Alright, so I've been a bit of a bad person when it comes to blogging, and I do apologize.
We're about 9 days away from Christmas. I still have some work to get done here, in terms of the shopping. Probably half of the gifts are purchased, or so. The other half I'm going to try and get on Friday and Monday, when, in theory, traffic should be down at the stores during the day. I did a lot of my shopping online last Friday night, while Julia was working on her finals (and thank goodness she's almost done!). I do enjoy online shopping, probably too much. I found a new program that helps search out how I can get the most frequent flyer miles at the lowest price on my credit card, as well. Dangerous, yes. But I kept things in check. Also, the Sam's Club membership was shockingly helpful! Good deals there compared to many of the brand name stores. Therefore, my Dad is getting a 20 pound jar of nuts.
Christmas is going to be a challenge this year, for certain. Julia is coming with me to all of my celebrations. That would be 3 within about 28 hours. First Mom on Christmas Eve. The Cations on Christmas morning. The Zims on Christmas evening. Champaign, to Rock Island, to Hinsdale. It is what it is.
Announcing has been going well, except for one slip up that I'm still rather upset at. At Sunday's game, I announced that a player for Western Michigan had made a basket. Unfortunately for me, and him, the ball had gone halfway down, before coming back out (TWSS?). I announced the name, and then someone near me said "Um...he missed." I thought they were joking. That bothers me. A lot. I don't like missing things like that. I know it happens, and it was bound to happen at some point, but dangit.
This past Monday night, I also had an opportunity to be a guest host/guest on the WCFN News at 7 with Dave Benton and Jennifer Ketchmark. Click Here to see some of the stuff I did.
So, I have another 14 daysish until I have to announce again. Once we get to the end of February, that's when things get crazy. I think at this point, I'm doing basketball, baseball, wrestling, tennis (es)...and any fill in work elsewhere. I'm thoroughly looking forward to a trip to Vegas in February to get my head straight, as I wont' have any time off here in the Christmas time to do it.
so now, you have to enter five random letters if you want to comment. I'm hoping that this will stop the spam, and not stop the rest of y'all from commenting.
And yes, I used the word y'all.
That's because I spent the weekend in Texas with Julia's family. All in all, a good weekend, and the Stacklers/Doyles treated me very well. I realized it'd been a long time since I'd spent 5 days with any group of people, let alone my family. England, with Holly and Hot Jen...but that's about it for the last 5 years. I tend to do a day or two with family, and maybe a 3 day trip with some friends. Weird. Not good or bad, just different. So that's kind of weird, I guess.
So, it is Cyber Monday, and I think I'm going to try and do some shopping this evening. I'd like to get half of it done today, just so I can be done. I've already given Glenn his gifts, so he's taken care of, which is good. But yeah, the rest of y'all? Feel free to shoot me ideas.
If I ever have children, control them while in flight. Stop kicking my seat little girl. Mommy? Pay attention to your child and the fact that their feet are constantly in my back. Thanks. Also, wireless internets on the mobile devices are awesome.
My apologies. It's not going to get much better until next week.
I'm headed to Texas in a couple hours, to spend Thanksgiving with Julia's family. While it's an exciting opportunity to get to know her family a little more, and meet her sister, it's also going to be tough to not see my family as well. Today is my Grandma Cation's birthday, and it will be a tough thing not getting to see her tomorrow. These are the sacrifices you have to make from time to time in relationships, which I know. It doesn't make it easy, though.
So, wish me luck in Texas. Most of my friends know my feelings on the state, which I make with ridiculous generalizations. They have rattlers, and guns. Should be a fun time, though.
So, as many of you know, I have some knee issues. Most of it is just having to do with the fact that I run a lot, and for a while, I was running on old shoes. Bad idea jeans, am I right? But then I also read plenty of things about how to make it better, and one of them is to make sure that your legs are stretched out with your feet in FRONT of your knees. Well, I have a problem at work in that when I type at this computer, I have no leg room in front of me. None. It is several pieces of electronic equipment. This is bad. So most of the time, I have to put my legs up on the counter. All bad things.
That's a random thought for you.
Still no movement on the insurance thing. I'm hesitant to go to my insurance company, mostly because I do not want to have to pay any money for this jerkoff's delays. I know I'd get it back, but after how long. It's been over a month now since he told me this was his top priority. I've lost all respect for him. Very kind man, who has been dealing with some horrible things in his life. That doesn't mean I should get screwed over because of his ineptitude.
Julia and I celebrated our one year anniversary on Friday night. And true to form for both of us, we were so tired that we couldn't even make it out for a drink after dinner.
Basketball season has officially started. 2 games in, and my throat is OK, but that's about it. This year should be a little bit easier than last year, in that there's no Chester Frazier to worry about. But I'm already pushing the humidifier in to use so that it hydrates a little better.
Speaking of which, this weekend should be a blast. Basketball game at 7 Friday night, followed by a work obligation from 10-12, then an 11AM football game. I'm sure I'll be in great shape on Saturday night, huh.
And then Tejas in two weeks. Wow.
Oh, and Vegas in 4 months. Leigh and Louis were there this weekend...I was jealous. Oh so jealous.
OK, off to Sam's Club. Best membership I've ever gotten.
As some of you know, last December, a co-worker ran in to my car in the parking lot. The damage was not extensive, but caused a significant crack in the paneling directly behind the rear driver's side door. I went and got the estimate, and it was roughly $1700. The man who hit me is a kind guy, very nice...but weeks kept going by with "I'll call my insurance guy today" and "You didn't get a call yet?" and "Shoot, I forgot yesterday, I'll make sure to take care of it."
After about 2-3 months of that, I learned that his wife had (I think) cancer, and then 2 months later, there was a health problem involving one of his children. Obviously, I backed off, trying to give him some time and space to deal with all of that.
About one month ago, I sent him a firm, but respectful reminder that I still have not received any type of compensation for the accident. Immediately, I received a response of "I thought it was taken care of, I'll start taking care of it today." Oy. One week later, I received an email saying, "This is still very important to me. I'm discussing the matter with my financial planner to come up with a solution."
Now, we're 3 weeks after that, and still no word, no check, no call from an insurance agent.
