Monday, March 31, 2008

Football!

Who's ready for some football? I sure am. Spring football practice started last week for most schools, including Notre Dame. Of course, there's not a lot to report at this point other than some position changes along the offensive and defensive fronts and weight gain for most of guys. The rumors are that Jimmy Clausen has packed on about 12 pounds of muscle in the off-season which will hopefully make him more durable. Actually, I'm hoping that the extra pounds added to the offensive line will make Clausen more durable.

Frankly, I don't really care too much about what happens in spring practice right now. I'm just happy to know that there are kids out there suiting up and knocking the crap out of each other. That means that football season can't be too far off, right? Right?! I need to know that there will be respite from the constant barrage of Yankees and Red Sox news that will be forced down our throat for the next five boring, painful months. My hope is that either or both of the Yankees and Red Sox suck so that the folks at ESPN lose interest in baseball and start reporting on a sport that isn't so painfully boring.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Closet Organization

Now that things have settled down a bit for me and Dee, we've set our minds to getting our condo in good order. We have a ton of stuff to do, but our top priority was to get our closets organized. You see, the builders half-assed the closet situation in our place. Basically, they put one shelf and one hanging rod in every closet. Sure, it allowed us to store our shit - but not very well. For example, check out our bathroom closet below.


A mess, no? I should add that the broom, mop and Swiffer all come tumbling out of the closet as soon as you open the door. Plus, the door would barely close. It was a pain in the ass. Every time Dee opened the closet door I would hear a sound of something falling followed by her saying, "I hate it."

Today, Dee and I decided to head over to The Container Store and see if they could impart some of their closet organizing wisdom unto us. We met with one of the Elfa people (not Elf people, Elfa people. Elfa is a brand of closet organization stuff) and she designed organization systems for our bathroom closet and my closet in the second bedroom. Because the cost of our new closets was surprisingly cheap, we purchased them on the spot and brought them home for installation.

After drilling a few holes in the wall and screwing in a few screws, I hung the shelves and our new closet was ready to accept our shit. We managed to pile it all back in there and we couldn't have been happier. Here's how our closet looks now.

Much better, don't you think? Soon, my closet will make a similar transformation. Unfortunately, I made a slight measuring error and we have to take back the stuff for my closet and have new shelves cut. Thankfully, they're happy to take back the stuff they already cut. We'll see to that next weekend.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Possum!

If you have been wondering if there are possums in the City of Chicago, I can confirm for you that there are. I saw one last night lurking in the doorway of a building across the street from my el stop. Unfortunately, I didn't think to snap a picture until he (or she) had scurried off.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Things I've Been Enjoying

Here are a few things that I've been enjoying recently:

Vampire Weekend
They recently released their first album, Vampire Weekend, and after a quick preview I downloaded it and have been enjoying it ever since. It's quirky, different and fun.

Noodles & Company
I've been enjoying this restaurant for quite some time, but recently Dee and I have had the opportunity to eat there more often. I quite enjoy their Wisconsin Mac & Cheese and their Japanese Noodles. Get their flatbread, too. Tasty.

Laughing Cow Cheese

A delicious after work snack when paired with Wheat Thins or other crackers. We tend to have Wheat Thins around, so that's what it usually lands on. I like that it is packaged in individual wedges so you're not as tempted to pig out on an entire wheel of cheese.

Once
It's a movie. Dee and I rented it recently. It's a touching story about a street musician and how his music brings him together with a girl. It's also a musical. However, the music is Glen Hansard's and it's easily and cleverly worked into the film so that you don't even really recognize it as a musical. Check it out when you have a chance.

I'm sure there's more. If I remember, I'll add it.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Friday Thoughts

It's the first day of spring and it's snowing here in Chicago. We're supposed to get anywhere from two to two hundred inches. The snow swirling outside the windows has created a funny scene in my office. My company has a tradition of handing out yellow lilies to all of the employees to celebrate the first day of spring. They arrived at our desk in a little bunch on Wednesday. Everyone puts theirs in a bit of water and by the next morning they have opened. So now everyone has these bright yellow lilies reaching out towards the horrible swirling clouds of snow. It typifies Chicago weather.

