Friday, January 30, 2009

25 things Facebook told me to write...

So, after being tagged a billion and a half times with this Facebook chain letter of sorts, I decided it would make a decent blog entry. I guess if I tag you you have to do the same... sorry if I tag you and you've already done this.

25 Things

I. I believe in a higher power, but do not subscribe to any religion.

II. I was born Catholic, though never confirmed. I respect the religion and occasionally attend mass, though I am more open to Eastern religion/thought.

III. I've been arrested more than once.

IV. I have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder, both of which still get to me from time to time.

V. My favorite holiday is the Fourth of July.

VI. Though I have new found faith in this country, I am still more proud to be human than an "American."

VII. I show everyone respect; no matter race, religion, creed, color, sexual preference, gender, age, physical or mental ability, if you are a fellow human, you deserve respect. If you show me equal respect in return I like you, and I will not do you wrong. Should you not show me respect, I have no sympathy for you whatsoever.

VIII. As far as my future is concerned, it's just a continuation of my present. I live everyday as if it were my last, but my dreams take place in Neverneverland.

IX. I used to hate Sundays, now I just hate sunny days.

X. My biggest pet peeve is ignorance. This occurs on multiple levels. I can not stand when people are oblivious to the world around them. I also can not stand being ignored. For instance, if I send you a text message, please respond!

XI. The Beatles are overrated. So is every "Pirates" movie and the latest "Batman." I was born and raised in Chicago (suburbs) and I am a Packers fan. I would rather spend a lifetime in Alaska than a day at the beach. Also, I hate cats (most of them). Deal with it.

XII. My grandma once won $150,000 at a casino. She taught me how to gamble.

XIII. I will FOREVER be a Cubs fan... to the very last out.

XIV. I enjoy the show "Gossip Girl"

XV. I was kicked out of my house when I was 18 (because I did laundry too often). It was also the day before I started college.

XVI. I blame my parents for a lot of things, and society for even more.

XVII. I heart Phillip Anthony Casella... almost in a gay way, almost. I also have man crushes on the following dudes: Ryan Peters, Noah Curtis, Mike Wilson, Dan Krall, Bill Douglas, Matthew McConaughey (alright, alright, alright), Nick DiGilio, Ryan Adams, Chris Davies, the Koolaid guy, Barrack Obama, Noam Chomsky, Conan O'Brien, Britt and Jermaine, and six of the seven dwarfs.

XVIII. I don't always drink beer, but when I do, I drink lots of it.

XIX. I have a great smile, and I'm not afraid to admit it.

XX. I sometimes watch porn. Nothing to be ashamed of.

XXI. I meditate. Not as much as I used to, or want to, but I do, and I like it. As a matter of fact, I love it and recommend it to everyone. It works, if you let it. It can do wonders for the body, mind and soul.

XXII. I have an unhealthy obsession with the female body. Maybe it's just natural, but I like girls a lot! Looking, touching, pleasing... hello ladies!

XXIII. The last four movies I watched were the best I have seen in a long time: Benjamin Button, Slumdog Millionaire, The Wrestler, Gran Torino.

XXIV. My three dream jobs are: (1) an Anthropologist, (2) a pornstar, (3) a horse trainer.

XXV. My one true goal in life is to leave an impression, make an impact, and/or have an affect on every person I meet, while learning something from each of those people. I love life.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Recession Suggestion Hour

Some of my simple tips and suggestions to pinch the penny without cramping your style during the recession. Let's start with the least degrading ones...

Not that anyone pays for music any more, but if you do, buy vinyl. You'll get a cool record (possibly a future collectors item) and you almost always get the digital download code. An LP is usually about the same price as an album on itunes or elsewhere, and it's like getting two things for the price of one.

Bring a flask to the bar. Don't pay four dollars for a six ounce rum and coke that is more ice than rum OR coke. Soft drinks are usually free or cheap at most bars, and come in larger sizes. A typical flask will supply you with enough hard liquor for 3-4 strong drinks and leave you with a pocket full of cash.

Recycle stamps. Years before the USPS, I invented the real "forever" stamp. Rip 'em off that junk mail and slap 'em back on with a glue stick. Haven't paid for postage since '99.

The old standby, save water and shower with a friend.

