Results, Poll #49, Home Home.

So, who goes home for the holidays? Let's find out:

> 1 person (9%) chose 'yes, got to or i'll be disowned' - really? or are you just too scared to find out what'll happen if you don't go home?
> 7 people (63%) chose 'yep, i just always do' - i think we all would have guessed this was the majority answer, as it should be.
> 3 people (27%) chose 'nope, not this year' - it was a first for me, going home didn't seem to work out. i basically had 5 days off, with almost nothing to do and no one to see. it was different, but i have to say, not a bad different. a topical island and fruity drink would have made it very enjoyable.
> 0 people (0%) chose 'no, i usually don't' - i guess all of us have good relationships with our still alive parents. but, not the entirety of the t.c readership voted on this poll. hmmmm.

So there you have it. How we like to spend our holiday.
New poll has been up for sometime.


Quality with a capital 'Q', Part II.

I thought I would show off my new work-home. There's only a few, so you can't get the full impact of the place, but it's a good taste. If you're ever in the area, I can host visitors, depending on the day of the week, time of year, etc.

This is known as the "Hub". Not only is it a bike term, but it also accurately describes this area of the newer 2nd floor office. It has most things one might need during the day. Shown is the coffee, tea, latte bar, which also has our recycling area, small sink, and small fridge. I've already attended an after-hours beverage meeting here, hosted by a vendor. Not shown are some other areas like printer/fax area and some relaxed open meeting areas.

This is taken from the same spot as the first picture, but just to the left a bit. You can see more of the relaxed meeting areas (most of the IKEA couches are actually from SRAM). But, you can also see the use of natural light. It fills much of this (my) 2nd floor office space. It not only makes people feel better (during the loooong winter), but cuts down on lighting/energy costs too.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not show the biggest and most lucrative part of the place, the warehouse floor. Again, this is taken from my 2nd floor office area, looking right down onto the 35ft tall shelving units. The forklifts are "guided by wire" down these long pathways, to ensure the forklift is striaght and can rise up true enough not to bang into anything (which would be bad).



I hope it's a white Christmas for all of you that want one... I get one no matter what. Maybe this is the year for my Red Rider BB Gun? Anyone get some coal? (No, surely not a t.c reader...)


Results, Poll #48, Pine.

Seems like a very mixed bag of results this week, but I suspect it maybe due to my shotgun approach on the writing of the responses. Ah well...

> 2 people (15%) 'yep, we had the christmas tree up for weeks' - sounds nice and cozy. make some warm nuts on the fire. "would you like my warm nuts?!"

> 4 people (30%) 'yeah, i put up a little tree for m
yself' - well, you did what you could, good effort. Santa will be pleased.

> 1 person (7%) 'yes, but all about kwanza' - a very multi-cultural holiday.

> 0 people (0%) 'sure, the dradle and menorah are out big time' - no mazaltoff for you then!

> 3 people (23%) 'not a holiday display, only the festivus pole' - alright smart-alecs - would one of you please photograph said pole and send me the pic? i'll not only post it but think of something extra for you too.
> 3 people (23%) 'nah, it's just lil ole me' - i hear ya, why bother? it's better to see "the real deal" at someone else's house.

13 votes up this week, new poll up NOW!

Thanks to all of your for reading in 2008. I hope the trend continues and grows in 2009.


Gift Idea, #6.

I've heard on TV that the most popular gift this year is giving (i.e. charitable donations). And with everyone not doing so well due to the economy, this idea is even more dire for people that already can't afford things.

I've cut & pasted some ideas for anyone on your list. Surely they won't get bent out of shape if you feel good and they feel good, plus no returns!

> St. Jude Childrens' Hospital - no kid's ever turned away - https://shop.stjude.org/GiftCatalog/express-donation.do?fnl=don_sin
> Chicago's Childrens' Memorial - you might know someone that was helped here, I do - https://secure.childrensmemorial.org/friends/foundation/donations.asp
> Chicago Food Bank - food helps alot - http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org/site/PageServer?pagename=diff_donate_tribmem
> Gary Sinise said to help the Troops - he's serious and a Chicagoan - https://www.fightforthetroops.com/donate.asp
> A bike related donation that can help people all over the world - http://www.kintera.org/site/c.nsIXJ4PJKtF/b.4742827/

Finally, I'm guessing these can be done "instantly" and cover up for someone you might have forgotten about. You know, write something in the card...


Discuss, Poll #48, Pine.

I wanted to see how many of us put up the ole Christmas tree (or what-not). Knowing many of the t.c readership considers itself "religious", this should be pretty high, right?

If you have a funny or cheery tree story or tradition, please post it here. You never know, it could brighten the season for someone else... or start your tradition in someone else's home.

Don't be a Grinch.

Results, Poll #47, Moving.

Finally, a good unsecured internet connection and some spare time to post:

> 4 people (26%) chose '0-5' - What!?!?! A max of 5 moves... did you go to home school through college!?!
> 2 people (13%) chose '6-10' - Still pretty low, but maybe you got out of the house before you were 30?
> 5 people (33%) chose '11-15' - Here's our majority winner. Seems like a pretty reasonable number, esp if college years are counted.
> 2 people (13%) chose '16-20' - This is getting up there, depending on your age. Not fun, not fun at all.
> 1 person (6%) chose '21-25' - It's been a bit since I voted, but I'm pretty sure this is myself. I believe I've moved, on average, once a year since I started college. I'm hoping this last move will go for more than one year, knock on wood.
> 1 person (6%) chose '26+' - I think I know who this is, but golly... that's alot of moves.

New seasonal poll up now.

Gift Idea, #5.

WHAT!?! You didn't get anything for the special woman in your life yet!?! You better take this suggestion and run with it then... your penance will be the fact that this can only be had in time for Christmas by making a trip to one of their retail boutiques in Chicago or New York (that is of course if it's still in stock).

Please locate the store near you via Bernardaud's website. Get in your car, drive the two hours+ during rush hour, and upon entry, ask the first associate you see for the Porcelain disk bracelet on cord, $105 each. It's a small price to pay to avoid her dreaded stink-eye come Christmas morning, with nothing under the tree for the girl that puts up with you.

New apartment = new levels of gross.

