Monday, June 30, 2008

MANcation Part 2

On Sunday of my MANcation, I took it a bit easier and mostly did household man chores:

  • Mowed the lawn
  • Watered the lawn
  • Watched some HD TV
  • Researched San Diego!!!
  • Caught up on some blogs that I have been meaning to read

So, overall it was a pretty relaxing couple of days. I can't complain in the slightest.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

MANcation - Part 1

This weekend my wife is hosting a bunch of her girl cousins / aunts for a 'girls weekend'. Therefore, I have pretty much free reign to do whatever I see fit for an entire two days. This doesn't happen very frequently, I must take advantage of it. Items on today's agenda were:

  • 6 mile run
  • Lifting weights
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (in HD on a 110" screen)
  • Hitting a bucket of balls at the driving range
  • Wine shopping
  • Best Buy trip for new headphones
  • Olympic trials watching
  • Beer
  • Posting on my blog

I think that I should get a few man cards for that right?? Tomorrow I believe will be spent on yard work - to which my MANification will be complete.

6/28 Run

6 miles 8:10 pace. The run felt really good today. Probably because it was significantly shorter than my previous runs! Shin splint pain was at about 3/10 - which is very nice. I think that I may be starting to come around on that.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Chicks Dig Cars

As I sit here at the airport people watching, I think that I may be witnessing something special happening. I am sitting in front of a 2008 Jaguar XK. As I watch the people go by, there is an almost unending stream of people who either turn their head as they go by or more blatantly check the price on the sticker ($88,000). The people (in order of frequency) go something like this:

            • Tattooed guys wearing tank tops

            • Business men who look like they could actually afford an $88k car

            • Women who are generally of above average attractiveness

            • Guys that look like they would own a Harley

            • Old guys with old wives in tow

            • Little kids that love to touch the windows

            So, I can only conclude that if you were to buy a car to attract women, make sure it is a jag – and bring your freaking checkbook.

            Free WIFI Equals Slow WIFI

            I am sitting in the Kansas City airport doing my ‘good husband’ duty of killing 2.5 hrs while I wait for my mother in law to get into town.

            ANYWAY, I was relatively excited about killing time in the airport because they offer a free WIFI service. The unfortunate thing of this service is that any schmo with an iPhone or a laptop can jump on it and start downloading songs via napster. Maybe some World of Warcraft online. This means that the internet is slow. Not just normal dial up slow mind you, I am talking full on ‘I have only been able to get google to come up’ slow. Not even the airport website is available and that website I know to be hosted locally.

            I was honestly hoping on getting some work done so that I could check out of work a bit early tomorrow but I do not think that I will be able to do that. The things that I need to get done I need to be able to check my email and I certainly can’t do that. The rhetorical question that I need to ask myself is if I would be willing to pay $10 to get some stuff done or if I would still have just posted a few blog postings and called it a day. Hmmmm.

            Thursday, June 26, 2008

            PMP certification

            I recently signed up for (and subsequently received) reimbursement for the PMP certification process. The certification is for project managers as a statement of your management capability. So, the next few weeks will be filled with working, running, and studying for the test. I have heard that it is similar to other certification tests in difficulty – with something like a 70% pass rate. Good odds – but still a bit nerve wracking.

            I think that the most stressful thing is that my firm is paying for the test prep materials and the actual test itself. Therefore, there is increased pressure to actually obtain the certification and provide some sort of value to the firm.

            So, stay tuned for the progress on this new exciting adventure. Hopefully my brain still works after I am finished.

            Music while running?

            Nick recently mentioned to me how he doesn’t listen to any music while he is running. Just the sound of his footsteps hitting the ground and himself breathing to pass the time. I, on the other hand, do listen to music. Well, actually I listen to talk radio. Usually NPR during the spring/summer and sports talk radio during the football season. Nick’s reasoning was that he didn’t want to get reliant on the music as most sanctioned races ban any headphones while running.

            I am a bit torn on this. On the one hand, I think that the running is much more enjoyable when I am using headphones. It passes the time, I am always up on current events, and I have something else other than my steps to listen to. On the other hand, humans are creatures of habit. During the race it may totally throw me off of my game to not have Michele Norris telling me about the latest labor strike in Germany.

