static, interference, intervention, intervene, get involved so as to alter or hinder an action, white noise, snow, fuzz, fuzzy, Fuzzy, ME

Thursday, March 30, 2006


Yesterday began the first of several Wednesdays where I will work with the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation helping them prepare for Bike the Drive on Memorial Day Sunday. So what does this involve? I go to their office, eat pizza, and do data entry for a couple of hours while I listen to my tunes. I won't be helping them next Wednesday because I am going to see Romance at the Goodman Theatre and I won't be helping them on April 19th because that's my birthday.

While I don't necessarily subscribe to the conclusions that are made from surveys, I do enjoy looking at the raw data. I think that many surveys have problems that are not addressed mainly I don't think that a composite can be made from the population in the survey. The methods used by surveyors skew the results whether rightly or wrongly and an attempt to correct the raw data by skewing it to the average makes an assumption to what the average is and gives the surveyor the answer that they were expecting. Having said all of that about surveys, I saw a couple of surveys that were kind of related that I found interesting. The first survey was an AP-Ipsos poll about swearing. Some of the results were not really that surprising to me; most people swear, women swear more than men, young people swear more than older people, people who are less educated swear more than educated people. What I found funny was that while more people are swearing, most people find it offensive. Personally, I will admit to swearing although there is a time and a place for it and I will not use it in everyday conversation especially with people I don't know. Do I find it offensive? I don't like hearing someone dropping the F-bomb every other word. The other survey I saw was about morals. Pew Research asked 1,502 people 10 subjects and asked them to rate them moral, immoral, not a moral issue, or "it depends". Painting with broad strokes the results indicated that most of the surveyed thought that cheating on your spouse was immoral, this was followed by cheating on your taxes, drinking too much, abortion, smoking pot, homosexual behavior, telling a lie to spare someone's feelings, sex between unmarried adults, and the lowest number of those surveyed thought that overeating was immoral. Their was no gradation on individual acts, it was simply that more people thought this or that was immoral.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Weekend and Walmart

Actually I will start on last Thursday because that is the last day anything happened. I went to a One Brick Happy Hour at Red Ivy in Wrigleyville. It was okay, I ended up talking to people I know and am friendly with and to a few people that I had not met through people that I knew and am friendly with. While it wasn't anything spectacular, it was a heck of a lot better than staying home. This weekend, I stayed home for the most part. I did buy groceries, pay bills, and do my laundry but other than that I stayed home , surfed the internet, and watched a couple of movies, "All About My Mother", and "I Shot Andy Warhol".

I read an article today that I am really of mixed emotions about. Walmart has been trying for a while to draw a more upscale consumer to its stores. They have been trying HDTV's, iPods, and other things that are more upscale than they had been offering. They will now try organic foods. I have no problem with organic foods themselves. The problem is that there have been businesses that have been trying to change the definition of organic. I don't know for a fact that Walmart will try to do that themselves, but Walmart is a lowest common denominator retailer, that cares little about their employees or the communities in which they reside. The bottom line is the most important thing. I could continue with the fact that while they have lower prices, the presence of a Walmart depresses wages more than it lowers prices. I have to wonder if after dealing with Walmart, if the Certified Organic designation is going to mean anything.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Who you are and how you talk

U found a couple of interesting surveys today. One looked at the demographics of a given zip code was called You Are Where You Live. According to my zip code, I match best with the Young Influential although I am a little older than that demographic. The other survey was about dialects and it has about 120 questions about how you pronounce certain words. The reults can be looked at nationally by word or the survey results by state. It was interesting to note the differences even between Chicago and Michigan.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Movies and Books

Well I did see The Devil and Daniel Johnston last night and I have to say that it was an excellent movie. Daniel Johnston is an artist and musician who is very highly regarded in certain music circles. He is incredibly prolific, recording about 30 albums in his 25 year career and making several hundred drawings. He is also manic-depressive with delusions about God. It was a very interesting, poignant and at times funny documentary about his life which was culled from the several hundred audio tapes along with the several movies that he made chronicling his life. The filmmaker also interviewed Daniel's friends and families and used several of his performances that had been filmed. I really liked this movie and will buy it when it comes out on DVD.

Tonight was our book club meeting and we talked about Thank You for Smoking. While it was generally liked, it was very definitely not high art and it was very definitely lacking in character development. We did talk about the fact that the movie is coming out very soon and we may go to see it together. The book for next month was a book that I chose (Woo Hoo!) A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Now hopefully it's pretty good.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Before I took off the last week and a half, my posts had been getting relatively short even when I had something to write. Lately, I have had a lot to write about but I haven't had time to write. I think the last time I wrote, I said that I was going to South Carolina for the weekend to visit my friend Jerry. I did do that and had a great time. I flew out on the morning of Friday the 10th on Northwest. I arrived in Greenville at noon and met Jerry. We went to lunch at a Thai place which was verry good. The stereotypical Thai food is very hot which causes it to be impossible to taste. This stuff was very tasteful. After lunch, we went to Jerry's house where I hung out while he did some work. He put me on his Playstation while he worked. I also got to meet his 2 Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Callie and Tucher. His wife Cathy came home and we hung out by his pool and talked while Jerry worked. Jerry finished most of his work and we went out for dinner at a sushi place. We ended up ordering a whole mess of sushi which we all enjoyed. I have to say however, that it was a little strange to see a sushi roll listed that had fried chicken as the meat part of it. I have no idea how that was because I don't consider fried chicken sushi and we didn't order any. We then went to a marble slab ice cream place. If you have never tried this type of ice cream, you must. You start out with vanilla or chocolate ice cream. You then choose between one and three flavors which are then cut into the ice cream on a marble slab. The ice cream is then served in a dish or a homemade waffle cone. I had green tea and cheesecake. We then stopped for some beer and went back to his house and watched Blackhawk Down. I ended up hitting the sack at about midnight. Cathy was on call on Saturday so she had to get up early Saturday morning which meant Jerry had to get up early.

