26 April 2009

The Cat Song (version 1)

Hey cat, don't eat my earbuds, they can't even look like your natural prey,
even if, when I shake my head, they move in a shiny, distracting way.
Hey cat, don't eat my power cord, it doesn't look like anything wild,
my electronics sure aren't safe, you grab them with sneakiness and guile.

Maybe you could chase a bird.
Maybe you could chase a mouse.
It's annoying what you've ruined.
It's annoying what you chase.
Can't you chew on some kibble?
Clean yourself on the couch?
Maybe play with a shoestring,
but don't knock over that vase!

Hey cat, don't eat my earbuds, they can't even look like your natural prey,
even if, when I shake my head, they move in a shiny, distracting way.
Hey cat, don't eat my power cord, it doesn't look like anything wild,
my electronics sure aren't safe, you grab them with sneakiness and guile.

Why do I keep you around here?
It's not because your nice.
It's not because your helpful.
You destroy my apartment.
You scratch up the chairs.
You eat all of the plants.
And lets not forget,
the avocado incident.

Hey cat, don't eat my earbuds, they can't even look like your natural prey,
even if, when I shake my head, they move in a shiny, distracting way.
Hey cat, don't eat my power cord, it doesn't look like anything wild,
my electronics sure aren't safe, you grab them with sneakiness and guile.

I thought today would be a good day to write something. So there it is, the big thoughts that go through my head. Inspired by an actual cat. Please feel free to add onto it, it seems like there should be a verse about blue corn chips, but I got hungry before I could write one.

22 April 2009

72 hours without Facebook

Wow!  You want to talk about all of a sudden being out touch.  How about all of a sudden having a couple extra hours a day?  Let's not forget going crazy wondering what you're missing out on.  They say the first 72 hours is the worst, whew, that's over with.
On Saturday I did my research to find out if I could just deactivate my Facebook account instead of deleting it.  Once I found out I could, I went to the deactivation page and set it up so all I needed to do hit the button to deactivate the account, then I walked away.  It took about three hours to work up the resolve to do it, but I finally walked back in and hit the button: deactivate.  There was this giant noise and power fluctuations and the apartment started shaking ... well, not really, the world seemed just the same as before.
Except, I'm disconnected now.
Saturday was an interesting day, I started cleaning the house, then I actually turned on the TV, I listened to music, I read a magazine, and I visited with Merinda.  I had all this extra time, and I barely knew what to do with it.  Sunday was much the same, I cleaned the kitchen, went to church, walked with Sarah (FYI: 4mi is different from 4km), time to do stuff I hadn't done in a while.  I've gotten plenty of sleep the last 72 hours.  It sounds peaceful and relaxing, except for the part about driving myself crazy wondering what is going on.  The only serious part of this desire to fill my brain with what is going on is this; there are those times when a friend needs encouragement, and Facebook statuses make it easy to see what is going right, and wrong, with friends.
Otherwise, it is just trying to fill my brain with the distraction of <i>what's happenin?</i>.  And believe me, despite being away from Facebook, my brain is still trying to get me to be distracted: "ooh, ooh, let's set up a Twitter account" ... I'm pretty sure piece of mind doesn't come in 140 character bites.  I'm pretty sure piece (peace) of mind comes from being comfortable with your place in the universe, and I'm pretty sure that a few weeks or months of being out of touch(ish) and not dancing, is a small price to pay for getting my feet back under me.
Oh, and hey!  Somebody actually noticed I disappeared off of Facebook!  I guess I do matter.  :-)

18 April 2009


I would be best for me to take some time off from social circles, a sabbatical. I've been too all over the place emotionally recently, I desperately need to refocus my priorities and let some disappointments settle down.
Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify. Henry David Thoreau
So in keeping with the advice of Mr. Thoreau, I will not be dancing with Jitterbugs, and I have deactivated my Facebook account. I probably will be doing a few things here and there, but not necessarily announced.

I love you all, and I know how much you care about me, so I appreciate your support in this matter.

16 April 2009

2009 Lenten Report

Easter passed by last Sunday. I did something that I don't believe I have done in my "adult" life. I actually made it through Lent without eating meat on Friday. However, I didn't do as well with my Lenten sacrifices.

I said that I would exercise. Well, that basically didn't happen, it was okay for the first week, maybe week and a half and that was it. I'd like to exercise, but I am going to need help or a personal trainer.

