Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas and Cruising with a mix of delays.

I am on the train en route to ORD. I haven't train blogged in a long time. My flight to MIA is delayed one hour and is now set to leave at 805pm. I fully expect the delays to be about 4 or 5 hours tonight. We have snow and ice and sleet. Let's hope Santa doesn't break his fat fucking neck on my property line...I fight that lawsuit until I am blue in the face.

So my mom got to the airport at 230pm today...5 hours before we were originally set to depart. I couldn't live that way. Still supposed to be in the high 70s or low 80s in South Florida and the Yucatan. I am looking forward to the heat and the sun. I finished all of my year end work this morning....let's just coast into the new year, shall we?

On a different note, I am an asshole. Surprise surprise surprise, eh. Mike (Match.com friend) gave me a Christmas card last Friday and I lost it. Ugh. Got another one last night, but I am still a dick. He got me a cookbook for christmas too. I was going to buy some cufflinks but have found any I like yet. I need to get on that.

I wish all (both?) Blog readers out there a Merry Christmas. I will be updating on Facebook and my blog while on the cruise, if I have free internet access, and if I feel like it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

'Tis the season

We leave for our cruise on Wednesday night. I still have such low expectations for the cruise, I am sure I will have a good time. It doesn't event seem like Christmas here. I didn't put up a tree this year. My mom and I aren't doing Christmas gifts this year -- the cruise is our mutual gift. I am looking forward to the heat and the sun, I'm sure I'll have fun on the boat -- it'll be a new experience for me and I'm sure I can meet some interesting people.

Speaking of a new experience and interesting people -- a little over a month ago I decided to try something new -- something that I am embarrassed to admit, but I will do it here. I decided to try Match.com. I've been out of the dating world for a couple years. I had a lot of energy focused on my dad's illness and helping my mom deal with his illness -- I didn't think I had any time or energy to spend on me let alone someone else. So now that that excuse can't be used any more, I thought I'd give it a try. I don't like the idea of using an online dating website. I think my biggest concern is when people ask "Oh, how did you meet?" - I don't like the idea of saying match.com. I feel it's like saying "I couldn't find anyone in the real world by myself, so I had to find someone online -- someone who couldn't find anyone in the real world either". Just one of my many hangups, I guess.

I got a few emails from people -- a wink or two (which I find shitty -- if you want to start a conversation, send an email). Some of the people were treating it as a quick hook up site -- not what I'm looking for. The first person who emailed me seemed like a normal person, which I must admit took me by surprise. We emailed a few times and decided we should meet for a drink. The first drink turned into a 4.5 hours drink/dinner/desert. We went out the following Saturday to the Christkindl Market (German Christmas Market) then to the Shedd Aquarium then to a Spanish Restaurant in a new-ish hotel -- about a 6 hour date. A week later we decided to hit a local bar for a couple beers and played board games -- scrabble (a tough date game because you learn how well the person spells and does math). After scrabble we just walked around the neighborhood and chatted. Our fourth date was on Friday -- he cooked dinner at his home for us. It was a nice relaxing evening.

He seems like a nice guy, who I enjoy hanging out with. Taking things slowly -- just see what happens. It's a good time of year to start seeing someone if you want to take it slow -- our calendars are so full already it makes it difficult to see too much of each other. We'll see how this goes, eh?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Bus Runner and Line Waiter

It is 801 am on Saturday morning. I am on the bus heading downtown. On week days I am not even this far along on the commute.

I am heading downtown to wait in line at the American Girl store to get a friends daughter a doll stroller. The strollers are sold out/backordered online. Some peach at the store said 6 strollers are arriving and will be on the floor this morning when they open. I am going to buy them all. The retail on the stroller is $58 and they are going for $150 on ebay. I hope I can sell them. If not I will just return then for a refund. DH did give me a good warning though...always check the return policy. That is just what I need-$400 in store credit at American Girl.

Merry Christmas and Happy Gouging.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

20 Days sans blog...

Last time I blogged I was excited about getting the droid. Well, I got it. I love it. I'm not going to do a full review, because I just don't care to. The phone is great. It is a bit heavy, but I came from a small blackberry pearl. The battery was draining after one day of use -- then I realized I need to treat this phone as a computer and not a simple phone. I don't need to have the WiFi on all the time, I don't need to have the GPS going all the time, if I'm going to listen to Pandora, you expect the battery to be eaten up. I do have one complaint though -- when forwarding a work email, the forwarded message is included as an attachment (.eml file) and you can't open it on the droid or the iPhone or blackberry. I've read a fix is in the works, but it's still frustrating.

My mom is back in Chicago. I saw her for 2 hours on Sunday and haven't seen her since. Tis the season for a million parties. We fly to Orlando tomorrow to see my mom's cousin and aunt. I'm looking forward to seeing these guys. I am going golfing on Friday - my first real golf game (I don't count that two week session in High School P.E. where we tried to get the ball near the orange cone). We're exit row people this time -- it doesn't appear the upgrade to first is going through. Oh well...such is life, I guess. We are up front on the return though.

We have had a beautiful fall -- many more nice days than bad days. It is supposed to snow a bit tomorrow -- that's what we need, snow on a holiday travel day. Perfect.

Nothing else exciting seems to be going on with me right now.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

New Phone

I am super excited about getting, nay-- the prospect of getting, a new phone tomorrow. I will get up early and stand outside in the cold for the new Verizon Droid tomorrow. The phone looks great and even the super die hard apple reviewers say it is a good phone.

I know it won't be an IPhone... Your call won't be dropped on the droid. I do have a major concern about tomorrow morning, well two to be exact. If I get up super early and head downtown to get in line for the phone and no one is in line, I will be pissed, but not as pissed as if I get up super early, wait in line and then hear they ran out of phones. That will probably send me into a sleep deprived irrational rage, that only large amounts of propofol can cure (too soon for that joke? I think not).

I am going for it tomorrow. I will be updating my facebook status on line and will hopefully have an initial review done by the weekend.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Catch Up

I have completed my last work trip of the year, which is both good and bad. I am happy that I won't have to go on a mileage run (or two) to Salt Lake this year, but its hard to think this year is almost over. From a mileage stand point I will have flown 54,000 Elite Qualifying Miles (a/k/a butt in seat miles) this year. 10 segments or 17,390 of those to/from Portland this year. Next year I will have a European trip under my belt, but it won't be enough to replace those miles.

Anyway, my mom is in W. Va for a month. My aunt, who traditionally I really liked, had both of her knees replaced. Her husband was fighting cancer for almost as long as my dad did. He was under the care of hospice. My mom went out to take care of my aunt, while she recovered from surgery. Since my aunts husband couldn't take care of himself, they moved him to a short term hospice clinic until someone could take care of him at home again. They moved him on Monday, her surgery was Tuesday, he died on Wednesday. Perfect.

My mom was pretty distraught. This guy was far from an admirable character. He was abusive, drunk and selfish. Not that I wished he was dead. My biggest frustration with him was that he was declared cancer free about a year ago, and instead of loving life he just drank excessively and popped pills. My dad didn't have the chance to "be cancer free". I know it doesn't really mean anything now, but it is pretty frustrating.

I must admit that I am totally enjoying my empty house. It is great to have the whole place all to myself. I must also admit, the house is a bit too big for just one person, but I still love it.

I have been pretty productive so far today too. I slept in until 9am, which is very late for me. I have several home owner projects ahead of me this weekend, nothing major, just simple seasonal stuff, like changing the air filters, removing and cleaning the screens, spraying for bugs, etc. It will take me a whopping 20 minutes probably, but still things I can check off my to do list.

I am still having problems with gnats and I can't figure out the issues. Its not a fruit fly issue, as they aren't swarming around anything but me. I thought it might be plant related, but I've sprayed the plants and while there are a lot of dead bugs I are no movement at all. I hope it was just because we have a warm house and had an ill fitting screen, and that's how they got in the house. We will know in a day or two, I suppose.

Am heading home now to install dimmer switches in the living/dining room... Here's hoping I don't electrocute myself. Do me a favor, if you don't hear from me, see an updated blog posting or facebook activity before 9pm tonight, call the police.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Things that piss me off today.

Yesterday was supper club. We went to Cafe 28, a great little place in Ravenswood. I had a nice time. Afterward JM and I went to Scot's, a little bar 4 blocks north of the restaurant. We sat down and some creepy middle aged guy started talking to us. I love meeting crazy people, but this guy was too much.

He was originally from Paris, lived in Chicago for 17 years and lost his partner of 22 years just 4 months ago. We learned all this info within the first 90 seconds of talking to him. His accent was very thick and since the bar was loud it was very difficult to understand him.

He told us how Chicago is not a world class city, and never will be. Chicago is no New York or Paris he says... No shit. I was in no mood to debate some dumb frog over how great Chicago is. He can go fuck himself. I mentioned I grew up outside of Portland. He tells me that Portland is much more of a world class city than Chicago. His examples: theater, ballet, sport and culture (museums). What??? Don't get me wrong, I love Portland, and both cities have their strong points, but no way does Portland out shine Chicago under all these categories.

He then brought up Roman Polanski. He asked my opinion and I told him. Looking back I could have censored myself, knowing he was a frog, I chose not to though. I told him I thought Polanski should answer for his crime as per the plea agreement he entered into over 30 years ago. He admitted to committing statutory rape. Before he could serve his time he fled to France. Do I think he is a pedophile? I don't know? Do I think he forcibly raped this 13 year old girl, no. I think she wanted to break into films and she thought -or he told her- that this would be the quickest way.

