Friday, December 30, 2016

4 years ago

According to Facebooks On This Day, we moved into our home 4 years ago today.  We had closed on November 30th and moved a few minor items in, mostly to get them out of our cluttered condo.   We also wanted to have the place painted which is much easier to do with no furniture in the way.  

The move was not painless, however.   I was sick and not moving quickly or thinking clearly.   We ended up leaving an expensive power cord behind because it was attached to the computer desk that the moving crew just couldn't get out of our unit.  Had I been thinking clearly, I would have insisted that they waive the insurance fee that we didn't end up using to claim the destruction of the desk.  Also, this crew took their sweet time even though we didn't have too much left to move since we had taken a lot over ourselves.  It boils my skin to recall this so I'm just gonna stop writing now and hit publish. 

2 more to go

Today I was finally able to get our for a run.  I did 4 miles at a 9:30 pace, which is very respectable for me these days.  I severely underestimated how challenging it would be to get the last 10 miles I needed for 300 miles this year.  I really had planned to get my miles in long ago and just rest the rest of the month.  Now I have to get 2 miles in tomorrow, perhaps on the treadmill.

Update:  so I did the last two on the Dreadmill on New Years Eve as the kids were sleeping.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Time to take the tree down

We usually wait until Ephiphany Day to take our tree down, more out of laziness than religious reasons. However, since moose and squirrel cannot keep,their hands off the tree or its ornaments we opt d to take the tree down sooner.  

It's better to do it now anyway because we have so many kids toys that we need the space and we happen to be off from work.  

Monday, December 26, 2016

Post Christmas from Michigan Post

We are in Michigan once again for the annual Christmas get-together with Nightingale's family.  We had a rough trip up here this time for a couple of reasons.  First, my mom who has been sick for over a month finally went to her doctor at the last possible minute and got put in the hospital ICU because she has pneumonia.  We told her to go sooner but she was too stubborn to listen.
No sleep til Grosse Pointe!

Naturally this screwed with our plans.  We had taken Thursday off in order to pre-pack and get ready for the trip.  But since she was in the hospital we had to devote a few hours to feeding her cats, moving her car and bringing her a change of clothes.  This cut into our kid-free time and we were too exhausted to pack Thursday night after they finally went to bed.

The next day we got off a little later than we wanted.  We made excellent time because the roads were clear and weather was nice.  However, in our rush to leave, I forgot to put Nightingale's suitcase in the car.  We did not discover this until we got to Grosse Pointe!

Also, Natasha decided not to take a nap in the car ride until the very last hour when she literally passed out from exhaustion.  The kids sleep cycle has been totally out of whack this entire trip, though Boris has at least gone down for a nap a few times.

TV Stand Upgrade

So I decided upgrade our living room to stand for reasons.   First, out kids could easily reach the tv on the old stand. Second, this one looks nicer and fits the room decor better.  Third, I don't really have a third so I'll go with this one is a tad more functional than the last one.

Of course it only took Natasha a day to figure out how to use her chair to get back up to the TV so there it goes. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

It's like Leveling Up on a Video Game but with more penalties than rewards

It's getting harder and harder to get the children ready and out the door each morning in a timely fashion.  The latest is that one or both don't want to get out of their pajamas and into their clothes, let alone let us even change their night diapers.  Our theory is that they want to move at their own pace

Usually one or both of them wake up in the middle of the night and want to sleep with us.  I will take the second one and go into the guest bedroom and hopefully I can fall back asleep. 

It's stressing me out because even though I don't punch a clock at work, I really cannot get to the office late and still leave early for the pickup at Daycare (to say nothing of squeezing in a lunchtime workout). By the time I get to work, my team has already been working for almost two hours.  

Then there is my mom.  She has been a big help these last few months when she could take the kids to school and pick them up for us.  She also has picked up some housekeeping chores like doing our laundry and our dishes.  When it comes to getting ready in the morning however, she isn't much help when she is healthy, and she is not healthy these last few weeks.

and unfortunately we only have so much morning to work with.   If we are lucky enough that they sleep through the night and the insomnia gnome doesn't attack us, we get them up by 6 and let them slowly adjust.  But most mornings are not like that at all.

Monday, December 19, 2016

End of Year Targets

it says 206 lb
With the end of the year approaching I'm not sure if I will reach the official and unofficial targets I set for myself.  I need 15 10 miles to hit 300 for the year, which would still be only about 60% of what I
had hoped to pound out this year.  With any luck I should be able to get 5 miles done this week and 5 miles done next week and that will do it.

