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December 8, 2009

I Became a Person Who Came to Downtown Chicago to...

By: The Dude on the Right
Garrett Popcorn LogoI put a little post on Facebook: I'm doing something I said I would never do only I can't say exactly what it is until Monday. How's that for a tease?

Hundreds, okay just a few of my friends, tried to figure out the mystery, and the guesses ranged from hitting a nudie-bar (I have been to one of those before, so that couldn't be it), to a spa treatment complete with a pedicure.  I will say that all of the guesses were wrong, although from my fiance's descriptions of her pedicure experiences, well, that may not be ruled out in the future, but in any case, what I did astounded me.

You see, for years, living in Chicago and visiting downtown quite often, there is a tradition I witnessed yet couldn't understand.  The people would be there, in the freezing cold, in a line that sometimes would stretch down the street and around the corner, and you would think it was either the day after Thanksgiving and they were waiting for the season's hottest gift, or that some store was giving away a hundred dollars just for standing in line.  With my friends I would mock these people, laugh at them as they were bundled in their parkas, shivering, yet with shear anticipation on their faces, and in an orderly fashion they would file, one by one, into the little storefront that housed a treasure people far and wide would stand for hours, or at least a bunch of minutes, to secure.  The years would go by and I would wonder, "Is it really that good?", and prior to this weekend I had already found out and well, it is good, but "stand-in-line" good?  It didn't matter, I suppose, because there I was, standing in line, in the freezing cold, to get a bag of Garrett's Popcorn.

Yup, hours of my weekend downtown, okay, maybe about 20 minutes, were spent, in a line, waiting for a bag of popcorn (okay, actually two bags of popcorn), something I made fun of for years, something I told myself I would never do, yet as I witnessed a group of girls try to cut in line, as I saw two women become nearly orgasmic as they sampled a little cup of fresh Chicago Mix, and as a tourist, in the freezing cold, wearing sandals, jumped for joy as he walked over a sidewalk grate venting warm air, I patiently waited, moving ahead one person by one person, with my order in my head: "One large bag and one medium bag of Chicago Mix please."  I would then pay the man, step to the side, and hope not to screw up the process and have someone yell "No popcorn for you!", yet this wasn't like a Seinfeld episode because people ahead of me kept changing their minds, and the people behind the counter were patient through every person.  There were the newbies, still staring at the menu unsure of what they wanted when it was finally time to order, and then there were the experienced folks, rattling off their popcorn tin requests like they were trading stock, and there I was, bewildered in myself that somehow I was actually the person who suggested this gift for my future in-laws, and if it weren't for my fiance, I would have forgotten to get a bag for us.

And so I have become a statistic in this world of Chicago, someone I would question if it was really worth it, someone I would mock, someone I always thought must have better things to do when visiting Chicago.

I became a person who came to downtown Chicago to stand in line to buy popcorn.

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!   L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 5:40 PM | Comments (0)

December 2, 2009

I Think I'm Done with Playboy

By: The Dude on the Right
Playboy sent me my renewal notice, and I hate to say it, but "Playboy, it might be time to leave you."  I can hear my buddy, Stu Gotz, bashing me already, he will say that my fiance wants me to get rid of it and that I am caving into her will, but the fact of the matter is that Playboy just isn't that interesting of a magazine anymore.  Sure, it's got naked women, and yes, they are pretty, but lately too many of the women are covering up so for that aspect it's kind of like "What's the point?", and I hate to say it, but I haven't even been finding myself reading it for the articles that much anymore, because, well, the articles haven't been all that enlightening, engaging, or groundbreaking. Also, as my budget is tighter than it used to be, what with a wedding to plan and all, I'm looking at the yearly renewal rate they are offering me and I've got to say that my $32.97 might be better spent elsewhere.

So I tried to analyze what I was getting for my $32.97, and I used their list of "benefits" I get as a guide. If I renew before December 17th I get the following:

  • Renewal discounted for another year at their absolute lowest price:        $32.97
    • Okay, this is nice, but I do wonder if it is their "absolute" lowest price, and if someone else out there is getting a better deal.

  • Preferred Subscriber Savings of 52% off the cover price:                        52%
    • Kind of a redundant with the renewal discount they described in the first benefit, but I guess it's just to reinforce the fact that if I went to the newsstand every month it would cost me $68.89, but then again, one month is a double issue (nice cost-cutting measure for them, huh?).

  • Special Bonus: One-Time-Only-DVD - Playboy's "Uncensored Home Videos" with your paid renewal        FREE
    • Come on Playboy, aren't we up to the Blu-ray generation yet?  And really, I do read Playboy mostly for the articles, and Stu tells me there are much better "Uncensored Home Videos" out there on this thing called the internet.

  • Special Annual Issues: Playmate of the Year, Holiday Anniversay Issue, MLB, NBA, NFL Previews, Sex in the Cinema, Gala Christmas Issue:    Included
    • Umm, are these really special?  Haven't you been doing these for years and aren't these more "expected" than "special?"

  • Convenient home delivery:    Included
    • Okay, that's nice, and it is pretty convenient.  I'm glad they aren't thinking of billing me extra to deliver it at home.

  • Money-Back Guarantee:        Included
    • If I'm not completely satisfied with my subscription I can cancel at any time and receive a full refund on all unmailed issues.  What I would rather have, I think, is if I could maybe go online every month and say something like "I only liked 50% of this issue, can I get a credit on my account for the part that sucked, but keep sending me the magazine because I did like the 50%".

The crappy part, and maybe crappy is the appropriate word, is I used to be able to gauge how engaging an issue of Playboy was because, well, I admit that most of the time I would find myself reading it on the crapper while taking my daily constitutional, and if it was a good month of stuff, well, I would find that before I was done reading everything in said month there, thanks to the Convenient Home Delivery, would come the next month's issue having me cramming in some final reading, or spending a few extra minutes on the Mighty Ferguson.  Lately, though, I'm finding that I'm pretty much done with the issue well before the next issue arrives, leaving me time to just sit and ponder rather than shit and wonder.

My problem now is what to replace the magazine with.  See, I already subscribe to Rolling Stone, Maxim, and somehow I get this Small Business Magazine, and they all pretty much keep me in tune with things in the entertainment world and high finance, although I do like a decent interview, and that's what Playboy used to really give me.  While listening to the radio I was thinking GQ might be a nice replacement because I heard there was a great article with Clint Eastwood recently, but really, me and GQ?

So, I've got around $33.00 to spend, maybe on a magazine subscription, but then again, it would pay for like 1/5thish of a person at our wedding.  Any suggestions would be well appreciated.

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!   L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 12:05 PM | Comments (1)

November 18, 2009

Black Friday is Coming, Do You Know Where Your Pumpkin Pie Is?

By: The Dude on the Right
With Thanksgiving about a week away, what better way to start to think about the things to be thankful for than pondering what you are going to buy on the Friday after Thanksgiving, that is if you are early enough to be first in line at your favorite store.  Yup, the Black Friday 2009 ads are starting to leak, you can find the Best Buy, Wal-Mart, Target, and heck, even Office Depot ads online if you so desire (good luck finding Office Max, though, because it seems they are being diligent in requesting it be removed from sites trying to show them), but I'm starting to wonder why we even celebrate Thanksgiving Day anymore, other than the fact the turkey farmers would probably throw a fit, that and it is the day before Black Friday.  Really, does anyone care that much about it?  Sure, it's a reason for families to get together, and sure, it's non-denominational so you're not going to piss off various religious groups by having the day off, but doesn't it seem like the holiday is just getting pushed to the side?  The stories are hitting that at Best Buy you can get this TV for this much, at Wal-Mart a slightly different model is the same price, at Target they may not have a good computer, but who cares, join the crowds and just be careful not to get trampled.  Yup, we can expect that on Thanksgiving night there will be the proverbial news story showing the imbecile who is first-in-line to get that flat screen TV that will eventually be on sale for a better price if they could just hold out until right before the Super Bowl, and by the time the Friday morning news hits, the lead story will then be about the people who caused a stampede and killed someone to get the same TV.  Some people will skip some quality family arguments so that they can camp out in the cold and snow to get a laptop for under $500, while others will be doing recon on Wednesday to plot the most efficient route to get as many bargains before 5:30 AM on Friday.