People say that since it happened so long ago, we should give him a break. He created so many amazing films in the last 30+ years they say. Does this make his crime less heinous? Does the legal system not care to look out for victims if it has been a long time AND the perpetrator has entertained us for years?

If Osama bin Laden stops organizing terrorist plots and begins to make amazing films or write moving plays or take breathtaking photos in 30 years will we forgive him?

Ok, I will give you a few points against me now: some stories say this girl didn't consider this rape, it appears that he hasn't continued this practice and he does make great films. Granted. The law is the law. He signed the plea agreement. He needs to serve his time.

This bar frog told me that since it has been 30+ years we should forgive him. I argued the importance of law and without it we descend into chaos. He disagrees.
He cannot be persuaded. I change my argument and he continues with his one response, "people should forget it, it was along time ago, and he has entertained is for years".

The reason this guy know Portland so much is because his best friend lives there and he goes to see him about once a month. He has been flying out there for over 2 years now. His best friend is a 17 year old boy. No fucking joke. No wonder you love Roman Polanski, you've been fucking children for years.

This is what pisses me off today -and last night.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Rain, Golf, Food Yoga

I had a really great yoga session last night. Carl is the instructor (yogi? Is that right?). He is still new, but it is such a great workout. I am sweating like a whore in church when we are done. We still focus on core and balance, at my request.

Two nights ago I fixed curry for the first time. It was much less flavorful than I anticipated. If anyone has a good (healthy) curry recipe, please send it on.

I am off to my 4th or 5th golf lesson tonight. We are queued up to go to the driving range tonight. It is raining and I am a bit sore from Yoga last night, but I will definitely hit a small bucket of balls tonight. It makes the lesson really hit (no pun intended) home.

My friends LB and KG are getting married this weekend. I have the honor of being in the wedding party. LB is such a free spirit (in a good way). She is super organized and puts up with shit from no one. She also doesn't stand on ceremony either. I think her best trait is that she asks questions when she doesn't know something or needs some clarification. So many people just clam up and pretend. I do that. I don't want to seem like a dolt. She never seems like a dolt, she has a genuine yearning for knowledge. As I re-read this it might come off as being sarcastic-far from it in reality.

I am off to Denver for work on Monday night. Have meetings through Friday afternoon and then am spending the weekend with EAD and JFB. I cannot wait.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Public Speaking

Speaking of public speaking, I took a class on it today. It is something my boss, my coach and I all agreed was a skill I needed to hone. The class was good. Of course they wanted us to drink the Kool-Aid and buy big bundles of CDs and DVDs and books and a bunch of other crap that I won't use.

I arrived 10 minutes before class started and went up to a table with one woman sitting alone and said "Is this seat free?", pointing to one of 4 empty seats. She says, "No, I am saving them cuz people from da job is comin'".

Right. So I sit my ass down right in the middle of the seats. She rolled her eyes and stared at the table top. So, I am not only there to become a better public speaker, but to network. What better person to network with than this peach of a lady here, eh?

So I begin peppering her with questions, to which she responds with one or two word answers. I then pretend she said "And you" after each question she answered, so I tell her where I work, what I do, where in the City I live, how many of these classes I've taken, etc.

Her colleagues arrive. They all were former teachers and now work for the Chicago Public Schools Pension Fund. By the end of the day the lady who didn't want to talk to me was my new best friend. Of course we didn't exchange cards or anything, but still we are sisters.

Her colleagues were those annoying former teachers who were always loud and RIGHT. They would ask me a question that they knew the answer to (but were wrong) and before could get 5 words out they would start in again. I was very surprised and annoyed that adult learners are so obnoxious.

Overall the class was good though. I did have a couple of take aways what will be beneficial. I would probably take a class from this group again.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

October of Tim?

So my well laid plans for September of Tim, didn't leave me feeling super accomplished. I did attend some art events, a couple cooking classes, read more, took golf and yoga classes, and made time to see 3 of my closest friends... It just wasn't as fulfilling as I had hoped.

I will try it again this month. I will be traveling to Denver for work, with a vacation extension. I have a wine tasting class and a couple of golf lessons in the queue. I have the house to myself for 3 weeks too, as my mom is going to WV to help her sister following surgery. I have some lunches and dinners planned with former colleagues and supper club folks.

I still feel like I am just drifting without a purpose. I am really working hard to make healthy nutrition and activity choices too. I have been cooking healthy new recipes at home-last night I made a chicken and vegetable curry. It was a bit spicy, but I chock that up to my first time working with curry.

Today I am off to a public speaking course. This is one thing everyone can agree that I need help on. I don't really get nervous, I just am far from dynamic. I have addressed larger crowds (between 50 and 150 people) probably 15 times since I have been at my current company. I don't project very well and I don't engage the crowd. Let's hope todays course will give me some techniques to remedy these issues. An 8 hour public speaking course isn't my idea of a great way to spend a day in the fall.

Friday, October 02, 2009

This is it.

As I write this, we are just a few short hours from the announcement on who will host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. I have been in favor of our bid since it was first brought up in a passing manner a couple years ago.

Everyone agrees that Chicago has put together the best bid (technically and financially) an American City has ever done. No one can argue with the star power behind our bid: Oprah and the Obamas are truly a force to be reckoned with.

I have many friends who do not want the games in Chicago, they think it will be a nightmare for us for the 3 weeks of the games, some are afraid it will increase our likelihood of being a terrorist target. I cannot refute those charges.

Fingers crossed America (et al).

Monday, September 28, 2009

Visitors and Sleep

I don't know why I feel I have to be out until the ungodly hours of the morning when JDE is visiting, but we always are.

We had a very nice time. Just say around the house Friday night drinking homemade margaritas and wine until 0230. Had a really fun cooking class at the Chopping Block then Dinner (with MMcM and JDE) at Sunda, then visited the Zebra then Boystown. Sunday, of course, was spent lounging on the couch watching TV and napping a bit. A very fun visit indeed.

I made the Panko Crusted Mustard and Herb chicken for dinner last night. Tonight I am going to grill some turkey burgers. I am trying to eat better and take better care of myself again. I am displeased with how flabby and out of shape I am. Unfortunately, complaining about it while eating poorly and sitting on the couch hasn't helped...maybe taking an active stance finally will...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gettin' my hair did

I think I am in love. Let's start at the beginning, HIMYM style, shall we?

Picture it: Wednesday June 3, 2009. This day and the day following will be two days that I will never forget. I was invited to the first ever Hugo Boss sample sale in Chicago by a wonderful friend. Another fab girl joined us. Have you been to a HB sample sale? It is fantastic. Suits were on sale for 3/$1195 (retail between $795 and $1595 each), shirts were $50 vs. $175 each, shoes were $125 vs $295. Its a dream come true for a cheap ass suit lover, like me. We attended the preview event (which cost is $25 each) but got first shot at all the clothes, plus all we could drink (cha-fucking-Ching).

I had one goal that night (from a shopping standpoint), buy a funeral suit. I knew my dad was very near the end, I needed a new suit (writing this now makes me feel bad that I went shopping the night before he died--which is why the next day will never be forgotten).

I found some suits, some shirts, some ties and some shoes. I drank white wine until the bar was dry (its a big gay event, how do you run out of booze?). there were three great things that happened that night: I got a great deal on fantastic clothes, I was able to step away from the death issues and have a great time with some friends, and finally-- the goodie bag!

This Goodie-Bag is legendary (again, HIMYM style). It wasn't a small bag with a soap sampler, it was a huge fucking shopping bag full of heaven. It had full size samples of premium shave cream and gels, shampoos, conditioners, self tanners, body scrubs, soaps, colognes and styling products. This goodie bad (as described thus far) is worth about $250.

There is an envelope containing a large number of gift certificates. These weren't certs for 5% off first time visitors to a dry cleaner either. It was a 90 minute massage for $15; 5 gift certs for full haircut/shave/mani/shoe shines; 40% teeth bleaching and so on.

I divided up the certs between me and my mom (some were more geared towards women). I found a cert for a place I had never heard of: John Allan's. Who is this guy? It wasn't a cert for a free service, but a very for a haircut, hot facial towel, shoe shine, manicure and a drink for $38... I know, this isn't a free thing. What's that all about?

The demographic of the people attending the HB sample sale was more of a higher end shopper, so freebies are not necessarily the attention grabber you'd think. I decided to try out this John Allans. It was unlike anything I had been to before.

It is in the Penthouse of an office building in the loop, on Jackson, near the Board of Trade. I walk in and it is modern, yet classic. I knew not what to expect. I was greeted by the receptionist (very bad word for her, but she receives the clients). My bag was taken away very quickly and I was helped into a smock -like at all salons (the smock not the helped into the smock). I was lead into the lounge while I wait for Amy (my stylist) to get me. I was offered a drink (half a dozen beers, but if I join I can have scotch)...if I join??

I drink a Fat Tire. The lounge consists of a bar, a pool table a 4 seat shoe shine stand and a small seating arrangement with a couch and 2 chairs. Current mens fashion, sports and adventure magazines sit atop the coffee table. Yes, I said CURRENT, my first visit was in June and the July GQ and Outside were on the table. This is no dentist office.

