Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Pics

Lots to do, so here are the pics! Since Marissa is so young and can't eat candy, we just went down to the Starbucks at the corner where they had a little party. The manager there is also one of our nannies. The employees were dressed up (mostly) along a Peter Pan theme. The manager is Tinker Bell in the second to last picture.

Monday, October 28, 2013

New Halls: mine and Halas

Last week I had another Season Ticket Holder Advisory Group meeting. They moved the meetings back up to the newly renovated Halas Hall from Soldier Field where we were relocated to for the last few bi-monthly meetings.  They did some really nice things to Halas Hall, but no plan exists for tours and such, which seems pretty important in my mind. They do have the ability now to host events though, including events in a room with a glass wall that looks out onto the practice fields. Pretty cool. Here are some pics.

Those two pics are you first see upon getting to the campus and both are new.

Inside, you'll see this 1963 championship trophy (pre Super Bowl). Note that the trophy was bought by the city and presented to the Bears. No official trophy existed at that time. 

Here's the Lombardi Trophy from the 1986 Super Bowl.

Inside the foyer, you'll see this display. 

This wall, there are actually three of these, are interactive touch screens. You can do just about anything with these walls. It's really, really cool! 

Here's the electronic agenda and visitor schedule inside the front door.

All the retired numbers, except Ditka, #89, the last number retired. We were told it would be up soon.

Helmets lined up in division. Here's the AFC.

And here's the NFC, sans one team. Hmmm, what team is missing? Hint: it's an obvious choice!

There was a big mural of a Bears helmet made up of a ton of individual pictures. One of them was this picture that caught my eye.  Name that player? Also, tell me why he deserved to be up on the wall because it didn't make any sense to me!

Here I am at the new podium firing the current President, Ted Phillips. Long story as to why I was saying that the time, but it was funny.

Two more pics of me at the podium. Good stuff.

LL and I picked out some pictures to hang in the hallway in some new frames. Here you can see all 5 frames and where they are in the hallway. 

 Here's a close up of the first two. One picture for each month for Marissa, with some good pics at rounding out the year. 

And here are the other three pics, all black and white. We were very happy with how they turned out!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Some vindication

The cold that LL and possibly Marissa had has finally made it's way to me. I hate having a cold. You can't sleep, can't breathe, can't workout.....basically tough to do anything and you feel run down on top of it all. Ugh. But this too shall pass with sleep and plenty of fluids. Fortunately it came during a Bears bye week so it won't impact tailgating. Have to be positive!!

Michael Wilbon, a sports writer and TV personality, offered two improvements/predictions to the NFL last week, both of which I've been espousing for some time. The first was if the NFL insists on keeping games on Thursdays, they have to lengthen the season and give teams a bye week before the Thursday game. Playing two games in 4 days is just not sustainable. Which lead into his second idea: moving the Super Bowl to Presidents Day weekend so that at least some people will have Monday off. Now, I haven't been saying that exactly, but I have long wanted to move the Super Bowl to Saturday. It just makes so much more sense!! There are no college games to compete with at that time, so just get it done. It was nice to hear someone with a voice throwing support my way, even if he didn't know it.

As I looked back on my blog from years past, I noted how much better I used to write. My postings were much more interesting and the writing not as choppy. It's partially a function of having time to write and other commitments. Instead of being unhappy about my current writing ability and quantity of entries though, I'm thankful I wrote what I could when I could as I'll have plenty of entries to revisit.

Regarding my real estate venture, I've started interviewing firms to see which might be the best fit for me. My buddy Joe DeMarco created a firm with a friend and they are the front runner now as they seem to get where I'm coming from with getting into real estate. I need to talk to a few more places though just to make sure it's a really good fit in comparison.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Just catching up

Not too much to report, but I've often started off a post that way and then end up writing all sorts of things.

