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Home For Christmas

December 28, 2008

Headed home for Christmas, drove from Chicago to Birmingham, Michigan, about five hours. The weather was so bad we stopped over in South Bend and spent the night at my Grandma’s. It was snowing like crazy and predicted to get worse. My brother in law was with me and we were picking up my 93 year old Grandma anyways. Headed out of South Bend the next morning, roads were fine the following day. Spent some terrific time at home, with my Grandfather who’s wife, my Grammie, just passed away a couple weeks ago. Was good to see him, we actually shared a room, was fun having a 93-year-old for a roommate, how often does somebody get that experience?? Was great being home with my two little nieces, 1 and 3 years old.

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Both my nieces, Brooke and Courtney ūüôā

Good times, really fun to play with them.

My Niece Courtney

My Niece Courtney

¬†The 3-year-old got the flu and was up vomiting all night Friday night, I didn’t need to be up with her as her parents (my sis and bro-in-law) were handling the situation, but again, how often does one get that experience? And I helped out changing sheets and such. Drive back Saturday was fun, just my Grandma and I. Took her to the grocery store, had dinner at Bob Evans, and made sure all her gifts and things were unloaded and in her house. She gave me three delicious loaves of zucchini bread, which won’t last long as I’m sure I will eat them ravenously as always. Made it back safely to Chicago.

Had a good friend in from Dubai who is¬†Lebanese. Was fun to see him, took him to Second City, Wells on Wells, church at Park this morning, and my favorite brunch spot, Wishbone for some southern cookin’. Had some great conversation about Israelis, Iraq, Lebanon, Dubai, and Iranian influence and the middle east in general from his perspective, was very interesting.

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Mountain biking, sailboat hull waxing

April 7, 2008

Got out mountain bking for the first time in quite a few months, went with my¬†usual biking partners¬†Kevin and Jon.¬†¬†Pretty spur of the moment on Saturday.¬† Went out to Palos about 30 minutes from downtown Chicago.¬† Really actually decent biking out there, it’s always time well spent.¬† Trails were prett muddy in spots but quite ridable all in all.¬† Great to get outdoors, get the heart pumpin’, spend some time with the guys.¬† I am outta shape but getting back into shape.¬† Made it to the gym Saturday for a heavy lifting session, hard for about 30-40 minutes, sore today.¬† I love the bench press and am starting to up my weight again, it’s fun.

Did some solid work on my sailboat today with my boat partner, was fun and tiring.¬† Holding a heavy waxing drill deal with a spinning head on it that’s plugged in and pressing it hard against the side of the boat until it shines is hard work.¬† My dad came down to help, actually he did most of the hardest work.¬† Great guy, fun to spend time with him, he has a great sense of humor.¬†¬†Good to be on the boat again, I’m looking forward to the season.¬† Chatting with my boat partner we’re planning to do more long trips this year, so maybe the boat will be left in Grand Haven or Milwaukee or somewhere for a few weeks, will be fun to have a pseudo-summer place on the beach.

Spent a bunch of time at my sister’s place with my two nieces and my folks, as my sis and bro-in-law were off to the Caymans to visit my cousin and my parents babysat.¬† My nieces are amazing.


Aspen snow was DEEP

February 14, 2008

Best snow year since ’83-’84?¬† Some say since the resort opened?¬† Skiing was terrific.¬† Great conditions.¬† Tons of fun.¬† Flew in direct to Aspen for $299, somehow got randomly upgraded to first class, can’t complain about that.¬† Got in Friday morning, Mom picked me up and was eating lunch at Gwyn’s on the mountain at noon – after waking up in Chicago at 6… how cool is that?¬† Beats flying into Denver and driving 2 hours or so to the slopes.¬† Also skiied a full day Monday and was home in bed by 11.¬† So four days of skiing in… four days!¬† Good deal.¬† Family was great, stayed at the Snowmass club in a beautiful 4 bedroom condo.¬† My little nieces were there and so much fun, and my sis’ in-laws who are terrific people.¬† We go out every year, both families.¬† I love the mountains.¬† Something spiritual, relaxing about them that really does me good.¬† Aspen in my opinion is very laid-back despite all the money – it’s like people have so much money they don’t need to flaunt it or something.¬† Vail is the opposite, I feel like it’s nouveau-riche who are showy and feel like they need to prove something with their wealth, I don’t think I’m the only one who has noticed the difference.¬† I’ve thought it for years, and again these last few weeks noticed again.

Scott and I skiing Snowmass

Scott and Michelle apres ski

Skiing at Snowmass


How’s yer Aspen

February 8, 2008

Heading to Aspen tomorrow morning early to ski.¬† Managed to get a direct flight from Chicago for $299 last week, how great is that?¬† My family, sis, nieces, brother-in-law and all my sisters inlaws will be there.¬† All terrific people, great skiers, and fun.¬† Always a great time, we go every year.¬† Really looking forward to it.¬† My brother-in-law and his brothers like to hike/snowcat to the more serious terrain at Aspen Highlands, and I’m always games for that.¬† Aspen’s such a great town.¬† We’ll actually be staying in Snowmass, but I’m sure will be skiing all over and eating and hanging out in the city some.¬† Woody’s tavern I’m sure will be visited.¬† All good!¬† I should be in shape from the Talon’s Challenge a few weeks back but haven’t been to the gym much since – hopefully some has carried over.