The room has a shoe shine guy, a bartender and another guy just hanging around waiting for something to do. A few minutes later Amy retrieves me from the lounge. We chat about my hair, I get a wash, a condition, a hot towel on my face, a haircut, a manicure and another beer. After the treatments I go to the shoe shine station and get a very nice polish and another beer.

My services were done, so I decide to leave. The receptionist (ugh) asks how things went. She then tells me the "deal" with this place. Its like a modern gentlemens club (don't read this as a strip club). You pay an annual membership and you can come as often as you like for the signature services (shampoo, haircut, mani, shoe shine, hot towel, and a drink or 5). Interesting concept.

I have lived in Chicago for 8 years and haven't found a person or place that I loved to do my hair. The Linfielders know that I loved going to that Oompa Loompa Sylvia in Mac every 3 weeks, and she just did a mediocre job. So if I pay a membership I get as many free haircuts (et Al) I want in a year? The membership price is steep, but if you figure the annual price of haircuts it isn't outrageous. You must tip each visit (or you should): the shoe shine guy, the manicurist and the stylist.

I decided to join. It has a semi elitist feel to it, but not in an unwelcoming way. Anyone can join, but not everyone will.

I just paid them a visit tonight before JDEs flight lands. It is nice to be greeted by name (Norm!) and have good service. From an Economics stand point, the membership is a sunk cost, if I use it or don't I still paid the same amount, the variable cost is the tips associated with frequent visits.

A guy I chatted with tonight (hot, but this place is NOT a gay club or a hookup joint) comes every Friday. I would come every week too, if my office weren't 12 blocks away. Its a 7 minute train ride, but its not super convenient. I really enjoy that place too.

As a member I have a few free passes for friends to come in and try it out. It would be even more fab if a few friends would meet up regularly. I will have to work on that.

I only wish they offered more spa services like an esthetician or massage therapist.

Google it. And if you live in Chicago or New York (new location in Beverly Hills soon) sign up and treat yourself.

Cancun - Final Full Day

We woke up on Saturday hurting a little bit. Not hung over just a headache, mostly from the 252 degree weather at Chichen Itza, but the tequila shot and margaritas didn't aid the hydration issue at all.

Started off, as everyday, at the breakfast Buffet, which was included in our room rate. Still hurting a little. JFB had to meet with the marketing guy to take a quick tour of the hotel. EAD and I wandered around the property for a bit then went back to the room. I was excited to have European TV stations like the real BBC and Deutsche Welle. While getting ready in the mornings and before bed I would watch DW and again become depressed for being mono linguistic. I am trying though!

Anyway, at 11am we had a private cooking class at the hotel. The class was Real Mexican. Viking built the kitchen we were using so we got a small sales pitch and got to try the induction cooktop. It was great. I would totally upgrade right now to induction. You must try it out!

The cooking lesson was to be private, as the cooking school was closed for the season, we always seem to travel off season. JFB worked his magic and got them to open the class for us. Instead of a regular head chef teaching the class, we had Chef Rainer, the Executive Chef conducting the class. He is responsible for, and in charge of 2 of Mexicos only 3 Five Diamond Restaurants, both of which are in the Ritz.

Chef Rainer is from Germany, and has a very scary German accent. When I speak German I have a southern accent - not like I am from Alabama, but like I am from a very certain part of Austria. It usually surprises German speakers when they hear my accent and immediately ask if I studied (or on the very rare occasion, if I am from) the suburbs of Vienna. Nein.

Our private lesson for 3 was actually crashed by a guy and his girlfriend from Frommers Travel Guides. He was reviewing the hotel for an upcoming publication. Unfortunately, it was off season, so many/most of the hotel amenities were not at full capacity. The fab restaurants were closed, the culinary institute was closed (er, geschlossen). The marketing Veep asked if we were ok with the crashers. What could we say.

The Viking Cooking School at the Ritz was amazing. I fell in love with the induction stove tops. I had a great time in class. We started out making margaritas, which I was in no mood for, still being a little maggoty from the night before. After one sip of the heavenly margarita I was in tip top shape. I have made these margaritas a couple times since I've returned from Mexico.

We also made ceviche, which I have always wanted to try, but the whole raw fish thing made me nervous as a home chef. It was so good! For the entree we had chicken and poblano enchiladas. And to top it off, we made home made churros with a chocolate sauce. The entire meal was fantastic. I replicated this meal the Thursday after my return for my friend KS. I think it turned out very well.

After the cooking class we had 2.5 hours to kill until our spa appointments. We decided to go out in the ocean. It was only a single red flag day. Still so very rough and scary. I quickly moved to the pool, much more my speed.

The spa was nice, but very small. We had our individual treatments then retired to the outdoor area with the hot and cold plunges. I tried a new spa experience, it was an aromayuvedic massage (a combination of aroma therapy and ayuvedic treatment-- google it). They warned me that I would be SUPER sleepy afterwards, I was.

We left the spa at 630 and just hung out in the room for a while. We weren't hungry but didn't want to waste our last night together falling asleep early.

We went to Luxury Avenue, a mall of sorts packed with luxury retailers. It wasn't duty free, but it had all the standards-LV, MB, a nice watch store, etc. They also had a great veuve clicquot bar. How fab is that?

We ate a mediocre dinner at the hotel, ocean side, with margaritas of course. Then we called it a night.

Up early for a buffet brunch then off to the areopuerto to return home. As always it was a fabulous trip with these guys. The final brunch of each trip is so sad, we are heading back to reality.

What did I learn on this trip? I love home made margaritas, I can make ceviche and churros at home, 3.5 hours in coach isn't as bad as 3.5 hours in coach on a plane full of fatties, life is short-always plan time with friends, and languages are like bikes, if you haven't used it in a while a little tequila makes it easier to use.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cancun - Day 2

On Friday I had arranged a private tour of Chichen Itza-Mayan ruins about 2.5 hours from Cancun. We had a private van, a driver and a guide. We were up at 645 so we could have breakfast before the tour at 745.

When I was waiting for the flight at ORD, a man came running up to me. He was wearing a safari hat and camouflage pants. He could barely utter his question to me, as he was out of breath. He wanted to know if the plane had finalized boarding yet. I love to travel and I spent more time than the average person in the airport, but questions like this annoy me. The big board at the gate said boarding will begin in 2 minutes. Come on! He volunteered that he was from Syracuse and had won a sales competition at his office for a 3 night stay at the Ritz (dammit!) plus airfare for one. He left his wife and newborn son (8 months old) home while he went to Mexico. Seems odd to me. And what kind of company rewards its employees with a single ticket?

Anyway, after breakfast on Friday we are waiting in the hotel lobby for our van to be ready and Safari Hat comes over to talk to me again. I tell him we are going to Chichen Itza for the day and he invites himself along. I tell him it is a private tour and everything is pre-arranged and paid for. His response was "Oh these people are very flexible, I will go talk to them"-what balls, eh? I quickly ran out to the tour leader while JFB ran interference with Safari Hat. He did not come on our tour. It would have been miserable if he had joined us.

The drive to Chichen Itza was 2.5 hours. We stopped off at a cenote (sink hole) and drove through some Mayan villages. Honestly, the Mayan villages were not what I was expecting. I thought it would be like Jamestown, replica ancient Mayan villages. Nope. We were shown how the Mayans live today: in cinder block houses with thatched roofs. They make hammocks and dresses and other linen type products. Very colorful, but not really my style.

We get to Chichen Itza around 1045am, check in, use the WC and begin the tour. I really liked the idea of the private guide. He really picked up on what interested us and what did not. We walked around the North, South and Central Zones and saw another Cenote. The architecture was very cool. I didn't know the 4-sided main pyramid had 91 stairs on each side, which when you add it to the top platform equals 365, the number of days in a year. We got lots of fun facts like that throughout.

There weren't many people at Chichen Itza, so as you can see from my pictures, there aren't too many people ruining the shots.

After the tour we went to a lunch buffet at the Mayaland hotel. We watched a Mayan woman hand make corn tortillas for us. As everyone knows, I am not a buffet (pronounced BU-fay) guy. This buffet was great. Nice mix of chicken, need, pork and fish. Nice tortilla soup--nothing is better after walking around in the blazing sun for 3 hours than a boiling bowl of soup! We gorged at the buffet. We decided not to take the side trip to a cenote where you can swim, instead we hung out at the Mayaland for a while (just to confirm we weren't going to have any GI distress, as there are no places to stop between Mayaland Hotel and Cancun-we had no issues), we decided to dead back to the hotel.

We slept on the bus back home. Once back at the Ritz we showered and hit the empty pool. Edy was our server again. Margaritas and Pina Colladas with Dark Rum Floaters really hit the spot. While lounging in the pool we meet a couple from New York-Jeff and Rueben. They met on Facebook the week prior. Jeff was 39 and Rueben was 24. Jeff paid for their last minute flight down and all the close they would need (which wasn't much). We talked for a while, concluded that Jeff was dumb and Rueben was a fraternity boy. We also decided that the 5 of us should venture into town for dinner and go to a club.

The dinner was great. For some reason we decided to do tequila shots, but they came with a spicy bloody mary mix chaser. Food was so good. We left to find a club. There aren't a lot of gay clubs in Cancun. We found one, it was empty, but there were a lot of pros working the street outside, which is always a sign of a quality establishment--like all of those place in Toronto we visited.

