Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Friday, March 27, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I've spent a number of years going to the South Side Irish Parade, and I can tell you that City Hall has been frowning upon the parade for as long as I can remember. Some would say that the excessive displays of public intoxication were the reason. Others would vehemently argue that this particular parade frequently outshone the "official" Chicago parade, thus setting it up to be canceled in some sort of back room political shenanigans. All I have to go on are my own experiences and the experiences of the people I know who experienced the parade first hand.
It was my old friend Larry who first introduced me to the parade back in 1999. Previously, all I had heard about the parade was that moving around was akin to trying to swim through a human sea and that the whole experience was like a giant block party. I was in. Our friends Jason and Nicole (not to be confused with my current pals of the same names) were our guides and led us up the parade route. I met a number of extraordinary people that day, including a woman who made the best corned beef sandwich I have ever had before or since. She just had a bunch of them stuffed in her backpack and was giving them out to people who took the time to talk to her. She was gone before I even had the time to thank her or ask for the recipe.
Certainly, there was quite a bit of drinking involved. As we made our way up the parade route, we stopped in nearly every bar along the way and knocked a few back before continuing on. Although most of the people we encountered seemed to be on the drunker side of tipsy, we didn't, to my recollection, see anyone being unruly or even notice much of a police presence back then. Maybe we were just too caught up in watching the parade, celebrating and chatting up random revelers to notice. And, sure, not everybody there that day was of Irish decent, though it was said that everyone there was Irish for the day.
My most recent trip to the parade was in 2008 with my brother Chris and my fellow Pub Scout, Jason. I hadn't been to the parade in a number of years, and what we experienced was vastly different than what I had previously undergone. The police, while much more of a visible presence than they had been in previous years, didn't seem to be doing all that much. I've got a number of pictures of officers just standing around in a large group talking amongst themselves. Aside from forcing public drinkers to ditch their booze or busting up the occasional booze bus, the officers didn't seem to be at all concerned with preventing any of the debauchery that supposedly runs rampant at this event.
One officer actually took the time to berate a man for holding his daughter up on his shoulders so that she could see the parade better. The officer told the man that what he was doing was not only unsafe, but illegal. He protested calmly and she threatened him with arrest if he didn't comply. Perhaps holding one's young daughter on one's shoulders in a parade atmosphere is more dangerous that I'd tend to believe, but I can't help thinking that the officer's time would have been better served controlling the crowd. Still, I don't feel that a great deal of police intervention was actually needed. While there were a few incidents of public consumption and probably a number of underage drinkers, the overall drunken atmosphere seemed much more in control than it had been in previous years. Gone was the notion of hopping bar-to-bar along the route. The lines to get into the bars were so long that such an action was impossible. Had it not been for us catching the owner of a booze bus early, we'd have gone beerless for the parade. I can't help but feel that if the officers would spend a little less time nit picking offenses and put in a little more effort towards managing the parade, the whole issue of crowd control would be a moot one. That, of course, assumes that what the parade planners have been saying is completely free from spin.
In speaking to a number of current and former Beverly residents, I was told tales of things that happened over the years in the aftermath of the parade. One shouldn't have to deal with drunken strangers pissing on your lawn, barfing on your driveway, randomly entering your house or shoving empty liquor bottles into your shrubbery. One former resident described having to keep the kids inside the house and in the upstairs bedroom lest they be exposed to seeing some drunken reveler attempting to shoot bottle rockets out of his ass on the street outside. With each one of these tales, however, came the general sense that, even though it sucks to have to deal with the closed roads, the traffic, and the host of issues that come in the wake of excessive drunkenness, the parade itself was a much loved tradition that they are sorry to see coming to an end. There is, however, a vocal minority of current residents who are happy to be rid of the parade. They challenge any protestor to hold the parade in his/her own neighborhood and deal with the onslaught of revelers. To them, I say that the size of the violin I play for you is inversely proportional to the amount of revenue the Beverly area receives from hosting this parade.
