Monday, April 30, 2012

Bobblehead Monday #23

Bobblehead #23
Name: Humphrey the Hawk
Position: Mascot
Team: Boise Hawks
Description: 7 inches; Humphrey, with baseball hat on sideways, is carrying a football in his left wing and striking the Heisman Trophy pose.
Relevance:  I went to a Boise Hawks game (Northwest League Rookie affiliate of the Chicago Cubs) back in June of 2010 with my in-laws.  Humphrey was a fun mascot and did a great job of adding to the minor league atmosphere.
How Acquired: another eBay purchase!
Other Notes: I’m not sure of the significance of Humphrey the Hawk’s high-stepping Heisman pose, other than some snappy alliteration, and the fact that Boise St. has had some really strong football teams, especially in 2006 and 2009, but it's a pretty cool looking bobblehead!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Catching Up - Spring Break 2012 - Part III

New York City is a loud, fast, and busy place.  None of the aforementioned adjectives are among my favorites when describing a city.  Laura really seems to love the big city atmosphere and I was glad we could enjoy the city together. 

Here's a quick pictorial summary of our eventful 3 day stay in Manhattan.

Warning: many of the pictures feature our plush penguin who was along for the trip.  He likes to "sneak" into our pictures for laughs.  We still haven't named him yet, so please add your suggestions to the comments!

Wednesday after the ballgame we took a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to Grimaldi's to taste test some local brew and true New York style pizza.  Yum!

Thursday morning we went around the corner from the apartment we were staying at to grab some bagels for breakfast.  I had lox cream cheese spread on mine.  I love trying new foods and this was no exception.  Later we visited the New Museum and we went to the top of the Empire State Building.

We sauntered threw Chinatown and had a snack.  That's my mango pudding that the penguin in protecting from Laura.

Thursday night we had sushi for dinner and took a little stroll through the neighborhoods.  On our walk back to our apartment Laura tried on a $418 dress.  Yikes!   Fortunately for our pocket book we only returned with a HUGE cupcake from a nearby cupcake store.  New York has stores that feature only cupcakes!?!

Friday we took a nice walk threw Central Park and stopped for brunch at the Boat House in the middle of the park.  Oddly enough, the park's bodies of water aren't really big enough for boats.  Why do they have a boat house?  We captured a picture of our penguin looking for crumbs from the restaurant's patrons with the rest of the NYC fowl. 

My technologically savvy wife booked us some two tickets to Liberty and Ellis Islands earlier in the week.  The reservations cut our line wait time down by a good estimated hour.  We spent a good two hours away from the main land and quite a bit of time exploring Ellis Island.  The stories and pictures were simply amazing.
Our penguin from the second floor of the main building on Ellis Island.
We took another stroll through the downtown area to awe at the hustle and bustle. Here's a shot of Laura trying to re-capture our crazy penguin from atop the Wall Street bull.

Friday night we took in a movie: The Artist.  Our feet were pretty tired at this point and a movie sounded like a sound decision.  We weren't disappointed by this black & white and mostly silent film, which was released in 2011.   If you can find it, I gave it two thumbs up. 

For dinner we settled on an Italian restaurant and split a pizza and a bottle of chardonnay to celebrate a fun week away from our lives back home.

Saturday morning we stopped by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) before heading to the airport.Here's the silly penguin riding a goat at the MoMA.  I don't think the museum security person was happy with his decision to hitch a ride on the goat and frowned at Laura and I.  C'est la vie.

Overall, I had a better time than I would have expected, but much of that could easily be chalked up to my travel companion and beautiful tour guide: Laura.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dine and Dash 2012

I competed in the Roselle Park District Dine and Dash this past Saturday.  It was a running and eating relay race, where the first three team members run a 5k then eat, while the the fourth team member has to eat with no hands.  Sixteen teams registered and we earned the third place trophy. 

Jeff got us off to a great start with a very fast 5k run and then he pounded his food portion: the bread pudding.

Mikelle was next up and even though she didn't have much advanced warning to train she did a great job.  She wasn't a big fan of the wings, but she was able to scarf them down with out too much trouble.

I was the third leg and although I managed to finish the race I couldn't finish the pizza and had to take the ten minute penalty.  I have a pretty decent excuse for "wussing out," but let's not get into my GI issues. Okay?

Have no fear, Vince was there!  He was our closer,owned that skillet cookie, and locked up the trophy for us!

Good times with great people! 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bobblehead Monday #24

Bobblehead #24
Name: Dick Butkus & Brian Urlacher
Position: Middle Linebackers
Team: Chicago Bears
Description: 7.25 inches tall each; standing with right foot on top of a football; Butkus is carrying his helmet and is sporting a fashionable mustache; Urlacher is complete with eye-black and a barbed-wire tattoo on his right bicep.
Relevance:  I’m a big Bears fan, thus I love a solid running game and a stiff defense.  Butkus and Urlacher are/were two of the best Monsters of the Midway.
How Acquired: eBay purchases!
Other Notes: My Bears middle linebacker collection seems incomplete without the wide-eyed Mike Singletary.   Butkus and Urlacher are the last of the non-baseball bobbleheads that will make the Top 30 list.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Catching Up - Spring Break 2012 - Part II (New York Mets)

After Charlotte Laura and I flew to New York and were able to make it to Citi Field to watch Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals take on Johan Santana and the New York Mets.

