29 June 2008

A not so simmering summer Sunday

How's that for some alliteration in the title of today's post?!

It's pretty cool for a summer's day here in Chicagoland. Mostly rainy too, but at least it doesn't feel like a steambath o'humidity. That's a good thing.

Home from getting religion already - today's been a blur, as has the entire last week. Church was good - Greg Boswell gave a really powerful talk and Mari Louengrath blew the place away with her violin rendition of "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief." She had no sheet music in front of her, all from memory - she is a master of the violin. And what an amazing instrument the violin is. There are very few musical instruments that capture the Spirit the way the violin does. Amazing! I taught a combined EQ/HP lesson and was really glad when that was over. It was a meaty topic and I'm not sure I did it justice in 35 minutes.

Based on attendance today at Church, summer vacations have begun in earnest. It's going to be a quiet week at work. After running all over last week, I am glad. Some of my exploits made the Chicago Tribune. Got back from New York City and ran a "fun run" 5K on Saturday morning and improved my PR by about 30 seconds. Run another one on the 4th of July, so we'll see if I shave off some more time.

Looking forward to getting Courtney home in a week. She's been gone too long. And I am still waiting for my oldest daughter to call me back from last Monday when she said she would call me right back. Sarah - call your DAD!!!

Missing my oldest is turning this into a bit of a cruel period in my life. That got me thinking about an appropriate 80's video and here it is - the ladies of Banarama and "Cruel Summer" -

26 June 2008

A Couple of Days in New York City

It is so summer in New York City! It's been close to 90 degrees and borderline unpleasantly humid. And the City is AWASH in tourists, mostly Europeans (yep, a lot of black socks, sandals, and man-pris), who clearly continue to feast on the weakness of the US Dollar. I'm here for a couple of days - spent the day today in the GM Building at a forum with several of my industry peers. It was productive. We had a lot of good discussion surrounding the challenges we each face in our corporate environments. I'll spend tomorrow in my office on 40th and 5th with my team here and then back to Chicagoland late in the afternoon, in time for dinner with friends at an Argentine place and then it's home to get ready for my next 5K on Saturday morning.

After my meetings this afternoon I went down to Central Park to run a 3K trainer run. Can I just tell you that it was awesome! There were so many people running in the park that it was like running a race. Wound up pacing with a couple of other runners and it made for a really good run. I have to admit that it was pretty cool to be running through the Park. What an amazing piece of real estate...Got back to my hotel, the Iroqouis, grabbed a shower, and then was out on the street again for a little dinner at Pret-a-Manger. There are Prets all over London and whenever I get to New York, I like to at least get a sandwich there. It takes me back to London every time. The only thing missing is my beloved crayfish and rocket sandwich. That doesn't appeal, apparently, to US eaters, but it does me. So Pret, please bring it across the Atlantic!

21 June 2008

The Crosstown Classic=SMACKDOWN

If I recall correctly, 21 June is the official first day of summer. Is there any better way to spend such an august day than at a baseball game? I would say that no, there is no better way, especially when it's a baseball game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. There is no greater experience in baseball than a summer's day game at Wrigley with your son. What a place!

And it's even better when it's the Crosstown Classic - the epic battle of the Cubs versus the White Sox. Aramis Ramirez sealed the deal yesterday for the Cubbies in Game One and today, given the number of hits that the Cubbies were essentially spewing, like a geyser, in the fourth inning, it was the team as a whole that spanked, and deservedly so, the White Sox. It was a rout, plain and simple. Dare I say a smackdown? Yep, I do...a smackdown was served today. We had outstanding seats - Field Box seats about thirteen rows up behind home plate. I love the intimacy of Wrigley Field. I also love what the fans have to say/yell. I've never heard suicide suggestions made as, well, colorfully and creatively, as they are at Wrigley.

That fourth inning, nine run cavalcade was just outstanding. Parker and I had so much fun, getting into more and more with each run scored. It was really fun watching him get so into the game. He truly loves the game of baseball. I love being a part of these memories with him.

We used CTA to get down to the game and that was a tad challenging, thanks to the lame-o's at CTA who neglected to mention that cut in the Blue Line during the weekends for construction on their website. This meant riding the Blue Line for four stops and then transferring in between stations via a bus and getting back on the train to get down to the Red Line and up to Wrigley. The CTA is just a mess but I will say I do like the $5 one day, ride all you want pass.