Saturday, I slept in, getting up around 9:30 AM or so. I got up and Jerry fed me an omelette, sausage, and bacon. We then went out, got Cathy lunch, and then played video games at an arcade for several hours. Jerry had a great run on the basketball game, ending up at one point with several hundred tickets. We ended up giving them away because there wasn't really anything we would want. We then went back to Jerry's place, had a good dinner of steak and potatoes afterwhich we went out again. We went to a pool bar with the thought that we might play pool. This was a rather dumb idea. The tables were by the hour and there was a long waiting list. We had a beer, walked over to a brew pub near by and had another beer. We got back home and crashed. I ended up getting up about 8:30 AM on Sunday morning but I let Jerry sleep. He ended up coming out about 10:30 AM. The high point of Sunday was going to the Mast Store, a store that was kind of a cross between an old general store and an outfitters store. In the lower level of the story they had a bunch of bulk candy. I bought a bunch of Squirrel Nut Zippers among other things. Jerry thought the name was pretty cool and he had never heard of them so I gave him one. What I forgot was that Jerry was allergic to peanuts which is one of the main ingredients in a Squirrel Nut Zipper. We had to go back to his house so he could take a steroid to take care of the allergic reaction. I was very embarrassed and apologetic so I was ripe for a jab. Cathy, who was laying in bed when I came to apologize to Jerry again said, "So Gary, I hear you tried to kill my husband." What could I say? After he recovered, we went to the beautiful waterfall park downtown and then went to a wings place for dinner.

Monday, I left to return to Chicago. According to the plane schedule, I was supposed to arrive at O'Hare at 4:02 PM but because of a windstorm in Chicago, I was delayed, ended up having to change flights, and was delayed again. I ended up arriving in O'Hare at about 9 PM which got me home at around 10 PM (I took the bus).

I get a lot of email everyday and if I don't check it, it stacks up quickly. My job Tuesday after getting groceries, paying bills and making dinner, was to start wading through the 160 emails that weren't spam that had stacked up over the weekend. It actually took me all week to catch up with my email. I finally caught up on Friday night.
I probably would have caught up earlier except that I went to a very funny, Tony Award winning musical called Urinetown. I hadn't planned on going but I got a free ticket and you can't beat free so I went.

On Thursday, I won tickets to a play on Friday and a movie on Monday. I forgot to call about the tickets to the play so I didn't go but I did manage to pick tickets up on Friday.

Saturday was the 3rd Anniversary of the Iraq War and I had to go to the protest. I emailed my other friend Cathy to find out if she was going to be there. She is also very involved in the antiwar movement. Unfortunately I didn't hear from her so I went out by myself. It was very big. Estimates put the crowd at about 7,000 and we actually got to march on Michigan Avenue this time. It was very cool. It was also very cool that Cathy and her husband Marcus, who was also arrested in 2003, found me on Michigan Ave. We ended up marching together until we reached Daley Plaza where the "parade" ended.

Today, I volunteered for a group called the Night Ministry which provide a temporary place (up to 120 days) for homeless youth. The facility that they are setting up is new so we were tearing paper off the floor that had been put down for wall painting. We also moved and assembled furniture. It was very gratifying work. It was also very definitely work but it was a lot of fun.

So what's on the horizon? As I said, on Monday, I'm going to see a documentary called the "Devil and Daniel Johnsten" and on Tuesday is our monthly book club meeting where we will be discussing, "Thank You for Smoking".

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Catching Up

I have done a lot since my last post but I don't feel like writing a lot so this will be short. Last week, a study came out stating that more people new more members of the Simpsons than they knew freedoms covered by the First Amendment of the Constitution. The numbers were expressed differently by different newspapers but in all it was a very bad show of civics for the average American. While I didn't think that the numbers were correct even if the idea was right, an unscientific survey of my own indicated that it may not be far off.

I went to Michigan this weekend to help my mother and my nephew Devon celebrate their birthdays. I was also able to spend a lot of time with my sister Kathryn and my friend Guy. We ended up eating out every night I was there. On Friday, we went to the Boulevard Lounge, on Saturday, we had a late lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings (a place I will always call BW-3) and on Sunday, my mother's birthday, we went to Bennigan's and I was reminded why I don't go there often. This week has been pretty quiet although my nephew Alexander had his adenoids removed today and this weekend I will be going to South Carolina to visit my friend Jerry.