Friday, March 30, 2012

Lucky Friday?

Yesterday a colleague who, like me, works in client service for our finance firm incited a lively workplace discussion by suggesting a work pool for the $540 million (and counting) MegaMillions Jackpot:  chip in 1 to 5 dollars apiece and he'll buy as many tickets as he has cash for by 1 p.m. today.

"Regardless if you put in $1 or $5 the winnings will be divided amongst everyone evenly."

This is finance: we're all about return on investment.  One of the Investment Managers naturally replied: "Good idea! However, the line highlighted is a bit troubling for us investment minded folks. Shouldn’t the winnings be proportional to your contribution?"
Client Service: "I figured the investment people would have questions..."

Investment Manager: "Someone has to keep the sales/marketing folks in check!!"

Client Service: "You can trust us Client Service folks, we are known for our GREAT ETHICS!!!"

Compliance Rep: "I thought that was what compliance was here for. :-)"

Operations Rep: "If it was proportional rather than equal would you put more in the pool? If the answer is yes, then go proportional and buy more tickets. If we win, I’ll put together the spreadsheet to divvy it up ;)"

At the end of it all, the pool was my CS colleague's baby, so he kept the (in the words of another colleague) "quasi-socialist" equal-share rule despite the protests of others.  About 25 of us have put in....which means about $27 million pre-tax apiece.  He's getting the tickets this afternoon and will give everyone copies so we can follow the 11 p.m. drawing tonight, ourselves. 

The last couple hours we've been klatching informally about the future of our lives and our firm should the odds fall in our favor....the joke being that if we win, will anyone remain at the firm at all, or will we all put the winnings into accounts that could be managed by each other.

Me?  I might just buy a new car.  And a cabin in the hills of Vermont.  And a condo in Seattle.  And a grand piano and a 'cello and the services of Yo-Yo Ma to teach me to make it sing. And unlimited airfare to Minneapolis from anywhere else in the country so I can see my grandma and play with my nephews more than 3 times a year.  And a guru to meditate with me every morning and lead me through 2 hours of power yoga every night.   And all the Pretty Things Baby Tree Quadruple in stock in Greater Boston, with which I would throw a block party to rival that of the Southie St. Paddy's Day parade.

Crossing fingers, y'all.  Crossing fingers.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Blogolioquy: boston! (teasers & tickets)

I give Justin a lot of credit.  He's read this blog from the beginning in 2008 and to assemble blogolioquy: boston! for Turnstyle Theatre Company, he went back and read a lot more of it.  This is while also reading years and years of entries of these blogs, too:
A Proper Bostonian:  Outpourings from an old-fashioned room in a historic neighborhood in the fairest city of a very blue state by a person who understands the importance of layer cake.

Dad Today:  for the big mysteries revealed in the small moments

Formula 457:   Things I would talk about over lunch or tea. If anyone ever took me out to lunch or tea…

How You have Wronged Me:    I may only be in my 20s, but much like my favorite muppets - Statler and Waldorf - I am a cynical, angry, curmudgeonly old man at heart. Chances are I do not like you. This blog tells a story. A story about how you have wronged me today.

Some Assembly Required:  He's no better than I am; he's just got a suit!
Check these folks out if you want to get up to speed on what to expect....mix of funny and serious and very, very locally specific.

Other answers to questions you didn't know you had about the show:

A)  The show's coming up next Wednesday through Saturday at the Boston Center for the Arts in their Plaza Black Box Theatre. It is indeed a high-level observance week for both Christians and Jews, but would you consider my special dispensation to observe Holy Week or Passover on 3 of 4 nights and spend the 4th in less serious contemplation?  Atheists and agnostics, you've got no excuse.

B) Tickets are $17.50 and can be purchased here

C) I might be there for opening night if I can blow out of my church choir rehearsal -- and for sure will be there Saturday at 8 p.m., if you are one of the (rare?) folks who reads this and has never met me.  (Fair warning: I am not in high-season bikini shape, nor will I be wearing one to the show.) 