In the end, maybe Daley finally cracked and ordered a halt to the parade. Maybe Alderman Rugai took leave of her senses once again (having learned nothing from her attempt to ban pit bulls within the city limits). Maybe the various hassles finally became too much for the current organizers to handle. And maybe we need to step back a little and re-evaluate the whole thing. Still, I'll tell you this much: They may be able to cancel the parade, but they can't stop me from walking the parade route on the Sunday before St. Patty's. It may even be a little easier to stop in some bars along the way for a few celebratory brews while chanting "Go hifreann leat! Ta me are meisce!" to those unseen poopers of the parade party.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
I'd rather not be reminded of what might potentially be lurking around the kitchen I am eating from.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
I realize that there are a number of different versions of Monopoly out there. I, myself, have both the Chicago and Star Wars versions of the board game. What I cannot seem to wrap my mind around, however, is that this particular version of the game, known as Monopoly: Here and Now, is such a complete bastardization of the original. Gone are the original tokens such as the dog, the thimble and the race car. They have been replaced by a penguin, an Easter Island head, a taxi cab, etc. They're beautifully animated, sure, and the AI for the computer opponents works well, but something is missing.
Overall, the game plays well and is a lot fun. The graphics are beautiful, the option to set certain "house rules" is a welcome one, and the ability to play over WiFi is awesome. The game difficulty levels are interesting in that, it seems that the harder the difficulty level, the more bad luck I have while playing. On the hardest difficulty setting, I find that I am getting the "Go To Jail!" card more often and end up having to do payouts through the Chance and Community Chest cards more often.
While I really do enjoy playing the game, I find that I keep asking myself "Where is the LOVE"? Even though I've gotten used to the changes in tokens, currency and property names, I still long for the original. While it may be outdated by today's standards, there's just something about it that makes it special. That being said, I do have a few suggestions for the fine folks at EA to improve this game.
- Add a "Skip Animation" option. No matter how cute the penguin token sliding on its belly to the next place on the board is, I don't want to see it each time it takes it turn. I just want to play the game.
- The house rules options should include a provision disallowing business transactions while a player is in jail
- The physics for the animated dice rolling is atrocious. Something needs to be done about it.
- How about an option to play the original version of the game?
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Jason and I sampling African cuisine from Bolat
Jason Flirts With A "Save The Children" Spokeswoman
The "Miss Body Art Expo 2008" Contest - This starts off a little slow, except for the portly gentleman who thought it would be funny to participate in a "woman only" contest. Perhaps he believed he was striking a blow against reverse discrimination. Or maybe he was just on something.
Friday, March 13, 2009
This is a good looking camera. The T-500 is ultra compact and features a slide-down lens cover as well as a touch screen interface. It fits easily in your pocket and it lightweight enough that it won't slowly wear a hole in it. Looks aren't everything, though, right?
The T-500 takes amazing photos as well as HD video (1,280 by 720 pixels at 30 frames per second). It seems, however, that when I'm shooting a video without the help of a tripod, the image stabilization tends to drop the occasional frame. The placement of the lens in the upper corner of the camera has taken some getting used to and has resulted in a number of photos that included part of my index finger in them.
I have two major gripes with the T-500. First off, the battery life is terrible. It's rated at 180 shots, but, in my experience, the rating is closer to 100 shots. If you're going to spend the day taking pictures and video, you're going to want to carry an extra battery with you for sure. Second, and this is more a failure of Sony than it is of the camera itself, the T-500 of course employs Sony's proprietary Memory Stick storage solution. I have found that, unless you are using a memory stick specifically made by Sony, the T-500 will not be able to store movies on it. The Sandisk memory stick I originally purchased for the camera would not record movies and I kept getting an error message telling me that there is not enough free space.
Otherwise, as evidenced by the number of movies already on this site, I've been very happy with the camera. It's benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Did you know that the annual "Spring Forward" event actually increases the risk of suicide? A recent study in Australia shows an increase in the suicide rate in the weeks following the shift to daylight savings time. This may be due to the disruption of sleep patterns. Also, changes in actual daylight may lead to increased depression. Why is this significant? Because those in control want to use DST to smite their enemies and make it look like suicide.
Last year, just after the switch over weekend, 911 dispatchers fielded a call by Heather Locklear's psychologist over concerns that she might try to take an overdose of depression medication. Don't worry, she's okay, and now she has something to talk about the next time she's on Larry King promoting an autobiography. Besides, Locklear wasn't the target last year. It was Britney Spears. You see, Ms. Spears is privy to the truth about DST. She knows why it is REALLY happening and the people in charge want her out of the way. Those custody issues and the legal entanglements and the scuffles with the paporazzi have been orchestrated by the folks in charge to both discredit Ms. Spears and push her over the edge. Their plan failed, and it will soon be revealed that DST is actually a front for a shocking scientific discovery.
