Thursday, November 29

i'm a big girl now

I drove a coworker and myself to the Pittsburgh airport and back for our trip to Chicago. It went off without a hitch. This was my first time driving to/from Pittsburgh. It did help to have a navigator--it's tough for me to read directions while driving.

The trip was ok. We even made it to Chicago earlier than expected, but we took a shuttle to the RSNA and it took forever to get there, so we ended up there later than expected--we got there in time for lunch. Afterwards, our manager gave us the tour. And, I was able to find out from him why we were sent--they always send the new employees. So, I shouldn't have to do this again next year. We managed to run into a few of our former coworkers. It was nice to see them again. We were only at the conference for a few hours before it was time to head to the hotel. We got checked in, cleaned up, and then headed out to a Fuji-sponsored party at the Chicago House of Blues. Fuji brought in RPM as the entertainment. Musically, they were good, but their song selection was more suited to the 40 and over crowd. There was this one guy from Fuji that joined the band for a song in each of their sets and he was really, really good. I would've rather listened to him sing all night. He did R&B style music and was definitely the best singer there of the evening.

The next day, we didn't have to be at the conference till 10am, which was good because it gave us an opportunity to catch up on our sleep. We caught breakfast at Panera--yum. We could use one of these in Johnstown! We headed to the conference for another few hours. We walked around looking for swag for Jake (not much was to be found) and poorly created marketing materials for Brian's "potential client file" (there was plenty of that to go around from the smaller vendors). Before we knew it, it was time for lunch and also time to go back to the airport. The airplane ride home was a bit bumpy, but otherwise ok. Till I dropped my coworker off in Somerset and got home it was after 10pm. It was a tiring couple of days.

Unfortunately, due to the short nature of the trip, we didn't get to explore any of the city. I definitely would like to go back there some day (on vacation) and check things out. It looks like it would be a nice place to visit.

Monday, November 26

the mud bowl

Tonight's Steeler game should be interesting if it ever starts. Hopefully it will begin before I have to go to bed, which will be earlier than usual tonight since I'm leaving for the Pittsburgh Airport at 6am tomorrow morning. Just what I like to do--travel. Not. This time, I'm going to the RSNA in Chicago. My favorite city. Again, not. Actually I'm sure Chicago is a very nice city--it's O'Hare airport that I hate. Anyway, another developer and I have to go to the aforementioned trade show Tuesday and Wednesday. I'm not sure why, exactly (that is, we've not been assigned any duties), but you gotta do what you gotta do. I guess we'll walk around and look for ex-coworkers. There are going to be a bunch of them there, that much I know. But, we're only going to be there tomorrow afternoon and Wednesday morning, and then we're heading home. Seems like a lot of rigamarole if you ask me. On the other hand, I'd much rather go for the one night than the entire week.

It looks like the weather is supposed to clear up by late morning, so I guess there's not much of a chance my flight will be canceled. So barring any unforseen circumstances, I'll be on my way to Chicago in the morning. Otherwise, I'll be happily posting tomorrow evening.

Well, the game has finally started, so I better watch while I still can. The Steelers are off to another crappy start.

Sunday, November 25

harry potter and the deathly hallows

This was the final story in the Harry Potter series. It started off a bit slow, but once I got about half way through (no small feat considering that it weighs in at 759 pages) I found it to be pretty engrossing. It's always a good sign when I'm plotting time to read a book and I definitely did that with this one. It's kind of sad that the series has ended. I wonder what, if anything, we will see next from J.K. Rowling. One thing's for sure, she deserves kudos for getting kids interested in reading.

Saturday, November 24

inside man

This was a great movie...till the end. It was about a bank robbery and starred two of my favorites, Clive Owen (as the bad guy) and Denzel Washington (as the good guy). The movie had us on the edge of our seats until the very end. But, that's where things went downhill fast. I wasn't a big fan of the ending. Some of the plot elements were a bit contrived. Still, I did like the movie overall and would recommend it.