I said that I would not eat fried foods. I did much better on this one. The second Sunday I messed up and ordered boneless wings at Buffalo Wild Wings, I figured it out half way through, but finished them, because wasting food is a sin too. The third Friday I ate at a fish fry and had tater tots and a bite of fired fish. That was it. I also lost about ten pounds in the process.

07 April 2009

Chicago 2009

Several months back I got a call from my mother. She said for her birthday this year, she wanted myself and my brothers to trek to Chicago and we could all be together, "I'm paying" she said. Who can resist those words. As my closest friends knew, I viewed this trip with trepidation, thinking all the signs pointed to this being my mother's swan song: failing health, divorce unhappiness, money issues ... her plan was to get us all together and fall over dead.

Fortunately, I was wrong, mom look better than she has in years, and seemed genuinely happy.

100_5711.jpg - me
Mom looks great!

So I started out Friday morning on my trip. Merinda took me up to the airport to get a rental car, and I started on my way. I ended up with a Saturn Aura with XM/Sirius satellite radio. I had wanted to be on the road (i.e. out of Council Bluffs) by 7:30, but it was 9:25 before I left. Driving through Western Iowa is always better at night, sheesh how boring. The drive went very well until I got to Walcott, IA (The World's Largest Truck Stop) to fuel up. I pulled into the pumps, and then could not figure out how to open the gas tank cover. I looked all over the car for a lever or button, but nothing. Finally out of desperation, I pressed the fuel door ... yep, it's spring loaded.

100_5634.jpg - me
The rental, note the satellite radio, did I mention I liked it a lot? I didn't feel that way about fueling up.

The only other thing that went wrong on the trip in was I took a different exit off of I-90 than I usually do, and I ended up quite turned around and well, frankly, lost. I got myself to Union, IL, and found my way from there.

I got myself to mom's just before 1800, and met my newest relative, Daisy. She didn't quite know what to think about me. Which was only made worse when my brother's showed up, then she didn't know what to think about any of us.

100_5806.jpg - me
This is my mother's dog, Daisy. She is on the same generation as me, making her my dogther.

My brother Carl showed up shortly after my arrival with his girlfriend, Jessie, whom I had not met before. My brother David had a tougher road to hoe, having gotten on a train (unbeknownst to him) with no way to pay. A good Samaritan helped him in his plight, and he arrived around 2200. We hung around for a little while, ate some pizza and drank some beer. Mom predicted that Carl wouldn't drink my beer, Blue Moon ... please, mom knows nothing about beer.

100_5639.jpg - me 100_5641.jpg - me
Carl and Jessie both got conned into playing with the iPhone.

Day two (Saturday) dawned early, um okay, late morning. Jessie works with vintage jewelery, and she took off to Volo and the antique markets there. David stayed home with Mom, and Carl and I went over to the local Borders, which was not where I remembered it. After that I got some pictures of the neighborhood, and family friend Jen showed up.

100_5650.jpg - me
Mom's house on Saturday, the tree in front so close to being in bloom.

100_5644.jpg - me
Carl and I improvised a game of chess on Dave's laptop ... some things never change, I got my butt handed to me.

100_5665.jpg - me
We taught Jessie how to play Georgia Dice (a variation of 10,000). She rudely beat me ... hmph.

IMG_0166.jpg - me IMG_0168.jpg - me
Later on we went out with mom when she played darts, we mostly just hung out and drank and visited with each other and mom's friends. We played pool too, after I won three games in a row, suddenly no one wanted to play.

Mom's friends were a hoot and very friendly, a little bit louder than my friends, but I can take it. It was good to see she was in such good hands. While we were at the local drinking establishment, it started to snow, hard. Consequentially, we left immediately after the dart league ended. On the way home, we were hungry, so we went to the grocery store. Yeah, so we spent $80 in booze and snacks without any effort what-so-effort. The weird part was the cashier, he had this strange moustache, the corners of which had about a quarter of inch waxed and turned up. Very odd. I got mom flowers. We came home and grazed on the food, talked, and played more games.

100_5673.jpg - me
Remember the picture of the tree from earlier in this article? Yeah, thanks for the seven inches of snow.

I woke up on Sunday morning, and seven inches of snow greeted me. I was forced to realize that snow like this just doesn't happen in Omaha. Omaha gets about the same amount of snow about as Chicago, but it's the dry fluffy blowing kind. This snow was wet, heavy, and melted off the streets in short order. It made for some really nice pictures, however.