So, now I've got a damaged car, which is a bit older, so I'm getting to that point where I have to start thinking about getting a new(er) one. Obviously, a massive crack back there (hey yo!) will hurt the trade-in/resale value. If he pays with cash, I may use that as part of a down payment, and sell the car to a brother/cousin.
So...the debate is, if I don't receive any type of response within the next two weeks, what's my next step? Do I go to small claims court? Do I press the issue within my workplace? Do I send a letter to his home?
Honestly, I'll take any solutions any of you may have, even if it is anonymous. I'm at a loss for how to get reimbursed for his hitting my parked car.
As I've said before, I'm extremely lucky to be involved with college athletics, and the opportunity to work with these student-athletes helps keep me feeling young and involved, moreso than a lot of other people my age. Each week, hosting Corner Kicks, I get to interact with the soccer players. They're honestly the nicest team I've had a chance to work with over the last 8 years, just good kids who have fun, and work hard.
Unfortunately, things have not quite worked out the way that they would have hoped this year. Some injuries, some missed opportunities...little things in soccer that end up costing you. They lost their final home game on Sunday, to a team they're clearly better than, 1-0. It was senior day. 4 players who have dedicated immense amounts of time, incredible effort, and their bodies (3 have had surgery, another might need it at the end of the year) were forced to walk off their home field for the final time, and did so with a loss.
It's just heartbreaking, and I'm certainly not doing it justice in terms of how strong the emotion is...but it is a miserable thing to have to watch them come off the field. I don't know how they do it year after year. I have an incredible amount of respect for them, and their level of dedication.
Anyway, that's the hard part. I get to experience mostly good things. The interactions on corner kicks (this week's off the air stuff with Jenna was hilarious), Dominique Keller coming over and taking the Werther's Originals, rain delays in the baseball press box...all these things are great. I'll try to focus on those.
In the meantime, here is this week's Corner Kicks. Hope you Enjoy!
Just going through one of those stretches where everything just...is. And really, there's nothing bad about that at all...it just is. Basketball started on Friday night, which is always good. I'm quite concerned about my throat, and my ability to last through the season. Last year's medical issues haven't truly gone away. Not to be gross, but I still have excess phlegm buildup, which I never had before last February. It's still there. Every once in a while, just a little bit will hit the throat in the wrong way, and cause a problem for me on the air. It makes me nervous when I'm on the microphone. Regardless, getting things started at Illini Madness was great. I didn't get my script until minutes before the event, so I really had no clue what was happening. I wish that had been different. But we'll deal with it. I'm playing a lot of poker. I reached my goal for October, and now have another goal to reach by the end of the year. We'll see how I do, but I know I'm playing much better. Which is a good start. I really hope to make my online total hit $1000 by the end of 2010, which will take a lot of doing. But it's possible! Which reminds me, I'm really craving a trip to Vegas. Badly. Is anyone else watching Glee? I think it's pretty awesome. Soccer tonight, basketball on Sunday, and some poker Friday night. Busy weekend. Also, Glenn has some Vodkatastrophe or something planned for Saturday. I doubt I'll spend much time there. But I would like to see my Monkeys. Also, if you're looking for something to do next Thursday night, please plan on attending the TIP a VIP event for Champaign County CASA. It's a great event for a great local cause, and I will be a waiter along with Kevin Lambert. For more information, visit this website
This morning on the air, I was trying to describe how to say the Swedish "Bj" sound, in their names. The very Scandinavian sound, like in Bjorn. After describing it to Kevin, to further emphasize the sound, I said, "I really like the BJ..SOUND...THE SOUND, um, you know...of BJOR...like Bjorn Borg" Oh no.
I wish I didn't like sweet tea as much as I do.
I've been playing more poker lately. I think I'm getting to a point where I'm making smarter decisions, but good night it's tough when you're playing against other bad players who make awful decisions and then get lucky.
Jupiters now has gluten free pizza. Had one last Friday. Delicious. I even had anchovies on it. Why? Because I'm odd.
It's October. Where did all that time go?
The Corner Kicks posted below, hosted by Julie "Juice" Ewing, and Jackie Santacaterina, is very, very good. They did a great job of preparing for it. As a result, I think it's the best show we've ever had. And as a result, it's going to be hard to come back from that.
This football season got worse last week, what with another awful loss to Penn State, and then the benching of Juice Williams. They have to show some signs of life tomorrow. Have to. Right?
Someone has brought their dog in to work this morning. It's a little lap dog. I thought it was a doll at first. Since when do we have Bring Your Dog To Work Day? Can I bring Stinky and Bonita in here? That would be awesome.
Speaking of which, you really have to love when your pets start getting cold and are stuck in your kneepits all night, trying to stay warm.
Gotta go do an interview for my bad Sunday morning news/public affairs show. Bad. Bad bad bad.
Oh, and this weekend: Illinois football tomorrow...and Illinois soccer on Sunday. Who knows what else.
but ultimately, I stick to the same basic thought that Craig Tiley once gave me. Paraphrased, for personal use, as opposed to business use, you surround yourself with the best people possible, and let them be who they are and do what they do. I think I've been lucky enough to do that, especially in the last couple of years, this past 12 months being no exception.
HERE ARE FIVE WAYS TO BURN AN EXTRA 500 CALORIES A DAY: In your mid-20s, your metabolism slows down, and your body starts burning fewer calories . . . up to 200 less a day. Then at 40, your body REALLY starts packing it away. But it doesn't have to. Here are five easy ways to burn 500 extra calories a day . . . #1.) WORKOUT OUTSIDE. You burn 10 percent more calories running outside than you do on a treadmill. Treadmills drag your feet, and you don't have to propel yourself forward. And running into the wind, even if it's a slight breeze, burns more calories. #2.) ALWAYS WARM UP. Most of us don't take the five minutes to do it, but we should. For every degree your body temperature goes up, your metabolic rate increases by 13 percent. #3.) RUN AT DIFFERENT SPEEDS. Bursts of intense activity make you burn more fat than running or riding a bike at one constant speed. And even after you're finished, it makes your body burn about 15 percent more fat than it would otherwise. #4.) DEVOTE ONE HOUR, ONCE A WEEK. Researchers found that people who worked out for an hour burned nearly five times as many post-workout calories as people who only exercised for 30 minutes. #5.) USE HEAVIER DUMBBELLS. You burn 25 percent more calories lifting 20 pounds five times, than you do lifting 10 pounds ten times . . . even though it's the same total weight. --And researchers say that even if you can only do sets of 3 to 6 reps with heavier weights, it makes your body burn up to eight percent more calories every night while you SLEEP. (Prevention.com)
is that when we have get togethers and parties, or just on certain days when people decide to be really kind....they make me gluten free treats. This past weekend, I was made both cupcakes and brownies. Now, the leftovers are sitting in my kitchen. What am I supposed to do, other than eat them and get fat????
