28 August 2010

What a week!!

This was an incredibly tough week at work.  So much so that I'm not even going to talk about it ;-p

I also was battling a sinus infection which was killer.  Thanks to Doc Mercado (he's from Bolivia and is a great MD), I got some instant meds which took about 24 hours to kick in and I'm almost back to normal.

That was key for the week though as I'm traveling for the next four weeks solid for work.  I've been told that flying with a sinus infection is one of the most dangerous things out there and that wouldn't have been fun.

Last Sunday we stopped for lunch at the re-born Tastee-Freez on Rte 31 in North Aurora.  When I first moved out here in '98, it was on its last legs and ended up closing that summer.  Since then it's had several attempts at quick drive-in food but mostly has been a closed, vacant building over the last 12 years.

Yummy-tummy as Aidan says.  They have expanded their flavors of soft-serve and the types of treats you can get.  Aidan had a small strawberry/vanilla twist in a cup, MK had strawberry, chocolate dipped and I had their version of the DQ Blizzard called a Freezee with Reese's Pieces.

I'm glad they are back.  It adds some more character to that entrance to our fine Village.  There's a lot of "scary" looking buildings over there but a healthy TIF district combined with some new businesses and a brand new Police Station set to open in September are good positive signs in a crappy economy that there's hope.

So the next four weeks see me in the lovely destinations of Atlanta, Warwick (England), back to Atlanta and then off to New York City.  Between the first two is a quick Labor Day weekend at my in-laws cottage in Michigan where I hope we have great weather.  There's also a looming trip to Fairfield, CT (yes, get excited all my FFD peeps, it's been TOO LONG since I've been there) either in the FIFTH week or the week after but that won't be confirmed for awhile.

I'm going to try to enjoy my weekend, but I'm also very conscious that I'm going to be away from my adorable son too too much over the next four weeks.  Makes all the days I'm with him that much more special.

23 August 2010

Louuuuuuuu! It continues to be a Way of Life

It was only fitting on Sunday that I got news that Lou was going to manage his last game for the Cubs while in the bathroom, taking care of business, sitting down.

It was interesting to see how quickly Shite Sox fans started posting that "the Cubs were so bad, even their manager doesn't want to stay" without realizing that in fact, his Mom continues to be ill and isn't getting any better.  Yep, that's right, continue to deflect the crumbling of your own hopes back to the North Side hoping people will just continue to ignore what's happening with the Mouth on the Southside, Ozzie.

I know everyone is always quick to crucify the manager of a club when they don't perform, and definitely there were times where Lou made bad decisions, but if the problem isn't any bigger than the old Torco sign to spot, the organization failed him.

I do truly believe he was the right man for the right job.  But when he was saddled with having to play high-paid failures like Soriano, Bradley and Fukudome as well as the pressure to validate the "farm system" by having, (who my fave Cub Blogger Aisle 424 calls something similar to the midget circus of gnomes up the middle) Theriot and Fontenot TOOTBLAN their way through games, then it's obvious he was continually asked to make soufflĂ© out of sawdust.

Warning! Rare compliment towards the NY Yankees forthcoming!

It says a lot about an organization that year after year they can produce high-quality individuals when it comes to running/managing ballclubs.  I'm sure everyone can point to horrible examples from the Bronx Bombers, but there is a culture built around winning and not accepting mediocrity and that does transcend downward to the managers and players (who might eventually become managers).  Every time Lou Pinella took the reigns of another club, it was likely related to the fact that he played, coached and was GM for a winner.  After the Yankees, he took that success to Cincinnati and Seattle and then found out what it was like to try to manage a team that had no clue how to win in Tampa Bay.  I really do think he saw the ability of ownership with deep pockets and a somewhat loose plan on how to build a winner with the Cubs.  Hell, we did and that wasn't just by drinking the Kool-Aid.

