Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Wrapping a few things up

yesterday I wrote about goals.  where blogging is concerned, I wanted to:

  • write 10 posts per month here
  • increase my twitter followers to 1000
  • increase my FB page likes to 500

I've fallen short by 5-10% on two of those three goals.   No big deal.  The FB Page isn't as strong as it was in the early days and I managed to surpass my 2013 number of posts even if I fall short of 120. 

Note: I could publish a lot of quick photos to pad the numbers but that isn't me.  I also have a dozen or so draft "secret entries" which I may or may not ever publish depending on how things work out.

Which brings up, what to do with this space?  I like putting more personal journal like nuggets here because obviously this was originally intended to be an "web log".  If I have a good "interesting" post that is far reaching, I can publish it at ChicagoNow and get better traffic.

Finding time to write decent posts here is challenging and managing two blogs is double work. 

Car troubles

Lucky i have this mini compresor
Yesterday Nightingale called me to tell me that she discovered her car had a flat tire as she was
leaving .  I asked if she knew how to put on the spare "doughnut" tire and she said she wasn't even sure how to find it.  Normally I would have drove out to pick her up but I was in charge of the kiddos and they were not having any of me leaving the room, let alone the zip code.  Luckily her parking garage provides a compressor that was able to fill her tire back up for the ride home.

Today the kids are a little more back to normal so I am able to get away to get the tire repaired.  This is good that Nightingale can drive my car because I failed an emissions test, supposedly because I hadn't driven my car in a while.  

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Traveling with Children is not easy

In case a past version of me travels to the future and reads this:   A 5 hour car ride is just too much for our kids (15 months) to deal with right now. The longest they will nap, especially in a vehicle, is 2 hours so that means three hours of trying to keep them entertained.

Usually traffic and/or construction causes us a delay when traveling between Chicago and Grosse Pointe, Michigan.  This time it was weather.  We left GP much later than we intended because we had been up late trying to get Moose and Squirrel to go to bed.  After  5+ days of doing not thing but wrangle our children, we were exhausted and slept in the first chance they gave us...the day we really should have got out the door as early as possible.  We left GP at 10am and didn't get to our house until 6pm.  [time is in CST and we had two stops totaling 75 minutes.]
For our entire trip all the routine and schedule was off the books.  Any given night, one or the other wouldn't go down after bath.  Once we finally got the problem child to go to sleep, the other one would wake from a power nap and it would be hours before they succumbed to fatigue.

On top of this, they only wanted to be with Nightingale or me, and usually had to be held.  And not just held but sometimes they require that we hold them while we are in the standing position.  I guess the atmospheric pressure or pull of gravity is noticeably different from that height.

Goals for the Year:   According to my DailyMile, I just need to run 6 more miles to have 300 for the year.  While that is not anything to sneeze at since some people never run that much in a lifetime.  Still it's a little sad that each year my miles logged is more and more diminished.

This also assumes I will be able to get those last 6 miles in.  A small but not insignificant part of not being able to get out for a run is because of Moose and Squirrel.  Before I figured out how to run before work, I often skipped the lunch time "Runch" or didn't run after work because I wanted to beat traffic and get home at a decent hour.  Getting away on weekends required a lot of moving parts to coordinate.

I had also wanted to get a few more projects completed around the house but expenses prevented that.  On the plus side, I finally have my credit cards under control and have officially paid off the damage caused by that flood.  Technically I paid it off a long time ago via the credit card roulette game of juggling debt and kicking the can down the road as long as possible.  House maintenance ain't sexy but you have to do it.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas to all

Whatever you celebrate this time of year, I wish you the readers of this blog the very best

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Winter Solstice 2015

The Longest Night of the year has come. The day is about nine hours long and night is about 15 hours. In June the summer solstice has the longest day of the year. The spring and fall equinox are in March and September. Day and night time are equal.

This image is from last year

Considering that this day started at 5 am because Boris woke up, and it is only noon, I fear this may actually be the longest day EVER.

Monday, December 21, 2015

First Week observations of being a SAHD

It's a little difficult to get things done because both kids want to be held.  They are generally not content with you just being in the proximity or even in the same room.  You must be holding them.  Sometimes they don't even want you to be sitting down.  I suspect they are extra sensitive to the difference in atmospheric pressure that an extra foot or two might bring.

The most they will concede is take turns being held. So the only time I get anything done is when they are napping or distracted by one of their toys.  The nap buys me an hour or two, the toys about 15 minutes tops.

While the weather has been warm enough on certain days to take them outside, those days were rainy and thus outside wasn't really an option.  I did take them to my hair stylist on Thursday because I was getting cabin fever and it was an opportunity to get Boris hair cut too. 

My stylist works quickly but doesn't like to do an incomplete job.  However we had to cut it short because Boris was not too happy about it and cried. Still, it looks much better than it did  before. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

SAHD: The Shower Awakens!

In an effort to save a little money, we took Moose and Squirrel out of daycare for the month of December.  My company TopFive shuts down for two weeks at the end of the year so by WFH the last working week of December, we can save a good chunk of change.

