Archive for the Personal Category

2011: A wedding and some good beer.

Posted in Personal with tags , , , , , , on January 13, 2011 by Kyle Barry

Remember when I wrote that post about a year ago, stating that I was permanently getting back on my horse to consistently write some updates to this blog? Yeah, well procrastination is a funny thing. You invite it over for a Friday night to have some beers and watch the game.  Next thing you know, it’s still crashing on your couch 3 months later. It’s a new year and hence, I get another chance to start over fresh. So no judgements passed.  Fer serious.

So I’m getting married. In a month. It’s gonna be pretty awesome.  Mark it in your calendar: February 19th, 2011.  Almost a month away. Again with the procrastination, I should probably be taking care of some things but I’m just going with the flow. So if you see some wedding pics floating around the interwebs with a beatiful bride and a groom in sweatpants with a mustard-stained t-shirt, you’ll know the wedding was a success.  I’ll post an update post-wedding and let you know how things turned out.

For the latter part of this update, I want to talk about my favorite beer in the world. I had this specific brew once back in college times and have never forgotten it. It’s called Bell’s Hopslam. Bell’s is located in Comstock, MI and in my personal opinion, can do no wrong. I’ve had several of their brews and I am left more than impressed every time. For a short time in January and February, they briefly brew Hopslam. To quote the description on the label of the bottle, Hopslam is “a biting, bitter, tongue bruiser of an ale.”  You can’t just mosey on into your local liquor store to pick up a sixer. You have to do your research.  You have to request it and make reservations and email distributors.  The liquor warehouse down the street said it sells out within a couple hours of shipment.  I managed to get my hand on a few 6-packs so that I can patiently enjoy my favorite drink over the coming months.  If you ever come across this in bottle form or on tap at what must be an amazing bar or pub, I challenge you to ask for it.  Prepare yourself.  It is not for the faint of tongue and palette.  It’s a tastebud sucker-punch.

Note that a man has been crushed by hops. Let this be your warning.

I’m excited to see what this new year brings. I’m hoping this miserable cold weather finds itself elsewhere sooner than later.  If not, I’ll have Hopslam and a soon-to-be wife to keep me company.

Dining Outside: A Conundrum

Posted in Personal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 28, 2010 by Kyle Barry

Have you ever sat down and eaten a meal with your sunglasses on? You feel somewhat like a celebrity.  And because most celebrities are idiots…I’ll let you work your way through that maze to find the cheese.  I am not a fan of sitting outside at food establishments to eat. Some people that are a part of my life are very much for this idea. The gentle breeze of the dusk air. The gorgeous sunset on the lake. The peaceful bliss of another summer day ending.  Maybe if you live in upstate New York on Lake George or something.  Not so much if you live in Chicago.

Here we have fire engines and ambulances barreling down the street every 10 minutes. We have Honda Civic drivers with loud stereos and 24 inch “rims” making a public case for their moronic ways.  We have 80 ton dump trucks spewing black cancer out of their exhaust stacks all over my burger.  I hope I’m painting a vivid enough picture for you.  That gentle breeze picks up every once in a while and then I have sandy beer. The scorching sun at brunch is enough to reheat my pancakes which now have gnats caught in the syrup.  Delectable.  I especially like the outdoor seating with the wrought iron table and chairs that leave grill marks on my butt. Feels fantastic.

There’s a time in mid to late spring when every restaurant here begins setting up their outdoor patios with chairs and little tables and big umbrellas that have “Corona” written all over them.  People start coming out of the woodwork in 50 degree weather because they can finally eat outside. I love driving by seeing people freeze to death eating their food miserable just to say they ate outside.  Sometimes there are those days when the sun comes out and says, “I hate everyone outside. You will all pay.”  Yet even on these days, folks are practically passing out from heat exhaustion stuffing their faces while sitting on metal furniture.