Friday, November 23

i like not working

I so much enjoyed being off work today. My paid time off being cut in half because of switching jobs this year really makes me appreciate the days I am off. I didn't even do anything exciting today. Actually, I did most of my Saturday work (laundry), so that pretty much frees up tomorrow. No naps today, unfortunately. I got plenty of sleep the past two nights. If I keep this up, I'll be up all night Sunday. I got to do some fun stuff too, like reading and playing pool. Brian had to work, but he's not adverse to a lunchtime game or three of pool. I also spent a bunch of money while shopping on the internet today (some of it was Christmas shopping), so it's not like I would be happily unemployed or anything. I just really need to win the powerball.

Thursday, November 22

thanksgiving 2007

Another holiday has come and gone. Things were pretty laid back this Thanksgiving. As previously mentioned, only my parents came over for dinner. I took a half day off work yesterday, but as it turned out, I didn't do much in preparation for the holiday. But I did get a few things done outside since the weather was so nice.

This morning, I got up at the crack of 8:30 and put on the turkey breasts (no one in my family likes dark meat). I had thought about doing the turkey breasts on the grill, but then I remembered the gravy. So much for that idea. I spent the rest of the morning in the kitchen since I didn't do any prep yesterday. Jake made some nice decorations and put name tags where everyone was to sit. He likes doing the seating arrangements for some reason. I think he just likes telling people what to do. I wonder where he gets that from?

My parents got here a little after noon. I recruited my mom to help with the last of the cooking while Brian carved the turkey. Dinner was good. We had your normal Thanksgiving fare--nothing fancy. My mom brought the pies. Good thing or I would've been prepping yesterday for sure. My mom and I sat around talking most of the afternoon. Brian, Jake, and my dad did manly things like playing pool and trying to determine why Brian's table saw is broken.

Jake went home with my parents and is staying there the next two nights. It's funny--he doesn't like it when I have to travel for work, but he sure doesn't have a problem leaving the house any opportunity he gets.

Anyway, it was a nice, relaxing day and I'm looking forward to a few more nice, relaxing days over the long weekend.

Monday, November 19

ahh, the holidays

I've been trying to keep up with things this year, but I feel like I'm falling behind already. In a step to remedy this, I completed my 4th (and final) batch of Christmas cards this evening. Addressed them, too. If nothing else, at least those are ready to go.

Thanksgiving is going to be weird this year as only my parents are coming over for dinner. I keep threatening to make turkey dogs if some more people don't show up. Any volunteers? At least the house is relatively in order thanks to our glut of entertaining the past two months.

As for Christmas, I'm not done with my shopping yet! Normally, I'm done before Thanksgiving. I'll just blame this year on Thanksgiving being earlier than usual. Actually, I don't have too much left to do. There are a few things that I know I need to get but just haven't gotten around to the purchases yet. And there are a few "hard to buy for" people on the list. Regarding them, I have no idea what to do.

And then there's the mom called the other day to tell me what she's baking for Christmas. This was the same day I finally sat down and made up the Thanksgiving menu (you know, turkey dogs, sauerkraut, hot dog buns). Needless to say, I haven't made up my baking list yet. The past few years, I've only been doing three batches of cookies. But, I've also been making five batches of dog treats. These numbers seem to work for me as long as I start in early December and freeze everything. I've found that the dogs appreciate the treats way more than the people appreciate the cookies. Plus, it's not like we do a ton of entertaining over the holidays, so I'm usually left with a bunch of cookies that I have to eat. Jake does his best to help, but even he can only eat so many.

Sunday, November 18

inland empire

This was the latest film from David Lynch. It appears to have had a pretty limited theater run so we had to wait for the DVD release for this movie.

Like most David Lynch movies, this was a jumbled mess of stuff that didn't make sense. It did make me think a lot of Mulholland Drive, though. Perhaps it was the Hollywood connection.

I won't even try to summarize the plot, because that is not possible, but the main character was played by Laura Dern, who oftentimes has this expression on her face. So, we invented a new drinking game--every time you see that expression, you take a drink. As you might have noticed, that picture was taken from one of her Jurassic Park movies, so this game can be played while watching other Laura Dern movies, if David Lynch isn't your cup of tea. Unfortunately for us, by playing the drinking game, it took us two weeks to watch the movie because we kept passing out from our alcohol intake. Not really. But, it did take 2 nights because the movie was 3 hours long. It probably would've been better to watch it in one sitting, but I've got things to do.

