28 September 2008

The Amazing Race is back!

Twelve hours at church today and I'm winding down watching the premiere of the 13th season of the greatest show in reality television - "The Amazing Race"

It is, as always awesome. Tonight's destination is Salvador, Brasil. I missed the first few minutes, which I will watch later, so I didn't see the team introductions, but it looks like the usual collection of characters and area a slow to start. Couple of observations...the frat boys? Umm...what frat did they belong to at ASU? Kappa Summa Dorka? If I were an ASU administrator, I'd demand that CBS black out the ASU t-shirts they're wearing for the rest of the season. They aren't doing ASU any favors-they appear to be colossal idiots. And the married, tie-dye wearing beekeepers...his beard and her hair appear to be completely interchangeable. It's creepy. I'm not worried about what appears to be a slow start - this thing always picks up. I am a little disappointed that CBS has shown the destinations of this season's race but I'll get over it.

Now the other day I was wishing the SNL would bring Tina Fey back every week to have her play Sarah Palin. Well they ponied up again last night. It was great - not quite the screaming riot that was the Palin/Clinton showdown of a couple weeks ago - but funny just the same. So here it is:

27 September 2008

View from 1D on UA627

Friday afternoon I flew to Washington DC for an all-day NBTA Board meeting today. The flight was oversold, and when I booked it, I was assigned a middle seat, so I pulled the trigger on my upgrade certificates and upgraded the flight. For a Friday afternoon O'Hare rush-hour flight, we sailed out on time and even arrived in Washington DC a few minutes early. My cab driver was a fascinating Ethiopian who made the short ride to Alexandria a really interesting ride.

Got up this morning and ran a couple of miles in Old Town Alexandria and along the Potomac River. It had rained most of the night and it made for a really pleasant run. As I was wrapping it up, I ran by a Farmer's Market and so as soon as I finished, I headed back to the Market. I love markets like this. They're so visceral and work your senses. I saw some of the reddest peppers ever and tasted an absolutely amazing peach. And then I hit the bakery stand and I was done. Knowing that the TSA (speaking of the TSA, have you seen their new blue uniforms? Apparently, they thought this would make them seem more pleasant. It does not. That's all I'm saying) would probably confiscate any vegetables or fruit, I bought a loaf of sourdough to bring home. Take a look:


My meetings actually go until tomorrow but I had to get home, so I bailed early and raced over to DCA to get on the last flight to ORD. I used my Clear pass for the first time and sailed through security. Can every airport please get this? As I checked in, I decided to see if I could upgrade this flight and I cleared the list. Boy, was I glad I did. Things were looking good...we backed out on time and went straight to the end of the taxiway and were about to roll onto the runway when we got the turn order to the penalty box...line of thunderstorms and there we would sit for the next hour. Here's a shot of what I kept looking at, as the minutes ticked by:

I was glad I was upfront. There was a screaming kid in the back and it was 100% full. Our flight attendant working up front reminded me totally of Professor Smith from "Lost in Space" - looks, demeanor - and that didn't bode well. But he turned out to be OK and made the hour long delay and the flight totally tolerable. So thanks to the miracle of heinously padded airline scheduling, we landed only about 25 minutes late.

So now I'm home, catching up and getting ready for Sunday. I talked to my mom twice today, as today is her birthday. Quite a lady, my mom. I first called her from DCA and she was insistent that I sing to her. I steadfastly refused, telling her I would sing to her once I was in my car in Chicago, so I fulfilled my promise. It was great to talk to her and here her laugh. Made my day!

23 September 2008

A random thought or two or more

After two nasty weeks at work where I fell completely off my running schedule, I'm getting back in the swing of things. When I got home tonight, I took off on a short run and it gave me some much-needed time to clear out my crowded head and it got me to thinking about a few things. Like...

Why am I reading the following books all at the same time: "Traffic;" "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo;" "Hot, Flat, and Crowded;" "Go Put Your Strengths to Work;" and "What Happened to the Cross?"

Why did all the morning television news programs give even an ounce of air time to this millenium's most hideous mother, Lynne Spears (mother of the twin skanks of the Apocalypse, Britney and Jamie Lynne) upon the publication of her pearl of wisdom on parenting in challenging times. Shame on the bookstore that even sells that steaming pile of written garbage or the library that files this book in anything but the fantasy section!

