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Showing posts from October, 2015

Fall Splendor: View From My Office

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Peeking out the window of my office this week was a treat with the brilliant reds and oranges from the trees in Grant Park and Millenium Park.  It was less than a month ago that I posted this same view that heralded in the beginning of Autumn.

You can see the other seasons that I've documented out this same view here from earlier this year starting with the gloomy early Spring with NFL DraftTown.

Candy Counting and Sorting In Kids

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One of the inborn instincts that my kids seem to have (and I had) is the need to count and sort the candy one receives over the various Halloween activities into piles based on type and color.  Here, The Babe shows her handiwork.  All the Twizzlers in one pile.  All the lollipops in another, etc.

New Year, New Nexus (The 6P)

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That's the Huawei-made Nexus 6P that showed up earlier this week.  This marks the 7th Nexus phone I've had going all the way back to the original Nexus One.  When I was at Google, I had the S, Galaxy Nexus, 4 and 5.  Since I've left, I went with last year's behemoth the Nexus 6 and now this year the 6P.

Nat has been on the Nexus program since the 4, too.  But the 6 was so big, she opted to go with the Moto X Pure last year.  This year, she's back on the Nexus program with the 5X.

These just arrived, so we haven't put them through their paces, but so far so good.   The camera - everyone claims - is much improved.  That's always been the sore spot for the Nexus line for me.   Also, the 6 was a bit clunky when it came to the wifi and bluetooth radios.  They were spotty and would kick off every once in a while.

I ordered a case, but it hasn't shown up yet, so this thing feels so light and thin.  I know it won't last when I strap the case/bumper on i…

"Feels Like Home" - Block I Delivers At Homecoming

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Could there be a better Block I Card Stunt than this one at Homecoming this past weekend?

Home is right.

(They did a cute Red Grange one, too.)


Stumbled Into The "Old" Google

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Yesterday, I renewed my Google Drive combined storage package (gmail, docs, photos) and the auto-response email that came to my gmail was jarring.  (check out the date - October 26th 2015 - for proof that this is recent.)
Look at that old logo.  It felt a bit like I found an 'undiscovered' part of the corporate brand that didn't get upgraded to the new logo.  Those pesky auto-response emails are always forgotten, right?  When I was involved with a political campaign last year, the auto-response emails that got kicked off whenever someone took an action were always the last to get attention.  (Which is funny, right?  Because in that setting...those are probably some of the *most* important touch points...)

I wasn't sold on the new look Google logo, but when this arrived...and looking at the old Google logo also makes me think that the new one is a big upgrade.

A Pizza "A Ha! Moment" - Aurelio's Confirms Cheeses

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As the weather turns cooler and Fall arrives, my mind begins to turn towards pizza making at home.  For the past few years, I've been steadily improving and tweaking my Detroit-style pies, but it feels like I'm near the end of the line in terms of changes and modifications.  Between the well-seasoned pan, the tweaked dough formulation, and the cheese combo's, I've begun to deliver a consistent product that is repeat-able as long as I have the time to do a cold rise overnight.

So, that means I can start to turn my pizza-attention to a different kind of pie.  And I'm thinking that is going to be to try to craft a true south-side tavern-style thin crust pie.  And my favorite pizza is one of those:  Aurelio's.  If you buy into the Pizza Cognition Theory, I'm into Aurelio's because...to me, it *is* pizza.  It is what I had in Frankfort growing up.  Win a baseball game?  Let's go to Aurelio's in Downtown Frankfort.  After the awkward 7th grade dance …

New Menards O Gauge Cars With Vintage Panel Trucks

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The fine folks up in Wisconsin at Menards are out with another new set of O Gauge train cars that caught my eye this week.  They're calling them 'Flatcars with Panel Trucks' and the trucks are vintage-looking wagons.  They're pretty cute.

They're promo'ing three of them:  Union Pacific, Soo Line and Santa Fe.  No Chicago and North Western, though.

The Lionel set that my dad had from his childhood is a Santa Fe post-war set and I have to think that these Santa Fe cars would look preeettay preeettay preeettay great with his other Santa Fe stuff.


Costco Card Upgraded (Thanks to Google Express...)

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I've written about my experience with Google Express before here on the blog.  I really like it.  Especially for Costco purchases.  For example, we were having a first birthday party for The Beef over this past weekend at our* house and after doing a proper inventory, we discovered that we were covered with disposable plates and forks/knives/spoons, we didn't have any of those big party dinner napkins.  You know...this kind.  So...I added those to my cart and threw in a big party container of cashews and I hit the $15 minimum order for free delivery.

12 hours later....they arrived and we were ready for the party.

But...to get started with buying on Costco via Google Express wasn't super easy.  It required a visit to our local Costco store and a request of a new Costco card.  That's because....Google Express requires that the name on your credit card that you are using to purchase stuff match EXACTLY the name on your Costco account.