For the first few nights in the new place, I noticed a cigarette-type smell, but only in the evening. It started to irritate my eyes and gave me a headache one night. So, I thought I might have to clean some more things... what was left though? The radiators. Once I got down to their level, it was clear this maybe the problem. Not only did I confirm some former tenant was a smoker (found some old wrapper), but also that one or more former tenants had cats.

I spent over an hour vacuuming 3 different radiators, one about 4 feet long. I had to change the vacuum bag mid-job after sucking up tons of cat hair (that had also recently been painted over... least they painted, right?). I also found a bunch of stuff in and behind said radiators. Here's what it amounted to:

This pile o' life elicits a few comments from me:
- ooh, what a nice votive holder!
- how did you burn incense without the little tray!?!
- Miller and PBR bottle tops, fine by me.
- why two hair coloring brushes? (if that's what they are?) if you dropped one down the back of the radiator (in the living room), why would you then at some point drop another?
- the peace sign was literally stuck to the wall behind the big radiator. I don't want to know how or why. Peace.

As a corollary, I still hate cats. This maybe a bit much (though I just vacuumed up a cats worth of hair), but I think that cat owners are much lazier, by and large, than dog owners. They can let their cat do what he/she wants all life long and never clean up after it (oh sure, when the litter box knocks out company, time to empty). At least you have to commit to letting a dog outside everyday (and hopefully cleaning up after it). To be fair, I know lazy dog owners too.

[final note - as of this writing, I still have not confirmed that the irritant was the radiators, but I have my fingers crossed.]


Glenview dressed in lights.

Just took a few shots one night before I left town. Those of you that know Funview may recognize the spots, the rest of you, eat your heart out! (?)

Gift Idea, #4.

Looking for an enviro-friendly gift for the granola-eater or tree-hugger in your life?

Peep no further than the Keen Marshall Wallet (I'd say this is a unisex gift, possibly). It is made out of 100% reclaimed rice paper. And for the month of December, all proceeds of this product will go to a worthy cause. Not only that, but it's only $10, so you're not taking all the money out of your wallet to get this one. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but I would argue that this product hits the green aesthetic & looks categories easily.

If this isn't feminine enough for your secret-Santa recipient, Keen also makes some rice paper bags with a decidedly more female slant.


Discuss, Poll #47, Moving.

I can't remember if I've asked about this before or not, and I'd go through them all again to check, but I'm in the midst of a move myself. It's the very move that prompted this poll.

Count the word "move" however you see fit. Do you want to include some childhood moves you had no control over and no part of, fine. Do you want to count each new dorm room during your 6 years of college, Doctor, cool with me. Do you want to tally up all the empty boxes under the overpass, dandy.

Gift Idea, #3.

I'm sure all of you have seen the various offerings out there for "docking" your iPod at home and playing the music for the whole room or house, right?

Well, time to step it up a notch and get something that not only sounds good, but looks good too. This is the Vers Audio docking station. They also make a clock-included version too. This is real wood (4 to choose from), real sound, real nice stuff. And the best part is that it won't cost an arm & leg like some of those prissy brands (rhymes with 'Rose').

Results, Poll #46, Black Friday.

Seems like most t.c readers don't really dig Black Friday, though I know that some (possibly non-respondents) went out and shopped in it and at least one of you liked Midnight Madness (which I've heard is insane!).

> 1 person (7%) chose 'shop til i drop, it's a must' - did you wear little elf shoes with reindeer bells on each foot as you skipped from store to store?
> 1 person (7%) chose 'it helps me get in the holiday spirit' - i could see this helping, but i'd rather get my dose closer to the actual holiday.
> 7 people (53%) chose 'i try to avoid it for the most part' - now this sounds like the t.c reader i know!
> 4 people (30%) chose 'it's the devil incarnate' - yeah, it definetly feels like one of the made up "Hallmark holidays", like Sweetest Day or Personal Assistant Day or That Guy That Helped You with The Groceries That One Time at Costco Day.

Then again, since this year's Thanksgiving was on the 27th, people will feel like there is less time before Christmas to get all the shopping in, b/c there is.

New poll up very soon.


Brain Teaser, #10.

All are true/false questions:
> Cows can walk up stairs, but not down?
> Horses can sleep standing up?
> Male turtles can lay eggs?


Gift Idea, #2.

What times I would have had and trouble I would have gotten into if only I had access to one of these as a kid. It would have been broken in a few days anyways, but I still want one, right now.

I give you the Nerf N-Strike Vulcan EBF-25. It uses batteries and can shoot 3 rounds per second (just like an Uzzi?).

Finally, as I googled for info on this item, I saw YouTube videos on how to modify other Nerf gun to get more "oomph" out of them... very cool nerdery.


Gift Idea, #1.

Well, unless you're a holiday shopping pro, you might need a gift idea for someone on your list. I like finding unique items, so I thought I'd toss a few up on the ole blog.

Is that special someone or a favorite co-worker still using a tired old mug or worse, paper cups to get their morning tea fix? Check out this Metro Tea Cup. It's a surprisingly attractive, functional, and inexpensive tea pot & mug combo (you're getting a lot for $10).

It's at an NYC boutique called MXYPLYZYK (say that ten times fast!).


Discuss, Poll #46, Black Friday.

Somebody's got to have a good Black Friday story. Hopefully no one got trampled.

Results, Poll #45, Recycling Trash.

This just seems like a mish-mash of responses this week, could be the choices I gave. Let's see:

> 3 people (25%) chose 'sure, i do it all the time' - this is the second largest response, maybe people do like to recycle, wherever they may be.
> 2 people (16%) chose 'once or twice for something HUGE' - it's a start. soon, when you see the plastic ring from an orange juice carton in your friend's trash, you'll grab it and recycle.
> 5 people (41%) chose 'nah, i'm not really that concerned about other people's trash' - i understand, it takes a really strong pesonality to recycle garbage. Then again, this is the biggest sesponse, by far.
> 2 people (16%) chose 'no, it's not my business, i'd feel funny' - you know you want to.

A little less people this week, but that must be b/c of the holiday. People had less time to be bored at the office and check my blog. New poll up now.


Is this bad?

