Wednesday, May 31, 2006


apples and oranges

I seem to remember from my college studies of Chinese philosophy the Daoist belief in the intellectual benefit of comparing the seemingly uncomparable.  In this time of upheaval and confusion I will attempt to gain insight though such a comparison.

Here goes...

Name:           Haditha                  ACH-30
What is it?          city in Al Anbar Province, Iraqindustrial fan
Relevance:site of alleged massacre by U.S. marines of 24 unarmed civilians      recently installed in the office where I work
What happened?Many details are conflicted and or uncorroborated, and neither the U.S. military nor the Iraqi government have issued a final report of the incident.  But based on details leaked from U.S. government sources, media reports, and eyewittness accounts it appears likely that somwhere between 3 and 12+ members of the U.S. Marines murdered at least 24 civilians, including women and children.  Most of them were killed in their homes and shot execution-style.  Survivors include a little girl who pretended to be dead while her parents and siblings were executed nearby.      The air conditioning at the remittance processing facility where I work has been on the fritz for several weeks, either taking in noxious fumes from the outside or failing at random intervals.  A little more than a week ago the A/C finaly conked out on my half the production floor and a new part had to be ordered.  Management installed industrial fans (such as the ACH-30) in every area of the affected part of the production floor *except* the area where I work.  It has been suggested that we were overlooked because we are the only department on site that does not directly report to the same management.  However, last night management finaly took pity on us and bought us a fan of our very own.
Specifications:Located on the Euphrates River, Haditha is probably one of the oldest farming towns in human history, with an agricultural tradition predating written records.  The current population is estimated at 90,000.The ACH-30 has a fan blade diameter of 30".  It's self-lubricating two-speed motor can spin up to 9200 CPM.
Costs to you and me:In the days following the alleged massacre, and while still denying that any civilian killings even took place, the U.S. government quietly paid US$2500 to the families of each victim.  The actual cost of each human life is unknown.The ACH-30 has a list price of $420 and a street price of $228.  This is paid, at least indirectly, by our customer: the United States government.
Unfair Comparisons:Some in the media are already comparing the alleged massacre in Haditha to the My Lai Massacre.  This is an unfair comparison.  The Haditha massacre allegedly took place in Iraq late last year and the My Lai Massacre took place in Vietnam, decades ago and thousands of miles away.  Different story, right?Air conditioning is designed to blow, whereas even a really good fan like the ACH-30 still sucks.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


Bike the Drive and the Road Ahead


Bike the Drive was a lot of fun this year.  I rode 42 miles in 3 hours, burning approximately 2100 calories and eating about 1500 calories worth of muffins.  The event was made more fun by the accompaniment of Shea, Dana, and Jay--all three of whom did terrific!

Shea rode the entire circuit twice totaling 60 miles!

Dana was completely immune to wind resistence.

Jay brought wonderful beer to my apartment after the event.

My focus now is on the Northshore Half Marathon, my first half marathon.  I plan on getting in a couple more long runs before I taper back in the days leading up to the race.

By the way, since I know there are some experienced runners who read my blog, I'm wondering if any of you have advice to offer on:

Any suggestions my faithful readers could leave in the comments section would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks.

Saturday, May 27, 2006


Last Word on the Garmin Forerunner 205


It has been pointed out to me that runner blogs tend to focus too much on running.  Meanwhile, Bush is starting to sound like he wants to invade Iran, Condoleeza Rice took Wednesday night off to watch American Idol, the air conditioning is broken in my office, and "Steak & Lemonade" takeout joints are popping up all over the south side of Chicago.  I should write more about these things (except about the steak & lemonade, which Justyna will cover in her blog).

So this will be my final mention of the Garmin Forerunner 205, in this blog or any other.

Still feeling unsatisfied from the stupid racecourse planning of the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge yesterday, I was determined this evening to take my Forerunner on a real shakedown run--one that doesn't involve tunnels.  So I took 3 mile jog down Essex Avenue to 87th Street and then over to the freight tracks.

This was my first real opportunity to see what the Forerunner 205 can do, and I was impressed all around.  The readout showed a GPS accuracy of 17 feet but I feel I often got better than that.

Here's how I performed:

The "autopause" feature that stops the recording if I drop below a pre-set speed came in handy at traffic lights and when I ducked into the CVS Pharmacy for a Propel Fitness Water.  The stats showed me averaging out at a 9:33 pace, which didn't seem believable because I felt sluggish after a huge lunch of chinese food.  But I doublechecked the stats against the clock and the map against Gmaps Pedometer and everything checked out.

Tomorrow morning I'm going to take things a step further with six one mile intervals along the lakefront.  But I'm not going to write about my new Forerunner anymore, unless it surprises me with new features I haven't seen yet (such as built-in air conditioning or a readout of Condoleeza Rice's whereabouts).

