Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My Time on the Dole, A Retrospective

Well, we're almost to the point for a retrospective.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends and Neighbors, I accepted a full-time position this morning. I should be very, very happy with this new job, and I'm looking forward to getting back to work after, lo these many days.

I've been thinking about how many days have passed, so I've worked out some silly numbers for you:

All in all, once I start working, I will have been unemployed for 178 days.

That's a lot of days, especially for an ancy guy like me.

I am looking forward to my new job. From everything I've seen, I stand to be a very happy and productive member of the team there. Now, however, I am faced with a small problem- I have to either a) lose the spare tire I've managed to grow so I can fit into my old work clothes of b) buy new work clothes.

Something tells me I'm going on a crash diet for a week or so. Time to start exercising again, too.

Check out the all-new, employed Dave at a theatre near you, December 11th!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Turkey Day

I'm typing without my glasses on. This is probably going to lead to either a headache, or a plethora of typos. Perhaps both. Perhaps the whiskey I drank last night in order to demonstrate the value of releasing the serpent to a college professor at the bar already has the headache covered. Perhaps I need a pill or two. Perhaps three.

Today is Thanksgiving Day, one of my all-time favorite holidays. I'll bet you didn't know this, but it is, technically, a religious holiday. Today you are supposed to give thanks to god for whatever it is you are thankful for. Myself, I try to give thanks to the people who are important to me, whether they can hear me or not, and whether or not I do so in a public forum, like a blog.

I am not, at this time, going to make a list and check it twice. I'm too tired, too hungover, and I still don't have my glasses on. Besides, if you're one of those people, you probably already know it. At the very least, I hope you know it.

Yesterday, I had a very long interview with a company I'm very excited about working for, and I really hope I get the job. Not for the money or the glamour, but for the job itself, one where I think I'll be really happy. Whilst in that interview, I took a skills test on a laptop computer (I still cannot get used to touchpads- someone please teach me how to use one!) and I did very well- I scored 87% in customer service, 85% on my grammar test, and 95% on both spelling and vocabulary. I felt very good about that, except for the fact that I still can't spell embarrass without a spell checker, nor can I distinguish between when to use its vs. it's.

Sometimes I wonder if I ever really paid attention during any of my English classes.

Anyways, I need a shower. I'm hopefully picking up my sister from the train from Great Lakes Naval Base in an hour and change, and then we're driving out to the farm for lunch with one set of grandparents, dinner with the other, and a long drive back to Chicago. After all that, I plan on being out and about with friends and hopefully a certain someone, although she's one of the unlucky people who is required to be at work tomorrow, so I'm not holding my breath. We'll see what happens, I guess.

So, if you're giving thanks today, remember that I am, too. If you're giving thanks to some higher power, try not to mention my name- I'm sure you'll just get in trouble for it. Seriously, have a happy holiday, everyone.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Armistice Day

Last Saturday was Armistice Day, or remembrance Day, or Veterans Day, depending on which side of the border you hail from, or what you choose to remember. I like to remember it as Armistice Day, and it was the first time in 3 years that I wasn't in Canada to see everyone wearing poppies. Honestly I missed that part the most.

I had spent the night at A's, and woke up early, as I usually do, and sat on her couch watching Bravo reruns of Six Feet Under. A works in a bank, and it was her first Saturday off in months, so she wanted to sleep in, so I was quiet. I was, but my cell phone rang around 11, and it wasn't particularly quiet. I answered as quickly a possible to minimize the amount of disturbance. It was my step-sister calling, she was going to come down from Great Lakes to the city. I offered to buy her the birthday lunch I didn't get to buy her the week before, on her actual birthday. She accepted and asked me what the plan was.

That's when I realized I had made lunch plans for A and I, and she wasn't even awake yet. "Let me check with her, and I'll get back to you in 15 minutes or so," I said. I felt like an idiot, but if worse came to worse, I could always go it alone. I gently woke A up and asked her if she wanted to go, and she did, but she wanted to take our time. I called my sister back and told her we'd meet her at 1, which gave us tons of time to get ready.

We picked up my sister and her boyfriend a little after 1, and headed over to grab some lunch and had some very nice conversation, which somehow or another got steered over to perfumes. My sister wanted a new perfume, and A knew just where to go. I braced for the inevitable- I was going shopping. I rolled my eyes. I secretly dreaded what was coming next. We headed to Water Tower Place and went straight to the fragrance department of Macy's, which, as you might suspect, gave me a headache almost instantly. Too much, too soon. Fortunately, we found what she wanted right away, and then headed out into the mall.

There was talk of going t-shirt shopping- apparently the Navy doesn't provide very comfortable t-shirts. A offered to go with my sister, and leave us guys to fend for ourselves. I took a quick survey and found a saving grace- the high-end games shop, with all the cool toys and fun board games you don't usually get to see. I mean, South Park Chess, people. How could I resist?

