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I had a great weekend with my family in Chicago. It’s always enjoyable to haunt your old stomping grounds and relive the old stories, hopes, heartbreaks, jobs, dinners, and strolls.

For this trip I really want to soak in a lot of the experience even though our time was limited. This post is a little brain dump of things I found amusing, interesting or otherwise notable.

American airlines at ohare is way more enjoyable than the united airlines experience.

A city with abundant taxis is a luxury I really appreciate.

Holy cow is there a big difference between 33 degrees in Austin,Tx and 15 degrees in Chicago wind!

It’s amazing when a restaurant you used to love is as good as you remember it almost a decade later.

It seems 8 years is the limit at which 90% of your old social circle moves on or moves away. 4 years ago a visit to Chicago was filled with visits to parties and friends still in the area. Only a handful this time around.

Kids go with snow way better than adults.

Downtown Chicago on a Sunday morning is so quiet. You can own the place. It’s great.

Why does a town always build the awesome stuff after you leave? Hahahah

Man is it great to talk math and the business of math with my pal John Boller. He’s got a deep knowledge of math and is such a great communicator!

Watching kids at a great museum demonstrates the value of these cultural institutions. Also, it’s hard to create a great museum. The field museum is one of the best.

I spoke to at least 5 guys at the bears game that came alone, travelled hundreds of miles for this really big game. One guy taking pictures of the old soldier field structure almost teared up. He’d driven himself in from s. Carolina and had just enough money for one ticket. Ya, it’s just football, right? I spent the first part of a day with a gentleman from Eugene, oregon. His family sent him solo because they could only afford one ticket and this was something they really wanted for him. He showed me the texts and pics of his family prepping for the game. We took pictures with him and the Chicago police and outside of all the soldier field displays. Ya, its clearly just football.

Heavily marketing beer cutoff at end of third quarter seems to encourage fans to pound beers at halftime. Stadium folks might consider changing that marketing a bit depending on their objectives. As for me, it was so freaking cold pounding beers seemed more like punishment than the normal enjoyment it might bring. I actually drank a coffee and ate nachos cause cheese was warm.

I laughed so hard when I went to the bathroom cause there was a beer man selling.

I did order an Mgd in the stands and the guy next to me asked if I was still in college. He was drinking a miller lite. What am I missing?

The national anthem and jet flyover was quite possibly one of the coolest things ive ever experienced.

There was a moment in the third quarter when I was so cold and dejected for a brief moment I considered leaving. I fought myself back up to my seat and pulled a haine! Glad I did. That was about to an epic comeback.

Several people yelled at me via txt that I stopped txting. My hands outside of gloves could not operate these stinking phones. Sorry folks, I’m a good txter, but I couldn’t do it!

Anticipation is the best state to be in. Once the adrenaline fades you get very cold. Lucky for me after the game all I had to do was walk ocer to the she’d aquarium to meet my family. That was awesome.

Chicago is the kind of place where you don’t need a plan before wandering the streets for some decent food. Had to the feed the family after the game and all the obvious places were jammed. Found some pizza and wings on state.

Who’s idea was it to order all that food at seven at night?

Indoor swimming pools on a cold night in Chicago are awesome for kids.

Dani and i feel asleep last night watching “inside 9/11” on nat geo. Um, wow. Almost ten years ago we were living in Chicago down the street from our hotel. Watching that show brought my 25th birthday to the forefront of my memories. What a day. Hard to remember all that unfolding in real time. That show plus all the sausage and pizza during the day generated some strange dreams indeed.

Note to self, never ever stick your hand into cab seat looking for the belt connector the morning after a city hosts a big event. I do not know what got on my hand but the fistful of baby wipes did not clean my hand and brain to my satisfaction.

Traveling with our girls is getting more fun as they age. They really get excited by trips now and seem to appreciate “cool” things.

Reese said she was mad the packers won and all those people were shouting go pack go. But she wanted to know how to spell packers. Bella called me a wolf because I howl at football games. I think they have the basics of bears packers down.

Thanks to dani for doing this ! Man, what a weekend!

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I was telling my friend the complexities of hurricane IKE for us here in the outskirts of Houston. He too had the ‘experience’ and was caught not being able to adequately explain what it was like. I am tough enough to ‘enlighten’ in most cases so he wasn’t going to “help” me understand what was going to happen when we talked on his birthday last week.

