Sunday, February 03, 2008

fear and loathing in chicago, part 2

I arrived at O'Hare in good spirits. I had successfully navigated the Chicago Transit Authority system, found my hotel, found Microsoft's office, and hadn't been late for anything. My heels were a mess, but since I was wearing my tennis shoes and had known not to change my socks (which would have opened up the wounds), the bleeding had stopped, and they didn't really hurt at all.

Since I hadn't been sure when the meeting would be done and how long it'd take me to get to the airport, I had booked the 5:35 pm flight back to Rochester. I got to O'Hare around 1:15 pm, so I decided to move up my flight. I strolled past the check-in machines and headed for the line to the agent counters.

At the entrance to the line, an airline employee was having a heated discussion with a middle-aged couple. I couldn't really tell what the argument was about other than the woman from the airline apparently thought they should be using the check-in machines instead and was being very rude about it. Being a good upper Midwesterner, I acted like nothing unusual was going on and paid no attention. After the couple moved away, I stepped past to get into the line. "WHERE do you think YOU'RE going?" yelled the airline lady. Dubbing her "Swastika Sue" in my brain ("You VILL use de machinen!"), I conjured my most innocent and bewildered expression and said, "To reschedule my flight?" "Oh," she said, all interest gone, and turned away to scan the vicinity for new victims.

Feeling fortunate that I was being allowed to speak to my airline's representatives, I waited for my turn at the counter. The line moved pretty quickly, and soon I was standing before the antithesis of Swastika Sue. I told the lady that I'd like to change my flight, and before I could even produce my ID, she was typing away. "It's a good thing you got here early," she said. "There's a storm coming, and we're trying to get you folks home before it hits. You're not going to get through Security in time to make the next flight, and they've canceled the 2:00 flight, so I'm going to book you on the 3:30 flight, okay?" I said that would be great, and she took my suitcase (which, remember, contains my coat). She then pointed out which Security checkpoint was closest to my gate, and said, "Have a safe trip!" as I headed off in that direction.

The people at the checkpoint, while not overtly friendly, were surprisingly pleasant. I was a bit concerned about taking off my tennis shoes, but there wasn't any blood in them, and nobody seemed to notice that the backs of my socks were caked with dried blood. Nonetheless, I was quite pleased that my flight was leaving from gate G1A, so I didn't have to hike down the concourse.

I found a seat and got my laptop out of my backpack. After a half hour, I still couldn't get it connected--the software said the wireless adapter was disabled, but the operating system said it was enabled. Giving up, I put it away, hoping that nobody had sent me any urgent e-mail in the last 24 hours, and got out my phone, which has Internet access, so I could at least check the weather. There was a storm approaching, but only 1-2" of snow was predicted.

I got a bit nervous when it started snowing, but as the time of the flight approached, it tapered off into nothing. I was concerned that we still didn't have a plane, and sure enough, the flight got moved back a half hour. Then, forty-five minutes. Then, an hour. As the time got later and later, my good mood ebbed away. By 5 o'clock, I was hungry, but didn't dare leave the gate because the flight was never more than 30 minutes from supposedly boarding. At 6 o'clock, the flight was moved to 7:05, so I decided I finally had enough time to head over to the restaurant next door to get a burger.

I got a soda, and while I was waiting for someone to take my order, I used my phone to check my flight status. It was canceled. I was stuck with a soda I hadn't paid for and with no waiter in sight, I couldn't jump up to dash to the gate agent to get rebooked. I figured there wasn't a whole lot I could do, so I ordered my burger and ate it, mulling over what I should do next. After I paid for the meal, I checked the departure board and headed to the gate for the next flight to Rochester--the flight I was originally supposed to be on and which hadn't left yet.

The gate agent was rather blasé about the whole thing and told me there was no way I could make it out on the next flight or the flight after that. He said he could put me on the standby list for the last flight, but I would be 9th on the list. I said it didn't sound like I'd get on that flight and asked him what I should do then. "Report to the airport at 6:30 tomorrow morning, and we'll see if we can get you on a flight."

