Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Crowd Sourcing Fail

People mean well, but they often execute poorly: So I posted on FB the other day "Any ideas/recommendations for banquet halls or restaurants for a reception in or near the city?"

Let's just say I got the results I expected. Not expected as in several recommendations for places in or near the city -- I did get some of those -- but expected as in people stretching the definition of near the city and listing places that are not banquet halls, restaurants or even venues that could hold a reception if you tried.

Someone PM'd me, saying something along the lines of "if you have a favorite restaurant, you should ask them if they could do it."

Thanks Lieutenant Logic, because when I asked for restro recommendations, it never occurred to me to consider one of our favorite places.  Another person suggested two places but didn't know the names, only a vague location. I'll get right on that one.

I use to get more irritated when friends would do that but I've learned that it's not only the nature of Facebook but it's also the nature of people.  Most really do want to help but they just have a different view of what that help should be.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wounded Knee: Last Run of 2010 and Beyond

Yesterday evening I went for my last run of the year, and last run for the foreseeable future. It was along the lakefront downtown and how appropriate that light snow started to fall as I reached the turnaround point of a six-mile run.

In a few hours, I get my knee scoped. My knee has been bothering me for a long time and when my race obligations were over for the year, I finally went in for an MRI. Then I went to an orthopedic doctor and got an opinion. Then I got a 2nd opinion because that's what my primary care physician told me to do.

The two opinions were more alike than different. Both said that I didn't need to do anything today, tomorrow or next Wednesday. But Doctor #2 said that only a scope would tell us for sure what was going on and he talked about my torn (missing) ACL which Doctor #1 didn't really bring up.
So I decided to get on Doc#2 calendar and have the outpatient surgery.

The possible outcomes of the scope are:
  • Most likely, the doctor looks around, he sees what he suspected -- that my cartilage is beat up and should someday be replaced, but not this decade.
  • Possible chance the doctor looks around and says "yeah no more marathons for you."
  • Outside chance the doctor says "actually, no more running unless its for the bus."
  • And always the chance the doctor says well if you want to run/marathon again, you need a cartilage transplant and while we're there, we might as well repair your ACL.
Perhaps it is more than appropriate that an available date fell on the Winter Solstice -- the day of the year with either the least amount of daylight or the most darkness. While I'm not excited about having my knee cut, I know it's my best chance for getting back on the running path. Therefore I choose not to dwell in the darkness, but to seek the light for a change.

Whatever happens, happens. Some people hang up their running shoes after Labor Day. Some wait until the temperature dips below a certain point. Others stop at the first snowfall. And some of us just need a doctor's order to stop running for a while.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The UnBearable Holiday Cards

Even the e-cards seemed to be too much bother: I stopped sending out Christmas cards years ago. It wasn't a sudden stop, more of a gradual fade. It was my way of going green long before going green was in vogue.

I don't begrudge anyone who still takes the time to send out a real, physical holiday card. In fact, I do appreciate being on the receiving end of the thought. It's probably helping the post office with stamp purchases and keeping hallmark in business. [Though one could argue that the postal carriers would prefer we all go digital with those cards.]

But I have to ask, if you are scrambling each year to find the same addresses that you scrambled for last year and the year before, and you're trying to figure out which friends will be offended if you say xmas instead of holiday (did we remember the Chanukah cards for our accountant?)...is it really worth the hassle?
It's one thing to get pictures of the children, or a newsletter with an update on what you and the fam have been doing all year, or even a personal note inside the card cover.  But when I open the card and it's just your name and your family in the same hand writing, part of me wonders, what's the point?

Over the years I've got cards from friends with pictures of their kids. But some, presumably in a rush, didn't write the name and age of the child on the back. So while your kid looks great in glasses in and braces, I cannot tell yours from the other five friends who got married ten minutes after college graduation and started spawning a family.

Speaking of newsletters, I recall once getting a couple of newsletters from two mutual friends, lets call them the Jones and the Smiths. I talked to one of them on the phone shortly after getting the cards, but they hadn't talked to the other yet. I mentioned a few things from the newsletter (and yeah I was cheating because I had it right in front of me) and they were surprised I was so up to date on the other person.

I asked "didn't you get their xmas card?"

They responded "Yeah but we haven't had time to read it yet...hey did you get ours?"


How It All Started:
  I've been a Bears fan since 1995, when I started playing in the office Confidence Pool.  In order to figure out which teams to pick, I started watching the games and got hooked on the local team.  That was the year they went 9 and 7 and missed the playoffs because of an early season loss to Atlanta. Little did I know that this irony would set the tone for my life long agony as a Bears fan.

History tends to repeat itself. In 2008 they also missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record thanks in part to a loss to Atlanta. 

In 2001, after several sucky seasons, they cruised to the playoffs and after a bye-week got beatup by the Philadelphia Eagles. History repeated itself in 2005.

In 1994, after a sketchy season, they backed into the playoffs and surprised everyone by advancing in the wild card game against Minnesota on the road.

