It doesn't seem a year, but here it is: the last entry for the year: I'll throw 2002 into the same "good year" pile as 1985 (As my friend Gary does) and perhaps 1972. Em visited for a few days after we spent a couple of days with her folks in Kalamazoo - thanks to her family for the great gifts - I'll be making my own sushi soon - and to Em's father, Dale, for the great tour of the Kalamazoo Gazette. More history there than people realize. The offset plate in the lobby with November 22, 1963's front page gave me pause.
Em left today, New Year's Eve via Amtrak, due to travel schedule vagaries, but I assure you, it is with her, my thoughts are. Here's what she did to my hair while here.
Happy New Year to all of you.
Thanks to Emily and her employer, Mark H., for the very nice holiday party in West Bloomfield, MI this past weekend. I enjoyed meeting all of Em's co-workers, each more charming and witty than the last and I had a very nice three-day visit with Em in Ann Arbor and even felt a little Xmas cheer creep in. My home away from home feels ever more like home.
DO NOT miss this! Saturn is at opposition and it's (relatively) close. If you don't have a telescope, RESIST the urge to buy a cheap scope (less than 500 US$) at a department store or worse: you'll hate it. Find a neighbor or an amateur astronomy club and find out when they are going to be out. Then, dress warm, bring your hot beverage of choice and see this!
Happy Thanksgiving to friends and family - Emily is coming here Saturday after a Florida reunion with family for the holiday proper. I'm then going to cook my first turkey - wish me luck. Sunday, Gina and David stop by to join us for brunch on their way home to St. Louis. Then, a few weeks of death march at work for the end of year projects and a nice relaxing Xmas holiday with Em.
We're back from our vacation on the M/S Norwegian Sun that took us from Miami to Grand Cayman; Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize and Cozumel, Mexico and unfortunately, back again. It was a beautiful ship and a beautiful vacation. We swam with stingrays, snorkeled, played on the beach, ate *way* too much food and can't wait to go again. Here are a few photos from the ship. Book your own great adventure with NCL here. Good news and reviews on cruises at Cruise Critic here - very useful for getting info on ships, prices, past experiences, what to do on land, etc...
Emily took over the cooking chores this weekend, bringing the Nigella Lawson cookbook, "How To Eat", kindly loaned by a cow orker. We made the "one-pot chicken" and it came out tender and delicious. A really good meal with not a whole lot of work, especially if you're not the one doing the cooking. Em and I love Nigella for some very different reasons, I suspect, but we both adore her approach to food and writing. Ms. Lawson's had a lot of tragedy in her life, but her success is well-deserved.
Emily came to visit this weekend, like many weekends, with news that a friend or two of hers have viewed the old blog and said: "more Emily." The temptation to tell her "get your own show" for humor, not for meanness, was, while not strong, at least present. But, the fact remains, it really is kinda already her show too. She's going to be around for awhile. We celebrated six months "anniversary" this weekend and it was one of those Hallmark Holidays that make dinner reservations hard to get, so we celebrated that at Bandera on Michigan Avenue. I had the lamb in chile sauce (awesome) and Emily had a rotisserie chicken that I tasted and was among the most tender and moist I've ever had. I want a rotisserie! The garlic mashed potatoes that made Emily want to return to this place were as good as she described. Pretty nice dinner.
Em's friends also requested more pictures and I'll just complain that it's a real pain for me to move pix from the camera I have, then make small in Fireworks, so I only do it when I think I've got real good material, but point taken. Our cruise is coming up next month and I think I should just bring the regular old lunky 35mm SLR and lenses and buy a scanner. I'm more comfortable shooting on regular film with manual control anyway.
Oh, have I got some bad news for my waistline... in a rare visit to the ice cream section of the local Dominick's, I discovered that Ben and Jerry's is once again selling Coffee Heathbar Crunch. MMMMMmmmmm. I think they've had this in the flavor graveyard for some 8 years or so, but it's back. We live once. Hey Gap! Stock up on the fat pants!
I've developed the apparently rare, according to the ratings, habit of watching MSNBC nightly prime time fare. It's occasionally interesting, far more than anything on the traditional networks, but an item they are harping on tonight raises my not insubstantial hackles: Should Andy Rooney be fired from CBS for saying that "women shouldn't be giving reports on the sidelines at football games?" Um, no. Mr. Rooney's entire job description is "curmudgeon." Taking away Mr. Rooney's right to express controversial opinions is like taking away my right to manufacture memos. It makes our jobs pretty pointless, but I digress... If Andy thinks that Melissa Stark, of ABC's "Monday Night Football" is superfluous, then well she might be. Is she qualified? You bet yer ass. I quote from ABC's bio page: A Phi Beta Kappa student, she graduated from the University of Virginia in 1995 with a double major in foreign affairs and Spanish. I've seen and heard her - STFU Andy, she adds to the game, to the knowledge and she's easy on the eyes too.
