Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Now That’s Service

I’ve been living out of hotels.

One thing that hotels all have in common is the alarm clock. They are not top of the line, but they generally get the job done.

Some hotels have a different kind of alarm clock in every room. Others, like the one I’m in now, have the same make and model in every room. I like the continuity of the same clock, no matter which room I’m in.

I believe they do try to make the clocks as idiot proof as possible. I mean after all, even people like me have to be able to use them! The ones at this hotel have nice clear directions printed right on the clock. As easy as 1 – 2 – 3.

1 – press this button to start the process of setting the alarm
2 – press this button to set the time of the alarm, it goes forward and backward
3 – press this button to accept the time chosen in step 2 and turn on the alarm


There are even five preprogrammed buttons on top of the clock, with picture goodness, for the stations programmed into the clock. If you are one of those that like to listen to the radio at night, this is a no brainer feature. There is talk radio, easy listening, rock, etc. all at the push of a button so you don’t have to run up and down the channels looking for what you want. See? Idiot proof.

Except for this idiot.

I decided I like the alarm clock feature that comes on my phone. But, a back up alarm is always a good thing since I am not a morning person. I set the hotel alarm clock about 10 minutes ahead of my phone alarm, and between the two, it gets me going in the morning.

Monday night, I took my shower and was getting ready to call it a night. It was then that I realized the clock in the room was 12 minutes slow. Now, a fast clock is ok, but there is just something wrong with a slow clock. My mind would never adjust to that one. I thought I’d just update the clock to the right time before I set the alarm. Shouldn’t be that difficult, right? Especially with the 1 – 2 – 3 buttons marked for setting the alarm!

I looked and looked and looked. I had the alarm clock facing forward, facing backwards, even upside down. I could find no button that was marked to set the time. I tried pushing every button on there. I even tried some combinations. Finally after ten minutes with no success, I just decided that I was too tired to figure this out, and perhaps it wasn’t as idiot proof as I thought. So, I did what most women would do, I called the front desk for instructions on how to set the time on the alarm clock.

As unbelievable as this sounds, the front desk actually told me that the only way one could set the time on the alarm clocks was to have the maintenance personnel do it! Excuse me? Is setting the time some sort of State secret now? Why not call Homeland Security! It’s the time viewed in MY room only for crying out loud!

She asked if I’d like maintenance to come up right away to set the time on my alarm clock for me. Based on the level of my undressed condition, I said I’d pass on that option.

What is this world coming to? How spoiled do they really want me to be? Room service can deliver a crappy meal to me any time I want it. Maintenance will come up to set my alarm clock. Now I just need to know the number I can call to get a back rub before bedtime. Now THAT would be service.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Unwelcome Guest

Sunday night, Ron and I were in the computer room, playing Pogo. What else, huh?

He went up in the attic for a cigarette. Across the room from the attic door is my desk.

It was cold Sunday night, and usually he shuts the attic door so the cold air doesn’t come to the computer room. But, we were yakking about something, so he left the door open so we could continue our conversation.

Then, a call of nature became a sudden emergency! I yelled up the stairs that I had to pee, I’d be right back! As soon as I got across the hall into the bathroom, I hear Ron coming down the stairs. He gets into the computer room and he said something to the effect of “oh darn” but maybe not that clean.

I am in the middle of something and can’t go running out right away. I do ask him what’s wrong, but he won’t answer me. The best I get is he tells me that I don’t want to know. Nothing good can come out of that statement!

I hurried as fast as I could to finish up, and I make it to the bathroom doorway as Ron is walking out of the computer room and heading down the steps. He is holding his coffee cup upside down with a CD held over the bottom of the cup. Hmm. What comes to mind here?

It can’t be a spider, because Ron kills them for me. A mouse maybe? Crap, I hope not. What is it? I am starting to freak out as I hear Ron walk out the front door with whatever he has in that cup.

A minute later, he is back upstairs after freeing this squatter and I am trying not to panic. WHAT??? Finally he tells me that it was another bat! Oh crap! Ron thought he had all the holes plugged that it could have come in through. Obviously the bat found another hole or made one.

