And the first blizzard watch of 2011 Chicago is on! Will we actually get anywhere close to the 24+ inches of snow some forecasts are predicting? More importantly, will I be able to handle a few days on the train, or will I crack and say "screw it, I'm using a sick day"? A middle of the week snow day can be pretty enjoyable sometimes, if you're not trapped in whiteout conditions for too long.


Thankfully conditions were nicer yesterday for a few more hours of house-hunting. We saw a few possibilities, but we'll have to see how the comps shake out and what kind of offer we can put together. In the meantime, failing to close on our first offer hasn't stopped us from trying to start organizing for a move.

One trouble area in our apartment is always our dvd collection. It hasn't grown too much lately as we get the most bang for our netflix buck but we do have a few years of dvds worth keeping but taking up space.

So like anything else, we threw some money at the issue and bought some new storage racks. Wading through the crowd at the container store was surprisingly intense, almost like the crowd at a grocery store before a major blizzard. I don't know who needs to stock up on modular storage units before getting two feet of snow but evidently there are people like that out there.

Two new containers made a big dent in the clutter, even though it was a little difficult to part with some of those dvd boxes. But into recycling they went. Still, two 100 dvd storage racks barely took half the collection, so the next day we walked back to get two more. Thankfully we took the dog and I got to stay outside with her while the wife took a deep breath and headed in.

Two more containers did the trick, with plenty of room for expansion later.

It is a little strange what boxes made the cut though. The Simpsons, Lost, or Veronica Mars did not, but Justice League in the collectors tin did, and so did Futurama. So did Venture Brothers, and that was actually the wife's idea b/c of the box art. Batman Begins stayed b/c of the comic insert, so Dark Knight had to stay as well. And she let me leave Batman & Superman up there too. Man we are nerds.

It was a fun exercise and actually got me a little excited to pack when we actually have a place lined up. We'll see how long that feeling last though, I'm not holding my breath.

Current beer-scale: 7.4


kissing it goodbye

The wife and I had to walk away from buying our first home this week. There was too much of a gap between what we thought the place was worth and what the sellers would accept as their lowest asking price, so we had to say no. Which sucks, b/c the place was in a neighborhood we liked and had a lot going for it. There was an attached garage and it was even a duplex and had a great room on the ground floor that would have made a perfect football cave/treadmill/trainer room. I was already bookmarking vertical bike hooks to put in the garage.

So why walk away? Even though the sellers did drop their asking price significantly and into the middle of our price range, they were still asking for more than what similar places in a one-mile radius had been selling for. Their original asking price was way out of line with the market, and even though that price dropped, it was still more than the market was dictating. We had a final upper range in mind and couldn't even get them close to it.

It's a bummer but ultimately for the best. We weren't dealing with the anxiety of waiting to hear back from the sellers very well. They took so long getting back to us on our final offer that we went from hoping they would accept, to doubting they'd accept, to thinking even if they did accept we should drop our offer an extra couple of thousand just to give them the finger. When they came back after three days of not getting back to us with the same response, it was time to look elsewhere.

So we're back out into the market this weekend. I'm keeping my fingers crossed, but even more than that I'm looking forward to a large pour of Templetons when this week is finally over.

Current beer-scale: 8.2


why are we such idiots?

I will admit I don't always do the smart thing on a bike. I made a spur of the moment decision last night to make a stop to look for a birthday gift for the wife that had me cutting through some unusual streets. If there had been more traffic, I made some decisions that would not have been wise. But every now and then I see someone do something so stupid, then immediately do it again, that I have to ask myself if we're all just idiots for riding.

Chicago is not difficult to navigate. Most streets are laid out in a plain grid, with the occasional diagonal like Lincoln, Clybourn, Elston, or Milwaukee cutting through. These streets can save you some time, but I would not recommend rolling through a stop light at a six-way intersection. And yet people do. Like the guy that skidded past me this morning, only to nearly be run over by a Children's Memorial shuttle turning left. And then the no. 11 bus almost got him at the next light, where he did the same thing.