I wandered away from the gate, thinking furiously. I could ask to be booked on a flight to Minneapolis and rent a car there, but I figured plenty of other people had probably already done that and I didn't hold out much hope of getting a seat. I could get a hotel room, but I would have to find some place to buy my special contact solution, which is the only one to which I'm not allergic, and spend the good part of a third day in my jeans and the second day in the rest of my sweaty clothes--while they "saw" if they could find me a flight. I could rent a car, but I had no idea how much that would cost or whether my company would reimburse me for it. Oh, and Dave was gone, so there was nobody to feed my cats.

I wandered around the baggage level for awhile before I determined that the terminal didn't have any car rental counters. My wireless connection was hosed, so I couldn't hop online like I had done the last time my flight was canceled. I tried calling Dave to ask his advice, but he didn't have cell reception where he was at. Finally, I sat down to have a good think.

I decided that I was, dammit, wide awake and pissed off enough to make the drive home, and that a rental car had to be about the same price as a hotel room. It didn't really matter if the company wouldn't pay for the car--I was damn well going to feed my cats and sleep in my own bed. True, there had been a storm that afternoon, but it had only dropped about an inch of snow, and they would surely have that cleared away by the time I got there. Now I had to figure out a way to rent a car.

So, I called Ben, and after a period of what was probably incoherent ranting, I managed to ask him to look up the 800 number for Hertz. I called Hertz and got a quote for around $120. I could find a hotel around O'Hare for less than that--not a nice hotel, but one where I'd have the opportunity of meeting people from other (street) walks of life--but I decided to damn the torpedoes.

Twenty minutes later, I was getting off the shuttle at Hertz. Within sort order, I had the keys to a Chevy Malibu and was heading to the parking ramp. Now the upside of the wool sweater was manifesting itself--it was warm enough to make up for my lack of a coat.

I was pleased with myself for making a command decision and taking charge of my situation. It was now 7 pm. Some time between midnight and 1 am, I'd be walking into my house to find my relieved cats and my bed. I settled in for a long drive and headed off to find I-90, glad my ordeal was over. (Do I really have to tell you again how to construct the irony?)

fear and loathing in chicago, part 1

Well, I had another interesting trip to Chicago. (By "interesting," I mean "times, May you live in.") Microsoft was offering a free Upgrading SharePoint class at their Chicago office, and my boss thought I should go. I must admit it was very helpful. I'm not sure if the price was worth it, though.

I caught an afternoon flight to Chicago, which went without incident, and I landed at O'Hare, claimed my bag, and headed off to the L. Getting to my hotel required switching trains, which I successfully navigated, thanks to Dirk Gently's theory that, when you are lost, you should follow the first person you meet who looks like they know where they're going. This payed off in a big way after exiting the final station. According to the maps, my hotel was on the corner of Grand and Michigan. Arriving at the physical location I discovered a bit of an issue--Grand doesn't actually intersect Michigan--it goes under it. I managed to keep my flatlander brain from imploding at the very idea, and followed a woman with a rolling suitcase who looked like she knew where she was going. At about the point where Grand should have intersected Michigan, she entered a building and headed to an elevator marked "To Michigan Ave." I followed her outside the building, and there was my hotel across the street.

The next morning, I dressed in my specially chosen non-casual, yet comfortable outfit, which included a nice green wool sweater and those comfy brown German loafers I purchased some time back--neither of which I'd worn for any long periods of time. Within the first block of walking to the L station, I realized the shoes were going to be an issue, what with them rubbing on the backs of my heels. Standing on the rush hour L in my leather jacket, the downside of the wool sweater became apparent. By the time I got off the train and made the three block walk to the building that houses Microsoft, I was pretty well drenched with sweat.

I tried not to drown the receptionist as I checked in. She was very nice and even found a place to stash my suitcase. I was a half hour early, so when I spotted the ladies' room, I darted into it as fast as my shoes would allow. I secured myself into the handicapped stall and worked on stopping sweating. After that was under control, I pried off my shoes and found blood everywhere. I hobbled to the sinks, grabbed some paper towels, and fashioned some heel guards. After a careful reapplication of face powder, I was all set to go to the meeting.

