Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, everyone!

The unfortunate news is that I actually have to work this weekend. My team works one weekend per quarter, and this is the magical weekend that we'll be closing out Q3. Nevertheless, I am still happy that it's Friday.

(SIDE NOTE: The one highlight of these work weekends is the food that we order in for the team. Last quarter we ran out of cookies so I made it a point for us to order extra this time around. Translation: productivity will be up at least 235%! =D )

Today I'm going to play along with the "Friday Favorites" theme that I see on so many blogs.

1. Blue Angels
I've watched the Blue Angels several times as part of the Chicago Air and Water Show. Their performances are literally death-defying. They steal the show every year.

Recently, my workplace brought in former Blue Angels pilot, John Foley, as a keynote speaker. It was fascinating hearing his experiences. A few highlights:

  • The distance separating the planes in their aerial formations is a mere 18 inches.
  • Pilots are only allowed to be Blue Angels for two years because 1) their life expectancies drop significantly after two years of participation, and 2) complacency could start setting in after two years, and complacency in this role is very dangerous.
  • The signature Blue Angels helmet is earned, not given. When a new pilot joins the team, the other pilots decide when the new pilot has reached the level whereby they deserve to wear the helmet.
  • The pilots do debrief meetings after every flight session. They are BRUTALLY honest with each other in providing feedback and sharing thoughts on what did and didn't go well. However, no matter how tough the feedback or how difficult it was to admit mistakes made, the phrase, "Glad to be here" was constantly repeated. This was an ode to acknowledging and remembering how fortunate they were to be a part of such an incredibly elite team.

I could have listened to John Foley all afternoon. His keynote was the talk of our office for quite some time. For days afterwards, all of my colleagues and I found every opportunity to quote lines from "Top Gun"!!!

2. Big Apples
I recently won an 8-pack of Big Slice Apples from Erica's giveaway. Thanks again, Erica!

These are packets of kettle-cooked apples in a wonderful array of flavors (e.g. Raspberry Hibiscus and Green Coffee Extract, Boysenberry Chocolate, Cinnamon French Toast). My prize package arrived earlier this week and I immediately tore open the Banana Mango and Hemp Seed flavor. SO GOOD.

In all seriousness, it's rare for me to try any product sample and be blown away enough by it to immediately want to go out and buy it. But I really do love these apple packets. They would be perfect to throw in your bag for a quick snack on the go.

3. ClassPass
Speaking of winning prizes, I recently also won a ClassPass membership from Katie's giveaway. (Given this lucky streak, maybe I should go out and buy some lottery tickets...?) Thanks again, Katie! Thank you also to Jessica, the ClassPass community engagement manager.

ClassPass is a monthly subscription where you can visit numerous boutique fitness studios under one membership. Almost 90 studios are included in Chicago, and they keep adding more!

I've been using ClassPass for nearly two weeks now. This is definitely a topic for its own post, so I'll talk more about it next week. But in short, I am up to my ears with workout options and (to quote Maria from "The Sound of Music") having a marvelous time!!!

4. Shopping mayhem
This isn't so much a favorite as it is just something I wanted to share. The Blackhawks Store on Michigan Avenue is having a moving sale right now. Everything is either 50% off or 75% off (!!!!). I Divvy'd over there yesterday during lunchtime, hoping to snag a few things.

Unfortunately, in yet another testament to the Blackhawks' crazy popularity, the line just to get into the store stretched all the way down the street.
This picture was taken after I'd already been in line for 15 minutes.

I waited almost a half hour to get in. Once I finally did, it was total chaos inside. People were clutching and grabbing wheelbarrows-worth of merchandise like it was lined with $100 bills!

I picked out a few things and got in line to pay. The checkout line occupied every remaining free square inch of space. Most of the people in line were carrying so much merchandise that they looked like a parade of pack mules getting ready to stampede. It was kind of like this:

I waited in line for about 30 minutes and barely moved. I needed to get back to the office but there were at least 50 people still in line ahead of me. This meant that I ended up having to bail. Disappointing! (I bet the people behind me in line were thrilled, though.)

The Blackhawks even had to bring in security personnel to control the crowds at the store. Who knew!?!?

5. Divvy, divvy, divvy
The Divvy bike sharing program rocks. It's made it so easy for me to zip around the city. I used to balk at going to fitness classes or events around the city because of the inherent inconvenience of getting to/from on public transit. But now, I can just hop onto a bike, fly by the cars backed up at stop signs, and go! Why didn't I become a Divvy member earlier!?!?!

Someone's tearin' it up with Divvy
6. No pain, with gain?
I came across this article on how to trick yourself into not feeling pain. A few suggestions are no-brainers, others are more interesting. I plan on trying some of these tactics out the next time I am dying in the final few miles of a run or race!

7. 2014 Space Odyssey
I've used an iPhone 4 for three years and it was basically operating on life support. It was far and away time for me to get a new phone. Normally I get my phones a model year or two behind the curve. But last week, in a rare feat of technology exploration, I got an iPhone 6. 

In case you were wondering, I preordered my phone online and got it in the mail. I did NOT do anything so extreme as to camp out for hours in front of an Apple Store, or anything like that. (I save my long-line-waiting for Blackhawks functions, haha.)

