Friday, November 30, 2012

Day 335: Threw A Benefit Party

I use the word "random" pretty loosely on this blog.  My acts aren't always random in the typical sense of the word, but rather in the way that teenage girls who love One Direction use it.  As in, if you saw somebody hugging random people on the street, you'd say "That's so random..." or if you saw a person you didn't know show up to a charity event, you'd say "Who is this random over here?"  I've gotten emails and messages from people critiquing me about not sticking to the traditional definition of the word, and while I will readily admit that some of my acts are planned out, most of the time they are chosen at random either when I wake up in the morning or when I see the opportunity.  The reason that I bring up how random my acts are was because today's is DEFINITELY not random at all.  I had planned on doing this for months, I knew who I wanted to do it for, and hopefully, nothing random actually does happen in regards to it.  So to anyone who was going to email entries from Webster's dictionary, no need.  I already know.

On February 19th (two days after Michael Jordan's 59th birthday), I sat on a roof in the freezing cold.  5 months later, I joined a cross country walk in the blistering heat.  I did both of these random acts because of and with Pastor Corey Brooks.  For those that have just started reading this blog, Pastor Brooks lived on top of the roof of an abandoned, crime infested hotel for 90 days in order to raise the funds to have it torn down.  Months later, he walked across the entire country to help raise funds in order to build a community center on the grounds of the old hotel.  He did both of these crazy things because he is sick and tired of having to speak at the funerals of youth killed by gun violence here in Chicago.  He has inspired a great number of people both here in Chicago and across the country, myself included.  Since he has been someone who has been inspiring to me and my acts, and I feel so strongly about his mission to stop violence, I wanted to do something to raise money for his movement, Project H.O.O.D.  On October 1st, I had a goal to raise $1000 for Project H.O.O.D., but was unable to (thank you to those of you that did donate though!  I will be giving the donations to Pastor Corey soon).  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am throwing a benefit party to raise money for Project H.O.O.D.  It is also a way to get many of the people who have been involved in 366 Random Acts together in the same place.  I want to thank people, meet people for the first time, and share a beer with them.  To anyone reading this blog right now: you are invited and so is anyone that you know.  Please join us tonight from 7-10 at FatPour, 2005 W. Division here in Chicago.  Enjoy a little Beastie Boys to get hyped.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Day 334: Secretly Paid For A Stranger's Co-Pay

When I grow up, I want to be Santa Claus.  I know that A. I am supposedly already grown up and B. the job is already fill, but a guy can have hope can't he?  The biggest reason why I want to be Santa Claus (outside of the free cookies) is the fact that I really enjoy secretly giving gifts and surprising people.  Since I am still a ways away from manning the North Pole, I decided to try to emulate Mr. Claus today for my random act. 

I spend almost all of my days in doctor's offices for my job at ZocDoc (yet another shameless plug), and usually they aren't the most fun places to be for people.  I guess I understand since most of the people in these offices are sick with one malady or another, but I wanted to try to change the mood and vibe of one office I stopped in.  What better way to do that than with an impromptu drop in from a man who desperately wants to pretend to be Santa?  A woman was checking out from their doctor's appointment when they stepped away from the desk for a moment.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I secretly paid for a stranger's co-pay.  Instead of a gift under the tree, the woman received a "Paid For" receipt in her hand.  I must now reward myself with cookies.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Day 333: Recorded A Video

One of the coolest and most unexpected aspects to this year has been the opportunity to meet with or interact with classrooms around the country.  I try to oblige any request to speak to classes because one of my core beliefs is that if we are going to change the world, it has to start by making a positive impact on the next generation.  It is extremely humbling to have the chance to talk about my story and the mission of 366 Random Acts, and I am still taken aback that people want to hear me speak (although many of my friends say that I love the sound of my own voice).  Whether it is going in person to speak to the kids at Kelly High School here in Chicago, or sending an email to the students at Challenger Intermediate School in Goddard, Kansas, I will do it.  In late September, I received an email from Katie Netland, a school teacher at East Junior High in Mankato, Minnesota and she had a request for me.  Mrs. Netland, a communications teacher for 7th and 8th graders at East Junior High, has started "Good People Friday" where she highlights generosity and kindness in the world so that her students can see how much of it is out there.  She told me that each Friday, she spends 3-5 minutes on topics relating to kindness, and asked me if I would be interested in doing a random act for her by recording a video to show the kids.  In the video, I would highlight the story of 366 Random Acts and challenge her students to perform their own kindness, be it once a day, once a week, once a quarter, whatever.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I recorded a video and sent it over to Mrs. Netland so that she can show her students on an upcoming "Good People Friday."  And if any of the students from East Junior High are reading this, I expect my inbox ( to be flooded with random acts!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Day 332: Gave Away My Mittens

This picture came up in a random Google Search and made me laugh.

Before I get into the random act, I want to remind everyone in the Chicagoland area (or those that will be here this weekend), you are all invited to the 366 Random Acts party this Friday.  The party will be at FatPour at 2005 W Division in Chicago, and a portion of each drink package (packages are $35) will go towards Project H.O.O.D.  You don't have to pay for a package either.  If you want to come hang out and have some fun, you are more than welcome!  It should be really cool.