            So, I suppose for now I will keep them on. Ultimately I think that the 4 months of running will be much more enjoyable than running 5 or 10 minutes slower because I am a bit off because I don’t have music. Besides, I am sure that I could just sing all of my favorite songs to pass the time. I’d bet that I would make tons of friends that way!

            6/26 Run

            3 miles, 8:20 pace. Good run. Felt good today. I am really looking forward to the ‘light’ weekend of only 6 miles. I am going to get up especially early so that I can start my day out and knock out the training. Not to mention the fact that I would like to do some speed work. Gotta get this speed up eventually if I am going to have any chance of running the race at what I want to.

            Wednesday, June 25, 2008

            6/25 Run

            3 miles (yes, two less than expected) at approximately a 9 min / mile pace. While the mileage and pace are not that impressive, what IS impressive is that I was able to get up and run at all. I am currently traveling for work and we went out to dinner / drinks afterwards. I had some to drink (not TONS but enough) but didn’t get much sleep. The pace was a lot slower than I would have liked because my wife called ½ way through and it through me off my rhythm. I was actually running at about a 8:30 pace for most of the time, but the break in the middle messed me all up.

            I am being a bit “slack” because I really don’t want my running to get in the way of life. Hopefully I am doing a good job of balancing the two.

            Tuesday, June 24, 2008

            Nectar of the Gods

            I have found that one of the things that I enjoyed most while working from home the previous two weeks was all of the fresh brewed coffee that I was able to make. Nothing was better than to have the smell of coffee permeating throughout the entire house. The coffee there didn’t require any of the sprucing up that the coffee at work does. No milk, no sugar. Just straight up black goodness.

            The only downside is the fact that I generally like to drink all coffee after I brushed my teeth in the morning. I can only imagine the effect that the brown elixir has on my pearly whites. I’m totally going to need them bleached by the time I am 30.

            6/24 Run

            3 miles at a 8:10 pace. Today was one of the first times that I ran on a treadmill for the training session. I honestly just didn't feel like working through the issues of running in the city - so, it was a bit laziness on my part.

            Shin splints weren't too bad. I still iced them down. Although, I got water and ice all over the hotel floor which I am sure that the hotel staff is going to love. Hopefully they don't spit on my toothbrush.

            Monday, June 23, 2008

            6/22 Run

            9 miles at a 8:35 min pace. I took this run a bit slower than normal to give my shins a break. I also ran on Sunday which was a day later than “normal” to give them that much more rest. Overall it worked. While my shins were a bit sore from miles 1-4, they seemed to calm down during the 2nd half.

            The other great thing about yesterday’s run was that I got to run the last mile in the rain. It cooled me off and washed off some of the sweat.

            Thursday, June 19, 2008

            Victory is mine!

            I recently posted about the fact that my neighbors haven’t mowed all summer. Well, they finally did! Or rather, the city did and now whomever bought the house will be charged the ~$200 fee that is associated with it. The most astonishing thing is that under all of the weeds and long LONG grass was a pretty nice lawn! I will admit that I did do a few rounds of weed killer in there just for good measure. Most recently I sprayed Roundup on a huge thistle weed that had grown to about 3.5’ tall.

            So, the next thing is I am going back and forth as to whether or not I should just start mowing it on my own. Like I said, it isn’t the issue of the mowing that I care about. It is more about pissing off the owners of the place should they ever decide to show up. I’m thinking that I may take my chances. After all, I HAVE been working on my calluses lately.

            Now, if I could just get those pesky kids from riding their mopeds on the trail in the back of my house. Where was that number to the city again……..

            6/19 Run

            3 miles - 8:20 pace. Not too bad, shin splints weren't as bad as on Wednesday which is a good sign. I think that I may wait until Sunday to run my 9 miles.

            The thing that is probably the best about them is that after I ice them down, they really don't hurt for the rest of the day. So, I can't complain about that a bit.

