Monday, December 31, 2007

I Did It In 24 Words

The idea for this post was stolen from my nephew Michael.

So, here is my last year in 25 words or less:

got a promotion
bought a gps
Cubs are NL Central champs
my Dad died
serious family issues
had a breakdown
first vacation with Ron

There was definitely some good in 2007 but unfortunately, the bad WAY outweighed it. Here's hoping we make it through 2008.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation

Yes, vacations are wonderful things!

Aside from joy of being around family, the accommodations were first rate. This picture above is the view out of our bedroom window which was a guest room at my sister's house. What a view to wake up to! It even made up for having to listen to the coyotes howling at night and the roosters crowing in the morning. The view outside of my bedroom window here in Ohio is nothing like this.

I am not a good house guest in return, that's for sure. Poor Cathie's household was in an uproar the entire time I was there. First of all, I recently found out that I am allergic to cats. Cathie and Dan have two cats. They did their absolute best to keep a couple of rooms cat free for me. Poor cats were locked out of a few rooms and for that I'm sorry. I'm sure now that I'm gone, they don't miss me in the least! As for the allergy problem, I did well the entire time there, except for Christmas Eve night. After dinner, we all gathered in the dining room to exchange presents and for some reason, Cathie and Phil exchanged gifts of stuffed cats that looked like they were sleeping in cute little cat beds. I did check the tags on these cats and there was no real cat fur used in these fake pets. It was all man made material. However, after playing with the fake cats, my eyes swelled almost shut. Go figure! Cathie hurried Benedryl into me and I went and shut myself in my room for the rest of the night. By morning, I was fine. So, the real cats didn't get me but the fake ones did. That's what I call realistic!

Another uproar in the Feeney household because of me was poor Franky. Franky is the family dog that thank heavens is an outside dog. However, his chain had to be shortened up so that the dog couldn't reach the steps meaning I could get in and out of the house without coming in contact with Franky. I tried the entire time I was there to gather up my courage to go and pet Franky but it was a no go. Ron, however, became Franky's new best friend! Ron played with him every time he went outside for a cigarette. In case anyone was wondering, I was not the one taking the picture of the dog. I couldn't get this close even with a zoom lens! Picture is courtesy of Cathie. The picture doesn't do him justice though. He is a beautiful dog, but he is also well over 100 pounds.

We did have a great time while we were there. There was a little sight seeing but mostly just family time. As evidenced by the rest of the photos here.

Christmas eve had all of us together enjoying the California tradition of potato pancakes for dinner. Here are Philip and Ron doing spud duty, Philip grating and Ron peeling. Ron, Cathie and I then took turns on the frying of the potato pancakes so that everyone could have a turn eating a warm dinner.

Life doesn't get much better than this! It was because of good cooks, even though we had a bunch of them stirring the pot.

I have a few pictures of interest to go along with this story.

It may be out of season, but here is a pomegranate tree! I've posted before that Cathie picks me a bunch of pomegranates when they are in season and ships them out to us. Who knew they didn't just come from the produce section at Giant Eagle! What a concept.

You can see the old pomegranates still hanging off of the tree on the right. These trees line the whole drive way up from the main road. I'm guessing there are about 10 of these trees. That's a lot of pomegranates!

Aside from pomegranates, there is also a lemon tree in the yard! I picked a few lemons off of the tree and that was a first for me.

I actually saw a lot of new sights in California. I saw cilantro fields. Again, the only place I've seen cilantro is in a Mexican restaurant. Who knew they came from field in California?!

There are also these windmill contraptions that run on electricity (I didn't get pictures) that are in the orange tree orchards. For some reason, when the temperature drops, and there is danger of frost, these windmills turn on and somehow, instead of cooling the crop, they actually warm the crop a few degrees and can help prevent damage from frost. Only in California does this makes sense. But, it works, so what do I know.

