Welcome to our web site. For more information about Stephie's art, please also check out artbystephie.com.
For Matt's writing projects, please go to storiesbymatt.net. Enjoy your visit here!

12/25/07: We had a great Christmas morning. We put on a put of fresh-ground coffee (thanks, Julie!) and popped some cinnamon rolls in the oven (thanks, Pillsbury!), then sat on the couch and opened presents (thanks, Stephie!). Afterwards, we watched our all-time favorite Christmas (or any time of the year) movie, the original Die Hard! Life doesn't get much better than that. Merry Christmas to all!

12/18/07: Kinda says it all, don't it?

11/26/07: It's not often that I stop watching a TV show mid-season, especially after watching one faithfully for several years, but we've finally given up on House. We're both Hugh Laurie fans, especially from his time with Stephen Fry on Jeeves and Wooster, and we really enjoyed the first couple seasons of House. But by now, the character is just totally out of control, and we don't find it entertaining any more. He's never had a bedside manner, but this season it seems like he is spending more time tormenting his new "recruits" than he is solving the puzzles that are his patients. In several episodes this season, the patient was cured really in spite of House. He should have been fired long, long ago, the Cuddy character (who I really liked in previous seasons) probably should be fired for letting him run amok for so long, and why the Wilson character is still even speaking to him after the way he's been treated, I have no idea. I also have no idea why House (the show) has ratings in the top ten each week. I can only think it's people like me waiting for someone to rap him across the head with his cane. Repeatedly. Well, we won't be around to see it.
     Another show that (in my opinion) should be in the top ten, and coincidentally is on at the same time as House, is Reaper, over on the CW. It's got just about everything you need: likeable characters, snappy dialogue, slightly cheesy special effects, a monster-of-the-week, and best of all, Ray Wise as the Devil. Yeah, the "Sock" character can be a little over the top, but I think everyone else on the show does a great job, and Ray Wise looks like he's having a ball. It's one I look forward to every week. Check it out.

10/31/07: Here's something that I should have written about a long time ago. Two years ago, I got home from work on Halloween to find an envelope waiting for me from the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society. I had been seeing mentions of their (then) new film "The Call of Cthulhu" for some time in the Silent Movie newsgroup, so I had ordered the DVD from their web site. How they timed it to arrive on Halloween I have no idea!
     I've been a fan of silent movies since I was a kid (probably from watching Metropolis so many times) and I've read a few Lovecraft stories, so I figured that I was firmly in their target audience. Turns out I was right, because I really enjoyed the movie. They really did a great job of capturing the feel of a 1920s era silent movie. The story, the actors, the sets, and the music all are a cut above what you would expect from an independent film made by a bunch of fans. The special effects, while maybe primitive by todays Hollywood standards, serve the story well, and look as though they could actually have been done in the early days of motion pictures. On top of all that, the intertitles are available in 24 languages! You can watch the film in Polish, Norwegian, or Luxembourgish if you wish. I watched it (in English) the night it arrived, and several times since, and have been thoroughly entertained each time. And the "making of" featurette was almost as entertaining as the film itself. Check out the trailer if you think you might be interested. I'd recommend it to anyone open-minded enough to watch a "movie without sound".
     The H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society has since put out a radio drama of another Lovecraft story in the style of an old-time radio show, another medium of entertainment that I'm fond of, and is apparently now working on another film adaptation, this time with sound, though still in black and white. It looks this one might be in the style of those film noir B-movies that I've been taping off of late night TV. These guys really have my number!

09/30/07: Today's Kisu's birthday! She turns six today, which according to the handy Dog Years calculator on our site is the equivalent of 42 people years! I can say with some authority that she neither looks nor acts her age. We celebrated the usual way, with a nice long walk around the neighborhood, followed by a quick trip to local burger emporium for her traditional plain burger (with just a couple fries on the side). This is about the only people food she gets all year (not counting the vegetables that she likes) and judging by how fast it left her bowl, she really enjoyed it. Happy Birthday, Pumpkin!

09/22/07: We had a great Anniversary day. We (Stephie, Kisu and I) started out at a dog event along the Riverwalk in Naperville. It was a beautiful day for being outside, so after the event, we spent a leisurly hour or so strolling up and down the Riverwalk. The ducks and geese were out on the river, and as Stephie pointed out, it felt like we were on vacation.
     A couple weeks ago we found a restaurant near another dog event we attended that had an outdoor seating area where we could have Kisu with us while we ate lunch. We didn't know if there would be such a place in Naperville, but while we were sitting in this little garden area, I pulled out my latest gadget, a Nokia 770 internet tablet, which Stephie presciently suggested I bring along. I quickly picked up a broadband connection and Googled "naperville dog-friendly restaurants", which gave me a link to petfriendlytravel.com, and that in turn had a listing for Quigley's Irish Pub, which turned out to be only two blocks away! We wandered over, making a quick stop at Two Bostons Pet Boutique to pick up some treats for Kisu, and had a fabulous meal. It was great to sit on the patio with Kisu, and a number of other dogs as well, and sip a pint or two and have some great food. This is by far the most pet-friendly restaurant we had ever been to, and the food was terrific. (Make sure you try the Reuben Rolls!) I would highly recommend it, whether you have a dog or not.
     Oh, and the best part of it all was I got to spend all day with my two favorite girls. Happy Anniversary, Stephie!