Let's start with the health front. All summer I've been dealing with a twinge in my lower abdomen that really hasn't impacted me much except towards the end of a round of golf and then just at random times. It was a tightness of sorts, not much pain, but limiting my mobility and ability to twist for sure. Workouts at the gym weren't impacted, so it was fine and I was waiting for it to pass. The other week though, I woke up and it was suddenly debilitating. Walking was a real chore and sitting up or tying my shoes was a real struggle. Two days later I had a doctor's appointment and he felt like it might be a hernia. Ugh. Insurance delays prevented me from even scheduling a specialist appointment until today and the appointment isn't for a few weeks. That's unacceptable to me from a working out standpoint, so workout I did. No trouble today, so I'll keep doing it at this level until the doctor's visit.

Between now and that visit is wood cutting weekend up at Ricardo's cabin. Four or five of us go up there to chop down trees, split wood and stack it for drying for the following winter (not this one but next year). In theory, those who use the cabin are supposed to help keep the wood stocked, but the reality is it's just the four of us and I almost never even use the cabin (I think I've gone once or maybe twice when it WASN'T wood cutting weekend). I did try one year, but other people had already reserved it. It's a good time though and the only relevance to this post is that now I have this potential hernia. And I'm not alone on the injury list! Ricardo has a bum knee, Bill the Bear had shoulder surgery just a few months ago, Markakis hurt his rib cage I think and Smitty has something wrong with him too, but I can't remember what it is. Not sure how that weekend is going to turn out!!

LL caught a cold (I think due to stress of starting her new job and waking up in the middle of the night with Marissa). Colds are the worst, but especially if you're busy and we're all busy. Marissa seems to have avoided it so far, knock on wood. Marissa has several teeth now with more coming in and she's finally eating some paste-like food. For a while we though we may end up with the only teenager still on breast milk. These next few months are going to be crazy though as she eats more, subsequently poops more, crawls, walks and communicates better. Whew, quite the whirlwind I'm sure.

Kudos to my niece who got confirmed into the Catholic church the other weekend. I was her sponsor and it was a pretty good day. She was confirmed in the morning and had her first homecoming dance in the evening!  That's a big day!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Bears Status

With all the baby pictures and goings on, I haven't much commented on the Bears this year. Sure, I've shown you pictures of the tailgating and such, but haven't really talked about the Bears. At 4-2, we go into Washington with 10 days off and the prospect of two weeks off before playing Green Bay in Green Bay.  If we go into the bye week at 5-2, it'll definitely be better than what I had envisioned at the beginning of the year when I thought 8-8 or 9-7 would be as good as we could do.

But all is not awesome for the the Monsters of the Midway. They were the only team to not score at least 31 points against the Giants this year. Which sounds like maybe our offense was ineffective and there's some truth to that statement. However, they did score 27 points and could have taken a field goal at 4th and 2 from the 5 instead of going for it. That would have given them 30 points. There was also a terrible intentional grounding call on Cutler that forced the Bears to punt instead of trying a 52 yard field goal, which, while it's no gimme, Robbie Gould has hit 12 consecutive from 50 or more. That would have given us 33 points, so there you go. Maybe the offense wasn't as bad as first indicated.

On the defensive side of the ball though, the Bears are struggling with injuries. Pro Bowl DT Henry Melton is out for the year as are middle linebacker DJ Williams and DT Nate Collins. With Tillman missing a game, DT Stephen Paea missing a few games too and outside linebacker James Anderson with back issues,  the team is going to be stressed defensively. Since it seems like stopping the other team is going to be a challenge, the offense is really going to have to step it up. It's going to be an interesting stretch of four games here. If we come out 2-2 or better, it could be the playoffs this year!

Friday, October 11, 2013

If I can't read blogs....

...I can at least update mine! Baby Marissa turned 7 months today. Such a little angel! We love her so much!

LL has been trying to teach Marissa to clap. Here's the video of the results. 

Thursday night was the Bears game against the Giants and a 4 hour tailgate beforehand. Always good fun. LL was supposed to be out of town, so I had given her ticket away when her trip got cancelled. She was going to DC to watch our nephew while his parents got a much needed long weekend away. Unfortunately, he got sick and ended up briefly in the hospital, but long enough to cancel the trip. 