I try to post 8-10 times a month here but will likely fall short of that too.  I won't hit 600 page likes for my FB fan page that's for sure.  It took forever to reach 500 and then next 60+ seems just as long.  The Facebook Fan Page is really an insane thing and I don't know why I keep trying to manage it.

Speaking of Facebook, I want to drop about 150 friends just because.  When I first joined, I thought it was great to have a place to record everyone I've ever met.  Now, not so much.  I'm still wrestling with who to cut and why.  I need to stop overthinking it.  Why should I keep someone I use to run with a decade ago on my friends list especially since we don't interact in any way, shape or form?

Well because every time I delete someone it appears to change the algorithm and suddenly I see people i haven't seen in years and people I haven't heard from in years suddenly interact with me.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

We have downspouts again

Some time ago, a scraper removed one of our gutter down spouts from our garage.  Nightingale said she heard something and she went to investigate, opening the garage door which apparently sent them away before they could get the other one. 

I finally was able to get someone to fix it for me by piggybacking the work on an Angie's List Deal for 2 Hours of Roof, Siding, and Gutter Maintenance ($99 + $20 for the downspout and labor).

 The only downside is that vinyl wasn't available so we had to go with aluminum which means we could end up losing these again.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Weekend and a weird dream

I've become a big fan of the only schedule one thing for the weekend model we are currently running under.  We need our weekend downtime to recharge and recuperate as much as we can from the busy week and Moose & Squirrel.  We can handle more than one thing, but it takes a lot more energy, focus and effort.

This weekend was about the Family Picture for the holiday cards we'll send out soon.  We actually had the appointment for last month but rescheduled because of various reasons.  We probably should have sucked it up and did it that weekend but then something else would have filled this one so it doesn't really matter.  Natasha was wonderful and posed beautifully.  Boris was not as co-operative. 

I've been fighting whatever Virus-Of-the-Week they brought home from daycare so when they went down for nap, so did I.  Which means we didn't put our outside Christmas lights on until nearly dusk.  I did manage to rake the leaves on Saturday and Bag them Sunday just before the snow arrived.  Of course the snow caused most of the remaining leaves to fall from the trees but that's actually a good thing because once the snow melts, I should only have to rake one more time.

I did have a Hall Pass to go to a friend's party.  However, because I was sick, I felt it would be right to bring my virus to a roomful of mostly single people.  Why ruin their fun?  That's what New Year's Eve is for.

Weird dream:  Sometime between 4 and 6 this morning, during the last block of sleep time I managed, I dreamt I was at a wedding reception, talking with my runner friends.  For some reason Sarah Spain was there and at one point I said to her about my running achievements: "I was never great, but I was good."  There was something else which I cannot remember.  I think this got her attention and made her more sympathetic to my never BQing. 

Not sure why virtual friend and Sports Expert is in my dream about weddings and running but perhaps it's my body's way of saying let's not give up just yet.  Speaking of....

The following is not a criticism or indictment, it just is:  When I WFH, I like to go for a run before my work day begins.  I didn't get to do that on Friday because we got off to such a late start and I had a plethora of meetings, plus I was feeling like crap anyway and dealing with a dead car battery.

I'm trying to get 20 more miles in for the year and would really like to just get it over with.  With 25 days left in the year, the only me would have just done 4 5-mile runs.  The latest me might be able to get 5 4-mile runs in, but if I have to do 3 milers, then I need to find 7 days between now and the end of the month.

Bears Bonus:  The Chicago Bears are averaging one win per month, or starting QB.  They also finally kept an opponent out of the end zone for the first time since 2012.  The hapless 49ers did themselves no favors by excessive celebrating in the end zone on a TD that wasn't.  We don't like other teams taunting us in the end zone around here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Good day, rough night

So yesterday evening was a cluster-F.  First, the person who was supposed to come get a chair that we are giving away asked if she could either come at 830 or today.  We decided today would work better because I had an errand to run anyway.

Errand:  Nightingale and I went to the jewelry where we got our wedding rings in hopes that we could get some jewels added to hers.  They told us it wasn't easy (read: possible) to do so and they wouldn't advise it.  But they did talk us into getting them cleaned.  I went to pick them up based on their Yelp hours but unfortunately they have new (or perhaps Winter) hours that meant they were closed before I even got out the door.