Using O'Hare as our jumping off point made sense inasmuch as we left the game a little early to meet Shari, who came home from her trip to Utah today. It was odd to see her there without Sarah or Courtney. Sarah is officially ensconced in her dorm room, starting classes this coming Monday. Shari said it really wasn't all that tough to say goodbye. I'm still really glad I wasn't there. And Courtney wrapped up her week at EFY and is now running around with Shari's mom and stepdad for two weeks. At least she's coming home.

No video tonight - I'm exhausted and can't really think of a real baseball-theme 80s video. Although I seem to recall that Huey Lewis and the News may have done something and it pains me to even mention them, let alone dredge up some of their old drivel. I just can't do it.

18 June 2008

The Swedemobile is Killing Me

Right off the bat, let me just say I am not even going to speak of today's events - putting Sarah on a plane to begin her first semester at BYU in Provo. Still too much for to process, let alone talk about.

So depending on how you look at it, the decision by my Swedemobile to up and die yesterday was some interesting timing. It's either keeping me from falling apart over my daughter's leaving and it's giving me something to blog about rather than weeping.

The Swedemobile elected to give up the ghost yesterday with no warning WHATSOEVER while I was in the McDonalds drive-thru line grabbing a large Diet Coke (for a mere dollar during the summer here in Chicagoland!!) in between conference calls. I hadn't even gotten to Window #1 to pay, and the sixteen-year old money fascist manning the window had the audacity to cancel my order. Suffice to say his complete disregard to the gravity of the situation was not appreciated. After pushing the hunk o'metal into a parking spot, I began to ponder if this was not a sign for feeding my need for an afternoon Diet Coke. But it's not like I was buying Diet Crack...it was Diet Coke!

After much negotiating with the Swedemobile (I kid you not...my solution was to talk to said car), I got it to stay on long enough to get the engine revved to about 1000 RPM and then I was off. I rolled every stop sign on the way back to my office, for if I stopped, so did the engine. I literally rolled into my parking spot and began the quest for a solution....

Long story short, the Saab dealer that services the Swede is forty miles from my office but they sent a tow truck. It took said tow truck four hours to get to my office. Let's just say happy I was not. I was even less happy when the Service Manager called me this morning with the diagnosis (a throttle gone wrong) and the bill. I won't even go into that tragedy.

So Swedemobile, I am so not happy with you right now. You have not been a Super Trouper, as your musical heritage may suggest. And so tonight's video is a reflection of that influence. It is from 1980, with some horrific cues from the 70's, and it's ABBA. Can anyone tell me what these people were thinking? Seriously. Like the Swedemobile, there's so much wrong with tonight's selection that it's not even funny. Well, yes, it is. Wait til you see this mess. Anyway, "Super Trouper"

16 June 2008

Despair - Party of One

"Paging Despair, party of one...Despair." That page would be for me, can I just tell you. Despair checked in this afternoon at the end of a mile calibration run at Herrick Lake. I was calibrating my boss new Nike+ gadget that I got yesterday for Father's Day and was most excited about it. Until I completed the mile run, or what I thought was the mile run.

When I started running at Herrick, I checked their maps and have been training on a loop around the lake. Their maps said it's a mile. Umm...check here for lies, lies, and more lies. Try less than a mile, try .85 mile. I liked to have died when I saw that today. I think this photo captures my sentiments at the exact moment:

Seriously, I liked to have died. I've been training short this entire time. No wonder I hit the wall so hard on Saturday. (Well that and the fact that I suddenly channeled a cheetah for the first part of the race!) So this now changes everything in terms of what I've been doing. I mean I'm glad I discovered this faux pas now, but I sure would have liked to have been clued in, oh I don't know, when I first started running.

I'm sure there's some kind of Gospel learning in this little debacle. I'm just not sure what that is right now. There's got to be an Ensign article in this. Once I sooth my rage/injured ego, I'll work on that.

