Thursday, August 30, 2007

Colorado Visiting

Overall today was a good day. I'm still a bit out of sorts, but I'm mentally moving on a bit.
Today I was doing training for a long-time customer, who I really enjoy working with. They are some of the people that I miss the most with not being in service any more. I know a lot of them miss me as well, since I was the one who took care of the majority of their problems. They're good people and I tried to take care of them. Apparently I did a good job of it.
There were several people in my class who I'd been working with for almost 7 years now, so it was great to see some of them again and finally put faces to names and voices for others. There were also several new people. It's always a challenge when you're dealing with people with such a wide range of knowledge. I'm pretty sure though that everyone had at least one ah-hah! moment today. That's all I ask, is that out of the entire day everyone comes away with something.
I still say if I'd had to go almost anywhere else, I would have moved the training this week.
Gak seems to be doing better today than earlier in the week. He said today was the first day that he felt almost normal again. This is good. Forward is a good direction, we just need to figure out what angle forward is on. We really want a family and eventually we'll get there. At least we know that everything works on both our parts, it's just timing and patience we need now.
On a slightly different tangent, some people are much more helpful than others. I can accept that "things happen for a reason". Yes, there is a reason, genetic flaws, illness, stress all kinds of tangible reasons. Mind you, I do believe in God. But my God is not a micro-manager. He/She doesn't do things to "teach us" or "correct us" or any of that other bull shit. So, I can accept when someone tells me "it happened for a reason" because it's true, see Newton's Law, but when someone says something along the lines of "don't think of it as your loss, but God's gain" I have to try hard not to puke.
Ok, enough of that rant.
Tomorrow I head home. I could have gone out with my camera earlier today, but I didn't. I went back to the hotel after I was done at the office and took a little nap before dinner. I forgot to take my camera with me to dinner or I'd have gone driving around a bit after dinner. I'm looking forward to heading home. I've got a 3-day weekend. I'm not really looking forward to the doctor's appointment Tuesday, but Gak has off and is going with me. (Have I told you how much I love this man and how much I appreciate what he does for me?)
Well, I've got some emails to catch up on and some schedules to wrangle into place. Besides, I'm rambling in completely unconnected ways and should probably shut up now.
Peace to all and may you find direction in your life.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Just a quick little update.
This morning I go for blood work again before I head out to Colorado. It is mean of me to leave Gak right now, even if it's only for two nights. He needs me, but I need to be busy. This is a terrible thing to try and balance.
I'm still bleeding and my hopes of a positive outcome decrease a bit every time I go to the bathroom. Not to be gross, but I think this has been heavier than my usual. (I know, 99.9% of you out there really didn't need or want to know that, but you did come here to see what was on my mind....)

I think the only reason I didn't cancel this trip is because it is for a customer I've known for 7 years now and he'll understand if I'm not up to my normal self, even if he doesn't know the reason. I'm slowly coming to terms with this. I know, we haven't had the final diagnosis, but I'd rather accept the worst now and be surprised by the positive than get my hopes up on the positive and be slammed by the worst. Does that make me a pessimist? Maybe. I try and be a realist, but maybe that's because I flop back and forth between optimism and pessimism depending on the situation and my outlook at the time. Who knows? Not me today.

I've rambled on with little to say. I have no more real news.
Oh, wait, yes I do. It is even mostly positive!
I mentioned Monday that Mom was down with Gram. On Saturday Mom called me to tell me that Gram was back downstairs in the health center because she woke up with major pain on her left side and it got worse when she put weight on her right foot. (Odd, I know, but that's my family for ya!) Her doctor was coming in that day and Mom was going down Sunday. They also had an appointment scheduled to go over the pathology report from her kidney and decide what to do next. (The cancer was all through the kidney, but the edges were clean...)
When I called Mom yesterday to let her know what was up, I asked about Gram. (I think bursting Mom's bubble about the fact that I went to the doctor on Monday for a problem instead of yesterday for a regular visit was one of the toughest things I've done... other than wake Gak up Monday morning...)
Well, it turns out that Gram is doing much better and back in her own apartment again. They also went to the appointment in Baltimore. The team of doctors decided that she will go through some Chemo. Mom said the way the doctors suggested it and what they had to say made sense. It will be tough on her, no doubt. Even though it's better than it used to be, Chemo is still a tough beast to deal with. I look at it as better safe than sorry and Gram is actually a pretty healthy and strong lady for her age. She'll pull through all this with grace and humor as she usually does.

