Friday, July 29, 2011

Glory Days Pregame Show

In true Project Manager fashion, John Offered up some Lessons Learned after the weekend.

So this weekend is the 90th anniversary weekend for Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity being founded on the campus of what is now known as Truman State University. This matters to me because I went to Truman State and was in fact a Sig Tau. Depending on where you live you may have never heard of the school, and if you've never heard of the school, chances are you haven't heard of the fraternity.  We aren't very big nationally (as evidenced by the 15 minutes it takes the website to load up) compared to some other houses. In Kirksville, however, we were the first and have always been one of the biggest houses on campus. I'll spare you all quite a bit of intra-fraternity chest beating here and just say... nothing (which is exactly what they would have taught us to say had we believed in hazing, which we didn't, because hazing is wrong).

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="500" caption="This was the only picture I could find from college."][/caption]

It's been ten years since I've been in Kirksville, and I'm sure a lot has changed (more with my friends and me than with the town, sadly). As I'm beginning to show my maturity and professionalism, I'm going to break the potential for this weekend down with a SWOT Analysis.


  • I haven't seen a lot of these guys in a long time. Can't wait to catch up and hear how fatherhood has changed the life of the guy who once put a Chevette in the basement of a house or how the guy who used to put vodka in a beer bong is now a doctor.

  • I can now afford good beer (which I couldn't do in college). Of course, I'll still be buying Natural Light to remember the good old days, so the strength here is that I'll save some money. I may even spring for bottles.

  • I can also afford cabs and hotel rooms now. No more long walks home.


  • I'm fairly certain I'm not cut out for rolling out of bed at 10 am to pull a beer out of the fridge and keep that pace going until 4 am anymore. I'm actually 100 % I'm not. I'm just hoping I don't have one of those terrible drinking days where I take a nap half way through and wake up with a headache just in time for everyone to need taken care of.

  • I'm not sure I'm still properly inoculated against whatever strain of e. coli is residing on the TV room couch in the old fraternity house.

  • Speaking of a weakened immune system -- and this is tough for a man as pretty as I am to admit -- but in the midst of a month-long battle with Poison Ivy, I'm not looking my best. Some patches are still visible, and I've literally put back on the 15 or 20 solid pounds I've taken off and kept off since college.


  • Kirksville has a super cheap standard of living. In college it wasn't uncommon for 10 of us to be at a bar for 6 hours and have a tab in the $12-$15 range.

  • It's entirely possible that some of the 30-40 somethings that travel back up with me will wake up on Sunday morning with rugburns their foreheads. Can't wait to see them try to explain that away at work on Monday.

  • If I play my cards right, I can order a George (with Ranch on Sourdough, of course) to eat while in town and take a couple of frozen Ronzas home to share with the kids. I do miss you Pagliai's.


  • I'm hoping for their sake that the bartenders we had when I was up there have moved on. I'm guessing this will mean our bar tabs will be a little more accurate than they used to be when I'd sneak into the kitchen and make everyone sandwiches for the after-party on our way out.

  • Last time I visited Kirksville was for a court date I had to attend because the second-to-last time I visited I took one step outside of a bar with a drink still in my hand. Ten years later I may just let the next one go to warrant.


While there are some potential pitfalls, I am really looking forward to seeing some old friends, drinking some beer, and feeling just plumb-god awful on the way home this weekend. My college experiences (almost all of which involved my brothers) are some of my favorites, and it'll be nice to refresh some of those memories.

Here's to thinking we look like this.

When we really look like this.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sanity Check

A couple weeks back I embarked on some home renovations in which I was thrilled it was starting, everything was so new, and we hadn't spent any money. Well as promised, I will deliver the status report of how things are going 3 dreaded weeks later.

[caption id="attachment_707" align="alignnone" width="195" caption="So much determination here (taken 3 weeks ago)"][/caption]

As I am contemplating how to tell this story, I could do it a few ways: 1) chronological - very easy and your typical story, 2) Good/Bad - just a recap of whats gong well and what hasn't or 3) How our next house just better be ready to move into. so, instead of any of these options and the story of the last 3 weeks though I am going to try and try to figure out how to rationalize my problems and hopefully help as a guide to others to deal with frustration other than medication (which I am also taking).

