28 April 2008

Winter's Last Gasp

So I guess I called it wrong on the end of winter...she's making one last gasp tonight. It has rained all day, never getting out of the 30's. We may still get some snow, but they promise it won't accumulate. Go on over to weather.com and for a taste. It is SO enough already.

Courtney did some driving tonight. Aside from one very, very ill-advised left turn in front of oncoming (and by oncoming I mean two cars just looking to broadside the passenger side of the Swedemobile - the side I was sitting in and about to well...soil), she did a good job. She didn't even flinch when I started to shout during the unfortunate left turn. She's got a good set of nerves.

While it's supposed to improve tomorrow, I'll fly to Montreal, where it's just as bad as it is here today. And it will be that way the whole time I'm there, which is fitting, as I find Montreal to be a pretty miserable city. Can't wait.

25 April 2008

Revisting the Disney Killing Machine

So what's a family to do on a rainy, rainy (including a tornado watch!) spring night in the Chicagoland suburbs? You go to the local junior high school to see their production of "High School Musical."

That is, in fact, what we did tonight, minus Sarah, who was working. We went to Parker's junior high and watched the Disney Killing Machine in action. Now, I'll give these kids props. Clearly they worked hard and they had a good time. It had its bumps in the road, including some microphones that could only be described as tools of deafness. When one of the actresses got to screaming, I swear the windows were going to blow out. At one point during the screeching, I leaned over to Shari and begged, "By all that's holy, make it stop!" She wouldn't. It was fun to watch Parker getting excited for his classmates. He's really good about supporting his friends.

And I have to give props to the Disney machine for continuing its quest to take over the world as we know it. They start by killing parents (the body count has been disputed in earlier posts here, but suffice to say, it makes some wartime body counts look like a walk in the park), throw some catchy musical diddies to soothe freaked out kids into preteen-ness, and then they unleash the brainwashing precision strike musical that is "High School Musical." "We're All In This Together?" What is it exactly? That would be Disney's corporate profits. But that's not quite enough...then they have to go cataclysmic with the twin nukes - Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers. At what point do we just bow in submission to the Mouse?

It's a good thing this blog isn't one where you can hear how I sound right now. My allergies have kicked into high gear since spring showed up here and it's all settled in my throat. When I can speak, I sound like the heinous creation of an even more hideous union between the late, great Barry White and Peter Brady (c'mon people, you know what I'm talking about...."When it's time to cha-a-a-nge").

No good can come from this and I have to get back to my normal voice by this Wednesday as I'm teaching a full day seminar in Montreal. Yesterday, I was in Washington DC at a board meeting and it is no small task to get people to take you seriously when you sound as completely freakish as I do right now. It's enough already.

19 April 2008


Priceless - from the "Police Beat" in BYU's 'Daily Universe' -

April 1: BYU police responded to a call reporting a tampering with the BYU sign on University and Canyon Rd. Students had placed paper letters over the sign "Enter to learn, go forth to serve" to make it read "Enter to date and to mate."

But even more priceless than the criminal travails at my alma mater are these: the parable of the prodigal son, forgiveness, and brotherhood. Suffice to say, it's been a day. A good day.

17 April 2008

Ding Dong! The Wicked Winter is Dead!

With no apologies to the Wicked Witch of the West with whom this last Chicagoland winter shared far too much in common, I am thrilled to declare winter over! The headline in yesterday's Chicago Tribune declared that the predicted 70 degree temperature would be the first 70 degree reading in SIX months! And Mother Nature did not disappoint! When I landed at O'Hare yesterday at about 530PM from a speaking gig in Pittsburgh, the temp reading on the trusty Swedemobile was 70 degrees. I nearly cried like a little girl! The sunroof was open and I was off downtown to a business dinner on Navy Pier, Chicagoland's waterside tourist trap.

The glory of Spring carried into today, mercifully. I probably should have stayed later than I did at the office, but it was just too stunning out to stay in the office, so I fled at about 430PM. As soon as I got home, Parker and I headed over to the forest preserve near our house, Herrick Lake, and went for a run. Did two miles and it was stunning. It was so awesome to be outside. Here's a shot of Herrick (courtesy of our BOSS park system in Dupage County):

It was really fun to run with Parker. Now that Spring is here and I found that my knees/shins were not screaming for mercy, we'll be running outside a whole lot more.