So...that top card is my *new* card…

King of the Ball Tossers Turns 1

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Over the weekend, we gathered friends and family and celebrated our little guy's first birthday.  
There's more over on the family blog, but if you've been to a first birthday party, you know the best part of the entire thing is watching what the baby will do (or not do) with his own cake.  Some kids smash their face/fists in.  Some kids don't do a thing.  Some kids just wail and push it off their table.  
Mine?  He picked up the whole thing and ate his cake like a boss.  





Something Spooky At Our House (Spirit Photos from Memento Mori)

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With just a little over a week until Halloween, it appears that some happy haunts have take over our place recently.


Those photos - of The Babe and The Bird - were created as "Spirit Photographs" at Memento Mori outside of the Haunted Mansion in the Magic Kingdom.  They're lenticular images that they create on the spot.  We had the girls sit down for the photos early one morning (I think it was right at like 10 am when that part of the park opens) and within 10 minutes, the "Sprit Photos" appear at the register.
They're now sitting on the ledge as you head down the stairs - right next to the photos of my nieces/nephew.

My Halloween Costume?

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As drawn by The Babe.

This was left for me on my desk at home one night last week.  She taped the little note on top of the drawing on the top left.

That's me as a football player, she tells me.  She - on her own - picked out the #50 for my jersey. Not sure where she got that, but it must be in a book around the house.  Pretty great, right?  

And that's a football sticker in my right hand next to (I think?) a cat sticker.  I'm (obviously) wearing a football helmet on my face.  And the pumpkins all over the place tell me it is Halloween.

Maxine Pop-Up Store Back For Shopping Season

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This is the second (I think) season for this Maxine pop-up store that is housed in the Shaved Ice place on the west side of York Street right in the heart of the Elmhurst City Centre.  Seems like a pretty good use of the space for the winter as the shaved ice store closes down after Labor Day.   Maxine is only open October, November and December.

Maybe they should be called "Purses, Purses, Purses"?  (Like, Closets, Closets, Closets?)

Mickey Mouse Club Lunchbox

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After that post over the weekend about the Mickey Mouse Club, I went along with Nat and the kids to Nordstrom's to shop for boots for everyone.  Apparently, these kids feet just.keep.growing.

While we were there - waiting for the balloons - I noticed that the kids section uses a bunch of vintage lunchboxes as display stands for kids shoes.  There was a He-Man one and a Kitt from Knight Rider one, too.

Once I set upon trying to discover all the boxes by taking the shoes off of them on the various tables, I discovered this one.  Seems pretty appropriate, right?  That's not the Brittney version, either, right?

Cubs Playoff Gear At Ogilvie

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Just like they do when the Blackhawks make their playoff run, the folks from Clark Street Sports have set up a booth in the concourse of the Ogilvie Transportation Center full of Cubs gear.  I walk by it twice a day now and makes me wish it was all black/white/silver gear.

With a few Cubs fans in my life (unfortunately), I've even (gasp!) made a stop AND a purchase.  I know.  Gross, right?

We're Not Talking About The Brittney One...

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"Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me?  Mickey Mouse of course."

This month marks the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the club - per the D23 Wall Calendar.  If you're into that sort of thing, you should check out the newish podcast from the folks at The Dis Unplugged called "Connecting with Walt" over on YouTube.

Estate Sale Find: A Vintage 'Bedazzled' Angel Christmas Ornament

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This past weekend, we stopped at an Estate Sale on Saturday morning in Elmhurst and I immediately headed right where I usually go:  the basement.  There I found a bunch of 90's Christmas stuff and then after looking around, I spied a box of older Christmas stuff under the tables on the floor.  Digging through there, I found this beauty of an ornament.

This appears to be a homemade/handmade ornament from who knows when, but it isn't new.  It is based on a styrofoam egg with quite a bit of pined bedazzling going on.  There has to be close to 100 pins of pearl around this thing and someone with a lot of patience put it together.

On the front, there's a little plastic angel playing a violin with a little mirror behind her.  She's surrounded by gold and pearl.

When I picked this thing up, it felt good.  Felt substantial.

I know - based on where this was in the basement and the fact that this was the second day of the Estate Sale - that if I didn't buy this thing, it…

Christmas Creep Hits Target - 2015

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One of my correspondents (Ahem...Nat) sent me this photo of the Christmas section all filled out over at the Target on North Avenue this week.  Christmas Creep - in all of it's glory - is alive and well at Target.  In the bottom right of the photo, you can see a little bit of Halloween stuff peeking through, but they're moving full bore on the Holidays.

