Tuesday, November 29, 2005


How much?


Salaries are a touchy subject--especially in American society.

That's why meaningful information about what certain jobs pay is hard to come by.  And the data that is out there is usually available only in expensive salary surveys.

As a service to you, my curious readers, here is a Salary Survey for 2005.


  • Boring administrative jobs got a boost this year.
  • Compensation/Benefits managers got an average 19.3% raise this year.   (Anyone else see anything funny here?)
  • The pay gap between sales reps and customer service reps continues to widen.
  • Chief Information Officers took a pay cut (Ha, ha!)
  • "Tumbler Operators" make only $8.82/hour, which is still more than I used to make delivering bad Chinese food to Chief Information Officers

    Be sure to have a good laugh next time you bump into your company's CIO in the hallway.

    And be nice to Tumbler Operators.

  • Sunday, November 27, 2005


    Saturday Night at the Map Room


    Here's a picture of Jay and I, taken around 5PM yesterday.

    We had just arrived at the Map Room hoping to participate in the evening's beer class, only to be told that they had already sold out.  Jay was pretty pissed about this because he had already tried to call ahead for reservations.

    We consoled ourselves by exploring the world of beer on our own, starting with one of Jay's favorites, Delirium Tremens.  This beer really does taste great and I recommend it for anyone other than me.

    It all started innocently enough, as we moved on to Chimay Blue and I reassured Jay, "To hell with these people."  Stuffing BBQ ribs into my gullet, I continued, "We can start our own beer school."

    Just one more round after that, right before I got us kicked out, I learned a lesson I should have long ago:

    So, that's it.  Whiskey or wine for me from now on.

    (I'll start with the Granache I forgot in the back of Jay's car.)

    Wednesday, November 16, 2005


    Getting Closer...

    God help me, I think I might actually pull this off.

    Tuesday, November 08, 2005


    bin36 Pre-Opening

    bin Wine Cafe (the new bin36 in Wicker Park) the night before the opening.

    Our charitable donation to some cause I don't remember got us all the wine and cheese we could drink and eat.

    The chef (shown in the background of this photo) seems like a nice guy.



    It's taken me a while to get to this point, but the time has finaly come for me to admit I have a weight problem.

    OK, I admit, it's not a big weight problem.  Most overweight people (which in the U.S. is practically everybody) will laugh at my assertion.  But it's not funny to me that none of my pants fit me anymore and that I have to inhale deeply in order to put on my favorite party shirts.

    So, even though I never thought it would come to this, I have joined Weight Watchers.  I'm in for three months and will do my best during that time period.

    My starting weight (Sunday morning) was 176 lbs.

    My first official weigh-in (Monday night) was 179 lbs.

    I can only hope that the three pound difference is due to morning-evening variation.

    My goal weight is 150-155 lbs.

    25-30 pounds may not seem like much to lose, but to me it sometimes feels impossible.

    I felt a little discouraged tonight when I took inventory of my dinner salad and realized that the avocado I ate cost me 9.5 Weight Watchers points.  9 1/2 points for a fugging vegetable!?  All diets suck.

    I channeled my avocado-induced rage into a very healthy bikeride into work.  In a brisk headwind I managed 11 miles in 49 minutes, earning me 5 Weight Watchers "activity points."

    I used my points to buy a Subway Club to bring to work.

    My next official weigh-in is next Monday.  Wish me luck!

    Wednesday, November 02, 2005



    and I got back from a 2½ day vacation in Seattle Monday night, and we had a terrific time.

    (This post has been revised to include pictures.  Sorry it took so long.  For more, see Justyna's blog.  I finished this post more than a week after coming home from the trip but will publish with original time stamp.)

    Justyna took me to Seattle to celebrate my 37th birthday, and it is far and away the best present anyone has ever gotten me.  We stayed downtown at the luxurious Hotel Monaco and spent our time walking all over town, exploring neighborhoods and visiting with our friends Nicola, Laura, and Jameson.

    Staying at the Monaco was a wonderful treat!

