Casualty of Capitalism

Exiled into Wilmington, Delaware by virtue of corporate layoffs. (Note: Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this blog are Copyright 2005, Michael Collins, and cannot be used without permission.)

Location: Wilmington, Delaware, United States

Graduate of University of Maryland School of Law; University of Maryland, College Park (Economics/Political Science).

Friday, January 28, 2005

Ready for Fear Factor

OK. I lied. This is my last post from Chicago. But only because this story is so gross, but funny, that I have to share it. My sister is a Peace Corps volunteer in the Philippines. As one might imagine, everyday things we take for granted, like tap water, can sometimes be an adventure over there. Here she is, in her own words:

I haven't really had anything over the past 2 years that has "grossed me out". But last week I finally had an opportunity. It wasnt anything like worms thank God, just in case you were wondering. We have a well at out house and a water pump and a tank. So last Monday the tank went dry so I turned the pump back on to fill up the tank. That night I took a bucket shower and noticed that the water smelled a bit funny. Smelled funny in the bathroom sink too but not so much in the kitchen.

Next day bathroom water smelled a bit worse, and the kitchen water was a bit odorous too. I usually drink the tap water straight but decided to boil it that day.

Next day same thing, but when I boiled the water it still smelled weird. I was too sleepy too really care so I made some hot tea with it anyway.

By Thursday it was getting old that the water was wreaking so bad so me and my roommate decided to finally see if the landlady could do something about it. I asked my officemates for advice but this had never happened to them before. So on Friday morning I hoped that I had taken my last smelly bucket bath and the tank was scheduled to be cleaned later that day. When I got home, the landlady chuckled as she told me in tagalog something about a dead rat in the tank, hahahahaha.

Ugh. I had been bathing in and drinking rotten rat all week. Pretty nasty.

Here's to clean water!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

A Reminder...

Please don't forget to read my Maryland basketball column on ACCBasketblog on Friday morning. This week's topic: Maryland beats Duke!

As the final seconds ticked away and I beamed with happiness, I peered outside Laschet's Inn at the heavy lake effect snows covering the streets of Chicago. What did this scenery and unadulterated joy bring to mind? It's a Wonderful Life. I wanted desperately to reenact George Bailey's crazed dash through the snowy streets of Bedford Falls at the movie's conclusion.

So Long Chicago...

This is it, my last post from Chicago. Tomorrow I load up the truck, Saturday I hit the road. My next posting will come from Wilmington, DE. I have no regrets about my time in Chicago and would return in a heartbeat. Great city. Great food. Great people. You'll be the first to know whether the same is true in Delaware.

I hope to have everything set up to resume posting within two weeks. Until then, happy trails. Posted by Hello

Holy Cow! The Worst...Memorial...Ever.

Harry Caray was the beloved, perpetually drunk announcer of Chicago Cubs games for many years. Best known for leading the crowd in a rousing rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the 7th inning of every home game, Caray was a Chicago institution. As such, the city commissioned someone to sculpt a memorial to Caray to be placed at the corner of Sheffield and Addison. This monstronsity is what they came up with...Harry Caray's Attempted Escape From Cubs Hell. Posted by Hello

Cubs fans in Cubs Hell wail and gnash their teeth at Harry's feet. Obviously, the designer of this memorial is a long-suffering Cubs fan. Who else would memorialize the beloved Harry Caray as a figure trying desperately to rise out of the eternal damnation and infinite pain attendant to hoping for that elusive North Side World Series win? Just to make the point more obvious, the sculptor included a baby front and center, roasting with the others in the flames of Cubs Hell. From birth 'til thy death wilst thou suffer the torment! Posted by Hello

Proof of the statue's satanic theme is this guy, giving the traditional devil's horns salute widely practiced at most Metallica concerts. Either that, or he thinks Harry Caray rocks, dude! Posted by Hello

Finally, they made Harry Caray look like a crazed Kim Jong Il (...OK, that's redundant) in a Cubs jacket who is poised either to do that Darth Vader choking thing on somebody or, with his microphone hand, give someone a Wet Willie . A simple bust accompanied by a Budweiser can would have been much more appropriate. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Today's View From the Unemployment Line

Time is running short for me here in Chicago. In just a couple days I will be headed back toward the region of my origin, the East Coast. Seems like I just arrived in the Midwest. Saying "pop" in reference to soda still makes me laugh. I haven't started saying "da" in place of "the." I don't like the Bears (in fairness, that never would have happened). I couldn't tell you much about what's in between Chicago and 1) St. Louis, MO; 2) Minneapolis, MN; 3) Green Bay, WI; and 4) Indianapolis, IN. I think corn is all. I didn't cry when the Cubs clinched the division in 2003. I have not spent any time on Lake Michigan. I never stepped foot inside the Sears Tower. I have never visited the Lincoln Park Zoo. The ferris wheel at Navy Pier has not carried me above the city. I never went to the Museum of Science and Industry. I don't know the Dan Ryan from the Stevenson. Tornado warnings that name counties still mean nothing to me. I always drove right past Wisconsin Dells. I still think "Des Plaines" should be pronounced how the midget yells "the plane!" on Fantasy Island. I didn't have a piece of concrete fall on my head at a Cubs game. I have never seen "downstate" Illinois.