This is a bad enough story if it were to stop here, but no! I asked Ron just where the bat was. All the other bats had been found in the attic. This brave bugger actually went for the warmth! Ron found him on the floor of the computer room, about two feet from my chair!

People, trust me on this one. Had I been sitting there when that damn bat came into the room, or if I’d seen it when I got up to pee, anyone within reading distance of this blog would have heard me scream before I had a heart attack!

My full bladder just may have saved my life!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Strange Happenings

I've told stories before about some strange things that have happened at our house. Things have been moved, things have gone bump in the night.

Now something has happened that has happened before that falls under that "strange" category.

With me traveling, my car pretty much stays in the garage. Ron may take it out to get the plow out of the garage but that's it. To make sure the car gets driven, Ron will generally drive it to the airport on Fridays to pick me up.

Last weekend, we had all that snow. It was a weekend of bitter cold. My car was in the driveway only long enough for Ron to plow the snow, then it was moved into the garage. It was driven for a total of 30 seconds, from the driveway into the garage.

When Ron got into the car on Friday to drive to the airport to pick me up, all of the windows in my car were open. And, the window lock was turned on, something I didn't even know the car had. Hey, we don't have little ones around, why would I need to know how to lock the windows? It took him a few minutes to figure that out, since it was an unused feature.

My car has electric windows. There would be absolutely no reason for Ron in freezing weather no less - to open all of the windows in the car. Perhaps he hit the button accidently? Well, the driver's window will roll all the way down with one push of the button. However, the other three windows will only roll down for as long as you hold the button down. As for the window lock, I couldn't even tell you where THAT button is.

This did happen once before. I walked into the garage in the morning to go to work, and all of the windows in my car were open. They were all rolled down to different levels, but all were open. We just chalked it up to the fact that one of us opened the windows and just didn't remember doing it.

So, now what happened? Is there an electrical glitch in a three year old car?

The spirits in my house have started to get a little more active lately. And, they have taken over the garage as well. Should I be worried? Should I be scared? I mean after all, I'm afraid of everything else in the world.

For some reason, this doesn't scare me. To me, this means the spirits of my house are leaving me a message. And, their message to me is that they miss me. You know what? I miss them too.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Upgrades can be a good thing.

One of the good things about this job is that I get to keep any perks I can earn through the airlines and hotels. I haven't used any sky miles yet but I have used some free nights at hotels for my personal use.

For Continental Airlines, I am now what they call an Elite member. This just means I have more than 30,000 miles logged. That's a lot of miles for someone that not all that long ago was afraid to fly. What does Elite mean to me now? It means my bags get special handling, so they are one of the first to come off of the plane. And, I get to get in a shorter security line. That is really a bonus. So far, that's been the extent of my Elite upgrade.

We are staying at a Hilton Garden Inn. I am a Hilton Honors member. I think the most common hotel we stay in are the Hampton Inns. So, my bonus points build up pretty quickly.

Some bonuses to being just a regular Hilton Honors member is that I have two bottles of water and a pack of Oreo cookies in my room waiting for me when I check in. C'mon now! Oreos? How awesome is this? If only one of the bottles of water was a bottle of milk! But, I'm not complaining. The water and cookies are definitely used up by the end of my visit.

This week I checked in and there was a bonus in the envelope that they hand me that holds my room key. The bonus was four coupons for free breakfast at the restaurant here at the hotel! Hey, I will partake in a free continental breakfast, but I refuse to pay $10 for breakfast when all I can eat is some cereal and a banana. The next time I was at the front desk, I asked what I did to deserve this special gift! I thought they just liked me! Well, they do in a way. I found out I spent so much money with the Hilton chain that I have been upgraded to a Gold membership. The Gold membership comes with free breakfast! Sweet deal! Now I don't feel guilty about spending $10 for a bowl of Special K and a banana.

Those are the good upgrades. You know for every yin in my life there is a yan. The downside to my upgrades came when I picked up the rental car for the week.