The last picture I have to post here are the cypress trees at Cathie's house. These are gorgeous trees that have to be every bit of 40 feet high. The only bad thing was that during the Santa Ana winds the one night, I was seriously wondering if these trees were going to bend straight over and onto the roof over my head or even all the way to the ground! Santa Ana winds aside, the trees are beautiful.

Now all I have are stories about the flight home.

Cathie and Philip both took us to the Oxnard airport. Gotta love small town life, especially when it extends to small town airports. You were to show up one hour before your flight, not the two to three that bigger airports recommend. Just before we were summoned to board, Ron and I went through security and into a glass room while Cathie and Philip walked beside us and ended up in another room on the other side of the glass. I am an emotional wreck, especially at good byes and basically stood there hand to hand with Cathie with the glass between us and crying. Some jerk on my side of the glass thought this was a funny sight that I was a crying wreck and proceeded to tell whomever he was talking to on his cell phone about me as if I couldn't hear. Oh well. It takes all kinds.

We got on our little puddle jumper with propellers to head to LA. The ride into Oxnard was actually very pleasant, especially since the scenery was so spectacular. However, the trip back to LA was more than a little bumpy. Ok, it was extremely bumpy. I have to admit that this was the longest 15 minute flight you can imagine. I was white knuckling it all the way, hoping that we wouldn't plummet to the ground from our lofty height of 5,000 feet. Somehow, we made it into LA still in one piece.

This time, we caught an electric cart ride the 10 miles from our incoming gate over to our outgoing gate heading to Chicago. That was much better than the run through the airport on our last trip. We found our gate, and headed to the closest food court, just around the corner. We grabbed a fast sandwich and then on to the plane.

This plane was actually pretty cool. I don't know what the plane was but it had two seats, an aisle, three seats, and aisle and two seats. We had the right two seats, way in the back of the plane. The best part is that the seat in front of you had a screen on the back of their seats. We could watch a myriad of programming once in the air. One option was one of about three or four in flight movies, or some programming from the A & E Network, a handful of music channels and my favorite, the map channel.

The map channel (obviously as I call it) showed a map of the USA with a little plane icon showing where we are at any given moment. We had a slide show presentation during the entire flight. The screens showed our height, speed, outside air temperature, miles traveled, miles to go, time in flight, and estimated time of arrival. Couple that with being able to listen in to the flight deck, it was an enlightening flight. I gave up on the flight deck talk, but did enjoy watching us cross the United States. One map would be a total overview, then the next map would be of one or two states on the screen, so it was much more detailed. I thought it was a fascinating and entertaining way to spend the flight in between my naps.

We did get delayed in Chicago for longer than we anticipated. There was severe weather in Denver that had us all delayed. Our plane that was to take us from Chicago to Cleveland originated in Denver then it went on to Dallas before coming to Chicago. So, we sat. And sat. And sat. By the way, if anyone out there has ever had to spend a long stretch of time with a smoker than can't smoke, it's no fun! (HI, Ron!!) Luckily, as soon as we finally got to Cleveland after 1:00 am, I sent him directly outside while I went to baggage claim before one of us killed the other one. Five minutes later, he was back to his old self. Thank goodness!

We got home very late, and once home, we woke the fish and counted them to make sure everyone was still there. We did have someone come in to feed the fish a couple of times while we were gone, but unfortunately, no one noticed that seafood pizza on the counter. Yeah, that was still waiting for us when we got back.

I seem to be having a few issues with the time change on this side as well, but once I get that licked, I should be ok. Actually, I was talking to my sister in law Friday afternoon and she thought I was absolutely out of my mind! She wanted to talk to Ron to find out what happened to me.

But, that will be a story for the next blog.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Decorating Sense

Ron and I just got back from vacationing in sunny California.

The most important part of this vacation was to see some of my family, as I have a brother and a sister living out there.

I also have a niece buried in California. We stopped at the cemetery to pay our respects and to let her know she may be gone but she is not forgotten.