On the other hand...

I've spent significant time in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Minnesota. I attended baseball games at Wrigley Field, New Comiskey, the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, and Busch Stadium. I saw football games at Soldier Field, Lambeau Field, Notre Dame, Penn State and Ross Ade Stadium (Purdue). I watched the Pacers beat the hapless Bulls at the United Center, the Fire crush DC United at Soldier Field, and Purdue beat then lose to the Indiana Hoosiers in Mackey Arena in W. Lafayette, IN. I ate several combos, deep-dish pizzas, and Chicago-style dogs. I drank Old Style to excess in the bleachers at Wrigley. I caught a fish on the Fourth of July in Portage, WI. I bought a pair of Carhartt coveralls. I laughed my behind off at Second City. I talked to Dan Akyroyd about cool blues bars to check out. I commuted to work in -8F temps and a stiff wind. I played beach volleyball along Lake Michigan. I paid tolls every time I left the city. I said, "Maybe next year." I passed the Illinois bar exam. I drove past the Budweiser factory in St. Louis. I paid several $50 parking tickets for phantom "street cleanings." I attended a rain-shortened Indianapolis 500. I saw Sammy Sosa hit a 520 foot homerun. I partied with hundreds of Cubs fans when they won the division in 2003. I saw a number of tornadoes forming mere miles from my vantage point. I rode the El. I experienced a June 1 at 42 degrees and a July 1 at near 100 in the same summer. I sat in a plane for three hours on the ground at O'Hare airport. I watched the Blue Angels twist and roll and defy gravity above my apartment. I fed a cow. I ate soybeans off a live stalk while strolling along a road in Indiana. I walked down Michigan Avenue after the annual Christmas lighting ceremony. I watched a Cubs game from a rooftop across the street. I saw a bird fly backwards in a stiff Chicago wind. I struck out a batter in a baseball game for the time in 13 years...and I gave up a homerun for the first time ever in the same game. I shot the breeze with friends around a fire pit on a frigid October evening in St. Paul, MN. I attended a football game in Green Bay on a day when high temperatures reached 5F. I drove in a straight line for several miles without seeing an exit, traffic light, or stop sign. I saw the Florida Marlins play the Montreal Expos at US Cellular Field. I was nearly killed by falling icicles in the Loop. I caught four kids trying to steal my bike at Northwestern University. I walked to Fado at 2am to watch World Cup soccer games. I skipped an afternoon of work for a Cubs day game. I endured over 30 straight days of subfreezing temperatures. I listened to the 7th Inning Stretch religiously from my deck in Wrigleyville and sang along on occasion (and twice saw Coach Ditka perform it). I watched waves crash several stories high along the lake after a cold front went through. I fished in a flooded quarry. I arrived at work late after waiting in line for Cubs tickets on the first day of sales. I saw the Gateway Arch. I snuck into the Wild-Reef attraction at the Shedd Aquarium. I fish-fried with some hilariously accented suburbanites in Elgin. And best of all, I met my future wife.Posted by Hello

Another Day...

...another snow storm. Posted by Hello


The official death toll in the Indian Ocean tsunamis has reached 280,000.

Hundreds of bodies are still being pulled daily from the rubble in Indonesia, while many more lie unidentified in mass graves in Thailand as tsunami-hit countries struggle to even count their dead, let alone identify and bury them.

With 11 Indian Ocean countries suffering deaths and more than 50 other nations reporting citizens killed, the disaster a month ago touched an unprecedented number of communities.
Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand had the heaviest toll.

The overall number of presumed dead stands at more than 280,000, but nobody knows for certain how many perished in the giant waves that engulfed coastlines on December 26.

In Indonesia's worst-hit Aceh province more than 1,000 bodies a day are still being recovered.

Please give.

Maryland vs. Duke Pre-Game Hype

Boy do I hate Duke. Everyone who knows me knows this. I am known to randomly taunt people on the street wearing Duke apparel. I nearly refused to rent a truck for my move from the most convenient U-haul lot because the guy behind the desk was wearing a Duke jacket. Why you ask? Well, duh, I went to Maryland! And us Terps have been victims of some of Duke's greatest games the last five years. Including two you may well remember: Jason Williams' 10-points in 56 seconds game, and the Terps' meltdown in the Final Four after leading by over 20 points in the first half. Urge to kill rising. Don't even get me started on the Jeff Capel game-winning three-pointer AFTER time expired at Cole Field House when I was a senior, denying me the only chance I ever had to rush the court.