Get a job at Subway or similar food place where you can eat for free.

If you're willing to sink a little deeper, give the following a try...

Recycle aluminum cans. At my place we go through aluminum like water (probably faster actually) and recycling centers pay decent for your old cans. We brought three large trash bags of crushed cans and had enough for a case of beer... beer in cans, that goes straight back to the recycling collection!

Don't be a sucker and waste money in the theaters, just download movies. If you must go to the theater, pay for one movie and sneak into another two or three... and bring your own snacks.

Check out the craigslist free stuff ads for items you can relist on ebay.

Stock up on silverware/condiments/napkins at the local Wendy's. Plastic sporks mean less dishes! Who cares if you're not "being green", you're saving it.

If you order in, NEVER pay full price. Use coupons if/when available, and better yet, find something to call and complain about: slow delivery, wrong ingredients, whatever you can pick out. Nine times out of ten your meal will be comped, discounted or you'll get some sort of credit.

For us true degenerates...

You can even save money at the track, and better yet, possibly make some! Create a "show parlay." Take two bucks and place a show bet on the favorite in the first race. Chances are it will pay, not much, but you'll probably have a winner. Take your minimal earnings (plus the original two dollars) and put that money (again, to show) on the favorite in the next race. Keep doing so until you lose. You're playing the odds, but you could walk away with ten times what you started with. You have interest in every race and the worst you can do is walk away without the two dollars you started with.

Use the overdraft protection on your checking account as a short-term line of credit.

Sell your expired prescriptions to the junkie on the corner.

Go through the corn flakes box and look for pieces resembling Jesus or the Virgin Mary. Sell on ebay for mucho profit. It's capitalism meets Christianity!

Buy a bunch of cookies from Sam's club or Costco (where you can get a lot for cheap) and stake out the Girl Scouts selling cookies in front of grocery stores and whatnot. Make up a cause and sell the cookies for a buck less per box than the little brats.

And finally, some recession-proof jobs that require little to no education...

drug dealer
bartender/liquor store employee (fact: the broker people get the more they drink)
economist (I really don't think these assholes are educated)
professional athlete
starving artist/musician/actor (if you prefer not to eat)
loan shark
suicide hotline operator

It may be time for change, but eight years is a lot to recover from. If I learned anything in Econ, it's that printing a bunch more cash (or as it's coined in fancy Economists language, "bailout") only causes further inflation. I'm all for free money, but if it's going to cost me three days pay to buy a loaf of bread, I'm moving to Canada. Time to start drinking Labbat Blue and working on my "eh's."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Out with the old...

Just a few photos I cam across on CNN that speak a thousand words...

The new VP chats with his predecessor (note the cane and wheelchair)

Never been so happy to say goodbye to Bush.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day thus far...

I couldn't sleep last night. It was like Christmas Eve. I streamed WGN radio and listened to Steve and Johnnie simulcast with a Scottish radio station. Both programs were taking phone calls from listeners. It was amazing to hear such a positive reaction to this Change from our friends across the pond.

I took my lunch break at 11 this morning and streamed Obama's speech over my cell phone, compliments of ABC's VCast channel. I love technology! I was very impressed by his speech, and loved the fact that the crowd of millions on the Mall roared in excitement as George W. Bush's helicopter left the nation's capital!

The sobering part of the celebration came when Senator Ted Kennedy was taken by ambulance from the Inaugural luncheon after suffering an apparent seizure. I guess it wouldn't be a historic day in American politics without the fall of a Kennedy. Latest word is that Senator Kennedy is conscious and alert, receiving care from D.C. doctors. The Senator was looking good upon arrival earlier in the day, so let's hope this was just a hiccup.

One more little tidbit I just heard on 720 - an 80 year old woman traveled from Alabama to Chicago to watch today's events unfold with her family. She said that today, "was the best day of my life."

Monday, January 19, 2009

Knowmore Years

Did anyone know that the year 2000 was designated by the United Nations as the International Year for the Culture of Peace? Probably not, considering our culture has been at war every year since...

Two things will forever linger in my mind about that week: American flags were the bread and butter of the hardware store I worked at and the suburban sky never sounded so empty.

Eight years, seven jobs, six homes, five cities, four schools, three cars, two step-parents and one President later...