            Wednesday, June 18, 2008

            6/18 Run

            Not my best performance at all. I only ran 4 miles, one less than prescribed, and I ran it at about a 10:15 min pace. This slow pace was due to me walking for about a mile to give my shins a break. I seem to have developed a case of shin splints. Not at all unexpected based on my lack of hard running prior to the marathon training - but still quite bothersome. None the less, I didn't try to grind out the miles like I could have. I honestly wasn't getting much out of them this morning anyway.

            So, I am hoping tomorrow will be better. I am certain that it will!

            Tuesday, June 17, 2008

            City Complaint

            The house next door to me was recently in foreclosure. It was subsequently auctioned off for approximately $50,000 less than market value. Part of the auction terms were that the new owner needed to be able to close within 30 days. That was almost two months ago. Why is this an issue, you ask? Well, no one mows the lawn when no one (appears to) owns it.

            Let me put this into perspective for you. I don’t want my throngs of readers to think that I am a crotchety old neighbor. I started mowing in mid March. The house next door to me has not been mowed this summer. That is right, not at ALL this summer. So, the lawn is about as long as it can get. Don’t get me wrong, I like the prairie landscape as much as the next guy – but not right next door to me. So, what is a crotchety next door neighbor to do? Call the city and complain!

            So, I called the city to complain on Friday, only to find out that someone had beat me to it and that if the lawn wasn’t mowed within a few days the city would mow it and charge the homeowner. This is both good and bad I think. It is good because the lawn will now be mowed but it is bad because it will look like a hay field when they get done. Gosh, if I knew that it was going to be THIS long before it was going to get mowed I just would have mowed it myself. It isn’t that big of a deal and I don’t mind doing it. My house value is going down enough without a crappy house right next door!

            6/17 Run

            Switching to morning runs. They are much cooler while being much more humid (due to the cool moist air). Overall I had an OK run - 8:17 min pace, which is actually a bit faster than I wanted to go. I would have liked to stay a bit slower than that to give myself time to rest up. I'm going to try extra hard to take it easy on the Thursday run - which is another 3 miles. Gosh, I never thought that I would have to keep myself from running TOO fast......still very early I suppose.

            Monday, June 16, 2008

            Warren Buffett here I come

            I am now a stock trader. Well, not really trader per say, more of a stock ‘buyer’. Reason being because I have bought a number of stocks and haven’t really SOLD any yet. Overall, my stock buying has gone pretty well so far. After a week in, I am about 2% up. I’d settle for 2% every month, so hopefully that means that I am in store for 104% returns year over year.

            Picking the stocks was a LOT harder than I thought that it would be. I was continuously second guessing myself as to which stocks to buy, what percentage of my portfolio to hold, and when I should ultimately sell. After many hours of thoughtful preparation, here is what I ultimately ended up with and why:

            • Pepsi (PEP): Pepsi has shown great share growth over the past 4-5 years. This stock is my long term value gainer.
            • Bank of America (BAC): I feel that the bottom is near with the bank crisis. Therefore, since BAC is trading at its 52 week low, there is a lot of gain to be made here. Additionally, BAC has a massive dividend at $0.64 quarterly.
            • Procter & Gamble Company (PG): Another dividend purchase here. While not as BAC, this dividend should ensure that I can realize some sort of income in the years to come.
            • Target Corporation (TGT): Since the money that I used to buy these stocks is really OUR money, my wife had the most say in this one. Target too is near their 52 week low, and since the economy I feel is on the upswing, people will start to go back to Target in droves.
            • Caribou Coffee Company (CBOU): Caribou is my long shot stock. I am not sure if I will ever be able to make money on this one, I just hope that I don’t LOSE money either.

            Hopefully those will make me millions and I can retire on my own private island.

            Sunday, June 15, 2008

            First Long Run

            With my first long run in the books, I am excited to be back into the swing of things. Overall, I ran the 8 miles at a 8:05 pace. Not too bad - especially considering that I didn't stop my watch for stop lights etc.