Is this something you want to see when you come down the stairs of the house your "sitting" at 7AM? I was a bit taken aback to say the least, but luckily I could send an MMS message with said picture included to the homeowner. I was told it was pretty normal, just sewer cleaning. Well, good for them b/c it was about 20 degrees out that day and they spent most of it on the lawn or in the ground (which could be warmer).


TurkeyDay Facts.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone.
20 quick & dirty facts about the holiday that many people consider their favorite:

> Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States. (do other countries matter?)
> By the fall of 1621 only half of the pilgrims, who had sailed on the Mayflower, survived. The survivors, thankful to be alive, decided to give a thanksgiving feast. (with what meat?)
> Thanksgiving Day is celebrated on the second Monday in October in Canada. (whoop-dee-do)
> The
Plymouth Pilgrims were the first to celebrate the Thanksgiving. (they stole their name from the car company)
> The pilgrims arrived in
North America in December 1620. (just in time for Christmas?)
> The Pilgrims sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to reach North America. (doi!)
> The pilgrims sailed on the ship, which was known by the name of 'Mayflower'. (uh-huh...)
> They celebrated the first Thanksgiving Day in the fall of 1621.
> They celebrated the first Thanksgiving Day at Plymouth, Massachusetts.
> The drink that the Puritans brought with them in the Mayflower was the beer. (yay!!!)
> The Wampanoag Indians were the people who taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land. (but not beer)
> The Pilgrim leader, Governor William Bradford, had organized the first Thanksgiving feast in the year 1621 and invited the neighboring Wampanoag Indians also to the feast. (was the guy's first name "governor"?))
> The first Thanksgiving feast was held in the presence of around ninety Wampanoag Indians and the Wampanoag chief, Massasoit, was also invited there. ("invited there", I didn't write these...)
> The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days. (and we thought we ate a lot!)
> President George Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in the year 1789 and again in 1795. (he had wooden teeth... good for turkey eating?)
> The state of New
York officially made Thanksgiving Day an annual custom in 1817. (do other states matter?)
> Sarah Josepha Hale, an editor with a magazine, started a Thanksgiving campaign in 1827 and it was result of her efforts that in 1863 Thanksgiving was observed as a day for national thanksgiving and prayer. (yeah, we do a lot of praying still, right?)
> Abraham
Lincoln issued a 'Thanksgiving Proclamation' on third October 1863 and officially set aside the last Thursday of November as the national day for Thanksgiving. Whereas earlier the presidents used to make an annual proclamation to specify the day when Thanksgiving was to be held. (Abe rules!!!)
> President Franklin D. Roosevelt restored Thursday before last of November as Thanksgiving Day in the year 1939. He did so to make the Christmas shopping season longer and thus stimulate the economy of the state. (should it be moved even earlier now?)
> Congress passed an official proclamation in 1941 and declared that now onwards Thanksgiving will be observed as a legal holiday on the fourth Thursday of November every year. (see, we really don't have enough time to Christmas shop with this set-up)

Now go eat your weight in fowl flesh, you Turkey!


Discuss, Poll #45, Recycling Trash.

I bought a new TV this week, in support of the impending move (do I ever stop talking about the new job and new state? Maybe.) This was not a rash decision, but one I spent weeks researching. Most of this consisted of keeping an eye on the Sunday ads and finding the best deal. I even went to Costco (without being a member) and checked out their offerings.

What cinched it for me was a TV ad for Abt Electornics, here in Glenview. They were giving $75 credit for any recycled TV, towards the purchase of any TV bigger than 32" and meeting a minimum price. Well, getting rid of the tired and old-school TV I had bought for $25 seemed like a win-win for me and the local landfill. I pulled the trigger the other day and felt like I had found the best deal overall. And, I'd finally gone to the store that's just down the street from my childhood home. The place is HUGE. It can even be challenging to get service, though they have loads of salespeople roaming about. Now, I just need to keep my fingers crossed and hope the movers don't harm the brand new LCD flatscreen they'll be moving for me.

Do you have any weird, funny, or otherwise interesting recycling stories?

Results, Poll #44, MSP.

So, as you can well imagine, I had ulterior motives with this week's poll. But, the answers were still interesting, let's check it out:

> 5 people (31%) chose 'yeah, i have family there' - Though I was surprised by the next choice, this one takes the cake as most surprising. I had no idea that 5 people I know, let alone 5 people that also read my blog have family in MN. This is good news for me, since I'll be there in a few short weeks.
> 6 people (37%) chose 'once, on a quick trip' - So, the majority has been to MN already. I did not see that coming. I think I'd been there about 4 times before I accepted the job offer... but I like what I've seen so far.
> 5 people (31%) chose 'nah, but if i had a reason...maybe' - A 'maybe' is not a 'no'. So that's good news. I'll have to entice you through blog posts about MSP in the future.
> 0 people (0%) chose 'no way, too cold!' - well, at least no one said they'd never go to MSP. If you did, I don't think I could have taken that any other way than a slap in the face.

16 respondents this week... nice! Keep it up. New poll up now.



Wow, who knew your cellphone carrier choice had so much effect - Credo would like to tip the balance back to causes they, and possibly you, believe in. I'll admit, I've never thought too much about what the large corporations do with all the money we give them for products, but maybe it's about time to find out.


Brain Teaser, #9.

This is an unusual paragraph. I'm curious how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it. It looks so plain you would think nothing was wrong with it. In fact, nothing is wrong with it! It is unusual though. Study it, and think about it, but you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit, you might find out! Try to do so without any coaching! You probably won't, at first, find anything particularly odd or unusual or in any way dissimilar to any ordinary composition. That is not at all surprising, for it is no strain to accomplish in so short a paragraph a stunt similar to that which an author did throughout all of his book, without spoiling a good writing job, and it was no small book at that. By studying this paragraph assiduously, you will shortly, I trust, know what is its distinguishing oddity.


martin & osa.

I found this lil gem of a his/hers clothing store in Old Orchard. I'd never heard of them before, but one of the many advertising kiosks in the mall caught my eye with some good-looking, simple, almost modern clothes. I found them just outside of the Nordstrom's entrance onto the mall.

Some of you may initially think that I picked this place because of it's name, and while I find some comfort in it, that's not the best part, check it -

They have the biggest dressing rooms I ever hung a pant in. People in NYC would kill for a place this big and well-appointed. I could comfortably place all of my clothing items into this one room.

