31 May 2008

I'm Back

It's been a long week, although I'd be a fool to complain about the fact that I just spent the last six days in Hamilton, Bermuda. But when five of those days are spent all day inside your company's offices and you are there without your wife...it just becomes one more LONG business trip. And congratulations to USAirways for yet another rendition of "Theatre of Cruelty" at 38,000 feet. I have to give it to them - they have embraced sucking like no other airline I have ever seen. Every customer-facing employee has wholeheartedly embraced the fact that they HATE the very customers that are paying to fly their airborne train wreck and that the best way to treat any and all is with complete and total disinterest, lack of regard, and most importantly, contempt. And that's when everything is working as it should be. Anyway, I think this picture says it all:

Anyway, had about 200 emails in the "Junk" file alone when I got home. Seriously, did every spam filter on the planet fail this week? I've never seen so many Cialis/Viagra emails in my life. Did I miss a memo? So I am now in the middle of an additional spam filter download and then it's off to Parker's baseball game.

24 May 2008

Six Days on the Road

I'm wheels up tomorrow morning at 6:00AM, bound for a six day assignment in Hamilton, Bermuda. Let me first say, I'm not complaining about the assignment (I mean I am really lucky to work for company that has such a cool global footprint) - it's a plum one and I'll be staying in a really nice place, The Fairmont Hamilton Princess. I mean, take a look:

But it's six days away from Shari and the kids, just as Sarah is getting ready for her move to Provo and Courtney is packing up for a three week summer vacation that starts with EFY and then two weeks with her maternal grandparents. I'll hardly see them before they leave and that's not fun. And who wants to be in Bermuda alone? Not me, but that's they way it's working out for this trip. So I've picked up a new book about Somalian refugees (fun, light reading...not), a couple of magazines, including the Conference Issue of the Ensign...maybe I'll finally get caught up on that critical reading. And I've also packed the greatest shoes ever:

Can I just tell you that I love these shoes? I cannot believe that at this stage of my life that I have discovered running and discovered that I really like it. I know that I'll never, ever be a Dean Kanzares, the Ultramarathon Man, but I am not going to shame myself. I'll get a couple of 5k's in, then try a 10K and see where we go from there. But I do have to give a shout out to my buddy Jeff who is an ultramarathoner...Bro, you are amazing. As I was wheezing through my third mile a few days ago at Herrick, Jeff breezed by me, in his 11th mile of 30 that day. The man rocks.

It's been a stunning day in Chicagoland - high 70's, low humidity. Great day to do the lawn and run and have lunch outside at Potbelly's. They put Subway and other sandwich shops to shame, and deservedly so. My "skinny" turkey sandwich was awesome! We'll wrap up the evening with a 6:00PM baseball game. We'll see if Parker pitches or is hunkered down behind the plate, as catcher anchoring his team. It's going to be a beautiful night no matter what!

It's an all day affair tomorrow on the world's worst airline, USAirways, so I need to pysch myself now for that theater of cruelty. That's the drag about getting to/from Bermuda - seriously limited options out of O'Hare. And I'm stuck on US - it's the only way I can get my beloved United Mileage Plus miles. I gotta keep my 1K Global Services status - that's all I'm saying.

22 May 2008

NNHS Senior '08

Who knew that Graduation Week could be so CHAOTIC? Clearly, I did not. It's been a lot of years since I graduated high school but I just don't recall all the build up, the activity, the chaos (perhaps that's because I thought high school was a complete waste of time). Ferris Bueller, in the greatest movie ever, captured my feelings about high school best with this quote, "It's a little childish and stupid, but then, so is high school."

Sarah appears to have had a better go of it than me. Her graduation last night from Naperville North High School went off without a hitch. Even the weather cooperated - it's hardly been out of the mid-60s during the day and it's chilly at night with the wind (yes, I know, it's May...I get it...it's cold here) and yet last night, no wind and completely pleasant. That still didn't stop my dad from sitting front and center with my CNN Afghanistan bureau cap on his head to stave off the cold - that was a funny sight. That didn't make me shed a tear, although watching my oldest daughter in the procession, wearing her graduation "gown" with her ropes for service and activity and to see her honored as a cumme laude graduate, did make me drop a tear or two.

Anyway, Sarah was excited and just seemed elated. It confirmed to me that she's so ready for this next stage of her life. I have to give the school props though - they know how to motor through 772 graduates. They run a tight ship at NNHS and it was clear shenanigans would not be permitted so that made for a good ceremony.