If God were to punish me in the after-life, he would make me work a trade. Probably, like Joseph, he would make me a carpenter in which no matter how many times things got measured, they would be cut the wrong length or width, then he would make me do my own drywalling, mudding, & taping.

The project started out very harmless. I take out a wall & rip out floors. Then the contractor comes in, scrapes the crappy popcorn off my ceiling, replaces the floor and viola, Done. Well F. That didn't work too well. The floor itself turned into be one of the single most frustrating events of my life. Specifically the kitchen and the inch worth of concrete products that were adhering the tile to the ground. So many things have been half-arsed in this house, except this floor the withstood 5 hours of a jackhammer and then an additional 12 hours of manpower beating at it before it was finally up.

Well I promised that I wouldn't get into specifics really but its these "little" things that have piled up over the course of the project that have really started wearing on me physically and mentally. Such as having your refrigerator next to your television or converting your office into your kitchen. It has been a constant up and down, back and forth, of emotions and physical pain has been no stranger either (sprained ankle & probably should have gotten stitches). Mix all this up with the daily life of 2 kids and a pregnant wife and you have a molotov cocktail of rageahol.

[caption id="attachment_710" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="In theory this should be a good thing."][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_711" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="My Kitchoffice"][/caption]

So how do I deal with it? Well until now I really haven't and hadn't noticed the project is f'ing me up. Everything added up and finally I reached my breaking point today.... a leaky faucet. It set me off. It was the final piece of the bathroom and after putting everything together, it leaks. At the end of the day its probably an hour of re-work (I am not handy) and under $20 from Home Depot, but that doesn't come into one's head at times like that. Well not my head at least.

So I will be turning this home improvement challenge into a little bit of  a life challenge also. I've got to just get a small victory in this house and then keep the momentum going with the project and more importantly, my family. They could use a victorious Dad more than anyone right now.

Below are some pics I've taken of the progress.


[caption id="attachment_702" align="alignnone" width="195" caption="Lovely isn't it?"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_704" align="alignnone" width="195" caption="at least there's no water here"][/caption]




My "helpers"
Some after pics


Thats the SOB that leaks
I'll put up some more as they become available. If you've made it this far, thanks for reading...


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Easily Amused

So my wife has been out of town with work for a few days. My older sons have been staying with their Grammy and going to Vacation Bible School. That leaves me with a 3-year-old boy and a 22-month-old girl. At the same time, I'm on some steroids to treat a bad patch of poison ivy which also makes me pretty crabby and given to mood swings and insomnia. This week could've gone south in a hurry.

The first morning the kids woke up sans mommy, I knew I'd have to find something to amuse myself just to make it through the week. I settled quickly on dressing them up like fools while their mom was out of town. Mismatched shoes, stripes and polka dots, colors that don't go together. Anyway, it was better than being miserable.

No Mommy Day 1
Cooper couldn't even look at himself.

No Mommy Day 2
Just keep smiling until Friday.

No Mommy Day 3
You better hope Michael and Lucas get to pick out your retirement home.

I know this isn't healthy, but it's pretty harmless. And its a lot cheaper than good Scotch.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

U2 STL: A non-U2 fan's concert review

One of the hottest concerts this summer in Saint Louis just happenned on Sunday and not just because of the Heat Advisory. ZING! U2 graced Downtown St. Louis with their much anticipated 360 Tour. My wife and I bought tickets for this show way back in October. Neither one of us had been to a U2 concert and we figured it would be a good bucket-list concert for us to go to. My wife is a fan but hasn't really kept up withthe new stuf. So, she was excited about going. Then she got 7 months pregnant and the temperatures were in the upper 90s. So she didn't get to go. Its amazing the amount of stuff my wife is willing to give up and how much she didn't care that I went without her. I will have to make it up to her some day...

I must admit without her attending, I reeally didn't have much motivation to go other than to check it off the bucket-list and I just love paying $10 for a beer. So I sacked up and invited a buddy to the concert to give it a whirl. Do you feel sorry for me yet?

