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Archive for November, 2005

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Vaccines

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

I’m not a big fan of shots or needles. Just the sight of those huge needles and of my own blood is enough to make me pass out. But I need certain vaccinations for the trip to Africa. I don’t want to die of yellow fever or contract polio so I had to buck up and take a few jabs in the arms. Yesterday I visited the Travel Clinic at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for a series of vaccinations (and since I woke up yesterday, I’ve been singing the Wilco song “Shot In The Arm” in my head… “maybe all I need is a shot in the arm…”). The only one required for Kenya and Tanzania is yellow fever but I opted to also get Hepatitis A and tetanus. Honestly, it wasn’t that bad. I thought it would hurt a lot more than it did. Two shots in the left arm, one in the right. I survived. My arms are just a bit sore now but I think this will be the worst of it. I’m also considering going back next week for two more vaccinations: typhoid and polio. The nurse at the travel clinic recommended those two along with rabies. I’m going to pass on the rabies shot; the typhoid and polio may be more significant as both are easy to contract through food and water in East Africa. Some people claim all of these vaccinations are unnecessary. I was in agreement for some time but now that the trip is drawing nearer, I keep thinking that I want to do whatever I need to so that I come back healthy. And on top of all this, I will be taking Malarone pills to protect against malaria. Fun stuff.

Christmas trees and Bottle Rockets

Sunday, November 27th, 2005

Sometimes it is fun to play tourist in your own city. Take in all the sights and sounds that we natives oftentimes ignore. It is especially fun to do this in a city like Chicago during the holiday season, and that is what Felicia, Bob, Mark and I did yesterday. We spent the late afternoon co-existing with the tourists and suburbanites. First we checked out the Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza. This has been a favorite of ours since we first visited the market three years ago. Daley Plaza, under the watchful eye of the City’s Official Christmas Tree, is turned into a smorgasbord of German goodies and crafts. The four of us enjoyed big, gooey sourdough pretzels; homemade hot chocolate; roasted almonds and cashews; and apple strudel from one of my favorite spots in Chicago, Dinkel’s Bakery. Part of the reason we embarked on this adventure yesterday was to see what could be the final holiday window display at Marshall Field’s before it is forced to change its name. We were disappointed to see it was a Cinderella story but it seemed to please the thousands of children who were there and I guess that’s all that matters. Bob had never seen The Walnut Room, the famous restaurant inside Marshall Field’s. Patrons may wait for hours for a table at The Walnut Room during the holiday season, just for the opportunity to dine at the base of “The Great Tree”, Marshall Field’s enormous Christmas tree. This year’s tree is decorated by Swarovski and it is stunning. The four of us made it back out onto busy State Street and parted ways.

Mark and I made our way up to Beat Kitchen (2100 W. Belmont) for an evening with the Bottle Rockets, easily my second favorite band in the world. We arrived at the venue a few hours early but made ourselves comfortable at the bar. The dining and bar areas were virtually vacant, save for a single occupied booth at the back of the restaurant. Upon closer examination I determined the booth’s occupants to be none other than the members of the Bottle Rockets. Holy crap. Of course I was too embarrassed to go up and say anything to them. Either way, I think Beat Kitchen is my new favorite bar in Chicago. It is definitely very comfortable, the bar staff is tremendously helpful and friendly, the food is delicious (try the goat cheese and sun-dried tomato pizza — super fresh basil and perfectly thin crust), and Son Volt is on the bar’s iPod music selection. My kinda place.

As for the show, those boys from Festus, Missouri, sure know how to rock. It was my and Mark’s second time seeing the Bottle Rockets live. They played all of our old favorites and a few off the yet-to-be-named new album which is due out in the spring. The Bottle Rockets were preceded by a local band, Siderunners, who were also wildly entertaining (I was diggin’ the upright bass). Except for the tired and dry eyes, the clothing that reeked of cigarette smoke, and the aching feet, it was a perfectly fun way to end a perfectly enjoyable day in Chicago.

Much thanks

Thursday, November 24th, 2005
We have a lot to celebrate and to be thankful for today. Not only is it Thanksgiving, but it's also Mom's birthday. Happy Birthday, Mom, and thank you for everything! We love you and appreciate all you ... [Continue reading this entry]

An eye for an eye…

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2005
I like this judge. The punishments fit the crimes. I'd like to see something similar happen here to the lowlifes who like to watch, bet on, and train dogs to participate in dogfighting. Would an appropriate ... [Continue reading this entry]

Pre-Thanksgiving Dinner

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005
At my friend Angela's house. This is the fourth year in a row she's hosted this magnificent meal, full of every imaginable Thanksgiving food and more. Her three-bedroom duplex was packed with over 30 people and we scared ... [Continue reading this entry]

Champs’ trophy on display

Monday, November 21st, 2005
Attention White Sox fans and local baseball fans of any team: The World Series trophy is now on public display at City Hall (121 N. LaSalle). Here are the details.

Countdown begins and gear list

Saturday, November 19th, 2005
Only thirty-two days until I take off for Africa. Hard to believe since I've been planning this trip for almost a year. Actually, I will not believe I am really going to Africa probably until I am in ... [Continue reading this entry]

Another Italian joke

Friday, November 18th, 2005
A Greek and Italian were sitting in a Starbuck's one day discussing who had the superior culture. Over triple lattes the Greek guy says, "Well, we have the Parthenon." Arching his eyebrows, the Italian replies, "We have the Coliseum." The Greek retorts, ... [Continue reading this entry]

Remembering

Friday, November 11th, 2005
I am happy to report that Chicago's new Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial was unveiled today, Veteran's Day. It is located along Wacker Drive between Wabash Avenue and State Street. I caught only parts of the ceremony on the ... [Continue reading this entry]

When it rains, it pours

Thursday, November 10th, 2005
Familiar with that old saying? Unfortunately I recently found out how true that statement can be. After a series of unfortunate events last week, Mark and I decided that the least we deserved was a chance to escape ... [Continue reading this entry]