Speaking of really cool, the temperature here in Chicago has dropped to the point where my wife has started her annual "We have to move back to California" diatribes.  When I left to go to work today, the wind hit me like a smack to the face, and I started thinking "Hmmm maybe she's right."  I went back into my house and got a thicker coat, scarf, and gloves because I knew I was going to have to walk around in the cold.  It is difficult to find the right balance between dressing warm and being overdressed, especially when I am going in and out of buildings.  A quick aside: why haven't malls figured out that they don't have to have the heat cranked to 3000 degrees during winter months.  When you go shopping, you always see people who are sweating even though they just came in from subzero temperatures.  I appreciate a respite from the cold, but I don't need to be cooked like a Christmas ham.  I will now step off my soapbox....Back to the act.  I was walking around having just exited a really hot building, and found myself sweating.  I am someone who, when they start to sweat just keeps sweating, so I was dreading my current situation.  That is when I saw a man sitting under the EL tracks asking for change.  I immediately thought back to Sunday, and how cold I was sitting on that street corner and wanted to help him out.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I gave away my mittens to the man because his hands looked like they were freezing.  I could always get another pair, but that man might not have had the same opportunity. 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 331: Took A Penny, Left 50 Pennies

Powerball is up to $425 million dollars, so I thought that I would swing by and buy a lottery ticket like millions of other people.  Lottery madness is hilarious to me because people will buy a ticket when it gets up to hundreds of millions of dollars, but won't be bothered with a "mere" $8 million jackpot. I guess I can't really throw stones because I am definitely one of those people.  I spend way too much time daydreaming what I would do with the money even though in my heart of hearts, I know I won't win.  However, it doesn't hurt to dream a little.  After taxes, I would take home about $194 million which is way more than I will ever need.  The first thing I would do is give $1 million to my friend Matt to pay off a bet that we made in college (I still can't believe I didn't know Mickey Rourke was in the Enrique Iglesias "Hero" video).  I would then take at least $50 million dollars, find 50 different charities, and donate $1 million a piece.  Then I would put a ton of money in savings for Isla, treat friends and family to a great trip (possibly to space or at a minimum, Tahiti), build a cul-de-sac of houses so that my friends and family can all live near one another, and buy myself a championship belt, Batmobile, and a painting of the final scene from Rocky 3.  I will also always remember that the reason I was able to win was because of the "Take A Penny, Leave A Penny" jar at the 7-11 I went to.  I rarely carry cash on me, but I had a bunch of change and wanted to use it to buy my lottery ticket (unbeknownst to me before today, you can't buy lottery tickets with a debit card).  However, I only had a single and 97 cents on me.  Luckily, there were like 10 cents worth of pennies in the jar, so I utilized it to get my ticket.  When I got back to my car, I realized that I had a roll of pennies from a previous random act in my glove box.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I took a penny and left 50 pennies for someone else to use.  If I can't be the one to win the lottery, maybe a person will use my pennies and buy me a Batmobile.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Day 330: Walked In Someone Else's Shoes

“You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” That quote is from the classic book "To Kill A Mockingbird" and it is what inspired my random act for today.  I've tried to do random acts to support the homeless throughout the year because I always imagine myself in that scenario and hold out hope that others would help if it was me.  While I think I have a basic understanding of how rough life is for them, I didn't think I could fully appreciate what they go through without experiencing it first hand.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I walked in someone else's shoes by posing as a homeless man on one of the busiest corners in the city.  I would then give all of the money collected to a person in need.

I am 6'3" and 200 lbs., but today I felt no bigger than Isla.  Hundreds upon hundreds of people walked by me without looking at or even acting as though I was invisible.  People whispered about me as they walked by, and some even snickered at me.  It actually got me pretty down and depressed.  However, every once in a while, someone would come up to me, ask me how I was doing, and put something into my tattered pink Solo cup.  Just having someone give me a quick smile and acknowledge my existence as a human being raised my spirits so much.  One man came over and tried to give me half of a deep dish pizza, so I had to let him in on what I was doing.  The one thing I kept noticing over and over again was that children kept asking their parents if they could give me something.  Sometimes the parents obliged, sometimes they didn't.  A child saw a penny on the ground, picked it up, and rather than keep it, came over to put it in my cup.  I told him to keep it for good luck.  A lot of people stopped to read the above sign, and I truly think that people gave me change because I had that Aesop quote rather than asking for something.  After a few hours, I noticed that I had collected nearly $20, mostly because, unbeknownst to me, a person had put in a $10 bill wrapped in a $1 bill.  Near the end of my time on the corner, a woman came up asking the dozens of people huddled there if they could spare any change for a meal.  No one gave her the time of day, so I got up, walked over to her and told her she could take everything that had been donated to me that day.  The looks on the people's faces as they saw a "homeless" man give all of his money to another homeless person were unforgettable.  My hope is that at least one person saw this exchange and put some thought into giving to others this holiday season.  I know that many people don't feel comfortable giving cash or change to homeless people because "they'll spend it on booze and drugs."  However, the kindness comes in the act of giving.  Whatever the person does with the money is on them.  If you want to, a simple hello, smile or extra slice of pizza could probably make someone's day.  I know it made mine. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day 329: Baked Cookies For A Fundraising Bake Sale

