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Showing posts from June, 2015

When squirrels fall

To clarify--I did crash my bike on Saturday morning. But, no, it wasn't because a squirrel fell out of a tree on me. Even though a squirrel did fall. Separate incidents.

I had already delayed my long bike ride an hour or so because when I woke up at 5am it was cold and wet still. By the time I was on the road, it was warm and sunny...maybe some of those high tree branches were still slippery though? I was in the bike lane a couple of blocks away, minding my business, when a squirrel--quietly, I didn't know what happened until it hit the pavement--dropped out of an overhanging tree. I never thought this may be the reason to wear a bike helmet! He looked stunned and took a few seconds to finally run away. Thank goodness there were no cars yet because he'd have been toast.

I kept on though I should have taken that as some sort of omen. The next 2 miles, I noticed that a few minor problems which had started on my ride in Minnesota were getting worse. My right foot wouldn't…

Lake Michigan swim report & wetsuit review

I'll get up at 5am to bike on empty roads. It's more relaxing, safer because of the lack of cars, and there's the chance you'll see some wildlife in the woods around sunrise. And last night got me thinking I'm probably also an early morning open water swimmer as well. That's when most of our races take place anyway. It was my first attempt at evening swimming in Lake Michigan and overall a good time except for the chaos.

Was actually a great turnout for the triathlon club's Stroke and Stride. The idea being that Tuesday evenings during the summer we meet to do a timed "scrimmage" of swim-transition-run. But the bus from the Loop to Navy Pier got stuck in some major rush hour traffic and I ended up arriving with less than 5 min to check in and get my wetsuit on. So I opted to hang back, take my time, and swim on my own then skip the run after. Spent a good 30 minutes in the water though it wasn't a ton of distance swimming. Got used to my suit,…

Parking nightmares

It's kind of amusing that I just did a post last week advocating "dynamic pricing" with regard to middle class families being priced out of Disney vacations. Because dynamic pricing reared its head last night at our transportation commission meeting while discussing parking. Several of my fellow commissioners mentioned it as a way to manage our parking problem in the village.

There's no secret that Oak Park has a parking problem. It's an ongoing, frequent cause for frustration. For as long as anyone can remember (1930's?) there has been an overnight parking ban in the village. Not such a problem when we were a streetcar suburb, but American car ownership patterns have changed and there are more cars in essentially the same space. One study by the village showed that nearly half (49%) of all multifamily housing units do not have on-site parking. There's plenty of room to park on the street in less-dense, especially single family home neighborhoods. In the …

The evolution of dads

Fathers Day isn't really about me. It's about my kids and their mom who are the only reason I get to get up every day and do this job. Other than spending time with my family, I always feel a little guilty if it involves any amount of special praise, gifts, or pampering. I'm a hard-working dad who spends nearly every hour of every day with my kids, but this being daily life isn't necessarily interesting. At least not from inside the fishbowl. On one level, it's entirely boring--a father raising his kids. Modern dads getting tons of attention isn't a bad thing. We're long overdue for equal treatment in the eyes of the culture when it comes to childcare, emotional support, and being involved in domestic activities like school drop off or grocery shopping. We change diapers. We take the kids to the playground.

But, on the other hand, there is still a stigma. It's what makes the gig so gosh-darned fascinating to society, the media, and random people we meet…

That survey Disney sent me...

Disney made a lot of waves recently when they included a question in a survey for annual passholders about "surge" pricing for theme park tickets. At already over $100 for a day, the suggestion that peak seasonal periods may eventually be higher priced got a mixture of groans, head nods, and criticism in the fan world. The response from Disney was that it frequently sends out all kinds of polling to customers and one survey doesn't mean anything. But the company has faced growing anger from fans, families, and the general public that they are pricing middle class (never mind low income) vacationers out of reach financially. (There's also been a quieter lament that the parks have gone down in quality and service...though I've been around long enough to be less sensitive to it. There's always some element of this chorus present. Probably a more interesting line of analysis here is about price increases vis-a-vis quality expectations.) The Washington Post, in fa…

Birthday party blues

At some point--maybe a decade ago--I stopped attending live music. (I'm old enough to remember the festival circuit where Americans of my age used to go to Lollapalooza in the summer before it settled down in Chicago...or the all-girl Lilith Fair.) I'm not sure that I sat down to make a firm decision that I'd spent my last concert dollar. But it was some combination of paying $100 to stand and hear badly amplified noise, stand in line for the bathroom, smell the pot smoke drifting, and wait in the parking lot in an hour-long traffic jam when the show was over. No thanks.

I tell this story not because I want to talk about the music industry. But I'm having similar feelings about why I don't demand that someone throw me a birthday party in adulthood. Remember, funerals are for the ones throwing them, not the dead. Right now we're in the middle of picking the venue for my son's 5th birthday party and it's pretty much like poking your eyeballs out with toot…

Tour de Pepin report

From our front door to Lake City is a bit over 5 hours if you're one of those non-stop road trip types. But with two preschoolers along, it's always a big question about how long a drive will really take. Especially when our family policy is that 'tis better to stop for the restroom when not needed than wait until it is too late. Road trips are also one of the few times my children are allowed access to McDonalds--or fast food in general--so french fries are a top priority for at least half the car. By comparison, yesterday's drive home began at around 9am and, thanks to traffic and a Target stop, we didn't arrive back until nearly 6pm. So Friday's relatively quick drive that put us there prior to 5pm was surprising.

We didn't leave until 10am because we had to grab cash for tolls, make a trip back to get a forgotten item (a theme on this vacation), and gas up the Subaru. My daughter had "Big Kid Day" at my son's school from 8:30-9:30. But thi…

The declaration of bathroom independence

My son has reached the state of potty training they don't tell you about. As new parents, the end goal seems to be the mythical day when they make it to the toilet and you don't have to change a diaper. Congratulations, you're potty trained!

No. Not by a long shot. There are actually more steps after that. That's the part we don't talk about enough. Then there is the transition to underwear from pullups. Then there is the issue of making it through the night without wetting the bed. (Remind your child to use the toilet before bedtime and encourage them to get up in the night if they think they need to go.) Then there's when your child wants to go to the bathroom on their own without your help. Then it's the work of the finer details in...shall we say "hygiene."

Right now, we're at the especially annoying (more annoying than just going in their pants, really) phase of him thinking he's independent in the bathroom department. Which is awesom…