(seriously, though, thank you to Julia and the Cappas)
I apologize for the vulgarity in the subject line, but hey, it is what it is.
I've been lucky enough over the last 9 years to have good, adult, relatively quiet neighbors. Even when I lived below a guy who was in a band, he was respectful enough to keep his musical interludes to a minimum, and turn his amp way down so it wasn't shaking my walls.
Now, however, I have a neighbor next door who is either still an undergrad, or freshly out, and he has zero concept of neighborly civility. In the past 3 weeks, I have had to bang on the wall, or say something, 4 times. He stands outside of our back porch areas and smokes, close enough that it all sneaks in to my house if I have the window open. He bangs around and slams on the stairs loud enough that I can hear it. Constantly. At 10PM every night, I can hear either his music, or his television, which is blaring. One time last week, Stinky ran outside for a minute, which he does every day, and sat on the step. I go inside for one minute or less, and then here "kitty, kitty, kitty," open the door, and find that he's thrown my cat a piece of bread. MY CAT IS NOT A DUCK. He said, "I thought it was a stray." No, you idiot.
Now, he lives with his girlfriend. When his girlfriend is there, he doesn't seem to play his music that loudly. But the rest of the time? Yeah, he's a jerk.
I have no idea how to handle this situation, because he appears to be immature enough that were I to say something, I'd imagine that I'll get ding dong ditched or something the next day at 2AM.
So, I'll take your suggestions at this point. I will keep slamming my fist against the wall for now, hoping he gets the hint. If you know this person, please tell him he is an ass.
Now, on to other points from my life: -I remain extremely disappointed in the Illinois football loss to Missouri. On two points: 1)I'm a fan. I wanted them to be successful, and with my Camp Rantoul involvement, I wanted them to be successful because they were all very nice to me. And 2)It cost me money. If the team is successful, I get to do what is called "stringing" work, where I report the score of the game live on the air on ESPN Radio, and Sporting News Radio. When the team is NOT successful, I do not get hired. I figure that last week's loss probably cost me $200 throughout the season. Not a lot, but when you're broke? Yeah, it's a big deal. -Speaking of which, money has been extremely tight of late. We're still dealing with our salary cut at work, and I haven't had any announcing gigs until a couple weeks ago. Things will start to level out here as basketball starts, but still. Ugh. It's just not pleasant. As a result, I'm not going to a friend's wedding in October in New York. I'd have to give up money in announcing gigs, and the cost of travel would be too much for a weekend. Ugh. -Why do I like Miley Cyrus' "Party in the USA." It's fricking embarrassing. -Finally started running again last week. It's been difficult getting back in to it. I've got a weird feeling that my knees are a little bit more damaged than I want to believe. -There is the possibility right now that I'll be going with Julia to visit her fam over Thanksgiving. That would be weird to not see my family. But with "adulthood" comes change. Gotta get used to that. -Any other questions? I ain't been on here much, so if you have questions or things you'd like for me to comment on, I'd be happy to.
I haven't been this excited about a football season in a long, long time. I don't know what else to say. Maybe it's because I've had an opportunity to get to know the players a little more...maybe it's just the fact that the team is so talented.... I don't know. But I am planning on getting some rum, having a couple of drinks, planting myself in front of the tele at 2:30 on Saturday, and having a screaming good time.
Allow me to just be self indulgent for just a moment. On Saturday, I finished my fourth half marathon of the year. It is something that I'm very proud of. Last year, I pushed myself too hard mentally, and obviously physically, as I developed a stress fracture. This year, I've been much better about letting things come as they should, and physically, I've worked hard, but not to the point of exhaustion. As a result, I've run well, and I'm happier now than I've been in a long time outside of my running.
I was so happy on Monday to get to see Ali again. Very lucky that she was able to sneak down to Champaign for a day to see all of her old friends. The thing that struck me was how lucky I am that every time I see this group of friends that I've had over the past several years, I immediately start thinking about how I can find a way to see them again. Pretty amazing.
On top of it, I'm getting to do things with the Illinois athletic program that I never thought I'd be able to do in my life. So lucky!
I'm including just a couple of other videos that I didn't get to post from earlier in the last two weeks, so please enjoy. Especially the soccer video. We really need some hits on that site!
It's currently pouring outside, which I tend to enjoy, but I really dislike when I want to get in a final good run before a half marathon. Yes, I'm running in Mahomet this weekend (weather permitting), making it four for the year. I was going to get in a 7 miler yesterday, but collapsed towards the end of mile 2. I think it was the mixture of a lack of food with an energy drink, and the 85 degree heat with my inability to tolerate anything above 80. So I guess I'm going to try and do 7 tomorrow night, and hope for the best on Saturday. We'll see!
So I've been doing a lot of stuff for CoachRonZook.com. I'm really honored to be a part of it. Let's see what I can say about it. I know that I said Camp Rantoul about 7 times during my standup. It's been 11 years since I've done live standup work like that, so I'm still feeling my way through. Also, hopefully this week I'll get a nice Illinois football polo to wear. It'll look better the more I do. There's a chance that this could turn in to more, but we'll wait and see with that.
I played some poker on Friday night, and ended up ahead, which is always nice. I really do like playing poker in person better than online. I think I just see things differently. I also got a couple of lucky breaks as well, along with one that cost me 20 bucks. I also cost the Kevin & Sarah morning show a listener because of one hand. Oops! I really just enjoy playing the game, and figuring out the odds of certain things. I wish I had more money to play more often.
Steve finally came and got the extra couch. My living room looks really different now, and I really like it.
I am also slowly getting in to the spare bedroom, which I hoped to have clean last August. But I feel good about getting some things taken care of.
Ted is back in the US. I think he's in Brooklyn. I think. I do not have his phone number, nor do I have his address.