This morning, my family headed out like The Griswolds to pick out our Christmas tree.  Rather than driving out to the middle of nowhere like in the movie, we instead went to Home Depot (really traditional right?).  It only took us a few seconds to find the perfect tree for our house, and after a little bit of trimming, we got it in the car.  Isla sat in the back seat with the tree and spent the whole car ride staring at it.  She was probably plotting out which branches she would be stealing ornaments off of.  She has become quite the hoarder/thief lately.  We went through her toy wagon yesterday and found socks, wipes, a box of rice, a DVD, assorted dog toys, and a maternity book.  I am sure there is stuff hidden all throughout the house that we think is lost, but is simply where Isla wants it.  She just went down for a nap, but when she wakes up, she is going to help Lindsey and I decorate our Christmas tree.  It is tradition for us to go pick out our tree early in the morning, and then spend the day decorating, watching football, and drinking mulled wine (Don't worry, Isla will have almond milk).  Another tradition that is more my wife's thing is baking delicious cookies that I spend all day nibbling on.  That tradition is still happening, but today it won't just be me sampling her baked goodness.  In September, for one of my random acts, I washed a dog for the annual dog wash event put on by C.A.R.E. Animal Shelter in Evanston.  I met a lot of great people that day, and have kept in contact with Karey, one of the most enthusiastic, enjoyable people I have met during my random acts.  Karey let me know of a Holiday Faire fundraiser that the shelter was having where people could buy arts and crafts, participate in a silent auction, take your animal's picture with Santa, and purchase assorted baked goods on their Cookie Walk.  I mentioned to Karey that I would be more than happy to help, and that my wife was a tremendous amateur chef.  However, since I have to be involved in the random acts, I needed to help.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I baked cookies and donated them to the C.A.R.E. Holiday Faire.  I wish we could attend the fair, but we have a ton of work to do here around the house.  If you are in the Evanston area today, you should definitely stop by.  All proceeds from the Faire go towards helping C.A.R.E. provide the utmost care to unwanted and abandoned animals.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Day 328: Shared Hot Chocolate With People Working In The Cold

A while back on this journey, I met (via the internet) a man name Todd.  Todd and his son started 500 Kindnesses, a charity bike ride from Toronto to New York City.  In lieu of pledging money, Todd asked people to pledge an act of kindness instead, and for each act of kindness, he would donate $1.  Todd is actually going to do another bike ride next year from Toronto to Mobile, Alabama!  A few weeks ago, I received a message from Todd where he mentioned that he was launching an event for Black Friday called "Share Something Day."  Rather than a day of crazy shopping, Todd asked that people share something with another person (donate blood, share a cab, etc.).  I let him know that I would be willing to participate in "Share Something Day" for my random act today.

I'm pretty sure I have mentioned on this blog before that I am not the most handy person in the world.  I am trying to become more of a Mr. Fix-It, but it is a slow process.  Many times, I need help when things run amok in my house, and luckily I have a couple of guys I can always look to.  Reggie and Artur are my building's engineers, and they, along with our building manager Jennifer, make sure that our building always runs smoothly.  Whether it is fixing something, coordinating building initiatives, or, like today, decorating the building for the holidays, Jennifer, Reggie, and Artur are always on top of things.  As I said, today is the day that they decorate our building for the holidays, and it is always one that stands out on our block.  Unfortunately, the crazy Chicago weather has dropped 30 degrees and kicked up to 30+ MPH winds.  They are still out there chugging along though.  When Lindsey, Isla, and I got back from shopping, we were super cold, so we planned on making some hot chocolate.  We thought that we should definitely share some with Jennifer, Reggie, Artur, and a resident of our building, Cindy.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I shared hot chocolate with people working in the cold!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Day 327: Passed Out Turkey Dinners To Homeless People

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!  I hope everyone is having a tremendous day and evening with their families, although I am sure that is pretty tough in households that cheer for the Dallas Cowboys!  I want to be sure to give a special Thanksgiving greeting (and Thank You) to all of the soldiers serving overseas who can't be home with their families this holiday season.  We just got home from Thanksgiving dinner at my parent's house, and I must say that I am quite proud of myself.  I held myself to only one plate and only 1 biscuit (2 plates and a hoard of biscuits are my usual M.O.).  Since their were only 6 of us at Thanksgiving and my wife and mom cook for 20, there were a bunch of leftovers.  Typically this results in a week's worth of turkey sandwiches with rewarmed mashed potatoes but this year we decided to do something a little different.  We all really appreciate all of the things we are afforded in life, and understand that there are many people out there less fortunate than us.  There are people who tonight, rather than sharing a holiday with their family, are spending the night on the street in search of a meal.  For a few folks, my family and I hope to change that.  So today, for a Thanksgiving random act of kindness, my family put together turkey dinners and I am about to go pass them out to homeless people.  Rather than eat that second plate of food, maybe put one together and join me in finding someone who truly needs it.  If every person who reads this passed up on a leftover meal, and instead handed one out to someone in need, think of all the people we could help tonight.  I am so thankful for what I have in life: my family, my friends, my job, and all of you who read this.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 326: Bought Someone's Thanksgiving Dinner