Well, "The Office" has started. I'm out. Priorities, you know.

14 April 2008

Rolling out Illinois One

So it was back to the office today after a week of working in Asia last week. It wasn't too bad today and for that I was grateful. I was only in the office until 2PM as I had to drive down to Chicagoland's other airport, the hole that is Midway, for an event at the Southwest Airlines facility.

Turns out it was for the unveiling of their 12th special livery - this time it's "Illinois One."

There was a lot of the usual Southwest goofiness displayed but also a tremendous sense of pride by the hundreds of employees that were there. It was cool to be a guest at the rollout and to see the plane. It was a stunningly beautiful day here - the long-forgotten sun was out and the skies were a wonderful blue. So it made for a cool backdrop when the hangar doors were rolled back, revealing the new plane. Southwest's CEO, Gary Kelly, and their President, an extremely matronly Colleen Barret, were there, as well Southwest's legendary founder, Herb Kelleher. Bono gets a quieter reception than this man!

Governor Blagejovich and Mayor Daley were there too. I was hoping for a cagematch between those two but it didn't happen. Blagejovich was roundly booed when he was introduced. He really is an ineffective governor and Daley really can't stand him. And you know, you really don't want to cross Daley. I mean, this is Chicago politics after all...

12 April 2008

Home Again - A Few Thoughts

Well, with no thanks to the old gray lady, UA, I finally got home at 1AM this morning. It was such a long day. I'd been up about thirty hours by the time I got on my fourth flight of the day from Denver to Chicago. Mercifully I was in First Class and when the flight attendant gave me a choice for dinner - chicken or pasta - my mind completely shut down. I was completely unable to make a decision. I could not decide what to eat. I told her to just pick something for me to eat. She said, "I'll give you the pasta. It'll put you out." She could have said "down" instead of out, and given my condition and I would have been fine with that! We finally landed at 1125PM Friday night, already late, and then had to wait nearly fifteen minutes for someone to marshal us into the gate and then we had to wait for an agent to put the jetway in place - I mean it's not like Mother UA didn't know we were coming. Then it was an almost 40 minute wait for bags to get delivered. I was so done by the time I called for my Town Car. Got home a little after 1AM and that was it - I stumbled up the stairs, dumped my bags without even bothering to unpack - something I never do - and took two Tylenol PM, and I was out until 10AM today!

Most of the day has been a bit of a jetlagged haze. I am so glad to be home and to be back with my family. Sarah was already at work and Parker was at a Merit Badge Clinic by the time I woke up so it was fun to have some time with Shari and Courtney. Shari had a big Primary Activity Day today so Courtney went with her to help her out. I had to get caught up on all the mail, banking, etc., and had to run a few errands.

Mark and Elaine called to see if we wanted to go to dinner, so we went with them to Lombard to the Weber Grill in Lombard. It was awesome as always. For a place that specializes in grilled stuff, they have the best mashed sweet potatoes on the planet! It was fun to be with friends.

Finally, tonight is the NNHS Senior Celebration and Sarah won't be back until tomorrow morning. This is a huge event out here. The school is transformed into a playground for the Seniors. Businesses throughout the community donate all manner of stuff - food, goods, services - Sarah has a massage scheduled for 130AM(!) and the kids are not permitted to leave until 5AM. It's a great event - the kids' cars are valet parked, they turn in their car keys, and it's well-chaperoned. It's a good event.

This does signal another step in my oldest child's transition out of the casa. The calendar is filling up with activities like these from now until her graduation in just over a month.

OH! Blessed be the DVR! I watched the new episode of "The Office." To say that it was agonizingly funny would be an understatement. It was worth the pain of the writer's strike!

09 April 2008

Cacophony of the Senses

This is one of those times where I could absolutely kick myself for not having a camera. I left my camera-phone with Courtney since she's running around managing the NNHS Varsity Baseball team. So I came over to Asia sans camera.

