Monday, April 30, 2007

Impulse Buys

I think most of us have been suckered into purchasing an impulse item at the check out counter of a store. I know I’m guilty of picking up something extra at the last minute at the check out now and again.

Over the weekend, Ron and I had run some errands. What we saw was amazing. You know what they had in the impulse buy section at the store? Pregnancy tests.

Call me silly, but I can’t imagine that being an impulse buy. I can see condoms at the check out, (hey, who doesn’t want the need for one of those?) or candy bars, or nail clippers, or aspirin, or gossip magazines. But I have never stood there and said to myself “Gee, self, a pregnancy test! Hmm, when was my last period? Oh yeah! Maybe I should pick up one of these and see if anything’s happening that I should worry about!”

I guarantee you, if a pregnancy test was needed, that would definitely be a planned trip to the store to purchase one, and not an impulse buy as I’m picking up milk.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Major Award!

This is the cover of the card I got from Susan and Georgia! Is that cool or what?

They met me at work on Friday along with Ron and we went for a celebratory lunch. It ain't every day I win the Region 3 Auditor of the Year Award!

Thanks! I needed that!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Double Takes

They say we all have a twin in this world. I have to say I believe that.

I’ve never bought into the fact that no two snowflakes are alike. The jury in my mind is still out on fingerprints. Everyone has 10 fingers and you mean to tell me that all how many billions of people with 10 fingers each there are no duplications in the ridge pattern? How did we come to buy into this notion? You ever see fingerprints? They have to have 8 to 10 points of similarity to be considered a match. Hello? Only 8 to 10 points out of 100 ridges? How is this scientific? But I digress. I was talking about twins.

As far as my sick mind works, there are a limited number of combinations that a face can be made from. How many eye shapes are there really? Even being generous, fifty maybe? Same with noses. There is still a finite amount of ways they can be put together. When you think of the millions of people in the world, it’s no wonder that there are a bunch of us that look alike.

Traveling from city to city, from business to business, maybe this hits me more than some people. For example, today I was working in a warehouse in Buffalo. At this warehouse, there are three people that make me do a double take every time I see them.

One guy is a spitting image of Joe Namath. Granted, a younger version of Joe, but still, this guy could be Joe when Joe was in his 30s. Another guy here looks exactly like Ozzy Osbourne, complete with the long hair! And yet another is the spitting image of my cousin Nick. He looks so much like him, or at least so much like the last time I saw him, that I had to do a triple take and almost asked him what the heck he was doing in Buffalo pushing a pallet jack.

It gets creepy sometimes. I’ve seen my sister Cathie, my sister Barb, my Mom, various famous people from the tabloid world like Eddie Van Halen, Johnny Carson, Jimmy Stewart, Mark Grace (former 1st baseman for the Cubs) and Eddie Murphy just to name a few. Ok, not the originals, but great duplicates!

For most people, it’s fun to look twice to see is that really Ozzy? Or Joe? Or Eddie? Given the circumstances that I see most of these people in, it’s easy to realize that it’s not the celebrity version.

But when I’m sitting in a restaurant for example, and I see my Mom, that kind of takes my breath away.

I’ll know when the day comes that I go completely off the edge. That will be when I run up to a perfect stranger and start hugging them and talking to them like I’ve known them all of my life. I think that day isn’t too far off.

Who, Me?

Ron told me I had to post this.

I got a call late this afternoon from one of the Vice-Presidents of the company where I work. He told me he wanted to be the first to congratulate me. Of course, I asked for what.

I was just named the Region 3 Auditor of the Year.

Big whoop.

As Maura said, at least this prooves that I give my all even though I hate my job.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Breaking News . . . .

It just happened again.

I was sitting here in my hotel room, minding my own business, when the alarm sounded all through the hotel along with the voice over stating to evacuate the building, avoiding the elevators.

Me and four other guests staying on this floor formed a posse. Our mission was to find our way out of the building. I know that sounds easy, but it sure wasn't. Thank heavens it must have been a false alarm, because by the time we found our way out it was 20 freakin' minutes later!

You'd think that a stairway marked "fire exit" would lead the way out. You could think that, but you'd be wrong. The five of us headed for the stair way that was closest to us. Keep in mind, we are on the fourth floor. We ended up going down one flight only.

On the third floor, we had to look around for another door. We finally found one that said "Fire Exit Only. Opening this door will sound alarm". Well, an alarm was going off anyway, but I am such an idiot, I actually stopped to think about if it was right for us to go through that door. Luckily, the four people with me were a little smarter. Out that door we went.

Down to the second floor.