I'm ready for Change.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Inaugural Fever

In lieu of sharing a dozen or more posts on facebook, I've compiled a master list of Obama-related material. I will update as necessary. Feel free to add your Obama/Inauguration findings.

It's LegObama! See an entire slideshow of Legoland's Inauguration display here.

Gambling on politics is nothing new to me, but I have not seen odds on things quite this obscure. The Swedish betting site Betsson has put odds on words Obama might say in his inauguration speech. From the obvious; "United States" (1.01/1), "change" (1.03/1) and "economy" (1.05/1), to the less likely; "puppy" (5/1), "McCain", "Martin Luther King" and "New Deal" all at 10/1 odds. Seriously, "puppy" over "McCain"? For the real longshots, listen up for "Doyle Brunson", "fuck off" and "Peru" which are all currently at 1000/1. I personally like "axis of evil" at 666/1 and the Chihuahua for the selection of the first puppy at 15/1. For the complete list visit Betsson.

Yo quiero casa blanco!

"So help me god..." is not available for betting at Betsson. Probably because it's part of the oath each president-elect must take, with one hand on the bible. But this could all change if the atheists get there way... read more here.

The Chicago Tribune reports that Governor Blagojevich will not be attending the Inauguration Tuesday. Turns out he sold his seats to the highest bidder...

You think these seats are good? I got a pair front row, center, right next to Oprah!

For all of you iphone geeks out there, who prefer to watch historic events on a two inch screen, good news - find out how to stream the Inauguration between phone calls.

I've also added a 40 terabyte hard drive for my porn collection!

Weekend Potpourri!

Bust out the beach gear, the mercury is rising! Saturday promises highs in the mid 20's in the Chicago area, but since the pools aren't open yet I'll be hitting up Circuit City in search of some deals. The company's remaining 567 stores will close, leaving 30,000 unemployed. But the liquidation sale starts Saturday and run through the end of March. The Feds need to send out another round of stimulus checks we can blow on CDs, DVDs and plasma screens!

If you're like me and have no money to waste on electronics, but still want something fun to do this weekend, I have a few suggestions for you:

The annual Cubs Convention kicks off today at the Chicago Hilton. I know it's sold out, but having went a couple years back, I can tell you that the ticketing system is a joke. They give you badges on lanyards that have some sort of logo on them. There was no one checking badges at the door - probably because regular hotel guests use the same entrance as convention-goers. If you want some added assurance, turn on WGN news and find out what the badges look like. Print off some fake ones at home tonight and head downtown tomorrow. Oh and say hi to Ronnie for me!

Movies you should go see (or illegally download)

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (my rating 3.5/5)
In case you haven't heard, it's a Forrest Gump like tale starring Brad Pitt as a man who ages in reverse.

The Wrestler
Mickey Rourke is oscar-awesome in this. Plus Marissa Tomei shows of the goods, again. If you were a WWF fan as a kid, even better! (Spoiler alert - wrestling is fake) Oh, and the new Bruce song in the end credits is fantastic!

Slumdog Millionaire (4.5/5)
India + Who Wants to be a Millionaire + Danny Boyle = best film I have seen in a long time. It's Boyle meets Bollywood in this story of a young man who is arrested on suspicion of cheating in the Indian version of the popular gameshow. Very refreshing film. Again, stick around for the end credits...

I haven't seen it yet, but next on the list is Gran Torino. Anything with Clint Eastwood holding a gun, stating "get off my lawn," seems worthwhile to me.

If a movie ticket is out of your price range, and illegal downloads are not your thing, you'll probably be spending the weekend in front of the TV or online. Check out the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks for a good laugh or twelve. Should you need a break from porn, check out this crazy video of WGN radio's morning host, John Williams doing a little science experiment in the cold.
TV is all sports this weekend! Hawks game tonight and basketball all day tomorrow. Sunday's NFL games should be pretty entertaining. I'll be working, but my money is on the underdogs (with the point spreads): Arizona (+4.5) and Baltimore (+6). If you want the safer gamble go for Philly and Pittsburgh, straight up. Bet for free @

Stay warm everybody, and watch for flying geese!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Random Updates and Resolutions

First off, I want to thank of all you readers. I wish I knew who more of you were. About the same two or three people make regular comments/"follow" this blog, but the fact that there are currently 21 votes in the New Years poll has put a ridiculous smile on my face. Once again, I urge you all to make comments, suggestions, etc. so I can give this blog some solid direction. Though, maybe you all read it for it's total randomness, and that's cool too - some more feedback would be great however.