The meeting was great. The Microsoft guys were really nice and answered all my questions. (One of them even tried to help me get my wireless adapter on my laptop working, but we couldn't--this will become significant later.) The chick next to me worked for a liquor distributor and played the electric guitar, so she was fun. After a box lunch, courtesy of Microsoft, I packed up my stuff and retrieved my suitcase. I got the brilliant idea to change into the jeans and tennis shoes I wore the day before, so after a quick change in my bathroom, I was off to the L station.

I easily found it, and when I got inside, I peeled off my leather coat and stuffed it into my suitcase. After a fairly long wait for the train to O'Hare, I settled into my seat, glad that my ordeal was over. (Use the title of this post and your knowledge of life to construct an ironic subtext.)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

early pre-resolutions poll results

Brain recently posted about NY resolutions, which got me a-thinking.

Normally, I make my New Year's resolutions around Thanksgiving time. They shortly get revoked by the holidays, so my period of resolve typically only lasts a month. Natually, my resolutions are never too earth-shaking--it's pretty hard to pull off a major reform in one month. But, if I were to moving my resoluting up eleven months, here's what my list would be (so far):
  1. Buy a new calendar.
  2. Get Jeff Lynne elected president. Oh wait, he's British. Jeff Lynne for God, then. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, at least.
  3. Try to get through March without killing Dan Marino, Don Schula, Mike Golic, Kirstie Alley, Valerie Bertinelli, Dick Butkus, or anyone else trying to cash in on New Years insecurity.
  4. Beat the hell out of New Jersey. (Oh wait, that's my New YORK resolution....)
  5. Think about becoming a better person, mentally and physically, but admit that I'll likely go no farther than that.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

adventures of a galley slave

Okay, maybe I'm being a bit be-atchy, but it seems like all I've been doing lately is washing the freaking dishes--and I have the hands to prove it. I never used to have to use lotion, so I'm rather awkward at it. You know, like only remembering to put it on immediately before I need to use a computer. I wonder if there are any lotion tutorials online. Ah well, I almost have Dave's chili adventure cleaned up.

I finally got the new UPS installed and all devices hooked up to it. I was going to tame the tanglebeast of wires that lives on, under, and behind my desk, but recabling everything was such a pain-in-the-arse that I decided laying on the couch to be preferable. (And, thanks Brain, now all I can think about is if I can fit a second monitor into the scheme.)

Over the holidays, I got a new cell phone (long story, don't ask). This is the first one I've actually picked out myself. (Dave is the Phone Führer. "This vill be your new phone." "Sieg Heil, Mein Herr!") Since you can't seem to get a phone that is just a phone and not a phone/camera/music player, I decided to embrace the whole concept and go with a nice music package. (I did get some gratification by announcing loudly in the store, "But I want one that looks like a phone!") Judging by forum activity on the internet, I'm guessing I'm one of about 20 people in the world who have gotten Windows Vista to recognize their phone and transfer music to it using Verizon's software. I would take more credit if I knew exactly what I did to get it to finally work or if I could transfer more than 25% of the external chip's capacity worth of music without it bombing out--but hey, you gotta start somewhere.

We had a nice, if rather hectic Christmas. Spent about four days in Nodak with a full social calendar before heading back. (With the new job, I had a grand total of 18 hours of vacation, so that was rather limiting.) Saw a lot of people and had a good time, but didn't get any relaxing in. After the festivities were over on Christmas night, I announced that I had run out of social skills and was spending the rest of the night in my room. My parents didn't seem to mind--they know what I'm like, and I had already fixed their computers.

We got invited to two different New Year's Eve parties in the Cities, but Dave woke up with a migraine. At around 6 PM, he stood in front of me, pasty white and shaky, and said, "Are you about ready to go?" I decided that he wasn't going to have any fun when he obviously felt like crap, and I wasn't going to have any fun worrying about him, so I put my foot down and announced that we weren't going. He was rather snarly with me, but about five hours later, he admitted that he was glad we didn't go.