Can you believe it? We still can't find out way out of the freakin' building from a fire exit. Finally we found a door that took us out to the parking garage. Know what? there is no walking exit out of the parking garage. There are two narrow ramps, one up and one down that I for one was not willing to walk on to get out. The ramps look wide enough for a car and that's it. Someone coming blindly up that ramp would take me out in a heart beat. The five of us took off in different directions to find a way out, only to meet up back in the middle at the elevators. I know you're not supposed to take the elevator but I figured we are technically in a different building, so I was going for it.

The five of us, one floor down, finally into the main level of the hotel.

By the time we found our way down there, everyone was quite casual just milling about. Obviously the emergency was over, whatever it was. We must have missed it while we were in the parking garage. Now there was a line at the elevators to get back up to our rooms.

I learned two things.

1. I am thankful that I had my four new found friends to help me find my way out of this building. I don't think I would have found it on my own.

2. Had this been an actual emergency, we'd have all been dead. The Adams Mark Hotel in down town Buffalo is one messed up place with a f-ed up emergency evacuation plan.

While we were waiting in line for an elevator back upstairs, we were discussing it amongst ourselves. And, we decided that had it not been for the fact that American Idol was starting, we'd have marched five strong over to the front desk to give them a piece of our minds.

Things That Go Crunch In the Morning

I had a rough night last night.

I must have fallen asleep watching tv last night, and some time during the night I took my glasses off and put them on the bed next to me. That’s not unusual in a hotel. On the bed next to me are usually my glasses, the remote control and my phone that doubles as my alarm clock. They generally stay right where I left them.

This morning I woke up and I didn’t remember taking my glasses off, so I really wasn’t sure where they were. For those of you that know me, I can’t see a thing without them. I felt all over the night stand and they weren’t there. I tried to feel on the usual spot on the bed that they normally would be and they weren’t there either. The panic is starting to set in.

I got out of bed and gingerly stepped around the bed, feeling around on the floor for my glasses. I came up empty again. I’m really starting to panic. I grabbed the covers from the bed and started to “fluff” them. When I lifted the blanket, I heard something hit the floor that would have had to been my glasses. Now we’re getting somewhere! Unfortunately, I had no idea where they landed. It sounded like they were on the same side of the bed that I was on, so that’s a start. Again, gingerly moving so as not to step on them, I still can’t see a thing. When I realized they were definitely not in front of me, I took a step back. Guess what I found.


Actually, my heel found my glasses. I was safe on tippie toe, but the minute I put the rest of my big foot down, crunch. The right lens popped out and the frame is bent to hell. This was not a good way to start my day.

This is the second glasses emergency from this audit. My first week here, I thought I forgot to pack my glasses. The panic that sets in is indescribable. I am far from home, in a strange place and I can’t see. It really is frightening.

I have never been a proponent of laser eye surgery. Just look at my sister Cathie for case in point. She ended up a poster child of why not to have the surgery. It just never bothered me to wear glasses or contacts. Heck, I’ve been in glasses since I was seven years old. I don’t remember any other way of life. Silly as it sounds, these two instances of glasses emergencies have made me start to think about it. I don’t know that I want someone to do unnecessary surgery on my eyes. Then again . . . I am afraid of this feeling of panic when I can’t see.

So, surgery? Or do the smart thing and just learn to not fall asleep with my glasses on and put them away properly at night.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Thanks, Jo!

I am in the middle of an audit in Buffalo. The only bright spot of this audit is the fact that my niece, JoBeth, lives only about an hour away in Rochester. She was nice enough to invite me over for a visit with her and her family. I’m no dummy, you know. A free meal plus family love is definitely a winning combination.

Last Wednesday after work, I programmed her address into my Garmin and away I went. What a great evening! Her husband Brad cooked one of my favorite dinners; bean casserole. Good thing I slept alone that night – the beans were awesome!

Isaiah and Noah were both getting over a case of the creeping cruds, so it took a little while for them to warm up to me. But after a warm up period I think all went great. When is the last time you played with Playdoh??? Whatever amount of time it has been, I’m sure it’s been too long. I haven’t played with Playdoh for probably 35 years. Man, I didn’t remember what I was missing! I was able to confirm that I am not very creative, although I am pretty fantastic in worm making. Yeah baby, I can make worms with the best of them. Brad was the bomb in the mushroom and poop making. Hey, we all gotta have talents. Mine? Worms!

We got to draw too. Isaiah, Noah and even JoBeth herself drew me pictures to put on my refrigerator. No one should have a naked refrigerator. I meant to take pictures of the artwork to post on here, but my weekend went by too quickly. I’ll try to add them later.