Grocery stores the night before Thanksgiving is a terrifying place to be.  Not only is it packed to the doors with people, but the shelves look like the entire city of Chicago were stocking up for Y2K.  My wife sent me out to the store for 3 items: coffee, 2 sweet potatoes, and eggs (thankfully not for the same dish).  I figured I could navigate the masses, grab my items and bang out of there with ease.  Not the case.  I was able to get my items rather quickly (the only set back was my indecisiveness selecting the coffee), but when I got to checkout, the lines looked like people were waiting for the new roller coaster at Six Flags.  However, the long line gave me the opportunity to observe my surroundings.  I saw a father and daughter discussing the intricacies of making a perfect turkey.  There was a teenage girl and her little brother who were doing the grocery shopping for their family.  I saw an older man buying beer and wine, all while letting the teller know how much he and his brothers were going to be enjoying those libations tomorrow.  Seeing all of these interactions reminded me of just why I loved Thanksgiving so  I love being able to get together, celebrate our traditions (typically revolving around which food to eat and which poker games to play), and being comfortable enough to unbutton my pants when I ate too much.  I got so excited that I wanted to utilize my excitement for kindness.  I saw that the grocery store had a promotion going where you were able to pay for the Thanksgiving dinner for a less fortunate family in the area.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I bought someone's Thanksgiving dinner. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 325: Donated Food To The Greater Chicago Food Depository

As the holidays start to approach, so starts my usual holiday blues.  Don't get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving and Christmas as much as anyone else, but it also makes me think.  It makes me think about all of the people out there who are struggling financially, emotionally, etc. and how I don't have the power to help them all.  One thing that really strikes me is that on days like Thanksgiving, when we destroy copious amounts of food, there are many others out there that are simply looking for something...anything to eat. 

My wife is pretty diligent about her grocery shopping.  On Sundays, she plans exactly what we are going to be eating for the whole week, writes it on her chalkboard menu, and goes and buys the exact groceries she will need.  When he have family get-togethers like Thanksgiving, she becomes uber prepared and buys all of the items she needs well in advance.  Well I started thinking about what I wanted to do on different days this week, and one thing that I have wanted to do all year was donate food to a local food depository.  My wife has done all of our grocery shopping for everything that we are going to make for Thanksgiving, so our pantry is all stocked.  So when I asked my wife if we could donate many of the Thanksgiving staples (cranberry sauce, pumpkin, corn) and other foods, I was expecting a wee little bit of push back.  Not because she didn't want to give up those items, but because my wife is a planner to the utmost degree (anyone out there married to a teacher can understand what I mean).  However, I was definitely wrong because my wife was more than willing to give up those items.  So today, for my random act of kindness, my family donated food to the Greater Chicago Food Depository near our house.  Hopefully another family out there can forget about having to worry about putting food on the table and just enjoy one another's company.   For those in Chicago, if you would like to donate to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, you can find the nearest location here.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Day 324: Helped A Woman Pick Up Spilled Groceries

Today was one of those days where I didn't have anything in mind for my random act and wanted to see if an opportunity for kindness reared its' head.  I got kind of scared because I had such a hectic, heads down work day that I hadn't come across anything that I could do.  I went to physical therapy for my back after work, and the entire time I was wracking my brain trying to think of what I could do.  It actually made my normally relaxing post PT massage quite anxiety filled.  I left physical therapy thinking that it had finally happened: I was going to go a day without doing a random act.  But happened.  On my way home, I was walking past Treasure Island grocery story when I saw a young woman carrying WAY too many groceries to her car.  Before I had the opportunity to offer to carry them, she spilled the bags on the ground and all of the groceries spilled out.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I helped a woman pick up spilled groceries, put them back into her bag, and the load them into her car.  I think I kind of creeped her out because after she thanked me I said, "No. Thank you.  You have helped me more than you know."  It didn't hit me until I was halfway down the block how insanely oddball that sounded.  I should have explained what I meant and how she helped my random acts, but now I am sitting here wondering if this girl is sitting at home telling her friends about the creep who picked up her groceries.  I hope this doesn't negate my act.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Day 323: Sent Some Belongings To A Family In Need

Although it was nearly a month ago now, the effects of Hurricane Sandy are still being felt by millions of people on the East Coast.  So many families lost everything that they had, and will have to start putting their lives together piece by piece.  My friend and former boss, Bryan, posted a few weeks ago about how his mother lost her entire home in the storm.  In his post, he said he wasn't bringing up his mother to bring attention to her specific situation, but used her as an example of how, even in the fact of a terrible tragedy, the kindness of others helped so many people.  Near the end of the post Bryan issued a "challenge' of sorts.  He said if we knew of anyone affected by the storm to do something for them: send a meal, some clothes, etc.  He then specifically referenced a couple with 3 young children who lost their home and every possession they had.  Even though I didn't know this family, I knew that I wanted to do something to help them out, mostly because of how inspiring Bryan's call to action was.  So today, for my random act of kindness, my family and I got some belongings from around our house (clothes, baby stuff, etc.) and sent it to a family in need.  There are many other people in the same situation as this family, so if you have anything that you could give, please take some time to do so.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to shed light on something that Bryan is doing in the near future.  In September of next year, Bryan will be competing in the Ironman Lake Tahoe to raise money for wounded veterans returning home from overseas.  If you get a chance, you can read more about it at his blog here.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Day 322: Sent A Special Wedding Congrats

