Special Saturday Edition

Well, I'm back in at work because I am making up some days I have to miss in July. Today I finally attempted the bike commute from the new place (rollerblading home last night was nice, but it seemed to take forever). One way from door to door took me about 25 minutes (4.7 miles) at a moderate pace. The route is about 1/3 city street, and the rest the bike path; on a Saturday the path was clogged with marathon training groups, but I have a feeling my portion of the route (heading north in the morning) will be pretty sparse on a week day. All in all it was a really pleasant ride and I can see doing it quite often (every day perhaps?) this summer. The real test will be the fall and winter when high winds whip the lake water up over some areas of the trail and the paths become icy. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it though - for now I will just enjoy cruising through shady, tree-lined paths and along the calm harbors.

Tomorrow is our first BBQ of the season (and the new place) - if you know me and haven't had an invite, email me and I'll send on the info!


Momentarily Bikeless

Well, biking to UIC for my practicum meeting didn't work out because, apparently, my U lock key is with our car keys at my parents' house. Instead I got to ride the bus in and then rollerblade through the rain to work after; this may sound crummy, but I kind of enjoyed it. I definitely got much more of a workout rollerblading than I ever have biking (think less stopping and starting, and less coasting), though I did feel like of like a toolbag wearing my mess. bag while doing so. I need to locate my backpack to avoid rocking the bike bag sans bike look that I've never been a fan of. I plan on blading home from work down the lake path tonight; if it doesn't take too terribly long, I might consider commuting in that manner every now and then. I have to work tomorrow to make up some future days I'll be taking off, so I'll be back on my bike then - you have to love being able to use your office as an unofficial bike room!

In other news, we got gypped in terms of the massive thunder storms we were hearing about all morning; maybe it's just me, but I always feel disappointed when predicted atmospheric mayhem fails to arrive. Maybe next time?


Heading home

Last night's run was dedicated to Bronx, Dan's dog, who passed away yesterday morning. I am really glad that my inlaws were able to bring him back from Arizona so that he could be at the lake one last time - it was nice to be able to see him last weekend. Bronx was one of those wonder dogs you only come across a couple times in a lifetime; he will be missed greatly by all who knew him.

So, as for the run, I decided to drop off the van at the old house, and run all the way home to the new house in order to get in my 40 minute run as scheduled. The whole thing went pretty well (except for the lights I kept catching), and I was able to cover the distance in about 35 minutes. Tomorrow I break the bike back out; I hope she's not too choked with cobwebs.


Location, location, location

Tonight I have an 'easy 40min' run, so I intend to run from my old place where we're wrapping up the cleaning, to the new place - this is ~3.78m. This will probably take more than 40min if I'm doing an 'easy' pace, but I've missed a cross training session so I need to do some makeup. We'll see how this route goes. I've discovered that my commute in the morning/evening would be about 4m one way; I'm considering taking transit one way, and then running back the other to fill my day's requirements now and then. Right now it's all about establishing routes that work and that I feel comfortable with.


Long weekend, but a good one

Well, the first non-DEMF Memorial Day weekend in years passed fairly nicely; Friday was Josh and Nat's wedding, which was a lot of fun, and then it was on to the lake for an extended weekend of sloth, gluttony, and more. I was happy that Claudia was able to come up with us, as she is leaving this weekend to see her boyfriend in Hawaii and may not be coming back any time soon. I will miss here incredibly, but I know this is what she needs.

Aside from generally just hanging out and napping, I also got back on the training horse for the 1/2 marathon. My encouraging start was completely interrupted by our move last week, and only now am I really getting back to normal. I did my 6 mile run on Monday and taught myself a few important lessons - first and foremost of those being that I should make an effort to try to run in the morning when it's cooler, or at least wait until late enough that the sun isn't directly overhead. Another thing I learned was that until I get further along in the training program and in better shape, I should try not to run long runs in very hilly terrain; the rolling hills were nice for the first 2-3 miles, but they got old pretty fast for the second half of my run. Overall I think I did pretty well with hydrating and pacing myself, but I can see that I have a long road to the finish - the coming weeks will be a true test for me in endurance and dedication.


Completely awesome

I managed to get home before the Sox's 7:11 start last night, and was able to experience all the fireworks from our front window for the first time. Even our neighbors who were working on their front porch stopped for a moment and cheered the beginning of the game; I don't think that will ever get old for me.

Dan hooked my grandpa's old boom box into the sound system in our place (there are speakers wired into the ceilings in almost all the rooms) and we listened to the game while unpacking. The Sox wound up blowing out the Indians, and I got to run to the windows a couple more times for Jermaine Dye's back to back home runs.