The sadness here is that the Cubs have continued to look at the Yankees and say "Hey, they spend well above the salary caps and look at them!" but there has to be multiple layers of support beneath that for it to happen which includes quality talent evaluation, not being wimpy during Free Agent contact talks and strength 'down on the farm'.  The Cubs seriously have done a relatively good job of the 3rd item, but the first two continue to bite them in the backside and when they are combined (Fuku/Bradley/Kevin Gregg) they are left with poor performers with monster contracts who they can't move OR when they move them, they have to still pay the salary.

Cub 'nation' is saddled with the 2nd highest payroll in MLB along with the 2nd highest ticket prices and we still have as many World Series trophies as we did in the 50's!! 

This does keep coming back to Jim Hendry.  Sure he was the GM during the 2003 year, but he had only been in the position for less than a year and it wasn't totally his doing.  Yes, he worked in the organization since '95, but he was successful at the talent evaluation from colleges/high schools and had built a decent farm system which still exists today.  No one is convinced STILL that he has the right talent to be a GM and make the big calls.  The Ricketts' bold statements that he's still the man and will lead the search for a new Manager and will stay as GM makes every Cub fan nervous that the new owners are over their heads here and instead of understanding baseball, they are drooling at the revenue glut that is the Cubs and Wrigley Field, even if they went deep into debt to buy them.

We've yet to see a move by the Ricketts that shakes us to our core and says "Hey, here's some people fed up with these losing ways and are demanding excellence".  It's just more of the same, very similar to the McCaskey's with the Bears or the days of Dollar Bill Wirt$ with the Hawks.  See, the Ricketts have had to follow the comeuppance of Rocky Wirtz, someone who felt the pain of the fans (even as his own Father inflicted it upon us) and so the people of Chicago are watching.

Sadly, Lou was beaten down by the system and that combined with family matters has had him quite abruptly leave the organization.  For a man who has lived baseball and excelled, this is bittersweet, I'm sure.  Thanks to the guys on the field yesterday for totally hacking that up by the way.  At least Lou could make 5 or 6 trips to the mound to get standing o's.  Nice way to send him off boys.

20 August 2010

Everyone's gettin' paid but US!!

So I thought it a little odd that I got an email from ComEd the other day.  Sure, they have my email address as a customer but frankly they don't send out much email.

Imagine my shock when I read it and they were actually offering up help!!

Hey, that's mighty white of them especially at a time in our economy when most people haven't had a raise in two years and HELL a lot of people don't even have jobs.  I mean, some big corporation (Exelon) who has made profit over the last two years, looking to help us little folks out to ensure that instead of having to eat gruel, we can spend a little more to get those Fruit Loops we've wanted (well, new ones that weren't part of the recall, right?)

Here's a screenshot of their offer (click on it to make bigger):

The ComEd worker looks like a proctologist just waiting to ram that thing up your backside, eh?

Yep, we're seeing higher bills due to higher electricity usage to keep our homes cool.

Wait. What?  We're also seeing higher bills thanks to an increase in rates back in July, right?

So on top of their nifty stat that customers are using 12% more electricity than last year due to the massive heat waves, we're doing so at an 11% increase in rate.  To top that off, back at the end of June they also asked for an increase for 2011 of 7%

As my Junior High Spanish Teacher, Miss Asa used to say "Awww pobrecito".  You're being so generous to us while having your way...

Yeah, thanks, but no thanks

{click, delete, delete forever}

19 August 2010

The Encore, why the delay?

Okay, so I've pretty much been out of the "concert circuit" for some time now.  Maybe only attending one show a year.

Last year it was AC/DC, this it's Jimmy Buffett last Saturday night.

I'm struggling with the ego stroke that is saying goodnight, walking off the stage and then coming back on for an encore after letting all the drunks/crazies yell and clap and bang the seats to a deafening roar.

