Thursday, February 16, 2012


It's a sobering thing to be walking down the hall and to come to an open metal door that has a security guard holding it with a impass of people gathered on either side... And then you feel a gust of freezer air and watch as a flat metal gurney is pushed in with a solid black bag... And you feel a little rush of sobering immortality.

And that's where I work everyday - in the basement of hospitals in places that dont have windows or cushiony chairs or cups of jello. I see places where the waste and excrement of surgeries are and the body bags go. It makes you remember that we're all on our way to that freezer - but it makes you appreciate that for now, I can walk up the parking garage staircase (that I saw someone peeing in on the way in...:( ) and out into the feburary sun!

What I Was Up To This Loving Week

I figured I'd share what I was up to this wonderful week where everyone wishes everyone a "Happy Bleep Bleep" (to quote a friend of mine).  

What I was up to - or not up to, by Alison Behn

This week was Valentines Day, the week where everyone gains 10 pounds from boxes of chocolate and sufferers of floral allergies sadly are limited to paper hearts and cards.  For some it is a lovely day, for others, a day just like any other.  I prefer to fall in the latter.  And so I do.

I came into Philadelphia, great place to spend V Day as it is the self proclaimed city of "brotherly love"..... Hmmm.... maybe people should examine the claims before they make them.

The early morning plane trip that commenced my week was on my nemesis, but cheap option airline - US Air (or as always sticks in my head US Scare).  As it is connected with Star Alliance and thus United, I have my gold priviledges to some extent, but it doesn't afford me any special seating usually, as told by my prime location on my Monday flight - last row in the place of 33 rows.  At least I had an aisle, to be on the positive side.  

We all get in and sit down and I'm happy not to have anyone by me until the last second when a blonde diva boards with three bags, proceeds to stuff one of her bags in a bin she pops open (literally "stuffs"!) and proceeds to get in a verbal altercation with a man whose suit is in the bin.  The screaming ensues of "you're ruining my suit" and the kurt replies of "oh, get over it, no I'm not!".  She proceeds to come back to our row and puts her 3rd bag in the empty seat between us, all the while muttering, and then she finally looks at me and says "you're going to have to get out so I can slide him in".  I oblige, thinking "him"?  Ok - if she is so close with her bag that she's given it a gender.....  

She slides "him" in and under seat in front of the empty seat between us.  We sit there for a few minutes and then the airline attendant comes back, talking to another attendant.  They stand by me talking and then she she bends down and starts talking to me saying "I'm going to need to see the papers for your service dog".  

Ok, I know I have some issues, but I don't think people should just presume that I have so many issues that I need a service dog, right?  So I respond,  "I don't have a service dog?"

"Oh" and then to the woman next to me, the same thing is repeated and I suddendly realize that "him" is a dog-in-a-bag.  A regular dog bag.  And the blonde, hot young woman sitting next to me with all her glitz and fur and boots is the owner of the "service dog" in a bag.

So - young "handicap" woman starts a tirade with the airline attendant about "according to article 468 of law 92 it is illegal for you to ask me for those papers".  Back and forth back and forth.  She finally says "Of COURSE I have papers for him, but its illegal for you to ask!" and back and forth and back and forth and then she says "you look at someone like me and you judge that I don't need a service dog!  Its ILLEGAL for you to ask me!"

After how many extended minutes of this, she finally gets up (literally pushing me out of the way) and goes up the 8 or 9 rows where her stuffed bag is to pull out a little tag or something that she just waves in the air and doesn't even stop to let the attendant look at.

The attendant is finally like whatever and we take off.  When we land, the "handicap" woman pull out "him" and opens the bag and lets him out.  "Him" is a miniature pinscher.....

REALLY???????  Please respond if I am incorrect in stating that a miniature pinscher is NOT a service dog?  If you know of any reason a miniature pinscher WOULD BE a service dog, please respond as I am interested....

Incidentally, she moved the bag up on the seat and then redeposited "him" into the bag right by me.  She was special, you see..... :)

The week happened.  Was working with a friend so stayed with her and had some good times.  We did dinner with her parents at this awesome Thai restaurant on V Day and her mom gave me a card and a gift certificate and all - Lauren's parents are too sweet - and so is Lauren..... I suppose that was the brotherly love for the week.

So here's my exciting tale out of the city of brotherly love.