The house is beginning to look a lot more livable, and the back porch is turning into a forest with all the random potted trees I've inherited from different museum staff and projects (so far there is an oak, four Japanese maples, a lilac, a coffee plant, and two blue spruces). Eventually we will have a yard to plant all these guys in, but until then they'll have to kick it in their pots.


First night

So we spent our first night together at the new place, unboxing stuff and dining on Little Caesar's Pizza (man I love Crazy Bread); we still have a long way to go before the place looks normal, but already having space feels awesome. I've started mentally planning my office and the deck, and we've started considering what furniture we need to get to house various homeless objects. Sleeping was awesome. That probably sounds strange, but after living right off the Congress Expressway and Clinton st., which has trucks going down it all night and a fire department around the corner, the silence and darkness was extremely nice. Before heading to bed I mentioned to Dan that I really hoped that we could hear trains from our spot because there are freight tracks that run nearby - ever since I was a kid I've found the sound to be comforting for some reason - and this morning I woke up to the sound of distant train whistles. Awesome. The sounds of the new place, so far, are great: a random dog now and then (sounds like a German Sheppard), lots of birds, and cathedral bells. It's kind of how peaceful it sounded in Garfield Ridge, for the most part, except there at night you'd hear people drag racing on Archer, and from time to time you felt like the planes landing at Midway were going to take your head off.

We'll see if the honeymoon period wears off when I experience my first Sox game in the neighborhood tonight. I'm going to the game with my dad, but I'm wondering if the fans are a pain in the ass on our street. From what I've heard thus far, things don't get bad, but you never know!


The move

Just got a call from Dan that the move is completed (and cost way more than we thought it would!), and that everything went smoothly. Apparently the cat keeps trying to suffocate himself; I wasn't about to ask him to elaborate. So tonight I get to go home and unpack and, hopefully, snap some photos of the new digs. Not sure what the internet situation is right now - I guess we need to sort that all out in the next couple days. More to come from our new Bridgeport location!


As promised

Here are some pics from Sunday (click on them to see them better)

Before (note the 'win susan' tee)

The race through the rain - taken by Karen B

Moving that junk in the trunk - Taken by Karen B.

Absolutely soaked and frozen - I couldn't feel my hands at this point

OJ's bloody shoes - I need to buy socks that don't slip down when they're soaked.

Congrats Chicago

You've done it! Well, at least for now you have. Due to the outpouring of concern from the music community, the vote for the promoters' ordinance has been put off until after there can be open diologue between city hall, venue owners, and promoters. Hopefully whatever incarnation they come back with will allow all sides to be happy so that we can put this matter to rest.


Ordinance news

So far I have heard that the alderman from the 1st ward, where Lava Lounge is, has told local promoters that he plans to vote against the ordinance tomorrow. Good move, considering a lot of the income generated in that area comes from nightclubs and other businesses that feature live music in small venues. Keep reaching out Chicago, the folks in charge ARE listening.

Contact info to show support:
1st Ward Alderman:
Manny Flores

Contact him here:
1st Ward Service Office
2058 North Western Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60647
phone: (773) 278-0101
fax: (773) 278-2541

City Hall Office
121 North LaSalle Street
Chicago, Illinois 60602
phone: (312) 744-3063

Contact info for Smartbar and other venues in that area:
44th Ward Alderman: Thomas Tunney

• Ward Office: 1057 W. Belmont
Chicago, IL 60657

• Ward Website: 44thward.org

• Ward Phone: 773/525-6034

• E-Mail: ttunneyATcityofchicago.org

• City Hall Office: 121 N. Lasalle St.
Room 300 Chicago, IL 60602

• City Hall Phone: 312-744-3073

This info is reposted from this thread on the bass by the pound website, here. You need a login to view it.


Chicago Music Lovers Take Action NOW!

For those of you who missed it (which isn't too hard due to the lack of coverage), there is about to be an ordinance passed in the City of Chicago that will require all event promoters to acquire expensive licenses and insurance, and be over 21, before they can put on shows. This will in effect stamp out any kind of DIY events being thrown by the musical young'uns, like punk shows, up-and-coming garage bands, small-time independent acts, and so on. What will be left, other than huge events being held by mainstream promoters? Not much.

This ordinance is due to be voted on this Wednesday, so I urge you to write your alderman/woman to ask them to consider voting against it. Don't know who they are? Click here.

There is also this site, where you can learn more about the issue and leave comments that will be printed out and taken to city hall.

I saw the anti-rave ordinances effectively kill the underground dance music scene when I was in high school; some promoters went on to keep the music alive in the clubs in the city - now even they will again face annihilation by these overzealous legislators. One of the things that makes this city so amazing to live in, other than the wide variety of foods, is the endless supply of cheap/free and interesting music to go out and enjoy; please don't let this disappear.