We managed to get home around 230am and went right to bed.

Strange to think this was only Day 2 -the first Full Day in Cancun.

Cancun Day 2

The first day in Cancun was so great. JFB got our rooms upgraded to a 3 room suite, with 5 balconies, overlooking both the pool and the ocean. The Ritz Carlton had a car waiting for us at the airport. After we checked in, we went right out to the ocean side restaurant for a great al fresco lunch.

We had fantastic margaritas and Mexican food. After a few more margaritas we headed to the pool. Unfortunately the hotel was at 20% occupancy at most while we were there. The plus side: the pool was almost empty and the restaurants and bars were easy to get a table and had quick service; the negative: only two of seven restaurants were open. The hotel has 2 of Mexicos 3 Five Diamond restaurants, both of which were closed for the season.

Our pool waiter Edy was very nice and attentive. He took care of us every time we were at the pool. The ocean was very calm on Thursday, but the rest of the week it was very rough: 1 or 2 red flags. Obviously I didn't spend much time in the ocean. I did go out, up to my mid-thighs, but felt very uncomfortable, plus we couldn't really get bar service in the ocean.

We weren't very hungry that night, since we ate lunch around 4pm. JFB and I split a bottle of bad Baja wine and appetizers. EAD was sleeping. As soon as we finished our food and drink EAD came down to join us. We sat with him, while he ate and had a cocktail. I must highly recommend the Don Julio Margarita, it has everything a margarita should have. The Ritz Margarita was good, a little sweeter than it should be, if you go, stick with the Don Julio.

That night we were in bed sound asleep by 11pm.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cancun Recap Day 1

I wrote much of these blogs while in Mexico and am posting them now that I have returned to the US.

I sit here at the Cancun airport bar called Berryhill, after customs etc. waiting for EAD and JFB to arrive. It have about 30 minutes until their flight lands, so about 60 minutes until they get out here. I was starving, which is why I ducked in here for a beer and a nosh. The food is good, but I can't help but wonder why everything on the menu says it is Texas Sized. Obviously big day Americans are here a lot. Then again, I am a big day American tourist.

The flight down here was really nice. My row was empty except for me. It was a second row exit, so I had a ton of legroom. No free drinks even though UAL said it was free booze down. Fine. I paid for a screw driver. The movie was supposed to be "The Proposal" -snore. It was actually "Star Trek"-YAY.

I was very emotional on the plane. I think my mind and body realize that this is now time only for me. I am so excited to be here.

My americanized Mexican food is really good, especially with a corona (I know, I know) but I think I just ate a big chunk of sand...well, we are near the beach, right?

I hate that I cannot speak the language. Everyone speaks English, but fuck, I am in their country, they shouldn't have to adapt for me. Now I am a big lazy dumb American. My trip to Spain is in 10 months. I must learn/relearn spanish by then. I can read the signs ok here, but have a hard time understanding spoken words and my attempts to speak come out 60% German 35% Spanish and 5% Idiot. As an example "Buenos Dias, Ich mochte ein cerveza, bitte.". Or "Wo ist der bano, por favor?". Christ!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pre Vacation

I am in a taxi to ORD right now. It is a beautiful late summer day, people are out running, waiting in line at Starbucks and schlepping to the trains. I am en route to Cancun for a long weekend with EAD and JFB. It feels like I haven't had a vacation in years.

I think the last vacation I went on was to Palm Spring for my birthday. I've taken time off since then but it has been mostly to go to Oregon to deal with the craziness that has been the past 2 years of my life.

Cancun is looking to be a very nice 4 day trip. We are staying at the Ritz Carlton Cancun until Sunday. We arrive around 1pm today. Tomorrow I set up a private tour of Chichen Itza that picks us up at the hotel at 745am. We have the car and the guide all day.

Saturday JFB set up a private class at the Culinary Center at 11am. After class I think we are going to the spa for a few hours of treatments. Not sure what our plans are for dinner any night, but I am sure the hotel will have some great options.
Sunday we leave around 1pm, back to the grind. I am already getting depressed thinking about it.

My next trip after this one is to Denver for a few days of work meetings then a weekend with the boys again. I feel better when I have trips in the hopper.

My taxi driver just asked me if I mind if he "takes liberties" with traffic patterns. Uh, what? Evidently that means he rides the shoulder in a residential street passes the expressway on ramp, makes an illegal U-turn cutting into traffic this getting on the feeder ramp from the opposite direction and cutting our wait time down dramatically. Yes, I am ok with that. We board in 55 minutes, so I have plenty of time, but I don't want to risk a delay. UAL only offers one flight a day to CUN, no way I will miss this one!

3.25 hour flight to CUN in an old Ted plane - as in a single cabin, or a No-Class plane. I managed to get an exit row aisle seat. So, it won't be all that bad, plus I think the plane is pretty empty in economy plus too.

Barring metal fatigue, pilot error or Bolivian hijackers, I will be pool side in about 8 hours (which sounds horribly long).

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Hitting some balls...

HC and I went to Diversey Driving Range and hit a few balls around tonight. It was fun. I hit the ball about 98% of the time, which I consider a win. I hit a large and a small bucket while HC only did a large. I was blowing though that bucket of balls (tee hee). It was such a nice relaxing and cool night.

I was distracted partially by one of our neighboring ball hitters. Quite a fine specimen.

I also got my first sports injury in the past 15 years too. I have a small (quarter inch) blister on my left hand. Looks like I will need to pony up the $10 and buy a glove.

Returning home for some left overs from last night (naked macaroni and cheese) and to enjoy Frasier. Evidently I have gone from 29 to 30 to 78 in just a matter of months. All I need now is Lilly on my lap and I will officially be an old man.

Hopefully Cancun with the boys will bring out the kid in me again. I love vacationing with these guys. So very relaxing.

MIA Posts??

I updated my blog last week, but see it didn't post. That's a shame. I will recap here and hope for the best.

As we all know, I am still trying to find "normal". To help in this endeavor, I have set some goals for September that will reenergize me, hopefully. I will be doing something new twice a week for the month of September and reporting back on how it went.

For the first week of September I went to a photography opening at the Junior League Club. A friend of a friend was exhibiting some black an white prints from his travels in Italy. About 20 prints in all, I really liked 10 and liked 5, the rest, eh....

One of the goals of this "September of Tim" is not only to try new things, but to meet new people and to learn about myself and others. The art opening was good because it was pretty small, but had people that are not normally part of my network. There were several community college people there, I believe the artist teaches at the College of DuPage. There were several militant community college people there too. One guy kept telling me that Junior Colleges are the ONLY school people should be allowed to attend.

Of course I had to challenge this assertion. I do believe that everyone has their own path. Some it is a 4 year university, others a junior college, others the military. Additional education is not right for others. The issue is choice. Don't tell me I wasted my college life and money by attending a 4 year school and that private education is for chumps. It was good to be slightly out of my element. I am pleased.

On Friday night JM and I went to First Fridays at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). It is designed to be more of a party atmosphere and get people who usually aren't the museum crowd to enter the doors. It was a Friday before a holiday, so the crowd was a bit light. We got in for free but wine was $9 per glass-from a bottle that probably cost $8 at the grocery. We talked to a few people but the best part was the people watching. There were a ton of guys wearing designer jeans with longs sleeve button up shirts untucked cruising the crowd in hunting packs. We would stand on the upper terrace and watch them circle their female prey and go in for the kill. One would break away from the group with his target-standing just a few feet away from her friends she felt safe but he would have just one goal in mind. As she returned to her group and he and his friends left rejected a big smile came to my face. This isn't HIMYM and the game isn't "Have you met Ted?"

We left the MCA around 915 and I went out with a friend from the UK for a few hours then headed home. On Saturday I worked out a little bit and just hung around the house and watched a movie.

Sunday (when I initially started this post) we went to Arlington Park, the local horse track. I went with JM, P&TH. We sat at a reserved table at the Terrace Cafe. It was a beautiful day, perfectly warm, a bit overcast-just a great day to be at the track. The food was mediocre and the service was horrendous... And I didn't win any money, but it was really fun. We just basically sat around eating, drinking and talking, but since we were at the track it felt like we were doing something.

We decided to take the Metra to Arlington and we felt so urban doing so, although I don't know why, it's a suburban train line. On the way home from the track we stopped off at JOs new home in Mount Prospect. It was a nice place. They just moved in so lots of boxes and unpacking to do. We stayed for 90 minutes then got back on the train into the City.

After a day of drinking and eating fried food we decided to have an uptown sushi dinner at Takami. It was good, but we forgot it was Sunday night and the kitchen closed EARLY.

Yesterday I marinated a flank steak and made a baked macaroni and cheese. It was pretty good. Back to work today. I am in the office for two days then on Thursday morning I am off to Cancun with the bois.

Tonight I am going to the driving range to hit some golf balls with HC. Summer is almost gone. Today is the first day of school so surface streets are clogged and LSD is a bit of a parking lot. On the plus side Oprah is blocking off several blocks north of the River on Michigan Ave for her show. Luckily I get off the bus long before that mess. Here is to a short week and a nice vacation.

Here is to a short week and a nice vacation.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stepping Back Into the Closet

Tomorrow is the big day. David from California Closets will be here tomorrow to install the full closet for the three bedrooms plus the downstairs hall closet. I'm pretty excited. How quickly things change, eh? Who would have thought the highlight of my weeks would be a 4 new closets. Oh well, such is life. I have taken some before pictures of the closets and will take the after tomorrow and compare. YAY!