09/19/07: Ahoy, me hearties! It again be International Talk Like A Pirate Day! The day when all yer mates are scurvy dogs and all women are saucy wenches. If ye be needin' a rousing tune to carry ye through the day, ye can do no better than the traditional Talk Like A Pirate Day song. Hoist high the Jolly Roger, raise a pint of grog and sing along! Yo-ho!

08/23/07: We've been to a couple good restaurants in the last couple weeks and I've been meaning to write about them, but you know how things are when it's summer, and you just don't feel like doing anything.
     I took Stephanie to see Wings at the Portage and she loved it! She also loved this little restaurant that we found around the corner from the theater. The awning over the Meisa Cafe and Restaurant says "serving Bosnian & American Food", so we thought we would give it a try. I had the Cabbage Rolls and Stephie had the Chicken Schnitzel and Mushrooms, and both entrees were excellent. And they server a homemade bread that was fantastic! The server was very friendly, the atmosphere was simple but comfortable, and best of all, the whole meal (with dessert!) cost less than one entree at the steak place on the corner. We plan to go back, and if you find yourself anywhere near Portage Park, you owe it to yourself to stop in for a great, homemade dinner.
     And a couple weeks ago, our friends Crys and Fred called us up on a Saturday afternoon and asked if we wanted to join them for sushi. Not having any better plans, we accepted and they took us to one of their favorite places, Butterfly Sushi Bar and Thai Cuisine on Grand Ave. The place is small, but we were there early enough that we got a prime table in the front, and the food was amazing! Everything was fresh and tasty, and the specialty rolls we tried, especially the crunchy tuna roll and the "Godzilla" roll, were delicious. I had a mango smoothie that nicely complimented the meal, and was a big help when I went a little heavy on the wasabi! Best of all, we ate until we were stuffed and then were surprised at how low the bill was. Great food and a great deal! I don't know how the place is when it's busy, but we'd go back again.

07/24/07: It's that time of year again. The Silent Summer Film Festival started last Friday at the Portage Theater on North Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago. I've been going now for several years, and I have to say that it's a real treat to see a silent film on a big screen, accompanied by a person playing a real theatre organ. This Friday, they're showing Wings, which won the very first Best Picture Oscar ever given out, and Stephie and I are going to be there. Click here for more information on the festival, and the Silent Film Society of Chicago, and to see the list of other films that will be shown over the next several weeks.

07/05/07: Hope everyone had a great Fourth of July this year. We did the usual, going to visit my Mom and Dad for some grillin' and chillin' (and a bit of Scrabble as well.) But one thing we did, and you don't have to wait for next July to do yourself, was to go to Librivox.org (which is the Project Gutenburg of audiobooks) and download readings of the Declaration of Independence and the Gettysburg Address to listen to in the car on the way there. As the comment on the site says, these documents (along with the US Constitution, which is also available at the above link) are "the epitome of freedom and liberty" and "the legal backbone of the United States of America". Interesting listening on Independence Day or any day of the year.

Or if you're looking for something a little more catchy, you might want to check this out.

06/24/07: When we were in California recently for Ricky's graduation, we had a little time to do some touristy things, and Mom said that she really wanted to see the Getty Museum. So one night while we were sitting around Chris' apartment, Stephie wandered off to the computer to get directions while Mom flipped through the channels on TV and ran across a program on their local PBS station about some art restoration. Turns out that the program was about two particular pictures that were restored by, and are on display at, the Getty. The program was fascinating, and when it was over, Stephie came away from the computer with directions on how to get there, so we decided to go.
      This is a stop that I would recommend whole-heartedly to anyone visiting the Los Angeles area who has at least a passing interest in art. They charge $8 per vehicle for parking, but there is no entrance fee, and they really could charge for this because the facility and the artwork displayed there are top-notch. The view of the surrounding area is breath-taking, and the garden area is beautiful. I'll try to get some of Stephie's pictures up here once they are developed, but you really should see it in person if you can.
      Oh, and we did see the two pieces that were being restored in the PBS show, and they were more beautiful in person than in the documentary. For one thing, they are MUCH bigger than I thought. The exhibit they are part of will be on display there until September 2, 2007, so if you are in the heighborhood before then, you should go check them out. And if you can't make it in person, or would just like to see the documentary, it's available on DVD. I picked up a copy in the gift shop while we were there, so that Stephie can have a chance to see it.