And like most David Lynch movies, I'll have to ruminate over this one for a bit (and maybe watch it again) before I form a real opinion on it.

Wednesday, November 14

poor alice

At some point after I returned from my business trip last week, I noticed that Alice had a bump on her back. I didn't think too much of it because she's pretty much covered in bumps. But, this one grew at an alarming rate over the course of the weekend. By Monday, it was pretty huge. We planned on taking her to the vets on Tuesday, but by Tuesday morning, the bump had burst open and most of the swelling went down. We thought we'd give it another day and see how it was. It was still oozing stuff this morning, so I called the vet and Brian took her in for an appointment.

The vet isn't positive what it is, but she thinks it might be a cyst that got infected. Alice was put on a two-week course of antibiotics. We need to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't come back. You wouldn't know anything was wrong with her from the way she acts. Hopefully it will turn out to be nothing, but this brings back bad memories of two years ago when Ripley was sick right before Thanksgiving. Not that this episode has any similarities besides the time of year, but I could do without any doggy drama, for sure.

Sunday, November 11

steeler party

We had a few Steeler fans over to watch today's game. I guess you can call this our first real party in the bar (yes, we're now calling the family room "the bar". might as well call it what it is). Unlike my froufrou wine party last month, this party involved manly things such as beer, hot sausage, and football.

We asked everyone to bring a side dish, so this greatly decreased our workload. Even so the prep for the party was complicated by a number of cub scout-related activities yesterday. In the morning, Jake had to put door hangers on 10 houses on our street in preparation for next week's food drive. After that, Brian had to help unload the popcorn from the popcorn sale and this ended up taking longer than expected. At 4:00 Jake had a Veteran's Day parade. And, to complicate matters further, at 9pm Friday night, Jake got invited to a birthday party that was held yesterday at 2PM. As you can imagine, not much got done around the house yesterday morning or afternoon.

After the parade, my parents treated us to dinner at the Szechuan. After dinner we came home and got to work. Brian made some chili, I made some brownies, and we got everything else ready that we possibly could. After church today, we made the rest of the food and then waited for the guests to arrive.

The Steelers didn't look too hot for most of the game, but somehow they managed to pull off a win. It was a real nail biter. I thought for sure they were going to lose. People started trickling out after the game was over. By halftime of the 4:00 game, only one straggler was left and he ended up staying till halftime of the 8:00 game. I'll take that as a compliment.

I got in trouble (and I use that term loosely) for making too much food, but I don't know how Brian can say that when there were only 2 small containers of food left. At least we'll have something to eat for lunch the next 2 days. All of the food was great and I really appreciated everyone's efforts. The party could not have turned out better. Brian says it's the best one we've ever had, and in the end, I guess that's all that really matters.

Saturday, November 10

bottling nite

Actually, it was last night, but I didn't have time to post because I finally got the second disc from the second season of Weeds and couldn't wait to start watching it. We bottled our last two kits for the year, a Verdelho (never had that kind of wine before) and a Tempranillo/Cabernet Sauvignon blend. The Verdelho was good, but I think the Tempranillo/Cab blend might turn out to be really good--it had a nice, smoky flavor already. I can't wait to try it in a few months. Since I was a slacker with the wine this year (I really shouldn't be finishing up quite this late in the year), before you know it we'll be starting the whole process again. I found the 2008 kits on the internet last week and I think I've figured out what 4 of the 5 I will be ordering.

The wine racks are looking nice and full now. Brian's going to redo them at some point in the future (he's already created the design). The new racks will hold even more than the current ones, so I might have to make a few extra kits whenever that occurs so that they don't look bare. Nothing worse than bare wine racks. Now, when we're down to 150 bottles, it looks like there's nothing down there and, if you think about it, 150 bottles is kind of a lot of wine.