Y-Me - the thought did cross my mind

Wind gusts up to 45mph? Check. Heavy rain? Check. 40F temp? Check. Hail? Sure!

Yeah, the weather was awful, but it was still a good time. Karen was a trooper and was able to run half and walk half of the 5k, which brought us to the finish line in about 40 minutes. Not too terrible considering the windy, rainy apocalypse going on around us. Between the two of us we managed to raise over $1400, which also is pretty awesome (if you still want to donate, go here). Running through all the crap really drove home the point to me that the discomfort I was feeling was something I chose to take on, while the people we were running to help were going through something unimaginably worse that they never would have even wished on their worst enemy. Hopefully because a bunch of nutty people decided to slog through the puddles on a Chicago Sunday, there will be more men, women, and children getting the emotional support they need from Y-Me (which, it was announced at the start, is now to be called the Breast Cancer Network of Strength).

Thanks to all who gave, and all who ran - I know we made a difference in someone's life today. Photos will be up in the next couple days.


Cougar part 2

So today, at happy hour, I got to go see the cougar in the next stage of its processing. This time it was in the beetle room, where colonies of beetles eat all the leftover flesh off the corpses of the dead animals that the museum acquires so that they can prep the skeletons for study and display. Let me tell you, there's nothing that can turn a pretty solid stomach like the smell of rotten meat, bug shit, and other organic materials. I managed to hold it down, but I'll tell you that it was a bit of a challenge to be in there after a couple dollar beers. Again, the joys of working at a natural history museum: death, knowledge, and beer.

Out of hand

In the last month or so, 4 cyclists and about 10 pedestrians have been killed by motorists in the City of Chicago and near suburbs; a handful of these deaths have been hit-and-runs. On the other side of the coin, there have also, in the last month or so, been about a dozen shooting deaths, and nearly 4xs that number of injuries, in the area as well. Things here are going nuts. In terms of the shootings, experts have said that this is normal for the city at this time of year, when the weather begins to get warmer and people start hanging out outside more, but I can't see how you could ever attach the word 'normal' to such careless disregard for the life of another human.

Just as disturbing is this rash of reckless driving and death, and the increasing phenomena of people fleeing from the scene - leaving their victims dying in the street or on the sidewalk. How could you possibly plow into another human, feel them go either over or under your car, and keep on driving? How can you live on without telling another soul? As far as I know, none of these people have been caught yet, so apparently they're keeping their secret close to them.

What's worse than all this? Quite possibly the reactions to all this death from Chicago-area residents. Read any of the forum topics about these tragedies, and all you see is hostility. There is a lot of hatred going around on all sides that is disturbing. Motorists and pedestrians saying they're glad when cyclists die in traffic because they're a nuisance; cyclists and motorists talking about what a nuisance pedestrians are and how those killed were probably J-walking; everyone making broad statements blaming victims because other people who choose to get around town like they did happen to break traffic rules - guilt by association. While I am all for taking responsibility for one's actions and can see the arguments being made as valid in the cases where cyclists, pedestrians, or motorists were killed doing something illegal and risky, I can't understand some of these forum people's inability to see BOTH sides as being at fault. A drunk driver kills a pedestrian, yet people are actually arguing whether or not the pedestrian was crossing illegally and ignoring the purple gorilla in the room that is the fact that the motorist was doing something horribly irresponsible that is well known to be a great risk to both driver and everyone around them. I don't know of many cases where a J-walker has killed someone by crossing the street illegally, but I do know of quite a few where people have illegally driven under the influence and killed others. It all boils down to seeing key words and knee-jerk reactions: cyclist killed - well I hate them because they all cut me off in traffic and don't stop at stop signs, so I hate this person that died. Southside - these people were ___ race, so of course they weren't acting like people of ____ race, so I'm sure they were up to no good. Motorist - These people roll around in their gas-guzzling SUVs and don't care about what happens to anyone as long as the kids get to soccer. And on and on...

In the end, arguing about laws and behavior masks the more serious problem that lies underneath: we, as a society, no longer have any consideration for the safety and health of others. Now we live in a 'me' culture where people are willing to put other lives at risk daily to save a couple minutes on their commute, or silence a neighbor who talks too much, or solve interpersonal problems through dialog rather than violence. I am inconvenienced, therefore I have the right to act out to get my way; my daily worries and obligations take precedence over those of others. Me. By turning the victim, or the one who killed the victim into a stereotype that doesn't personally apply to me, I am able to separate myself from the mentality that led to tragedy - my needs are more important, it's OK take risks to meet them.

