Sunday, September 19, 2010

Across the Pond

It was a good weekend, with Brenden's birthday party on Friday, and games at Scooter's house on Saturday. But now it is off to India. I will be back in two weeks.






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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Special Treatment

Today I got my flu shot, which apparently now includes an H1N1 vaccine in addition to the normal vaccines. It was a bit of a challenge to get it, since my clinic doesn't start flu clinics until next week.

Yesterday Linzy mentioned to me that her mom had passed along a comment from my brother-in-law that a virus was spreading in India. I hadn't heard anything about it, but after looking on the internet I found out that apparently they are having a resurgence of H1N1 in India (or maybe it never left?) and given the huge population it spreads like crazy. Interestingly, I've been getting e-mails two or three times daily about the unrest in Kashmir ever since I booked my trip, but never anything about formerly-pandemic viruses still running rampant.

Unfortunately, finding out last night meant that I had only two days to get the shot and being a cheapskate I didn't want to pay for a minute clinic shot. My first attempt was to send an e-mail to the scheduling department explaining how I was leaving for India on Sunday 9/19 and needed to get a flu shot before going, etc etc.

Surprisingly I had an e-mail back right away in the morning, but it was clear they hadn't even read my mail since it just explained that flu clinics started 9/20. Which, of course, does me no good. So then I called them and got the same answer, until I explained my predicament and lack of desire to: a) get H1N1 in India or b) end up having to get vaccinated in India. After being on hold for 5 minutes I got word that the nurse supervisor had approved my coming in for a shot.

When I arrived for my nurse-only appointment, the first thing she asked was "Are you a XXXX employee?". I asked why and she explained that no one was supposed to be getting flu shots early, not even employees, but my record was marked as approved by and she wanted to know how I had convinced them to approve it. Once she heard the situation, the nurse was like "Yeah, that seems like a good reason".

So the end result was what I wanted, it just took a bit of doing to get there. Plus I got to feel like I was getting special treatment. Which I suppose I was.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

San Diego Pictures

San Diego SkylineI had some time tonight to start sorting through the many, many pictures that I took while we were on vacation in San Diego. That ended up taking much longer then I was expecting, which means instead of a real post I'm just going to throw up some pictures. Lazy, I know.

On Saturday Linzy and I went to the Maritime Museum that is in San Diego harbor. It is different then the USS Midway, but almost right next door to it. The Maritime museum has a bunch of ships, including the oldest operating ship in the world, two submarines and the ship that was used in the movie Master and Commander. We also took a cruise around the harbor as part of the deal. It was well worth the price of admission.

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The oldest operating ship in the world: The Star of India, built in 1863.

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There were several America's Cup-class sailboats operating in the harbor. They are FAST, and they weren't anywhere near as fancy as the real deal.

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A Russian sub that was acquired by the museum. In a strange coincidence it was actually assigned to shadow the USS Midway back in the day.

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The Russian sub was not exactly luxurious, and shockingly it was in use as late as 1989 (!).

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Under no circumstances would I have ever sailed in that death trap, it was crazy.

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For comparison purposes the museum also has an American test sub that appeared to be newer and similarly cramped. But it didn't look like it was going to actively send you to your death.

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Speaking of the USS Midway, this is what she looks like from underneath. It's hard to get a sense of scale here, but trust me the ship is immense.

There are more pictures in the full set.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Similar but Different

In San Diego, our hotel had an evening wine reception featuring tasty red and white wine as well as various appetizers. Olive Tapenade, as previously mentioned, but also crackers and brie, and other things of a similar ilk.

My hotel in Omaha apparently has an evening social event as well. Today it was meatballs and Bud Light in cans.

For reference, my hotel in Appleton this summer featured nachos and a keg of beer.

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Monday, September 13, 2010

Useful Knowledge

One night last week while Linzy and I were in San Diego, we were at the evening wine reception at our hotel relaxing after a day of sight seeing. Mostly we were people watching as free wine always makes for quality entertainment.

Among the more amusing was a guy who was extremely talkative and found a receptive listener nearby to regale with random tales. At one point he was commenting on the 'Olive Mulch' (Tapenade) and bread appetizer that was on the table and how much he liked. But didn't know what it was, and so decided to refer to it as mulch.

Then he was talking about some beach up the coast where there had been an increase in shark attacks over the past few years. He was blaming that on a beached whale that had been buried in the sand some years earlier and now the sharks were 'just checking out what they could eat'. The story was apparently that there was a squad of three surfers, but only one was attacked.

To that, I leaned over and reminded Linzy that you didn't have to be faster then the shark, just faster then one of your surfing buddies.

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Hello, Goodbye

DSC_5362Linzy and I got home safe and sound this evening from our vacation in San Diego. We flew there on Wednesday and spent the rest of the weekend and weekend touring around the town, seeing the sites, and generally having a great time. We stayed at a hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter, through a deal I got thanks to the many nights I've spent at other hotels in the same chain for work. The location turned out to be awesome with a ridiculous amount of great restaurants within walking distance and all sorts of entertaining things to see nearby.

The picture is of Linzy in front of the USS Midway, which was an aircraft carrier built just after World War II, and used up until 1992. It was the flagship during Operation Desert Storm and is now a museum in San Diego harbor. Touring it was really interesting as you were able to go all over the place and see the wide variety of aircraft that had been on it during the many years it was in use.

Unfortunately my time at home will total less then twelve hours as I have to head to Omaha for work Mon-Wed this week. From there, I'm back home for about four days before leaving for a trip to India with a stop in Chicago on the way back. After that, I should be back home for a while. Or at least that is the plan at the moment.