The iPhone 6 has been a night-and-day improvement in comparison to my old phone. The new Siri technology is impeccably good. It's to the point that it is scary!


  1. I'm glad you're enjoying Class Pass! Can't wait to hear about the classes you tried!

    1. Katie, this is one of the best giveaway prizes I've ever won in my entire blogging life! Thanks again! Are you using ClassPass yourself, btw?

  2. Whoo! Mi went from 4 to 6, too. Siri is fun. I do miss the slightly smaller phone size, though.

    1. It's funny how in model year numbers, it's only a 2-digit increase... yet the upgrade in technology is light-years improved! Siri is amazing. You like the smaller phone size? It's funny because for years everyone wanted smaller, smaller, smaller, and now everyone wants bigger bigger bigger!

    2. Yeah. The 6 feels a little awkward in my hand. I preferred the size of the 4.

    3. I hear you, I was able to use the 4 with one hand but I need to use two hands for the 6.

  3. Those Blue Angels are incredible. I never thought I'd say that 18 inches isn't very much, but wow, that's not much! That Blackhawks store line is crazy. Was stuff really that much cheaper? Also, good idea on bailing for your job. Apparently those people who stayed have more free time than you! The only thing crazier is the six hour Hot Doug's line!

    1. 18 inches blows my mind. I get nervous when I'm riding my bike and cars drive by me within just a few feet. But 18 inches in airplanes going over 500 miles per hour? HOLY COW.

      The Blackhawks merchandise is so marked up to begin with that after all the markdowns, they came down to what I'd consider "reasonable" prices for clothing. So a Blackhawks t-shirt might normally retail for about $40, but with the markdowns it'd be between $10-20. Honestly, the Blackhawks didn't need to mark down their stuff THAT much to draw a crowd. Had they even marked things down just 25%, there probably would have been plenty of people banging down the doors!

      A six-hour Hot Doug's line??? Are you kidding me!?!?!?

  4. Bummer you had to bail at the Blackhawks store! I am in total awe of the Blue Angels. Amazing.

    1. I only wish I had unlimited time to hang around the Hawks store like so many other folks seemed to have! Sigh.

      The Blue Angels actually make some of their stunts look so easy that you sometimes almost forget how hard they really are, do you agree!?!?!?

  5. Ok, I am fascinated by the Blue Angels information. Thanks for sharing!

    I have my Class Pass subscription set up to start right after the marathon. I am SO excited to try it out! Any great studios you've discovered?

    1. I am glad that you enjoyed the Blue Angels info!

      YAY for you starting up ClassPass right after the marathon. You are seriously going to LOVE it. I am so excited to hear about all the studios you try once you get started! So far I've tried Bar Method, Barre Code (two different locations), Dailey Method, Zen Yoga Garage, and a new location of Pure Barre. Barre Code is probably the only one that I wouldn't jump at going back to because they don't emphasize proper form. But otherwise they've all been great! I'll be writing up a comparison of all the studios at the end of my ClassPass membership. =)

  6. I LOVE the Blue Angels. They are far and away my favorite part about the Air and Water Show (on the years the come, that is). Their stunts are insane, and I can't believe they're less than two feet away from each other! That's terrifying!

    1. I was so bummed when the Blue Angels didn't participate in the Air and Water Show due to budget constraints! It's wonderful that they are back now. =) 18 inches blows my mind. Obviously they don't tell us about any accidents that happen, especially in training, but you know that at some point they do happen! (Maybe it's better that we don't know the details...)

  7. My father has always been a huge aviation fan. (He did something with planes in Vietnam, but he was Navy not Air Force. Anyway...) We went to dozens upon dozens of airshows growing up. I always hated it because, well, I hated anything I was forced into doing. Plus, it was a lot of walking around being hot. Now that I'm older, I would love to hit up an air show or two, especially to see the Blue Angels! It's taken me some time, but now I can full appreciate the wonder of what they are doing up there in the air. Tres cool!

    1. I was the same way as a child! Anytime my parents dragged me to some festival or whatever, I didn't enjoy it just because it wasn't my decision. But now that I'm older, I LOVE festivals and shows and all the things my parents took me to when I was younger. Funny how perspectives change as we get older, eh?

  8. Oh comment was eaten up again!!! Ahhhh! Second unlucky time :( I mentioned that I read your post about ClassPass and am definitely planning on trying it out next month or so after marathon training officially completes. I was part of a gym for 6 months but eventually ditched it because I felt overwhelmed by the constant feeling of "having" to attend fitness classes. ClassPass seems to be the better option for me :)


    1. Oh no! Sorry that Blogger keeps eating your comments! =( Thanks for being persistent, though!

      I think you'll LOVE ClassPass, Irina! The options are amazing! Although, I will fully admit to you that I do still feel like I need to attend as many classes as possible with my membership. But at least ClassPass makes it super easy to pick and choose what works best. =)

  9. I love the idea of ClassPass! I just don't like that most or all of the studios are on the north side and getting there is a hassle. I was going to use the "b" word but decided against it. :-)

    1. It is a bummer that most of the studios are on the north side. I've been getting a lot of use out of my Divvy membership to go to the various locations. But if I were a suburbanite or lived in the city's south side, it would be much harder to take advantage of the offerings, for sure.