Here's what I've learned:

1. The Forerunner 205 is worth the $212 I paid for it.
2. I'm comfortable at a 9:30 pace even after chinese food.
3. Only runners like to read online 1st person stories related to running.
4. Condoleeza Rice likes American Idol (something else we don't have in common)
5. I have a hard time making lists.  By the time I get to #5 I forget what I was even talking about.  I'm just rambling.  I seem to do that.

It's 1:00AM.  Justyna and Erika are each asleep elsewhere in the apartment.  My downstairs neighbor is still awake playing with his baby, but sounds like he is about to go to bed.  I should go to bed, too.

Big day tomorrow, big weekend in general.  After my run in the morning Dana is coming to town, followed shortly thereafter by Shea and Kathleen.  Sunday is Bike the Drive.  Monday is the The Pub Crawl To Cure A Hangover at Hopleaf.

Tuesday morning 4AM it's back to the JP Morgan steam room.

Friday, May 26, 2006


JP Morgan Corporate Challenge


I don't have the time (or all the photos) right now to put up a proper post for yesterday's 5K.

But for now here is a photo of Team Gumballhead outside the JP Morgan tent: me, Jay, and Sergio.

We were the only ones not wearing the official Chase t-shirts.

UPDATE:  Bonus photos!

Here is an outside photo of the JP Morgan company tent.  Notice all the red shirts.

Hotdogs and beer after the race.  Sergio and Jay both had excellent finish times, in spite of what they did to themselves before the race.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Introducing the Garmin Forerunner 205

So it might just happen that I needed a little cheering up today.  Fortunately I have a new toy to play with, my Garmin Forerunner 205 GPS trainer!

I'm not normally prone to such expensive impulse purchases.  But I figured with me taking running seriously these days this would be a good investment.  (Or at least that's the rastionalization I told myself.)

I still haven't had a chance to run with my 205, yet.  But I did get to test it out this afternoon riding my bike home from work during a rainstorm.

Here is a map of the route I took, as calculated by GPS.

Here is a graph showing my pace throughout the ride.

Here is a chart summarizing the entire recording period of my journey.

I wholeheartedly recommend the Garmin Forerunner 205 to anyone serious about training to long runs, or to anyone like me who can't calculate a steady pace without outside assistance.

UPDATE:  OK, is it just my imagination, or is *everyone* I know buying a Garmin Forerunner at exactly the same time?


I spoke too soon



Looks like I spoke too soon about the condo; we wont be moving out just yet.

Thanks anyway to everyone who offered their congratulations.  We should have something to celebrate soon enough.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


News In Brief


Here are the headlines:

1)  Worst concert ever = "Then Again" at Joe's Bar.  Horrible frathouse music.  Let us never speak of it again.

2)  Condo = sold!

3)  Josh's new personal distance record = 12.5 miles!

The first 9 miles yesterday was a solo run from my apartment to the Shedd Acquarium downtown, where I was joined by Jay, Manh, and Sergio for my final 3 1/2 miles.  The whole run wasn't as much of an effort as I thought it would be, but my knees were dead aftewards.

Here is a picture of me at Navy Pier, waiting for Jay to pick me up and drive us to Twisted Spoke for my usual post-run bloody mary and buffalo chicken sandwich.  Manh wanted to walk around a bit, but I was generally unable to move.

This Thursday is the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge, when all of Chicago's most oppressive corporations field teams of runners/walkers wearing identical t-shirts.  I'll be there with Jay and Sergio, but we wont be wearing our company facist shirts.

Look for us in the JP Morgan tent wearing our Gumballhead the Cat t-shirts, smoking cigars after the race.


Do you enjoy running and drinking and complaining about your job?  So do we!  Come join us most Tuesday nights at the Shedd Acquarium for our Gumballhead the Cat Running Club.*  Here are the details:

pace: 10:00 and gaining

distance: 6 miles and growing

Membership Requirements:

Upcoming Clinics:
  • Jay's Beer Clinic
  • Josh's Bloody Mary Tasting
  • Sergio's Run-For-the-Alter

Interested parties should e-mail, or just look for us running northbound on the path, talking shit.

* no affiliation with the publishers of Gumballhead, Skingraft Records, or any other corporation (especially JP Morgan Chase Bank, member FDIC)

Friday, May 19, 2006


Buy Our Condo


For Sale: Spacious 3 bedroom 2 bathroom condo

For more information, check out our listing, or call Ron Miller & Associates at (773)643-4100.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Diet Makes the Difference

Got to go running with Shea for the first time when him and Kathleen came to visit last Friday.  Unfortunately, recent poor eating habits over the previous week had been degrading my running performance, and by Friday I was barely able to cover 2 1/2 miles without gasping for breath.  A change needed to be made.