Before that though:  my car battery had died over the weekend and I used Nightingale car to jump it.  It died again yesterday morning.  I tried to jump it again but no luck.  so I need to get a new car battery.  The Pep Boys is just around the corner but I do not want to pay for a tow, so I think I will have to buy the battery and try my luck installing it.

So to make the evening not a complete failure, I stopped off at the nearest Liquor Store and got some supplies.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Quick post-Thanksgiving Day recap

We hosted Thanksgiving again this year. We are falling into a pattern where we host Thanksgiving and the Adamas host Christmas.   In order to avoid spending a lot of unnecessary hours in the kitchen we order either the entire meal (last year) or the side dishes from Whole Foods and just heat everything up.

There definitely was a sense of egg shell walking this year related to the election of course. Everyone behaved but you could cut the tension with a knife.

I had a few opportunities to go for a run but did not partake of any of them.  I blame it on the fact that moose and squirrel spend a portion of the night with us and this causes me to sleep in pretzel like positions when Boris decides to sleep perpendicular to the bed.  But if we are being honest, I just haven't been all that motivated to run these days.

I also haven't been motivated to write either here or at ChicagoNow either.  I don't know why but I do know enough not to force it.  I have a few draft posts that I am slowly working on but otherwise, the Motivation Muse and her Creativity Cousin have left the building.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

20 miles to go

According to DailyMile I have logged 280 miles this year.  Not nearly the 450-500 i wanted.  With 38 days left in 2016, I'd have to run 5 miles each day to approach that number.  I may try to bring that 280 up to an even 300 but I am also trying to rest my knees and joints.  Face it, I'm old and I have arthritic knees and if I want to be able to run with Moose and Squirrel, I need to save all my runs.

Nov 15

Nov 23
I will move on to more swimming as it is easier for me to get swim in versus a run during my lunchtime workout.  My weight has definitely crept up although it's not at it's historical high.  I think I once was at 220 back in 2003 or 2004.  I doubt I'll ever get back to my fighting weight of 190 but if I can stay under 210 through the holidays perhaps I can then get closer to 200 by the time Spring arrives.  My theory is that humans are designed to store, not lose fat over the winter.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Getting ready for winter

We are supposed to have a very snowy winter and that means the kiddos will be stuck in the house a lot, even with a few jaunts out to MSI or other places if the weather permits.  I am rather pleased with how ready for winter we are with respect to putting away our lawn furniture and other garden items. 

We moved into this house in Dec 2012, so we didn't have to do much in terms of putting anything away.  In 2013, I misjudged how quickly things go from decent fall weather to Too-Fing-Cold to do anything outside.  In 2014, Moose and Squirrel showed up and I didn't have time because it was hard to find anyone to hold the babies while I could get to the stuff.  Same with 2015 it seemed.

This year I worked on it gradually over October and November when the temps were still comfortable.  In order to get things done, I need to have daylight, energy, appropriate weather and someone else dealing with my kids.

On Saturday during naptime, Nightingale and I made some purging and organizing decisions.  We decided to get rid of some paintings that have been sitting in the attic for 4 years.  We also are putting her three dresser set (family heirloom*) in the attic, making more space in the basement.  The dressers are better used in the attic because we have all sorts of kids clothes of various sizes in plastic crates which aren't as easy to find. 

* by heirloom, we just mean they have been in her family a long time, they are hardly valuable antiques.

Yesterday after we got up, we got out of the house relatively early.  We took the bus (Boris loves the bus and Natasha enjoys it too) to Alps for breakfast. Nightingale was worried it might be too crowded but we were there so early there were plenty of available booths.  Which is good because we don't want to annoy anyone with our noisy kiddos unless we absolutely have to.

It was too cold to play in the playground at the nearby park so instead we rode the bus back to the HIP and went to Target.  We were trying to get a spare Pink Teddy bear that Natasha has taking a liking too and we found a close approximation (same one, just this year's model) but didn't get it because it wasn't the same one.

We took a different bus home which let us get on a 4th bus.  We managed to get home in time for lunch and naps. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Mid Morning Thoughts on the Day After

This is what I wrote yesterday on my personal Facebook Page:

This election has been like a ride at the amusement park but not in any of the fun ways. First the election season was like the long wait in line for that ride, with the first candidate announcing their bid to the primaries being just getting close enough to see the ride.