On Thursday afternoon, after spending two days in the office hearing about how sick everyone was (usually while they were standing in my cube or after having shook my hand--"Nice to meet you, Mel! Man, I've been sicker than a dog all week!" "Gee, thanks for touching me!"), I started to feel achy and dizzy and get a sinus headache. I went home and went right to bed. Woke up Friday morning feeling like crap, so I decided to work from home. About 3 PM, I couldn't stay upright any longer, so I told my boss I had to go lay down. Slept most of the night and most of Saturday. I'm feeling much better today--still a little weak--but I'm hoping I managed to fight it off. I'm sure I'll get another helping of the sickness tomorrow.

The weirdest bit about the whole thing was that my right eye kept watering. After I whined about it for a couple of days, Dave hinted that I should look it up on WebMD. I diagnosed a blocked tear duct. I decided that I was going to do everything in my power to avoid going to the doctor when I read that, while the condition is common in babies, it rarely happens in adults. This summer, when I went in with what I figured was an ear infection, the ER people all laughed at me because "only babies get ear infections!" ("Yeah, let's see if you get an infection after I rip off your arm and shove it down your ear canal, you big baby!") After two useless visits and two useless medications, it more or less cleared up on its own.

So, last night, I decided to watch a movie that I figured would make me cry at the end, and then, to be on the safe side, I conjured up additional distressing thoughts to keep it going as long as I could. When I woke up this morning, my eye was fine!

Well, I think I'm going to try a second attack of the kitchen, and see if I can get in a couple of hours of work to make up for Friday.

Happy belated New Year!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

the back 40

Just a quick post to indulge my geekiness.

Went shopping with Ben to purchase some items that I could use to reorganize my desk so I could make room for my new server. I've got most things set up--except for the new UPS, but it's going to be a lengthy process to unplug everything and plug it back in.

Just to show how srsly geeky I am, here's a list of all the electronics on/in/around my desk:
  • Two desktop systems (the new one and my Linux box)
  • Two laptops (mine and the one from work)
  • A four-system KVM switch
  • 20" flat-panel monitor
  • 500 GB external drive
  • External CD/DVD drive (for my laptop)
  • Multi-function printer/fax/copier
  • Two DSL modems
  • Two network switches (one load-balancing)
  • A four-port ethernet hub
  • A four-port USB hub
  • Boston Acoustics speaker system (one sub-woofer, two satellites)
  • Cell phone w/charger
  • iPod w/charger
  • A desk lamp
  • A lava lamp
  • A cordless phone
  • Keyboard (corded)
  • Mouse (cordless)
  • Tablet input device (corded) and pen (cordless)
  • An eight-outlet UPS
  • Two surge-protecting power strips

It is at this point I realize that it's probably a good thing I don't want to have kids, because I'm probably sterile after sitting here for an hour. Maybe after I get the UPS set up, I'll take a picture to show you.

Of course, to any thieves who have perked up at the sheer immenseness of the tech list, I'd like to point out that most of the equipment is elderly and never was top-of-the-line to begin with. It isn't worth the gasoline you'd burn driving out here to lift the stuff. Plus, it'd make me very pissed off. (I will find you.)

Saturday, December 15, 2007

war and peace, the last ten years

Srsly (which is my new catchphrase), I've not been posty for a long time. I have been busy adjusting to functioning like a normal person again--getting up in the morning, wearing shoes, leaving the house for several hours a day.... you know. Here's a week-by-week recap (in short form) of what's been upping with me.

Thanksgiving, Cedar Rapids, IA
Had Turkey Day at my brother's with his family and my folks. We've got it refined into a high art of labor distribution for cooking. My jobs are the ones that require thickening agents: pies and gravy. Made two pumpkin and two banana cream pies. They turned out pretty good, even though my youngest niece had to "help" me make them. Well, no one complained as we were snarfing them down.