D)  If you are a friend and curious about whether or not you might be featured unknowingly onstage, here's a few teasers about what Justin chose to include:
Midnight walk home from the Broadway T (August 2011)

No-handed bike ride on a warm September night (September 2010)

Argument with Bill over parking regulations (November 2009)

Running into an old flame at Whole Foods (August 2011)

Maundering over grocery shopping alone (January 2009)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Progress (?)

I just spent my morning pushing the browser "Refresh" on a client page at a bank website, waiting for 2 trades to settle to cash so I could then wire the proceeds to another account for a time-sensitive real estate closing. It took substantially longer than I thought. In fact, just all I did between 8:30 and 12:30 today was call the bank to expedite, refresh, refresh, call the bank again, refresh, refresh, placate client with a call saying we'd get back as soon as we knew more, refresh, explain to my manager what was happening and ask for opinion on next steps, call the bank for an update, refresh two more times, pace around my chair trying to decide if I can afford to leave to go to the bathroom, call the bank to make, sure they were expediting, refresh, refresh, and finally, breathe out.

A small error (not mine) accounted for this last-minute tomfoolery under deadline; while I paid the ulcer-inducing time-suck price, the client got the money eventually. I'm not mad....these things happen from time-to-time. Although I do wish if an ulcer were to be induced it would be for a reason involving money that was actually mine....

Several times during this period I was tempted to come on here, or to log onto Facebook, and proclaim that I was good and ready for Happy Hour. Or a Makers Mark & ginger. Or a Guinness. Knowing that saying "it's time for a drink" is one of the great cliches in response to stressful situations kept me from doing so.

In the meantime, two things happened:

1) I remembered I need to run 5 miles today, and I could do that now instead of later. I am now sitting in my tennies and shorts and leaving in 5 minutes

2) I remembered that Julie Andrews sings this song from The Sound of Music:

With each step I am more certain
Everything will turn out fine
I have confidence the world can all be mine
They'll have to agree I have confidence in me

I have confidence in sunshine
I have confidence in rain
I have confidence that spring will come again
Besides which you see I have confidence in me Strength doesn't lie in numbers
Strength doesn't lie in wealth
Strength lies in nights of peaceful slumbers
When you wake up -- Wake Up!

It tells me all I trust I lead my heart to
All I trust becomes my own
I have confidence in confidence alone
(Oh help!)
I have confidence in confidence alone
Besides which you see I have confidence in me!

I'd say there could be worse things than turning to running and self-empowerment before drink.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Maybe because it's Monday...

.... and maybe it's because I only manage to never find a seat on the days I think it is safe to wear my black lace-up heels during my commute (rather than the saner, safer running shoes),

But I still do not understand how the 6 men seated in the back of the #9 bus this morning were content to watch me stand in their midst and hold onto a pole (while acknowledging that my choice of shoes is my own), ignoring my struggle to stay upright for a 25-minute ride that included stopping once a block while on a downhill while additionally braking for 10 or so unpredictable Southie double-parkers and a half-dozen more errant pedestrians, followed by a 6-series of 110-degree turns to wind around the Broadway T.

All were about 30 or younger.  Five of six were head-down on handheld electronics.  The sixth was sitting right in front of me....about 6' 4" and wearing workout clothes. Not sure how he didn't notice my passive-aggressive evil stare for the majority of the ride, to catch his eye and plead for mercy and see if he noticed my tottering and swaying and attempts to shake the numbness out of my necessarily-elevated left arm without pitching over.

I refuse to beg for chivalry from strangers.  But the lack of it sometimes still disappoints me.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Blogolioquy: boston!

Dear friendly blog readers:

I have a friend named Justin

He's a little crazy, but I love him.
(And I know he thinks exactly the same of me.)

Justin runs a theatre company
and likes to produce performance opportunities and experiences. 

it is my solemn duty to inform you that
he is producing a show about blogs in Boston.  

He has excerpted work from 6 local blogs,
woven them together into acts,
and is directing a group of actors on stage to read them.

Because I have this friend named Justin who is does all this,
this blog is part of this production:

Wednesday, April 4 through Saturday, April 7 - 7:30 p.m.
 Plaza Black Box Theatre at
Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont Street
Blog awesomeness. 
Ticket info TBD

Stay tuned for more details.
You won't want to miss them.