I come from a family of cemetery visitors. Our visits consist of prayers or heart to heart talks with those that have gone, some flowers, and maybe a little manicuring of the grass or plants around the head stone.

In the cemetery where my niece is, there were many graves that families have visited with a lot more than we ever did.

Granted, we were there two days before Christmas, but I have never seen this many Christmas decorations in one place, let alone in a cemetery. Ron grabbed a picture of one grave shown here.

So many of these graves are lined in tinsel, with flowers and/or gifts all over the grave. We have seen crystal figurines to full Nativity sets, to children's toys. I am not sure what the significance of this grave decorating is, but it was a sight to see.

Our Mary didn't get tinsel, or a Christmas tree, or a stuffed horse that was bigger than I am, but she did get a bouquet of pink lilies, and a long heart to heart talk filling her in on all that has been going on with the family.

From what I hear, Christmas isn't the only holiday that warrants a giant makeover at the cemetery. I know we all grieve in our own way and we all deal with the aftermath our own way. I don't know the whys of the decorating, but the result was beautiful.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Santa Claus IS Coming To Town

In case you haven't heard, Santa Claus is coming to town.

But in this day and age, he's modernizing away from the cold sleigh and him and his reindeer are traveling mini van style!

Is it Santa? Or is it my brother, Philip?

Brother Philip has all of his reindeer up on his dash leading his way through town. I had to get a picture of him driving down the road because I thought unless you see it, you wouldn't believe it.

Y'all better be good for goodness sakes! You never know where you're going to run into Santa!

Welcome To LA!

Yes, we are now in sunny California visiting my sister Cathie and my brother Philip. Saturday was a loooong day of travel, but aside from a few glitches, we made it in one piece.

The first glitch was the Friday night for dinner we had a seafood pizza. We didn’t finish the pizza and since we were leaving town, I figured I’d just throw out the leftovers into the garbage can outside. When we were half way to the airport, I realized that I left the pizza box right on the counter. Ugh. Do you have any idea how that is going to smell when we get home? If anyone out there that has a key to my house feels like going over there and throwing out that box, we’d appreciate it!

We had three legs of travel. Cleveland to Chicago was first. Aside from being delayed out of Cleveland, we still arrived in Chicago with enough time to grab a fast bite to eat and then get on our plane to LA.

The Chicago to LA leg was a little more uncomfortable. Just because I had the middle seat and I was afraid to move through most of the flight. Bad news is they had a sucky movie playing, so I opted to sleep most of this leg. I guess that’s not such bad news after all!

The final leg of this trip was LA straight to Oxnard. On the ground, this is a 60 mile trip, or about an hour drive. Fighting LA traffic. Since we’re on vacation, we decided alleviate as much stress as we could. We ended up opting for this third flight, so it would be an easy drive from Oxnard to Ojai, where Cathie lives and little to no traffic.

This flight kind of scared me in theory. It was a turbo prop plane (yes, this means propellers) and nothing that archaic should be getting off of the ground, especially with my big butt in it. The plane was even scarier when I saw it in person. Maybe 10 rows of seats not including Skippy, our 12 year old pilot and that was it. The plane bounced like crazy down the runway to the point that I wasn’t sure it was going to hold together.

I came close to breaking Ron’s hand, I was holding on so tightly, but once we got a little altitude, this was the most gorgeous flight I’ve ever been on. We followed the coast line of the Pacific Ocean the 60 miles or so to the north. Just seeing the view from the plane was worth the price of the ticket. It was such a shame that the flight only lasted a total of 15 minutes. I’m telling you, it was breathtaking. The only bad side to this leg of the trip is that our luggage didn’t make it across the airport as quickly as we did. Our bags, we were told, did not make this flight but would be on the next flight, about four hours later.

Brother Philip was nice enough to pick us up at the airport and with no luggage to be had at the moment, we just left and met up with Cathie for dinner. We had a great leisurely dinner with Cathie filled with lots of laughs and lots of memories.

