So, this past weekend, my friend Jud and I packed up our tents, fishing poles, and wives and decided to make our virgin trip to the annual beer release day know as Dark Lord Day, and followed it up with a quick overnight camp. I had been reading about DLD 2008 and the crazy lines and disappointed attendees that left empty-handed, but Jud and I managed to secure the ‘golden tickets’ that would ensure a successful trip. At one point when we were standing in line and soaking up the intermittent sunshine, we began naming off the preparedness of the more seasoned folks around us. My wife, who constantly reminds me of her amazingness, brought the conversation to a pause, saying, “well, I guess these are things we will need to keep in mind when we come back next year.” (more…)
I didn’t have an alcoholic drink until I was 21. It’s the kind of thing that makes conversations all awkward when I mention it out loud – especially when I’m with my church friends. I know some people find it hard to believe I would abstain until the government told me I was old enough, but it’s true.
It wasn’t really a conscious decision. I remember in high school my motivation heavily relied on the potential death that would come to me if my parents were to find out. I don’t know why my fear was so high, but it made sure that I would stay sober all through high school. (more…)
Filed under: Adventures with Dave,Baseball,beer.,church.,City Life,Deep thoughts,Obama,Softball,Wedding Stuff
It seems like most people have some type of yearly reflection around this time. People start throwing out “best of” and “worst of” lists like their opinions should have some kind of authority. Ignoring subjectivity completely, readers immediately react to these lists with enough vitriol to float a boat. My solution? Make lists that I can say that I am the authority. So, here you go.
The Worst of 2008 for Me:
10. Getting my complete lack of drumming ability exposed by Rock Band 2.
9. The extended “sick, but not really really sick” battle I waged in November. Two weeks of congestion and exhaustion was pretty much a big crapper.
8. The Great Comcast Battle of 2008
7. The extended “remodeling” of the Red Lion that kept it closed all of 2008.
6. My catalytic converter getting stolen off of my Jeep. That really sucked and continues to keep the Jeep in Sucktown.
5. The seats when we took Sarah’s parents to see Jersey Boys. A bad view, uncomfortable angle, and they ripped my pants.
4. The complete unraveling of the Cleveland Indians and Browns. Both ended up being such letdowns after 2007.
3. The incredibly long and unrelenting winter of 2008. I don’t think we saw anything over 30 degrees until May.
2. Getting a parking boot. Stupid on many levels, but man, finding my Jeep with a giant yellow parking boot after work was just about the worst feeling ever.
1. Sarah taking a softball to the knee. It made life challenging for a while and kept her on the bench for the rest of the year. Oh, and the pressing fear that she wouldn’t be able to walk normally for the rest of her life.
Honorable mention: Owing taxes, the new Indiana Jones movie, and paying $10 for lunch way too often.
And now… the Best of 2008 for Me:
10. Sarah allowing me get away with growing a beard for the last several weeks of the year. I’m guessing her acceptance will be endless. If not, Sarah making me shave my beard will be on my 2009 “worst of” list.
9. The Great Nebraska Trip of 08. This trip has redefined the awesomeness of summer.
8. The Dark Knight in IMAX. Mind = blown.
7. Getting a Costco membership. I know that sounds lame, but trust me, it is. Even so, it has turned out to be pretty dang awesome.
6. Pastor Daniel’s “sex series” and forum. It’s been quite a while since a pastor has spoken words that hit me the way his series did a couple months ago.
5. The Wii… and Rock Band 2… and WiiFit… and taking my dad down in Wii Bowling.
4. Getting engaged. From the ring to talking to Sarah’s dad to postponed proposals to finally getting the word to come out of my mouth, this was probably the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done.
3. The Weber 22.5″ One-Touch Gold kettle grill that was provided by the guys from my “bachelor weekend.” This may continue to be on my 2009 “best of” list.
2. Brewing my first batch of beer ever with Jud. Hopefully it leads to continued brewing and eventually some stellar beer.
1. Well, it’s not that hard to guess what my number 1 might be. Obviously, it was discovering there was a Sonic in Ohio just off of I-70 near Dayton.
Honorable mention: Discovering the tv show Mad Men, Iron Man or Wall-E, Microsoft replacing my Xbox 360 quickly and for free.
Ok, for real, there were two pretty monumental occurences that will make 2008 incredibly memorable. Enough so that they deserve their own list.
