Monday, December 22, 2008

Snowy Christmas

I have been in Portland (well, McMinnville) since very late Wednesday night. It has been snowing non-stop since then. Well, the snow has stopped, so the freezing rain could come and put a razor sharp edge on top of the fluffy pretty snow.

Saturday afternoon we had 7.5 inches of snow outside. This morning we have 10.5 inches. I have never seen this much snow in Mcminnville before. I have only seen this much snow on the mountain or around the great lakes, never along the valley floor.

The neighbors moved from Idaho and have a snow blower, so the cleared the sidewalks and our driveway. This was very nice. Unfortunately, the snow kept coming and pretty much filled in the cleared pathways.

I haven't seen any friends since I got here. I haven't gone wine tasting, I haven't gone shopping, I haven't had a professionally cooked meal, I haven't even had fast food (which I never eat, but still...)

In 2 minutes I get to try my snow driving skills. We are going to the hospital for some surgery for my dad. We called the hospital to see if the surgery was still on, and of course the don't know. I know we will schlep clear across town on the non-plowed streets to the hospital and then they will say all elective surgery is cancelled. Then I will be very upset.

Stay tuned for the report of me flipping out in the hospital and me being arrested. Watch the Yamhill County Jail Blotter.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fuck Me Gently With A Chainsaw.

So we left on time. We had a very tough head wind (170 knots or about 200 mph), but we got in on time. And I just love the first class bump going into PDX, my bag is always first off the belt.

It is cold here, but no ice, no snow. I think all my friends and family were lying to me.

I have said many a great thing about Green Cab before, but they piss me off. They wouldn't even talk to me because the weather was bad. I am in a White Van Shuttle now. I am afraid the driver is some crazy meth head. He is talking about moving to LA to be a stunt man. "uh, I think I can hit on some babes down there, don't you" then he bursts into wild laughter. Uh, yeah dude, you can hit on girls, but they will mace you.

Even though it doesn't seem to be icy, I am nervous about our high rate of speed. We are on I5 just past the curves and we are going 85. The horn works too... He uses that more than his turn signal.

Best part of this can ride- I've seen my life flash before my eyes, twice. Oh, and he is arguing with me on the rate. Only a $5 difference, but methy is only getting so much money from me, increase your rate, reduce your tip,dick.

God help me!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Craziness!

So I am totally going to jinx myself now, but...

I got to the airport with enough time to get a panini, a beer and eat at a leisurely pace and still have 10 minutes until we board. Supposed to land 5 minutes late, not too bad. And my taxi IS coming to pick me up! I can't understand this craziness. Everything is coming up Tim today!

Speaking of a good day, I had a nice coaching session today. We put together my yearly plan. Many of you reading this are part of my yearly plan too, just wait and see.

Barring metal fatigue or pilot error, I will be in Mac in 5.5 hours! Whoo hoo!

And so it begins.

I am in a cab on montrose working my way west to the blue line to the airport. Traffic is fine, roads are clear. Evidently the weather on the other end is the problematic piece. I am not actually concerned about the trip.

I am more concerned about Lilly. BAD is going to watch her, but decided not to get her until saturday because of the bad weather today. Lilly can stay at home by herself for more than 4 days without any real issues. It just concerns me that something might come up and she will stay a few extra days alone. That makes me sad. If Lilly should die I will have a nervous breakdown but will throw a large memorial service for her. Black tie probably.

There is a store on my right now, called the "Crafty Beaver" -- what a great name for a lesbian bar, eh?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Long Commute

So I am queued up to fly to Portland tomorrow. Both Chicago and Portland are experiencing severe weather. Flights between ORD and PDX are delayed several hours. I have to take cabs from PDX to my parents house now - parents can't come get me. I scheduled a cab today, or should I say, I tried to. They said that because of the weather they aren't doing shuttles (cheaper than straight metered cabs) OR meter service into the valley. If the weather report holds and I make it to PDX, I am going to be stuck at the airport all night. Lovely.

I can however get a shuttle to Eugene's airport. A shit load of good that will do me. Who am I kidding, my flight isn't leaving Chicago tomorrow, is it? I will be mobile blogging from a bar at ORD, drunk as a fag at the parade.

Have I said it before? I hate winter. The novelty of wearing sweaters and layers has totally worn off on me. I want to move to Miami or
Los Angeles or San Diego - screw the possibilities of: hurricanes, earthquakes and Mexicans (respectively).

Maybe I will move to Dubai. Except for the fact that my "choice in lifestyle" will get me killed.

Winter kills me.

The Day After Tomorrow

Has anyone seen that movie? It came out a few years ago and is replayed on FX a lot. Basically global warming causes a catastrophic climate realignment. The arctic tundra moves super south and the fertile farm lands is now very near the equator and all the third world now is the worlds bread basket. Anyway this movie sucked. I bring it up because on Sunday it was in the high 40s here, and then on Monday morning it was 2. 40 degree temperature drop sucks. The weather men were talking about the flash freezing of the city. The puddles of water on the street were totally frozen solid.

The wind was whipping. The wind chill was well below zero. I am bundled up like that kid from A Christmas Story. If this is an effect of global warming I am going to totally go green 100% now. Its mid December, it shouldn't be this cold for 2 more months.

My friend who works as a commodities broker has this weather thing (technical term) that has been right very frequently (the brokers use this thing to price the futures market) and this thing says that December will be the worst month this winter and the rest won't be all that bad. Fingers crossed, right?

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Chicago, how I love thee...

Today our governor was taken into federal custody for "pay to play" in relation to the filling of President-Elect Obama's Senate seat. Our previous governor is in Federal Prison for corruption too. I think another one beat the wrap too. Chicago is crooked. Everyone knows that. You have to know how to play the game. Life is politics.

It is raining heavily here today. It is supposed to be a nasty snowy, icy mess tonight. The bus is packed. The bus is humid. The traffic is miserable. I have no idea where I am. I hate winter.

My day is light today, unlike yesterday, where I was in solid meetings from 8am until 5pm -with only two 30 minute breaks through out the day.

Ooooh, I think my bus is getting off Lake Shore Drive now. I managed to make it in before lunch today. What a novel concept.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

1 Perfect Travel Day

I have returned to Chicago. No weather issues. No mechanical issues. No crew issues. No delays. Nothing. What a kooky thought. Although I am jealous of the people on my last flight that were continuing on to Heathrow. I was thinking about the hours I spent on the plane today: 2.25 to Denver, 1.25 to Salt Lake, 1 to Denver, and 2 to Chicago. A total of 6.5 hours in the air. My flight to Dubai in February is twice as long. Over 12 hours flying from DC to DXB. I am going to have to make sure I bring plenty of water and entertainment... Or maybe just 2 valium and 3 mini bottles of vodka.

I didn't pick up any souvenirs. I didn't eat at any great restaurants (I ate at burger king and the whopper was very tasty, but I wouldn't call BK a good restaurant).

Unfortunately I didn't get as much work done as I had hoped. Tomorrow will be a very full day I can tell.

The last leg...

I am now on the plane in Denver heading back to Chicago. I can't believe how fantastically smooth this trip has been. I don't want to jinx it though.

Surprisingly the dry recycled air has really helped the sore throat I've been nursing for over a week now. Hopefully this is just what the doctor ordered to get rid of it.

I am popping over to a friends house to meet her new dingo when I get back to Chicago. The dingo is a rescue and evidently has "cat issues". I hope this dingo doesn't smell Lilly on me and bite my nuts off.

I have really enjoyed myself today. Maybe I should do this more often. Interestingly enough, I have not had a conversation with a seat mate this entire trip. This is very odd.

Baring pilot error or metal fatigue I will be in Chicago just 13 hours after I left this morning.

Very nice...

What is wrong with me? Why is it that when a stranger is very nice to me I think they have an ulterior motive?

I missed the Mormon shuttle, so I cabbed it down to temple square. I took a quick tour. The girls giving the tours were super nice. One had a mustache, but I think it was a cultural thing, not a religious thing. They didn't try to convert me either. I am not complaining about that though. We saw the genealogy library, the conference center the temple and a couple other buildings. They seemed pretty knowledgeable, but I wouldn't know if they were lying to me or not.

I am back at the airport heading to Denver. I am on a bigger plane this time and luckily my upgrade went through.

I am getting very tired now. It is doubtful I will be working on this segment.

SLC=desolate

I haven't been to Salt Lake in years. I don't remember if I ever have been here in the day light. It is brown and white. There appeared to be a small mushroom cloud wafting over a part of the city. Perhaps it was the steam from some geo-thermal power plant and not a nuclear holocaust. We will soon find out, won't we?