Why will the media forget completely about the financial meltdown our economy faces when Clay Aiken officially comes out tomorrow? Anyone shocked by this "revelation" needs to be medicated. Immediately.

Why is the Angriest Elderly Presidential Candidate Ever refusing to let his VP nominee speak to the media in anything other than orchestrated interviews or photo ops?

And a final thought, speaking of our Republican VP candidate, why, why, why can't Tina Fey play Sarah Palin every stinkin' week on Saturday Night Live? I know the video is legendary at this point, and you've probably seen it, but methinks it's worth a posting here:

So that's cleared my mind - have a good night!

21 September 2008

A most excellent birthday present

I got a most excellent birthday present yesterday. I was all kinds of excited when I opened my new steamer basket. Steamed buns and dim sum here we come!
After my meetings ended today, it was time to bust out the wok and get the steam rising, so we could use the steamer basket. I also got a Chinese cookbook yesterday and I used a recipe out of it for steamed pork buns. It was a lot of fun to make the buns, stuff them, and get them in the steamer. Courtney got in on the action early as I got the filling going in the wok. All was good for her until I threw in the oyster sauce. She once again made it ABUNDANTLY clear that she is not a fan of anything seafood-related, anything. But, to her credit, she managed to contain her gag reflex while I prepped the rest of the buns. Gold star for her. Anyway, it really could not have been easier to make these things. And the finished product - excellent, I must say. I mean, the local dim sum joints don't have to worry about competition, but it's going to be a lot of fun trying to beat them in my own kitchen!

It's been another good day of getting religion. Long day and it's not over - a youth fireside still to go - but a good day. Courtney spoke in our Sacrament Meeting today and she did really well. She spoke confidently and bore a solid testimony. Shari was called to serve as president of the Young Women in our Chicagoland ward today. She, as always, will be awesome. She'll be great. And giving me the steamer basket so I can continue to fuel the Asian food obsession is another example of her awesomeness. She's no fan o'the Asian food obsession but she sure is great to enable it for me!

Speaking of Asian food obsession, I leave for Bangkok week after next for a week of meetings. I'm taking one day as vacation time while I'm there and I am spending part of it in a Thai cooking class. It's at a place called Baipai and I am all kinds of excited. It would have been even more exciting if the state of emergency was still in effect in Bangkok but that's over and done. This class looks to be a lot of fun. I am really looking forward to it.

20 September 2008


Ah...another birthday. At this point, it's just one year closer in the march towards the sweet relief of death. Today's been a busy day which is fine because really it is just another day. I have pondered a bit about what happened on this day in history and thanks to Wikipedia, here's what I've learned: (I am aware that Wikipedia can be dubious at best, and I've had this confirmed by the Boy and his friends, who told me they go into Wikipedia and change things based on their knowledge - this coming from a bunch of thirteen year olds, but let's see what it dialed up for today.)

Oktoberfest begins in Munich today, so bottoms up excessive drinkers and alcoholics!
On this day in 1378, a papal schism erupted throwing the Roman Catholic Church into turmoil, and that could not have been fun.
On this day in 1854, the Crimean War began, and that too could not have been fun.
And on this day in 1973, Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in straight sets (I'm not even going to comment on the irony there) in an internationally televised tennis match that became known as "The Battle of the Sexes."

So gracias, Wikipedia for those nuggets of knowledge. Since I turned 42 today, I thought about that number. So I thought of the English 80's band, Level 42. You know...1985 and "Something About You." Hum along. Another #42 reference...our 42nd President, none other than the philandering, lying husband of Shrillary, Bill Clinton. Not a lot of fun there either.

How's that for a birthday association? All in all, it's been a good celebration. We met wonderful friends, Rick and Tamara, who were in Chicago from Atlanta, for dinner last night in the city. It was a gorgeous night so we ate outside at the Weber Grill downtown and then walked back to their hotel to catch up a bit more. That played out like and episode of "Cops." We got to see a couple of arrests and it's not like they were staying in some kind of dump. All good fun!

Today started with Bishopric Training at 7AM, followed by Leadership Training at 9AM and then the Boy's soccer game at 1PM. It was a summer day today - last one and it actually felt hot. He had a good game and it was fun to watch. We have a social with the youth at 630PM tonight for Standards and then we get to clean the Church. Quite the day! We are going to dinner - Thai - too, so that'll be great.

It's been a good day. I've been blessed. It's good to celebrate another year!

14 September 2008

The sump is no chump...so far!