So every Duke game is big. Yeah, we have a chip on our shoulders. But at least we're not a bunch of lame nerds.

Currently, Duke is #2 in the national polls, while Maryland's exploits can be found by clicking through about 23 screens on Life outside the Top 25 is demeaning.

How did we get here? Let the Washington Post explain:

Maryland Coach Gary Williams saw a warning sign in late December. American outplayed Maryland for one half and Terrapins players acknowledged being complacent and nonchalant.

An isolated incident against an inferior opponent had yet to develop into a pattern. But the coming weeks saw blowout losses against North Carolina and Wake Forest, followed by a decisive defeat at home to North Carolina State on Sunday. Maryland trailed by at least 28 points in each of the games.

The long stretches of non-competitiveness in games have been defined by lax defense and a lack of intensity, according to Williams, who conceded, " It's late in the year for me to be saying that."

Maryland's lack of intensity over stretches sometimes as long as a half is particularly alarming because the Terps were never dominated in such ways in the ACC last season, when they competed with the same cast of players. This season, players were supposed to be a year wiser and more experienced following their ACC tournament title.

Three blowouts in five ACC games does not bode well for the Terps' post-season chances. Fans, a Sweet Sixteen appearance this year is a pipe dream. A mere tournament bid would be something of a miracle at this point. But if we are to shift our focus to the lacrosse season at the conclusion of the ACC hoops tournament, I guess I would be satisfied with an upset win against an undefeated Duke squad.

I'll admit that Coach K is having the coaching season of his career. His boys are a collection more typical of a Gary Williams Maryland team than Duke's usual assortment of McDonald's and Parade All-Americans. Gary himself acknowledges as much:

"This was probably the lowest-rated Duke team in a while at the start of the year, and they had the mentality of, 'OK, we are going to show everybody,'" said [Maryland Coach Gary]Williams, whose team will need to defend the perimeter better than it did Sunday when the Wolfpack hit 12 of 26 three-point shots. "It really shows in the way they play. I haven't seen a game where they weren't really ready to play."

This statement, coming from Gary, is somewhat sad. You can tell how painful it is for Coach Williams, who wrote the book on motivating lesser talent, to speak about his biggest rival in terms that are usually reserved for himself. It sounds almost as if he is admitting that this season he has lost the battle to inspire his troops, and is instead highlighting for his own players what they could have been had they played with more passion and a greater sense of urgency. Gary spoke last week about how some of his players were "resisting" him. A coach who loses the respect of his players will not win games, nor will the kids who take the court. Part of being a team player is trusting the coach, system, and teammates. Despite being one of the outstanding coaches in the ACC, one with a national championship under his belt, selfish players on this year's squad seem to believe they know better than their coach how best to run the team. You see the results: an 11-5 record early in ACC play, with nothing but tough teams remaining on the schedule in the loaded conference.

Despite the dysfunction, a Maryland win tonight would be enough to ease some of the pain of this basketball season, much like our meaningless, first-time win against Florida State took the edge off an otherwise depressing football season.

So let's hope the Terps stick it to Duke and all of its students and bandwagon jumping fans.

(And finally, I love it: "Unfortunately, the game is in Durham this time around...and those obnoxious pre-meds will be smurfing it out along the baseline in blue." Urge to kill rising again.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Defending Our Founding Principles

On Inauguration Day, President Bush set forth his vision for bringing liberty to oppressed people around the world.

We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.

America's vital interests and our deepest beliefs are now one. From the day of our Founding, we have proclaimed that every man and woman on this earth has rights, and dignity, and matchless value, because they bear the image of the Maker of Heaven and earth. Across the generations we have proclaimed the imperative of self-government, because no one is fit to be a master, and no one deserves to be a slave. Advancing these ideals is the mission that created our Nation. It is the honorable achievement of our fathers. Now it is the urgent requirement of our nation's security, and the calling of our time.

This idea is nothing new. Ardent isolationist Thomas Jefferson enshrined the idea in our Declaration of Independence in 1776.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That 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. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

The Declaration holds certain truths to be "self-evident": equality, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. By self-evident, the Founding Fathers meant applicable to all men, not just Americans.

As I noted above, Thomas Jefferson was an isolationist, though he briefly dabbled in alliances with the French and a "foreign adventure" against the Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean to ensure safe routes for American trade. Other isolationists included George Washington, John Adams, and James Madison, Founding Fathers all. At the time, the United States was a fledgling democracy (a new idea) and its isolation gave it the vaccuum in which the spark of the idea was able to become a beacon of freedom for all.

