Work, Work, Work. Sneaking In Some Fun

About 1 minute into the great “Harumph” scene from Blazing Saddles Mel Brook’s character says “Work, work, work” (he then goes on to stare at the magnificent chest of the woman next to him and says, “Hello boys. Have get a good night’s rest? I missed you.” That latter part has nothing to do with this post but are wonderfully funny in a sophomoric male kind of way.)

Work, work, work. That has been my life. Lots of planes, meetings, calls reports, etc.  Harumph.

Fortunately I have found a few moments outside of the madness to enjoy.

The Saturday before I started my marathon travel week I had an evening of racquetball with my wife and then attended a Mardi Gras party at the home of my friend Ed. The racquetball was intense and generally well-played. We are evenly matched. The party was fun and Ed makes some of the best Gumbo north of NOLA.

The following Saturday began with work from 9am to 6 pm. Fortunately I had made plans with Harold. He picked a play at a small theatre put on by the Annoyance Theatre company. The play was billed as a sex comedy musical. It was. The scenes were raunchy and  mostly funny. While it seemed as if it was date night for many in the audience, I am not sure I would have wanted to sit through this with my wife.

On Sunday I flew to NY, NY in time to spend most of the afternoon there. I walked the 30 streets and three avenues from my hotel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I had not been there in at least two decades. It was good though the fatigue of the week caught up to me. I had a little time to rest. In fact I crashed for an hour. Then it was on to dinner with a long time friend who I had not seen in at least 7 years. It was great catching up but it was way too short.

This weekend I spent the afternoon with my nephew Dan. Dan is 27 and a very likeable guy. He is also a personal trainer among several other things and had offered often to work with me. When he was young I would have him stay at my apartment and had on a couple of occasions taken him to the health club. I was the cool uncle. Now it was his time to take me.

We only worked through about a half-dozen exercises. Dan’s goal is to get people to understand how important form is to working out. I learned to keep my back straight, how to curl, twist and push and how to remember to breath. He is really good at this personal trainer stuff.

We were looking for a place for a late lunch when I remembered we were near Manny’s. Manny’s is an old time deli on the near south side of Chicago. It has basic but great food and the decor could not have cost more than $10 but it was beautiful. The pastrami sandwich was $13.95 but overstuffed to overflowing and ended up being good for three meals. I had never been to Manny’s. About time.

Today I made my way back to the gym for the first time since racquetball with my wife two weeks earlier. It had been three weeks since any kind of aerobics workout. I had intended to use an elliptical machine as always. But today I decided to be different. My gym has a huge pool which had many empty lanes. I hate swimming when it is full and you share a lane with someone. I am a terrible swimmer and it has been years since I swam laps. But swim I did.

Ten laps. Took about 30 minutes. I then used a machine I had never used before. Your feet swing back and forth. It did not look like much of a workout but it was.

I was supposed to see a play this afternoon to complete the fun but if you read my last post you know that it never happened.

One more piece of fun. I snuck in two posts tonight. Since they have been coming at a pace of less than one every two weeks. This is good. I miss writing and will try to get back to it with much greater regularity.

Work, work, work…hello boys.

The $2.38 Miracle

What is a miracle? It could be something as wondrous as the parting of the Red Sea, allowing my ancestors to cross and leave the land of Egypt. There have been more earthly events such as the 1980 Miracle on Ice as the U.S. beat the heavily favored Soviet team. There is the wonder of an African-American being elected President of the United States. And let’s not forget the fact that Paris Hilton, a woman of modest talents is famous for being famous.

According to, a miracle is:


–noun 1. an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.

2. such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of G-d.

3. a wonder; marvel.

4. a wonderful or surpassing example of some quality

My miracle today falls somewhere between the parting of the Red Sea and Paris Hilton. While not up to the first or second definitions, certainly not a work of G-d, clearly for me anyway a wonder, a marvel and a surpassing example of quality.

The beginning was very un-miracle like. I was off to see Brian Dennehy in two short plays at the Goodman Theatre. He is typically excellent on stage and these shows received great reviews. I had some work to do and left the house with just enough time to get to the theatre.

I walked out the back door to our garage (detached), put my key in the lock and…and nothing. The key would not turn. Something similar had happened due to the cold and wet season. The lock would freeze. Typically a shot of powdered graphite and I would be on my way. I rush into the house, find the tube, out the door, shoot the black powder and put in the key. Nothing. Again.

