Friday, March 29, 2013

Always nice to hear from my Readers

I can make it from my garage to the Costco near work
when this light comes on
Today is Friday -- Good Friday in fact -- and as usual I'm WFH.   I work from home on Fridays because there really isn't a lot of benefit of driving 20+ miles in each direction to sit at my desk and not do anything that I couldn't do from home, especially since the Chicagoland traffic is its worst on Friday evenings.  Most of my colleagues either WFH on Fridays as well or live closer to OBT and thus don't have to deal with the same commuting nightmare.  And like many offices in Corporate America, after 3pm, it's a ghost town.

Speaking of working from home,  I got the following in my inbox:


My name is Amy, and I'm hoping to get in touch with you about a video I helped create on the benefits of telecommuting. I saw this post, and thought you and your readers might find some value in it.

The video focuses on a few main benefits employees and employers gain from telecommuting. Let me know if it's something you'd be interested in seeing or sharing, and I can forward it along.

Thanks for your time,
Amy C.

Not knowing if this was simply a fembot or a real person I emailed back and after a couple of volleys got the following:

I appreciate the reply, Icarus!

I'm actually part of a video team consists of a small group of 5 rather, unique individuals who share a vision of using videos to tell a story/lesson.

The specific video I was talking about lives here on our site: A couple benefits the video highlights are productivity levels and reducing turnover.

Feel free to post or share the video with proper attribution to the original source. We would also appreciate any and all feedback for the video.

- Amy.
So enjoy as it's always nice to hear from readers.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Too busy to blog

Work in progress

Kinda been busy the last week or so. The in-laws were in town a couple weekends back and
whenever they come for a visit, they bring stuff they want to get rid of the empty nesters that they are.   So I've been too busy trying to find new locations for the stuff they brought.  Some of it was very cool and useful for the new house.  I got an aluminum ladder and a shop vac.  We also got a juicer and a small fridge which doesn't fit behind the bar so we have to find a home for it.

We also got this thing which I will describe as a mirrored coat rack.  It matches the wood and the radiator covers in the hallway so that is the logical place to put it.  Doing so will blow away our Ikea inspired plan.  I figure we have a few more months to figure it out.

They gave us a bunch of other items too like a Juicer and a Bose Lifestyle Stereo System.  While I was at work one day, Nightingale and her parents re-arranged the TV area in the basement.  I was trying to convince NG to donate at least one of the dressers to her sister in Michigan but she wants to keep the set, maintaining that we will need them if kids become part of our equation.

Over the weekend we went to the Modern Vintage event at Randolph Street Market.  We had never been there before but I had heard it was a good place to discover some unique finds for your house.  It was very interesting to see a lot of old school furniture and clothing.  The Mad Men influence has bought new life to a lot of retro 50s and 60s designs.  We did find a few cool items but the price point was well beyond what we wanted to spend.
This would look cool in the Man Cave

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

This one's for Groove

This post is mostly to see if the Blogger app for the iPad works as expected. The problem I was having was I couldn't get the text to scroll down in the Blogger web interface on safari on my iPad which made editing difficult. This app seems to solve that problem, though rather clumsily -- I have to exit keyboard mode and edit mode to scroll down.  The app lets me type some text and upload photos. Beyond that it's just slightly better than using the blogger web interface on any iOS device. 

So onto the photos of our dining room so that Groove77 from Crib Chatter can see red!  He hates dining rooms that are red because that was the trend a few years ago and he feels it's been done to death.  While I'm inclined to agree, I don't feel as strong about it as the Groovester.  The color we choose works for us and we had to make a relatively quick decision if we wanted to get the place painted in a timely fashion.  Had we a little more time we might have picked a different color that didn't Camouflage our furniture because it is cherry red.

It's interesting that we took the colors that the previous owner had and shifted them one room.  Originally the hallway was dark red, the dining room some shade of green and the living room was some shade of yellow.  keep in mind that I'm speaking from the male perspective with less of those cone things in my eyes that females of our species have that allow them to distinctly distinguish and identify all the different shades between White, Bone and Ebony. 

We opted to paint the kitchen as well even though we didn't mind the color because we figured we might as well make the place ours.  In the bedrooms we used two shades of blue in the master and one shade of each in each spare bedroom.  We also got the ceilings painted because a friend pointed out that it would be give it a fresh look.