Circumstances have changed, and America is the world's leading power and its tentacles (economic, political, and military) stretch the world over. Many argue that the conservative foreign policy agenda, the face of which is our current president, betrays the principles of our nation's founding. Untrue. If certain "truths" are "self-evident," than a nation as powerful as ours would be morally remiss to shun the oppressed citizens of the planet and horde the benefits of freedom for ourselves.

Others will point to slaves and women and say, AHA!, the Founding Fathers only meant to protect rich, land-owning white men and to pursue a foreign policy based on the musings of 200-year old racist and sexist white guys is morally presumptive to the extreme. Obviously over the course of our nation's history, we have reflected, warred, and marched over some of the imperfections of our founding era and have worked to correct our mistakes. No country will ever be perfect, but we can continue to strive toward that goal. The ideas of 200 years ago, in today's understanding of them, can affect a morally powerful foreign policy that can work to protect, inspire, and free people living in the worst circumstances imagineable. To forgo the opportunity that this ridiculously wealthy country now has before it to bring liberty to people worldwide most in its need is to relegate those people around the world to the equivalent of the slaves and women at the time of our Declaration. Spend some time in a third world city where ever day looks like a tsunami struck and maybe the blinders will be removed.

Others might argue that the Declaration of Independence stands for the principle that an oppressed people alone has the right to throw off the shackles of an unresponsive government. The Declaration does say, "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." But what happens when an oppressed people is too weak or fractured to do so? The weapons of war in the year 2005 are more powerful and destructive than in 1776, and in most autocratic countries, such weapons are jealously guarded by those in power. The probability of organizing a resistance strong enough to overthrow a regime governed by violence and fear, such as Saddam Hussein's Iraq, is extremely low. Citizens of these countries may need the boost of assistance from an outside power to effect their desire for new government. We took the chance in Iraq that its people would welcome freedom. Time will tell whether liberty blossoms in a region with a long history of despotic rule and violence. We have thrown off the shackles of the old regime for the Iraqis, now we must see (starting with Monday's elections) what form of government they choose to "effect their Safety and Happiness."

The great objective of ending tyranny is the concentrated work of generations. The difficulty of the task is no excuse for avoiding it. America's influence is not unlimited, but fortunately for the oppressed, America's influence is considerable, and we will use it confidently in freedom's cause.


Our president is also working to ensure that the innocent are guaranteed the "Life" promise of our Declaration.

Abortion protesters marched though chilly Washington yesterday emboldened by Republican election gains that they said gave new momentum to their 32-year fight to overturn Roe v. Wade. President Bush told them by phone, "This movement will not fail."


For his part, Bush played cheerleader in chief at a rally before the march, telling tens of thousands of anti-abortion protesters on the Ellipse that their approach to the debate this year would "change hearts and minds" of those still favoring abortion rights.

"This is the path of the culture of life that we seek for our country," Bush said by phone from the presidential retreat at Camp David, in the Catoctin Mountains.

Does not the Declaration clearly state that it is a self-evident truth and unalienable right that the Government guarantee the "Life" of "all men"? Is it not then the duty of our president, representatives, justices, and federal employees to so guarantee that right for all? Scores of millions of human children have been killed since Roe v. Wade was decided in this country in 1973. This is a serious abdication of the duties of our federal government as enshrined by the Founders in 1776.

Refreshingly, despite all of his reported shortcomings, we have a president in the Oval Office, George W. Bush, who has dedicated his administration to the principles on which this country was founded over 200 years ago. "Four more years" has not sounded this good for quite a while.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Wish I Had Tickets

Now this is one dance I would like to attend. From the Onion:

Caged Saddam To Be Highlight Of Inaugural Ball
WASHINGTON, DC—Attendees at the Independence Ball, one of nine officially sanctioned galas celebrating President George W. Bush's second inauguration Thursday, will be treated to a viewing of a caged Saddam Hussein, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said Monday. "What better way to honor the president than with a physical symbol of his many first-term triumphs?" McClellan said as Hussein rattled the bars of a cage already suspended above the ballroom where the event will be held.

Today's View From the Unemployment Line

Although not Boston, we did have a foot or more of snow here in Chicago. Between the main storm and the subsequent lake effect squalls, getting around town has been a lot of fun. It took about a half hour to dig my fiance's car out of the fluffy foot-plus of snow last night. Upon our return to her apartment, we faced the tougher dilemma of parking her car in her designated (unplowed) alley parking spot. After helplessly spinning our wheels and burning some rubber on our first attempt, we moved to a different line of approach. Rocking the car back and forth finally resulted in breaking through the mini wall of snow that blocked our path from her spot. Though doing anything is just a little tougher, at least snow adds a little spice to mundane, everyday tasks.

