Sunday, May 26, 2013

It's a permissions issue!

It's a permissions issue!

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve
Cass Avenue, Darien IL

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

May I?  Well I suppose so.  You're on the right path.  May, what a lovely month of beautiful weather.  May was a chillling month and a month full of fun and work.  May I continue?  Why sure.  Knock yourself out.  Enjoy yourself.  In ancient Celtic Times, April 30 and May 1st (May Day) was regarded as the first day of summer, traditionally called Beltaine, and with June 23 or 24 being regarded as Mid-Summer.  Often celebrated with huge bonfires and May poles, this time was celebrated for its fruitfulness and the return of summer.

One big lesson I've learned this month is the "value" of being Single and its "open freedoms."  I'll explain.  As I learned after an ad hoc business trip this month, I need to enjoy life on my own before I finally meet Miss Right, and once again, I do truly believe she is closer now more than ever.  Last year, moving here, in retrospect to one very big disappointment I had with my first "big trip" Downtown, I think I'm finally understanding what it means to "enjoy life as it comes to you."  Open Freedom.  I remember last year just how disappointed I was about "sharing my life" with Miss Right, whoever She may be.  Well, maybe the lesson here is to "enjoy it for myself" first.  I'm trying, and I later learned with the business trip this month, I need to value what I have now until that time comes to finally share the adventures with Her, as close as she may be now.  On that same business trip, I also remembered it's the simple things in life that have the greatest beauty and value.  It gave me a fresh outlook on myself and also the wonder and the beauty of what we have in the world!

Why Permissions? Whenever I think of May, I think about permissions.  As the name of the month implies, I have made it my theme for this blog.  Permission granted.  Oddly enough, this month always makes me remember an event in one of my High School classes as well. 

Mr. Bernath's 9th Grade Algebra Class at Maple Heights High School (1989)
STUDENT: Can I sharpen my pencil?
MR. BERNATH: Sure.
[Student goes to back to sharpen pencil]

MR. BERNATH:  Sit down!
[Student returns to seat]

STUDENT: Mr. Bernath, can I sharpen my pencil?
This happens 3 or 4 times...

MR. BERNATH: Class, what is this student missing and saying wrong?
ANOTHER STUDENT:  It's 'may I.'
STUDENT: Oh, May I sharpen my pencil, Mr. Bernath?
MR. BERNATH: No.
A year ago in May, my first big trip downtown after moving in!

PROCEED ON AND PERMISSION GRANTED!

Beginning May, work kept me on my toes with a very, very important work assignment out of  9600 W. Bryn Mawr, Rosemont IL, the HQ for Banco Popular Community Bank. Driving the Tri-State Tollway is nothing like driving the IKE for work though.  The Tri-State -- as I learned -- is wall-to-wall truck!  Literally.  Good luck passing trucks here.  May I pass these walls of truck?  Good luck with that! May was also a fun month of activities!  May I venture around Chicago?  Nothing ventured is nothing gained!  With the nicer weather this month, there are more opportunities to do things outdoors!  I'm also looking forward to taking the bike out more for a spin!

Go pass Go!  Take the chance!

"ERIC FAILING DELETIONS"

«   »

Крокодилье время.
Даже если крокодил съел вас у вас есть два выхода.

I'm full of #682D1B, but be happy about it!  May has taught me to continue to be fruitful, to keep positive and to be patient with myself!  Be happy with the wonder and mystery of all that you are.  You're the Eighth Wonder. I've been fortunate to have passed one year living here.  It's been a great year and I look back at where I started last year this month and where my path has taken me this year.  There is no shortage of things to do in Chicago I'm learning.  There is always something to do and something to learn.  Full speed ahead and permission granted!  No need to ask for permission.  You may proceed and you can!  This year I look back to my beginnings here and my first adventures in the city.  I have seen much growth and a new attitude in my life since that time last year.  I remember how impatient I was and how I learned that nothing happens overnight.  Asking God for help and permission is also key.  We are not guaranteed another day unless he grants it to us.  With the blooming of nature again, stop and smell the roses.  Don't ask.  Just do it.  Don't let your life go by in an instant.  Enjoy what life gives you on a daily basis.  That is one thing I learned last May.  The grass isn't always greener on the other side.  It continues to get green daily.  The one song that comes to mind for this month's theme is Life in One Day by Howard Jones.

Life in One Day
Howard Jones

♪ The old man said to me
Said don't always take life so seriously
Play the flute
And dance and sing your song

Try and enjoy the here and now
The future will take care of itself somehow
The grass is never greener over there
Time will wear away the stone
Gets the hereditary bone

CHORUS:
Don't try to live your life in one day
Don't go speed your time away
Don't try to live your life in one day
Don't go speed your time away

The old man said to me
Said you can't change the world single-handedly
Raise a glass enjoy the scenery
Pretend the water is champagne
And fill my glass again and again
While the wolves are gathering round your door
Time will wear away the stone
Gets the hereditary bone

CHORUS

The old man said to me
Said don't always take life so seriously
Play the flute
And dance and sing your song

Try and enjoy the here and now
The future will take care of itself somehow
The grass is never greener over there
Time will wear away the stone
Gets the hereditary bone

I tried to live my life in one day
Don't go speed your time away

I bit off more than I can chew
Only so much you can do

Wolves are gathering round my door
Ask them in and invite some more

I tried to live my life in one day
Don't go speed your time away

Don't try to live your life in one day ♪

STAND CLOSER TO THE GROUND FOR ME!

When I worked in a line of restaurants like Ponderosa Steakhouse and in a "managerial" position, I'd often say this to anyone just standing around and not doing any work.  Reductio ad Absurdum, people, just in case you missed it.  Well, now, I'm applying it to myself.  Take a stand, and stand closer to the ground.  I wish people would give me a chance to be me!  I can be fun.  I have values.  I have dreams and hopes, and frankly put, but weird is the new "in." Er, Whimsical-Americans is more PC.  Being brushed off or jerked around has always been a problem in life where I'd just let it happen, as ingratiating it would be.  Now, I've been doing a lot better with this lately and I don't stand for this crap.  I speak up now, and take action against this.  I'm tired of being the pushover.  It's time to take a stand, and stand closer to the ground.  This has been tough.  Once again:  Am I annoyed?  No, I'm Illinoid.