Dave left on Friday to go hunting with his brother, so my folks brought me home. I plugged in my iPod and, being my father's daughter, we had plenty of oldies to sing along with.

All in all, had a very nice time.

First week of work, Rochester, MN
Started the new job on the Monday after Thanksgiving. I am now officially cubed. Actually, it's not that bad as far as cubes go, and I'm at the end, so I have a real wall on one side (and a coat rack, for some reason). I sit with a group of IT programmers. Their managers are across the hall from me, and they've been very helpful in making me feel welcome and answering my stupid questions.

The fluorescent lights in that room are quite terrible, so the programmer next to me had disabled the lights above us some time ago. I had my cube lights on, but they hurt my eyes so bad that I was actually wearing my glasses to work. So, I bought a lamp at Target and brought it in--much to the amusement of all. (Wait 'til they see the desk lamp and the fan.)

On my first day, a couple of classmates and a former teammate of mine stopped by to say hi. I also learned that two of the technical writers are guys I worked with at IBM. (And, I later found out that the office manager is married to a guy I used to work with, so it's a small world.) I got my company-issued laptop, an HP Compaq 6710b running Windows XP. I've been trying to get used to using a touchpad instead of a trackpoint. And, since I've been using Vista for the last six months, getting used to XP again.

Got my first problem report (PR) on Wednesday. Apparently, the help desk people weren't supposed to be assigning them to me yet because I'm new, but this one (and several others since) slipped through. It's been frustrating not to know what to do to help someone, but on the other hand, it really got me in the deep end of the pool with SharePoint.

I spent most of the week filling out paperwork, getting my system set up, and trying to figure out what's going on. The worst part has been the fact that there's no one to train me in--my predecessor left about a month before I got there, so I've had to figure out a lot of stuff on my own.

As a bit of perspective, I was able to print on the second day. When I started at IBM, it took three months.

Second week of work, Chicago, IL
Got up at 3:30 AM on Monday to catch the 6 AM flight to Chicago. Took my suitcase on the L (plus side, no one could sit next to me), lugged it up two flights of stairs to the street level ("L" does not stand for "elevated"), and dragged it three blocks to the Sears Tower, where SPSS headquarters is located. Fortunately, one of the managers across the hall was on the same flight, so he helped me figure out how to get in--and it wasn't easy. I think the security plan there is to just confuse the would-be bombers into giving up. It didn't seem too secure to me, but hey, we're safe if we go through the motions.

I got set up in an empty cube on the 12th floor, and my teammate (yeah, there's just the two of us so far) Lizzie came up to meet me and show me some of the applications we support. A few hours later, my boss, Rich, got in from Boston, so I got to meet him for the first time too. Both of them are very cool, smart, and fun--I like them a lot! We had a meeting most of the afternoon, and they showed me around and introduced me to some people I'll be working with. Then, we went out to eat at Boston Blackie's, and I had an awesome mushroom burger and a Guinness (it restores!).

Lizzie escorted me to Union Station to catch my train for the burbs (I think she was afraid I'd get lost, which was a real probability), where my Upgrading SharePoint class was being held. Unfortunately, the line was so long for buying tickets that I missed the train (by like a minute), so I had to wait an hour for the next one. (I guess I could have hopped the train and paid the conductor, but that was WAY too complicated for this farm girl.) It was kind of nice to just sit and do nothing after such a busy day.

It was about 10:30 PM by the time I got to the hotel--and then they turned out to not have a reservation for me. The clerk keeped looking up things in the system, until finally I just asked her to give me a room and I'd get it straightened out later. I left off several adjectives that I said in my head--many of which started with "f." ("Can you just <pause> give me a <pause> room and I can <pause> get it <pause> straightened out <pause> later?")

Spent the next three days in class. It was okay, but it could have been better--we went over a lot of "duh" stuff. The best part was meeting the other students. They were all nice, normal people, and they made me feel less insecure about SharePoint. It was kind of a we're-all-in-this-together sort of thing. One was a guy who grew up in St. Paul and is now living in Chicago. We had a fun BSing session about Minnesota over lunch one day.