FYI to my reader(s), posting will probably be light through Thursday as I continue to pack my belongings for the move from Chicago to Elkton, Maryland. On Thursday, I will sign off indefinitely while I get myself situated in a new location and with my soon-to-be employer. I hope to return to posting by the middle of February, if not earlier. I am sure the anticipation of reading about Wilmington, Delaware is killing you. For now, I will post as I can and continue to carry the camera around town. Thank you for your patience.Posted by Hello

Sick, but Hilarious

Hopefully Osama and Zarqawi are worried about fuel economy and get themselves one of these...

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Let It Snow

As promised, 6-8 inches of snow. And counting... Posted by Hello

Friday, January 21, 2005

The Importance of Guard Play

My latest post is up at ACC Basketblog.

Virginia Tech's head coach Seth Greenberg spoke about the differences between ACC hoops and Big East basketball, the Hokies previous conference home. Citing the quick scoring and defensive pace, Coach Greenberg emphasized that the most important aspect of ACC play revolved around guard play.

Do the Terrapins' guards, John Gilchrist, Chris McCray, DJ Strawberry, Mike Jones, and Sterling Ledbetter have what it takes to compete successfully in this year's stacked ACC?

An Interesting Blog From Iraq

Cigars in the Sand points to this blog written by a couple of Americans in Iraq. The writers have a knack for penning entertaining posts on the joys and pitfalls of everyday life in Iraq. You are certain to enjoy it!

Abraham Lincoln Lied, People Died

Putting Democrats spin in perspective, this piece imagines today's Democrats response to Lincoln's classic second inaugural speech.

The president harped on the "colored slaves." He claimed that "this interest was somehow the cause of the war." But the president well knows that ending slavery was never part of the original justification for fighting this war. It is simply an after-the-fact rationalization, developed after it became clear that we had no plan to defeat the South. Nor can the president honestly claim that the slaves are better off in their current, parlous state than they were prior to the war when they lived in peace and tranquility.

I heard similar sentiments on the radio yesterday from a representative of this looney outfit about how women in Afghanistan were better off under the Taliban because at least then, the United States wasn't blowing them up in hospitals. Huh?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Winter Wonderland

I took a short drive through Indiana this morning. Conditions were cold and snowy. The perfect time to see a little country scenery. We are scheduled to get another 4-8 inches of snow this weekend. Posted by Hello

Some cows enjoy a romp in the snowy weather in Brookston. Posted by Hello

A frosty setting near Chalmers, Indiana. Posted by Hello

Literally on the edge of nowhere. Posted by Hello

A Fabulous Start to My Day

Posted by Hello

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Guess I Was Right After All

According to this report, the shooter in the Purdue-Indiana game this weekend did not get the shot off before the buzzer sounded to force overtime. I knew it! Makes me feel good that the old nervous system is still functioning properly as I approach 30 years old.

Purdue's Carl Landry was fouled by an Indiana player as time expired in regulation. The basket went in, was counted, and Landry went to the line for a single free throw to win the game. He missed and Purdue eventually lost in two OT's. Apparently, the ref counted Landry's basket because he reasoned that the foul was on the shot, and the shot dropped, a typical "continuation" basket. However, the rules allow the shot to count only if released with time on the clock. The buzzer clearly sounded (my senses confirmed) before Landry's shot left his hand. Therefore, he should have been given two free throws rather than the basket and one. Since he missed the one free throw, it can be surmised that he probably would have missed one of the two free throws to put the game into OT had the ref made the proper rules interpretation.

Unfortunately, that would have deprived the fans of some pretty exciting hoops action for two more periods. In summary, at least entertainment-wise, good call!

Today's View From the Unemployment Line

Another ridiculously cold day here in Chicago. True, temperatures were not -54F like a couple days ago in a small Minnesota town. But could we please at least have some sunshine every once in a while? I am beginning to feel like a Seattle resident or maybe one of those people in Alaska whose location precludes the sun from breaking the horizon for a couple of months during the winter. Also, it's amazing when 35F feels warm. That is how it felt briefly today. "Warm." Snow is in the forecast for the next three days, so I guess I'll have to wait just a little longer for a lengthy glimpse of that blue sky. Posted by Hello

Chicago Hot Dog Review: Hot Diggity Dogs

It has been a long time since I last did a Chicago hotdog review, so today I set out to sample a dog at the obscure Hot Diggity Dogs, a place I found, as the top right corner of the picture indicates, while walking past a random parking lot. I judged by the woman in the fur coat that Hot Diggity's must be a fine establishment for those of exquisite taste in processed, non-choice pig parts. Then again, I noted the shack was located in a parking lot. Posted by Hello

So where is Hot Diggity Dogs located? Just off Michigan Avenue's Magnificent Mile, you might expect it to be a prime spot for a snack during a particularly grueling shopping day. But good luck finding it.