I know the number one complaint right now is the inability to control the music. I will fix this problem ASAP.

I would also like to take this opportunity to ask you all to join Twitter/Twitpic/12seconds. I know a handful of you are members already. I am an addict. Social networking was never my thing, but now I feel like I couldn't live without it. Give these sites a shot. Also, anyone who has a blog they would like to share, I will gladly add it to my links and promote as best I can. I think blogging is awesome and I will happily read your blog and comment as well.

It's a new year. I am all about trying new things in 2009 and being more productive, healthier, and more responsible in 2009. Hence, my resolutions...

Be a more responsible drinker.

Take care of some of my debt.

Answer phone calls from strange numbers.

Continue to expand my mind/be more open-minded.

Smile more.

Eat better, exercise more, sleep occasionally.

Be less judgmental.

Expand my vocabulary and become a better speller.

Improve my typing skills (look less at the keyboard).

Make more friends and less enemies.


Better Karma.

Be more honest with the people I care about, and in general.

Turn everyone I know into a fan of good music.

Write more.

Read more.

Give more, take less.

Become a better listener.

Stop blaming others/the past.

Continue to be myself while achieving all of the aforementioned resolutions.

A lot of these resolutions are basically saying the same thing. There is a general theme that most follow: be a better me. 2009 is going to be different. I am excited to embark on the next leg of my journey. Life rarely has a dull moment, at least my life. I hope that never changes.

I plan on keeping this blog alive as long as possible. It has become my travel log,my journal and my good friend. It is what I turn always.

Sharing my life with you all has been fun, but difficult and scary at some points. It's like a roller coaster.

I know I have more to say, but the words are not flowing well right now. Perhaps I'll be back later tonight, but for now I just want to say thank you again, to everyone who reads this blog. And Happy New Year to you all.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Farewell Regretful & Reckless 2008

Originally I was going to post a list of resolutions for 2009, but I decided this would be more fitting before I get to the resolutions.

Dear 2008,

You were quite a year. That's a bit of an understatement. 2008: You shook me like a bad mother. But, unlike many poor souls before me, I made it out alive.

To be entirely honest '08, I have come to a point in my life where the time flies by so quickly and the years blend together, it's hard to keep things chronologically straight. What I do know however, is that you came in like a lamb and went out like a lion. Shit, maybe you didn't come in like a lamb... my point exactly.

Whichever way you came in, you most definitely left with a roar. More like a "ROOOOAAAARRR!"

As I recall, 2007 left me jobless and homeless. Thankfully my father and his wonderful wife were more than happy to take me in. That is where we met '08. My first sober memory with you is watching the Illini lose to the USC Trojans in the Rose Bowl. (Tying dates to sports memories is a good way for an old man like me to reference things.) I was dating Jessica at the time, and I watched it at her place, with her dad, Peters and Krista. It was as expected, a tragedy.

Jess went back down to school after break, I went on with living at home, collecting unemployment and working part time delivering pizzas. At this point I had been offered a room in a Champaign apartment. I took the offer, and could not wait to embark on my next chapter.

Winter turned to spring and unemployment was running out. Time to search for a job. That I did, one I found. Perhaps the worst ever, aside from the pay. FedEx Kinko's (now FedEx Office, for those of you keeping score). It was corporate hell. It paid the bills, but the guilt that built up inside me, knowing I would be quitting by mid-August left me apathetic. I had no other choice. It was not the company I felt guilty leaving, but the co-workers I barely got to know. But goddamn, did I lie to them...

I worked at Kinko's for just over 3 months. I probably called in sick a dozen times. I always had an excuse though. They always bought it. They were going to send me to Orlando for a training seminar. I never showed up for my flight. Management despised me for it, but I sweet-talked my way into their good graces very quickly. Just about a month later I left for Champaign, and soon FedEx and the suburbs, would become ancient history.

