Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Allez Chia!

Good luck to good friend Chia (aka Jerry Walter), as he embarks on AIDS LIFECYCLE 2005 bike ride. Beginning 1 week from today on June 6, Chia will bike 585 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money and awareness. In California alone, there are more than 55,000 people living with AIDS and 125,000 with HIV.

Chia's personal dedication to the ride includes raising money to support the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Please click here to help Chia reach his goal.

A Day of Mourning For Expense Account Diners Everywhere

For lover's of power dinners in a club-like setting ove a large cut of prime beef, served a la carte sizzling with perhaps a humongous baked potato and broccoli, accompanied by top shelf wine and liquor, the passing of Chicago's Arnie Morton on Saturday was sad.

Founded in the basement of a high-rise in 1978, Morton's of Chicago is the scene of dozens of "You pay for this so I can approve it" conversations every day. Meat lovers everywhere can often recall their first Morton's experience. Ours was in the spring of 2000, in what is fondly refered to in our house as the day we had the best filet ever. Ahhhhh, excess.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Sweet Science & The Call of the Wild

We're in the middle of a fun and busy Memorial Day weekend. Friday, we went to the member's preview of "Candy Unwrapped" at the Carnegie Science Center. The exhibit is further proof that there is science in everything. In one exhibit, Russell and Sydney learned why you pucker. After scooping a piece of sour candy into their hands with a digger, they watched in the mirror as they unwrapped and ate the candy watching their "sour faces" come out, and learning that it is your bodies way of keeping you from swallowing poison. In another part of the exhibit they burnt off some extra energy by jumping up and down on a giant tongue (surrounded by giant teeth) touching the different elements of taste - sweet, sour, bitter and salty (no umami). As always no trip to the Science Center is complete without a couple of laps around the model train.

A rainy Saturday drove us inside for a family birthday party for cousin Nina to see the new movie Madagascar. When the lion, hippopotamus, giraffe and zebra from the Central Park Zoo get caught at Grand Central Station trying to escape to Connecticut via Metro North, they are shipped off and end up stranded on Madagascar. Everyone enjoyed the movie which has quite a few animated parodies of other movies (Planet of the Apes and American Beauty to name two) and a couple of very funny monkey's and a quartet of psychotic penguins. Sydney's review: "I like the tiger and the rhinoceros." Russell's : "I like the part in the zoo and the part at Grand Central."

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Das Is Strange

When you type, are you tired of those pesky letters printed on the keyboard slowing you down? Are you bothered by the extreme force it takes to press a key a the ends of the earth (er...keyboard)? Do you think $12 dollars is too little to pay for a keyboard? Then Das Keyboard is for you.

Now this is on lie I don't believe...but the cool black does make me feel kind of special.

Today's Soup: Chicken w/ Bice

Gretchen pointed out this Business Brief from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this morning:

"'Idol' runner-up gets offer
Family restaurant chain Eat'n Park, based in Homestead, said it hoped to pick up a little glitz from the Fox TV show "American Idol." The 79-restaurant chain will be offering the first runner-up from this season's competition a $10,000 contract to record its new advertising jingle, "It's All Here," written by singer/songwriter Bob Corbin (ed. who?). The show's two finalists, Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice, were headed into the season finale last night."

I think Bo will at least have to turn his long locks into a mullet to make it in the 'Burgh. Nothing says family dining like a 29 year-old guitar-shop employee with a prior drug arrest. Who hasn't been out at 2am in Pittsburgh and not gottent he munchies for some grilled stickies at some point?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Easy Come, Easy Go

Remember how excited I was in "People Really Win" when I won a $100 drawing from an on-line survey? Yesterday, on US 22 in Ohio between Cadiz and Steubenville I got a ticket from the County Police for driving above the speed limit. Damage -- $110. Now if I can just find something that will pay $120 to the good...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

The Lies We Tell and The Ones We Believe

I just finished reading Seth Godin's new book "All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in A Low-Trust World." As in his previous books Purple Cow and Free Prize Inside, Godin is provocative. His notion, that at the core of successful marketing and great products, whether for drinks, cars or social movements is an authentic story that people connect with, internalize and repeat to their friends. Your belief that sitting in a coffee shop drinking an expensive variety of bean makes you more sophisticated and the way you deliver that message to friends and acquaintances reinforces and expands the story, making it more real in the process. Creating these stories is the real challenge as most of these messages are quickly forgotten.