While chowing down on my dog, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under the Bridge" played on the radio. Using a similar song title to describe the location of Hot Diggity's, it would be "In the Parking Lot Under the Get Tested for HIV Sign, Three Blocks East of Michigan Avenue, In the Long Shadow of the John Hancock Building." Very lyrical if you ask me. Posted by Hello

Hot Diggity Dogs' environs. Post-industrial chic? I don't know what that means, so I'll just call it a parking lot in the middle of a bunch of buildings. Posted by Hello

I asked for the jumbo dog with fries. Judging from my order, Hot Diggity Dog takes pride in putting the "hot" in the dog. In addition to the relish, onions, tomatoes, mustard, and full length pickle wedge, my dog came topped with two jalapeno peppers. Before moving to Chicago, I was a hotdog-with-ketchup-only kind of guy. Who knew that a proper hotdog is smothered Chicago-style?

Judging from the ego wall, over time a variety of minor Chicago celebrities have fed their appetite for a hot diggity dog at this location. I munched on my fries under the glossy stares of nearly a dozen local news personalities, boyish former Chicago Bull B.J. Armstrong (sporting a flattop hairdo, circa 1989), and White Sox legend Moose Skowron. A former playmate of the year wrote that she liked the chef's weiner. Hmmm. Appetite suddenly lost.

Probably the most out of place photo of all was one featuring Jerry Springer. According to a stranger I once met in the original Pizzeria Uno's bar, Springer owns a place in the John Hancock tower. I understand, therefore, that he would be located only a few blocks away. But considering the nature of his TV show, I would expect him to frequent the Weiner's Circle.

So what about the dog? It was very good. Most Chicago dogs will taste similar, since they are smothered in all sorts of toppings. Is it a Camden Yards half-smoke? No. The dogs at Orioles games still rate first on my list. But if you want a Chicago dog in a very Chicago atmosphere, here's a stand that will meet your needs.Posted by Hello

You have to hand it to them. Hot Diggity's aims high. They are not just the #1 hotdog in Chicago, they are the #1 hotdog in America. Pretty amazing for a stand found on the outer edges of a parking lot off the beaten path. Obviously, a diamond in the rough! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Just a Suggestion...

Either get a job or move to the country of your choice that you think is better than ours.

MLK's Dream Realized: Dr. Rice

Instapundit reports a connection between Martin Luther King's "Dream" and today's confirmation hearings for Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State:

In September 1963, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered the eulogy for three of the four girls killed in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala. What King could not know was that, within earshot of the blast, just blocks away at her father's church, was another little black girl, a friend of the youngest victim, who 42 years later would be on the verge of becoming America's foremost diplomat.

This year, the Martin Luther King holiday, marking what would have been his 76th birthday, falls on Jan. 17. The next day, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee opens hearings on the nomination of Condoleezza Rice to succeed Colin Powell as secretary of state.

It's a stunning juxtaposition that offers those who knew King, lived that history and ponder his legacy an opportunity to wonder: How might they explain Rice's rise to him? And what would he make of it?

She is, after all, the literal fulfillment of King's dream -- a woman judged not by the color of her skin but by the content of her character. She is also living proof that King's eulogy was prescient, that "these children -- unoffending, innocent and beautiful -- did not die in vain."

Congratulations, Dr. Rice!

Monday, January 17, 2005

Today's View From the Unemployment Line

I spent the weekend in Indiana, where the sports culture buzzed in anticipation of two games: Purdue vs. Indiana in college hoops, and the Colts vs. Pats in the NFL playoffs.

Lucky for me, I had first row tickets to the basketball game for the second year and a row. Two overtime periods later, the Hoosiers finally put away the Boilermakers after an intense and well-paced game. With score at 2-1 after several minutes of play in the first half, I shook my head and dreamed about the frenetic scoring pace of a typical ACC game. Even the halftime score, 28-22 Purdue, did not foreshadow the excitement yet to come. I'll let the AP recap do the talking:

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- D.J. White scored six of his 16 points in the second overtime to lift Indiana to a thrilling 75-73 victory over intrastate rival Purdue on Saturday.

White's size and athleticism was too much for Purdue underneath as he hit a short jumper and two layups to give the Hoosiers control after a wild finish to the first overtime period.

After a questionable foul call on Purdue's Andrew Ford in the first overtime, Marshall Strickland hit two free throws with .9 seconds left for a 63-61 lead.

Ford then heaved a pass the length of the court to Carl Landry, who caught the ball in between two IU defenders, was fouled and made a layup. After reviewing the play, officials determined that Landry was fouled before the buzzer sounded and gave him continuation on the layup.

Indiana coach Mike Davis was furious with the ruling, tearing off his jacket and having to be restrained by Bracey Wright as he shouted at officials.

Landry then had a chance to win the game, but his free throw was off the mark.