I still need to take each day as its own.  With God's help hopefully, I can stand out more.  Don't move too fast.  Proceed onward and permission to pass go.  Continue to run the race and continue upward to the High Definition!  If there is one wish I could have right now is that we'd have a Spring this year.  I'm no big fan of hot and humid weather.  If it could be 60s and 70s all year round with very little humidity, I'll be fine.  I'm no fan of extreme weather -- whether hot or cold.  I'll say one thing for sure; Summer is already coming too quickly for my Psoriasis.  I only hope I can find something that combats this thing to accommodate short-sleeve, shorts weather!  If there is one thing right now I can wish away, it'd be this damn skin problem!

TAKE IT TO THE BANK!
Access granted!

For the first couple weeks of May, I spent some time with a customer, helping them to correct a national issue that's been in the NY news.  The site is located on Bryn Mawr in Rosemont IL (9600W) near O'Hare.  This is the location for their IT HQ.  Work has been keeping me pretty busy these days. Working with the customer that week, I was able to complete the project in a timely and successful fashion.  It was once again such a great feeling to complete a project with success.  I had to demonstrate some of the problems on a whiteboard for the customer.  Good luck, no one will understand this except the customer.


Banco Popular Corp
"Customer Site."

WON'T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?
Permission to Venture Around!

Jane's Neighborhood Walk up Dearborn Street. On May 4, I went Downtown to participate in the "Jane's Neighborhood Walk up Dearborn Street" with Venture Around.  It was a very informative walk, and such a beautiful day to do this!  Some of these Venture Around events are really awesome and, while exploring Chicago, you learn something as well. I think it's important that we never stop learning, and the bonus with that sometimes is having fun as I found out this month -- not just this event but later in the month for work.

Venture Around

I drove up and arrived Downtown at 1pm.  I parked at Interpark (S. Financial and Van Buren Street).  I walked up to the corner of Dearborn and Congress Parkway (500S) with Venture Around.  The tour was led by walking guide Rolf Achilles of Jane's Walk.  He is a noted art historian and we were fortunate to be blessed that day with his knowledge of Chicago.  The walk started at 400S at the Manhattan Building.

The Manhattan Building

Manhattan's Bar
"Guided neighborhood walking tour up Dearborn Street. Jane's walk."

There were several other people that met up for the walk, and according to the tour guide, this there first "walking tour" in Chicago.  There were other "Jane's Walk" events that included walking through Millennium Park, Grant Park and other well-known landmarks in Chicago.  Kurt created a poll for the group as to which one would be popular and most picked.  Dearborn Street won the poll.

The Picture Window.  We all know this as the big (bay) window in the Front Room or Living Room of a house where we put a Christmas Tree in at Christmas time, or decorate for Hannakuh, etc.  Well, as chance would have it, the "Picture Window" has its origin in Chicago.  The Manhattan Building was one of the first buildings to adapt the "Picture Window." Noteworthy of this building is the art deco on the Picture Windows.  The building was constructed between 1889-1891, and designed by William Le Baron Jenney.  It is the oldest remaining skyscraper to have a skeletal supporting structure.  Continuing up the street we learned that a triangle covers more square feet than a square, as noted by some of the triangular shaped buildings.  Harry Weese was one Architect that designed buildings this way as noted by some of his work along the Chicago River.  I looked at Kurt -- being the Math teacher -- and asked if that were true, lol.  I seriously don't see it.

The Fisher Building

Terracotta ("baked earth").  The next part of the tour took us to the Fisher Building (343S).  Most noted of this building is the use of terracotta in the design.  "Bricks burn."  The bricks used for this building were "baked in a special kiln," giving it a very unique look in Chicago.  Looking at the building, you would never guess this.  The speckles in the bricks were made by baking salt with the clay.  The heated salt would create the speckle in the bricks.  The building was designed by the famed Daniel Burnham and completed in 1896.  Before machinery and the Industrial Revolution, all the carving seen in the building were all designed intricately by hand.

Fisher Building City Apartments

A sexy, voluptuous building.  As the walk continued up Dearborn, we came to the Monadnock Building at 53 W. Jackson.  Noted for its curvy design, the Monadnock Building was the tallest Office Building in 1893.  Why do Greek Columns have ripples in them?  Simply put, as sunlight hits the column, it is to give it the definition as being a column, round and not flat.  The Monadnock is noted for its curvacious build. The north half of the building was designed by John Root.  Unfortunately, the building was incomplete due to his death. Holabird & Roche completed the South end to the building.  Up until this time, buildings were supported by the outer walls.  The Monadnock innovated the "curtain wall" structure and were supported by steel frames.  Buildings constructed after the Monadnock began used the "curtain wall" in their designs. I've dubbed this building the "Maddening Knock" building since I tend have difficulty pronouncing it properly, lol!

Monadnock Building

The Flamingo Sculpture

A shredded look with Ribs. Continuing the walk, we came to Federal Plaza (50 W. Adams) and Calder's Flamingo Sculpture.  Noted here are two important buildings: John C. Kluczynski Federal Building & U.S. Post Office, Loop Station (230S).  It is also worth noting, but Public Art became a standard that major cities began adopting with their buildings.  The John C. Kluczynski Federal Building was designed by the famed Mies von der Rohe.  Mies adopted a rigid, ribbed look to his buildings.  Another famous building retaining this design is the IBM Building at 330 N. Wabash.