Philip was gracious enough to offer to pick our bags up at the airport when the later flight came in. Luckily, we had the foresight to pack an emergency carry on bag with extra underwear and a clean shirt. All we needed to stop for on the way to the house was a new toothbrush. Philip hung on to our bags and we were reunited on Sunday with our bags.

It was a great day today. I forgot to take my camera with me today, but luckily, Philip was not as scatter brained as I was. I used his camera to take a bunch of pictures and hopefully, once I get them from him I will be posting some of them here.

Keep watching for our California fun filled vacation.

For all of you in snowy Ohio and Pennsylvania, the weather here was absolutely perfect today. Mid seventies with the sun shining! Aah. This is the life!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Travel Story

I have a story from a couple of Fridays ago and coming home from Chicago.

Our flight out of Chicago is scheduled for just after 4:00 in the afternoon. Since we leave so early, we usually don’t stop working for a “lunch” break and end up stopping for some kind of fast food on our way to the airport.

Last Friday, someone got a wild hair and decided that Wendy’s wasn’t good enough for him this Friday and wanted something different. We pulled into the plaza that Wendy’s was in, and he looked around and saw what he thought was a Chinese restaurant in the plaza and said let’s go there. Well, I’m here to tell you, Korean food is nothing like Chinese food!

It started with the fact that the three of us were the only non-Oriental looking people in the place as well as the only three that spoke any English. Being in an adventurous mood, we decided to stay anyway.

The menus again were only subtitled in English, and this time I had my reading glasses on me. I picked something that said beef with various vegetables. How can that be a bad thing? I should have been able to eat that. One of the guys ended up ordering the same thing and one of the guys again just pointed at something.

The server brought us each out two water glasses, one of which was filled with ice water and the other was filled with a warm amber colored (ok, it looked like pee!) liquid. The water was mighty tasty. No, I didn’t taste the other.

Lunch was served and this is where the confusion really began. I’m sure it was good food to anyone that knows anything about Korean food. But, being a hick from the United States, I didn’t have a clue what the hell was served, and neither did anyone else at our table.

First, I had my bowl of food. What I think was the beef in this dish we were guessing was actually pickled beef and it was cold. The veggies (not swearing to that) were julienned and absolutely nothing was recognizable. There was white stuff, yellow stuff, brown stuff, red stuff. As I usually do better tasting new things when I don’t know what they are, I tried them all. Yuck is the most family friendly word I can come up with now.

Aside from my big bowl of food, it came with a smaller bowl, of soup looking stuff. I recognized a few mushrooms in there as well as two little pieces of tofu. I ate the mushrooms and tofu. It was my suggestion that this soup mixture should maybe go into the big bowl as the stuff in the big bowl was kinda dry, even with the gummy rice. So we did that.

Also on our table, the server laid down six small bowls in the middle of the table that had absolutely nothing recognizable on any of them! Well, one bowl sort of looked like a really small piece of lasagna, but from what I heard from one person that was brave enough to try it, it was nothing like lasagna. I don’t have a clue! We tried to ask the server what to do with these bowls, but she just looked at us and smiled and backed away.

Needless to say, two of our lunches went uneaten. It’s not just that I couldn’t recognize anything, but it all really tasted bad! VERY bad! Sort of like poop on a platter. It was so bad, it made the McDonald’s I bought at the airport taste good. You know if anything makes McDonald’s taste good, it has to be bad in comparison!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Needed: Rebound Testers

One present I received as a youngster for Christmas was a game called Rebound. It’s a simple game, using a few ball bearings with bumpers on them, plus a plastic board consisting of two side by side lanes with two angled rubber bands at the top of the lanes. The object of this game is to shoot your ball bearing up one lane, off one rubber band, off the second rubber band, down the second lane to lined scoring areas - sort of like shuffleboard scoring. You shoot too hard and your ball bearing zooms right off of the second lane, no score.