If the guy had stayed ahead of me I wouldn't have cared. That he slowed down after that, only to get upset enough when I passed him to glare at me, pushed my buttons a little. As he passed me at the light before wells, I asked him if he didn't want to try and trackstand again. I was sure there was another bus coming. He didn't care for that. For a second I thought he might actually stop and say something, but he kept riding. So did I, but that was the last of it.

Seriously, we must all be idiots. Most of us sure as hell ride like one.

Current beer-scale: 5.1 and climbing with a late meeting tonite.



Yeah, that felt much longer than just Sat & Sun.

Surprisingly the car passed an emission test Sat morning, so we can get a new license sticker and keep it around for another year. And that one errand basically took care of our to-do list for the weekend. So I was free to take a trainer ride and workout and do whatever else I wanted to fill the time waiting for Sunday's 2 PM kickoff. For all the good that did.

A crappy Bears loss makes for a long weekend, but so does waiting to hear back from a seller on your offer for their condo property. We low-balled, got a counter, made another, and are still waiting for a response. I'm not optimistic, but one way or the other I'll be glad when the waiting is over. Even if it just means we're back to looking vs packing.

Ugh. The fact that it was the Packers and the playoffs has turned today to complete shit. So it's back to looking busy this morning as I don't really have the energy to get real work done. Or to think of something that qualifies as real work.

Current beer-scale: 2.3 too depressed to be higher


Okay, that was cold

Image via thefuckingweather.com, my go-to site for just how much winter in Chicago sucks.

When people start to post warnings about wind chill advisories, it might be time to put the bike in the basement for the day. Or it might be time to put on two extra layers and keep your fingers crossed under two pairs of gloves that you make it in before your toes go numb. Guess which one I ended up doing?

The ride in was actually much better than I expected it to be. My toes were getting insanely cold by the time I made it to campus but I wasn't regretting riding the bike. I don't exactly feel great right now but I'm willing to bet the train would have been even worse.

Even better, the boss decided to reward everyone for coming in by springing for lunch. Which always seems to happen when I have leftovers from Pequods but whatevs.

Current beer-scale: 9.1 for the weekend and BEARS! game


Will someone please tell me what the fuck is going on when the most treacherous part of my commute is the fucking ice rink on the walkway headed back to the apartment? Christ almighty.

Current beer-scale: 7.1 & whiskey ahoy

Six of one...

Which is more hellish, cramming onto an el car already ass-to-nuts or rolling & slipping through all the road grit and salt on the road that will calcify into a nasty mix on your beautiful yet crap-tastic bike?

After taking yesterday off, I said the train was still worse and the hell with it. I was riding regardless, and it wasn't too bad. Went slow and keep my head on a swivel, made it in relatively unscathed. I don't want to think about how much damage the gunk on the road is doing to frankenbike as it sits outside locked up downstairs, but that's why you ride junkers in the winter.

I think one day on the train was enough to get me exposed to something nasty, as I developed a killer headache by the end of yesterday and am feeling quite sluggish and downtrodden so far today. Of course that might have meant the train would have been a smarter choice. I never said I was a brain. Break out the whiskey, things will be fine.

Current beer-scale: 4.5


Don't tempt fate

Bad karma be damned, I was ready to call in for a sick day this morning. While I'm in good health, I am completely sick of winter and had no interest in venturing out onto the ice rink that Lincoln Park had become overnight last night.

Snow is one thing, ice is another. The bike isn't really an option when you can barely walk without biting it. So I slugged it out on the train b/c I was too much of a wuss to call in sick.

It's probably for the best, b/c if the Bears/Packers hype gets out of hand I probably will be sick by the end of the week. It's a long five days until Sunday. Throw in some more real estate hunting tonight and Friday can't get her quick enough.

Current beer-scale: 8.8


Late morning

I have to stay late tonight for a networking event, so I made the most of it. Drove the wife to work with a coffee stop, took the dog up to the beach in the crappy weather. Not a bad time.