Alexander Calder's Flamingo Sculpture

A Glass Eye.  The next stop on the tour took us to the Marquette Building. Named after the first European Settler in Chicago: Jacques Marquette, this building was one of the first steel framed skyscrapers.  The Architects, Holabird & Roche, used the trademark horizontal bay "Chicago Window" in the design.  The window planks incorporate into the steel frame of the building. It is also one of the first "green" buildings to incorporate the "revolving door" to save on energy.  Inside, the use of Mosaic Art completed the unique and splendor of the building.

140 S. Dearborn

Mosaic Art in the Marquette Building.

Marquette Building

The beginning to the Office Cubicle.  The Inland Steel Building designed by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill was the first building to begin the Office Cubicle.

The Inland Steel Building

Cut to the Chase. Crossing Chicago Street Zero, Madison Street (0N/0S), we came upon the Chase Building (10S), featuring a unique "A-Frame" design.  Chicago was the first to construct buildings using the "A-Frame" design, not Manhattan.  Headquarters to Exelon and Chase Bank, the building was designed with a unique sunken curved look.  Nearby is the Four Season ceramic, mural wall designed by Marc Chagall.

Second Part of the Tour at Madison

The Chase Tower.

Chicago Street Zero

Approaching Daley Plaza, we intersected paths with the Global Cannabis March 2013.  The music on the Plaza from the protest droned out Rolf, the Tour Guide.  A few of us jokingly wanted to walk with the march.  On Daley Plaza is the first piece of Public Art in Chicago, The Picasso.  It was gifted to the city in 1967.

The Picasso on Daley Plaza


Hollywood started in Chicago!  Proceeding onward and nearing the end of the tour, we reached Randolph Street and the Chicago Theater District.  It was interesting to learn that Hollywood has its origin in Chicago.  "...next stop, Hollywood."  Now, whenever I hear the conductor on my train announce this stop, I don't have to assume that this Hollywood isn't the same one as in California.  In fact, it's the first Hollywood.  With the rise of stardom and the age of film, Hollywood started near the Des Plaines River in...well...Hollywood.  Later, that name went West with its stars to California.

Chicago Theater District

The tour ended at "Death Alley" behind the Oriental Theater formerly the Iroquois Theatre.  So, why is it called Death Alley?  On December 30, 1903, the Iroquois Theater had a fire during one of the plays. Basically, the building was built ill-equipped of fire escapes. There were doors that led out to the alley but there were no fire escapes to go down. The doors opened to nothing, so when people were exiting the building because of the fire, they fell to their own deaths. It's haunted too.

Jane's Walk started in Canada and is based off the book by activist and journalist, Jane Jacobs, called "The Death and Life of Great American Cities."  To learn more about organizing a walk in your city, go here: Jane's Walk.  The tour contained so much information that to add it all here would take away from the rest of this month's blog, lol.  Sssssoooo, I edited a 26 minute long video of the tour.  Please enjoy at your own leisure!  You can hear Rolf giving the tour and inspiring us all with the beauty and wonder of Dearborn Street, an important architectural street and piece of American History.

Jane's Walk: Dearborn Street, Chicago IL - 5/4/2013

Death Alley

After the event, Venture Around gathered at the Emerald Loop Bar & Grill for a great time of fun, chillaxin, food and laughter.  It was a great time to socialize, meet new folks, talk to friends, and to just enjoy a good time on a beautiful day in Downtown Chicago!  Permission to have a great time is granted!

Good times with the gang!

The Emerald Loop Bar & Grill
"After event with the gang."

MAY THE SPICE FLOW!

"Bless the Maker and all His Water.
Bless the coming and going of Him.
May His passing cleanse the world. 
May He keep the world for his people."

On May 4th, I changed my Facebook theme to Dune.  I did this purposely to piss off all the Star Wars fans celebrating "Star Wars Day."  I feel that George Lucas "stole" several of Frank Herbert's ideas from the books, including "the Force," "special twins," even distant and forgotten "desert planets" that are of special importance in the Universe.  So, instead of "may the force be with you," it was "may the prescience be with you." Dune!  Long live the fighters of Muad'Dib.

Dune is a book about one man's journey and destiny to control the universe by means of the Spice.  Learning his place in time and his role as the "one who can be at many places," Paul Atreides leads a band of local Fremen freedom fighters on Dune to retake his rightful inheritance and his place as the Duke.  Settling an old kanly of House Harkonnen, named by his father before him, Paul defeats this house and restores the planet and his House.  If there is one line that I'm always remembering when reading Dune and its sequels, it's this:

"Knowing where the trap is - that's the first step in evading it. This is like single combat, Son, only on a larger scale - a feint within a feint within a feint... seemingly without end."

"A feint within a feint within a feint..."  Read the books!  Herbert does such a very awesome job with intricately putting plots within plots, plots so deep and so complex, that you have to read the books again, and again, and again.  Being first trained as a mentat, and first learning to learn, Paul not only learns about this "trap" as his retaking of the planet Dune for House Atreides, but in his Prescience down the Golden Path to save Dune, the "circle of life" and the Spice.  And always remember this quote from Bijaz, the Dwarf in Dune Messiah:

"There's but a thin line between many an enemy and many a friend. Where that line stops, there's no beginning and no end."

MAKE IT A DATE AND GO

In the month of May, I had a couple dates that went well.  Again, not so much with finding a soulmate, but building confidence and keeping a positive outlook in a way for networking.  I'm finding that several of the dates I'm going on, we're keeping each other's contact information.  It's nice and it leads into networking or doing something together again in the future even if it's not a soul match.

On May 5, one of the dates I met up with we talked about fitness and eating healthy.  Learning some other avenues to fitness really encouraged me to look into alternatives, as I'm finding it harder to lose weight.  Cross Fit!  My date participates in the circuit and really encouraged me to try it.  Ok, first, let's deal with the Psoriasis issue.  Ungh!  I'm finding that this is holding me back more and more as I try to find a way to combat this thing!  We met at Starbucks (at 72nd Street and Kingery) in Willowbrook and had a nice conversation outside on a beautiful srping Sunday afternoon.