So, Jo, a special thank you goes out to you and your family. You guys definitely made my week! Thanks for that!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Just Missed

Another tragedy. How can 33 people be dead at Virginia Tech? How can these people just be going about their business, going to class, or in their dorms, and be shot down in cold blood?

Like most of us, I went to bed last night, thinking about this tragedy and watching CNN for any news updates.

After a restless night, I’m in the shower around 7:00 this morning when the alarm in the hotel went off. A loud piercing alarm was everywhere, with a voice-over stating to evacuate the building. We were to take the stairs, stay away from the elevators and all head for the lobby or other designated safe area. Where the hell is a designated safe area? What is the emergency? Is there a fire? A bomb? Another nut with a handgun and a brain tumor? I’m naked, hair full of conditioner and soap all over me, and I’m being told to evacuate the building due to an emergency.

With everything I was thinking about last night, I do not take this lightly. I jumped out of the shower, wrapped a towel around my head and was in the process of throwing yesterday’s clothes on while thinking about what I need to take besides my wallet, when the alarm suddenly stopped and the voice went quiet.

What does this mean? Are we safe? Should I still finish dressing and evacuate? Is it time to jump out of a window or is it too late for that now? Like an idiot, I just stood there, one leg in my pants and one leg out, stuck like that.

About five minutes later, a bell rang and another voice came on the loudspeaker giving the all clear. No explanations, no nothing. Just all clear.

The clothes came off and went back to the dirty clothes drawer, the towel was dropped on the floor and I got back in my shower to try to finish what I started. I don’t think I did a very good job since all of my body is now itchy from what I’m imagining is soap residue.

What is happening? Why the hell am I here alone? Why am I not home where I at least feel a little safer? This is definitely not a good way to make a living. I want to go home.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Damn That's Big

Last night I needed some down time.

I begged off from going to dinner with the other auditors and chose to spend the evening alone at the hotel. Delivery can be a wonderful thing some nights.

I had a hankering for pizza. Specifically Donato’s thin crust pepperoni pizza, the BEST meal EVER made by mankind. Dang, I’m drooling just typing about it. Anyway, that’s what I wanted.

Unfortunately, there is no Donato’s pizza around here. So, I checked the book in the room that generally gives you an overview and perhaps a menu of the local restaurants around the hotel. There is usually a list of restaurants that deliver to the hotel as well. Since this hotel has a very expensive steak place downstairs plus another restaurant in the atrium, they weren’t too happy about talking about the competition. So, it was on to plan B to find a pizza with my name on it.

I made the trek downstairs to talk to the bellman. He is usually the go-to-guy for food, so I thought he would know. And, he did not disappoint me. He said if pizza was what I wanted, I should call La Nova Pizzeria. The bellman found a menu for me and I took it upstairs to look it over. They had a lot of specialty pizzas, but call me silly but I still like just a good plain pepperoni pizza. I now wish I’d have looked at the menu a little more closely.

I ordered a large pepperoni pizza, thin crust. I figured I’d have pizza for dinner and the rest left for breakfast today. That was the plan anyway. Who’d have thought I’d get half of Italy delivered?

The front desk called that my pizza had arrived. I went downstairs to meet my pizza guy and I was absolutely shocked to see what he brought me. He had the largest pizza box I have ever seen. Holy crap, this thing was huge! I lugged the box up to my room and couldn’t find anywhere large enough to put it. I had my laptop opened on the desk, so there was not enough room for the pizza box there. I don’t put anything on a hotel bed bedspread, including myself, so I’m definitely not putting food up there. I ended up pulling a night table away from the wall so there was room to put this monster pizza box!

Ok, the pizza was pretty darn good. But I only ate two out of eight pieces, and I struggled to finish the second piece. I feel absolutely terrible that I had to throw out so much pizza, but there was no way I was going to wolf it down. The pizza was huge and each piece in itself was huge! It wasn’t Donato’s pizza but it was still darn good.

The moral of this story is nothing more than read the menu. Find out if a large pizza will feed 1-2 or 10-20! I’ll know better for next time.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

All Aboard!

It may not be the trolley that takes you to the land of Make Believe on Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, but it did take me where I needed to go!

As I mentioned in a recent blog, there is a trolley/electric train here in Buffalo. During our opening meeting with the client on Monday, he gave us the low down on the particulars of this mode of transportation.

The trains run about every seven minutes. They are free to ride, as long as the trolley remains above ground. When the trolley goes underground, there is a fee for that portion of the trip. I don’t have a clue just where the underground portion might be located and I don’t think I’m adventurous enough to find out on my own either.