This is going to be a tough week for me. Now that Leigh has quit her job, I don't have my email companion in the AMs. Maybe I'll actually get work done in the mornings! :)
Had a good saturday night out with J, G double, Beef, Beef's cousin, and TField. I really do enjoy the drinks at Radio Maria. Well made, not overly alcoholic, and just tasty. I always come out of that place feeling good, but not at all drinky. It's great.
There should be some fun segments on Coachronzook.com this week, roundtable discussions. I'll post them when they're up!
Yep, I'll be putting the finishing touches on the Zook Zone magazine. It is a periodical for the radio station that is a good money-raiser for us, i.e. it helps me keep my job. It's not my favorite thing in the world, as I'm not a writer by trade. I'm functional, but by no means is it one of my talents. But I do enjoy the opportunity to sit down with some of the coaches and players for interviews. Juice Williams has truly matured in to a solid young man. New offensive coordinator Mike Schultz is a Texas boy, which I admittedly don't normally like, but is a genuinely nice guy who will talk your ear off. New volleyball coach Kevin Hambly is soft spoken, but so driven. And I've talked about my admiration of soccer coach Janet Rayfield before, and I love speaking with her players. They're all great kids.
I've been really antsy getting ready for my sports to return. I get stir crazy in the summer without them, so to have a soccer game to announce next Friday is super exciting. I went out to a practice on Wednesday, not because I had the time (I didn't, really...), but just because I wanted to watch some sports in person. I watched what Coach Rayfield described as an ugly scrimmage. I was thrilled to be there. And football is just a few weeks away. Awesome.
So, it is Friday night, at 7:40, and I've been here at the office since about 4:30 this afternoon, after a full morning shift this morning. When I get done here, I'm going home to run 9 miles, in preparation for the Mahomet Half Marathon in two weeks. After that, I'll try to sleep, get up, maybe help Scot move in the 95 degree heat, come back to work, write 3 articles, go to the Cappas, play poker while having a couple of much needed drinks, sleep, come back to work, and play in the final Crackmonkey sporting event of the year.
That's my weekend. No rest, once again. That's the only way I'm happy, I fear. Constant activity. On a separate note, happy 9 month anniversary to Julia and I. That's it for now. Enjoy your weekend. I suspect I may post again before the weekend is over. m
is the reactions I've been getting to the fact that I now have a tattoo.
There have been people that have been up front about thinking its stupid to get something permanent on my body.
There have been people that have been up front about thinking it is even more stupid to "tattoo your softball team's name on yourself."
There have been people who admitted they laughed when they heard that Mike Cation got a tattoo.
The most interesting thing to me is that I haven't had a second thought in my mind at all. I ALWAYS doubt things I do after I do them. This one...not at all. I am so happy that it's there, and now I think about my close friends at some point during every day.
Also, I want to applaud my friend Leigh for leaving her job, with the major reason being that even though it's always what she wanted to do, she knew that it just wasn't making her happy any more. That's a huge step to take, and even though it is scary, she's taken the plunge, and I support that. She'll continue to be one of my inspirations, as I figure out what my next step will be in the next few years, as radio continues to (apparently) shrivel up and die a slow death.
This one will be brief, as I don't have a ton of energy today!
The official time was 1:52:10, which was another PR for me, and one I didn't think was at all possible. I really was shooting for 1:55, but then found the 1:52 time within reach after 6 miles. So I went for it. And sprinted the last 100 meters to get it.
Julia and Laura both finished at 2:15, which is better than both of them were hoping for, so that's great.
The weekend in Chicago was way too rushed, but that just means we packed a lot in to it. Got to see Leigh for lunch, hung out with J's friends for dinner, saw Dad at the end of the race, and then lunch with J's friends again, before the tattoo and yes, softball last night.
I want to say thank you to Dad, Mary, Matt and his girlfriend Maggie for coming out. It means a lot to have some support out on the course, especially right at the end. It means more than they probably know. So, thank you.
Now, the tattoo.
I'm not a tattoo guy. But I've been talking on and off for the last 3 years now about getting something done. What I wanted was to commemorate and remember the friends I had a few years ago that supported me and were there in a time when I really needed them. It was the CrackMonkeys...Leigh and Louis, Ted, Glenn, Ali, Kalleen and Tom, Bri and Brad, Tony and Jill, Scot, the Vosses, the current Monkeys...others that I'm leaving out...a great group of people. I'd been toying with the idea of getting an actual picture of a monkey or something, but I'm also not someone who wants to have a lot of people looking at it. So, after some debate, I decided to just get the CM from the Crackmonkey logo. It is on my left hip.
I have already found that there are some people who found it laughable that I would get the name of my softball team on my left hip. And that's fine. For me, though, it really isn't just about that. It's not even close to that. It is a wonderful group of friends that I was incredibly blessed to have in my life. We just happened to have a name for it.
Also, Arthur Jillz did a spectacular job on the tattoo. If you are in Chicago, and in need of a tat, please look him up, or email me for his contact info. He's going to continue to do some great work, so get in on the ground floor, people.
I know very little about bidets. I've used one maybe once or twice in my life, and it made me uncomfortable to say the least. That being said, I don't understand bidet etiquette. Here is the basic problem I have: drying. How do you dry? What do you do? Do you have a special towel for that? Now, let's say you're invited to a party at a house in France. All they have is a bidet, no toilet paper. What do you do??? I really don't know!
Now some quick updates on what's up in my life: -I'm in the midst of writing the Zook Zone for the station. It is currently the bane of my existance. I do not enjoy it much. But it is what it is. Two weeks of this, and we're all good. -I am running in the Chicago Half Marathon. If you would like text updates on my progress during the race, please let me know. I'm signing up for a texting program so interested friends and family can know my time. I think I'll be able to finish, as I got through 10 on Saturday, and felt like I probably could have done at least a couple more. -Our softball team had another odd game last night. We had a player who knocked knees with an opposing player in a close play at second base. They accused Scot of doing it intentionally. Anyone who knows Scot knows that's not who he is. Now there appear to be some very hard feelings between two teams that had previously been friendly, and that's really unfortunate. I've enjoyed this Crackmonkeys season less than most in the past. But I really enjoy the postgame dining and drinks more than anything. -Julia's parents met my mother on Saturday night over dinner. Everything went fine. -Also, Julia's parents came to the softball game. I proceeded to slide in to third, scraping the hell out of my leg, producing blood. Then they saw the injury and the discussion that followed. Welcome to Crackmonkey softball! -Also on that point, we lost Holly this year from the team, but gained lil' D, who cracks me "the eff" up. -We have the circus coming in to town this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I despise clowns. I really, truly despise clowns. I have to work at this circus. It is a recipe for disaster. -My friend Amber has a blog that you can link to on the right hand side of this page...she is currently moving out of her apartment in the Wrigleyville area as she switches jobs, and goes back to school. Her writing about it in recent weeks has been really emotional and well done, so if you have a second, give it a read. -Also, Glenn had a really well put together blog post about race, and the Cambridge, Mass arrest. So hope over there if you have a second.
