Thursday, January 31, 2008

Let it snow...

The weathermen say that we could wake up to 7"-12" of new snow tomorrow. That won't happen. We had a 50+ degree temperature swing a couple days ago -- it was so nice in the morning, but quite rough on the commute home.

Yesterday was our Regional Town Hall -- Chicago and the East Division. I had been preparing my presentation for several weeks. I was nervous. The conference was running late by nearly an hour -- so our presentation time was cut in half. I sped through my portion and omitted my examples and our interactive exercises. We had about 85 people or so in the room. People actually listened, took notes and asked pointed and intelligent questions. It was good to get this done and move on. I have to give this same presentation 2 more times over the next 6 weeks. I am looking forward to the travel. I work with these people and deal with them on a daily basis, but I haven't met too many of them actually in person. It was good to meet some of these folks.

Tomorrow I am going out with JM for a Wildfire dinner redux -- this time paid for by the restaurant management -- let's hope the service is not shitty this time.

We were out later than normal last night -- had a couple of glasses of wine after our presentation, then took a tour of an architecture firms office, then had more wine afterwards. It was nice to be out and about in Chicago and not come home smelling like an ashtray -- I love smoke free cities. It's about time Chicago stepped into the real world -- now if Portland will join the civilized world.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Increased Velocity, Decreased Control

I've been local for over one month now. I think this is the longest stretch in over a year. Two weeks until I'm on the road again. I am totally looking forward to it. As of late, it seems like I am just along for the ride on this wild roller coaster. I try to live in the moment, but plan for the future. I try to push myself to try new things, to live outside of my comfort level (but that doesn't mean I'll be flying coach, mind you). A couple people at the office have made comments to me about this -- sans prompting. I remember my senior year of college and how excited I was to be starting a new chapter in my life and how sad I was to be leaving the super comfortable Linfield Bubble. Knowing that those precious days at Linfield were coming to an end -- I would never again get a summer off; I would never again have an organization like ASLC (for a multitude of reasons -- think Enron, WorldComm, and Arthur Anderson); I might never see the people that meant so much to me those four years.

Everyday brings change for us all. We meet new friends; we lose old friends. Even through the years (Jesus, it has been nearly 7 years since I left Linfield), I try to remember the feelings I had those last few months on campus. I think I do a pretty good job of living in the moment -- except lately. I feel like I have been pulled in fifty different directions and when I don't know where to turn, I find projects at work to keep me occupied. I have been busy lately, but it doesn't seem like I have really done anything. Several of my projects have just been piling up.

One of the big things that I have been preoccupado with is coming to fruition tomorrow. I will be giving my first real presentation since I have been at SPC. There will be approximately 100 people from the Chicago and East Divisions. I will be talking about Risk Management Administration -- basically what we can do, administratively, to reduce costs, losses and drains on company assets. Our group has from 1pm until 3pm to present. There are three people presenting. My part will last approximately 19 minutes. Yes, I've timed myself multiple times. I don't know if I am nervous or not...again, I think I'm dead inside, so I don't know what I feel. I've practiced my "speech" probably 15 times over the past 3 days. I seem to do a decent job in my apartment. I like to pace while talking -- not a good thing for this. I haven't quite mastered the ability to talk and advance the PowerPoint presentation at the appropriate times. On the plus side, this presentation will be given again in Los Angeles and again in Miami in the coming few weeks. Hopefully by the time Miami hits, I won't be a stuttering boob. I have no delusions that a good presentation will get me ahead in my company -- that won't happen. I think I've probably reached my terminal level at SPC -- although my intellectual growth opportunities are far from over -- I don't think there are any future positions available for me at the firm. Which is fine. I like my gig and I like my team but there is always something else out there, right?

Once this is over, I hope I can return to my normal neurotic list making life, with semi-frequent travel and fun times. I'd like to take a class this spring (not a regular insurance class that I've taken ad nauseum as of late, a real class. Maybe digital photography, or a writing class. I've always wanted to write about travel. Maybe articles, maybe novels, not really guidebooks, but something! I think I can be funny at times -- and modest too. I do think I should start writing more about what is going on in my life -- so when I am 50 years old and on my death bed (remember, my family dies relatively young) someone can read me my life again and I can say "Yeah, that was fun, I had a good time."