On Thursday after class was over, I shared a cab to O'Hare with a guy who works at Wells Fargo in Des Moines. We had a nice chat, which made the ride seem much shorter. When we got there, I went to the self-service check-in, and as I retrieved my boarding pass from the machine, my eye caught several instances of "AM," where there should have been PMs instead. A closer examination showed that my flight had been cancelled. (There was a storm coming in, and apparently, the Rochester airport shut down.)

I whipped out my handy-dandy laptop and my oldy-goldy credit card, connected to the non-free wireless network, and booked a hotel room. I don't know anything about hotels around O'Hare, so I picked one within five miles that was under $100 a night. It wasn't in a great part of town, but it wasn't that bad either. I ordered a real Chicago deep-dish pizza delivered from Lou Malnati's Pizzeria. (I highly recommend partaking if you get the chance.)

I was just about to go to bed around 10:30 PM, when someone started pounding loudly on my door, and a woman's voice bellered, "Jack, open the door!" I froze for a moment, wondering what to do. Then, I put on my pants, while the pounding continued, and went to the door. I couldn't see much through the peep hole--I could tell there was someone there, but I couldn't see her. So, I opened the door a few inches and looked out. I'm guessing I couldn't see her because of the glare--the woman was apparently going for new heights of "bling" in her fashion statement. When she saw me, she kinda freaked out and almost went running down the hall. I said, politely, "Uh, I think you've got the wrong room." She just backpedaled away. After I closed the door and refastened the security accoutrements, it occurred to me that I may have just had a run-in with a genuine Lady of the Night. While the entire episode was rather unsettling, it did make me like less of a rube.

Got up, packed up, and went down to the lobby at 4 AM to catch the shuttle back to O'Hare. Two couples were also waiting. Turned out they were both going to Cancun. It made me feel real positive about going back to Minnesota.

The return home was rather uneventful. However, I slept like total crap the whole time I was in Chicago, so I sacked out pretty much the whole weekend.

Third week of work, Rochester, MN
At some point during this last week, I became mostly adjusted to the new job. It's easier to get up in the morning, and for the first time in I-don't-know-how-long, I actually don't dread going in to work. The days go by pretty quickly. My cube gets VERY warm in the afternoon, so there's been a few times where it's been touch and go, but then I just get up and go get coffee or something. (We get free soda and coffee, so there is never any shortage of caffeine. The soda fridge is just on the other side of my wall. The coffee is in the reception area, so that's a longer walk.)

When I get home in the evening, I'm tired, but I don't feel like my soul was sucked dry during the course of the day. And, I don't feel guilty about watching TV or reading a book. I actually enjoy my evenings instead of trying to muster up the ambition to work some more.

After several PRs--and a few of them doozies--I feel a lot more comfortable with SharePoint and my job duties. So, I think I'm getting the hang of it.

Got my Christmas present from Dave already. It's a new server! (Yeah, we have a geeky marriage.) So, I've been spending today getting it set up. I have a MSDN license, which means free software from Microsoft, so I loaded Windows Server 2003 on it and am getting it ready for installing SharePoint 2003. I decided to load SQL Server first, and I've been typing this while waiting for Service Pack 4 to download so I can burn it to CD and install it.

So, that's the short story. Hope you're all caught up now.

Monday, November 19, 2007

making words towards you

Gosh, I'm all bloggy today!

I wanted to tell you about a conversation I had with my friend Brain. (A little background: Early into our relationship, Brain and I noticed that we tend to say the same things at the same time and find the same things funny--so, we decided that we're the same person. I recently asked Dave and Ben if they're ever thought about WHY Brain and I are the same person. Maybe we have the same kind of brain damage? (No pun intended.))

