March 29, 2017

Going home to Texas...trip re-cap.

I finally came home to North Carolina yesterday.  Considering I came back with just a smidge more than I left with - and everything I left with ALSO came home with me - I consider this trip a success.

There were only two, small hiccups during the trip.

The first involved the hotel in Austin. The hotel was GORGEOUS and I can highly recommend the Hampton Inn & Suites in downtown Austin (I'm only linking it for anyone looking for accommodations, not because I'm being asked/paid too).  It's not an inexpensive hotel but the stay was worth it - particularly since I wasn't paying for it.  The room/suite was HUGE and beautiful.  They also offer a complimentary breakfast and a "social" hour for all guests; not that I took advantage of those amenities.  This hotel was perfect and the hiccup was of no fault of the hotel or staff.

No, the fault lies with me.

The first time it happened was a total accident but by the third time....

I think this sums it up quite nicely. *sigh*

You'd think I would have figured it out after the first time, when the person at the front desk said, "You must have gotten the card key too close to your phone."  Did that register with me?  No.  No, it did not.  Because I repeatedly shoved that card key into my back pocket.  The same back pocket that held my phone.

The second hiccup involved the parking lot at the Charlotte airport long term parking.  No, I didn't forget where I parked.  I wrote it down, remember?  The shuttle driver dropped me right where I needed to be - but despite all my best efforts, I simply could not find the ticket stub that clocked me in.  I panicked just a little because all the signage led me to believe that this was a fully automated parking lot so I couldn't suss out how I was going to get out without that ticket.  

I finally chased down a shuttle and the driver informed me that it WASN'T a fully automated lot and the attendant would be able to help me out - so crisis averted.

And?  Guess what I found today?  That stupid ticket.  And it was in the most obvious place.  Of course.

The rest of the trip was wonderful.  I learned a great deal during the training (which totally justified the cost - which I will share with my boss over the coming days - once I get caught up) and had SO much fun catching up with my oldest friend.  It was during the course of our visit we realized that we've been friends for over 30 years - this shocked both of us. We simply couldn't figure out where the time had gone since we are both still SO young..

We stayed up late into the night talking and binge-watching season one of  This Is Us (if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it - as long as you have a big box of tissues with you).  We both felt a little guilty spending so much time with the television but believe me, we still had plenty of time to catch up and have fun.

The majority of the nights found us up until 2:00 am (yes, ME, up that late!).  On Monday, we both decreed it an early night so I could get up to fly home only to find ourselves going to bed around 12:30 am.  That's what the power of a friendship separated will do to you; it will force you to stay up far too late, for far too many nights trying to eke out every last bit of time you have together.

I met her brand new grand-kids - they are SO cute - and marveled over the fact that her sons are old enough to have babies of their own.  We hit Galveston for a few hours.  We shopped.  We ate.  We had a wonderful time.

We agreed that we need to meet up at least once a year.  But we both know - as you probably do - that life will most likely get in the way of that; so we will settle for whatever time we can take.

The only thing that I didn't like?  The traffic.  Austin traffic was bad but compared to the Houston traffic, it was nothing.  The morning I was to leave we were up having coffee, saying our goodbyes, and glancing at the local news.  It was 5:30 am and the traffic report showed the Gulf Freeway in bumper to bumper traffic - AT 5:30 IN THE MORNING!

I remember traffic being bad when I lived there but I don't remember it being as bad as it is now.  I have since vowed to never, ever complain about the traffic here again.

And despite what life may throw at us - and the traffic, I'm hoping to get home again soon.  Maybe next time, I'll actually be able to see a few other people too...I doubt it though.  She is one of my favorite people that I want to spend time with...

March 22, 2017

Austin, TX...

I am currently typing this on a tiny tablet in a GINORMOUS hotel room in downtown Austin, Texas - so please forgive any and all typos and formatting issues that may ensue...

Remember that work trip I told you about, WAY back when?  Well, it's now.

Yesterday, I drove to Charlotte to catch a direct flight.  Charlotte's about an hour and a half away from home.  The drive was ok, I've done it before but I was nervous.  I couldn't put my finger on it for the longest time and then I realized...this was the first time I've flown out of Charlotte.  I've flown THROUGH Charlotte, but never had an originating flight from there.  As I pulled into the airport, I became a little overwhelmed.  It also dawned on me...this is the first time I've ever gone completely solo.  Usually, Man-Child is with me or I'm headed directly to people I know.  This time...I'm on my own.  At least until I hit Houston, sometime Friday afternoon.