Okay, I'm done being grumpy, because the more I think about it, I am actually looking forward to this Thanksgiving, even if most of the stories will be about anything but why we are celebrating Thanksgiving.  As long as the weather holds out I'll get to see some family members I haven't seen in a while, it will be the second Thanksgiving I'm spending with my BFF which means more to me than I can ever explain to her, and if all goes well I might end the day a few bucks ahead if the dice roll my way during a probable game of Left-Right-Center.  I will give thanks for what I have, I'll say a quiet prayer for people no longer with me, and will even have a good wish in my heart for those who have hurt me.  I'll eat too much, hope Milo lets me sleep a little later, but come to think of it, I was thinking of getting another Blu-ray player and Wal-Mart supposedly will have one for under $100. So, you know what, I'm starting to think that maybe I'll skip Thanksgiving dinner, dig out my winter coat and some blankets, pull the feet warmers out of the drawer, and camp out with the rest of the nutballs.  Nah.  That would just be nuts, and I won’t get any pumpkin pie.  Mmm, pumpkin pie.

Ah, Thanksgiving!

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!   L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 8:24 PM | Comments (0)

September 29, 2009

FitBit, Count Chocula, or Maybe Both.

By: The Dude on the Right
I'm not going to lie, and if you are a regular reader of the website you will know this is true, but I can afford to lose a few pounds. Now I'm not supremely, morbidly obese or anything, but simply put, if I could work out for about two or three weeks like the people on The Biggest Loser, I would probably be pretty close to my goal weight, or be reduced to a blubbering ball of tears as Jillian Michaels constantly yelled at me. But since I don't have three weeks to burn about 7000 calories a day by exercising and eat only 1800ish by eating, lately, mostly, I've just been trying to be a little more active with some walking and trying to eat a little more healthily with food choices. Thanks to Brad Feld, a blogger I stalk, I mean follow, I found an iPhone app that has helped a bit, this thing called DailyBurn, with some pretty, little graphs that, as long as I enter what food I eat properly, tells me if I can have a bowl of ice cream at the end of the day, and with some manual entry of the caloric burning that my Nike+ iPhone app tells me into the DailyBurn app, in the past 6 weeks I've lost about 5 1/2 pounds. However, being the tech dork that I am, and looking for something better, easier, stronger, and faster, and having seen it on CBS Sunday Morning a few weeks ago, I am now intrigued by this thing called the FitBit, and thanks to Stu Gotz during yesterday's podcast, I might also be changing my morning cereal.

Let's start with the FitBit...

It's seems too good to be true, but FitBit supposedly, and I take this directly from the website, "... accurately tracks your calories burned, steps taken, distance traveled and sleep quality. ... The Fitbit tracks your motion in three dimensions and converts this into useful information about your daily activities. You can wear the Fitbit on your waist, in your pocket or on undergarments. At night, you can wear the Fitbit clipped to the included wristband in order to track your sleep."  Now, I'm not the greatest of sleepers, so quantifying it sort of scares me, but having something that instantly tracks my daily calories burned, especially since I don't do anything cool like lift weights (it also doesn't do too well if you're a cyclist or swim I guess), but if it does an easier job than my iPhone Nike+ thing of calorie burning, I might be all for it. The website has options to manually enter some exercises and what you eat, but I'm curious how well the food database will be because the one on DailyBurn has really opened my eyes to some of the things I eat, and without the cool iPhone app that I can quickly look at as my day comes to a close, I know I will be flustered if I have to go all the way to my computer to find out if I can have that bowl of ice cream.  The website says they are filling FitBit orders as fast as they can, so how this impacts my daily workout still waits to be seen, if at all, but as I said earlier, I might have one food option that I can change immediately.

So on to my morning cereal...

As I have now found my soul mate, and she drifted me away from my standard, morning breakfast of two eggs and a piece of toast to a bowl of healthy cereal, I switched back to your basic, plain-jane, Cheerios, something I enjoyed as a young lad, only as a young lad I enhanced my Cheerios experience with a couple of teaspoons of sugar, thus negating the "low in sugar" benefits of the basic Cheerio. As an older lad I have grown accustomed to supplementing my plain Cheerios with a smaller portion of Honey Nut Cheerios to add a little sweetness (I'm close to just going all Honey Nut, though not yet), but as cereal has become part of my morning repertoire, I would sometimes dream of the days when a bowl of Count Chocula would fill my bowl, with its chocolaty goodness and weird, "spooky-fun" marshmallows, and even though I threatened my fiance with "I'm gonna buy some!", I could lately couldn't find a box at my local grocery store.  But then, low and behold, Stu Gotz tells me that he found the trifecta of Count Chocula, Franken Berry, and Boo Berry, at his local Target no less, and I got to thinking, and researching, and other than wondering what the difference is between "whole grain corn" and "whole grain oats," and I suppose some "beet juice concentrate color" in the Chocula, I'm failing to see any giant difference between the Count Chocula and the Honey-Nut Cheerios.  Hell, they both contain "mixed tocopherols," whatever those are, but for my basic nutritional facts, and because my serving would be the same of about 3/4 cup of cereal, both with skim milk, I'm ignoring the milk side. For cereal only, this is what I get:

Serving Size 3/4 cup, Cereal Only
Nutrition Fact
Count Chocula
Honey Nut Cheerios
. Calories from fat
Total Fat
. Saturated Fat
. Trans Fat
. Polyunsaturated Fat
. Monounsaturated Fat
Total Carbohydrate
. Dietary Fiber
. Sugars
. Other Carbohydrate

Sure, the basic Cheerios does better, and allows you a serving of 1 cup, but damn, if I'm going to make that switch to Honey Nut Cheerios, I might as well just go nuts, or rather not go honey nuts, and get the Count Chocula because really, how bad can "beet juice concentrate color" be for you? In the end it looks like the difference is between a little more sugar in the Count Chocula with some extra salt in the Honey Nut Cheerios, so really, the choice is about high blood pressure or diabetes, isn't it?

So I'm not sure if I'm going to be trying the FitBit right now, though, knowing me, it will be on my "to be purchased" list, especially if they come out with an iPhone app so I know if I can eat my ice cream, but I might have to pull out the $10 Target gift card that I have, buy some Chocula, and relive that chocolaty goodness, with spooky-fun marshmallows, and BHT added to preserve freshness.

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!   L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 9:22 PM | Comments (0)

January 1, 2009

Hi Mom and Dad! It's 2009!

By: The Dude on the Right
Hi Mom and Dad!

New Year's Eve - Chicago 2008Just wanted to wish the both of you a Happy 2009, although I’m not really sure if you actually celebrate New Year’s Day anymore.  When I woke up this morning I couldn’t help but think a little bit about how my 2008 went, and like most people, I suppose I’m really looking forward to 2009.  There were some fireworks in Chicago last night, so with this letter are a couple of pictures showing the fireworks and Navy Pier.  I know the pictures didn’t come out that well, but my vantage point wasn’t that close, though it was cozy, and my iPhone still doesn’t have that great of a camera, but hey, it was festive and all!

It sure was a weird 2008, wasn't it?  I’m not even talking about the gas prices that went high and then low, how the stock market took a crap, or the Presidential election (How about our Governor Blagojovich scandal and his appointing Roland Burris to Barack Obama’s Senate seat?  Gotta love Chicago/Illinois politics, don’t you!). I was looking back at my MySpace page for January 1st last year, and how I set a goal to lose just one pound a week on my 500 calories a day plan, but like many a weight-loss goal, it didn’t go as planned.  52 pounds would have been great, but I did lose about 18 pounds last year, and yea, I have to admit, that one of my first goals this year is to get back on the eating healthy and exercise bandwagon.

I was kinda wondering how things were up there in heaven for the two of you (At least I’m really hoping you’re in heaven.  First off, it would really be a bummer to find out you ended up in the other place, in which case there would have been a lot of things we never knew about the two of you, and also, it would be a little bit of a bummer to find out you picked the wrong religion to raise us under and that I should be looking forward to becoming a dog or kangaroo, or something like that in the next life when I’m reincarnated).  I’m assuming you found each other, and hopefully Dad, that you were waiting for Mom with some flowers and a kiss.  I’m also hoping that all dogs do go to heaven, and that the boys found you.

Dad, for you, I know you started 2008 pretty much deciding your time on earth was done, and I hope by now you have been able to explain to Mom why that was because for a lot of the year she was having trouble wrapping her head around that.  With your going away that early, well, you missed a lot of things for me this year, although I do sometimes wonder about the ability of you (and Mom, you also), to watch over us from up there.  I mean, is it sort of like when Harry Stamper told his daughter, Gracie, in the movie “Armageddon” that he’ll check in on her from time to time right before he gets blown to bits on the asteroid?  If so, I really hope you didn’t check in on me during some private time I was having, in which case, Dad, you might have said something like “Oh no, I cursed him with a little wiener.  Oh wait, thank God, he’s a grower! (at which time I’m guessing a booming voice says “Your welcome, Dad on the Right!”)  Please tell me there are times you respect my privacy (You too, Mom), or is it like some “all-knowing” thing like in the movie “Highlander?”  In any case, you should have seen by now that I have a BFF, and she’s great.  She thinks that somehow you and a relative of hers met up there early last year hatching a plan to help us reconnect after some 23 years.  If that’s the case, can I commend all of you on doing a great job!  That does make me want to apologize, though, because I probably don’t ask for enough help from you, although the we never did talk that much about personal things.  I guess in all of those years we never were able to connect that well, though I’m trying to do a better job sending you some thoughts of things that are going on here with me now.