It was a cool game, but the best memory of this game is the back story that goes with it. Brothers Michael and Jim put my game together that year before Christmas to “test” it out before I got it, to make sure it worked. A couple of evenings, the boys were in the attic playing with my game and all we could hear in the kitchen is that dang ball bearing zooming up and down the plastic lanes. My parents probably knew exactly what was going on upstairs, but I didn’t. And, they wouldn’t let me upstairs to look, so it was driving me crazy! Come Christmas Eve, I get my game, Jim knows how to play it really well as he’s been practicing, and kicks my ass on every round. So not fair! The joke that year was that my game even came pre-tested!

Saturday, Ron and I were doing some Christmas shopping for the little kids in his family. And what did I see on the shelf? Rebound! Yeah, I talked him right into buying it for one of the kids. I was hoping to “test” the game Sunday evening but unfortunately, time got away from me. Don’t be surprised by the time that gift is presented at the Christmas party that it’s not a fully tested version of Rebound.

Se Habla Espanol?

Talking about food, Wednesday night, it was not my turn to pick a restaurant for dinner. Because if it had been my turn, my choice would not have been the Spanish restaurant we ended up at for dinner.

One of my problems is that my eyes have really turned to crap. I think it’s time for me to finally talk to the eye doctor about that dreaded “B” word. (That’s bifocals to any younguns reading this.) I have reading glasses that I have to wear at work when I have my contacts in because I can’t read our data books without them. I could blame it on the 2400 pages of fine print per book, with anywhere from 6 to 20 books per audit that are analyzed line per line. That’s a lot of reading of fine print. The fact that I used to be able to do it with no trouble shouldn’t scare me in the least.

But, back to my dinner.

The restaurant was dimly lit (yes, still making excuses for myself.) and the menu was all in Spanish. There were very few words I could understand. There seemed to be English subtitles to the menu, but between the lighting and my bad eyes, I couldn’t read a damn thing. For once, I was grateful I took two years of high school Spanish way back in the stone ages. I saw an entry called Pasta Con Pollo. Yep, that high school Spanish kicked in and I ordered it. The Pasta with Chicken was passable for supper and it was loads better than the snails on toast points that someone at my table ended up with for dinner. That will teach him to just point and not ask the waiter.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

That's Just Good Food

I may hate my job and I may really dislike the people I have to travel with, but once in awhile something good has to happen. It wasn’t much, but this week, I have to look for my silver linings wherever I can find them.

One of the things I miss about Houston was some of the restaurants - in particular, Pappadeaux. This is my absolute favorite restaurant in the world. Of course it ain’t cheap, but if you ever run across one, open up the wallet a little and enjoy.

In the fours years I’ve done this audit, I didn’t know Pappadeaux was in Chicago. I always assumed it was a southern thing. Well, Tuesday night we all went to Pappadeaux for dinner. This is the restaurant that started my love of crawfish.

I couldn’t talk the guys into my favorite appetizer of crawfish and shrimp fondeaux. This stuff is the absolute bomb! I gave in though and we ended up ordering the fried alligator as an appetizer. Now, I’m not usually very out of the box when it comes to eating, but if they were willing to try alligator, I had to at least get one bite in my mouth to say I’ve tried it. Surprise, surprise, I liked it! I didn’t care for the spicy cocktail sauce that came with it as it was too spicy for my tastes, but the fried alligator was actually very good. And, yes, it tasted like chicken.

This was followed with my main course of the crawfish platter! Ok, I always order the crawfish platter when at Pappadeaux. I can’t help myself. I thought I’d try something different, but it may be another six years until I can get to another Pappadeaux, so I thought I had better get my crawfish fix while I can.

Picture this: a huge plate full of crawfish etouffee, some dirty rice and a pile of fried crawfish. Holy cow. I honestly did my best to finish my dinner, but I couldn’t get through it all. My taste buds were so happy, even my toes were tapping under the table while I was eating. The etouffee was a bit on the spicy side so my nose was running too, but I guess you didn’t need to know that part. Why oh why can’t I cook like that?