For the record, this is the second time I've seen Strasburg pitch, he wasn't really on his game, but threw more than hundred for the first time in his career and won the game 4-0.  I was more excited to see Johan pitch, as I feel indebted to him for helping me win fantasy baseball championships in the past; plus he has a really cool first name.

Citi Field was "okay".  Nothing spectacular caught my eye.  It seems fan friendly enough: nice variety of ballpark food and non-ballpark food, televisions all around the stadium so you don't miss a pitch while standing in line, over fifty different beer selections, a Mets Museum, a pedestrian walking bridge (Shea Bridge) out beyond right center field, and a "Fan Fest" area behind the scoreboard in center field.  Who am I kidding?  It has everything Wrigley doesn't and I'm jealous.

Wrigley doesn't have a ton of advertising though and if you like advertising, Citi Field is the place for you.  I believe it contained more advertising than a majority of minor league ballparks, and that's saying something.

Laura and I only stayed through the seventh inning stretch and then we headed out for warmer quarters.  Clouds covered the sky, the wind was blowing, and it was in the high 40s.  I was cold.  And if I was cold, then you know Laura was cold.  She was so great though and was willing to stay as long as I wanted.

 Overall, it was a good experience.  Another baseball stadium is checked off my list, and I was fortunate to see two really good pitchers in action.  I would put Citi Field behind Miller Park, the Great American Ballpark, and PNC Park in my estimations, but definitely ahead of a few others.  Either way, Citi Field is home to Mr. Met, and he is definitely one of my favorite mascots along with the Philly Phanatic and the Mariner Moose.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Catching Up - Spring Break 2012 - Part I

Laura and I flew out of Peoria and landed in Charlotte to spend 4 days with our good friends Mike, Rhonda, and their 2.5 year old son, Nolan.  Laura attend high school with Mike and Rhonda and they're always fun to catch up with.  They also may be, without trying, the trendiest couple we know.  Oh, and I mean that in a good way.  There are people who follow and mock the trends, and then there's those individuals who somehow set the trends.  I definitely see them as the latter. 

We spent Easter Sunday with them and Rhonda's family, enjoyed a campfire, went on a run together, played frisbee golf, and spent some quality time with little Nolan.

Here's a couple of pictures of our visit, with commentary. Enjoy!
Nolan is ready for our campfire!
My decorated egg complete with arms, tail, and hair!

Thursday, April 19, 2012


O'Brien Field - Tom's home away from home.
Five digits... what ever could they mean?  Huh.    I think those numbers are alluding to the fact that I'll be waiting 'til next year... AGAIN.

The Cubs are in the middle of what inevitably will be a long losing streak (currently at five games) and only have 3 wins to their record while piling up 10 losses.

Yep, you guessed it, that projects to a win-loss record of 37wins and 125 losses.  I'm a math teacher and realize that the sample size is small, but it doesn't matter.  No matter how much you sugar coat it, it's still 3 and 10.

I guess I'm not missing out much by not having cable or a dish.  And the money I'm saving I can spend watching the Peoria Chiefs play in a really nice atmosphere for a really nice price.  O'Brien Field, you'll be seeing a lot of me this summer!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Opening Day 2012 - Softball Style

We kicked off our slow-pitch softball season schedule tonight in nice fashion with a 10 to 6 win.  We played some solid defense and the bats did enough to give us an early lead and hold off the opponent.

I saw action in the outfield and shortstop and was my normal over-the-top energetic self.  Not quite as vocal, but only because I didn't want to scare off the new talent on the roster.

I lead off the game with a hard single to left, then beat a grounder up the middle, and capped off a perfect night at the plate with a triple to right field.  I was even able find that "extra gear" on a couple of plays near the end of the game. There's nothing like a good adrenaline spiked sprint. (Oh, and not have your aging legs fall off afterwards!)

I miss coaching softball, but playing it again sure is nice, especially when you can goof off with your friends!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Bobblehead Monday #25

Bobblehead #25
Name: Joe Girardi
Position: Catcher
Team: Peoria Chiefs
Description: 6.25 inches tall; crouching in a familiar catching position, including skull helmet, catcher’s mask, and catcher’s mitt.
Relevance:  Girardi is an East Peoria native and played for the Chiefs back in 1986.
How Acquired: Given away as a promotional item at the July 16th Peoria Chiefs game in 2002.
Other Notes: Girardi actually had a pretty serviceable career with the Cubs and a few other teams.  He is currently the manager for the Dreaded Evil Empire (the Yankees) and won a World Series for New York in 2009.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bobblehead Monday #26