Lauren drops me off at the airport about an hour before my flights starts boarding.  Good thing.  I get to the security line and it was literally a mile long - I've never seen a line that long!  And there was no "expert" or "gold" lane - everyone was equal - ly angery.... :)

It took me -- it seriously took me - 45+ minutes to get through security.  I finally got to my plane and popped right into the boarding line.  We get on the plane.  We push back and out onto the runway.  We sit for another 45 minutes.  And then the pilot tells us "we're in a line of 8 planes to take off so we should be airborne in about 15 or 20 minutes.  15-20 minutes, we've moved up and now he's back on saying "blah blah blah weight and balance, we need to pull out of line to figure it out...."  AHHHHH.  We pull out and we're doing a little drive by and then he adds..... "blah blah blah - they told us we could have 140 passengers and we do, but we only have a manifest of 139 names so if we go down we'd be missing someone so we have to go back to the gate and figure this out".  He seriously told us that..... They were missing a name!  AHHHH..... So we go back and pull in and he's like "And, because my shift is over, they're going to need to get another pilot to cover for me so it will be a little while to he gets in and gets over to this gate.  AND we burned so much gas we need to refill but the truck isn't available right now.  SO if you want to get off and get something to eat it will be an hour or so".  I did get off, and when we finally got back on over an hour later, it turns out that they finally told everyone they had to get off..."

Long and short - I was supposed to have gotten in at about 7 pm last night - didn't get in until about 11:30 pm...

AHHHH.  What I was up to this week is that - I wasn't really up! :)

Happy Bleep Bleep week! :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Monday Story Post

So, I'm going to try something new with my story posts (that I have not been faithful to since the beginning of the year:( )  I'm thinking that I'll post the links for my Wordpress story blog on my Blogger blog every Monday, and then I'll go back to the week before story and tell you the immediate setting.  I like to make up the plot about what my camera is looking at, but I never tell you the deal about where my camera is at!  I'll try it as sometimes its an interesting story....

So -- the last week I posted was the story about ice cream - yum :)

I love the picture.  Of course I do - thats why I used it.  But, what I love about it is that little girl - she's SO european with her little scarf.  EVERYONE in europe wears scarves now and I'm noticing that its "crossing the pond" and a lot of Americans are copying.  Anyways - the picture was taken in Verona, Italy.  The Verona of Romeo and Juliet fame - yes, the balcony and all is there.  But Romeo and Juliet is pretty downplayed in Verona as there is quite a bit more.  My friend Flora and I were walking in the city centre by this ancient Roman coliseum.  We walked around it and it took about 10 minutes - it was huge!  As we finally made out last turn to complete our walk about, we came up behind this little family walking along and reading about the coliseum.  They all had gelato in hand but it was secondary to the tour book they were reading from - the mom, the dad, a son.  All of them looking at the coliseum and then referring to the tour book.

In the background trailed this little girl with her little cup of gelato in hand.  If you've ever been to Italy, the gelato thing is this very small plastic fluted cup and then a tiny little plastic spoon.  They're bright and colorful and all various assortments of shade.  I believe this little girl had pink to match her outfit.  She was intently concentrating on getting the gelato from the cup to her mouth and she trailed some 10 feet or so behind her family, not even looking up, just focussed on her gelato cup.

Too adorable!

Here's this weeks story - try to guess what it is and where it is.....

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Like To Walk - Hate The Gawk

I picked up a rental car from O'hare on Sunday afternoon so that I could drive up to the Twin Cities for work on Monday and Tuesday. It was actually a great trip as I got some great work done and got to see Melissa, the BFF.

My large System account in Minneapolis that I met with was a great visit. They have a new director and theres been a lag between the old one and this new one. So, she asked me to come in and touch base with her to find out all the details of what had happened and where they were and such.

About 2 years ago I had done a detailed analysis for the department which included going through their process and actual site according to national standards and guidelines. Its a really really detailed process and it usually takes me about 2 days to research the site and gather all my info. Once its all done, I compile this huge binder thing thats really sharp and detailed as far as where the problems are and how they can be fixed and approximations of costs to fix and all. I give just about everyone on site a copy of the binder and so that last director had gone through the binder and started fixing things, but then left the binder in his closet when he left the system.

The new director was cleaning the closet the day before I came and found the binder and took it home and just poured through it, not knowing that I, the one who was meeting with her the following day, was the one that had done the binder. When we came into her office, we went through intros and pleasantries and our histories and such and then she pulls out this binder and says "look what I found last night. Its amazing and I'm wondering if you know who did it?" To which I reply "me". She looks at me and says "I love you" :) I always love it when my customers tell me that ;)

She said she had been going through the binder the night before and kept on thinking to herself "I don't know who this person is, but I really really like them". ME! :) We spent a few hours going through the analysis and the department and issues and such. I so look forward to working with her! She's a definite sweetie and really wants to step things up which I love! Yay! Great visit!

