Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Knees, Double Dates and Headboards

Couple Dates have to be special to make them happen:  Now and then I get a "request" from a friend who wants to do a double date with Nightingale and me. It's not an unusual thing in and of itself. Many married or coupled peeps want to do things with other couples. Especially if they've been banished from the Realm of Singles

The weirdness comes when the request is from someone I either know only casually or barely know outside the context of some group or organization. Or even someone I've never really hung out with when I was flying solo. These things have to occur organically, you cannot force them.

A group leader without a group: I volunteered to be a CARA group leader again, this time for a half Marathon group.   Alas, there is no one in my group.  It seems people who run at 8:30 mm or faster do not sign up for formal training and those that do, run a tad slower.  So this just gives me the option to show up or not in August when it is hot, hot, humid hot.

Of course I might not last that long. After Saturday's run my knee felt tweaky* the rest of the afternoon.  I'm not sure if it was because I had only run once last week and three times in the last two weeks or if I had bothered my poor long dormant miniscus.  The tweakiness* felt like it did in the years preceding my lascerated miniscus and so the mind convinces you something is up.

When I work up Sunday, my knee felt stiff but after I walked around on it for a bit, it kinda loosened up,  Throughout the day it felt fine and I even biked on it. 24 hours after that it seems to be its usual self, as a good as a 44 year old knee that has been scoped can be.  Having said that, I will skip this Saturday's Long Run and be back the following Saturday for the cutback week.

Update:  ran on the dreadmill yesterday and my knee was fine until I was in the locker room changing and then putting weight on the knee made it hurt.  The pain bothered me most of the evening and today it seems to only act up when i transition from sitting to standing.

*(sorry for the formal medical jargon)
Bonus Story below

Bonus Story:  We ordered a headboard for the King bed we bought when we first moved in. I wrote a little post about getting the Queen headboard to attach to our King frame.

Monday, July 29, 2013

My former life as a Paralegal

Every so often I think about my first post-college job as a Project Assistant at BigName Law Firm 1.0.  This position was created by the paralegals because they wanted someone to offload the non-billable work they had to do so they could focus on the more substantive legal work they were given by the attorneys.  There are a lot of problems with that last sentence.

The first is that the firm was so growing so large that the substantive legal work rarely trickled down to the paralegal level.  Maybe it did before the Project-Assistant-Era, but it certainly didn't after that.

The second problem was that there wasn't a lot of up front training investment in PAs.  Most of the non-billable work was not the repeatable, learn it once and do it every day type of stuff.  There was some of that of course, but most of the things they wanted to give us required more time to explain it than to do it yourself.  And if it was something you weren't going to do again for six months, it almost didn't make sense to teach a PA because they were not gonna remember it in six months and you'll have to teach it again.
Quite a bump from two decades ago

The paralegals were so busy with their real work that they didn't have time to train us, and that wasn't baked into their job descriptions.  Even if it was, I’m sure the threshold for catching on would be very small.

On top of that, the position didn't pay very well yet they got either fresh out of college, or still students as job candidates.  In other words, you put fairly smart people into a mind numbing job with no chance of advancement and eventually entropy takes place.  Now I will be the first to admit that I had the wrong attitude and outlook for a position like this.  Beside my own personal issues and shortcomings, I just didn't understand how Corporate America worked.

 I think I was from the future because I really liked to leverage technology to make life easier and I worked with people who feared technology because it was new and scary.  Looking back, I acknowledge that I did have what would be perceived as a bad attitude.  I think my intentions were good but my execution and communication were poor, which is always a bad combination.

The era of PAs being non-billable didn't last long.  Someone figured that since we were billing for some of our work, why not give us a billing requirement and have us bill for all of our work.  In a way this was good because it made the PA position evolve into more of a junior paralegal position.  But in many other ways it was bad.  Remember the substantive legal work mythical unicorn beast I mentioned.  If very little trickled down from attorneys to paralegals, how much do you think trickled down to PAs? 

In hindsight I wish I had been smart enough to keep my head down, use the paralegals as Attorney Shields and go to g-school a few years sooner. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

As it should be

The other night Nightingale and I were out with some new friends.   We were at PitchFork, the restaurant, not the festival, and we accumulated a decent tab.   Silent-Eric only had a sandwich and one, maybe two drinks.   He put in a twenty which was sufficient to cover his part of the bill.

The rest of us agreed to split the rest of the bill evenly.  Somehow I was out in charge of figuring all this out and I had no shame in using my iPhone calculator.   I basically took our bill, multiplied by 1.2, subtracted silent Eddie $20, and divided that by 6.   Yes, I know that the tip should be on the pretax amount but I figured we out our waitress through a little more work than her average table.   