Wednesday, November 7

i said 7am

Yesterday, I was pretty tired. I spent the day at work and then came back to the hotel, ordered room service, and worked a few more hours. I probably should have gone to bed early, but I had to make some phone calls and I wanted to read a bit, so I got to bed at 11PM. My alarm was set for 6:50AM and my just-in-case wakeup call was at 7AM. I went to bed and fell right asleep. At 1AM, I was awoken by a racket--an alarm was sounding, I could hear some kind of announcement over the intercom. I looked out my window, which overlooks the interior courtyard and saw many other people doing the same thing. I also saw a bunch of people leaving the building.

I threw on some clothes and went into the hall (where the alarm was deafening). Once I got into the lobby area I could hear the announcement and it said something about an emergency and to exit the building. I stood outside for a while, but it was kind of chilly, so I went back into the lobby where a bunch of people were congregating and waited. A couple of firetrucks showed up and surrounded the building. After about 30 minutes of this, we were given the "all clear" to return to our rooms. They never actually told us what the problem was. All I heard was something about a "fire panel" needing reset.

I went back to the room and couldn't fall asleep, of course. At 2AM, I took one of my emergency benadryl that I bring along just in case I can't sleep (they always zonk me out), read a chapter from the latest Harry Potter book and finally fell asleep at 2:30.

This morning, I caught the hotel shuttle to the office and I mentioned last night to the driver. He said some drunk guy pulled a fire alarm. Nice.

So, thanks to the drunk asshat, I got to spend the day exhausted and it was quite a long day at that. I got to the office well before 8, worked all morning, then grabbed a sandwich and pretty much worked through lunch. The person I was traveling with this week (who, by the way wasn't woken up by the alarms. I don't understand how that could be possible) was unavailable for dinner both yesterday and today. When my manager found out about this, she offered to take me out for dinner tonight. The guy I report to (project lead) also came. We were supposed to go out at 5:30, but she got hung up in a call so we didn't leave the office till about 6:15, which didn't get me back here till 8:15. It was a nice dinner though and it was really nice of them to take me out.

That said, I'm still tired. I think I might try to go to bed a little earlier tonight. But, my day tomorrow shouldn't be too bad so it won't really matter if I'm tired or not--I'm coming home!

Tuesday, November 6

did you vote today?

If not, what's your excuse? I'm out of town and I even managed it--but just barely. As previously mentioned, I didn't know about this trip until two weeks before I had to make it. I was reading the newspaper one day that week and saw an article about the election, did the math, and figured out that I'd be out of town for it. I did a search online and found an absentee ballot application. Skirting the deadline, I mailed that in and received my absentee ballot a few days later.

It was actually a pretty cool way to vote because I could research the candidates online as I was making my decisions. Not that you can't research them before you go to your polling place, but this was a lot easier--no memorization! It was a pretty boring election, though. I can see why voters get apathetic. Never fear--next year will be much more interesting.

Monday, November 5

stamford. again.

Here I am in Stamford, CT again. This time for a design meeting for my next project. The one good thing I can say about this trip is that at least it's shorter than the last one. I came up here with another co-worker (we left at 11am this morning and made great time by the way--5.5 hours) and we should get out of here shortly after lunch on Thursday.

Jake took this trip particularly hard for some reason. I'm sure the fact that I've been bitching about it for two weeks (the point when I found out about it) probably doesn't help, so I'll have to keep that in mind for next time. I'm not sure why he was so upset--he goes to the grandparents' for days at a time and goes away on vacations with them as well and has no issues. I guess he doesn't like to have his world unbalanced. I can relate.

I hate to travel for work in case you haven't figured that out. I had my last job for 13 years and had to travel one time for it and I thought that was one time too many. I've had this job for a little over 6 months and this is my 3rd trip. And, I have another one planned for later this month (it's only one night, though). For a job that's supposed to have limited travel, I've definitely had my fill of it.

But, what can you do? It's a good job and I should probably shut up and be grateful that I have it.

Saturday, November 3

uncle buck

We had a "Family Movie Night" last night because why should Brian and I get to have all of the fun? We made some popcorn and the three of us watched Uncle Buck. It's been so long since I saw the movie that it was funny all over again. Brian supposedly has a whole list of movies like this up his sleeve so "Family Movie Night" is surely to become a Law family tradition.