Am off to check in for my return flights, take a tour of the Mormon Square (I forget the real name) and get a bite to eat. Am looking forward to it. I will try to send pix through while in the city.

Cheers!

Denver. I am waiting.

As I sit here across from the "Johnny Bag-o-donuts" watching him eat his chorizo breakfast burrito, my hunger quickly subsides. My flight to SLC boards in about 15 minutes.

Air travel still excites me. The idea of getting up at 4am and before you know it you are 888 miles away. Then an hour later you are in a totally new city. Although I don't think anyone would ever say SLC is a glamorous city, I am excited to spend a couple of hours exploring it.

I brought a little bit of work to do during my travels today, but this far haven't cracked it yet.

The Adventure Begins

I have started my Salt Lake City adventure. We got about an inch to an inch and a half of snow last night. Surprisingly Streets and San are not out plowing. The roads are covered, snow is blowing, cars are sliding, time is ticking. My flight is at 6am. I have one hour until boarding. At this rate of travel, I will be cutting it close. I hope the expressways are clear.

Wouldn't it be my luck to miss my flight today. It might have made a bit more sense for me to go to Miami today, instead of Salt Lake, eh?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Holidazed

Friday Night. Bistrot Zinc. Goose up, blue cheese olives. Holiday dinner for my team.

I like the folks I work with. I like Bistrot Zinc. I love goose. Should be fun. T minus 12 hours until SLC.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Return

I am en route back to PDX now. The valley taxi arrived right on time too. Green Shuttle/Taxi has been a great vendor during my frequent visits to Oregon. They did leave my parents in the lurch when they were coming to see me, but something tells me this has something to do with my parents and not the taxi company.

This was a good weekend. It started off full of craziness though. We found out my dad only had a couple of days to live, but that was amended to be 6 months after more tests came back.

On Thursday we had a small thanksgiving dinner, just me and the parents. Friday I went to Brooks Winery with JLP-B and JB. Tasted some nice wine and bought a couple bottles. Let's hope they don't get broken in my suitcase. - fingers crossed -

On saturday I ventured into Sheridan for an old classmates 30 birthday party. I saw the wine friends again, and AFB. Seeing those three was the main reason I went back to Sheridan. The party was at the Green Frog. I hadn't been there since I was 19. I am still shocked that people can smoke in bars in Oregon. You crazy liberals-you can smoke medical pot, your doctor can kill you if you ask him too, but there is no ban on smoking? Come on, I thought Chicago was late in the smoking ban game.

The birthday party was fine. I have known JJH since kindergarten, we aren't close though. I was really annoyed by one guy though. He kept making fun of people who still lived in Sheridan. Believe me, it feels good to get out of Sheridan and live in the City. I often make fun of how small Sheridan is and how I could never live there again, but don't be rude to people because their life plans differ from your. I will make fun of people for their beliefs (racism, sexism, homophobia and bigotry in general), but not because they choose to live where they grew up. The one thing I wish for people who think that everything they need is where they grew up (be that Sheridan, Portland, Chicago or Madrid) is to go explore the world. See what else is out there, you will learn a lot about who you are and about where you are from.

Another thing that pissed me off was when this guy kept talking about where these folks work. He made fun of the local casino employees and various other local manufacturing jobs. He works in a large city outside of Oregon, and from my brief conversation with him, thinks he is much better than people in Sheridan. He asked me why I still lived in Sheridan. Perhaps thinking I was like him, better that everyone else around us. I simply said I work in Risk Management at a large Chicago based parking company. Following the standard confused look (the mind trying to wrap itself around: Chicago, Risk Management and Parking) he said "Uh cool". In my mind I said, "yup", but my mouth said "if you will excuse me, I need another water".

People are probably reading this and saying "Tim, you are as rude and snobby as this guy you describe". Perhaps I am.
Speaking of being a snob. Since my dad is on a 99% liquid diet, we decided to hit all the stores in town, to see where the deals where. We went to Winco. This store opened up when I was in college I think. My only experience there ended with me walking out, leaving all of my purchases in the cart at the register when I found out you couldn't pay with a debit/credit card. Cash/check only. This has changed, luckily. I was surprised at home many people in that store were missing teeth, many missing front teeth and others missing a multitude of teeth. I will admit the prices were pretty good though. I can't comment on the quality though.

I asked a gentleman working at Winco if they had the drink Ensure. He confirmed they did, but was perplexed as to the location of this dietary mainstay for my father. Actually his response to my query regarding its location was "Fuck if I know, where theys keep dat shit. Is (pronounced eyes) say to go over to aisle 4B and ask someone over there." as I turn to get my barings and to find where 4B is, I turn back to thank this kind man, and much to my surprise I see him about 50 yards away scurrying away from me. Obviously my question was more than he had hoped for.

We also went to walmart (mostly because we never found the product at Winco). Walmart is always trying for me. It was worse this time, as it was so humid in the store. We had our cart full of Ensure and were making our way through the crowds to check out. My dad, who is usually calm blurted out (god damn, where did all of these fat people come from, and why won't they move?". About 15 seconds later, after we received m MANY stares from the aforementioned fatsos, my dad blurts out "that's why it is so humid in here, all these fat people sweating while they think about the buy one get one almond rocha in their carts". Yeah, I wonder where I get it.

I am tired of mobile blogging now... It has taken us 50 minutes to get to the express way from Mac. I bet it will be another 30 before we hit PDX.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Perfectly Oregon

Today seems to be perfectly Oregon. It us cool, grey, low lying clouds, too warm for a winter jacket, too cold to go without.

I have been butch today. My dad and I jump started his pick up and made a plan to fix a malfunctioning toilet too. Or maybe I am a lesbian today.

Currently waiting for some friends to arrive so we can do a quick wine tasting. We are at Brooks Winery (I don't think I can link in a mobile blog... If I can, please tell me how).

Perfect timing... My co boozers are here now.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving

So I did finally arrive. I got into PDX about 3 hours late, managed to get to Mac around 1145. Today was a standard day on the home front. We watched TV, went to the store and ate a big dinner. Nothing exciting at all.

The plans for tonight: watch Fletch, pound vitamins and go to sleep. Tomorrow is a quick wine tasting and tortured conversation with Uncle Tom.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Braking News

So, I am sitting here on a flight to PDX waiting for something. We pull away from the gate, the go back, pull away, go back, pull away and finally go back. It's like the plane was humping the jet bridge. Evidently we are having problems with our brakes. Judging what happened on the way to LGA a couple months ago, I think we need brakes.

Even though I am stuck in coach, I am in econ plus and the middle seat next to me is empty. I really can't complain. I am starving though. If we leave right now I will arrive at our scheduled arrival time...not holding my breath.

I was so looking forward to arriving early and getting sushi before my cab comes. That doesn't look likely now. I asked the cab driver to come 45 minutes late, so I could eat. He said no. He said I have until 845 to be in his cab, or he leaves. Now that is customer service.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Vegas, How I Love Thee, Let Me Count the Ways

I returned from Las Vegas today. My original flight was scheduled to land in Chicago at 8pm tonight -- After 5 days in Vegas I just had to get out of town -- I got up at the crack of dawn (5am) in a hope to get on an earlier flight - standby. Luckily I got out on the first flight and was back in Chicago before noon.

Las Vegas was good -- I learned a few things at the conference that will help me and my company over the coming months, met a few people who are dealing with the same issues we are dealing with and I had fun. I won't discuss the work aspects here though. The fun side of the trip consisted of me seeing Barry Manilow (again) at the Hilton this time -- fantastic. We were no more than 50 feet from him during the whole show! On Friday, we went to see Jerry Seinfeld at Caesar's Palace. First off -- I think I want to stay at Caesar's next time I'm in Vegas, it's a fun and happening location. Jerry was a little disappointing. The first 15 minutes I didn't laugh once. He had a few good moments, but all in all - disappointing. His opening act was absolutely fantastic. I could hardly stop laughing -- I think he was worth the cost of the Seinfeld tickets.

On Saturday night a friend was in town (last minute thing). JB (not JFB, not JLP-B or her husband JB) was in from Phoenix for the night. We decided to go see another show. He and I were trying to decide between Andrew Dice Clay, Carrot Top or Chris Angel Mind Freak. I'm not a fan of Cirque or Magic, so Chris Angel wasn't near the top of the list. We went to half price tickets after a decadent shopping trip (oh yeah, I did pretty well at the Craps table -- pretty well indeed). While waiting in line we heard that Clay was sold out, so we settled on Carrot Top. He was playing at our hotel, so it made it much more convenient. I use to love Carrot Top when I was about 10 or 11. I was excited, but didn't have high expectations. OH MAN! He was completely hilarious. I can't say enough good things about it. I laughed almost non-stop for 90 minutes. I think it was the best $39 I have spent in years. Next time I go to Vegas, I would be interested in seeing him again -- put that on your list people.