Usually, when I fly out of our airport, I have someone drop me off and I know exactly where I need to go and what I need to do.  Yesterday, I was a bit at a loss.  I parked in long term parking since I will be gone for a week.  If I'd thought it through a bit more, I might have parked at the closer long term parking.  Lesson learned.

I caught the shuttle to the actual airport and the driver was extremely helpful.  She reminded me THREE times about where she picked me up and where I should be to catch the shuttle back to my car.  Being the forgetful diligent person that I am, I wrote it all down.  I successfully checked in and yet somehow completely botched tagging my bag.  At my airport, they do it for you.  Luckily, the charming guy that checked my bag was able to fix it.  After I apologized one too many times he replied, "If this is the hardest thing that happens to me today then it will be a good day."

With baggage and security behind me, I settled in to wait for my flight.  This time was completely uneventful.  I boarded my flight and settled in for the trip.

I was saddled with a mother and child for seat mates.  To be honest, I really can't complain.  The child was very well behaved, as was the mother.  But after being without a small one in the house for a VERY long time, the constant questions from the child became a bit tiresome.  BUT, she was well behaved.  And seemed to be a very bright and inquisitive little girl, which speaks well of her mother - but again, the sing-song way she responded to the child also got tiresome after awhile - but I'm NOT complaining, because it could have been SO much worse.

The one thing I CAN complain about...the guy across the aisle?  He decided to watch a movie on his phone.  Which was fine.  Except he didn't have headphones.  Now, while the noise level wasn't excessive, I could hear most of the dialogue and background noise - which didn't really become an irritant until the end of the flight.  I felt more sorry for his seat mate who finally gave up trying to read her book and just played solitaire on her computer.  Manners and consideration, people...they mean more today than ever before.

Upon landing, I thought "Ahh, I'm here!"  thinking I could relax.  Hahahaha.  I forgot about the navigating around a strange city.  I found my rental car with only a little difficulty.  I looked at the directions to the hotel and immediately got a tension headache.  Finally, I just typed the address into Google Maps and followed the voice...tell me, HOW did we exist before our current technology??!!

After fighting and cursing through the unrelenting 5:00 pm traffic I ended up at this gorgeous hotel where I settled in and relaxed a bit before heading out to dinner.  I made a beeline for the Mexican restaurant on the corner to enjoy a margarita and what I hoped was some good food.  It wasn't the best but it was good and the margarita was perfect.

Since there was still plenty of daylight, with lots of people around, I decided to walk around the block to see what is around here.  Once I turned the corner, it was quiet and empty.  As I kept walking, I noticed a young man turn the corner ahead and began walking toward me.  I didn't think to much of this until - after he passed me - I had a feeling and turned back to look - sure enough, he was now walking back toward me!  I didn't panic but was concerned enough to pick up my pace AND kept an eye on him until I reached the corner where a restaurant's patio seating was full of people.  He walked quickly past me and off into another block.

At that point, I figured it was time to get to my room and hunker down for the night.  Which I did, until 1:00 am.

At almost exactly 1:00 am the fire alarm began to go off.  Up until this point in my life, I'd always wondered whether I'd sleep through a fire alarm - turns out I won't.  Particularly, this one.  It was crazy loud - which I imagine it has to be to empty a hotel.  How I managed to grab my robe, my purse and my room keys, I'll never know.  It was SO disorienting.  As I staggered out of my room, a young woman came charging out of her room asking what we should do.  I responded by pointing toward the emergency exit.  Just as we hit the door, a policeman came barreling through it.  Presumably to get people out.

It's a strange thing to be milling around outside, in the middle of the night, disoriented and sleepy while in your pajamas with complete strangers.  All of which seemed to have the presence of mind to have grabbed their phones.  The young woman beside me was concerned because her friend was housed several floors above us and she didn't see her in the crowd.  I pointed to her phone and asked if she'd tried to contact her.  We drifted away from each other as she tried to contact her friend.  I'm sure she was probably in another group similar to ours on the other side of the hotel.

We all watched as the fire trucks came and the firemen headed inside.  We noted that one window on the 8th floor had a flashing light and assumed that whatever had triggered the alarm came from that room.

We were in the street for maybe twenty minutes before they gave us the all clear to head back in.  I have to tell you, prior to the alarm, I was out like a light.  But after?  My sleep was fitful at best.

Of course, after such a poor night's sleep, I found myself up WAY before I needed to be this morning - not even taking into account the time difference.  My body was still on East Coast time.  I found an endless supply of coffee and caffeinated myself accordingly and headed over to the Boot Camp/Conference, which was fairly uneventful and would be totally boring for you, so I shall refrain from submitting you to that - you are welcome.

