Monday, July 30, 2007

First Day Florida

Subtitle: I really dislike Florida.... mostly...
I am in very southern Florida at the moment. Just barely mainland from the Keys. The flight out here wasn't too bad, although I should have eaten something in Charlotte. My flight there was delayed about 20 minutes I'm guessing (I didn't check my watch). This meant I didn't get into Miami airport until about 2. I'm hungry, but it can wait.
I have to say, I have an easier time getting onto the freeway from LAX than I did from Miami. That says something, because invariably I get turned around at least once leaving the Hertz lot at LAX. I also wasn't in a very "warm fuzzy feeling" part of town. Once I got onto the highways, I had to wade through traffic. I'm not sure what the first problem was, but the second was a spectacularly overturned pickup hauling an equally overturned RV trailer in the opposite lanes. It looked like everyone was OK, if shaken up, which is a good thing.
I check into my hotel. I agree with what the project engineer said about the place: it's OK. The room is clean, but run-down and smells a bit musty. At least the AC works. I've been pretty spoiled with some of the nice business type hotels I've been able to stay at, a 'vacation' hotel just doesn't work for me. (Although, I really enjoyed my hole-in-the-wall motel in California a few weeks ago. That had charm and overtones of fun family vacations. This is just run-down Florida...)
After checking the map, I decide to hold off on going to Biscayne park until Wednesday morning. (My flight home is at 2pm, which means I need to leave the area 11:30 or 12.) I decide instead to drive down to Key Largo (supposedly a half hour or so down Rt. 1) and see if I can find some beach and some food. Well, I didn't find much of either. At least not free public beaches. I found several clubs, resorts and parks that all had admissions fees. I used up the last of my cash paying the tolls on the way to the hotel. (I thought I had more in my wallet, but I guess not, I wish Mapquest would give you estimates on toll costs. Either that or rental car places would rent you the local version of EZPass. The PA one doesn't work in FLA... found that out in April.) I saw a few promising restaurants, but they were all pretty empty, and it was now after 5:00. I know that's a little early yet, but I tend to trust places that have busy parking lots. I end up down around mile marker 85 before I turn around. (I'm around marker 110 or something like that...) I end up eating at a Golden Corral and stuffing myself silly. (Hey, I'd had a pack of pretzels all day...)
Between having to pay just to look at the water and the fact that Florida is populated with people who cannot drive, I'm a little cranky. I truly hope tomorrow goes well. Like I think I've said earlier, this customer is a pain on a good day. At least I'm only about 10 minutes from the plant. The bad thing is, I've got to be there by 7am.
Pardon me for a moment.
Ok, I'm better now.
I may try again to find a place to watch the waves from tomorrow. If not, I'll explore what I can of the park on Wednesday morning. (I'm planing to make it a week of getting up early, just so I can hopefully have some beach time of some sort... Don't get me started that I haven't been able to make it to Delaware in 2 years and Mom was walking on the beach this morning. I can't complain really, she hasn't been in quite some time either.)
Well, I guess I should deal with the fact that the email inbox isn't getting any more empty the longer I write this. I hopefully will have some pictures to post later in the week, if the parks cooperate.
Have a good week and may the world not plot against you!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Utah... and stuff

It's been almost a week since I posted. It's not all my fault this time. I had absolutely no connection Wednesday through Friday. The hotel had a connection, I just couldn't get it to work and didn't try all that hard anyhow.
My trip out to Utah was OK. We circled Salt Lake City for a while because of a thunder storm. We ended up being diverted to Twin Falls (Idaho I think... I'm not sure...) to refuel and wait out the storm. Tiny little airport, I'm not sure they see many commercial planes. This means that I got into Salt Lake at 9pm local instead of 7pm. this means it is already 11:00 according to my body and I'm tired. Unfortunately, I've got another hour to 1.5 hours ahead of me to get the car, drive and get checked into the hotel. Gah. Tired.
The training on Thursday went well. Or I should say, was uneventful. Not extraordinarily good or bad, it just was.
I'm always amazed at the mountains in Utah. They just seem to spring up from nowhere. They are very pretty and tend to take up your whole field of view. We have overgrown hills here on the East Coast, out West they have real mountains, and I enjoy visiting them any chance I get. Since I was so tired on Thursday after the training, instead of going out and exploring like I wanted to, I crashed and took a 2 hour nap.
I did call my grandmother later that evening. She's doing well and had her staples removed that day. She was in quite a bit of pain, but that should be subsiding. Mom called me yesterday about her pathology report. It wasn't as good as the doctor thought it was going to be. He was quite surprised actually. It was the whole kidney that was the problem, and it was high-grade cancer cells to boot. He's referring her case to a team of doctors to see what they suggest. Probably take a "wait and see" approach. The edges of the kidney were all clean, so that at least is a good sign.

OK. The next part may contain some Harry Potter spoilers. I'll try my best to not give anything away. I'm just dying to talk about it though. I read most of the book on the plane Tuesday. Actually, I finished it while we were waiting in Twin Falls to head back to SLC. I've re-read parts of it as well.
I must say it was as well written as the rest of the series. There were a few scenes that you could tell were there to hurry the story along, but it wasn't all that jarring. The story is sound and well written and holds up well.
As is expected there are many deaths, some more sad than others. I'm still trying to deal with a couple of them. I'm also trying to sort out a few surprises JK had in store for us in this book. As always there were subtle twists to things that you just didn't see coming until after it happened. She does not throw anything away, she uses it all.
Overall I'm satisfied with the book. There were funny parts, sad parts and surprising parts. Everything I've come to expect from her work. I hope her future endeavors in the writing craft are as solid as these seven books have been. (Yes, I've heard that she said she'll do an 'encyclopedia' of sorts to clarify a few things left hanging in the breeze. I look forward to it.)