¬†Check this video spoof out on mountaineering – these dudes are hard core…¬† http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNXwMeI2iTk


Christmas, Mt Humphreys, Birmingham, Boston

December 31, 2007

Had a bunch of great Christmases – drove home to Birmingham from Chicago, stopped by South Bend to pick up my 92 year old Grandma, she’s great.¬† We had a nice time chatting and sharing a meal on the drive to my folks place.¬† Great time there as well with my sister, her husband, and my two awesome little nieces, Brooke and Courtney¬†– so much fun!¬† 9 months and 2 yrs old, the 2-yr-old is great, running around, having a great time, talking.¬† Bright red hair.¬† They took off and it was just my folks and Grandma and I, Lisa went home to Boston for the week.¬† Went to a beautiful presbyterian church celebration where my 92-yr-old Grandfather still plays the caralon on Christmas Eve – amazing man.¬† And his wife, my Grammie was there as well.¬† At the end of the service they shut the lights off and everybody has a candle and flame is passed from one to the next, very cool as the place slowly lights up with a warm glow.¬† Then I headed back to chicago for a day or so, then hopped a plane to¬†Boston for another terrific Christmas with Lisa’s family and aunt and uncle and cousins – 8-yr-old twin boys – how fun and crazy they are, what a great time that was.¬† I feel like I am stressing ages in this post for wahtever reason.¬† Had a nice time at their house.¬† They are very much into food and have a Christmas tradition I really like – lobsters and tater tots!¬† Yum yum.¬† And a bunch of other delicious meals, as usual.¬† They know how to eat.

I head to Arizona for a conference in a couple weeks – will stay an extra day or so and attempt to summit Mt. Humphreys, the tallest mountain in Arizona at about 13,600 feet.¬† It will actually be a pretty serious undertaking.¬† Lots of snow.¬† It shut me down last year as I climbed the wrong peak in the snowstorm that prevailed – Mt. Agassiz, which shares a a saddle with humphreys.¬† Terrific beautiful and refreshing day despite the mishap – which was also due to extremely deep snow, which was very difficult going – forcing me onto the groomed ski slopes.¬† My friend Jeff will be joining me this year so we’ll have two to break trail through the thigh-deep snow.¬† We’ll see how it goes.¬† 3500 feet of elevation gain.¬† Half the fun of an adventure trip is the planning of it and I’ve spent the better part of tonight doing research and printing out topographic maps and reading trip reports.¬† Figuring out what gear we’ll need.¬† I don’t think crampons but probably snowshoes.


Sailing after work downtown Chicago with 14 partiers

August 10, 2007

Chicago from the water, sun¬†settingMe and my sis on the¬†ImjatseTocash in motion - halyard swinging on the¬†ImjatseMe with Toc behind getting ready to¬†jumpJim at the end of the¬†nightToc halyard¬†swingGood times!¬† Last night I took out 14 of my sisters friends – they are so fun.¬† What a perfect night on the water.¬† We met up about six, my sis and I went out early and we are both stress cases when it comes to throwing a party so we were nervous getting the boat ready, cleaning up, but still had a great time.¬† Even though she live in the city I’ll sometimes go a month or more without seeing her.¬†¬† It was great to have some one on one time with her – she’s super fun and hilarious.¬†

So a good ‘energy’ or ‘law of attraction’ story – last time I was on the boat the piece we use to tie off the buoy broke.¬† I was going to fix and told Michelle that on the way out.¬† It would take some time and the floater buoy thing is really old.¬† Well the tender driver (the tender drives you out to your boat) is a cool guy and good friend.¬† Sitting in the front of the tender was a floater thinger.¬† I’m like, “Whose is that?”.¬† PAt said nobody’s, it’s just sitting here.¬† I asked if I could have it and he said sure.¬† Then later he said bring the old one to the dock and somebody might want to fix it.¬† Fair enough, that’s what we did.¬† How cool is that?

So we drove to the dock and my sis was great, we pulled up to land, tied off, and everybody got on board.¬† A little panic happened on the way out on the tender – that we wern’t going to have enough alcohol.¬† Michelle put out the word and bam, we had like 10 bottles of wine, 4 cases of beer – plenty for sure.¬†

¬†We sailed around, everbody loved it, looking at the city from out on the lake.¬† Then we decided to go to the ‘playpen’ and anchor out.¬† This we did, and my bro-in-law pushed to do this halyard swing, where you get up on the front pulpit, grab a halyard, and leap off.¬† Really fun, you swing way back towards the back of the boat if you do it right.¬† It’s crazy and somewhat dangerous, but I’d say 8 people tried it.¬† So much fun.¬† One thing I noticed is all my sister’s friends from college smoke – how weird is that?¬† all very professional, but smokers.¬† I counted 7 smoking – that’a s very high percentage.¬† Anyways, what a great night.¬† Sis brought Potbelly’s for everybody – how generous of her.¬† And yummy.¬†¬† Her and Lisa fixed them up in the cockpit with mayo, mustard, giardinera, pickles, etc and passed them up.¬† The Imjatse held up great and everybody loved her.¬† (That’s my boat’s name)¬† She’s got these prayer flags flying from the mast – from Tibet.¬† I think they’re cool, as she’s named after a Himalayan mountain.

Chicago in the summer on a sailboat – good times!!