Sunday, September 23, 2012

Scaled back weekend

This was shaping up to be a very busy schedule-packed weekend.  Fortunately, we had the good sense to scale back on some activities and obligations.

We opted to sleep in instead of get up and run at the lakefront.  I was scheduled to run 12 miles and Nightingale 10 miles, but it was a late night Friday at Pub Trivia with Mr Lumpy so while we set the alarm and the coffee, we told ourselves we would play it by ear.  Most of the summer it was already starting to get light when I get up for the Saturday LR at 5pm.  Yesterday it was pitch black so that made the decision an easy one. 

I wasn't the only one who skipped or delayed the LR.  SHB said she slept in and saw many of our fellow runners on the path when she started out at 11 am on her run.  She's not one to skip mileage especially since she was forced to cut her 20 miler short last week because she fell down while running on some uneven payment.  Luckily, I do have the option to skip miles since I'm not planning on running the full marathon in Detriot anymore.

We did get out for a run of our own, though only 4 miles for me and 5 miles for Nightingale. She felt great and was looking forward to today's 5K.  Our pre-birthday tradition is to run the Fall into Fitness 5K at Portage Park.  We do the family registration which is more economical than registering individually and then we go out for brunch afterwards.

Mr Lumpy took one of the spots from a runner who couldn't make it.  SHB and Na were also there though Na couldn't stay for brunch.  It's too bad because it helps to have an extra person around to help carry the conversation.  And we wanted to pick her brain about the work she and her husband had done on her house earlier this year.  They essentially added a second floor to their cottage in New Town.

Right now we are debating going to a couple of Open Houses. We got outbid on a house a couple weeks ago and we are still feeling the sting. We over-thought the situation and lost out on a house that we liked enough to put an offer in on.  It lacked closets upstairs and would have to be dormered, hence the desire to chat with Na about their addition, but otherwise it had a lot going on for it. 

Last night we went to a Haunted Historic Tour in Elmhurst.  It was a little cheesy and a lot of a waste of time but it did give us an opportunity to hang out with my cousin and his wife.  It was the first time that we hung out together outside of a family gathering.  Let's just say there was lots to talk about.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Last day of Summer

Future gift for the Nephew Monkeys
Nothing much to write about because there isn't anything new to report and I don't have much to say.  I have to admit, part of it comes from not having an interactive audience here.  My friends have blogs where others comment and I wonder if it's because they established themselves with one another when the blogging thing first started, or am I just that boring that my friends cannot even check out my blog once in a while even though I comment on theirs quite often.

My 20 mile run at the Ready to Run on Sunday was decent.  CARA has made an event out of the 20 miler the last several years and this year the weather was fantastic.  I walked a little bit but not nearly as much as I did during the grueling 18 miler that I cut a mile short.  I did come to the conclusion that I will most likely run the Detriot half instead of the full marathon in late October.  The thought of walking for 10-15 miles doesn't appeal to me and I don't need another 4+ hour marathon under my belt.

Replacement workout bag: $4 Salvataion Army
I had to replace my workout bag the other day.  I know exciting stuff right.  Running was once marketed as an inexpensive sport.  You only need a pair of running shoes. 

Wrong!  You need running shoes, which are $80-$120 or more.  You need running clothes for all seasons that are designed to wick sweat.  You need several pairs because they get stinky quickly.  Then there's the gels, the GPS watch, the headbands, the gloves, etc.  It all adds up. 

Fortunately you can start slowly and build up over time.  And now stores like Target even have decent running clothes so you're not stuck going to the few dedicated Running Stores within the city limits.  When I first started marathon running, our choices were Fleet Feet, Universal Sole and Vertel's, which couldn't compete and went out of business.  Speaking of which, I've accumulated quite the collection and it's time for yet another running clothes purge.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Connections are Important to keep open in Corporate America

One of my first experiences negotiating the Corporate Ladder came at the No-Name Software Company. My team lead JT -- which stands for Jealous Troll -- wanted all the benefits of being in charge but none of the responsibility.

I recall asking JT for a day off about a month in advanced. JT's answer was to ask him when the time drew closer because he didn't want to endure the overhead of tracking vacation requests. Because, you know, it would be such a hassle to put a note on his Outlook Calendar.

Even with my inexperience in Corporate America, I could see where this was going, especially since I heard him say the counterpart to another teammate earlier in the week. As the date drew closer, he would say "oh so and so already requested that date off and he has seniority." Pause. "You should have asked sooner."

JT had many of these management quirks. When a new guy would start, JT would take the computer equipment ordered for that person and swap it with his stuff so that he had the latest available hardware. And he'd brag about it.