It is good to be home now. I am here for 3 nights, then off to PDX. JLP-B has set up wine tasting for Friday, I think. I'm looking forward to seeing her and her husband. I always have fun with them. I don't return to Chicago until Monday night. Lilly has been so affectionate today -- I feel bad that she is so lonely when I'm not here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Trips...

Tomorrow I fly to LAS for work. I get in late night. My conference starts early on Wednesday. Tomorrow won't be anything exciting, just a quick flight and a quiet night. Unfortunately United only flies TED from ORD to LAS. No first class. No Business Class. No free cocktails. No priority bag pass. Just sitting back with the cattle.

We've got some good meals planned with a couple of vendors and a friend from BP and I (the woman who I met in Philly last year and went to Tiajuana with in May) are going to see Barry Manilow on Wednesday night. Yes, I am a fanilow. Go ahead and make fun of me -- you can go fuck yourself. :)

On Friday night JO and I are going to see Jerry Seinfeld. I wonder if he is still funny. I haven't heard much about or from him since his show went off the air in 1998. I hope his show doesn't suck. Saturday and Sunday I'll be spending some nice quality time at the spa and perhaps going to the outlet malls. I'm quite confident I will be spending some time at the pool too.

I am looking forward to a relaxing week/weekend away from everything.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Art of Negotiation

So I thought I had my deal all squared away with the Newberg cabinet maker. He kicks back on Thursday saying he realized he wasn't making enough money on my project and wanted me to find someone to help move table. After a couple of emails we both blinked. He wanted $X more to actually provide the services that we had agreed to -- I offered 50% of $X. It is still a good deal. I thought about telling him to stick it -- we had a contract in place and he couldn't change the arrangements after we entered into the contract. I was going to tell him just to forget it -- or to go fuck himself and do the service for what he had originally quoted. I figured the latter option wasn't very good because he could take the table and never come back. I don't think this guy is a scheister at all -- I just think he needed the work and leaped before he looked. The table is now in his workshop being fixed -- it should be back in 7 business days. I'm looking forward to getting it back -- and it not sucking.

I went to a CAF event on Thursday night at the Driehaus Foundation, more specifically the Nickerson Mansion. The event was nice, it is always good to see my CAF Aux Board friends. Tracking my family history is a bit problematic. It seems we have some blank spaces that no one can fill in. We came to Oregon in the 1920s (my dad's mom's side of the family -- the Henry's-- were in Oregon for a couple generations before my dad's dad's side), from Kansas -- probably during the dust bowl. Not much before that is known. The family was from Boston before that -- but we don't know when they left or when they came. So, the Nickerson Mansion has been restored with original furnishings (not period pieces, but original pieces owned by the Nickersons). The house was a bit extreme -- not really my taste, but I am a bit eclectic. In the dining room the formal table looked remarkably like the table I inherited. There were a few minor differences -- but it was about 80% there. Do you ever watch the Antiques Road Show on PBS (or that episode of Frasier)? I wonder if my refinishing this table (and the fact that previous generations of Nickerson's attempted to refinish this table before me) have destroyed tens of thousands of dollars of value? Whatever -- it's a table, it should be used and enjoyed -- it's not a 401k plan, right?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Bad Economy

My crazy Uncle gave me my Great Grandmother's dining table earlier this year. He doesn't give things unless there are many conditions. The major condition associated with taking this table was that I would NEVER sell it. He wants it to remain in the family forever. Don't tell me what I can and cannot do, you damn pirate. Of course I told him I would keep it forever. I have no qualms about selling this if I need the money. It isn't something I would sell if I want to go on a vacation, but if it would allow me to keep my condo (assuming I had one and needed more cash to keep it), or allow my dad to have another month of chemo I would sell it in a minute.

This table isn't really my style. I am much more of a modern design guy. This table is a solid oak table (blonde wood) with thick solid legs (like Tipper Gore). Without the leaves it is nearly a perfect square (maybe 36" x 36"). My family has never been "rich" (what does rich mean, I don't know). When my great grandmother died, she didn't have much to give to her many children, so she gave what she could. One child got the dining table, another got the chairs, another got the hutch. Unfortunately the chairs are missing in action. My uncle decided the best place to keep the leaves for the dining table was outside in the barn. Usually a pretty safe bet -- solid oak, outside in rainy and damp Oregon -- definitely a wise choice.

In July I had a carpenter come over and look at a few pieces of furniture, including this table. He provided a quote to build two leaves (solid oak, with aprons, not just a flat piece of wood to slide in), replane the top of the table, refinish the whole thing including the large ornate legs. Remember, this table, once completed, will have to be shipped 2200 miles from Oregon to Illinois. Not only does it have to be transported, but I also have to buy 8 chairs too. The rate I was quoted was about twice what I was expecting. Basically, I decided this was crazy and I'd just buy a new dining set and call it good.

I did feel a bit odd -- I wanted to keep this family antique in the family, especially since my family doesn't have much that we pass down from generation to generation. So today I decided to email the cabinet guy and ask if he'd cut his price dramatically. I figured the worst thing he could say was "hell no". I had no idea if he'd take it or not. He did. He bit immediately. I probably could have gotten a better deal, but I'm happy. He will pick up the table on Friday and return it in 9 days (7 business days). We'll have it back by Thanksgiving.

I do feel a bit bad about this too. I don't know how much money a cabinet maker in Newberg can make, but I figured with the economy as it is, he is probably hurting for cash. Christmas is just around the corner -- maybe he needs money for the kids, or maybe he needs money to keep his house. I don't feel guilty about getting a deal -- I just wonder if the guy was trying to screw me with his initial number ("some guy from Chicago coming in to get family furniture refinished -- man oh man, I can make a ton of coin off him"). Or maybe he is doing this at a near loss just so he'll have the income (loss on labor, not expenses).

I won't lose any sleep over this really, I just wonder how bad this economy will get -- how many people will provide their master craftsmanship for a deep discount just to keep their family fed. How many people out there are in such bad positions they cannot survive? -- Fuck, as far as I know he's using the money I give him for this project to get a prostitute or a shit load of meth...

Monday, November 10, 2008

I am pleased, but come on people...

I wouldn't say I am a socialist, but I am a tax and spend liberal. I would rather pay a huge percentage of my income in taxes as long as our nation had excellent health care, transportation, education and security. I am not afraid of "big government". I'm not 100% sold that Obama's government will be bigger and more intrusive than Bush Junior's government. I feel that W's government is just watching us (and everyone else) constantly, but not really doing anything to help us -- except keep hundreds of people captive on the tip of Cuba. The detainees in Guantanamo remind me quite a bit of the hostages taken in Tehran in November 1979, except when the Iranians took hostages the didn't leave their country -- we went to other countries to steal people from their homes.

Although there is still time, I don't think that W will bring the world to an end -- a few years ago, I was sure he would. I also don't think that Obama is the Messiah. In Chicago so many people think he will make the entire world a better place instantly. They won't even wait for January 20, they expect him to start running the country now and all sorts of policies will change, the sun will shine, the harvests will be bountiful, the skies and waterways will be clear of pollution, hunger will be gone and everyone lose those last 10 pounds they've wanted to shed for years. He is just a man people. He will will do his best based on the knowledge he has at the time. He will make some excellent choices. He will also make some bad decisions -- possibly some horribly wrong decisions. Even Bill Clinton made some decisions that still haunt us today ("Don't Ask Don't Tell", "I did not have sexual relations with that fat ugly girl from Lewis and Clark College", The Clinton Doctrine on Terrorist Retaliation -- Afghanistan, The Sudan, Yemen, Pakistan -- the failed Clinton policies directly led to the September 11th Attacks).

I shouldn't be too down on people who are so excited about Obama. It has been so long since our country had hope about the future. I've had hope in each presidential election I have voted in -- unfortunately the votes never really fell the way I had hoped.

Only time will tell. Expectations are high -- anything less than extreme excellence will be seen as failure. We shall wait and see -- no, he's not the second coming of Christ. (If he is, I will revise this blog posting before the end...just to hedge my bets).

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Blimey!