I finally got around to ordering a Blu Ray Player. I decided to get the LG 390. It is GREAT. Wireless Internet connection -- so you can stream Netflix to your TV. It also has a USB port on the front, so you can plug in a Flash Drive or a Portable HDD and watch videos on the big screen. How great! You can also set up a wireless file server so the player can pull files wirelessly from your computers or a network drive. How nerdy am I? I know, but I think it's fantastic.

My home laptop is on it's last leg too. The hard drive is just knocking and kicking like a fucking donkey. I've backed up all of my files on to a portable HDD, so I'm not worried about data loss. I think I'm going to go out this weekend and buy a new laptop...how sad.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Dark

I sit here in a dark condo in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. I have an electrician adding a few electrical outlets in some closets. He got here at 530 and the work was supposed to take about 3 hours. It is now 8:00. He has only worked in the downstairs bedroom (my) closet. He still has to work in the master closet an the hall closet.
I doubt this project will be completed tonight.

I think the big issue was an unsuspected masonry wall between the living room an the bedroom. Just another reason to hire a professional, right?

So I booked a trip to Cancun with the boys (EAD and JFB) today. Flying out on September 11 and returning the following Monday. We are staying at the Ritz Carlton in Cancun, which should be spectacular. We plan on doing a spa day and lots of time at the pool and bar. One day we are going on a trip to Chichen Itza. I am so excited for that prospect. Following the trek into the jungle a day at the spa will be just what the doctor ordered.
I have also decided on a Christmas trip. My mom and I are taking a cruise. I don't want to take a ton of time off work, but really don't want to have my mom sitting around the house depressed. We haven't booked the cruise yet, but it looks like it will be a 4 day cruise from Miami to Cozumel with a stop off in Key West.

It has the prospect of being a nice trip. I am still not 100% sold on the idea of a cruise, but I am willing to give it a try. I may hate it, but it will be an experience, plus they have a casino, what else could I want?

It looks like the electrician is finished with my closet...or at least he has moved on to the hall closet now. I don't see the hole where I run the cables for the Blu Ray player, cable box, etc from the closet to the living room, maybe he isn't going to do that today because it is noisy and it is getting late. Right now he has effectively made my mounted TV useless (he moved the cable outlet to the closet with no access from the living room. That's nice, eh?

It will work out, I am positive of that.

Dark

I sit here in a dark condo in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood. I have an electrician adding a few electrical outlets in some closets. He got here at 530 and the work was supposed to take about 3 hours. It is now 8:00. He has only worked in the downstairs bedroom (my) closet. He still has to work in the master closet an the hall closet.
I doubt this project will be completed tonight.

I think the big issue was an unsuspected masonry wall between the living room an the bedroom. Just another reason to hire a professional, right?

So I booked a trip to Cancun with the boys (EAD and JFB) today. Flying out on September 11 and returning the following Monday. We are staying at the Ritz Carlton in Cancun, which should be spectacular. We plan on doing a spa day and lots of time at the pool and bar. One day we are going on a trip to Chichen Itza. I am so excited for that prospect. Following the trek into the jungle a day at the spa will be just what the doctor ordered.
I have also decided on a Christmas trip. My mom and I are taking a cruise. I don't want to take a ton of time off work, but really don't want to have my mom sitting around the house depressed. We haven't booked the cruise yet, but it looks like it will be a 4 day cruise from Miami to Cozumel with a stop off in Key West.

It has the prospect of being a nice trip. I am still not 100% sold on the idea of a cruise, but I am willing to give it a try. I may hate it, but it will be an experience, plus they have a casino, what else could I want?

It looks like the electrician is finished with my closet...or at least he has moved on to the hall closet now. I don't see the hole where I run the cables for the Blu Ray player, cable box, etc from the closet to the living room, maybe he isn't going to do that today because it is noisy and it is getting late. Right now he has effectively made my mounted TV useless (he moved the cable outlet to the closet with no access from the living room. That's nice, eh?

It will work out, I am positive of that.

Friday, August 14, 2009

My House

It has been over three months since I moved into my first condo. It really feels like home and it seems like I've lived here for years already. People have been bugging me about posting pictures of my house - so I figured I'd actually take a few minutes to do it.

I had some friends over for dinner last night, which is why I have flowers all around -- I don't normally keep flowers around the house -- I'd like to though, but it's too expensive.


My bedroom is not decorated yet -- spent most of my time on the communal parts of the house




First Floor Bathroom (my bath)


The Kitchen


Entry way - Western wall of the living/dining area


Living area - south wall


Living/Dining East Wall


Dining area- Southeast corner

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The trek

I continue my trek to find what is normal for me. The past 2.5 years have had me flying back to Oregon at least once every 6 weeks an putting my normal life on hold. Of course there is no ill will here, just stating a fact.

I signed up to take golf lessons yesterday. Six 90 minute lessons, once a week. They start next Monday. I am really looking forward to the lessons, I have never played golf before, but think it will be a good push for me. It will allow me to step out of my comfort zone and to try something new. My friend HC is joining me. It is a group class with a maximum of 12 people with one instructor. As of right now only 4 people have signed up. Sounds good to me.

I figured if I didn't sign up now, and get some real course time in this year, I end up putting it off for another year or more.

I also signed up or a public speaking class in October. When I started working with my coach last October we (me and my boss) agreed that this is a skill I need to work on. I have done little to work on it. This is another thing that will really push me out of my comfort zone, but has great positive possibilities.

Both golf and public speaking are things that are very beneficial in the business world. Who knows, maybe I will end up finding new passions...it is a possibility, right?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Past

Tonight I went to dinner with some friends from a past life, NNIB. There were three of us total. It was really good to see these guys (one girl, two guys, including me). We worked together during the tough times at the very end at Near North.

We were so young then, I can't believe it. It has been 6 years since NNIB failed. My companions have done very well for themselves, it was so good to see the great talent from the Brokerage was doing well and being productive in the insurance world.

Its funny to see how people change over the years, these guys, and others at NNIB meant so much to me back then and we pretty much lost contact. It happens with everyone from time to time.

We made an agreement to get together again in late September, but invite a larger group of people this time, let's hope we actually follow through.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Oregon and Back

I returned from Oregon last night. Flew front of the bus yesterday. Met a friend of a colleague, had a nice chat.

We are in that sweet time of the fiscal year where Q2 True Up is done and RFQ2 hasn't quite started yet. It is quiet in the office. Around the quarters we get super busy where everything comes to a head at once. Its not really stressful, but it does add a bit of pressure.

I've been trying to push the boys to go back to Palm Springs in September, but the heat makes people a bit nervous. BAH, I say. We have also floated the idea of the Ritz in Cancun. I have never been, but its the Ritz, how bad could it be (as long as it isn't like the Jakarta Ritz, we should be fine). If any of my loyal reader (not a typo) has been or can offer suggestions, let me know. The bad part about Cancun in September, UAL is still flying those crappy one class cabin former TED planes. Its only 1444 miles, so I can suffer through it.

Any other resort destinations you might recommend for a 3-4 day weekend trip? Preferably some place without big bugs.... Costa Rica.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Empty and Quiet

I am sitting here in what was my parents living room in Mac. The movers came by today and took 55 boxes and a few pieces of furniture. One mover was hot, the other had no teeth. Nice.

My flight last night was uneventful. Up. Down. A little bumpy over the mountains. I was in the second over wing exit row, on the window... It was torture. This big fat guy kept elbowing me. I couldn't even work because he was restricting my range of motion.

After we landed I went to Rose City Cafe for sushi. I love this place. As I was drinking a local beer and enjoying myself a man next to me had a fit. I remember him asking if the "Walnut Raspberry Vinaigrette" had nuts, because he was allergic to nuts. Duh, dumbass. So he ate it and his throat started to close up little by little. He loudly explained to the 6 patrons at the restaurant how to use his epipen. I wasn't really listening. I can figure it out if needed, but I was eating dinner, c'mon! He lived, but it did take 12 minutes for the EMTs to arrive. That doesn't make me feel to comfortable.

Since our crazy old lady real estate agent sold all of our furniture, we were forced to stay at the Bestwestern Vineyard Inn. Over the past 2 years I have only stayed in Starwood or Marriott properties. A different class, obviously. Seriously, the motel (yes, with an M not an H) really wasn't all that bad. Very courteous and attentive. The room was clean, and well appointed, especially for the super cheap rate we got. It was a nice-ish room, with just a hint of meth.

It is very warm here. Its in the mid 90s. When we landed last night it was still in the 80s. I love it. Hot, no humidity, beautiful. The motel was sweltering hot, but luckily it was air conditioned. It still surprises me how many places out here aren't air conditioned... Mostly private residences.

The house is almost totally empty. Fiends are coming over to get my dads big craftsman toolbox and a bunch of his tools. I went through the tool box today. I felt like I did when I was at REI, there were lots of things that looked useful, but I had no fucking idea what they were for.

We went to the Evergreen Air and Space Museum today. It was interesting. The Air Museum was full of planes (military and civilian), helicopters and the Spruce Goose. The Space Museum (separate building) had a few artifacts, and several panels discussing space flight in the 20th Century, but a lot of empty space. Rumor has it the museum is trying to get a space shuttle. That will fill up the space, but it looks like a high school science fair now (not that my HS had a science fair).