Ok, that should do it for the Harry Potter speak. I don't think I gave anything away for those who still haven't read it and want to be surprised. Yes, mom, this means you. I know you're getting it on audio and it will take you a while to get through it. Please don't ask me questions, you'll see when you get there. It makes it really hard for me to keep my trap shut when you ask me or wonder about some event or person.

Tomorrow I leave for Florida. I'll be gone until Wednesday. I'm really only looking forward to the chance to wiggle my toes in the sand. This site is a long-time customer and I hate doing trainings at customers who've had our software for ages. Especially this customer. They're painful on a good day. I'll be down right above the top of the keys. I should hopefully get a little time to watch the waves roll in and out for a while. Maybe that will restore some balance in my life. I've been feeling a bit out of whack for a while now.

Well, I should probably be working on a couple of projects or something. Peace to all and may you have something good to look forward to.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Things That Bug Me

I'm feeling in a bit of a rant mode. Over the past few days I've come across a few things that bug me more than others.
Most of them are petty little annoyances like people who don't pull up far enough in on-street parking and force my truck to take up two spots. Or people that don't think you mean it when you have your signal on because you're going to park, not turn at the corner 3/4 of a block away.
What really bugs me today is the fact that, as much as I want to support my local bookseller, I can't afford to.
I believe I mentioned Gak and I weren't going to get our books until today. This is because we pre-ordered them from the book store across the street. Gak has some credit there from trading in some used books, so we figured it wouldn't be too expensive. Well, Gak goes to pick them up today. They're $30 each and he can't use his store credit (because it's a brand new book). Uh... Gak only has $25 on him. I won't be home until after they close tonight. Therefore, Gak is going to go pick up at least one copy at Kmart where they're selling them for less than that. Admittedly, $30 is less than the cover price of $34. You can order them from Barnes and Noble for about $25 after shipping. I wanted to support the little book store on the corner, but I just can't afford to. I also can't wait for the book. I mean, I know I physically could, but I really am excited about reading it. It's just a shame that I have to go somewhere else. (I'm also a little cranky by the fact that if I'd known this was the case, Michelle, Gak and I would have gone to the book store on Sunday and picked up copies then.
So, trying to do the better thing and support local businesses but not being able to afford to is a big thing that bugs me. I understand how hard it is for them, my parents are business owners and I see the ups and downs they go through.
There were a few other little things that people do that bug me, but I can't remember them right now. I guess that means that they don't bug me enough to really worry about. (It probably has something to do with carry-on luggage or novice travelers going through security...)
Well, I'd best be getting back to work. I've got a few things to wrap up today before I'm out of the office for about the next week or so.
Peace to all and may you be able to support your local businesses!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Movin' Right Along

