Monday, March 31, 2008

Second Time Was Better

The BF ran the Shamrock Shuffle yesterday and it was a great experience for both of us; much better than the last time he ran a race - the Chicago Marathon in October. Yeah, THAT Chicago Marathon, the one where one person died and over 300 were taken to the hospital for heat stroke, exhaustion, and lack of water brought on by a lack of disaster planning by marathon officials.

The BF finished that race though, but at both physical and emotional sacrifice for both him AND me.
This time however, yesterday, everything went very well. The weather was about 40 degrees. And where he and I could not find each other in the marathon crowds, I was pretty much the only person standing at Jackson and LaSalle at 9:50am when The BF strode by at mile 2.5, making this run look effortless.

After he passed, I walked two blocks south to catch him at mile 3.5, where he didn't even look like he was sweating yet.
He finished in his best time:

34:31 minutes (6:56 minutes/mile)
overall: 880 out of 22,588 (top 4%)
men: 769 out of 10,383 (top 7.5%)
division: 212 out of 2,690 (top 8%)
Compared to his stats from when he ran the same race in 2006:
39:56 minutes (8:01 minutes/mile)
overall: 3,535 out of 20,407 (top 17.5%)
men: 2,764 out of 9,707 (top 28%)
division: 710 out of 2,462 (top 29%)

Congratulations, hun! You did very well, and it was a happy day.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Old Stone House

My family lives in a very historic part of the country. Without really knowing it, I grew up along scenic U.S. 40, the first national road that started on one coast and ended on the other – also known as the old National Pike. The road is peppered with mile markers, old toll houses, and inns that have been converted to restaurants and private residences. One of the most striking of these buildings on U.S. 40 is The Old Stone House overlooking Little Meadows, the valley named by George Washington during the 1754 campaign.



The Old Stone House was built as an inn in 1818 by Jesse Tomlinson, who chose Little Meadows not only for its scenic beauty but for its opportune location on the National Pike about a day’s ride from Cumberland (today, it's a 20 minute trip by car.)

Tomlinson’s inn was built to last, of blocks of stone 2 feet and 3 feet square, with chimneys 30 feet wide at the base and 2-foot-deep windowsills. A community center, the inn housed a general store and the county’s first post office. Stagecoach passengers feasted on mutton, venison, turkey, pheasant and brook trout for 50 cents per person; the wagoners, whose trade was essential, got a discount, plus corn whiskey at 3 cents a shot.

According to the historical society, celebrated 19th-century guests at the inn included Henry Clay, Jenny Lind, P.T. Barnum and four U.S. presidents: Jackson, Taylor, Polk and President-elect William Henry Harrison – en route from Ohio to his fatal inauguration, maybe?

Of course, there are ghost stories. One of the bedrooms is said to have a perpetually bloodstained floor. The historical society passes along an even better legend:
The most intriguing story is about a beautiful, heavily veiled woman with quantities of expensive luggage bearing foreign labels, who got off the stage to spend the night at Stone House. She had her supper brought to her room and did not once set foot outside of her door. The next morning one of the little servant boys brought her hot water. But she had disappeared. All of her baggage remained, but there was no trace of her. The woods were searched as thoroughly as possible, but she was never found; and to this day no one knows who she was.
From the outside, the building seems to be in good shape. It’s a private residence now. Here is a postcard by John Kennedy Lacock:



Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spring Is Here . . . Sorta

Due to some bizarre time zones, the vernal equinox occured in the Central Standard Time zone last night at 11:47PM (5:05AM UT), technically a day earlier than normal. So basically, Spring came early to Chicago - but not so's you'd notice.

Ending one of the most brutual winters Chicago has seen in decades, the city is still seeing daily temperatures in the low to mid 30's, with the temperature during the next 5 days hovering at 35F. Tomorrow's forecast:
Friday... Snow. Snow may be heavy at times. Snow accumulation of 3 to 5 inches. Blustery. Highs in the mid 30s. East winds 15 to 25 mph. Chance of precipitation near 100 percent.

The flu epidemic has been widespread throughout Illinois for the past 5 weeks with no sign of easing up. And despite the fact that the city hasn't had a significant snowfall for the past several weeks, there are still snow mounds in yards and on sidewalks.