So the question is, will 2010 be a surprise in the playoffs like the 1995 wild card team that surprised everyone and advanced one round, only to get crushed by San Diego?

Or will they miss the playoffs entirely? Right now they are posed to win their division unless the Patriots don't show up at home next Sunday against the Aaron Rodger-less Packers. Even then, they would just have to win another game against the Vikings that Monday.  I'm not saying they couldn't find a way to lose and drag this out.  What I'm really saying is this could be the year they return to the Super Bowl and lose to the AFC -- again.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sometimes it is the Little Things

We are preparing the house for our annual Christmas Party and the good thing about it being late is that we have had several weekends to divide the important tasks. In years past, I would try to clean house, put up the tree and get all the food and drink in the last week before the party was schedule. Luckily, SigOther is here to provide some wisdom.

Her family always put the tree up right after Thanksgiving, so we pretty much did the same.  This meant that the annual Tree Trimming Party officially has become a Christmast Party instead.  Over the years I've shifted the line from having friends completely decorate my tree to just asking them to donate an ornament, but since we have tons of boxes of docorations between us, it doesn't make sense to do it anymore.

Saturday was productive in that we got the empty boxes out of here.  I have to store them at my mom's house and bring them back in a few weeks to repack, but at least we labeled the boxes and set aside a few that don't need to make the annual trip until we have a bigger house instead of a condo.

Sunday I was wearing my Bad Decision Jeans and tried to do too much before we had to head out to the Bears game.  Someone at work sold me their tickets at a reasonable price and I wanted to go, even though it was predicted to be an extremely cold and snowy day.  Sidenote: if the network hadn't moved the game to 3:15 from noon time, it would have been wonderful weather wise.

The Game sucked since the Bears got whupped, 36 to 7.  But more to my disappointment was I learned that I just don't want to sit in a stadium next to obnoxious fans who have been tailgating all day.   I can deal with the trash talking and some swearing, but is it really necessary for someone to shout out to Amy Freeze to "show her tits."  Really!  And the jerks stand up when nothing is happening because they cannot sit still and just enjoy the game.  Ugh.  Maybe if the weather had been better but I think I've seen my last Bears game in person.

Back to the bad decisions.  As usual, it was a combination of trying to do too much in too little time, not allowing for enough time and trying to make up for not doing something on Saturday when there was time by trying to squeeze it into Sunday's short window.  On a positive note, we did get a few paintings hanged and culled & organized our media (DVDs, CDs, VHS tapes, etc).

I just have to learn to manage our time and my expectations better.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Exercises in Relativity

Depends who you ask:  Last night I ran into a friend on the El. As usually happens when I see someone I haven't in a while, they eventually ask me the trademark question: "So, have you been running lately?"

I've learned to fight the knee-jerk reaction that usually temps me to try and answer with any real accuracy.  In the past, if I got the question on a particular bad week where maybe I had been too busy to get my running in I'd unsuccessfully try to explain in a sound bite that I wasn't running at my usual consistency.  Or if it were off-season then I'd feel like I'd disappoint them to say I'm only running 15 miles a week instead of 30 plus.

Then I learned to get over myself.

Most of my Non-Runner friends are just being nice when they ask and couldn't care less if I ran 10, 20 or 50 miles that week.  To them, any running is nuts, especially if you are skipping something more fun to do it, likes sleeping or eating or not running!

Now, if it's a sane, normal non-runner friend, who asks I'll just say "yeah a little bit."  If it's a runner friend, I'll be more honest and say "not as much as I'd like."  They usually get it are more empathetic. They know that things often get in the way of a good run, like work deadlines, or bad weather, or winter darkness.

If you kill us,we cannot give you positive feedback to ensure you are hired permanently:  I managed to go to the gym for the 3rd day in a row and the 4th time overall in the last week.  Super Susie is on vacation and she has some subs.  These subs are a bit more intense than we are use to.  They don't seem to realize that most of us are desk jockeys, not Olympic hopefuls.

It probably doesn't help that I've gotten out of my fitness routine.  Since the marathon, I've "rewarded" myself with taking it easy and enjoying not being tethered to a training schedule.  That has also translated to not going to workout classes and instead doing the work social maintenance thing.

The sub we got today was spunky.  She expected to run us through a workout that would have had no breaks if it weren't for people (read: me especially) ducking out to get a drink of water and taking their time to come back, hoping to miss out on a particularly strenuous exercise.  It probably didn't help that I had a late breakfast and said meal was trying to get out of my stomach as quickly as possible once the Ab Crunches from Hell began.

Lucky for us, she quickly realized that we were not up for her prepared workout so she made some on the fly adjustments.  It seemed like certain routines were designed to give us a breather and I suspect they were not part of the initial plan.  I feel like I let her down because she kept looking at me like "you look more in shape than the rest of this class and if you are struggling to keep up, I might accidentially kill them".

I was proud that I made it to the end. Of course that was only because she toned it down a bit so I didn't toss my breakfast.  Even if I were in better shape, I think today's workout would have humbled me.  But it also reminds me that I cannot afford to take too much time off.