Christmas in AZ…Again

It has been 3 years since we lived in Arizona and had spent a Christmas in the 48th state. With the current Covid climate and the dogs to care for, it made sense to do a road trip instead of thinking about getting on a plane this year. Sice I can work from anywhere, we decided to do two weeks in Arizona, instead of a short trip, visiting the kids and their SOs.

Speaking of SOs, Matt announced that he and Meghan got engaged on December 5th while they were in Seattle looking at neighborhoods. Why were they looking at neighborhoods? Matt was able to secure a new position within Microsoft that he was hoping for and would eventually require/allow him to work in the Redmond mothership. He is now officially the Learning and Development Manager which allows him to design programs to train and guide the professional development of Microsofts global employees. Very exciting next step in his career.

So in the coming months, we may have him back living with us again, as we anticipate the sale of their townhouse in Mesa to go very quickly, leaving them with a transition period before moving to the Seattle area. Would be a nice change of pace for us.

Life is Moving Fast

Thought I would be back on track in the last few weeks with my training, but work had different plans for me. We are very much underwater with too few resources and too much business, so most of my days start when it is dark and end when it is dark. That makes it difficult to get any training in at all.

I have always had a challenge with working out too late in the evening as it keeps me from getting meaningful sleep. This makes it hard to get up the next day and makes the day even longer. The cycle is vicious and impactful.

Not sure what I am going to do about this as my next race is in about a month and I have given in to the fact that I will need to walk run to make it through. It makes me cringe to say that but if I push too hard, it will be very difficult to recover so I can start training for my next race.

Merry Christmas From Sydney

Writing my first post in quite awhile, from a different continent. My son was chosen by Microsoft to go to Sydney Australia and help with the opening of the new Microsoft store down under. He was scheduled to be down there for almost six weeks, so it seemed  an opportune time for me to take a short trip over the Christmas holiday, spend time with him and get to see Sydney.

I will write a full trip report on my way back, but for now, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, from the future.

TSA Pre check Experience

I had my first pleasant and humorous TSA pre check experience today. It was pleasant because of the speed and humorous because of the agents and one guy in the premiere line.

I arrived at OHare my normal two hours before the flight and was greeted by a rather long line for 5 pm on a Wednesday . As I approached the security lines, I noticed the TSA pre check sign right next too the premiere access lines at the far south end of the United counters in terminal one. I stepped down the end of the line and the woman in front of me immediately turned around to ask what TSA pre check was.  I started to answer her question and was interrupted by the guy in front of her who she had NOT asked.  When he finished, I politely added that this line would get her to premiere access as well as TSA pre check.  The guy again butted in and added that this was for pre check only.  I politely corrected him and referred the young lady to the signs indicating both.

A few minutes later we were up to the scan station that determines if you continue to premiere or get in the pre check line.  Here’s where it gets funny…. for me at least. The interrupting guys hands over his boarding pass to the agent and says he is pre check.  The agency that scans it and…. Negative sir you are not. ‘ What do you mean I’m not?’ Tirade follows. ‘ I signed up x number of days ago… Blah blah blah.’   He proceeds to hold up the line.  Finally he moves and the lady in front of me just tells the agent she is not present check so he does not need to scan.  I step up and present mine.  I had applied about a month ago and was already Nexus approved so knew I would eventually get it.  Agent scans it.  Beep,  beep,  beep.  The three magic beeps which means I am in the system and approved.  I stepped in to the pre check line and just turned and smiled at the guy who threw a fit.

I got up the the next check point in less than 10 seconds ( there was absolutely no one ahead of me)  to the 3 waiting TSA agents.  One of them said ‘we have a winner’  and another one actually said ‘finally we have been waiting for someone to come through’.  I felt as if I should have been given a stuffed animal or something. 

I breezed through the check with my shoes and belt on,  my laptop in the bag and my liquids in the bag.  As a bonus the agent on the other side of the metal detector was a Purdue fan ( I had my Boiler golf shirt on). 

By far my best security experience post 9/11.