Today is Election Day. Today is the third time that I have voted in a Presidential Election. It is possible today is the first time I have not been horribly disappointed in the turn out. I am not going to jinx us all though.

I am not going to Grant Park tonight to cheer on Barack Obama. The weather is absolutely fantastic here. I like the idea of being part of the massive crowd (theoretically celebrating the win) listening to Obama give his speech later tonight. The idea of 1MM people trying to get out of downtown after the rally just gives me much angst. Sometimes (many times) I just hate people.

It is now about 9pm on Election Night. I think it is quite funny that Obama has .5MM-1MM people in Grant Park to celebrate with him and McMain has an invite only party at a posh hotel in Phoenix. Doesn't this just typify the difference between these two parties -- everyone welcome versus only the elite?

Bad news for Tim -- my trip to Hartford and Manhattan has been cancelled. The class I was taking -- the class I was looking forward to for 7 months was cancelled 6 days prior. What a mess. So instead of just rebooking my airfare and spending the weekend in Manhattan with JDE I am cancelling the whole thing. She needs to study and I really shouldn't spend two grand for 3 days -- especially when I'm trying to save money for a house. These are my flights -- fingers cross nothing happens to them -- but if something does, we'll know it was a good move that my class was cancelled (11/10/2008 UAL 1114, ORD-BDL. 11/16/2008 UAL 0679, LGA-ORD).

Vegas is still in the queue -- be sure to book your tickets straight away.

I've also had a headache for the last 3 days. I hope it is just election/future stress and tomorrow it will be all gone. Fingers crossed that my head isn't going to explode momentarily.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Things I Dig (pt. 2)

It has been quite a while since I've done a version of "Things I Dig". Since it is fall and a crispness is in the air, I figured I'd talk about smells. Fall is full of great smells, don't you think?

In no particular order:
1) Ham and Cheese Paninis on the grill
2) Pineapple Cilantro Candles from Tommy Bahama. These make me so relaxed, I have to thank JFB for introducing these to me
3) Bi, by Dolce and Gabanna. Unfortunately, I cannot find this cologne anywhere. PLEASE, if you find it, buy me the biggest container you can find and I will pay you 2X. It comes in a zebra striped box.
4) Tomatoes simmering on the stove (with basil and garlic). A great winter scent.
5) Sushi restaurants. You know that super fresh smell of fish; partnered with the smell of fine leather upholstery.
6) The O'Hare CTA Station. This urban smell is part electric motors, poor air circulation and many people. It sounds really gross, but this smell reminds me of travel (both coming and going). I love to travel, so when I hit the CTA station this smell consumes me, I get so excited. The idea of future travel hits me -- the thought of being thousands of miles away in just a couple hours is so exhilarating.
7) Tanning beds. I don't know if it is the smell of hot plastic, or burning flesh, but tanning is so relaxing for me. I don't do it anymore though -- cancer runs in my family and we don't live that long anyway...why take a few years off my limited time anyway.
8) Lilly. It's an odd mix of bad cat food, arm & hammer litter and something I can't put my finger on...it's a distinct smell that really reminds me of home.

And of course, the inverse. Smells, I totally don't dig, in no particular order:
1) Vanilla Fields perfume -- Wal-Mart trash, worn by fat trashy broads
2) Cigarettes (all tobacco actually)
3) Fresh ground coffee -- I hate coffee so much.
4) Bad breath. Duh, I know, but some folks I deal with daily have some of the most horrific breath around
5) That smell people have on the bus after they've been out drinking and smoking the night before. Fridays on the bus can be quite revolting. A former co-worker use to wreak like this about 4-5 days a week. She was a vile train wreck of a girl.
6) Copious amounts of second hand pot smoke. A few of my neighbors smoke like chimneys and stink up the hallways.

Thoughts? Go ahead and make fun of my choices here, ok?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Here is the scenario...

This was the phrase I used 7 times today. This phrase was followed by: "...this floor is completely destroyed. All equipment and physical resources are completely wiped out. Our employees and human capital remain unaffected." I met with several functional areas at my firm today in an effort to finalize a major catastrophe recovery plan. This is my life. Imagine a total destruction of an entire floor of a major Chicago high rise. I am tasked with providing a full response for our HQ to respond in the event of a crisis. It's pretty interesting and theoretically can provide a lifeline for our entire company to remain productive enterprise following a disaster. By the end of this year our full response plan will be in tested and in place. Fingers crossed that we won't have an accident ever -- or at least until the plan is finalized.

We bought our tickets to see Jerry Seinfeld while in Las Vegas next month. Not too sure if he'll be funny, or just sad. I'm thinking that it will be more pathetic -- but it's Vegas, isn't the whole thing just a little bit pathetic? It's full of things that I hate about America: 1) Fat Americans 2) Buffets 3) Lazy people looking to get rich quick 4) Smokers 5) TED (United's low cost carrier).

It also contains things that I love: 1) Gambling 2) Booze 3) Barry Manilow 4) In & Out Burger.

One final thought. Alec Baldwin, who is not an actor I like (except in Hunt for Red October) just said something pretty clever on a Letterman preview -- "If McBush and Bible Spice win..." blah blah blah. I really like the phrase Bible Spice -- much more fitting than Caribou Barbie...much more derogatory. We have a good chance that next week at this time we'll have a new president. There is no way to be sure of course. If you are thinking about arguing with me, I tell you to shut your trap and think. There is a very good chance we'll have a president, but there is also a chance that this election could be settled like the 2000 election -- after many suits and an ultimate decision made by the Supreme Court. Let's just hope that the American public will be able to select our own president this time. What a novel concept, I know.

For everyone who reads this -- please, go vote. I know who I want you to vote for, but I'm not going to. I just want a high turn out -- I want the American people to speak. This is truly a historic time -- all of our lives will be dramatically affected by the choice we make (or choose not to make, I guess) next Tuesday. Don't waste your voice.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sushi, Snow, Laziness and Beer

I really like Agami. SO and I went there on Sunday--sat for a few hours. we sent quite a bit of time talking about life (happiness, or lack there of; contentment; and severe emotional detachment). She's looking for an NFP job or a writing job -- if you know of something in the Chicagoland area, let me know and I'll pass it on.

We didn't have any snow (at least in my part of the City) yesterday. Thank god. Other areas of the City had a bit of snow, but nothing for me. I am no where near the point where I am ready for snow to start coming. Friday should be about 60 degrees -- perfect Halloween weather. I don't have a costume this year. I'm really not in the mood for Halloween either. I use to love to dress up and go out drinkin' with friends, etc. Now I just want to...not.

Has anyone out there watched that new Flava-Flav show -- Under One Roof? I was flipping through my 19 channels today and saw it (or an ad for it). I know FF is no Kenneth Branagh, but come on. I act better than he does. He can barely read the queue cards. I was pretty sure he was clinically retarded when I saw him on that dumb VH1 Reality Show, but this new show just confirms he's as dumb as a box of hair. Don't watch it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

'ello Winter...

It is the end of October. Chicago is starting get a bit of a chill in the air. The weathermen are even saying we might have snow flurries tomorrow. Are you kidding me? I had to turn on heat this week and pulled out the humidifiers at the same time. 5 months of this only -- I guess that is the silver lining, right?

I have been in Chicago for about a month straight now. It has been nice to be home. I head out of town next month for a ton of travel. I will be going back to BDL, then LGA, LAS, PDX. Should be some fun trips, lots of work for each of them (except for LGA), but it will be good to get back out and about.

Went on a sorta-date Friday night with a guy I met while in New York in September. What a horribly boring and torturous couple of hours. The food was bland but that was tempered by the severe overcooking of everything. One thing I really can't stand when you are out to dinner with people is when the check comes and people nickel and dime the bill -- just divide the whole damn thing equally. This guy was trying to be nice and saying he owes more because he drank an extra drink and his entree was a little more. The difference was about $5...come on. Just shut the hell up and pay the bill.

Going to dinner tonight with SO at Agami. I'm a fan of this sushi place in the neighborhood -- I'm afraid that good places like this won't stay open especially in this economy -- Uptown really isn't the top neighborhood for destination eating.