New Year's Eve - Chicago 2008Mom, I hope Dad has helped you get used to things up there in the past couple of months.  Is there some kind of orientation that you have to go through, or are you just kind of thrown in to the mix?  The BFF and I are still dating, and things are going great.  The both of us have some challenges coming up in 2009 (and who doesn’t), but it’s great having someone to help me through them (and I hope I’m helping her through hers), although I always know I can bend your ear a bit if I need to.  And speaking of bending your ear, thanks for that little “talk” we had before Christmas, it really helped me enjoy the holiday a lot more, what with the advice that it’s okay to miss the both of you, but the time for being sad, and letting that ruin my day, needed to go away.  I know you know it was a weird holiday season, what with the family being spread out across the country (though it was nice spending the time with the BFF’s family), but maybe at the end of this year, once things calm down, maybe we can all get together for Christmas or Turkey Day.  I’m thinking here in the Chicago area.  Nothing like Sis on the Right and her family having to deal with the snow and cold, although it won’t be that much different for Bro on the Right, but having them meet the BFF’s family - That would really be interesting!

Well, I better get going.  The Rose Bowl will be starting soon (I think I’m rooting for USC, if only because I really don’t like Penn State and some of our staff members here are big Trojan fans, but come to think of it, I suppose I’m a Trojan fan as well), and it’s time to get going with 2009.  Mom, Dad, say “Hi” to the Grandmas and Grandpas for me.  I miss them, too, but I have to admit, not as much as I miss the two of you.

Oh yea, one more thing, I’m not sure how it works, or if you could pull some strings (or even if you have that kind of pull yet), and Mom, I know you were a big fan of it and frustrated you never came close to winning, but if you’ve been checking in on me, well, you know I occasionally play the Mega Millions game down here, usually with the same set of numbers.  I mean, is there some kind of lottery you have to win up there in order to influence the numbers that get drawn down here, is it based on merit and good deeds, or is it really just a total game of chance?  Even better, you also know that when the jackpot hits $100 million, well, I’m not going to give it away, but it would actually make winning the jackpot a little bit easier at that amount, what to not create some family squabbles and all.  Anyway, if there were some way for you guys to let me know it’s your turn to pick the numbers, well, that would help a lot.

I hope things are going well for you two up there.  I miss and love you both.

Your Son,
The Dude on the Right

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!   L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 3:40 PM | Comments (2)

December 24, 2008

Global Warming, Global Cooling, A Cuban, Electric Cars, Cheap Gas, and Happy Holidays

By: The Dude on the Right
Oh the weather outside is frightful, or, well, it’s at least warmer, but as we are definitely going to have a white Christmas here in Chicagoland, I had to laugh at a lot of the comments on the radio when we were having the sub-zero temperatures about “Where is this global warming?”  Some pundit-types were using the cold weather to say, “See, Al Gore is wrong.  We don’t need to worry about the environment.  Everything is cyclical.  This year we might be global warming, next year we’ll be global cooling.  See, Al Gore is a dufus!”  Then there are the environmental types spinning that the cold weather is an affect of global warming because the environment is all out of whack.  Me, I don’t really know who to believe, all I know is that on TV yesterday I saw a news story about a Chinese company that is supposed to have an electric car, similar to the Chevy Volt, that is supposed to come out a couple years earlier, cost a bunch less, only won’t be as luxurious.  Me, I’m not that worried about the carbon emissions, my carbon footprint, or if I fart too much, what I do think is cool would be a car that pretty much doesn’t need gasoline, and somehow the Chinese are ahead of us in developing that car.

And that leads me to the loan offered to the auto manufacturers and a great post from Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, the won’t be owner of the Chicago Cubs because baseball owners are a bunch of dufi, but does write a nice blog where a few days ago he mentioned how Chrysler is toast because, well, what better way to waste money than to put a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal thanking America for, well, investing in Chrysler, “America’s Car Company” that used to be sort of a Mercedes Benz car company until the Benz people couldn’t even take it anymore.  My simple analysis is that the car companies are in this mess much the same way Motorola is in their cell-phone mess.  Motorola rested all of its laurels on the Razr line, not seeing that things are changing, and now no one gives a damn about the latest Razr phone.  The car companies have become just as complacent, resting on their laurels without seeing the innovation consumers want in order to buy a new car.  A little Chinese company might just show that even with the Chevy Volt coming out, a once mighty car company gets beaten to the punch by a company that sees car buying differently.

Than again, with gas prices around $1.50 a gallon again, who cares about electric cars anymore.

In any case, I’m just waiting for my BFF before we start our holiday celebrating, so I thought I would write about something, so why not mix global warming, the loans to the auto companies, and cheap gas all in one post.

Happy Holidays.

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!   L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 3:12 PM | Comments (0)

December 21, 2008

A Missing Picture, A Mean Letter, but Thank You, and Here's to 2009!

By: The Dude on the Right
As I have been getting a bit sentimental lately, coming on Christmas (did I ever mention that I really love Robert Downey Jr’s version of "River", and him in "Iron Man"?), it’s been a season of happiness, sharing it with my new BFF as well as old friends, and a season of sadness, being the first Christmas after both my Mom and Dad died. In preparation for this blog post, well, I tried to do some quick looking through old family photos for a picture of the Christmas tree we, or mostly Mom, would put up, but sadly I couldn’t find one of the tree, a beautiful tree – an artificial tree, white instead of green, some forty years old, with some ornaments that were probably older than that, and Mom always put bubble lights on the tree, and as kids we would each pick a bubble light, hoping ours was the first to bubble. It also had normal-er sized bulbs, not those tiny bulbs most trees have, some were blinky bulbs, and back in the day we would have the train set up on the floor, on a sheet of plywood, that would drive the dog nuts! In my searching I did, however, find some pictures of my first girlfriend, my first car, Dad smoking a stogie, my fraternity brother Ken, one that my brother’s girlfriend would get a kick out of, and some pictures of me I hope no one ever see. I also found a copy of a letter I wrote to my sister that even I have to admit was kind of mean, but sadly, no picture of that Christmas tree. It’s not that they don’t exist, I know they do, and if I recall correctly, we had a picture of it on the collage of photos at my Mom’s funeral, but I don’t have the photos from that collage, and I don’t have days to search through the boxes of family photos and negatives that I have, to find one.  Yet.

So, without getting uber-sentimental, in the few days before Christmas this year, all I can give you right now is a picture of my Christmas tree (filled with ornaments thanks to my Mom), and wish all of you, no matter what you celebrate, a nice end to 2008, and a 2009 filled with more joyness than sadness, more loveness than hateness, and more smileness than frown-ness.

2008 has been a year of weirdness, but thankfully to all of you who visit, and my friends, and my BFF, it's also been a year of happiness through it all!

Here's to 2009, and if it goes as I hope, it will really be a year of change!

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!   L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 7:15 PM | Comments (1)

October 29, 2008

Reviews Are Coming Soon, For Now It's About Pumpkins and Trees!

By: The Dude on the Right
It's a weird thing to go through, the death of a parent, let alone two within a year, but sometimes weird things lead to beautiful things, reflective things, and things you might have never done before.  Beautiful were the trees and stars (and my BFF - as always!), reflective were a batch of 6ish hour drives between the old country of Lorain and the new country of Chicago, and something I've never done before is carve a pumpkin.  I think.

So as I'm working my way back to normalcy, being torn if I should really buy a new MacBook Pro and contemplating getting back into reviewing mode this weekend with the release of the movies "Zack and Miri Make a Porno" and/or "Changeling" or seeing "High School Musical 3," these last few days I'm just working on getting back to posting things, catching up on my TiVo, and hopefully getting a podcast done tomorrow.

But to keep this blog simple, let's get to "Beautiful" and "Reflective" first.

