On The Road To Greatness

Front page article in the Christian Science Monitor and on csmonitor.com. Speaks fluent Mandarin. Running around China working for CSM during the summer break between his sophomore and junior years at Harvard. Political science major. Future Secretary of State. Nice Jewish boy. Nineteen. Someone that anyone of any age would enjoy hanging out with.

His name is Andrew. I have known him since he was 4 and he has always been special. This leads to a great nature vs. nurture discussion as to what is making him to be such a high achiever. Is it the intelligence of both parents handed down or how he has been raised?

 Both parents extol true 48 Facetness. The dad is an esteemed cardiologist who also sculpts, landscapes the house, grows a garden, studies art, etc. The mom is a whirlwind of energy, teaches French at a private school but has also has become a renown speaker around the world. Andrew and his brother have been exposed to much of the world and encouraged to develop an intellectual curiosity.

Yet if it was all nurture how do you explain that at the age of 4 instead of collecting baseball cards or action figures, Andrew had a collection of flags from around the world. He knew something about countries that I barely knew existed.

Well, whether nature or nurture this is one heck of a young man. Read his article on the CSMonitor.com but checking the link above. There is even a side article about the author. While for those who know of Andrew’s love for politics and history this story may seem a bit frivolous– but get real. I am writing a blog at no one’s request and this kid is writing for the Christian Science Monitor! I am not kidding about the future Secretary of State. Andrew has all the tools. He may, however be too ethical. I hope that does not stand in his way.

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The Joys of Sex— Much Better Than Air Travel

plane.jpgAwful travel last week due to brutal storms in Chicago but exacerbated by poor airline service. Some lowlights.

Spent 4 hours at O’Hare Wednesday night trying to make St. Louis for an early Thursday meeting. Sitting in the lounge watching sheets of rain come down punctuated by the periodic lightning bolt gave me a good indication that I may not be leaving Chicago that night. However, United still had two planes scheduled to go.

I left the comfort of the lounge to check on my plane. It seemed that every time I checked the monitor the time and gate changed.  After over half an hour, my flight disappeared from the monitor. Not a good sign. Usually however, they post “Cancelled”. Back to the airport lounge where the line to talk to someone was only 6 people long. I had passed the main service area where the line snaked forever. Poor bastards thought I.

My line wasn’t moving so I tried the premier service phone number. Other than confirm that my flight had been cancelled the Premier Service couldn’t do anything for me. I finally got to a person and was told the last plane was still planning to go and there was space. Unfortunately it was 2 concourses away and leaving in 25 minutes. Off I ran. Caught up to another runner going for the same plane. Every time you think you have it bad you meet someone having it worst. This woman had flown in from Zurich– yes Switzerland– and had not slept for a long time. I guided her to the other terminal. Guess what? Flight canceled.

The only flight that would get me to my meeting on time was the first flight out the next day. The terminally uninterested person at the counter could only confirm a flight that would be leaving too late but had me on standby for the one I needed. Headed home to get 4 hours of sleep before doing this again. On the way called United to confirm the standby status. This woman was able to confirm a spot on the flight I wanted but without a seat assignment. Still risky but a step forward.

Last seat on a small plane but on the plane the next day. The bathroom just behind me reeked for the entire flight. Joy.

Made it back to Chicago on the plane scheduled earlier than mine but delayed until mine was going to leave anyway. Those of you bored with this story but still reading for some unknown reason probably think it is mercifully coming to an end. Wrong. I still need to make White Plains, NY that night. 4 hours in the airport, lunch on my lap sitting in one of the few open seats. 2 hours late to NY. Gate changed 3 times with little in the way of announcements from anyone working for United. Met lots of people with flight stories. All were willing to share. Each story worse than the one before. Topped by the teenager who had been in the airport for 19 hours.

Coming back the next day I did catch a break. Got on an earlier flight. I need to describe the White Plains terminal for those that have not been there. Unlike any I have seen and I have seen many. Another time perhaps.

BTW the title has no particular relevance to this story. It just hit me and I thought I might attract a few new readers. Sex sells.

Miles To Go

With less than two months and about 8 training days to go before my second attempt to complete my first century ride I am hopeful but not overconfident. I have been riding 50+ miles for each of the past 4 weekends.

These last two were beyond perfection for biking. Temps in the upper seventies with sunshine and a mild wind. I have ridden 62 and 56 miles respectively over these last 2 weekends.

This past Sunday in need of something to refresh my riding spirit I took the southern route for the first time this season. This takes me along the lake through Lincoln Park, past Oak Street Beach and the museum campus to the south side of Chicago. This is a gorgeous ride through park and lakefront. The only downside is that the stretch through Lincoln Park and Oak Street Beach is the heart of yuppieville. Having once been one, it is not yuppiedom itself I have distain for but for the total self absorption of the people running, roller blading, walking and walking dogs–typically without a leash. This stretch of park has both a 2 lane bike path and a running path and yet people need to run/walk side-by-side or suddenly change direction without looking to see who may be about to run them over. It can be nerve racking which takes away from the zen of riding in such attractive scenery. However, Sunday was my lucky day. The people traffic was light and I sailed through to my favorite riding spot in Chicago.

The ride from just south of the museums to 70th street is paved path with a tenth of the people inhabiting the north side. You view the bright blue water of the lake punctuated occasionally by beachfront or stylish old buildings. Round trip is 16 miles of biking bliss. At the south end is the South Shore Country club. I do not know a good golf course when I see one but I do know that just past the entrance is a beautiful flower garden. A great place for a short rest and rehydration.

Days like this make the days filled with work and airports worthwhile.