So far it has been a rough go because this week I happen to be on a work assignment with our offshore group in Mambi.  They can only work with me from 8 to 12 CST and that is when the kids are most feisty.  I really should have moved my laptop down to the basement for some of the calls.

This is basically a beta test of whether I can get enough work done to see if we can change to a part time Daycare or not.  We really like the one we have but there are less expensive ones closer to home.  Close enough to walk to which means my mom could drop off and/or pick up the kids and remove that stressful burden from Nightingale.

When I WFH sans kids, I usually get a few things done around the house.  With kids I get one task completed each day.  They want to be constantly held and if you leave their vicinity they get upset.

Monday was fixing the broken handle on the upstairs toilet.  This broken handle caused a few cascading problems such as me breaking a glass container and also the toilet flooding and causing a plaster/drywall seam to split in our dining room ceiling.

Tuesday was laundry and today my goal is to organize that garage wall I put together back in May.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Eight more weeks of Timesheets and Paychecks

 I'm writing these entries as they happen and as I have time to jot things down but I may not publish until months from now (or ever). Note: This post was written a year or so ago, when the events were still fresh.  I waited for a while to post this because I didn’t want to risk my job hunting efforts or reveal any information about my former company.  The purpose of these posts aren't to bash my former employer but to share my experience.

So TopFive missed the 9/1 deadline but around the middle of Sept told us they were going to do it.  They outlined a timetable to tell us when thing would happen and it was kinda lame.  I didn't find out my end date until Nov 17th.

My original end date was given to me as January 4th but has now been extended to March 1.  Because they finally realized how hopelessly, hilariously ill prepared they are with the knowledge transitions.  So good news, I get a 8 more weeks of paychecks, bad news I get 8 more weeks of insanity.

On the one hand extra paychecks are a good thing.  On the down side, I had already made my peace with Jan 4.  And while I didn't expect to have a job on Jan 5th, I figured it would be easier to interview and start a job sooner.  Now if I want to keep my severance pay -- a nice tidy sum that would be a shame to forfeit at this point -- I have to stay at TopFive until March 1.

However, my boss, being one of the Left Behind that will be re-badged, realized that the knowledge transitions were scheduled too tightly and the separation dates too soon.  This means that all the knowledge would walk out the door before it could be imparted on the people replacing us. 

This association with TopFive has become a dysfunctional relationship without the angry sex. It's like a bad romance that should end but you hang out because you want to be sure to have someone to bang on NYE.

Meanwhile, when we thought my last day was 1/4/16, we decided to take our kids out of daycare to save some money.  Only after we made those arrangements did I get the news about the extension.  Since TopFive shuts down for the last two weeks of the year because of where the holidays fall on the calendar, this meant I only had to do one week of being a Stay At Home Day and Working From Home.  It was hell. 

We probably could have gotten our spot back in daycare but saving the money is more paramount at the moment.  At the moment, I'm taking care of the kids with my mom's help.  She's the only resource we have in the Tri-State area and she comes with her own bag of crazy. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Hump Day Two weeks ago


This post was supposed to be published a few weeks ago but I failed to hit publish.

Traffic was light on the way to work this morning, at a time slot where it’s never light.  It's funny how it seems on days that I want to get into work as early as possible so I can work out, we either run late or traffic blows.  Today it didn't matter and I got here at 8:04.

We actually got out the door relatively quickly this morning -- 7:10 -- which is twenty minutes sooner than our average.  Nightingale is a little disappointed because we got up early and had a good start to the day and it slide off the rails a little with our kids.  Natasha was in a great mood because she not only seems to have finally shook off her cough but also passed it along to Boris.  Well played sibling.

A lot of mornings over the last year were a challenge because we were sleep deprived and trying to get some extra minutes of snooze before having to get up and wrangle babies.  Combine that with us not being the most get-up-and-go morning people to begin with and that makes for a inefficient morning.

Once Moose and Squirrel started sleeping through the night, our game improved but not until we had a few months of trying to catch up on our sleep deficit.
It says 210 lbs

I've resolved that my weight it probably going to oscillate between 210 and 215 pounds this winter.  Even with my running 12 - 15 miles a week, my food and alcohol consumption combined with the body's storing of fat for winter will cancel each other out.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Where is Facebook heading

Like many bloggers I rely on Facebook for a social media presence and page traffic.  I've even written some posts about it here.  and here.  And also here.

Like many people I also have a love-hate relationship with Facebook.  Just when I dare to hope that Facebook has peaked and I move on, another friend ups their Facebook-Fu and its the only way I can keep in contact with the small fraction of the human population I don't utterly despise. 

Facebook is the main portal to the internet, how they get their news, how they communicate with friends far and near, an ever-changing TV channel tuned to You, starring Your Friends, reflecting Your Excellent Opinions.  -Nancy Nall

  • Option 1:  it *could* fade away like Friendster or Myspace.
  • Option 2:  it could fade into the background and still be around but used less and less often
  • Option 3:  it could become something very different that it is today.  Evolve

Or it might just continue to be the 600 lb gorilla of social media and all that comes with it.