So, yes, there are some good things going on. But the fact that she has to deal with this at all just makes 2007 that much more negative. (Yes, I know, this really started in late 2006, but the brunt of the 'bad news' has been this year...)
I really need to get ready and get to the lab for the blood work and to the airport.
Peace to all and keep good thoughts.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I want to take this opportunity to tell the world how much I truly love my husband. It was two years ago today that we wed. He is the light of my life and the smile of my heart. Gak truly means the world and then some to me. He's my support when I need him and my constant source of strength and determination.
Today has not quite turned out the way I wanted it to. We were supposed to be going out to dinner tonight and celebrating. Celebrating not only 2 years of marriage, but the start of a new life. I found out just over 2 weeks ago that I'm pregnant. Yes, that's right, there's going to be a new cub in April.
If everything is OK, and I'm not sure it is.
I woke up today to some heavy spotting and my Dr. isn't very happy with how things look. He hasn't ruled out that everything will be OK, but he doesn't like the way things look. The doctor is not giving up, but I'm having a hard time with hoping.
Waking up Gak to tell him that I think there's a problem is now how I intended on spending my anniversary. He was so brave and so supportive though, sticking with me without question, holding me or my hand at all times. We're both terrified. We want this baby so badly.
I may know something as soon as Wednesday when I have blood work drawn again... only to get onto an airplane. I've got another Dr. appointment next Tuesday. This is going to be the longest week of my life I think.
I promise to keep everyone in the loop. I'm sorry I didn't call you first mom, but I knew you were busy taking care of Gram today and I don't want to tell her until something is positive one way or the other. The news of this will devastate her. This also not the way I planned on announcing my pregnancy. Tomorrow was supposed to be my first appointment, but that won't be. I was going to announce things then.
I'm sorry, I'm not thinking too clearly right now, my emotions are in a whirlwind and I can't help but think about all the things that might not happen now. I'm trying to stay as positive as possible, but this is so scary. I have a wonderful husband who is fighting these demons right by my side. I couldn't ask for more than he's given me.
Peace to all and keep good thoughts.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

China continued

Well, so much for quickly posting about the rest of my adventures in China. I collapsed for most of the day after posting that last entry and yesterday I just couldn't get into gear. I'm still not 100%, but I think that's because I've got some nasty post-nasal drip crud going on so sleeping is fun. (I'm truly hoping it's just my body getting rid of all the crud I was breathing in China, nothing more serious. I don't feel lousy in any other way.)
No, I don't have my pictures off my camera either. How come, even though we've all switched to digital for that instant gratification thing, it still takes us ages to actually get them to a shareable point?

Anyway, the last entry I wrote was while at lunch on Monday. It turns out that I was right, the rest of the day was a bust. Everyone else got called off to do some commissioning work for the unit.
No, the unit is not finished.
Yes, I was doing the training now.
No, they won't remember a darn thing when my part finally gets installed.
No, I wasn't training the right people anyhow.
Yes, this is nothing new or unusual.
When I went back down to the office, the older guy who was in charge was aghast that I hadn't had any time to see anything and that I was leaving on Wednesday. He and one of the other office girls were bound and determined to take me out and show me Shanghai that evening. I was mixed on this. I wanted some company and a decent meal, but I didn't really want to go traipsing about the city all night either. I was tired, I wasn't breathing well and I was feeling out of sorts. I accepted their offer though, but I'm not sure I had much of a choice. They were taking the bus back with me to the hotel and we were going to leave from there.
Let me tell you something about the air in and near Shanghai, and probably most of China for that matter. Don't breathe it. Especially if you're an asthmatic like me. I don't mean because of the dreaded Bird Flu or something like that. I mean because it strongly resembles LA.... in the 70's.... on a bad day. This is why I think my sinuses have revolted. Way too much gunk. Oh, yeah, and there's not really anything resembling rules about not smoking indoors or things like that and everyone smokes, at least the men. I haven't looked it up, but I'm almost certain the leading cause of death would be lung cancer.
Anyhow, back to my outing Monday evening. Remember, the weather is like that of southern Florida right now. Also remember, that I'm still wearing my office clothes. Even though the younger people in the office all wear jeans and even more casual clothes than I wear to my very casual software office, I wasn't. We start out walking, my guide figuring we'd either catch a taxi or take the bus, whichever came first. The bus won, but only after several blocks of walking in 90 F/30 C humid weather.
On the bus, my guide decides to tell me stories about Shanghai and some other things. Now, for anyone who watches anime and knows Ranma 1/2, this will be even funnier. Every story this man starts begins with "10 year ago..." or "too-tousan year ago..." or the like. I honestly thought that part in Ranma they were exaggerating. They weren't. His stories were good, when I could understand his English and hear him over the noise of the bus.