Since I was the one choosing the hotel for this particular audit, I choose something close by the audit site. Since our audit is downtown, I did not want to be driving into and out of downtown every day. Hence, I chose a hotel right in downtown. Lucky for me, the trolley runs right by the hotel and straight down the same street to our audit site!

I’m trying to make it sound more exciting that it was, but I’m having a hard time with that. We decided that since the audit site was so close to the hotel, it wasn’t necessary to go over as a group since we wouldn’t be driving. Everyone had their choice on walking to work or taking the trolley. Tuesday, we had all separately opted on the trolley! Just as I sat down and got comfy and was ready for an exciting ride, I realized that my stop was only one stop away. Dang, talk about ruining my fun! Tuesday night we all had walked back to the hotel, which in reality is just two long blocks away. But hey! I rode the trolley!

And, I had so much fun riding it; I rode it again this morning! One whole stop away. Now I’m really trying to be a trolley expert. In case any of you are ever in the same situation, there are numerous doors up and down the trolley. You can enter and exit from any of them. I had erroneously assumed that all doors would automatically open. I had to figure out the hard way that there is a button on the side of the door, both inside and outside. First person at the door has to push the button. You know, everyone was watching me this morning, but no one would offer that little bit of advice to me. Go figure. They watched me fight with the door to get on the trolley this morning, just to give up and walk to the next door. These same people watched me try to get out of the trolley at the next stop, again, standing there banging on the door before I saw the button.

Hmm. At least I was good for comic relief for those morning commuters! Wait until tomorrow. I think I have this down pat now. I am a trolley pro over here.

Happy Birthday, Ron!!

Happy Birthday, honey! (Insert Happy Birthday song here!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Can I Jump Now?

I had a few issues checking into my hotel last night.

We all left work at the end of the day and went to the hotel. The plan was to get checked in, drop off our bags and then head out to dinner. I originally was assigned to a room on the 11th floor. Cool, I like the view from up high. Unfortunately, when I opened the door to my room, I see the room was never cleaned. The bed was unmade and there were dirty towels on the bathroom floor. I don’t ask too much from my hotel room, but I really must insist on a clean room.

Downstairs I went for a half hearted apology from the front desk and a reassignment to another room. Now I’m down on the 4th floor. As long as it’s clean, I’m good with it. I open the door to my new room to find the bed made, the towels hung up; all should be good with my world. I do notice however that the room is very warm. I don’t like a warm room. Hey, at my age, I’m generating enough heat on my own; I sort of like to be in a cool room to help counteract the internal heat! I thought I turned down the heat in my room to 50 degrees and headed downstairs to meet the rest of the team.

Dinner was an event as my boss was in rare form. Being filled with testosterone as he is, he needed to be the one to drive us all to dinner. That part went ok. The way back to the hotel was another story. I’m not sure which part was worse. Him driving through a red light, almost blowing through a stop sign (until I screamed at him to stop), trying to ram a car that turned in front of him in the parking lot, or the car he tried to hit in the parking ramp for having the audacity to honk his horn at him while he stopped in the middle of everything trying to decide which way he wanted to go to park. Yeah, what a guy; what an exciting ride back to the hotel.

I get back to the relative safety of my hotel room only to discover that it is now hotter than heck in my room! Holy cow, I would have passed out if I had to stay in there long! I tried to open a window but alas, it is screwed shut. I turned off the offending heat and called the front desk. I was told that they would send maintenance right up. Mike the maintenance guy may be my new best buddy now!

He walked into the room and said “holy cow!” And I replied “no kidding!” He checked the setting on the thermostat and announced that at least the heat works! Unfortunately, it’s an old building and the heating system is funky as they (the management) can only turn on the heat or the air conditioning. You can’t have both options. And, since there is snow on the ground, they have the heat going. My room for some reason gets an extra dose of it. He made sure the heat was in the “off” position and he said he’s try to get the window open. Hey, that works for me. Before he’d take out the screws in the window however, I had to promise that I wouldn’t jump out of it! Ok, I had a bad night, but I wasn’t exactly ready to go splat on downtown Buffalo! I said ok, I’d promise not to jump!

As my new buddy Mike was unscrewing the screws on the window, I also had to promise not to throw water balloons out the window. Ok, that thought had not crossed my mind until he put it in there, but now it sounded like a good idea! Mike was on the last screw when he stopped and made me promise on the water balloons. Dang it! That could have been fun! But alas, this man is holding my life in that last window screw. I promised no jumping out and no water balloons. Finally, the window was open and semi-fresh air was flowing in. Wow. What a difference! In maybe five minutes, the room was 100% better. Mike said at least if I got too cold, I could turn the heat back on!