This week we have three of us on the audit site. Luggage takes up an awful lot of room in a car. Since we rent to often from Enterprise, we can generally upgrade for little to no cost when we need to. They had one vehicle ready for me and I just wasn't sure we were going to get all of our luggage in there let alone three people plus luggage. So, she said she'd give me a bigger vehicle that would definitely fit everything. Next time I hear them words, I need to remember to ask more questions before I sign the papers.

For less that the cost of a compact car, I am driving around in a 2007 Dodge Durango. Does anyone have any freakin' idea just how BIG this vehicle is? We park in a very narrow parking lot at the job site. Almost every car in this parking lot shows signs of people not being able to park. The back corners of bumpers are all dinged up or the back doors are damaged from cutting into spots too soon. Yeah, people have trouble in this lot. And here I come in my 2007 Dodge Durango. It's not even funny!

Parking at the hotel isn't much better, but I do have a little more room to negotiate. The only problem I have in trying to navigate this bus is I have no idea where the front end is believe it or not. I am ok backing up, but when pulling in, I have absolutely no depth perception. I have pulled up to cars or to walls, and I stop where I think I am good.

Then we take bets.

Guess who loses??!! ME!

I stop when I think I am 6" to 8" away from my target. Then one of my associates will rappel out of the vehicle and check my distance and usually direct me the rest of the way into the parking spot. So far, my worst has been 2-1/2 feet. Yeah, I suck at this.

Upgrades. Gotta love them!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

For Sale

While supplies last, we're selling cheap.

Orders will be filled on a first come, first served basis. Who wants one?!!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Nature vs Nurture

There is an old debate. What forms us? Nature or nurture? Are we what we are by happenstance, by what is in our DNA or is it molded by outside sources? Do the people around us make us more nuts than we normally would be? Gosh I hope that's it.

Some people entertain the idea that I'm not all there. Ok, based on some of the blogs I've posted, how can I argue with that? But I have started looking around me and I realize that it might not be all of my fault. Look at all the craziness around me.

First, here is an idiot dancing naked in a snowstorm in downtown Cleveland in freezing temperatures. I couldn't make up anything this funny!! Is it something in the water around here? Maybe lake gasses coming in during the night?

Now, you might say that Cleveland is too far away, being a whole 30 minutes or so down the road. Let's move a little closer to home then.

Take a good look at this picture. Notice anything funny?

This picture is taken only a few blocks from our house. When we moved in and this intersection was noticed, I couldn't believe what I saw. In case it's not sinking in, (I know it's not the best picture) but this intersection has a stop sign AND a red light.

People trying to justify this redundant situation say things like "well, the light is new, so the city just didn't take the stop sign down yet until people are used to the light". Hmm. We've lived here three years now. There is still a red light at the intersection with a stop sign.

I have a few questions: If the light is green, do I have to stop for the stop sign? If the light is green and I don't stop, can I get a ticket for running a stop sign? Ponderous. I solved the dilemma by not going through this intersection.

People wonder why I am a few fries short of a happy meal. Look around me! Craziness is everywhere!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

That's Just Wrong, Page 10

Some days the “That’s Just Wrong” items come flying at me. Today, I have three of them to talk about.

Let’s start with shoes. I bought new shoes over the weekend. I know, y’all are wondering just how shoes could ever end up in this category. Before this week, I would not have believed it myself.

I do love shoes. Unfortunately, with my big ugly feet, I can’t wear most of them. But I did buy two new pairs, both the same style and model show above just one in brown and one in black. I wore the black ones out of the house and that was the only pair of shoes I brought with me to Chicago. Bad news. I know, I should have thought to bring boots, but I’m not even getting into that discussion.

Let’s talk about my new black shoes. By the time I walked all the way through the Cleveland airport, and half way through the Chicago airport, my ankles were bloody messes. I have never purchased a pair of shoes that did this to me. The backs of the shoes just cut me all to heck. I don’t know if it’s my ankles or the damn shoes, but I have never had this kind of pain from SHOES!

