30 August 2009

basement rehab continues

this phase includes cleaning up the brickwork -- the skimcoat can be seen clearly in the pic -- including fixing up the windows. the rear downspout has been re-routed from spilling into the yard to going into my catch basin. the rear corner under the stairs, where i was getting a lot of water due to the downspout, has been ripped up.

frighteningly, there was a good bit of mold forming under those stairs. that's been cleaned up, the 2x4 landing supports will be replaced with metal studs, and the old wooden steps are gone to be replaced by wolmanized wood. when it's done, it should be much drier and much more presentable. i'm having new electric run to that area so i can keep a de-humidifier going year-round.

cool bugs

"there are more species of beetles than species of all insects combined." are these one of those species?

is it possible to get a haircut in Crystal Lake?

this weekend, the we drove up to Crystal Lake, IL to visit Walkup Heritage Farm to research next spring's plantings.

after, we stopped in the downtown area for lunch. i correctly determined that the downtown area would be, well, downtownish, and right by the Metra stop. though car-centric, it was reasonably pedestrian friendly and did have some cool old buildings, such as banks and historic houses converted to shops.

if someone had told me beforehand that this area would have a shockingly high number of places to get one's hair done, i would still have been shocked by the shockingly high number places to get one's hair done. it is not an exaggeration that there are fewer restaurants than hair places, and probably not an exaggeration to suggest there is a ratio of 1:4. i may be underestimating.

in fact, we found zero proper restaurants that were open for a late afternoon lunch. we found 4 grill pubs, none of which looked particularly inviting (and one, the Cottage, which apparently has no front door at all, but only a rear entrance off the parking lot -- so much for pedestrian-friendly). there was a french "cafe", but that was more of a bakery than a proper restaurant.

but good god were there hair places. one after the other, some in a row. i half-suspect that the wives of the guys driving the expensive cars (i saw both a Ferrari F430 and an Audi R8 in the area) have opened up shop as a vanity project; I have little idea how an area that small could support so many beauty salons, especially if the "restaurant scene" is a proper indication of what the area can support.

we left without eating, or, astonishingly, getting our hair done.

25 August 2009

new camera!

i tired of the online comparisons, of trying to decipher the Canon numbering scheme, and instead headed to a local appliance superstore and had a look myself.

though i really, really liked the specs of the 970, not to mention its cool navigation wheel and superior onboard OS, I walked out with the Canon Powershot SD780 IS for a cool (pre-tax) $214.

what sold me was the compactness of it. there was a competing Nikon Coolpix of similar diminutive size, but I'd already gotten the hang of the Canon OS and, frankly, didn't feel like doing a whole 'nother round of research.

the 780 has (only) 3x optical zoom, and its shot lag is a bit more than i could have gotten for $100-150 more, but it really is the right size for me.

hurray! the battery is still charging, so no fun yet.

now i must decipher the world of "SD/SDHC/MMC/MMCplus/HD MMCplus" and decide what to get to replace the $7 1GB SD card i got to go with it.

anyone know which format is fastest? and if it takes longer to write to, say, a 32 gig card than an 8 gig one?

23 August 2009

new camera?

best to start a new post, than bury camera-buying concerns in an unrelated topic.

i like my Canon Powershot S100 Digital Elph. I have a good-sized memory card that holds some 400 "standard size" photos. it eats batteries.

i suppose i could buy YARB (yet another replacement battery) and take the kit with me to Spain, hoping the battery behaves. obvious advantage is initial cost savings, though that may be nulled if i have to get a new camera regardless.

i like the size of the Canon, i like the photos (even though it's only 2.1 megapixels), i find the operation of it intuitive. i like that there's not much lag time between photo taking, unlike the gf's camera that we took last time to Spain (plus, i didn't realize it put all those dates in the images. yargh!)

i shall investigate the links from pyker in the other post, and update here.

what's for breakfast?

i thought i'd put up this photo while i wait for the dishwasher to finish washing the removable stove parts (cleaning up from the bathroom rehab -- dust!)

it's been years since i've actually seen non-jumbo eggs. these we bought at the market yesterday from T&J Farms. the yolks, while not orange, are a nicely deep yellow. the spanish chorizo we get from Paulina Meat Market, and the salsa also comes from the market.

the photo is sans-flash, from my Canon PowerShot S100 Digital Elph. aka the battery eater. still, i like the camera a lot.

update: cooked, eaten and delicious. the side of milk is whole milk from Blue Marble farms. yum.

22 August 2009


the green city market rules


the photo shows only a fraction of the booths there. just fantastic. multiple places to get pasture eggs, several cheese stands (ones where they actually make the cheese they're selling), a choice of grass-fed farms, some excellent whole milk, even a place that specializes in elk.

it reminds me of the Broadway market, but bigger. and without the clothes stalls.

we got their early to ensure we could still get eggs from T&J Farms. we did, but they were already out of bacon (this is where we got the pepper bacon used with the flank steak). no worries, we took home some of their pork chops, which i'm definitely looking forward to. our favorite lamb place, Mint Creek Farms, just this week started offering beef, so we got some ground beef and will also be trying their mexican chorizo sausage, with eggs.


19 August 2009

oh, you crazy signmakers pt. 2

just found this one online...