So tonight's 80's video selection has everything to do with tonight's running debacle, based solely on its title and that's it. Kate Bush has a stunning voice. Take a listen and look at "Running Up That Hill"

15 June 2008

Father's Day 2008

Mother Nature welcomed Father's Day in our neck of Chicagoland with a thunderous ovation early this morning. We awoke to thunder, wind, and driving rain pounding on the house. So much for sleeping in, but I've never been a big fan of the "sleeping in" concept anyway, so Ma Nature's continued assault on the water-logged Midwest was no big deal. (Note to Mother Nature - listen, lady, give it a rest with the rain. It's enough already and we aren't even in a flood plain. Seriously, let us dry out, sister.)

I've never been too good about waiting for the surprise of breakfast in bed, so I got up showered, shaved, and ran outside to try and save my Sunday New York Times from a water-logged grave. It's 630PM Sunday as I write this and it's still drying out. Some of the more conservative readers o'the blog would argue that I'm not missing much, but I beg to differ. After my attempt at saving said paper, it was back to bed for breakfast. Yogurt and curry-seasoned scrambled eggs were on the menu. One can never, ever have enough curry so I was completely delighted. I opened my cards, and was told by my eldest to make it quick so she could go back to bed. This of course made me slow everything down. I got some boss gifts, including the Nike+ for my iPod so I can better track my running obsession. I was thrilled. Also got a very boss jar of seasoned salts from Williams-Sonoma for my food obsession. It's a really good thing that the running obsession now offsets the food obsession. I'd be in a world of hurt without it.

Got some religion today too. Burning Question - Why is it that on Mother's Day in our meetings the women are always honored with flowers or some such nicety and on Father's Day, the men get a whole lot of nothing? By and large, this has been my experience across the Church. That being lamented, I will say that we were spiritually fed to be certain, including a very good lesson in the EQuarrel about our roles as the Lord's emissaries - missionary work. And not the two years on a bike kind but the role we have today. It was a good discussion today.

After Church, we ran home to grab Courtney's suitcase and to get the spinach and orange pepper salad and it was off to the Peterson's for Father's Day Dinner. Can I just quickly mention what an incredibly awesome thing the orange bell pepper is to me? It's like candy. I love them and think they should be in pretty much every salad and all things grilled. I'm just saying...So it was dinner with the Stake President and his wife today, as well as another family from the ward. It was a really nice dinner and good conversation. We managed, OK I managed, to get through dinner without setting off the Offend-O-Meter, as far as I can tell. The Petersons are really wonderful and I am really impressed by their model of service.

Sister Peterson asked us each to speak briefly about our fathers. It was an honor for me to speak of my father and the example of service that he has been to me. My dad has taught from an early age what it means to be about the service of God and of my fellowman (it's an example I struggle to follow but I know the example is there for me to follow). In his example of service to God, I've seen blessings pour from the heavens and it's an example I would be wise to strive to follow at all times. My dad has fulfilled his divine calling as a father. I refer to the text of the "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" and what it says about fathers:
"By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families."

To my father, I say thank you.

It also gave me time to think of the other father's in my life. I thought much of my late father-in-law, Dick Thompson, today. I only knew this great mean (he raised an amazing daughter - a woman who has stuck with me for almost twenty years now) for a little more than four years but he has a profound influence on my life each and every day. He gave me his daughter many years ago and I promised him I'd always take care of her. I strive to fulfill that promise every day. I'm also grateful to Shari's stepfather, Paul Eckel, for the man he is and how he's been so wonderful to my mother-in-law and how he has blessed the lives of my children. He's been a blessing to us all.

And as Father's Day draws to a close, my family is heading all over the place. Shari and Sarah are packing as we speak for their flight Wednesday to get Sarah to BYU. Courtney flew out late this afternoon for Salt Lake City for three weeks. Parker and I will be lone men in the Garden of Eden, as it were, by mid-week. I do have to give a shout out to the Global Services staff at United Airlines at O'Hare. They rocked once again today. First of all, the private check-in is the BEST. Secondly, upgrading my daughter and priority tagging her bags when she's not flying with me was just cool. So even as the airline industry falls apart, there are still shreds of customer service humanity out there. Way to go!

BTW - No video today. Really couldn't come up with an appropriate 80's related, father-themed song. Unless you count Madonna's "Papa Don't Preach" and I really didn't think her hectoring her dad about teen-age pregnancy needed to go up.