Left to right is: Sausage, Forrest, Mender, Dolemite, Carlson, me and Whit. Good fun!

Monday, October 07, 2013

Picture update

Here's a picture of the new floors. Guess I only took a picture of where the large stain used to be. It's barely noticeable now, though I have it pretty well centered in this picture.

More wedding calendar pictures! September AND October. Here's me singing to LL. A complete surprise to her and the cause of much nervousness to me. 

Here are some pictures of mushrooms breaking through the ground. One of those times when you'd like a time-lapse camera.

Here's a nearby mushroom emerging.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Why Real Estate?

It's a question I've received from many people: Why go into real estate? For those newcomers to the blog, I took a two week intensive real estate class about a month ago to help prepare for the real estate broker licensing exam. After receiving class high marks on the mid-term and final for the class (94% and 97% respectively), I sat for the exam yesterday in Naperville and passed. Now I have to find and interview with a like-minded real estate firm. And that's where we get to the "why".

So why would a semi-retired CFO of a $100M company, a CPA and a small business consultant decide to sell real estate? Well, first, I'm not going to "sell" real estate. My mindset, like with my small business consulting, is that I will only work with people I like, not just anyone. Money isn't a huge motivating factor for me (see "semi-retired"), so no reasonable amount of money is going to justify me putting in hours at night or on weekends to show homes to people I don't like. Ain't gonna happen. What will happen though is, if hired, I'm going to do my damnedest to help my friends find and evaluate their next home and one of the most significant purchases of their lives. You will have fewer homes than jobs on average (not counting rentals), so think of that impact.

And that's what I like to do: have an impact on people's lives and business' lives. Helping achieve a goal is a huge reward in and of itself. My consulting business doesn't charge Hewitt Associates rates or Huron Consulting rates. We provide affordable services to our clients: owner operated small businesses. In place of compensation we get to have a real impact on our clients' lives and their businesses. That's what I think can be appealing about real estate as well.

You could just go through the motions and try to churn out sales, but I find that very hollow. Sadly, many if not most of the agents in the business prescribe to that model: how much money can I make at this? They may not have a choice though, so I get that. If you have to feed your family, you're going to push hard to close a deal and get paid. That's not how I'm going to work though.  My concern isn't over the almighty dollar with this venture; it's trying to genuinely help and bring value added to one of the most important decisions in a person/family's life.

Also, as with consulting, being a real estate agent is something I can do for the next 25-30 years if I want pretty easily. Plus, like being a CPA, the continuing education requirements will help keep me learning and active mentally.

So if you live in the Chicagoland area (yes, I can buy or sell anywhere in Illinois), give me a holler if you're interested in me helping you with your home.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Inconsistent posting

Wow, I'm on a terrible streak of writing my blog (or even reading others' blogs).  What's been keeping me so busy? All sorts of things, but primarily studying for the State Real Estate Licensing Exam. That should all be over soon, but it's a huge part of my last few weeks.

The Bears have been out of town for the last two weeks, so there haven't been any tailgates but game day is still spent celebrating or, most recently, lamenting a poor game. Softball has been put on the back burner except for Saturday when we had a tournament in Portage, IN, about an hour away, and the regular third baseman couldn't make it. The games started at 9 a.m., which meant I was up at 6 to get there and have batting practice. We finished up around 6:30 p.m.! It was a long day, seven games in all, we went 5-2 and took 2nd. We would have won it all rather easily, but had two guys leave for the last two games and had to rest another guy with a cracked vertebrae in his lower back. Crazy right? Anyway, we only lost 18-16 with a makeshift lineup for the last game.

The other big deal was getting our kitchen and dining room floors refinished. They are wood, as are the floors throughout the upper level except for the bathrooms. The dog had left a stain in the wood under where the pool table was and we had to try to get it out. For the most part we were successful with this effort, so mission accomplished. Plus after 20 years, it was really time to get them redone. Moving everything out of those rooms and then back again were time consuming ventures.

Bears play Sunday at home and then on Thursday at home, so it's going to be a busy week next week!