As we didn't know what we were going to do with the basement or attic, we opted not to paint those.  We can farm that out at a latter time or do it ourselves. 
We made the decision to have the house painted before we officially moved in because the best time to paint the house is when it is empty.  Okay it wasn't completely empty as we did start bringing small items over and ordered a new King size bed to replace the queen we were sleeping on. 

We still need to get a headboard for it, but as I've just dropped a publicly undisclosed but emphatically non-trivial amount of money on home upgrades and renovations, and this month we shell out an additional undisclosed but emphatically non-trivial amount on taxes, I’ll be happy not to spend any money I don’t have to for a while, thank you very much.

I mention the bed because it was really the only piece of furniture and the painters did not put it back the way they found it. They also got some paint on a doorknob and our on of the doors of our kitchen island cabinet. Add to the fact that they didn't remove light switches and tried to paint around them until nightingale noticed and removed them for the lazy bastards and lets just say they won't get the bid for the basement and attic.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Getting Older and Getting Better Apparently

Five Things you don't Tolerate as you get Older:  Yes it's a Chicago-centric edition though I'm sure much of it is applicable in other places.  I could break these each into their own post and perhaps some day I will, but I believe the point is self-evident.
  • Overcrowded street fests 
  • Wrigleyville 
  • Waiting in line at a trendy restaurant
  • Sports Venues and Concerts 
  • BS/Drama from your friends
This isn't meant to be an absolute.  Once in a while, I might still be willing to deal with a crowded fest to see my favorite band, or put up with drunken sorority has-beens and navigate Wrigleyville.  And being the loyal fuck that I am, I will put up with some friend's drama as long as I can count on them to put up with my BS.

I'll take it:  So I thought I had taken 2nd place in my age group at the Wacky a couple Sundays ago.  Then I got this medal in the mail.  I wasn't sure if it was a mistake or if the guy ahead of me was DQ'd, perhaps a faster young guy running under someone else's bib. 
Whatever happened, I didnt' have the time to investigate, mostly because I really didn't care.  While this race might one day grow to be a big as the Shamrock Shuffle, right now it's just a piddy little fun run like most sunday races are supposed to be.
Well it turns out the guy who finished first in our age group also second overall.  Apparently when you do that you don't need to bother with getting the award for age group because you get something for coming in second.  It's actually a brilliant stragedy because there's something for everyone.
So by default I got a medal for first place in our age group.  As far as I can recall and Athlinks can verify, I've never placed in a race before.  I do have a recollection of coming in first or second at an inaugural 5K the summer i "trained" for my first martahon in 1998.  As it was an inaugural event and the proceeds were going for some flavor of cancer research, there wasn't much in the way of fanfare. 

Looking at the difference between my chip time and my race time (45:00 vs  51:46) i do find it hard to believe there was a difference of almost 7 minutes.  I did take my time lining up but not that much.  Still Old Fart #3 has the same time differentials so I doubt I'm taking a medal away from anyone.

While we're on the subject of running, if you are a runner, there are two sites you should definitely have in your back pocket.  Athlinks, which admittedly is all about revenue and very light on the customer satisfication.  but it is a good place to find and gather all your race results.  The second is DailyMile, which is good for logging your mileage. 
You don't have to connect with anyone on these sites if you don't want to, but being a runner you probably possess a good dollop of ego, with a  fairly large side of narcissism.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Could have used this advice many years ago

I read through this Lifehacker piece the other day and I really wish I could email it back in time to my twentysomething self.  Which is why I will include some fun pictures of me grilling outside in the snow.

shoveled just enough to grill
My first "real-world" full time paying job after college was something we'll call Junior Paralegal (JRP).  It actually had a different name and a different idea at its inception but if you went to any law firm today and searched for the equivalent position, Jr Paralegal is what you would find.  Ironically, if any of those paralegals were reading this blog they would not for one minute connect JPR with the position they created that later morphed into more of a true Jr Paralegal description.

The backstory on this position was that the billable hour requirement for paralegals was increasing while at the same time the types of things they could "bill for" was undergoing stricter scrutiny.  In other words clients, rightfully so, didn't want to pay the paralegal rate for things that were considered administrative.  And also the paralegals didn't want to be the backup to the Docket department and run to court for late filings. 

The legal profession is very well institutionalised. Lawyers have logged hundreds of hours of learning before they are even allowed to practice. So lawyers enter the work force already being taught to sense and act (to follow a subliminal process) and most strongly believe that a professional should know how to execute there chosen profession. Process Management is not often well established in law firms, especially back in the Dark Ages of the late 20th Century. Therefore the idea of introducing a defined process naturally causes scepticism.