I am not sure what I am going to do the rest of the weekend. The house is pretty much done. Maybe hit the casino, maybe go to the outlet mall. Who knows.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Quiet Weekend Alone

My mom left for Oregon this weekend. I wasn't sure if I wanted to go out and have a wild weekend or just enjoy the emptiness of my house. I chose the latter. I'm such a silly dumb homeowner now. My house was designed to be retrofitted for wheel chair access -- I have big closets on both floors that were designed to be an elevator. I had been using the main floor closet as a kitchen pantry. It had one shelf and a floor full of junk. Last weekend I went to the Container Store and designed (with assistance) my new pantry. I fucking love it. Take a look at the before and after shots:

I know it isn't much of a change, but adding six shelves is really exciting! Nerd, I know. I'm now excited to go to Costco and get a big order from Peapod! YAY! I decided not to install this myself, I had the guys from Elfa install the full thing. It took them less than 30 minutes -- including measuring, cutting, installing, etc. Again, I know this isn't rocket science either but I think it was money well spent.
I think I'm going to have these folks build out half of my hall closet (keep half of it for coats/guest coats). I'd like a bunch of shelves installed here too -- for storage of DVDs and books mostly.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Long time, no blog

I know, its been a while, don't start with me.

As I start to write this blog, I am in the back seat of a taxi on IPR heading to ORD. I am off to meetings in Toronto today and tomorrow morning. I am currently fighting a summer cold ("those are the worst" - that old gas station owner in The Stand), which made me think of pandemics. I just have a slight sore throat now, and feel fine other than that.

I was thinking how fucked up it would be if I were "Patient Zero". I travel to YYZ and along the way infect hundreds of travelers at ORD, who in turn spread it to PHK, DXB, NRT, and LHR. I know this won't happen, I am not the 21st Century version of Typhoid Mary, but even if the chance is 0.000002 I think I should write about it. It would be like a big middle finger to the world from (insert creepy music) beyond the grave.

Seriously though, meetings all this afternoon, and s short one in the morning, then return to Chicago.

I have lived in my condo for about 10 weeks now, and I still have 3 boxes to unpack. Come on, just do it. I went to the Container Store on Saturday. I have these two huge walk in closets in the entry ways (that are designed to be elevators) that I am not using fully. I decided to make the one on the first floor a pantry. I worked with a "designer" and got it all worked out. I was excited to go home and build it... But it only cost $100 for them to build it for me...why not, right? At least when it is done wrong I can blame someone else. Either way, if it is fucked up, I will know I wasn't able to do it myself. It should be installed next week. Then I have to call Peapod and go to Costco' can't have an empty pantry!

/cough/

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sleep

I cannot sleep. All I wanted to do today at work was sleep. I get home and I want to sleep. I force myself to stay awake until 10pm, when I nod off on the couch. At 11pm I get up and head to bed, where I lay here wondering where Lilly is and why she isn't trying to push me into the far corner of the bed, so she has extra room to stretch out.

This was my first full week in the office in a very long time. I don't think I was all that productive either. I need to get energized again. It has been a year since I got my last promotion; the longest I have gone without a promotion in my working life was 14 months, let's hope I don't break that record again.

I think I will spend tomorrow morning working for a bit. Once I feel caught up with work things I still have some unpacking to do around the house, I would like to have that all done before I hit the two month mark of being here.

I watched Fight Club on Spike tonight... Why even bother, you can't watch an edited version of this film and expect it to be any good though. What a shame.

I am going to try to sleep again. Let's hope it works this time. At least now Miss Lilly has found her way into the room, and she is taking a bath, a very loud bath at that.

Good night......?

Friday, June 12, 2009

"Falling Down"

I think I am on the brink of turning into Michael Douglas in "Falling Down". I am in a taxi en route from ORD to my house in Chicago. My mom is sitting next to me sobbing. The taxi driver wouldn't help with the luggage, she said "if you pack it, you should lift it". CUNT.

I am getting a bitchy email from some dick at the office, needing something first off on Monday. Plan ahead douche bag.

They ran out of white wine on the flight. I am tired, nay exhausted. I need to get away. I need a good nights sleep. I need time away from family and work.

I want to lay on the couch with Lilly. I want to be left alone. I don't want to be responsible for anyone, anything.

Now my mom is talking to the lazy cab driver now. I feel the stress rising. I don't want to hear about my dads illness or how my parents met. I just want it all to stop. Can't I have 30 minutes without this? I just need it to stop for a little bit.

STOP. STOP. STOP.

Monday, June 08, 2009

A week without work?

This is the first week in a long time that I am completely work free. I am deleting emails on my BlackBerry, so my inbox doesn't explode.

We are back in Mac for my dads funeral, et al. I am very glad we didn't come back on Saturday. There isn't much to do, so it would have been torture just sitting around here.

We got in late last night, and went right to bed. This morning my mom and I went to get hair cuts, she went to get a tooth fixed. I was cleaning out the car and our local real estate agent stopped by. I have no respect for this woman. She told me that it wasn't her job to help me come up with a counter offer. I loathe this woman.

CUT called today, he has a guy that wants to buy the house. The only stipulation is that we he won't go through a real estate agent. He wants to go direct. So CUT now says we should fire the agent. Unethical much? He thinks this is perfectly normal. What a bunch of fools.

We have to go to the funeral home today to drop off clothes for my dad and make final arrangements...And probably final payment.

After that, I think we are free for the night. I hope the family stays away. I think we will go out for dinner tonight.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Summer Begins...

It is Saturday morning. The last Saturday in May. June is summer. I miss summer. Actually, I think I missed spring. Not how Chicagoans jokingly say they missed it, because it was snowing on Tuesday and Wednesday evening you are out without a jacket -- I just don't know what happened to my life between March 21 and now. Many things changed -- and I was here for them, I just don't have vivid memories of them.

I am looking forward to summer -- I want to sit on my balcony, drink beer/wine and enjoy the sun and the heat. I want to have friends over for a nice home cooked meal, with the fresh air blowing in through the screens. I want to take long walks at lunch to my favorite salad place and eat until I can eat no more. I want to sit at the Oak Street Beachstro and have a Quesadilla in the sun. I want to go to a Cubs game followed by late night pizza at Michael's. I want to go to the movies and watch all the great films coming out now. I want to travel again -- I need to see D.C., Denver, Palm Springs, Miami, Toronto, New York and Portland. I want to slowly work my way through the Joy of Cooking Coookbook. Pick a new appetizer/salad, entree and dessert and just try it. I want to learn Italian and go to Florence (again), Milan and Venice.

Summer is full of possibilities to me. Fall is great as it is the beginning of the event season -- lots of great parties. Winter is tough, but without it one doesn't appreciate spring or summer nearly as much.

I want my life back.

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Visit

This is sort of related to my dads condition, but also just a general annoyance in the Life and Times of Tim. My dads brothers flew in last night. They wanted the cheapest possible flight, so I got them a last minute ticket on US Airways from PDX to ORD via PHX. CUT didn't want to go through PHX, as he had already been there before. As I explain this trip is not a site seeing trip he agreed to go with the flight I arranged.

They were delayed out of PHX by 45 minutes, evidently there was a rain storm. I arranged for a car service to pick them up at the airport as there was no way in hell I would have gone to the airport at 1am to pick these yahoos up. I was expecting total chaos from the time these two folks hit PDX until they walked in the door to my home. They didn't say one bad thing about the flight or the ride in. They did ask why I lived so far from "town". I assume that means downtown, as I am in the City.

The only other comment the uncles made (which one made the comment, I don't know. These guys are interchangeable in many circumstances) was why someone would install cheap pergo floors in a place that looks like it should have nicer floors. When I politely explain (as politely as I can at 155am) the floors are solid oak floors, they disagree. "it must be very thin oak vaneer, one says. I say "no, its 7/8" thick solid oak floors." they counter with "the edges are damaged". Its a beveled edge you fuck!

I went to bed. I hope they all have a very enjoyable day.

I could be boarding my flight to Palm Springs now. A mimosa or a screwdriver sounds delectable right now.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Philly

I am on a flight to Philly right now. We land at midnight. Meetings start at 730am. This will be torture tomorrow. I had a very long day today. In meetings until 515pm tonight.

This is the first time I have left my parents alone for a couple nights with Lilly. I hope they all survive until I return on Thursday night.

I am so looking forward to seeing my friends from BP and other nerdy risk management people.

In about 10 days I will be heading to Palm Springs to spend the holiday with EAD. I really can't wait for that.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Rainy Days and Wednesdays

It was beautiful earlier today. I went shopping for a mothers day gift at lunch and just loved being outside. At 445 pm I left the office to go meet my new accountant (turbo tax won't do what I need it to do anymore). The skies just opened up. It was miserable. I got totally drenched.

I couldn't get a taxi, I couldn't get a bus, it was just a mess. I also feel like I am getting a cold. Fucking Typhoid Marys on the bus today. Everyone was coughing and sneezing and snotting all over the place. I need a big glass of orange juice, something hot and spicey for dinner and a medium glass of scotch...since I am cold and wet, a little soak in my new very deep bathtub might be just what the doctor ordered.