There's plenty of house decor what-have-yous and it appears that foxes are still 'in' this season.  (Or...is Target's mass audience always a bit behind a trend?  I dunno.  It seems like foxes have been 'on' trend - or is it 'in' trend?? - for at least the past few years.  Don't get me wrong...I like foxes.  But, I just wish there was a Christmas peacock or Christmas giraffe or something....)

We're in a funny spot with Christmas this year since we're not in *our* house.  We normally go all-out with decorations and such, but I'm thinking this year will be far more subdued.  We'…

Not So Scary Halloween Party Disney Pins

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When we were down in Orlando in September, we picked up these two pins at the #NotSoScary Halloween party at the Magic Kingdom.  The Haunted Mansion one on the left has a yellow card and is marked "Limited Edition".  The Mickey/Minnie one on the right is on a purple card and is marked "Limited Release".

Have no idea what the difference is, but based on where they were located (The purple one was behind the registers and you had to ask for it and show your bracelet vs the yellow one was in the pin shop in Frontierland on a normal rack.), I'm thinking the "Limited Release" one is more rare (whatever that means!?!).

I still haven't quite gone through all the pins that the girls traded for when we were down there and because we're staying in my sister's/Equation Boy/Man's house, we don't have a good place to display them.  Thus, they're just sitting in a Parks bag on my desk awaiting for the time to go through them.

Howard Stern on Washington University

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Nat's alma mater got a plug recently from the King of All Media.  I paused the live stream, whipped out my phone and captured the audio.  I gleefully sent it to Natalie.  She wasn't that impressed.  Hrumph.

As heard on his morning show:  "If you said Wash U in St. Louis, then I'd be impressed."

Uptown Shop Set Up On York Street

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This morning, on the walk to the train, I spotted the new window all set up for the Uptown Shop.  It moved from around the corner last month.  They don't appear to have their sign up just yet, but there's plenty of Halloween what-have-yous in the windows.  Get in there, folks.

No Pumpkin Storage at Oak Brook Costco

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If you have read anything (and I mean anything!  Heck...even People Magazine has covered it!), you likely know about the impending pumpkin-pocalypse.  For what seems like the second time in a few years, the agricultural experts are predicting an epic Thanksgiving pumpkin shortage.

Brace yourself, people.

And it is thanks to all the rain we had here in Illinois:
If the beginning of fall means pumpkin is basically your only food group for the next few months, you better hurry to the supermarket.  According to crop experts, canned pumpkin yield could be off by as much as a third this year in Illinois. The Midwestern state — which is responsible for about 90 percent of the U.S.-grown pumpkins — experienced a record rainfall in June causing the shortage, say farmers.  “I would not wait until Nov. 20 [to buy canned pumpkin],” University of Illinois’s Department of Crop Sciences professor Mohammad Babadoost told the Associated Press. “I’d buy it whenever it comes to the store.”
That photo …

My Current Jams: Reggae?!

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I've been listening to these two songs a bit lately.  On Google Music, the Johnny Nash (not Cash!) is listed as a Reggae song.


And this song by Toots and the Maytals.  According to Wikipedia, it *is* one of their songs and not just a traditional song that they popularized.  

But, it is you, indeed...


You movie buffs probably remember that versions of both of these songs appeared in the Cusack movie Grosse Point Blank.  I watched part of that movie a few weeks back and remembered what a good soundtrack it had.  Then...added these songs to my 'No Stern Morning' Playlist that I use on my commutes when, as you might guess, Howard isn't on.

No Disney Parks Moms Panel For You!

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This week, a bong letter from the fine folks at the Disney Parks Moms Panel landed in my inbox that you can see here:


Or, if I may translate from the polite email to web-speak:


Too bad, so sad for me.  There's always next year...

Wall Calendars Turned Over to October (Fall Arrived)

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Just one week into the month, and I have caught up with the wall calendars at my office in the Aon Center.  On the right, the D23 Disney calendar is celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the founding of the Mickey Mouse Club.  On the right, the University of Illinois Alumni Association calendar features a fall photo of students walking past the Observatory just south of Foellinger Auditorium on the Quad.

Pretty good to have done it on the 7th day (yesterday) of the month.  Second best response time since I've been tracking this odd experiment.

Here's the post showing when I turned over September (18 days late!).
August was just the 10th.
July was bad. The 21st.
In June, I nailed it. Turned on June 1st.
Here's the post from May with the calendars. Took me until the 12th.
March's post - where I turned them on the 11th. February post introducing the concept. On the 17th.

Star Wars Halloween Disney Pins (Walt Disney World Exclusives)

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Check out these super cute Star Wars Halloween Disney Pins that are available in the Parks right up until Halloween (or until they sell out).  These were picked up in the Figment gift shop after the Figment ride in Epcot, but they can be found elsewhere in all the parks.

The top one is an Ewok holding a Trick or Treat sign, wearing a Storm Trooper helmet and carrying a candy bag that is shaped like half of a Death Star.