I am delighted and relieved to report that the sump pump has held its own during the downpour that we've been enduring here in Chicagoland. No agua in the basement...so far. And it appears that this afternoon we've hit a bit of a respite from the rain. Yesterday, according to the record books and weather geeks, was the rainiest day in Chicago. Ever. And I believe them. Scenes like this, as published in our local paper today, are common around town:

It looks like we've got one more night of this before we'll catch a break. Whew! And then it'll start snowing, or some such bizarre event to turn the tables on the global warming argument.

It's been a good Sunday, at least based on how I measured it today. And that would be the fact that no one walked out as I conducted Sacrament Meeting for the first time. Color me happy. For those readers who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Sacrament Meeting is our main meeting on Sunday, where members are instructed together and, most importantly, partake of the sacrament. We also conduct local church business in that meeting and I was conducting today. You know I can get up in front of 3,000 people at a time and talk like there's no tomorrow. But to stand before a group of my church brothers and sisters, well, it was just a little intimidating. But like I said, no one left and no one threw anything at me.

Tonight our church youth kick off "Standards Week" with a fireside with their parents. Throughout the week, they'll have the opportunity to hear from their leaders about the importance of living the standards that the Lord has outlined. They'll be given to share those standards with friends. They'll be reminded that it is possible to live up to what the Lord expects of them. Not just of them, but of each of us. It's all here for them:

I really appreciate their leaders for putting this together. It impacts my two children that are in the youth program and I know it makes a difference for them. It blesses them. I had great church youth leaders growing up, but I am so impressed by the tools that the Church has provided today. It's incredible but it is so needed to help save our children from a really, really tough world.

13 September 2008

Sump pump don't fail me now!

In Chicagoland, we are not strangers to weird, extreme weather. Just come here in February and you'll get a taste of it. But it's been raining now for at least 36 hours. Can someone tell me if Noah is building an ark again along the shores of Lake Michigan? I'd really appreciate it. Because at this point, an ark is beginning to look like an attractive form of transportation.

Some areas here have already seen upwards of five inches of rain and it's not stopping as we are supposed to get the leftovers of Ike. Wonderful. As a result, I am in sitting a vigil over our twenty year old sump pump. Please, please, please don't fail me now, Sump Pump! Here's what our pump looks like:

This innocent gross hole (kind of looks like a port-a-jon, doesn't it?) in my basement floor is all that stands between us and all kinds of water filling our basement. I just need it to get us through this season before I replace it. Unfortunately, it's not a cheap activity, replacing or upgrading the pump. So I'll resort to vigilant oversight and prayerful begging that it makes it!

Speaking of prayerful begging, methinks UCLA's football team's prayers went completely unanswered today as they fell HARD to BYU, 59 - 0. It was pathetic. I mean even Neuheisel came out at halftime and had basically thrown in the towel - they were already down 42 at that point. It wasn't even a spanking. It was awesome to be texting our Lady of BYU during the game - her best color commentary: "Dad, this is the greatest school ever!" I have to agree.

12 September 2008


I could not be HAPPIER that it's Friday. This has been one of the longest work weeks ever. I've never intended for this space to be a forum for me to whine about work and I'm not about to start, but I do have to say that this past week will go down in the record books as one of the most heinous that I've had in a long, long time. One of those 70-plus hour work weeks with a quick trip to New York thrown in for good measure.

I was in Rochester, New York speaking at a New York State Business Travel Association event on September 11th. While the meeting was not a 9/11 memorial, given how the events of that fateful day seven years ago impacted my industry, I was asked to make some remarks to the 40-some odd people in attendance. As I spoke of that dreadful day, I found myself becoming far more emotional than I thought I would. It struck me that it has been seven years and I fear that it's fading from our national memory. That can't happen. We can't let the blowback of the longest presidential campaign in the history of, oh I don't know, the eternities, or a weakened economy, or the possible comeback from this side of crazy of one Britney Spears (and if she does, her certain collapse will be without compare!), let us forget what happened to our world, not just our nation, that day. We have to rise above our national tendency of short attention span and do all that we can to be a force for good in this world.

Anyway, I'm just glad the weekend is here. I get to fast the rest of the night in advance of yet another blood test tomorrow. Let's see where my white cell count lands this time. Based on what I've read on WebMD and my white counts during my physical, I probably have something ridiculous, but that's why I shouldn't put too much stock in self-diagnosing. That's a bad trait in my family...it usually doesn't go well.