On a work front, next week I am starting my work with an Executive Coach. The company is paying for a six month coaching session. I have my first meeting with my coach late next week. Am looking forward to it -- hopefully it bodes well for my career and doesn't cause any issues with my colleagues who might feel they are being looked over. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

To tip on service or on custom -- that's the real debate

I am in D.C.  Hartford is, was and always will be a mess.  The new phrase I picked up in Hartford -- "Global Mess".  I think that's worse than a "Hot Mess".  Anyway.  Got to BDL on Thursday, got in a filthy rental car and went to our hotel.  Stayed at the Residence Inn on Main Street.  Big rooms, good service, sort of smells like a combination of moth balls and a meth lab though.  We went to dinner with one of our vendors -- 3 middle aged women who don't seem to get out much.  We had fun, but let's just say it's not one of those nights that when I wake up in the morning I'll be sad it is over.  We went to Trumball Kitchen, then hit a few bars on Asylum and closed out the hotel brew pub.  The meeting went pretty well the next day.

Then I got the hell out of dodge.  My flight to D.C. was an uneventful 382 miles of airline wine and conversation with some dude who is very important -- in his own mind.  We had an aborted landing this time.  Nothing too extreme though.  We broke through the cloud cover (a few thousand feet) and instead of reducing thrust, we punched it and looped around.  The plane was full of seasoned travelers so no one freaked out.  Much nicer than that screaming fit people had on the way to LGA.

JDE picked me up and went to her place.  She's become a much better manual transmission driver -- no worries on the hills at all.  She'll have to be my partner when I go on the Amazing Race (which starts tomorrow night, btw).  

We decided to go out along Pennsylvania Ave for bar food, beers and the debates.  I probably know 8 people in DC, all from Linfield.  We were walking down Penn and who do we run into??  Yes, AMU and his boyfriend JXN.  Haven't seen AMU since I left him chatting up some guy in an Alley behind the Abbey in WeHo 3 years ago.  Haven't seen JXN since we left him chatting up some guys outside a restaurant (Einstein's??  not the bagel shop) in Midtown (ATL).  We chatted for a few minutes then went out separate ways.  What a random run in, eh?

I forget where we went along Penn, but the burgers were good, the beer were fine -- although slow as hell on the refills...man, everything was slow at that bar. It was like pulling teeth to get the bill.  We watched the debates with a ton of Washington pseudo insiders at the bar -overhearing lots fun comments.

Not sure what the plans are for today -- probably going to the Mall.  I want to see the Lincoln Memorial and the FDR Memorial.  Then Sushi tonight.  Not sure where exactly - but I hear sushi in DC just sucks a big one, so my expectations aren't high.

I'm not adding links like I normally do, because I'm using a mac laptop and I'm too dumb to figure out all the trips and tricks.

Two more things:  1)  The Debates were Ugh.  Barrack needs to win.  We can't have McPalin.  'Nuf said.  The Veep debate is next week, I can't wait!  2) WaMu fails?  Duh, if you start charging ATM Fees you'd have cash, you dumb fuck.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Go East, Young Man!

Heading to BDL today and IAD tomorrow. I'm going to be sitting at BDL for 2 hours waiting for my colleague (assuming our respective flights land on time). DC will be rainy while there -- still will be a good time though.

So, why would you suspend your campaign because of the economy. Of course on Monday we could be in a depression bigger than the "great depression". I wonder what the likelihood of this could be. I'm not adjusting my investments. Prices are dropping -- I thought it was a good by at $X, if it is now $X - 20% it is even a better buy. Scary times though.

Did you all write your check for $10,000 to cover the toxic mortgage bail out? Don't you think if the American tax payer could afford an additional $10K, they'd be using that to pay for their mortgage?? Come on. Mark my words -- this toxic debt isn't going to turn into a huge money maker for the government. GWB is nice enough to put another nail in the coffin before he slinks out of DC with his tail between his legs (to his multibillion dollar post office life). Yes, the American system is flawed.

Back to Chicago on Sunday, barring metal fatigue or pilot error. (FYI: I did watch part of Bounce last night, so I think my tradition of crash movies before flights will keep me safe -- unlike last week).

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fall...

It is fall. It is dark around 7pm. It is going to be cold and snowy soon. How sad. I can't believe how quickly time is passing. I say this frequently but it seems like life is just speeding by. Maybe I'm paying more attention to things like this now because I'm turning 30 in a few months and I'm reevaluating where I am in my life. Am I where I thought I'd be now?

Anyway. I had a most perfect time in New York. The conference was absolutely fantastic. I met some great contacts in the Risk Management industry with some of the nations best firms. I truly learned a lot. I wish I had more time in New York to actually do New York things. I spent about 90 minutes out and about on my own and the rest of the time (8am - 10pm) at the conference.

I'm going to Hartford on Thursday and DC on Friday. I am looking forward to seeing JDE and JXC this weekend. We are going to watch the first Presidential Debate at a bar in DC Friday night. Should be fun -- what a novel concept -- treating something important like the election like most Americans treat football. Should be a great weekend.

EAD was in town for about 24 hours this weekend. We had a really nice time. Picked him up at ORD and went to brunch at Tweet. We did some shopping and bought some wine and cheese and sat around my place talking and eating for a few hours. Hit a relatively new sushi place in the neighborhood (two thumbs up), then stopped by a few bars in Boystown. We went to see SO and EJ at the L&L and then met up with a friend (neighbor) RR and closed out the North End. Topped the evening off with a late night visit to Taco and Burrito House. Lovely.

I also watched Lions and Lambs today. I really liked it. Go watch it. Lots of talking heads and an ending that isn't an American ending (whew).

Going to watch the Star Wars Family Guy spoof and eat some homemade pizza now.

Monday, September 15, 2008

My Kind of Town...

I love New York. I don't know how I can love a place so much. It is just the best and most perfect city on the planet. Unfortunately my trip here was not all the best. Got in the office around 7:30am. Left around 12:30 for my 3:05 flight. On the plane -- we had a slight issue. Shooting down the runway, the front landing gear is poised to kick up for take off -- SCREECH! Slam on the breaks, reverse thrust and turn HARD to the right (starboard). A few people (girls??) squealed in the back. According to folks on the other side of the plane another plane was landing on an intersecting runway.... According to the pilot, he was taking off and the front cargo door indicator light came on -- thus the door was ajar. We go back to the penalty box and wait. No one came to look at the door -- even though the pilot said they were coming. The pilot then comes on and says that we have to wait 45 minutes for our breaks to cool down -- if we don't wait for them to cool down we don't be able to stop in the event of another aborted take off. Uh, how many do you plan on us having each day?

That's not the best part. After we nearly get splatted the 23 year old squash player sitting next to me decides to start vomiting. Lovely. He pukes all over himself, fills 1/3 of the puke bag and then pukes on the chick next to him. If he puked on me, I would have killed him. No questions asked. BOOM. Done. And then in 20-25 years I would have been given the Lethal Injection -- but come on. Puking on someone is something that should require your own death.

Let's hope tomorrow is less near death, less vomit full and more fun.

I do live a glamorous lifestyle, don't I? Oh yeah, I flew coach too.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fall Travel -- Kickin' Into High Gear

In 14 hours I will be on a flight to LGA. I love NYC. I am going to a Risk Management Conference for two days. The invite list is pretty exciting -- invite only, about 190 people attending. Staying in Midtown at a nice-ish hotel, but it looks like I'm flight Back of the Bus too --but I guess it's ok, since it's only two hours. Back in town on Wednesday evening.

We've had a hell of a lot of rain around here-- Hurricane Ike caused "steady rain" for two solid days. Tons of flooding in Chicago. The Chicago River popped over it's banks and the Albany Park neighborhood was extremely flooded. Nothing back happened near me -- well, I'm 16 floors up, so if my apartment gets flooded, millions of people will be dead. So let's all hope my apartment says dry for ever.

EAD will be in town on Saturday for about 27 hours. Looking forward to having him in town. Probably hitting a nice restaurant for dinner, then perhaps going out along Halsted for a while -- anyone interested in joining us? Won't be an extremely late/wild night. He's got a flight in the early afternoon. Come one, come all.

Hmmm -- Just had a slight after thought... I travel a decent amount (not as much as I'd like though). For well over 18 months now, I have happened across a plane crash movie (Flight 93, Bounce, etc) the day before a flight. I just realized, I haven't stumbled across a movie/TV show like that this trip. I'm not superstitious, but I am a creature of habit. Fingers crossed, gang, fingers crossed.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Yellow cake? A Tasty Treat or a Slippery Slope of Lies...