Better law enforcement is not going to fix this 'only child' mentality that is ruling the streets, but what will? If we can't get people to start seeing those around them as more than traffic cones and barricades to be shoved aside, where are we headed?

A cheerful question to think about on a Friday afternoon, but I guess it's the cumulative effect of reading the news all this week. I guess that's why I tend to avoid it.



Working the reference desk today, which means a leisurely afternoon of mindless paperwork, listening to This American Life, and drinking iced tea. I like working up here because it's one of the few places in the museum where one can have access to both fresh air and natural light. I've got the window open, and the warmish air brings with it a smell that is a mixture of rain and stale McDonalds - both refreshing and completely nauseating at the same time, if you can imagine that. Still, it's better than the stale museum air. I'm finally settling into the idea that I no longer have impending deadlines threatening my sanity; slowly the cold shock of fear that there is something that I should be doing, frantically at the last minute, has started to wear off. It's break, and it will be for another month. Believe me, I am looking forward to the day when break never ends, and I am free to feed myself with all the food groups of entertainment, from intellectual reading, to Rolling Stone articles, to Hell's Kitchen, without feeling any remorse for not spending the time on coursework. Only another year (maybe less) and I'm done.

Please shoot me if I ever consider going back to school after this! I'm sure there will be times when I miss academia, but I'll manage - believe me...


Y-Me this weekend

Sort of questionable name, but a great cause! I'm looking forward to running (well, probably more like walking, according to my running partner Karen's outlook) in my first ever Y-Me Race to Empower. For those of you not familiar with Y-Me, its an organization that raises money to provide support to those who are fighting (or have defeated) breast cancer. If you are interested in donating to support this cause, go check out my page here. A big "thank you" to Cycling Phun and others who have already made a donation; it's greatly appreciated!




Just dropped off the pant load that is another term paper; finally my verbal constipation has cleared up. Sorry for all the poo imagery, but there's something about the buildup to my night-before, marathon paper writing sessions that makes me feel, mentally, like I've ingested some kind of McDonalds for the brain. I'll sit there, wishing I could force the words out my fingers, onto the keys, and into my word document, but for some reason I just sit there, frustrated - rocking back and forth (no, not really)- without any output to speak of until about 11:30pm the night before. Then it all comes rushing out, like my brain finally consumed some roughage. I feel the relief of my mental purging palpably as the last page drops and I save the whole mess. Now I need to wrap it up in a non-nondescript email package and send it to the teacher that has plagued my existence for the last couple months; the revenge is in her having to read through the stinky mess I just dropped. I can admit it, my paper really is crap this time, but at least it's out.


Denver recap

I'm back, and I'm tired, but it was definitely worth it. Denver is an absolutely lovely city; one which felt completely comfortable at the get-go. Everything was very walkable, and the people were so friendly it was a bit off-putting at first. I guess it's hard to be crabby and rude when you live in a city so lovely. Hell, even the homeless people there were pretty impressive; I swear that every one of them played a musical instrument of some sort, or was an amateur comedian - every single person I saw on the street had their own unique angle to the panhandle, not to mention nicer, more well-groomed dogs than most of the people that live in my condo building. This is not to make light of their situation but, rather, to point out that the City of Denver (from what I was told by locals) has an excellent social services program to take care of their homeless.

Aside from the people wandering the streets, with and without somewhere to return to, the city attractions were pretty great as well. I got to tour Coors Field, which had the most stunning outfield view of possibly any stadium in the continental US, and check out the Avs/Wings game at the Pepsi Center, which made the United Center look just a little bit shabby. I was a huge fan of the Colorado Historical Society, and wished that I could have spent a lot more time looking at all their exhibits. By far my favorite site was City Park, which engulfs the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (where my former boss now works). This park, along with a lot of other features in Denver, was apparently inspired by Chicago's 'City in a Garden' aesthetic. Now, while I think Douglas Park in Chicago is one of the coolest spots around, it can't hold a candle to City Park in Denver, which has as its backdrop a range of snow-capped mountains, rather than some sky scrapers. The paths were winding and inviting through the crab apples and other trees in full bloom, and I desperately wanted to go for a run; next time I will have to bring my shoes and make the time!
Our final night out was spent getting a paycheck-bruising, but well worth it, dinner at the Brown Palace Arms Restaurant across the street from our hotel. This was followed by much snooping around in the old ballrooms, which led to us getting an impromptu tour from one of the hotel's staff that discovered us. This same guy actually had worked at the Stanley Hotel, which was the basis for Stephen King's The Shining, so we got some awesome ghost stories out of the experience as well.

So, I will most definitely be going back to Denver some day - perhaps for an extended weekend when I have the luxury of some vacation days and some money to boot. It's an awesome little city to poke around in, and then use as a base for trips out to the mountains.