1. In Des Moines, I generally got up at about 6am, made coffee, did my morning reading on the computer, cleaned up, dressed, and got to work a little before 8am. In Chicago, I get up at 6am, walk or bus to the train station, read my paper and have my coffee in transit, and get to work a little before 8am. Beyond distance traveled, the morning is not radically different, time wise. Evenings in Chicago, I’ve been getting home around 6:15pm at the end of the reverse commute (with about 35 minutes of book reading time on the train), which is about an hour later than I did in Iowa. But by that time, I’ve generally walked some 10,000 steps per my FitBit as part of my commute, which eliminates the need to spend 45 minutes or so on an elliptical at the gym at night. So my time at the office, and my free time at home with Marcia are working out about the same — though with orders of magnitude more things to do within a mile of where we live, Chicago is currently ahead on the scorecard in terms of weekly life routines. I will be traveling a lot more in the new job (trips already on the calendar to Pittsburgh, Waco, Orlando, Knoxville, Grand Cayman, Des Moines, among other locales), but one of my priorities in seeking a new job was to return to have a national (or international) reach, so this is a good thing, which I expect to enjoy.

2. With almost two weeks under my belt as President and CEO of the TREE Fund, I’m enjoying the work, the staff, the board, the opportunities, and getting to know the international community of urban and community forestry professionals that we support. Our major operating fundraiser is the STIHL Tour Des Trees, a 500+ mile cycling event that typically pulls in around a quarter-million dollars a year. Due to some pre-existing competing personal commitments, I will only be able to ride four days of the seven day Florida-based event this year, from Orlando, to Ruskin, to Sarasota, to Punta Gorda, to Ft Myers Beach, but that will still put about 350 miles of road beneath my wheels, so I am excited about that as well. We are already developing the 2016 Tour route, and I’m delighted that it will be in my native Carolina region, so more on that when we make the formal route announcement later this year. At which point, I’ll be hitting you all up for fundraising support, so be prepared.

3. A couple of artsy-fartsy-ish snaps of where we’re living these days. The views still haven’t gotten old for me:


Our temporary apartment in Aqua tower, back lit by the setting sun.


Night view from outside 340 on the Park, where will we be moving in two weeks.

4. Great book alert: I’m about three-quarters of the way through Alexandra Kleeman’s You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine and am loving it. I suspect it could result in a Five By Five Books article soon. Unless she blows the ending. (Please don’t! Please!) Standby.

5. Marcia and I have been to two wonderful free concerts put on by the Jazz Institute of Chicago in recent weeks (review of one here), and are very much looking forward to the Chicago Jazz Festival over Labor Day weekend, and to attending their Annual Fundraising Gala in October.

6. On a slightly less posh note, we’re also going to Riot Fest this month. Only for one day, but it will include Iggy Pop, System Of A Down (!), The Damned, Bootsy Collins, GWAR, Rancid and a few dozen others, so plenty of opportunities to get our funk, mosh, and skank on, as appropriate.

7. After nearly four years without reading a daily newspaper regularly, I’m happy to have The Chicago Tribune with me each morning on the train. While I don’t necessarily embrace their political/editorial views, I do like the feel of newsprint and am acquiring a better sense of the people, places, politics and things that make my new home community tick. I’ve particularly been enjoying columnist Rex Huppke, especially this piece about McDonalds’ effort to undermine traditional breakfast values. That’s some sharp writing, there. Nice!

8. I remain a board member for the Association of Midwest Museums, so I’ve also been doing my part to take in our region’s amazing museum culture. As a vintage plane nerd, I was flabbergasted to learn that the Museum of Science and Industry has one of only two surviving Stuka dive-bombers in the world, along with a complete German unterseeboot. Marcia and I also enjoyed a jazz night out at the Shedd Aquarium, and we’ve taken advantage of the wonderful Art Institute of Chicago membership that my staff at Salisbury House gave me as a parting gift. So much art! The brain can’t process it all! So we just keep going back and going back, happily.

9. Tuesday Morning Quarterbacks, my long-time fantasy football league (of which I am reigning champion, thank you very much) held its live draft last night, and I think I’ve got a very good team together. The league has had mostly-stable membership for a long time, but occasionally we have to recruit a new player. This year, The Pretzel Hammers joined the league, filling a gap created by a stalwart player moving out of the country. Their manager? Marcia! She finished second by a hair in her own league last year, so she knows how to get it done, competitively. This should make for some lively Smith Family football watching time in the upcoming months, especially during the two weeks when we go head-to-head. Huttah!

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