Starbucks

The next date I went on, the night of Saturday, May 11, we met at La Madia (on Grand, between Dearborn and Clark) in Chicago's Near North neighborhood.  It was an exciting time!  She introduced me to "white pizza" lol! Basically it's pizza without the sauce, just the cheese.  Although, telling her I was dieting, I tried a piece.  We talked about Mother's Day and with the short amount of time we had for our date, we talked about meeting for another future activity.  I learned that week I was going to Montana for a job assignment; she mentioned she liked travelling and recently had returned from a job assignment in New Jersey.  This date was very interesting, and I really enjoyed her "quirky smile," lol!

La Madia

If you are on my Foursquare list, anytime you see a "heart" under the check-in, this is indicating that I'm on a date, lol!  Also, I'm keeping the dates anonymous in the blog.  I think it's the best thing.  I'm still striving to just go with it and have fun, no matter the outcome.  It's proving to be a challenge but I have to keep trying.  They say "don't look and she will come," but I will be turning 40 this year, an old fart.  I hope I can keep a youthful approach in life and going out on these dates, even just for fun and getting to know new people.

CAN YOU AFFORD IT?

Goodbye Ford Fusion, and hello Ford Fusion.  In short, I have to learn a whole new car.  On Friday, May 10, I travelled into Naperville to Fair Oaks Ford on Ogden to pick up the new fleet vehicle.  Ungh!  It has two pedals still! (>.<) "Left foot!  Just remember again that it's the brake not the clutch," Right foot said.

 Ford Fusion 2013

The good thing?  At least this Ford doesn't look pissed off from the front, lol!  If anything it looks like it's saying "Woot" or looking for a kiss, lol!  I still drive Blackbeak on the weekends.  Based on what work I'm being assigned, the car may prove to be more beneficial as it sounds like there is going to be more TRAVEL with my job!  No, not meaning only to the Schaumburg Office each day either.  As I learned later in the month, and changes to our Team, this will require more travel.  So, the "woot!" that this Ford expresses is true to the point!  As my Team is "restructuring," it was pointed out the necessity for more travel in the future for me and others on my team.  This will ensure work gets done in a timely matter.  Still, though, when I approach the car, it looks happy to see me.  Woot!

Fair Oaks Ford Lincoln
"New fleet vehicle."

WOOT!

CLEAR FOR TAKE OFF
"DE PLANE. DE PLANE."

For the month of May, just because I got on several airplanes this month for work, I went through my movie collection at home and watched any movie that featured an "airplane incident."  Naturally, I started off by watching "Airplane!"  Here was my movie line up this month.  It should also be noted, but none of these planes crashed in each movie -- well, sort of, at least for one movie!  In Airplane! we had the food poison outbreak that crippled the entire flight crew, in the Langoliers, we had a paper-ripping madman summoning the killer cannonballs to rip up time (from the novella, and not explained in movie), in Air Force One we had a zealous skyjacking of the president's plane, in Twilight Zone, we had the awful gremlin on the wing, and finally, in Left Behind, the Rapture of Christ's Church.  In each one, there is an incident, but in each one except Air Force One, the plane lands safely --  That is, unless you get technical.  Liberty 24 became Air Force One at the end of that movie when the President "boarded" it.  It did not crash. LOL.
  • Airplane!
  • The Langoliers
  • Air Force One
  • Twilight Zone the Movie (Nightmare at 20,000 feet)
And...
  • Left Behind

 "There's someone on the wing!  Something!"

Nightmare at 20,000 feet
featuring
William Shatner
 
Left Behind
featuring
Kirk Cameron

Who would've ever guessed that
Balki was a Paper-ripping Madman
in this movie?


"What does a most secret classification mean
when you’ve just seen a bunch of 
killer cannonballs rolling up the world?"

MAY 12: HAPPY CHATHAM DAY!
Family High Day at one time!

Ok, so here's the scoop.  I've had May 12 marked on my Outlook Calendar each year, and once again, I had to ask what it means.  It's a family High Day once celebrated in the early 1900s when the Chathams ...er... Cheethams came to America from Nottingham, England (Scotland before that).  The day was famous for birthdays, wedding anniversaries and baptisms in the family.  My Great-Grandfather Frederick Tozer Cheetham (yes, that's with two "Es") celebrated his birthday on this day, so from that time on it became a family high day.  I think the family should bring this day back and start celebrating it once again as a family High Day, get a day off from school or work, lol!

Dogwood Estate 1993, Hinckley OH

Rustic Interior

Cheetham Plot 1918 at the end of Mattingly Road.

I also found out what the 1918 year associated with the date means as well.  It was the year that "Dogwood Estate" -- the family homestead up until 2000 -- on 908 Mattingly Road, Hinckley OH was built.  The year doesn't have anything to do with the name change or the beginning of Chatham Day.  It's about the House in Hinckley OH.  The house was built from the trees and other natural resources on the property.  It was sad to see this all go at the beginning of the millennium.

The name Cheetham was changed when the family came to the States in the early 1900s.  This was done for professionalism and due to the fact that several members of the family worked in Accounting, lol!  True story!  I wish my Great, great Aunt Birdie Catchpole were still alive to recall all our families traditions.  She had such a impeccable memory of our family!  "Catch 'em, pull 'em, Cheat 'em, and skin 'em."

"I WOULD'VE LIKED TO HAVE SEEN MONTANA."
MT was not MT!  Permission to land granted.

In the middle of May, I was assigned an ad hoc work project in Great Falls MT.  This was a new assignment and a new adventure in my job.  This was a part of my job that I did not have prior training, so it was a very intense learning event with the on-the-job training.  It was great to learn something new about my job and another aspect to equip me in my job title.  Nonetheless, I was excited about this: learning something new and going to Montana!