Not only that, but they are well lit too. And, best of all...

... hooks! Haven't you ever said to yourself, as you dropped your coat onto the floor, "Boy, this *dressing* room could really use some places to hang clothes!"? Well, they have you covered. Not only are there long, horizontal bars about every two feet, you can also move the half-dozen hooks on each one! Plus, it's all adorned in this heavy gauge steel, even the door. It locks with such a thud and click that you really feel like no one will be barging in on you... as you hop on one leg while fighting to fit into a pair of skinny jeans.

It's was simply the best fitting experience I ever had. That's saying something cause I'm a guy and anal-retentive. And no, I didn't pick up the jeans in the picture... didn't fit just right.


New blog look, new blog city.

You may have already noticed that "replanted.chicagoan" has gone back to its original title of "transplanted.chicagoan". This is in anticipation of my impending move to Minneapolis, MN. I have been offered and accepted a new position at the company I menitoned in a previous posting. It's a well-respected company in the industry.

I don't plan on stopping the normal blog postings and now need to fill in with new MSP hotspots. So please continue to visit t.c as I make my transition to MSP. You remember the FAA's airport designations, don't you? MSP = Minneapolis-Saint-Paul.


Results, Poll #43, Winter's Cold.

When I first decided on this poll topic, it was getting cold out. During the week it warmed up and I thought my poll was stupid. Lucky for me, it got nice and cold again this weekend. Score, I may not be dumm!
Here's what we all said about old Jack Frost:

> 2 people (11%) chose 'yes, like a whale, i put on a layer of blubber for winter' - Now, I'm not pointing a chubby finger, but it's not healthy to yo-yo. (but don't drown your guilt in brownies)
> 5 people (29%) chose 'kind of, i broke out the winter clothes' - I think everyone should check their inventory, it's gonna be cold soon. Also, check your emergency roadside car kit. Yes, the one your dad made you put in the trunk eons ago and you've never even opened. At the very least, it'll make your mom feel better.
> 7 people (41%) chose 'as ready as i'll ever be, but not happy about it' - For me, knowing I have some warm clothes if and when it gets cold seems to help... but I'd like to be warm & cozy anyways.
> 1 person (5%) chose 'nope, i can't cope with the cold very well' - maybe it's time for one of the many coats now on sale at any store of your choosing. Help the economy!
> 2 people (11%) chose 'moot, i live in a place that doesn't get cold' - Well, la-dee-dah! Better run out and stock up on sunblock, George Hamilton.

To be honest, I think it's about perspective. In theory (and usually in practice), I like a locale that has four distinct seasons. It's nice to see and feel the changes. Fall usually sounds great in summer, but I know in a couple months that spring will start to sound even better.

17 respondents this week, sweet! I think I have FaceBook to thank for that. Poll #44 is in the oven, but it's not ready to come out yet. I hope to have it up by tomorrow (Monday). Please stop back during the week and make it another huge turnout (for my lil ole blog).


Brain Teaser, #8.

Mary was working in a chemistry lab with a mixture of chemicals that was 90% water and weighed 20 pounds. After returning to the lab from a weekend break, she calculated the mixture was now 50% water. How much does the mixture now weigh?
[For purposes of this puzzle, assume the non-water part of the mixture was not affected by evaporation.]


Discuss, Poll #43, Winter's Cold.

No, I'm not talking about the sniffles, this time, but I am talking about the 35 degree temps that have recently come back to the Midwest.

I remember last year in MKE when it was so cold the inside of your nose would half-freeze because of the cold air being breathed in. That's cold.


Results, Poll #42, Vote.

Wow, I'm honestly pretty amazed at how the t.c readership continues to be models of health, intellect, and now civic duty. A totally resounding result for this week's poll and, dare I say, the election as well.

> 13 (92%) people did vote in the election. Based on the elections's end result, I can guess who most of the 13 respondents voted for, we all could.
> Only 1 (7%) r.c reader was unable able to cast a ballot for president, but I suspect this was due to voter registration over apathy? It does highlight the importance of being registered well before an election day.

We picked up one more respondent than usual this week, 14 in all. I'm going to have to think of a good poll question to keep everyone involved. And since this is the presidential poll and poll number 42 for this blogger - who was the 42nd president?

Quality with a capital 'Q', Part I.

Here's some pics of Minneapolis, an interestin company building and, uh, that's it really. I can also say without a doubt, the drive from CHI to MPL is about 7 hours of cheesy Wisconsin goodness.
Minny got a really light coat of snow during the trip. It didn't amount to much on the roads, but it made the trees look nice.

This building is LEED certified (i.e. very enviro-friendly) and has a 40 megawatt solar panel array on the roof. I've heard it's the largest such array in the Upper Midwest. Powerful stuff. (I could have said "shocking" instead?)
The building is mostly warehouse, but since they are encroaching on forest preserve, they keep building up rather than out. Inside one wing of the building, special forklifts run on an almost prefectly level concrete floor and bring the driver up to heights of 35ft to pick products off the really really tall stacks of shelving. The guys wear what is basically a climbers harness while on the forklift. Falling would be bad.

It's kind of cool to have paved running and riding trails on one end of your company's parking lot... esp if you're a bike company.


Discuss, Poll #42, Vote.

I'm on the mend and thought I'd toss up a quick & dirty election day poll. If anyone has a good polling place story from the day, please share.

For example, when I voted in the primaries last year, I went to two different polling places (the first one was indicated on my voter card, but wrong) and all in all took about two hours. I had decided to go on foot and wound up walking waaay more than expected. Plus, at the 2nd polling place, I had to talk to "Shirley" to get my issues sorted out, since they had no ballot ready for me. Fun, but I did vote.


Results, Poll #41, Hallow's Eve.

BOO - Let's have a gander, shall we:

> 3 females (23%) chose 'always, i love the holiday' - lookie there! girls love this holiday - yay!!!
> 0 males (0%) chose 'always, i love the holiday' - well well well, no guys love the holiday, not even one!
> 1 female (7%) chose 'yep, i got a party to go to' - i wonder what this female would have chosen if she not had a party to go to... hmmm?
> 1 male (7%) chose 'yep, i got a party to go to' - too bad dude... and i wonder if this party and your costume were done to please a woman in your life? Do tell!!!
> 6 females (46%) chose 'nah, it's for kids' - so a good amount of women don't really care about it, ok, fine.
> 2 males (15%) chose 'nah, it's for kids' - seems about right to me.