            Friday, June 13, 2008

            Stuipd Queen

            An interesting fact that I wasn't aware of:

            The official distance of a marathon is exactly 26 miles, 385 yards. In 1908, the marathon standard had been set at exactly 26 miles. However, at the Olympic marathon in London, it was decided that the royal family needed a better view of the finish line so organizers added an extra 385 yards to the race so the finish line would be in front of the royal box. And it's been that way ever since.

            6/12 Run

            Yesterday's run wasn't too bad. I was able to keep a pretty good pace of 8:05 min miles for the 3 miles that I ran. This did include the stopping time for the stoplights, so overall I think that it was a pretty good time. I am a bit fearful for this weekend however, I am not sure how I am going to do with a 8 mile run this weekend... We'll see!!

            Thursday, June 12, 2008

            Money money money

            I subscribe to the RSS feed from the Freakonomics blog. Overall, I really enjoy the postings that come out of their blog – although, I think that they often feel that quantity of posts overrides quality… but that is a whole different post.

            Anyway, one of the more recent posts was a about a paper that researched which majors in college do in fact make the most. It was very interesting to dive into the data. HOWEVER, the paper was something like 44 pages long and was heavy on the econ terms and light on the pictures. So, I decided that I would grab the main data table and post it here!!

            I wonder what age their sample size was. Because, I know that I am sure not making that much money!! If their sample size was 40 years old – I think that I would probably agree with their findings. I also would like to comment that the law of averages is likely somewhat at play here. That is, $53k for advertising and fine arts while marketing and management makes $109k? There have got to be a lot of fine arts majors who are bums to average out all of the architects. Finally, I think that it is really a bummer that education is the lowest paid on the list. Not only because my wife is a teacher, but because teachers really DO deserve to be paid more.

            On a side note, blogger really needs to update their table posting functionality. I couldn’t just post a HTML table into blogger without a post being 100 lines long. So, I had to downgrade to the gif picture. I didn’t do a cobbled up front page table either – I went in and created one in notepad! Come on blogger, get with the times!!

            Out of Shape

            I ran my 5 miles last night at about a 8:45 min pace. This was a steep departure from my latest time – mostly due to me being out of shape. I think that I may be able to blame some of it on the heat and the wind of yesterday – but not a lot.

            So, I am really going to try to buckle down on the proper eating, getting enough sleep, etc. I am SURE that I’ll get enough running in so making sure I get enough exercise won’t be an issue!

            Wednesday, June 11, 2008

            3 miles down, 457 to go

            The Chicago Marathon, which is on October 12th, is only 18 weeks away. This means that my Chicago Marathon training program officially started yesterday. I ran 3 miles at a pretty good pace of 7:45. This is the pace that I would like to run everything at. Although, I am not sure how realistic this is, but I am going to give it the old college try! If you see me hobbling around I really DID give it the college try.

            The rather depressing news is that I am woefully out of shape. I wasn’t so much tired while running as I am sore the day after. I mean, SORE after only THREE miles?? Wowza..... I am sure that will pass with time and I will get back to kicking ass and taking names. I had better, since I have already put down my $120 or whatever to run the race!!

            On the road again

            This past weekend I spent an extended period of time in Iowa. This was one of the first times that I have been back to Iowa in over 6 months. In fact, Tiffany and I were thinking, and we believe that the last time we were back there was for Thanksgiving. It is always nice to go back since there is so much family to see. This was especially the case because my grandfather’s 80th birthday party was that weekend! I took all sorts of family pictures, so I’ll have to post some of those in the near future.

            On Monday, I attempted to work from Iowa. Normally this would not be a problem. I work from home all the time (plan on doing it today). All that I need is an internet connection and a phone line. Well, at dad’s place I had nether. So, I went over to my grandpa’s place, where I was able to cobble together everything that I needed. I felt a little bad because I was a little short with my dad because nothing at his house was working. It was by no means his fault.

            Finally, I DID get to go golfing for the first time in a very long time. I found out that I am still very very very rusty at the sport and I hope to get much better in the future. Maybe should take some lessons or something.