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My Milk is About to Turn


While looking for something in my refrigerator I found that my milk was about to turn into a rotten mess. I hardly ever buy milk because I don't drink it and it spoils and it sits in the fridge getting all hard and smelly. So I decided to use my milk. How?? I decided to make homemade brownies. I pulled out my Joy of Cooking Cook Book and my relatively new KitchenAid Mixer. After gathering the ingredients I realized I needed to get some eggs -- I threw out my eggs earlier in the week because they were past their prime.
I come back home from the grocery and start mixing this stuff. I realize my baking chocolate was just an empty container -- actually containing no chocolate. I head back to the grocery store for chocolate. Once the batter (is it brownie batter? brownie dough? brownie goo? whatever) is ready, I realize that my 9" x 13" Pyrex baking dish is being held hostage in Humboldt Park by JM. I brought it to her place as my lasagna vessel -- it has remained there for bout 6 months. I fear once it is released from captivity we will have months of therapy for it to get over the Stockholm Syndrome.
So I used two round cake pans. I cook these brownies and they are, eh, ok. Hmmm. So in order to use $0.99 worth of milk, I made two trips to the grocery to buy eggs and chocolate. You know in about 5 weeks I'll realize my eggs are about to turn and I'll have to make something else so they don't go to waste. Oh well. Off to eat more OK brownies.
This is my life.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

What's Your Bag?

I'm stealing this idea from Bry -- Kind Of. A magazine I read frequently asks celebrities (or pseudo celebrities) what is in their car, or their bathroom, or their purse, or whatever. So as I am sitting here not wanting to do much of anything else -- I'll tell you all what's in my bag, and why. Don't worry, you needn't read this posting.

My bag is a Tumi messenger bag. I keep the standard briefcase things like pens, business cards and a notepad wiht me at all times. I also keep in my bag:

1) Chapstick
2) A ChicoBag (google it)
3) An iPod Nano (with Bose headsets when I travel)
4) iPod Charger
5) Blackberry Charger
6) Two 2 Gig Flash Drives (with some work out videos on it, and some work stuff)
7) Nikon Coolpix 6MP Digital Camera (never know when you need to snap a picture)
8) Envelope full of upcoming travel itineraries (LAX, PDX, MIA, PDX, SAN, PDX)
9) Passport (just in case I need to flee the country)
10) Sterling Silver Saint Christopher medallion (patron saint of travelers), a gift from my dad.
11) Mazagines
a) GQ
b) Outside's Go
c) Business Week
d) Business Insurance
e) Crain's Chicago Business
f) Risk Management Monthly
g) Business Continuity Quarterly
h) Travel & Leisure (I have a voracious appetite for magazines)
12) Flash cards for my current class (CPCU 520 Insurance Operations, Regulation, and Statutory Accounting)
13) Since it's winter I have gloves, a hat, and a foulard.
14) and last but not least, my laptop

Does this let you know more about me, or just show that I am bored right now - and that I have limited tastes??

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Economic Upheaval

I started writing about how much I love economics -- econ theory, econ practice, etc. But I deleted it. The Federal Reserve cut the federal funds rate by 75 basis points, down to 3.5% -- how amazing! I love econ conversations, not just a lecture. So the spring is starting to heat up. I've got three trips planned (LAX, MIA, and SAN). I've got two friends coming to town in March. JDE is coming for the gala -- always a fantastic weekend. Lots of food, some good booze, a cooking class and a late night trip to Berlin. Can't wait. The following weekend DMH is coming for a visit. He'll be here for about 3 days -- I think it is his first trip to ORD. Am starting to compile a list of things to do. My list thus far includes:

  1. Architecture Walking Tour -- MM are you around to be our docent?
  2. Dinner (Wildfire, Japonais, Capital Grille??)
  3. Jazz Club (?)
  4. Brunch before the flight (Tweet)
  5. Suggestions?

I've got plenty of time to plan this.