No-Name Software Company was a dysfunctional culture. In the early start up days it was possible to get away with anything because the employees were young and the culture wasn’t very mature. Once we grew and went corporate, that shit wouldn’t fly and JT got demoted. Most of the people he use to have seniority and authority over are higher on the Corporate Ladder than he.  JT finally left the software company about a year ago.

JT reached out to me last week.  Apparently he's sick of his current position and is desperate to get out of there. The interesting thing is a few months ago I reached out to him to see if anyone we worked with needed a new position and he was all coy and evasive, wouldn't connect me with anyone. Instead he took the info and said he’d pass it along

Another person from the No-Name Software Company whom I’ve spoken to on the phone but only met once at a going away party reached out on LinkedIn. At that going away party we were introduced and chatted but were abandoned by our common connection and ran out of things to talk about which thus made for an awkward moment. I think we could have been friends except I suspect my "reputation" kept this person from connecting at first. The LinkedIn connection doesn't mean anything besides she's covering her bases. Still, a part of me likes to think that's progress.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We Will Forget

Today is a Tuesday, just like that day 11 years ago. We didn’t have Facebook or Twitter and most people still got their news from the television, not the internet. Today people are posting on FB what they were doing when they heard the news.


I came into the office at the No-Name Software Company and my Team Lead had a smile on his face. Neal said a plane had just crashed into the World Trade Center. At that moment, we didn’t know what was happening. Neal just thought it was cool that a plane had crashed into a big building.

When the second plane slammed into the other tower and the first tower collapsed, we knew something more was afoot.


It was so surreal, as everyone has said. The days following were eerily quiet. We looked to the skies for the planes we expected to see going to and coming from O'Hare airport. All air traffic had been stopped and the birds enjoyed the skies to themselves for a while.

A few days later, there was a call to light a candle and step outside at a specific time in remembrance. I recall going outside and seeing no one, the only candle I had was my Confirmation Candle from RCIA. One of my neighbors later claimed she and her roommate had also gone out. I didn’t say anything but my thought was really, you need to fib about that!

In the days and weeks after 9/11, people were noticeably nicer to one another. At the time there was genuine concern more so than fear that the terrorists would strike again and quickly, particularly here in Chicago.

As much I was not a fan of President Bush, I do not criticize him for continuing to read to a classroom of students when someone whispered what was going on in his ear. I do absolutely hate him for the Patriot Act and the creation of TSA. I also have a hard time believing his lack of action directly caused 9/11.

If it didn’t happen on September 11th, we would be saying things like “remember9/23 or never forget 10/14.” My point is that something was going to happen and for that I do blame Bush and others. Like it or not, our foreign policy has been inconsistent and grossly shortsighted for decades.

We will forget. Not my generation or anyone old enough to fully comprehend what was happening that Tragic Tuesday eleven years ago. We will always think of 9/11 as our Pearl Harbor Day. But even today 9/11 is becoming a faded memory for many, especially those that were not directly affected like New Yorkers, First Responders, and relatives of the fallen.

In 2001, we talked about the events of that Tragic Tuesday for months. The FB posts and Mimes related to 9/11 have already been replaced by current events like the Chicago Public School teachers strike locally and the murder of the US Ambassador to Libya nationally. We will forget.

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I wanted to write a lot more about 9/11 but as I already technically missed the deadline, I'm posting what I have and moving on. 

In October of 2001 I ran my 4th marathon, the LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon. My previous three marathons yielded finish times that were over 4 hours, including the 4:00:56 time in 2000. I so wanted to break 4 hours.

There were three songs that I keep running through my head (I don't run with headphones).

Perfect Memory by Remy Zero

Still Fighting It by Ben Folds

Superman  by Five for Fighting.

I don't know why these three songs stuck in my head other than perhaps at the time they were used as background music in some post 9/11 documentaries.  All I can say is that on October 7th, 2001, I not only broke 4 hours, I set a new PR by almost 15 minutes and I think it had something to do with these songs running through my head.


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Labor Day Weekend delayed post

When you have an impromptu low key cookout, you either get too many guests or not enough guests (to eat all the food) there is no happy medium.

One Saturday at marathon training, Ging asked if she should just invite herself over sometime for a cookout and I suggested the Sunday of Labor Day weekend. We invited SHB and a few other random friends over as well. Okay so it wasn’t completely impromptu, it was more mentioned and then not really planned until last minute.

I use to love to have parties at my place but somehow my condo feels smaller than it did once upon a time. And since we would be hanging out on the deck, we had to keep the invite list manageable, especially since many of my friends from different groups don’t cross pollinate well anyway.

The plan was to enjoy our deck for the afternoon and then head to the Taste of Polonia in the evening. It didn’t go that way at all. First, Ging canceled 11th hour. SHB and her husband aren’t really fest people and they certainly aren’t the type to go to a polish fest. And just as they were getting ready to leave, a couple of NG friends arrived, so at least we had a good rotation.