Eventually we end up at the restaurant they'd been wanting to take me to. It wasn't too far from People's square, where I'd been the day before. It was now dark though, and the other life of the city was emerging. I don't mean scary underbelly kind of life, just the nightlife as opposed to the day life.
The food was mostly good. I've noticed though, that food in China is very greasy. They use about 10 times the oil for cooking and things than we do. But, all in all, I met only a few overweight Chinese, and most of these were older men who probably had slowed down. I'm guessing because of the quantity of food that is usually eaten along with the fact that you have to walk or ride your bicycle practically everywhere helps. The oil was just too much for me. I don't remember everything that we had, but most of it was good enough. What made me laugh though, was the fact that my host ordered not some exotic Asian beer, but a Budweiser. Yep, you heard me, a Budweiser.
After that we walked along one of the walking streets of shops and food vendors. It was quite impressive and intimidating at the same time. The next thing I knew, we were getting onto the subway and going a few stops down to one of the other areas so they could show off that big CN tower that is the 'big thing' about Shanghai, like the tower in Vancouver or the Empire State building in New York... that kind of thing. The plaza was very impressive and lit up at night. I said I was getting tired so we hopped back onto the subway and back to the main walking road (I can't remember the name, sorry) that is full of people, neon, shops, more people and still more people. It was quite impressive. We walked along for a few blocks and then found a cab. Mind you, the cab ride should have been about 80 RMB since we were around where I caught the cab the day before. Well, when all was said and done, it cost 94. That's because my driver drove around in circles for a while because he didn't understand which hotel I was at or where it was until I handed him the card I had. I don't think it was on purpose, he looked genuinely confused and not sure of the area. I wasn't in downtown or just outside of downtown, so I can understand.
Tuesday went about as well as Monday, except I had people most of the day. Most of what I had to teach them they really didn't need or care about. And what they needed to know, I couldn't teach them because it was all hardware related or needed a working system to show them and my demo wouldn't cut it. My guides wanted to take me out again that night, but I begged off. I still wasn't breathing right. I was tired and cranky and just wanted to go home. That and the night before, even though they were with me, I felt almost as alone as the day before. They both know English, yet most of their conversation was between themselves in Chinese. I don't think they were trying to be rude or anything. I'm just a quiet person, especially when I'm not breathing, and they didn't know what to talk to me about and I wasn't asking tons of questions. I didn't need to feel isolated like that again. I was going back to my room to pack up, read a bit and crawl into bed. I didn't even bother to go to dinner because I'd eaten two lunches. (There was a mix up and a lunch got delivered to both my classroom and to the office downstairs... they were both edible...)
I would say that the flight home Wednesday was uneventful. I'd be lying. The flight was a little late leaving Shanghai. This meant that we were late getting out of Tokyo. So of course, now I'm running late in Detroit and since I'd checked luggage, I'd be running even later. (Yes, I know, I wasn't gone any longer than usual when I don't check luggage, but I had too much to fit easily in just the suitcase and my work bag for the two bag limit.) The people at Northwest though were nice enough to presumptively book me on the next flight into Philly. This would have been OK, except I was now scheduled to leave about the same time I was going to get home in the first place. Then the flight got delayed by about an hour.
Have I ever told you that I hate the Philly airport? Well, I do. It's loud, noisy, grungy and feels very third world. I mean, it looks like an unfinished underpass or something. It looks almost like I'd imagine an airport in Israel or the Middle East somewhere to look like, minus the guards armed to the teeth. Anyway, I got to sit in the noisy baggage claim area for an hour while waiting for the shuttle bus I'd reserved to come pick me up. Then about 45 minutes to the hotel near my parents and another 45 to an hour to my place. Instead of being home at around 7 or 8, it was now 10:30 and I was beyond exhausted. But I was home, so all was good.
I didn't go into work Thursday. I did a little work from home. Yesterday I went into the office because some things there needed doing. Today I'm being lazy and just playing around here.
Hopefully tomorrow I'll have some pictures for you.
I'm glad I went to China but I don't think I'll ever want to do it again. Sorry Steve, your home country just doesn't sing out to me and call me back to visit.
Peace to all and may you have adventures you'll remember.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Note: The following entry was written Monday while I was in China. I couldn't convince my laptop to connect to the network in the office there, so I'm posting it now. I'll write a new post and share some pictures once I get a chance to download them and catch up on some other stuff for a bit!