100_5675.jpg - me 100_5683.jpg - me 100_5686.jpg - me 100_5670.jpg - me

When I called my mom on the way in, she said "Surprise! Your aunt Sandy and uncle Fred are going to drive up from Toledo to see you. My brothers and Jessie had gone off to visit my father in a nearby town, so it was just my mother and I left at home. We were wondering if the trip from Toledo was really going to happen with all the snow and such, but we got a call in the early afternoon, it was my aunt Sandy "Surprise! We brought (their spouses) uncle Tom and aunt Fran." They were at the hotel in Crystal Lake, and going to drive up to McHenry, eta one hour.

We started cleaning up a bit, and I had just gone out to shovel the walk when there they were. Not much later, Dave, Carl, and Jessie came back and it was half of the family.

100_5727.jpg - me
We got some family photos.

100_5707.jpg - me
Evidently, Sandy had heard some tall tales before...

100_5754.jpg - me
...that's because Tom is a master storyteller.

100_5716.jpg - me
Sandy managed to figure out my iPhone long enough to look at my pictures...

100_5742.jpg - me
...she brought a more conventional photo album with her too.

100_5716.jpg - me
Fred used some of the famous Szabo powers to influence a game of dice and beat us all.

100_5709.jpg - me 100_5710.jpg - me
Fran brought some wonderful Polish coffee cake for us to sample.

It was a great time reacquainting myself with people I hadn't seen in twenty plus years. David made red beans and rice for dinner. Some really nice pictures showed up on the camera.

100_5720.jpg - me

100_5723.jpg - me

100_5722.jpg - me

100_5765.jpg - me

100_5780.jpg - me

100_5780.jpg - me

The panorama feature on my camera was discovered.

100_5766.jpg - me

100_5768.jpg - me

100_5769.jpg - me

100_5770.jpg - me

Eventually, the evening wound down, Fred, Fran, Sandy, and Tom went back to their hotel, and we stayed up for a little while, and then headed to bed.

I woke up on Monday morning, the plan was to go meet the relatives for breakfast before they left back to Ohio, then I would get on a train to Chicago. My brothers had other plans. Frankly, I wasn't too enthused about going downtown, I didn't feel super, and I had a good plan B. We headed down to Crystal Lake for the breakfast and met up with the aunts & uncles.

100_5828.jpg - me
This Home Depot sits on the spot that used to be a par 3 golf course and fun center. I wasted plenty of my youth there, and have many fond memories over there in the lawn and garden section.

100_5828.jpg - me
Mom fairly famously does not like her picture taken ... I'm not fooled by the disguise.

At some point I guilted myself into making the trip downtown figuring that I came 475 miles, I might as well go downtown. I'm glad I did, the weather was fine downtown. Mostly I just did the touristy stuff, sight-seeing and taking pictures. I met up with Jen in the late afternoon when she could leave work. We went out to eat at Sayat Nova, I had lamb that was simple and amazing. After dinner we wandered around downtown just talking and enjoying the city. We ended up back at the train station, and I went back to McHenry. Here is what the city looked like through my eye.

100_5843.jpg - me

100_5846.jpg - me

100_5848.jpg - me

100_5849.jpg - me

100_5853.jpg - me

100_5866.jpg - me

100_5868.jpg - me

100_5864.jpg - me

100_5876.jpg - me

100_5887.jpg - me

100_5893.jpg - me

100_5897.jpg - me

Finally it was time to go. My brothers and Jessie had planned on Tuesday being their trip downtown, so I said goodbye to them early, spent some time with Mom, and then hit the road going the slow way, well, I was meeting up with Michele at lunch.

100_5900.jpg - me
Marian Central Catholic High School in Woodstock, IL. Yep, they did have high schools way back when I was a teenager.

100_5902.jpg - me
This is where I learned to drive and park. Clever readers (well, maybe not so clever ones too) will recognize it as where the movie "Groundhog Day" was filmed.

100_5907.jpg - me
Michele and I had a nice lunch. This picture is so we can both say "Hi Sheila!"

I then hit the road and was SO frustrated by detours I vowed I would never take I88-I39-I90 again. I am going straight on 88 until I hit Dekalb and I'm going up Illinois 23. I am half thinking it is going to be just as fast anyways, because it is a shorter drive.

And that's it, my Chicago vacation.

There are plenty more pictures here.