And we also see t.c has considerably more female readers than male (10 to 3, and one of the guys is myself). Perhaps I'm that much of a ladies man, but I can assure you that's not the case. I think a more likely explanation is that women, in general, are more prone to use this kind of medium to keep tabs on those around them. After all, this is blog for family and friends. Women talk on the phone more, and I think it makes sense they'd check on a friend's blog more too.

New poll NOT up now... whose ready for break this week? I'm sick and traveling to interview. Sorry.


Brain Teaser, #7.

What occurs once in every minute, twice in every moment, yet never in a thousand years?


Fable II.

I'm not a gamer by any means, but this commercial seems very well done (i.e. creepy), esp considering the holiday about to happen. If anyone knows what we used to call those four-corner things, please speak up.


Discuss, Poll #41, Hallow's Eve.

Just seeing what the typical t.c reader does for Halloween. I could be way off - I feel that guys don't really get jazzed about dressing up, but girls do. Let's see if I'm right.

Of course, if you have a sublime costume idea you're willing to share, let's hear it. If it's almost free to create/make, even better. And no "Slutty _____" ideas... those are too easy.

Results, Poll #40, eBay.

So, here's how it shakes down for eBaying from the t.c readership:

> 0 people (0) chose 'i've gone to the site a few times to look' - boy, no one just looks anymore... how about virtual window shopping? see next response...
> 5 people (38%) chose 'i bought something once' - not a bad buying only response. seems like most people are comfortable buying at eBay.
> 1person (7%) chose 'i buy stuff all the time there' - might be time to look in your closet, attic, garage and grab some stuff to sell, it's pretty easy. i have some tips if you feel like it.
> 7 people (53%) chose 'i've done it all - bought, sold, paypaled, rated' - this is a large majority and i was not expecting this many to people to be so eBay savvy.
> 0 people (0) chose 'ebay? i don't like large bodies of water' - seems like a resounding response and conclusion that all t.c readers are pretty web-savvy and know what's up in the www.

13 voters this week... I wonder where my few others went?
New poll up now.


FedEx logo.

Did you ever see the arrow in the FedEx logo?
Children below reading age see it almost immediately.

It also used to be a different logo altogether.


Road Trip.

Thought it was high time I go out to Omaha. Yeah, the one in Nebraska. You know, the state next to Iowa... really, it is.

You bring a bunch of junk food too, right? Yeah, the Junior Mints melted into one Senior Mint on the way there - boo.

The long long drive ended wonderfully with quite a few of these "Moscow Mules". A mix of ginger beer (think strong ginger ale), mixed with vodka, a twist of lime, and served in a "chilling" copper cauldron (think Chester Copperpot).

Nothing beats a night of "mules" like a morning of stainless steel sliding action. These were, IMO, the most popular tourist attraction in the city of Omaha... and for good reason. There's nothing quite like a fast slide. And many of the people in the know knew to bring some waxed paper to place under their heinies. I'm not sure how, but it made the slide faster. If anyone can explain why, I'd love to hear it.

On your way back home, don't forget to stop at the last cheap gas place before IL. As noted, this is the World's Biggest Truck Stop and while I won't deny it... it wasn't the best place from the weekend. I could have used more groceries (I had to go to another place to get traveling food (see first pic)) and there wasn't nearly enough useless crap (i.e. souvenirs).

If you make your way out to "The Big O" anytime soon, let me know, I have some tips and maybe a place to rest your head.


Discuss, Poll #40, eBay.

For those that don't know, I've been an eBayer for some time. I've sold lots of things on this "marketplace", for myself and others. As I began thinking about some new listings, I wondered how many of us had used it. Let's find out, shall we?

Of course, if you have a quick eBay story/score to tell, please share.
And by all means, if you're thinking of selling something, email me first.

Results, Poll #39, Movies.

For someone that used to have a weekly movie matinee night with a good friend (when we both lived and worked in the city) - I wondered if the poor economy would send people to the theaters more or less often. Of course, for some of you "more often" would be more than once a decade...

> 1 person (10%) chose 'today' -
i'll admit this was me. we all know why, i think.
> 2 people (20%) chose 'in the last 7 days' - not bad, you must like escaping reality on a regular basis? i'll see you at the Glen for Wednesday's matinee (don't pay normal prices). they do have "mommy matinees" too.
> 3 people (30%) chose 'maybe a month or so' - my guess is that this is probably the American average... but more people chose the next one. Again though, that could be more of an effect of my lack of proper responses.
> 4 people (40%) chose 'i know for sure this year, i think' - wow, someone must really like their couch and really hate people... or maybe the hate is only for high prices and being on the cusp of pop culture?
> Nobody just Netflixs (kind of a surprise)

10 lousy votes this week?! Poop. Must be the economy affecting online surfing. Ahhh, no matter - New poll up now, give it a whirl... it always pays BIG.


Discuss, Poll #39, Movies.

Just saw Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist. I think everyone should go see it and then start an emo band. What have you seen lately? Was it any good? Was it worth $10?

Results, Poll #38, Picking.

A bit under the weather this week. Apologies for my delay in posting the new poll and new results. Here's the no-nonsense version:

> 6 people (46%) chose 'yes, as kids' - i think it's high time you get back out there, for old time's sake!!! and for christ's sake!!!
> 4 people (30%) chose 'yeah, lots as kids and now with my kids' (or on your own or with someone elses kids... that you kidnapped) - it's still fun after all these years, isn't it. plus, you know not to eat 5 apples in the car on the way back home, and can teach your children the same... but often let them "explore" this fact on their own.
> 3 people (23%) chose 'one or twice, but not much' - awww, this fall weather is the perfect time to get back out there. i also have it good authority that 'honey crisp' apples are just starting to be picked now too. they're like the crack of apple varieties.
> 0 people (0%) chose 'not really, i go to the store' - nuts, i wasted my final and traditionally most smarmy response for nothing this time. well, at least people have picked something before.

New poll up, go vote!!!