On May 13, I got up VERY early to get over to O'Hare International Airport (ORD).  I never had been to O'Hare before, but I knew it was an extremely busy airport.  Midway is a little easier to navigate.  I didn't really sleep the night before, because for one, I don't fly a lot and I was really nervous about the flights -- yep, flights -- and two, I was just excited.  I taxied over there about 3am via "303 Taxi."  I flew on Alaska Airlines so, doing a little research before I left to O'Hare, I determined that Alaska Airlines flies out from Terminal 3, Concourse L.  This information helped out the taxi dude too, and it made it easier to find the correct airline.  My flight was at 7:30am.  This gave me plenty of time to get to O'Hare, knowing it was a huge airport and security lines were probably going to be very long.  I checked my baggage at the gate and got my ticket.  The first leg of the trip would take me to Seattle WA, then to Helena MT -- well, that's what I thought.

Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)
"Off to Helena, Montana via SEA. >>"

O'Hare International Airport

A view of Downtown Chicago from the Plane

Looking at the ticket again before boarding in Chicago, I noticed that Horizon Air at Seattle (Alaska Airlines) would make a stop at Great Falls MT (my final destination) on the way to Helena.  Whaaaa???  I could just get off there, but I had a rental car reservation at Helena, so I had to press on.  Later on, I would be glad I got off the plane at Helena.  I got on the plane and sat in  a window seat over the wing on the starboard side.  "There's someone on the wing!  Some...thing!"  Yep, I recalled Ace Ventura's mimic of William Shatner at that moment, lol. Taking off in a Boeing 737-900 Jet, the flight was 3hrs 38min to SEATAC.  Then, I'd get onto a Turboprop Plane (DHC8 Dash 8-400) at Seattle to complete the flight through Great Falls to Helena.  That flight time was 1hr 40min.  I had a window seat on this flight as well.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
"SEA connecting to Helena."

Flying over Montana in a Turboprop Plane

After making that pitstop in Great Falls (GTF), the plane continued onto Helena, flying at a lower altitude.  It was only a 15 minute flight.  Also, when landed for 20 minutes at Great Falls, I saw my first Montana Wind farm.  I made a mental note to check it out when I drove back up.  Taking off again, I got a great bird's eye view of the Mountains, and knew then that I would enjoy the drive back up to Great Falls.  After landing, I easily and quickly claimed my baggage.  Helena International Airport (HLN) was not a very busy airport and very easy to get around at.  I walked over to Hertz and picked up the car rental.  Stepping out of the Airport, looking ahead I was blessed by this sight.

Helena International Airport

Helena Regional Airport (HLN)
"Driving to Great Falls. >>"

This picture was looking north.  The car that was reserved for me was a hybrid, a Hyundai Sonata.  It was not only keyless, but it had a push button ignition.  This threw me off many times frantically looking for the keys to start the car.  Not only that, when using the keyless entry and having the keyring in my hand, I found this hard to just adapt to.  Normally the car claims the keyring when driving. What do I do with this thing now?  I guess just toss it on the seat? Starting the car, I was greeted by friendly chimes, lol.  Setting up the navigation for  "220 Central Ave, Great Falls" on my phone and plugging the MP3 jack in, I drove out of the Airport, turning down Custer Avenue towards I-15.  Without having to Google this, Custer Avenue is definitely a reference to Gen. Custer and his "last stand" at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, which happened in Montana.  Much like the "Massacre at Ft. Dearborn" and the Potawatomi in Chicago, Americans have not always been fortunate, and should stop and remember the value and beauty of the land (and its native peoples) we have in the United States!


Driving north on I-15, the mountains were getting closer and doing some "terrain views" on Google Maps beforehand (I included in the blog, lol), I knew I was going to be driving THROUGH the mountains, lol.  Google be thy friend.  Passing milepost 209 on I-15, I started randomly snapping pictures from my phone while driving.  Yes, I was paying attention.  Luckily, there wasn't any -- if any -- traffic on I-15.  This was the first picture I got.  Looking at it later, I was glad that I could see the "Sleeping Giant" in the Mountains in the shot.  My cousin and his wife, Terry and Keri Reese, told me to look for the Sleeping Giant when driving up.


Mr. Sleeping Giant

Continuing the drive, I started driving through the canyons with steep climbs up and down, and sharp curving left and right.  It was quite an experience and, again, there was no one on the road.  Really, no one!  I had the road entirely to myself!  A few trucks here and there, but that was it.  Yes, I slightly careened a few times, driving on the sharp curves, but I was not taking pictures at those times.  There were two canyon passes, and the speed limit remained at 75mph for cars the whole time except near Wolf Creek MT, where the speed limit reduced to 45mph due to sharp curving and steep climbs up and down through the canyon.  The First Pass (near milepost 216) was very rocky and rugged, while the Second Pass (near Craig MT) was more grassy and fluid.  After the US 287 split off, the second canyon drive had me crossing the Missouri River quite often as it wound through the canyon with I-15.

FIRST CANYON PASS (near milepost 216)



Approaching First Canyon Pass

First Canyon Pass.



THE SECOND CANYON PASS (near Craig and Wolf Creek)



The Second Canyon Pass

Tower Rock off to the Left

A Montana Wind Farm near
Great Falls International Airport

Ulm Pishkun State Park
"A Montana Wind Farm."

Finally approaching Great Falls, I saw the Airport from where I took off 1hr 37min earlier AND I saw the Montana Wind Farm by Ulm Pishkun National Park.  I turned off I-15 onto I-15 Business into Great Falls. The drive from Helena was 1hr 22min, compared to only 15 minutes of flight time, lol.  Driving downtown, I finally reached the Quality Inn Ponderosa. After checking in, I went up to my room, unpacked some, and literally plopped on the bed and fell asleep. It was about 5pm.

Quality Inn Ponderosa
"Checked in."