09 September 2008

The Boy turns 13

Today in Chicagoland we celebrate the Boy's 13th birthday. We are now the parents of three teen-agers - one in college, one in high school, and one in junior high...oh my. It's been a good day for PTL - breakfast in bed, easy day at school, football after school, his favorite dinner, a YM activity with all his buddies, and then closing the evening opening his gift - 'Rockband' for the Wii. As we speak, he's showing his mom how it works. Classic.

It's great to have a son like the Boy, PTL. He's awesome and brings us a wonderful mix of happiness and terror all at once. He's amazing and continues to evolve into quite the young man. It will be quite an experience the next few years watching him grow and mature. He's quite the character, as this picture reflects:

Happy birthday, chief!

07 September 2008

Doce horas en un traje

Many, many times I've been compelled to describe my dad as a man who would be most comfortable mowing the lawn in a suit. And I've never meant that in a bad way. It has always meant that he was ready to serve. He's always been a role model of service to others, Christ-like in his way and he's always been ready to serve whomever, whenever needed. So if he's always in a suit, he's always ready to go.

I've also said I'd be wise to follow his example. And I'm trying. Does it count that I've been in my suit for twelve hours today? It's been a good, busy Sabbath day. Started with Bishopric meeting at 7:30AM and it went from there. I got home for good around 4:30PM. I then did my first youth interview (SB, you survived, my friend!) and once that was over, I was finally able to call it a day. I have to admit I'm glad to be out of the suit for the night.

Talked to our Lady Of BYU today and she had a great first week of Fall Semester. She's going to a Sunday Night Devotional tonight where Elder Jeffrey R. Holland is speaking - man, I miss those days of being able to have such access to Church leaders.

Capped the evening with homemade soft tacos - Shari got all kinds of creative with the shredded roast (the jalapeno nailed it!) that she used and it was so, so good. And now "The Simpsons" are on. Still the Best.TV.Show.Ever!

06 September 2008

Remember that "Seinfeld" episode?

I'm referring to Episode #59, "The Smelly Car," from April 1993, where Jerry wages war against a BO beyond description - a little present left by a parking valet. It was a classic when it first aired and a gutbust every time it airs in repeats. Well, today, Shari and I came up against that same hideous thing while in Target.

Apparently, a shopper had skipped bathing bathing for, oh I don't know, forever and every aisle this guy cruised down, he left a trail of carnage, destruction, and stink like you can't believe. Children were yelling, 'What stinks?' It was so bad that I think I actually saw bread going stale as he passed by the innocent bags of unsuspecting wheat, white, and rye breads. They never knew what hit 'em. People were literally stopping in the aisles after said shopped had gone by them and they were doing the "sniff" manuver to see if, by some hideous happenstance, it was them. I mean to call it noxious is an understatement. It was unreal. And all I could think of was that episode of "Seinfeld."

I don't know how one manages to get out of the house with a stink like that, but then again, I think this just goes to my belief that a whole lot of folks have carnival fun house mirrors installed in their homes because if they had real mirrors, they wouldn't be walking around dressed the way there are...

That's been Saturday's highlight...I'd like to say that BYU's win over Washington was the highlight but since we don't get Fox Sports Network in this neck of Chicagoland, we didn't get to see the win. We did get to see the Boy play his first soccer game this season and his team won, 5 - 0. Great job! We're going to close the evening watching Brian Regam - we saw him live in an awesome show a couple of nights ago in Joliet (a town with basically no redeeming qualities) and he has a new special on Comedy Central tonight. Laughing as a way to close the evening is always good!

03 September 2008

A thought or two....

It's only Wednesday and it feels like one Monday after another...reinforcing the fact that I really, really deplore four-day work weeks. They kill me. Simple as that...

So some things that are getting me through

- watching "Wipeout" on ABC. Parker and I were hysterical watching it last night. Haven't laughed that hard in a long, long time

- cinnamon rolls; enough said other than "thank you" to Judy for those rolls! Awesome!

- getting psyched to see Brian Regan in concert this week. When Shari and I saw him in concert in Ontario several years ago with a wonderful group of friends, we nearly lost a couple of organs laughing. Can't wait for a report tomorrow night!

All that and a couple of good runs should make the rest of the week bearable! That and watching the weird antics at the Republican Convention. I can't even begin to get my arms around what's going on there right now.