Yes I know this is more or less tradition but it's always hilarious to hear some sudsed-up knuckle head say "Do you think they are going to come back out?"
  • Yes, they are coming back out, the house lights aren't up yet or haven't you noticed
  • If people cheer or don't, they probably are STILL coming back out, although I've heard several tales from the Stone Temple Pilots where they couldn't come back on because of Weiland's bad drug problems and I personally saw Greg Kihn say "f*ck it" when a crowd of 100 just wouldn't stroke his ego.  Well, he had played "Jeopardy" about 3 times during his set, so his material was thin and what the hell could he have played as an encore anyway?
  • It's also long been used so that they can wipe down and dry off, but do you really need to for 2 or 3 more songs that you're going to play?
I think it's funny that no matter how famous they are, their egos are just as fragile as when they were little kids learning how to play and they need the affirmation even if they've been playing for 20+ years on stage.

I don't expect anyone to change this but I just find it puzzling on why some people go batsh*t cheering on their faves *hoping* they are going to come out when, if they are true fans, they know the "key songs" that haven't been played during the night.

I've stopped any/all wild, celebratory demonstration of emotion since the thousands around me will continue and cover me.  I guess my few years working in the music business (1990-1992) have just jaded me and it's only JUST catching up with me 18 years later.

Maybe the next time I'm presenting to a client, when I have 2 slides left, I'll say "thanks, goodnight, wave and blow kisses" and walk out of the room only to come back and finish with a bang.  yeah, no.

bitter old rocker outside of Chicago

12 August 2010

Holy Crap where have _I_ been??

Wow, four whole months since I've posted.  So what have I been up to?

Well, as part of my new position at work I've been around the world and back, but only via telephone.  (If I would have had to fly everywhere it would have taken 5 months to get done what I did in 2).  For one of our largest global clients I've been taking a look at how we can better perform operationally.

It's been one of the most enlightening experiences of my life.  I've learned so much and probably have the most unique view of where our strengths and vulnerabilities lie across the portfolio of work.

I've conducted over 50+ personal interviews with end clients, client servicing folks and my fellow peeps in operations around the globe.  It's meant calls at 7:00am and 8:00pm in order to accommodate the global time clock and it's meant asking some tough questions about when we've had some major screw-ups.  But it's also meant celebrating our successes and learning from what we do best.

The hard work begins NOW though as we develop a strategic plan for this global work that'll cover the next three to five years.  It also means a lot of high-level presentations of the findings and workshopping of potential solutions.

I'm pretty clear on what the final solutions need to have as key attributes, but it's going to be interesting to see how we can work around some of the totem poles/third rails that exist.  It's critical for us to bring a new view to how we engage with clients and how we manage the work they entrust to us.

I'm super excited about this and will probably be pretty cranky right through to October when we present the final report to the client.

Other than work, I've just really been enjoying watching our little man grow into a little boy.  At 2 years, 8 months he's got some real attitude and moxy.  He knows how to play you to get what he wants and he's the ultimate up-seller.  If you tell him he gets to choose 2 books, he immediately says "three", if you tell him he can have a small package of raisins, he wants two.  Yeah, this kids is gonna be killer in negotiations.  His major attitude though gets him into trouble and he's as pig-headed as his Daddy at times and that's not necessarily a good thing.

I've rarely gotten to any Cubs games this year.  Not too broken up about that, figured that this was going to be a throw-away transition year for the new management and clearly knew that since they were saddled with paying massive salaries for a bunch of turds, we'd be lucky to end up at .500.

So that's what I've been doing with my summer, how about you? 

I need to re-generate my postings to this blog.  I really do enjoy spouting some nonsense most of the time and with how busy we've been, I've just neglected it like an old baseball glove.  Speaking of which, we just bought Aidan his first glove (it's so tiny) but that also forced me to dig out my old first-baseman's glove.  I'm surprised it still fits on my fat hand, but glad it does.  I'm working it back in as the leather sort of seized up over the years of non-usage.  I can't wait until he gets a little older as playing catch now is sort of rough but he's getting the hang of it.

Okay, STFU time, I've written enough.  Gotta spread this cr*p out so that it looks like I post a lot (har har)