At about 7pm (yes, mountain time), I got a knock on the door.  Waking up, almost forgetting where I was at, I answered it.  It was my long, lost cousin, Terry Reese and his wife, Keri.  They drove up from Billings to visit!  What an awesome surprise.  The last time I remember seeing Terry was probably when we were in 7th Grade at Milkovich Middle School in Maple Heights, OH -- before they tore it down and remade it.  Yeah, it was that long ago when we both lived in Maple Heights.  Then there was the time we visited his family in Falls Church VA when my family went to visit Washington DC in 1989, so yeah, it was a long time.  It was great to finally meet Keri too!  She insisted that I was the only family of Terry's that I had met other than his parents, lol.  So, thinking about this again, I think Terry and I are 3rd cousins on the Chatham side, lol!  Yeah, the Chatham side with all the Arthurs in it.

After geting settled in, Keri mentioned she knew Great Falls and she has family in Montana so she was well versed in the landscapes and the State.  We went out to eat at Jaker's on 10th Ave (I-15 Business) in Great Falls.  Keri knew it would be a good place to eat.  After chatting some, Terry drove us all over there to eat.

Jaker's
"Having dinner with Cousins. With Terry, Keri."

It was nice to catch up the times with Terry and talk about current events.  Keri was very nice too, and Terry's a lucky dude.  That is all ( :D ).  Oddly, I always envisioned Keri having a unique, endearing and wacky laugh for some reason.  Well, yep, she does, lol!  We ordered our meals and Keri told me about "Montana Gravy."  Um, that's Ranch sauce to the lay folk.  "Everyone in Montana puts it on everything.  It's Montana Gravy," she said.  We spent a good portion of the night talking and I think we finally realized that the joint was about to close up as time flew by, lol.  They both want to come out to Chicago to visit me too.  We talked about that.  I asked Keri if Billings has mountains.  She said no, but one notable feature about Montana is the WIND!  It sweeps down the mountains and it's really intense.  That's when she mentioned the "wind farms."  She mentioned there is one spot on I-90 (near Billings) that has very strong, intense winds, compromising and sometimes crippling traffic on the road.  I recalled the flight into Montana and just how "bumpy" the landing was at both Great Falls and Helena with the extreme winds.  I asked her if it's like that all the time.  Apparently it is.  While the rest of the country suffers from extreme hot or cold weather, Montana has extreme windy seasons!  Keri also helped me point out some of the landmarks in Montana.

Me

Terry and Keri

After finishing the evening, Terry drove us back to the hotel.  We spent some more time at the hotel talking about our businesses and Body Key.  They were suggesting that I give it a try for my weight loss and to buy the product from their site TK Products.  I seriously am considering it, and have purchased several items form their site, including my new office furniture.  Basically, you take a swab ala DNA in your mouth and it gets analyzed to see what foods you should avoid and/or eat.  I told them that it sounded much like the Paleo Diet, where your body is programmed back to the hunting/gathering days before farming.  They both are doing the Body Key, and hoping to see results from it.  Once again, it was all great conversation.  It was getting late and we all had work in the morning, so we ended the visit at nearly midnight.  They headed back home to Billings; we FORGOT TO TAKE PICTURES!  So, with permission, I asked Keri if I could use one of her pictures here, ha.  Keri said we should "photoshop" something together just to signify we were all together, so here is my solution, ha.  Like it?  I got so caught up in the awesome visit that it totally slipped my mind to take pictures, so maybe in Chicago.  They both admitted the same thing too.  So, here's hoping they can visit in Chicago soon to try again.  I was asked later in the week if I wanted to come down to see them in Billings, but work would prove to be busy.  My official first day on the job at the bank wasn't until Wednesday, but I still had other work to do on Tuesday, so I had to be up in the morning to work.  All day Tuesday, I would be on the phone with one customer, and throughout the week, I'd be working two projects at once.  Very challenging to say the least!  One onsite and the other over the phone.

Great Falls Teacher's FCU
15th Street and River Drive

Great Falls Teachers Federal Credit Union
"Customer."

On Wednesday, I arrived onsite at the bank for work at 9am.  I was all ready to work.  I had three days with the customer; I extended my stay there because the work was more involved than what was determined.  I had to configure two ATMs for the customer.  The first one was the challenge but by Friday, there was definite progress.  The customer was very friendly, just as the whole town.  I was working with an SME during the time, so I would report my updates to him with the new changes.  Being the first time I was doing something different for my job, it was a slow start for me and I had lots of questions that unfortunately weren't always answered.  Fortunately, I didn't go home empty handed and I learned a new aspect to my job.  Actually, on one of the those days, I had to go buy myself a DVD Burner at the Wal-Mart nearby in sort of an emergency to make some DVDs.  So, there was some pressure on the job, but all in all, I kept my focus and kept true.

Why did the goose cross the road?

It was great to do some sight-seeing in Great Falls.  Great Falls is located near the Missouri River and one the most populated cities in Montana; Billings being the most populated. I asked my co-worker where the "great falls" were at and even asked some locals.  Laughingly he said "they're not that great." LOL!  Finally finding the falls, I took some more pictures.  One thing I learned while driving on Historic River Drive is that they need signs for Goose Crossing.  A few times, I had to stop to let the geese cross the roads, ha!  It reminded me of my neighbors back home.  Yes, geese neighbors.  Great Falls is called the "Electric City" because of the five hydroelectric dams that supply electricity.  I took a picture of one of the five dams below.

Great Falls, MT

Missouri River with US 87 (15th St) Bridge in background.

The "great falls" with a hydroelectric dam near the General Mills Plant

A sunset over the Missouri River (Historic River Drive)

The Falls

On Thursday, May 16, after work and taking pictures, I went over to the Montana Club on Smelter Ave, just across the street from the Montana Oil Refinery.  The road literally smelled liked Chicago, lol, and a "smelter."  Ha.  The Montana Club was very great!  Great service!  Stunningly CUTE waitress!  Tasty and delicious food!  The Montana hospitality was just superb, friendly, and very laid back.  It was an empirical time, a magically magnificent and memorable joy for Montana moments.  I have often thought when I was younger about just retiring in Montana.  Maybe now I will.  It's just so amazing how much open space there really is in our country and even up to the point of boarding the plane to go home, I had this sentiment the whole trip.  Also noteworthy is the name "CM Russell" all over Montana.  I didn't get a chance to go, but there is a museum devoted to him in Great Falls.  One thing I failed to do was go far out of the city limits at night and ...um... LOOK UP at the night sky!  Maybe next time though I can do this and go to the museum.