I surprised even myself, with an 89 on the course on Saturday. Now, granted, it was a shorter course, which is quite helpful for me...but I played shockingly like I used to. Steady drives, decent irons to get me in position to make a putt for par, and just hitting 2 or 3 of them. It was really fun. With a special thanks to Zack, Chris, and Pat, my cousins, for making it enjoyable. We also had some time with my mom's side of the family on Saturday and Sunday as well, along with visits with Leigh and Louis, and my Dad and brothers. It felt like an awful lot packed in to about 30 hours. And as a result, I'm still worn out. I think I'm doing well on my diet, as I feel much better. I haven't actually weighed myself in about 5 days. One thing that is helping is that I'm obviously running much more, with the half marathon about 12 days out. I have severe doubts about whether I'll be able to finish that thing. I got through seven yesterday, but it was a struggle. I have to do at least 9 this weekend in order to have any confidence in myself. There is a slight chance I will be attending my first Cubs game of the year on Friday. Slight. Julia's parents come in to town on Wednesday for an extended weekend. They are definitely going to the Cubs game. Along with taking a full day or so up in the city. My new favorite for lunch is a turkey wrap with avocado. It's delicious. I wish, however, that I could buy the frozen half avocado packs from Trader Joes.
Yep, for the first time since last year, I'm returning to the golf course on Saturday as part of a family outing celebrating my Aunt Margi's 50th birthday. I'm expecting mass hysteria, and some sort of death. Likely a chipmunk or something, as I scald another ball along the ground.
As my Dad's side of the family knows, I used to be a quite excitable and cursing golfer who could shoot in the mid 80s on really good days, and was generally right around bogey golf at 90. But the game is just so incredibly expensive that I can't afford to play at a level necessary to maintain that pace. At this point, I know that I can hit the shots...I just can't hit them with any consistency. It's so frustrating.
Also tonight, I'm playing a little poker at the invitation of my friend David. They're playing Omaha, which is a game I'm not quite familiar with, but I'm going to try and learn on the fly. We'll see, but I'm not getting my hopes up.
I also would like to post some pics on here at some point from Australia. The entire catalog is up at facebook, for all of my facebook friends. I should really put them on flickr or something, shouldn't I.
First, let me just say that Glenn's idea for a 30 bar bar crawl was horrible, and I'm sorry for anything that may have happened after 7PM on Saturday night.
Now, that being said, let me just say that I'm looking for any suggestions on how to recover from my jet lag. I'm really struggling with it right now. Again this morning, I woke up at 2:30, and just sat there. I did that last week too. On Saturday morning, knowing a long day was ahead of me, I took some nyquil to go back to sleep after waking up promptly at 4. Sunday, despite staying up until 3:30, I woke up at 6:30. ARGH! I've never had to deal with this before. I probably need a weekend to just get things back in order, but I don't see that happening any time soon.
I have had the suggestion of getting back to a normal exercise routine, and hopefully I'll be able to get to that over the next few days. Today will be a nice day at the gym, and then some golf and a run tomorrow, if everything works out correctly.
Outside of that, things appear OK. I'm just hoping to get back to normal this week. That would be very nice.
Remember that Tauntaun sleeping bag that was supposedly for sale on Think Geek but wasn't, because it was April Fools and they were only kidding? So many people wanted it and got angry that it wasn't available. The company has now decided to try to bring it to life for real--if the suits at Lucasfilms will grant them a license. Think Geek has done great April Fools prank products before (caffeinated meatloaf, anyone?), but this one was exceptional. It had the head of a Tauntaun, a fur outer lining, an inner lining with an intestine pattern, and a tiny light saber on the zipper to simulate the slicing action Han Solo performed to open the animal up so he could stuff Luke into it.
Think Geek's PR guy, Shane Peterman, talked with me on the record about the perils of Tauntaun sleeping bag pranks. Will you ever sell the Tauntaun sleeping bag for real?
We are definitely trying to make it in to an actual item to be sold on our site. As of right now, it's still an "if," but it's turning in to more of a "when." Things are looking pretty good, we just don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves. There's certainly been enough of a demand, both from customers and from those of us that work here. Right now, we're aiming to have it available for the holidays, or at the latest, the 30th anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back next spring.
The joke price was $39 bucks. Is that how much it will really cost?
The price will very likely go up a bit once we actually make the sleeping bag. Since we haven't gotten to the production stage yet, it's hard to say what the price will be, unfortunately. I think it's safe to assume that the kids size will be at a lower cost than the adult size, that much I'm pretty sure of. The cost of material and the actual production of it will dictate what the retail cost will be.
I think over the last year or so, I've been doing really well of staying in the moment, and focusing on what is at hand, not getting ahead of myself, or looking back too much.
After an experience like this, it is impossible not to do both.
I have truly experienced two major cities half a world away. I have lived as largely as my means will allow (maybe too much so), and experienced culture quite different from mine. I never believed I would be at a park, feeding wild kangaroos. I never really thought I'd get to see the Sydney Opera House. I never would have guessed I'd be letting the waves of Bondi Beach rush over my feet. I never could have imagined being able to walk in the bowels of Rod Laver Arena.
I am so thankful for the opportunity. I've said it multiple times here, but I really am so happy my mom was able to give me this chance. I hope that I've done enough to live up to it.
At the same time, it is hard for me to think about the fact that this might be the one time I ever get to do this. I do not regret much of anything on this trip, except that I did get tired too early some days from doing too much! That's a good problem. I just wish I could say that I KNOW I'll be back in 10 years. In 15. That's part of the beauty of life, however, that you have to experience and make sure to live each moment, no matter where it may be. Tomorrow, for me, it will be Auckland, Papeete, LA, Dallas, and home. I hope I will be able to focus on what that experience will be like.