The Irish are in the NCAA Tournament again. They received a five seed and whipped last year's Cinderella, George Mason, last night. The Irish face Washington St. tomorrow night. I have a feeling that this will be the end of the road for Notre Dame. They are good enough to beat Washington St. but they won't. It's just how things have gone for the Irish since Mike Brey took over as coach. They play well during the regular season and crap out early in the tournament. Here's hoping I'm wrong.

I'm probably jinxing myself, but I have been remarkably lucky with shipping times on my Internet orders recently. I have been choosing the regular shipping option (3-5 business days) for all of my packages and they have been arriving in three days or less. I'm sure the snow will end that streak.

Recent encounter with a drunk guy on the el who is wearing a Minnesota Twins hat:
Drunk Guy: Woo, hoo! Go Twins!
Me: (smirks and nods)
DG: Hey man, are you a Cubs fan?
Me: No.
DG: Oh, you're a Sox fan then. I don't know how you do it.
Me: Do what?
DG: Choose.
Me: Choose?
DG: Between two teams in one city. Man, if there were two teams in Minnesota I don't know what I'd do.
Me: Ah, yes. Well, it's the burden we bear.
DG: No thanks. Too hard for me.
Me: It weighs heavily on our minds. Every. Single. Day.
DG: Well, good luck, man.
Me: Thanks.
DG: (as he's getting off the train) Fuck the Yankees! (sticks his head back in the door) And the Red Sox!
Me: Indeed.

I'm ready for football season. Luckily, I don't have to wait too long to see a game. I'm making plans to go see the Blue-Gold game (Notre Dame's spring game) in April. I'll probably end up dragging Dee along - she is my wife, after all.

I just bought a 1 TB network storage device for my condo. I've backed up my computer and moved all of my music there. I still plan on archiving some of my older photos and video there but I haven't had time to deal with that yet. Soon enough I will have a centralized place to store and backup all of my data. Now I just have to figure out how to back up my new device.

The Mint Oreo Blizzard at Dairy Queen is disappointing. It's not actually made with mint ice cream. They just put in a squirt or two of this mint gel stuff that turns the ice cream green but doesn't really add any flavor. A sad disappointment. It could be so good.

I've seen trailers for the new Incredible Hulk, Batman and Ironman movies. Looks like there's going to be a ton of superhero movies this summer. Don't know if I'll see the Hulk one, but Batman is a must and I've always liked Ironman. The Hulk movie is intriguing because of Edward Norton, though I'll probably just wait for the DVD.

That's all for now. Enjoy your Easter weekend. If you don't celebrate Easter, enjoy your regular-type weekend.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day and Other Items

I really like St. Patrick's Day. I don't know if it's my favorite holiday, but I do enjoy it quite a bit. I'm not even Irish. Well, I don't know if I'm Irish or not. I'm adopted and I don't know the heritage of either of my biological parents (one of which is also adopted). I have spent a lot of time celebrating this holiday with people who are Irish, though (I'm Catholic and I went to Notre Dame - you tend to bump into a few Irish folk in those circles). Those people have always been welcoming and willing to share their cabbage, corned beef, soda bread, potatoes and, of course, beer. I find all of those foods to be quite delicious and wolf them down with glee. While I may or may not be Irish, the Irish folk I know certainly have made me feel welcome while celebrating the feast of their homeland's Patron Saint.

The general mood on St. Patrick's Day is typically jolly and fun and it seems like everyone - Irish or not - enjoys the day and gets a kick out of people wearing green and seeing a bagpiper in a kilt. In fact, my office currently has a bagpiper playing downstairs and people have stopped to listen. It put a smile on my face.

Celebrate today however you like but be sure to enjoy the day. I'll keep listening to my Irish drinking songs and maybe have a beer when I get home tonight. Happy St. Patrick's Day.



Here are a couple really cool things that have been done in memorial to my father:

The first is the sign below which is just outside my hometown's city limits. We don't know who had it put up, but we certainly appreciate it. That's my grandfather in the bottom left corner.



The second is this Indiana Senate resolution that renames Indiana Highway 3 between Hartford City (my hometown) and Highway 18 in honor of my father. I'm sure my dad appreciates it, but I know he would say, "I hope they didn't waste too much time on that. They've got more important things to do."