Montana Club
"Dinner."

Montana Oil Refinery on Smelter Ave.

The Montana Club


CM Russell
famous "Old America West" Artist
Downtown Great Falls

Friday was my last day with the Customer.  It was an extended day with them.  Originally, I was going to leave on Friday, but due to extra measures for work, I extended the stay.  After finishing the day with them, I grabbed a bite at Subway and started packing up the hotel room, so I could leave early and hope to catch some more scenery pictures of Montana before heading back to the Airport.  This trip will be worth taking home with me, and I did not leave empty-handed ...er... MT-handed in any way.  Not only did I learn a new aspect of my job, but I enjoyed the very open big sky and hospitality of Montana.

On Saturday, I checked out of the hotel and packed up the Sonata.  I drove off towards the Airport.  After asking some locals about good mountain picture places, a couple suggested the "Gates of the Mountain Pass Road" just north of Helena.  After Googling the road, I saw that it was at Milepost 209.  Setting up the navigation on my phone for the Airport, it was easy to remember to get off at exit 209 on I-15.

FAREWELL MONTANA

"I want to see mountains again, Gandalf, mountains, and then find somewhere where I can rest. In peace and quiet, without a lot of relatives prying around, and a string of confounded visitors hanging on the bell. I might find somewhere where I can finish my book. I have thought of a nice ending for it: and he lived happily ever after to the end of his days." Bilbo Baggins.

I did not take this picture but learning which buttes they were helped later look for them.
Crown Butte and Square Butte seen from I-15 near Ulm MT.  
These two are my favorite from Montana!
CM Russell did some art with these buttes as well.

Driving back through the canyons again, for some reason, this song lyric popped in my head: "...driving down the road.  Rubber, plastic, metal, glass..." from the Karate Kid movie, a song lyric which makes no sense at all even to this day.  I forgot that the song even existed up until that point.  Ha.  I wonder why my brain works the way it does sometimes, so that song "Young Hearts" from the movie stuck in my head on the way back to the Airport.  Raise your hand if you're a whimsical-American.  Me!  Turning off I-15, milepost 209, I drove up "Gates of the Mountain Pass Road" towards Holter Lake and the Missouri River.  I pulled the car off a few times to try and get a good shot (without roads in the pictures). Sometimes, pictures with roads in them deter from the integrity of the scenery around it.  So, I tried getting the best pictures I could.

After driving down towards the end of the road near the Lake, I parked at a small spot off the side of the road.  The Lake was right there at the edge of the road and on the other side of the road was a mountain.  I noticed some rock slides on the side of the mountain and wondered how severe weather would impact the road sides with the rocks.  Gates of the Mountain Pass Road had rock accumulations near the base of the mountain.  Getting out of the car, I was greeted by a Montana State Park Ranger.  We talked for a bit, telling him that I was here on business from Chicago.  "You have such a beautiful State," I told him.  "Thank you," he warmly replied and smiled.  "I really am glad to hear that and I am glad you enjoyed your time with us here."  I shook his hand.  "I don't get this back home at all.  I tried to take in as much as I could before going home."  I could definitely retire here as I once dreamed about as a kid!

Gates Of The Mountains
"<< Farewell Montana."

Crown Butte and Square Butte (near Ulm MT)

Clouded mountain tops (near Cascade MT)

Panoramic view of "St. Peter's Mission"

The Smoking Sleeping Giant (milepost 209)

Panoramic view of the Sleeping Giant (Gates of the Mountain Pass Road)

Sometimes, the Panorama option on my Samsung Galaxy SIII is useful for things like this, although while taking the picture, I don't always like the "divot" in the picture from the "pivoting."

Gates of the Mountain Pass Road, pivoting southward.

Holter Lake, pivoting eastward.

Holter Lake at Gates of the Mountain State Park

Helena International Airport

Boarding a Turboprop Plane at Gate 2

Gate 2
"<< Flight 2326 Alaska Airlines."

After getting my final pictures in, I drove back towards I-15, resuming the navigation to the Airport.  I got there early, and unbeknownst to me but knowst to all, the Airport wasn't busy.  Filling up the rental with a full tank of gas at Town Pump on Custer Ave and I-15 Frontage prior to arriving at the Airport, I noticed that Regular gas was 85.5 Octane.  That threw me off for a minute; there was no option for Regular 87 Octane.  I filled the car up with the 85.5, and hopefully it won't blow up.  It must be a Montana thing, probably to do with altitude (thin air) and the mountains; I googled it later.  Arriving early, returning the rental, and waiting for the ticket counter to open, I read my book.  At 2:15pm, the ticket counter opened.  I checked my baggage and bought my fare back to ORD.  I did not have to fly back through Great Falls for this trip, lol.  The trip would take me back through Seattle though, then onward to ORD, Chicago.  Helena Airport was very rustic and a beautiful looking place, which was a very nice feel for the area and being inside gave it that verdant-type of feeling, lol.  I departed Montana on a Turboprop plane at 3:55pm.  Montana was great and between work and enjoying "Big Sky Country," I did not come home MT-handed!  MT was not MT whatsoever!  Thank you, Montana, for your hospitality!  Terry and Keri, thanks for visiting me!  I hope I see you in Chicago soon!



Flying back to Seattle, I just found it very odd that I'd have to backtrack to get on a flight back to ORD.  Jef fuel can't be cheap.  I saw the Seattle skyline as we were approaching, including the Space Needle, but "all electronic devices had to be shut off at the time of landing," so I could not get any pictures upon landing.  I deplaned and waited an hour for the next flight out of SEATAC.