My Facebook Dilemma

Like many people I have a love-hate relationship with Facebook.  Like many bloggers I also rely on Facebook for a social media presence and page traffic.  I've even written some posts about it here.  and here.  And also here.

I enjoy keeping up with friends and seeing them unlock major and minor Life Achievements and sharing my Most Excellent News whenever I have some.

What I don't enjoy is the stupid memes that attempt to boil down complicated issues into jokes and zingers suitable for sharing on your Facebook wall.  Both Sides Do This!

On a person level I also don't like that of the nearly 1000 friends I have, I only interact with less than 10 percent of them.  Some of this is by choice, I admit.  Some of it is by Facebook Algorithm where Zuckerberg's drones have determined which friends updates you get to see and which ones you don't based on nothing that makes any sense at all.

Still there are some that probably actively choose to ignore everyone and only post their rants and raves without giving two shits about other people.

Most of my FB friends are from high school, college and ChicagoNow bloggers.  These are also the ones I seem to interact with the most.  Others are people I use to hang out with in the Runner Groups, Catholic Circles or other social scenes from my single days.  There are enough people to form a group called People I Met At a Party Once and Ex Work Friends I Don't Wish a Car Accident On.

Once in a while, I'd find out that someone unfriended me and it would bother me.  Usually because it was an action I did like either out my political viewpoint or have the audacity to have another birthday, thus calling attention to someone who forgot I even existed.  Other times I'm sure it had nothing to do with me per se but someone decided it's easier to interact with a smaller list of people than to have a bunch of outlier friends that clutter their feed.

So it seems hypocritical that right now I'm tempted to cull my friends list.  I'm fine with hiding the ones who post things that are out of alignment with my views to keep it from my feed.  But for some reason I want to get rid of some people I seldom interact with on Facebook or IRL.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

December Weather forecast

I cannot recall what the weather was like this week last year.  I can say however that this is supposed to be a mild winter.  And if the temperature for the first week of December is any indication, I think that is a fair expectation.  That doesn't mean we won't get lots of snow.  What I hope it means is we won't get lots of cold and whatever snow and cold we do get, won't stick around until Memorial Day like a guest overstaying their welcome.

There is still time and need for me to do one more racking of the leaves which I hope to get to when last night's light but very wet snowfall melts.  

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Cover Letter Conundrum

I'm writing these entries as they happen and as I have time to jot things down but I may not publish until months from now (or ever). 

Note: This post was written a year or so ago, when the events were still fresh.  I waited for a while to post this because I didn’t want to risk my job hunting efforts or reveal any information about my former company.  The purpose of these posts aren't to bash my former employer but to share my experience.

In early September I basically talked my way out of a potential job because my salary requirements are too high.  I don't really want to work for a law firm again but if I have to, knowing what I know about the expectations, I would demand top dollar.

I saw a job I was interested in several weeks ago and was going to tweak my resume to match it.  Before I got a chance, the listing was removed.  So then I mind-fucked myself by apply for a few jobs before tweaking my resume at all, so I probably screwed the pooch on those as well.

In the meantime I've been encouraged to write cover letters to go along with my job submissions.  I hate writing cover letters almost as much as I hate going through the HR Pre-interview Dance.  The cover letter is marketed as a way to distinguish yourself from the crowd but its really just one more opportunity to screw up something that has no bearing on your job whatsoever.

You cannot know if the person you are sending it to like them short or long; its one more thing you have to proofread because Gods forbids if you make a single typo or punctuation mistake you are obviously a horrible DBA, developer, System Admin or other form of Widget Maker.  And you have to track down useless information like their office snail mail address even though you are sending this stuff electronically.

The reality is that the people who read these letters need their egos stroked so they look forward to a well written cover letter but also relish a bad one so that they have justification for not choosing said candidate.  It's much easier to eliminate someone on the grounds that if they forgot a comma, they aren't detailed oriented and will obviously bring ALL the network Servers down first chance they get rather than determine based on resume fodder who is a better investment of an interview. 

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Monday, November 30, 2015

the NFL should put Monday Night Football out of its misery

It's time for Monday Night Football to go. While it served a purpose for many decades, its time has come to pass. MNF is like an over the hill Brett Favre trying to make it to the Super Bowl one last time: one part embarrassing, one part sad.

Monday Night football was once the only place to ease your football cravings after Sunday's games.
MNF was the only game in town, a weekly larger-than-life event which helped turned football into what it is today. Back then, with most television viewers only having three basic networks, MNF was a dominant force, even if, for a while, it would finish around No. 18 in the rankings and lose its time slot to sitcoms such as One Day at a Time.
Snoozer games Once upon a time, MNF got the best games. Usually starting with the Super Bowl match up from the previous years and working its way through divisional rivalries and potential play-off match ups. Now they get third-rate games. Obviously the games are set based on the schedule and last year's results but the 2-7 Baltimore versus the 2-8 Browns*? Come on. They don't even show that game in the sports bars in Hell.

 * I suppose they could each have three wins when they actually met on November 30th.

 Too late Even if it is an exciting shootout or dramatic nail biter, the games start so late that most of the show demographic cannot really stay up late to watch the end, especially on those double header season openers.

