Monday, April 27, 2009

Happy(ish) Hour

I went to a Happyish Hour after work on Monday:

Happy - It was at a great little bar in the city that overlooks the harbor and a bunch of my coolest projects. It's where I take my mom to see my buildings, and where I take my friends for awesome mojitos. I was dressed cute, and had confidence that this work soiree would be a marketing success.

Ish - I was delighted to find the parking lot much less crowded than usual. Normally, one must search for a few minutes along the side streets for on-street parking, or (shudder) pay for parking at a meter. Unfortunately, I thought I could squeeze into the last non-metered space, and began to back into the spot. I immediately hit a curb...then went forward and hit it again....and again...and just to be safe...again. WTF? It wasn't until I gave up on the "spot" that I realized it was the sidewalk. Geesh. I hadn't even had a drink yet.

Happy - It turned out the meters were 25 cents an hour! Sweet!

Ish - I entered the bar and walked around. And around. No one else was there. I sat down at the bar and sheepishly asked whether there was an additional room somewhere...

Happy - The beers were only $3!

Ish - They were out of microbrews. I think the bartender stopped feeling sorry for me after I asked for the third beer he was out of. (Or should that be "of which he was out?") Duh. There are cups on the taps. Like a plastic shopping bag over a gas nozzle, it's the universal sign for "no soup for you!" I reached into my bag for my wallet and was greeted by the odor of my lunch bag. My suspicions were true - I was definitely the cause of the "funk" in the kitchen as noted in a mass email.

Happy - Feeling a "bit peckish" (not to mention bored) I gave up on the rest of my party and picked up a menu. Monday night: sandwich night. Select sandwiches at reduced prices! I got one to go for Adam. My total bill for one (OK two) beers, and two sandwiches: $12.98. Giddy up!

Ish - I ate my sandwich, and saw that Bea Arthur died. Then I realized the people next to me were "having a discussion." By this I mean that a pompous ass of a guy was explaining to a girl why he treated her like dirt the night before (he was really mad at his mother, and she got into the cross fire.) Jackass. I would have dumped him right there, but she listened to him drone on about how she is out of touch with her feelings and he should be allowed to say what he wants when he wants and blah blah blah. Gag me. Too bad I had no one to talk to, and forgot my phone so I couldn't even call anyone to rescue me. I was hoping the "Smalltimore" phenomenon would kick in.

Happy - It did. I saw a guy three seats down who used to be on one of my volleyball teams. He would certainly be better company than the "You just don't understand reality" guy.

Ish - Volleyball guy was obviously in his own "discussion" with another dude, probably talking business. I decided not to bother him, and tried to enjoy my sandwich.

Happy - My sandwich was deeeelicious. I don't know if they have "cuban sandwiches" everywhere. I hadn't heard of them before moving "dan south" but the cuban is one excellent idea: pulled pork, ham, mustard, pickles, and swiss cheese on a sourdough bun. Heaven.

Ish - Umm...the cuban is NOT on my diet. And neither is beer.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

March for Babies

I have many friends who have wonderful, healthy children. I also have three friends who have had a total of five premature babies. Luckily, two of those babies are now rambunctious four year old twins with adorable blond curls and an affectation (as is the "in" thing among their age group) for Disney princesses. Another one of those babies (pictured left) is now just over a year old, and a rampant Phillies fan (though I think her Dad may have something to do with that...)

The other two babies were born last week after 29 weeks of development in the womb. Due in July, they were born on April 16th! These little girls are tiny (both under three pounds!!) and life is a struggle, but thanks to organizations like March of Dimes, outlooks for newborns of this size are improving every day. I could go on and on with heartwarming stories about kids like this, but a picture says it best: how could I not support an organization that brings such (bundles of) joy to so many? Please consider supporting the March for Babies. It is a good cause. I hope to post pictures of two more little girls next year!!

To support this glamor girl, Click here.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Out of Order

Despite cyber-space's apparent objection to my post, I may have finally successfully managed to type. Take that, cyber-space! I had to restart my frozen crappy laptop FOUR times! I was unable to use the mouse and had to jerkily guide my finger over the little screen pad thingie instead. And I could not read my bloggy friend's blogs for inspiration. Despite all these things, I am here.