It basically came out to $40 a person (38 really) and everyone peeled off two yuppie food stamps and seemed okay with that.   Since we didn't have much cash, I did the Polish ATM Thing and charge everything to my credit card.  Keeping the cash for ourselves.

Whenever possible I prefer to go with this method (unless I'm the one who only had a sandwich and one drink) because it's easier.  I work on the theory that over the course of a lifetime, there will be times when I'm paying a little too much and there will be times when I'm paying too little and it will all balance out.  There were probably a few times in my poorer past when I put in less than I probably should have and I'm not proud of that. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Bus stop shot

On a sizzling hot Friday afternoon on the corner of Milwaukee and Montrose avenues.  


Somewhere on prairie street

What I wouldn't give to live in a house like this.  That said, I would be sad if this were my family home and someone came along and built the building that is next to it.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Weekend ending shot at IAHC

We volunteered at the Irish American Heritage Center yesterday for their annual fest.  I didn't even notice the pile of snakes below.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Free Sunday stuff

Behind these Geeks are tons of hot Librarians

A few Sundays ago, I managed to get into a convention for free.   My friend DrDrea is in town for the ALA conference and when I learned that one of my favorite contemporary authors was going to be there for an unannounced appearance, I asked if she could get me in.  

DrDrea did not disappoint.   She got me a buddy pass which got me into the convention for free.   Had I realized what a big event this was, I would probably have gone to check it out anyway even if John Scalzi wasn't gonna be there.

 What I didn't realize was that Tor was giving away copies of his latest book, The Human Division, which now that I've gone back and re-read some of Scalzi's posts about it, I realize the title is a play on words.

I had tweeted Scalzi earlier in the week, asking if there would be copies of his book to purchase and if he would sign them.  He tweeted back that he would sign books.  I thought the response was short because he probably gets hundreds of tweets per hour and I was lucky enough to get his attention at all. 

You had to sign up for certain events and according to the ALA website, 92 people had "expressed interest" in the Scalzi event when I signed up.  My bet was that there were more than that once all was said and done.  Yet somehow Scalzi managed to engage everyone who stood in line waiting for him to sign their book.

One is a talented writer, the other is just good looking
While I probably could have lost myself at the convention for hours, my aversion to crowds and a 4 o'clock appointment back home won out and I decided to head home.  Outside McCormick Place, the CTA bus tracker reported that the next bus wouldn't arrive for 30 minutes.  As luck would have it, there was someone offering free trials of those new Divvy Bikes that are springing up all over downtown. 

I figured it would be a good way to get me to the part of town Nightingale was in.  She was at the Home Depot in the west end of the South Loop and I was a bit closer to Chinatown.  I could have had Nightingale come pick me up but she had already graciously dropped me off just more than an hour before so it seemed cruel to ask her to make a second trip. 

So after listening to the finer points of the program from the individual, I got my free code and procured a bicycle.  These bikes only have three gears Slow, Really Slow and You're Not in a Hurry Are You?  While I fancy that I could make it from my house in Portage Park to the South Loop in 30-45 minutes, it would take much longer to make that journey on one of these bikes.  Which is sort of the point.  These are merely Self Propelled Urban Runabouts that are meant for short trips like the one I took.  Alas, I don't fathom these will pop up in the lower-income neighborhoods even though there is really no street value for them.

Back to the story.  I dropped off the bike at the station at Roosevelt and Wabash and looked around for Nightingale.  I didn't see her because she was driving my car and I was looking for hers.  Yes brain fart as you'd think I'd remember that.  After a good laugh about it, we picked up our friend and headed to Yuppie A&G Stanleys to get some produce and then head home for a cookout.  Our friend has been teasing us with free wine for several weeks yet she always managed to forget to bring it.  No big deal, I just went to the nearby Jewel and picked up some beer, along with whatever the scantly clad Latina Marketing Major was hawking -- a special kinda margarita if I'm not mistaken.

While at the store I get a call from the 4pm appointment.  It was the FEMA inspector and he wanted to know if he could come an hour early.  I said that would be wonderful as the only thing better than having to wait around less time for someone is having a Corporate America Meeting canceled altogether. 

I must admit I've had to reset my preconceived expectations of government workers.  I expected him to check the basement, look at our dirt pile in the front of the house, and then tell us we'll hear something before the next coming of The Lord or a Cubs World Series, whichever doesn't happen first.