There go the calories i just burned shoveling
So the idea was that they needed JRP to handle the non-billable crap so that they would be free to do the more important billable items. It wasn't a bad idea. The flaw in the design was that they didn't really know what to do with JRP besides treating us like kids who were visiting their aunts and uncles at work for the afternoon. Also I believe one of the conditions was that JRP time could be billed if appropriate. This would later come back to bite the Senior Paralegals in the butt.

The workflow was basically standard stuff like Control Labeling, chron filing and going to court for late filings.  The other part was what would be referred to today as "one-offs."  In other words stuff that isn't describable in a standard manner because it doesn't come up too often and is often easier to do oneself than to take the time to show someone else.  Like maybe checking through a stack of forms to make sure Section 2 was completed a particular way.

Now your pool of candidates for JRP were recent college grads because this was an entry-level (barely) position that paid $17K a year.  Secretaries with a high school education were starting at $23,000.  This is a very good recipe for resentment.  Anywho, when you are getting paid the same whether you are doing something easy (control labeling) versus something hard (running to court for a last minute filing) the smart JRP will find ways to avoid court and milk the labeling.

"When you're just out of college, it's easy to get a big head about what you can do in the workplace"
yep.  Especially if you work with people with never went to college or never really experienced college.

"It might sound like simply "paying your dues," but it's easy to get a little full of yourself when you first start a job."

Yep.  The problem is my first job the paralegals were content with us "paying our dues" until the second coming.  They didn't have the luxury or the foresight of training us for situations before they became mission critical.

The only way you got to do anything substantive was when the shit hit the fan AND then it was "okay we're gonna ask you do something you've never done before and it has to be done right but no pressure."  Yeah we could have had you do it last week but we didn't trust you, didn't want to teach you, didn't want bother.

 In Corporate America the form of government is called Management. If you look closely at people who are succeeding, you'll notice they have something in common: they're fast learners and they're willing to adapt.

In all fairness, the culture was different then.  There was no mentoring, no shadowing and no desire to implement better work flow processes.  Also, I was definitely not the best JRP because I felt like if I have this education I should be using it better than just putting labels on paper.

Eventually the law firm decided that they should bill a certain amount of hours.  The same amount of hours as paralegals in fact.  We had no advocates, no one to say "well they are entry level people maybe we should have them only bill 900 instead of 1800 hours, see how it goes and build that up."
So once you made our job as hard as Sr Paralegals by telling us that we are essentially going to be doing the same type of work, there hierarchy kinda broke down.

In the world today, when I'm sending out an email or leveraging any technology to make my life easier, I often wonder how these Senior Paralegals would act today.  I should mention that they hated technology, especially the invisible electronic kind.  I remember once trying to teach Jane how to copy a file from a floppy disk to a computer and it was an epic fail.  I also remember that I was a bit of a brat and did not have 10% of the communication tools I have today.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Relationship inequalities not just for Gay Couples in Corporate America

Consider the following scenario in Corporate America:  It is late October and Jessica, who lives with her
boyfriend Jack of 5 years, has burned through most of her allotted vacation and sick leave for the year. She and Jack are engaged and planning a wedding for next year. Unexpectedly, Jack's mom, who lives across the country, dies in a horrible car accident.

Firm Policy states that only immediate relatives of blood or marriage qualify for paid bereavement leave and unpaid time off at the discretion of your supervisor/manager.

Now take Jason, who just returned from his honeymoon with Natasha, the mail-order Russian bride he met this summer. Her dad also died (same car accident?) Because it is a close relation by marriage, he is entitled to take the time off with pay.

No one is disputing Jason and Natasha's love for one another or saying that their marriage won't last the test of time. But even the most doe-eyed romantic has to agree that Jessica and Jack have more of an integrated relationship than Jason and Natasha. Is it fair that a piece of paper prevents her from getting time off for a funeral while a technicality allows Jason that full benefit?

What if said manager/supervisor feels that living together before marriage is wrong and decides not to let Jessica have the time off?

I'm sympathetic and supportive of gay marriage and the issues. But until just before I got married, I couldn't really say that I ever truly felt their pain.  It wasn't until the timeframe between getting engaged and actually getting married, that I kinda got a taste of what same-sex couples go through. 