We managed to occupy ourselves there for a bit, then I got tired, so I found a comfy chair and had a seat, made a couple phone calls, and then A and my sister arrived. They had fun together, and I got to meet A's sister in the process. It was quite the full day. What's up next in my adventures with a sister in the Navy? Thanksgiving, which, a few months ago, I had pictured completely differently than now.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I can resist anything but temptation.

Yesterday, I felt the need to get stuff done, so I started my laundry around 10:30, so that my employed neighbors might shower with hot water before going to their jobs. After that was done, I quickly checked the time: 2:30. I had an hour to complete at least 3 of 4 tasks:

Going to Jewel for groceries.
Going to Trader Joe's for more groceries.
Going to CVS to get cat litter
Going to the Chicago Music Exchange for a guitar stand.

Why did I only have an hour to do these things? Because I wanted to be back in time to watch Celebrity Jeopardy! at 3:30. I love watching that show normally, because I yell out the answers at the television. I love it even more when I get to call Regis Philbin names for getting answers wrong.

So, I got out my bike and got out in the 60+ degree weather, and I rode around like an idiot, power-shopping, and made it back home with 11 minutes to spare. In case you're wondering, yes, I am the king of grocery shopping. In and out with as little damage as possible, that's my way, and it works.

The bad part was realizing just how much my knees were screaming in pain, so I sat down with a glass of water and a couple ice packs. That's when my intercom buzzed. Our intercom tends to work intermittently, so we usually have to go downstairs to find out who's there, and with campaigning going on lately, there's been a lot of unanswered buzzes around here. Jess took a look and said "nobody I know, but there's a guy with a bag out there." I chose not to get up and answer, as I was just starting to enjoy the ice packs.

The buzzer rang again, with a little more insistence, so I gave up and got up to see who it was. It was my buddy S, the owner of the Globe. He's been contracting Jess to do some accountancy work lately, and was dropping off some stuff for her. As we ascended the stairs, he said "this is a fairly urgent meeting." I thought he was talking about the accountancy stuff. Nope.

I let them talk and went back to the couch and sat down with my water and ice packs. S came over and sat next to me. "So, what are you doing tonight?" I got the feeling I was going to be asked to host something at the bar, or emcee something, or have to do some other kind of unpaid work that I do for the bar to justify their contributing prizes to my pub quiz. I don't mind doing it, because I almost always drink for free at those kinds of functions, and that's a hard thing to say no to.

"Nothing- I was just planning on sitting around here, honestly." I was secretly hoping to get out of the house, really, it was too nice a day to spend indoors, and I spent most of it indoors doing laundry.

"No you're not. You're coming with me." He had an extra ticket for a Glenmorangie tasting. I had the fortune to be called in as his plus one. They were even going to feed us, so it was a win-win-win situation. I asked if I should dress up, was told it was casual, and said I would wear pants- something I know all of you know I hate to do. We planned on meeting up at 6 at the bar, so I had some time to kill, so I watched Jeopardy! and made fun of the celebrities and relaxed and started to marinate my steak and cleaned the catbox and all those other silly things I had promised myself I would do.

We got to the restaurant around 6:30, which was when we were told the event started. We were proudly the first there and last to leave, and we enjoyed 7 different scotches, or sketches, depending on whether or not you're in on the joke. One of them was so peaty it almost hurt. One of them is older than my current lady-friend, A. It was really, really smooth, and very tasty. My personal favorite Glenmorangie is the Port Wood Cask, because the wood adds a very subtle sweet flavor to an already very good sketch. S's is the Madeira, which is high on my list, but just can't topple Port Wood.

They prepared the food using sketch, too. Each course came with its own flavored sketch. The scallops were sauteed with Ardbeg, the peatiest sketch I have ever had. I'm not a fan of seafood, but I didn't want to be rude or miss out on the Ardbeg either. The beet salad was served with the Port Wood (which I had seconds on). The ravioletti was served with the Sherry Wood, probably my third favorite. Our entree, veal medallions, was served with the Burgundy Wood, a very high favorite of mine, as it, like the Port Wood, adds a very subtle sweetness to the sketch. The Burgundy does moreso than the Port, but is still an amazing flavor. I recommend it wholeheartedly. Before they brought out the dessert tray one of the guests, a chocolatier, handed out samples of his product and we all enjoyed some of the 1977 Glenmorangie. I'm still thinking about that scotch. It was just so enjoyable. So full of flavor.

Anyways, they brought out the dessert tray, and almost no one had any. The chocolate apparently did the trick for everyone. The final sketch? Ardbeg 10 year. Like I said earlier, it is so peaty it hurts. The Glenmorangie Rep told us that it has been crowned the peatiest sketch in the world, and I believe it. After that, I helped finish off the '77, and away we went, back to the Globe, for a couple drinks before it was time for bed.

Fortunately for me, we had lots of water and bread along with dinner, otherwise, I am certain I would have a hangover that would probably kill me. How fortunate, that after 4 hours of scotch drinking, I have absolutely no hangover. I guess I'll never learn.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tuesday, Tuesday.