Anyways - to the Gawk - so, I got home at about 3 a.m. this morning. Got some stuff done this morning and then needed to take the car back to the airport. When I return my rentals (and a lot of times when I pick them up) at the airport, I like to take the train so that I can save someone else the trip. As the train comes in by the remote parking area which is in the general area where the rentals are, I usually like to walk to and from the station. Even though it is in the general area, there is quite a walk, probably about two miles or so.

Again - don't mind the walk - love it. The thing I hate is that you have to walk on the grass areas on the side of the road as no one usually walks. I can't tell you how many people zoom by you and honk or yell as they pass. I can't quite figure out what it is. To speak to my nephew Joe's comments on his blog the other day - no one walks around HERE... HERE meaning midwest. So - maybe all of the people passing me were born with cars attached to their butts and they can't figure out what I'm doing so they panic and think that I've lost the car thats usually attached to my butt? PEOPLE - ITS CALLED W-A-L-K-I-N-G. You can do it outside of buildings and its completely normal and healthy! Try it!

My other thought is that all of these people think that I'm unusually attractive and so they have to let me know. And to summarize a Jerry Seinfeld stand up act - drive by flirting.... What do they expect me to do, kick off my heels and start chasing them down the road yelling "Wait! I'm attracted to you too!!!!!"

Either way - its the walk I dread!

 STOP HONKING PEOPLE! I'm just trying to get to the train already!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Just The Weekend

Its been a while, but Friday, I finally got back to BIKRAM!  And it was wonderful!

I actually got another possible convert to attend with me... Kim.  She survived the whole 90 minutes in the room and she even said she'd like to go back!  Thats a win!  Maybe next Friday.

After burning and sweating off all those calories and pounds, we then decided it was well deserved for us to meet my friend Seiko and go to dinner at Panang, a Thai place.  And like that wasn't enough, we then trotted a few blocks over to The Peninsula for dessert - and dessert we had!  We had to get a couple to share so that we could try all the ones that looked interesting.  I'm pretty sure we put everything back on that we took off in Bikram - sigh....

After getting back late on Friday night, it was nice to have nothing to do on Saturday but hang out and relax.... This is Calvin's impersonation of me.....

Its an early morning and long day tomorrow.  I have to be downtown at 8 a.m. for one of my accounts and then from there I have to truck on over to the Cities for another 8 a.m. appt there on Tuesday morning.  I'll probably go by Rochester and see my friend, Melissa.  It will be a quick trip but much needed as one of my big accounts has a new department supervisor and I need to touch base with her.

As I had some things to deliver to some accounts in Minneapolis, I stopped by the office.  As I walked in, I was delighted to a gallon of product sitting on the receptionists desk.  I'm so pleased with this product as its mine!  Every once in while I come up with an idea for a product and every once in a while they act like they don't hear me -- but every one in a while, they actually do hear me.  This is one product they actually heard me on so - I'm hoping its actually a reasonable seller :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Am I A D**** Yankee?

There's something about the south....

There's something about Virginia....

Understand - Virginia and the south are two totally different things.  Virginia IS the epitomy of South as it used to be.  Those people are deceptively southern!  Here's the thing - quite of few of the born and bred ones don't even really have a southern accent!  Its kind of like Canadians - once in a blue moon you can pick something out in what they say that makes you all of a sudden think "hey - they're not one of us..."  Those Virginians, unless they're a special breed, don't do the twing and twang that a normal southerner does so you just never know.

Take, for instance, the first time I worked with one my reps in Norfolk.  We had just met and had worked together for about an hour, we talked extensively and I had presumed that he was a transplant from someplace else as I couldn't detect one point of "southerness" in his speech.  Then, he asks me how I like Norfolk and I told him that I really enjoyed all the historical stuff that you could see from the Civil War.  Without missing a beat and with no expression whatsoever, he looks at me and says "you mean the War of Northern Aggression".  I chuckled and made a snyde response of "yes, we northerners are quite aggressive..." and I smile and look at him.  No smile.  Another dead-pan stare and the repeated response "the War of Northern Aggression".  And suddenly it hit me - "are you from Virginia?" I questioned.  "Born and raised" was the response.  Eeek - I had NO clue.  And by the way - those Virginiaers are DEAD SERIOUS about the War of Northern Aggression stuff....  And they still refer to northerners as Yankees!

So, being down in Norfolk and then working of in Richmond, I decided to take the long route up to Richmond and drive over to see my brother and sister in law in Lynchburg.  I'd never been there and I hadn't seen my oldest sibling in quite a while so, it was a 3 hour some minute drive, but it was family...