Even though I'd been with Nightingale for almost two years and were getting married, we had no legal rights or shared benefits as a couple.  We were sort of in limbo.

If one of my married coworkers needs to leave early to pick up his son from soccer practice, that's understood and acceptable. But since I'm not married yet, I cannot use the "need to hang out with Sig Other" excuse.

By no means am I comparing my situation to the plight of gays and lesbians. I'm just saying I have a new appreciation for gay couples who have been together for years and do not have the same rights as married hetero couples.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Things you should have learned about technology by now

Kinda busy with work and life right now so I'm just throwing together a quick post to keep the site fresh.  This is actually an old post that has sat in my drafts folder for so long, most of these are probably well known...unless you are 9 or 90. 

Things you should have learned about technology if you are part of Generation X

  1. Every joke email you want to forward has already circled the internet 3.6 billion times.
  2. If you must forward it, please take the time to cut out all the previous forward message headers and blind copy everyone you send it to so others cannot replay to all with their personal agenda.
  3. Don't open an attachment or an email if you don't recognize or trust the sender.
  4. Speaking of attachments, most things can be cut and pasted into the body of an email so you don't have to send the attachment.
  5. After two weeks on Facebook, you should have figured out that most of the applications don't have any real benefit, so please stop poking, sending me pieces of the town we once hooked up in or Mafia Wars.
  6. Learn the difference between posting to someone's wall, commenting on their status and sending what should be a private message -- trust me, you'll be greatful.
  7. Evites. RSVP is french for Let me know what the F--- you are doing. If you have the time to open the Evite, you have three more seconds to click Yes | no | maybe. Witty reply optional. Oversharing = bad.
  8. Learn to work Mapquest, Google Maps or some other driving directions program.
  9. Learn to check your spam folders -- sometimes important messages get buried between all the Nigerian Bank scams.
  10. Text messaging. If you have to volley more than twice to figure out plans, use that phone-call-making feature of your phone.
More to come in future posts.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Random Musings and extra cat pictures

The other day on Facebook I saw two friends from college post one after the other.  That isn't unique in and of itself.  What is interesting, to me anyway, is that these two friends of mine are not FB (and presumably real life) with each other.  NMSU wasn't a very big school and Kville was small as far as small towns go.  Chances are probably very good that they had to have bumped into each other at some point on campus or maybe even had a gen ed class together.  Yet somehow these two have gone their entire lives without connecting.
I didn't attend NMSU the entire four years like they did, so the opportunities for me to introduce them were limited.  I suspect even if I had, they still would not likely be friends today. 

We had a dept meeting in a new location and it made me think about my time in G-School.  The room was cold and it reminded me of how hard it was after a full day of work to go to a night class for three hours.  Staying away was an effort unto itself to say nothing of absorbing the material. 

We went from 5:45 to 9 with a fifteen minute break around 730. Sometimes the prof would offer to keep going so you could get out really early but usually they took the break and then finish up around 8:15-20.   So you'd have to hope you could make it to catch your 835 metra or wait another hour for the next one. even when I moved back to the city we'd somehow miss the first brown line train and the next one would come just in time to be crowded with all the other students getting out.

That the rooms were either too hot or too cold made staying awake challenge, one I barely won most of the time.  I'd do the crossword puzzle when the Prof was droning on or answering a student's question.  While taking notes I'd write the time on the side (timestamping, who knew).

As for the meeting that made me remember this fond memory, it was very high level.  It was one of those meetings meant to include everyone but only of interest to a very few.  It's nice to be including in discussions about Business Ability and Process Models.  I can speak to it no more than a Welfare Queen can speak to the various Branches of Government.  That's not to imply all WQ do not know their Executive from the Legislative or Judicial.  It just means that unless I go back for an MBA, I will probably never care significantly about the subjects that were discussed today.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Long Run Saturday

Saturday was one of those days that I thought I'd run home and blog about one thing then ended up blogging about another.  Sometimes I get so caught up in my issues I forget that other people are just as, if not, more screwed up.

hawthorn Racetrack
The day started out normal enough.  I met up with SHB for my first Saturday run of 2013.  That's right, I've gone three months without running on a Saturday.   In my runner religion, Saturday Long Runs are our day of holy obligation; our mass.   Yet I almost purposely have avoided running on them this year.   On the surface it's because other things had come up most weekends.   Deep down inside, it was a payback for all the Saturdays I've given up for running and all the future Saturdays to come.