We came to the non-empowering collective conclusion that one can’t adequately explain what it feels like to have an in-gown toe nail. Thus, a hurricane or other environmental event was a bigger task approaching the impossible. That reality makes it improbable to explain the loss and your change in focus you end up having after going through it from threat to the aftermath of a hurricane or natural calamity they call IKE.

Do not read any further unless you have time on your hands [which is an interesting idiom].

This blog represents just one more attempt to put some analogies together to bridge what was experienced here in Houston with IKE for those that were not here in my house – yard – neighborhood or were busy elsewhere experiencing a scavenger hunt for the fiscal drain to plug the banking, mortgage and insurance events going on at the same time. Or, for the entertainment weary, some were experiencing being distracted by lipstick “issues” the desperate were engrossed in while Congress was thinking about how to get re-elected.

Be aware that attempts you read here are like love songs, poetry, adventure novels, adventure monologues, biographies, and jokes told since you were naïve: they can’t replace the real thing…

Whoa, let’s get back to IKE>>>

My experiences are anchored on three things and only three things:

  1. my past experiences
  2. my present experience with IKE
  3. my responses to the milieu [behavior stream] going on around me

I sound pretty simple when it’s put that way. I’ll try to get over it.

None of these things are things you can join me in having… they will not help you one iota in understanding what I experienced.

But, there might be a way…

Because catastrophes or naturally occurring events happen all the time, there are some similarities you may recognize at the right time when you get a chance to experience your own hurricane, tornado, earthquake or tsunami, or for that matter your own in-grown toe nail. Thus, with analogies, similes and metaphors I can attempt to bridge the gap between what I experienced and what I want you to know about that experience.

That’s right. You can generalize from one experience to another based on similarities they have in common. To the degree they have no similarities you can relate to, you are screwed. You’ll experience your calamity convinced it is unique and prevailing over all others of that type. You will have some things you’ll want to communicate and unless you can make the appeal unique and engaging, no one will read past the third paragraph! The calamity you experienced will remain uniquely ‘your’ calamity – or naturally occurring event – which ever represents your drama level best.

No one can know what your experience is like…

Loss of…

“Stuff” – both complex and simple

Behavior – the one no one knows how to talk about

Anchors in life – both complex and simple

Conveniences – both complex and simple

Routines – both complex and simple

Needs reduction – etc.

Real security

Comparative security

Available food

Available water

Available energy

You get the idea…

What’s more the things you can do no longer have any effect…

Water spouts

light switches

Toilets

Garbage cans

Phones

Cars

TVs

Computers

Degoogolization – [loss of connection to Google for news, search and sundry interests]

Stores – including fast foods

You get the idea here too…

So I was telling my friend that during the aftermath having the power come back on after 4 days felt like Christmas morning…

  • I was giddy for hours over little things
    • Hair dryer my wife got to use
    • Coffee grinder
    • Electric razor
    • Garage light
    • Refrig light
    • Laptop

Soon an email came to me that expressed a similar Christmas theme:

  • Decorating the house (with plywood)
  • Dragging out boxes of supplies that haven’t been used since last season
  • Panic riddled shopping in crowded stores
  • Regular TV shows pre-empted for ‘Specials’
  • Family coming to stay with you
  • Family and friends from out of state calling you
  • Buying food you don’t normally buy . . . and in large quantities
  • Days off from work
  • You speak to neighbors who you manage to ignore 360 days of the year…
  • An awkward excitement similar to the culmination of Santa’s efforts
  • Lit candles everywhere
  • Dealing with a myriad of batteries types
  • A high probability you’re going to have a tree in your house!

In the end you thought you were getting back to the world order you had before the storm.

It wasn’t. Some things don’t come back, particularly some behaviors. Some behaviors are there that weren’t there before. You now care about some weird neighbors that once appeared to be part of a witness relocation program. You now look at different ways to escape the pains of no electricity, no running water, no toilets, no gas, no this and no that. You take different ways to work to avoid floods, trees, crews stuck in flood waters trying to reach trees, etc.

Soon you see that someone has their trees trimmed and the debris is at the curb, your curb! Then you realize it…you are back to the trivial, the banal, the inconsequential. Now all you have is the experience, the excitement and the memories along with a shadowing guilt because you have electricity, running water, fuel and food…and there are still 1.2 million people without those things in the 4th largest city in the US where everyone just wants to live life and enjoy their the remainder of their 28,750 days while they wait for the next natural event.

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