Best regards,

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I started this birthday out on Columbia Road,  in shorts and t-shirt in the pitch black, 2 miles into a 3.5-mile run, listening to Allison Krauss and Union Station sing "Forget About It."

Then I came home and took out the trash.

I grabbed a Sam Adams Cream Stout from the fridge.

I sat down at my piano and practiced music for "Songs For A New World" rehearsal later tonight; the one that needed the most work was a piece called "She Cries."

Trying not to read too much into the depressing subject matter of these early-morning pursuits.   Or that I'm starting out the year staying up so f@#$ing late.


Oh well.  Looking forward to waking up to some warm sunshine.


Y'all.... I had a fabulous birthday.  The co-workers bought flowers and cupcakes.  The family all wrote.  The (100 or so) Facebook friends weighed in;  others texted, called, and one sent this awesome link to an NPR feature on the Goldberg Variations.  MSF sent jewelry.  At rehearsal, my musician friends sang en masse; Claudia and Cousin J sang solo on my voicemail;  my sister called with the nephews so Henry could sing his Power Rangers song and Oliver could say "Aunt Karin" for the first time in my life.

Meanwhile. the weather was the first day of summer instead of the second of spring; I biked the 7 miles home from Davis Square at midnight in nothing but running shorts and a cardigan.  Earlier, I clocked a 4-mile run in a sunny breeze;  then when crossing the Mass Ave bridge on my way to a 7 p.m. rehearsal, got to view this sunset over the Charles basin:

All good.  All turning my frown upside-down.  Thanks, all.

Monday, March 19, 2012

I know it was 70 degrees in Boston today....

.... but it was 85 on Bonita Beach, FL.

And while this photo's subject decidedly lacks a uniform tan and contains a noticeable bloop at the beltline and a hairdo that most definitely emerged unwashed from under a baseball cap moments before, let's admit that's a pretty blue sky and leave it at that.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Southward, ho....

.... and I'll cop to, after the ridiculousness of our mild winter thusfar, actually being quite excited at the biting chill in the Boston air these last 3 days, if only to make a long weekend in Bonita Springs, FL with my aunt and uncle more contrastably enjoyable.  Packing tanks and shorts last night while shivering in a scarf and sweater, it sweetened the thoughts of sun and humidity warming bare shoulders and legs, of leisurely breakfasts on the lanai, of novels consumed poolside.  Sunglasses necessary.

A couple weeks ago, I promised a bikini photo for y'all on Monday.  While it's been a trying couple of weeks since then and I can't guarantee the jelly belly doesn't still exist, I will make good.

Until then, stay warm!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Time suck solution?

As one of the world's great procrastinators and the Boston Queen of Being 5 Minutes Late To Everywhere, I was interested in this summation of a recent Wall Street Journal article about time management. 

It's overly simplistic yet compelling if true:
We lead busy lives and use our limited time as an excuse to procrastinate and avoid getting things done, but often claiming we don't have time is a lie. It's a lie we tell others and ourselves. It helps us believe we'll never get anything done, and this is a problem.

Fortunately, the solution might be as simple as changing your language. Wall Street Journal writer Laura Vanderkam explains:

Instead of saying "I don't have time" try saying "it's not a priority," and see how that feels. Often, that's a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don't want to. But other things are harder. Try it: "I'm not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it's not a priority." "I don't go to the doctor because my health is not a priority." If these phrases don't sit well, that's the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don't like how we're spending an hour, we can choose differently.
It's a simple idea, and a great one. Our language is often used to provide a polite answer when the truth might be hard to hear. Sometimes we even subject ourselves to more polite language and end up in situations like this one. How you use your time is very important. It's a limited resource and shouldn't be wasted. Don't risk putting it to poor use by failing to be honest with yourself and others about your priorities in life. Alter your language and you may just discover what's most important.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pi Day!

There was a fire last night that cut power to the entire Back Bay (and my workplace until early this morning),  the sky is covered in residual haze from that plus a sheen of blanket fog, I physically don't feel that chipper this morning and I'm most certainly not a math major. 

Thanks, then, to my San Francisco cousin K for making me smile by reminding me that the 14th of March (otherwise known as the day between brother-in-law Chad and Aunt B's birthdays) is Pi Day .... in honor of the mathematical constant 3.141592653 (+ 2 quadrillion more digits).