I thought about trying to quantify how many times I've driven between Chicago and Lorain (Lorain is in the state of Ohio for those of you who might not know) over the years, but in simplest terms it has been at least five times a years for the last 22 years, with that number increasing in the past few years.  I'd say it's a long drive, but really it's only about five or six hours, depending on potty breaks, and many a time I have used those hours as personal therapy for a variety of reasons.  People ask why I don't fly home, but in reality, how much time am I really saving by flying?  You're supposed to get to the airport at least an hour and half before your flight, it's about 45 minutes of flying time, and if you factor in airport delays, sitting on the tarmac, having to either get picked up at the airport or rent a car, and then the half hour drive to the old homestead, in the end, I've always found driving to be the prudent mode of travel, with the only wrinkle being when the Lake Michigan snow machine rears its ugly head, dumping snow into the Indiana snowbelt.  The odd things is that in all of those travels I never made that trip to Lorain during the height of the change of seasons in the fall, when the trees were at their brilliant colors and travel was a little lighter because the trip wasn't during a holiday season.  But as things worked out, as my mom's health was fading, I found myself, for a change, on the Indiana Toll Road and Ohio Turnpike as the colors of the trees seemed to be peaking.  As stressful as the times were, between the travel to Lorain knowing it would be for the passing of my mom, to the quick trip back to Chicago after she died to button some things up when the trees were brilliant (and I'm not advocating trying to take a picture with your camera phone while you are driving, but hey, they were some colorful trees), and then driving back to Ohio to bury my mom, during a cold Ohio night, with the constellation Orion being utterly striking, rising over the eastern horizon, so much so that I felt bad keeping it to myself and not waking my BFF to see it, you know, sometimes beauty, wonder, and even pumping gas in the cold air can ease a stressful mind, just when it needs it.

And then came pumpkins.

Mom's funeral had come and gone, but my nephew, niece, and family were still in town, and everyone needed something to do.  I reverted back to normalcy for them - seeing a movie, which sounds bizarre for some folks, but generally worked for all of us at the various holiday times we would get together.  The crappy part is that the movie choices during the weekend of my mom's funeral were crap, but thankfully my BFF was there to save the day.  Well, at first she laid an egg, suggesting bowling, but who knew "bowlers" wouldn't go bowling if they didn't have their own equipment, i.e. balls, bags, shoes, towels, etc., to bowl with.  So when my BFF (and I) suggested going bowling instead of a movie, that suggestions crashed quicker than the Hindenburg.  Then my BFF suggested getting some pumpkins, carving them, and then maybe a dinner, and wouldn't you know it, as complicated as pumpkin picking can sometimes be (especially when the original destination doesn't have any more pumpkins in their patch), somehow pumpkin carving is easier, thanks to those pumpkin carving kits readily available at a Walgreens near you.

And so, after a quick trip to a different, dying, pumpkin patch, various sizes of pumpkins were secured, goop was scooped out of the innards, intricate carvings were attempted as well as some not so intricate, and as my sister and I reminisced about pumpkin carving, well, both of us realized that our family never attempted it, and that there might have been a time, when we were maybe 8 to 12 years old, when we tried to carve pumpkins at our friend's house down the street, and if so, there is no way any of those carvings were as cool as those done by our family, with stencils and appropriate cutting tools, done that Saturday, the Saturday after my mom was buried, when our family didn't go and see a movie, but instead, carved pumpkins.

And it was cool.

Tomorrow should be a podcast, this weekend should be a movie review or two, but for now it's all about getting back to some semblance of normalcy, even if normalcy is now without being able to call your mom on a Saturday morning, at 9:15, when you always do.  And then comes that day when you delete "Mom and Dad" from your phone.  I guess that's another story for another blog, but for now normalcy is the changing of the seasons and carving pumpkins, with family.

Happy Halloween!

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!   L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 7:59 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2008

What's New? Stu & The Dude's Weekend Wrap-Up! The Democratic Convention, Dancing With the Stars, and Disney Disappoints a Gotz.

This podcast episode of "Stu & The Dude's Weekend Wrap-Up!" isn't really about The Democratic Convention, nor The Olympics, but during this podcast there's a trip to the Old Country and peeing. Sure, other stuff is associated with this podcast, but doesn't that quadfecta explain it all?

Podcast wise, well, Stu ruins some "Dancing With the Stars" talk, and the reputation of shows with Ted McGinley is subtlety talked about, but more talked about is a Little Gotz having his birthday ruined thank to the folks at Disney thinking "Beverly Hills Chihuahua" should be released in October rather on the Little Gotz birthday.

Summer is almost over, women giving Labor is upon us, and pretty soon the leaves on the trees will tell us that the end-of-the-year holidays will lead us to a new year that will probably influence us in ways we can't control, no matter if Barack Obama or John McCain is our new President.

In the end, we can only control our boat.

Posted by Rightdude at 8:57 PM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2008

What's New? The Dude sees "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and Fireworks, Stu Wonders if He Can Get "Wii Fit."

The Dude on the Right saw "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" with someone who doesn't really like bugs, which, because The Dude is weird, actually made the movie experience bring a bigger smile to his face, but in the end it's all about the review, and The Dude does what he does.  Stu Gotz, though, is back doing some typographical reviewing, maybe because his kids might be a little too young to see the "Crystal Skull" movie, but that doesn't mean his family, or at least just him, can't get in shape thanks to the Nintendo "Wii Fit."  Hopefully Mama Gotz won't let Stu shove the thing under the couch to collect dust bunnies.  The Dude saw movies and fireworks, Stu is probably trying to figure out how to dry a sweater on a "Wii Fit."  Such are different weekends.

Posted by Rightdude at 6:31 PM | Comments (0)

"Wii Fit" Probably Won't Help Me Lose Weight, but Thank God for those McDonald's Trans-Fat-Free Fries!

By: Stu Gotz
I always knew the Wii had exercise potential…
Well over a year ago, when I woke up at 4:30am to be in line by 5am to try a purchase one of a promised 12 available Wii units at my local Target, I never thought the Wii could be anything more than the next generation, cool, video game console. That notion quickly changed the day I brought the console home and became out of breath after loosing 3 rounds of boxing to my 5 year old. I joked to the wife that day that Wii Boxing was a great workout, and I should start a regimen. Did I?  No, and I’m still a lard-butt over a year later, but all that's gonna change!!!

Reading the Sunday sale's ads in bed on a Saturday night…
While checking out the weekend sales ads I stumbled across the newest, must have, Wii accessory - Yup, there it was, the new Wii Fit, along with the optional Wii Fit Yoga Mat, available exclusively at Target, and they were going to be available on Wednesday. Perhaps now I could realize my fitness goals by playing Wii games? Figuring that there would be a rush to get the new Wii Fit, I planned my workweek to get me close to a retail outlet when the doors opened.

Would my Wii Fit dreams be dashed???
Wednesday came and I was running late. My Target store opened at 8am, and I was pulling into the parking lot at 8:12am. That’s ok… In a worst case there was a Best Buy across the parking lot, and they opened at 10am. I was feeling good about my potential of getting a Wii Fit as I strolled past the automatically opening doors of my Target, and I was faced by no less that 8 people checking out with Wii Fits. As I walked the aisle to the game area I was passed by 3 more people with Wii Fits tucked into their shopping carts. Then I saw the end cap... There were only 4 left! I rushed to grab one and felt a sense of accomplishment as I checked out with my new Wii Fit complete with Wii Fit Yoga Mat.

The Wii Fit family unpacking event…
After dinner I assembled the family together to unveil our new "game" to them. At first the kids didn’t seem too excited about the whole thing until their mom informed them that we could get a snow boarding game to play with the Wii Fit, and suddenly they were onboard, so to speak. Setting up the Wii Fit is simple, strait-forward, but does take a bit of time. One aspect of the set-up is that the Wii Fit assigns you a "Wii Fit Age" based upon your height, weight, age, and balance test. I faired better than the wife as I was assigned a "Wii Fit Age" of 45 and she was assigned an age of 49. We’re both 40. The Wii also took the customized Wii characters the wife and I had created, and in my case porked "me" out while slimming up Mama Gotz.

What’s this thing gonna do???
The Wii Fit is set up to be a fitness partner in 4 training areas: Yoga, Balance, Strength, and Aerobics. The family and I spent several hours familiarizing ourselves with all the areas, and the first thing we have come to find out is that we all lack balance, at least according to the Wii Fit.  Mama Gotz was the first to advance in the Balance Games and open the first bonus game, "Tightrope," although now she seems to be stuck there, because, like many other Wii games, the Wii Fit is set up to train the user and reward them upon mastery of a particular skill.

Bottom line, is this thing really gonna work???
Yes and no. The Wii Fit definitely has the potential to add an additional element to an exercise regimen, but if you don’t have a regimen already then I really don’t see this thing being a motivational source for someone to start one. Actually, I take that back, you’ll start one, but see my final paragraph, "The real bottom line…," below.  That being said, though, if the Wii Fit is shared by people with a friendly sense of fun and competition, you might just get motivated, but it just won’t be as much about reaching a fitness goal, rather one of who can take 1st place in an area, or who can go on to the next level, therefore opening a new game or exercise.