Perhaps most interesting are the examples of deceptive lies. The stories that are truly inauthentic. Dave Lennox from Lennox air conditioners is not a fiction, he's jus been dead for several years -- the nice voice that answers the company's automated response system is an actor. I think it's the fact that so many stories in our world seem inauthentic that explains the popularity of observational humor and television show's like The Daily Show. People (I) find humor and connect with stories that poke at the inauthentic way people portray themselves in television media -- from the subjects of stories to the reporters and anchors themselves. I tell myself the "lie" in Godin speak that they I'm smarter than the news because of my ability to laugh it -- even if I don't go master the details and the nuance.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Bad Ball Good Day

This weekend's main event was taking in the Pittsburgh Pirates vs. The Colorado Rockies at PNC Park on Sunday with Gret, Syd and Russ. We had a great day, but it was a horrible game.

The Pirates lost 4-3, but it didn't seem that close. Joe Kennedy with an ERA over 8 gave up something like 3 hits through the first 8 innings. The Rockies scoring rallies included such gems as scoring on a dropped fly ball by Pirate CF Tike Redman and on a hit batsmen by P Josh Fogg. The highlight of the entire game was probably a great 3-6-3 double play in the 4th by Daryle Ward and Jack Wilson.

In the perogie race Cheese Chester won on Oliver Onion Bobblehead day.

That being said there is no better place to see a game than PNC Park on a beautiful day, with the city skyline in CF and the river running behind. An insider's tip is to sit in the "Pirate's Cove" a small section of the club level that was never finished and is sold as regular seating. Tickets are $16 vs $47 in the next session and you almost have a private concourse and personal concession stand.

Russ and Syd had a great time. They looked forward to going to the game all weekend. Russell has been working on his batting stroke in the backyard, and he does pretty well considering he's never hit off a tee, and his #1 coach (me) could never really hit either. He looked handsome in his new baseball outfit with "his number" 4. Sydney was in perfect voice for a spirited rendition of take me out to the ball game during the 7th inning stretch. The menu for the game included Sprite, Cracker Jack's and ice cream and a long stop at the playground behind the right field stands.

Friday, May 20, 2005

"The Rain Can Be My Music"

As we were tucking in our son last night, he asked if it was going to be cold, and we mentioned that it might rain. He said, "That's good, that way if my Blue's Clues CD is over the rain can be my music."

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Up Your Prothonotary!

Do you know what a prothonotary is? Or that the spell checker doesn't recognize it? In Allegheny County, PA the prothonotary clerk who has the responsibility to maintain court documents -- sounds OK until you realize we also have a Clerk of Courts. The Register of Wills maintains Birth and Death Records and also grants your marriage license. The County Coroner, Cyril Wecht, grandstands on talk shows and has his assistant coroners drive him and his family around. These offices, along with the Jury Commissioner, the Recorder of Deeds, were all elected...a source of political patronage, and inefficiency. Now, the offices will be consolidated and elected officials will be replaced by appointed ones because for once Allegheny County voters embraced change.

This certainly can't be said for Bob "now it's my turn" O'Connor who's affable smile and rough and tumble speech was rejected on 2 previous occasions. I read somewhere that he fancies himself as Pittsburgh's Rudy Giuliani, but judging from his insider campaign and his "promises" to labor it's hard to expect much more than pandering to the way things used to be that most Pittsburghers expect. Be very suspect of a mayor who couldn't carry his own neighborhood.

Now if only I could do something about my marriage license that says David Wecht, Register of Wills in larger letters than mine and Gret's...