If you think about it, there really are only two scenarios that are appropriate for eating outdoors:

1. 4th of July – Burgers, dogs, beer, potato salad, fireworks, beer and  red, white and blue cupcakes. I shouldn’t even need to write that one out for you.

2. Ballgames – Pretty much the same food from above and depending on your team, fireworks may also be included. (Unless you’re a Tampa Bay Rays fan.)

Other than that, you’re making a huge mistake.

Willis ain't pitting out that suit. I tip my cap to you sir.

So once upon a time there was this dude named Willis Carrier.  Willis probably shared the same feelings of rage that I do when he was eating outside. Of course, Willis was born in 1876 so he didn’t have air conditioning. He had to sweat his cheeks off inside and outside. So he invented the first large-scale electric air conditioning machine.  Willis is a good dude.  All of this to say, guess what? Air conditioning only exists inside. So does central heating. Chances are it’s nicer inside than it is out. We’ve come a long way from burning/freezing outside in the elements. Let’s rethink this.

My final little say on the matter is more of a story. I was looking for a place to eat today and there’s this nice little sandwich place around the corner. I walk by it all the time but have never been in.  They have your standard outdoor seating, right on the street where you can see, hear and smell all of the traffic. I considered it for a second but kept walking. Next was a Subway. Nothing special but cheap and reliable. I walk in and come to find out, it’s buy one get one free sub day. I now have dinner accounted for and it would never have happened if I had sat outside to eat.  Chew on that nugget of thought-provoking storytelling.

Parting Ways…

Posted in Personal with tags , , , , , , on August 19, 2010 by Kyle Barry

I’m parting ways with my E30. What’s an E30, you ask? It’s the body code for my beloved car. My 1987 BMW 325is. Debbie as she is affectionately known. The time has come. I can no longer bear the cost and time it takes to keep her. I’ve decided that if I’m going to be here in Chicago for a prolonged period of time, a vehicle serves no real practical purpose. I can buy a decent bike. I can use public transportation.  I can even have Emily graciously chauffeur me around in “The Beast”. (That’s the moniker she and her sister Lauren have chosen.  What can I say? Audi Quattro all wheel drive is a beast.)  Back on topic…My beloved Debbie has been with me for almost 6 years solid now and it has never protested at starting or functioning through all of the abuse I’ve put her through. I can honestly say that the E30 BMW’s are practically bulletproof.  I did my best to maintain her with my college income.  I changed the oil when it needed to be changed.  I coaxed the air vents back to life when the previous owner had told me they were broken for good. I even tried to wash and wax her when I had the means.  Unfortunately, the years and miles have finally taken the luster out of what was once a gorgeous car. I know I like to joke a lot on my blog, but it really is sad how much has changed in 6 years. Anyways, Debbie is for sale on a few different websites right now and I’m asking a pretty decent price for her. I don’t want to sell her to just anyone though.  I’m hoping the right buyer comes along and knows his stuff. Not some high school kid looking to through a loud exhaust and some “performance tail lights” on the back. Someone that can show her the respect she deserves and treat her right.

Excuse the quality of this picture. It was hastily taken with my cell phone.

Yeah, I know this sounds ridiculous.  You try driving halfway across the country a dozen times with a car as old as you are and see where you stand. There is no feeling quite like driving through 5 states with the windows down and the tunes blaring or rowing through the 5 speed gearbox down some twisty roads.  I know I’ll get teary eyed the day I have to say goodbye. I know that even when I can afford a newer, better, shinier car in the future when I’m raking in the big bucks, I’ll still think about this car. It’s the memories I have that really make it hard to let go. It’s just a pile of bolts and sheet metal but it’s gotten me to where I’ve needed to go and I hope it will continue to do that for some other lucky driver.

If you’re reading this and by some astronomically small chance you are interested in purchasing this great example of German engineering, take a look at the classified ad here.  Also, feel free to email me and I’d be more than willing to meet with you and tell you all you’d like to know about my Debbie. I hope that after reading this, you can respect the bond between car and driver.