Unfortunately...I ain't got a lot to say. It just feels good to sit OUTSIDE on my porch, sipping coffee and enjoying nature while my computer freezes up. For Christmas, I requested a bird book, because the woods surrounding our apartment are inundated with the little critters. I am aware that I haven't reached the proper age to be a "birder" - I think being a senior citizen is a requirement - but I thought it might be nice and peaceful to sit quietly in the woods and watch/learn about the birds. Unfortunately, birds are not as crazy about being observed as I had hoped. And birding is not overly easy for someone who left her camera in Pennsylvania a few weeks ago. I look at a bird perched on the roof of my downstairs neighbor's den, and I try to memorize his (or her) markings before he (or she) flits away. I have no idea which section of my book to turn to, though I am confident that it is not an owl, hawk, or eagle (I am such a genius). It could be a warbler or sparrow....sigh.

So you see what I mean. I have resorted to birding as an appropriate blog topic. I promise, I will try to do better.
.........Once my computer decides to cooperate!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Surviving in a Bagel-Free Environment

If you recall, one of my first missions at my new workplace was to figure out the free donut situation. However, I decided to postpone this endeavor to next Friday, because today, I had plans to visit Andy Nelson's Barbecue with a friend at lunch. Vegetarians beware: the official slogan at Andy Nelson's is "Hogs smell better barbecued." Even I think it's a bit too graphic for comfort.
Not only does Andy serve up one tummy growler of a sandwich (I'm thinking of it right now), they have an extensive list of side dishes which includes, but is not limited to: baked beans, potato wedges, coleslaw, dirty rice, and the best of all, cornbread. As Homer Simpson would say, "Gahhh," (drool dripping from mouth), "Barbeque..." So, do I sound a bit enthusiastic? Excited? I was. I began thinking hungrily of lunch time around 10:30am.

I called my friend at 11:48am, amazed at my exemplary ability to wait without mauling the snack machine. (This could be because I do not actually remember which floor the machine is on...) She says she is not super hungry (she has thoroughly researched the dounts), and since it is Lent, she could probably only get the catfish. "Catfish?" I think. "That sounds good too!" Of course, as a recovering Catholic, I was aware that this is a Friday during Lent. And not just any Friday, it is GOOD Friday. I am pretty sure it is a mortal sin to eat meat on a Friday, but I think it is even mortal-er to eat meat on Good Friday. So I understood. *
I suggested that we go someplace else as dreams of Carmine's pizza begin formulating in a bubble over my head. Just as I am about to drool thinking, "Gaaaahh....margarita pizza with fresh basil....", she says, "Actually, I think I'm gonna work through lunch." We decided to go to Andy's next week, and instead, we went for a half hour walk.

I am SO good! We even walked semi-briskly!

This gave me full validation to hit up a (closer) pizza place after our walk.

....And then the Dunkin' Donuts. (I got a Coolatta with Skim Milk, but I seriously doubt it makes much difference....)

*For you non-Catholics out there:
  • Lent is the 40 days between Marti Gras and Easter. During that time, you are not supposed to eat meat on Friday, and you are supposed to challenge yourself in some way that will improve you - like you decide not to swear, or to excersize daily. I would not suggest both, as it only takes one embarrassing mis-step during an aerobics class before self improvement goal #1 is out the window.
  • Fish is not a meat. I don't know why.
  • There are two types of sin - mortal sin and venal sin. Mortal sins are the ultra-bad ones like not going to church on Sunday or killing your mother (apparently equal in the eyes of the church). Venal ones are the not so bad ones like...hmm...I think it's safe to assume everything is a mortal sin.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Potty Trails

George Jetson has been on my mind lately. He lived in a world with many technological advances and cool gadgets. Some were useful, like the vacuum that cleaned rooms by itself. Others were weird, like the food machine that made full meals in pill form. George would pop the little pill in his mouth and say, "Thanks, Jane. The eggs were perfect, but you burned the toast." This confused me as a child, and still does - why would anyone want to eliminate eating? It is one of my favorite pastimes.
Regardless of the futuristic gadget, it rarely worked correctly. The vacuum began chasing occupants throughout the house. The food thingamajig combined breakfast foods with desserts. The treadmill ran too fast and George would get stuck on the conveyor, spinning round and round. The awesome machine that dumped George from his bed, then showered and dressed him while he remained partly asleep, occasionally tried to brush his teeth with razorblades. These were the hazards of a technological era.
Which brings me to my topic of the day: the bathroom in our new "green" building. Like many new-ish bathrooms, it is designed to eliminate most touching. You still have to wipe your naughty bits by hand, but I am sure someone is working on a solution that does not shoot water into ones nethers. For now, we must be satisfied with toilets that flush themselves, water that flows from a sink with a hand wave, and towels that sense the need for dispense(ing).
A typical trip:
I believe I have finally embedded the route from my cubical to the potties in my little pea brain. I leave my cubical and walk right, then right, then pause and look at the surroundings, then remember that it is yet one more right. Really, a GPS would be useful for office navigation. I enter the room, do my b'ness, then stand. The toilet does not flush. I reach for the button and flush manually, and it flushes a second time as I leave the stall. This is one invention I could live without. I am rather insulted that society has deemed me unable to dispose of my own waste. But I dislike wasting water and causing the thing to flush twice. The next time, I step gingerly forward, trying to trigger the flusher. Nothing. I open the door, and step slowly out, and finally, whoosh! I wonder - am I the only one who suffers minor stress about this? What if it doesn't flush? Will people think I am a non-flusher?