The year of weddings continues!  Later this afternoon, Lindsey and I are going to have the honor of performing a reading at the wedding of our friends Chas and Liz.  A number of my fraternity brothers are in town for it, so I know it will be a blast with this solid group of guys.  Now that my back is feeling 198% better, I can finally perform on the dance floor like I used to.  There will be plenty of Gangnam Style in my future.  Although I am super excited to attend the wedding today, unfortunately, another one of my great friends is getting married across the country in California.  I met Waseem back in 2005 right after I moved to California and we quickly became friends after that.  If you didn't know Waseem and I knew each other, you would actually probably think we couldn't stand one other if you saw us interacting.  Reason being, we argue about sports about 90% of the time that we are together.  One time at a Bears-49ers preseason game at Candlestick Park, security was almost called to our section because people thought an actual fight was going to break out.  When I see Waseem and his soon to be bride Erica, it reminds me a whole lot of my relationship with Lindsey.  In the same way that Lindsey helped me to mature a little, I see that Erica does the same for The Fahms.  Well, since we couldn't be there for their nuptials, I wanted to do something special for the couple.  Waseem is a gigantic fan of Bay Area sports, and more specifically, the 49ers.  Through my friend Joe, I was able to get in contact with Super Bowl Champion and 49er great, Roger Craig to see if he might be able to help me.  Instead of sending a run of the mill wedding card for Waseem and Erica, Roger offered to send a congratulatory message on our behalf...on a football.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I sent a special wedding congrats to the happy couple from my family and Roger Craig.  I hope it makes Waseem happy on his special day because I know come Monday, when the Bears beat the 49ers without our starting quarterback, he will be kind of sad before his honeymoon.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Day 321: Tried To Get The FDA To Approve A Drug

Martin McGarry in his boxing days

One of my favorite random acts this year was way back on Day 33 when I took Army Staff Sergeant John La Giglia and his family to a Northwestern basketball game.   Lindsey and I had a great time with them, and I have been in contact with the La Giglia's on and off this year.  Recently, Mel (John's wife), reached out to me with a suggestion for a random act of kindness for a neighborhood friend of theirs.  In February of this year, the father of their friend, Martin McGarry, was diagnosed with an extremely rare and fatal disease called Familial Amyloidosis.  Familial Amyloidosis, which has already taken the life of Martin's mother and two brothers, is a hereditary disease which causes the liver to create misfolded protiens and leads to pain, lack of mobility, heart deterioration, and impairment of the nervous system.  As of now, there is only one drug, Tafamidis, available that slows down the progression of the disease, but it isn't available here in the United States due to a lack of FDA approval.  For the family to get the drug, they would have to go through overseas manufacturers which is quite expensive and not covered by insurance companies.  The drug is currently in the process of being approved by the FDA, but for Martin and many others, time is of the essence.  Martin's family has put together a petition at to try to get the FDA to speed up the approval process.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I tried to get the FDA to approve a drug by signing a petition on behalf of the McGarry family.  The petition only needs less than 90 signatures, so if you have a couple of seconds, please go to this link and sign the petition.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Day 320: Encouraged My Parents On Their Mission To Quit Smoking

Stinky hair and clothes.  Yellow teeth.  Bad breath.  Wrinkles.  Cancer.  Oh, and death.  SMOKING IS AWESOME!!!!! It seems to me that there really aren't any benefits to smoking (well, unless you consider looking like Keith Richards a positive thing).  Before Isla was born, Lindsey and I let our parents know that if they wanted to hold her, they couldn't have any cigarettes beforehand, and they would have to wash their hands profusely to get any smell/residue off of themselves.  We had hoped that this tactic would make them quit smoking altogether, but alas, it has not.  I completely understand and appreciate that it is a difficult addiction to kick, but I want them to get healthy.  There are nearly 500,000 deaths per year from smoking related illnesses, and I don't want to see them become a statistic.  In the past, my ways of trying to get them to stop smoking has ranged from stealing and destroying their cigarettes to being extremely sarcastic about their smoking to just being downright rude about it.  As I have gotten more mature (on a relative basis to my own levels of maturity), I've realized that I was going about this the wrong way.  If my random acts have taught me anything, it is that I need to be more of a support system for them since quitting an addiction has got to be tough.  The American Cancer Society Great American Smoke Out is today, and it gave me the inspiration to help my mom, stepdad and mother-in-law all quit smoking.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I am going to start encouraging (in a positive way) my parents on their mission to quit smoking.  I am going to stay on top of them in their attempts to kick this nasty habit, but rather than just be rude about it, I am going to realize it is a tough process.  Hell, I might even start bugging my friends who smoke about quitting too.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Day 319: Wrote A Get Well Soon Message

When I was a kid, I messed up my knee playing football and had to spend 36 hours at the hospital (I was a klutzy, injury prone kid.  My mom tells the story best, but she arrived a little late to the game, saw an ambulance on the field and jokingly said "I bet it's Ryan."  It was).  My memories of my stay are pretty foggy, but there are a few things that I remember distinctly.  I remember how I was on a steady diet of Jell-O and how I can't eat the stuff to this day (this does not include the occasional tailgate Jell-O shot).  I remember how hard it was to go to the bathroom when you had to wheel around the IV stand wherever you went.  I also remember how great it felt to receive "Get Well Soon" wishes from friends and family.  My mom was there with me the whole time, but on the occasions where she went to go eat, talk to nurses, etc. I realized just how lonely of a place hospital rooms can be.  That is why when I received those calls, it was really uplifting. 