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

People Really Win

When I arrived home yesterday I found a check for $100 in the mail with a letter saying: "Congratulations! You are one of ten Fidelity Advisory Panel Members randomly selected for a $100 prize from Synovate for your participation and look forward to your feedback in the future." Yay!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

New Philadelphia, Ohio

As I've mentioned before, I spend a fair amount of time in New Philadelphia, Ohio. New Philadelphia is located 100 miles from my home in Pittsburgh along I-77 along the Tuscarawas River. It was founded in 1804 by John Knisely (who's he -- the man who founded New Philadelphia of course!). It was where John Glenn learned to fly at Harry Clever field and where Ohio State footbal coaching legend Woody Hayes coached the Quakers, the local high school.

My HQ in in New Philadelphia is The Daily Grind, a comfortable, upscale, urban feeling coffee shop in the quaint downtown across from the Quaker discount movie theater. Located is a former bakery and adjacent building, the atmosphere inside includes an old fashioned lunch counter, an antique deli-display, and comfortable seating from couch to kitchen table to cafe table await. With a friendly staff, an extensive menu of fresh and healthy sandwiches, (for example, the Old Man -- Roast Beef, Provolone, Onion, Lettuce and Tomato on Focacia Bread), great caramel pecan cookies, and a tremendous variety of coffees there is plenty to satisfy the stomach. To top it all off there's free wi-fi internet -- making it my mid-day refuge to catch up on work and relax.

The Daily Grind Cafe is located at 153 West High Avenue, New Philadelphia, OH 44663.

Google sattelite view of New Philadelphia, OH.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Amazin' Grace

I've been meaning to comment on Uchenna and Joyce's win on The Amazing Race last week. The couple had been among the most giving teams competing, offering money to teams that lost everything after coming in last place and even assisting on challenges. This is in stark contrast to Rob and Amber, who continually passed on opportunities to assist others.

As the final leg began it appeared that Rob and Amber's world view would win out. Uchena and Joyce found themselves in last place with no money and the clothes on their backs. Perservering in the face of obstacles, they found the kindness and grace in others necessary to help them win.

Whether it was financial contributions at the airport, sympathetic cab drivers, or a pilot willing to pull back to the gate, Uchena and Joyces were rewarded in kind for the compassion they had displayed toward others earlier in the race.

What a testament to individual character when just steps away from victory and the fulfillment of financial dreams that they proceeded to ask strangers for money to pay their fare to the cab driver. This Amazing Race was truly won with Amazin' Grace.

Uno, dos, tres, quatorze!

Last night Gretchen and I rocked through a great performance by U2 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. U2 hit songs from Boy to Bomb - conspicuously absent, Zooropa and Pop. Highlights included an acoustic Running to Stand Still and Elevation, with the final notes of the night from an appreciative (if aging) crowd chanting "how long to sing this song" from '40.'

The evening began with a great meal at Cuba Libre on 2nd Street with Ben and Renee. The Cuban food and ambiance were fantastic. We all felt like we could sit and drink their fabulous mojitos all day.

The odd moment of the entire evening occured after the concert in the Philadelphia subway at Broad and Locust when we bumped into our friends John and Vicki who live in our neighborhood in Pittsburgh. We seem to never see them there. They too could not wait for U2 to come to Pittsburgh in the fall.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Favorite Part of the Day

One of the best traditions that Gretchen, the kids and I have developed is having a sharing time at the end of the day where we all tell each other our favorite part of the day. Sometimes they are mundane -- Russell is fond of saying "My favorite part of the day was just staying home all day. Sometimes they are being with others -- Sydney's is often "seeing my Ella" on days when she sees her cousin Ella. Currently I'm commuting about 100 miles to work, and I stay away from home on Monday nights and Wednesday nights., and I'm home on Tuesday nights and Thursday nights. That means that I already know what my "favorite part" will be today -- getting home for bedtime to hear everyone's favorite part.

What was your favorite part of the day?

