Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Soldier Field 10 Miler and Memorial Day Weekend Recap

My mile splits weren't pretty, but they were under 8mm: Ran a faster time (1:18:31) than last month's LF10 (1:24:27) and also much improved over last year's SF10 (1:23). Also made my goal of being under 200 lbs for the race. Not sure how much lower I can feasibly achieve with cookout season starting and I'm not willing to give up my adult beverages.

Two good looking geezers
  The race itself was quite good. My friend THS caught up to me around the 1.5 mile point and ran with me until the turn around. At which point he surged ahead by about a tenth of a mile. He remained in sight until we had about 3 miles to go and then somehow I managed to shorten the distance between us by half. I think it was when he tried to go around some runners and went to the outside and I was on the inside (picture a track though this was just part of the lakefront path that curves). eventually I caught up to him and he faded back. Somehow I stayed in front and finished a few seconds before him (timewise) though I didn't see him until a minute or two after I crossed the finish line.

When THS caught up to me at 1.5 miles, he said that he misjudged the start time and got to the race as the gun was going off. This is a common theme with THS. At first I thought he was gonna run with me for a bit and then take off, but he said he wasn't in top shape. This was a ruse of course but a good one because it seems his goal was to keep me running at my top pace. If I wasn't running with him, I probably would have slowed down a wee bit. We managed to keep under 8 mm for many of the miles. In fact I think there were only two miles that lapped at 8 minutes and I unintentionally banked time for the rest of the race.

Better Planning wouldn't have made a difference:  In some ways this was a lot like last year's Memorial Day weekend. Friends were in from out of town.  We ran the SF10 and we enjoyed beverages afterwards.

In other ways it was vastly different. For one thing, we had guest staying with us. DrDrea and her husband were in from Houston and Jema came up from St Louis. We have our old queen bed in the guest bedroom which the couple got and we made Jema pay the Single Person Tax by sleeping on the air mattress in the office.

In my head I thought we'd have a nice pre-race "slumber party" at our place. I'd grill some chow, we'd drink on our deck or in the basement, enjoying the bar. Then we'd go to sleep get up early for the race, hang out there and then come home, shower nap and repeat.

Unfortunately, life got in the way especially since I didn't make much effort to co-ordinate or plan things. I didn't want to be the planner.

First, our basement flooded on Wednesday. I'll cover it in a separate post, right now I'll just say that there wasn't much in the way of damage but it was still an expensive cleanup. Our basement was unusable for three days because of these hugh fans and humidifyers that had to run in order to dry out the dry wall.

Second, Jema had her own agenda. She understandably wanted to get in as much visiting as she could. and she really wanted to go to her old haunt, the Daily Bar and Grill and hang out with Magenta, who didn't run this year. Since the weather was sucky and we couldn't utilize the basement anyway, it kinda made sense to go there for dinner.

Third, my cousin Wednesday had a birthday party for her 1 year old on saturday and she lives in BF-Iowa. It's over an hour drive in the best traffic. When I called to RSVP I meant to say we'd be a maybe but I ended up saying we would come just late. I should have realized that we could have come much later and I could have got my nap in. 

Maybe next year will be better organized.  Or maybe we'll all be at another stage of our lives and won't be able to hang out together, perhaps only sneaking in an appearance at the SF10 like Na did on a secret visit to Chicago for her Birthday. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

What I save in work, I spent in gas

Before: a mess

Before: hard to get to the recyling

A couple weeks ago, Nightingale and I found ourselves in Schaumburg, at the WoodField Mall.  Our financial advisor Martin was having a client appreciation event at Maggiano's in Schaumburg.  Note:  Martin picked this place to placate his suburban clients and even though he lives in the South Loop it apparently never occur to him to find a place in Little Italy that could handle such a crowd.

When Martin sent out his initial email outlining all the client appreciation events for the coming year, I skipped this one for the obvious reasons: 1) it's in Schaumburg and 2) it's at Wood Field Mall.  However, he was on the hook for 30 seats and had barely filled 20.  So I asked my cousin -- who loves all things suburbs -- and his wife to join us so that we could have a pseudo family gathering on Martin dime.