Like I thought, this weekend was a bit hectic, but good.
Kat and Scott met us at Gak's work Friday evening and we all headed down to MD. It was a fairly uneventful drive for a change, and we got in by about 9:30. Michelle took us out and treated us to Rita's as a pre-thank you. (That and it was to make up for Gak and I not being able to get our books until tomorrow...) We did a few things around the apartment Friday evening, but mostly just crashed early so as we could get an early start in the morning.
Boy did we get an early start. Michelle was up and active well before 6. Gak was moving by 6, I made myself give up on sleep around 6:30 and rattled the cage of the other two. They joined us shortly thereafter. Scott and Michelle picked up the truck by 9, her dad and two youngest siblings joined us shortly after 10. by about 12:30 or so, we got the truck packed with everything that was going into storage. After a lunch at Chiburger Chiburger, we managed to get everything packed into the cars by about 3 or 3:30. (Lunch took forever, but we were trying to feed 8 people...)
I now remember why I dislike the Beltway, and 95 in general. It stinks. Especially if you can only go about 60-65 because you've got a box truck following you that has no idea where they're going. (This was Scott's first time driving the Beltway, feel for him...) It was a long drive from Bel Air to Reston, VA. Everyone made it there in one piece though, and nothing major got left behind. (Michelle will be going up this week to finish cleaning the place before turning it back over.) We unload the cars of everything that is staying with Michelle and all of us head over to the storage place to unload the truck. At this point we've added Eileen and her one son (Chris I think, but I might be wrong...) to the helping hands. We owe HUGE Thank Yous! to Kat. She packed both the truck and the storage unit with precision, speed and great efficiency. We also owe a huge Thank You to Scott for braving the Beltway in a box truck.
After unloading most people took off. Kat and Scott went with Eileen and Michelle to drop off the truck and then they were heading to Kat's brother's outside of Georgetown. Gak and I were invited to go along as well, but we decided it would be better for us to stay with Eileen and Michelle. I'll get to see Michael again, and I knew both Michelle and Eileen were looking forward to the visit.
Michelle, Eileen, Gak and I then decide that we have to do something about dinner. It's now just about 8pm. Well, one of the places that's closest to us is Leedo's Pizza. This is a family favorite with my mom and gram's side. I've only had it a few times, but it is very good. Of course, I had to call mom. (Yes, I'm evil.) I also called Gram. Unfortunately, my cell phone battery was almost dead, so I only got to say hi for about 3 minutes. I'll call her again tomorrow or Wednesday from Utah. That'll make her smile.
Yesterday was a fun day. After having 'breakfast' with Eileen at the diner around 11, Michelle, Gak and I head into DC. We decided to take the Metro, since it would be easier to find a parking spot, not to mention cheaper. Since it was a Sunday, it cost less than $5 each to go into DC and back. We traveled from the far west end of the Orange line all the way to L'Enfant.
This was the first time Gak's ever been into DC. We'd been meaning to go the last 3 years, but just haven't made it. Gak really wanted to go to the American History Museum, but they're closed right now for renovations or the like. There is, however, a small display set up in the Air and Space Museum. (Oh darn, my favorite one...) We went through the American History stuff and poked at a few other things. It was very crowded, so not as much fun as usual. We then headed next door to the American Indian Museum.
All I can say is wow.
It was under construction the last time I'd been down. It is a very beautiful building and looks very different from all the others. It was getting close to closing, so we didn't get to see a lot. Even though it was late in the day though, it was still pretty popular. Even with all the people, it had a very peaceful feel. (I somehow think the medicine circle that is on the 4th floor might have had something to do with that...) There were so many good things about this museum. It didn't just focus on "United States" tribes, but tribes from all of this hemisphere. It also didn't just focus on 'ancient' or 'historical' culture, but also highlighted today's cultures and events and lives. I wish we'd had more time, but this just means we have to go back. I don't think you could do this museum in a day anyhow, there is just soooo much information.
No, I don't have any pictures. I wasn't planning on being able to take the time to go into DC, or do anything really. I figured we'd be spending so much time moving and stuff that we would have to go into DC another time.
Gak and I left Eileen's around 7 and made it home around 11:15. It wouldn't have taken this long if I hadn't had to stop for gas, stop for food and run into construction just entering PA. For about 8 to 10 miles I'm guessing, they took 95 down from 3 lanes to 1. Not fun. At least we weren't going through when all the beach traffic was earlier in the day. I would not have been a happy camper at all.
Overall this was a good weekend. I'm tired, a bit bruised, but good. I truly hope Michelle can find a good career now and really be able to focus on moving forward. She's had a very rough 2006-2007 and it would be nice for it to get a little smoother from here on out.
Well, I'd best be getting back to work. I've got two trips almost back-to-back. I'll be in Utah Wednesday through Friday and then Florida Monday through Wednesday.
Peace to all and may you have good friends and good times.

Friday, July 20, 2007


OK, I'm truly sorry about yesterday's post. I probably shouldn't have posted it, but I'm not going to delete it. After a minor breakdown at my desk, I figured a few things out.
1. Online Bill-pay at my bank is free
2. Online Bill-pay can also be set up to automatically pay your bills
3. If I set up to pay something to the bills that aren't automatically payed through deductions the Monday after every pay, I only have to write one check a month. (I can write more or pay more on certian bills if I want, but I've got things set up for slightly more than minimum payments.)
4. By paying something every pay, I won't get slammed for huge amounts the 2nd week of the month when it seems every bill I have is due.
So see, I did find my accountant after all. I was able to breathe a lot better after that. I also now know exactly how much I'm paying out each pay, so can budget food and the like a little better.

This weekend should be interesting. A lot of work, but good. We're leaving tonight to help Michelle move. She's moving from MD to VA. Not really that far, but far enough. She's moving in with her aunt for now until she can get the job situation sorted out and a place of her own. I really hope that she can find something soon. I also think it's a good thing that she's moving in with her aunt. I really like her aunt, she's a lot of fun. This will take some of the pressure off of Michelle and a lot of the loneliness as well. She'll deny it, but she's very lonely. She doesn't really have that many friends outside her family, but those of us she does have, love her very much. I also hope she can finally find a new career, not just a temp job. She's been out of teaching for a year now, and I think it's really beginning to wear on her. I'm sure she was hoping this would be a lot faster process than it has been.
Scott and Kat are also coming down to help with the move. It's always better to have too many helping hands than not enough. Her dad will be helping out on Saturday as well. (The aunt she's moving in with is one of her dad's sisters.) I know at one point Gak and Scott will disappear for a bit. There's a Games Workshop store near her and since they make Warhammer.... It's OK, I don't expect them to do all this work for free...
Well, I've got to get back to work. I've got a couple of shipping requests to fill out for my trips and schedules to try and fix and a training center to lock down for September. (Can I tell you these quarterly trainings have been a royal mess this year??)
Peace to all and may you find the light at the end of the tunnel and not have it be a train.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Warning: Rant Ahead!

