26 November 2009


The bounty of blessings I've been afforded in this life are too many to count. I realize that each and every day as I spend time with the stunningly patient SML and my three children. I realize that each time I'm at Church, worshipping freely. I realize that each time I am able to pay a bill without panicking. I realize that each time I sit down for a meal. I realize that each time I get on the phone with my amazing Mom and talk with her. I've been richly, richly blessed and I am thankful.

I'm thankful for a wife who doesn't seem to mind getting up and going to a race to cheer on her woefully slow husband. The stunningly patient SML did that this morning, going with me to the Naperville Turkey Trot. It was cold this morning and we got our first dusting of snow and it was raining/sleeting as we left the house, but she bundled up and went with me. Mercifully the starting point was at one of the local high schools so she was able to wait in the warm gym as I ran. It was a good race - not a PR by any stretch but good just the same. It did get me thinking about warmer sock options as well as some other things to put in place as I go into winter training for my first half-marathon in May 2010. I know it sounds forever away, and it is, but this is how I can make the goal achievable.

Proud of CAL, daughter number two, for getting a j-o-b. She got hired at Buona Beef and starts tomorrow. It looks like she'll be working the counter and serving tables. I'm proud of her for getting this all on her own. I'm very curious about the family discount, because I like the place. It makes a good Italian beef sandwich:

So clearly, with discounts on sandwiches like that I'm thankful that I run. Otherwise, I'm going to wind up on "The Biggest Loser." Although because I can't cry at the drop of a hat or would refuse to gaze at another contestant as he sings a song about the time on the "ranch," methinks I would not be ideal for that train wreck.

Anyway, it's time to get going on Thanksgiving feast preparations. Looking forward to a great afternoon with friends. I look forward, too, to some time to further ponder the many blessings I've been given. Hope you can do the same.

23 November 2009

A peak into my iPod Running Mix

Thanksgiving brings many things, not the least of which is the potential of excess pounds from the mountain of mashed sweet potatoes that I will be forced to mow down this Thursday. To combat said gorging, plenty of places put on 5K's. etc. Our fine 'burb is no different, so it's nearly time for the Naperville Lions Turkey Trot 5K and I could not be LESS ready. I've hardly been out since my six-miler last week. I won't be breaking any PR's on this one.

Anyway, I picked up my race packet from the country's most awesome running store, the Naperville Running Company, on Saturday where I could have sworn I heard someone say there are nearly 5,000 people registered for the race. 5,000 people for a 5K...is he serious? He may be. I mean my tag number is 4786. He may be right. Yikes. I've run with a couple of hundred runners before, but thousands. We'll see how it goes.

I've tweaked my "Running" playlist on my iPod in advance of this week's festivities. Here's a peak into what I'm running to these days, in no particular order:

Bad Medicine - Bon Jovi - c'mon, how can you go wrong?
Wake Up Call - Maroon 5 - annoying band, yes. Like the song.
Borderline - Madonna - the Mistress Skank of all things 80s at her early best
Strangelove - Depeche Mode - it's got a great running beat
Cuando Calienta El Sol - Luis Miguel - I live in Chicago...anything about the warmth of the sun is good to get you going.
Somebody Told Me - The Killers - another great running beat
Don't Go - Yaz - I could run to the sound of Alison Moyet singing the mutual fund listings
Rock The Boat - The Hues Corporation - Just because I like it
Girlfriend In A Coma - The Smiths - Morrisey at his cheeriest
River Deep, Mountain High - Ike & Tina Turner - I just envision Ike trying to put the beatdown on me and I keep running
Jai Ho - A. R. Rahman - because who doesn't need a little Bollywood on their run
Move Along - The All-American Rejects - maybe because I find the title inspirational
Jogi - Panjabi MC - see "Jai Ho" above
Lose Yourself - Eminem - it was either this or the "Rocky" theme for my obligatory race anthem
Kiss Them For Me - Siouxsie & The Banshees - just because it's cool
Legal Tender - The B52s - because Kate and Cindy hold one of the notes for a stupid long time and I make it into a breathing game

I mix it up from time to time, but those are my go-to's, right now. We'll see if those will carry me through on Thursday.

18 November 2009

Fare thee well, L-1011 seats

The recent basement flood has left us wondering what to do with the space as we have had AMPLE time to contemplate. The flood was weeks ago and today was the first day where we had some one show up to start work. The painter/drywaller started work late this afternoon. Yeah! I didn't even argue that it was fouling up our evening plans. I'm just grateful that the repair work is starting.