 Now here is where I mention the most important part - I simply CANNOT wear my hair straight here.  It does what it wants, which means today was a frizzy, wild hair kind of day.  Tomorrow, I will acquiesce and let the curls take over.  I should have known.

Now that I've experienced creating a post on the tablet, I can promise, I won't  be doing it again. What a pain!

March 17, 2017

The great ketchup (or, catsup, IF you insist) debate...

It all began as I was describing to a co-worker just how badly a local fast-food restaurant completely messed up my order.

I will admit, I went there under duress, as I've been avoiding fast food but I had spent the majority of my lunch hour snuggling my friend's brand new baby (love!) and needed a quick meal before returning to work.  I ordered a bacon cheeseburger, no onions, no ketchup (hey, if I'm going to eat crap, I reckon I should enjoy it).  Instead I received a cheeseburger - sans the bacon - slathered in ketchup.

I declared to said co-worker, that ketchup on a hamburger is a total abomination to which she replied, "Really?"  I looked at her in horror as it dawned on me that she is of the "ketchup on a burger camp."

I asked her, " eat your hamburgers with ketchup?!"  She replied that she did - but preferred just a little on it.  I was horrified.

I looked at her and said, "What about hot dogs?  Please tell me you don't put ketchup on hot dogs."  To which she nodded again, qualifying that she only wanted a little.  But, apparently, her husband and daughter love the stuff and coat everything in it.

In my mind, hamburgers should be eaten with either mayo or mustard - alone or together.  And hot dogs get mustard period.  The only things that require ketchup is meatloaf and occasionally I'll use just a dab for french fries.  And my little family agrees with me.  Neither The Husband or Man-Child put ketchup on anything else.

Considering I've known this woman for 16 years this was quite the revelation.  We've had lunch together many times and I'd never known this about her.  Apparently, we don't eat hamburgers or hot dogs at these lunches - come to think of it, it's usually Mexican food.

After this conversation, it occurred to me, surely I can't be the only one who has firm beliefs about the use of ketchup.  And surely, her family can't be the only one who uses ketchup so indiscriminately.

Where do you fall - in the ketchup should only be used in conjunction with meatloaf and french fries camp or the ketchup on everything camp?

March 10, 2017

Amazon Prime and a Mystery


Why hasn't anyone told me how fabulous this service is and how much I needed it in my life?!  Yes, I live under a rock.

I assumed, incorrectly, that Amazon Prime was basically just a way to avoid shipping on certain items and considering how infrequently I ordered from Amazon, I figured it wouldn't be worth the cost for me.

I finally signed up for a free trial when there was a particular item that I could only get from Amazon that I needed fairly soon.  And then it began to dawn on me just how awesome Amazon Prime could be.

Streaming, Reading, Pantry, not to mention the free two day shipping.  I'm sure I still haven't plumbed the depths of awesome that is Amazon Prime.  That free trial is over.  This is a service I will definitely be keeping. Now if we could just figure out how to get it to stream on the television The Husband would be happy...I have a feeling that would necessitate a new television though...which, again, would make The Husband happy.

THE MYSTERY: It's Either Paranormal, An Intruder, They Are Gas-Lighting Me, or I'm REALLY Not Paying Attention:

So you know how you go through your every day routine without being very "mindful" about what you are doing?  That's what I was doing yesterday.  I started the Roomba, checked that Man-Child's door was closed and any obstacles were out of it's way.  I headed to the kitchen to load and start the dishwasher prior to leaving for work.

As I got into the car, I realized I'd forgotten to actually start the dishwasher - annoyed, I went back into the house - luckily I did, the stupid Roomba had somehow closed itself into the bathroom so I freed the robot, started the dishwasher and left.

When I came home last night, the first thing I noticed was that Man-Child's door was wide open.  The next thing I noticed was a glass in the sink.  I could have sworn I'd checked that door and that the sink was empty.

When The Husband came home, I asked if he'd come home for lunch, as he sometimes does - no.  When Man-Child came home, I asked if he'd come home after work before heading to the the gym (which he never does) - no.

Now, I suppose it's possible, I didn't pull that door completely closed and the Roomba went in and somehow came out without getting tangled in all the crap on his floor.  Doubtful, but possible.  Except for the fact that I vaguely remember pushing the door to make sure it was latched.  And I feel sure that when I came back in to start the dishwasher, I would have noticed the glass in the sink - particularly since it was upside down - unusual, because I cannot recall a time when anyone in this house has ever put a glass in the sink upside down.

But since these were routine tasks I can't be 100% positive.  I try to be mindful about certain tasks like unplugging my curling/flat irons every morning because I don't want to burn my house down but I can't tell you how many times I've been halfway to the office only to think, "DID I unplug those things?" and subsequently text The Husband to ask him to check on his lunch hour.  And 99% of the time, I had.