Thought some of you pro [web] surfers would like to check out an interesting search engine, called Navigaya. After typing in your topic, it shows you the results from multiple search engines, each in their own little screen... kinda cool. There's other things on the home page I haven't even got into yet. I think it might be my go-to search page. I know, that's huge news.


The China Study, Part V, Osteoporosis.

This post doesn't mean I don't like Wisconsin, I promise.

"[Quote] Americans consume more cow's milk and its products per person than most populations in the world. So Americans should have wonderfully strong bones, right? Unfortunately not. A recent study showed that American women aged fifty and older have one of the highest rates of hip fracture in the world. The only countries with higher rates are in Europe and the South Pacific (Australia and New Zealand) where they consume even more milk than the United States. What's going on?

An excess rate of hip fractures is often used as a reliable indicator of osteoporosis, a bone disease that especially affects women after menopause. It is often claimed to be due to an inadequate intake of calcium. Therefore, health policy people often recommend higher calcium consumption. Dairy products are particularly rich in calcium, so the dairy industry eagerly supports efforts to boost calcium consumption. These efforts have something to do with why you were told to drink your milk for strong bones - the politics of which are discussed in Part IV.

Something is amiss, though, because those countries that use the most cow's milk and its products also have the highest fracture rates and the worst bone health. One possible explanation is found in a report showing an impressively strong association between animal protein intake and bone fracture rate for women in different countries. Authored in 1992 by researchers at Yale University School if Medicine, the report summarized data on protein intake and fracture rates taken from thirty-four separate surveys in sixteen countries that were published in twenty-nine peer-reviewed research publications. All of the subjects in these surveys were women fifty years and older. It found that a very impressive 70% of the fracture rate was attributable to the consumption of animal protein.

These researchers explained that animal protein, unlike plant protein, increases the acid load in the body. An increased acid load means that our blood and tissues become more acidic. The body does not like this acidic environment and begins to fight it. In order to neutralize the acid, the body uses calcium, which acts as a very effective base. This calcium, however, must come from somewhere. It ends up being pulled from the bones, and the calcium loss weakens them, putting them at greater risk for fracture."[End quote]

I'd bet most of our moms encouraged/made us drink milk as kids, especially for strong bones. I see my neices suck it down like a walk in the park.


Learn to fall in love with Fall more, with some recent pics from Vermont. It's known as the Green Mountain State, but I think it could also be called Cheeseland NE or Mapleville, USA. If you like the fall foliage, this might be the best place in the US to see them (of the places I've been to).

[and yes, i know the pics suck lately. could be the camera phones i always use or the fact that many are taken in moving cars. i'm looking into a real digital camera though]


Brain Teaser, #6.

One segment of the game show Let's Make a Deal had three doors, behind one of which was a car and behind each of the other two was a goat. The contestant would win whatever was behind the door he/she chose. The contestant chose one of the three doors, but before it was opened, the host opened up a different door that had a goat behind it. To have the greatest chance of winning the car, should the contestant open the door that was his/her original choice, or open the remaining door?


Embrace Fall.

Put on some fleece, grab some cash, a friend, and a camera... and head out to the Chicago Botanic Gardens (see link in favorites). But don't wait too long as I suspect they won't look this nice for too much longer now. At least it will get you back outside for a little bit more this year.

And please note: the gardens are not actually in the city of Chicago, but only about 45 minutes from the IL-WI border, in the 'burbs. (Lord knows why)


Discuss, Poll #38, Picking.

No, not picking your nose. I'm talking about picking produce mostly... like picking your own apples, strawberries, raspberries, etc. Didn't you used to do this as a kid with your family? No? How about getting your family's pumpkin or Christmas tree? Nothing. Well, just fill out the poll then.

If you have some good stories, let's hear 'em. And to entice you to leave a comment, I have some good ones that I'll share if I get a few to start it off.

Results, Poll #37, Winter Blues.

I'm feeling some winter blues already, so no plethora of commentary this week, here's the results:

> 0 people (0%) chose "drink early and drink often".
> 1 people (8%) chose "eat early and eat often".
> 1 people (8%) chose "exercise early and exercise often".
> 2 people (16%) chose "all of the above".
> 4 people (33%) chose "they don't really bother me" - i don't like you.
> 4 people (33%) chose "i wish i had a good method" - c'mon people! the person that suggested tanning up to twice a week, who I call 'Miss Melanoma Head', isn't that much help.

Pretty dull, right? Only 12 voters too... even more depressing. New poll up now, if you care.


One of my favorite topics...

[getting it started]
In case you didn't watch NBC on Sunday night, the Chicago Bears played the Philadelphia Eagles. Now, don't get me wrong, I've had fun in Philly, they have some great bike shops... but their fans are known the world over for being some of the most caustic in the league. One year, in their own stadium, they threw snowballs at Santa Claus. This game had the most fan fights I'd ever seen at a NFL game. You can also now call or text a special Bears Task Force and report rowdy fans during the game - kinda cool.
This guy will be the rest of the pics. He was two rows in front of us the whole game. I know you want to get a better look at his face paint, don't you?

[the other side]
I think he was older than my dad, had his own custom jersey (last name 'Knell') and brought his son along for the fun (or some young guy that wore another custom jersey with the same last name). He wasn't a mean drunk or anything and was actually pretty friendly to the row right in front of us. Their interactions gave me the best chance for a good head-on shot.


Oh, the Bears won this one in a nail-biter... once again on the strength to their defense with almost no help from their offense. Go, Orton. It was a great game/evening and I was glad I got lucky enough to go.

The China Study, Part IV, Breast Cancer.

Does anyone reading this NOT know someone who has dealt with breast cancer? Sure, this is an odd topic for a male to pick, but there's a lot of women in my life I'd like to keep around for a good long time. Don't you have some too?

"[Quote] There are at least four important breast cancer risk factors that are affected by nutrition, as shown in Chart 8.1. Many of these relationships were confirmed in the China Study after being well established in other research."[End quote]

Obviously, you can't see the chart, but I can write down the risk factors, they are:
1. early age of menarche (look it up)
2. late age of menopause
3. high levels of female hormones in blood
4. high blood cholesterol

"[Quote] With the exception of blood cholesterol, these risk factors are variations on the same theme: exposure to excess amounts of female hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, leads to an increased risk of breast cancer. Women who consume a diet rich in animal-based foods, with a reduced amount of whole, plant-based food, reach puberty earlier and menopause later, thus extending their reproductive lives. They also have higher levels of female hormones throughout their lifespan, as shown in chart 8.2.

