Archive for September, 2007

The Car Is Dead! Long Live… My Feet

Friday, September 28th, 2007

My old Saturn finally bit it, and it did so in dramatic fashion. I wasn’t there for the accident, but when I went to clean out the car I was impressed by the wallop it took. State Farm decided that the cost of the repairs far exceeded the worth of a 12-year-old economy wagon and gave me a check. Two notes here: 1. everyone involved in the accident is fine. 2. I’m not a big recommender, but if you’re looking for an insurance company, I have had really good experiences with State Farm. It’s like they’re a neighbor who’s really there for you. A good neighbor, even.


So now I’m carless. At some point I’ll probably get another car (any recommendations? I like small station wagons) but in the meantime I’m just gonna hoof it… and take public transportation… and get rides from people.

It’s been going okay for the most part. There haven’t been too many times I’ve wished I had a car, but today is one of them. I already took a bus and a train to get to work. After work I’ll hop on the Halsted bus down to UIC for our Engineers Without Borders Regional Workshop. After that I need to get to Evanston somehow to meet up with a friend who’s in from out of town. Finally, I need to get back home to Lincoln Square. Yabba Dabba Doo!

I’m The Greatest Bouter of All Time!

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Last night I attended an informational session for people interested in volunteering at the World Boxing Championships. I don’t know anything about boxing beyond synthesizer-soundtracked montages. Once I tried it with some oversized boxing gloves for about 20 seconds and it was the most tiring thing I’ve ever done.

worldboxing.pngSo I almost didn’t go because… I don’t know… boxing? But as soon as I arrived at the Chicago Cultural Center I was glad I did. I suspect that most of the people who were there aren’t all that into boxing. I suspect most of them, like me, are totally geeked about the possibility of Chicago hosting the Olympics and want to help out any way they can.

You see, if Chicago is going to host the Olympics, we need to prove that we’re capable of hosting world class international sporting events. This boxing tournament is our biggest test to date. It needs to be a tremendous success. Over 1,000 athletes, coaches, trainers and officials are coming to Chicago in October. It’s our job to ensure that when they leave, they can’t stop talking about it. It’s not a hard — the city does most of the work — we just need to open the curtains.

I have a feeling that I will be at least a little into boxing by the time all this is over. Seeing people practice their craft at the highest level is always fascinating. Besides, I’ve already learned a couple things. Did you know that in amateur boxing they’re called “bouts” instead of “fights?”

I’d encourage all of you to come out and help us show off our city. Sign up to volunteer on the World Boxing Championships website. You must attend one of the remaining informational sessions before you can volunteer:

  • Thursday, September 27: Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington (Millennium Room, 5th Floor) 6:00pm – 7:30pm
  • Tuesday, October 2: U.S. Cellular Field, 333 W. 35th St. (The Conference and Learning Center, enter at Gate 3, free parking in D-lot) 6:00pm – 7:30pm

It’s Not The Land of McKinley

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

Today is the anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Since I’ve lived in Illinois, I’ve lived on Lincoln Street, Lincoln Avenue, in Lincoln Park, and now in Lincoln Square. Illinois sure loves Abraham Lincoln.

I Mean, Really, How Often Do You Look at a Man’s Shoes?

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, begins tonight with a somber service called Kol Nidre. Then for the next 25 hours or so, many Jews like me will be attending services and fasting to atone for the sins we (and all Jews) have committed over the past year. Fasting on this holiday involves refraining from more than just food and drink, however. For example, we’re not supposed to “anoint ourselves with oil” either. It’s hard to give that up, but I manage. We are also supposed to abstain from wearing leather. I’ve always liked that custom. During Yom Kippur we’re supposed to think about how we’ve hurt others, even the cows that were made into our shoes.

The problem is I only have one pair of nice shoes and they’re made of leather. Even my gym shoes are made of leather (I think.) I have some rubber sandals that I wore to synagogue in college, but they wouldn’t pass muster with my mom so I always end up wearing the leather shoes.

Not tonight! After Yom Kippur last year I decided I’d get some kicks that weren’t made of leather for precisely this purpose. I got some weird hippie shoes made from recycled dreadlocks or something. They’re great. In fact, I’ve gotten more compliments on these shoes than any other piece of clothing I’ve ever owned, with the exception of my suit. Unfortunately recycled tires and jute only hold together for so long. A year later the shoes are ripped and frayed, but I’m wearing them anyway. It’s the thought that counts, and these holey shoes seem appropriate on this holiest day of the year.


The Chicago Star

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

I thought it was a shame that the IOC’s rules forced Chicago 2016 to change their torch logo. It was a pretty darn good logo. But you know what? The new one is pretty darn good too. The stars on the Chicago flag are quite iconic, and especially appropriate since each one represents a watershed Chicago event (Fort Dearborn, The Chicago Fire, The World’s Columbian Exposition, and The Century of Progress Exposition.) In fact, one alderman has even proposed adding a fifth star to the flag if Chicago is chosen to host the 2016 Summer Games, but that seems to be jumping the gun a bit.

If you need some design work, both the old and new logos were designed (pro bono) by VSA Partners, Inc.