Personal Training For Weaklings

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This post was going to be about my first 2 sessions with a personal trainer. How in the evaluation that was the first session we learned that I have no upper body strength, less flexibility and that parts of my body that usually get ignored hurt like hell as the PT twisted and stretched me. How after the second session when I actually exercised with weights I could not move the next day without screaming pain in at least seven distinct body parts.

But then I was trying to come up with a punny title on the _____ for Dummies theme and went to thesaurus.com for synonyms for weakling. What I discovered was too funny.

Main Entry:   weakling
Part of Speech:   noun
Definition:   baby
Synonyms:   big baby, butt, chicken*, chicken heart*, coward, cream puff*, crybaby, doormat, dotard, drip, fraidy cat, gutless wonder, invertebrate, jellyfish*, ladyfinger, lily liver, mama’s boy, mark, milksop, milquetoast, misfit, mouse, namby-pamby, nebbish, nerd, pantywaist, paper tiger, pushover, sad sack, scaredy-cat, shrinking violet, sissy, softie, sucker, tenderfoot, turkey, weak sister, weak tool, wimp*, wuss, yellow-belly

I was focusing on the physical while thesaurus.com clearly had the psychological in mind. My person favs are gutless wonder, milksop and pantywaist. Then to see if the encyclopedia could be of more help I discovered that Weakling had even greater range.

Weakling was a progressive black metal band from San Francisco. The band never toured and only made one album, Dead As Dreams, recorded in 1998 and released on tUMUlt Records in 2000.

I need to go find this recording so I can play it while my Personal Trainer works to make a man out of this namby-pamby.

I Am A Junkie

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Beginning last November I developed some strange behaviors.  At times I get anxious and my palms begin to sweat. I cannot focus on the task at hand as my mind wonders. I experience moments of either euphoria or deep depression. I crave a fix. It started out as an occasional desire but more recently I need it several times a day– sometimes even several times an hour. I’M HOOKED!

I have become a blog stats/comments junkie.  I live or die depending on how many people have read me today and whether someone cared enough to say something in return.

Clarity of my condition became crystal this morning. I have been on the road with little time to access 48Facets. Definitely no time and even less energy to write a new post. Woke up late on a Saturday knowing that I had to write something to feed my modest readership before they left for good. But I was empty. I was ready to write about how empty I felt. But then my magic drug was there waiting for me. Totally unexpected and out of nowhere Pax brought me back to life with a comment on my last post. Someone in cyberspace had reached out and touched me. (Is it O.K. to use an old telephone company ad line in a 21st century on-line experience?)

Now the sun is shining and the day looks beautiful. Unfortunately this will only last until I need my next fix and someone has administered the drug.

Lifetime Acheivement Beats 15 Minutes of Fame

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Actor Charles Lane recently died at the age of 102. He was a character actor. In fact one site I researched had as an executive summary “grumpy character actor”.  He never played in a starring role but he portrayed memorable characters in dozens of well known movies. Many of us will recognize his face. The great director Frank Capra used him in several films including the classic “Its A Wonderful Life”. He met Lucille Ball when she was still an RKO chorus girl, and the two became friends. Years later he was a frequent guest on “I Love Lucy” and appeared in one of that series’ most-watched episodes, the birth of Little Ricky, in 1953.

He acted well into his 90s. In all he appeared in 250 films and countless TV episodes. All-in-all a rich and full career.

When I read about people like Charles Lane my thoughts also turn to the anti-Lanes. This would include all of the poor mannered, rich, spoiled actors, singers, performers and celebrities that populate today’s culture and dominate the media. People who have turned one or two modestly good movies/songs/sex videos into far more than 15 minutes of fame and too much fortune.

What have they achieved? What will they do with their lives beyond their mid-20s? Will anyone care about them when they hit their 90s? Their 40s?

I do not know about the man that Charles Lane was but I appreciate and value the longevity of his contributions and his devotion to craft. There are certainly many people in other less public careers who demonstrate quiet competence or even excellence that will not get written up in the NY Times but deserve our respect. These are the folks that should be on the cover of People. These are the people that should inspire our children.

BTW. Does anyone know how Lindsey is doing after rehab?

The L.A.T.E. Ride

Think of all the things you might want to do during the summer in a big city like Chicago. Take a few minutes and really think about this. Raise your hand if bike riding through the cities neighborhoods starting after midnight and going until sunrise was on your list. Go ahead and add it now, I’ll wait…..

 The L.A.T.E. Ride (Long After Twilight Ends) is an organized event that drew 8,000 people last night two of which were my wife and a friend. It starts at beautiful Buckingham Fountain in the middle of Grant Park. (For out-of-towners this is the park that stretches for miles along the lakefront in the downtown area.) The band starts playing at 11, the crowds tend to gather around midnight and the ride officially begins at 1:30.

25 miles. Much of the ride is on Elston Avenue, one of the coolest streets for those who appreciate different neighborhoods. Most of Chicago’s streets run straight north-south or east-west forming a grid. Elston runs on an angle cutting se-nw. You start just north of downtown and watch housing and languages on the storefronts change.

The end of the ride was along the lakefront right on the beach side. There you got to see the sunrise over the lake. If we ever figure out how to download the pictures from my wife’s phone we will post some spectacular shots.

The big question for most riders is do you nap in the afternoon to prep or just count on not sleeping and catching up later. I am married to a cuter version of the energizer bunny so not sleeping for a night in order to do something fun was no big deal for her. I look forward to doing this with her one year when I can sleep for the week after.

L.A.T.E.  ride.  One more cool Chicago thing to do.