16 August 2009

oh, you crazy signmakers

the stupidest person i ever met was a waiter i worked with at a Pizza Hut in southern Indiana. the two of us worked the lunch shift. he, with his one or two tables (more than he could handle, really), and me handling the other twenty.

at least 5x a shift, he would ask me the price of breadsticks. "$1.79," i would reply, my answer always the same. sometimes i would point him to the menu at our station, that we could use to look up prices if we'd forgotten something. he would react as if it were new.

waiting was only one his jobs. he was also a signmaker. discovering this suddenly put into perspective all the "professional" signs i had seen with spelling errors, bad grammar, and all the horrible misuses of quote marks.

today, I am relieved to know that if my writing or speech ever become unclear, or if i go off-message too frequently, that I can use any number of well-known international therapies to get me back on message.

evanston farmers' market = lame

what is it with the residents of Evanston? listening to them, you'd think it'd be the best place on earth for everything. we'd certainly heard overwhelmingly good things about the saturday farmers' market.

due to the Chicago Air and Water Show, we decided to forgo the (much much much) superior Lincoln Park farmers' market and head up to Evanston.

need peaches, cukes, or blueberries? that's good, because about 22 of the 25 stands there have them!

need meat? sorry! only one stand there, "grass started and corn finished." no thanks.

need cheese? sorry! again, only one stand, and he was hawking pre-packaged products from a variety of places, all of which could be found in the same packaging, and for cheaper, at Whole Foods.

need eggs or milk? sorry! none found anywhere.

there were two bakery stands, neither had any customers that I could see (same with the meat stand). No, Evanstonians appear to love their produce, and perhaps I'm projecting but I think a good number of people at the market are vegetarian. Or fruitarians, if the produce on offer is indeed an indication of the prevailing diet of the shoppers.

on the plus side, i had assumed there would be a substantial number of arts/crafts stands. there were none!

we did get a number of things, including some good blueberries. I tried blueberries from, iirc, 7 stands, and 6 were on par (or worse?!) than you'd find at Jewel. The basket we did buy was actually pretty tasty.

i predict zero return trips.

12 August 2009

what's for dinner?

flank steak! marinated for 3 days, then wrapped with (very) peppery bacon and cooked perfectly. very tasty and i could cut it with a butter knife.

09 August 2009

enbluening: complete!

aside from the new treads and risers on the steps, the ironwork has brand new footings and is very solid now.

what is normal, anyway?

i had some bloodwork done recently and compared the results to the "normal" ranges on this page. happily, most results were within normal range.

after some months of vitamin D3 supplementation, i had my 25(OH)D levels included in the workup, and found they were a whopping 94.1 ng/mL. I was shooting for between 40-70, as recommended by Dr. Holick and his http://www.vitamindhealth.org/ page. My score isn't dangerous, I don't think, but I'll dial it back some anyway.

But according to the bloodbook page, "normal" range for 25(OH)D is 8-80 ng/mL. What? Suddenly, "normal" looks to mean, "what people have," and not, "what is optimum range."

Of the two dozen other levels I checked, how many of those "normal" ones are not, in fact, optimum? How is an everyday patient meant to inform himself of the difference between optimum and two standard deviations out?

My doctor doesn't seem to make such distinctions. rather, he freaked when I told him how much D3 I was taking (and my dialback amount is still > 2x his "max dose"). Is it really incumbent upon every person interested in their own health to dedicate hours and hours of research to each supplement, to each blood level, and to sort through the mountains of confusing, conflicting and probably money-influenced trial results?

thank god for the blogs in my health section, at least they give me a good headstart. still....

06 August 2009


gf found this posted online somewhere...

05 August 2009

of palin and jefferson

amusing piece in the New Yorker, here.

Here’s Jefferson on political change:
Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Here’s Palin on same:
Government’s supposed to serve from the bottom up and not move towards this top-down, big-government takeover, but rather will be protectors of individual rights, who also have enough common sense to acknowledge when conditions have drastically changed, and they’re willing to call an audible and pass the ball when it’s time so the team can win.

04 August 2009

CNN genius "polling"

i love CNN's Quick Vote polling. they have a special skill in formulating questions and options that provide ambiguous or incomplete results.

last week, they asked if Palin should run for president, and provided Yes and No as options. how many people voted yes because it would be a disaster, versus how many actually want to support her?

no idea. thanks, CNN.

today, they asked if "you" wear your seatbelt while flying. the first option seemed reasonable enough:


... until juxtaposed with the second option:

"Yes, unless I have to get up"

Oh! so the original "yes" meant, "yes, even when I get up and move about." brilliant!

porch rebuilding!

completion of the bluening of the house is dependent upon completion of the porch.

01 August 2009

can i not get fresh meat?

according to one of the farmers at a farmers' market today, Chicago has an ordinance which prevents the sale of non-frozen meat at farmers' markets. I can't find a reference to this anywhere, but from what i've seen offered, it seems to hold true.

an apparent workaround is to arrange sale of the product ahead of time (e.g. purchasing online), and then "merely" picking up your fresh meat at the next market.

but in an era of refrigeration technology, why does it need to be so cumbersome? exactly which prior problem did this ordinance "solve"?


I'm not much a milk drinker these days, but the gf did score some whole, pastured milk today. I just tried it and, oh boy, is it tasty. Anyone know if this is a good source of K2?

first detailing ever

maybe i should get my cars detailed more often. it did turn out pretty nice, and they even did some touch-up paint for me.

btw, i opted out of the "engine steam clean," though i'd like to hear opinions on how effective/safe it is.