Joining us was B's husband ClarK.  I was trying to learn more about their house hunting situation but SHB kept chiming in about her mortgage.   SHB relates to people by finding a common story and then telling hers.   And that would be fine, IF she would wait her Fing turn and let others finish their story first.   She forgets or ignores the fact that as we both run with her we've heard her story 638 times.  

Recued from the dark corner of the basement
to now live in the light corner of my garage
In the afternoon I went to a gathering to celebrate a friend getting married.  Technically a bachelor party, all that was involved was going to Hawthorn Racetrack and watching the races while enjoying a yummiest brunch and having some drinks.

I haven't been to a traditional bachelor party in years and I'm fine if I never do again.  Not because I feel that nudy bars exploit women or lead to bad decisions (they do) but because I was never into that crap when I was young and I'm too old to care about it now. 

On the way home I decided to stop by my mothers house on a covert mission.  She was with nightingale shopping so I would use the opportunity to pick up some of my stored items without having to, how shall I say it, deal with her.   Lucky thing that I did because one of her pipes sprung a leak in the basement.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dropping Cash like its Acid

As we moved in, most things that didn't have a specific home went to live in either the basement or the attic.  I did my best to make sure it was one or the other based on proximity to it's eventual resting place.  I didn't want something being put in the attic if it was going to end up in the basement or even the first floor. Mostly i was trying to avoid having something be moved up and down the stairs more than once.  It was easiest to put things in the basement and either leave them there or move them one time to their home.

Our basement looked like the picture.  Eventually things found their homes and after Nightingale got her book/display case, I decided it was time for some downstairs furniture.  I didn't want to actually spend any more money than I had to, but at the same time it's hard to invite friends over and have them sit in lawnchairs.  That should be strictly for the gin swilling that will occur once our garage still is complete.

So I've wanted this furniture set for a long time.  Unfortunately, we could not get the entire set to fit in our basement without looking like clown furniture, so I settled for the sofa, otterman and a chair and 1/2 that has yet to arrive.  I was toying with getting the loveseat for upstairs but there really isn't any reason to spend the cash right now. 

When I first discovered this furniture set at Ashley's it was pretty expensive.  Now that it has gone through their stock and rotated into their outlet stores, the price has dropped.  There are several sites I could order the complete set for half of what it would have cost me in the store 5 years ago.   I didn't get the best deal but I did good.

It's very hard to be on your A-game all the time.  That is especially true when it comes to buying anything.  We strive to find the balance between getting the best deal possible and getting something we desire, such a new sofa.  At the same time, I begrudgingly acknowledge that isn't always going to happen.  You buy something and a month later its a 10% cheaper.
Basically my latest adjusted algorithm is to try and do our best most of the time so that when life throughs you a curve ball you can afford it. 

Our agent found us a renter for my condo but it will be another month before I start seeing revenue because the first month is finders fee.  Even then I'm still paying a small money out-of-pocket to cover the cost of the condo but at least it's significantly less then if I let the unit remain unrented.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Red Shirt Ensigns Strike Back

One of the Lower Circles of Hell that is IT is the Helpless Desk.  It is usually comprised of a Call Center and Deskside Support.  I refer to them as the Red Shirt Ensigns

This is right side up in my camera
Like most places, our RSE come in a variety of skillsets, experiences and IQs and critical thinking ability.  If you're good enough at what you do and work hard, you find a way out of the Help Desk and into another role, e.g. command gold or science blue shirt.  Even my lazy, lackadaisical self figured out how to do that so you have no excuse if you're IQ is even 1 pt higher than mine, which most houseplants are.

My latest battle with the RSE is over some proprietary hardware that is used by one of the applications I manage.  Once upon a time printers use to be the domain of IT, until IT got smart and figured out how to  outsource the various parts.  Stocking the paper got transferred to Office Services (mailroom  RSEs).  Toner and jams were pushed back on the vendor -- they come in and fix it if it's broken.  All IT people really do is set up the driver on the printer server and give it a whacky easy to identify name like CHI-3NW-HP4032A.

Setting up a printer should be child’s play for anyone with an IT background.  Just like a foot doctor doesn't know much about heart surgery, she did attend an anatomy class back in the day and should be able to tell you which side of your body your liver is on, so should most IT people -- even CIOs who've had their manager lobotomy -- be able to figure out a printer.  Or at least be able to get the rudimentary stuff set up, especially if you provide quick start guides, detailed instructions and screenshots and videos.

