically.

And all I have to say about 'Grey’s Anatomy' is: Consider it the new ‘Friends.’ Yes? OK, there will never be another ‘Friends.’ But seriously. Is there a more likable and fun cast on TV right now? Meredith, Cristina, George and Alex are feisty but adorable, and vulnerable but strong-willed. Then you bring in “The Nazi,” Dr. Shepherd, Dr. Burke and Dr. Webber and you’ve got a completely new layer. …It’s funny. It’s dramatic. And it’s got a heckuva soundtrack. It’s smart television.

That’s Sunday.

But the week is just starting.

Monday nights on CBS are loaded. Forget Thursdays on NBC … ‘King of Queens’ and ‘Two and a Half Men’ are now tenured comedy acts and ‘How I Met Your Mother’ is smushed in between with all the makings of a smash. …Yeah, we’ve seen the storylines before (five 20-something buds trying to find themselves in New York City and gathering at the local eatery), but the storylines still seems fresh and real … I barely stopped laughing during tonight’s show.

I won’t waste my time talking about ‘Out of Practice’ though. CBS has got it at 8:30 p.m., but I’m thinking maybe they should put it on the shelf …

Back to Sunday and catching up on that VCR tape … Fox’s ‘War at Home’ is still pretty hilarious and I hope it stays and keeps its somewhat unusual format of breaking out of scenes to offer an exclusive on the character‘s exact thoughts. . . It’s too bad it’s got such tough competition.

And ’Head Cases’ … well, let’s just say we were barely halfway through watching our taped version of last week’s episode when I realized I was bored with it and muttered aloud, ’I think I’m done watching this.’ Then I discovered it’s already been canceled.

Oh, the burden of keeping up with the TV ...

Gotta go. Still gotta watch last week’s episodes of ‘Reunion’ and ‘Inconceivable,’ so I can be ready for this week’s showings of ’The Office,’ ’Amazing Race’ ’Lost’ (… by the way, did you see its ratings last week? Martha doesn’t stand a chance), ’Invasion’ and NBC Thursday.


Saturday in the rain

There’s nothing like a weekend at the farm and rural Wisconsin …

I’ve said it before: It has a way of making you forget about all the stresses of city life. It seems all we do -- all you really can do -- when we’re there is sleep, eat, read, hike and watch movies.

It’s better when it doesn’t rain though …

We went there this weekend to spend some time with Kates’ family and visit the Viola Horse & Colt show -- visiting some of Kates’ childhood memories …

… I wasn’t in the mood for all the driving this weekend.

But my consolation prize was taking a morning bike ride up the country hills that surround the farm land. Getting lots of love and licks from my favorite dog, Chloe. Shopping for antiques. Marveling at the tornado damage done to this place a couple months ago and daring to walk inside what was left of the old feed mill (picture above) , even while its bricks and skeleton could topple at any moment. Standing in the rain to watch a small town parade -- which by the way was fraught with horses and tractors and bands and fire trucks -- that lasted an hour and a half, although it seemed to last all day. Feeding on enough grease-loaded fries and cheese curds to expect a heart attack any day.

… and falling asleep in a recliner at Grandma’s house.

We grabbed a bite at Culver’s (mmmm... ) and were so tired and cold on the drive home that we had Enya’sDay Without Rain’ and Sarah McLachlan’sSurfacing’ going in the CD player. Now that NEVER happens while I'm driving…


Burning down the house

So I tried to burn our house down tonight …

See, Kates and I have this thing with pizza and popcorn for supper on Thursday nights. She has her exercise class at the rec center and it’s my job to have a pizza ready by the time she comes home around 8 and we watch our Thursday night shows. Usually she takes care of popping the popcorn once she’s home …

Well tonight, I finished the pizza a little early. Kates wasn’t home yet, but I figured I’d just let her pop the popcorn in the microwave -- like she always does so well -- because surely I‘d find a way to screw it up. But then I thought, c’mon how hard can it be to pop a little popcorn? … I grabbed a popcorn package from the pantry, glanced at it for the instructions and read ‘4 minutes’ to microwave. …I set the package inside the microwave, closed the door and set the timer at 3:45. I was taking my first bite of pizza -- just as Kates was walking in the door …

I’m such an idiot.