But Spring is here. Or so they tell me.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Flo Rida

So there is a rapper who calls himself Flo Rida. On purpose. No matter how you cut the word up, it's still Florida. I'm not sure why anyone would want to name himself after a state that has, over the last 8 years, proven to be politically managed by idiots -- unless this choice of name is perhaps an homage to the mother on Good Times, or if it's a trend where male rappers are giving themselves traditionally female names (if I told people that Flo and Nelly were coming to my house, I think the last thing they would expect to see would be two thugs muscled down with guns and posses).

Flo is from Opa Locka, which is why the choice of name. Otherwise, he could have chosen:
  • Mary Land
  • Al Abama
  • Dela Ware
  • Ari Zona
  • Missi Ssippi
  • Al Aska
  • Cali Fornia
  • Louis I. Ana
  • Col O. Rado
  • Georgi A
  • Minne Sota
I'm surprised some female artist hasn't scarfed up the names Ida Ho or Virgin I.A. yet, depending on the rep she is trying to promote. Although I do doubt anyone chooses the name Massa Chusetts, since that seems to have some racial undertones. I think there should be a county singer who calls himself Tex As or better yet Ken Tucky, or perhaps a reggae singer who calls himself Mon Tana. Think of all the personalized things you could buy with your name on them! And really, why stop there? A performer could also dub himself Philip Pines, Ken Ya, Sam Oa, Al Bania, Tai Wan, or even simply just Chad or Jordan.

At what point does the whole thing just become ridiculous?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Whether your ancestry is German, Spanish, Native American, Russian, African, or Chinese - today we are all Irish.

Éirinn go Brách!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Clydesdale

The CARA (Chicago Area Runners Association) is a non-profit organization devoted to the 5 million runners in the Chicagoland area. Everyone in Chicago runs.

Everyone.

So much so that CARA has adopted a cute little word for runners they consider to be "heavy" or "larger": Clydesdale.
What's a Clydesdale, you ask? Basically it's a big horse, known for pulling heavy things. Isn't that uplifting? CARA calls large runners Clydesdales.

I'm betting none of the people who came up with this moniker weigh over 160lbs.
Are runners weighing under a certain weight given a nickname? Heck, no. They may as well just called us Rhinos. Rhinos run. So do Elephants. And Oxen. Hippos run when they are on land and hear a frightening sound. Is Clydesdale supposed to be more noble? And get this description from CARA: big athletes may never finish first in a race, but they are excellent athletes among their peers and deserve to be recognized for their efforts and accomplishments.

If I want to compete, I want to compete against everyone, not just "heavy" people. If I lose, its because someone was better than me -- just someone, not someone heavy.
I don't need to be given a nickname to make me feel better since "I may never finish first". I mean with a confidence boost like that, why should I even bother?

You want to compete? Come lift with me at the gym sometime. And then let's see what cute little name I can think up for you.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Sharpie & David Beckham. Or Is It?

There is a Sharpie commercial on the air these days that shows a pair of hands holding a golfball that, after a few artistic moves with a fine point marker is transformed into a soccer ball. And then the name "David Beckham" is written on the ball. From all this, we - the pitifully stupid viewing public - are to deduce that it's actually David Beckham doodling and autographing the ball.


What the few smart members of our apparently idiotic viewing public will question is - did Sharpie just pay a gazillion dollars for the use of David Beckham's name? I'm sure we can all agree that those are not Beckham's hands, despite the fingernails being smartly and metrosexually manicured.

Question #2 would be why is Sharpie paying a gazillion dollars for the use of a sports star's name when there are already celebrities out there actually using their product free of endorsement? Or isn't Jude Law hot enough anymore? For that matter, does Beckham really use Sharpies when he autographs? And is that even Beck's autograph? Even his own wife doesn't know it.



Which then also makes me wonder: does David Beckham really need another endorsement? In 2006, he brought home a paltry $11.1 million in endorsements alone, which was down 11% from 2005 due to a lost endorsement. I'll be he's glad this Sharpie thing came through for him, otherwise how could he afford to feed his wife and three kids?

Sex Scandal: Democrat vs. Republican

So now I hear that New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is caught up in the latest sex scandal. I immediately went to his page to see which political party he belonged to. He’s a Democratic so I deduced that the sex was with a woman. I was right.

So let’s review our sex scandal formulas when it comes to politicians:

Man-On-Woman Lovin’: Democrat
Man-On-Man Lovin’: Republican

Any politician that falls outside of these proven facts is a freak of nature and shall be shunned, ridiculed, called hypocrite and immediately have the suffix of ‘former’ placed before their current title. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Daylight Saving Time

The official spelling is Daylight Saving Time, not Daylight SavingS Time (if you didn't advance your clock forward yesterday, you are already an hour late - that is unless you're in Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, or Arizona).

