Way Up In The Bleachers

Cubs Marlins

Matt and I went to the Cubs game tonight and sat as far away from the field as you can get while still being in the ballpark. Only the rooftop seats on the buildings outside the park are farther away. Matt had purchased the tickets from a youth group who was raising money so even though the tickets were almost double face value, it was for a very good cause. We were way up in section 511 in the very last row against the screen that keeps you from falling out of the stadium. Matt kept apologizing for having bad seats (he is used to our Sox tickets right behind home plate), but I told him it was fine and I was just happy to be there with him. Any day out with my son, especially at a ball game is a good day. Unfortunately we had to deal with two things while we were there, cold weather and the sucky Cubs.

One of the two we could do something about, so after 6 innings of pain (it was pretty cold), we decided to head to Oak Park to watch the Blackhawks game at one of my favorite places, Poor Phil’s. We took the long way and drove past our old house on Grove then arrived at the pub just after the end of the first period. We hung out for the second period and enjoyed a nice dinner, some exciting goals and some good conversation. It was actually a pretty mellow crowd for such a pivotal game for the hawks, but that is how I remember Phil’s even 20 years ago when I lived there (in Oak Park not in the bar).

We headed home after the end of the second period and were able to catch the end of the third by the time we got home. The Hawks won 5-1 and moved on to the Western conference finals against San Jose while the Sox also won against the Twins at Target field. And the Cubs, well they lost again.

We were home by 11 so there was still time to watch the episode of LOST we recorded. What the heck? It sure seems like they are trying to cram way too much explanation into these episodes. As must as I hate to wait a week for a new one, I think I would prefer if they took a little more time to flesh out all that loose ends that they are trying to wrap up. I wonder if the rumors are true that the writers were still writing the final episodes a few weeks into the new seasons. A story line this complex has a lot of baggage from the first 5 seasons that all weigh heavily on how they are going to explain all this. I don’t think I like the way it is going.

Skype Is The Best Thing Ever

If you are fortunate enough to travel frequently (or unfortunate depending on the length and destination) you may find your self missing out on events or just missing someone. With my schedule I often find myself missing special events that my kids participate in. Now I’m not just talking about missing one of Jenna volleyball matches or an extra great practice session that she wants to talk about, but sometimes just simple everyday things that bring joy to everyday life.

Matt has discovered the joys of shopping at the Salvation Army thrift store and donating back to them as well. He would much rather spend an hour or so looking for great finds at the store on 75th and Lemont in Downers Grove or the impressively large store in Oak Lawn, than go to the mall and waste his hard earned cash. I have followed his lead in finding some nice items for welding class and for the marathon as I mentioned in my post on January 10, 2010 all in great shape and purchased for pennies on the dollar. He has been collecting shirts from all the major league baseball teams as well as other items that relate to MLB, like caps and glassware. He also has had a few good finds related to the actual implements of the game like baseballs, gloves and bats.


So back to my reason for this post ( I tend to wander but I hope to get better at this as time goes on). Today he scored a really nice pair Nikes, an MLB shirt and a few other items. Normally a phone call to explain his find would be nice but we agreed on a Skype video call so he could show off some of his score. I have a little Logitech Quick Cam for Notebooks (mine is an older version) that I can clip to the top of my laptop and at home we have a webcam connected to our Media Center PC which servers up media to the big screen in the back house. The family can sit on the couch and do a video call with me from anywhere on the planet (limited only to available bandwidth).

We started a video chat after my client visit, diner and a quick run (more on that pain tomorrow.) I find that a video call is much more engaging as I am able to enjoy his expressions and animated gestures, things that you just can’t pick up with a simple voice call. Being two time zones away can be difficult when you are so close to your family so Skype has been one of my most awesome purchases ever. You can get a free account, but I opted for the $3 per month unlimited calls to Canada plan to cut down on the cost of calls to the customers up north (I’m all about saving money).

If you are able, donate your lightly used items to organizations like the Salvation Army. They could really use your help. Or if you have large items or non ‘Consumer’ items, consider giving them away via FreeCycle. Freecycle is an organization that allows you to give and get stuff for free. Instead of adding to the landfill, there may be someone who can use that old bird cage or extra three stacks of shingles that you don’t need anymore. Many communities, including mine have a local chapter. Check it out and help someone out.

Disney Marathon Weekend Day 3

Part 1

4:45 wake up call and onto the bus at 5:45am. The busses are the nice big tour coaches and heated which is a plus when it is 38 degrees outside. One stop at the Wilderness Lodge to pick up other guests and we were in the Epcot parking lot by 6:05 for the 7am start.

the theme for this years 5K was UP and away based on the recent Disney release. Carl Fredrickson, Russell and Doug were there to entertain the kids with a photo op in front of Carl’s house.

Carl’s house.

Lots of eager runners and many still half asleep kids.

The starting fireworks.

We started at 7 on the dot and ran out into the parking lot, made a sweeping right turn and followed the road to a service road entrance behind Test Track. We ran under test track and entered the countries between Mexico and Norway. The course took us all the way around World Showcase before we exited the park and International Gateway and then reentered at England. we ran down the main walkway past Spaceship Earth to the park entrance the made a right hand 180 to head back past Spaceship Earth before making a left back out the park towards the finish line.

The finish line after we had gone through and received our medal.

Lots of support at the finish from spectators in the grandstands and many wonderful volunteers all along the route. Thanks to all the volunteers. Even though it was cold and we had to dodge runners in the first mile or so, it was still a PR day and a great warm-up for the Marathon on Sunday.

Part 2

Mom and Dad are arriving today, so we had to check out of the Towers to move over to Beach Club. They were able to get out of Chicago despite the snowstorm last night so we are grateful for that and very excited to see them. Matt and I made our way over to the Beach club and secured a wheelchair to help make dad’s bad back a bit more bearable. The room was ready and our request for first floor accommodations was granted. The bags were scheduled to be delivered in 3 to 4 hours so we decided to go out on the front lawn and play some catch (Matt has the foresight to travel with two mitts and a baseball at all times). We played catch for about 45 minutes, until the webbing broke on my glove (Matt says it is because of the power of his throw, I said it is because I have had the glove since Purdue days.)

They arrived on the Magical Express and we took them to the room to drop off their bags, then on to Epcot which is just a short walk away via the International Gateway entrance. Walked around a bit and did a few of the rides that they were comfortable doing (no Mission Space). The lines were very manageable, again because of the weather.

We got back to the room at 6 to get ready for our dinner reservation at the California Grill which is on top of the Contemporary Resort. We had a 7:30 reservation so that we could view the 8:00 Magic Kingdom fire works from our table. Dinner was excellent as it always is at that location. We did experience a first for us at Disney World… Invisible fireworks. At about 7:45, a nice heavy fog moved in to blanket the Magic Kingdom. By 8 when the fireworks started, we could see almost all the castle but when the fireworks where launched, we could see them leave the ground but no payoff. They pipe the ‘wishes’ music into the restaurant to sync with the show, so it was a bit weird hearing the audio cues but not see the visual ones.

We headed back to Ecpot for Extra Magic Hours (we get to stay in later than the public since we are staying at a Disney resort). It was pretty deserted so ride lines were very short. A quick hot chocolate, then back to the room.

Tomorrow Animal Kingdom.