I am also so thankful to have friends like Ali and Craig Tiley. Despite tragic and deeply saddening circumstances that shortened our time together, I think we made the best of it, and they provided me with experiences in those 40 hours that I would not have been able to do on my own. And they also trusted me with their house and their wonderful cat for 5 days on my own. I can't express how lucky I am to have friends like that. Ali has been one of the closest friends i've had over the past 13 years or so, and I'm so glad that it has been able to endure the last 4 years that she's been here. Craig has is the person who taught me what it meant to be successful. To be a leader. I don't always succeed the way I'd like to, but there are so many moments when I think of the lessons he's taught me over the past 10 years, and realize how lucky that makes me. So to both of you, and Maks, thank you. Very, very much.
So I will keep my chin up for the next 38 hours, and hopefully get home safely, and remember that I'm lucky to have all of these people in my life, no matter where I may be. And thankful that I have so many other loving, caring people in my life, who I haven't mentioned in this post, including the family and friends that read this blog.
Sorry I'm being so sentimental today. I tend to get quite emotional when I have experiences like this. It's been an amazing one.
I hope that once I get home, where I have real internet, I will post a slew of pictures. There are some great ones.
You know, Ali and Craig have the crappiest internet ever. It's like dialup! :)
Seriously, it is slow.
I'm going to try and put one picture here, but it'll probably take 5 minutes to upload. Literally.
Things have been well. I've been trying to relax a bit the last couple of days. I've played a little bit of poker (not as good...couple of bad beats, and a couple of times I just got beat), shopped a bit, walked around the city quite a lot, and watched more Arrested Development. I'm having a very good time, and enjoying some time away from work and all, for sure.
Craig and Ali arrive back in a half hour or so. Its 7PM here in Melbourne.
This afternoon, I made it to the Melbourne-West Coast Australian Rules Football Game. I love the game. I think it's continuously exciting. Unfortunately, the team I was cheering for, West Coast, lost by 20. Their midfielders, if that's what you call them, were terrible. They just gave up possession after possession. ANd too many hand passes! Also of note, they gave away free red bull. And I liked it. Who knew?!
The thing that strikes me most about Australia is that people are so much more polite here than they are in the states. I realize I'm saying that on the 4th of July, but it is true. Everyone is courteous, respectful, and just kind to each other. Its fascinating to watch.
Maksim and I have had some nice time together over the last couple of days. I hope he still talks to me once Ali and CT get here.
Hopefully, tomorrow, I'll get to see the tennis center. Then, I head back to Sydney on Monday, and back to the states on Tuesday.
Alright, we're through Wednesday in Melbourne. Highlights of the day include a not so great Aquarium, attending the Queen Victoria Markets, which were closed, watching a 1-2 hour wait at the Melbourne Museum, winning $55 at the Crown Casino, and eating both a GF cheese burger, and a GF pizza. Now indulge me on some of the things I've learned, both about myself, and culturally about Australia. Again, some of these are merely about myself, and they are what they are.
1) I travel better alone. I can certainly get better at this, but when I'm in a city, I do very well when flying solo. I am under no restrictions to anyone, and I can just do my thing. Sorry. 2) Australia has a ridiculous amount of gluten free options. It is unbelievable how much more aware of things they are. I mean, a cheeseburger and a pizza, at different restaurants, on the same day?!? 3) I am good enough to play poker at a casino. Having played and watched at two different places today, I certainly have the ability to play well enough to do OK. There's always luck, and sometimes you get outplayed, but yeah, I've got enough talent now, for sure. 4) It is expensive here. Seriously flipping expensive. 5) I've been through several days here, and still can't remember to look the correct way when crossing the street. It is a good thing I'm not driving. 6) What the hell is going on in cricket. Seriously, I mean, I think I get the very, very basics, but come on. 7) On a similar note. Rugby? Yeah, again, I get it, but I don't. 8) On the other hand, I absolutely love Australian Rules Football. I look forward to going to a game on Saturday. 9) People appear to be much more friendly in Australia than they do in the US 10) I have made fun of the people in US casinos, because they sit on their stools, mindlessly, and chubbily. Which probably isn't a word. It is the exact same in Australian Casinos, except more of them are Asians. 11) Another big difference is the lack of "themed" slot machines, like the Star Wars and Star Trek 12) Another big difference is the huge amount of Baccarat tables. Good lord. 13) I have seriously watched cricket for the last 90 minutes. I have NO clue what's happening. 14) I have gotten more tired as the week has gone on. I've made it to 9PM tonight, but I'm completely spent, and longing for my bed.
I think that's all for now. Feel free to email with any questions, or leave your comments here.
I know there are a ton of things to do this week, and I"m looking forward to doing all of them, but tonight, it's 7:30, and I am just looking forward to sleeping right now more than anything. And hopefully sleeping until 7 tomorrow morning. I'm hitting a point where my sleeping patterns are a little weird. Going to bed earlier. Getting tired earlier.
Today's update: I'm in Melbourne. Ali and Craig's house is wonderful. I always have believed that Bonita was the ultimate troublemaker when it came to cats. I take that back. Maxsim the cat is quite something. He still won't let me anywhere near him for petting, but I had a bite to eat, and he was 3 inches from me so that he could try to eat it.
There is a nice little stretch of shopping near their house. I walked over today, and got some food for the week. They had a ton of GF options. Breads, tortilla wraps, and canned spaghetti. So I'm set in that respect for the week. There's also a place with GF pizza down the street. I should be all set.
OK. It's time to lay down for 12 hours. Or so. if Maxsim lets me.
Lots of fun stuff today. Walked to Circular Quay, and then took a ferry over to the Zoo. And yes, i did the touristy thing, and got my pictures taken with a freakin koala. Yep. it's hot. I know. I couldn't help myself. If that's my big splurge, so be it. It is what it is. After that, took a long bus ride over to Bondi Beach, the legendary surfing and image conscious beach on the SE side of the city. I walked the whole beach, and it was really gorgeous. The water was quite cold, as was the sand, but I mean, it's winter. What do you want. Came back, had a nice workout in the gym, showered, and just ate a very nice Italian meal at a restaurant owned by Koreans. Whatever works. Tomorrow I head to Melbourne. I'm quite excited about having tomorrow night to do nothing. I could explore the city, but I think I'm going to just veg out, read some, and watch television. If something pops up, so be it. Listening to Miley Cyrus over here makes me quite sad. In my head, now, my voice has an Australian accent. I wonder how long it takes for that to go away. I think that's it for tonight.