Well, needless to say, this has been an interesting week. I’m starting this post while finishing up lunch on Monday, which is really Sunday night at home. I’m still trying to get used to this 12-hours ahead thing.
My flight out was uneventful. I left the house way too early on Friday morning and made it through security with about an hour to spare. I’m glad I did leave too early though, security was even worse than last (this?) week when I went through with mom. I had a bit of time to spare in Detroit, so I grabbed a bite to eat and called Gak. I knew after I got on the plane to Tokyo, it would be at least 14 hours until I could call him again. At least at this point we were in the same time zone. He was doing well. I’d also talked to him as I was getting onto the plane in Philly. (I’d spent the night at my parents’ again, since they’re so much closer…) I had about a 9:30 flight in Philly. I’m talking to him when I suddenly get a “hang on” and next thing I know, I’m talking to Zoe. It was great to hear her voice. I miss seeing her. I haven’t had much of a chance these last several weeks.
(Remind me to tell you later in this post about Zoe’s adventures while I was in California… or wait, did I already?)
I have to admit, traveling “World Business Class” on Northwest rocks. Especially if you’re on the lower level and first four rows on a 747. I had seat 4A. Northwest uses those funky space-pod looking seats in their World Business Class. I think even Gak would have had enough knee space, with the guy in front of him reclined. That says something right there.
Unfortunately, on this flight I found out exactly how not to sleep like a Mimbari. I felt a lot like Susan when she was trying to sleep on the Whitestar. While the seat goes mostly flat, it doesn’t quite make it. This means your feet are a good bit below your head. And even though it’s a comfortable seat, it’s not a ‘comfy seat’ like a recliner. I think the other big issue, and not that this was a real drawback, was how much they fed me. The plane left at around 2:30. They started serving appetizers for dinner at 3:30, maybe earlier. Mind you, I’d had a real meal in Detroit because I had time and I had no idea when/what they’d be feeding me on the plane. (Northwest is notoriously stingy with feeding you in cattle-car class on domestic flights…) Dinner finally finished up around 5:00 or so I’m guessing. They also feed you again about midway though the flight and offered you breakfast about an hour before you landed.
I tried to sleep. I probably dozed for about 2 or 3 hours total out of the flight. I spent a lot of time listening to my iPod, trying to crochet and watching a movie. On this plane, the Business class gets their own personal TV/movie/entertainment screens. I was trying very hard to go to sleep. I found out that I’d taken Pink Floyd’s The Wall off of my iPod. (I’m programmed to fall asleep to this…) I’d snoozed to Lorena McKennet’s CD that I have downloaded, but was awake again. I figured I’d put on something to snooze to because when I’m on the road I fall asleep to the TV often. (Hey, I’m used to Gak having either the TV on or on the computer right outside the bedroom at home.) Well, I flipped through the movies and guess what I found? Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Yes, the ‘old’ classic. (I refuse to call it old just because it came out when I was in High School.) It was rated E, not for Everyone, but for Edited. And boy did they butcher it. I can understand them cutting one or two scenes, but why the scene when Robin tried to have Ahzim ambushed? Or the one where Little John tells Robin he’s got balls of solid rocks? Oh well. I usually can fall asleep to this movie, or at least doze if I’m tired. I just couldn’t this time.
When I got to Tokyo, I figured out that, yes, just like everyone said, my phone wouldn’t work. Therefore I couldn’t call Gak. I wasn’t too happy about this. I spent most of the 2-hour layover trying not to fall asleep in the chairs at the gate. I figured I should probably attempt to stay up until I got to China, since it would be about 10pm local time and therefore bedtime. It almost worked, except while I was on the plane.
I was met by someone from the hotel and whisked off to it. I couldn’t see much of the city as we drove through, but that’s OK, I was too tired to notice. I call Gak from the hotel and promptly crash.
Yesterday was a tough day. I slept fitfully all night and woke up for good about 6am. I get a shower and call Gak again. (Yes, I’ve spent a lot of time calling Gak this trip. I’m feeling very home sick, more so than usual.) I hadn’t been anywhere and I hadn’t had breakfast or anything yet. I just needed to call him because I knew he’d be crashing in a few hours. I also talked to Doug, the trainer who was just leaving here and he gave me the rest of the details I needed. Or at least what I thought I needed.
He convinced me I should take the hotel Shuttle into People’s Square. Mind you, I almost didn’t go. I spent a good hour convincing myself that it was OK and I was as adventurous as I said I was. I must admit, I’ve been pretty scared in some ways. Not from physical violence or anything like that, but lonely and isolated scared. I think that’s worse in some ways.
I knew I’d made the wrong choice when I got off the shuttle and everyone dispersed and the driver couldn’t/wouldn’t tell me when it would pick us up.
Oh, and did I tell you the weather here reminds me a lot of the weather I was dealing with in Miami a few weeks back? And I was wearing jeans because I didn’t pack shorts. I knew it was going to be warm, I didn’t realize it meant very, very humid as well. I wandered around for a few hours, felt like a ‘stupid Westerner’ a lot. Even so far as to eat lunch at the Pizza Hut because their menu was also in English. I wasn’t hungry so much as thirsty. I did wander around People’s Square for a little while and it is beautiful. I was just way to hot and sticky and miserable to enjoy it. It started to actually rain for a bit and I caught a cab back to the hotel. Another nice experience really. I haven’t met an unfriendly Chinese person yet. It was a very safe ride and not too expensive (I think, I’m still not 100% sure on the conversion rate here…. At least it wasn’t too expensive compared to my lunch and the distance I traveled.)
I napped most of the afternoon because I was still trying to make up for going without much sleep for over 28 hours. I made myself go to dinner, even though I didn’t want to. That didn’t work out too well. I ordered what sounded good, but it wasn’t. That and I had absolutely no luck with the chopsticks last night. Luckily they rescued me and offered me a fork. I was a miserable mess. I was exhausted, home sick and not feeling all that great. I just wanted to go home and curl up with my hubby, but that won’t happen until Wednesday.
Today has been a bit better. Breakfast went well, I caught the right bus and even got off at the right stop. I even managed to find the people I was supposed to find. The training is going well. We’re actually going through the material a lot faster than I thought, although I think we’ve stalled for the day. That’s OK. They were supposed to be back from lunch 35 minutes ago, but aren’t. I’m just about at the stopping point for the 2-days anyhow. I know I don’t have the right people in my class, but I’m making the best of it. I also know that my training will be almost useless because they haven’t even installed the system yet. I think it’s still sitting in our factory. I trust my field guy who is supposed to be doing the install when it does happen. He’ll bring these guys up to speed as best he can. The guys I do have are friendly and nice. I even managed to eat my lunch with chopsticks today. (Hey, this is a huge feat for me!) I have no idea what I ate, other than the green peppers, but it was good and I enjoyed it. Much more than the food I’ve had at the hotel. (The hotel restaurant smells funny… not bad, just funny. It’s not spoiled food or anything, just a particular spice I don’t know and don’t seem to like the smell of…) I asked the one guy who came to visit with me (I think he wanted to work on his English, they get paid more the better their English is) couldn’t tell me what the fried triangles were because he didn’t know in English. I left the strange grey/purple vegetables and the shrimp, but ate a lot of everything else.
Ok. I’m going to wrap it up for now, I hope to post this tonight if I can convince the hotel connection to work. I really need to check the work email and stuff.
Peace to all.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Introducing Rae and Kami