So, here it is… the Greatest of the Great in 2008:
2. Hearing Wolf Blitzer say, “We are ready to declare that Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States” while standing in Grant Park with my wife and some good friends.
1. A month before election day, standing in front of a gazeebo somewhere in Michigan and wearing a nice suit, a beautiful woman for some reason agreed to spend the rest of her life with me. That was pretty swell.
So that’s it. 2008 reduced to a couple of lists. Disagree with any of it and I will have my friend Corey poke you in the eye. He’s ready to do it too.
This whole wedding planning thing has gone a lot smoother than I think Sarah and I anticipated. Sarah has bought her dress, picked out bridesmaid dresses, booked the ceremony and reception sites (including food and drinks), ordered cakes, secured a DJ, and remained relatively calm and lighthearted about it all. Me? Well, I’ve started working on a wedding website… oh, and I registered for tools and camping stuff at Sears. I also called about chair prices for the outdoor ceremony. Yep, I’m pretty much useless.
Filed under: Adventures with Dave,Baseball,beer.,church.,City Life,Deep thoughts,Growing Up,Softball,Work
Well folks, here it is. The introspective, reflective, clichÃ© sap-fest of a list of lessons learned over the past year. It might be interesting to look at previous versions of this list to see if I’m still learning the same lessons over multiple years, but that would most likely be slightly depressing. That being said, I’ll pretend this is the first such list and deny any part in the creation of previous similar writings.
A serious relationship with a great girl who luckily doesn’t take me too seriously, my brother officially graduating from my alma mater, and a complete change in careers after almost two years at DePaul were probably the big three developments of 2007. While my brother’s graduation was expected, the other two were surprises to even me. Who knew a friendly dinner with a girl could turn into… well… something much bigger? I know she reads this blog and is going to tell me I’m a sappy nerd after reading this, but she’ll get over it. I’ve never been the quickest when it comes to reading signs of interest from the opposite sex, which I suppose could explain my struggles in sending appropriate signs as well. Sarah was no different. Our stories differ quite a bit, but suffice it to say, somewhere around early February I had a couple dates with the girl and realized she was interesting and laughed at my jokes. I was hooked.
Somewhere in the first half of 2007, I realized that my personal life wasn’t the only part of me that needed to stretch and grow. A conversation with the VP of my department at DePaul, where I was basically told the main reason I accepted the job and moved to Chicago was not really something he considered part of the long-term plan, had me casually glancing at the idealist.org job list. Before I knew it, I was wrapped up in an interview process and accepting an offer to head back into the non-profit world. The first few months had me questioning my decision to leave the friendly confines of a role I understood to find myself overwhelmed and underqualified. Somehow things have worked out and the moments of feeling overwhelmed come less frequently, but I can say that the move was a smart one. I do miss my admissions family and the always-entertaining conversations with high schoolers, but there’s a lot of growth and potential that are keeping me on track in my current role.
As for my brother, well, it’s pretty cool to watch a younger sibling walk across the same stage I did four years earlier. There were a few new faces, but it was great to catch up with faculty and staff and feel confident that my brother’s education was in good hands. I still didn’t know the words to the alma mater, but to see the whole day in a new light and spend it with my family was a welcome trip back to the Hill. Now in his first year of teaching, it’s going to be great watching him develop and adjust to adulthood.
Other lessons from 2007:
- If Jud tells me something is potent… say, his egg nog… I will listen to the guy and cap myself somewhere around the 2-3 cups range;
- Also – if Jud is bbqing, I’m there;
- One more about Jud – the guy is a safe bet when crazy things happen, like car windows falling into the door frame;
- Managing a rec league team takes up way too much time and causes a lot of stress;
- Adjusting plans to see Over the Rhine’s Christmas concert is always a good idea;
- Speaking of concerts – when your favorite band is doing a farewell tour, it’s OK to put out of a few extra bucks to see them from decent seats… even if they appear emotionally drained;
- One more about concerts – taking the chance that Ryan Adams is going to have a good show is worth it;
- Driving a couple of hours out of my way to play golf with my dad and brother is never a bad idea;
- Never turn down a free ticket to a baseball game;
- When a car starts making any noises that aren’t normal, get it looked at sooner rather than later;
- Always appreciate someone who buys Bell’s for you;
- Michigan has a few redeeming qualities;
- People come and go, so make sure to enjoy having them around while you can;
- Bickering and complaining doesn’t accomplish much;
- My church family is full of surprises and apparently knows how to put on a good potluck;
- Watching so many friends take on adulthood is… kind of cool… and makes me think I might have a shot… someday;
- <sap alert> Roadtrips are a lot cooler with a girl who falls asleep on your shoulder</sap alert>;
- If you have the chance to take a long weekend and get out of the city, do it;
- Leaving the city reminds you how much you miss stars;
- The American Girl store is a creepy, creepy place;
- When friends are in Chicago, make time for them;
- Always appreciate people who contribute greatly to your life and make sure they know it while you can;
- and… some people in Chicago take kickball way too seriously.