After opening the second overtime with a jumper by David Teague, who led Purdue with 21 points and 11 rebounds, Indiana went on a 7-0 run to take a 70-65 lead with 1:25 to play.

The Boilermakers refused to go away, getting 3-pointers from Xavier Price and Teague to close the gap to 74-73 with 5.7 seconds remaining.

Wright, who finished with 23 points, then hit one free throw, and Brandon McKnight missed a desperation heave at the buzzer, giving the Hoosiers (7-7, 2-1 Big Ten) their fifth win in six games after a six-game losing streak.

From my perspective, the shot with 0.9 seconds left in the first overtime that tied the game did not leave Landry's hand until well after the buzzer sounded. I even put my coat on and was ready to leave. But they counted it, so what do I know? Had Purdue made even a quarter of their shots from in the paint, however, they would have won in the game in a rout. I have never seen so many shots missed from inside five feet.

But I won't complain. In the end, everyone in Mackey Arena left the game with a huge smile on his/her face, even though the hometown Boilermakers failed to get the W. It was impossible to feel low after enjoying such excitement!

The same, however, could not be said of Colts nation after the snowy playoff loss in Foxboro. It's still a fresh wound for many, so I won't speak further about it.Posted by Hello

Friday, January 14, 2005

Global Warming Paranoia

Did SUV drivers in the West help destroy the coastal Indian Ocean towns leveled by last month's tidal wave? According to some people, yes.

Take a deep breath. Tens of thousands of people died, and it had nothing to do with U.S. President George Bush or Theresa Heinz Kerry's family SUV. A 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Indonesia did this, case closed. Our altruistic response, particularly by small relief organizations and the military, has saved countless lives in the face of an unavoidable tragedy. Let us not politicize this.

James K. Glassman writes:

First is solipsism: We humans are the most powerful force on earth. How can there be a disaster if we didn't cause it?

Second is naturism: If we humans didn't mess with Mother Nature, everything would be perfectly peachy.

To the contrary. Research indicates, more and more, that recent warming at the surface of the earth is mainly influenced by cyclical changes at the surface of the sun, where, as far as we can tell, no one is driving an SUV.

As for the tsunami itself: It was started by a huge earthquake, the violent, unpredictable handiwork of Nature or, if you prefer, God.

But didn't global warming raise sea levels to start with, making the tsunami more devastating? No. Sea levels in the northeastern Indian Ocean have been going down, not up.

But assume the worst -- a global rise of four to eight inches over the past century, as claimed by a United Nations group. Even an increase of an inch a decade is minimal, compared with a Dec. 26 tidal wave estimated at 30 to 40 feet high. And it could have been worse. The wave unleashed by the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, reached 100 feet or more.

Regardless of what you think about global warming, nothing done here in the West could have prevented the loss of life caused by this quake.

New Blog Underway

I posted my first entry this morning as the resident Terps expert at ACC Basketblog. Regular readers of my site (Ha! As if he/she/they exist!) will notice familiar themes from posts made on this blog. Please check out my column and browse around the site a little!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Today's View From the Unemployment Line

If I had a weather journal, here's what it would say for the last three days:

Weds. - High Temp: 60F, humid with thunderstorms.
Thurs. - High Temp: 36F, snow, overnight windchills to -10F.
Fri. - High Temp 11F, blustery.

I will never get used to Chicago winter weather.Posted by Hello

The US Military: World's Best Humanitarian Organization

Tsunami victims continue to receive relief from the US Military and the humble forces from countries including Australia and Japan. Here is an excerpt from a tsunami zone dispatch by a member of our armed forces:

We sighted these people on a stretch of road approximately 2 miles long, and decided to try to offer them a ride to Banda Aceh. The stretch of road that they were on was cut on both ends by new channels several hundred yards wide as a result of the tsunami, effectively eliminating any hope of them being able to leave this road by any means other than helicopter or boat. ... One of my crewmen got out to offer the ride, and to his surprise was greeted by a boy no older than 10 who spoke English almost as well as he did. The boy, translating for the adults around him, said that they couldn't go. This was their home and they needed to stay, but asked if we had any food or water for them. Sadly, we had given the last of our supplies out at our previous drop zone. It broke my heart to have to leave them with nothing, but I've made a promise to myself that tomorrow, I will visit them again, and I will make sure they have some rice and water to keep them going for a few more days.

Read the whole thing here.

The men and women in the military are just like you or I. Generally, they are good folks. I used to always tell people that best people I have known are the families of the Navy personnel I grew up beside on military installations up and down the East Coast. Emails like the one cited above continue to confirm that impression.

One Thing I Won't Miss

Yesterday, it felt like baseball weather. Temps hovered in the upper 50's and the humidity hit levels high enough that turned my mail wet.