I got there a little early because for some reason you can make it from OBT to Schaumburg in half the time it takes to get from OBT to Portage Park even though it's twice the distance.  Fucking Suburbs.

To kill time I stopped by my new Opium Den favorite store Home Goods.
Saw this at Home Goods
Nightingale wanted a sofa table to put behind our kitchen sink.  We have this gap of about 4 feet between the island and the wall.  Why they didn't put it against the wall when they re-did the kitchen is kinda a mystery to me but these things are usually can be explained at the intersection of time and money.

I showed the picture of the above to Nightingale and she thought it could work even though the shelf was twice as deep as we thought we would require.  However, it is a nicely put together table and I certainly couldn't build one like it for less than the $125 asking price.

Becuase I didn't have the presense of mind to buy it right then and there, I had to make a separate trip out there the next day.  Fortunately my GPS said I could make it there in 20 minutes or home in over an hour so it was a no brainer.

Now it's pretty

And I can get to the reycling

The other thing I've learned about shopping at Home Goods is if you see something you like, you should grab it because it will be gone quickly.  I was at Home Goods a couple months ago and saw this shelf pictured below.  It would have made a nice addition to this open space we have in the kitchen above the radiator.  In my hesitation to buy something I was uncertain of, it was gone within a day.  Lesson learned, hopefully.

Wish I had grabbed this last month

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Another bad couple weeks for blogging

Lots of stuff going on, some good, some not so good.  All very time consuming.   I hope to get back to a regular posting schedule soon.  Until then, some photos.

Breakfast for our out-of-town guests

The cat keeps moving

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

So Now What?

So we have this hole in our yard where the pool was.  We need to come up with something to do with it.  The challenge is we just aren't creative enough and don't really have the dough to engage a professional designer and a landscaper.

What it looked like in Dec
Dec 2012

Today, a big mess

Attempt at planter box

Various forms of wall hanging

Powder Room
Upstairs bathroom
Some stuff we hung up this weekend.  The beauty is that most of it was found at various thrift stores so we didn't break the bank.  It's nice to fill several rooms with items for less than $20 total.

found at separate thrift stores

Obligatory cat element

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Don't Understand how they could possibly be going Out of Business

This would look good
with all our coats draped across it
So after picking up my Lakefront 10 packet a few weeks ago, I stopped in at this antique store that had an Everything Must Go sign in the window.  I really liked their stuff but the prices were way out of my budget.  They were out of my had money to spare budget before buying this house and they certainly are out of my current have three mortgages budget.

I did like this item pictured here.  It would work beautifully in the space that is our hallway.  Unfortunately, it was listed for $1600 or so.  I don't remember the exact amount.  I'm sure there was some wiggle room built into it but I really didn't have the money for such a lovely piece of woodwork.

However when the store proprietors told me the price I said it was out of my budget.  He asked me what my budget was and I said I wasn't sure.  I said that because I didn't have it in my mind how much we thought we'd have to spend on the Ikea Hack Project I've mentioned here.

That apparently was the wrong thing to say because Mr. Personality decided that it was wasting his time by breathing the same oxygen and occupying the same zip code. 

"You don't have a budget," he said.  "You are wasting my time."  He went on to mumble a few more things about how he doesn't have time for this because he's going out of business.

A couple of things.  First, when someone says the item is out of the budget it just might be their polite way of saying your shit is really overpriced. 

Second, blaming customers for your failure to succeed in business is wrong on so many levels. 

Third, your wife -- if you have a wife -- is undoubtedly sleeping with other people because she has long regretted the moment she ever gave you a blowjob.

and this would be wonderful too

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Kenosha Half Marathon Race Report

'On Saturday I ran the Kenosha Half Marathon along with some runner friends.  Our group has done this race at least twice before.  That makes sense because it's a short enough drive that you can either stay local and get up early or you could pay the extra dough to get a hotel room as we did this year.

Last year I ran it under someone else's bib and was just trying to finish the race with minimal walking.  IIRC I forgot to bring gels so it is no wonder I kinda faded at the end. 