Unfortunately my application comes with a special printer that falls outside of the Big-Ink Printer vendor support contract and will have to be handled by the local RSE.  Trust me, they do not like hearing that and fight it all the way.  most of them work in other offices so I only  have their emails, IMs and occasional phone call to go on, but from the sounds of it, you'd think I asked them to build a printer from scratch instead of simply take one out of the box and turn  it on.

The long drawn out point is that at most organizations I'd be able to hand the printer to the local RSE and tell them put this on the network and set So-and-So up to be able to print to it and it would be done.  Here at NotFive, you get mixed results.  You get some people who can do that.  You get others who insist that you're 372 pictures didn't show all the necessary steps.  You get some that look at old documentation even though you emailed them the latest copy.

It doesn't help that I'm dealing with Mr. Magoo, the project manager with the attention span of a gnat.  His MO is to ask a question, pause while you answer, absorb and comprehend none of your answer, and then either ask another question that was answered by your previous answer, or make a statement that unequivocally proves he wasn't listening or doesn't understand (usually both) what you said.

Everyone has mailed it in sometime in their life, myself extra included.  But you can tell when someone hasn't bothered to read the clifnotes let alone the book and still turns in the book report the minute it was due.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Hotmail replaced by Outlook -- What's the big fuss?

I barely remember that I have a Hotmail account, an account to be precise, let alone that last August there was some notification that Hotmail was going to become Outlook.  I rarely check the Hotmail account though I use to use the instant messenger feature to communicate with co-workers from the No-Name Software Company.  It must have been a slow week in august where I was bored enough to look into it.

My account came about because when I bought my first computer, a Dell whatever, among the useless software bundled with it came a free Dellnet email account and cheap internet service.  This was back in the Dark Ages when dial-up was the word and hi-speed was not the common currency it is today.  So I was happy to have an email account separate from my work account.  This too was a new thing back in the day.  Before that you had to surrender your work account and then complain that people were sending you nothing but jokes instead of real emails pissing your IT dept off.  With a separate email account you could use the "oh I don't check my personal email from work" excuse, even though 7 out of 10 people did.  Totally made that up.

Unfortunately, a year after purchasing the computer and after I renewed for another year, Microsoft swept in and bought up that Internet Service, or Dell sold it.  Don't know, don't care which.  In any event, I had to get a new email address because the one I was using was apparently in use already.  So I got a variation of my email address which I never liked but was stuck with forever.

So I'm happy about the replacement because among the options of keeping your Hotmail, or address, you can also change what’s known as the local-part of your email address.  For a quick lesson in Tech-speak, the format of email addresses is local-part@domain.

The local-part is generally your jdoe, chitwngirl7 or cubsfan4ever part and the domain is the Hotmail part.  The domain is changing.  The odds of someone else grabbing chitwngirl7 or dofus-whatever on the new domain is slim especially if you act quickly.

So I was able to completely switch from an email that was more of a throwback to when email addresses where your "handle" to one that is more identifiable and even, normal.  I guess that is part of growing up.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

First Race of the Year and Following Up with ball-droppers

Still finding Race Rivals: On Sunday we ran a 5k/10k race in Lincoln Park.  It was called the Wacky Run and they wanted participants to wear the race shirt -- a red long sleeve shirt with a shirt and tie design -- during the race.  Nike tried that a decade ago and had mixed success.  Many people did wear the shirt but the cold influenced some, including us, not to bother.

Before the race
Didn't see any of our familiar runner friends.  SHB was considering signing up and had even called me that morning to find out what was wrong with my was a good run and I even gained some running rivals. During a race, you sometimes find yourself running along with someone who has decided that no matter what else happens, they are not crossing the finish line behind you.  You can tell the way they focus on keeping pace with you or trading position throughout a race.

That occurred here.  There was a lady in a pink tutu with the phrase  I may be old but I can still tri on the back.  She and this guy in a bright orange jacket became my race rivals for the day.  I passed them just as we approached the halfway point.  I did slow down for water at one of the stations and Orange Jacket guy managed to get ahead of me again. I never caught up to him, but Pink Tutu faded back.

As it turns out, I took 2nd in my age group.  The guy who took first ran about 2 minutes per mile faster than me, so there is no "I shoulda tried harder" going through my head.  Even in my prime I wasn't running 6:15s.