Sunday and Thursday night Schedule spread out too far Before Thursday Night Football, the most advantage a team would have was having a bye week before their Monday night appearance. Now it is theoretically possible that, in order to meet the required schedule of two against your division, etc. a team will play Thursday night, have a bye and then appear on MNF (thus having a longer span between games) against a team that played the previous Thursday (thus having a much shorter span between games).

 Other First World concerns Nothing like having to wait until the end of the MNF so that you can officially be declared the winner of your fantasy football pool, because you never know, that kicker might have scored a couple of touchdowns on blown plays. Worse yet, you don't get to do any tweaking to your line up until Tuesday, which only gives you essentially three days until TNF. (I know this is a really weak point but I'm throwing it in here anyway). In conclusions, I think we need to move football back to a weekend only thing with the weekend beginning on Thursday night. Leave Monday for sitcoms, reality shows and documentaries like God intended.

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

First Day of Advent

Other than Moose and Squirrel's baptism a couple months ago, and the occasional wedding, I haven't gone to church in quite a while.  The reason isn't logical or anything but it is what it is.  I stopped going when I discovered that certain Catholics I thought were friends could treat me like crap and our mutual friends barely batted an eyelash let alone declared neutrality but my trespasses were met with a much more disproportionate level of ire. 

If anyone missed the subtle nuances of that, it's as if I hit their bumper parallel parking and our mutual friends wants me arrested but the other person totals my car in a hit & run and almost killed me and those same mutual friends are like "I don't want to get involved.

Still, among my favorite masses are the ones that fall on Advent.  There's just something about a countdown to the Winter Solstice and the day with the least amount of daylight that somehow seems downright spiritual. 

Make a vow when Solstice comes:
To find the Light in everyone

 I have a lot of work ahead of me.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Looking ahead on posts

My goal for this blog was 10 posts a month for 2015.  At the rate I'm going I'm gonna need to write 20 more posts to hit that by Dec 31st.  Not unachievable but given how it's taken me until now to publish 100 posts, there is a better chance I'll fall just short.  Which is fine.

The goal was just a target not a destination.  I'm mostly trying to decide what to do with this space, given that I have more rewards and viability at the commercial space.  This one is good for more private, personal thinky-thoughts and happenings in my life but the challenge is finding time to write here, there and deal with my day job too.  I have almost a dozen drafted posts that I cannot publish for various reasons at the moment but if I did, I would easily hit the target and 2015 would win the most posts published award.

Just before putting away the deck furniture

Honestly, with as little free time as I have these days I would rather use it writing that Great America Novel or some shorter stories to get my author on.   Any semblance of energy usually gets spent by days end so I need to do my writing in the am. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Cleaning out my closet of past ghosts

Last summer I had the opportunity to bring a carload of boxes from my mom's house to mine. I wrote up a post about what was in those boxes on the ChicagoNow blog.  This past summer I was able to go through it a little more thoroughly and I whittled down the boxes to a more manageable size.

I feel I did a pretty good job of clearing the clutter on this second pass. This stuff followed me around because it was significant twenty years ago but has little relevance now.  I suppose if I had done this exercise in 2008 when I was first on Facebook,  I might have used some of these notes to look up people.  But I have no desire to really do so today. 

You'll do better in life than we ever will for reasons we are too young to grasp right now.
In particular, I have no desire to interact with anyone I went to grade school or junior high.  Sure, I'm Facebook friends with some of the people from the old neighborhood, but only the handful that were decent and nice to me.  Those other people were collectively not very nice to me.  It might have been culture (I'm white, they were Hispanic), it might have been economic (I was poor, they were poorer), it might have just been that I was a nerdy odd-ball and they were presumable cool or at least mainstream. 

Whatever it was, I could not care less if most of them are dead right now. 

Looking through the autograph book the recurring theme seems to be hey you are a smart but goofy kid who even the teachers don't like enough to protect you from us. 

Still I did see some things today that I didn't notice back then.  Though inappropriate, I probably invited more of the abuse than I realized.  Something I definitely have to watch out for to protect Moose & Squirrel better than anyone ever tried to protect me.

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Monday, November 23, 2015

A neighborly thing to do

On Friday I racked up some leaves around the house and in the alley. I realized that source of all the leaves that end up in my garage com from this pile.

So I just went ahead and bagged them for him

Didn't take long at all.  Of course the next day my work was covered in snow but so what.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Downtown Kathmandu today

I'm downtown today for some personal business so while I have some time to kill I thought I test the mobile blocker app. 

It's hard to type from an iPhone so I'm using the voice feature I suspect going to go back and edit this a lot but I'm the type posting from the app to see how good the quality is

Update:  unfortunately it posts the photo in Actual Size which bleeds outside the margins of the post. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

the iPad adds 5 pounds

Not unexpectedly, my weight has increased this year.  Less running, more eating not-the-healthiest
foods and partaking of adult beverages at my age equals weight increase.  At a high point the scale read 219 lbs.  I've managed to get back to around 210 with a small resurgence of my running.  Now that we are about six weeks away from winter, I don't expect to lose any more weight because it seems the body is designed to store fat for winter.