06/03/07: As I've written about before, the start of summer for us is not June 21st but the week of the big Used Book Sale at the Westfield Old Orchard mall in Skokie. For many years it was a benefit for Brandeis University, but this year there's a new group benefiting from what I hope is piles of cash that people will leave there in exchange for some fine reading. The Little City Foundation in Palatine is taking up the torch and running the book sale this year, and hopefully for many years in the future. The sale starts on Saturday, June 9 through Sunday, June 17th. They will be accepting book donations during the sale, so bring the overflow from your home library pick up some fine reading at fantastic prices, and feel good about yourself for helping out a worthwhile charity. How can you go wrong? Click the picture of the flyer here for more details of the sale.

Oh, and there's more pictures and movies on our Cicada page.

05/28/07: By the way, we're having quite the cicada infestation around here. Check out our Cicada page for more information.

05/27/07: With Pirates of the Caribbean 3 opening this weekend, and Shrek 3 in its second week, we thought this would be a good time to go see Spider-Man 3. And we were right. Ten minutes before the matin

04/29/07: This has been the weekend for deals. Yesterday, our friends called us and invited us to go with them to the Abbey Pub for the last night of this years' International Pop Overthrow festival. Five bands for $10! What really hooked us was that Dan and I were both fans of the two headliners, Pezband and Off Broadway, from way, WAY back.
     But the biggest surprise of the evening was the opening band, The Lackloves. They played such a great set that we spent the rest of the night comparing each band (Off Broadway, Pezband, The Handcuffs, The Greenwoods) to them, and while the rest of the bands were good to great, consensus was that the Lackloves stole the show. They have a new CD coming out this summer and I'm going to have to pick it up. And we'll have to keep an eye out for the IPO shows next year, because from the looks of the program, we missed some good music this year!
     And this morning, Kisu and I were out on a long walk when we passed one of the first garage sales of the season, and an item caught my eye. I checked it out, then went home and got some money and went back. Check out what I got!

04/16/07: What's the story with these guys? It's like the Bunny Peeps are marching on us! Actually, this is a close-up of Stephie's Edible Art Show entry for this year. Click here to check out the creative and delicious art that was on display!

04/11/07: Looking out the kitchen window. Second week in April. 6:30AM. Guess who's going to be late for work.

Gotta love Spring!

03/22/07: We let an anniversary pass yesterday and even though I was home all day, neither of us mentioned it, despite being on our minds all day. It was the fifth anniversary of the worst day of my life, at least to this point. On March 21, 2002, we lost Cheyenne, the best dog anyone could hope to have. No sleight against Kisu, who we were so lucky to find at the shelter a year later, but Cheyenne was the first dog that Stephie and I had together, and she was our best buddy. Those of you who may not know, her life story was the basis for starting this site, and it's still here to be enjoyed by all, pretty much as it was when it was my school project. If you haven't looked at it yet, click here to read about her.

We still miss you, Pookie.

02/28/07: I was craving a little music when I went out to get a sandwich at lunch today, so I turned on the Loop and found that they were in the middle of something called "Time Warp Wednesday". I knew they were reaching way back because they were playing "Rockin' Into The Night" by 38 Special, which I remember reading about as performed by Survivor, well before I was old enough to see them in a club. But the kicker was when I was on my way back and they said they were going to play "Wango Tango" by Ted Nugent. I was a Ted fan back then (more so for the first couple albums, well before the politics and the bow hunting) and I remember when the song first came out, so I thought "Yeah! That's what I need to get my day going."
     And I turned it up loud and it was great. You don't get stuff like that on the radio these days. Sure, it's rough, crude and rude, but you gotta love lyrics like:

(I was going to paste some lyrics here, but reading them on a computer screen, separate from Ted's high-speed, somewhat unintelligible delivery ... well, they're a little embarrassing. OK, a LOT embarrassing. You'll have to look them up yourself if you don't believe me, but I wouldn't recommend it.)

     It got me thinking that there are times, usually in the middle of an especially bad day, when I turn on the radio in the car and a really great song can just lift me out of my funk. It doesn't even have to be a "great" song (witness "Wango Tango") but it's really something how music can lift your spirits. The last time I remember this happening it was a sunny afternoon, I had the windows open, a cool breeze coming in, a cheeseburger and a Coke, and Cheap Trick's "Surrender" playing loud. It's like I was back in high school, cruising in my '70 Cougar with the odd-colored driver's door. I think it cheered me up for three days, just that couple minutes.
     Of course, "Time Warp Wednesday" this week was playing music from 1980, which made me also think about how music can make me feel young again, and pretty old at the same time.