I left the window open about a half hour until I got chilly, then I shut it. The room stayed fine all night long without putting the heat back on. That open window was a lifesaver. And, I didn’t jump!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Turn Which Way?

When I posted about my new GPS, Jenny was disappointed that there will be no more getting lost stories on here. Well, Jenny, guess what! GPS or no GPS, I can still get lost!

We started a new audit today in downtown Buffalo. The company we are auditing actually has numerous buildings downtown, and all of them reference the main building’s address. That facilitates mail delivery all going to a central mail room and then the mail room passes along the mail to the appropriate buildings.

Sure that works for them, but it makes it hard for me to find the right building! My boss came to the audit in one car and I came in a second car with my trusty new friend, my GPS. Too bad it kept directing me to the wrong building!

I wasn’t sure where I should park so I called my boss to find out where he parked since I knew he was about 10 minutes ahead of me. He proceeded to tell me to park in the lot under the building. Fine. That sounds easy. Unfortunately, we drove around the block five times and couldn’t find the entrance to the underground parking ramp! He did warn me that the ramp was hard to spot, but it was there.

After five times around the block, I pulled over once again and called the boss. Now he said he just walked outside, and to look for him. Hmm. He’s a relatively tall guy, so I didn’t think I’d have trouble spotting him. I don’t see him anywhere. Then he said that the trolley is right in front of him picking up passengers, so look for the trolley! Again, in theory, this should be easy! Unfortunately, I was parked right next to the trolley tracks but hence, there was no trolley in sight. I was starting to think I might be in the wrong place!

We changed tactics and he looked for actual street names. My Garmin GPS is equipped to find intersections as well as actual addresses. Once I typed in the new destination of the intersection on which my boss was standing, I realized I was about five blocks over from where I should be. Sure enough, when I drove to the correct building, I found the parking ramp right away. Go figure!

So it just goes to show you. Even with a GPS I can still get lost!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

That's All I Need

Oh, great. As if being afraid of dogs isn't enough, I just found out I also have to beware of the dogs' owners!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

No Dogs Allowed

Today was a beautiful day in our neighborhood.

Ron and I were itching to be out enjoying the beautiful weather, but we did not want to be doing something productive like putting mulch down or cutting the grass. We wanted to go out and play!

The entire Cleveland area is full of Metro Parks. The Metro Parks are awesome facilities that are full of walking/biking/rollerblading trails, picnic areas, bathrooms and playgrounds. The county we live in, Lorain County, is full of parks of which there are still many we have not explored. We pulled out our trusty new GPS and found the location of all of the nearby Metro Parks and picked one that has remained unexplored.

We arrived at the French Creek Reservation ready for an adventurous day of hiking and playing. Unfortunately, we weren't the only ones that had that idea today.

I think every dog owner had that same idea, to go walking in the park. I take that back. Not just "any" dog owner, but any owner of a LARGE dog. In case there is anyone out there that doesn't know it, I am absolutely terrified of dogs.

The walking trails are maybe five feet wide. People were out in packs today with their dogs. I don't see just one dog walking at me, but there will be three of four in the group. 350 to 400 pounds of dog walking right at me. I definitely got a work out today since most of my day was spent climbing cliffs, or running around a tree, or walking in the mud to get as far away from sure death as I could. Poor Ron spent most of his afternoon running after me, trying to stay between me and all of those teeth, or just letting me try to break his fingers (I know I was holding tightly a couple of times! Sorry, honey!).

There was one instance where two women, each with a VERY large dog, were walking towards us. I climbed a hill and was trying to hide my big butt behind a tree. I thought I was okay until I realized that one of the dogs wasn't even on a leash. I guess I pointed out that fact louder than I meant to because the dog owner looked up and saw me crying hysterically trying to hide behind that tree. She apologized and put a leash on her dog. Too little, too late.

Why am I like this? Why am I so afraid? Not just a little afraid, not uncomfortable, but I am completely immobilized, crying uncontrollably, in absolute terror. No, I know why I'm afraid. What I need to know is how to I overcome this? How do I change? I am so tired of being afraid to go outside. Every morning I walk to my car with my "dog beatin' stick". That's just an axe handle that makes me feel better to walk alone out my door in case the neighbor's dog is once again off his chain.

I need to work through this somehow. I can't live like this. I am emotionally drained just from the terror of all of the dogs. Is this any way to live? Why can't I go out and enjoy the Metro Parks like everyone else? I see other people just walking by all of these dogs with no problems. Me, I'm crying like a baby and trying to climb to higher ground. How can I work through this? How do I get over being so afraid?