What about today? Well, it is snowing. And tomorrow, temps are supposed to reach the low teens. And by reach, I mean "not to exceed." I cannot complain about the weather this winter, however. Last year at this time, temperatures were in the first two weeks of a stretch of nearly 5 weeks without temperatures puncturing the 32 degree mark on the thermometer. I would have welcomed a day with temps near 60 last January.

In Delaware, winter temperatures promise to be more reasonable and the weather more predictable. I can deal with that.

New Basketblog

Starting soon, I will be a contributor to a new blog called the ACC Basketblog. An attorney friend of mine with an irrational love of the University of North Carolina Tar Heels created the blog as a round-up of Atlantic Coast Conference action with commentary supplied by attorneys who graduated from or have ties to ACC universities. (Perhaps we should rename it the "ACC Basketblawg.") I accepted an invitation to serve as the resident Maryland Terrapins expert. So if you are looking for hard-hitting Maryland basketball commentary or just a place to confirm your exasperated feelings about Mike Mardesich-clone C Will Bowers' playing time, please stop by and check it out!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Today's View From the Unemployment Line

It is tough to find anything to write about when one has spent the entire day shredding old documents accumulated over the course of 8 years. Old bank statements, checks, medical invoices, credit card bills, etc. For a person who swore never to be a packrat, today's trip down document-aided Memory Lane was quite disconcerting. For me, the some of the materials were rather amusing, though for you, I would expect they'd be especially boring.

Tomorrow I head downtown to wrap up some business, so I sincerely hope something more interesting happens worth blogging about. At the very least, though an unpleasant day is predicted, I should have a few more pictures to post.Posted by Hello

The Mark of a Leader

The Terps lost again tonight 81-66 to Wake Forest. Maryland's self-appointed on court leader, G John Gilchrist contributed thusly:

Maryland (9-4, 1-2) played poorly in its second-straight lopsided loss. The Terrapins were coming off a 36-point loss at No. 3 North Carolina, and started the game with leading scorer John Gilchrist on the bench for missing an academic assignment.

Gilchrist hardly played, sitting for almost the entire second half and finishing with two points on 1-of-2 shooting. Nik Caner-Medley led the Terrapins with 18 points.

Let's see...scandal ridden (check) to leadership role (check)...lack of production when the stakes are high (check). If the NBA does not have Gilchrist on its scouting list, the United Nations might. Sounds like he is just the kind of talent they are looking for.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Special Announcement

Dear reader(s),

I started this website in August as a way to give my East Coast friends and family a way to keep up with what's happening with my life here in Chicago, as a bullhorn for my political views in the weeks leading up to the election, and as a way to bore the reader or two I might claim each week on whatever else came to my mind. In other words, I was "passing time in the unemployment line."

Here's the news: I was offered and accepted a new job. This puts a damper on a site dedicated to musings from the world of the jobless. It also so happens that this new position is located in the great state of Delaware. "Delaware?" you say. Yes. I think the Simpsons encapsulated the lure of the state well:

Marge: I can't believe it! We won another contest!
Homer: The Simpsons are going to Delaware!
Lisa: I want to see Wilmington!
Bart: I want to visit a screen door factory!

It is not Chicago, but Chicago is a unique city. Picturesque, clean, and with a heckuva lot of character. I will feel sad to leave.

The important question is, what happens to this website? Well, nothing really. I will continue to post as D-Day (Delaware Day) approaches. And when it does, we might experience a posting lull as I move into my new dwelling and get myself set up. I intend to continue this site, just from a new, perhaps less interesting location. Do not worry, however! I will make it exciting. That is my promise to you, my loyal reader(s).

With the exception of the scenery, the only change you might see to this blog is to the theme. Obviously, getting a job makes it tough to blog about unemployment...that is, unless I want to go the Jayson Blair route. I am not sure what changes I will ultimately make, but they won't change the essence of the blog.

For now, I remain in Chicago and hope to have some good posts up as I get closer to the move.

Soon, however, I will say, "Goodbye Cubs, hello Blue Rocks!"Posted by Hello

Today's View From the Unemployment Line

Today I took the opportunity to be lazy and catch up on some badly needed letter writing. One of my sisters is in the Peace Corps serving in the Philippines. She spent a few weeks over the holidays travelling through the mountains of northern Luzon. This region of the archipelago is known for its terraced rice fields. Apparently, the 60 degree nighttime temperatures are brutal for one used to hi temperatures in the 90's year round. By way of comparison, we had a high on New Year's Eve in the low 50's and I saw several people outside in short sleeves and shorts. When you have had a stretch of weather in the single digits and teens, anything above freezing feels pretty darn tropical.

I also took the time to write a long overdue letter to my adopted soldier. Our servicepeople around the world could use a letter or two. Why don't you send them one? I am certain they would appreciate a little reminder of home. Posted by Hello