Remember Song

This song by Tom Rush was passed along by my friend Loryn. It tells the story of one aspect of my life all too well!

Cubs Win! Cubs Win!


That’s the cry of the Cub’s announcers after every win. They have been able to do that 84 times so far this season. Within a short time after #84, the Brewers failed to get #82 and my Cubbies are in the playoffs.

Historically, this is a very low number for a playoff bound team. Yes the hated St. Louis Cardinals took the World series last year after winning only 83 games during the regular season but that is the exception. We are not exactly rolling into the playoffs on a hot streak like most of the teams that seem like they will make it this year.

But for one moment I am going to be a fan instead of the realist I usually am.

My Cubs will join the 2004 Red Sox and the  2005 White Sox as a team to win their first World Series in a 100 years. As my 16 year old son has told me all season, “ya gotta believe, Dad.” For now, I believe!


Bill Wirtz: Chicago has Lost a Titan

wirtz1.jpgIn many ways Bill Wirtz was a big man. Physically he was tall, thick, and muscular. Even his ear lobes were thick– I don’t know why but that is something I always noticed.

However, Bill filled a room with his stature and force of personality more than his physical presence. Like many titans of industry he got his start in family businesses but Bill was no rich kid slacker. He grew the businesses he took over. He was a traditional business man from an age that barely exists anymore. He was honorable, commanding and strong willed. He knew what he wanted and would push his point but he would listen if you made sense and had the fortitude to push back.

Once you had his trust he was extremely loyal but could be unforgiving to those without integrity. He could get angry but more often he was generous. I have witnessed him share his disappointment with the performance of an executive working in one of his businesses and then turn around and give that person another chance–and a raise.

Bill told great stories. Due in large part to his interesting life and experiences. The Wirtz’s were into many businesses including sports, (best known for owning the Blackhawks and the old Chicago Stadium and part ownership of the United Center), liquor distribution, banking, real estate, insurance and more. These enterprises brought him in contact with well known people in entertainment, sports, business, law and government. Bill had a fantastic memory and an entertaining style of story telling.  

Though he knew many famous and important people he also seemed to know most all of his employees at every level. He was proud of the people who started at an entry level job in one of his businesses, often with no college degree who through hard work, brains and savvy would rise to middle or even senior management levels. These people he had great respect for. The Wirtz businesses provided opportunities to people you cannot find in big impersonal corporations. It was all personal to Bill.

I had the honor of working with Bill as a relatively young professional consulting to a public company’s board committee of which he was chair. At first I was in awe of this man so well known in Chicago but Bill quickly put me at ease and treated me with respect. Not all people with his credentials, and many with less, will not treat you with respect. Bill did. He later used me to advise him on some of his businesses. Through these activities I met his sons Peter and Rocky.

Chicagoans that did not know him often complained about how he ran the Blackhawks, the most public of his ventures. He was mistakenly called cheap and was blamed for several stars leaving for bigger paychecks elsewhere. If you had the chance to talk with Bill you would know two things about his Hawks. First, he loved the team and wanted a successful franchise more than any fan on the street. Second,  Bill was a business man first and a sports fan second. He understood that money had to be made in order for the team and the sport to endure. Bill did a lot for professional hockey. This Chicago Tribune article describes this aspect of Bill better than I can.

I will miss working lunches in the Sonia Henning room of the United Center and listening to Bill tell stories.  I will miss Bill Wirtz.

It Killed the Dinosaurs

Baptistina. Actually, a portion of this asteroid striking the Earth is what is currently believed to have led to the end of dinosaurs. As reported in the Economist, the collision 160m years ago of two space rocks, albeit quite large ones, resulted in the stormy death almost 100m years later of the dinosaurs and many other species on Earth.

The link to the story provides an interesting and quick read on this phenomenon. Mostly though I wanted an excuse to post the picture. Quite cool.

Stupid Onion Story

An article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune last week.

Man Hits Wife in Head With an Onion

DES MOINES, Iowa – A man was arrested after he hit his wife in the back of the head with an onion. James Izzolena, 54, of Des Moines, had been drinking, became upset with his wife, Nicole Izzolena, 27, and threw an onion at her during an argument on Wednesday, police said.

Police said James Izzolena admitted throwing the onion at his wife but said he didn’t mean to hit her.

His wife told police it made her head hurt.

Many layers of stupidity.

Wife. Marrying a man twice your age and not expecting an onion to be tossed your way or worse.

Husband. For ruining a perfectly good vegetable.

Police. For arresting the man (unless there is a history of abuse not mentioned anywhere in the article.)

Associated Press. For writing and distributing this story. Just because you can does not mean you should.

Chicago Tribune. For wasting valuable newsprint on something so inane.

Fasting Goes Slowly

For Jews around the world last night at sundown Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, began. This means many things. Most importantly it is the last day of the 10 day period beginning with Rosh Hashanah during which you ask forgiveness from your sins of the past year and hope to be written into the Book of Life for another year.

You are asking forgiveness from G-d for the sins against the 613 commandments but also from every individual whom you have harmed. Sins of omission as well as commission. It is an introspective and solemn day.

To help create the mood, one of the commandments is a sundown to sundown fast. I have found that the term fast means different things in different religions so I want to clarify the Yom Kippur fast. NOTHING. No food, no liquids, nada for what ends up being 25-26 hours.

While you would not think so to look at me, I can go without food for a day if necessary.  It is the water or other liquids that I miss the most. I have been at this for 21 hours so far. I will survive as I have every year but my mouth is dry and in an hour or so my stomach will be rumbling.