The Conventions would have been you getting into the housing structure of the ride, with no realistic chance to turn back.

Finally Election Day came and you are about to get on that short whirlwind ride that lasts 24 hours but you will remember for years to come. But you cannot enjoy the ride because instead of Delightful Fright, your have a stomach ache from the Hot Dog Campaign ads and the Cotton Candy flow of election news.
The only thing left to do is finish the ride, throw up and hope you feel better tomorrow.

Some sites I follow that have thoughts about the post election. 

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

WFH Days return, sort of and The Bears aren't quite dead yet

I don't have an official WFH Day at the new gig like I did at TopFive, but I have been doing more WFH on Fridays.  As my boss pointed out, since I'm remote anyway, it really doesn't matter whether I'm at my home, the office downtown or even a Starbucks as long as I'm reachable and available. 

I do try to get too much extracurricular activity done on my WFH days.  It's because it's really the only time I have the trifecta of daylight, energy and kid-free environment.

So this weekend I focused on a few small things.  I did some prep work for potentially getting our foundation masonry painted.  And I put away some but not all of the deck furniture and garden items that need to come in for the winter.  It was strange having a 70+ degree day on Sunday, it felt like a summer day. 

I also had someone come over and mount the basement TV to the wall and fish a few network cables through the wall so they are not as unsightly.  I like this crew and would hire them again, perhaps if I ever decide to run network cable throughout the house or build that LAN closet I dream about. 

NFL Update: I knew someone would notice what I mentioned last week about there not being too many blowout teams and the Bears having a pulse.   I started writing my thinky-thoughts about it here, but then turned it into a ChicagoNow post because we need a break from all the Election Related posts. 

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The Story of my Smart TV purchase

In 2014, I had been researching Smart TVs with the intention of getting a 60 inch Samsung model.  I didn't care too much as long as it had a quad processor.  I was looking at the type that could be upgraded later.

However, in mid-May, Sears had a pre-Father's Day sale which had 65 inch which was actually cheaper than the 60s I had been researching.  Buying it was a no-brainer.

I decided to get the TV mounted to the wall because Moose and Squirrel are at the age were they will try to touch the TV and I do not want them to have a TV (especially one this size) fall on them.

I was going to find a cheap dresser and hack it into a TV console first then get the TV mounted above that.  Now I have to do it in the opposite order but that won't make much difference.  In fact it might be easier as now I know what my upper height limit is.

Long time friends unfriended: It doesn't surprise me to discover that someone has quietly unfriended me, it does surprise me that it hasn't happened on a larger scale.  What does surprise me is when I notice that two people who were like "peas in a pod" aren't friends anymore. 

In two of my old circles, it looks like two ladies who were pretty tight back in the day had a falling out or something.  I say this because neither of these people are the type to clean out their list of people who they don't interact with (else I'd be gone) and if they did, they wouldn't have eliminated one another based on said Sisterhood.

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The last 24 hours have been exciting for Chicago

The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind of activity for Chicago in general and House Icarus specifically.  My kids went Trick o Treating for the second time in their lives, though they probably
don't remember the first.  We made the rookie mistake of giving them too much candy.  So not only did Boris throw up dinner, but both he and Natasha woke up in the middle of the night fully wired and ready to Par-tay.

The Bears gave Vikings a beating, which as I said before, I expected them to, not so much that the Bears are vastly improved but Minnesota is finally being exposed for over-achieving this season.

Cubs fought to stay alive by winning Game 6 last night in resounding fashion.  I noticed that they lost 1 game in the NLDS, 2 games in the NLCS, and now 3 games in the World Series.  I'm hoping they will win tonight, but even if they don't, they have done a lot to put to bed goats, black cats and curses. 

I suspect tonight's game will be a lot of small ball.  Get a man on base, advance him to scoring position.  Lot's of pitching changes to get desired match ups.  Since the Cubs do better when I don't watch, I might just not tune in until the last inning.  Honestly, this staying up so late isn't doing me any favors.

Over the weekend we got family haircuts at a place not too far from our house.  I'm always looking for a good haircut options and since I don't go to my inexpensive place in the burbs anymore, Halo was turning out to be too much of a dent in my wallet.