Right now I’d put Chicago’s chances of hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics at about 50/50. I think Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is the only real competition. Tokyo would be great, but it is too close to Beijing, who is hosting the Olympics next year. It is also the only applicant city that has already hosted the Olympics. Madrid and Prague will have trouble since London is hosting in 2012 and the 2014 Winter Olympics will also be in Europe. Also, the previous European Olympics were in Spain, which further hurts Madrid’s chances. Baku, Azerbaijan is exotic, but they’ve only competed in the Olympics since 1996 so they’re probably not ready yet. Doha, Qatar is in a region that hasn’t hosted the Olympics, but they don’t allow entry to Israelis. I certainly hope that would be a dealbreaker.

Rio, however, has a lot going for it: most importantly, the Olympics have never taken place in South America. They also hosted a very successful Pan American games this summer. Then again, Rio submitted bids for the 2004 and 2012 Olympics and didn’t make the short list, so who knows.

Is That A Spot?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Shama: Who does this guy think he is?


Monday, September 17th, 2007

Amanda collects stories about Jellyvision employees. One of her favorite questions to ask people in interviews is, “What are three things about yourself that would surprise me?” I started working at Jellyvision before Amanda so I never had to answer that question, but I recently told her that I had been on Letterman and she seemed quite surprised. Truth be told, I had kind of forgotten about it, but I’ll tell the story anyway.

It all stems from my year as a member of the Columbia University Marching Band, The Cleverest Band in the World™. Ivy league schools have pretty really pathetic football teams. They also have really pathetic marching bands. To compensate for their lack of musical ability, marching prowess, dedication and size, most Ivy League marching bands are “scramble bands.” That is, instead of marching, they run around the field like idiots while reading jokes over the P.A. Occasionally they play songs too.

I was a member of this crack semi-musical unit for a while. I played clarinet in the marching band in high school and was recruited by a friend: “Wait, you actually play an instrument? We need you.” You see, much of the band is made up of “miscies” who play any miscellaneous thing they can find, be it a beer keg, stadium seat, toilet or even, yes, the kitchen sink.

cumb.jpgSay what you will about the band, and lord knows people have, but it is an organization steeped in amazing, ridiculous traditions. In fact, Columbia’s best tradition is probably the semi-annual “Orgo Night,” when the band invades the library at 11:59 the night before the Organic Chemistry final exam and mayhem ensues. We even had a secret equation (yes, we were nerds): G(tb)2. I’m not allowed to tell you what that means, but rest assured, it’s not that interesting.

Anyway, flashback to 1995. During a “rehearsal” one of the drummers (I think) said, “Hey, let’s go play outside of the Late Show studio and see if they put us on TV.” A couple days later we did exactly that, and amazingly, it worked! We got to go on stage and play one of the Columbia Fight Songs (“Who Owns New York”) as the credits rolled. Letterman’s response sums it up: “Hey, how about that Columbia University Marching Band? (Shrugs.) How about their uniforms? (Shrugs again.)”

A couple weeks later, Letterman sent us a check to “get some real uniforms.”

I couldn’t find a video of the appearance anywhere, but I still have the “real uniform” we got with the money. It still fits! Check me out!

Here’s the official rendition of the story from the CUMB archives.

UPDATAE: As promised, my mom digitized the video. Here it is. I’m a dork.

No, Really, How’s it Going?

Friday, September 14th, 2007

I never know what to do when I’m asked, “How’s it going?” Like many, I usually offer a cursory, “fine” in response, regardless of how “it” is actually going. Sometimes the inaccuracy of that response is a little too obvious. I recently ran into my neighbors in the stairwell of our building.

Neighbor: How’s it going?
Me: Fine
Neighbor (Noticing that I’m holding a parking ticket): You got a ticket? That sucks.
Me: Yeah
Neighbor (Noticing that I’m also holding jumper cables): And jumper cables?
Me: Well, maybe “fine” wasn’t the best response.

My neighbors were nice enough to give my brother’s car a jump — the car I borrowed just long enough to break and get two parking tickets.

Aw Crap, I’m Making A Movie

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

I hate it when I accidentally put my camera in video mode.


Then I started saving the videos and editing them together. It kind of cracks me up. I’ve set up a group on this weird Jumpcut site where you can upload your accidental videos. Please do. Together we can make one of the dumbest movies ever!

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

While I’m very excited about the Montrose Brown Line station reopening this winter, I was kind of bummed that they moved it to the other side of the street, increasing my commute by a whole twenty paces.

Then I realized that the Armitage station also moved to the other side of the street, decreasing my commute by twenty paces.


Piefest 8

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

For the last 8 years I’ve been hosting a pie baking contest at the end of the summer. Piefest 8 will take place on Sunday. Today I’m working on making prizes for the winners, as I do every year. I also make prizes for our bowling league. Once my friend Rachael told me, “You’ve made every prize I’ve ever won.”

We were brainstorming ideas for this year’s Piefest prizes, and I think Shama came up with a good one, but you’ll have to come to Piefest to see what it is. (If you want to come to Piefest, send me an e-mail.) Piefest prizes are usally framed plaques with the name of the award on them. One year they were little 4×6 paintings and one year they were paper cuttings, but last year was my favorite. The prizes were based on weird photos found on the Internet. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Here’s the one for “Best In Show,” although we agonized over it since there were so many other great photos.


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