Today is beautiful. Sunny and no humidity. I'm playing around on my computer, watching WTTW (PBS). Today, all day, on WTTW Bush's War is being shown. It's funny to look back 6 years ago and see all the lies and falsehoods that were put forth as god's honest truth. These lies of course sent us on a collision course with an unpopular war. The best part, so far, of this documentary relates to the immediate moments following the morning of 9/11/2001. Can you believe we are almost 7 years removed from that. How quickly we forget the horrifying moment of that morning. So, according to GWB Iraq was actively seeking 500 tons of Yellow Cake Uranium from Niger. Funny -- there are no written records that show anyone but GWB thought this was even a possibility. The British Intelligence Agencies were quoted as the folks who had confirmation of this info -- but alas, it was a total fabrication. Maybe GWB will now list me as a terrorist state as I just Googled "Yellow Cake Uranium Niger Bomb."

We are 8 weeks from the election. I don't like Palin. She was a great pick for the Grand Old Party though. She chose not to abort her rere. Her daughter is preggo and she's not getting an abortion-- She is marrying her high school fuck buddy. I'll wager that this marriage doesn't last -- assuming it actually goes through. If the (R)'s lose the election (fingers crossed) this little harlot won't get married at all. If, god forbid, the (R)'s do keep the Executive, this marriage will fall apart once they are out of the office. I do Palin entertaining though. I am so excited to watch the Veep debates. Biden vs. Bulldog w/ Lipstick.

So, you've all heard me talking about this for months -- technically 16 months ago is when I decided this. I bought my tickets to DXB (Dubai) for my 30th Birthday Bash. I am leaving on 1/28/2009 and returning to Chicago on 2/8/2009. Got my First/Business class upgrades confirmed. Right now, I'm the only one with a confirmed ticket. EAD and JFB are still coming, they just haven't gotten their transit finalized. I'm still debating on what to do for the second half of my trip. We aren't spending the whole time in Dubai, it is too expensive, plus it might get a bit boring after a while. I have three things that are top in my mind for the last half of the trip: Male, Maldives; Kish, Iran; Sharm al Sheik, Egypt. More on that to come.

I have a presentation to give three times on Tuesday. I am remaining local for this presentation. A week from tomorrow I will be flying to New York for a Risk Symposium -- I will be focusing my attention on the Risk and Transportation Sub Group. Am looking forward to it. Not spending any personal time in New York, just in for the conference. The end of the month I will be in Connecticut for a two day business meeting then going to DC to see JDE. Then I remain local for 6 weeks. I go to LAS for 5 days (business and pleasure). Make your travel arrangements -- Luxor 11/21-23 (the dates of the pleasure portion of the trip).

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Sick of Sick Day, Already

I am home sick today. Some yahoo (JO) from the office came in with some sort of wild cold his kids picked up from day care. Come on, that is what sick days are for! So I called (er, emailed) in sick today. What have I done so far on my sick day? I ate breakfast. I spent 30 minutes answering emails, and then spent 45 minutes on a call with our LA Office. It is now 10:30am, and I am shutting down and going to the grocery to get something to fix for lunch.

Also -- why is the Today show on until 11am? Isn't 4 hours a bit too much? They don't talk about news past the 7:15 hour anyway -- why bother, just so Kathy Lee Gifford doesn't get unemployment? What a train wreck.

One more thing -- doesn't Michael Phelps look like JT (the newspaper editor from Linfield our senior year)?

Don't bug me today.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

I'm no Otis from Mayberry, but...

D&MH are in from ANC. They stopped by the expertly decorated office (the main office, not my specific office is expertly decorated, in a parking motif with a color scheme from the early 90s -- note, we moved in there and rehabbed it in the late 90s). We had lunch -- well DH and I did, MH got the screw job on a salad. Some mumble mouth waiter at The Saloon gave her what amounts to a shot glass of salad.

We went to Lollapalooza. I'm not a big outdoor music festival kind of guy. When I was a kid (college and before) I would go to these things a lot. Music doesn't play that big of a role in my life any more (probably because I associate listening to the radio with being in a car, which I don't have). It was hot. I was hot, not in a Paris Hilton "That's Hot" sorta way either. I was as moist as could be. Usually at these events I will have a beer or something along those lines. Not yesterday. I couldn't get enough water. I figured if I had a beer the tiny amount of alcohol in it would dehydrate me just enough to send me into some sort of fit. I sweat like a monkey at times and that wouldn't have been a pleasant sight. All of my local friends (none of which I actually saw yesterday) texted saying they were so drunk. I was far from envious.

When we left the festival (after Radiohead) all 75,000 people came with us. My thought was to walk off Michigan and get a cab at a hotel -- alas 25,000 other people had the same thought. Luckily, 24,999 of those people were quite intoxicated, so it didn't take me long to figure out how to outsmart these yahoos. When I got home, I couldn't hope in the shower quick enough. Also, it appears some intense drama came up surrounding one of my local Lollafriends. I'm sure I'll get all the details on Monday. Drama Free is the Way to Be.

Depending on the heat -- I'll have a beer...OR they are selling a big sports bottle full of wine -- that just sounds like a prelude to a train wreck of a night, doesn't it???

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Where have you been?

I have been asking myself this question all month. Why haven't I been blogging? I was in PDX the weekend after the forth. I saw J&JB (reduced the initials on J as I am too lazy now), AB and her bf , and SO. I took SO, who is from Connecticut to Turkey Rama. It was quite the exciting time. I showed her Linfield and all of my favorite 3rd Street Bars (McMennimen's, NW Wine Bar, La Rambla, and the Deluxe (DEEEE-lux).

The next day I had a family reunion. Family reunions are great -- they remind me of my favorite Gandhi quote ever -- "I am reminded how I do not want to be". First off my cousin is the size of a small Buick. Her child seemed to be doing fine, except he is a baby and doesn't really make any noise (or I had a spell of hysterical deafness around him). My grandpa's brother, K, asked me why I thought I was "successful" and so many people in our family are just failures. He asked this in front of the whole family. He was obviously implying that my cousin was a failure. I'm not a big fan of hers, but people shouldn't be rude. Then he asked me how much I was making -- and I quote "Have you topped $40,000/year yet?"). For god sakes, leave me alone.

The next weekend I was in Denver. JFB turned 30. He had a part with about 50 people there. One of my favorite parts of the weekend was the first night at dinner. I made a comment in ear shot of the waitress saying "This is your weekend, your birthday". She came over, and I said "Doesn't he look great, he's turning the big 4-0 this weekend". That went over really well with JFB. We got empanadas out of it though. Lots of drinking and eating. It is hard to leave those boys -- I have such a great time with them.

I've been running around a lot lately. The summer is slipping away. What is happening? Sometimes I feel like I am just cresting the top of a roller coaster and our speed is increasing and increasing and increasing. SLOW DOWN!

D&MH are coming to visit this weekend. Lollapalooza is here. Why is Kanye and NIN playing opposite of each other on Sunday night? That is unacceptable. I'm not really sure what the plans are this weekend, but my phone will be on me at all times, so SMS if you are out and about.

My parents are coming to visit for a couple weeks this month. I am looking forward to it. I hope my dad will be able to have an enjoyable and relaxed time. I'll blog more about that on the other blog.

Work-wise: I have hired two (well, one and a half) new people. They start over the next 2 weeks. I am excited. Both folks seem like great additions to the team.

Next trip: I am off to LGA in September, just a couple week days though, no extended time for myself though.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

A Little Bit of Baghdad, In Uptown

Pop. Pop. Pop. In rapid succession. Screams and squeals. People scattering in the darkness. Under normal circumstances I would have called the police, as my neighborhood can be sketchy at times. No phone call this time. Why do people think it is fun to use loud fireworks that only make gunshot sounds, nothing else? I guess it is fun to throw these fire crackers into crowds and watching people freak out and think they are going to die. That is funny. On the plus side, the smoke created by these things is wafting directly into my cement alcove in the sky. Lovely.

Supper club was last night. It was a huge turn out. I had a nice time. The food was fantastic. Pork loin and mashed potatoes -- just enough spice too. I am having a hard time mobilizing behind Obama. I have so many friends in Chicago that have been 110% behind Barack since the first indication that he might run. I am not against him, I am just struggling to move past the Hillary Clinton defeat. I know I will vote for Barack when it comes to election time. Maybe I am not ready to make a move in this respect yet.

I have been watching lots of U.S. history lately, mostly about Presidents, their decisions, their time and the outcomes. Unfortunately we as Americans remember the best presidents much more than the bad presidents. I will argue the four greatest presidents in U.S. History are (in no particular order): George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. We all can pick out half a dozen things that each of these men have done to dramatically change not only America, but the world.