We put away some of the toys to make room for more toys.  And yesterday my cousin texted me to tell me that they were about to pick up a baby they were adopting, born on Oct 26th.  So yay, more cousins. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

At least one good thing about the Bears

The Chicago Bears have done fans two big favors this year.  First, they got their sucking out of the way early so any delusions of a post-season run were put to death early.  Second, thanks to their quirky schedule, they got their prime time games (SNF, MNF, TNF) and out of the way early as well so that blue collar Grabowskis like me could get their yard work and other fall projects done while there is still some warm weather and daylight left in the Autumn afternoon.

A 3rd Favor would be not being a distraction to the Cub's amazing World Series run.  If the Cubs do force a game 7, then I'm convinced they will win the series (obviously if they don't they won't).  But I'm sincerely pleased with how far they have come and just making it to the WS certainly undoes a lot of the bullshit about curses and Steve Bartman and the Cubs being the Cubs. 

Back to the NFL for a minute.  We are at the mid-season of the football seasons and while there are a few teams with good win records, this is the first time in a while I can recall that the majority of the teams seem to be within a game of .500.  That's tot to say that a 3-5 team is gonna make a Super Bowl run.  But if you are in a lousy division your chance of getting to the playoffs isn't as bad as your record. 

In today's' NFL it is hard for even a good team to make the playoffs, let alone go deep.  How many 9-7, 10-6 and even the occasional 11-5 team stay home while some 8-8 team gets to go because they won their division. 

Update:  Before beating the Vikings yesterday (which I felt they would do with Cutler or Hoyer), this year's Bears were a 4-4 team disguised as a 1-6.  They really should have won the game against the Colts and the Jaguars.  They probably should have won one of the first 3 games of the season too but that is just being too much of a fan.

Now they go off to their Bye Week which hopefully allows everyone to rest, the injured to heal and Cutler to get more practice since allegedly he was held out of practice during the Hoyer experiment. 

I think they do okay against their remaining opponents.  Just well enough for Fox to keep his job.  Cutler to audition for his next team and exact a decent draft pick for a trade.  Hoyer can be our starter next year as long as they draft a decent quarterback to develop and groom.  But the owners being who we thought they were, they probably will screw this up too.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Big Idea: Secret of the Chicago Pedway

For the month of October, my friend and fellow ChicagoNow blogger Kim Z Dale is featuring posts related to or inspired by Halloween on her is Listing Toward Halloween blog.

I wrote one called The Secret of the Chicago Pedway and I suppose technically it was my first published short story.  If you don't count anything I wrote for school newspapers back in the day.

The idea came to me since I take the Pedway back and forth between the Blue Line and my office.  I wanted something twilight zoney and came up with the idea of a bar that is hidden within the tunnels of the pedway. I had the thought that this friends go into a bar they never noticed before and something happens there that scares at least one of them, causing him to escape.

An alternative title was The Bar That Time Forgot.

I had the idea that certain songs would play and the lyrics would have double meanings.  Hence, Fallout Boy's My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark.

I didn't get to expand on that but another idea was Matchbox 20 Back 2 Good and the line:

Everyone here, knows everyone here is thinking about
Somebody else

So I had the beginning and the end written, but needed something in the middle.  I also had space and time constraints since this was for an expanded blog post.

I decided that something has to happen in the bar that makes our protagonist realize that something isn't right and causes him (or her) to leave his friends behind.

I thought maybe have everyone meet a former flame that got away and they are compelled to stay at the bar instead of going back to their normal everyday life that is missing something.

 The ending could also have been that when the protagonist finally leaves the bar, a lot of time has past, like decades.  But that would have required a lot more set up and I didn't want to put a novella on Kim's blog.

Happy Halloween

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The Secret in the Chicago Pedway

The Chicago Pedway is a network of tunnels, concourses and bridges connecting buildings, retail shops, hotels and train stations throughout downtown Chicago.  It is also a labyrinth of magical mystery for those who know The Secret.

My coworkers and I usually walked the Pedway together on our way to our respective trains.  Often we would stop at M-Bar for "Bites and Beers" as their hook went.  This particular Thursday on a nothing special week in August led us someplace new.

"M-Bar is too crowded, we'll never find seats," Jessica said.
"We could go to Inn Keepers," I suggested.
"That's too far and besides, the Wi-Fi down there sucks," Steve said.