I wish I could have gotten a shot of the view from the 41st floor gym of the Langham Place Hotel here in the Mong Kok area of Hong Kong. The treadmills are right along the floor-to-ceiling windows. The view is spectacular.

My meetings don't start until later this morning so I had time to take a walk around the neighborhood here in Mong Kok. The hotel is a couple blocks off Nathan Road but it was still pretty quiet this morning. However, when I went around to Reclamation Street, I fell upon the open-air market on Nelson Road. That's when the cacophony of sights, sounds, and smells hit me. What an amazing place! And this is so where I wish I had my camera! I'll try and do it a little justice...

I was the only Westerner there but that hardly caused an eye to blink. The first few stalls were nothing but fruits and vegetables. Carrots the size of a steroid-enhanced body builder's forearms were the first thing I saw. Then the fruits! Talk about exotic. The majority I couldn't even begin to identify. The colors were amazing. Rich, rich reds and incredibly vivid orange colors. Most of them were covered natural spikes and other protective coverings. Then came the durian....maybe you've heard of them. Or their smell. These fruit look like big spiked hand-grenades. When they are opened, the smell is utterly undescribable. I got a whiff this morning. Imagine the contents of a fetid sewer mixed with meat that has sat in an unplugged refriferator for a few weeks. Let's just say it was bad. And it was a hot seller. Who knew?! Then I came upon the meat, fish, and poultry section. It's a fresh market, remember? So in other words, lots of freshly slaughtered birds and pigs hanging out. You can walk right up to one of the chicken stalls, pick your live chicken, and get it slaughtered to your liking. I'll not describe that. All this is going on under the din of the crowds. Old ladies doing their shopping; Filipina domestics buying the day's food for their Chinese employers, and one Western guy who couldn't get enough of it.

I head out shortly for meetings on both the Kowloon side and Island side. It is so easy to get around on the MTR - I bought a day card so I can ride all I want without issues. I love this city - I just can't get enough of Hong Kong!

06 April 2008

A Quick Note from Tokyo Narita

Just landed in Tokyo and once again so happy to find a FREE wireless hotspot in an airline lounge. Kudos to Japan Airlines for making it free! Anyway, almost to Shanghai. While on the flight from Chicago today, I read an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times by Christopher Hitchens. Typically, I am really irritated by what Hitchens has to say. This time, however, his column on Shrillary is a precision strike on her character - or complete and total lack thereof - here's a link to it from Slate.com

Eager to get to Shanghai - got caught up on the news of a new Apostle, which is very cool. Amazing to see how the Church continues to roll on.

04 April 2008

Chairman Mao wouldn't recognize it

Just a quick entry before I head to Shanghai and Hong Kong tomorrow. These two cities are some of the most dynamic that I have ever been to and they are constantly changing. Chairman Mao would have no idea that he was in the land of his ill-fated Cultural Revolution. They also have some of the coolest hotels I've ever seen. I'm at the Regent in Shanghai and that will be my first time there:

And the Langham Place Mong Kok on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong is one of my favorite hotels. This has got to be one of the most technologically advanced hotels that I've ever stayed in. You could spend hours tricking out the in-room phones. It's very cool.

It's good to be going back to Asia, and based on a conference call I had this afternoon, I think I've got a big run to India in the near future too.

03 April 2008

Police Beat

OK...while it's good to be home, we still wish we were on vacation and back in SoCal. But that can wait...

My alma mater, BYU, has what can only be described as the best police reporting ever. So good that the campus newspaper, The Daily Universe, (a highly "regulated" paper if there ever was one) dedicates an entire section on its website, BYU NewsNet, to the train wreck that is the police blotter on the BYU campus in Provo. I graduated close to twenty years ago but I still read the "Police Beat" with a fervor all its own. I think what I read today pretty much nails why you can't NOT read this:

March 26: The mother of a BYU student called the police when she suspected that her daughter's roommate stole her butter knife. The mother later called to drop the charges.

It does not get any better than this. Seriously. Ever. If you know me, you know I can spin a pretty good story. I could never top this stuff. By all that's holy, drop what you are doing and get to the NewsNet page and bookmark the Police Beat section and read it often. It is BRILLIANT! It's stuff like this that keeps me donating to the University. Reporting like this has got to be supported!