We were watching the end of ‘Joey’ and enjoying our pizza, oblivious to what was happening in the kitchen.

Then, Kates suddenly shouts, ‘Oh my God!’ I look at the kitchen, seeing smoke pouring out of it and wonder out loud, ‘What’d I do?’ as we jump to our feet and rush toward the kitchen.

…Kates spills her water all over the coffee table in the rush. I open the microwave and grab a towel to wave as the smoke alarm starts blaring. Kates breaks for the front door to open it and begins airing out the house, which is now smelling mightily of smoke. I go for the back door as I’m choking from smoke inhalation.

Finally Kates pulls the blackened, burnt popcorn from the microwave and lays it on the grass outside our back door. It was only then that we’re able to break somewhat of smile, realizing the magnitude of what just nearly happened.

We had the fans blowing for almost an hour afterward and all the windows have been open longer. We missed half ‘The Apprentice’ spraying and cleaning the smoke stains from the microwave, and spread our magazines and newspapers around the floor to dry from Kates’ spilled water.

…When all the excitement died, Kates reminds me of the disclaimer on the popcorn package that reads something like ‘times differ for each microwave’ and all I needed to do was push the ‘popcorn’ button, which puts a sensor on the package and pops the popcorn to perfection.

Yep, Kates will be doing the popcorn popping from now on.

Rain, rain go away

I'm exhausted. It's been raining here almost all day and the only thing I could think of to soothe me, besides some good tunes and more news, is blogging. ...there's gotta be something wrong there. I think I have an addiction.

We were battered with severe storms for most of the morning, and. while the lightning was spectacular and a good thunderstorm is always fun, we barely got up in time for work this morning because the power was knocked out. Not to worry, a handful of my co-workers had the same plight ...

Nonethless, after the lack of evacuations and help for Katrina, it's refreshing to turn on the news tonight and see all the cars plugging the highways in Texas to get out of Rita's path. And then, after the stories of all the people trapped because of the gridlock and running out of gas, there's reports of tanker trucks and busses moving to the highway to rescue them. Where was all this out-of the-box thinking a few weeks ago?

Now if the higher-ups could figure out a way to stop the gas crisis ...

Oh, and, unless you were hiding out on Mars yesterday, you probably know about the JetBlue plane that made an emergency landing. The fact pilots were able to land that plane the way they did while passengers watched it all on television is just plain CRA-zy ...


Bring on the hurricanes

The worst hurricane ever.

Ah, Rita. … As if Katrina weren’t enough. The 10 ‘o clock news showed Rita heading straight for Houston, and probably sideswiping what’s left of New Orleans on the way.

Better fill up on gas first thing tomorrow …Heck, better fill up a couple gas cans too with the way things are going. Wire stories were reporting today that we haven’t even hit the peak of hurricane season yet -- that comes in October! And if that ain’t enough, another story reported we can expect these types of storms for the next 10 to 20 years.

All this of course inspired a fun discussion at work today about how they name hurricanes and my buddy, Brian, and I went to work on the Internet (it's a great thing isn't it?) digging up what we could. Here's the fruits of our labors at about.com and KOMO News in Seattle. Pretty interesting stuff.

Hey people living in the Gulf Coast: Pack up your stuff and never go back!

* * *

Let’s just hope we don’t have aliens infiltrating our world like they’re supposedly doing on ‘Invasion’ …Kates and I watched the premiere tonight, but I’m kind of lukewarm on it, at best.

The story seemed to move much slower than ‘Lost’ and it didn’t grip you the way ‘Lost’ has … But I'll keep watching.

Speaking of ‘Lost!’ Let me catch my breath …

How could you not grin and be excited for the new season when the premiere opened, yet again, with a close-up of someone’s eye opening. That, of course, evolved into scenes of some guy waking up, making a breakfast and showering -- and that mind-blowing music -- in what seemed like some 1970s-era apartment …

Then there’s the detonation of explosives to open the hatch. …Everything changes, the guy starts moving mirrors all over the place and we see Jack and Locke staring down the tunnel…


The rest of the episode was in some ways a waste as it provided minute clues of what was to come and filled in the gaps for details we already know, primarily Jack saving and meeting Sarah.

…Until Jack runs into the jogger at the stadium and lo and behold, it’s the same guy living inside some Matrix-like world beneath the hatch.