The first time I ran this race in 2009, I had had a tumultuous April and had struggled with my running all winter training.  I was signed up for the full marathon but exercised the option to switch to the half because I knew it wasn't going to be pretty.  I really just wanted to finish that race and take a break.  I was also registered for SF10 but a business trip to Hong Kong made me miss it, which was probably a blessing in disguise.  So it was pretty much my last race of the year, except for the Bastille Day 5K which was technically my second date with Nightingale.

This year, I managed to run with something that has been missing for a long time.  I won't use the word effortlessly -- because there is no such thing when it comes to racing -- so instead I'll say Struggle-free.  I started out further back than usual, around the 10 mm group and just took the first mile easy.  After the first mile I managed to get a running lane and increased my speed just slightly.  I ran the race in 1:48, or 8:14 pace.

The pita wrap makes the brat healthy, right?
B had a good run too.  She posted a sub 5 hour marathon and it's been a long time since she's done that.  In Detroit the wheels had come off again so I think she was over due for a good one.

If you run enough, you are gonna have days when you run like the wind and you are gonna have days when you suck wind. Luckily, this was the former instead of the later. 

The trip was supposed to be a lazy get-away.  However, because we had to spend 3 hours moving furniture my former tenant left behind and cleaning the condo, we didn't arrive until after 9 on Friday, missing our chance to explore the outlet malls.  So even though she was willing to come out and support us on the race course, I told Nightingale to sleep in and enjoy the Outlet Malls as soon as they opened. 

As part of my hair brained scheme, we were going to go to West Chicago for a wedding shower in spite of my long standing policy of  not attending showers or kiddy bday parties.  Fortunately it was a very casual shower and I had already set the expectation that we would arrive late.  In fact, we got there just before they removed the buffet so we were able to get some much needed grub as I hadn't eaten much before because of my wisdom tooth extractions.  So all in all it was a busy yet fulfilling weekend.

Blues Brother tribute band

No Second guessing these Life Decisions

It seems like I always second guess my decisions or have trouble making a decision in the first place.  Sometimes I cannot even decide what I want to have for lunch.  However, there are three decisions I've made over the course of my life that I am at perfect peace.

I refer to these as the Three Best Decisions of My Life. Sure, I’ve made many decisions that have arguably worked out better, such as marrying Nightingale. The reason I single these three out is they are decisions that I've never seconded guessed or looked back on and regretted, other than perhaps wishing I had done them sooner.

Going to G-School: When I finished undergrad, I swore I would never go back to higher education.  However, after not breaking into a journalism and suffering years as a litigation paralegal for an evil corporate law firm, I decided that being able to eat and pay rent the same month was the life for me. 

Becoming Catholic: My family is catholic but they didn’t send me to parochial school, probably more out of cost than true heathenism.  As I got older I got more spiritual and ironically, I was reading a lot of Anne Rice at the time and her descriptions of the Catholic rituals got me curious. I started going to church and a few months later I had my epiphany.

It was Labor Day weekend 1999, and my roommate and long time friend from high school friend had just moved out. Talk about a souvenir of a terrible year: I had lost my job, broke my toes, and been mugged within a three week period. It was a very dark time in my life. I felt like a weight was about to crush me. Then I took a deep breath and felt like everything would be alright.  And I know that wasn't my own steam, God had shown some mercy on me.

Getting Lasik Eye Surgery: It was never a question of if but when. I’m glad I did it because not fumbling with contact lens or waking up to blurry vision is tremendous.  Lasik — short for laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis, which entails cutting and reshaping the cornea.

Were there risks?  Sig Other 1.0 was an ophthalmologist and she told me that in the early years there were so many people who got Lasik that later research would have declared them bad candidates that the industry as a whole voluntarily tightened the definition for what a good candidate was so as to prevent lawsuits unsuccessful surgeries.