Things I did today: Eat well (massive helping of pad thai for 9 dollars, and a GF kabab/gyro that i ate about 2 hours later simply because it was a GF kabab/gyro) Attended two markets, the Rocks and Paddington, except Paddington was closed. I looked at it longingly. I walked the famous Harbour Bridge. I walked inside St. Mary's Cathedral. I shopped a bit. Glenn would have been very proud of me. I picked up a nice black shirt in boys town, so the gays must approve, hence, Glenn would approve. (In my head, I'm imagining Glenn shouting "WHAT!" in a high pitched voice) Then I went and played poker. I took out $100. I played for an hour. I left with $200. I played solidly, hit a couple of lucky flops and played them well to get extra money. I was proud of myself. Also, while at the poker table, I sat next to an elderly woman wearing a snuggie. No kidding. If they would have allowed pictures, i would have taken one.
The night is beautiful. It rained for about a half hour while I was in the casino playing poker, and now it's probably 60 degrees, and a clear sky. Perfect for me to walk around in shorts and a long sleeve. I'm going to head back to the hotel momentarily, shower, and go out to a nice bar to have a celebratory drink. It should taste quite delicious tonight.
That's all for now. Any questions, i'll be happy to take them. Again, I do apologize for the lack of pictures.
I slept from about 7:30ish until 8AM, so I think I'm on a regular schedule here now. Which is great.
The bad news is that Craig's father has passed. Obviously, I feel awful for him, and for Ali. But in terms of my trip, it means that I'll be spending 3 days on my own now in Melbourne. Which is fine. Not ideal.
I'm also going to be canceling my intended run in the half marathon. Its disappointing, but I'd much rather have Saturday and Sunday to spend with Ali and Craig, rather than go to bed early on Saturday, and then be exhausted all of Sunday.
So, that's my update.
Also, the Paddington Market is closed on Sundays, Marriott Hotel. You told me it was open, and have wasted an hour of my time.
I'm about to hit up the Olympic Stadium, followed by a long walk to the Rocks Market.
I only have about 12 minutes left at an internet cafe, so I want to be somewhat concise, and descriptive at the same time. I have been in Australia now for 9 hours. I have stayed awake (its 4:15 here, 1:15 where most of you are) all day, after only having slept about 4 or 5 hours on the plane. The plane ride was insane. I got pajamas to wear, my own TV, personal service, gluten free meals, and I think if I had asked for a rub down, would have gotten one. I didn't want to leave the plane. The seat folded in to a bed for god's sake! I have more I want to write about my travels, but time forbids. So far in Australia, I've toured the Botanical gardens, hit up Paddy's markets, did Darling Harbour (but skipped the Aquarium and its 32 dollar cost), went through Hyde Park, over to the Royal Botanic Gardens, the Art Gallerty, the Government House, and then walked up to the Opera House, but did not pay 35 for a tour. That is a full day, considering my body is telling me its 1:15 and I didn't sleep last night. It really is beautiful here, although I'd imagine that if it was summer and everything was in bloom, it would be even better. Tomorrow, I'm definitely going for a 7 mile run up to the Gardens, but probably not across the bridge...although that might change. I'm also going to the Paddington Markets, and "The Rocks." Outside of that, I don't know. Also not sure when I'll be able to post pictures. THat may have to wait a few days. Until I get to Ali's. I mean, 29 dollars a day for internet at the hotel? C'mon! Any questions, leave them here, and I'll respond when I can. Mike
I tend to get a tad bit paralyzed when thinking about all the things coming up over the next few days. It's so, so exciting. But at the same time, just a heck of a lot to process...flying for 24 hours, making sure I have anything, worrying about the cats, hoping that Julia gets through her last couple weeks of classes...
I've spent a couple of minutes tonight watching Jon and Kate plus Eight. I am incredibly pleased I've never watched any of this before. She's a nutjob, and he's a bluetooth wearing weirdo. I hope that it goes off the air, for the kids' sake.
One of the things I'm looking forward to when I get back from Australia is a office race that we're having to give away Nascar tickets on the air. Qualifiers will have to race in office chairs, facing forward, around our parking lot, twice, to win the tickets. I will enjoy watching them struggle, as well as Sarah and Jennifer Ketchmark. Mostly because I will be exhausted after having arrived back in the country 8 hours earlier, and will need a laugh.
I'm also looking forward to a Cubs game on the 24th. I'm not in charge of any of the planning. I went and looked at ticket prices anyway. And its something like 55 bucks per ticket if we all want to sit together, and its the worst seats at Wrigley.
I ran 10 miles on Saturday morning. I got up at 5 to do so, because I've hit the portion of the year when I absolutely melt. It was 75 at 6AM, and by the time I hit home at 7:45ish, I was soaking wet, and my clothes weighed several pounds. But it's a necessity if I want to get through these next two half marathons in the next 6 weeks. I think I can do it.
The poker thing continues to progress. I've won some, I've lost some...it's just a matter of learning.
I owe my mom a huge debt of gratitude for this trip. It's going to be amazing.
I'm going to miss watching the Cubs every night. Is that weird? OK. Any thoughts?