I'm really beginning to think that this is a week of Mondays.
Monday was just one of those unproductive days, Tuesday was only a little better. Yesterday was just oh-so-fun.
I had a conference call at 9am. I had a web meeting set up so I could demo a system for a customer. The long and the short of it is that nothing was working right for either the web or the call itself. Then I get yelled at by a guy a few cubes down for talking too loud. I'm sorry, but I'm not on the phone all that often and most of the time you can't hear me. I was talking to someone on speaker phone (at least I didn't have them on speaker on this end too...) and they couldn't hear me unless I talked loud. Whenever this guy is on the phone, I can hear almost every blessed word of every blessed conversation. And it's not often about work either.
The rest of the day went OK, I guess. I'm just sooo frustrated with everything else. I had to tell a customer that no, there is no training available until October. (And now, they're complaining loudly...) I can't stay on top of the bills no matter how hard I try. I admit, I haven't been trying all that hard because I'm just too overwhelmed. What I wouldn't do for a full-time accountant. Forward all the bills to them, let them write the checks or whatever, get me to sign them once a week and be done with it. Maybe then I'd be able to save more than $50. Maybe then I wouldn't be waking up in the middle of the night panicking that I haven't payed this, that or the other... wondering where the money will come from. I'm not making minimum wage, far more than that really. I shouldn't be having these issues!! I keep looking at what we buy and do, and I can't figure out where it's all going to. I mean, I know a lot of it is paying for old credit card debt that I accumulated when moving. About a third of my monthly take-home goes to rent. If you figure you should be spending around 25% or less on rent, then we would have to be back at the old place, paying all of $620/month. It doesn't help that rent increased $25 a month this year. I'm not factoring Gak's pay into this, he covers gas and electric and his own student loans and gives me grocery money as he can. That's plenty to be asking of from his pay. I shouldn't be taking it all away to pay the bills. He deserves to spend a little on himself too. According to my math, I should have about $500 a month for food, gas and fun stuff. Mind you, gas is around $200-250 a month for the guzzling Durango and food is about $200-300 a month. Well, I guess that answers where the money is going and why I can't get ahead.
I was hoping it was me spending extravagantly on yarn or something that I could cut easily. I mean, I could just sell the Durango and get a more fuel effecant car right? Well, I could, but we'd be very hard pressed to find one we could afford that Gak can still drive. I mean, I can drive a little Honda Civic (loved the old blue one...), but Gak can barely fit comfortably for long as a passenger in one, let alone try and drive it. I guess we could subsist on peanut butter and white bread, but I think, as much as Gak likes PB and Fluff, I'd have a mutiny on my hand sooner or later. I could cancel the TV, but then we'd get absolutely no TV reception and that wouldn't help things any. I could make Gak and me stop playing the game, but that's only $30 a month, not much to sneeze at. I'm sure our online friends would understand but would be very, very unhappy. (That and we'd both go insane from not having that as a stress relief...) I wish I could just wave a magic wand and make it all better. It won't be any time soon. Not until I can get the old credit card crap under control (don't even use them any more...) and the truck payed off. Got about 2 years on the truck, probably more on the cards and about a year or two on the school loan yet.
OK. I totally didn't mean to turn this into a rant about money. I guess it's been what's on my mind the most lately. It's been a very down few weeks after the AC incident and I just can't wait to get that behind us.
Hopefully the rest of the day will be going better. Maybe I'll be able to get out of this funk and put it all behind me for now. (Until I check the mail and just see all those bills again...)
Peace to all and may your worries be few.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Katchup Entry

I meant to post over the weekend, honestly I did. It was a good an interesting weekend, but I felt so drained and a bit out of sorts.
Friday was a good travel day, especially for a Friday, and a Friday the 13th at that! I had an easy connection in Atlanta and I made it to the Reno airport even though I think I was half asleep yet.
Because I was getting in Friday before 7pm or so, Kat picked me up. Well, we decided that Kat, me, Gak and Scott were going to go out to dinner at Red Robbin and then see the new Harry movie at the new movie theater. This was the first Gak and I had been over there. This is also the first Harry Potter movie that Kat or Scott had seen. Neither of them have read the books either. Scott was a bit confused in parts, but on the drive back we managed to fix that at least a bit. I enjoyed the movie quite a bit. I think they did a pretty good job of condensing an approximately 1000 page book into a 3 hour movie. It was a bit choppy at parts and they did leave out some valuable information, but I'm sure they'll figure it out for the next movie.
The 7th, and final, book comes out Friday midnight. Gak and I won't be picking up our copies then. We'll be down in Maryland, helping Michelle move to Virginia. (This makes me really glad my trip this week was canceled. I would have been flying back Friday to go either straight down or down early Saturday... ewww.) Kat and Scott are coming to help as well, which will be nice. You can never have too many people helping to move. Scott almost mutinied when he found out it is a third floor we're moving her out of though.
I did hear back from my Utah people, so I'll be heading there next Wednedsay. I like Utah. I'll be staying in Orem, which is a nice place. I'll have another pretty drive down. I think I get in early enough Wednesday to actually take my time driving down. (Orem is about an hour or so from Salt Lake City, which is where I'm flying into.)
Saturday I was very lazy and didn't do much of anything. Well, other than play for a bit and read a good chunk of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I decided I should probably re-read it since I'll be getting the new one Tuesday. Sunday I wasn't very productive most of the day either. Gak and I did group up with a few of his new guildmates and our friends Syn and Charitee and help him finish getting this really cool cloak quest done. It was a bit of fun. I logged thinking I would get the laundry and some housework done, but instead, I picked up my book again. Oops. I did eventually get the laundry done.
Yesterday was a typical Monday. I was supposed to update, but I didn't. I was running around not being very productive, but that's OK. I'm here until next Wednesday. It's a good thing. We did go over to Kat's after Gak got done with work. It was Scott's birthday yesterday, so we went over for cake. It was a good, low-key evening.
Well, I'd best be getting back to work. I've got forms to fill in, paperwork to find and people to track down.
Peace to all and may your days be fun.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