Looking back, I don’t think going to G-School any sooner would have been an option from a financial standpoint. Same goes for Lasik. Sure.  I joke that I used the money for Polish Girlfriend 1.0 ring to pay for my surgery.  The truth is I had FSA money set aside and it came down to use it or lose it.  And it took hitting rock bottom and having an epiphany to get me to become catholic.  And in the baker's dozen years that I've been, I've certainly not lived up to all the requirements and have certainly challenged the doctrine. 

I do sometimes wonder if I should have chosen some different course work at DePaul. IIRC the program options for CTI were not very flexible even though they were toted as such at the time.  That's the way of marketing, even in academia.  They made it sound like you could switch from Databases to Networks concentrations when in reality most of the concentrations shared very few common courses.

Friday, May 3, 2013

To Avoid Separate Posts

Some stuff I don't wanna break into their own posts:

Today I'm getting my last two wisdom teeth extracted. I Reluctantly got the first two extracted in 2009. Since my mouth was left numb, I didn't exactly rush back to have the other two removed.  It was a good six months before the tightness in my teeth loosened up. There's still some residual numbness in my left gums and lip.

I was pissed the people at the oral surgeon's office downplayed the whole numbness thing.  Yes they probably mentioned it and it was in the waviers I signed, but they really focused on making sure I didn't eat or drink before the procedure.  I swear they told me like 762 not to eat or drink the night before or they couldn't put me under.

Why couldn't he leave something like this behind
Alas I've put it off long enough and figure that since I do have insurance that will pay for 80% of it, I should take advantage.

Then we are heading to Kenosha for a half marathon Saturday. On the way back home we are stopping by a wedding shower in West Chicago.    Could I pack more into one day?  Well yes.

Our first renter moved out the other day. He said he was feeling uncomfortable because of all the complaints about his noise and his smoking.  Our Property Manager said he was a very nice guy and had reasonable explanations for the complaints.  But they continued.  Apparently he was smoking inside and also left garage bags on the back deck instead of taking them down to the trash.

He denied this to our Property Manager.  First Renter found a sub leaser so we let him out of his lease and are starting a new lease with Second Renter.  First Renter however left behind more bags of garbage, a computer monitor, a camera, a loveseat and pizza boxes on the washer/dryer.

Second Renter doesn't want the rugs we left behind and apparently we have to do something with them.  Property Manager is out of the country though I have half a mind to just leave it be and have him deal with it when he gets back.  This has been the recurring theme of 2013: the people I'm paying to do stuff that I don't want to do are not doing that stuff to the fullest.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Weddings are quite the Protocol Mine Fields

I have two friends who are getting married on June 1st this year.  The wedding ceremonies are 4 hours and 30+ miles apart, with the respective receptions starting immediately after.  In theory, this should be lunch and dinner with two close friends whom I've known for years.  In reality it will be a delicate balance of spending enough time at each and dealing with traffic.

My options are: 
  • Goto the first wedding we were invited to, skip the second altogether.  Practical but kinda cold.
  • Goto the first wedding, skip the reception and head to the second wedding and reception.  This leave a lot of spare time between and we have to forage for food in unknown suburbs.
  • Goto the first wedding, stay for the reception and potentially miss the second wedding but hit that reception.  Wouldn't be the worst though I still cring that some of my friends missed out on seeing the Polish Church we got married at because they opted to just make the reception.
  • Goto the first wedding, stay for the reception and watch my watch until we have to split for the next one and stress over traffic.  Winner.

Meeting some of the neighbors
In the long run, I should get over myself and stop projecting.  At our wedding, I was disappointed that some people couldn't let us know they weren't coming when they probably knew months in advance.  One couple even wrote on the RSVP that they were gonig to a block party instead.  Because those annual events are more rare than a once-in-a-lifetime first wedding.

And then there was the husband who said they never got the invitation and had already made plans to go to So-Suede's wedding and didn't recall what time it was so he couldn't be sure if going to both our ceremonies was an option.

The thing is, that option was never on the table.  It probably never occurred to them to do that.  here I am dragging Nightingale to two weddings 30 miles apart and my catholic friends wouldn't attend two weddings less than 3 miles apart.  Note: I'm not saying that decision is a component of being Catholic, that's merely how I identify that particular faction of friends.