The real bottom line…
Go look in the mirror - Are you either fat or just in need of some muscle toning? Now go look around the house - Do you have unused exercise equipment (drying your sweater on the treadmill does not constitute use)? Now search your mind – You can’t remember the last time you hit the gym or went for a jog, correct? If you answered, "Yes" to 2 or more of the previous 3 questions, then I have a feeling your new Wii Fit will be destined to collect dust bunnies under your sofa. Prove me wrong!!!

I'm Stu Gotz!  ‘nuff said!

Posted by Rightdude at 5:53 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2008

Eavesdropping in Millennium Park and Shirking My Duties!

By: The Dude on the Right
First off let me apologize for shirking my reviewer duties this weekend, but my Saturday turned out much better than I read "Speed Racer" might be, and I really didn't care about seeing "What Stays in Vegas" today, especially since today was a blustery, rainy day leaving some cleaning of The Dude-Pad actually a funner option since all of the reviews I read about the Vegas movie were mixed as well.  Stu Gotz, though, did see "Speed Racer" and promised to fill me in, and all of rest of you, during our "Weekend Wrap-Up Podcast" tomorrow, and I guess I'll have to give Stu some insight into my happily blowing off the movies for a day in the park and cleaning.

I suppose I should also fill Stu in with my latest obsession.

No, my obsession is not about my favorite sport's team, it's not about soap operas, it's not about searching for for information if Hillary has any chance in hell of beating Barack, and it's not even about internet porn.  Nope, I am slowly becoming obsessed with eavesdropping on people in public places.  It started the other day while I was hanging out in a Starbucks, with like, so, this girl who was so, like in the business world who, like, just liked to say "like" a lot, and "so" a lot, and I couldn't help if maybe the secret to advancement in the the corporate world, and maybe "The Hills" on MTV, was simply commenting about things with "like" and "so."

But then I spent some time in Millennium Park on Saturday, and I couldn't help but hear, while sitting on a bench, quips (with my initial thoughts) like, so:

  • This is really a beautiful park area...
    Duh, it's Millennium Park, finished after the millennium, but you really would be shocked to see what is actually under the park!
  • Maybe we should walk over to The Art Institute.  Which way is it?
    Doesn't anyone actually use a map anymore?
  • Do you think those cigarettes are making us out of breath...
    Look, Mr. Skateboards, I know how you ripped your jeans, but do yourself a favor and Google "lung cancer."
  • We found "The Bean!"
    Hey, that's "Cloud Gate" to you little skippy!
  • Are your parents in Morocco?  Have they come to visit?
    He had a huge accent, she seemed Midwest, I'm guessing he'll never let his parents meet her.
  • A baby was screeching loudly
    Actually, there were quite a few babies in their strollers crying/screeching, which is what babies do, especially when they are being strolled through a park they will never remember and just want a bottle, or their diaper changed.
  • Now this I've never seen before...
    I wish I was actually looking at what this dude was seeing!
  • The last time I was down here it was cold and gray and generally unpleasant.
    What in the hell are you doing visiting Millennium Park in the summertime?  Oh, I'm guessing it might have actually been winter.  :-)
  • The Sound of Breaking Twigs...
    A dude with a ratty backpack, maybe looking for some inspiration, sat at the other end of the bench I was on, breaking twigs.  Bruce Springsteen has a song called "Thundercrack" on his "Tracks" compilation, but I'm thinking "Twiggycrack" won't have as much an impact.
  • This is a dead end.
    There's a sort of fake sidewalk behind where I was sitting that people thought would lead them across Columbus Drive.  People, just take the "Snakey bridge"!
  • Something was said in Spanish...
    My Spanish isn't what it used to be, actually it's not even close to what it used to be other than "Hola," "Dos Cervezas," "Donde el banyo," and "No hablo espanol," or something like that but with all of the appropriate accent marks, but there were some tourists speaking foreign languages.  Welcome, Bonjour, Aloha, Hola, Kon-nichiwa, and any other way we can say "Hello" to our foreign visitors!
  • Daley Bicentennial Plaza
    She was tired, she just needed to sit down, and all she could read off of the sign was "Daley Bicentennial Plaza," which hopefully won't someday read "The Children's Museum that Should Have Just Stayed at Navy Pier."
  • Yes, we flew than we drove back with them...
    I wonder who are "them," and were they safe drivers?
  • You should see what is in his refrigerator now...
    What, human heads?  Maybe some Dijon mustard?  Is he all of the sudden a health nut stocking his refrigerator with fruits, vegetables, and vegetarian eggs, which I still wonder how eggs can ever be "vegetarian" no matter what they have been fed?

I know I shirked the fake, movie world this weekend, but sometimes reality can become so much more interesting when you have to use your imagination to finish some stories, especially when all you get is a sentence or two.  For me this weekend with "one sentence" stories to fill in, other stories about reality, and a few "No shit!" stories, was a hell of a lot interesting than anything I could have seen on a big screen.  It was a weekend where "life" was more exciting than "pretending about life," and I liked it.

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 7:20 PM | Comments (0)

April 20, 2008

At First I Wondered "What Was I Thinking?" An Hourish Later My Legs Weren't Screaming "Frack!"

By: The Dude on the Right
Today was one of those weird days when I had everything planned.  My normal morning routine would easily be in place, complete with starting laundry, reading the Sunday Chicago Tribune while eating breakfast, and, at the same time, catching up some some TiVo viewing.  Okay, I realized I still can't seem to get recording the new "Battlestar Galactica" correct, muttered "What the frack!", then tried to set up a season pass I screwed up before, hoping it didn't miss this week's episode forever, or at least until the DVD season comes out.

But my Sunday also had a lot of errand-running planned, which, I know, is kind of lame, but the Sunday also had planned a one hour walk in my favorite Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve.  I was sort of curious to see how things were looking after they torched the place a few weeks back, except with a slight wind blowing from the northwest I knew heading north would make my walk back a little easier so I wouldn't get to see the result of the torchness.  And I'm walking, and I'm walking, and I get to the thirty minute mark and realize that I'm feeling good, my legs feel spry, I've got over half a bottle of water left, and I say to myself, "Self, why don't you just do the entire loop?  Why turn back now?"  Then I said to myself, "Self, What the hell are you thinking?  Do you realize that it will add another hour to this walk and your Sunday is already scripted."  Then I said to myself, "Self, it's a gorgeous day, with a slight breeze, and it hasn't started to heat up yet."  Then I said to myself "Self, shut the hell up.  We're going for the six miles."  Yes, I'm nuts.

And so I did my first six-mile walk of the year and it felt great.  I mean, my legs didn't get fatigued, I planned my water drinking properly, and it was actually more refreshing walking into the slight breeze on the backside of the loop than letting the breeze bring me home.  I also got to see that the crispy prairie was starting to turn green, the recent warm weather has instantly put trees into budding mode, and sure, there might be one more cold snap, or a crappy day or five here, but it looks like we have really, finally, turned the corner into the Spring and Summer season.

And also and, the walk was not perfect because there was one miscalculation, especially since my original plan didn't include a six mile, one hour and fifty minute walk, and that was I was wearing jeans.  I woke up this morning, didn't get myself a gun, didn't figure for the six mile walk, and haven't put myself back into "shorts mode" yet, so I pulled on my Levi's, put on a t-shirt, embraced the subtle, slight chill in the air, not thinking that less than two hours later I would be a little sweatier than I planned, had people on the trail looking at me like "What the hell is that dude wearing jeans for?", but you know what, at the end of it all, I got to see some deer frolicking in the prairie, and sure, you can't see the mallard in the upper picture of the pond but I did (I so have to bring my better camera gear), and the burnt prairie is starting to sprout grass.

So what if my running errands were bumped by about an hour.  So what if I was the dork wearing jeans on a six mile walk.  And so what if my iPhone photos aren't up to my normal standard.  It was a beautiful day, it was great to enjoy it, and it's almost time to get my white, pasty legs in some shorts.

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 8:30 PM | Comments (0)

March 28, 2008

You Don't Need "Earth Hour," You Just Need My Mom.

