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.