02/11/07: Lots of stuff going on around here, just too busy to write about it.

      First, it's been cold. Mind-numbingly cold. So much so that we haven't had Kisu on a proper walk for a couple weeks, even with her booties. We have a little cupboard just outside the kitchen door (in like an enclosed back porch) and yesterday Stephie found that a bottle of laundry detergent and a bottle of vinegar had both frozen solid. And we also noticed that the radiator in the front room was not generating any heat. Made for some cold nights watching TV before getting it fixed.

      With the cold came a little snow and ice, and one of our neighbors took a spill, breaking her leg and ankle. While she was in the hospital, we got to watch Siggy for about a week. Pictures (and a short video of the kids playing) are on Kisu's Pictures page. We had a great time watching him, but Kisu was getting increasingly jealous at all the attention he was getting. We tried to explain that he was a boy dog and we were just keeping him occupied so he wouldn't "mark his territory", but she was not amused. We kind of looked at this as a test run to see if we could handle another dog in the house. I'd say Stephie and I would be ready, but Kisu may need some convincing.

      Speaking of Kisu, she has been having problems with her eyes recently. We noticed they were really red before Halloween and the vet gave us some drops that appeared to clear them up, but the red came back after the new year and seemed much worse. So much so that my Mom said that she was worried, since it looked like Kisu was really uncomfortable. A couple trips to the doggie opthamologist later, it turns out that she'd having a problem with her tear ducts not creating enough tears to properly lubricate her eyes. The dryness caused some crystalline build-up, which in turn caused small ulcers to form on her eyes. To make matters worse, it turns out that the stuff our regular vet gave us is probably making them sting. That would explain why she's been fighting the drops more as time went on. Some different medicine (and more fighting) and the ulcers are clearing up, and she seems a lot more comfortable.

      A couple weeks ago I picked up one of the $99-after-rebate computer specials from Tiger Direct to replace our server. I got a great deal on a 320GB hard drive a couple months ago, to hold video files to feed to the MediaMVP box, but the BIOS on the old server box was too old to recognize it (and was not upgradable) so I was only able to use about a third of the capacity. Plus, I picked up a Hauppauge tuner card so that I might try to use the server as a third VCR (or second if the one acts up again) and the old server was not fast enough to do that. So I got this barebones kit. put it together, and found that Linux really doesn't need to be reinstalled when moving drives from one machine to another. I was even able to resize the partition (using a Knoppix CD) without losing any data on the drive, so we're in business! I'll let you know how the TV recording goes once I get around to setting that up.

      Finally, February is Jack Benny month on Those Were The Days, the old-time radio show that's on Saturday afternoon on WDCB. We can't get 'DCB real clearly on the stereo, but since they stream it on the 'net, we listen to it that way. You can listen to the previous weeks' program on their web site, so if it's still February when you're reading this, you can listen in and hear why we're such big fans of Jack and his show. If we're not going to be home, I use Total Recorder to record the stream for later listening.

      WDCB is also the new home for Blues Before Sunrise, a weekly radio program that has lots of good music week after week. I've been time-shifting it for several years now, first by recording the audio on my HiFi VCR, then using Total Recorder to record off the FM tuner in my video card, but since they were dropped by WBEZ, I found WUIS, a station out of Springfield, that has it as an MP3 stream, and found this program called Streamripper that does a great job recording the show so I don't have to stay up 'till all hours of the night to hear the entire program. I like to have it on my MP3 player, because it's good music to write programs to. I always found the blues to be entertaining without being intrusive while working, and the variety on BBS is pretty good, from the early days of recorded music to the early '60s. They used to have a complete playlist on their web site, but that part of their web site has been broken for over a year now. If you're any kind of a blues fan, or just open minded about music, you should check it out.

01/14/07: Kisu's Obedience Class had its Christmas party last week, and some pictures are on Kisu's page.

01/07/07: Had a strange thing happen the other morning. When the alarm went off, I was in the middle of a dream in which I was talking on the phone. In the dream, I had answered the phone and there was a woman on the line who spoke with an accent, possibly Hispanic. Details are a little fuzzy, since it was a dream and all, but I got the impression that she worked with a buddy of mine, and I think she was inviting us to go out to socialize with a group of people from work, including my friend. She couldn't be any one that I actually know, since I don't know anyone who works with my pal.
      But when the alarm went off, I got up, shut it off, and stood there for a minute. Many times in the past I have been tempted to go back to bed to see if I could get back into a particularly good dream, but this time I actually considered going back to bed because I felt guilty that I left that woman hanging on the phone!
      What is it they say about people who can't tell their dreams from reality?

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