I finally weeded through the photos of Rae and Kami's wedding. There were several really good ones I had to choose from. I've uploaded the best to Flickr, but thought I'd share a few here.

The day was beautiful, if a bit warm. It was even actually humid for California. The biggest problem was that for the ceremony, most of us sat in the sun and facing into it. That's OK. though. We all survived. They were kind enough to give us fans at each seat. They were the ones that Mom had originally ordered for Gak's and my wedding 2 years ago now, but they never came. So she canceled that order and scrambled to find something else, which worked just as nicely.

This photo is of my only aunt and uncle and their two kids. Well their not kids any more, they're both married. Ben is almost 2 years older than me, I'm two years older than my brother and Rae is just about 2 years younger than him. Kinda weird huh?

This is the Reverend who performed the ceremony. She has a great sense of humor and grace. She's apparently been around the world doing all kinds of things. She almost reminds me of one of my high school English teachers. Rae and Kami said that when they first met with her in her office (full of spears and things from her travels...) she threatened them if they broke up, that she'd hunt them down. She wanted to make sure they really, truly wanted to do this. They do and it shows.

The cake was really yummy. It was a dense yellow cake with strawberry stuff between the layers. Mmmmm.... strawberries!

Rae and Kami's first dance was beautiful. They'd gone to dance lessons and had it choreographed. Friday, while they were practicing, Kami banged her ankle pretty hard into the bed frame. Rachel was in a panic (and she's the ER nurse!). Her dad calmed her down and everything turned out just fine. They were so cute. You can see that they truly do love each other with their whole heart. I'm so happy that they've found each other.

Well, I've got to finish packing and get out of here. I've got to get to work yet. Peace to all and may there be love in your life!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Weekend Photos

Originally uploaded by Addey Rat.

Well. I got through about half the weekend photos this morning. This one here is one I had a bit of fun with. While we were at the Norton Simon, we went out into the sculpture garden. In it, there is a nice pond and it had some beautiful lillies with purple flowers. When I was working with this photo in PhotoShop this morning, I couldn't help but think about how much it looked like a Monet. I love Monet. He's one of my favorites. I'm not sure why, maybe because he painted so many lilies and fields and things like that with lots of light and life. Well, I played with the filters for a little bit and came up with this. I think it looks pretty good for a 'fake' Monet. I can still see the lilly pads, but the crisp definition is gone and there are some 'brush strokes' that make it look like it was panted in the fast, Impressionist way of a real Monet.
Anywho, the other pictures I played with this morning are all on my Flickr.

This is the photo that I used to create my Monet from. As you can see, it started out as a pretty nice picture in its own right.

Anyhow, I just thought I'd make a quick little post to let people know that at least some of the pictures from this weekend are up on Flickr. I will hopefully get a chance to go through the ones from the wedding itself tonight and get them uploaded as well.

Peace to all and may you be able to find some beauty in your life.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