I haven't done as much posting here as I'd like.  I work from home on Fridays and that is when I do the bulk of my writing.  However over the summer, my mom has been hanging around and it is hard for me to concentrate and be creative when she is watching TV 10 feet away.  She often hangs out until 9 or 10 which burns my morning and then I have other things to do like my day job.

Speaking of which, my day job is going away.  We got the news the last week of June at the office that we had been expecting for some time now.   My company TopFive has discovered that it is an accounting firm, not an IT firm and as such, it has decided to explore Outsourcing the IT department.  We are of course using the current buzz word "Managed Services" but it is really the same thing.

I don't really want to work for a law firm again but if I have to, knowing what I know about the expectations, I would demand top dollar.   In early September I basically talked my way out of a potential job because my salary requirements are too high.

I saw a job I was interested in several weeks ago and was going to tweak my resume to match it.  Before I got a chance, the listing was removed.  So then I mind-fucked myself by apply for a few jobs before tweaking my resume at all, so I probably screwed the pooch on those as well.

Every 8 years or so, I go through a Sheldon Crisis. In 1999, I lost my job, broke my toe, and was mugged within a two week period of what was already a shitty year.  In 2007, I was on the hot seat at the No-Name Software Company and had to get out as quickly as possible for my own sanity.  I suppose 2009 was a mini-Sheldon Crisis when Fiance 1.0 moved out while I was in St Louis, though the 2nd half of that year ended well.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday Photo: Entitled Neighbor of the Week

This neighbor is not exactly endearing himself to the tenants of our block.  he spent last summer
building his garage in his spare time.  He worked on it here and there in the evenings presumably when he got home from his paying day job.  Which means instead of everyone suffering through the noise of pounding hammers and blocked alleyways for a short, consecutive set of days he spread the annoyance throughout the summer.  There is nothing like trying to enjoy a glass of wine on your deck while someone pounds a hammer 100 yards away.

i cannot fathom why he needs to place his van in this position.  Technically he's not blocking the alley but it does require a little careful manevering if you have a larger vehicle.  I suppose he could be loading and unloading or even by having the van act as a door it makes it harder from someone to snatch and grab.  He's only 50 yards away from the cross street which has plenty of parking so why not put the van there while working on the garage?

I think I'm only bitching because many a time last summer his van was out much further and did block the alley.  And also the noise pollution.

Friday, October 30, 2015

What does a birthday party for two 1 year olds cost?

I'm sure it will vary from family to family but we did a simple pizza party for family and close friends.  Here are some of the costs I managed to capture:

*SUPAROSSA BIAGIO'S Party package --    $ 134.00
*MARCO RENTAL Tent                  --            $ 218.00
*FAMOUS LIQUORS -                             --    $  98.40


That is just for rental of a tent, table and chairs.  Party Pizza Package #1 -- five 18” Family Size Pizzas, Bucket 24 Wings & Two 2-Liters of Coke.) and some beer.

That doesn't include a few extra items from Jewel (including more soda because Nightingale is a people pleaser whereas I'm like we have Coke and Diet Coke, love it or drink wine), a couple of Wine Club purchases and the cakes.  The wine club purchases were more of a combination for the party and for us.  The food from Jewel of course included other items not just for the party.

I would say that we did it for just slightly under a grand.  

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Unexpectedly working from home today

Moose and squirrel weren't feeling well this morning so I got to stay home with them.  I didn't bring my laptop home with me though I had thought about it briefly yesterday before leaving work.  I figured I'd bring it home tonight since I wanted to WFH Thursday and Friday.  Now I have to go into the office tomorrow.

The kids are napping now and seem to be better once the medicine kicked in and they got some food in their bellies.  I should have gone in this am, got my laptop and then picked them up from daycare at noon. However, there is no guarantee that my exit from work would have been easy or that I wouldn't get caught in some traffic snafu.

So my goal for this blog this year was 10 posts per month and surprisingly I've m more or less managed to keep that pace.  True some of the posts are very lame even by personal blog standards.  I haven't posted much over at ChicagoNow either because it is hard to find the energy and enthusiasm lately.  I like having a place to write my thinky thoughts and record some of the events of my personal day to day activity since I no longer maintain a journal. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ranking the days of the week

Because why not.

In order from best to worst:  

  1. Friday: Adult's favorite.
  2. Saturday: Children's favorite
  3. Sunday: Children's second favorite but school is the next day so boo.
  4. Thursday: Single People's favorite.
  5. Monday: Meeting Monday, Meatless Monday, WTF.
  6. Wednesday: Hump day, need I say more.
  7. Tuesday:  I have always hated Tuesdays.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Photo: National Passport Day fail

I meant to post these a few weeks ago but there was too much commotion going on at the Icarus Household. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ranking the Seasons and the Months

Scalzi did this a few weeks ago and invited his readers to chime in.  I figured I'd just do one on my blog instead. First, ranking the seasons.

Autumn has been my favorite season for as long as I can remember. Summer has become a close enough second as I entered adulthood.  Winter was my favorite when I was a kid because snow but once I reached a point where it was more of a inconvenience than a fun thing, it dropped.