Tomorrow is Wednesday -- that means most of my team at work is working from home. I'm going to be so bored. I'm sure that the call center folks will come up to me and ask to go home early. Each time their true supervisors are out of the office, they try to sneak out a few hours early. I'm a dick and tell them they have to stay all day. They should know better than to ask me to leave early.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

This World Is Funny...and Full of Dummies.



So I'm not a fan of the "...For Dummies" books. I am not a dummy, so I don't read them. I was killing time in the bookstore in my office building and saw this------>>

Seriously? Nascar for dummies. So many things to be said, but it's just too easy. Let's just smile and move on, shall we?

It is cold here. Very cold. Wind chill temps are about -25 degrees right now (according to NBC5). I didn't do much today. Yesterday I went out with AA (JG was sick) to an Irish Pub, then off to the Peninsula Hotel for Champagne and Chocolate Cake and to watch her husband's jazz band play. It was nice and relaxing (hell, champagne and chocolate cake -- you can't go wrong with that!)

I'm working on my presentation for work tonight and tomorrow. Have my first practice presentation on Monday. I've given business presentations before -- mostly to smaller groups, maybe 10 people total. The Chicago presentation will be the largest group I have spoken in front of -- approximately 100 people. Maybe I'll actually prepare and practice this time...

Speaking of...I'm off.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Now is the winter of our discontent -- and frost bite.

Weekly Recap: Dinner at Wildfire sucked. The waiter was a douche bag. The food was very good and the company was excellent (as usual). Have been working for many hours at home each night. Went out for beers with JO from the office after work today. It was good to go out for a little bit.

Got an email from an old friend TL today. I first met her at NNIB then we moved to MF together, she left MF about 6 months before I did. We decided we'd get a small group of us together again. SN, who is just an obnoxiously easy woman to make fun of will be there -- she's a good egg, but very rough. We also will be joined by JG. He left MF about 2 months before I did. We hung out a decent amount there for a while. I haven't seen him in over a year (maybe 14 months). He and I chatted tonight for a while -- got caught up on all the things that change in peoples lives in 14 months -- it was really good to talk to him. He and his gf now fiance are really great. He's one of those people you can go a very long time without talking, but when you do it is like no time has passed.

What is up for this weekend -- dinner/drinks with JG/AA from NNIB (it's a freakin' NNIB reunion now) on Friday...then I'm laying low all weekend. It is very cold out. This weekend the highs are in the single digits and windchill well below zero. Un-fucking-acceptable.

Sorry for the boring blog -- if you want something to smile about just think of Meredith Viera slipping on the ice rink at Rockefeller Plaza and hitting her head. Ah yes -- that makes me smile.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Upcoming Week -- What is in store....

Sometimes I love January in Chicago and sometimes I hate it. The fall is always a super busy time with parties, non-profit events, events, openings, shows, etc. Once you turn the last page of your calendar and see nothing but an empty wall behind, you realize the dead of January is here. After New Years comes and goes, my social calendar comes to a grinding halt. January is hibernation time. I usually use this month as a time of self reflection, vacation planning, exercising, reading, and just having a month of "Tim Time". It isn't hard to stay in in January. The temperature drops, the snow comes, the ice stays, the wind whips -- once you get home, you don't want to leave.

This week is queued up to be pretty low key. I've got an Risk Management Demo tomorrow. Dinner to celebrate a friends new job on Tuesday (at Wildfire-- can't wait). And finally I have dinner with the old team from NNIB on Friday. Should be a nice dinner and a couple good cocktails.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Let's get this started already...

I have been back in Chicago for 13 days so far. I am already getting antsy. I want to travel again. Today I booked my first trip. ORD-LAX-PDX-ORD. I have to have dinner with our West Coast Operations folks, give a quick presentation, then I'm heading up to Portland to see my family. I'll be spending about 4 days in Oregon. It feels good having future flights listed on my United Itineraries. For some reason I get a little nervous not having upcoming flights scheduled.