That’s it for 2007… I’m guessing 2008 will have some pretty great highlights. Here’s hoping I can remember some of these lessons over the next year.
I’m thinking about starting a couple new hobbies.Â I know, exciting, right?
What’s your new hobby, Dave?
Good question!Â No, I’m not going to start knitting… or crocheting… or quilting… more like lame-ing, lamer-ing, and lamest-ing.
I’m thinking of things that are much, much closer to me.Â Beer and BBQ.
My friend Jud has some of the skills I envy the most.Â He can take a nice pork shoulder and some basic ingredients and turn it into a mouth-watering basket of awesomeness.Â He makes his own sauce.Â He makes his own marinade.Â He works a Weber grill with the skill of a surgeon.Â He is… the greatest BBQ genius to ever wield tongs and an apron.
Jud, though, wants to break my heart and move to Boston… or his wife wants him to… or something like that.Â What does that mean?Â That Jud won’t be around to make me BBQ forever.Â I need to learn.Â Teach a man how to eat fish, or something like that.
What do I need?
- Weber grill of the 22.5″ variety
- A nice hinged grate to allow fresh coals to be dumped into grill
- A charcoal starter
- Friends willing to try my BBQ
Once I acquire the top 3 items from that list, I will assume the role of Jud’s BBQ padawan, beg him to teach me his ways, and most likely burn myself and create really crappy food.
The other potential hobby of the moment is homebrewing.Â I like beer.Â I like being at home.Â It’s a win-win.Â Apparently, homebrewing isn’t that hard if you don’t mind beer that tastes horrible.Â In fact, I could probably try to make that tonight if I can find some hops.
But no, the rules of the universe say that if you want to make good beer, you have to invest in the right tools and ingredients, which once again means an initial investment I should probably save up for.
Or I could just go blow a paycheck on these two hobbies and live off of burnt BBQ and bad beer until next payday.
Stay tuned!Â Bets will be taken on how many stomach-pumping trips to the ER I cause in the first few months of my new hobbies.Â I believe the over/under is +10.
Filed under: beer.,Bringing Down the Man,church.,Deep thoughts,Growing Up
It’s about this time every year that I get full use of the ability to roll my eyes that I perfected between the ages of 13 and yesterday. Much to the delight of my mom, no scenario was immune to the eye-rolling… birthday morning wake up calls, church gossip conversations at family events, conversations about the lack of girlfriend in my life… Needless to say, there were/are many opportunities to practice the perfect sarcastic non-verbal response championed by teenagers everywhere, and the next month just happens to be the height of eye roll opportunities.
Usually about a week or two after major retailers begin displaying their pumpkins and ghoulish costumes for the Halloween holiday, a sinister mid-level corporate manager sends memos written in puppy blood on tusks of endangered elephants and walruses to store managers throughout the country to begin slowly clearing an entire aisle in the back of the store in anticipation of a shipment that will be arriving in a week. That shipment? A harmless set of towels emblazoned with a smiling snowman and a few boxes of clear decoration lights.
Then comes day two… a box full of snow globes depicting harmless “winter scenes” and whimsical children against a backdrop of the city skyline. A few older church-lady-esque shoppers are seen visibly shaking their heads as they walk by the mostly empty aisle with distinct shades of red and green backing the empty shelves.
It’s day three that really sets the world into a tizzy, though. Day three is when the heavens open up and reindeer, Santa, penguins, and all the Christmas schwag that had been collecting dust in warehouses for the past four months descends upon local Targets, Walgreens, WalMarts, Menards, Bass Pro Shops, PetSmarts, and Victoria’s Secrets. Someone hastily e-mails Bill O’Reilly to let him know of this calculating and sinister plot that has been unveiled in the middle of their trip to find a five gallon drum of mayonnaise and a pair of super-husky pants for their six year old at their local WalMart, and soon the media machine that is Fox News declares the war on Christmas has entered a new year and that God is angry.