What makes a bad president? Is it the choices he makes, or the choices he doesn't make? What makes any of us good or bad in eyes of our contemporaries or the history books? I think the worst presidents were mostly in the mid 1800's. The ones before the Civil War whose decisions exacerbated the growing schism between North and South, Abolitionism or Anti-Abolitionism. The ones after the Civil War, plundering the treasury, halting civil rights, pushing personal agendas during reconstruction -- perhaps these guys were worse than the pre-war folks. They were greedy opportunists.

What about modern history -- Nixon, Clinton, Bush (2)? All three were (are) liars. Clinton can easily be argued as one of the best presidents and one of the worst -- both points can be made pretty easily. I think history will show Clinton as one of the good guys and his impeachment just a footnote. George W. Bush is an anti-intellectual who is setting the American society back decades with his ill informed policies. Just think -- 8 years ago, with no war in Iraq we could have a stabilized Social Security System, a decent amount of money spent on alternative energy sources, and maybe some sort of national health care for the needy.

I realize that I am an Eleanor Roosevelt Democrat. I want universal health care, free education for veterans, excellent free education for all children, specialized training or university education for all, and excellent transportation. I wonder if Barack will be the person to turn our country into a place I am proud to live...I wonder.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Where the hell have I been?

So it is the July 4th long weekend, and I realize I haven't blogged here in weeks. I still haven't gotten art for my office walls. I still haven't taken pictures. I am still in the process to hire someone for the two positions I have open.


I went to Toronto a couple weeks ago. Delayed both on the outbound and the inbound. Days were packed with meetings. I did managed to go do some touristy things -- I went to the Blue Jays/Reds game (great seats, not the view in the picture though).

I did the CN Tower Tour, which honestly wasn't all that impressive, plus it smelled like curry.









My schedule got messed up in Toronto, so I couldn't be the best man in the lesbian wedding. I feel bad about the whole thing too. I really wanted to do it. Oh well, there is bound to be more lesbian weddings, right?


Last weekend was the annual Pride Parade. I am all about people being proud of who they are but some people just should be proud. I don't want to see a morbidly obese man wearing only a thong covered by chain mail boy shorts, or a woman with horrifically saggy tits (picture a fried egg hanging by a nail on a wall) completely nude, except for 2 "X"s covering her nipples (made of electrical tape) and a fake fig leaf over her cookie. I felt bad for her because everyone was aghast when she walked by. I don't usually have a great time at the parade, but I go. I see old friend and the most exciting part of the very long parade??? The last float, because about 5 minutes after the last float you see the army of Streets and Sanitation works cleaning up. You can stand on the demarcation line between post parade carnage and post Streets and Sans clean up and it looks completely different. Like New Orleans on 8/28/2006 and again on 9/1/2008 (but inverse).


I have been running more lately. Last weekend I ran Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings. This weekend I ran on Friday and Saturday (today). Doubt I will go tomorrow, as I have supper club tonight -- lots of wine, cheese food and desserts.


I had a few friends over for dinner last night. One person (friend of a friend) is always so harsh and rude. She wanted to know how much I pay in rent for my apartment. I told her "Probably too much" then changed the subject. She just kept coming back to it. I think that's like asking "How much do you make?" I will answer that question when posed from a VERY small handful of people (parents, JDE, JM.....that may be it.....) Rude. Then someone pooped and stunk up the whole house -- it was a late comer to the party, who didn't eat dinner with us. Gross. I did make sure to comment "It stinks like shit in here -- go light a candle".


I am off to PDX on Thursday night. It's an off chemo week -- so my dad should have energy to do things. I am still working on the ground transportation issue. My 50% off rental car deal is no more, so instead of renting a car and driving down, I might just take a car service. I have lots of research to do before Thursday. Any suggestions?


The following weekend I am going to DEN to see the boys. I am looking forward to the upcoming travels. I also got my Lollapalooza tickets yesterday. A couple friends are coming in from ANC for that weekend, should be fun. Hopefully it won't be 800 degrees with equally high humidity. There is still time to join us -- book it!


As I said, tonight is supper club, so I have to go get myself all pretty. A friend from the SFO area is in town and is joining us tonight. I can't wait.


I will do a better job of blogging this week -- promise.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Self Imposed Blog Blackout

Last week saw many changes and challenges, which is why I put myself on a blog blackout. Some folks from work read this blog (at times) and I didn't want to talk about the goings on until they were announced. The announcement came this morning (see previous blog posting for the actual announcement). My promotion to Director of Risk Management was made public this morning. It is effective 5/20/2008 -- the first day my boss left. It took a couple days of discussion to get the details hammered out (title, total compensation, office, staff, structure, etc). So I have an office now. It's nothing fancy, just a nice internal office -- decent size, no window, but it is my office. I have a door. It feels good.

I have had a couple people come up to me and say that they are surprised that I got yet another promotion (I've been promoted two times in the two years I have been with the firm). Another person said that I am the youngest person to be promoted to Director at the company. I like the idea of that -- whether or not it is true, who knows.

I am looking to buy some art for my office walls -- probably some photograph that I took myself. Perhaps an architectural print, or a landscape from OR or Napa, or something like that. Any ideas? Speaking of my office, I will bring my camera to work tomorrow (well, I will bring my CHARGED camera to work tomorrow) and take pictures of my office to show it off. Things like an office don't really mean that much to me-- it is nice, but not really something that makes me so excited.

What does really excite me -- TRAVEL. I was invited to attend a Risk Management Conference in New York. Only 100 people get invited to attending this conference -- quite an honor, I think. So my current trips are: YYZ, DEN, LGA, BDL. I have a PDX trip or two in the mix, and maybe a trip to LAS some point in September (for a birthday party). I'd also like to hit MSY this year too. Send me an email if any of you are looking to take a trip to LAS or MSY in the early fall.

Risk Resource Center - Organizational Announcement

I am pleased to announce the promotion of Tim *SNIP* to Director of Risk Management. Tim joined in *COMPANY* May of 2006 as a Risk Analyst, and subsequently was promoted to Associate Risk Manager in July of 2007. Prior to joining *COMPANY*, Tim had worked as a commercial insurance broker for 4 years with a large regional brokerage firm in Chicago.

In his new role, Tim will be responsible for managing the corporate insurance program and risk analytics, with the goal of ensuring that our insurance program is the most comprehensive and competitive program in the marketplace. Tim also will oversee our Safety and Loss Control Program, and therefore MV, our Loss Control Manager, will report to Tim. When we fill our open Risk Analyst position, that individual will report to Tim as well. Tim will report to MS, our Senior Vice President, as will JO, our Director of *SNIP*

Any requests for information or assistance that previously were directed to BAD should be sent directly to Tim.

Please join me in congratulating Tim on his well-deserved promotion.

Mike *SNIP*

-- Edited for confidentiality (names of people and company, etc)--

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Beautiful Day in the City

I think summer has finally arrived. It was so warm and clear today. Last night I went to dinner with JM. We went to Cafe Absinthe -- good appetizers, and good entree, the dessert was burned though. We went to this great new bar in Wicker Park, called Lilac Hour. Most of the reviews I've read said what a great bar this was. After waiting outside for about 15 minutes before we could enter (some douche bag door man, wearing a $115 H&M Suit kept us outside to add to the mystique of the facility). This place was a dump. 30 items on the bar menu. No Grey Goose. No Olives. JM wasn't happy. I wanted a 21+ y/o scotch. They didn't have any that I ordered. I asked for the bartender to pick the best single malt scotch. It tasted like turpentine. The bar was full of fat girls wearing halter tops and jeans with high heals, drinking cosmos -- yeah, Sex and the City brings out the worst in America. We went to a few other places in Wicker Park and I just wanted to kill myself. Got home around 1am and slept like a baby.

I got up this morning around 7:30 am. JM was coming over at 9:30 to pick me up for a CAF tour. The tour was of Stearns Quarry at 29th and Halsted. It was an old limestone quarry from the 19th Century. It is being turned into a new topographically rich city park. It was a gorgeous day to be out on a walking tour. Such a great day. After the tour we had a group brunch at a mediocre restaurant in Bridgeport. I had a nice time though.

Got home around 2:30pm. Sat on the balcony. Listened to music very loudly. Enjoyed the heat.







Talked to EAD today -- haven't talked to him in quite awhile. Looks like I'll be going to DEN in July for JFBs 30th Birthday. Should be fun -- am looking forward to seeing the boys again. Next week I will book the following flights: YYZ, DEN, PDX. We are also talking more about our alternatives for my 30th. Dubai is still on the top of the list, but with the weakening dollar and sheer amount of travel time, we are trying to find another option. I'm shooting for a low key beach type vacation. Maldives. Hotels are quoted in US$, complete disconnection from the world, ability to meet like minded people from all over the world. Actually, I'll be happy with Dubai and anywhere we end up as long as I'm with friends (EAD/JFB, and who ever else is coming).