To Move or Stay Put

Posted in Personal with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2010 by Kyle Barry

Recently, many of my friends have moved to new neighborhoods in Chicago.  This has left me alone in the Wicker Park/Humboldt Park neighborhood, but has also got me to do some thinking. Should I pack up my crap and hit the road too?

I’ve been living here in Humboldt Park for about 3 1/2 months now and it has been great.  It’s certainly not a dream location but the rent is cheap and I have two great roommates.  We pretty much stick to ourselves and we all pay rent and utilities on time.  I have never been afraid that I would come back one night and all of my stuff would be gone.  Sure the surrounding neighborhood provides an interesting soundtrack to fall asleep to.  However, you get used to drunk people shouting, the constant whine of the police and ambulance sirens and the occasional gunshot/firecracker/car backfire in the middle of the night. It’s been home for me and my first place truly out on my own.

Now that everyone I know and spend time with lives in Logan Square, I feel abandoned to say the least and I consistently hear encouragement that I should look for something closer to rejoin the “group”. To be honest, I haven’t looked at all.  Why?

-It seems a bit unrealistic to think I could find cheaper rent than what I’m paying now. There’s always the possibility but then other factors come into play.

-Roommates. Hard not to take for granted sometimes.  Neither of them are creepers and neither of them bring home creepers.  Win Win right there.

-The location is prime for me. I hop on the North Ave. bus and I’m at work in 10 minutes.  Driving is just as easy.

-Pizza Hut.  Can you beat “All You Can Eat” buffet for 2.99? Ya, didn’t think so.

I guess I need to do myself a favor and just troll on Craigslist for a little bit just to humor my friends.  I’m staying practical on this one though, much like I do with other decisions. If a super cheap place pops up in Logan Square with some cool dudes, I pounce on it. For now, I stay here under the flags of the red, white and blue.

Not the flag you were thinking of, eh?

The Past Year in Sports…

Posted in Personal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2010 by Kyle Barry

Ugh, Duke just won. Someone hold my hair back as I upchuck. Maybe I need to lighten up, maybe Duke is the worst team in the last decade to win the NCAA National Championship. You decide for yourself. But if you chose the first one…YOU LIGHTEN UP! No one likes Duke. They’re the New York Yankees of college baseball. Which brings me to my point on this very eve. This past year in sports was atrocious. Just awful. Think about it. NBA…L.A. Lakers. Kobe. Ball hog. Whiner. Wiener. Whiner. Still working on that one. Remember that whole thing about him with the girl in the Colorado hotel room? Yeah, he got to hoist the NBA Championship trophy over his head this year. He and that 7 foot troll they call Pau Gasol. Barf.  OK, that’s not fair of me; he seems like a decent guy. But then there’s Lamar Odom. All I have to say to convince you is his wife’s name: Khloe Kardashian. Nuff said. Let’s move on to baseball.

The below paragraph is grayed-out because it’s where I go on and rant about how much I hate the Yankees so much. I really do. I can’t stand them. I try not to be graphic and gross on this blog, but to give you an idea of how much they despise me, I would rather wipe my butt with a dried out pine cone than watch them win another playoff game.  So you can imagine how painful it was for me to watch them win the World Series in November. I had a rough go in the late nineties too, buh thas a ho nuther stoorey boyee.