After it was over, we found Sarah on the field, surrounded by friends. She was out of her mind with excitement. It was really fun to see. We took a lot of pictures and I'll post a few later. I'm really glad that both sets of grandparents got to be here to share this with our family. We didn't see her much after that - matter of fact, she didn't come home until after 5AM this morning. She and her friends made the midnight opening of "Indiana Jones" and then BBQ-d in the middle of the night and went swimming.

Ah to be young again! I am so, so proud of my daughter. I am honored to have shared this much of her life. She's been blessed to have an amazing mom who has helped her to become the young woman that she is today. I am excited to be sending her off to BYU now. She's the best and I hope they are ready for her and ready to treat her well. I'm going to miss her terribly.

18 May 2008

Sounds of Sunday

I'm certain that I've totally dated myself with the title of today's post and I have no idea why I got all nostalgic for it today...but any of you of a certain age who did time at BYU Provo know EXACTLY what I am talking about! I'm sure more than one of us used the "Sounds of Sunday" as our Church service, especially freshman year, when Saturday night had gone a little later than expected (guilty as charged!).

On Sundays, the "Sounds of Sunday" would fill the halls of many a dorm room in Deseret Towers (the 1984 brochure described it as 'apartment-like living').

It was a radio program (which is now called 'Soft Sunday Sounds' - nice fiesta of alliteration) that played Church music, not a whole lot o' Mo'Tab per se, but more modern, for the time, Sunday music. It, as I referenced above, sometimes became Church. You would oversleep, miss your Sacrament meeting start time, and figure.."OK if I throw on the 'Sounds of Sunday,' that'll help me keep me in the Spirit." Um...OK. Now, we didn't have all the musical options that are out there today - there wasn't much of an LDS pop music scene. But what was out there got played ad nauseum during this program. So it was a lot of Michael McLean and Afterglow. I mean seriously, did these two geniuses who constituted said musical group know what they were setting themselves up for naming themselves 'Afterglow'? (a word to the wise - DO NOT do a Google image search for Afterglow...I'm just saying). Also we didn't have all the music that's done for EFY and Seminary now.

Speaking of Seminary, it's Seminary Graduation tonight and we'll be there for Sarah. For the non-Mormon readers o'the Den, a quick primer - our church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has a well-established religious education program for high school students. It's a four year program and in most places outside of the Motherland (Utah) and other hives of Mormon activity where it's held during school hours, Seminary is held before school starts each morning and they study all the books of Scripture. Sarah has completed it and tonight she and the other graduates are honored. She has never once complained about getting up early and going to Seminary and I applaud her for that. I cannot say the same. I complained mightily and loudly. I owe my Seminary teacher, Paul Barker, an apology. He was a good guy. Boy, he put up with a lot of garbage!

Anyway, I think I'm nostalgic as Sarah's graduation from high school looms around the corner and as talk of going to BYU gets louder. It's a changed place from when Shari and I were there. Take a look at what they've done to my beloved Deseret Towers:

Ah well, it's a changed campus and now my eldest is joining the ranks of BYU students. No wonder I've got a head full of gray hair now...

14 May 2008

Vista - Satan in the form of an OS

Just a quick note or two tonight for I am now battling an enemy whose powers are strong and everywhere - and no, it's not Beelzebub...rather it's Microsoft's Vista and Microsoft makes Satan look like a total pansy. I want to go on record that I hate, hate, hate it. It appears to have crashed completely on Shari's computer and I am essentially now at a loss as to what to do. I have gone through all the repair/recovery options provided and I'm getting a whole lot of nothing. I so don't want to move into the other stage of Hell and that's calling a Tech Support line...

Seriously, Vista...you blow. Kudos, Microsoft, you've done it again.

11 May 2008

Mother's Day

It's been a rainy Mother's Day here in Chicagoland. It started raining - hard - in the middle of the night and didn't stop until we were leaving for Church. I'm glad it rained as hard as it did as it worked as my alarm clock. I got out of Dayton, mercifully, on an earlier flight Saturday night, but was quite tired by the time I got home. So I got up this morning and made cinnamon muffins and scrambled eggs for Shari. Parker had gotten up too and helped me.

We woke up the girls and took breakfast into Shari. It was a low-wattage affair but was a nice way to start the day. Shari laughed at her cards from Parker and me and that was the reaction we had hoped for. Mission accomplished. Then it was the usual rush to get ready for Church. Church was fine - the usual carnations passed out to all the women in the congregation. We've got to up the budget on honoring the women of the ward, I'm just saying.

Came home and the rush to make Mother's Day Dinner was on. I'd decided to do a fairly easy chicken parmesean and bowtie pasta. At the last minute, I decided to top each chicken breast with prosciutto. Again, Parker helped and he made cheese rolls. Things appeared to be going well and it all looked good until Shari cut into her chicken and of course, it hadn't cooked through all the way. I was really embarrassed that I had underestimated the cook time. So that kind of ruined dinner in my opinion.

