31 October 2009

13.1 - I'm doing it

Since I started this adventure in running, I've kept my goals very attainable and that's been intentional. I did not want to set myself up for failure. I know myself too well and fear that not hitting a big goal early on would have kept me from pursuing it any further. So I've made them manageable. I've been inspired by what I've read in Runner's World as well as friends and other bloggers who have made running a key part of what and who they are.

So I've run a few 5K's now and covered a 10K distance a time or two. And I had the time of my life crewing and even running part of the Kettle Moraine 100 Ultramarathon. And now it's time for me to make a run (no pun intended) at a bigger goal: a half-marathon. And today, I put money up and registered. I'm doing it. I'll run the half-marathon component of the Illinois Marathon on Saturday, 1 May 2010 at the University of Illinois in Champaign/Urbana, IL. I'm in.

I've decided I'm going to hook up with a half-marathon training group too. CARA, the Chicago Area Runners Association, puts on a winter clinic and I'm going to do that, too. I want to run this one well. 13.1 miles...wow. 18 monthis ago, one mile was not even on the radar and here we are...thinking 13.1 is doable. Am I crazy?

28 October 2009

5 Spiced Pork Belly Sandwich

I'm just back from two days in Manhattan and need to get caught up a host of things, but had to post this. As you know, I've been obsessing about eating at Num Pang Sandwich Shop for quite awhile now and that became a reality on Tuesday. Nothing was going to stop me from getting there. Not even the rain, of which there was plenty in NYC the last two days.

Anyway, I took two of my staff and we jumped on the N train to head down to the 14th Street Station and then it was a quick walk to this little temple of goodness. You order outside and then if you choose to eat in, you head upstairs once your sandwich is done. That's what we did.

I ordered the Five Spiced Pork Belly Sandwich and in the simplest terms possible, liked to have died. It was an incredible sandwich. The bread, a crusty on the outside but tender on the inside, French roll enveloped the pork belly, the cucumber, and the other goodness that this sandwich possessed. Even the grilled Asian pear added an unexpected but good sweetness and crunch. I loved this sandwich.
Unbelievably good!

On the way back we dropped into one of the Crumbs for cupcakes. Oh my! The Cookie Dough Cupcake was outrageous. As in outrageously good - I mean a creamy mashed up Oreo in the center. Awesome. The Red Velvet, the standard bearer of cupcakes in my book, was a slight disappointment - a tad dry and too much icing and way too much of those waxy sprinkles. I'm glad because then it made me feel a little less like I was cheating on Foiled Cupcakes.

Those indulgences led me to my morning run up 5th Avenue this morning in the rain. It was one of the best runs in terms of just plain fun that I've had in a long time. It was really good. It was about 52 degrees and the rain wasn't too hard that it made things miserable, but when I got back after a quick three miler, I was drenched. The bellman at the hotel wasn't completely sure he should let me back in. He did and now I'm home again. It's good to be home.

Now to contemplate what sandwich I'll order next...

25 October 2009

The Week Ahead

Today was Stake Conference which meant a reduced Church meeting schedule for me, which is not necessarily a bad thing. It's allowed me to get caught up on a lot of things, including a slew of things for my Mom. I've also spent some time in the wreckage that is our basement. We are awaiting a bid from a contractor and the approval of the insurance company so we can move forward on the repair work from the stupid exploding water heater. I get the feeling we are in for the long haul on this one.

I have also had some time to think about the week ahead. Here's a look at what's on tap:

- New York City. Couple of days of work meetings-staff and suppliers. A fancy pants Star Alliance event for Continental Airlines as they bid farewell to Skyteam. Lunch at Numpang. A run through Central Park. Probable delayed flight on the return (weather isn't looking great this week for NYC or the Midwest) which means bonus miles - thank you, Mother United. Can you guess what I am most excited about? If you said Numpang, you would be correct.
Cannot WAIT to try one of these!

- Phoenix. Seeing Mom. It will be good to see her. I am so proud of her for how she is handling her new situation. She's tapped into a strength that she's always had but it's been dormant for awhile. Like I said, I'm just really proud of her.

It's been a good day and it's not yet over, but I'm ready to crawl under a blanket for a little while and read a book. I've just started reading Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger's book, Highest Duty. I'm barely into it but I can tell it's written in his voice. Having had the honor of meeting him, I can totally hear his voice in these pages. It's a good read.