(K works at a science museum, The Exploratorium, that is also home to the physicist who coined the Pi Day holiday back in 1988.  She's even featured on the local public radio's story on this year's celebration with some great exposition on what Pi is:  "There's No Such Thing as Too Much Pi."  You should listen.  A band of Exploratorium employees has written a pretty funky song about it.)

Here's some fun facts about Pi Day, lifted verbatim from the Wikipedia page:

*  Pi Day is observed on March 14 because of the date's representation as 3/14 in month/day date format. This representation adheres to the commonly used approximation of 3.14 for π.  What some call "Real Pi Day" will be celebrated on March 14th, 2015 at 9:26:53 AM. These numbers (3/14/15, 9:26:53) correspond with the first 10 digits of pi (3.141592653).

*  On Pi Day 2004, Daniel Tammet recited 2, 964 decimal digits of π.

*  On March 12, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution (HRES 224)recognizing March 14, 2009, as National Pi Day.

*  For Pi Day 2010, Google presented a Google Doodle celebrating the holiday, with the word Google laid over images of circles and pi symbols.  (Like so:)

*  There is also a Pi Approximation Day held on July 22 (or 22/7 in day/month date format), since the fraction 227 is a common approximation of π.

Most definitely think that today calls for some pie, too.  Thanks for the reminder, K!

Monday, March 12, 2012

A truly Mondayish Monday

This was my Facebook status at 9:17 this morning:

"Karin ... is thinking this Monday already has way too much Monday in it for its own good. Lord give me strength."
It's 5:45 and I'm still looking for strength. 

It was a day of fatigue and bad hair.  Of feeling unmotivated and somewhat alone. Of feeling the sting of clients departing (through no fault I could name).  Of feeling vaguely disturbed at 72 degrees in winter. Of feeling frustrated that a health matter has grounded me from running (more on that later) for a week when I have a Bikini Challenge and a marathon to prep for.

Still not sure what the remedy here could be.  Sleep, of course.  MSF living closer, perhaps.  Less inertia and skepticism about my career, definitely. 

However, lacking these things occurring, perhaps interim solution:  walk to Davis Square for rehearsal tonight from work.  Clear head.  Breathe air.  Think not.  Google Maps says it is 5 miles, walkable in 1 hour 41 minutes, althoughtI betcha 10 bucks I can do it in 1:20.  Rehearsal is at 7:30.  It is now 5:53.  Time to get cracking.

And here's to a Monday nearly done.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Other girls' (dating) lives

Since my dating life of late has been fairly static, what with MSF around (even if from afar), I fully acknowledge that said details of said dating life are also relatively nil.

So. Well.  This is the time, then, where I direct you to some awesome blogs of women who are writing about their dating lives:

Things Deb Loves .... sharing the nittiest of the nitty-gritty about first and second dates in lengthy, lengthy detail.   Warning:  bathroom humor and much exasperation.   Also, perhaps you have never heard of Freeganism before; read this and you will have.

All the Wrong Cards .... 3 women talk about a bevy of goods, bads, earlies, lates, OKC chats gone right.  The most recent entry contains a reference to a penis made of jello.  I kid you not.

Good Times with Jess ... a local bartender with a boyfriend, a vibrator, 30 pairs of underwear for a weekend ski trip, and a therapist  She's pithy, razor-sharp and overhears a lot of conversations.

Do, please, patronize these ladies' tales.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

(The other) Grandpa

My paternal grandfather, Pete, died on March 6, 1985, at the Towner County Memorial Hospital, in an early-morning Code Blue rush that sealed a lifetime of chronic heart problems.   He was 71. 

Our grandparents lived in the same small North Dakota farming town we did;  they were lifelong Cando icons, known to all and any as the newspaper family and 2 of the town's most robust boosters.  Grandpa was head of the Chamber of Commerce and even the mayor for a time, a golf club fixture, a Lutheran church figure. 