Talk about tune in next week. The opening line of next week’s previews was something like: “In just one week the fate of all the survivors will be revealed.”

…Sha-right. Their fates will be revealed FOR NOW. Until some other unexplainable creature, room or person appears in the woods that is the infamous island.

Here's some other good reviews of the show:
a 'Lost' premiere raises more mystery
a 'Lost' finds a way to keep you hooked
a 'Lost' worth the wait, unlike 'Stewart'


The end of the road

A hole in my heart ...

No more Neons. Say it ain't so.

I fell in love with the little Neon the first time I saw those fun 'Hi' commercials, and I told my parents I wanted one. There wasn't a car ad on TV that even close and it screamed 'FUN!'

Finally, after years of yearning to drive one, I got my chance to drive a sporty red one off a rental lot in Florida. Kates and I spent an entire week driving it from one side of Florida to the other for a Spring Break.

But the dream really came true within a week of my college graduation ... I'll never forget it. My poor '88 Camry, a once proud car that was a hand-me-down from my parents, was riding on its last wheels and my dad and I barely made it back to Wisconsin from Missouri with it. When we took it into the shop the next day, the mechanic told us, "I can't believe you even made it back here."

That night, to my surprise, and with a job interview a couple days later that would prove to be my first out of college, my parents were suggesting I purchase a car -- are you kidding, with their help of course.

We went to the nearest dealership the next afternoon, connected with a salesman and there it was -- A Dodge Neon in Bearcat green, equiped with a CD player and baring just 17 miles on its odometer. ...I was indoctrinated to the negotation process and a few hours later had my little green machine.

You couldn't beat the price. Nor the quality and reliability of it. ... I would've been happy driving a Neon for the rest of my life.

Godspeed, Neon.

a The Long Goodbye: Neon Fades From View
a Dodge Neon reaches the end of the road

Bill Maher on George Bush

I got this today in email form from a friend at work, and I've noticed it appearing on a few other blogs ...

Eh, what can it hurt to post it on this one... It's Bill Maher's closing bit from a recent edition of 'Real Time With Bill Maher':

"Mr. President, this job can't be fun for you anymore. There's no more money to spend -- you used up all of that. You can't start another war because you usedup the army. And now, darn the luck, the rest of your term has become the Bush family nightmare: helping poor people. Listen to your Mom. The cupboard's bare, the credit cards maxed out. No one's speaking to you. Mission accomplished.

"Now it's time to do what you've always done best: lose interest and walk away. Like you did with your military service and the oil company and the baseball team. It's time. Time to move on and try the next fantasy job. How about cowboy or space man? Now I know what you're saying: there's so many other things that you as President could involve yourself in. Please don't. I know, I know. There's a lot left to do. There's a war with Venezuela. Eliminating the sales tax on yachts. Turning the space program over to the church. And Social Security to Fannie Mae. Giving embryos the vote.

"But, Sir, none of that is going to happen now. Why? Because you govern like Billy Joel drives. You've performed so poorly I'm surprised that you haven't given yourself a medal. You're a catastrophe that walks like a man. Herbert Hoover was a shitty president, but even he never conceded an entire city to rising water and snakes.

"On your watch, we've lost almost all of our allies,the surplus, four airliners, two trade centers, apiece of the Pentagon and the City of New Orleans.

Maybe you're just not lucky. I'm not saying you don't love this country. I'm just wondering how much worse it could be if you were on the other side.

"So, yes, God does speak to you. What he is saying is: 'Take a hint.' "


The new 'Must-See TV?'

A quick note to CBS:

Thank you for putting ‘King of Queens’ back where it belongs on Monday nights! …

How I Met Your Mother.’ Charming. Now don’t dump it without letting it build an audience …

Two and a Half Men.’ Third season already? Are you serious? …I laughed more tonight than I think I have during the previous two seasons. I have a feeling it will only get better.

Out of Practice.’ Good cast and concept, but I’m not buying it yet.

You may have something going here. Please don’t screw it up like NBC.


55 years ago today

55 years is how long my grandparents have been married as of today. And they looked good, real good. And happy.

You look around the ‘brunch’ table and it’s no wonder why. Lots to be thankful for.

And there’s the house. Kates had never been there and I couldn’t recall being there since I was in junior high.