Monday, May 09, 2005

A Mother of an Adventure

Perhaps it is no coincidence that the best adventures I've ever had in life have come after I became a mother. Since giving birth to my first child (an adventure in and of itself), I have hiked to the top of a cliff in Queenstown, New Zealand, only to jump off and parapent back down, riding the gusts of wind like a kite; I have hiked down to the lowest depths of the Grand Canyon and back up-- while pregnant with my third child, no less-- a round trip of 20 steep, high altitude, exhausting, but exhilerating miles; I have zip-lined my way from treetop to treetop in the Honduras jungle canopy; I have snorkeled with sharks and sting-rays in the warm, crystal clear Belizean waters; and most recently, as my husband mentioned, I have soared 3000 feet in a glider plane, dipping and turning, chasing the thermals, even taking hold of the controls myself. Not bad for a 30 year-old mother of three who never considered herself to be a thrill seeker!
But my kids are the real adventure; the real thrill of a life time. (They are a lot like the Grand Canyon climb; exhausting and exhilerating all in the same breath.) I realize now that I have participated in all these adventures, and will continue to do so, not just for myself, but also so that I can show my kids who I am and what I'm made of, and in turn what they're made of. There is nothing like seeing the pride in your 4-year-old son's face when you settle into the cockpit of a glider, or knowing that you are showing your 2-year-old daughter just how strong a girl can be. But it is my husband who sets the wheel in motion, always looking for another adventure, another challenge-- not just for himself, but for the whole family. I would not be half the mother I am without him to keep us all moving in the right direction. The four of them together are my inspiration, and I am honored that they are proud of me, as I am of them. My next goal is to run in my first race. I am definitely not a runner, so a 5k seems like a good place to start. I will be looking for my husband to guide me through it, and for my children to meet me at the finish line.

Thank You Mothers...

In the business world everyone is always searching for the next great mentor or guru who can unlock the secret barriers between us and greatness. The reason mother's day is so great is because we're able to honor our original mentors, our mothers. For those of us lucky enough to have a mother's love, so much of who we are, our core beliefs and behaviors and even some of the things that come out of our mouths, come from Mom.

For this Mother's day, our children (with a little help from dad) sent their Mom up 3,000 feet in the sky above Pittsburgh in a glider. Few people in our lives can give us the ability to soar like our mothers can, so it seemed only fitting to send her soaring.

Friday, May 06, 2005

How to Wake Up

Pittsburgh, PA. - Consultants don't get to wake up in their own beds enough. Let me tell you how I woke up this morning...Morning sun streaming through my bedroom window. Daughter Syd hugging my right shoulder, son Russ my left. Smell of coffee brewing in the kitchen. AAAAAh!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

An 18 Story Slingshot Target

Doomed East Liberty high-rise to get slingshot-fired paint job

How do you celebrate the end of an 18 story failed public housing building and have fun doing it? By firing paint from a giant slingshot of course!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Life on the road...New Philadelphia, OH

Tonight finds me at the Hampton Inn located along I-77 in New
Philadelphia, OH. The hotel is next to the Tuscarawas River and has a
view of Sheetz, Walmart, and BBQ restaurant called Hog Heaven. More
on New Philadelphia later, I spend a fair amount of time here...

Welcome to the neighborhood Justin Sullivan

I have a lot of random thoughts, some of them occasionally funny, others not so much. I also have a family and lots of friends to keep up with. Occasionally we do things that are even interesting. So check us out now and then...

Updated December 28, 2005:

Justin Sullivan is an award winning strategy consultant for Ariba, the leader in Spend Management technology and services, helping Global 2000 companies create value in the globalized economy through strategic sourcing and procurement.

Prior to joining Ariba, he was a career-appointed Policy Analyst for the United States Office of Management and Budget, the White House budget agency.

A Pittsburgher by marriage, he came to Pittsburgh in 1991. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University (where he also played basketball for about 4 minutes) twice -- a BS in '95 and an MS in Public Policy in 1996.

Since returning to Pittsburgh in 1999, Sully has lived in Regent Square, and helped add 3 little Sullys to the world. Sully's Stuff was launched in 2005 to give him a forum to spout off and as a platform to promote "Stride Against Stroke" to raise over $3,000 for Gaylord Hospital's stroke programs while training for the Harrisburg Marathon.

In addition to Sully's Stuff, Sully's writing will appear in the January 2006 issue of Federal Times.