Spring has never really appealed to me, probably because we don't get much of one in Chicago.  We get a winter that overstays its welcome, followed by a few weeks of rain and then we usually get a hot, humid summer.

Okay now for my months.  In order (sorta) from best to worst:

  1. October: Halloween. Sweater weather. Foliage.
  2. September: Taste of Polonia, cool weather with hot days.
  3. May: My birthday, Polish Constitution Day.
  4. December: I'll go with the holidays and winter doesn't seem as cold
  5. November:Thanksgiving in the US.
  6. June: summer arrives but many are still in school taking finals
  7. July:Independence Day plus weeks of illegal fireworks.
  8. August: Dog Days lead to May babies
  9. January: It's always dark, cold and boring.
  10. February: Winter's Asshole Month
  11. March: Sometimes Easter ergo I hate it too.
  12. April: I hate this month for many reasons I needn't go into.

Feel free to add your rankings in the comments.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Chicago Cubs and the World Series

I wrote Chicago Cautiously Optimistic About Cubs going to World Series for posterity.  As of today, the Chicago Cubs are up 2 to 1 against the St Louis Cardinals in the NLDS.  If they win today, they move on to the NLCS.  Even if they don't win today, they have one more chance Thursday in St Louis.

Trixies for everyone

It certainly feels like
  1.  They will win today;
  2.  They will win the NLCS against most likely the New York Mets; and
  3.  They will win the World Series.

BUT...Cubs fans have been here before.  There was a big drought between their last WS appearance in 1945 and even making the playoffs until the 80s.  And of course there was the 2003 being 4 outs away and losing because of a botched double play and a tired pitcher, not an over zealous fan.

Update:  well we now know how this turned out.  Still, there are a lot of positives to take from this outcome.  First, no one expected the Cubs to make the playoffs, let alone get so deep.  Second, they were very classy in the way the reacted to being swept by the Mets.  Third, they did not lose because of some curse but perhaps because they faced a team they didn't face as much during the regular season as they did during the wild card and NLDS series.  Finally, while this is at least in part wishful thinking given the 2004, 2007 and 2008 clubs, this team should do well in 2016, perhaps winning the division and having more home field advantage opportunities, assuming the maintain the core team and make a few tweaks here and there.

Friday, October 9, 2015

So now we know

I'm writing these entries as they happen and as I have time to jot things down but I may not publish until months from now (or ever). Note: This post was written a year or so ago, when the events were still fresh.  I waited for a while to post this because I didn’t want to risk my job hunting efforts or reveal any information about my former company.  The purpose of these posts aren't to bash my former employer but to share my experience.

 So we had another all hands meeting the

As part of the firm’s objective to attain sustainable growth and profitability, we are announcing a new operating model for our IT function. Now known as Business Technology, our new holistic IT model will improve our core IT functions, allowing us among other things to serve as a strategic partner to our service lines; evolve the firm’s key technology and free up assets for reinvesting in our business.
As part of our new Business Technology model, we are partnering with TopperTwins , one of the world’s largest IT services companies. This partnership will provide us with technology capabilities that are more in line with industry best practices and will enhance our competitiveness with scalable solutions that enable growth, innovation and help drive distinctive client service.
Business Technology organization
Our new Business Technology organization is broken into four verticals, which consist of:
·         Enterprise Architecture;
·         Information Security and Risk Management;
·         Business Technology Operations & Governance; and
·         Business Technology Services aligned to our service lines of Audit, Tax, Advisory and Internal Client Services. The Business Technology Services leaders will become integral partners embedded with their respective businesses to become fluent in the service lines’ core strategies.
Field services
Business Technology Operations will oversee data-driven rigorous field services that are provided through Capgemini. These services are designed for high responsiveness, remote service desk operations and maximized utilization.
Our field operations will consist of field technicians along with on-demand and scheduled dispatch services to provide extended support. Whether it is helping you resolve a hardware issue, providing you in-office or meeting-site technical support, or application or software assistance, you will have leading services at your fingertips.
Next steps
Our next steps include three phases:
1.     We are immediately beginning several weeks of transition planning with our third-party services provider.
2.     Upon planning completion, we will begin transition execution of our new Business Technology model in a phased approach through March 2016. This will ensure a smooth transition that is minimally disruptive to the business.
3.     Post-busy season, we will phase data center migration through early fiscal year 2017.
During our transition, you will receive regular updates on our progress along with any changes in processes and relevant training. We will be updating our Knowledge Technology Support Center in the coming days with frequently asked questions and additional resources throughout the transition.
On behalf of our new Business Technology organization, we look forward to working with you and propelling TopFive into the future.

Friday Photo: Eight Ten in the Loop

Last week I had the chance to be downtown as my  boss sent the team to a vendor workshop.  The tool wasn't part of my skill set or something I would know how to use effectively, but it was still a nice learning experience.

Nightingale and I dropped the kids off at daycare and then drove into downtown together, like we use to do when I worked one day a week at TopFive's downtown office.  Since I had tons of time, I opted to walk and burn off some calories, knowing I would replenish them later at lunch with former co-worker.  