California Crusin'

Once I got to California, it hasn't been that bad of a week. Yesterday I literally had to run to catch my third plane of the day. I was running late at ABE, had a tight connection in Cincinnati and an even tighter one in Salt Lake. I'm glad that's over though.
I did have a very nice drive north and west from Reno into CA. I was about 85 miles from Reno. I stayed at this nice little back-woods motel. Once you got into the real mountains, as opposed to the mountains in the Reno area and just into CA, it turned into a totally different place. Some of the roads made my PA roads look flat and straight. Sorry about the glare on the picture to the left, I took it out the windshield with my phone. (I found out last night that my camera batteries are dead and I didn't bring extras...) Yes, this is California. I felt more like I was in Colorado or Utah or even Maine. It was a great drive on a back country highway. You know that romantic image of family road trips through the mountains or whatever, that's where I was. I truly felt sucked back to the 50s or 60s when vacations moved at a much more human pace. I went for a bit of a drive looking for dinner last night and both then, and my drive back to Reno today I kept being amazed at how beautiful the place was.
Today was almost a waste. I say almost, because I did teach or reinforce a few things. They've been working with the new system for over a year now and have had our software for quite some time. I only spent about 3 hours there total. They were happy though and asked me all the questions they had and I answered them all. Good people, but I couldn't help feeling like I'd wasted my week. It did mean that I got to drive back to Reno in daylight and enjoy the views.
Shortly after entering back into Nevada, I saw a huge fire. When I drove through yesterday, I could still smell the burnt land. (It wasn't as 'clean' as wood smoke, but not as bad as it could have been...) I actually watched a plane or helicopter (not sure now...) drop a load of retardant on the fire. I couldn't really see the flames, just the huge plume of smoke. I could tell the dropped retardant instead of just water because I saw this swath of orange falling and disappearing into the smoke. It must have been huge, as big as the smoke plume was and as far away as I was. I know there are lots of fires out this way right now. I hope they get under control without anyone getting hurt.
Reno looks somewhat like Arizona or a slightly dryer California than the LA area. I keep forgetting that California has a very lush, green northern part.
Ok, I just realized I'm totally rambling. This has been a hard week for me. I've been very home sick this week. I'm not 100% sure why. I think part of it has to deal with the fact that couldn't be there when mom needed me to help with Gram's appointment. (That went very well by the way.) I also think that since it's been so very hard on Gak recently, that I'm not as able as I was to put that aside and just get the job done. This is my job. I love my job. Or at least I love the training part of my job. I'm also tired and feel like my brain is turning into Swiss cheese. (I have it on good authority from my Dr. that that's impossible, but it sure feels that way...)
Next week I'll be home, maybe the week after if the pains in my butt from Utah don't get back to me by Monday. I was supposed to cut them off this Monday, but since they'd contacted me last week asking if the week was still theirs, I cut them some slack. I am not supposed to book travel less than one week out, so I let them know if I don't have information by Monday morning, they're looking at rescheduling in October. Yep, that's right, October.
Well, I've got to get up painfully early for my flight home. Yes, I know, I'm still on Eastern time to some extent, but 4am is early any way you slice it.
Peace to all and may you find the beauty in your world.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Travel Gremlins

Aaargh. That's all I really have to say. This week was supposed to be a fairly easy week. So far, it's been more than a week and it's only Tuesday. I've been struck by travel gremlins!
Yesterday I was at work, trying to get organized for this trip. I get a call from Kat saying she'd been hit on her way home. In mom's van. No, Zoe wasn't with her. See, this was supposed to be an easy week for Kat, Zoe is visiting her PopPop, Mom's on vacation and so the house was going to be empty. Well, between that and the dog jumping off the sofa wrong and spraining her hip and knee and yesterday. This isn't going so well.
My week hasn't started off much better. Monday was a Monday. That's neither here nor there. Today Gak and I go out to breakfast before he takes me to the airport to catch my flight to CA. (Well, my flight is to Reno, but the site I'm going to is in CA.) I check in and there is a 2 hour delay on my flight. No big deal. I had a 4-hour layover in Atlanta, so it just means I'll spend time here and there instead of all there. Well, I get settled in to start a new project and talk to Gak. About a minute after I hang up the phone, they cancel my flight. So, now I head back through security and stand in line in the very warm ticket area. Well, they can't get me out today. Actually, they could if I could get myself up to Newark and get in to Reno at about 10 or 10:30. I would then have a 2 hour drive ahead of me. Nope, not going to happen. So, I've got a 6:25 am flight tomorrow and moved my training to Thursday. I had thought about moving it to next week so I could go to MD tomorrow, but I've got something scheduled already.
Luckily when I tried to call Kat, she'd just gotten home from the vet. She piled the dog back into the car and came to pick me up and got stuck in nasty traffic. After she picked me up, we swung by where the van is and got the stuff out of it. When we get back to my place, I realize I don't have keys (I don't usually travel with them...) and Kat only brought her car keys, not everything. So, we then head back to Gak's work to pick up the keys and come back here.
It looks like I'll be spending the night at Kat's and she'll take me into the airport in the morning. I really didn't want to have to make anyone get up that early to take me in, but Gak'll be out of town and if I take the car, he won't have transportation for the rest of the week. That doesn't really solve any problems now does it?
I called my travel people and was greeted with a snotty attitude because I didn't know what time I am getting into Reno tomorrow and they couldn't access my reservations with the airline because Delta changed them. I finally got that taken care of for the rental car and the one night's hotel. I called the other hotel about tonight, and that was easy. Now I'm on the line with Delta, because the guy who was being very nice and helpful rebooking tomorrow's flight, didn't change my return, so I'm supposed to come back early Thursday morning. That doesn't help me any. So, here I am on the phone with them and apparently the helpful guy didn't do something right so some of the information is missing. Oops. Hopefully it'll get straightened out soon.
So, I've been hit by the Summer Travel Gremlins. I'm really not thrilled by it. At least I'm home though.
Peace to all and may your travel gremlins be few and far between