Bobblehead #26
Name: Kosuke Fukudome
Position: RF
Team: Chicago Cubs
Description: 7.25 inches tall; starting his sweet left-handed swing with ivy covered walls behind him.
Relevance:  I was a HUGE fan of the Fukudome signing by Jim Hendry over four years ago. I have nearly fifty Fukudome baseball cards in my collection and almost three dozen of those have been imported from Japan.  No, he didn’t fulfill the lofty expectations of the Wrigley Field faithful, but he played hard, was a good teammate, and made an All-Star team.  I was sad to see Fukudome traded last summer, but glad he’s back in Chicago, even if he’s playing for the South Side.
How Acquired: Kosuke was an eBay purchase shortly after Fukudome’s bobblehead day at Wrigley Field on May 27th, 2008.
Other Notes: Kosuke Fukudome represents the first (of many) Chicago Cubs in my countdown.  The second picture is the back of the brick wall.  Apparently this was a short run of bobbleheads and each was authenticated with the artist's signature.  Well, that's my guess at least.  Perhaps I was somehow blessed with Fukudome's autograph!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

But, I wanted ice cream!

I heard through the grapevine (aka: the high school hallways) that the new Dairy Queen was going to be open tonight!  Seriously, this new location is going to be just brutal on me, as it will test my self control many times over.

Below is the actual mileage from the new Dairy Queen, located at the Shoppes at Grand Prairie, to my garage.

The picture is a little blurry, but that's 1.4 miles.  Yeah, that's scary close!

So, I snapped the below picture of the new DQ and proceeded to the front doors.  As you can see in the picture there were balloons inside.  Balloons, I tell you!  There were people being served ice cream cake by Dairy Queen employees!  It looked like my own little slice of ice cream heaven in my own backyard. 

Then I read the sign on the doors: "Thank you for attending Dairy Queen's Friends and Family Night."  Huh, I'm a friend of DQ!  They sent Laura and I gift certificates as a wedding gift; after all, our first date was in a DQ! 

I thought I would test the waters and see if I could purchase some of  that sweet soft serve.    My sixty seconds in the new DQ went a little something like this:

"Mr. Olson!" exclaimed a couple of high school students.

I smiled, for ice cream was most certainly in my future.  "I saw the lights on.  You guys are finally open?"

"Yes, but it's Friends and Family Night.  We're not officially open yet," explained one of my students.

My jaw must of dropped, because she hurriedly added, "But, you can come back tomorrow!"

With that news I turned and slowly walked back to car... rejected and defeated.

Bummer.  There were B-A-L-L-O-O-N-S and ice cream cake!  Yet, no ice cream for me.  Man.  Kind of reminds me of the "Soup Natzi" episode on Seinfeld.   No soup for you!

Well, I'll have my ice cream . . .  I'm just going to have to wait another day.

EDIT: I enjoyed my first medium Oreo Blizzard at the new DQ the next day on my way home from work.  All is right in the world again.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Bobblehead Monday #27

Bobblehead #27
Name: Lou Seal
Position: Mascot
Team: San Francisco Giants
Description: 7.5 inches tall; posing with baseball in hand
Relevance: Another mascot added to my collection.  I haven’t been to San Francisco yet, but this bobblehead will commemorate that trip.
How Acquired: My friend Jim gave Lou Seal to me as a Christmas present in 2011.
Other Notes: Twenty-seven is a pretty low rating for this very cool looking bobblehead; Lou Seal will raise up the charts once I’m able to make it to AT&T Park. Lou Seal is the only bobblehead I own with whiskers!  He has six black whiskers up to ¾ of an inch long, which are made out of something similar to fishing line.   Very sweet!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Quick Weekends

It seems that the weekends are flying by lately.  It's almost as though I need a another weekend to recover from my actual weekend.

After work on Friday the family took Grandpa to the Legion Hall for dinner to celebrate his 85th birthday.  Grandpa is diabetic, but that didn't stop him from enjoying "his day" with a shot of Jack Daniels during dinner and a good-sized piece of Mom's delicious coconut cream covered angel food cake for dessert.  I hope to be as lucky some fifty years from now.

Saturday I spent the day at Jeff's dad's house replacing a water heater and installing a new water softener.  It's always good to hang out with Jeff no matter the scenario.  He's a great friend and entertaining as can be.  Below is the old water heater that's been acting up.

Here's the water heater on the curb at my house.  I told Jeff that we have some really devoted scrap metal collectors and they'd help us out.

Here's a picture of where the water heater used to be.  Not twenty-four hours later... poof!  Gone!   Sweet deal.

Saturday night Laura and I enjoyed dinner with the Cokers, Iadipaolos, and Sammons.  We talked a little bit about the Dine N' Dash race that we're participating in about three weeks.  Good times.

The above picture isn't really where the water heater was parked.  But, I had to work the landscaping into this blog entry.  Sunday I spent the majority of the day working in the yard.  Things are just growing like crazy this spring with all of the warm weather we've had.  The picture above features the retaining wall I installed last spring, the lilac bush Chris and Ken gave us, the flowering crab apple tree that Sarah bought us, and the wagon wheel that Mom & Dad gave us two winters ago. 

I was wondering how everything would piece together last spring as I was finishing the retaining wall.  I think it all looks pretty good!