Yeah, so I’m nostalgic. But this house is such a reminder of simpler times, it could have easily appeared in an episode of ‘American Dreams.’ It’s 50 years old, but almost nothing about it has changed. It’s the same brick ranch that my grandpa and his cohorts erected on what was then a lonely field that offered unending views of Lake Michigan. Now the view is gone and it’s a full-fledged neighborhood, and there’s still not a garage on the property.

Past the backyard that once seemed as big as a football field, you still walk in the back door, greeted by a kitchen with light-colored cabinets and silver handles. Totally ‘50s. In the living room, there’s the huge picture windows and the floor to ceiling fireplace framed with white brick and a large clock. To my surprise, however, Grandma has replaced the 14 pictures of her grandchildren with old black and whites of her and grandpa’s families.

Ah, but the the graduation pictures of my mother and her five brothers and sisters still hang in the hallway. Which, of course, evokes the commentary from my mother and her sister detailing the time when the eight people living in that house had to share one bathroom. Oh, the wars they must’ve had getting ready for church every Sunday morning.


All in a Day's Work

I couldn’t sleep.

I could not sleep. Kates was squirming like she was having a seizure and at one point said in her sleep, ‘Show me again.’ I was so bored and awake, I contemplated answering her in an attempt to start a sleep-minded conversation with her. But I didn’t. She told me later she might have been dreaming that she was talking to a student.

2:45 a.m.

I got up to get a drink …

I went to the bathroom …

I played a couple baseball games on my computer (I won both, my powerhouse Dodgers beating the tough Cardinals and then stomping all over the D-Backs) and came back to bed again at like 4:30 a.m.

When I finally drifted off to sleep again like a half hour later, I was having like this dream within a dream and imagining somebody coming into our house while we were sleeping …

6 a.m. The alarm goes off. Alright. I’m getting up …

I threw on my grubby clothes. The sun had barely risen when I was unlocking the garage door, pulling my yard tools from the wall and loading my wheel barrow, pushing it into the front yard. The sounds of Classic Rock pushing through my ears, the rest of the neighborhood lay still.

One by one, I cleared the stilted, uneven landscaping rocks that, in my opinion, have been the eyesore of our front yard for the last year. And one by one, I replaced them with plush, new, larger rocks, leveling every last one until they wrapped around our trees and landscape like a bow tie. Talk about beauty …

I had put in more than two hours of work before Kates appeared at the front door around 8:30, greeting me for the day and promising a good breakfast. How good? She went to the store just to buy eggs so she could make us French toast. That’s love.

Right on schedule, I planted a new tree in our backyard and transplanted another one. I filled up on gas, made a trip to Menards for more landscaping blocks and put the finishing touches on the landscaping, Pt. 1. Pt. 2 begins next week.

I vacuumed my car, took a shower and then took my car to the auto shower. Mobil.

Right on schedule, we were heading to Kati’s parents by 7 p.m.

I told Kates it just might have been the most productive day of my life. All in a day’s work.

* * *
This was on my buddy Tom's blog. And, boy, if this isn't a sign there's a heaven ...


Today's headlines

Just another hard day's work in the news business ...

I caught this headline early this morning and thought 'What took so long?' ...

Then this fascinating story about the Bush administration's and government officials' lack of imagination two weeks ago during the Katrina crisis and thought, 'What were they thinking?'

And finally, albeit a little late, Mr. Bush is accepting the blame ...

And THEN, just when you thought the state of the country couldn't get any worse : Eleven kids are found in cages at an Ohio home.

Ah, America the beautiful.

Now if only Les Moonves would wise up about CBS' network news and figure out he's got it all wrong.


Society's sad state

Monday, Monday ...

The Katrina cleanup continues as more bodies were found today and the FEMA director resigned ... I just wonder what took him so long.

Also in the news today, an interesting story about Brian Williams' anchoring on NBC News. The job he and the NBC crew has done truly is remarkable and I admire the opinions and commentary the reporters have offered. As reporters we've always been taught to remain as objective as possible, but then again, we've never faced a situation like Katrina and such ignorance on the government's part. Still, as far out of hand as the Katrina situation has become, the NBC gang offered their opinions with substance and integrity ...After one broadcast last week, my wife and I quipped about Williams strong presence while becoming the eldest network anchor, 'Tom who?'