Gate N2
"<< Flight 26 Alaska Airlines."

Getting back in the air at 6:05pm (Pacific time), I snapped this final picture of an active stratovolcano, Mount Rainier, just outside Seattle in the Cascade Mountains.  The plane window I was sitting at was all scratchy for this photo. (>.<) Finally, getting home at ORD nearly at midnight, the plane I was on had to wait 20 minutes to park at the gate.  So, sitting there, wanting to go to sleep, I was glad I took care of my bathroom business while we were in the Air!  Ha.  I wish Airplanes had horns too, so the pilots can lay on the horn to get the other planes out of the way.

Mount Rainier, Washington

Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)
"Home!"

MURDER MYSTERY

On Saturday May 25, I went Downtown for the evening with Venture Around to a Murder Mystery Dinner at Sopranos in Chicago's Lake View neighborhood.  It was a cool day and I got down there early, hoping to find a spot to park at.  Lake View is a busy neighborhood.  Actually, it's one of the neighborhood's that I'm looking at to move to some time.

Lakeview
"Oakdale & Racine."

After parking nearby, I walked over to Sheffield Avenue (2900N).  I walked in and found the rest of the gang.  There was only five people from the group that night, but it was fun.  You had the option to dress in 1930s attire, which Kurt and Sue from the group did.  I tried finding something with stripes at least, lol.  The Dinner involved, not only eating, but solving a murder as well.  The way this worked out was one person from each table in the Dining Room was labeled as a "suspect" to a crime.  In this case, one member of our table was labeled as Prof. Phineas Purple, lol.  The name sounded much like Prof. Plum from Clue.  Other tables had suspects as well.  Naturally, being how strange my brain works, I started quoting the movie "Clue."  Luckily I wasn't alone, others at the table picked up on it too as well, lol!

Soprano's
"Murder Mystery Dinner."

I wrote down the list of Suspects with clues

The Suspect Rules of Murder Mystery


Warren Pease announces his own death.  Maybe.

FBI Agent Smith aka Oolala


Professor Purple from our table

As dinner was served, we began learning about the professions of all the suspects and their involvement in Warren Pease's new film production.  Each suspect had a role in the film ...and a motive.  As dinner progressed, the murder happened.  It was not Warren Pease.  It was Miss Peacock a co-writer of the film.  So, whodunit?

Continuing through the night, the way this worked was we had to bribe other tables for clues leading to her death.  Every suspect was given a binder of character rules and no one, not even the suspect, knew who the murderer was until the great unveil at the end.  Each table was given bribe money and "evidence" with pictures about the death.  Deducing from the pictures from the death and the motives and opportunity of the other suspects, we had to piece together the evidence and clues to find the murderer.  The forensic picture of Miss Peacock's death had her at her desk typing up the movie.  She was shot as seen in the picture, but with other clues, Miss Peacock was surely poisoned after another suspect died shortly thereafter, drinking the same wine as Miss Peacock.  On Miss Peacock's desk, one glass of wine was poured with lipstick on the glass.  There was one vacant chair was across from her.  On that end of the desk also lied the gun with what she was shot with.

Throughout the night, bribes were made and clues were given regarding the murder until the final moment of the night when the "supposed Maid," Oolala, announced that she was not the maid but FBI agent, Smith.  From there, the suspect was revealed to be Cherry Pop.  She had both the opportunity and motive to kill Miss Peacock. This was a fun night and it involved everyone in the Dining Room, suspects and all.  I asked Kurt how often they do this.  Apparently, Soprano's runs this gig every weekend.  This could be fun to do again.  "How did he die?" "I'm not a forensic expert."  With this being true of myself, I would sill enjoy doing this again.

Sue and Kurt


IT'S IN THERE!

The new Feng-shui.  When you enter my office, please do not ask me where my Internet is.  Recalling an event last year when I was living in Brunswick OH. A friend stopped over and wanted to use my computer, they entered my office...

Coming soon to an office near you.


Currently...

"Where's your Internet," the friend asked?
Flummoxed and almost in panic, I blurted, "Spaghetti Sauce."
The friend looked at me almost confoundedly. "Yeah, spaghetti sauce," I repeated.



In May, I finally took action and started cleaning up my Office, mainly the awful wire mess all over.  I can't believe that I wasn't anal enough to keep it clean when I first moved in last year, lol.  So, between the cleaning and organizing, I started making room for my new "L-Shape Desk and Office Chair."  I also found a "Home Depot" at Countryside IL near LaGrange Road and bought some wood to fix the backs of my bookshelves which were coming apart.  The last week of May, after returning from Montana, I finally got my desk and I picked up my Office Chair too.  Once again, I'm doing all this to organize but also down the road for when I finally get cats.

Busted bookcase

The Home Depot
"Bookcase backing."

Starting with the wire mess, I neatly organized it all.  Here are some "before/after" pics.

Before

Another before

After

After

New comfortable office chair.

New Office Desk and Hutch.  Bookshelf fixed...

Mocking Hills

So, here's hoping this week, I can finally set up the new desk and finish my Office project...

IN OTHER NEWS

Less is Moore, Moore is not OK in OK.

On May 20, 2013, a half-mile wide (EF-5) tornado ripped through a suburban town of Oklahoma City OK.  The death toll was immense and devastating, numbers climbing daily.  Relief was sent to the small community, helping them recover from the disaster.




HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!
May 4: Chris Wood
May 5: Michele Sharif
May 12: RIP Frederick Tozer Cheetham (G. Grandfather)
May 17: Ansuman Pal
May 19: Kelly Trigg
May 28: Cheri Foster

Dearborn Street Bascule Bridge and Clark Street Bascule Bridge raised for the sailboats.

Make it so! Journey on! Full speed ahead!
I will finish the rest of May in June.  Montana pretty much highlighted this whole month.  I finally got my "L Desk and Office Chair" to setup now too.

So, until next month, thank you again for reading...


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