I am excited for the weekend. P and J M are coming over and bringing D, their little girl. I am going to show off my house, let D play with Lilly (assuming Lilly will have any part of that) and then go see the new Star Trek movie. J is a big sci fi person, while her husband P isn't. P and D are going home while we go to the theater. I can't wait. I've heard trek fans hate the movie because it is a film that everyone can like, not only enjoyable by uber fans, but the general public. I am just happy to get my Star Trek fix again.

I am in a slow moving taxi now. I just want to go home. Please, go! Traffic: CLEAR! Go go go.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Seems like months

Today is Sunday morning. A beautiful spring day in the city. I am sitting here at MY breakfast bar looking out the sliding doors to the main floor lanai, watching the people and cars move about the parking lot to the gym and the grocery store -- watching people cruise up/down Broadway and about half a dozen people crane their necks and shade their eyes as they look southbound wondering where that damn bus is.

I closed on Tuesday. It was so easy. Chuck and Michelle (broker and lawyer) were great. It was very anti-climactic though. Wednesday the movers came. Jay Movers are fantastic. I've used them 3 times and referred about 15 people to them -- only one person had issues (sorry Joi-Z). I still haven't finished unpacking yet. I've got big boxes of stuff that needs to be distributed -- things like photos, books, the XBox-- things that you don't "NEED" to unpack immediately. I still haven't hung any art yet -- that's a project for this next week.

I've made the obligatory trip to Costco, I had Peapod deliver, I went to Target (mostly to outfit the 3 bathroom), to Staples (needed a new wireless router-- I need my Internet), and finally to Ikea. I don't like Ikea. First off, it's in the suburbs. Secondly, it's all crap furniture. I do love Ikea because I can get wooden clothes hangers for $0.50 each. I also got versatile storage options for my wine and some shelving units to turn the elevator shaft (in my unit) into a pantry. Let's home I can make it work without totally destroying the drywall, the floors or my thumbs.

One thing I have been struggling with -- the temperature. My parents seem to be constantly frozen. It was beautiful yesterday. I was out and about with just a polo shirt. After my trip to Ikea, I walk in the front door and it was sweltering -- it was also a little gamey. I like to have the windows open, feel the breeze, smell the fresh air. Doesn't look like that will happen for a while. Thank god summer is approaching. My parents would probably want it to be 92 degrees in here in February. Which would be fine, if I wasn't paying for the heat.

I still haven't cooked on my new gas range yet. I've been running errands and unpacking each night, so I haven't had quiet time just to relax.

I hope by the end of today I will have all the boxes unpacked, my room semi-organized and a home cooked meal in my belly.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It is here

Last night we completed our pre-closing inspection. The new paint and carpet (bed rooms and stair only, the rest is hardwood) look fantastic. My friend JM joined me on the walk thru. I just love the place. The guy from the developer was so thorough. We had a total of 7 items on the punch. Most were very minor. One item was the shower plumbing in the second upstairs bathroom not being attached to the studs.

I met my attorney today, the first time ever. She was about 14 months preggo. She was a big gruff and boisterous, but really knew her stuff. The closing was pretty painless. Lots of signing, and a hiccup with my name. Evidently some one with my name has some judgments against them. I had to fill out another certification that I am who I say I am, and list all of my addresses over the past 10 years.

Boom. It was then done. I got my keys, my garage door opener. It is now my home.

I am on the train heading home. Will get my parents and show them the new house. I am going to try to set up the internet this afternoon too. YAY!

The movers come tomorrow afternoon. We have lots of final packing to do tonight.

I am working from my new home tomorrow while the gas man comes. I can't wait to get settled.

If you need a recommendation for a real estate attorney or a real estate broker just let me know... I had a great team working with me.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sears can suck it.

I bought a condo. I decided to get a new bed. The bed I have now, I bought when I first moved to Chicago. It is a cheap full size firm mattress. This was great when I was younger. Now that I'm an old man, I need a bit more comfort. I didn't want to spend a ton of money 1) because I don't have it 2) I have a lot of things I want to buy for the new place. I did quite a bit of price comparison online and tried out dozens of mattresses at various stores (Bloomingdale's, Macy's, BedMart, Back to Bed, Bedapalooza, Bedapolis, blah blah blah). I decided to stop by Sears. I bought my last mattress from there and it served me well, why not I thought.

I go in and try out a few mattresses. I find one that I really like. It was more than I wanted to spend $2,200. I know that's not outrageous for a Queen Size Mattress Set, but I didn't allocate this much money on my new home budget. So I tell the guy I'll be back later. Of course, he pressures me to open a Sears card account -- so next time I am back in there to by my full set of Craftsman Tools I guess I'll get another discount.

This salesman was a little...uh...slow. Not Corky Thatcher slow, but "that boy ain't right". He realizes that there are about 3 dozen signs in an envelope that should be on display -- 50%-75% off signs. The bed I wanted was 55% off. What a deal. So I decide to make this purchase -- very excited to get a new bed and maybe, just maybe, sleep through the night just once. I set up the delivery time to be two weeks from the date of purchase (as I intended to be in Orlando the next week).

The delivery was scheduled for yesterday. Of course, this being a customer service oriented company, they call you after 8pm the day before delivery to tell you when they will be by. Remember, I live in a high rise -- 15 stories above the ground. We have 280 units and it is the end of the month -- the freight elevator is booked. I find there is time available after 4pm. I call the lovely people and ask for a later delivery.

Now, I am all for outsourcing -- hell, I just helped outsource a couple people on my team at work. What I cannot stand is when these highly trained customer service people can only read from the script and not think for themselves -- "I hear you Mr. Nickerson and am actively trying to meet your Sears Home Delivery needs." What does that mean?

She says that a delivery time after 4pm is fine -- if something comes up and they cannot deliver it after 4pm I will be called within a few minutes -- if I do not hear from them, everything is fine. That should have been my first indication that this would not work out. I go off to Target for some new home staples -- shower curtains, shower rings, additional towels (three bathrooms is a lot to furnish -- just think of all the shit you need for one!). Around 6:45 I realize I should have heard something about the bed being delivered....nothing. I call them.

Evidently they decided not to deliver the bed. No phone call, nothing. The woman I was speaking with never deviated from the script -- "I am sorry Mr. Nickerson, but we will reschedule the delivery of the mattress for a time that is very inconvenient for you" -- ok, I took some poetic license with that... I ask what I am supposed to do -- she says the only thing I can do is to wait until they deliver. I ask to speak with a supervisor -- SURPRISE -- disconnected. I call back. Of course for them to even talk to you you, you have to give them your Phone Number, Name, Full Mailing Address (including Suite # and 9 digit zip), the exact name of the item(s) you ordered (Mattress Set-- doesn't fly. You have to say "3 Piece Queen Mattress set: Mattress, Foundation and Frame"). I wait for 35 minutes on hold -- FUMING. I call from another phone in the house and just lay into the guy who answers. After 12 minutes on hold, I get a supervisor -- my first call (now nearly 50 minutes on hold) is still unanswered.

So this supervisor continues with the "I'm sorry Mr. Nickerson" routine -- which I've had just about enough of. The delivery is rescheduled for Monday. What I am to do in the mean time? Sleep on the floor. Mother fucker. I tell the dick on the phone that I don't have the freight elevator on Monday -- the delivery guys will have to carry the mattress up 15 flights of stairs. The supervisor says that will not be a problem, they will do that. Sure they will. Any bet, they will use the passenger elevator, resulting in me getting a fine? or if they do carry it up the stairs, they will ding the hell out of the mattress and I'll have to get another one?

So I go to Sears.com and write a complaint letter -- what else would I do? I get a response just a few minutes later saying "I'm sorry, but if you didn't order this on Sears.com you can't complain via this medium. You have to go to the store and complain to the sales clerk who rung you up". Bull shit. Granted, he's no Corky Thatcher, but he'll just stare at me. FIX THIS PROBLEM.

Next I go to my complaint letter file on my portable hard drive -- yes I do keep all the complaint and congrats letters I send in archive. What do I find -- a letter to Sears dated July 2001. The delivery folks fucked up that bed delivery too. Ok -- so I guess I should have checked my records and realized that Sears is full of a bunch of fuck ups who can't deliver mattresses without making my blood pressure spike.

So, here's to you Sears -- You can suck my left nut. I hope you're market share continues its negative turn and you will follow the other store who specialize in shitty service into the deep dark caverns of corporate bankruptcy. I feel for your employees, losing their jobs in this economy, but if just a few more of them acted like Corky Thatcher and provided mildly acceptable customer service, you wouldn't be in this mess. Here is to your demise, Sears, may it be long and painful...but only after I sleep a few nights on my new mattress -- if it is no good, I'm going to drag it back down to State Street and shove it up your ass.