Back in 1911, the experiments of Ernest Rutherford led to the splitting of the atom. This was the first occasion on which an atomic nucleus of one element had been successfully changed to a different nucleus via artificial means. This small event caused a micro black hole to open up. Black holes are known for their time distortion effects, and, by the time World War I started, Rutherford's black hole had grown large enough to slightly distort time within our solar system. The general population was on the verge of discovering this phenomena, so, to cover it up, the United States government instituted Daylight Savings Time. Just after World War I, the black hole collapsed upon itself and everything went back to normal. However, experiments with bombarding alpha particles against uranium, which would eventually lead to the invention of the atomic bomb, once again opened a black hole. This one was much more stable than Rutherford's. Once again, time was being distorted and the populace had to change their clocks twice a year in order to account for the disruptions in the space/time continuum.
This micro-sized black hole holds the potential for more sinister applications, which is why they are trying to keep it a secret from everyone. Last year alone, the black hole was responsible for 3,476 spontaneous disappearances of random individuals, 14,591 instances of inanimate objects trasnported from one place to another (ever put an object in one room and then found it in another? That's the black hole!) and 24 unexplained pregnancies. Britney Spears, as a high ranking member of the Illuminati (she answers only to Paris Hilton), has been at the forefront of the fight to reveal this secret to the world. Her career as a vapid, talentless pop star has only been a cover. And, thankfully, she dodged a bullet this year, so she will live to fight on and reveal this terrifying secret to the world.
Monday, March 9, 2009
While studying the applesauce, the officer asked me "Is this your lunch?". I indicated that it was.
"You can't bring that in here," he told me.
I was fairly sure that applesauce would not be considered a liquid, so I was at a loss to think of what the problem might be. "But.....but it's rich in apple-goodness," was the best I could offer.
The officer laughed and went to talk to the baggage inspector. Moments later, the officer waved me through, warning me not to bring it to the airport again, apple-goodness or not.
Saturday, March 7, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
UPDATE: March 11, 2010: I have removed the video at the request of the person featured in the video.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
The music behind this particular water show is from Aaron Copeland's "Rodeo". For some reason, after hearing the music accompanying the show, I wanted to run out and get a thick, juicy steak.
Five dollars for an in flight snack box? Screw you, U.S. Airways. I brought my own. Next thing you know, they'll start charging you to take a piss. Oh, wait.....
The one good thing about this flight is that it was underbooked, so there is a seat between me and the guy sitting in the aisle seat. I'm so glad that I don't have to sit next to some old lady who smells like cured ham.
There are also a number of spots broadcasting as "Free Internet" or something similar. I don't know if these belong to the coffee shops or if there is a more sinister purpose involved .
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Beginning in the late 17th Century, the Hudson Bay Company outfitted fur traders for expeditions out of the Hudson Bay in Canada. An expedition team would take out the necessary provisions and then make camp a short distance from their headquarters. This first night, commonly referred to as a "Hudson Bay Start" was merely a test run. It was a very necessary procedure so that before finally launching into the unknown, one could see that nothing has been forgotten, or that if one had taken too much, being so near to the base, the mistake could be easily corrected. This minimized the likelihood of an expedition turning into a party of the Donner variety.
So, here I am in the middle of my own "Hudson Bay Start". So far, nothing seems to be missing. The computer is working, the cell phone is charging and the iPod is connecting. I can only hope that, after taking out my components to make sure they were there, that I also remember to put everything back before heading out to the airport tomorrow.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Added To The iPod For The Trip:
- Queen: Greatest Hits
- Miles Hunt: Interloper
- Iron Man
- I Am Legend
Monday, March 2, 2009
This week, I'm busily packing up my sequin jumpsuit, practicing my poker face and polishing my coins, for I am heading to Las Vegas. I'll be spending four nights in Sin City at the Excalibur. In preparing for the trip, I've already come to a few conclusions:
- I refuse, on principal, to pay $15 a day for an Internet connection in my hotel room, so I've been mapping out free wireless hotspots on and near the Strip.
- Daylight savings time ends this weekend, which means that I'll be losing an hour of time in Vegas. I have no doubt that they will still manage to charge me for it, though.
- I'm going to try my best to take only a carry on bag with me on the flight.
- One of my goals is to update this blog as much as possible over the course of the trip, and, although I will be recording a lot of video, I don't have a lot of confidence that the vids will get posted while I'm actually in Vegas. We'll see.