By: The Dude on the Right
So, tomorrow, Saturday, March 29th, from 8PM to 9PM, if I want to participate in "Earth Hour," I'm supposed to turn off all of my lights, but what confuses me is that at the Earth Hour web site there is a link of what to do when the lights are off, but the link doesn't really tell me anything to do during that hour.  And with turning off the lights are they expecting me to also turn off my TV and my computers, which I consider essential appliances?  And with turning off the lights, and as they add, non-essential appliances, which must not include my TV nor computers because I consider them essential, I think my microwave oven is hard-wired so how am I supposed to turn that off?  And with turning off the lights and non-essential appliances (except my microwave), yet leaving my computer and TV on because I consider them essential, and changing to energy efficient bulbs, what if, during that hour when I'm trying to change my light bulbs, I drop one of those new compact fluorescent bulbs, thereby releasing toxic mercury into the air, how am I supposed to see what I am supposed to clean up without the lights on?  And with turning off the lights and non-essential appliances (except my microwave), yet leaving my computer and TV on because I consider them essential, and breaking that compact fluorescent bulb that I can't see how to clean yet breath in the mercury, when I fall down the stairs and break my leg how am I supposed to call 911 since I unplugged my cordless phone, which at the time I was unplugging things I considered non-essential?

Suddenly "Earth Hour" has become very complicated, but, as I reflect back on my life, I'm thinking none of us need an "Earth Hour" to help us remember to turn off the lights, we just need our Moms, or at least my Mom.  You see, my Mom is the Queen at knowing when we leave lights on, no matter what part of the house.  She will be sitting in her living room chair, see a large glow as we are leaving the kitchen, and tell us to go back and turn off the light.  She will be sitting in her living room chair, see a subtle glow from around a corner, bounced off a door and a ceiling, leaving just a smidge of brightness on a wall that shouldn't have a smidge of brightness on it, and say "Did you leave the light on in the bathroom?"  She will be sitting in her living room chair, seeing the remnants of light (and I swear light leaves "remnants" on your clothes, especially when you are coming from the basement), thus instructing you to go back downstairs and turn off the light in the laundry room at the opposite corner of the house.  "Earth Hour" pales in comparison to the "turning off the light" power of my Mom.

Since, though, Mom is in Ohio and I am here in Illinois, there I will be, tomorrow night, with no lights on, although my computer, TV, and microwave will still be working.  I'll be inhaling toxic mercury complete with a broken leg and a non-working cordless phone, still wondering what I should do with the lights off because the Earth Hour web site never gave me instructions on something to do during that hour.  And if those Earth Hours folks had at least said something like "Plan to be with the one you love, turn off all of your lights, pretend it's a blackout, and do what you would do in a blackout with the one you love," or in the words of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with!", well, I'm thinking the worst of my problems might begin to show about three months from now.

You know what, screw that being with the one you're with in a forced blackout like this "Earth Hour," and I suppose the word "screw" isn't the appropriate word.  Maybe it's better being curled up at the bottom of the stairs, with a broken leg, inhaling mercury, knowing my TV, computers, and microwave still are working, rather than child support some nine months from tomorrow.

The thing is just listening to my Mom will resolve all of these potential problems - Turn off the lights and wear a Jimmy Hat (my Mom is hip, she has an iPod).  Listening to her saves money, and future money.  Maybe we just need to listen to my Mom rather than worrying about turning off the lights for an hour and not knowing what to do.

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 7:57 PM | Comments (0)

February 1, 2008

Today I Cried a Little. For Me He's Just "Dad."

By: The Dude on the Right
We got snowed-in here, today, in Chicagoland.  Some didn't, or maybe they had the proper vehicle, equipped with snow-shoes, to travel the glistening, white roadways, but I didn't and the snow-plow people didn't show up until around 2PM to get the driveway in my townhouse area cleared.  Hunkered down in my bunker I did get a little bit of work done in the morning, but shirking some of my duties I also did some cleaning of the Dude-Pad.  But that's not why I cried just a little, as the title of this blog tells.  Nope, as much as my pad needs a good cleaning, and that does make me sad, it wasn't until this evening when the tears came.

Because, tonight, I figured, I would also work to clean up and delete stuff on my computers, and that is when I came across a picture.

There I was, haphazardly deleting stuff, when I came across a folder named "Home Photos," and the first picture showing up was one of a lazy, chubby squirrel.  I remembered when I took it, back in July, for a blog posted in August, and for a moment I was just ready to hit the "Delete" key because I already had a blog, posted, with photos of that lazy squirrel.  But then I scrolled through the digital camera roll, and there it was, a photo that made me cry, and it wasn't just a little.

And that was a couple of hours ago.

As I have been working on typing, editing, re-typing, re-editing this blog, I have been torn as to if I should post the picture, or not, because if members of the "... on the Right" family view this, they might cry a little as well, but hopefully, for the world that is forever in the Internet, and in having one of the last pictures of my Dad, maybe the better picture all of us can go to is an image of him smiling, with his granddaughter.  And that's not such a bad thing for the world to see.

So here it is, the last picture I took of my Dad and Favorite Niece - His Favorite Granddaughter.

As I have been trying to digitize all of the pictures I have taken in the old version, that with film, in one keystroke I almost lost a picture of my Dad.  He's gone from me now, but with this picture he will live forever, in the digital world.  His name is, umm, Frank John Labis, it might also be Frank Joseph Labiszewski, it might also be Frank John Labiszewski,  For me he is, and always will be, just Dad.

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 9:19 PM | Comments (0)

January 23, 2008

What's the Deal with Food? And, Oh Yea, My Niece is a Rocker!

By: The Dude on the Right
With the passing of my father, and not wanting, yet, to get into some of the philosophical questions an event like that can bring, there was something that came up prior to his funeral that I suppose I can understand was important in the older age of funerals, but in this day and age, especially when my dad wanted a small, private funeral ceremony, why do some people assume that you need food and just show up with it, unannounced? And why am I conflicted with this topic because in the same gesture (by a different family friend) I was able to remember a dish I love?

Now I’m not saying the bringing food gesture isn’t nice, but shouldn’t the gesture start with a quick phone call offering condolences and then tossing in a "If you’d like I can bring you a ham dinner, complete with vegetables, coleslaw, and a store-bought jello mold in case you need something to eat?" But no, there it was, the night before, or maybe it was the night before the night before the funeral (they blend together right now), that a friend of the family showed up with half a ham, vegetables, coleslaw, store-bought jello mold, and lots of conversation for my sister to hear. The issue was that, in the land of the "on the Right" family, we had already planned for a small gathering of family following dad’s burial by securing a party tray, which, fine, for this occasion should probably be called a remembrance tray, but in any case the family refrigerator was already ready to be packed. Somehow, and God bless Sis on the Right, she found a way to stack, move, renegotiate, and fit everything in there, including the ham dinner, so that no one would get sick, and let me tell you, she knows all about the importance of refrigeration and reheating with her job in Lunchlady Land!

My confliction on this issue comes because even though the gesture on the part of our one family friend was nice, but wasn’t necessary, well, a neighbor baked a small dish of Noodle Pudding, and oh my God, it was so good. I forgot about Noodle Pudding, haven’t had it in years, and after getting back home found some recipes on the internet to try (although I should probably just call our neighbor and get hers, because, can I say it again, it was so good), so even though one family friend went a little overboard with her food gesture, that small dish of Noodle Pudding really hit the spot, and as more important in the time of comfort food was necessary, my mom loved it.

I guess I'm just really confused about sending food to the families of those going through the loss of a loved one, especially with the joy and tastefullyness of the Noodle Pudding that came our way, so to alleviate my confusedness, and because it's really not long enough for a blog, and because, during my "A New Chapter for the "on the Right" Family" blog, I mentioned how my niece is a rocker, I thought I would include in this post, my niece being a rocker.  Sorry for the sort of crappy video, but I think it really shows that my niece ROCKS!

BFF and favorite niece - YOU ROCK!

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 7:13 PM | Comments (2)

January 18, 2008

A New Chapter for the "on the Right" Family.

By: The Dude on the Right
Every family has a change leading to a new chapter in the book that is their story.  Most of the chapters progress from things like the start of the book, namely the marriage, to the birth of a child, to the child's first words, to the child's first steps, to maybe the birth of a brother or sister, and much of the cycle usually stays the same for a while.  The chapters switch from the innocence of children, to the family progressing through the years.  The children in the family grow, to grade school, to junior high, to high school, and to adulthood.  A new book is started as some of those children create another family, an offshoot of the original story, yet still intertwined with the original.

And as the book that is a family's life is similar for all, there are so many differences.  There may be an illness or accident that takes a child away from a family;  There may be financial hardships that all must deal with;  There may be a divorce where mom and dad, not thinking of the children, do their best, at any chance they can, to make their children hate the other parent; and then there are families that, for most of the time, forget the meaning of family.