Moving on ...

Déjà Vu? Not Really ...

Supposedly Barry Bonds is returning to the Giants lineup tonight ... Part of me hopes he takes one swing and his knee crumbles like a cupcake.

Two years ago I was the one defending Bonds and his records, insisting he couldn't be on steroids because he hadn't suffered the same debilitating injuries Mark McGwire and other supposed 'juiced' players were suffering. Oh, how little I knew. ... Barry Bonds soon started complaining about his knee ailments, I soon learned that knees are among the first things to go in a player on steroids and then Barry's BALCO testimony was leaked.

... the only thing holding me back from completely detesting Barry is that trite argument that it takes great skill to hit a 90-mph fastball ...

Barry is Barry and he'll do what he wants. But Barry, in no way, shape, or form should be allowed to retake the field in pursuit of one of the most hallowed records in sports. I spent all winter and summer hoping he'd come to his senses, think about the integrity of the game, retire and leave the record alone. But again, Barry is Barry. He doesn't give a darn about what you and me think.

I'm only now, slowly, SLOW-LY beginning to regain some respect for Jason Giambi, only because he faced the adversity head on this summer, and as one story points out, has come back one swing at a time. But Barry will have to do exactly that and more for me to really cheer him again ...

For now, I'll just relish in the fall of Rafael Palmeiro and hope his saga can send a strong message.

Oh yeah, and there's this, although I'm not sure Nomar should be included on this list ...


Let the fall fun begin -- sort of

A wedding, good TV, working in the yard, walking by the lake and a Packers loss -- a nice to spend the first weekend of fall, I guess ...

Let's start with the TV. We watched the FOX's hyped-up 'Reunion' on Thursday night. Over-hyped that is. ... This is the show that revolves around a group of six friends, starting with their high school reunion and fast-forwarding 20 years to where one of them was killed by someone else in the group. The catch is: through the course of the season the audience is presented with clues and we're supposed to figure out the identity of the murderer. The acting was decent, the writing was not. But it will be interesting to see how this show progresses with 'the big conclusion' at the end of the season, during which we apparently find out who killed who. My lingering question though is how they can possibly fit the events of one year into each episode. Judging by the first episode, I don't see how it will work.

On the other hand ... we watched 'The War at Home' tonight, also on FOX. HA-larious. Strong cast. Good concept. It stars Michael Rappaport as Dave, a father who's having issues with his teenage daughter dating a black guy (only to find out later she's actually doing his homework and using the kid to drive Dad crazy), a son who Dave thinks is gay (he's not) and the youngest son who is begging for a new Playstation. ... But one of the things that sets this show apart is that scenes are interrupted with brief testimonials (picture Seinfeld doing standup in front of a white background) from each of the characters to let the audience in on what the character is really thinking, just before taking us back into the scene where the character expresses the complete opposite ...

ah, but the weekend wasn't all spent inside ... On Saturday night Kates and I were down on the harbor for Woofstock, a two-day festival of music and food to benefit the local humane society, and celebrate the end of a summer-long art exhibit, comprised of dogs displayed in downtown store windows ...We had gone to watch a Beatles-tribute band, 'British Export' but decided to walk the harbor when we could no longer stand the drummer's poor Ringo Star impression ...

... the walk was nice.


'Stuff Happens'

More interesting and fascinating reads today from the fallout and wrath of Katrina...

aFrom the Washington Post: The 'Stuff Happens' Presidency
aFrom MSNBC: New Orleans residents ‘back to the Flintstones’
aFrom the Orlando Sentinel's Kathleen Parker, who, after reading some her archived columns too, just might be one of my new favorite columnists: Shock, awe


Loyalty in journalism

In the last couple days, some fascinating stories have started appearing about the plight and perseverance of The New Orleans Times-Picayune staff …

… And as a fellow journalist, I can’t help but read each of these stories and think I’d be doing the same thing. Granted none of my experiences have come close to the hell and pride the Picayune staff must’ve felt this last week, but their stories stir up my memories of going for a day without eating to cover the big breaking story, or getting just five hours of sleep during a five-day span of putting together a Homecoming edition of our college newspaper (Yes, just one hour of sleep each day that week, and by the time it was over my eyes had been open for so long it actually hurt to close them. To this day, in some strange way, it remains perhaps one of the most amazing personal feats of my lifetime accomplishments.)