I got to work this morning around 9am. Before I could plug in my laptop, and get my glass of water, a member of our team came up with a frantic IT question. She can't log into the system and has no idea what is wrong. Let it be known that this woman starts working at 7am. What was she doing for the first 2 hours of her day -- it's unclear. I go into the room (basically it's a 2 person call center) to find her co-worker (a good egg) trying to log in. After about 10 minutes of woman #1 explaining the problem - "It ain't workin'", woman #2 says "It wasn't working because you were misspelling your name". Woman #1 MISSPELLED HER OWN NAME, so the system wouldn't let her in. You have got to be kidding me. This is what I deal with on a daily basis.

On Monday I have to attend a meeting with one of our vendors -- and showcase the vendors product to a major REIT Risk Management team. The woman who misspelled her own name (for two hours) was to be helping us in the demo. Had to put the kibosh on that -- god only knows what would be said, although I think it would be beyond hilarious watching this woman demonstrate a system she can't even log into.

One more story about this delightful woman.

Dateline: December 2006. Our office was inundated with holiday food stuffs (cookies, chocolates, fruit, chocolate covered pretzels, etc). This woman would just gorge herself on sweets -- her favorite: the milk chocolate covered pretzels. After a week or so of eating this crap, her feet begin to hurt -- A LOT. She goes to the doctor. After running some tests, the doctor returns and says (this is straight from the chocoholic horse's mouth) "You remember, you are diabetic, right? If you keep eating this much sugar, you will lose your foot". This crazy broad was basically eating her own foot off.

God Bless America.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Answers...

I have nothing to say today. Work was fine -- full of busy work, which is fine. We got what equates to very good news today. I won't go into details, but I have absolutely no reason to feel anything but super excited...but being me, I am a little down about "what could have been." I just need to shut up and realize things are good -- be happy with what you have, for it could change any moment.

Re: Prior Blog -- the reason I was "funny", or at least thought I was (and "I do find myself wildly entertaining" -- MM), related to the numbering system of my "Needs Improvement List." I say we need to improve the American educational system -- which was number 5 on the list. Check the numbers: 1, 2, 3, 5 (education).

AO: Congratulations for being the first of two people (PM was #2). I'm sending you a prize -- it goes out in the mail tomorrow.

Cheers.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I Choo Choo Choose You, Hillary

I like Hillary Clinton. I want her to not only the nomination of her/our party, but with go on and win the 2008 and 2012 presidential election. I think Obama will be a good candidate -- in 2016. He is too green now (not in the Al Gore way, though). He needs time to grow and he needs time to actually show that he is a good Senator for us in Illinois.

I can see why Hillary is a polarizing person. I've wanted her to be president since c. 1993 when she worked on the Health care "reform" under Bubba's regime. I wonder if people hate her because of her reaction to her husband banging a fat ugly intern from Oregon, with a cheap dress. Don't judge her -- it was her marriage...and how many people in America are any better -- let ye who are without sin cast the first stone, fuckers.

As of right now, Hillary is ahead in NH. This whole primary/caucus system is flawed, we need to revamp it.

There are a few other things that need to be revamped and I think Hillary is the one to do it:

1) We need to completely restructure our health care system. People who work hard their entire life, are never sick are getting screwed when something catastrophic happens. The point of insurance is to cover you when you need it, not make you pay in for decades then when you really need it, to screw you.

2) We need to reevaluate our entire environmental policy. If we have to put a tax on bottled water so you'll stop using plastic bottles and instead refill a glass, so be it. I drink out of a crystal high ball glass at the office (I drink about 50-65 ounces of water at work a day). It was a gift from my dad 13 months ago. He knows I like the finer things. Several people at the office make fun of me for it (as I bring it with me to meetings, etc). Why would I drink out of a bottle of water (not only pay for the bottle but then throw it away after ingesting a whopping 16 ounces of water). That bitch Meredith Viera said that for every pint of bottled water "manufactured" nearly 3 gallons of fresh water are polluted (by the filtration process, manufacture of the plastic, transporting along the entire supply chain, electricity for refrigeration, etc. etc. etc). I don't like MV, but this statistic fascinated me.

3) Public Transportation (including the air traffic system) needs to be updated. This ties in with number 2, above.