14 June 2008

My First 5K...why didn't I read the story of the tortoise and the hare one more time?!

FAIR WARNING - this post has more pictures than usual and ends with perhaps the video of the CHEESIEST song to ever come out of the 80's - read on:

5AM dawned early today after my two and half day jaunt across the country. While on that trip I was determined to A) eat at In-n-Out (did so - see proof below) and B) get at least one more training run, a two-miler, in (did so in Alexandria, VA on Friday morning).

So Shari, Sarah, Parker, and I left the house at about 630AM to head to Batavia (Courtney is at a three day Stake Youth Conference so wasn't with us this morning) for the race. I checked in and got my race t-shirt and then just mulled around with my family, listening to the playlist I had compiled for the race, getting ready to run. I'm not sure how many runners there were in total but I was #178 and I saw numbers into the 300's. Here's how things looked pre-race:

At about 7:50AM, the race organizers had us pile up at the start line, and I do mean pile. I am still amazed that when the start gun was fired that no one got mowed over.

The starter gun was fired and we were, collectively, off. And this is where I should have read and reread the story of the tortoise and the hare. I would have remembered that slow and steady wins the race...I would have remembered that the tortoise left that stupid hare eating the proverbial dust. I would have remembered to keep a different pace. I was really caught up in the excitement of my first race and was amazed at the pace of my first mile. It was faster than anything I had done in training. My second, while a little slower, was still beating my training pace. And just past Mile Two, the hare in me gave up the ghost. The last mile became something akin to my personal version of the Bataan Death March. Suddenly my body announced it was done and it was all I could do to force it along. As I am fighting those demons, all I am recalling is the most recent issue of "Runner's World" magazine, which had a whole section on improving your 5K and a warning about getting caught up in the rush of your first race and realizing that is exactly what I had done. My buddy Jeff, who just ran a 100K(!) warned me that it would happen. And it did. So accepting my fate, I plodded on and managed to round the corner to the finish line. What was so heartening was to see my wife and two of my three kids at the end of the line. They were holding a poster and cheering me on. That really was awesome. And Courtney had called, leaving me a voicemail on my phone and then calling Shari's phone to track me down. I was so touched by that sweet girl remembering me. Here are a couple of shots post-race:

After greeting my family and complaining more than I should have to them about my disappointment about my performance, it was off to get a bunch o'water and the most awesome orange slices ever. We didn't hang around for the rest of post-race festivities, as Shari and I had to attend a memorial service for a colleague of mine from work.

I'm still ruminating about my performance and realize that training is just a tad different from a real race and that I need to remember pacing and its importance. And I can't let the excitement of the race climate affect my pace either. I have another 5K in two weeks, so I'll be working on that as I train for that one. One thing that did make me laugh was one of the songs that was played before the race. the afore-mentioned issue of "Runner's World" had an article about race music and what people run to and it noted that there isn't a race where the CHEESIEST song to come out of a movie ever is played. And if you are a child of the 80's, you may have already guessed the schlock I am referring to but if not here it is - Survivor and "Eye of the Tiger":

10 June 2008

Here Comes the RedEye

It's going to be a completely unpleasant couple of days of travel starting tomorrow. I have a noon flight to Los Angeles, which will put me in there around 3PM and then I have a car (NOTE - said Towncar will be stopping at the In-N-Out on Sepulveda Blvd right off LAX immediately after I get picked up) taking me to friggin' Universal City (land of burning studios) in order to give a speech and then it's back to LAX for a REDEYE, a REDEYE to Washington DC. I've got be in DC for meetings by 9AM on Thursday and this was the only way to pull it off. Check here for ME NOT HAPPY about the redeye, but that being said, I'm in First in both directions so that does take down the theatre of cruelty element, as does the fact that I am not flying the world's worst airline, USAirways. It's back to that old gray mare, United, and that is fine with me.

I'm still debating about taking a Tylenol PM for the flight to Dulles tomorrow night. The last time I fell that asleep on a plane, well, let's just say I was nearly asked to never fly America West again (it's a story for another time). Had I known then (it was 1987, people) what America West was going to devolve into, I would have been happy with a ban. I'll make the call tomorrow night at LAX.