Thankfully, elections are behind us, and Ricky Santorum is gone, like all those horrible attack ads. I can't say I'm disappointed on either account.

Yesterday, as I headed over to the Globe to drop off some prizes, I saw the sandwich board sitting out, and as I approached, I started to read it, and thought to myself 'hm, there's something written below' and then 'oh, that's just my name' and then 'oh, J must have done today's sign.' I have this thing I do. When I think a woman is pretty, I like to tell them so. That is why my motto of "I do whatever the pretty girls tell me to do" gets me into so much trouble. Especially if the pretty girl knows I think they're pretty, and they know my motto.

Anyways, not too long ago, I spent the afternoon with J (pictured here), and she and I had a blast making fun of each other. She's from Texas, and has that southern drawl I just turns me to putty. I told her she was pretty, and she came back with "you're prettier!"

And I melted.

So, I found her after I talked with the owners and dropped off my prizes. We had a moment. It was funny. All night last night, during pub quiz, folks who noticed kept telling me I was pretty. It was hilarious, and I'm still giggling about it today. It's the little things in life, right, that make it worth living, right?


So, after my moment with the lovely J, I headed to my polling place to exercise my civic duty and voice my opinion about the leadership in my city, county, state and country. When I got in, there was some kind of bruhaha over a voter's registration, he, as well as many other people, had problems with their registration. I, friends and neighbors, had none.

The very nice election judge handed me my ballot, and I instantly noticed something that made me extremely happy. The ballot, instead of the usual hanging-chad style ballot that I had never encountered until I moved to Chicago, had been replaced by the "fill in the arrow style." Back when I first voted, as a senior in high school, that was the form I was handed.

I was a senior in high school and voted for the first time in 1991. It is ever so comforting that Chicago has finally caught up to the early 90's version of ballot I had in Minnesota. I had to hold my tongue when the judge tried to explain it to me. I did, however, interrupt her and tell her that I had, in fact, encountered this very simple way to vote before, and that I was more than familiar with it. I did, after all, vote in Minnesota for 6 years before I moved away and discovered how bassackwards the Chicago system was. I would also like to mention that on the fill in the arrow version, I am undefeated. Watch out America.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Happy Election Day.

If you're in America, and you're reading this, welcome. Please don't forget to go out to your local polling place and cast your vote- every voice counts. Please also remember to read up on the candidates before you vote- nothing is more important. Still more important is the message in this video, which my buddy Pat posted the other day:

If you're like me, you tend to hate the system from time to time. Honestly, I believe that choosing to become a politician signals that you are unfit for the job at any level. I quote Dwight D. Eisenhower:
Any man who wants to be president is either an egomaniac or crazy.
I cannot honestly imagine any truer words ever having been spoken. Get out- rock the vote- but make sure you know how you're going to rock it.

Monday, November 06, 2006

How to date a Chicago Bears fan.

The truth is, friends and neighbors, that I am dating a wonderful young lady. She's smart, pretty, and is very fun to be with. We've got our similarities, and we've got some differences, but perhaps the biggest rift between us is our choice in football teams. She is a Chicago Bears fan. I am a Minnesota Vikings fan. We do not see even close to eye-to-eye on this, as should be expected from bitter rival teams. Honestly, I think it is more important to her than our differences in religions.

Yesterday, we did something we haven't done yet(get your mind out of the gutters, people). We sat down to watch a football game together. Some friends of hers were gathering for brunch at a place called McGee's, an overcrowded, over priced and very loud bar by DePaul. The atmosphere was lively, especially when the Bears scored, when the TV audio would be turned off and the Bears fight song would be played, a confetti bomb would go off, and for some reason, after each score and fight song, they would play Thunderstruck by AC/DC. I used to like that song. I used to play it before meets in high school to get the team pumped up.

Now, I can't stand it at all.

Not because they played it when the Bears scored, but because they didn't seem to realize that there's a whole catalog of music to be played, not just the same damn song over and over and over. Anyways, enough about the bar. I'm sure you all want to hear about the woman, right?

She's a big fan of the Bears. She knows the mechanics of football inside and out. She can quote stats and gets tense when the team isn't performing well. She spent quite a bit of time looking exasperated yesterday, during their loss. At one point she looked me dead in the face and said "I'm going to look at you- you don't make me nauseous, but they certainly do." She even had to have a glass of seltzer water to calm her stomach. It was rather strange, yet rewarding to watch, as I got to see a side of her that I wasn't likely to see otherwise.

I was patient and supportive, although not supportive enough to actually root for my team's arch-rival. I let her bury her face in my body when she just couldn't watch it anymore, and I held her hand when she hoped and prayed for a miracle. I even, once or twice, argued when calls went against her team, but I was doing so because I am objective.

Anyone want to buy a tract of land in Florida off me? I'll give you a great price.