Good night and good luck.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sheridan, et al

First off, no one told me the condo floor plan didn't post... here it is


Secondly, I went to Sheridan yesterday. I had a lead on a guy who wanted to buy my dad's truck. After my uncle (Crazy Uncle Tom, who will forever be known as CUT) fixed the brakes, we drove to find the buyer. One thing I hate about my dad's friends here -- no one ever calls before they go visit someone. They just drive for 30 minutes, get there and find out he's not there. They ask around as to where he is and as if they are a slightly retarded Sherlock Holmes they follow every possible lead: "He's at my brother's house" - NOPE; "He's up by the Flag (which in Sheridan is a US Flag painted on the water tower...)" - NOPE; "He's at the machine shop" - NOPE; "Oh, he's back at home" - NOPE; "Did you try..." ARGH!
We decide to cut our losses and go back to Mac. We get to Lumberman's (Evans & 99) the phone rings -- it's the buyer. He's actually at home now and wants us to come back so he can see the truck. We turn around and head back to Sheridan. For those who don't know the geography here, Sheridan is only about 15 miles from Mac -- open highway driving -- but it seems like it takes about 45 years to get there. Anyway, long story short (and long day even longer) we sold the truck for a reasonable price and headed back to Mac. The buyer will take delivery on Monday.
As I was leaning on the bed of the many pick-up trucks chatting with the locals yesterday, I felt very relaxed. The weather was beautiful, was completely out of control (CUT was driving, so I couldn't leave if I wanted to) -- I was just being. Even though I almost loathe CUT, it wasn't a totally miserable time. He's trying to help my dad out -- and once we move, I'll probably never see him again. There is a slight chance that when I come back to visit friends in Oregon, I might swing by and see him, but it's pretty bloody unlikely. If I happen to be here when we have the "Family Get Together" (we don't call it a reunion, my guess is that CUT couldn't spell Reunion on the sign he spray painted, but that's just me), I might stop by.
Today, I am off to do some wine tasting with JLPB and AFB. I don't think I've seen these two since Christmas (briefly). Perhaps I saw JLPB in February, but it doesn't ring a Bell (ha). Nothing too wild this evening, should be a fun diversion.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Closing Time...

So I got the date confirmed for my close -- 4/28/2009 11:30am. We are all set. I've got my homeowners insurance in place, the movers are coming on 4/29/2009. The gas man is coming on the 29, the cable Internet guy is coming that day too. I can't wait to move into the new place. I have a ton of stuff to do, but I'm super excited.

Also, my parents are coming back to Chicago with me on Thursday to live.

It has been a long day, with sleepless nights. I need to sleep.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Condo and Portland

My closing is scheduled for April 30. The day that my lease is up. The seller doesn't think they will be ready to close by then. I sure hope so, if not I am fucked. My apartment building is being nice enough to allow me to move out on 5/1. Here's hoping nothing goes wrong with the closing. I don't have a contingency plan. Maybe I should think about one.

This reminds me of my trips to ORD. How I always arrive just in time, I feel like this is how the closing is going to go. Let's hope we can push them for a slightly earlier close date.

Speaking of airports, I am off to Portland tonight. Last minute emergency trip. I will be in PDX for about 8 days. Not sure what to think of this. At least it will allow me to save money.

Since I am in town for so long, I hope I can see the people I have missed the past few times.

I did get my upgrade on this flight, and UAL has a promotion where I earn double elite qualifying miles... Not too shabby.

Door closing. Talk when we land.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I'm a homo homeowner

So, I bought a condo. I have been working with Chuck Heaver for a little over a year now. Chuck has really helped me find the places that I wanted to live. He and I had found some pretty shitty places too. Of the 20-30 places he and I saw, I found probably 3 or 4 that I could consider making an offer on.
On March 7, 2009, Chuck and I went out for a final look at places. I had 3 places on the list that day (of 7 places) that I really REALLY wanted to see. The second to last place we stopped by to see was a Duplex Up (two story condo, with the main story below the secondary story -- bedrooms on the second floor). Many places in Chicago are Duplex Downs (the lower floor has the bedrooms). The building we saw was a newly constructed building, the unit we viewed was a three bedroom/three bathroom duplex. No one had lived in the condo before. The first floor contains the living, dining and kitchen along with a bedroom and a bathroom. Upstairs contains the master bed/master bath and a third bedroom with an en suite bath. The unit has doors to the common hallways on both the main and secondary floor (the unit is on the 3rd and 4th floor of the building).
The building has an elevator -- so when my dad is visiting (or living) and he can't walk up the stairs, he can go to the common hallway and take the elevator up to his bedroom. This place meets all of my crazy needs in a condo. My parents will take both rooms upstairs, so when I have people over I can tell them to go upstairs and leave me alone.
The whole process was such a crazy experience. I usually try to be very knowledgable, a resource, during highly techinical time -- during this endeavor, I was totally out of the loop. I had no idea as to the next step. Every time I turned around the mortgage broker or the seller needed more information -- I thought we'd never get to the point where we are now.
Although I don't have my closing date set, we should have it set tomorrow. The mortgage is set to be funded as soon as I want. I've attached pictures below as well as the floor plan.
The worst part about it -- now that I am so ready to go forward, I will be out of town from Saturday through Thursday -- which is why we are shooting for a week from Friday close date.
How crazy! I'm so excited though.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Too Many Excuses

I find myself with a large book of excuses at my disposal. I can find an excuse for me not to do a lot of things. Sometimes these excuses are really good, but most of the time a rational person would laugh and say I am just making up a reason to feel better about it.

I have a million and a half excuses as to why I don't go to the gym. Sometimes they are as lame as "there is a repeat of a Frasier that I haven't seen". Come on! Although I do enjoy that show, it is just a TV show. Last night I went to the gym. I spend 25 minutes doing cardio. Nothing extreme, but it was enough to get me moving. I feel good about it too. I am going to an architecture lecture tonight, so I doubt I will continue the work out tonight, but I hope to.

I come up with excuses for other things too. My favorite things to "excuse my way out of" are : eating a healthy meal, getting up on time, going to bed on time and cleaning the house. No one wants to do these things I am sure, but I just feel like shit when I don't. Seems like it would be pretty easy to do those things and then feel better. This is where my lists come in. With a list I am more likely to do these things. Yes, I do out "eat a healthy meal" on my list. I know, I am crazy.

People often say that I have a lot of stress now, with family stuff, work stuff, etc. But we all have stressors but the important thing is how we deal with said stressors... And starting yesterday TV and Slothfulness will not be my answer.

Monday, March 30, 2009

ASPCA

So, I think I hate the ASPCA. Those god damn Sarah McLaughlin commercials make me want to cry every time I watch them. Watching those sad dingos and pussies is not something I want to see. Of course when i see those commercials I call Lilly into sit with me. Usually the commercials come on when she wants to be left alone -- and of course, I have none of that.

I track her down and make her come sit with me to make me feel better about not helping this little animals. Believe me, I don't want 52 cats running around my house and I can't have a dog -- I'm too lazy to take it for walks and I'll be god damned if I ever pick up animal feces. I just can't believe people are so crazy they would just abandon an animal -- take it to a shelter or better yet -- keep the animal and love it. They love you.

I had a friend from a previous place of employment who had a cat who started to have bladder problems -- he'd start peeing all over the place. Then this girl got a new boyfriend and started spending lots of time away from home. The cat's behavior got worse. The house began to stink so bad, the landlords came in and shampooed the carpets (how gross must that have been????). So instead of telling the new BF that she would like to spend more time at her house, she decided to take the cat to the vet -- not to figure out why he's urinating so much, but instead she had the cat put down. It makes me so mad that people out there are so selfish.

Granted -- I've had Lilly since 2003 and have not taken her to the vet once, but I would never do anything to hurt her.

Here is the commercial for your viewing displeasure. This isn't the specific commercial I saw, this one is Canadian -- and is worse than the one I saw.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

FUCK me twice!

I think my stalker from college just walked in to Rose City Cafe. I hope it isn't her... I've ignored her for years on friendster, myspace and facebook.

She's probably on my flight! She is a fucking day nut. Ugh. If this is my last post, please tell the authorities it was her!

This is totally the intro to a Lifetime movie. If Mark Harmon and Judith Light/ Meredith Baxter were here I would cry!

Returning to Chicago

I am in a taxi returning to PDX. JB (of JB and JLPB) picked me up on Thursday night. Things like that really make me happy. I know it is a total pain in the ass, but it is nice to have someone pick you up at the airport. We had airport sushi, then a quick ride home.

I had an old box of Star Wars toys, not original, but the ones that came out when the first there movies were re-released. I had this crazy idea that I could make a million dollars off these toys. Unfortunately, almost everyone who bought these toys had the same idea as I did. 12 years later and they are selling for half the retail price on eBay. I did get a great return on investment though. The picture of JBs kid with the toys was priceless.

Heading back to the airport now. It has taken 70 minutes to go from Mac to Tigard. What a mess. My flight is at 140, so I will have plenty of time for sushi and a beer.
Evidently there is a blizzard in Chicago today. Sometimes I just hate spring.

Tomorrow I have a lunch with my Senior Vice President (my boss) and my Executive Vice President (boss of my boss). Not sure what this is all about. It isn't part of a regularly scheduled meeting. Just out of the blue. I'm not getting fired, I just had a fantastic review, plus bonuses were paid out earlier this month. If they were going to fire people they wouldn't pay out a bonus!

There are some things going on outside of work that I won't talk about until things are finalized, but it is hugely dramatic... Life changing... Well maybe not that dramatic. It will change the way I live, but its not like I am getting married, having a kiddo, or getting my foot chopped off. I hope to write about it later this week.

Since I know you are all one edge of your seat about my travel plans, I did get the upgrade today.

My Uncle Duane was over yesterday. He was asking about my travel plans and if I liked to travel. He then entertained is with stories of his dinners out for business. He and I see very different people. If the world was full of Tims I think we'd all kill ourselves. Let's just say I would not enjoy traveling/entertaining with my uncle.

Barring pilot error or metal fatigue I will be home in 8 hours. Ugh.