I got over on Tuesday night and we ended up going out to dinner and just hanging out a little while.  The next day I was supposed to work in Richmond and then ended up coming back over to Lynchburg by one.  Alan got off work at 2 and we had been discussing the night before how they really hadn't seen anything in the area, so I figured we might as well kill a bunch of birds with one great big stone.

We made a 30 minute trip out to Appamattox Court House, VA to see where the -- excuse me -- Civil War/ aka / War of Northern Aggression ended.  I actually learned a lot!  And I got a little bit of a complex -- but the learning thing was probably important too.

So here's a little bit of a history lesson -- the name of the town is Appomattox Court House as in three separate words.   The building in the very front of the picture here is the Appomattox Court House Courthouse.  Yes - its the actual courthouse of the two named Court House.

This is the tiny little town of Appomattox Court House.

This is the house - yes HOUSE - in Appomattox Court House where Lee and Grant signed off on the end of the Civil War/War of Northern Aggression.  The people in front of the house are not original to the area but are actors playing the part of southerners....

The house pictured above is not the actual house where the "deed" happened.  Unfortunately, because of the fact that it was the War of Northern Aggression that ended here, those Virginians didn't really want to "remember the Alamo" so to speak.  So the house was used for a while but then it ended up bring torn down.  I suppose they wanted to forget about the dastardly dead that was done there on that April 9th, 1865.  But - because Yankees don't die -- we demanded that that little piece of history be built back up again exactly like it was before.  And when I say exactly - I mean exactly - the pictures of the original place are exactly like this place.  Even the worn down paint.

So this is the recreation of the parlor and all where they all were.  The furniture for the most part is recreation.  The two white vases on the mantle actually the vases that were on the mantle then.  And the sofa pictured below it is actually the sofa that was in the room then (I'm sure reupholstered but it definitely had the black fabric on it.)

I told Alan that the last picture I had taken with a brother was of him trying to push me off a cliff....
This is nice.... :)

The Courthouse - actually another rebuild but it does look the same.

These houses are all original houses that were in the town.  They've had some patchwork done, but are the same original structures.

Excavations reveal amazing things - like this original Mickey Mouse...
Its kind of funny for a lock, isn't it? :)

Original structures

Back of the McLean house

After our little walk back through history and being told how everyone in Virginia thought that we were all D**** Yankees (ok maybe it was phrased that they USED to think that - but sometimes I still question), we decided to spend some money in the fine town of Lychburg.

One building that we had seen the night before and then I had looked up, was the Craddock Terry Hotel.  It was actually an old shoe manufacturer from the 1800s and now this hotel was in the building and is on the historic registry hotel list.  The Craddock Terry shoe company was actually one of the biggest shoe manufacturers in the U.S. and, cool fact, they were the shoe factory that manufactured all the military shoes and boots during WWII.  That means that Uncle George and dad wore Craddock Terry shoes!  Cool!  It also was the reason that during the Depression, Lynchburg was actually a thriving town because the shoe company was what continued to bring in income from the nation.

Now the hotel has a great restaurant called the Shoemaker and the rooms in the hotel all have this shoe theme...

And they're one of those hotels with the hotel dog.  His name is Buster Brown and he was adorable -- ok, he was a terrier so he had that going for him.  He's actually one of the most affectionate dogs I've seen for a hotel dog.  Usually they're kind of snooty and don't want to be petted and won't pay attention to you, but Buster comes right up and wants to be petted and he knows all these tricks that he'll perform for you.  Too cute!

And so then that night I went back to Norfolk for my appointments the next day and, as I had originally blogged - I knew traffic would be a beast going through the downtown tunnel.  Here it is, 7:30 a.m. in the morning and a long line of cars waiting to merge into the lanes to get into the tunnel.  Cripes - I did get to my appointment on time, FYI :)

One the way to the airport I saw this and was so intrigued.  I don't know why they would have it, but the Norfolk Police have this huge armored car Hummer thing.  It was massive and it looked like it could just drive through a wall or something.  Anyone know why they'd have it or what they'd use it for???

And one last picture from the south before I return up north to all of our aggression - and no Chick-Fil-A :(

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Bridge And A Tunnel

I finally got back into Norfolk area from Lynchburg, VA. It's almost midnight. Technically I'm in Portsmouth which is about 15 miles from Norfolk, which I have to be in by 9 am tomorrow morning. I just pulled up my map, and I'm guessing those 15 miles are going to take me 45 minutes to an hour to traverse tomorrow...:(. I have to go through the downtown tunnel which is always jammed with morning traffic - and then I have to cross the bridge which is also jammed....

Thank goodness its Thursday - and I get to go home in the afternoon!