Now of course I have a bias against the Yankees.  Mostly because they’re Satan’s ballclub but also because they have despicable members that make up their bandwagon worthiness. A-Rod for starters. Back around this time last year, David Ortiz (more affectionately known as Big Papi) was accused of using steroids during the past few baseball seasons. As sad as that was to hear about such a beloved sports figure in Boston, it was accepted and life went on.  For some it was hard to swallow and now he has that burden to bear wherever he plays. HOWEVER, our slimy little foe Alex Rodriguez was accused at around the same time and he came out and openly admitted it. What have you heard about that since? NOTHING! Within 2 weeks, that story was gone and everyone went back to sniffing his farts pretending they’re potpourri. If you can’t already tell, I’m still a bit upset about it. Of course, the Yankees went on to win the World Series this past fall with one of the most potent lineups and pitching staffs in recent memory…and it only cost them 423,000,000. Yeah, I’m gonna give you a minute to count those zeros. That’s a tad shy of HALF A BILLION DOLLARS. The Yankees go out and buy whoever they want. That amount I just wrote up there is for 3 new players they added last winter. To understand how insanely ridiculous that is, understand that their are entire major league baseball teams, comprised of 40 grown men, that collectively make less than that per season. Now of course these filthy rich Yankees players aren’t making this all in one year. But you sign this massive contract and then get some type of signing bonus which is usually a couple mil, then there are performance incentives tacked onto your contract year by year. “Oh, you hit 40 home runs this year? Congratulations…here’s ten million dollars and you’re own private island complete with indigenous people group”. OK, yes, the Red Sox have some huge contracts out there for some current players, but nothing insane. Let’s break it down by each player’s contract and subsequently the words I use to refer to the Yankees:

Remember, that's just 5 players.

I'll spit anyone of these hated terms depending on my mood.

So that’s a crap-ton of money. How much, you ask? Quick math, to the rescue! No drumroll necessary.  I don’t need more encouragement. 887,500,00 million…MILLION dollars. That’s almost a billion dollars invested in 5 players. For all of you non-baseball-caring folk, you need nine players to adequately defend the field. Ubsurd. That’s all I have to say. And what happened, but they won the whole thing. I hate my life. Some people said their manager Joe Girardi did a great job this year. A poo-slinging ape could have coached them to a World Series and wrapped that shizz up in 5 games. I’m still bitter. Don’t talk to me about it unless you have more clever descriptions to bash them with. Ahhh deep breaths Kyle.

So where were we? Oh yes, you were offering me money to keep writing. What was that? To stop writing? Oh, well let’s agree to disagree. Psyche. I never agree.

Yeah, so, Lakers win, Yankees win, Duke wins. Lame – O. Hopefully the rest of 2010 isn’t so abysmal. Red Sox have a great shot but you know, I won’t be crushed if they don’t win it all. Yeah of course there will be a 2 week binge period where someone might find me at the bottom of a drained pool, but that’s to be expected. Seriously though, if the Tampa Bay Rays went all the way this year, I’d be pumped. Just as long as the Yankees don’t repeat. If the Cleveland Cavs step it up and dominate, great for them. If the Lakers win back-to-back titles, I’ll punch a kitten with my white hot rage. Good thing about college basketball is that you can’t play it forever so hopefully Duke doesn’t stand a chance. I hate Duke. Bleh. Even saying it reminds me what throwup tastes like.

Enjoy the graph.  Sorry there aren’t more pictures. Let’s see, what could I just throw in here to make this more visually appealing. Something…that…everyone…would…enjoy…

Sorry, it was the best I could do on short notice


100 jobs by May 1st

Posted in Personal with tags , , , , , on March 11, 2010 by Kyle Barry

Keeping with the tradition of challenging myself to do things I don’t want to do, I had a brief discussion tonight over some Chipotle burritos with Emily.  The specifics of this conversation basically were as follows:

I, Kyle Barry, will apply to 100 jobs by May 1st. If I do not meet this obligation, I must provide a free meal to Emily at her choice of eatery or food establishment. If I happen to accomplish this task, but do not receive an employment opportunity, then I am allowed one free meal at the establishment of my choosing, courtesy of Emily.

I really could’ve said that in less words, but I’m feeling grammatically inclined tonight.  Caveat.  There, now this is officially a hipster blog post.  So for the layman out there, I need to get my resume out to 100 different places before the beginning of May.  It’s do-able. That’s about 14 a week or 2 a day.  I’ve already nailed down 3.  Oh, and don’t worry.  I’m keeping a list of everywhere I apply.  There are some more rules of course.