Finally, lest Linzy accuse me of making this blog all about death and destruction lately, I've included a picture of a very tired and cute Koala from the San Diego zoo.

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Movies

Things have been busy over the past month, and as usual when that happens the first thing to go is time to watch movies.

Hot Tub Time Machine - Linzy and I watched this movie together, despite her objections. It actually turned out to be much more amusing then either of us was expecting. Of course, our expectations were low, dead low. So it certainly wasn't the best comedy I've seen but it did have some amusing moments including a bunch with Crispin Glover, and a joke at the end pertaining to Google.

The Wolfman - Low expectations can save a lot of movies, unfortunately this is not really one of them. I guess I was expecting something unwatchable, and it wasn't that bad, but it wasn't particularly good. I spent a good part of the movie thinking about how different the world was before telephones, rapid travel and communications, not worrying about werewolves. That's not a ringing endorsement.

Burn Notice: Season Three - This was my entertainment while exercising for the past few weeks and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The two-part season finale was terrific and I am very sad that I have many, many months before Season 4 is available on DVD.

The Expendables - I saw this with Dan O. when we were in Iowa back in August. I thought it was entertaining, in a pure action movie sort of way. Something like Live Free or Die Hard was more enjoyable as a full movie, but the Expendables was fun if you were looking for things blowing up, cheesy one-liners, and dudes getting beat up. Plus it got the early-teen boy seal of approval.

Lost: Season 4 - I got stalled on my way through this season a few months ago but then picked it up again in the past few weeks when the October 1st date for no more instant streaming starting looming. I was pleasantly surprised at the number of good episodes, especially The Constant and the season finale. I'm anxious to watch the final two seasons even though I know full well that the general consensus on them is negative. Never trust Ben.

Dollhouse: Season One - Linzy and I watched the last couple episodes of this series sometime over the past few months but I forgot to mention it. Which is weird because we both really liked the series. I'm looking forward to season 2 coming out on DVD soon, and at the same time disappointed that it is the last season. Hopefully it will be fun while it lasts.


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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Wild Kingdom

Yesterday, our backyard was like an episode of the Wild Kingdom. First, I discovered the amphibian graveyard that our egress window has turned into. Then, for some reason I pissed off the birds that have a nest in the next yard over and they spent 40 minutes dive-bombing me. Worse, over time all of their friends showed up until there were literally 10 birds swooping through the skies at me. It was like The Birds. Finally, I ended up catching the mole that has been making a mess of the back corner of the yard by the Maple trees (which, I might add, are not doing much better then the first set).

I felt bad for the mole, of course, but not bad enough to allow him to find a good-looking female mole and breed a family of yard-destroying rodents. Plus I kept worrying that Pippen was going to get wind of him and revert to what she was bred for, killing rodents. Digging up the yard even more until that task was accomplished.

So, looking back at this post I guess it was more about all of the animals that died in our yard. That's depressing.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Amphibian Graveyard

DSC_5342I was mowing the grass this morning in the unseasonably cold weather and as I passed the egress window pit I noticed a large black lizard laying next to the drain pipe. He was the largest lizard I've ever seen in the wilds of Minnesota, but probably isn't native since he was extremely sluggish in the cold weather. Linzy and I took him out of the pit and away from the house so he could find a more permanent home.

While I was in the pit, however, I noticed that apparently it has become an amphibian graveyard. There were tons of dead frogs, as well as the bodies of two smaller lizards that were probably the same species as the slightly hardier one. While I was collecting all the dead bodies, I also found a still living frog nestled in amongst the rocks (who we also freed).

I'm not even sure how they all got into the pit without injuring themselves, since it is a good 5 foot drop to the bottom. It was kind of gross,and I felt bad for the lizards who seem unlikely to survive the winter if two of the three couldn't survive the early fall temperatures. Hopefully he found his way into the sewers and somewhere warmer.

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Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Damaged Goods

Linzy and I have spent the past three or four weeks trying to buy a somewhat expensive piece of furniture. It can be purchased in a store, but they don't actually stock it and so it has to be shipped to our house. Which is fine, since it saves us having to rent a truck to bring it home.

The first order never even made it to our house. A few days after it left the warehouse, UPS marked it as 'damaged' and canceled delivery. The store wouldn't do anything about it until they received it back and so we waited 3 or four days while it wended its way back. Then they credited our purchase back but never actually called to say it had been returned or to order us a new one. They were apparently just going to cancel the whole order.

After some stern discussions with the store, a new one was ordered and the process started again. This time the box actually showed up at the house, looking worse for wear, but at least acceptable enough to accept delivery. Paul and I carried it upstairs, but when I opened the packaging the furniture was a wreck with huge scratches and gouges on all of the pieces of wood.

After talking with both the store (about their shoddy shipping processes) and the vendor (about their extra shoddy packing processes) we have to pack everything back up for shipment back. After which we have to again wait for it to arrive back at the warehouse, and reorder the piece again.

Phone calls have been made and vehement complaints have been lodged, but up to this point have been more-or-less ineffective. I am extremely skeptical of whether a third attempt is even worth it, as it seems unlikely to result in any different outcome. And that just makes the whole process that much more frustrating.

Years ago I told Linzy that we would no longer buy any sort of furniture that came in a box and needed assembly. That served us well, and this ordeal makes me wish this type of product was actually available any other way. But alas, we will continue to be at the mercy of UPS and their not-so-gentle shipping processes, and the manufacture's cheap-ass packing processes.

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