Down below you'll see two others.  There's a fourth, but it isn't shown here on this post.

First up in Chewbacca holding a rubber-textured Jack-lantern.  He looks a bit cranky!

Next up is Darth Vader reaching for some Halloween candy corn.



The fourth pin in the set (you can see it here on this eBay listing) features Darth Vader, Boba Fett, Yoda, & Chewbacca silhouettes Trick or Treat.

These, while bought by me, are going right in the Babe's collection.  While we're in a bit of limbo with our housing situation, therefore they're going in …

Menards Christmas Starting To Get Set Up

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Look what we found when we went to the newish Menards in Melrose Park this past weekend:  Christmas has exploded in the patio furniture section with inflatables, blowmolds and some trees.  This isn't the earliest that Menards has done Christmas; back in 2011 I posted a photo back in September with the full 'Enchanted Forest' setup.

The Halloween stuff kinda looked shabby, which is super weird because we're still close to four weeks away.  We're planning a "Great Pumpkin" party for the King of the Ball Tossers, so I think a few visits to try to grab some clearance items might be in the offing.

Meeting Scoop Sanderson And Chief Smokey Miller on Disney's Mainstreet USA

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Earlier this year, I posted about how we met the "Mayor of Mainstreet USA" at Disney's Magic Kingdom and after taking a photo with him, he passed us his card. You can see that post here.  
Now, as you can see in the photo above, we've a few more of the "Characters of Mainstreet" as the Disney Blog calls them.
On the left is Scoop Sanderson, Main Street Gazette Reporter, Town Councilman and Pin-thusiast. And on the right is Mayor George Weaver's “right-hand man” Chief Smokey Miller, Chief of the Main Street Volunteer Fire Department.  
Scoop used to be a big pin trader, but he's 'hung up his lanyard' these days and isn't trading.  Even with kids, which is a bummer.  
But just like Mayor Weaver handing out his card, Chief Miller has something 'unique' that he hands out to people and he gave us a couple of them after we took this photo.  He has "Main Street Volunteer Fire Department" badges (well...they're just foil …

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Christmas Pumpkin Ornament

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One of the better party-specific souvenirs that are available at the Disney World Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party is this Christmas ornament.  Like a lot of folks, Nat and I use Christmas ornaments as a way to document our travel and Disney delivers for folks like us.

The pumpkin has two Mickey ears sprouting out the top and includes the year on one side.  Perfect way to commemorate a trip to the Park during the #NotSoScary party, right?


Pow Wow At Naper Settlement

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Last weekend, we went out to Naper Settlement to attend the Midwest Soaring Foundation's
21st Annual Harvest Pow Wow with the kids and Nat's folks.  We arrived just in time for the Pow Wow and watched as they honored various veterans and then did a series of dances.  Pretty neat costumes and pretty interesting to watch.  Everyone sat in chairs around this big circle where the Native Americans presented various parts of the event.  


With the three kids getting restless, we set out to discover the rest of the Pow Wow which included a kids craft table (we made bead necklaces!) and a little pen where they had some birds set up.  
They had owls - which were really neat to see - but they also had this:  a bald eagle on an ankle chain.


He was AWESOME to admire, but you have to *kinda* feel a bit for this guy.   He's stuck at this place with people preening over him, tethered to an anchor.  Not exactly 'soaring', eh?  
Makes me wonder...who's better off?  This guy, who…

Fall Has Arrived It Seems

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This morning, it *feels* like Fall has arrived.  And when I got up to my office and took a look at the lake it *looked* like Fall, too.   Lots of wind and crashing waves on the lake.  They've turned Buckingham Fountain off for the year, which is really quite depressing.

There's also those weird sand-filled spots by the bandshell in Grant Park and nobody stirring in the parks almost anywhere.

This marks the third season - as viewed through my office window - and chronicled this year on the blog:  Spring with NFL Draft Town, Lollapalooza in the Summer and now this post for Autumn.

The Scarecrows Return. At The New Place...

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Look who has turned up at our new place?!?


Welp...it is kind of *our* place.  You'll notice that the house looks a bit different.  We've still living on the same block thanks to my sister and Equation Boy/Man moving overseas for work. They were nice enough to allow us to 'squat' at their place while we figure our housing situation out.  That situation is a long, sad, and open-ended story, so that might be for another post.

But...as you can see, we're making ourselves at home in the form of some Halloween decorations.

Being the first day of October, I thought it was appropriate to show the new home of two of these guys.  I put them up but didn't have time to put up the two little girl scarecrows.  I'll get them up this weekend and then we can try to figure out building a new one for the boy.

This is the sixth year of putting these guys out and with a little bit of spiff'ing up, they're still looking good.

Last year, I didn't post about the scarec…