            Friday, June 6, 2008


            Not much time to post, but I would just like to state how much I love that Obama finally has the nomination wrapped up. I do feel a bit bad that he had to spend so much time fighting off Hillary. McCain was able to take it easy the last two months, get some much needed rest, and raise tons of monies. Obama gets to do none of that.

            I am particularly glad that he won because I think that he will have the easiest time winning the contest in November. There are too many people who would never vote for a woman – more people I feel than will not vote for a black man. Jeeze people, get a clue! People is people is people.

            Thursday, June 5, 2008


            I have been sleeping like JUNK the past week. I usually don’t sleep all that well, but I have been sleeping especially bad this past week. The cause, I believe, is a combination of odd pillows in the hotel (normally they are really good), coming back from Pacific Time, and being pretty busy at work.

            So, I am really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight. I am working from home tomorrow, so I may even take the opportunity to sleep in until 7:30 or 8:00 and shower on my lunch break. Got to love working virtually. I normally am dressed and ready to roll at a traditional work time. Instead of going to the car and heading to the office, I head to my personal office and work from there.

            By the way, TGIFF is nerd talk for Thank God Its Fake Friday. Man, I love the consultant life!

            CA Pictures

            I recently had to go to California for work. Here is a link of the pictures! Watch out for the bees!

            Wednesday, June 4, 2008

            lol funny

            Tuesday, June 3, 2008

            Healthy is as healthy does

            Today I got a grilled chicken sandwich with french fries. I decided that since I am getting enough vegetables with my french fries, I didn't need any vegetables (lettuce, tomato, etc) on my sandwich! That makes sense right??

            50,000 point bonus! BooYa!

            I can’t remember if I’ve posted about the ongoing feud on my team regarding Marriott vs Sheraton. I am sure that I have – it seems that it comes up in my life a lot. Either way, score one for my buddies over at Marriott! I recently stayed enough nights to get a 50,000 point bonus! To put it in perspective, that is enough points for ~5 nights in a courtyard by Marriott, or 2 nights in a nice hotel in NYC.

            This pretty much means that I am a Marriott STUD. Or, maybe a Marriott whore. Either way, I am OK with that.

            No one at the helm

            I am back on the client site today (well, and yesterday too). Much to my dismay, about 50% of my key client stakeholders are gone this week! Most are out on vacation, but others are traveling etc. This poses a few issues:

            • It is very unproductive to not have them in the office
            • We traveled to St Louis which costs money (increasingly more money with $4 gas)

            I do, however, think that being alone in St Louis is both valuable as well as slightly unavoidable. First, in order to save as much money as possible, the team books our travel about a month in advance. This unfortunately is often times two weeks before we receive notice that our key stakeholders are going to be out. Second, being in STL allows the team to actually BE a team – hang out together, collaborate face to face, etc. Being charged with making sure everything is running smoothly, I am most certainly in favor of anything that will help with productivity.

            So, I suppose I just need to roll with the punches. After all, there ARE intangible benefits to not having key clients in the office. For example, I was able to head out “early” yesterday at around 6:00 and not feel guilty about it! (Not to mention that I get to put the finishing touches on a blog post or two! hehe)

            Southwest is the best

            I now have another reason why Southwest Airlines is the best airline flying the skies. Never mind the fact that they usually have the cheapest fares, they fly direct to more places that I want to go, and they give you free drinks with each of your frequent flier tickets. No, no, the REAL reason why they are the best is that they got me in a full 40 minutes early on Sunday night.

            What airline gets you in EARLY? I feel that most airlines have the attitude that “As long as we get you there safe, quit ‘ur bitchin’ “. Well, that is fine for other airlines, but when getting you there safe is always the case, Southwest can focus on getting you there safe AND ontime/early.

            Now, I am sure that some of the 2 people who will read this will say that they had a bad experience..... Southwest made them late for their nephew Jimmy’s Bar Mitzvah – sorry about that. All that I can speak for is my experience, which is mostly positive.

            Even the dreaded cattle call has been alleviated by a new boarding system. Does it get any better? Probably not. By the way, any Southwest CEOs (Gary Kelly I’m talking to you) who will undoubtedly read this, feel free to contact me for any sort of “thank you” that you see fit.