I am tired. Going to bed. I might go to a Lesbian BBQ tomorrow. Actually it's a BBQ hosted by two lesbians (and a gay Puerto Rican)-- I don't know what a lesbian BBQ would be -- and I think I want to know either.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Work, Life, Movement

I've said this before -- many times before -- I like my gig. I like the people I work with. I like what I do. I like that people trust that I know what I am doing, but don't just blindly agree/listen to what I have to say. One thing I don't like about my job -- I don't have many people I would call friends there. I know it's just a job, but I'm use to working at places (CAF, NNIB, MF) where I had quite a few friend -- and always a lunch companion. At SPC, a lot of people bring their lunch -- which is something that I really find revolting. When I worked at CAF and made absolutely no money, I still managed to take time and find the money to go out to lunch. It might have been half a subway sandwich ($1.99 at the time), but my lunch ritual is not something that I want to give up.

A girl I work with -- actually she's my cube neighbor, she was actually my FIRST cube neighbor, decided to leave the company and go back to school. She resigned today -- well I think she resigned today. I left before she told her boss, but her plan was to resign today. Anyway, she is going to Med School. How crazy is that!?

Sometimes, nay, most times, I feel like I am just standing still. Everyone is moving on with their lives and careers and I'm stuck in neutral. I don't know what to do -- maybe I should just stay in neutral for a while and see what happens.

Going to dinner with JM on Friday night -- that's always fun -- although it usually ends up being a long late night and me in a $40 cab ride home from the bad part of town. Saturday, she and I are going on a CAF tour -- I think it is an old mine being turned into a park. They say you should bring shoes that can get muddy. Yeah, I'm not doing that. I think I'll bring a cell phone and a cab number programmed in to help me escape. I moved to the city so I wouldn't have to walk through the mud. Silly people.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Trips and Tips...

I hate to say this, but work has been good. We haven't been swamped. I took a nice relaxing lunch today, read my favorite magazine, and had time to just disconnect. I am working on a trip to Toronto in June. I am going for an insurance meeting and a friends wedding. She is from Miami and she and her girlfriend want to get hitched right away -- and have no intention of waiting until Florida allows same sex marriage. The plan is for me to be one of their witnesses. Quite and honor.

I will probably be heading back to Oregon at some point soon -- probably 4th of July. It all depends on when my dad's chemo treatments are and how much airfare is -- it's nearly $600 for ORD-PDX r/t. That is outrageous.

On my recent trip to PDX I went wine tasting at Deponte Cellars, Vista Hills, and Maysara. It was such a fantastic day. It was so warm I could wear shorts and sandals -- what an odd way to spend a May day in Oregon, I know. I really appreciate the time that JLP-B put into coordinating the wine tours. Hell, it might only take her 2 minutes to put together, but it is a great way to spend the day. I need to think of a way to repay her.... hmmmm. I took a few pictures from Vista Hills -- the tasting area there is called the Tree House, and is just amazing. The view of the valley from the hill was just breathtaking. I hope you enjoy the pictures.






The final treat I had in PDX was lunch at Rose City Cafe. The food was good -- not as great as it has been, but still definitely worth the trip. A couple good local beers, an order of hamachi sashimi, Tako Nigiri, Fatty Tuna Nigiri, and Spicy Tuna Roll for a total of $31 -- COME ON! You can't beat that.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

May Recap

So May is almost gone, and I haven't blogged. After San Diego/Portland, I spent 4 days in Chicago and then returned to the west coast. I went to see JDE in SFO. We spent a couple days in Napa. I got extremely sun burned --- although it turned into a nice (although short lived) tan the next day. We spent time with JDE's friend GXL. Spent the night at her house in Napa, cooking dinner together, drinking bottles of wine together -- and just having an amazingly peaceful night. The next day we headed back to the City -- had great sushi, hit a going away party, then a gross late night diner. Slight delay leaving SFO for ORD. Stuck in coach the whole trip. One thing that I realized on this trip -- that is pretty obvious but something I never thought about before. First off, let me preface this realization by saying my flight from SFO to ORD was a continuation from the flight from SYD to SFO. Let's just say, when people travel 15 hours on the same plane, the plane gets very ripe. Actually it smells like a rotten corpse.

BAD (the boss) quit. her last day was 5/19. I won't get into the specifics here -- I'll tell you about it if you really want to know. Where does that leave me? Probably in a pretty good position. I am very upset with her -- purely for selfish reasons -- she is a great boss, and a good friend. I wish she hadn't left. Do I get her job, you might ask? It's unclear. The whole thing is very nebulous right now. I will keep you all in the loop. If I do get a bump up, I'm going to take y'all out for a drink.

I spent one weekend in May in Chicago. I had dinner with KS on Saturday night. It was a nice time -- she had it catered and with a waitress/server/staff (what's the word??)

For Memorial Day weekend I came to Portland. JLP-B and her husband JB took me out to do some wine tours/tastings. I had a very nice time -- JLP-B is really a great resource on local wine. She knows so much (or at least it seems she does).

Other than the wine trip, I am just completely tortured here. My dad has been too sick to do anything. My mom has been staying up almost all night, and just sitting in her chair in a veritable coma during the day. I did plant tomatoes on Saturday (alone -- my dad was too sick to come out and my mom just didn't want to go outside). The weather was fantastic on Saturday. The rest of the weekend has been grey and rainy. We had a pretty rough thunderstorm on Saturday night (very rare in this part of the country).

I return to Chicago tomorrow afternoon. I'm flying up front -- so I'll have a few glasses of wine and work on the plane. I don't have any other trips booked right now. I have to go to Toronto in late June sometime. I will probably go to Denver in June or July as well. I might (MIGHT) come back for the 4th of July. The airfare is just getting so high for the visit -- but I know I need to do it, the money doesn't really matter -- and in a few years, I'll regret not coming back.

Monday, May 05, 2008

O'Hare...

O'Hare on a Sunday night is like last call at any bar. There are a ton of nervous looking people hurrying around -- trying to get on that last flight (person) before it's too late. People running to the restaurants/magazine kiosks before last call. You don't want to be caught after last call without a drink in your hand. Everyone eyeing everyone else as the whole room starts to clear.

Anyway, I'm back in Chicago for 3 more days. Then off to SFO for a weekend in Napa. Unfortunately I'm flying in the back of the bus...which is a very sad state of affairs. I haven't flown the C word since I got stuck on TED to Orlando and again to Las Vegas. 4.5 hours in Coach. No free Booze. No food. Nothing at all. I am in no mood for this already. SFO will be a blast though. I can't wait.

Today was one of the longest Mondays ever. BAD had a bad day. JO is in PDX and LAX this week. I am fighting a cold, or something. I didn't sleep much last night -- Lilly was too excited for me to be home. I almost had to cage her, she was too affectionate. It's too bad I can get my pussy so excited, but that's about it, eh? Oh well.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

San Diego...Continued

Yesterday was a good day. The weather was warm, the sessions I attended were great. I ran into an old friend from Near North Insurance Brokerage, BS. We had a couple beers at my hotel bar. We met a guy who use to work for Swiss Re -- he dealt with the litigation of the WTC loss. He was funny in a sad clown sort of way -- he said that the 30 months of litigation cost him his hair (he was bald), his wife, his girlfriend, his family, ultimately his job and made him an alcoholic. Yeah -- well you should balance your life, dumbass, but he did buy us a beer to sit and chat with him for a few more minutes.


I went to see Hootie and the Blowfish last night. I don't know any Hootie songs. They did do a Zeplin cover, as well as an REM cover. After the concert my boss (BAD), our forensic accountant (MS) and a broad from BP-Americas (CV) went out for Mexican food and then to a dance club for some bad dancing. It was fun-ish.

This morning I got up early and went to Petco Park for a behind the scenes tour. We met with the Risk Manager and the Workers Compensation guy for about 45 minutes, then took a great tour. We saw the dug out, the bull pen, the visitors locker room, the press box -- everything. It was really a great tour. It is such a great facility. They are really family friendly -- offering cheap tickets and really providing a great option for families.


Sat with CV (the broad from BP) and had some beers tonight. Going to dinner with Willis, then going to see Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (hosted by Young MC) afterwards. Should be interesting. I do feel like instead of being in San Diego this week, I am actually in 1996 -- but whatever.

I still don't want to leave this place. 36 hours until Oregon.