Sunday, July 08, 2007

More than Meets the Eye

(This image is from:

This has been an interesting weekend. I guess I should catch you up on Gram first. They were originally going to release her from the hospital and transport her by ambulance back to Frederick on Friday. Well, they got everything all set up and her discharged, when they realized it was a 'long distance' transport and there weren't any ambulances free for that until Saturday. Oops. Mom had stayed again Thursday night, but after getting Gram re-dmited to the hospital Friday, went home. Gram went home Saturday and arrived safe and sound. The big problem is that she's got to go back to Baltimore on Wednesday for a doctor's appointment. Well, there's no way mom can transport her by herself. I will be out of town in California again next week. (ugh!) Luckily Gak could get off on Wednesday. This means that Tuesday evening Mom will drive up here, pick Gak up and then they'll go down to MD. Wednesday they'll play shuttle Gram and then after taking her back home, come home themselves. The biggest problem is that it'll be an extra couple of hours on either end of the trip for Mom, since we live about 45 minutes away and she'll have to both pick up and drop off Gak. I wish I could come up with an easier solution... but there just isn't one.
Yesterday was supposed to be a do-nothing kind of afternoon. Well, just as I was about to head out to pick up Gak, Kat calls and asks if she could stop by quick to wash the ice cream out of Zoe's shorts. OK. No problem, stop on by. Well, we then end up at her place for supper and then try to go to the Kutztown Fair. Well, unbeknownst to us, the fair closed at 7 or 8 this year instead of 10 like in years past. We missed it. We make the best of it and stop at Outback so Scott can get food and the rest of us can have snacks of some kind. It turned out well, other than the fact that we got back into town right as all the traffic from the fireworks was trying to get out of town. Luckily, I know how to get around a lot of it, once I realized things just weren't going to move at all.
Today Gak started a new D&D campaign. There were originally going to be about 4 of us, but it turned into 7. That's OK, Gak's pretty good at adjusting on the fly. There were some really annoying and trying moments, but we got through them. I can't say how the game is going, we've only had one fight sequence and haven't really done anything or learned anything yet about where we are and what's going on.
I did get to go run in the woods this morning. Kat was supposed to go with me, but it was a loooong night for her and she just wasn't up to it. We were at French Creek, and one of the parts I like better. I only did a yellow course, but that was OK. I was beat by the time I was done. There wasn't any water on my course, which really made me grumpy. It was about 90/90 today (heat/humidity). It was a little rough. I wasted about 10 minutes on the first control, but saw my friends Rick and Uday get there. (I didn't get a chance to catch up with them as they weren't back yet when I finished and I had to get home for the game....) I still finished in about 100 minutes or there abouts. This means I won't have the slowest time, but not the fastest by a long shot either. I like the length of yellow courses, but some days they just aren't challenging enough. (There were only about 3 controls that I'd really call yellow controls today, the other 7 were really pretty easy and right on or just off the trail...) I like the challenge of orange, but I just can't seem to do the extra 1 or 2 Km that they often are. (Mind you, that's the as-mapped distance, the real-world distance is probably a good bit more...) I'm happy with my time and glad I got a chance to go out. I'll have to check the schedule again, but with everything that's planned for the next few weekends, I'm not sure if it'll happen. Oh well, I'll live.

Now for the part about the title. Gak was feeling pretty frustrated after today's game. He asked if we could go kill things. I said, OK, but I was thinking about trying to catch Transformers. His eyes lit up and we were out the door faster than you can blink. I must say, I didn't watch the cartoon much as a kid. (I wasn't really allowed to watch many cartoons and didn't really know what I was missing until I hit college and had no clue what people were talking about...) I did steal my brother's Transformers on several occasions. They're really cool and their epic struggles really catch the imagination. I've seen enough reruns to know that this movie was not the 80's cartoon. I think if it had been, it would have been chalked up as cheesy by today's teens/young adults who grew up after that and it wouldn't have had the spark it did. It did keep very true to the original characters. I really think they did a great job of updating the story and characters for today's world. I really enjoyed it. Yes, they spent 90 bajilion dollars on special efects and CGI. If they hadn't, it wouldn't have worked. Yes, most of it is either a chace scene or a giant battle. Well, that's what the theme of the whole franchise is, good vs. evil and earth caught in the middle. It is very much a summer action flick. But, it's got enough nostalgia and enough of a story line to make it worth watching. Most of you know, I'm not a "chick flick" kind of person, that I enjoy action/adventure movies much more. This is definitely not a chick flick. This is an action/adventure. They got great people involved, including some of the original voices and some well known actors from other things. Go, see it. It's a nice escape for 2.5 hours. It's fun, and for some of us, it's a walk down memory lane.
Well, it's way past my bedtime now, and I've got to wind down and get some sleep. I have to go into the office tomorrow. I leave for California Tuesday morning. I'll be back Thursday. Another whirlwind trip. Just what I've always wanted..... (yes, that was sarcasm....)
Peace to all and may your childhood memories be fond and the remakes good.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Fourth Fun