It’s a liberal plot to roll Christmas and Thanksgiving into one big holiday with none of the religious thought! It’s the next step in destroying all Christian holiday observances! This is opening the US to a Hitler/Stalin/insert horrible dictator here!
Really, Bill? If big box retailers are creating such an atrocity by allowing customers to purchase Christmas decorations and Christmas-themed candy before Thanksgiving, why not pull your book from their shelves, cutting off their ability to make a profit on your words of wisdom and insight?
And Bill, if you thought about Christmas as much as a big box retail chain, perhaps it is your heart that would grow and your faith that would find new depth.
But it’s more than just Bill… it’s every day normal Christians that buy into just enough of the corporate Christmas, but become disgusted when others buy into it just a little bit more. They write letters to the editor of local newspapers decrying the row of plastic evergreens that are now available at your local Home Depot, never mentioning the fact that they bought their husband’s Christmas present in May when they found it on sale.
It’s a good thing there’s nothing else in the news to report and that the biggest and most important talking point is the evil, watered-down, crafted by Satan himself message of “Happy Holidays.”
Meanwhile, the message of Christmas… the hope and joy and redemption found in a Savior… is lost amongst petty squabbling by “christians” more worried by the way the city square depicts a menorah next to the manger than their own belief and observance of the day itself.
When you allow others (read: big box retailers looking for the highest profit possible and public officials putting together holiday displays to make everyone feel welcome) to shape your belief in and observance of Christmas, you have much larger issues than the jack-o-lantern/turkey/snowman display at your local Target.
Besides, if this means we get to enjoy Great Lakes Winter Ale a little earlier, is there really any harm?
Work has been crazy busy the past couple of weeks, so blog posting has taken a back seat to data analyzing and conversations with big words. The level of organization speak here is mind boggling. It takes me a few seconds to break down a phrase or term, and by the time I mentally rejoin the conversation, I’m a little late. Thankfully there are slower days with somewhat mindless tasks that I can take care of while letting my brain recuperate and prepare for the next big project.
The brief hiatus of brain strain also allows my thoughts to wander. As such, here’s a quick snapshot into what’s bouncing around…
The Chicago Polish Consulate moved into my office building and now there are people with Polish accents everywhere. Sometimes they speak to me in Polish with a very confused and lost tone to their voice. I feel bad and point them toward the consulate office, but who knows what they’re really looking for? Maybe they just want to know where the bathroom is? Maybe I should learn Polish. I had a really good grilled Polish sausage the other day. It had spicy brown mustard on it. Spicy brown mustard is my second favorite mustard after Cleveland Stadium Mustard. I’m going to be in Cleveland in August for Rachel’s wedding! Sarah is coming with me too! I wonder if we should drive or fly. My Jeep has a lot of miles and eats a lot of gas and has no air conditioning. I need to get the AC fixed. I need money to do that.
My office hallway smells like fried chicken right now. My grandma used to make really good fried chicken. I miss my grandma. She turned 80 on June 4th. I wonder if I will make it to 80… probably not if I keep eating fried chicken.
Sarah is a great girl and I’m lucky she puts up with me. I know a lot of people named Sarah. I guess the odds were in my favor that one of them would work out. Sarah is one of the few products of that waste of space state up north that seems to be somewhat tolerable. Bell’s is another. The rest of the list could fit on a small post-it. Chicago’s beer distributing dictatorship no longer distributes Bell’s in Chicago so I have to depend on Sarah’s mom to bring me Bell’s when she visits. Sarah’s mom and dad are on the list.
I still really want a dog.
Honestly, how did it take a company this long to tap into this product name potential? It’s really good stuff, and this is from a guy that doesn’t really like tea that much.
There’s a huge crane on a job site near my office. I’m guessing it’s probably about 15 stories high. After seeing recent news stories about cranes collapsing and wrecking balls careening down city streets, I’m a bit nervous. I think it’s being used to build a parking ramp. A parking ramp, really? That would be boring. Probably not cheap, either. Jerks.
That’s about it right now. Stay tuned for more random, useless, lame excuses for blog posts.