5) We need to reevaluate our education system. Parents need to take responsibility for their children, teachers need to teach. As much as I hated PE, Music and Art in school, they must stay and be fully funded. We are already too fat. We need to reinvigorate our math and science too. (A special prize will go to the first person who picks out why this is humorous...c'mon, guess!)

I'm going to bed -- it is tiring being up here on my pedestal all day. Time to crash with my pussy.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

10 Things I am Diggin' Right Now

The first NYE I remember was 1988 (I remember watching a rerun of Designing Women with my dad). That was 20 years ago. I was also playing with Legos that night. Twenty Years.

Anyway -- a new year is a new beginning, right? Here is a list of things that I'm totally digging so far in 2008 (in no particular order):

1) Being Cable Free
2) Public Transit (GO CTA!)
3) Friends who have recently had children who still take the time for emails and phone calls with friends sans children (ie me)
4) The P90x Workout and Nutritional Program (kick ass recipes)
5) My new Kitchenaid Mixer
6) The TV Show (via Netflix and antenna, see #1) "How I Met Your Mother"
7) Travel Anticipation (LAX, PDX, MIA, SAN, PDX -- and long term DXB) -- I can't wait to get back on the road again.
8) My neurotic To-Do Lists
9) All the extra time I have because I am not watching 5 hours of TV from the DVR each night.
10) My Job

Saturday, January 05, 2008

2007 Year In Review - Chronotastically

This blog was sporadic at best this year, so here is a lame year in review.



January
  • Started the CAF Docent Program (13 weeks of Saturday classes)
  • Hired a personal trainer (Francisco: he spoke 8 words of English, and had poor nutrition ideas, but he was encouraging)
  • Got extremely intoxicated with KK, making an ass of myself 3 separate and distinct times. I even harassed a man grieving for his lost girl friend. (Not a proud moment for Tim)
  • First Supper Club -- a group of 3 singles and a couple form a group. Host must cook, guests must eat and drink
February
  • The coldest birthday of my life (Docent class with 3 hours of outside study. -25 windchill. Brr)
  • Spent a fabulous weekend in SFO and Napa
  • Was in a car accident fucking up my shoulder and taking a large chuck of flesh out of my cheek
  • Began alternative physical therapy b/c of accident
  • Dropped out of the Docent class because of PT conflicts

March
  • Got a horrific cold -- actually took three days SICK off from work
  • Took the GMAT, while my fever was still over 103 degrees. I scored in the 97th percentile in Math (who knew??) and a 96th percentile in the Essay (hmmmm) and an amazing 17th percentile in English. Looks like Grad School will wait, eh?
  • JDE came to town, and we went to the CAF Gala with GG and MM
  • Took a "How to..." Sushi class (FAB!)
  • Went to Berlin in full black tie (4th year in a row)
  • Negotiated a decent adjustment to my rent increase
  • EAD and JFB were in town for a quick weekend
  • Made a fabulous friend, Arlene, who has helped me outrageously this year

April

  • I flew American Airlines (ew) to Trinidad to see EAD. Finally got to use my passport (first time in 7 years, how sad for Tim)
  • My dad went in for his colonoscopy, and got the bad news
  • I started this blog
  • I flew to New Orleans for RIMS (don't be dirty, it stands for Risk Insurance Management Society -- the big insurance nerd professional organization)
  • Played Craps (at the conference), won $360, and ate at NoLa
  • Receive 60% of my bonus. I am very disappointed

May

  • Returned from New Orleans, got highly intoxicated on the flight, and broke my suitcase.
  • BH comes to Chicago for a 12 hour visit -- it was fun
  • Flew to Oregon to visit with my dad's surgeon (60 hours in PDX, I was still optimistic)
  • Returned to Chicago
  • Decided to return to Oregon for 4 weeks to help my dad out after his surgery.
  • My dad goes in for surgery, we find out his situation is much more dire than originally expected
  • BH takes me out to get hammered following medical news. She does an excellent impression of a sprinkler. I yell at the cabbie, and BH hugs my mom.
  • Receive the other 40% of my bonus, I am less disappointed