I paid the price for this great meal though. Like I said, I ate too much. And, we ate late. It was after 9:00 last night when we got back to the hotel and all I wanted to do was to crawl into bed and sleep. With a belly full, that wasn’t going to happen. So, I walked up and down my room, just trying to get the digestion process going. I thought that whoever was below me might not appreciate all of the walking, so I took my show on the road. I went into the hallway and walked up and down the hallway. Then, I went down to the lobby and walked around the lobby. Finally, about 11:30 pm I couldn’t hold my eyes open any longer so I had to get to bed. I wasn’t happy with myself when my alarm went off at 5:00 am.

It was worth it though. I had my crawfish fix and while I could have wished for better company to eat with, there was absolutely no complaints about the food or the service. And, I even got to try alligator!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

No One Can Hear Me Now

Talk about dumbass moves.

Last Friday, when I was checking out of the hotel, I did not do a stellar job grabbing my stuff before leaving. I usually am pretty systematic about going through the room making sure I have everything. I remember taking a second look in the bathroom but it seems I missed a second glance at the work desk in the room.

Unfortunately, I didn’t remember that until I was back on the audit site after check out when I realized that I didn’t pick up either of my cell phone chargers. My personal cell phone, a Motorola Razor is a piece of crap that drops calls at my house with such consistency that you wouldn’t believe it. That coupled with the fact that the battery can go from full to zero in a day really makes it a piece of crap phone. This phone I was at least able to charge a little bit in the car on Sunday while Ron and I ran some errands (aka Christmas shopping). However, my work phone was soon to be dead in the water.

As soon as I realized what I did, I called the hotel, told them that I had just checked out from Room 913 and left two phone chargers on my desk. I asked that they hold them until Monday as I was due back in town. She assured me that she would inform housekeeping about my blunder and they would hold the phones at the front desk.

Not trusting other people, I called the hotel again Sunday evening to verify they did indeed have my phone chargers. I was left on hold for a long time, even hung up on. I still called back and waited again until the girl came back on the phone and assured me that the phone chargers were indeed at the front desk and I only had to ask for them when I checked in on Monday. Yeah, I really should have made her repeat her name as I didn’t catch it the two times I called.

Believe it or not, I checked in Monday night, when through this story of being assured my chargers would be there on Friday and again on Sunday being told they were there, and yet, when I got there, no phone chargers. Now I’m wondering if their employees are trained to lie to customers on the phone just to get them off of the phone, or if that just an isolated incident. Yes, I know, it was MY mistake for leaving the chargers there, but I tried to do the prudent thing and inform the hotel before my room even got cleaned and try to verify on Sunday before I got there. Yeah, this was an expensive lesson learned in not taking my time on Fridays and checking out too quickly. I of all people should know better.

Since I was still pissed at myself last night, and not able to concentrate so well, Ron was nice enough to order me two phone chargers last night which hopefully should be at home when I get there on Friday. The only up side to this is that my boss and I both have the exact same work phone. Lucky for me, he had his phone charger on him Tuesday morning. My work phone will be fully charged for the week, but my personal phone is dead.

So, here is where the story was supposed to end. However, this morning at 6:00 am before we left for work, I spoke to another desk clerk, Analiza. She was a lot more capable than the rest. I told her my story, she said that the housekeeping manager starts at 6:30 am and she would talk to the housekeeping manager about it. I got back to the hotel tonight just after 9:00 pm and on my desk were my chargers!!! Analiza also left me a message on the room phone at 6:45 am stating that they have found the chargers and they would leave them in my room for me. Oh happy day.

I went back downstairs to see if a manager was in the building. I spoke with him and told him my story and wanted to give a pat on the back to Analiza. I said she, unlike the rest, went above and beyond and actually got results. I wanted to thank her for that. So, hopefully, her boss will make sure she realizes how much I appreciated all of her help.