Well, I intended for yesterday to be a nice, calm lazy day. Well, it mostly was.
After talking with the lady who's car the suicidal air conditioner landed up against, we came to an agreement. She was amiable to getting payed in two payments, so that made us breathe a whole lot easier. I can afford an extra $400.00 this month even though it means raiding the savings. Next month we'll be able to send her the rest. This also means I got to keep my promise to Gak that most of this paycheck he could spend on a new computer. We'd been talking about updating his computer for a year now, since I got mine. He worked his tail off this past week open to close because his boss was on vacation. I didn't want something as stupid as a suicidal AC unit to keep him from his well-earned new computer. This just means that other than seeing Transformers and Harry, we're really not going to be able to do much for the next month or two, but I can live with that. (Yes, I know, this means no more yarn for me for a couple of months. That's OK, I need to use up some of what I've got anyhow...)
So, yesterday morning Gak was shopping around online. We then decide to drive down to Microcenter because they often have refurbished units at great prices and are good as new. (My refurbished printer I got several years ago lasted me a very long time until the power supply went and it was cheaper to buy a new one that I killed in 2 years...) We head down there about 11:30 or so. (I told you, we were trying to have a lazy day.) After looking at both some new and refurbished ones Gak finally makes a decision after talking with a sales guy. The biggest difference between the refurb he got and the new machine: his is running XP still and the new one has Vista. The cost difference: $50. Therefore, for $50 less, he got the operating system he wanted and a good unit to boot. The only problem is we had to upgrade the video right away, and that was $80. No biggie. We were going to use the card he already had, but it was PCI, and the new computer is PCI Express. Good thing the sales guy mentioned this before we headed to the checkout fat, dumb and happy.
He got it set up in almost no time. We didn't have to buy anything extra other than the video card because his monitor is 7 months old and his speakers are great and about 2 years old. The hardest part was patching for EQII. It took several hours. I'm just glad it wasn't over dial up, or we'd still be waiting for the next week.
The biggest part of the adventure is when we went to go to lunch after getting the computer. We decided to head over to Suburban Square in Ardmore because there's a Ruby's Diner there and they've got great shakes and fab burgers, all of which you can get as a turkey burger or chicken breast or veggie burger. (Much better than some places where you can't sub a turkey patty at all... I'm not big on regular burgers but like turkey...) Well, we make it down 30 to the place and turn to get to the parking area. We get to about the train station and stop. Cars aren't moving. People are wandering around with cell phones. There's apparently been an accident and there's a lady lying on the ground. The cops show up about a minute or so after we're there and starts directing traffic. I couldn't remember or figure out how to get to the parking at the other end, so we decide to go over to the mall instead. There's a Ruby's at the mall, but I figured Suburban Square would be closer and easier to get too. Guess not. Well, after making pigs of ourselves at lunch, we wander down to the comic store so Gak could pick up a comic that he was missing. (He skipped an issue and was really confused until he realized what happened.) After that we head home.
I crocheted a bit and putzed around on the computer a bit yesterday. Overall it was a nice quiet day. Mom called me while we were having lunch. It looks like Gram will be in the hospital about 5 days in total. Mom had a great visit with Michelle. They had talked about putting in a movie and the next thing they knew, it was midnight and they hadn't put one in. Yesterday morning they went out to breakfast and then Mom went to visit Gram. She got there as they were bringing Gram some food. Gram was glad because her stomach had just started to grumble and growl and she was actually hungry. This made the doctor very happy. This means she's healing and all her systems are functioning. You know how it is, when you're really sick you just don't feel like eating, but when you start getting better, you're suddenly ravenous. Well, same applies for surgery. I don't remember if Mom was coming home today or tomorrow. Bob and Linda are planning on going down there to transport Gram from Baltimore back to her place out near Fredrick. It's not that far, but far enough to be annoying.
Well, I'd better wrap this up. I've got things I should be doing, including getting ready for next week's trip.
Peace to all and may you have some fun and good times.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Days

Happy 4th of July!
I hate to say it, but mostly I'm just glad I get a day off... I'm really feeling burned out.
I meant to update you last night about my Gram, but I got side-tracked. She and my mom got to the hospital really early. The doctor decided to take his other patient first, so Gram waited. She went into surgery around 10:00 or so. Mom called me at 10:30 to let me know and then again at about 11:30. At 11:30 she told me that the doctor didn't find any cancer on the bladder, so they were going ahead as scheduled and it should be about another 4 hours or so. This was the most anxious part of the day. (Luckily I spent most of the day training a new engineer, so I had something to focus on instead of worrying all the time...) Well, she calls me about 4:30 and I nearly jump out of my seat for joy and with relief. The operation went well, and Gram was in recovery waking up. It was a load off my mind. She should be in the hospital about a week we're thinking after what the doctor said. I'm impressed really, she is 84 after all. She went through the surgery just fine and now just needs to heal. I honestly think the hardest part is behind us.