During college, I also have fond memories of gutting all of our half-finished newspaper and starting the week’s edition from scratch amid the breaking news of the 9/11 attacks -- and the amazing teamwork that came out of it -- and I can only imagine what it must’ve been like to cover the Utica tornado had I not left my post at the News Tribune a couple months earlier …

Yes, the loyalty a journalist has for his publication can be an amazing thing …

Enjoy …
aFrom the Los Angeles Times
aFrom The New York Times (if you can't get in try the same story at the Wilmington, N.C., Star)
aFrom The International Herald Tribune


The End of Summer

So much complete, yet so much left to do as this Labor Day weekend and the summer unofficially come to a close tonight. And, in a sense, tomorrow, as the Chicago Tribune wrote so profoundly a couple weeks ago, we start a new year ...

We celebrated with a movie night on Friday, an early-bird scavenger hunt for garage sale deals (I got a bike for $5!) and the sharing of good food, conversation and laughs with close friends on Saturday evening, and on Sunday through today -- my favorite pasttime -- I spent working in our yard ...

Now complete: A summer full of good times at Summerfest, going to more baseball games than I can remember, productive housework, a bittersweet reunion with 'The Four,' memorable weddings of close friends and family members and walks along Lake Michigan ...

Pretty much complete: The Cubs season. After sweeping the Pirates over the weekend there was a small glimmer of hope. And even today, in St. Louis, the Cubs seemed to catch just enough breaks to stay in the game. Even when an Albert Pujols homerun in the eighth appeared to wipe the Cubbies out, they nearly came back from four down in the ninth, only to have Derrek Lee end the game on a double play -- to Cubs exile Mark Grudzielanek of all people ... Here's to another verse of 'Wait til next year' ...

Can't wait until it's complete: Our illustrious yard and landscape. Boy, if I could face the prior residents of our house to ask them what they were thinking when they decided to line the foundation with layers and layers and layers of rocks. And then! top that with layers and layers and layers of mulch. They must've REALLY wanted a low maintenance yard -- and they've must've really had something against flowers and shrubbery. ...It's been a long summer of picking rocks one by one and dumping them on a pile in our back yard. I spent several more hours today cleaning out the rocks in hopes of having a yard next summer that is overflowing with blooming flowers.

And just beginning: Packers football, new seasons of 'Lost,' 'Desperate Housewives,' 'Grey's Anatomy,' 'Will & Grace,' and 'The Office,' on top of all the new shows TV has to offer, indoor house projects, changing leaves and the cool, Wisconsin fall air ...

Making a so-called life in an old, retired stadium

In the continuing hurricane coverage, a good read about the Astrodome ....

Making a so-called life in an old, retired stadium


Deep impact

It appears some relief is arriving tonight for the people in New Orleans (for more go here). But it will be a long time before the frustration and fallout of this disaster subsides …

And we can give all the money we have to the relief effort. Though it’s perhaps more sad how skeptical I remain of where the money’s going and who’s getting it. Those feelings turned for the worse today when I heard a news report that one city prepared pallets and pallets of water to send for the victims, but FEMA told them it didn’t want the water -- only cash. And during my lunch today, a kid knocked on my door, shoving a donation card in my face. Before I had time to think about it, he was asking for my name. And then when I tried to stop him, he abruptly said, ‘OK, I need the card back’ and shuffled away ….

Getting the latest hurricane news was the first thing I thought of today when I woke up and kissed my wife off to work. Updates on the relief effort were the only things occupying my mind as I came home for lunch today. And again, I was rushing home from work to make sure I could catch the updates on the network news …

I guess it sort of hit me today the impact this disaster has had, much more than I would have realized when I wasn’t so interested, say, on Monday or Tuesday, as was most other parts of our nation and world. But I watched Harry Connick Jr. talking to Katie Couric this morning, reeling from the poor relief effort and practically yelling about how easy it was for him to walk up to the thousands of suffering people at the New Orleans Convention Center. Why is the relief not getting there, he cried … I watched the president offer seemingly hollow excuses and charges to reporters in a morning press conference. … Then at lunch I saw the video of a CNN reporter meeting up with an Asian mother and daughter who were stranded in a hotel room. They had raided all of the other hotel rooms of food and drinks, set up a security wall against intruders and hung a white towel from their window to attract rescuers. After seeing and hearing all of this, the reporter gathered her crew members, loaded the two women in their van and drove them out of the city and harm’s way to reunite with loved ones outside the devastated areas. The reporter -- in the way that us journalists are always trying to do, but never seem to get the credit for doing -- helped a couple fellow citizens, because nobody else would.