23 October 2009

Why I love my alma mater

Tomorrow, my alma mater, Brigham Young University, will be the home for ESPN's College Game Day and that is cool. Tomorrow's game is big - #16 BYU goes up against #8 TCU. TCU spanked us last year so it promises to be quite a game. I'm proud of my school's football team, but honestly, it's not why I love the school. It's for gems like this that appear in the school's newspaper, the Daily Universe:


Oct. 11 Several female students left their apartment for 30 minutes to attend ward prayer. When they returned to their apartment, they found a severed elk head on their kitchen table. The suspects could not be identified and the elk was disposed of at the materials handling building.

I am not making this up. I only wish I were THAT creative. Read it here if you don't believe me. Awesome. Just awesome.

22 October 2009

Some things to look forward to

The last three weeks of work have been positively brutal. Brutal. It looks like there's a light at the end of the tunnel - I just fear what that light is. But I've got other things to focus on now. Like seeing Jim Gaffigan live on 30 January at the Chicago Theatre in the city. He is just funny and I am so looking forward to taking the stunningly patient SML to see him. It's going to be funny. Here's a preview of Jim at work:

Awesome! Now to figure out where dinner is that night...

The other thing I've got to look forward to is the Middle East, specifically Abu Dhabi and maybe, Doha, Qatar. I was the lucky winner of a Business Class ticket to any destination that Etihad Airways flies to and I say Abu Dhabi here I come.

Where to stay? What to do? Need to figure that all out. Looking forward to it. So if you've been to Abu Dhabi or Doha, let me know and give me some ideas on what to do/to see.

16 October 2009

Adios, Water Heater

It had to happen. We live in an older house. You could hear it in the occasional clanging and moaning coming from our water heater that it was going to give up the ghost sooner rather than later. Sadly, unlike an eerily silent ghost, when the water heater gave out today, it went out big. Unfortunately I was too lame to notice. Here's how it all went down:

My home office is in the basement and I settled in at 530AM this morning for a day of calls and catch up after a brutal few weeks. I was on conference call number three at 8AM-ish when there was an unusually loud bang from within the room that houses the water heater. Loud enough that I jumped but given that it makes noises like a Ford Pinto without a muffler, I didn't give it another thought. This was a bad call.

About 45 minutes later, I'm on yet another conference call when the stunningly patient SML comes down stairs asking what happened to the water (she'd just gotten out of the shower). That turned into a scream when she yelled, "The water is ALL OVER THE FLOOR!" I looked down and no lie, it was! About an inch of water was below my seat. Now, you might ask how did I not notice this...A) I was sitting on my feet so they weren't touching the ground; B) it wasn't like a tidal wave so it was pretty quiet; and C) who thinks to look down for water at any given moment?!

Anyway, it turns into a mad scramble to rescue all the electronic stuff off the floor, followed by a dash into the room to figure out how to turn off the water heater. FYI - it's the valve above the heater. Something I did not learn until after 10 minutes of furious struggle this morning. Then we started bailing. We used every towel in the house. Meanwhile, the stunningly patient SML calls a supposedly reputable local plumber here in town who responded by saying: "We're too busy today. Call someone else." Completely awesome. Not. The second plumber was fantastic. Lenert Plumbing was so helpful and were on the scene in no time. John, the plumber, was an incredibly calming influence too. Funny as well. I was apologizing for the disaster in the basement and he said, "I've just spent the last four days in a seven foot deep sewer trench. This is great!" I called our insurance company as the water was still pouring and they were great too. We had a disaster recovery team onsite within 90 minutes and an adjuster called within a couple of hours, saying we'd probably have a check in a day or so. Incredible. The recovery people from Servpro were amazing. Four guys dove into the mess and had it torn up and on the way to drying so fast. We were really impressed with Tim and his team. They've done a great job.

So now we've got most of the carpet thrown away, the baseboards off, holes drilled in the wall, seven fans blowing and a dehumidifier working OT. And the stunningly patient SML is already planning the re-do of the basement. Painting. New carpet. Good times.

Here's some pictures of today's fun:

That's the dehumidifier, not a nuclear reactor.

14 October 2009


Yeah, that pretty much captures my life right now. Swamped. So much going on at work and no relief in sight for about another week. My group has been managing three significant events and two are now done, with one more to go. I've hardly been home and I am just swamped. Need to do the mundane things like banking and updating the blog and then there's the important stuff like talking to my wife and kids. "Calgon, take me away." But that would require taking a bath and baths are about the grossest thing ever to me, so maybe a long hot shower and a good night's sleep will do the trick. I'll get caught up this weekend.