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned my "sista from another mista," Angela, and how she helped me in planning a surprise visit to see my sister, Tiffany, in Florida.  Well yesterday, Angela's father, Mike, had to undergo surgery to replace his knee, and is set to spend the next 3 days in the hospital for recovery.  When I heard "hospital" and "knee," I instantly started to think about my injury and remembered how great it felt to hear from people.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I wrote a Get Well Soon message to Mike using the hospitals Email-A-Patient feature.  I didn't know that hospitals had this, but it is an awesome tool to take advantage of should you know anybody who is laid up eating Jell-O and Salisbury Steak while recovering from something.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day 318: 31 Favors

Today at 12:47 PM, I am officially 31 years of age.  Wow.  I am an old man.  It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting on the floor coloring with crayons and watching cartoons.  Well, I guess I was doing those things yesterday, but it was while playing with my daughter.  Ah, who am I kidding?  Isla went off to bed and I continued coloring and watching cartoons.  Either way, lack of maturity not withstanding, it is insane to me when I think about where my life is right now.  I have a gorgeous, caring wife, a beautiful, hilarious daughter, a loving family, and great friends.  There are things in life that I still wish to achieve, but if I took a snapshot of my life right now, in 50 years I could look back and say I was a pretty lucky guy.  I wouldn't have been able to get to this point without the help of all those people, and for that help, I say am truly thankful.  I wanted to do something for my birthday that would incorporate my age (31) and also the random acts of kindness.  31 is the number of flavors at Baskin Robbins, but it is too cold to hand out 31 ice cream cones to people.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I decided to drop the "L" from flavors and do 31 favors for people.  Tonight, I will try to update my favors here on the blog. 

Favors Update: Thus far, I have held the door open for at least 5 people, held a woman who was texting on her phone back from crossing the street when a car was coming, gave change to 2 homeless men, gave my daughter a kiss from my mom (her request), let 3 people go ahead of me in line at a coffee place, and was a reference for a friend looking for a job.  By my calculations, I still have to remember/perform 18 more favors.  Oh man, not a lot of time!!!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Day 317: Thanked The Veterans That I Know

Yesterday was Veteran's Day here in the United States, but since it fell on a Sunday, it was widely observed as a holiday.  I have many friends, family members, fraternity brothers, and acquaintances that have served in the Armed Forces, so it is really important to me that these heroes see their due.  I wish I could go around and buy them all a beer or a meal, but that isn't possible because of distance and financial constraints.  However, I did feel it was important to let them know that every single day of the year, not just on Veteran's Day, I am thankful for the sacrifices they have made.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I thanked the veterans that I know for their service and for making the world a safer place for my family.  Since I don't know every veteran out there, and I think there might be a few who read this blog, I want to say "Thank you" to all of you as well.  You all personify courage and what it really means to be a hero.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 316: Serenaded Strangers On A Street Corner

Last Tuesday, I asked all of you to vote via Facebook and email on which random act I would perform for Day 316.  You had your choice between having me dance like a fool in a public venue or sing random, improvisational songs to strangers.  By an overwhelming margin, you chose for me to sing to people.  When I was in high school, I aspired to be a part of a boy band, but I came to the eventual realization that I have a pretty awful singing voice.  That awful singing voice wasn't going to stop me from keeping my word though.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I serenade strangers on a street corner.  My wife and daughter helped out by holding the sign up for me, and I was excited by the amount of people who actually stopped for a song.  I was making up the words as I went along and the songs ranged from ballads to rap songs to "I'll Make Love To You" by Boyz II Men.  Everyone seemed pretty pleased even though they would have probably been better off listening the screaming newborn pterodactyls.  Luckily, my pupa stage mustache for Movember didn't scare too many people away.

Before I end this post, and with today being Veteran's Day, I wanted to make sure that I take an opportunity to thank all of the veterans of the United States Armed Forces.  Without all of you, I wouldn't have the opportunity to live in a world that allows me to do all of these crazy things.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Day 315: Awarded Medals At The Special Olympics

I have been to many different sporting events in my life.  You name it: baseball, basketball, football, hockey, soccer, cycling (Little 500!!!).  I save the ticket from each of these events and keep them in a box as a memory.  Each on of these games was memorable for one reason or another, and when I look at the tickets, it always makes me think about who I went with, what happened, etc.  Today, I went to a sporting event, and although I didn't get a ticket to put into my box, I was left with some memories I will cherish for the rest of my life. 

This morning/afternoon, I volunteered for the state floor hockey finals for Special Olympics Illinois.  Teams from all around the state came together to show off their impressive floor hockey skills, and I was lucky enough to be tasked with helping man the awards table.  Throughout the day, I was able to watch the best example of sportsmanship that I think I have ever seen.  The athletes were so excited, so talented, and so dedicated to their sport.  After each round of individual and team events, medals and trophies were handed out to the athletes.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I had the honor of awarding medals at the Special Olympics.  My wife and daughter joined me at the festivities and got to enjoy themselves at some of the matches.  I also wanted to give a special shout out to Ms. Kirsten Corbett and her Girl Scout troop who I joined in passing out the medals.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Day 314: Tried To Help A Puppy Find A Home

A few times this year, I have done random acts for animal shelters around the Chicagoland area.  Truth be told, I sometimes have trouble going to the shelters because I want to take all the animals home with me.  However, living in a small condo in a mid-rise building really doesn't lend itself to housing more than a 9 lb. Peke-A-Poo (Vinny) and a bouncing off the walls feline (Karen).  Even though I can't bring in all of these animals to my own home, I thought that maybe I could do something to at least help at least one of the animals find A home.  In an effort to not turn into a crazy cat lady, I decided to utilize the power of social media and this blog to help one of the little guys at P.A.W.S. Chicago find a family that will take them in and love them.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I tried to help a puppy find a home.  The little bundle of big eared joy you see above is Archie, a 4 month old Chihuahua puppy.  Archie is a bouncy little chap who would be so excited to go home with a family that appreciates his Will Smith-esque ears.  For more information about Archie, you can visit his profile page (and my other furry friends' pages) on the P.A.W.S. Chicago website.  Tonight also happens to be the P.A.W.S. Chicago 2012 Fur Ball, a gala event where you can "walk the red carpet with your furry friend" with all proceeds going to saving homeless cats and dogs.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Day 313: Gave Up My Parking Spot