According to our China Study data, lifetime exposure to estrogen is at least 2.5-3.0 times higher among Western women when compared with rural Chinese women. This is a huge difference for such a critically important hormone. To use the words of one of the leading breast cancer research groups in the world, "there is overwhelming evidence that estrogen levels are a critical determinant of breast cancer risk." Estrogen directly participates in the cancer process. It also tends to indicate the presence of other female hormones that play a role in breast cancer risk. Increased levels of estrogen and related hormones are a result of the consumption of typical Western diets, high in fats and animal protein and low in dietary fiber.

The difference in estrogen levels between rural Chinese women and Western women is all the more remarkable because a previous report found that a mere 17% decrease in estrogen levels could account for a huge difference in breast cancer rates when comparing different countries. Imagine, then, what 26-63% lower blood estrogen levels and eight to nine fewer reproductive years of blood estrogen exposure could mean, as we found in the China Study.

This idea that breast cancer is centered on estrogen exposure is profound because diet plays a major role in establishing estrogen exposure. This suggests that the risk of breast cancer is preventable if we eat foods that will keep estrogen levels under control. The sad truth is that most women simply are not aware of this evidence. If this information were properly reported by responsible and credible public health agencies, I suspect that many more young women might be taking very real, very effective steps to avoid this awful disease."[End quote]

If you want more on this topic from the book, and there's plenty more, please grab it from somewhere. Much of the book hits home after reading the whole thing, not just bits here and there. I'm just trying to get people interested.


Brain Teaser, #5.

Suppose we have a sequence:
(1), (2, 3), (4,5,6), (7,8,9,10), (11,12,13,14,15),...
where (1) is the first part of the sequence, (2,3) the second part, etc.

What is the first number of the 100th part of the sequence?


Discuss, Poll #37, Winter Blues.

As I sit here in the beginning of Autumn and continue my string of blog polls, I look outside to a sunless, dark, and rainy day. It's only a short time before the days are quite short and the darkness & cold of winter takes hold. [did I just depress you a little?]

If anyone has good tips for staving off cabin fever and S.A.D., I'd like to hear them.

Results, Poll #36, BMI.

I want to thank everyone from the outset this time for filling out the poll. I can only assume that everyone found their correct BMI figure and chose appropriately. Of course, this is one case where a little "fudging" could come into play... but I trust not much, if any, occured here.

The results were pretty interesting for me - it appears that not only are readers of this blog very well-read and fans of live sports, but are also pretty darn healthy, at least when using the BMI as a gauge.

> 2 people (13%) chose "13-18" (Underweight) - Wow, I often get remarks from people about me not eating enough or looking thin... but you two take the cake, or perhaps leave the cake in this instance. I don't know what you're doing, but maybe some more plant-based protein would be a good thing.
> 10 people (66%) chose "19-24" (Healthy Weight) - Again, wow. This is a large majority of readers in the "healthy" section. I'm a bit surprised, but very happy that most of my readers are keeping an eye on their waist and portion sizes. Or just eating once a week, like a snake.
> 2 people (13%) chose "25-29" (Overweight) - I'm sure with some new healthy steps and increased activity, you can get this into the "healthy" area - if you so choose.
> 1 person (6%) chose "30-60" (Obese) - I poked fun at the underweight twins, but I don't know what to say here. I'm sure nothing I say will be funny.

These are interesting results to me because one-third of the US is considered "overweight" and many of those folks are in the "obese" category. I guess reading my blog keeps you fit?

The China Study, Part III, Heart Disease.

Who wants to read about heart disease!?! Ok, ok, you can all put your hands down, everyone will get a turn -

"[Quote]... If you were to guess the location of the best cardiac care center in the country, maybe the world, what city would you name? New York? Los Angeles? Chicago? A city in Florida, perhaps, near elderly people? As it turns out, the best medical center for cardiac care is located in Cleveland, Ohio, according to US News and World Report. Patients fly in to the Cleveland Clinic from all over the world for the most advanced heart treatment available, administered by prestigious doctors.

One of the doctors at the Clinic, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. has quite a resume. As a student at Yale University, Dr. Esselstyn rowed in the 1956 Olympics, winning a gold medal. After being trained at the Cleveland Clinic, he went to earn the Bronze Star as an army surgeon in the Vietnam War. He then became a highly successful doctor at one of the top medical institutions in the world, the Cleveland Clinic, where he was president of the staff, member of the Board of Governors, chairman of the Breast Cancer Task Force and head of the Section of Thyroid and Parathyroid Surgery. Having published over 100 scientific papers, Dr. Esselstyn was named one of the best doctors in America in 1994-1995. From knowing this man personally, I get the feeling that he has excelled at virtually everything he has done in his life. He reached the pinnacle of success in his professional and personal life, and did it with grace and humility.

The quality I find most appealing about Dr. Esselstyn, however, is not his resume or awards; it is his principled search for the truth. Dr Esselstyn has had the courage to take on the establishment. For the Second National Conference on Lipids in the Elimination and Prevention of Coronary Artery Disease (which he organized and in which he kindly asked me to participate) Dr Esselstyn wrote:

Eleven years into my career as a surgeon, I became disillusioned with the treatment paradigm of U.S. medicine in cancer and heart disease. Little has changed in the 100 years in the management of cancer, and in neither heart disease nor cancer was there a serious effort at prevention. I found the epidemiology of these diseases provocative, however: Three-quarters of the humans on this plant had no heart disease, a fact strongly associated with diet.

Dr. Esselstyn started to reexamine the standard medical practice, "Aware that medical, angiographic and surgical interventions were treating only the symptoms of heart disease and believing that a fundamentally different approach to treatment was necessary." Dr. Esselstyn decided to test the effects of a whole foods, plant-based diet on people with established coronary disease. By using a minimal amount of cholesterol-lowering medication and a very low-fat, plant-based diet, he has gotten the most spectacular results ever recorded in the treatment of heart disease.