Neither of us has had a chance to talk to our mom's yet, but I'll be glad to do that. I still don't quite understand how I've managed to be blessed with an amazing mother and a wife who has been the best mother to our children. It's more evidence of a merciful Father in Heaven, if you ask me.

07 May 2008

Democrats...meet your new ball and chain!

Well, Democrats, meet your new ball and chain. Her name is Shrillary and like any good implement of irritation and dare I say, nagging torture, like the good ol' ball and chain, she's going to drag the Democratic party and the nation as a whole along for as long as she can...or until the Party or nation gnaws off its collective leg to be rid of the beast we know as Shrillary.

Is Shrillary completely unable to do the obvious math (well, there was that pesky struggle with math around Whitewater)? She will not get the Democratic nomination as it stands today or in June when the longest primary season EVER finally wheezes to a stop. And yet, this pandering politician who claims to be sticking around for the good of the party and the nation will stop at nothing to see her party fractured - thus guaranteeing the Angriest Man in the US Senate four years in the White House. Why can't Shrillary see that if she somehow engineers a super delegate win for herself (then again, she did cover up how many scandals in her husband's administration, not to mention the Vince Foster "suicide," that she could hatch a win)that the Democratic Party will split and heinously enraged Obama-ites will vote McCain in simply out of rage. McCain will be a lock. But it appears that she doesn't see that...oh Shrillary, Denial ain't just a river in Egypt...face it sister, you're done. Now let it go...

I'm off to Ohio tomorrow evening for two days of meetings where I'll be speaking at a couple of different things. I'll get home very late Saturday night but still home for Mother's Day on Sunday. Sarah and Courtney are going to insure that we are all good to go for Sunday - thank you, ladies. I am a lucky man to have daughters like the two that I've been blessed with.

04 May 2008

Another calling

So as Sacrament Meeting wrapped up today, Shari and I got the tap (c'mon people, you know the tap I'm talking about) on the collective shoulder from the 1st Counselor in the Bishopbric, followed by the "Hey, can I see you two during Sunday School?" question. Yep, it could only mean a calling to serve. Since both of us are already in different callings, we figured one of us was getting released - but it was not to be. (NOTE - for those non-Mormon readers of the "den," our ministry is a lay ministry and so it's the members that fill the roles in the Church.)

Instead, we both have an additional calling, or assignment because it was explained that this one was not a calling (tomato/tomahtow), now. Our ward is going to be putting the entire adult population of the ward through the Marriage and Family Relations class and they've asked Shari and I to be one of the team teachers. I burst out laughing. What else could I do? Shari and I have a really good marriage and a great friendship, but anyone who knows us knows that Shari deserves all manner of accolades for putting up with me. Our one good friend Linda (and Linda, if you are reading this - when is the book coming out? Deseret Book needs another timely best-seller from a SIG-sister in the gospel-) routinely describes Shari as the most charitable woman on the earth - based solely on the fact that she married me. So as I see it this is going to be one of those times when I just sit back, keep my mouth shut and let Shari teach. The ward will be better off that way. Somehow I don't think that they are quite ready for my opinions on what makes a good family. I mean I'll still try and convince anyone that the Simpsons are one righteous family:

Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo and we are having friends over for said celebration. Looking forward to that - we are going to cook it all up ourselves. I mean it's not like I can just run down to the Taco Shop on 79 South to load up. Man, we miss the Taco Shop.

03 May 2008

Behold the Cup Cake!

Is there any better comfort food than a cupcake? And not some crappy, sealed in plastic, mass-produced variety...no I speak of a homemade cupcake, made in love, or in the case of the photo above, in an act of penance. And it's even better when said cupcake is in fact a giant cupcake.

A little background...as I was driving home yesterday, I called Shari as I do to check in (I've done that our entire married life - thanks, Dad, for that habit - I took it from you.) As we wrapped up, she said that Courtney needed to talk to me. It was then that Courtney revealed that she had inadvertently deleted a picture from my cell phone. Sadly it was the only picture that I had of me and an actress called Joanna Lumley in full "Patsy" mode from a party earlier this year in London. Courtney was in full repentance mode (I had to pretend I was more upset than I actually was to be honest). So I told her she had to make me something good to make up for the heinous deletion. So she got to work on the giant cupcake and when Shari and I got home from Ward Temple Night last night, there was the beloved and comforting cupcake. It was AWESOME!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should point out that the picture was with a wax image of "Patsy." Well, the sun is shining and it's earlier here in Chicagoland so it's time to go hit the Forest Preserve and run, then mow the lawn (first time in about six months) and then figure out the rest of the day.