Today was one of the more stressful driving days I have had in a while.  For some reason, every single route that I took throughout the course of my day, it seemed that there was construction or fender benders holding up traffic.  Due to the fact that there is so much concurrent construction, there was a severe lack of parking spaces in the places I worked today.  I was running slightly behind for an appointment and couldn't find parking.  I had circled the area 3 or 4 times when I spotted a car pulling away out of the corner of my eye.  I instantly beelined it to the parking spot and pulled right in.  As I got out of my car to pay for my parking, I noticed there was a guy in his car who looked terribly stressed out and seemed to be looking for a spot as well.  I took a look at the clock on my phone and realized I still had some time to spare.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I gave up my parking spot to the man.  I found out right after that the man had a number of packages that he was bringing in to the building nearby, so he was super thankful.  Lucky for me, it surprisingly didn't take me too long to find a spot and I made my appointment on time. 

366 Random Acts Reunion/Benefit Party!

I am always one who enjoys a great party, so I thought to myself, "Self, why not, for one of your random acts, throw a party to thank all of the people who have followed/helped with your random acts.  Also Self, maybe you should make it so that all the proceeds from that party will go towards a great cause."  So that is what I have decided to do.  With help from Chicago Beers Geeks and The Chicago Photobooth Company, on November 30th, for Day 335, I am going to be throwing a party at FatPour in Chicago for my friends, family, strangers, random act recipients, random acts readers, and anyone else who wants to come join the fun.  You can read more about the party here, but I look forward to having a blast with you. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day 312: Apologized For Being A Bully As A Child

366 Random Acts was created as a way for me to set a positive example for my daughter and as a way for her to put others before herself.  I want Isla to grow up as someone who lives by the Golden Rule and treats each and every person she meets in her life with the utmost love and respect.  One of ways that I am going to best be able to raise Isla in this way is to look back through my own life, see mistakes I have made and teach her to avoid and learn from them.  

As I've said on here before, I've always been pretty positive and good-natured, and that was true even going back to my childhood.  However, after doing some pretty serious introspection, I realized that there were instances where I didn't act in a way that I want Isla to act.  Maybe it had to do with my own insecurities or maybe it was my own (albeit terrible) way of dealing with the anger that I had from my parents divorcing, but in looking back at myself in elementary school, I was sometimes a verbal bully.  I'd join in or even lead groups of people in lobbing insults and horrible nicknames at fellow classmates who weren't in my "clique" of friends.  I was really Jekyll and Hyde because when I wasn't among a group of my peers, I would never think to act that way.  My mom always raised me to treat others respectfully and looking back, it seems as though I let her down from time to time.  Now I could chalk it up to youthful ignorance, but I know that I won't take that excuse from Isla when she is older. When I watch the news and I keep seeing story after story of these kids who turn to suicide from being bullied, I am thankful that my words never lead to that but am saddened that it even could have happened.  I wanted to let the people that I tormented know that I was extremely sorry for the way that I acted.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I apologized to them for being a bully as a child.  If you or anyone that you know is affected by bullying (or is the bully themselves), please visit one of the following sites for help, advice, outlets to help.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 311: Stood Up For A Stranger Being Mistreated

It is Election Day here in the United States, and it is a day that I always get super excited about.  I truly appreciate the ability to vote and exercise that right whenever I have the chance.  I always think about the men and women of the armed forces and everything they have sacrificed in order to give every American this right.  Regardless of political affiliation, one should take a ton of pride in the fact that they have the ability to vote for the leaders of our country.

This morning, I headed over to my local polling place to vote.  Luckily, there wasn't too long of a line, so I knew that I would be able to get my voting done and not cut in to my work day at all.  I quickly made my way up to show my voter registration card and collect my ballot, and then the line stopped moving.  That is because the man in front of me had was berating the volunteer worker because his ballot was not in the master booklet.  She was so sweet to him, and offered to call the other nearby precincts to ensure that he was not at the wrong polling place.  However, this did not pacify the man, and he kept pouring it on by calling the woman inept and saying she didn't know what she was doing.  It got to the point where the entire room had stopped voting and were just staring at the interaction.  Finally I had enough of seeing this woman being shouted at by the man.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I stood up for the woman and told the man he needed to calm down.  I sarcastically told the man that the woman had a vendetta against him and manufactured the booklet so that he couldn't vote.  I told him that this woman had taken time out of her day to volunteer here, and she didn't sign up to be verbally harassed by someone.  The man left the polling place, and the woman thanked me for stepping in.  Within 1 minute of a phone call (a phone call the man said not to make), she found out that he was in the wrong location and could have told him the correct one to go to if he had just settled down.  There is way too much misplaced anger in this world, and people need to stop, take a breath, and put themselves in others' shoes before losing their mind. 