Doesn't matter if the sun's out or not, she's going to have fun.

And when the sun does come out, she's ready to head out into it.

Ultimately this is the goal. A tired dog who's happy with the occasional pet as I get ready for work, giving the crazy eyes as she rolls onto her back.

Even better, I realized with the droid x update getting it flash-compatible, I could also listen to ESPN 1000 even on the train and not miss any Bears coverage. Which was awesome, b/c between having snow in the forecast for tonight and not getting done until after 9 PM frankenbike stayed in the basement this morning. Additionally, I forgot my ID to get into the building and had to go back for it, costing me an extra 30 minutes. Oops.

Oh well. I shouldn't get too upset--this is my event and attendance is shaping up to be pretty healthy. All I have to do now is stay polite when I talk to our mortgage guy this afternoon. Good times.

Current beer-scale: 7.1 & there's an open bar tonite!


How to...

start the day off better than yesterday in four easy steps.

1. End yesterday with a few Guiness and some "Bored to Death" DVDs.

2. Leave early enough to walk to Starbucks after arriving at the office.

3. Find a $10 bill in the snow walking your bike to the curb as you're leaving.

4. Have enough to buy coffee and an apple fritter, end up $3 ahead for the day.

It's easy to skip the first step, or substitute other alcohol for Guiness. And actually, I usually remember to have a drink of whatever I have on hand. So that step is pretty much automatic for me. The key was the snow-covered $10 bill waiting for me as I walked frankenbike out this morning.

My street is still in pretty shitty shape as far snow at the curb and the only clear spots being the pair of tire tracks running the street. I've been debating how much of a douche I would be to ride the clear sidewalks up the alley before Fullerton and then out to the street, but I hate it when people do that. Just walk three feet off the curb and ride where you're supposed to or don't ride at all. So I walk through the slush and wait for an opening in traffic to take one of the tire tracks up the street. As I stepped off this morning, a little bit of light green caught my eye sticking out of the snow. Reaching down I saw it was currency, and picking it up realized it was a whole ten dollars. Woo hoo!

So even stopping at Starbucks, I'm $3 ahead for the day. Even after getting something to save for lunch. Throw in a quick ride in decent conditions and that's a Thursday off to a good start. Now I can start looking forward to pouring some whiskey tonite (I finished the rest of the Guiness last night).

Current beer-scale: 7.1


Long day at work? Realtor deflate your hopes at getting an affordable offer approved? Tired of darkness and winter?

Crack a Guinness and forget it. Works every time.

Current beer-scale: 9.0


So it neither stopped snowing today, nor did my front headlight stay attached for an entire ride home.This is what my ride looked like when I came out of the office tonite. Not too bad, all things considered. And that's what it looked like by the time I made it home. At least there's no snow on the seat.

If you look closely, you'll notice the back light is still on but the front light is not. That's b/c the front light flew off after hitting a huge pothole on Lincoln. It was still blinking so I was able to find it, but it fell off a second time and then wouldn't come back on. Crap. Oh well. Winter is shit but what can you do. Hopefully things will be better (clearer) tomorrow. At least I was able to find the light both times so I can try to superglue it back on.


Current beer-scale: 8.9

LIke a pig in slop

Outside of "keep is slow, keep it careful," the pig in slop analogy was about the only thought going through my head this morning. Only I wasn't thinking slop. It made me smile at least.

And it didn't get better on the bigger streets either.

Things were pretty shitty this morning. Fullerton looked alright when I was out walking the dog, but half-an-hour later the snow was coming down pretty hard and the wet but clean street I had seen had turned slushy and slick. I left knowing I wasn't going to be in any kind of rush to get to work but that was kind of ridiculous.

It's rare that I'm relieved to get to the office, but it happened today

Still, better than the train. I might be thinking differently if it doesn't stop snowing by this afternoon though.

Current beer-scale: 7.8


Wow. Just, wow.