June

  • I plant tomatoes (Roma, Beefsteak and Cherry) in Oregon
  • I hit the casino twice -- net profit of $120
  • I return to Chicago, and feel outrageously guilty -- I leave the day before Father's Day, 2 days before my dad starts Chemo
  • Get drunk with MM, GG, KK at Pride. Home early though
  • Get a 12% raise and a 50% increase in max bonus. My boss works her magic on upper management, we are happy
  • Second Supper Club (@ Mo's)

July

  • I go sailing a few times
  • I am re-elected Vice President of Development for the Auxiliary Board of the Chicago Architecture Foundation
  • I remain local for 6 weeks, one of the longest local stretches in 2007
  • My dad is in and out of the hospital, spending about 4-5 days out of 14 in the hospital. I truly think this could be the end
  • I call in some favors and get my aunt an outrageously cheap airline ticket to visit my parents. Get her a transcontinental multiple leg upgrade to first, with a price that is UAL's cheapest ticket (21 day advanced purchase), with only 3 days notice. My parents thank me. My aunt complains the flight is long

August

  • I return to Oregon. My flight is 5 hours delayed. I visit my dad in the hospital at 3am. It is the day before his birthday
  • Managed to give my dad an excellent birthday present -- a release from the hospital
  • I attend my 10 year High School Reunion. I realize my memory must be flawed. Many people are rehashing memories that I don't have. It seems that many people think that HS might actually have been the best time of their life. I had a nice time, despite the fact that my class mates were there
  • I see EAD, JFB and JDE. We have a wonderful dinner in PDX
  • I return to Chicago
  • I go to LA for a 30 minute presentation. I leave on Monday, and return on Friday. For some reason, I really like LA. This goes against everything I believe in (car culture, fake people, but whatever)
  • I decide to go to Miami with EAD and JFB. This was the most relaxing weekend of my life. I really needed time to get away and not worry about anything. I wonder if EAD and JFB lived closer if I would truly appreciate the time I spend with them like I do now?

September

  • I go to Las Vegas with some of my oldest friends: AB, J(P)B and her husband JB. Friends from Chicago join us for a day or so LB and KG. I had a nice relaxing time. It was good to see these folks out of our homes -- truly getting away. I look forward to our next trip together. We must do a better job on the hotel though
  • I go to Philadelphia for a boondoggle. I have fun. On the return flight I am stuck on the tarmac (in Coach) for 4.5 hours because of weather and other miscellaneous reasons

October

  • I go to Orlando for a training session. I hate Orlando. It is full of all that I hate: Children, Fat People, Old People, Uneducated American Tourists, Buffets, Motor Coaches and the list goes on
  • My dad seems to be getting a bit worse again
  • I decide to return to Oregon for my mom's birthday, thinking again that this might be the last time I may see my father
  • While in Oregon I decide to return to Oregon and help my family from Thanksgiving until the end of the year. BAD/MES (bosses) agree to let me go

November

  • I realize I will be gone for 5 weeks, I need to plan, but of course, I procrastinate
  • I plan dinners and lunches with friends -- the fall is a busy time for me, but all my travels have restricted my social life
  • I return to Oregon
  • Family friends pick me up at the airport
  • Same friends host us for Thanksgiving dinner
  • Worked from one of the numerous recliners in the parents house
  • Watched copious amounts of television
  • Worked out moderately
  • Realized suburban life is not the life for me -- although sometimes miss a car and would like a veg garden

December

  • I get photos done for my parents and order prints that my parents had taken in June
  • I go wine tasting -- wasn't a fan of the wines at Sokol Blosser and you all know I LOVE Oregon Pinot Noir.
  • I saw my friends J(P)B, JB, and AB again.
  • Cooked Christmas Eve dinner for my dad's brothers. Standing Rib Roast, Mashed Potatoes, Mushrooms in a red wine reduction sauce, broiled asparagus. I further realize that once my father dies I will never see these people again.
  • Hit the Casino with AB, lost $100, but had fun.
  • I return home, again, full of guilt and anticipation.