I had a very fun reason for not posting last night. I was having a blast in-game. Gak's been running with a guild called Despair lately. I've still got everyone in Wings of Fate and I am probably going to keep it that way. Well, Gak and I were goofing off when he was asked if he wanted to go on a raid. He said OK and asked if there was room for me... and I'm a healer. Well, of course they snapped me right up. (I'm noticing that high level druid types seem pretty rare...) We went to an area Gak and I never got to see with Oops. This group was a lot of fun and we did very well until the last critter. He was a big meanie and we just kinda fell apart. It's OK though, even though it would have been great to clear the zone. We had a lot of fun. I think the leader is trying to recruit me into the guild, but I think I'll prefer to be a guest on raids for now. I mean, Wings is my guild and I don't want to take Addey out, since everyone else I play is just an alt.

Well, I hope everyone has a good 4th. It's funny, we've had beautiful weather all week, and today it's gray and rainy. Go figure. Enjoy the day and enjoy your games! Peace to all and may your family be healthy and happy.

Monday, July 02, 2007


Today is a Monday. It really feels like a Monday. (Although a Monday in early June, not July, the weather is FABULOUS!!)
Yesterday was a good, but lazy day for the most part. I got up at an almost human hour. Gak and I played around online for a couple of hours with friends and then around noon decided we needed to get errands and stuff done. We went to the Q-mart so he could get caught up on his comics and I could pick up some meats at Fredricks. Other than that, not much happened. I didn't even do laundry.
I had a Dr. appointment for my asthma this morning. It was rescheduled from last Monday. The card I had said 11 am. I go do laundry, run Gak to work and go to the Dr. Well, my appointment was actually for 9:30, not 11.
Luckily she had an opening at 9:30 on Friday.
I drive to the office, cranky and tired. (I looked at my calendar in the office and it does say 9:30, that card must have been from my appointment back in March.) I then realize as I'm about to pull into a spot that I forgot my badge.
Crap again.
Oh well, the receiving door is always open so I can get in. It's just yet another little grrr for the day. I talk to my boss about my upcoming KC trip. I still only have 2 people (actually only 1 according to my engineer friend...) and they're paid for in a new project, so it's not even new money. I then was tasked with finding out the info on this customer and the turnover package.
I did get my China visa in the mail while I was out last week. That was nice and fast. I am allowed one entry of up to 90 days between now and the end of September.
I pop out to grab lunch around 12:30 because I realize I hadn't eaten yet and my stomach was complaining quite loudly. Well, on my way back to the office Gak calls me.
It's about the lady whose car the air conditioner used as a landing zone.
If we pay for the damages, she's not going to file a claim with her insurance. If we don't, she'll file and then the insurance company will come after us for everything. Either way, it's over $800.00. I just don't have it. The savings is run dry and I've got other bills I've got to get out this week too.
Crap yet again.
I honestly don't know what to do. The lady shouldn't have to pay anything, it's not her fault she parked where she did when the AC decided it no longer wanted to live. I know we should take at least some responsibility, since we're the ones living there and we were the ones who got our friend to help put it back in the window. But the AC unit itself wasn't ours, it belonged to the landlady. Also, she's the one who put in the new windows which caused the units to be pulled in the first place. (And like I said before, I wasn't about to put holes into my landlady's brand new vinyl windows...) She also didn't say anything about putting the units back in or not nor calling her about it when we wanted to. We did what we thought was right at the time. (Now I think the two remaining units will withstand a nuclear blast...)
I really feel bad about complaining about my landlady. I shouldn't complain, I know, at least not in such a public place. She's a nice person. But she's getting to be more and more painful to deal with in business dealings.
It's almost always been when I've asked a question I get this look of "how dumb are you" to ask that. (I admit, the one about the doorbells might be qualified as dumb, but one just never knows... and they still don't work right, but I've given up the fight on that one.) We try and be good tenants. We don't trash the place. We pay our rent on time (or a day late at worst), or let her know if it'll be late due to pay cycles or whatever. We try and give her as little grief as possible, but we can't get anything out of her. For example, Gak gets a call late the week before last about something left on the door of the building by the gas company. Something about a safety inspection. From his tone, it sounded like he was supposed to have known about this and hadn't told her. Nope, news to us. Well, she expected us to set it up and deal with it, when all the gas infrastructure is in the basement and we can't even get to it. We don't have a gas stove in the apartment, only gas heat and hot water. So poor Gak ended up having to act as a middle man between the person who owns the building and the gas company. I'm sorry, but in my mind, that falls under the heading "building maintenance" and should be handled by the building owner.
Ok, I really didn't mean to turn this into a rant against my landlady or anything. It's just been a frustrating Monday and I needed to vent. Like I've said, I really do think my landlady is a good person, but not such a good landlady. I also know that if I'd actually done something about renters' insurance back a year ago, I wouldn't be in this situation. So yes, I'm mostly mad at myself, but I'm also cranky with some other people.
I hope the rest of you have better weeks. Peace to all and please, keep my Gram in your thoughts and prayers, she's having her surgery tomorrow.