So paint and carpet are chosen. With the painting and drywall repair starting, we began moving stuff out of the basement that hadn't already been moved. That included my beloved Delta Air Lines coach seats from one of their last L-1011's. Those two seats have been a part of my office decor since 2001 or thereabouts. These were awesome red seats, except one of the seat cushions ("which, in the event of a water landing, can be used as a floatation device") was gray. A perfect symbol of what those L-1011's were like in the end. Click here to get an idea of what my seats looked like. They were a wonderful piece of memorabilia in my collection of airline stuff. Stuff that includes a couple of life jackets (legally obtained!), more than 800 safety/emergency instruction cards, and a lot of other stuff. But as I looked at these seats, it was obvious that they'd been hammered. The move to IL was particularly rough on them. It dawned on me that it was time...time to bid the seats farewell.

I could have put them on eBay, but they are so hammered I don't think I could have gotten anything for them. So I took them to the curb. Just let them go. I know that the stunningly patient SML is beyond relieved to see them go. She just couldn't get passed the fact that hundreds of thousands of people had parked themselves in those seats. The thought of it was just too much for her to take. We did agree that new seats would be more acceptable. I did promise not to go the extreme that Anthony Toth has gone. He's my hero - we've talked a couple of times. Check out what he's done in his garage:

Watch CBS News Videos Online
Completely cool. I could not be more jealous.

15 November 2009

Run, Bulls, Forever Strong

It's an early Sunday morning. I forgot I have to teach a lesson at Church today so I got up at my normal time to review it. It looks like today is going to be a good day. It's been a good weekend so far so why shouldn't today be excellent?

Yesterday dawned early with a 7AM training meeting at church. It's all a part of the drill of belonging to a Church driven by lay clergy. We are asked to serve so you accept and you serve. And you grow and are blessed as a result. After the meeting, got home to find the stunningly patient SML and the Boy doing one more raking of the leaves since yesterday was the last day for leaf collection in our fine 'burb. I got the cars washed and then headed into the city to pick up CAL. She'd gone into the city to work - boxing up cupcakes for an event that our friend was putting on. She has a really boss cupcake company, Foiled Cupcakes, and it was interesting to get a "behind the scenes" view of her company. She's built an impressive business primarily through social media, like Twitter and Facebook. Smart stuff.

Once home, I could no longer ignore the siren call of yesterday's weather. High 60's in Chicago. IN NOVEMBER! So a run was in order. Figuring that we may not have another weekend like this for awhile, it was a long (well, for me) run. Six miles through the leaf-strewn streets down to the Riverwalk, through the campus of North Central College, and then home again. It was a stunning day. I was pleased with my first three miles. Not so happy with the last three. Based on my pacing, if I don't change anything, my goal of completing my first half-marathon in 2 hours, 30 minutes will be doable. However, I will be making some changes and plan to beat that goal by Race Day.

We capped what had been a great day by heading back into the city for a Bulls game. the Bulls played the 76ers and we had awesome seats.
View from our seats

The game was good - the first quarter was rough for the Bulls but then they got it together. It was nice to see the Bulls get a win. We had a good time.
The mighty fine and stunningly patient SML with CAL and the Boy before tip-off

And tonight should end well after a good day of getting religion. If you've seen this movie:
Forever Strong
You may have heard of the nationally-ranked, championship high school rugby coach, Larry Gelwix. He was a central figure in the above-mentioned film. He'll be speaking to our Church youth tonight. Looks like it's going to be very cool. Good way to end the weekend.

13 November 2009

"It's time."

(Revised early 11/14/09 after a severe schooling overnight on Facebook)

"It's time." So said my eye doctor this afternoon after my exam. I knew what she was going to say. Anyone who has been with me in a dimly-lit restaurant of late would know what was coming next. Bifocals. (Progressives...Political correctness demands I call them progressives!)

Bifocal (progressives) contacts. Rigid gas permeable bifocal (progressives) contacts. Plus fake tears to keep my eyes from drying out. Plus new glasses. Those, at least, will stay single vision lenses since I rarely wear them. But bifocal (progressives) contacts are on the way.

I am officially and solidly middle-aged now. I have the gray hair to match. The stunningly patient SML came down to help me pick out new frames and the ones she selected (which are the ones I bought) have gray frames. She said, "They match your hair." Nice. All I need now, quite frankly, is a knee replacement. Or better yet, a hip replacement. Or some internal obstruction. Bring it on, middle age. I'm ready to take you on. And now I'll be able to see you coming, should you choose to further attack me in a dimly-lit restaurant.

09 November 2009

I just had to shake my head

Without going into significant or colorful detail (and I tried to illustrate it using Google Images but on this rare occasion, decorum ruled for me, and you should be grateful), I made my way to the doctor's office today to get a very small lump, a bump really, checked out under my arm. Well, in my underarm. Thanks to a quick scan of WebMD yesterday, I decided I'd better get in today.