Andy, if seeing attractive, qualified women reporting on the sidelines offends you, where was your indignation at Dennis Miller in the booth? I thought he added an interesting slant, but ultimately: It's football, Andy - to quote Crash Davis in "Bull Durham" It's a game - it's supposed to be fun goddammit.
In the meantime, it is a right good time to end this war on anti-PC speech. We got people with long-range rifles killing innocents, we got an imminent war, we got a stock market and job market in the toilet. Let's get a grip.
Friends I miss so much from a decade ago of on-line trivia games on CompuServe - their lives can still be tracked via Jen's blog. The tyranny of distance keeps us from seeing each other very often, but what I wouldn't give to have them move in next door - I can't say.
We've got a really ugly anniversary coming up here and I am torn between morbid fascination and total avoidance. I had really hoped for more healing and I feel almost guilty for the great year I've had personally. I remain proud along with my country and, I hope, the world, of the bravery of the emergency workers, police, fire, and others who dove into the issues of the day a year ago (and every day since). There is no facet of my life I miss more than being a firefighter.
A very enjoyable Labor Day weekend with Em and my friend Gary Sampson, in from Louisville. Gary invited us to a Cubs game Saturday evening and it was a lot of fun - lovely ballpark, not so lovely ballclub. It occurs to me a strike could have prevented this Cubs loss.
Hosts of Alan Parsons FanFest 3.0, Scott and Sandra Holder, are gonna have a hard time topping the pleasant surprise they pulled on us this year. On Saturday, like last year, Alan called from a cell phone and the attendees gathered around the phone to chat and ask questions in the parlor of the Dauphine Hotel. Alan then told us we were breaking up a bit and asked our patience while he moved to another room. Then he walked into the parlor! We had a great visit with our favorite musician and record producer and his lovely girlfriend Lisa. Over the course of dinner Saturday, they *both* memorized all 26 or so attendees' names - a very classy touch. My thanks to Alan and Lisa, Scott and Sandra and everyone else who helped make this most pleasant surprise happen. It was a very big thrill.
Before Alan arrived, the fans who brought instruments put on a little tribute show and I hope we were a little better than last year, but not as good as we will be next year. With FanFest behind me for 2002, it's time to start building the home theatre/music room where we can enjoy all the DTS goodies Alan has put together!
Here are John Elsbree's photos - My thanks to Seattle's John Elsbree - it was a pleasure to see you again.
Spent my birthday with Emily and her family in South Haven, MI at a cabin on the shore of Lake Michigan and met the whole family: Heather, Jamie, Pat and Dale; Kayley and Alex and Kristina. Jamie and I played golf at the South Haven Country Club ("just try to figure out how to putt on our greens") and played to a near tie while having a great time. Emily rode along and claimed to have fun. I hated to leave - it was the best birthday ever. The best birthday present I could have hoped for after such a wonderful weekend, was the news that nine coal miners trapped near Somerset, PA were not only found alive, but rescued.
Alan Parsons fan, John Finney, attended the Sacramento, CA stop on this year's 'A Walk Down Abbey Road' Beatles tribute show with Alan, John Beck, Jack Bruce, Christopher Cross, Mark Farner, Todd Rundgren, et al. Here are the pictures John took. I will get to meet brother John next month at the 3rd annual FanFest in Bonnots Mill, MO.
Certainly seems to be an Independence Day of more emotion, as expected.
Emily and I will salute the flag at Arlington Park and watch the fireworks that follow. Last night's show on the lakefront in Chicago was spectacular. My thanks to dear friends Laura and Jim for the view from the 52nd floor.
John Entwistle 1944-2002 - Such sad news. I never saw him play with the Who, but I was fortunate to see him play in last year's lineup of the Walk Down Abbey Road Beatle's tribute.
Baton Rouge Wedding! To my sister, Amy and my new brother-in-law, Jean-Pierre, my warmest congratulations. 3 days, 1,862 miles, 27.5 hours of driving... not as bad as it sounds. Actually, I love getting out and seeing the country. As soon as I retire I intend to get out and do a lot more of it. I did take a real quick detour off I-55 in Memphis to see the gates of Graceland, but the rest of the trip was all destination focus. Worked Amateur Radio Field Day on the way home for a few hours and it helped pass the time. It was so nice to see cousins, Tim, Robin and Julie (been about 30 years) and Tim's wife Michele and kids Matt and Ryan and my step-aunts, Janine and Sheila (congrats on the new degree and job, Janine) - only been about 25 years since I saw them. And last and not least, nice to see Dad and Dyann-thanks for making it a trip worth driving and for welcoming Emily so warmly. To Em, thanks for bringing down the Zingerman's Parmesan-Pepper bread... is there anything better for dinner after a 14 hour drive?
Back from a really nice weekend with Em at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH. Being the amusement park of our childhood, it was nostalgic being back, but nearly all is new there. Roller coasters are brutal these days - we were a little sore the following day. The Power Tower and the Demon Drop remain my favorites - my brain is wired to love free fall. The Millennium Force drops you from 300 feet at 92mph-I couldn't even hold my hands in the air - it's a monster.