Alright, so I go to Australia one week from tomorrow. I will have more on that in a moment. Here are my other random thoughts. I won a 9 person poker tournament on Sunday on the internet. It was the first time I've ever actually won a tournament, so I was very proud. I've been working very hard to get better at the game, so that I can some day go to Vegas, and not look like an idiot. I have no aspirations to play in the World Series of Poker, but I would like to have a chamce in a smaller tournament there. I think it's a fun goal to have. I made a statement on facebook a few weeks ago that people shouldn't complain about the weather. So here is my once a year summer rant on the weather: My body doesn't handle it well at all. I get overheated so quickly, it's just miserable sometimes. I should probably move to Canada or something. Ideally, I would have two homes, one in Seattle, and one in, say, Tennessee or something, to get the best of both worlds, without getting too hot. I ran 5 miles on Monday, and it was 80 and humid. I wanted to quit after a mile, but somehow muscled through. Today, at 86, will be another challenge. Luckily, I'm going to Australia, where it will be 60-65 every day. Ideal. Last night, I made a spectacular pasta, with tomatoes, mushrooms, turkey, and avacado. And a spicy sauce. I wanted to only eat the sauce. Sammy Sosa's positive test is far from a surprise, but continues to be a disappointment. The twittering out of Iran is just fascinating. I think the new media has some horribly negative aspects to it in terms of how we are slowly losing the ability to interact on a person to person basis (self included), but what is coming out of Iran on twitter is fascinating. I suggest you get a twitter account just to check it out. Also, follow me (@mikecation).
OK, now, to be self indulgent for a moment, I'm going to put together my list of to dos that I must get done before I go to Australia and feel free to include your suggestions in the comments (with great thanks to Christina, Jill, Tony, Glenn, and my brothers and father for their recent comments):
-Make sure all books are renewed from the library, and Arrested Development Season 2. -Get an adaptor plug. -Make sure to have all toiletries, and small supplies for the overnight bag I'll need on the plane. -Visa information/Passport -Hotel reservations/Plan reservations -Make sure the cats have enough food. -Pack -Clean my house. -GPS and travel points. -Running equipment ready to go. -Get some Australian Monies for a taxi ride to the hotel. -Get Ali's address. -Make sure everything is set at work.
What else. I'm sure I'm forgetting a ton of stuff, and this list will continue to grow.
OK, so, Kevin gave me a bit of crap about this on the air the other day, so I'm throwing this out as an ethical dilemma.
I work out at the Fitness Center (the Fitness Center and you.....it's time to get fit.) They have a stretching room, which includes a very small table with a TV and DVD player, with an instructional video on how to use the gigantic stretching machine contraption.
So, as I walk in on Wednesday, I'm in there by myself, sit on the mat to begin stretching, and I notice that on the table, there's a $20 bill. There's nobody else in the stretching room, nor the room to its immediate left, a group cycling room. There is no other leftover equipment, like a towel from someone who was just in there. Just, simply, a $20 bill.
Now, I sit here typing with that $20 bill in my wallet in my pocket. My thinking was that since it was a $20, it's not worth turning in to the Club, because what's to stop the teenager at the front desk from pocketing it themselves. And surely the next person who walked in would take it, right?
I felt it was karma paying me back. When I was younger, around 5 or 6, a guy dropped either a 50 or 100 in Memorial Stadium. I saw it, and immediately ran up and gave it back to him. He gave me a quarter.
Also, a couple of months ago, I lost 20 bucks because I'm an idiot, and threw away a receipt from County Market that had a 20 in it. That was really just stupid on my part, but again....karma.
Right? Am I wrong on this? Am I a bad person for not turning it in as lost? Let me know.
Alright, as many of you may know, I'm headed to Australia in two weeks and one day. Now, I've got all the logistics taken care of, with plenty of thanks to my mother. My passport is up to date, I have a visa....I'm ready for that. (Money is another story, but that's beside the point)
What I'm trying to figure out now is what the heck to do while I'm down there. So far, I've figured out that I would like to go to a zoo, would like to see an Australian Rules Football game, maybe try to walk the Sydney bridge, run a half marathon...that's a good amount to start with. But I am always looking for more suggestions. Here are some that Ali sent me in an email. If you have any more thoughts on what I should do while I'm down there, please let me know! I'm all ears.
1. Snakes and koalas Ballarat Wildlife Park is about 1.5 hours away. You can run around with and feed kangaroos. There is a reptile house (you might get to hold a snake or something). You can also get your picture taken holding a koala. http://www.wildlifepark.com.au/
2. Surfing lesson Keep in mind, it is winter here. It will be f'ing freezing. They'll give you a wetsuit, but still, it might be cold and raining. If you're interested, this is where I will take you: http://www.gorideawave.com.au/ in Torquay. BTW, Torquay is the location of a world famous surfing beach called "Bells Beach." The final scene of "Point Break" supposedly takes place at Bells, but they actually filmed it in Oregon. Enjoy the trivia.
3. Great Ocean Road If you're keen on the surfing lesson and also going along the Great Ocean Road (http://www.greatoceanrd.org.au/Highlights.aspx) to the iconic Twelve Apostles, I would recommend that we do your surfing lesson one afternoon, then we continue on to the Great Drive to Apollo Bay, where we have dinner and spend the night at The Costal Motel www.coastalmotel.com.au. Standard room, which we could share is about $85 US. We could split the cost. Wake up early and go down the Great Ocean Road to the Twelve Apostles, etc. take pictures. Come back to Melbourne and do something that night in the city or whatever.
4. Winery tour I would not recommend doing a "tour." Rather, I can just drive you out there and take you to a few cool places. The Yarra Valley is only about an hour and 15 mins away...and we could spend as much or as little time out there as you want. http://www.wineyarravalley.com/
Alright, so, as you can see from above, I shaved my head again. While Julia might not be happy about the situation, I certainly am, as the long hair was very difficult to run with. I sympathize with women who have long hair who sweat as much as I do, because it just isn't fun. You just get heated. Ick. So, the hair is gone, even though the new barber effed up a couple spots. I mean, how hard is it, when it's your job, to put on a 1 blade, and not miss spots? Jeez. I had to fix it at home.
Now, speaking of home, the other picture is of my crowded, crowded living room. Two couches, the loveseat/chair, not to mention the bookshelves and TV you can't see to the left. It is very cramped. I'm not happy about the situation, but it will have to do until August, when Steve can come and pick up the couch. That's not pleasant. OK, Buggin Out readers. Here's my list of to dos for the weekend: -Pay hospital bill. -Blog -Library -Plan Australia -Send photo to the Dentist -Chicago hotel -Sydney hotel -Change the litter -Clean my car -Put two more items on ebay -Run 7 miles -Pay bills, get finances straight for Australia -Golfing Range -Laundry -Find some checks (I pay pretty much everything online now...not sure where the actual checks are)
I've already done 5 of these things. 6 if you count this blog. Good start for it being only 1:05.
Also, The Hangover gets a Mike Cation recommendation.