I'm almost afraid to see what Wednesday will bring. It's been a heck of a week.

Monday, December 10, 2007

That Almost Ruined Our Dinner

When I have to fly out for work, Ron has been nice enough to give me door to door service to and from the airport. That is a tremendous help as I don’t have to walk the ten miles from the parking lot to the terminal and back. As an added bonus, we usually stop to get dinner on our way home from the airport on Friday nights.

Last Friday, my plane came in about 7:00 pm. By now, both of us are hungry but are still having that never ending argument “I don’t know, where do YOU want to go?” Finally, I made an executive decision to go to Applebee’s. I know that’s not one of Ron’s favorite places to go but I happen to love it here. I should learn to never choose Applebee’s again when Ron is with me. Something invariably happens and it’s never good.

This time, Ron and I both ordered steaks. They are Applebee’s featured special at the moment. I went for medium and Ron chose medium rare. When our steaks arrived, mine was cooked as ordered, but poor Ron’s was way over done. It leaned a lot closer to medium well than medium rare. He did send his steak back to be done again and the poor guy waited. I guess I’m not a good girlfriend, as I ate my steak in front of me while he watched. Until . . .

The sounds of regurgitation were coming from the table across the aisle and one more back behind Ron. Come to find out, when the girl across the aisle started to cut into her steak and saw all of the blood, she lost it, and I mean that literally. Her boyfriend was a stand up guy and immediately got up to shield her as best he could from the rest of the restaurant while keeping a comforting hand on her shoulder and telling her to catch her breath. All well and good for her, but it did nothing for our appetites watching her throw up over her dinner. Or actually on her dinner. Blech.

After a couple of trips to the ladies room, she finally got herself under control. During one of those trips, when the waitress went to their table to see what was wrong, luckily the heaving girl was in the bathroom. Her date showed the server just how bloody that steak was, and that looking at it made his date sick. Like I said, it didn’t do much for me, either.

In the end, I think what happened is that she ended up with Ron’s steak and he had the one intended for her. Either way, if I was that squeamish about blood, I don’t think I’d be ordering steak any time soon. At least they comped Ron’s meal. Maybe I should have thrown up too and we could have had an entire dinner on the house.

And on the table.

And on the carpet.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Yes, I'm Old! But Not THAT Old!

Let’s talk about perspective.

Thursday afternoon on the audit site, I was talking to two employees. One of the employees has only been with my client a few months. The other employee we have joked with previously that she had been there so long that they built the building up around her.

I asked her just how many years she has been there. She said she started here in 1980. Giving away the fact that I’m no spring chicken, I said that geez, I was still in high school in 1980! I thought that was funny until the new employee said “wow! I wasn’t even BORN yet”.

Yeah, this almost made the “That’s Just Wrong” book.

Scrape Some For Me

Chicago weather has not been good this week. Yeah, this is the perfect place to visit in December!

On Wednesday, we had about eight inches of snow by where we are. It was cold and blustery and slippery and just plain miserable all day long. I wasn’t smart enough to pack some snow boots and I found out that my left shoe has a hole in it. One day my left toes will thaw out.

We have the problem again of too many auditors for one car. It’s not that four of us don’t fit into a car, but find a car that will fit luggage and lap top bags for four people. Enterprise never seems to have the “right” sized vehicle in stock so once again we’re in a bus. Well, Ford Expedition actually, but it might as well be a bus! I don’t care so much this year though, since I’m not the one that has to park it. My boss is here, so he has to do all of the driving.

This vehicle is so big, it has its own atmosphere inside, or so it seems. Like I said, Wednesday we had eight inches of snow and cold and blustery. We left the audit site, went to dinner and then drove the three miles to the hotel where we hunkered down for the night.