Last week wasn't an easy one. Had a few drinks when I got home Friday night, had a few more after a long day in the suburbs on Saturday. Sunday was a fun day of football all day, followed by cracking open the Templeton's to get ready for Monday.

Holy Moses was that the finest drink I've ever had.

Buttery, spicy, warm, with a pleasant burn that kicks in after a long couple of seconds, if I hadn't already set the alarm for this morning I think I would have ended up drinking half the bottle in one sitting. It was a lot mellower than expected for something Prohibition-based, but I can see why they call it "the good stuff." I'm going to make sure I finish all the other whiskey in the house before I get to the rest of the Templeton's, and I might have to make another run to the liquor store that had a few left on the shelves to see if they're still there later this week. Good lord I hope they are.

Current beer-scale: 3.1


After the way yesterday started I was tempted to take a shorter ride home to just put it out of its misery. But as I left I realized I didn't want a lousy morning to push me around all day and said screw it, I'm going how I always go. Everything passed without incident, and I proceeded to have an enjoyable evening wherein I ate and drank too much, had heartburn at about 3 AM, and spent today exhausted.

Consequently I absolutely took the short way home after a long day in the office trying to focus enough not to spill coffee all over myself. It's a mile shorter and saved me a couple of minutes, mostly by eliminating one left turn and being easier to time street-light-wise. The snow that started to fall before I left was also a decent motivator, although the stretch on Division was terrifying from State to Clybourn.

So now it's time for beer, and a brief prayer that tonite's meal doesn't leave me reaching for the tums in the middle of the night later.

Current beer-scale: 7.8


Time to take a breath

And maybe even a break. Nerves are getting frayed.

There were a lot of cops out last night for whatever reason, and that included two on bikes behind me, then in front of me, then behind me again on Chicago as I left work. And I wasn't running any reds, these guys were just screeching up to the light after I got there, shoaling me, then just standing there as the light changed so I'd pass them, only to get shoaled again at the next light. The last time, the one on the left (of course the were riding side by side) stood directly in front of me and angled his bike across my lane. Screw it, I ran the light and got as far away from them as I could. It's not like they fucking cared. They were happy spinning away with their lights on.

For reasons again beyond my comprehension, traffic was heavy this morning. Cars were backed up and I was taking it easy going down Wells. In this case 'easy' meant 90% stopping at stop signs just to make sure no one was coming through. Of course some ass on a hybrid zooms right past me at one when there's an suv in the middle of the intersection. She slams on her brakes, he gives her a wave, only now she's stopped directly in front of me and waiting for me to pull the same shit. We'd still be sitting there staring at each other if I hadn't waived her through. I didn't have any choice, when she stopped I had to put a foot down. Eventually that lady's going to t-bone some bike commuter b/c she's tired of looking for them, and I can only hope it's the same idiot that pulled the douche-y move this morning.

Shit like this happens all the time. But when it bugs me to the point where I'm wishing physical harm would come to people on bikes then I think it's time to get away for a while. And I mean away away. It's not like taking the train instead of the bike is going to make me feel better at all. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

Current beer-scale: 9.9


Hit the ground rolling

Finally sat down to do some basic maintenance during extra days off for New Years. It's not that I don't have time to do it during a normal week, I'm just super lazy. I've been storing the bike in the basement so we have a little more room upstairs--frankenbike is out of sight/out of mind except when I'm commuting. But I took the time to clean off a few weeks' worth of gunk yesterday and boy did it show this morning. Clean streets, no snow or muck, and I absolutely flew into the office on as smooth a ride as I've had in weeks. Hopefully things can stay like that for a few more days depending on how accurate local forecasts are.

Current beer-scale: 6.1, surprisingly high considering I couldn't bring myself to have a drink last night, even after the Bears lost.


Looking for a little four loko to class up new years yesterday, I decided to pick up a little something for myself as well. As it turns out there was no loko to be had, but that was probably for the best. At this point it will be at least a day until I feel up to making a drink anyways. Ouch.

Current beer-scale: 1.1