After a brief pre-party we made our way over to Busch Stadium. Neither one of us had ever heard an Interpol song before so we weren't in any hurry. As we walked up to the stadium that I have seen countless Cardinal games in, I got the sense that this was going to be a different expereince than a bunch of drunk hoosiers* and old people that the venue typically draws. *Quick note: in St. Louis a Hoosier is not a person from Indiana. See your typical Cardinals Hoosier here

No. On this muggy July night there was something different. Something bigger than just the Cardinals... A giant spider-claw like monster was eating people. In all seriousness, the atmosphere at this concert was incredible. I've never been to a concert where I felt like I was witnessing something really amazing. It was almost like Busch Stadium was planted in a city that was a lot cooler. I was just blown away that people would actually go through all the effort to construct such an amazing stage for such a ho-hum town. Typically concerts are at one of 2 places (Riverport Ampitheater & Scottrade Center). Trust me they aren't worth a hotlink to their sites. So it was really cool that this this was sitting in the middle of our town and that so many (what seemed normal) people came to see it.

[caption id="attachment_669" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="FEED ME!"][/caption]

Now that I have successfully "set the stage" as it were (I'm on a roll) I was pumped and ready to get my face melted by U2. Well I wouldn't say it got melted so much, but perhaps my eyebrows were slightly singed. I was surprised at how many songs I actually knew and really just how many years their music spans. They are icons, but I am still not crazy about their music. I am also not crazy about Bono using the claw monster as a political platform, but hey its for a good cause I guess. I will say the highlight of the night was when they broke into "Sunday Bloody Sunday." I'm not sure why exactly this song stuck out but it was great. The crowd was into it and everyone was screaming... and I knew the words.


I'll post a couple more pics from the concert & crappy video I shot from the concert. Also I thought I would be kind enough to provide their set list.


[caption id="attachment_675" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="the 360 Screen was awesome"][/caption]


[caption id="attachment_676" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Yeah Party"][/caption]

I'm having issues imbedding the video, but you can go here to see it -

U2 360 Tour – Set List
July 17, St. Louis: Busch Stadium

“Even Better Than the Real Thing”

“The Fly”

“Mysterious Ways”

“Until the End of the World”

“I Will Follow”

“Get On Your Boots”

“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”/”Many Rivers to Cross”


“Beautiful Day”/”Space Oddity”



“Miss Sarajevo”


“City of Blinding Lights”


“I’ll Go Crazy”/”Discotheque”/”Life During Wartime”/”Psycho Killer”

“Sunday Bloody Sunday”


“Walk On”


“Hallelujah”/”Where the Streets Have No Name”

“Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me”

“With or Without You”

“Moment of Surrender”


Friday, July 15, 2011

Restaurant Bans Kids. Good.

No doubt based on our rules of making my kids happy at restaurants, a Pittsburgh restaurant has decided to ban kids. We salute them. I'd actually prefer no kids be allowed in Pittsburgh so we'd only have to hear about Steeler's Nation until the current crop passes on.

Seriously, though, we here at the SFA have no problems with this, just like we approve of places that require shirts and shoes and ban smoking. It's your business, run it how you want to, don't expect a ton of money from me personally, but don't be surprised if I show up one night when I have a babysitter. Provided of course that you don't operate in Pittsburgh. Which sucks.

Thanks toSFA-fan  Dallas Marks for the hat tip.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Summertime Sucks

Summertime sucks.

A bold statement, I know. New grills, demolition, and keg parties aside, I'm having a hard-time justifying the reason to continue this annual tradition for the following reasons (plus some I haven't really come up with yet).

  • It's freakin' hot. In St. Louis, the heat index was 115 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday. That's Fahrenheit, people.

  • Stinging insects. Sure, people always say "but bees make honey and pollinate things like almonds." Guess what? I don't even really like honey. And with almonds, if we really needed them -- and I'm not sure we do, since cashews are infinitely better -- we'd figure out some other way to pollinate them. And what's with every other type of stinging insect? Has anyone ever said "oh, look at the magic of this swarm of hornets choking the sky with their bloodthirsty buzzing AND stinging AND biting"?

  • Did I mention its hot? I took my kids swimming this weekend. And I was sweating. In the pool.

  • Boats. Actually never mind. Boats are awesome.

  • Jet skis on the other hand are a little douchey. There, I said it.