Now here's where I tell you that we still haven't changed the locks or the passcode on the garage door since we moved in, well over a year ago.  I know, I know!  The Husband nagged me about these things when we first moved in but as I want to change all the knobs, etc. I needed to determine what finish I wanted - and as for the passcode - well, we couldn't easily figure that out.

When I got home yesterday, the garage door was closed (which, if someone had come in they would have had to figure out how to get it closed since it will currently only open.  In order to get it closed requires special maneuvers more involved than just hitting the button), all the doors and windows were locked.  So the odds of someone getting in are slim; unless they had a key.  Besides, nothing else was missing or messed up.

Suffice it to say, this morning I was EXTRA mindful AND I have decided on a finish for all the door knobs.  And when I came home everything was as it should have been - well, other than the Roomba sitting in the middle of the living room floor for no discernible reason.

As to the explanation that one of these guys of mine is gas-lighting me - Man-Child has never had the ability to look me in the eye and lie without detection and I cannot imagine The Husband going to these lengths to make me crazy, particularly since he knows he has the ability to make me insane without taking extra steps.

That only leaves the paranormal.  And if that turns out to be the case, I am SO selling this place.  Because I don't have the time or patience to deal with poltergeists.

And yes, the locks are getting changed this weekend.

March 6, 2017

Without a doubt, today was a Monday...and the coffee saga continues.

Mondays are always difficult - but today was exceptionally difficult as our alarm didn't go off as expected this morning.

That always heralds the beginning of a rough day - having it occur on a Monday is nearly lethal and always ensures that I'm going to be extra discombobulated for most of the day.

Today was no exception.

After rushing around this morning, fighting with my new curling iron (it worked fine but that one lock of hair just refused to curl - as the day went on that one lock of hair just wilted even more.  As I am typing, it is the one piece that was constantly falling into my face until I finally, in a snit, shoved it behind my ear.) and leaving at the last possible moment, I made it to work - on time; minor miracle.

My normal routine is to unlock the offices, turn the lights on in the copy room, grab a cup of coffee - if any has been made already - and start the first or second pot because I'm considerate that way; return to my desk to read the Life section of the paper and begin my day.

Today was no different - or so I thought.

As I was setting up the second pot of coffee a co-worker and I were lamenting the fact it was Monday.  I finished what I was doing and we both went our own ways.

About five minutes later another co-worker came to me asking how to reach housekeeping.  Apparently, someone had made a pot of coffee but neglected to put the pot on the burner.

Oh, the shame!!

And that is why I started my morning cleaning up as much coffee as I could before housekeeping arrived to save the day.


And speaking of coffee....just as we thought we'd resolved the issue we find that the coffee saga continues.

Apparently, the person who prefers the swill actually demanded that it be brought back.  Luckily, my co-worker happened to be in the vicinity and made the demand that the Maxwell House NOT be removed.  The swill-drinker claimed that there those that preferred sludge.  Although, after a very informal poll it appears he's the only one that likes it.

So now have both types of coffee are back in the break room and we are back to pouring out swill whenever we have the chance and replacing it with the good stuff.  At least, we are until I actually remember to pick up a small coffee pot for my desk.  The rest of the office can deal with this guy but my co-worker and I will have our own source and know that every cup we pour will be the good stuff.

Now I just need to remember to buy the stupid coffee pot.

March 5, 2017

It's getting all kinds of fancy over here...

Apparently, we are inching closer and closer to living a Jetson's kind of life around here - how?  Read on.

Yesterday, I decided to try something different with my hair other than the usual crazy, mass of curls or the straight bob - so ignoring the flat iron I pulled out my one inch curling iron and set about trying to do my hair.

I failed.

Well, I didn't fail - my old, useless curling iron did.  It never really got hot just...tepid.  So I clicked the flat iron on and went about my business.

While browsing Marshall's, I wandered over to their hair care area to pick out a new curling iron.  I truly just looked at the selection and noticed on the box that this curling iron supposedly heats to 400 degrees; I didn't notice anything else.  400 degrees sounded a lot better than tepid and, bonus, it is shiny, so I bought it.  After I took it out of the package, I looked at it somewhat puzzled.  It appeared, I would need to read the directions to figure out what was going on with the new curling iron.

Hmmm..what ARE those buttons?

Apparently, I now don't even have to twist my wrist to wind the curling iron.  All I have to is hit the right or left button to have the thing curl the hair!  Then after releasing the hair, I hit the C to have the clamp return to it's normal position.

First the Roomba and now I said all kinds of fancy.