Monday night we stopped at the grocery store to stock up on soda, and I had to hit the band aid aisle. The band aids on the back of my ankles helped, but by the end of the day with limited walking, I was back to a bloody mess. The shoes would just rub through the band aids.

The thought of having to walk through two airports again just about had me in tears. I couldn’t take it any more so my partner and I went out on a mission last night to find a shoe store. That will be another blog in itself! But I found a pair of shoes that has a softer back (I tried for a clog type shoe with no back, but there weren’t any in my size) that are a little easier on the backs of my ankles. I think I’m just so raw back there now that everything will hurt. I need time with no shoes on to let myself heal. For shoes to do this to me, That’s Just Wrong.

Now let’s talk peanut butter. HOW can peanut butter be making people sick? The CDC (Center for Disease Control) believes they have traced more than 100 cases of salmonella in 37 states back to peanut butter! Hello? Peanut butter? This is a comfort food; a staple. What week doesn’t go by that I don’t eat peanut butter? C’mon people! How many of us have lived on peanut butter at one point of our lives or another? This is like telling me there is no Santa Claus or Tooth Fairy! Peanut butter? I gave up smoking before, I will not give up peanut butter. That’s Just Wrong.

To close out this category, haven’t all of us at least one dream where you are in school or work or some public place and realize that you are either naked or in your underwear? If so, you will feel for the morning I had today.

I had a restless night last night and was up way before the alarm. So, I’m up, showered, ankles bandaged, reading the paper, watching the news. I was just taking my time until I met up with my partner at 7:30 in the lobby.

Last thing to do is my hair. It’s bad to have your blouse on when doing your hair because then it gets covered with hair and hairspray. So, here I am, my bottom half is dressed, but my top half is just in a bra. I finished my hair, sat back down to watch the weather on the news, and at 7:25 I got up to go.

I grabbed my jacket, put it on, and was zipping it up when I thought to myself that I couldn’t believe that the inside of my jacket was so cold! I was wondering why that was. Yes, you guessed it. I never did put my blouse on. Do you realize how close I came to going to work in just my bra? Now really – That’s Just Wrong!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What Flavor Blizzard Would You Like?

Can you believe the weather? I mean honestly. We were having such a mild winter that Mother Nature sure did decide to make up for it.

We were working away today at the audit site when it was suggested that we vacate the building. They let everyone go early as the roads were just getting worse and worse. I sure didn't want to be the last ones left in the building, so we packed it up for the night.

My colleague that I'm working this audit with is from our Dallas branch. Poor girl doesn't know what to do with herself with this weather. She gladly handed over the keys to the rental car this week as she's never driven in snow. You know the crunch sound the tires on the snow make when it's really cold out? That sound has put her into a panic the first time she heard it. In a way, it's kind of fun to be experiencing this blizzard with her, as all of this is so new to her. Almost makes me wanna go out and have a snowball fight! Then again, I throw like a girl (right, Ron??!!) so I'm not getting in any snowball fights!

We just ate at the restaurant here at the hotel when we got back, so we didn't have to go out in the snow any more than we had to. We are still expecting more snow tonight, so it is up in the air as to whether or not we'll be able to make it in tomorrow. Just in case, we packed up enough work to last us the day if we had to spend the day at the hotel.

Now, that sounded good in theory when we left, but once I got here to the hotel, I got in a good work mode after dinner. Believe it or not, it's midnight Chicago time, and I just quit working about 10 or 15 minutes ago. Sucks to be a salaried employee.

Unfortunately, even if we don't make it in tomorrow, I have more than enough here to keep me busy at least eight hours tomorrow. Yes, it's rare I get bored on this job.

Almost 1,000 flights were cancelled out of Chicago today. That has me kinda worried. Everyone keep good thoughts that I don't spend the night in an airport on Friday night. I wish I was back in Kansas so I could just click my heels three times and wisk myself home.


I had to add an update on the last post.

Saturday night, Ron and I really had a great evening. This was the first weekend we were both feeling like human beings after our sickness that started at Christmastime. We had bought a bottle of champagne to enjoy while ringing in the New Year, and as you recall, we rang it in with shots of Theraflu instead.