Firstly.  This can include part time work and doesn’t necessarily have to include benefits or any type of salary.  Just another job that pays hourly.

Secondly.  This may be a job that is not related to what I spent a bajillion dollars on at school.  This could be making sandwiches at Subway again, or making some of these.

Thirdly. If I happen to receive an offer at any time on or before May 1st, then it is a stalemate.

So hopefully by May 1st, I’ll be pooping out roses on Easy St. and we can all have a good laugh about how much of a bum I was for 10 months.  If not, I better not even here a giggle. Or next thing you know, I’ll be sleeping on your couch for the next few months.  That wiped the smile right off your face, didn’t it?

This could potentially be the scene of your living room if I don't get a job.

Fizzy Free in Humboldt Park

Posted in Personal with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2010 by Kyle Barry

Yeah, that’s right.  We’re back on the 30 days kick.  This time instead of a new artsy fartsy picture every day, we (myself and some lucky others included) have decided to give up soda… popcoke…non-alcoholic carbonated beverages for a month. It is straight up no fun. I hate it. I’m miserable without my caffeine and high fructose corn syrup.  However, this was a definite topper to the other suggestion for the month of March, which was: Going vegan.  Might have to build up to that one and/or never attempt that in my life. You know yer boy ain’t eatin’ no tofu, SON.  I know we all have our vices in life, but mine happens to be Diet Coke.  These past few harrowing days have given me a chance to reflect on why I love my sweet fizzy nectar:

1. cheaper than beer (sometimes. Peebers to the rescue.)

2. zero calories (do you know how many calories you drink from regular coke/beer/gatorade/i can’t believe it’s not butter spray? Too much is the answer you were looking for.)

3. caffeine (nuff said, right there. Most powerful drug in the world, last time I checked my opinions.)

4. water is boring. (needs more high fructose corn syrup.)

I’ve also begun to think how I take my liquid gold.  I prefer the fountain coke, thank you. Any fast food joint ought to provide a proper beverage dispenser with a limitless amount on tap, literally.  Unless those greedy goons hide it behind the counter and fill your cup 80% full of ice. Hate those places. I’m looking at you, Long John Silvers.  For those that don’t hog it all, I commend you on your generosity.  There’s something about that instant mix of C2O and syrup that just makes everything right in the world. My backup is the canned variety. Never do I ever go for the plastic 20 oz. Big mistake right there.  Too much drink and it tastes weird out of plastic. Just don’t even attempt it. Apologies to all that have ventured down that awful road.  And if you’ve even had an inkling of a thought about the 1 or 2 liter, litre, leeter? sizes, you’re crazy dude. People that buy 1 liter diet cokes have a serious drinking problem. Also, 2 liter diet coke bottles are terrible. No one can get to through the entire bottle without the last 1/3 being flat and disgusting.  Just no.

This pictorial should be self explanatory. If not, then you lose.

So wish me luck during this terribly frightening venture. I hope I come out clean on the other side.  There’s a small chance I’ll come out on the other end with no dependency on caffeine.  There’s also a chance that I’ll sell all of my earthly possessions and run away to join the circus, but let’s be honest with ourselves.

On a completely unrelated but somehow also awesome topic, I have officially moved into my own place.  I live in Humboldt Park now. It’s awesome. Did I mention how awesome it is? Just checking. I have two roommates who both seem to be solid guys. We haven’t had a sleepover yet where we do each other’s hair, but I have to imagine that will come up in conversation soon.  Just biding my time.  Also, my commute to work is about 13 minutes. That equals sleeping in more, which last time I checked, equals a gigantic WIN. If you are unfamiliar with what I’m talking about, please see the previous post.

That’s all for now, check back in later on. Or whenever you’ve exhausted every other possible form of productivity killing.