I was out of Chicago on Vacations or Work Trip a total of 117 days last year. That is 32% of the time. That's insane. I flew 40,359 flight miles last year. I reconnected with some old friends from HS. For the folks that I would consider friends, it was like no time had passed, for the others it seemed like not enough time.

This was my year -- full of ups and downs. Luckily not full of regrets -- a few things I would change -- assuming I had the power to do anything about it.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Veni, Vidi, Vici of sorts...

So I have returned from my sabbatical in McMinnville. I'll give a quick update here and try to update this more frequently -- no that isn't a new years resolution.

My flights were very uneventful. I had my normal seat (4B on a B757) both on the out bound and the return. I hate when I have to flight on the A320's -- usually they have only 2 or 3 rows of first class, so there really is no good seats. The 757's have 6 rows -- with that many seats up front, you get two flight attendants too -- less time to wait for refills.

BH was in town for 2 weeks. I saw her once. I miss her. We did manage to go book shopping (Powell's), drink local beers (Henry's), eat Sushi (Mio Sushi), miss a theater production (the ONE thing we had on our schedule to do, drank more and ate a bad "gourmet" pizza (Veritable Quandary, which I have loved each time before I was there), took a pedi-cab or as I call it a rickshaw (take that TB!!!), saw strippers (not appealing, yet not as bad as the strippers in Astoria), went dancing, ran into RT from Sheridan (he no longer lives in LA, which is too bad), went dancing to another place, and finally made it back to Mac at 4:58am.

I went wine tasting with JB, JB and JB's friend. Went to Sokol Blosser. We had really nice service, with a private tour of the grounds. Sokol Blosser is a LEED Silver Certified Facility. I think that is fantastic...unfortunately I didn't care for their wine at all. I'm a HUGE Oregon Pinot Noir fan -- ask anyone who joins me for dinner out, always my first choice on wines.

I cooked Christmas Eve dinner for my mom and dad, and my uncles Tom and Duane. I fixed an 8 pound standing rib roast. It was accompanied by sauted mushrooms, mashed potatoes, roasted asparagas and white bread rolls. I was very surprised as to how it turned out -- my parents don't like to cook, so they don't have all the utensils you need to really prepare a nice meal.

I went shopping after Christmas -- it was a total cluster fuck, and the only thing I bought was a WAY overpriced 2G MicroSD card for my blackberry-- but whatever, I needed it.

I saw LM at Blue Moon in Portland. We had a couple beers, and caught up. I haven't seen her since April 2006 (the two weeks I took off between jobs). It was nice to see her, but it was a very short visit. I had dinner at 23Hoyt with JE and her bf JK. The service was very nice, the wine was fab, and the food was above average. Try the steak (medium) there, JK's was fantastic. After dinner we went back to Blue Moon to see K(B)F and SK. We sat around drinking and chatting for about 5 hours. K(B)F and I haven't talked since April 2002. We've grown a lot in those 5+ years. SK and I haven't chatted since graduation -- I had a really nice time talking to her. She is in LA (Sherman Oaks).

I went to the Casino with AB. Lost $100 in about 9 minutes, but had a nice time. I like AB. I always have fun with her.

My flight was at 8am on Saturday morning, so I got a couple rooms at the Marriott on Naito and my parents had a little vacation in the city Friday night. We just ate in the hotel and watched Netflix movies. It was one of the nicest nights of the trip.

I returned to Chicago.

NYE was supper club. PH & TH hosted. MW, JM and D? (the normal supper club crowd were there). We had great cheese, wonderful champagne, good food, and above all excellent friends. I got home at 3:30am. We had a surprise snow storm that night (well, it was a surprise to me). We had about 3 inches of snow. I left my camera at home -- so I borrowed TH's camera and took some art photos -- will post them later.

Back to work today. Very busy -- so it went by fast. I bought a KitchenAid Mixer tonight -- from amazon. It will be here in 7 days. I'm so stoked! Anyone reading this : COME OVER and let's make a ton of food.

My laptop HDD is full (well, I have 5G left of a 110G drive). I need to buy an external drive to store my photos and music. Any suggestions?

I rearranged my furniture too -- I don't know if I like it...but a new year and a new layout, eh?