Managed to get a three mile run in tonight. Shari went over to Herrick Lake with me and got her walk in while I ran. This was the first night in a few where it wasn't oppressively humid, so it made for a much better run. I was a lot happier with my time than a couple of days ago. That's the other thing that has me all kinds of worked up - my first race is this Saturday and I am spending the days before trotting around the country. I get home Friday night - here's hoping the thunderstorms skirt Chicagoland so I get home on time and get some rest before Saturday morning.

And for today's 80's video post-o-rama, let's go to the Queen of the 80's (hard to believe the old girl is still trying, desperately, to bring back the 'magic')-so throw on about a dozen black "o" ring plastic bracelets, and everyone that was at the memorable Temecula Humiliation Prom (why Humiliation Prom? see the photo above and ask no more), enjoy this. It's some vintage Madonna and "Borderline" -

08 June 2008

A Sunday Sayonara to Shrillary

Another seventh day and another day of rest. It doesn't feel like June in Chicago - it feels more like stormy August. More storms this morning and more to come this afternoon. It may put the kill on grilling outside for dinner tonight. More on dinner later because first I have to attend to bidding farewell to a campaign that was ill-fated from the beginning.

Of course, I am referring to Shrillary's self-serving and avaricious run at the U.S Presidency and its "suspension" yesterday. That was the longest case of euthanasia I have ever seen. And I wish it was over, but it's not. We'll have to endure the Veep stakes (by all that's holy, Obama, don't do it - don't bring her on as your Veep, please!) as well a tirade or two from Bill (how completely INSANE has he become?) Her "suspension" speech because we still can't call it a "concession" speech in my book until she has released her delegates was 29 minutes long, about 26 minutes longer than it needed to be. And it took her seven (7!) minutes to even mention Senator Obama. Seven minutes of her blathering about herself (boo-hoo sorry it wasn't the party you had planned) before she could stomach mentioning the candidate who beat her fairly. There in lies the rub - "fairly" a concept completely foreign to Shrill and Bill. One can only hope that the two of them will keep quiet now and allow Obama to go forth and campaign without the Clinton albatross weighing him and his team down. I doubt the Democratic party and the nation will be so lucky...

So today's 80's flashback video is for you, Shrill. (David, I know this wasn't the video we decided on during the EQuarrel today but when I found this one, it had to go up). A little Romeo Void and "Girl in Trouble" -

Should I have gone with Aerosmith and "Dude Looks Like A Lady"?

And now back to dinner...I am pretty excited about the potatoes hasselback I'm making. Slices of garlic wedged into the tops of new red potatoes, drizzled in olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt and then baked. We'll see how they turn out!

07 June 2008

All Hail! TED is Dead!

If you've been watching the news of late, you've seen and heard a lot about airline shrinkage. There's just no way the US airline industry can keep operating the way it has been in the face of oil at $138USD a barrel. So it's change a-gogo right now. Some of these changes blow ($15 for the first bag - gracias, American Airlines) and others do not. Like United's decision to behead TED, its airline within an airline concept. When TED first started flying, I was a fan, but that's because I was in LA and doing mostly short-hauls on TED. Moving to Chicagoland quickly killed any affinity for TED. So the announcement earlier this week that TED was to be euthanized (not quickly enough, if you ask me, since it won't totally go away until 2009) was a good, no a great, one. So adios, TED. Adios.

Way steamy in Chicagoland today. I ran at 7:00AM today to avoid the heat and by the time I was done at 8:00AM, the heat was on and the bugs descended as if sent as a curse, a la Old Testament times. Ugly, with a capital "U"!

Speaking of curses from on high, here's today's 80's flashback:

That's right...Bon Jovi. Head for the hills....