Take That, Economy

With all the doomsday talk about he economy and the concern about a recession, Dee and I spent our day yesterday going on a shopping spree. We pumped a sizable chunk of our hard-earned dough right back into the economy.

Take that, lagging economy.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Sean Bomb

Good old Sean Kelley has dropped an awesome bomb over at RobberBlog today. Check it out.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

New Year's Goals Update

We're nearly through the first quarter of 2008 so I thought I'd give an update on the progress towards my goals for 2008.

1) Write every day
Well, I've already dropped the ball on this one. I missed five days in January, eight days in February and one day in March. Granted, the five days I missed in January was around the time my father was diagnosed with cancer and I was at the hospital and six of the eight in February were during the wedding and honeymoon. Regardless, no excuses. I've missed 14 of 73 days. That's 81%. I can do better.

2) Organize my iTunes
At the beginning of the year I had only five playlists. Now I have 22. The calendar reminders have helped, but I've also been helped by the fact that my iPhone only holds 8 GB of music and I get sick of that 8 GB after a while. I still need to create about 30 more before I'll have a good number of lists to cycle through.

3) Re-do the second bedroom
I've made almost no progress on this task. However, I have a reminder set for this weekend to do some planning. I've already cleaned out my closet and donated all of the clothes I don't wear to make organizing the closet easier. Plus, I've measured the room and drawn up the floor plans so that we can begin choosing furniture that fits.

4) Write and direct another sketch show
I've not written one usable sketch yet this year. I've completely failed at this one so far. I have tried to write some sketches, but nothing I could use.

5) Take a writing class
I haven't signed up yet. I'm scheduled to do that this summer.

6) Paint the condo
This one is planned for the summer. Dee and I will start picking paint colors in May. Nothing yet, but we're still on track.

7) Organize my hard drive
I took care of this at the end of January. Now I just have to stay on top of filing things in the right place so that it doesn't get out of control again.

8) Continue to get my finances in order
Dee and I have merged our corporations and pooled our resources. I've entered all of our banking and credit card information into some financial software where we can keep track of all of our debts and assets. Next month we plan on meeting with financial planner to discuss the next steps in our savings and investment strategy.

I'm not doing terribly on my goals, but I could do better. Now that my major life events are over for the year (hopefully) I should have more time to focus on these goals and get back on track.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Funeral

Yesterday my father's funeral was held at St. Mary's Church in Muncie, Indiana. You can read about it here.

As the article I linked to above states, I was asked to give a eulogy for my father. The text of my speech is below:

Some of my fondest memories with my father are from the times when he would help me with my homework. He would never give me the answers, but he would always lead me to them so that I could find them myself. In fact, he would often add more homework to the work I already had just to help me figure out the answers I needed. It frustrated me then, but I thank him for it now. He taught me to think for myself even though I'm sure there were times he regretted that later.

Once I moved on to college and beyond, I didn't need his help with my homework as much anymore. Mostly because he had given me the confidence to solve my problems for myself. As I got older he changed his approach to helping me with my "life homework". He challenged me not to simply find the correct answer, but the right answer. He challenged me to think about how my decision impacted others and to think about how my decision would impact my personal integrity and most importantly, he challenged me to make the honest decision. He knew that despite all of his accomplishments - and he had his fair share: he was graduate of Indiana University, member of the Indiana University Marching 100 who marched in the Rose Bowl and Rose Bowl Parade in 1969, he graduated from Indiana University Law School, got his MBA from Ball State, was Blackford County Prosecutor and trial lawyer, world traveler - he went to Brazil and Poland, State Senator, and pilot and member of the Civil Air Patrol, to mention just a few - even with all that he still knew that his most prized possessions were his honesty and his integrity. And he made sure that I understood that any accomplishment of my own meant nothing without my honesty and integrity.

And that is the final homework he left me. He's left me with the task of living up to the standards of honesty and integrity that he lived by but more importantly he left me with the task of raising my children to live up to those standards of honesty and integrity. And he would challenge all of us to do the same because he would tell you that everything he accomplished was due to the fact that he strived to live the right way. And I would argue that his greatest accomplishment was being the best father and role model a man could ask for.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Sad News

Like I said before, it's David C. Ford week here at the Mindsilt Blog. Unfortunately, I have some very sad news to report. It's sad news for me, for my family, for the people of Indiana and for all of humanity (as John Donne writes, "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee..."). My father passed away yesterday morning after battling pancreatic cancer.