Got to the south end of the Loop in less than 15 minutes as indicated by the time on this clock.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Why didn't I think of this sooner

Everyone wants the treadmill on the right
For the last month or so, I have started doing my treadmill run before work at the Gym at the Office.  I use to focus on getting to work as early as possible so I could leave as soon as possible in the afternoon to avoid traffic.  This means I would try to squeeze my workout in during lunch time, or just before or after this peak hour.

The problem was many times my morning would get filled with meetings that made it hard to sneak away and the later in the day I put off the run, the less likely I would do it because what's the point of going to the gym, working out and then coming back to my desk for like an hour?

Now I generally get here between 8 and 8:30 and if I go straight to the gym, I can work out at a relaxed pace.  Before I was rushing to get my workout in and if others were in the gym I couldn't always be sure I wouldn't have to wait for the shower to be free.  And it's a very tight locker room.

These days I'm just doing a 5K run on the treadmill, which I can get done in just under 30 minutes (sigh).  I may bump that up to 4 miles soon as I seem to be able to run it non-stop providing I make it to the gym with some consistency.  I might also start going just to work out on the machines.

My goal is to get back to an 830 min/mile and 200 lbs.  To do that, I first have to get back to running consistently and bring my pace to a 9 min/mile and drop my weight to 210.  I'm just about there.  The scale said I was 215 this morning and I have been tottering between 212 and 215 for the last couple weeks (down from an all-time high of 219 a month or two ago!) 

My Commuting Time

Yesterday I left the house at 7:20.  It took 20 minutes (7:40)to get to the expressway entrance at Foster.  [I drive a couple miles to that entrance because its "less" congested than Irving Park or Lawrence.]

Got to O'Hare/190 10 minutes later.  Then I got to I-88 at 8am.  In the parking lot by 8:10.

today I left at 7:27 and got to Foster 15 minutes later.  All of the above was 5 minutes faster -except 190, that still takes 10 minutes which is good for rush hour. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The things We Cling to

This arrived in my inbox a while ago:
Icky: I have been meaning to write you... I just want to say how happy I am to see what great things happened in your life. You fell in love, married, live in a beautiful home and have two darling healthy children. There was a time when things were so sad for you. You have given me hope that things can really turn around in life. I am hoping that day comes for me sooner than later wishing you continued blessings in your life

The line "There was a time when things were so sad for you" may have been a throw away remark to generalize.  Or it could have been a specific reference to FiancĂ©e 1.0 running out on me and the events afterwards.

Either way it's a really nice, sincere sentiment.  The thing about things working out in the end is that people forget what Hell you went through or assume that the pain and or emotional damage is completely healed. Since everything is hunky-dory, there is no sense talking about it.

And some things that should not have been forgotten were lost. History became legend. Legend became myth

While it's safe to say I'm over the events of that adventure and have obviously moved on, I always get a little anxious around April and/or Easter.  Because it was April/Easter in 2009 when things fell apart.  Easter was 4-12-09, the Big Fight was 4-13-09 and the St Louis half marathon was 4-19 which was also the weekend she moved out.

NMSU memories

I'm really digging this song.   It's called Photograph by Ed Sheeran (in case the link ever breaks). It's obviously not the most original song title nor would you guess that was the title from the lyrics but it is an appropriate title nonetheless.

We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing
Hearts are never broken
Times forever frozen still

It makes me think of Freshman Year at NMSU and Kimberly.  And Michelle.  And the heartbreaks we caused each other.  When I got home from college, I never really talked much about my time in Kirksville,  mostly because to backfill in all the necessary details would have required reliving it and I was still going through my own version of PTSD.  I was really ill-prepared for college and serious relationships and I paid the price.

So you can keep me
Inside the pocket
Of your ripped jeans
Holdin' me closer
'Til our eyes meet
You won't ever be alone
Wait for me to come home

When I first started blogging, it never occurred to me to mine those stories from college for content because I was working under the early paradigm of blogs = online journals going forward, not backward.  I certainly wasn't going to re-read all my personal journals either.  By the time blogs arrived, I had finally worked through all the drama, angst and pain of college and replaced it with the drama, angst and pain of my 30s still trying to figure things out.

When I'm away
I will remember how you kissed me
Under the lamppost
Back on 6th street
Hearing you whisper through the phone,
"Wait for me to come home."

Speaking of NMSU, I found this in a box of old stuff at my mom's house last summer.  It was given to me by Michelle.  She was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed sorority girl.  The prototype girl that I would meet many more times in life but never quite understand why this type liked me but the brunettes I chased after didn't.

Michelle was a hot mess in need of more therapy and love than she could ever hope to receive.

Kimberly broke my heart, and I broke Michelle's.

Something changed somewhere during my time at NMSU.  When I first arrived I had confidence and the ability to win Kimberly over and steal Michelle from a guy named Jeff.  But by the end of my time there I lost my confidence.

One thing that comes to mind is that the majority of the people I hung around with freshmen year were gone from my circle (and even campus) sophomore year.  I still saw a few people but most of my time was spent with Alpha Phi Omega.  