    After picking us up from the airport, Nicola joined us in our suite for some Italian wine (courtesy of Kathleen and Shea).  Eventually, late that night, we went out to Rock Bottom Brewery for a meal so terribly horrible that I shall mention it no further.  Thank God the food we ate the rest of the weekend was much better.

    We spent much of our first day exploring the Pike Place Market.

    Without a doubt, this is my absolute favorite urban tourist destination.  We could have easily spent the entire weekend browsing from shop to shop, people watching, and snacking.

    Justyna buying mushrooms

    endless rows of beautiful flowers

    Lots of charasmatic fish mongers.

    The night we got back to Chicago Justyna made us a delicious meal of Pike Place crab and exotic mushrooms.

    After Pike Place we took a leisurely stroll over to Pioneer Square.

    We had planned to go on the "underground tour," but decided that was lame and time-consuming.  Instead we hung out in Seattle's oldest bar (see left), ate fish tacos, visited a strange post-modern urban waterfall, and generally bummed around the area.

    Very relaxing, very fun.

    We eventually made it back to our hotel just in time to get ready for dinner.

    Nicola picked us up and we drove over to Capitol Hill to meet my old friend Jameson, who suggested that we dine at Crave.

    This was not only the best meal we had all weekend, but one of the best we have enjoyed in recent memory.

    Jameson even brought along a bottle of that Can Feixes he is always talking about, and it was superb!

    Whoever thought that "Honey Bucket" was a good brand name for a portable toilet?  These things are apparently all over the Seattle area.

    On Sunday we ambitiously decided to walk from our Hotel to Fremont by way of the Science Center.

    We didn't go up in the Space Needle.

    We also didn't ride the monorail, though we did stop to photograph the Experience Music Project building at the monorail's terminus.

    We walked along the western shore of Lake Union and saw lots of houseboats grouped together into little neighborhoods.

    We finaly reached the Fremont Bridge

    View of Lake Union from the Fremont Bridge (facing southeast)

    Lake Union doubles as an airport for seaplanes.  We watched several take off and land.

    Fremont was pleasant and interesting, but had nothing of the urban edge we were expecting.

    View of the Fremont neighborhood from atop the bridge, facing east.

    If you enlarge this picture and look closely you can spot a seaplane coming in for a landing on Lake Union.

    Statues of commuters waiting at a stop on a streetcar line that no longer exists, thus blending Seattle's two favorite topics of conversation: art and the shortage of public transportation.

    The Fremont Sunday Market

    Not bad for a neighborhood flea market, I suppose.

    I bought a cool hat (which I lost and am still trying to replace) and Justyna purchased some nice soaps.

    Ecclectic poster art, typical of Fremont

    The Fremont Troll

    From Fremont we walked east along the northern shore of Lake Union.

    We stopped along the way to visit Nicola at his house in Wallingford, a nice quiet neighborhood on a hill overlooking the water.

    Twenty minutes further walk east and we were at the university.  The neighborhood around the school contained all the edginess we had been expecting in Fremont, and then some!

    After enjoying the sidewalk raving lunactics and some Japanese snacks, we took a break from being tourists to go to the movies and see MirrorMask--a film we missed in Chicago because it played for like two days and then disappeared.

    The theatre was so chilly and the movie so visually stimulating that I almost had a seisure.

    For our final dinner Nicola and his wife Laura took us to Ivars for seafood.

    The atmosphere was pleasant and the view out the window across the water was stunning.

    The salmon I ordered, however, was somewhat underseasoned.

    (At least it was better than the Rock Bottom Brewery.)

    The next morning we got up early for one more stroll through the Pike Place Market before heading for home.

    As our plane circled the airport to gain altitude for the flight to Chicago, I looked out the window and could have sworn I saw the Fremont Troll wave goodbye.

    Tuesday, November 01, 2005


    Breakfast salad

    Spinach salad with hot cacciatorina sausage, mango and orange tomato, topped with olive oil and tarragon vinegar dressing

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