So, Saturday we finally cracked open the bubbly. We added some orange juice and had a mimosa celebration fit for a king and queen! Unfortunately, since I was a little on edge after the rug incident, I probably had one mimosa too many. For some reason, in the mood I was in, we ended the night watching a horror movie! Can you believe it? I don't like those things when I haven't had a few libations, let alone when I'm a little looped!

We finished our horror movie (I watched mostly through my fingers that were trying to cover my eyes) and then it really was way past bedtime. Only after all that, I had to sleep not only with the lights on, but also with Nick at Nite playing on the TV!! If that doesn't scare the ghosts away, nothing will!

Note to self: No more horror movies!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Something To Blog About

Even with all the travel, I've been having a hard time lately thinking of anything blog worthy to share. Other than complaining about the cold, nothing much is fit to print.

Until today.

Ron and I started having a nice, calm Saturday. I like to lay low, not do too much, and just enjoy down time. Then we went out to face the world and run some errands.

I bought a new blouse! And two pairs of shoes!! These facts alone should be blog worthy, but alas, that's not what I'm writing about.

Some of you have heard the stories about our house. We have had, from time to time, strange things happen. Nothing bad, just . . . strange. Like doorbells ring when we don't have a doorbell hooked up. Or, footsteps on the floor above you when no one else is in the house. And, ok, a few things have been moved here and there. See? Nothing big, just strange.

We came home from running errands tonight somewhere around 8:00 p.m. Ron unpacked the few groceries we bought, while I went down to the basement to work with laundry. When we finally got up to the second floor, Ron headed up in the attic for a smoke. I went to go into the bathroom and there it was. The rugs were askew.

I know that doesn't sound like much, but picture this: We have a step up from the floor to ease in getting in and out of the tub. On this step, I have a rubber backed bath mat. On the floor below the step, I have a soft plush rug. Both of these rugs were seriously askew.

I don't believe that they got that way for no reason. I yelled upstairs asking Ron if he had been in the bathroom since he's been upstairs. No, he headed straight for the attic. The rugs, especially the rubber backed one, don't move that easily. I am not always straightening them. Aside from when cleaning, they pretty much stay put. Then I started to think.

They almost looked like someone peeled out on them. Sort of like turning quickly for a hasty exit. Then, my mind started to run all kinds of scenarios, especially with the excitement in the neighborhood a few weeks ago. Now I am starting to panic a little bit.

I as calmly as I could, wait for Ron to come back downstairs. I think told him that I want to check the house, because the rugs look like someone went running out of the bathroom in a hurry.

He started in the attic. Then, we checked the second floor, including in the closets and under beds. The first floor, I looked in big cupboards where someone could fit. The basement, I made Ron check the coal cellar and the dry cellar as well as behind the furnace. All windows and doors were verified shut and locked.

So, with a human intruder eliminated from suspicion . . . what happened to our rugs?

One more on the list of strange things in the house.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Miscellaneous Meanderings

I've got a lot of little stuff to write about. It's been a heck of a weekend!

First to back track a little bit, for my birthday, Ron got me a pizzelle iron! Ok, I've made them before with my sister, Barb. I remember them being a lot of work, but the end result is just so worth it. I was excited to get going with my very own pizzelle iron!

Where to start? I called Mary Jane, who makes the best pizzelles around. I asked for her recipe, and since she loves me, I also got a free lesson in how to make them. Bonus! Mary Jane, Mike, Ron and I met up for dinner Saturday night and then back to our house to start cooking.

One thing I didn't remember is how l o n g it takes to make a batch of pizzelles. Our guests made sure I had a good handle on things, and decided it was time to cut out for home. Me and my iron sat there and had some mindless time together. Put the batter in, light goes from green to red, when it goes back to green again, pizzelles are done, take them out of iron, place on cooling rack. Rinse and repeat. And repeat. And repeat. I gave up I think about 11:00 or so. Ron was a sport and took over until well after midnight. He really did the lion's share. I was able to finish up the batch on Sunday in just over an hour.