Or so I thought. You were not ready for me to go. Something had to be done to stop me. This may be the biggest gripe I have with you, '08. It's far beyond a gripe actually. Three letters I never, EVER imagined having to deal with: D, U and I.

I headed South on a Monday, after spending a great majority of the previous Saturday in the Bartlett Police Station. My D.A.R.E. instructor was my arresting officer. I won't mention names to protect the innocent... no, fuck that- Tammy Schultz. But in her defense, she was very polite, aside from the five tickets she gave me. Yeah, five. Wait, maybe six..? Whatever, ridiculous.

I pulled into the garage of my apartment complex - home. I was greeted by Kyle and Hannah. We met up with the Commie and decided that it would be a good night to drink. I had a meeting the next day at D.P. Dough, where I had been hired via craiglist/email two weeks prior. The funny part is that I did so while on the job at Kinko's.

I started later that week at D.P. I had previously delivered pizzas for a handful of joints up North, all of which - good money. Calzones are another story. I couldn't pay for gas let alone rent. Not to mention the whole doing dishes and cleaning floors bull shit. Not for $5 an hour assholes, not me.

I dealt with the BS as long as I could bare it, whilst seeking further employment. I applied online to Best Buy, the Apple store and a handful of others. PetSmart called me up within 48 hours of application submission. Teresa asked me to come in for an interview. As far as formal interviews go, this was like first grade shit. Got the job: pending drug test results!

Yeah a few of my roommates are smokers (the wacky tobacky). So, yes I dabbled a bit, barely even got high; I had not smoked in so long. It's most likely for that reason that I got a call late the following Sunday, "Ryan? It's Teresa from PetSmart..."
(They don't call back to tell you that you failed.)

I had already walked out on the other job after a night of fearing for my life to make twenty bucks.

I got thrown right in, 2008. I was a natural. I know that you talk to '07 and '06 who are friendly with 2002-05, who know very well that retail has always been my thing. Seven years in hardware is still seven years in retail. And having been in management for most of that time, my instincts to lead set in right away. Before I knew it Teresa was recommending me for the vacant management position.

I blew it, Phil (store manager) was not a fan of me, it wasn't in the cards. Thanks for loading the deck '08! But, it worked out well - I got the lead spot which included a well-needed raise. I was happy with my job for the first time since god knows when.

Speaking of blowing things (keep your mind out of the gutter), I had sent an email to the Booze News, a student-run "alternative" publication on campus. Basically, an Onion-esque, weekly. The semi-attractive editor loved it. I was in. On a Thursday night I was called to a meeting. And by meeting I mean drunken initiation; as close to a fraternity pledge as I ever hope to come. I had a few too many a few too quickly (take note: this becomes a theme), and before I knew it I was falling through a glass table, while simultaneously shattering any chances I had at becoming the best writer the Booze News ever had.

And speaking of booze...

I would quickly become friendly with nearly every co-worker at PetSmart. Not hard to do, considering the majority were students, like me, who loved to drink and despised retail. Nothing like the loners at D.P. Dough. Cool people. Cute girls, down-to-earth guys, no complaints. And me being the social butterfly suggested a bar crawl.

Naomi and I organized it. We became friends, I crossed the line (heads up! another theme) and suddenly I was short a girlfriend. I had come close to this point on numerous occasions over the past few months. Moving close to the person you love, when you're used to dealing with long distance, is apparently just as hard as the opposite. The other variable: moving from Gilberts (never heard of it? exactly) to a campus filled with beautiful women. Distraction and temptation were everywhere: work, campus, my apartment, you name it!

But Jess and I managed to have some good times together, between bouts of nearly ripping each others' heads off. Until she finally had enough. She broke up with me almost right away, and this time was different; she was actually breaking up with me. Then we started hanging out (in the biblical sense too). Good times, but only to cause harder times. We almost cut ties entirely after some more fighting and a drunken mistake or twelve.

For the last month and a half, you've been decent with me. I have enjoyed being single, and '08, you've pretty much kept out of my way. You're sneaky though, and can not be trusted. I don't sleep well with one eye open and I have kinks in my neck from constantly looking over my shoulder, waiting for permission from Father Time to strike down upon me.