In 1985, Dr. Esselstyn began his study with the primary goal of reducing his patients' blood cholesterol to below 150 mg/dL. He asked each patient to record everything he or she ate in a food diary. Every two weeks, for the next five years, Dr. Esselstyn met with his patients to discuss the process, administer blood tests and record blood pressure and weight. He followed up this daytime meeting with an evening telephone call to report the results of the blood tests and further discuss how the diet was working. In addition, all of his patients met together a few times a year to talk about the program, socialize and exchange helpful information. In other words, Dr. Esselstyn was diligent, involved, supportive and compassionately stern on a personal level with his patients.

The diet they, including Dr. Esselstyn and his wife Ann, followed was free of all added fat and almost all animal products. Dr. Esselstyn and his colleagues report, "[Participants] were to avoid oils, meats, fish, fowl, and dairy products, except for skim milk and nonfat yogurt." About five years into the program, Dr. Esselstyn recommended to his patients that they stop consuming any skim milk and yogurt, as well.

Five of his patients dropped out of the study withing the first two years; that left eighteen. These eighteen patients originally had come to Dr. Esselstyn with severe disease. Within the eight years leading up to the study, these eighteen people had suffered through forty-nine coronary events, including angina, bypass surgery, heart attacks, strokes, and angioplasty. These were not healthy hearts. One might imagine that they were motivated to join the study by the panic created when premature death is near.

These eighteen patients achieved remarkable success. At the start of the study, the patients' average cholesterol was 246 mg/dL. During the course of the study, the average cholesterol was 132 mg/dL, well below the 150 mg/dL target! Their levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol dropped just as dramatically. In the end, though, the most impressive result was not the blood cholesterol levels but how many coronary events occurred since the start of the study.

In the following eleven years, there was exactly ONE coronary event among the eighteen patients who followed the diet. That one event was from a patient who strayed from the diet for two years. After straying, the patient consequently experienced clinical chest pain (angina) and then resumed a healthy plant-based diet. The patient eliminated his angina, and has not experienced any further events.

Not only has the disease in these patients been stopped, it has even been reversed. Seventy percent of his patients have seen an opening of their clogged arteries..." [End quote]

Again, this is all from the book, The China Study [Google Books link], and if you want to read more of it, check out the link or go to the library like I did and check the book out.


The China Study, Part II, Obesity.

"I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!!!"
Man, isn't that the best yelling-phrase you could use as a kid?
Well, maybe not.

"[Quote] ...Our struggle with weight is hard to miss these days. Open a newspaper or a magazine, or turn on the radio or TV - you know that America has a weight problem. In fact, two out of three adult Americans are overweight, and one-third of the adult population is obese. Not only are these numbers high, but the rate at which they have been rising is ominous (Chart 1.2, page 13).

But what do the terms "overweight" and "obese" mean? The standard expression of body size is the body mass index (BMI). It represents body weight (in kilograms, kg) [in the book's chart] relative to body height (in meters squared, m2). By most official standards, being overweight is having a BMI above twenty-five, and being obese is having a BMI over thirty. The same scale is used for both men and women...

Perhaps the most depressing element of our supersize mess is the growing number of overweight and obese children. About 15% of America's youth (ages six to nineteen) are overweight. Another 15% are at risk of becoming overweight.

Overweight children face a wide range of psychological and social challenges. As you know, children have a knack for being open and blunt; sometimes the playground can be a merciless place. Overweight children find it more difficult to make friends and are often thought of as lazy and sloppy. They are more likely to have behavioral and learning difficulties, and the low self-esteem likely to be formed during adolescence can last forever.

Young people who are overweight also are highly likely to face a host of medical problems. They often have elevated cholesterol levels, which can be a predictor for any number of deadly diseases. They are more likely to have problems with glucose intolerance, and, consequently, diabetes. Type 2 diabetes, formerly seen only in adults, is skyrocketing among adolescents. (See chapters seven and nine for a more thorough discussion of childhood diabetes.) Elevated blood pressure is nine times more likely to occur among obese kids. Sleep apnea, which can cause neuro-cognitive problems, is found in one in ten obese children. A wide variety of bone problems is more common in obese kids. Most importantly, an obese young person is much more likely to be an obese adult., greatly increasing the likelihood of lifelong health problems.

If you are obese, you may not be able to do many things that could make your life more enjoyable. You may find that you cannot play vigorously with your grandchildren (or your children), walk long distances, participate in sports, find a comfortable seat in a movie theatre or airplane or have an active sex life. In fact, even sitting still in a chair may be impossible without experiencing back or joint pain. For many, standing is hard on the knees. Carrying around too much weight can dramatically affect physical mobility, work, mental health, self-perception and social life. So you see, this isn't about death; it really is about missing many of the more enjoyable things in life.

Clearly no one desires to be overweight. So why is it that two out of three adult Americans are overweight? Why is one-third of the population obese?

The problem is not lack of money. In 1990, medical care costs relating to obesity alone were estimated to be $70 billion. In 2002, a mere three years later, the American Obesity Association listed these costs at $100 billion. This is not all. Add another $3-040 billion out-of-pocket money that we spend trying to keep off the weight in the first place. Going on special weight-loss diet plans and popping pills to cut our appetites or rearrange our metabolism have become a national pastime.

This is an economic black hole that sucks our money away without offering anything in return. Imagine paying $40 to a service man to fix your leaky kitchen sink, and then two weeks later, the sink pipes explode and flood the kitchen and it costs $500 to repair. I bet you wouldn't ask that guy to fix your sink again! So then why do we endlessly try those weight-loss plans, books, drinks, energy bars and assorted gimmicks when they don't deliver as promised?

I applaud people for trying to achieve a healthy weight. I don't question the worthiness or dignity of overweight people any more than I question cancer victims. My criticism is of a societal system that allows and even encourages this problem. I believe, for example, that we are drowning in an ocean of very bad information, too much of it intended to put money into someone else's pockets. What we really need, then, is a new solution compromised of good information for individual people to use at a price that they can afford.

The solution to losing weight is a whole foods, plant-based diet, coupled with a reasonable amount of exercise... "[End quote]

FYI - I couldn't do a pull- up in high school gym class during my sophomore year and I got worked over by a guy in the same weight class during the wrestling sessions (to be fair, he was the starting point guard on the JV team and already had six-pack abs) - fun times.


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