Brain is also a former Nodakian and recovering English major, and we often talk about language. Recently, he wondered if there was a word for "becoming something you never wanted to become." He mentioned this to a girl in his class, and she posted about it in her blog. So, I asked Brain if there was a word for "a person who tries to get mentioned in other people's blogs so they can then post about it." Take a look at Brain's suggestion and see what you think!

yet another hobby

On our way back from Minneapolis last night, Dave and I stopped by our favorite book store. I found a couple of drawing instruction books on the clearance rack. They were super cheap and looked pretty decent, so I bought them. Dave didn't say a thing, even though we both know that it won't likely stick.

My most recent previous hobby was sculpting, but I'm at an impasse there. I really need instruction to get comfortable with the material, but I can't find lessons anywhere here in Rochester. Maybe in the Spring I can find something in the Cities that I can drive up for once a week.

The nice thing about drawing is that it's pretty cheap to take up. And, if it sticks, there are all kinds of places here that offer lessons. Anyway, it'd be a nice break from the computer.

outputs and inputs

So, Friday, I went in for my drug test. (I'm supposed to find out if I passed or not today or tomorrow.) Naturally, I woke up with a full bladder and figured there was going to be no way I'd be able to hold it, so I went. On the way to the testing facility, I slammed a couple of Diet Cokes, thinking that the fluid and caffeine (a diuretic) would work in my favor.

The lady gave me a cup and made a mark about 3/4" from the bottom. "We need this much." Okay. So, I go into the little bathroom and proceed to furnish them with a sample. I do what I can, and I check the cup. I've only got about 1/2" of fluid in the cup. Damn. So, I try again. Nothing. I'm like the Mojave Desert inside. Now, my usual trick when this happens is to run water--but I've been expressly prohibited from doing this because I might somehow use it to tamper with the sample.

I keep trying, futilely, until the lady knocks on the door and asks me if I'm done. I abashedly present her with my under-achievement. She looks and, to my relief, says, "Oh, that's probably enough." It was enough to get a temperature reading and to fill the vial to be sent off to the lab. Phew!

Naturally, when I got home, I went for what felt like a gallon.

Yesterday, we had lunch at Olive Garden with Ben and Brain to celebrate his birthday and my jobishness. It was good to see them, and we had a fun waiter. Then, we drove up to Minneapolis to go to our friend Ross's annual dessert party.

Now, Dave and I are trying a low glycemic index (GI) diet, and dessert parties are definitely on the avoid list. However, we decided that after a month of dedicated service to the diet, we deserved a bit of a splurge (and, the plan we're following allows for the occasional indulgence).

It was a very excellent party--lots of fun people and the desserts were boss! There was a lovely flan with warm caramel sauce, baklava, brownies, and chocolate chip & walnut cookies. Karla brought a severely tasty banana cake, and Sue brought banana bread worthy of a grandmother. (I guess they went bananas for the party! Ba-dum bum.) Someone even brought lefse, which Sue buttered and dusted with brown sugar. John brought a fruit and cheese plate. I noticed that the kids were helping themselves to the fruit and had very little of the desserts. Weird kids.

Anyway, it was a nice time, and we got to see the bar that Ross built in the basement. Most of the non-breeders hung out down there. I spent most of my time upstairs, though, so I could sit down and not aggravate my arthritic ankle. It worked out fine because all the kids are really well behaved. I don't really mind kids when they aren't screaming.

Checked the scale this morning, and it seems no damage was done. Yay! We might make it through the holidays after all!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Got the first pieces of paperwork for the new job today. I signed forms giving my projected employer permission to violate my privacy in any way they see fit. I'm supposed to be getting my employment packet soon, and then I get to go pee in a cup.

I suppose I should feel all up-in-arms about the whole thing, but I don't really care. It'd be nice to get some dirt on them in exchange, but I figure I'll be finding THAT out soon enough--I interpolate well. :-) It's the pee test that worries me--not because I've recently consumed any illicit chemicals, but because (as my paranoid Nodakian self) I'm afraid I'll get a false positive, and then I'll have a hassle on my hands. There's nothing a Nodakian hates as much as a hassle. (The state motto is "Peace, quiet, and beer," although probably not in that order.) I think it's been at least a month since I had a poppyseed muffin. Haven't had any cold medication.