California Weekend

It has been almost a week since I last posted. A lot has happened since then. Life is going full speed ahead and I'm trying to keep up.
Last Thursday I spent the night at my parents' house before heading out to the LA area with my mom. We were going out for my cousin Rachel's wedding. This is the first 'real' vacation Mom has been on in ages and the first time she's flown in about 20 years. The last time she flew anywhere was when we went out to LA as a family the summer after my cousin Ben's Bar Mitzva. (We couldn't go in February for the Mitzva because of this silly little thing called school....) Mom couldn't stop saying "I'm in California" all weekend. It was cute.
Friday was about a normal travel adventure to me. I just had to remember that I had someone with me and not just go bolting off to wherever I needed to be on my own. Well, there was a little mix up. I'm not used to flying out of Philly. We checked in and the lady told us gate D2. No problem. Up the stairs and through security.
Wait, this is terminal E.
Uh-oh, we're supposed to be at D2, not E2.
Unfortunately you can't get to D from E without going back through security. (Southwest now uses 2 terminals, I'm used to going out of E with Delta and seeing the Southwest planes there too...)
The good news is, we've got plenty of time because check in was almost easy.
We get to California in good time and it wasn't a bad flight in the slightest. California traffic on the other hand, is. I mean, come on... we got in around 4:00 on a Friday evening. It was 5:00 by the time we picked up our luggage and got the rental car. Our hotel was about 55 miles away in Ontario. (Yes, we could have flown into ONT, but it was significantly more expensive than LAX... and I was being cheep...) This should take us about 1.5 hours or so on a good day. It wasn't a good day. It was just about 7:15 by the time we made it to the hotel. We were supposed to meet my brother and his girlfriend for dinner at 7:30 about another 50 miles away in Studio City. It wasn't going to happen.
Instead, we ended up going over to his place around 11 the next morning for brunch. Becca was there and my brother made waffles. It was a very good breakfast and a nice visit. I really do like my brother's girlfriend. She's a lot of fun to be around and has the sense of humor needed to keep up with my brother and to keep him in line. (Come on, all boys need to be kept in line at some point...) My brother has a great apartment and is the total opposite from me when it comes to housekeeping. My place looks well lived-in and not exactly tidy. I wouldn't hesitate to eat off his floors. His bathroom floors at that. (Then again, it's always been this way since we were little...)
On our way back to the hotel Saturday afternoon Mom and I stopped at the Norton Simon museum in Pasadena. I'd been there with Beverly and Richard on my visit out there for Aunt Silvia's 90th birthday several years ago now. I thought it was a nice little museum. Mom thought so too. I think what makes this place so special is how many Degas sculptures they have. Mom always knew he'd done a fair number, but not this many. Degas is her favorite artist, so I was glad to be able to show her this little gallery. She bought a new poster to add to the collection in her sewing room. It's one of his dancer sculptures in dress, tutu and hair bow, taken from the back. She's a very pretty little dancer. We also enjoyed the sculpture garden they have there. It was a very pretty day and a nice quite place. (Well, other than the constant noise from the 134, but that's LA for you.)
Saturday night was the 'family' dinner for the wedding. Rachel and Kami had their rehearsal a few days before, this was to gather the family and out of town people together to celebrate a bit before hand. It was a wonderful dinner. I finally got to meet Kami, my new cousin-in-law. She's great. She is a very fun, happy and kind person. She and Rae will have a wonderful life together. (That and mom also likes her because she collects frogs, always a bonus!)
Sunday morning was breakfast with Uncle Richard, Aunt Beverly, my cousin Ben and Richard's sister Carol and her husband Saul. There were seven of us and it was nice. I really enjoyed getting the chance to talk to Ben. I feel so stupid that I had to go all the way to California to catch up with him when he lives the other side of Baltimore in Towson. He and his wife Jen are about to have their first baby (a son) in the middle of September. I'm soooo excited.
The wedding was at 4:00 on Sunday afternoon. It was held outside at a Victorian Bed and Breakfast. It was sooo pretty. There was a lot of land for a Upland/Ontario area place. The ceremony was beautiful. I was so happy for my cousin and Kami. They are so cute together and so in love. It made me miss my own husband so much more. It would have been wonderful if Gak had been able to come, but we just couldn't afford it. I hope to get us all together at some point. I know we'd all have a good time. The reception after was nice and fairly short. I enjoyed myself and the company of my cousins (I only have 2....) and brother and his girlfriend Becca.
The flight home yesterday was uneventful, just long.
Yes, I do have pictures to share, they're still on my camera. I may get them downloaded tonight and post some tomorrow.

I head off for China on Friday, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to post between then and Sunday at the earliest, or next Thursday after I get home. (We'll see how the Internet connection in the hotel over there is....) I hope to post at least once more this week, but you know me. It may or may not happen.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


It has been a hectic few days around here. I've been meaning to post since Sunday, but just haven't gotten there.

Friday was somewhat of a cranky day. More of the same cranky-ness really. It turned out OK in the end though. We went over to Kat's to play Killer Bunnies. None of us were really in a good mood. Well, maybe Zoe was. It didn't help that we'd all had long weeks and Kat's got an abscessed tooth that's causing her a lot of grief and pain right now. She's trying to take care of it, but....

Saturday was almost a do-nothing day for me. The only thing productive I got done was the grocery shopping. I played online for a while, but wasn't getting very far. I moped around the house quite a bit. I've really, really got to get this place clean though. It's been waaaay too long since I at least got everything almost put away and scrubbed the kitchen and bathroom. (They're pretty clean mind you, but need a good deep cleaning now and again...)

We didn't do anything Saturday night because Sunday was the highlight (?) of the weekend. Several months ago we'd told Ed that we'd go with him and some others up to Pocono to watch the PA 500. I'm not a NASCAR fan in the slightest. I don't follow it, I don't even care that much. I don't even watch it if I happen to catch it like I do with other sports. (Despite the skill involved here, I sometimes have a hard time calling this a sport...) The reason I said I'd go, Ed asked. It was going to be a day out with friends. Well, about half the people who said they were going, backed out. That's OK. It was still nice to have a day with Ed, his dad and sister and a few others. Gak went. Gak really doesn't like racing or any sport. He came because he thought he should and to see if it was any better in real life than on the TV. (To me it is, but then again, I really get a kick out of seeing/hearing that many fast engines light up... weird I know...) He got majorly burned on his neck. (I didn't nag him about sunscreen figuring he's a big boy and can take care of him self. He usually does...) About halfway through the race he wasn't feeling too good from the sun and retreated to the car.

The race itself was pretty good. There were a few interesting messes and several caution flags. We had good seats, right near start/finish and could see most of the track. Admittedly, the cars on the far side were pretty tiny, but you could see what was happening. We also ended up sitting right across Ed's favorite driver's pit area. He was thrilled. I enjoy watching the pit stops. Talk about a coordinated effort. The weather was also beautiful. It was quite warm, but not too humid and there was a nice breeze. It was a nice day to spend outside with friends. Admittedly, the roaring engines did make it a little hard to talk, but we enjoyed ourselves.