Captain John was polite, of course, but he was also very thorough. He didn't just look at the basement but started in the attic and worked his way down.  Naturally, there wasn't much to find on the first or second floor but he still included it in is inspection.  He was friendly and non-threatening and my only real criticism would be that he didn't really answer questions so much as he said a lot of words that didn't amount to much.  So he is government after all.

Like I said, I wasn't expecting speed but lo and behold, the next day our case file had been updated and the day after that money was deposited into my bank account.  Less than 25% of the total cost of the cleanup repair but still nothing to sneeze at from the perspective of someone whose insurance did not cover this type of disaster in the first place.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

It's time to get a new TV

The current TV with the non-TiVo DVR attached
'I've purchased exactly two TVs in my lifetime.  My first TV was donated to me by a co-worker at the BigName Law Firm back in my previous life for my first apartment..  It was a 25" color TV but an older model with dials and it didn't have a remote, to say nothing of being cable ready.  [As I was too cheap to get cable this was a non-issue.]

Two apartments later I decided to actually spend my own money to upgrade to a more modern TV (remote controlled instead of dials).  IIRC, I purchased a 27" RCA animal that had built in TV Guide.  I thought that was wicked cool and allowed me to cancel my newspaper subscription since I only got it for the TV Guide, Comics and coupons anyway.  This TV lasted until the mid-noughties when I it would stop working for short periods time.

That was when I upgraded to the flat screen, but again I was limited to 32" as that is what my armoire will handle.  NG also has a 32" Tv so we have two 32" flat screen TVs that are functional but slightly dated in terms of technology.

No Big TV for me for years to come
I want a Smart TV.  I already have NG's TV connected to an old PC so it really is just the next logical step.  My MO has always been to wait a few iterations of a new technology for everyone to agree on format, platform, and get the kinks worked out.  Then I purchase the best I can afford and make it work for as many years as possible.  Usually by this time I get a good sense of price-point, like in the case of the 27" I bought, I realized it was pretty much as good as 32" but at least $200 cheaper (back in the late 90s $200 was a lot of chicken scratch for me).

And therein lies the challenge.  Because of the flood, I have accumulated a little more credit card debt than I prefer to carry.  It makes it really hard to go out and buy a 50 or 60 inch TV.  However, I would like it in time to watch the first Bears Game (when they still technically have a winning season going) instead of by the Superbowl, when I estimate I'll have this nil-interest card paid off.

I've already had to pass up on a couple of good deals at Woot.com.  Any recommendations? 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Enjoying some coffee, a little fresh air and some Scalzi

On a good morning when I wake up early and have extra time, I like to sit outside on the porch with my iPad or a good book.  This week's good book is The Human Division by John Scalzi.  I was given this book for free at the ALA convention a few weeks ago and Mr. Scalzi was on hand to autograph copies of it.  Since I saved about $30 on the book, I will either have to buy another of his books (good marketing scheme TOR) or donate to his next charity request.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Yet another Possible Idea for the Living Room

Our living room is a large rectangle, in most homes I think would be two separate rooms.  One of our goals for the summer is to find the perfect furniture for it at garage or estate sales.  I'm thinking of getting a fireplace insert or something like this for the fireplace.  My thought is this should be a place were we can just curl up with a good book in the winter and watch the snow fall outside.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth of July America

Today marks not only the 237th anniversary (if my CPS math is correct) of our telling Mother England to go away and leave us alone, it is also the 4th anniversary of the day I met my wife.  We both went to a theme party -- redneck, white trash 4 o July -- that we otherwise would not have attended if some minor circumstances had gone differently.  For instance, if her friend wasn't having a birthday get together in the same area or if I had stayed in Naper-hell* the entire weekend as I was supposed to, we might not have met.

[* not a reflection on the friend's house I stayed at or the company I kept that weekend, just simply that my DNA is not entirely compatible with the suburban biosphere for prolonged periods of exposure.]

Looking at last year's post of a similar title, I see that it's pretty much more of the same, only the stakes are a bit higher.  End of Fiscal Year at work, not hitting it out of the ball park and concerned that I may be out of a job.

Alas I've been uber busy at work and not a lot of time to blog when I get home.  It's not easy to blog from an iPad and it isn't always easy to boot up the desktop -- which is now slower than molasses -- and fire off a post.  Looking back, it seems that July is traditionally a low post month.  I will try to change that both here and on ChicagoNow.  There are some nice posts there so if you are one of my lurker readers, feel free to give me some pagehits over there.

This should neither align left or right