No way I was making the play. Sure I could have taken a second mortgage out on the house and called a locksmith on a Sunday afternoon but I hoped to leave that as a last resort.

I was additionally frustrated because we had been leaving the door unlocked just to avoid such a situation but force of habit must have made me unconsciously lock the door the last time I left the garage.

I tend to obsess. So that is what I did. I spent the next 2.5 hours being angry at the world, calling the few people in the neighborhood who might help–no one was home. I worried how I was to get to work in the morning. I did call a locksmith just to make sure I could get in if need–I could. (They even had a mortgage broker on staff so that a second mortgage could be completed in time to pay their fee.)

I did everything except get to a hardware store to see if they had anything that would help.At 4:30 I finally began to trudge to the store. It is about a mile or so away. It was cold but not frigid, damp but not snowing.

Home Depot was all that was open at that hour. I asked for someone to meet me in the locks aisle, aisle 16. The woman who met me there listened to my plight. She suggested some form of extreme graphite but did not seem confident it would do what I needed. Then she said something odd. “They have stuff at a hardware store to take care of this.” How odd I thought. I was under the impression that I WAS IN A HARDWARE STORE!!!

I grabbed the extreme graphite and headed to the front. i went looking for an extra tube of regular graphite as a back-up. There were two ladies with Home Depot aprons chatting. They at first seem miffed that I interrupted them to ask for help. Fortunately another clerk knew where things were. He also asked me what the problem was. He suggested I try a lock de-icer. A small tube costing $2.38. He told me how to use it and wished me well. Since the temperature had been above freezing, a de-icer had not been what I was seeking.

If you read the title you have probably guessed that the de-icer worked. Within seconds. I saved myself a small fortune and, if I had done this two hours earlier I would have saved myself some grief and some calories. (I eat when stressed and I managed to down 10 ginger cookies topped with peanut butter. Tasty but hugely fattening–and I do mean hugely.)

As my wife often says, THANK G-D.

A miracle. And it came for only $2.38.

6 Down, 1 to Go

Seven planes, four cities, four client Board of Directors directors meetings in four days.

I am sitting in the Drury Inns in Chesterfield, MO. One meeting, one plane ride left this week. The good news. The meetings have gone well so far and I did not miss any planes. Two of my travel legs required a connection to a second plane.

The one that had worried me for weeks required taking the last flight out of Kingsport, TN in order to make a flight out of Charlotte in order to ultimately arrive in Orlando. The connection was tight to begin with, 50 minutes, and then as I sat in Kingsport with a 30 minute delay, I was close to panic.

I realize that there is no travel snafu that causes the world to end, not even my world. Yet, missing the flight to Orlando would mean changing hotel and plane reservations very late at night, staying at the Comfort Suite near the Charlotte airport (not recommended), participating in an important meeting by phone with 10 people on the other end all sitting in a room (in hind sight, there was one difficult issue that came up and it would have been close to impossible for me to have solved this one if I had not been there in person), and then found a new flight that did not interfere with the other calls I had scheduled between meetings and flights.

I wished hard for making that connection and did. Lesson #1 when praying to the travel gods. Go big. I had prayed to make the connection. I did. However, that plane was delayed 40 minutes and I arrived at that hotel at 12:30 AM. By the time I fell asleep I had time only for 4 hours of sleep (I need more than that to function at a high level). Next time I pray to make the flight and that it is on time, if not early.

As long as I am allowing myself some time to wade in the pity pool I will share that I also have 3 more board meetings on Monday. We are still working on materials for all of these. I cannot make all three meetings since they take place in 3 different cities and they all overlap. I will miss one completely though we are working on materials and I will spend much of the weekend on the phone with the client. I will attend one by phone for 2 of the 3 scheduled hours (they neglected to tell me about extending  the meeting from 2 to 3 hours until after I had committed to another meeting. I join the third meeting 30 minutes after it starts. I fly Sunday to NY and back Monday for the privilege.

During all of this I did find time for the sublime experience of talking to my son at college. I had missed the last two scheduled calls. While there were no major revelations, connecting with him makes my week. It reminds me of why I put myself through all of this. Certainly not for the airport experiences, the crowded flights and the feeling that you get when you do not remember where you are when you wake up in the morning.

It could be worse. Yes, I saw Up In The Air.