2011 Chicago Half Marathon Giveaway

chicago-runningOnce again, the fine folks at the Chicago Half Marathon and U.S. Road Sports & Entertainment Group have generously donated an entry for the September 11th, Chicago Half Marathon, which takes place on a beautiful out and back course that is actually run on LSD (no not that LSD, Lake Shore Drive). Details about the course and facilities etc. can be found here.

The Half Marathon starts at 7am followed by a 5K start at 7:45am. The half requires a 13 minute per mile pace. All runners receive the following:

  • Commemorative Technical long-sleeve T-shirt
  • Computerized Timing & Scoring
  • Great course support
  • Entertainment throughout the course
  • Outstanding post-race party in beautiful Jackson Park
  • Water & Gatorade Endurance available at 10 aid stations along the route
  • USATF certified course
    and finishers receive a Custom finishers medal.

Packet pickup will be at Navy Pier, Exhibit Hall B at 600 N. Grand Avenue. Expo hours are Friday September 9th from noon to 6pm and Saturday September 10th from 9am till 5pm.  Admission to the expo is free and open to the general public but you will need to pay for parking. You can get an all day parking pass at the expo for $10 instead of the normal $23 the pier charges.. Just plan ahead, get there early and walk around the pier and enjoy what Chicago has to offer. There is NO Race Day Pickup on Sunday the 11th, so if you forget, you will be watching the race from the sidelines. The deadline for entry is August 26th and they are limiting the entries to only 20,000 this year.

To enter our giveaway for a free race entry, just comment on this post and let us know what social media tools, if any, you use to complement your running or help you find running partners, groups etc. I will pick the winner at random on Tuesday August 2nd at midnight, so you have 3 weeks to enter. We will send the winner an email with their free signup code. Please only enter if you are able to attend the race and use the code. You are welcome to comment even if you don’t want to enter, but let us know in the comment to exclude you from the drawing. Good luck and see you at the race.


Update – 8/2/11- I’m going to give this a few more day as no one seems to want a free entry. Come on people, it’s free!!! I will do the drawing next Monday the 8th.

Snowy Snowy Night

We received quite a bit of snow tonight here in the Chicagoland area and apparently it is not done yet. It does not seem too bad as far as the number of inches of actual snow but the winds are really whipping and causing some pretty awesome drifts. We tried to get the dogs to go out but they kind of looked at me like I was crazy so I had to shovel out a bit by the front door before they finally would step outside and I gave them the added incentive of stepping out with no leash. As you can see in video below (sorry it is so dark) Apollo decides to try to make a break for it and gets almost to the driveway before he runs out of steam. He comes back, does his business and retreats to the warmth of the house.

Apollo tries to plow his way to freedom.

It is supposed to snow through the night so I can’t wait to see what it looks like tomorrow.

Disney Marathon Weekend 2011 Day 4

Day 4 started with a bit of rain as we got ready to head over to the Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. We first had to check out of the Beach Club and store our bags for transfer to Bay Lake Tower. If you are staying at another Disney hotel, just need to take your bags down to the bell stand, or call to have them picked up, and they will take them over to your new hotel with a few hours. When you arrive at your new hotel and check in, just call down and they will bring up the bags to your new room. If you check out of one hotel early to hit the parks make sure to take with you what you need for the day, as you can’t usually check in to your new room till 3 or 4 in the afternoon.



We walked over to Hollywood Studios after checking out and arrived just before it started to rain again. We ducked into the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and a few other rides before making our way to Toy Story Mania. I had always wanted to try that ride but that ride is very popular and the lines are always huge. We thought we would be able to use out VIP passes but the fast passes were all gone by 11am. Undaunted, Matt suggested we ask the cast member who was standing in front of the closed fast pass machine if there was anything we could do with our VIPs. It happened that this particular cast member was from Pittsburgh and Matt was wearing his Pirates shirt so we had a very pleasant conversation for a few minutes before he reached into his pocket and pulled out two passes that where set to expire in 15 minutes. We were on the ride within 3 minutes and had a great time. Thanks Richard you are the man and that is the Disney spirit above and beyond.