Next, the sink. No handles, so I wave my hand under the thing. Nothing. I wave faster. Nothing. I wave slower, then change the angle. Finally, it spews water for two seconds. Sigh. I remember when I thought this was cool - I was at a rest stop in Indiana circa 1988. Midwesterners were so ahead of their time. Thanks guys.
Time to tackle the towels: the towel dispenser is not as insensitive as the sink. In fact, it is quite generous. One hand wave, and I have a towel suitable for wrapping around my whole body, probably killing 13.5 trees. This to dry the miniscule droplets remaining on my hands from the miserly sink.
Return to desk - left, left, left again. Or, to change things up, I learned that an equally valid route consists of right, right, right, left, right. Phew!
Tomorrow's goal: determine which of the 40 printers is located in my near vicinity and download mapquest directions. Sort of a catch-22...I'd need to print the directions...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Starting Anew

I arose bright and early on Friday to go back to work. I semi-randomly chose 7am as my wake up time, and 8am as my target time for arrival at the office. Umm...yeah, this is because I had never thought to ask what time I should be there. It suppose it was a minor detail...

The commute will not be too bad in the future. I still have a few alternate route trickery up my sleeve which needs some field testing, but I would have made it there on (assumed) time. Would have? Yes, for the first time ever, I heard the traffic report state that there was a car crash in Cockeysville. The intersection was one I had never heard of...but I was displeased to find it was directly on my route (this would be the part that has no alternatives available). Grr...of all the days! (Oh, perhaps I should mention here that the accident was totally not serious. It looked to me like both cars could have easily resolved their issues elsewhere instead of blocking traffic. Point being that I am not insensitive enough to be angry about being two minutes late while someone has to be pried from a car with the jaws of life or anything. Side note - when I went to Catholic school, we were taught to say a "Hail Mary" when an ambulance passed...and even though I don't believe that mumbo-jumbo anymore, I figure it couldn't I still say the prayer. I hope it doesn't count against them now that I am an infidel...)

Me: two minutes late.
Everyone else in my department: 20 minutes late (and yes, 8am was the correct assumed starting time.)

So, my first half hour of my first day was spent waiting. For someone. Anyone. To show me where I sit. (And as it turns out, my name is on my cubical wall...) On the bright side, this was very easy work, and allowed me to scope out the donut situation. I noted at least three people who entered the building with donuts clearly meant for a crowd. Next step - determine names and locations of donut-bearers, and seek out the crullers!

The rest of the day was mostly spent working. How dull. My true orientation, with the signing of the papers and the filling of the forms, is Monday.

On the way out of the parking lot at 5pm, a rainbow was clearly visible. Yeah, yeah, I know I don't believe in mumbo-jumbo...but it was pretty and calming nonetheless.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Day 19 - The Last Day!

Today was shaping up to be a blogless day...until I went to the grocery store. (On a side note: yes, I already went to the store this week, but I forgot to add the ingredients for the hopefully delicious "Vegetable Pie" which I am preparing for dinner, to my list. And to further the side note: I wrote up a new list for the pie, and left it on the table while I traveled to the store. One last side note: I actually managed to remember all the ingredients!)

As I sauntered up to the shopping carts, I noticed a little holder that was added to the left side of each cart. What could this be for? Flowers? I looked questioningly at the lady next to me, but she seemed totally unaware of the change. I decide, like her, to ignore it and go about my business. But, as soon as I entered the store, the question was answered. They have scanners available before you begin shopping! How cool! You simply scan your "Giant" shoppers card, and one of the scanners along the wall lights up. You remove your scanner, and take some shopping bags (or your own re-usable bags) to begin shopping. As you shop, you scan each item, and put it right into your shopping bag. It tells you the price, and the total of your order, which is useful for those on a budget, and allows you to remove the item if you like. It also dings occasionally and tells you about various sales happening all over the store, which is useful to...well, not to me.

When you get to the checkout line, you can do a standard "self-checkout", only all you do is pay. No more scanning required!

One question though - what is to stop you from just putting items in your bag without scanning? I was tempted to try it, for the sake of science, but I chickened out. I would not want to be banned from such a cool shopping experience after day one.