“I don’t think we have a choice,” I said, indicating the lack of available seats.  “Besides, just once it would be nice if I had the shortest walk to my train”

Inn Keepers was closest to my train, the Blue Line on the CTA and Jessica took the Red line. We usually went to M Bar because Steve didn't want to double back to his South Shore train.

"Fine, if we don't find something else on the way." Steve conceded.

We started walking through the Pedway, through the tunnels that we have taken hundreds of times. We weren't really paying attention because we could walk these in our sleep when we saw a bar we had never noticed before.  There was nothing fancy about the entrance, though the doors were open and a blackboard listing the drink specials invited us in.

Unlike Steve, I walked passed this corridor every day to and from work and I never set eyes on this place before.  As we walked in, I noticed that the name of the establishment was called The Secret.  It looked like a timeless old man bar with some modern upgrades. For instance it had a digital jukebox which at the moment was playing Fall Out Boy's My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark
Be careful making wishes in the dark
Can't be sure when they've hit their mark
We bellied up to the bar and found three empty stools, not too far from the door.  The bar looked much larger inside than it appeared from outside.  It was probably some type of optical illusion but it just seemed to be impossible that a place this size could fit inside the part of the Pedway it had to be located in based on my memory of the streets above.  But that would turn out to not be the strangest thing about this place.

The bar tender approached us.  She asked what we wanted and we asked for our usual:  a domestic beer for Steve, a Moscow Mule for Jessica and a craft beer for me. We talked about the usual stuff: work related things, office politics, gossip, and of course the current status of certain Chicago professional sports teams.

"This round is on the house," the bartender said placing our order in front of us.  "for our new customers."

As usual, I was sitting between Jessica and Steve, which meant I was limited to talking to the bartender while they engaged people on either side of us. Another round of drinks arrived.  I introduced myself to her and she said her name was Katrina.  She had dark hair, brown eyes and looked to be at the younger end of twenty-something.  She went to deal with a customer at the end of the bar when Steve turned to me and said, "she's very attractive for a lady her age."

This was an odd statement.  "Geez Steve, any younger and you'd be a pedophilia.  "

"Are we talking about the same bartender?" he asked, laughing it off.
"As far as I know there's only one here."

"This round is on Joe, " Katrina interrupted with a knowing smile.    "He is celebrating the White Sox successful season."  I wondered which season since they were not doing so well this year.

"That bartender is smoking hot," Jessica said, derailing my train of thought.  If it hadn't been for Steve's previous comment, I wouldn't think much of a woman complimenting another woman, albeit so excessively.

"Getting in touch with your inner lesbo?" Steve said.

"Not since college, why do you ask?" Jessica replied.  I wasn't sure what was going on.  As far as I could tell, there was only one bartender working tonight.  I looked at Katrina again, she was at the far end of the bar.  From this angle she definitely looked like a 21 year old girl working at a bar.  However, her reflection in the mirror looked a little different.  It might have been the angle and the lighting but for a second, she did look different; while still very comely, her reflection was much older!

Before I could point this out to either Steve or Jess, another round was free because of the Cubs won that day.  Then another round because of The Blackhawks.  Did they not hear about Patrick Kane? Round after round, on the house or on some patron happy about some local team's success that didn't quite match the current sports landscape I read about daily on my iPhone.

I got up off my seat and decided to thank "Joe' for the drinks.  He was talking to Al, who had just bought the last round.  Great, two birds with one stone.   I thanked them for their generosity and asked if I could return the favor.

"Sure thing, you can buy me a drink when the Bulls three-peat!" Al said.

"That might be a long time, " I said.  "They need to actually win a few more playoff games".

"I know the Jazz are a tough team to beat but Jordan can do it," Al said.  "excuse me, I need to go to the bathroom."

I wasn't the biggest basketball fan, but I recall the 2nd Three-Peat of the Michael Jordan Era and it occurred to me that Joe must be still living in 1998.

"Wow he must really love the old school Bulls," I said to Joe.

"Tell me about it, " Joe said.  "Now I'm a White Sox fan and I just know after that battle with the Angels, we are gonna win the World Series."

While I knew a lot of liquor was flowing, beer hadn't the ability to make me drunk since college.  So unless Katrina spiked my drink, something wasn't right at The Secret.   I excused myself from Joe and walked back to Jessica, who was still making eye at our bar tender.

"Do you notice anything weird about this place?" I asked.