So over the past few days I have been extremely careful about what I eat; for example, taking in only limited servings of meat, drinking lots of water around the clock, and consuming more fruits and vegetables.  I crave cheeseburgers and pizza and Harold's Chicken, but I just can't eat them anymore.  I try to have a LĂ„RABAR when I get the munchies at work.

Last night I went for a 5 1/2 mile run with my JP Morgan CIS Project Running Club.  It was my first time out on the path since last Friday's disaster, and the difference was amazing: my warmup was faster, my breathing easier, and my muscles felt terrific.  Had my running pals been up for it, I could have gone much farther.

Lessons learned:

1) Cheeseburgers are for backyard barbeques only
2) Even one tiny piece of pizza 8+ hours before a run is still not permitted
3) Don't eat any crap in general within 24 hours of any 2+ mile run

I rewarded my newfound discipline last night with a buffalo chicken sandwich from Twisted Spoke and a glass of Stella.  Should be able to digest that in time for tonight's run.

Coming Up...

Tonight: 7 miles with my Wednesday night 10:00 pace group
Saturday: 12 miles (my farthest yet) with CARA. I will again run at 10:00 pace.
Next Thursday: JP Morgan Corporate Challenge 5K
June 11: Northshore Half Marathon (my first long distance race)
October 22: Fatty fish dinner with Shea after Chicago Marathon (if I live)

UPDATE:  Lightning and freak hailstorm prevented me from meeting up with my running group, but after the clouds parted I did manage 8 miles along the lakefront by myself.  The sky was pretty and there was even a spectacular rainbow.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Available 24 hours for your convenience


Today was a first for me: over the course of one business day I worked portions of 3rd, 1st, and 2nd shifts.  My day felt like one long time lapse photograph, like I was watching three distinct sets of people come and go and sit in different desks.  At a 24 hour facility such as where I work there is no one moment when people come and go; it happens gradually.

I think I'm too tired to write this blog entry.  But I'm also too tired to sleep.

For various reaons over the past few days (scheduling, loud neighbors, sick puppy) I haven't gotten to sleep much.  But tonight Holly is medicated and snoozing softly in the next room, and there are no other noises or distractons to keep me up.

Only now that I can sleep, just how do I go about it?

Friday, May 12, 2006


Vote to Bring Shea to Chicago

Still frustrated from your vote not counting in the last presidential election?  I feel your pain, which is why I try to give my blog readers every opportunity to vote on something that matters, where we can all make a positive difference.

The issue at hand concerns my friend Shea, who is considering participation in either the 2006 Chicago Marathon or some other race.  Shea really wants to run in the Chicago Marathon, but perhaps not realizing this yet has decided to put the matter to a vote on his blog.

Your vote does matter.  So please visit Shea's blog and vote to bring Shea to Chicago!


UPDATE 5/15/06:  Thanks to everyone who voted Shea has decided to come to Chicago!  

Saturday, May 06, 2006


Farther, Faster

Ran 10 miles today (my farthest ever) and also moved up to a 10:00 pace.  My legs are tired, but otherwise I feel terrific.

I like my new pace group and will likely stick with them all the way through marathon training.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Meet the JP Morgan CIS Project/Remittance IT Running Team


Sergio, Jay, and Josh will be proudly representing at the 2006 JP Morgan Corporate Challenge.

Look for us in the matching bad cat t-shirts.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Photo from Immigrant March


No human being is "illegal."

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Day Without Immigrants


Today in Chicago and across the USA immigrants will be rallying for their rights.  The main purpose of the rally is a show of strength, but also to draw attention to the importance of immigrants in our culture.  Many people will be skipping work or school to pose the question, "What would America be like without immigrants?"

From personal experience I can answer that question very easily.

A great many people I've been close to over the years are recent immigrants to this country.  Nowhere is this more evident than at my current job with the Remittance Technology department at JP Morgan.  Of my six colleagues on site, all are first generation immigrants.  Out on the production floor we support, a large minority of the workers are also recent immigrants.  I couldn't imagine this place without them.

I take the current atmosphere of immigrant bashing very personally and I plan to add my voice to today's rally as soon as I get off work this morning.

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Longest Run So Far


On Saturday I successfully completed 8 miles with my CARA group, the furthest I have run so far.  Conditions along the lakefront were ideal, and I managed to stay hydrated and limber.  

Shins a little sore on Sunday, though.

I'm definitely ready to move up to a faster pace, though I'm hesitant to leave my new friends behind in the 10:30 group.  And we finaly have a group leader that I like.

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