08 October 2009

Parent-Teacher Conference

It's that time of year and as this is the Boy's last year of junior high, this is our last year of the dreaded dream date known as the Parent-Teacher Conference. And for whom does the Parent-Teacher Conference instill fear and dread? Ask the Boy. Sometimes the post-conference "chat" we have at home doesn't exactly go the way he'd like. That being said, it's not like are like discussions with a parole officer. They aren't. They are the discussions parents have to have with a "sports are my life"-crazed fourteen year old, that's all.

Sometimes reminding him that he does need to stay focused as much in his studies as his sports is not the easiest discussion. The Boy gets it. He just forgets sometimes. Like any fourteen year old boy. So he's not all that different. So we'll see if his teachers pull any rabbits out of their collective hats tonight.

It's been a wicked, wicked long week that culminated today with the biggest event of the year that my team manages. I can't even begin to tell you how GLAD I am that it is over. Glad doesn't even begin to cover it. With this one done and one more big one next week, I'm hoping I can start to get some balance back, or at least a semblance of it. I need to get my running back. It's been all off-kilter because of the hours I've been working and the time I've been spending offsite. Looking forward to getting back at it this weekend. I miss a good few miles each day. And given what the weather is doing here, it would appear that the nice fall days are numbered. I want to stay off the evil that is the treadmill for as long as I can...

04 October 2009

A weekend to be unwell

Who among us likes being sick? I don't see a lot of raised hands or affirmative nods, so for most of us, being sick is not high on our list of things to do. My fall cold arrived, as best as I can tell, as I slept Friday night. I was jarred awake harshly at 5AM Saturday because I forgot to turn off my alarm and that's when the lung-racking coughing began. It was immediately followed by the crankiness that is pretty much a lock anytime I get sick. So I've pretty much spent Saturday and today in the following state:

The miracle that is Tylenol Severe Cold has helped, I must admit. It's also been good that it's Conference Weekend, which meant no formal Church meetings this weekend. It was an at-home church weekend. Every six months, members of our faith convene in a General Conference that is broadcast throughout the world. Since most major satellite and cable systems carry the Conference, we get to hang at home for the eight hours of meetings (not as bad as it sounds, four sessions in two hour blocks). It's a time to be together and it has become a time of tradition. With food. Of course. It's two days of spiritual feasting and filling the stomach as well.

It's been a good couple of days of counsel and I've come away recognizing that I can do more as a father, husband, and servant in God's kingdom. It's up to me to make that happen. I take comfort in what I heard though too. God knows who each of us is and He is watching our for us. That's comforting to know.

So now as Sunday winds down, I'm getting ready for "The Amazing Race." Last week's season opener was completely boss. The wasabi bomb was brilliant and I'm ready for more of Asia tonight. Bring it on!

02 October 2009

Ouch! Kind of.

It was supposed to be a day of celebration here in Chicagoland as there was a sense that the 2016 Summer Olympic Games were going to be ours. Alas, no. We were the first city tossed to the curb. I thought this picture in the Chicago Sun Times website was really appropriate:
Richard A. Chapman, Chicago Sun Times

It's a bit of a bummer. It looked like Chicago had put together a really solid effort, although what value Oprah brought is really questionable. I would say none. I'm sure the President's detractors, who are legion, will try to use this to say his cachet means nothing. I would argue they're are stretching, pathetically.

Rio, frankly, deserves it. Congratulations to them. This will be the first time the Olympic Games will be held on the South American continent. Brazil is a resurgent economy and a growing force in the world. And the people are amazing. And it's the home of Diet Guarana Antarctica.
My favorite beverage that I can't get in the US to save my life. Now, if the IOC thought Rio was going to be safer than Chicago, they are sadly mistaken. They are in for a wild ride. Brazil will be a fun place for the Games but boy do they have their work cut out for them. I wonder how many favelas will be mowed down in order to build the venues? The Chinese mowed down a slew of hutongs for the Beijing Games, so we'll see what Rio does.

Very glad the weekend is nearly upon us. It'll be the first weekend I've been home since my Dad died and it'll be good to get back on schedule. Almost there, I think. Still can't believe he's gone so that's not normal but I am glad to be back on track with my family. It's good.