"Yeah, I'm wearing my best boob shirt and the bartender hasn't noticed me," Jessica said with disappointment.    I take yet another look at Katrina.  On the surface I see a young lady with long dark hair and brown eyes.  But her reflection in the mirror is a muscular dude with blonde hair.  His bone structure was fine and perfectly symmetrical.

I think I was beginning to figure out the secret of The Secret.


I tried to leave but was moving very slowly, as if in slow motion.  The double doors of the entrance started to close.  I don't know how, but I just knew that if I didn't get out before the doors shut, I never would.  Somehow I managed to get to the doors.  The doors suddenly seemed much further away than when we first walked in.

The left one had already closed.  I placed my hand on it, and it wouldn't budge.  The right was closing too and I pushed with all my might just barely stopping it.  I scooched myself thorough and took off.  There was no one in the Pedway.  I started to run.   I didn't know what direction I was going and I tried to get my barrings while not slowing down, which caused me to misjudge a step.  Suddenly I found myself on the floor.  A passerby asked me if I needed help.  I asked where I was and what had happened.

"You took a spill on that step," a random stranger said.  Another person muttered: "you'll be fine, I gotta catch the 6:15"

6:15?  There was no way it was 6:15, because we entered The Secret around 5:45 and we easily spent more than half an hour there.  I decided to double back and check on my friends.

I came across the place I was sure the bar had been.  Only a solid brick wall was in its place.  I went home and slept very restlessly.  The next morning when I got to work, there were questions about Jessica and Steve's whereabouts.  What could I say?  Who would believe me?

I have walked every inch of the Pedway since that night.  Even going in the opposite direction and exploring other tunnels and walkways.   I've never found The Secret again.

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The above story was originally posted on Listing Toward Halloween on October 7, 2016.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Some forward progress but not where we want to be

Apparently, Dark Vader went to Michigan
I got a few things done over the weekend, including a plaster repair project that had been outstanding
for a long time.  So next weekend I get to paint. I tried to do the basement access thing but botched it.  It isn't a project one can really do during nap time.  So maybe when the weather gets better in the spring.

Speaking of which, we had a rare 70 degree Sunday in October.  Our weekends are generally sleeping as late as our kids will let us, then doing something with them so they get worn out enough to take a long nap.  Then when they awake, we try to wear them out again so they go to bed and either sleep through the night in their own bed or at least give us a good head start to Slumberland

We went to the last Farmer's Market at Jefferson Park on Sunday.  Our thing is to get some crepes and then let the kids play on the playground.  It's not really relaxing for us though because we still have to watch that the kids don't get hurt and play nicely with other kids.

On Friday Nightingale officially sold her south loop condo.  It was a long, arduous journey if you count last year's efforts.  We put it on the market early August and it went under contract within a week.  Everything seemed to go along fine until two weeks before the closing.  I'm not gonna go into the painful details but essentially it fell out of contract and we had to put it back on the market. 

Luckily, a cash buyer showed up and it went back under contract quickly.  Because it was a cash buyer we could close quickly which helped but we still got stuck with an extra month of mortgage.  Then a week before closing another issue came up, we resolved it but it was a costly solution.

I hate lawyers. I hate realtors and I hate the Fucking Mortgage industry.  If any kind of apocalypse crops up, I really hope those three groups don't survive. 

But at least it is off the books and we will hopefully stop being screwed at tax time.

For grins and giggles, I paid off my car a few months early.  While I had been making larger than required payments from day one (I usually round up to a whole number) there was never any immediate need to pay it off faster than the 60-month terms because my interest rate was something like 2.7%.  Even when my job went away earlier this year and my income stopped flowing, I was so far ahead that I didn't have to make a payment for two months if I didn't want.

We are looking into paying off Nightingale car next.  We didn't get enough back (and certainly didn't make any money) to pay it off in one shot but we can make a big enough dent that we would be within striking range of paying it off in a short amount of time. 

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Enjoying the last of the good outdoor weather

Corn Kernel Sandbox
It's a windy 80 degree day in Mid-October.  It will be decent most of this week and weekend but in
just two weeks I expect a cold, rainy Halloween because, Chicago.

Over the weekend we went to a pumpkin patch and met Katness and her crew.  Her SIL was also there with her kids, who are a little older than ours. It turned out to be a good time with two caveats.  First, our kids did not get a good nap on the ride there, so I knew it would be a matter of time before meltdown.  and two, they didn't warm up to the new surrounds right away so it took a little time before they got into everything.