Now I have pizzelles. And they are absolutely awesome! My iron isn't exactly like Mary Janes, so my pizzelles come out a little smaller and a little thicker, but they are still good. No, they are still awesome. If anyone wants some, you better get back to my house before I get there on Friday! I'm drooling over here just thinking of them!

Now today is Monday, and that means I flew back to Chicago. From Cleveland to Chicago, I am on a small regional jet. It seats only 50 passengers and all bags larger than a briefcase or a lap top bag must be checked as there is no room in the overhead compartments. So, when I have to come to Chicago in the winter time, I pack my large suitcase, and pack my coat in my bag to save room in the overheads, then check the bag. When I get to baggage claim, I take my coat out and I'm good to go. Usually I'm only coatless for about a minute at curb side check in.

This morning when we left the house, it was -2 degrees. Yes, that's MINUS two degrees. I thought I'd just forego curbside check in and go on inside the airport to check in. At the last minute, I had a brain fart. The guy at curb side might have recognized, me, or else he was just humping another bag. But he grabbed my bag and said "ready?" I wasn't going to argue. I said sure, but I want to put my coat in my bag before you take it. Of course, this was the day he was going to have printer probems and it took awhile to get my baggage check ticket printed out; with me standing there is -2 degree weather with no freakin' coat on. Can you say brrr?

A nice brisk walk through the airport the 50 miles to my gate helped a little bit. By the time I got to the "D" terminal, I could almost feel my toes again. However, it didn't get any better after that. The terminal was absolutely freezing. The jetways are not well insulated, and the cold air was just coming right through the doors. Then when the doors were open to load or unload passengers it was even worse. Man not a good day to pack my coat in my bag.

Wait, it gets worse. It's finally my turn to board the plane. I can't feel my fingers or toes walking down the jetway. This was not a good day to be an elite flyer with Continental. My seat number was 3A. That means I'm really up in the front of the plane. Really really close to the open freakin' door. No wait. Not just one door, the galley service door is open as well! Two doors open and I'm right in front of them. Holy crap, I've never been this cold. The chintzy blanket in the overhead that I grabbed really didn't do much to help either.

I finally get into Chicago, get to baggage claim and pull out my warm cozy coat. I was never so happy to see some blue fabric as I was when I opened my bag!

Now, I've heard two different temperatures on the radio leaving the airport. One said we had a wind chill of -35 and a second opinion said a wind chill of -25. I don't care which one you go with, it's freakin' COLD. And at this point, I don't think that 10 degrees really matters in the scheme of things.

So now I must give Enterprise Rental Cars their moment. I was checking out a car for the week, when they said I get a PT Cruiser. Hey, I'm ok with that. I waited in the semi warm building for the guy to go get my car and bring it to the door for me. (I love this part of this Enterprise!) What do I see when he comes around? They have washed the car! It is now encapsulated in ice!! The entire car!!! Hello? Who in their right mind would wash a car in sub zero weather? This guy actually said to me that they just couldn't give me a dirty car. No, they'd rather give me a frozen shut car. I warned him that he better show up with a blow torch if I end up where I can't get in or out of this car. I had to pound some ice off of the side view mirrors to see out of them before I left!

So, it's been a miserable Monday weather wise. I haven't been warm since I crawled out of bed this morning. Now I'm sitting here in the hotel, the heat is turned up to about 80 and I'm looking at my king sized bed with the ultra plush comforter. So if y'all will excuse me, I think I need to crawl up under them covers and try to defrost my toes.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

News Flash!

It's finally here! I saw announced this morning that the newest (and sadly the last) Harry Potter book is due for release on July 21, 2007. I am so excited about this fact!

Even worse, on that day, the book will be delivered to my house. Here's hoping I'm home that day to get the mail.

Any guesses on who bites the dust? I was thinking Ron and Hermione would be killed off saving Harry while finally killing Voldemort. Then again, maybe Longbottom is meant to go. But who knows? Perhaps it would really be a twist if it's Professor Snape and Malfoy that will be done in!

Oh mercy. It's going to be a long six months until I can find out the last of the secrets.