  • Poison ivy, oak, sumac, etc. Let me tell you a little something about plants with "poison" in their names: if the only reason for something to exist is protecting its own existence, I posit that it should need two reasons.

  • [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="170" caption="Feel free to mix this into a salad if you want to die."][/caption]

  • Mowing the lawn. I understand some people actually enjoy this. Not a strong selling point for me since some people also actually enjoy Jay Leno.

  • Finding somewhere to stash your kids when school it out. It isn't that hard, but after 9 months of overseeing homework and packing lunches and coordinating the sports calendar I want a break too. Why don't they have a service for this? Million dollar idea: make a service that plans (and executes on) your childrens' summers.

  • I know I've mentioned that its hot, but when your argument for why a season is great is that "the weather is s so nice you can do anything outside" but then you spend the whole season searching out the sweet sanctuary of air conditioning I'm not so sure your argument holds up.

I know there are other reasons, those are just the only ones I can come up with as a sit here and try not to scratch my own legs off to bring some sweet temporary relief to the poison ivy I got. Enjoy your summer.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Screwing with InBev

Normally I'm a big proponent of local merchants, but when InBev bought Anheuser-Busch, I gave up pretty much any affinity I had for that St. Louis-based family of products. This was surprisingly easy since I can't stand Bud Light or Budweiser (they both give me a headache). I'll still take down an American Ale, Natural Light or Busch heavy to be polite, but it's pretty tough to find those around town (even, paradoxically, in Busch Stadium).

That said, I am a cheap mother, and I'm a big fan of rebates on stuff I would normally buy anyway. I was stalking the beer aisle at my local grocer one day and snagged a rebate form even though it said Bud Light, because in Missouri (along with several other states), the rebator can't require you to actually buy the beer. The result? Bud Light was offering to mail me a check for $7 for spending $14 on things like ice, snacks, meat, etc.

My wife was next to head out, so I asked her to get some of that "stuff" (the ice, snacks, meat, etc.). Much to my delight, she bought more than enough "stuff" and also came home with some beer. I'm thrilled to report that I just sent Bud Light a request to send me $7 even though the only beer I bought was Coors Light and Samuel Adams.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="271" caption="Take that, InBev."][/caption]

It's times like this when I really, really love my wife. And whatever Missouri legislator made this possible.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Facing My Addiction: A Book Review

It has been well documented on this blog that I have a bit of an addiction to Running. See Here & Here. I am ultimately searching for the right way to do it so I can do it forever. My wife thinks I am crazy and I all I can say is "At least it isn't Meth." Well that addiction has begun to effect me when I am not mobile. I recently finished one of the most read running books of all-time and possibly the catalyst for the Barefoot/Minimalist running push that is occurring these days. The book: Born To Run by Chris McDougall.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="272" caption="Pretty isn't it?"][/caption]

Here's a brief synopsis. It starts out with the Author asking the simple question of "Why do I keep getting injured?" That question turns into an epic adventure in unincorporated Mexico where they dodge drug dealers and injury to find a segregated tribe deep in the Copper Canyon. This tribe is said to have the secret to running and none of them wear shoes. Just some leather sandals. The story goes on from there to an epic race between the members of the Mexican Tribe and some of the greatest runners in the United States. In the 300 or so pages in between that, there are anecdotal stories of various Ultra Marathon races in the US, but perhaps more importantly is the scientific backing for the barefoot/minimal running that has gained so much popularity. That is it in a nutshell. I may not have done the book much justice (mostly because I am writing this at 11pm on a school night) and may not have persuaded you to read it, but trust me it really is a great book that will make you think.

This book has really made me re-consider my opinion on running and start to change my approach. Had the author been a skinny dude that had run all his life I probably would have just passed it off as just a book written by someone who has never dealt with weight loss issues, but Chris McDougall is/was a normal guy like me. Over 6 foot and over 200 lbs.  Just 6 months ago, you couldn't have pried my shoes off of me, but now I am slowing taking them away by reducing the amount of drop in them (height from the back to the front). Lets face it I'm not going to go run barefoot any time soon, but the theory is definitely worth experimenting with.

So go read this book and maybe it will inspire you to rethink your running or motivate you to start.