Eileen Terry, N9TWS, SK - The Wheaton Community Radio Amateurs and the Ham world in general will miss Eileen. She was instrumental in getting the word out about ham radio to the media and helped get us covered on public television on Wild Chicago. Rest in peace, Eileen.
Happy Birthday to my ex-wife, Jane - To those who've not been keeping up, I'm keeping the house, which is nice - I was not relishing the thought of finding a ham radio compatible home and scooping it all up and moving it. With that, a painful year and a half recedes into time and with time, the pain dims. 2002 has been really good to me so far and I'm really looking forward to the future. My thanks again to my family and friends. I could not have come this far without you.
Thank you to my friend and the conscience of N9XS.com, Jeffrey Petersen, who constantly kicks my ass for new content.
Not quite opening day, but the first Saturday at Arlington Park on a gloriously sunny Saturday. Met some really nice folks from Jalapeño's restaurant in Elgin, who were having as much fun as I was. I will definitely be heading out to eat there and hope to run into some of my new friends again. I lost a food stamp or two, but a bad day at the track is better than... many things. Too bad for War Emblem too.
To friends and family, please forgive the lack of contact - work has been a real crunch this month and the weekends have been, um, busy. I will get back in touch with everyone as soon as I get out from under.
R.I.P. Seattle Slew 1974-2002: And I had just read an article about him in the Louisville Courier-Journal.
Thanks to Ma for putting me up and having a Derby open house. Congrats to War Emblem and go for that triple - it's been awhile. It was so nice seeing my dear friends Greg and Jeanette. Thanks for for allowing me the guest vocal on 'Mais Que Nada' at Clifton's. Also great seeing my high school pals, Kerry and Kevin again after so many years and Kevin's lovely wife and kids.
On the way back from seeing my new Sweetie, Emily, in Michigan, I stopped by the Hauser school in Riverside, IL for a Riverside Children's Theater production of "Jack and the Beanstalk" - invited by my friend and production piano player, Scott Leonard. You people know I'm not big on the rugrats, but it was charming. Such a nice show. Every kid singing, all the way down to five years-old. There are more shows, through first weekend in May, so if you are Chicago metro, get out there - five bucks, well worth it.
We're going to miss John, WB9VGJ, and his hospitable wife, Mary when they retire to their new homestead in Arizona this month. A really great crew of hams from the WCRA gathered to take down John's tower today and we all still have our fingers, which is nice. My thanks to all of my fellow tower dismantlers - it's teamwork and comraderie like we had today that make the radio club so meaningful and important.
There come times, albeit all too infrequent, where a little magic falls into place. A little bit of rain falls into an oasis that had been just a little dry... I think Alan and Eric said it best: "...and it's a Prime Time, maybe the stars were right. I had a premonition - it's gonna be my turn tonight..."
I really don't want to seem ungrateful, nor unpatriotic, but if I was given a position in my company similar to our new Homeland Security Secretary's and after six months in my new position, all I came up with was a content-free five-color state of readiness... I'd be cast into space without benefit of spacecraft... Ferfucksake.
Happy B-day Ma!
It's a Sisyphean task to keep snow off the driveway all of a sudden, but it's pretty.
George, N9EJS, back in town for a visit, stopped by to operate his morse code net with folks around the country.
My thanks to Bruce, K9OZ, for making me WCRA "Shack of the Month" in the WCRA monthly newsletter.
Happy B-day to my bro, Geoffrey - I miss ya.
My good friend Wally came by on Saturday during his long weekend visit to Chicagoland. We had a nice dinner of Scallops in Mediterranean red sauce over pasta for dinner, ordered him some new computer hardware from Dell and watched three guys hit the same flag in the men's Super G! After he left, I watched the women beat Germany in Curling!
He may not be the biggest genocidal megalomaniac, but he's MY genocidal megalomaniac. [link expired - headline read: Wife of Slobodan Milosevic: I'm Proud of Him]
Curling: like most Americans, the most we get to see of it is 20 or 30 sneering seconds of coverage as a "curiosity" on the tail of the local news. Come on NBC, more Curling coverage and less "waiters on ice." In fact, less of any sport with judges. Time it, or have a real score. Anything else, put it on Wifetime.
Had a nice evening and sushi feast with friends Laura and Jim and their little ones Benjamin and Andi watching the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics
While surfing www.spaceweather.com, I stumbled across this stunningly beautiful photograph of the Moon and Saturn, shot by Daniel Ethier, of St. Paul, MN. I am honored to present it here, with Mr. Ethier's permission.
Trying to work as many states, provinces and other misc. entities in the North American QSO Party...
Oh well, thanks for the nice season, Bears.
At the tone, the time is.
Here's a picture of my home, shot from an amateur radio satellite (AO-40). Look close. Go Bears! I don't normally follow pro sports, but this is more fun than we've had in the NFL since I've been a Chicagoan.
Thanx to my boss, Karen, for a great year-end dinner with our team at Wildfire in Chicago. Order the peppercorn filet - it's awesome.
Getting Around Here