I had to buy a poncho after that since it had started to come down pretty good. We did a few more rides with not much wait and then headed over to Animal Kingdom to attempt Expedition Everest. I say attempt because I had done it a few years ago with Matt as the very first ride of the day and it wrecked me for the whole day. Today it was not too bad and I discovered that if I felt like I was going to hurl, I just had to close my eyes to get through it. I know that takes away from the experience but I was doing this one so Matt had a riding partner, not for me.


We did all the open rides except the spinning thing outside Dinosaur and that would have made us both throw up big time. This was the first time I had closed down Animal Kingdom so we got to see the little dance party they have near the exit as you are leaving. Very cute to see all the little kids and some parents dancing with them

We took a bus back to the hotel and went to check into the Bay Lake Towers. When we got to the room it was still a 1 bedroom, so I figured the charged me one bedroom points instead of studio points. I went down to the front desk and sure enough she had booked me into the 1 bedroom for 2 nights and charged the 1 bedroom rate for the two nights. After another 20 minutes of ‘fixing’ things. I went back up to the room to wait for the new room to be ready. I went back down to the front desk got the new keys, went back up, moved the bags from the 5th floor to the 14th floor and took the old keys back down. At least we ended up with a nice high floor and a good view.

BAy-Lake-View1 BAy-Lake-View2

We quickly changed for dinner and walked over to the Contemporary Hotel to catch the monorail to dinner at Epcot. The Bay Lake tower is connected to the Contemporary by a bridge on the 5th floor so you can get to all the transportation easily. We boarded the monorail for the Ticket and Transportation Center (we need to change monorails there to get to Epcot) and the driver comes on the loudspeaker and says he needs to power down the systems and software to reboot to train. That was a first for us and it added an extra 5 minutes to the journey so we were almost late for our dinner reservation.

TequilaWe enjoyed and excellent dinner at La Hacienda de San Angel, the new table service restaurant in the Mexico pavilion on the water. I tried their Margarita flight which is five samples of some of their more exotic margaritas and enjoyed the one on the right the most, the Orange Mango Fire. It includes tequila, ginger liqueur, orange juice, mango, fresh lime juice, tobasco sauce and Tajin chili powder on the rim.

We chose this place and the 7:45 reservation so we could have a nice relaxing dinner and then see the Illuminations fireworks from our table. The restaurant dims that lights and pipes in the music from outside so you get the full experience except for the evenings cold weather.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel to go to the Top of The World Lounge to watch the BCS Championship where the Oregon Ducks fumbled their way to a loss to Auburn. A bit disappointing as I had hoped for a non SEC team to win it just once, but with Purdue not even in the hunt this year it was a bit hard to get into it.

Time to get some sleep before our last day in the parks.

60 million tabs towards good causes

The Google Chrome tabs community project has ended and has raised 60,599,541 tabs for charity in 2010. I participated this year and was happy to have contributed to the books that will be donated to schools and libraries across Asia and Africa.

If you did not get a chance to participate this year, keep a look out for next years project and make sure to get involved.


Original graphic from

A Pirate Looks at 50

PirateIMGToday I turn 50. It is a bit difficult to put that down on paper, or in this case to type it into my Live Writer software. 40 came and went with little fanfare, but this one has reminded me that I am halfway dead (I plan on living to 100 then going out in some fashion that would be considered scandalous for a 100 year old man).

I have been fortunate in many ways over the past 50 years. I have been able to provide a comfortable living for my family, I have been able to coach and attend my kids sporting events from pee wee soccer up through varsity competition, we have been to some amazing places together as a family, I have made some lasting friendships in high school, college and beyond and I even recently convinced my body to become a marathoner. I have a great wife and two amazing intelligent, funny talented children. I have three awesome brothers and two wonderful parents who are actively engaged with their grandchildren.

By all standards life is good. So why does it bother me? I’m not 100% sure but it may be because there are now less days on the downside of the hill than there were on the upside. so what can I do about it? Be a good person, be a good parent, be a good husband, stay in shape, don’t stop doing things that are important, do something crazy, do something fun and make every day count.

Keep Moving Forward.