But with every family story, probably, usually, definitely, inevitably, there will come the death of a parent/spouse.  Sometimes that death comes as a shock and other times not, most will agree the death comes to soon, but for some it is way too soon.  With that death the story continues, though, with one character now only in memory as the next chapter begins with getting back to some normalcy, "some" because with the passing of a family member things aren't the normal that was created a chapter before.  The book that is the story of the family is not complete with the death of one member, more chapters must be written, until that day when the book can be closed when all of the members have passed on.

Fine, right now you might be saying to yourself a couple of things, things like "Dude, what's with the reflective beginning to this blog, and why haven't you posted anything new in over a week?"  Well, both the reflective nature of the opening of this blog and the lack of postings came about because of the passing of Dad on the Right on January 12th, starting a new chapter in the book of the "on the Right" family.  In the realm of my being old enough to fully comprehend and have to deal with the loss of an immediate family member, the recent passing of my Dad is the first.  I was 11 when my last grandparent passed away, and even though I've been older for the deaths of some of my aunts and uncles, and yes, their passings were sad, for me this death thing is kind of new and a lot different to deal with.  Sure, I could probably go see a shrink to help me "move on" as it were, but what fun would that be and why would I spend the money when I could just write about here it from time to time.

So, today's therapy lesson was two-part.  One was to reflect that as much of a bummer it is to have my dad die, I realized that my family's story isn't done yet and there are already stories to tell of the days immediately following when he passed, stories like "What the heck is his name, anyway?", "Who knew driving to a cemetery could be so much fun!", "What's the deal with the food?", "Niece on the Right is a rocker!", "That's not an obituary.  This is an obituary!", and "Everyone says 'Mom on the Right' is a hottie."  And Mom, if you're reading this, don't worry, one story will remain in the circle of our family to laugh at from time to time.

The second part of my therapy lesson was to get back to some normalcy, and what better way then seeing a movie, in this case "Cloverfield," and write a review.

So the story of the "on the Right" family continues, and at least right now Sis on the Right has her own book of her family so that even when the book of the "on the Right" family is closed, another book will lead people back to our story.

Stories are always to be read, but better to be written, even with a death as part of it.

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 8:31 PM | Comments (1)

January 6, 2008

Smoke Detector Nightmares

By: The Dude on the Right
As I have stated before in some blogs, I sometimes find myself just a tad crazy, obsessive, or just bizarre.

Case in point...

So the other night I'm sleeping when I wake up to a familiar chirp.  I knew I didn't have any 9 volt batteries in the Dude-Pad so I close my bedroom door hoping to deaden the noise.  I manage to sleep through the night, waking up every now and then to a chirp, but figuring that in the morning I could track down which one of my three smoke detectors the chirp was coming from (I was guessing the living room area because it wasn't loud enough for the upstairs one nor quiet for the basement).  I woke up that morning and got myself a gun.  No, wait, sorry, that's the theme from "The Sopranos" and a great song from Alabama 3, but I digress.  I woke up that morning to find there was no more chirping.  Remembering that I failed to change the batteries in my smoke detectors when we fell back in November, I figured the battery issue might have been caused by A) My having the thermostat turned down to a balmy 60 degrees at night so when the detector warmed back up in the morning the chirping stopped, or 2) My humidifier was messing with the smoke detector, in conjunction with the balmy 60 degrees, and again, when the detector warmed back up in the morning the chirping stopped.  In any case I figured it wouldn't hurt to change the batteries in all of my smoke detectors so that afternoon I picked up some batteries, pulled out the step-stool, and changed the batteries in my smoke detectors.  The Dude-Pad was safe once more, or at least I would hear a fire coming and try to figure how to get the hell out.

I went to bed.

Sometime about three the next morning: "Chirp.... Chirp....  Chirp....", and I roll over saying to myself, "Self, what the fuck?  I changed all of the batteries, what the hell is going on?"  So I get out of bed, stand under the upstairs smoke detector, hear the next "chirp" from below me, then head down the stairs to the living room.  I stand there, in the dark, in my undies, staring at the living room area smoke detector (because it could still be the basement detector), only nothing chirps.  One minute.  Three minutes.  Ten minutes later I'm still standing there, in my undies, and no chirp.  Confused and tired I head back to bed only to be woken up again, around four in the morning, to new chirps.  Pissed off I close my bedroom door again figuring that by morning the chirping will be gone again, and sure enough it was.

Another day goes by, another night of chirping begins, another standing, staring, shivering, in my undies, under my living room detector goes by, then I wake up in the morning, don't get myself a gun (although at that point I really wanted to shoot my living room smoke detector, just for the hell of it), and I head to my basement area to exercise.  And just as I'm about to put my headphones on in preparation for a stationary bike ride I hear a chirp.  I now know the basement detector is not the culprit and head up stairs.  I stand under the living room smoke detector and hear a chirp, only it's not coming from the smoke detector, it's coming from my piano.  I know my piano can't chirp, I know Steve, my clownfish in the fish tank next to the piano can't chirp (although how cool would that have been), and then I remember my carbon monoxide detector was plugged in, behind the piano, and sure enough, it was the damn thing that was chirping, keeping me up at night, and hell, who remembers that your carbon monoxide detector has a battery in it, let alone that you need to change said battery.  I had one extra 9 volt battery left from my smoke detector upgrades, popped it my my carbon monoxide detector, and sure enough, no more chirping.

As much as they harp on changing your smoke detector batteries when we spring ahead or fall back, and maybe I'm not paying enough attention to the harping, but as a public service announcement to you, our loyal reader, don't forget changing the battery in your carbon monoxide detector so you won't wake up, countless nights, wondering where the hell the chirping is coming from.  Trust me, it won't be your fish talking to you.

Just a little tip for the new year.

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 6:21 PM | Comments (1)

November 28, 2007

Quit Sending E-Mails that just Disappoint your Friends.

By: The Dude on the Right
At first I was going to do a blog about "Dancing with the Stars" and how I was so happy Helio Castroneves and Julianne Hough won, but then, by the time I started writing, I figured it was old news and really, what is there to blog about other than he won, Julianne is still hot, and I was happy Marie Osmond and Scary Spice didn't win.

So I decided to write this blog about an e-mail I received from my Mom a few weeks ago.

As much as I try and prod her to do so, my Mom keeps resisting my urging her to write editorials, quips, and just general thoughts for this website.  She's a wife, a mother, and a grandmother, she's a cancer survivor, and she has grown up through lots of things in this world and has an opinion on just about anything going on in the world of today.  When I go home to visit, and even when I call on the phone, she comments a lot about professional athletes getting paid too much money, saw from the beginning the quagmire of invading Iraq (which I have to apologize to her, because as much, at the beginning, I tried to convince her it was a good thing to do as I bought into the political propaganda being spewed about, but she didn't buy it for a second and stood her ground and never has been a George Bush fan), and questions the proliferation of sex and violence on TV and what it is doing to society, especially our youth, who don't have parents to both stop them from watching it, nor be role models around it.  But in a bass-akward way she wrote something for the web site, in the form of an e-mail to me and some of her friends a few weeks ago.  She told me I could use it here, so here goes...

Mom received an e-mail with the following text, complete with a lot of cute graphics that I'm not going to post here, that said...

8 angels are sent to you,
You must send them to 8 people including me.
In 8 minutes you will receive something you have long awaited.

Have faith!
Have a good day

Now my Mom, being in a persnickety mood that day, did what the e-mail said, and waited.  And then sent this:

Well - - the 8 minutes came and went and there has not been any changes or events to make a difference in my day. When I first got my computer in 2000 I was gung ho for all the so-called miracles, healing, etc. that were to happen, but never did.

So - - - - - if I don’t send anything back to you, it just never made things different in my life, and I am just content to hear from my e-friends even if I don’t answer back.

Prayers are beautiful to receive and hear, but I figure that for all my problems that I would have cured and helped, there are so many more people who need more help than I do and if they were to be answered, God would answer them. But then at times, I believe He figures I should be able to figure some of my problems out without His help. After all, He is a very busy God with the mess in this world (that I’m sure He just shakes His head over that) and with the free will that God gave us, it certainly is up to us to help ourselves more and be thankful for all that we have.

May God bless each and every one of us.

I can't divulge it here, but my Mom's e-mail inspired a sort of social experiment I might try at a later date, but I also so love when Mom gets opinionated because she can do so in a nice way, yet still questioning why some people probably don't actually read the e-mails they forward along, just doing so because it is the thing they do.  My Mom actually took the challenge the e-mail asked for, and I can only imagine what she awaited for in those 8 minutes, but she didn't get something she long awaited for.

So, please, don't send an e-mail that will lie to my Mom.  I so much like her complaining about sports' figures not living up to their multi-million dollar potential than not receiving something she has long awaited.  And you also know what - quit sending e-mails that, if they follow the e-mail rules, just disappoint your friends, too.