And sure enough 2008, you were granted it. At just the last second too. First came the bait. I took it. I played with it for awhile, rather conservatively, waiting to see what move you might make next, or if it was even you on the other end of this fishing line. Maybe there was no line at all. I either convinced myself or was too hungry to care. You caught me, and didn't spare throwing me back. But you just let me flop about on the dock, a slow painful death. I wasn't even cooked or served, just left to rot.

So, '08, it has come the time to bid you ado, and with great pleasure indeed.

It's funny though... I'm writing this letter to you, a year. As irrational as a letter to Santa, God or Congress. I think this letter is really for me, just like that Christmas list from little Timmy, or a goodnight prayer. (Letters to Congress are just a waste of time/paper for all parties.)

Of course this letter is for me, this whole blog is. But it's also for the readers. And it seems as if there are more of you all the time. I'm not like Perez Hilton or anything, but every time I get a comment from someone new, a Facebook post, a voter in the poll, or simple hear that another friend has been reading, I get a bigass smile on my face.

But back to you 2008: FUCK YOU! 2009: I hope you're not friends with that asshole. If so, I don't care, fuck you too. I am being Ryan this year, and if you're with me, you're with me. If not, I'll deal with it.

So, without further ado...

My apologies, regrets, etc. go out to you*
(*Names will not be mentioned necessarily, but if you recognize something stated here that refers to you, please, please feel free to comment (anonymously if so chosen) to merely accept my apology.)

To my co-workers outside of Champaign: for all my bull shit excuses and lies, making your jobs more difficult and lives more stressful.

For that matter, to the rest of you, all of you, whose lives I have made more stressful. Stress sucks - if anyone knows it is me. Forgive me, and let me know what I can do/stop doing to reduce the stress in your life. I love helping friends.

To those of you I have made uncomfortable in situations that should be stress-free.

To friends and family I have let down in both times of need and otherwise.

To anyone I have offended (probably everyone).

To my parents (all four of you) for not listening.

To the lady I rear-ended three years ago, and drove off because you wouldn't pull over. (Trust me, my car was worse of than yours, but I hope you're okay.)

To my many debtors. I hate money, but I still owe you all some. (The check is in the mail.)

For getting so drunk I don't even remember.

For forgetting to take my medication.

For leaving without saying goodbye.

For holding grudges (ugh, a total pet peeve of mine). Really sorry.

For playing dumb/pulling the ignorance card.

For not calling/texting/messaging back. I'm typically pretty good about this but don't hesitate to call me out if I fail to reply.

For pawning my shit off on you.

For not thinking before I act.

For blaming my Dad/Mom/family.

For hiding.

For taking everything/everyone for granted.

For the herpes (joking, seriously, joking).

For not believing in and/or trusting you.

For awkward moments (caused by me/my actions).

For failing.

For lying.

For stealing.

For cheating.

For blaming you.

For not being the best person I can be all the time.

For betraying you.

For talking behind your back.

For being more apathetic than sympathetic.

For forgetting your name (brain fart).

For staring.

For not trusting my gut.

For throwing you under the bus.

For not reaching out when I totally should have.

For being such a shit that I had to write all of this out, and not being able to deal with it when it was pertinent.

Guys, I am really sorry. I know this doesn't even begin to make up for the shit I have caused/damage I have done, but I have to start somewhere. It's here, it's now, I'm sorry.

These are more than just words. These are admissions of guilt, distrust and disgust. I'm clearing my head, getting my life back together. Where that will lead me, who knows! But it's gotta be better than the land of no friends - that place sucks.

I love you all, and I hope you know that. I'm looking forward to a GREAT, productive, superduper 2009, and it won't live up to it's potential without all of you. Like I said, FUCK YOU 2008!!!!! We'll always have the memories...

There were good ones.


2009 Ryan

I have my drinking under control now, but I will admit that it got a bit out of hand. Not to the point of getting in the way of functioning, but enough that it was a problem. Before I wrote this I Wiki'd the "12 Steps" and was quite surprised to see that tha majority of steps involve the idea of God. Do they have 12 steps in non-Christian cultures? Is there even a need for 12 steps in these cultures?

The whole thing seems ludicrous to me. I do not, never have, and never will need 12 steps. I'm not putting together a dance routine, I'm fixing my life. I do things differently, now and forever.