So while other religions have their food sacrifices such as Lent or Ramadan that last longer than a day. I will put Yom Kippur up against any of those for the pure intensity of 24 hours of nothingness.

It’s Hot! It’s Not? It’s a Burqini!

I get excited by something that allows a person to both respect their religion and better participate in the modern world. A burqini allows Muslim women to stay covered but be in the water at the beach or with their children at a pool. 

A burqini is a lightweight, non-clingy, water-shedding tunic with attached hood in a high-tech polyester sports fabric. It covers the body. This creation came from the mind of a 38 year old Lebanese Muslim woman named Aheda Zanetti after watching her niece struggle to play volleyball in a traditional burqa. The burqini has won the Australian Islamic Council’s approval and is being bought by women across the world.

This is no typical Sports Illustrated swimsuit –though maybe in the Saudi and Dubai editions it will be one day. But who cares if the typical western male would rather see more skin. This creation gives millions of devout Muslim women freedom and comfort that they did not have before. What could be better on a planet that could use more ways for the devout of all religions to be modern, moderate citizens of the world?

I am nominating the burqini for the Nobel Peace prize.


I have been a recreational SCUBA diver for 15 years. I love it. It is peaceful, takes skills, something not everyone does and you can see very cool things underwater up close and personal.

I came across this site It has pictures and live feed from the world’s only permanent underwater lab. the lab is based 9 miles southeast of Key Largo , Fl. The paragraph below summarizes the website. 

NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary have partnered with the National Undersea Research Center at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill to bring you If Reefs Could Talk, a program hosted LIVE right here on!  Check back here September 16-23 on the main home page for OceansLIVE and click on the pull down menu under live video feeds.   There will be four live camera feeds from the habitat enabling everyone to experience different visuals of the mission.  The first feed will be the main feed for the LIVE programming each day. To read more information about the mission, and to view the aquanauts bio’s, visit

100 Miles In My Head

Seven hours on a bike and another 90 minutes hanging out at rest stops provides a fair amount of time to think. Here are a few thoughts from my time in the saddle.

Its f”ing cold out. All day Monday people were telling me what perfect weather it was for my ride. At 7:20 am when I left the house it was no more than 50 degrees. In addition to the basic wardrobe of stylish riding shirt and riding shorts I had to add a long sleeve shirt, jacket and tights. The weather caused me to pack extra clothes– a second shirt and a vest in case it warmed up. I could have done without the extra weight on my back. Other than for a 20 mile stretch in the middle of the day, I was cold.

iPods are a great invention. I purposely did not listen to music all the time but it was great to have several hours of songs from my “100 miles” playlist to pump me up when I needed it.

10 miles down only 90 to go. Something similar was repeated every 10 miles. Second only to the physical challenge of riding over 100 miles was the mental burden of knowing how many more miles and hours I had yet to go. Until I had ridden 85 miles I carried some doubt.

Is this your first Century ride? Spoken to a couple that I found myself riding next to early on. I ran into them periodically throughout the day. They finished the last segment strong and slightly ahead of me.

Wow. 16.8 MPH for the first 52. Faster by at least 1 mph than I had planned. I always try to push the speed. My theory is better to go as fast as you can at all times rather than try to pace yourself.

 Please G-d let the headwind be manageable. As you leave the Kenosha rest stop you continue north for a few miles before two quick right turns take you south. My speed on the ride north meant that I had had the wind to my back. (Every rider knows that if you are riding like a hero the wind is behind you.) Last year the gale force winds from the south contributed to me not finishing.

Thank G-d. I will finish this ride! My thoughts immediately after the two right turns. There was a noticeable headwind but one that me, and the extra training I had done, could handle.

Anytime one of you clowns wants to take the lead… After the turn south I had four riders immediately behind me. They stayed there for many miles as I fought the wind. Since I typically ride alone I do not claim intimate knowledge of group riding etiquette. However, I believe that people take turns leading since it is much easier to draft behind another rider than to be the one one slicing through the wind. The clowns were happy to let me do the heavy work until they could no longer keep my pace.

I wish I could eat a peanut butter sandwich. I have a mild wheat allergy which means that most breads are off limits. I had eaten a spelt bagel for breakfast. For the next 9 hours I subsisted on 2 Cliff bars, fruit supplied at the rest stops, water, Gatoraide and energy gels. The rest stops had sandwiches, cookies and brownies. I touched none of them.

The path was really well marked. Over the entire 107 mile course it was easy to know which way to go. NSC was painted in bright orange letters all along the course. For all but two — out of dozens– of turns they had markings a quarter block before the turn and again at the intersection. I was solo much of the ride. The markings helped. (NSC stands for North Shore Century.)

Damn. These mansions in Lake forest are humongous! After leaving an industrial area and some run down suburban streets, the route took us through the nicest streets of one of the wealthiest Chicago suburbs. These were not houses they were more akin to plantations.

The person who made this century ride 107 miles long should be shot. Not killed mind you just put in pain. The story is the first 100.  The last seven just adds an extra half hour to a long day. It adds nothing to the legend.

I did it! This was an emotional moment. That alone was unexpected. I own this triumph for the rest of my life.

100 Miles High

September 16, 2007. Things you need to know.

Miles: 107 as part of the formal Century ride. 112 including riding to and from home.

Total Time: 7:57 for 100 miles. 8:30 for 107.

Ride Time: 7:06

Average Speed While Riding: 15.25 mph

Number of Paramedics Required: 0

More later after I recover.