Monday and yesterday were more of the same at work. As much as I am beginning to not like the travel aspect, it is nicer to be out of the office than in it these days. As soon as you walk in the door you're hit with a huge wave of negativity and all anyone does is grumble and complain. I mean, that goes on a lot at many work places, but that's all that goes on here. I haven't heard a positive thing said that's work related in the office in probably about a year. Morale stinks and it's not getting any better. Management hasn't done anything to fix it, if anything, they're making it worse. My boss tries, but his boss and higher up just doesn't give him what he needs most of the time. Other bosses just don't understand our business and most aren't even located in the same office, or state for that matter. (I think this is what has been causing a lot of the angst in the building. It reminds me very much of when we had a remote office and were trying to do projects from both. Not good.)

I hope it gets better, I truly do. I like most of the people I work with and I think we've got a kick-butt product out there. I don't want to see this ruined by, as my one friend says, the "slum lord" approach to management. That's really what it feels like around here these days. That and like we're a bunch of mushrooms.

Oh well. Maybe I really should look into moving on, and out of this corporation, not just this office. Don't get me wrong, it's a good company I work for, but I just don't know if I'm cut out for the corporate world. But then, I'd have to figure out exactly what it is I do want to be doing. I haven't a clue. I honestly, truly don't have a clue. I enjoy the training. I'd even enjoy the travel if it was once a month. Then it would be a nice change of pace, not the every-day drudgery it's become. I don't really want to leave the area, I've got too many friends and family here. I feel bad for taking Gak away from OK, but most of his friends there have dispersed a bit. Gak likes it around here. I don't think he loves it, but he's got more friends now and more things to do other than work and home.

I really didn't mean to turn this into a rambling rant about work and the fact that I know deep-down I need to move on, but can't. I can't turn this program over to someone who's just going to ruin it. I can't turn it over to someone who doesn't know the product or at the very least the regs. I feel guilty and that I wouldn't be doing the customers any favors. I admit, I know fewer and fewer of them very well. But after 4.5 years in the service group, it's hard to turn over something like this to an outsider. No one in-house wants the job, so therefore it would be some corporate person. I guess I just care too much. I need to spend more of that energy caring for Gak and myself.

OK. Enough already! I know you don't need to hear my internal ramblings and worryings. You're here to see how I'm doing and where I am.

Peace to you all and may you have some inner peace as well.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Free of Florida

I apologize to anyone reading this from the state of Florida. I've decided that for the most part, I just don't like your state.
Sure, Disney is fun.
The keys themselves are beautiful and worth the trip.
The Gulf Coast beaches south of Tampa have a bit going for them.
I'm a space nut so Kennedy is always a good thing.
Other than that, I can't come up with much good to say.
Your drivers scare me. (And that takes some doing with living in PA where most people drive like NASCAR drivers.) Admittedly a good portion of them are out-of-state tourists and are lost, so random lane changes and sudden turns could be expected. I think I can take the stairs twice as fast as your speediest elevators. Your weather is freaky. The humidity, even back in April a few times, was enough to almost kill me. And you're infested with attack mosquitoes and sand fleas.
Yesterday was a somewhat frustrating morning. I did eventually get my act together and out the door. I stopped and had breakfast in the hotel's lobby before heading out. I talked briefly with an older couple who were there about some of the interesting places they've seen and been to. (I believe they're retired and spend most of the time driving around the country, sounds like fun to me...) I looked at the map and figured out how to get to the Miami Beaches and figured if I pulled it off, I might get an hour or two on the beach.
Luck was still not on my side.
I was stupid enough to try and take 1 all the way up. (I should have bit the bullet and taken the turnpike at least partway.) I eventually got to South Beach on A1A. It seems to be a very pretty beach town, reminded me of a few I'd seen in California. And, since it was now just about 10:30, there was no parking to be found. The sky was blue and a few puffy clouds off to the west, but a nice looking day. I end up driving north for quite a while through most of the Miami Beach towns. At one point, seemingly at random, the skies just opened up and poured. I knew it would only last a few minutes and it did. I eventually found a public lot that was open. Unfortunately, it was a flat rate of $6 for the day. Ewww. That and the skies were about to open up again, and this time it looked serious. As pretty as it might have been to be on the beach in the rain, I really didn't need to get soaked to the bone and I really didn't want to spend the $6 either.
I decided that I might as well just give in and go to the airport. I still don't like the Miami airport. It's not in a great part of town to begin with (what airports are?) and there's construction going on. They also don't have very good signage to let you know where you're going or anything like that. Or, the signs would be better if they were big enough you could see them from 1/2 a block a way instead of having to be right on top of them. I eventually get the car returned. I need to call Hertz, they recorded the initial mileage wrong. Somehow I don't think I could have wracked up 1100 miles in less than 48 hours. I would have had to done nothing but drive at least 34 miles per hour for at least 32 hours (or 18 hours at 60 miles per hour), and done nothing else. In 1100 miles, I could have been almost home.
The flights weren't anything spectacular. My planes were full but not crowded. There was about a 10 minute delay in Charlotte and Miami, but nothing too earth shaking there.
I'm just glad to be home. I'll be home until a week from tomorrow when I head out to California for my cousin's wedding. That should be an interesting event. Mom's going with me, so I'll be traveling with someone for a change and someone I like traveling with too! I'm looking forward to it.
Peace to all and may the rest of your week be good.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Stop the Madness

As Jimmy Buffet said it in "Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude": If we all couldn't laugh we would go insane.

That pretty much sums up yesterday. Admittedly, there was some pretty hysterical, not quite sane laughing going on, but I was able to laugh.