I will miss him dearly. It was an honor to have him as my father and role model. I owe more to him than I can even imagine. But don't just take it from me, check out what other Indiana legislators have to say about my dad.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Wedding Speech

It's David C. Ford week here on the Mindsilt Blog.

At my wedding my father gave an outstanding speech. The text is below.

Jeffrey & Deanna,
For your families and I, you must know that this day is, in our lives, as special to us as it is to you. It is a day we have thought about since we held you in our arms for the very first time.

I want to share a couple of thoughts with you.

First, the poets and lyricists often embrace the strange idea that this bride and groom are destined by the stars to be together and that each is the only person in the world for the other - that somehow fate had predestined this day and this union.

But looking at the two of you: Deanna - a raving beauty, bright, wonderful, kind, caring - a woman that would make a wonderful wife for any man she chose and I would guess that there are a hundred thousand young men in this city alone who would gladly change places with Jeffrey this day to win her hand.

And Jeffrey - please excuse your doting old dad, but God, I'm proud of this young man. He is everything a man could ask for in a son. Handsome, intelligent, strong, funny - as best I could ever tell the delight of everyone he ever met. Likewise, there is no doubt in my mind that thousands of ladies would have eagerly welcomed a life with him.

But the magic of today is not that some cosmic gravity brought them together, the magic is that of all the other choices they might have made, of all the relationships that might have been, these two people - today - called together their families and their friends and the people that are important in their lives to a place they both held sacred, and in front of the world and their holy God, swore their eternal love to one another, to exclusion of all the other possibilities that might have been. Jeff and Dee join their lives today not because of any occasion of fate, but because they have resolved to devote their lives to one another.

The love you see in them tonight is not a love of chance - it is a love of choice.

And then, there is the famous phrase: "Happily ever after".

Dee and Jeff, everyone at this event tonight wishes you a "happily ever after" and there will be great times ahead for you. As time goes on, I know that you will discover delights and pleasures even more profound than this night. Maybe one day, if you are as fortunate as Greg and Barb were, some beautiful little girl will climb up on your lap and ask you to read her a story and you're hearts will burst at your pride for her. Or, maybe, if you are as lucky as Joyce and I were, some little boy will meet you at the front door at the end of the day with his ball and bat and beg, "Hey, Dad, will you pitch me a few?" And my God the world just doesn't get better than that.

But your vows today weren't just for better and richer and health. If the rest of your life was only about the good times, those vows would be empty and pointless. There will also be hard times - times of doubt, times of stress, and times of illness. It is in the hard times that you will discover how much you need one another. It is in the hard times that you will begin to understand what it is to have one person in the world that is there for you and that no matter how uncomfortable it might sometimes seem, that you are the one person on whom your partner can count.

To live "happily ever after" would be a very shallow life. I tell you tonight that in the good times you will find happiness, but it is in the hard times that you will find the depths of your love.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad

Even though I'm adopted, everyone always mentions how I look so much like my dad. Maybe they're being nice, maybe they're pushing to find a resemblance or maybe they just notice that we have the same amount of gray hair. Regardless, we've both always found this a bit amusing. It's our little inside joke on the people who tell us of our resemblance. The funny thing is that both of us took it as a compliment.

I was always proud to be compared to my father. He is the smartest man I know and to even be considered in the same league with him was always an honor. As I grew older, I came to appreciate the comparisons with my dad even more. He lives his life with an honesty and integrity that is rarely seen these days - especially among politicians. I strive to live every day with the same type of honesty and integrity. Doing anything less would be a disservice to the man who gave so much to me and helped me to become the man I am today. I can only hope that I will someday be able to provide the same guidance to my children and raise them in the image of their grandfather and hope that someday they will be compared to him.

Thank you, Dad. You are the greatest and most positive influence in my life and you serve as a model for each of us to strive for everyday. Happy Birthday. I love you.