Enjoying the personal satisfaction that comes from helping people (i.e., living, breathing human beings -- as opposed to the faceless Fortune 500 companies that I used to represent in what now seems like a prior existence).
I've also been told that I'm a fairly talented writer and speaker beyond the practice of law. It's been said that my way with words can make the reader or listener think, and sometimes feel what I feel inside.
Despite a complete lack of culinary education or training, I have become a good cook. I love to entertain my friends in the kitchen, wheher it's mine or theirs.
When I was a young boy, my father was a tree surgeon and gardener for the Chicago Park District. Although Dad took me to work with him, I never really had his knack for gardening. For years, I had a "black thumb" and was capable of killing anything with chlorophyll -- even cacti. But since my father passed away a few years ago, I somehow acquired the green thumb I never had while he was alive. Now I grow my own herbs and veggies in my backyard.
I fancy myself as a decent amateur photographer. My vision may be poor, but I have an eye for a good shot and have been known to stop and get off my bicycle, or out of my car, just to make a photograph (not "take a picture," there is a difference) -- even if I have to climb a fence or a hill, lie down on the ground, or wait for just the right light.
I sometimes do impressions of public figures, actors and celebrities including Joe Pesci, Jack Nicholson, Televangelists, Chrostopher Walken, Kevin Spacey, Jesse Jackson, Bill Clinton, and the Kennedys (I don't know why, but I like to say "Hyannis Port" with an exaggerated Bostonian accent. Is that wrong?)
Shows: I'm not a big fan of television. For the most part, television has contributed to what I call "the Dumbing Down of America." And the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Maury Povich, Jerry Springer, Wendy Williams (is she really female?) and shows like Divorce Court, Entertainment Tonight, The Bachelor (a/k/a "Who Wants to Do it For Cash?) and any of the plethora of "Reality Television" programs have caused millions of Americans' brains more decay and damage than the scourges of dementia and Alzheimer's combined. Perhaps that's why nursing homes have so many televisions . . . to babysit the inmates as they had been babysat before they were placed in the facility? [I am not poking fun of people confined to nursing homes; I've visited loved ones in them. Most of them are deplorable dumping grounds and the way our elderly are treated in this country is a national disgrace. ] Far too many people's capacity for reason, logic and critical thinking have been atrophied to the point of being supplanted by what my late father euphemistically referred to as "the Idiot Box." I don't spend much time watching television -- least of all, when the weather is more conducive to outdoor activities. There have been entire weeks this summer when I haven't even turned my TV on, except to check the weather forecast before a long bike ride along Chicago's magnificent lakefront trail. But when I do watch television, it's usually something worthwhile and enriching. like the Food Network, the Cooking Channel, America's Test Kitchen; Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations; Gordon Ramsay; Burt Wolf's Travels and Traditions; Rick Steves Europe; Discovery, the History Channel, WTTW, or the National Geographic channel.
Music: Just about anything except Gansta Rap and Hip Hop. My tolerance for country is pretty much limited to the older, more genuine country (Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins) and Outlaw Country (David Alan Coe, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson). There are more than 1,200 songs from 27 genres by 180 artists on my iTunes. You'd find the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Allman Brothers, Pink Floyd, Bowie, Clapton, Pete Townshend and Van Morrison. Blues, Motown, Jazz, classical and even Opera (yes, Luciano Pavarotti and Angela Gheorghiu). And everything from Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bobby Darin and Louis Armstrong to the Pogues, the Chieftains, R.L. Burnside, Dave Alvin, the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Ravi Shankar and lesser known musicians and bands including Angelique Kidjo, Chevere de Chicago, Lokua Kanza, Kiran Ahluwalia.
Food: Italian; Greek; Mexican; Spanish; Portuguese; Japanese; Thai; tapas; sushi; the occasional USDA Prime steak; fresh seafood, especially lobster; anything with chocolate.
Books and Periodicals: Homer's Odyssey (in Greek); Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon; Boss by Mike Royko (a must read for anybody who wasn't born in Chicago and doesn't understand how politics still works in this City); Wordcatcher: An Odyssey into the World of Weird and Wonderful Words by Phil Cousineau; The Lexicon: A Cornucopia of Wonderful Words for the Inquisitive Word Lover by William F. Buckley, Jr.; Anything written by Wm. F. Buckley, Jr. or George Will (politics aside, their mastery of the English language makes them required reading); On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, by Harold McGee; Cooking For Friends, by Gordon Ramsay; Cooks Illustrated; National Geographic
Restaurants and Bars: Cafe Bionda; LaScarola; Athena; McCormick & Schmick; King Crab; the Half Shell; Gibson's Steakhouse; Carmichael's; Red Lobster (threw that in to see if you were paying attention); the Map Room; Cafe Laguardia; the Hop Leaf (best selection of Belgian ales and excellent food); the Woodlawn Tap; Richard's (maybe the best jukebox in town); the Matchbox (probably the smallest in town)
My list is always growing and changing.
2. Chicago's magnificent lakefront, parks and conservatories.
3. My bicycle.
4. My cameras
5. A well-stocked kitchen that has all of the cookware and gadgets I need.
6. My US and Irish passports
Well that's seven if you count the passports as two.
And if you're not intimidated, you are:
- confident and have a sense of humor;
- truly "available," both time-wise and emotionally;
- not seeking a pen pal or a text buddy for endless texting, instant messaging or emails;
- think we'd enjoy meeting one another.