Grandma, Grandpa, Dad, Aunt Diane

I was 12 then ... and still now remember many crystal moments. Being woken before school by our parents, told we needed to stay home and wait for the pastor to come over. Sitting on the edge of the bed, crying, next to my sisters. Spending many hours at Grandma's across town, the first time seeing my dad cry, stream of friends passing in and out through the front hallway. Going to school the next day, finding Mrs. Lybeck and my 6th-grade classmates had constructed a Karin-sized card decorated with colored flowers and ivy, "We share your sympathy"... Grandma&;mistakenly giving a pair of my mother's eyeglasses to the funeral director, later discovering them on Grandpa's face during the wake and matter-of-factly plucking them off right then and there. First experience with small-town "mourning" casseroles that filled our fridge. My first funeral ever, my thinking I must wear black but not owning any (in a kinder, gentler pre-teen era) and being frustrated at having to wear a perky grey dress with cherry-shaped buttons. 

There's very little else I remember about Grandpa today. Only with hindsight can I see how little I knew of him, how surface my knowledge. The shadow of impending health crisis.  His inexplicable loyalty to the Atlanta Braves, his drinking beer straight from the can and fanning card tricks, his intense conversational gesticulating that I inherited while not remembering any substance of what he was conversationalizing about. This likewise inexplicable powder-blue suit and tie.

The family (adding Aunt Kathi) in 1984.
Grandma Blanche would die in 1993 from cancer.  On the other side of the family, Grandpa Roy died in 2000 and Grandma Martha (whom y'all have met) is now 92.  I got to be an adult around all three of them, even if nominally, and got to view them with an adult-nuanced perspective.  It's one of my great regrets to not be able to think of things he said and know if I'd argue or agree.  I knew only later that his even keel tempered Grandma's often-hot emotions, his death leaving a blank and dangerous void between her and my mother in the years that followed, that my dad struggled to navigate.

He was a man of integrity and loyalty and dedication to home, work and family.  I regret, too, that because he's been gone for 27 years I often don't remember to thank his memory except for this sad anniversary.

Thanks, Pete.

Monday, March 5, 2012

On behalf of Single (in both the city and everywhere else) Women ...

.... it is my duty to join the chorus of folks lambasting Rush Limbaugh today and calling for someone with some decency to shut him down.

What an indefensible, misogynistic douchebag. 

I don't want to hear he should be defended because other men in public positions are also misogynistic and haven't been called out.   Is hate speech a tit-for-tat contest?  Calling women who fight for insurance to cover birth control are sluts and prostitutes who should videotape and share their sexual experiences for the "paying public"?  In the same breath lamenting the failure of family values?  Those phrases stand on their own. This is not political. This is hateful.

I'm thrilled that he has almost no political support.

Thrilled that even conservative commentators can't justify him.

Thrilled that he's being boycotted.

Thrilled that even his transparent apology to stop his ad-sponsor bleed is impressing few.

Including me.  I just signed this.  And it feels good.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Still breathing .... kinda.

Can't quite figure out why, these last 4 or 5 days, my energy level is in the toilet.  Brainstorming if its the malaise-inducing weather, or if it's because I gave up playing Tetris for Lent, or if it's because I also gave up chocolate and drinking Starbucks for Lent, and that's just a massive amount of sugar and caffeine that my body is no longer benefitting from. 

That, and there have been trying situations at work ... not new to have trying situations at work, but new situations that are trying different levels of patience and coping.

(Sigh.  Thanks for your patience as I navigate this weird little week, not really wanting to write anything other than a Facebook status update.)

But I did mean to tell y'all that that friendly Outlook e-mail reminder ("Patience.  Deep Breaths.  Self-Awareness.") I set up last week is still getting a good workout.  As in I still refresh it on the half-hour and I swear I indeed regularly remember to also:
"…..take a big drink of water. :-)

And.  Smile."
The week being what it has been, I've found myself adding lines at key moments to fit situations.  On Wednesday, a particularly tough day, I was filling MSF in on this motivational reminder -- to which he replied, "Could you add, "[MSF] sends a [:nurffle:]" to the 4:30p one?"

So I did, and its still there; now I'm getting a [:nurffle:] every half hour. Today, again a bit overwhelmed, I added more:
"And.  Rise above. In work, in play, in life.  You can. This is the moment you’re going to pull it together."
Very grateful that in a life where sometimes control seems out of reach .... it's so very good to just keep breathing.