Saving is used here as a verbal adjective (a participle). It modifies time and tells us more about its nature; namely, that it is characterized by the activity of saving daylight. It is a saving daylight kind of time. Because of this, it would be more accurate to refer to DST as daylight-saving time. Similar examples would be a mind-expanding book or a man-eating tiger. Saving is used in the same way as saving a ball game, rather than as a savings account.

Nevertheless, many people feel the word savings (with an 's') flows more mellifluously off the tongue. Daylight Savings Time is also in common usage, and can be found in dictionaries.

Adding to the confusion is that the phrase Daylight Saving Time is inaccurate, since no daylight is actually saved. Daylight Shifting Time would be better, and Daylight Time Shifting more accurate, but neither are politically desirable.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Joke

Mickey Mouse awoke one winter's morning and stepped out to get the morning paper. When he opened his front door, he noticed that someone had pee-written in the snow "Mickey is a dick!". Mickey called the police who conducted a test on the urine. The detective approached Mickey and said, "Well Mickey, I have bad news and worse news. The bad news is that the pee is Goofy's. The worse news is that the handwriting is Minnie's".

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Softie?

So I am sitting in Caribou doing some work when a guy approaches me and gives me a story about a tire blowing out on his sister's car and how she has AAA and it's going to be towed to a local station which is all well and good but they are still $13 short to purchase an actual tire and is there anything I could do to help.

Anyone who knows me knows my immediate response is to dramatically roll my eyes, heave a sigh, and physically communicate to this person how he has intruded on my space and ruined my life merely by approaching me. But for some reason, I bought it. And gave him $5.

Now, anyone who knows me is wondering, "Who are you and what have you done with Dop?" I know, right?? Like that is so totally not me at all, you know! I've brushed off more panhandlers than I could ever think of counting. But something about this guy seemed genuine to me. Could it be that at some time in my life I had been stranded myself and needed a handout in much the same way? Could it be that it's been so freaking cold in Chicago and the thought of anyone having to spend any amount of time outside seems unnecessary if I can help it? Could it be that although I work for a charity, I rarely find myself in a position to actually help someone out directly?

Probably not. Tonight I was probably just a sucker. But I'm allowing myself to think that I wasn't, just this once. For whatever the reason, this guy needed money. I can overlook what his reasons for needing the money were . . . on another cold night in Chicago.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Showering

I was at my parents' house and wanted to take a shower. I decided not to use the one in my bathroom but to mix it up a bit and try another one in the house. I went to the one upstairs in the attic but found it under construction and disabled, so I found another bathroom in the house and decided to use that one.

As I closed the bathroom door, I noticed something resembling a cat suit hanging on the back of the door. So, being a gay man, I decided to try it on while I waited for the water in the shower to get as hot as I like it. The suit, which looked more Cher-like and less Halle-like, seemed to fit me just fine but it never occurred to me what it was doing there or even who it might belong to.

So then I jump in the shower and as I finish and step out, my brother enters the bathroom with three other people. The first thing I could grab was the bathmat and wrapped that around my midsection. As I stood there naked and dripping, I realized I recognized two of the people with my brother as being Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip of Great Britain - both of whom didn't seem the least bit fazed by my presence.

This dream preceded a really nasty head cold I've been dealing with for the last two days. It only makes sense I guess.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Coffee vs. Tea

Why are coffee drinkers treated better thank tea drinkers in restaurants? Coffee drinkers are given multiple refills. Someone even comes to your table and fills the mug back up before the last mouthful is swallowed. Tea drinkers are lucky to get enough hot water for even one full mug. Some restaurants will even set a carafe of coffee on your table so you can refill at your leisure. But not for tea drinkers: one teabag and one small pitcher of hot water and that's it.

Tea is the simplest thing on the planet: a bag of leaves and some hot water. That's it. There's no foam, there's no double shot, there's no ordering it "skinny" -- it's just a bag. And depending on where you might order your tea, sometimes it's loose leaves filtered through a napkin. What could be more rustic and rudimentary??

So why are tea drinkers treated like red-headed step-children? I am a proud drinker of tea (Earl Grey if you have it). And I demand to be treated just as good as someone who is drinking Maxwell House, Decaf, or even a 13 shot venti soy hazelnut vanilla cinnamon white mocha with extra white mocha and caramel (which, by the way, costs $13.76 at Starbuck's).