Before I go today, and in the spirit of Election Day, please go to the 366 Random Acts Facebook Page and vote on what Day 316 should be! Thanks!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Day 310: Texted REDCROSS to 90999

About 7 years ago, after moving to California, I was still in the process of looking for my first job out of college.  Since I didn't have much to do during the days that I didn't have interviews, I pretty much sat at home watching TV.  It was only a few weeks after I had moved to California that Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast.  I watched the television coverage of the storm and aftermath non-stop in those days after Katrina hit.  I wanted so badly to go to New Orleans and help those who had been affected by the storm, but didn't have the means or funds to do so.  It really shook me because I chose moving to California over moving to New Orleans with another friend of mine. We took a road trip there in college and I had fallen in love with the city.  I was lucky that I picked California, but I was so saddened by what I was seeing.  I sat there in my apartment watching these people who had lost everything, loved ones, homes, etc., and I was powerless to truly help them.  I was reminded of those feelings this past week when I watched the devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought on the East Coast.  People killed, homes destroyed, lives changed forever.  I have many friends that live in the areas that were directly impacted by Sandy like my friend Pat and all of my co-workers from ZocDoc.  Fortunately, everyone that I know is accounted for, safe, and for the most part unaffected by the destruction.  However, this isn't the case for so many out there.  7 years after Katrina, I am in a better place financially than I was as a fresh college grad, so I can at least do my small part to help.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I texted REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 to the relief efforts on the East Coast.  I want to do more.  I hope to do more.  I need to do more.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day 309: Spared Some Change

After a hectic plane ride home due to a very exhausted, screaming 14-month old, we finally were able to make it home...only to find that someone had parked their car in our spot leaving us unable to park and enter our house.  Luckily, a woman in our building was able to find the owner of the car so they could move it and we could put Isla to sleep (FINALLY!!) and relax a little bit before our work week begins tomorrow.  When we stepped outside from the airport, we quickly noticed that we were no longer in Florida.  It was pretty chilly before we left to go visit my sister, but I think being in 80 degree weather the past three days made me notice the cold even more.  Whenever it gets super cold out, I am reminded of the peril that homeless people go through during the Chicago winters.  I get really saddened that I don't own a high rise that would allow me to take everyone in off the streets.  On our drive home, we got off the highway at our exit and as per usual, a homeless man was waiting at the stop light at the end of the exit holding a sign asking for some change.  I usually don't carry cash or change on me, so most of the time I have to drive by the man who waits there (unless I have lunch or a snack).  However, I remembered that we had to make change earlier in the day for parking meters.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I spared some change for the man. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day 308: Trimmed A Tree

I had a bunch of help planning the surprise visit for my sister from her roommate and best friend, Angela.  Angela, who I have known my whole life and is "my sister from another mister", set up the logistics of getting Tiffany to the airport, making sure she didn't have plans or leave town, and making sure everyone around her didn't let Tiffany know the secret.  Without her, the surprise wouldn't have gone off without a hitch.  I felt the need to thank her, but I wasn't sure exactly what to do.  A thank you card? A hug and handshake?  Nah.  Then I realized that I should find a way to do a random act for her.  Earlier today, Angela was talking about how her kitchen faucet kept leaking.  I thought I would find a way to fix the leaky faucet for her as my random act.  However, within 1 minute of trying to fix it, I realized that there was a zero percent chance that I was going to be able to.  Luckily, Angela had also mentioned that she needed to trim the palm tree in her front yard.  I've never trimmed a palm tree (or any tree for that matter) before, but I thought I would give it a go.  So today, for my random act of kindness, I trimmed a tree in Angela's front yard.  I'm pretty confident that it still needs work from a lawn care professional, but she was happy that I at least got it started.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day 307: Made A Surprise Visit

This one has to be pretty brief because we are about to go out to dinner. I couldn't type it earlier because I had to keep the surprise factor going. My sister has lived in Tampa for almost 2 years now, and we haven't had the opportunity to go down as a family to see her. Well it has been far too long and that needed to change. So today, for my random act of kindness, I, along with my wife and daughter, made a surprise visit down to see my sister in Florida. She was completely shocked and it took her a while before she fully realized that we were here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day 306: Grew A Mustache

To the children that read this blog (and to their parents), I apologize for just how creepy the above picture is.  I joined a group of fraternities brothers in growing gnarly staches way back in 2005 for the annual Little 500 at Indiana University (The World's Greatest College Weekend for those that don't know.  Also for those that don't know, the mighty Hoosiers are the #1 team in the nation).  While I would love to take full credit for just how glorious that mustache looks, I must admit that due to the prepubescent way that my face grows hair, it was colored in by a girl's mascara.  Tom Selleck I am not.  Since then, I haven't attempted to grow any lip spinach both because I work in a job where I have to meet face to face with people, and because I knew that I could never grow a respectable stache.  Well that changes starting today. 

Since 2004, The Movember Foundation (or Mo Bros) have raised funds for and brought about awareness to men's issues such as testicular and prostate cancer through their annual Movember campaign.  Movember requires participating men to grow the most handsome and stylish mustache possible by adhering to the following rules:

  1. Once registered at each mo bro must begin the 1st of Movember with a clean shaven face.
  2. For the entire month of November each mo bro must grow and groom a moustache.
  3. There is to be no joining of the mo to [one's] sideburns. (That’s considered a beard.)
  4. There is to be no joining of the handlebars to [one's] chin. (That’s considered a goatee.)
  5. Each mo bro must conduct himself like a true country gentleman.

So today, for my random act of kindness, I am starting grow a mustache for the entire month of November.  If you would like to be a part of the Random Acts Movember Team (366 Random Staches), please feel free to do so and join us in all of our mustachioed glory.