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 7:25 PM | Comments (0)

June 14, 2007

What's New? A Podcast of: Jessica Alba - I Volunteer, Cicada Sounds, Go Cavs, and Go Away McGreevey's.

For this podcast The Dude on the Right really, really, really, wants to be put on Jessica Alba's list for a one night stand, or even a one evening stand. He also found some annoying cicada sounds thanks to Steve Dahl and The Chicago Tribune. The Dude hopes the Cleveland Cavs can win a basketball game, at least with the help of the Michael Stanley Band, and wishes the McGreevey's would just go away. Gosh he has a lot to talk about in 15 or so minutes.

Posted by Rightdude at 7:56 PM | Comments (0)

March 6, 2007

Tyra Banks says "So What!", I Say "Just Come, and Celebrate."

By: The Dude on the Right
I've got two topics I want to blog about this evening.  One was brought about by listening to Howard Stern the last couple of days when he was commenting about Tyra Banks' new "So What!" campaign where you can, as I'm typing this (nice typo Tyra people), "Upload You 'So What!' Video".  The other is a quick comment about the Olympics.  Sure, maybe as a blogger I should separate them into two different blogs, but read about what you want.

So let's get to the Tyra Banks' "So What!" campaign.  It seems Tyra is trying to empower women (and maybe dudes) to be happy and be one with some self-esteem issues by simply saying "So what!"  On its surface it seems like a nice campaign, but what bothers me is that, for the most part, it pretty much only deals with weight issues.  She had women on her show, wearing one-piece bathing suits, with their weight plastered on them, I guess as a testament to their being proud of their bodies (if they were that proud, shouldn't they have been in two-piece suits?  I'm sorry, I digress.).  Her website spotlights three women from the show, one who "So what"-ed that her thighs rubbed together when she walked, another who "So what"-ed she couldn't lose the last 15 pounds, and another who "So what"-ed that her thighs jiggled when she walked.

My problem is that weight should never be a "So what!" issue, and as someone who continues to struggle with his weight, I've joked, thanks to Homer Simpson, "I've been an obese man trapped inside a fat man's body" many a time, but never, as self-esteemish as it is, did I ever dream of shouting "So what!" about my weight.  From the way I see it "So what!" things should be left for things like "Sometimes I like to pee in the shower," or maybe "Every now and then I don't shave my legs for a week," or maybe "Yes, I'm almost 40 and I like 'Smallville,'" or maybe "I like to smell my own farts," or maybe "Some days I like to wear sweats and not do my hair," or maybe "I still watch 'Survivor,'" or maybe "I'm a women and have no problem going to 'Hooters.'"   And I could go on and on.

But do you recognize something about all of the above "So whats!"?  None of them are really health issues.  Having a "So what" attitude about your weight is a health issue, and a life issue, and if I were Tyra my campaign might be "It's My Struggle, not Yours" and not "So What!"  Here's what "So what!" about your weight might lead to:  Diabetes, heart issues, cholesterol issues, high blood pressure, higher insurance costs, depression, and just dying before you want to.

I know there are two things I need to do to get myself back to being a healthy person, but for reasons not for here, not right now, I am not progressing at those two things like I would want to.  But even as I don't do those two things have I ever had the attitude Tyra Banks seems to want me to have about my weight, namely "So what!", because at that point I might as well come back to another quote I used to joke about, "I'm one with my fat self," and then maybe wonder when being my fat self would make me have to take at least a half-dozen pills just to stay alive.

For me I'm thinking I might have to focus a little more on the two things I need to do to keep me alive a little longer in this world rather than listen to the advice of "So what!"  Sadly, for other people, they will say "So what!" for a while, and then wonder why, when they are older, they have to pop a lot of pills and say "Why me?"

Enough Tyra Banks.

Oh yea, there's that Olympic thing.  This blog has gone on a little longer than planned so I'll just say this.  The United States Olympic Evaluation Commission is visiting Chicago this week to see if Chicago would be a better place to host the 2016 Olympics as opposed to Los Angeles.  Chicago is a better place.  Los Angeles already has stuff built.  We get to build new stuff.  Isn't that what the Olympics are about - New Champions, and new stuff!

"If Chicago builds it, they will come.  The World will.  Come.  And Celebrate."

And if the Chicago Olympic folks want to pay me for that slogan, I'm up for negotiations, that's the Chicago way

"So What!" is a crappy campaign, from Tyra Banks, but for the USOC, hey, just come, and celebrate.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 9:12 PM | Comments (1)

August 31, 2005

Hurricane Katrina - Worse Than You Think - Please Help

By: The Dude on the Right
Fine, they are finally starting to realize the magnitude of the disaster that is taking place thanks to hurricane Katrina, and it's bad enough with the devastation in places like Biloxi and Gulfport, Mississippi, but I can't help but wonder, and be kind of incensed, as to why did it take so long for the major networks to realize what was happening in New Orleans, in our own country?  Isn't there one person there who could have said "Umm, guys, New Orleans is below sea level, the levee's are broken and the pumps are broken, that pretty much means New Orleans is going to fill up with water, that pretty much means that water isn't going to go anywhere, anytime, quickly, and that water will be filled with polluted chemicals, dead bodies, and creepy critters.  We're looking at a catastrophe of major, even biblical proportions, maybe we should get on this and get the public aware of what is going on so maybe they can realize the extent of the devastation other than the fact that their gas prices going up more than fifty cents in a day."  But no, the major networks continue with mostly their normal programming, and the only folks really covering this are the cable news people.

NBC has announced a fundraising concert/broadcast, scheduled for Friday at 8PM EDT, at oooh, an entire hour.  Alright, that's kind of a jab, but at least they are doing something, but my feelings are still this:  ISN'T ANYONE REALIZING THE MAGNITUDE OF THIS DEVASTATION OTHER THAN THE PEOPLE WHOSE LIVES HAVE BEEN DEVASTATED?  I hate to compare this to the World Trade Center attacks, they are sort of different, yet a lot the same, and maybe even worse.  We don't know the extent of loss of life from Katrina, it might only be hundreds, yet it might be in the thousands, but the difference is the number of people whose lives have been uprooted, probably for months, maybe even years, and it is a far magnitude greater than when we were attacked.  Yes, I know the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were horrific, and maybe it's because they were so visual, and maybe at least for those, we had someone to blame, but there doesn't seem to be the same American spirit associated with this event.  You may say something like "Well, they should have gotten out of there, they knew it was coming," and I say "There are hundreds of thousands who evacuated and are now wondering when, if ever, they will see anything they owned ever again, let alone figure out when, where, how, they will work and live again."  You may say something like "They knew the risk of living where they lived," and I say "It doesn't matter where you live, you live within a catastrophic, natural disaster.  I live in Illinois and we have a major earthquake fault, fine, more Missouri, but still Illinois, called the New Madrid Fault that now that I know is here, maybe I'm not in such a safe place except for the occasional blizzard or tornado.  You might have a volcano on your horizon, you might also have an earthquake, you might have tsunami caused by some crap breaking off a shelf over in Europe or Africa that will level you.  You never know the risk.

Fine, I'm rambling some for this blog entry, I suppose because it bugs me that New Orleans and other sites of the Katrina devastation aren't getting the attention they deserve.  I've got a fun weekend waiting for me, spending it in downtown Chicago, hitting a lot of the places my friends and I usually hit, and catching Jimmy Buffett for a couple of shows at Wrigley Field, but right now, and it will probably hold at times during the weekend, I see a couple of images in my head.  One is of a dead body, floating in their house or their attic, peaceful now, but knowing their life came to a terrible end.  Another is of the people stuck in hotel rooms, even the Superdome, where they have no power, no plumbing, no water, shitting in a toilet that won't flush, and wondering how I would hold up.  The last is that I looked at the block I live on as I was coming home today, picturing it in my mind if all of it was gone.  It's not the same as what they are going through because my home was still there, but hundreds of thousands of people are, right now, wondering what they are going to do tomorrow.   For most of the rest of us, we know.

Please donate.  From my eyes, this devastation is many times worse than you think it is, at least, unless, you've been watching the cable news channels.  Right now they seem to understand.  I only hope the rest of us realize it.

This will probably be my last blog until sometime next week, mostly because I'll be away from any computer connections and drinking too much.  If you are pregnant, have a good Labor Day (get it, Labor Day :) ), if you are in the labor industry, have a good Labor Day, but in any case, remember, think, or pray if it is your thing, for all of the people impacted by Hurricane Katrina.  They deserve your support as much as anyone you have donated you help before.

That’s it for this one! I’m The Dude on the Right!! L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at 8:36 PM | Comments (0)


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