We got stuff accomplished but the forward progress isn't very noticeable:  I spent Friday morning calling people who have dropped the ball.  For instance, last month this guy our handy man recommended came over and fixed the heating in our basement.  I paid by check at the time of service but asked him to send me an invoice because I might be able to get reimbursed from our home warranty that Mr Dufus gave us.

Unfortunately Mr Schneider, while a nice guy, doesn't believe in 20th century technology, like email or printers.  I've called at least 4 times to ask and he keeps promising and then forgetting.  I talked to his wife, who answers the phones on Friday and she was all "well I'll have him call you back".  That’s when I launched into my we don't recycle tirade*.  I'm like: "he doesn't need to call me back.  He needs to send me the invoice he's promised over the last 4 weeks so I can get my money.  $200 is nothing to sneeze at."

We also had a cleaning lady come over on Friday to deep scrub the house.  Basically this is the prelude to her becoming our regular cleaning person.  The next time she comes it shouldn't take as long and cost less.  I'm not sure about that.  She was a nice polish teenage-looking girl who didn't speak much English.  I'm sure I would see her at Martini Club or Stereo if I still frequented those places.  Judging from the nice car she drove off in, she is either being exploited or is exploiting someone here in America.

On Saturday People's gas came over and installed the outside meter, thus removing the one in the basement.  The one that hung instead a basement window.  Because it meant having someone put a hole in my wall, I wanted to use to opportunity to run some network cable from the attic to the basement. 

Unfortunately, I've had this back/muscle injury that has made movement and flexibility a bit of an issue. 
By the time the ibuprofen kicked in and I was feeling well enough to attempt running the cable down, the guys were almost finished and the carpenter was about to seal the wall.  I should have started sooner and asked him to make a bigger hole in the wall.  To his credit, the carpenter only cut as much as he needed in order to hide the pipe.

Most frequently taken picture at
Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum
 Saturday evening we went to a friend’s party in Logan Square.  Her place is less than half a mile from where I lived when I lived there but the difference is night and day.  For one thing, her walk to the Blue Line station at California is only two blocks whereas I had to hike a good half mile or more.  That wouldn't be a big deal to me today, but back then I did think that sucked. 

After the race on Sunday, we went to Crate and Barrel because we wanted to use these gift cards we were given for our wedding.  I really thought we were going to buy this garbage can that would pull the kitchen together so that we could move on to the next project.  (it's so expensive it better have its own IP address). Surprisingly, Nightingale just couldn't bring herself to spend that much money on a garbage can, so we spent the next two hours looking for items we could use. 

Then we came home and I grilled some burgers and chicken breasts.  Nightingale prepared lunches and dinners for the week and we essentially spent the rest of the night chilling out.  We avoided Red Widow because we do not want to get attached to another TV show.

*  years ago at a party, people asked me, consecutively, if I recycled at my condo.  We didn't have recycling set up then so the answer was no.  However, the six people asked me pretty much one right after the other such that if you were #4 you had to have heard me tell #3 that we don't recycle, so by the time #6 asked it was: NO! We Don't Recycle!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Pulaski Day Post

Uncle Stosh wants you!
So today, the first Monday of March, is Casimir Pulaski Day in Illinois.  You'd think living in a city that has the largest population of Polish people outside of Warsaw, we'd have more of a to-do about this day.  Then again we have never figured out how to get a Pole elected Mayor (have we even tried?) so why be surprised.

To be perfectly honest, my American History education doesn't talk much about Pulaski, Thaddeus Kosciuszko or even General Friedrich Wilhelm August Heinrich Ferdinand von Steuben, the guy my high school was named after.  Apparently even in the early days of the USA we engaged foreigners to help with our dirty work.

My experience with Pulaski Day is nothing special. It wasn't until my last year or two of high school that we got the day off. Then I went to college in Missouri and no one there had heard of Poles let alone Pulaski. 

Kinda reminds me of the time when Director Palpatine at the No-Name Software Company sent the Muslims and Hindi home early for Good Friday while making the Christians remain at their stations. 

Every once in a while, someone makes a book about historical figures who lived in more or less the same time period coming together and interacting.  My favorite is a book called The Night of the Ripper which features cameos by historical personages like Arthur Conan Doyle and the Elephant Man.  Another good one is Insignificance which features 1950's cultural icons Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio and Senator Joseph MacCarthy.

Someone should make a book or movie about Pulaski, Kosciuszko, von Steuben and Marquis de Lafayette.  It could be serious or it could be a Soldiers of Fortune go on a Road Trip comedy adventure.  Just make it happen.