I had to be onsite by 7. I manage to get there a little before 7. This is morning rush for everyone coming into the site. At least here, they're smart and have a separate line for visitor cars so they don't hold up the badged people. I sat there until just about 7:40 waiting for them to figure out that, no, my contact isn't there today and no one has a clue. (Of course, this isn't aided by the fact that my license still has my maiden name on it... keep that in mind.)
Well, I drive the 19 miles back to the hotel and start tying to make phone calls and checking the email to make sure I didn't miss anything. Nope, nothing in the emails. I tried calling the engineer, but he's on the road too. My buddy in service with all the numbers for this company isn't answering either and the number I want isn't in the database. I have my boss on instant messenger. The first words he types after I tell him the synopsis of what's going on is "you've got to be kidding". I told him I wished I was. Eventually my buddy calls me back and I explain to him what's going on. He says he'll track the numbers down for me and IM them to me. At this point my boss is called away on a call, so can't help me. I get the numbers from my service friend and start calling. I then get a call back from the plant in about 15 minutes. The guy I was in contact with had been called away on Monday to a different plant and no one really had a clue as to what was going on. They want me back if I haven't gone too far. I tell them I'll be back in 30-60 minutes.
Now comes my second wait at security.
Remember, my license doesn't have my married name on it. (I was too cheep to spend the $10 on a new photo card 2 years ago, figuring that I was moving in a year anyhow, so I'd get one then. Of course, I'd forgotten that PA doesn't give you the option of a new photo card for a address change, but a little yellow card to keep with it. Luckily in November, my license is due for renewal.) Well, first off, I end up with Mr. Cranky Guard. (Mind you, the guards carry guns, I mean rifles not sidearms, at this plant, which is prety intimidating.) He says that there's no paperwork for an Addey Katz. I tell him that's my maiden name and Brady is my married name. He then comes back saying nope, try again. I give him my new contact's number and name, telling him I'd just talked to him about 45 minutes ago. Then he comes back because he spelled my name wrong on the paperwork he faxed over. I show him my work badge and tell him I can get out my passport as well if he wants. He grudgingly lets me through the gate, but doesn't know where I'm supposed to go. Neither do I. I go just inside the gate and call my contact. He tells me where I'm supposed to go. It is now 10 am. It took me 3 hours, 1.5 of which included sitting in a hot car in the Florida sun. (I'd turned off the engine to save some gas since I knew I was going to be sitting for a few... I didn't realize it was going to be 45 minutes!)
It turns out that I won't be teaching the course I thought I was, but something else instead to different people. There was absolutely NO communication at this plant. Luckily when I ran out for lunch (10 miles back to the main road) I dealt with Ms. Happy Guard and there were no problems. After working with the guys I was given and making sure they were happy, I talked with the site manager. It turns out he wasn't in the loop on this at all for some reason and that if he'd had his say, it would have been 2 days, 2 shifts each day of about 3 or 4 hours to train the shift people. I said that made more sense to me anyhow.

OK. I really didn't mean to give you this long of a story on this. I don't normally give this much information about work here. (To protect me, the company and the customers I guess... although, if you know me or the industry, you might be able to guess a lot more than I type...)

The good part about yesterday is that I finally did get to the beach. Well, not a nice sandy beach, but a mangrove/coral beach. One of the guys I had suggested I go to the John Pennekamp State Park just down in Key Largo. He is a native here and says the best way to deal with the heat is to stay in the water. (I agree, but when I was little mom thought I was part fish...) I made it down there by about 4:00 and the park closed at 8. Admission was only $3.5o and that's what I would have paid in parking at least at any 'public' beach anywhere else that I can think of. It's a small little park and somewhat pretty. There are a few trails and a few beaches. You can rent kayaks, canoes, boats and go on snorkeling or dive trips. I opted to just walk along one of the little spits of beach. Well, more like pounded coral. I called my Gram, as is tradition when I go to the beach. I always think of her and the wonderful summers we had together in Delaware. She wished she was on the beach with me. I wish she was too.
I also called my mom and talked to her for a bit. She didn't go down to DE. She spent two days doing absolutely nothing and loving every minute of it. I agree, you need weekends like that from time to time. Especially with how busy she's been with Gram and everything else.
I tried walking along the trails for a bit, and while it was cooler than in the sun, it was very muggy and the mosquitoes were there in full force. I found about 7 on me at one time and decided to retreat to the car for a few. I would have some pictures, but my camera wasn't cooperating. I thought it was dead batteries because it wouldn't turn on (and the spares were in my work bag at the hotel). Nope, the mode selection switch was halfway between two options so it wouldn't turn on. Oh well. Maybe today I'll get some. The one above is of Sam at the beach we did go to. I took it with my cell, I had to have something. (Sam decided he was sick of sitting in hotel rooms and wanted out. I think the drives in California gave him a case of wanderlust again. Although, it could be that we were going to the beach, one of his favorite places to just hang out.)

I'm about to finish throwing my stuff together and heading out. I've got an afternoon flight and maybe I'll see if I can find a beach closer to the airport. They have much sandier beaches up on the 'mainland' than down on the keys.

Well, peace to all and may you be able to laugh at the troubles and find some relaxation where you can!