… the emotions poured out of me and my eyes welled up today as I told my co-workers and wife these stories … emotions I didn’t realize were so real inside me.

…I’m blessed and lucky tonight that I again could enjoy this final Friday night of summer in my home. And when we finally got our DVD player to quit malfunctioning we watched “Freaky Friday” and “Laws of Attraction”

…“Freaky Friday” was, in a word, cute. It’s no “Face Off,” but Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis weren’t bad. In fact, despite a few cheesy moments, Lohan’s acting was convincing and her comedic potential showed through. Now, if she could only turn off her snobby appearance, shut her yapper in real life and go back to being as cute and likable as she was in “The Parent Trap.”

… “Laws of Attraction” …Yeah. First of all, this was not the movie we initially picked for tonight. With a free blockbuster movie rental earlier this week I had picked out a newer release, only to be informed at the counter that the coupon was only good for an older release. It might have been better to forfeit the coupon … While the plot is somewhat fresh -- two divorce lawyers who find love in each other -- it’s never developed enough to bring in the audience. The movie had ended before it began …

Kind of like the rescue effort in New Orleans?


Our world tonight

This is no 9/11. This might be worse …

Within hours of the 9/11 attack, our country was banding together and the president was leading us in our resolve. Not so tonight ...

Rescuers are being shot at by the people they're attempting to help. People are literally dying on the streets. …and worse yet, no one seems to have -- or at least be talking publicly about it -- a serious, legitimate plan to help.

It appears more out of hand now and most of the people with any ability to do do anything about it appear baffled and unwilling…

It will take years to recover from this ...

I can’t remember being this glued to the wire services and the television news since my college days of covering the 9/11 terrorist attack. And I was much more involved then, as the editor of my college paper. Now I’m just a measly features reporter in an upper Midwest state where we have no idea the devastation a hurricane can ravage …

And I feel helpless. I'm perhaps more misunderstood because I’m unlike the majority of the victims submerged in this tragedy. I'm well educated. I'm by no means 'well-off' but I have a good job and I’m blessed with a home -- not the nicest, best home on the block -- but a home I can call my own, full of a lifetime’s worth of sports memorabilia, music albums and photos galore ...

Hundreds of thousands of people in New Orleans and Mississippi can’t say that right now. Even after dozens of images and talking heads scrawling across the TV screen today, the most humbling statement came from the mayor of San Antonio as he announced officials would be opening that city and the AlamoDome for evacuees as well, saying “Think about this for a minute -- All those people that had jobs -- they don’t have them anymore. They’ve lost all of their possessions. They’ve lost their homes.”

Yet I find my self worrying about how we'll get through this ...

I filled my car’s gas tank yesterday morning. Five years ago it cost me about $10 to fill up the tank in my little Toyota Camry. Yesteday, with my little Dodge Neon it cost me more than $21 to fill up half its tank. By then gas was at $2.99 a gallon. By the time Kates drove home from school in the afternoon, it was up to $3.19.

… and then I wonder has the state of our country ever been worse?

How would I know -- I’ve only been living in it for the last 26 years. Yet I can’t help wonder. Now under the same president who stood so tall during the last American crisis, we’re trying to fight a war in Iraq that we started for no apparent reason and there’s no end in sight. The economic gap between the classes only seems to get larger. We’re practically rationing food to pay for our gas. And now Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath are tearing up the Gulf Coast and having an impact on this country that may take years to realize …

All this confronting me tonight as I type on my personal computer, in my own home, watching my flat screen TV, and prepare to sleep in my own bed, all while I'm comforted by the fact I will go to work tomorrow and come home with a paycheck.

What a crazy, selfish world we live in ….

Today's stories & coverage:
--Chaos erupts amid New Orleans’ desperation
--Aerial views
--NBC photojournalist describes horrific situation in New Orleans
--As it informs, TV also irks
--'And now we are in hell'