05 June 2008

More 80s stuff - now it's cheesy

So this whole Yaz reunion has me all kinds of worked up and discovering Yaz videos on Youtube has set me into a search for all kinds of 80s video. It's like having unlimited access to VH1 Classic (without Flava Flave and his skanks). I've decided to post all manner of 80s music this summer and I'll do it from time to time, but I thought tonight would be a great night to kick it off with some serious cheese. Our first clip is an homage to garbage bag fashion - watch the redhead - she's so into this it's bordering on the homicidal - anyway, you can thank some British producers for the ladies of Toto Coelo (seriously, that's the name) and this gem 'I Eat Cannibal' - really, there are no words:

And then there is this classic from Julie Brown (no, not the HORRIBLE English MTV VJ - yep, VJ, MTV once did play music videos). I hesitated at first about posting this, given the subject matter, but this was made way before it became fashionable for kids to shoot up their schools. This is WAY pre-Columbine. I actually remember buying this record (yep, a real live record, black vinyl and all) at the Sherman Oaks Galleria in the spring of 1984. My buddy Andy and I had decided to spend spring break of our senior year in California, trying way too hard to be the cool people we were convinced that we were and I heard this song on KROQ as we were driving to Malibu and I knew I had to have it. So it was off to the Galleria in search of the record and some Valley girls. At least I got the record. It was an EP and had four of the funniest songs I had ever heard...so anyway, enjoy this one (and if you were a homecoming queen...too bad-this is too good to pass up):

Keep checking back for more videos - I promise they won't always be so cheesy!

03 June 2008

1982 All Over Again!

So I was checking out something on the Chicago Tribune website earlier this morning when I caught three little letters out the corner of my eye - YAZ. Was it a trick? I read it over again...indeed, a concert listing for Yaz in Chicago this July. Really? It couldn't be the original duo, I thought. That was not a good breakup and I couldn't imagine them back together. And, frankly, I thought Vince Clark might be dead. So off to the font of all knowledge I went - Google. Within seconds, it was 1982 all over again. "Upstairs at Eric's" is back! The original duo, Vince Clark and Alison Moyet, are back playing dates across Europe and the US this summer.

This takes me back to the halcyon days of 1982 and 1983. I was utterly mesmerized by Alison's voice - she was amazing. I must have played that album (well, cassette - way before CD's) until it broke. This album and that voice were one of the reasons I wanted to go to London so badly when I was a teenager. London was the center of all cool in my mind - it had to be better than Scottsdale, for sure. When I finally got to London in the summer of 1984, it met all my expectations. I've been going back to London for more than 20 years now. A couple of years ago, I saw the play "Chicago" in London and had the chance to see Alison Moyet when she was playing "Matron Mama Morton." She was incredible.

So here it is - twenty six years since their first album and it's Yazoo Reconnected. It cracks me up. I'm not sure I can miss this opportunity. Here's a look at what Yazoo looks and sounds like today. Enjoy -

I found this gem (turns out Youtube is of some marginal worth) while chatting with a Dell Support Agent tonight. We got the new hard drive for Shari's computer and thanks to the wonder of the "chat" function, she is up and rolling again. I have to say, Dell pulled it out of the fire with this function. It was awesome. I still believe that Vista is a tool of the Devil but I have to hand it to Dell for a massive improvement in customer service with the advent of chat!

01 June 2008

Musings on a Fast Sunday

Seriously, the first of June? Already? At least it's, technically, a day of rest. A gorgeous day here in Chicagoland and we spent it getting religion. It's Fast Sunday today (quick reminder for those non-Mormon readers o'the Den - the first Sunday of each month is a dedicated day of fasting as well as an opportunity for Church members to share their testimonies during our Sacrament service) and it was a nice day. Nothing out of the ordinary. Even the boys who usually play "Testimony Bingo" were disappointed by how NORMAL it was today.

Once we were home, it became a day of further rest. Lots of napping today. Which amazes me since all three kids are out of school now. How could they suddenly be so exhausted? I didn't get through the Sunday New York Times until 330PM today. Courtney is now making snickerdoodles for later tonight and I have flank steak marinating in an Asian marinade that I made this morning. I'll grill it later and add it to a fried rice. That'll be dinner. I'm using a yakitori sauce from the local Asian market as the marinade base. I then through in a splash of soy sauce, one diced clove of garlic, a handful of diced green onion, and some ginger powder. I think it'll be pretty tasty.

I'm also reading an amazing new book called "They Poured Fire On Us From The Sky." It is stunning. Very simply written, it is the story of three young boys, now young men, who escaped Sudan. It is a very moving read and it compels you to find a way to be a part of stopping genocide. It stuns me that we, sons and daughters of a loving Father in Heaven, continue to kill one another in the name of peace, or protection, or destiny. It's got to stop...but read this book.