The overall consensus was that it wasn't that great of a pumpkin patch as far as amenities but the price was right for what we got.  

We did install a backup car seat in my car so now we can divide and conquer errands, which is a good thing because sometimes we have to go to one too many places for our kids to put up with before they get cranky.  We also turned the car seats around in the minivan so Moose and Squirrel can see what's going on.

Boris and I went to Lowe's and returned the big gallon of Flex-Seal and got a smaller one so I can hopefully work on that project when there are two consecutive days of no rain.  Natasha got to go with Nightingale to the super market and buy groceries.  Boris got the better end of the deal but Natasha made the best of it.

I'm thinking this weekend is when I put the lawn furniture and all the toys away.  I think we need to purge some of the toys or at least put them into storage or else we will have toys all over the place.  We are supposed to have an extra cold and snowy winter so that means we will be stuck in the house.  Not sure what to do about that, though I am looking into re-arranging the attic and even the basement spaces so there are at least change-of-pace options.

This morning I weighed 212 lbs., which is a little less than a week ago.  I want to see what 5 days of exercise and good eating will do since running on weekends "costs" too much these days.  I'm thinking I’ll finish out October with some runs if I can work it in and then the rest of the year is swim, swim, swim.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Results of the Flex Seal have been mostly positive

It rained last night and this morning I noticed some water beading on our roof.  This is exactly what the Flex-Seal was supposed to do.  I suspect our roof isn't slanted enough for the water to roll entirely into the gutter but this is just fine as it will eventually evaporate or be consumed by a flying animal.

In other news, I did  paint the door frame of our new back door.  Because it's a PITA to paint a door frame that already has a door on it, I only did one coat and it looks better than I expected one coat to look.  

I still have the basement access to seal, but I want to return the one gallon and purchase a smaller, 32 oz size instead as I won't need that much and once you open the bucket, it starts to cure, so you risk wasting a lot.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Running goal won't be met this year

I'm not even going to qualify that with a probably.  Even though there are 80 days left in the year, it is reasonable to say that I'm not gonna achieve my goal of running 40, let alone 45 miles a month.

DailyMile as of 10/12/2016

In June I was at the 175 mile mark. 129 days later that total is 261 including today's 3 mile run.  It might be realistic to drop to 30 miles a month.  BUT...

Today's run was only meant to be 3 laps around Portage Park because that's how much time I had to squeeze in before work.  And while my pace was better than usual, it still was no where near the effortlessness I once recall.  And running hasn't been effortless in I don't know how long.

Part of me just wants to stop running for the rest of the year and focus on swimming.  It's easier and I get a better workout in less time.

So  I think I might finish out the month or reach 300 miles and then just take a break for a while.  Maybe start up again in the Spring.  I'm not saying there will be no running between now and then but it might be better to switch gears and focus on swimming and weights and other cross training.

Friday photo: Halloween Decorations

This is what I hope to someday achieve with our front yard.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Not sleak or sexy but definitely necessary

I got two things done this weekend around that house that are by no means sexy or interesting water cooler commentary.  However, if they were done correctly, it should save me from potential costly repairs down the road.  First, I had our sewer line rodded.  An Angie’s list special $99 for Sewer Rodding and Televising.….Given how costly our flood in 2013 was, I feel like I probably avoided a similar fate this time.  I intend to get this rodded once a year.

Next, I power washed the roof of our porch and when it dried put down a coat of sealant.  Hopefully this will help the water roll off the roof into the gutters instead of into the roof itself.  Before starting with the Flex-Seal, I should have used my leaf blower to blow off all the debris that was up there.  Lesson learned.  I wasn’t expecting this to be an airtight 100% waterproof seal, just a very close approximation.  What I didn’t expect was how difficult it is to spread the Flex Seal.  It’s near impossible with a paint brush and a roller isn’t that much easier.  I did get lucky in that it only took one can to cover the entire roof so  I can either put a second coat on or return it and get $90 refunded.  Though I’ll probably purchase the smaller can for the basement door access.

I still have to paint the door frame of our new back door but I think I can squeeze that in next Sunday at nap time (we are out and about all day Saturday).  I might even be able to work on the basement door access at the same time.  The challenge isn’t just the painting, it’s allowing it to dry without interference from Moose & Squirrel.

The last thing which will probably be the following weekend will be putting away all the deck furniture and other items for the winter.