Thursday morning, according to the news, it was eight degrees outside. I don’t care where you are, when it registers only single digits, it is cold. We all jumped up into the Expedition shivering. We got the heat blowing awhile and the driver got out to scrape the ice off of the windows. Then we realized that there was more ice on the inside of the windows than the outside. In all my years of growing up in snow country, I’ve never had to scrape the entire inside part of the windows along with the outside of the windows.

Yeah, that’s cold.

That's Just Wrong, Page 12

There was another tragedy on Wednesday; a mall shooting in Omaha Nebraska. Nine are dead, including the gunman.

I have always had issues with news agencies sticking cameras in grieving family’s faces asking them how they feel about losing their loved ones. Report the news. Don’t show me a grieving mother who is not ready to come to terms with the fact that her child has died a horrible and unnatural death. Just report the news.

Wednesday night, I was flipping through channels at the hotel and came across news anchor Anderson Cooper talking about the shooting at the Omaha mall. This was the first I had heard about it. Anderson Cooper was interviewing a woman that was in the mall when the shooting started and was hiding in a clothes rack with her Mom as they waited for help to arrive.

Anderson actually asked her: “So tell me, with all of the mall shootings that have happened this year, how did it feel to actually be there instead of watching it on television?”

Um, hello? What do you think, Coop? I say we staple him to a paper target at a firing range during their busiest hour and ask HIM how he feels being there live instead of watching it in a movie.

That was just wrong.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I Am Feeling The Love

Aside from Mr. Newsman and my boss, I guess not everyone dislikes me.

I sure did get me some love here at the audit in Chicago. We do this audit every year, and this is the fourth year in a row I’ve been here. The staff loves me here! And I don’t think it ALL has to do with the fact that I buy them donuts every Friday that I’m here!

The four of us auditors pulled up on site Monday morning about 10:00 a.m. Walking in the door was like a homecoming for me. Half of the staff got in line to hug me as I came through the department. The rest of the auditors got nods hello, but no hugs. That earned me a few comments from the other auditors along the lines of WTF.

The best part though, came at lunch. We went to a Greek diner for lunch that I’ve been to many times on my previous trips to Chicago. As soon as we all walked in, the one waitress ran right up to me and hugged me and said she was happy to see I made it back into town and came to the restaurant again! Yeah, being a good tipper helps too.

The guys better watch out. I have friends in town! Who’d have thought?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I Have No Tact

Or, so I have been told.

Friday I was having an attitude day. You know, one of those days when almost anything can bother you? There I was, blowing off a little steam with a favorite website while at work. Thanks go to my nephew, Michael, for that one. Like I need help goofing off! But, I digress.

I followed a link on Fark to an article. You know, one of those Christmas/dead soldier stories. It could have been a good sappy story for the holiday, but all I could see were two typos. Considering this article came from a "News" agency, KUTV out of Utah, I thought it was horrific that the typos were there. And, not one typo but two typos. It's not a blog from a nobody, it's not an e-mail or a letter from friend to friend, it's a news report. Call me stupid, but I think that they should be typo-free.

Did I mention that I was having a snarky day? The guy had his e-mail address as part of his article, so I took advantage of it. Here is my e-mail to him, in its entirety less our names:

Mr. XXX:
After reading your article, only one thing remains in my mind. You really need to hire a proof reader.

I thought I was being as nice as I could be, letting him know that he screwed up without telling him in a way that I really wanted to use! Here was his response, again in its entirety, less our names:

Thank you for the message and for pointing out the two grammatical errors contained within the copy.
Next time, however, I hope you will use more tact with your criticism.

I was going to link his article to this blog, but I just went and reread his article and he FIXED the typos. There went my fun. Since he said I was tactless, I am not giving him any publicity here.

As a side note, anyone that knows me, knows my e-mail to him WAS tactful. He should have seen the first five drafts of the e-mail. Good thing I proof read before I hit the send button, not only for typos but for decorum as well. Yeah, buddy. This was the cleaned up version.