First, I have to say kudos to my medical group - they've established a service to get you in for same day appointments and that is not by pointing you to the Urgent Care. It really works - I called at 11AM and had an appointment with an Internal Medicine specialist at 12Noon. I will quibble with the wait they put me through - apparently they've taken a lesson from our friends at the world's worst airline, USAirways. 1200Noon actually meant 1240PM. I sat waiting in the Exam Room for 40 minutes without a word from anyone. I honestly thought I was on a delayed USAirways flight. All I needed was a really nasty nurse to come in and yell at me for asking when the doctor might be coming in and then it would have been exactly like a USAirways flight and making the mistake of asking one of their flight attendants for a water.

Anyway the doctor comes in and I describe my issue. She asks to give it a look. I think to myself, "Well, it's your funeral." So off comes the shirt and she gives the lump/bump in my underarm a couple of taps and declares it an issue with a lymph node that can be addressed with an antibiotic. I'm still shirtless and she's at the computer making some notes about the visit with her back to me when she says, "Now, you don't shave your underarms, right?"

How do I respond? I mean she just saw that CLEARLY a razor has NEVER landed under my arms. While I'm not the missing link, there's nothing bald there either. I just had to shake my head. She must have sensed the fact that her question was making me think she picked up her medical degree at Fred's Casa of Hot Dogs and Online Medical School, she spun around and copped to the fact that that was a lame question. I was relieved. But still...I just had to shake my head.

Welcome to the first day of my week.

07 November 2009

11/7/09 - 71 degrees in Chicago

Today could not have been a better day to be in the fine city of Chicago. 71 degrees, people. In November. November! A world gone mad, but sign me up. It was fantastic. The stunningly patient SML and I had a chance to really enjoy it as stayed in the city last night.

We stole away to the Four Seasons Chicago for a quick getaway and it was mighty fine. The hotel has been through a renovation since we were last there and the rooms are modern without being severe or sterile. It's an amazingly comfortable place to stay. The location at the north end of Michigan Avenue can't be beat (nor could our view of the Lake). There are plenty of hoteliers out there looking for your coin these days but there are several things that set Four Seasons apart and one consistent thing is the staff. They are amazing, from the bell man to the hotel manager - each one seems genuinely interested in ensuring your stay is a good one. I love that they can make conversation with a guest without it being forced or canned. I also like that they use their guest histories. When we checked in, they wanted to make sure I was still reading The New York Times and that I'd have one waiting for me (for those keeping score, yes, yes I am still reading The Times). It's little things like that that make a huge difference.

Anyway, it was a fairly mild evening on Friday so we walked in out and all over the city until we got to Zocalo, a Mexican place. We intentionally beat the Friday bar crowd (they just started arriving as we left) and enjoyed a good dinner. My mole was good although the grilled pineapple required a hack saw to cut.

We started this morning with a run along the lakeshore. Since I started running, I'd always wanted to run along the lakeshore but living in the western 'burbs has not made it easy to do it. Today I did it. And it was fun to have the stunningly patient SML join me. She ran part of my run with me and walked the rest. She even started talking about doing the 5K next May when I run my first half. More signs of a world gone mad in a good way.

So how to celebrate a good run? Gorging. Seriously. We piled into the Original Pancake House for breakfast. The line was literally out the door of the place when we got there. I am no fan of lines and I was not sure we should wait. Patience prevailed. We waited and breakfast was awesome - the 49er pancake is genius. Pure, evil genius.

It was a great little escape. We made our way home, picked up the kids and went and watched BYU mow down the Wyoming Cowboys. It was such a spanking that it was a bit dull. And it no way makes up for their crappy performance against TCU two weeks ago.

And now, thanks to Daylight Savings Time, it's pitch black outside and it's only 600PM and I'm exhausted. So I'm done.

04 November 2009

What's on my mind

What's on my mind? Frankly not a lot. At least right now. In the back of my head, here's what I'm obsessing about...

This place
An Executive Suite at the Four Seasons Chicago

The stunningly patient SML and I like to "escape" here everyone once in awhile. Said escape is coming up soon and I can't wait.

This book:

I'm only on the introduction and it's already brilliant. It's a follow-up to the equally brilliant "Freakonomics."I mean how can you go wrong with a treatise on why suicide bombers should buy life insurance. I say you cannot.

This iPhone app:

If nothing else, I'm hoping this will help me not appear to be a complete spastic around my children when it comes to what they are listening to now. Wait, did I just say that? It almost sounded like I could have yelled at them to turn down that racket. I hope I'm not ready to make that leap quite yet.

So that's it. Not a lot on my mind tonight. And I'm OK with that.