I think what I'm trying to say is that about the time that I lost/stored away this pendant, is about the time I struggled with getting girlfriends.  It's like I forgot how much someone once was into me, and that it could ever happen again.

Obviously, I found the power somewhere else.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Good neighbors do install good fences

Ever since we moving into this house, one of the first things that was apparent was that our
neighbor's fence was going to fall over sooner or later.  At first we were not sure if it was his fence or our fence because that would have required a conversation asking a direct question and that's not how we roll around here.

Seriously, I did get a chance to ask our neighbor once and he confirmed that it was his fence.  He also alluded to some issues with the fence installation, our driveway installation and a previous owner of our house (not sure if it was the guy we bought from or another asshole) who was responsible for all of that.  So we quickly changed the subject and did the time honored neighborly move of avoiding each other whenever possible.

However, the fence continued to get worse and worse.  Our expert analysis, which consists of looking at the fence posts, determined that they had disconnected from the part under the ground.  Nightingale was reluctant to invest in much gardening on that side of the yard because she worried the fence would topple over sometime this summer and when they replaced it, a crew would trample her flower bed to do so.

Nightingale wondered why they didn't repair it last year when they did their back gate and landscaping, to which I said: money.  Why spend money you don't have on a fence until you absolutely have to.

Well lo and behold, the other week I was in my backyard with the children and our neighbor told me that the fence people were coming the next day to fix the fence.  I don't recall the timeline but I think they removed the old fence and dug the posts on a Thursday and finished up a week later with the new PVC fence.  It looks pretty good, so much so that Nightingale wants us to get one for the other side...once we can afford it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Blood Moon Baptism

.Last week was extremely busy because we had Moose and Squirrel's first birthday and their baptism on the same weekend.  Figures there would be a Blood Moon lunar eclipse last night.  Or perhaps that was because the Cubs are going to the playoffs via the expanded Wild Card route.  I didn't take pictures of the Blood Moon because I figured everyone else would. Thanks to Facebook, I was not disappointed in that expectation.

For the most part, the stuff we could control went very well.  We decided to keep the kids home from daycare to save some money.  We realized that was a mistake because it is hard to get anything done when they are in their mommy or daddy-centric mode.  We couldn't correct that decision but could re-frame our expectations in that we weren't going to complete all our bold re-organization and purging projects, but whatever we did manage to accomplish would be better than we were before yay that.

There were some wins for sure.  I found a party pizza package that managed to feed everyone (with 1 extra pizza for leftovers) that only cost about a hundred bucks (before tax and tip of course). 

The baptism was a lot more trouble than it should have been.  We decided to do it at the same church where we got married and they made us jump through some unexpected hoops.  To be clear, any church would have made us jump through the same hoops or even more.  But we got tied to this church and ran out of time to find another one.  Well, at least it is over.

We had to sit through a Polish Mass.  I get that the church is doubling down on its dogma and requiring members to actually show up outside of Easter and Christmas.  But to make small children sit through a mass they aren't capable of understanding yet is just cruel and unusual punishment.  1-year-olds get fussy and want to walk around.  It is very hard to keep them contained for an hour.  Nothing is served by making them be in God's house because God's presence is everywhere.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday Photo: What a cheeseburger should look like

In mid-August, Nightingale decided that we should go up to Michigan and see The Fam for a day.  We left early Saturday morning, arrived at the farm just before dinner time.  We ate lunch at Cracker Barrel on the way up, which is economical and kid friendly if not quite healthy.

(Updateon a recent trip to Michigan for a wedding we stopped at the very same Cracker Barrel and they do have a healthy menu option.)

On the way back, we stopped at this old school restaurant called Schuler's Restaurant and Pub.

It was a bit more pricey of an experience than Cracker Barrel and while no one gave us strange looks (the wait staff even doted on our kids) Nightingale felt it might be too old school to be considered baby friendly.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

About that Running Thing

I just got back from a 3 mile run which  I did in the amount of time I use to be able to run 5 miles in.  Because I don't cover any distance as effortlessly as I use to, it takes longer for me to squeeze a run in, which usually means cutting the run shorter than I envisioned when I set out (a 5 mile run becomes 3).  
This leads to not running as often, Hence my running ability has diminished, I don't run as long, so I don't run as fast, and thus its a vicious cycle. 

Additionally, if I don't run for a week or more, I don't feel any tweaks or pain when I run, but I'm starting back at ground zero in terms of endurance.  If I run every other day for a week, it can sometimes be hard on my body.

I do have the running stroller and now that Boris and Natasha are old enough to handle the impact of being in a stroller moving at high velocity (relative to them anyway)  I do take them out on runs during the weekend.  Hopefully a running revitalization can come out of this.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A House that caught my eye

This is a house in Gross Pointe, MI that interests me.  And by that I simply mean that it caught my attention when I was walking Moose & Squirrel in their stroller one morning.  I think I like it because it reminds me of a house that was just off the town square of Kirksville, Missouri when I went to school there.  I also dig the carport and love that it has a driveway and garage in the back along with the carport.