Sunday, May 18, 2014

Detroit; California; Key West; New York; California

So we left off last with my first night in Detroit. We were there to handle the launch of that project, which is always nerve-wracking, but this release was pretty solid so that made me happy.

For dinner on that Monday, I went down to the hotel bar for a quick bite. And ended up meeting an older gentleman from NYC there (an UES'er). He was pretty friendly and we had a good chat while we were eating - I travel alone so much that getting to talk to someone during dinner is always something I like. Tuesday morning I met up with a coworker who had flown in - we finished up what we were supposed to do at our sites in preparation for Wednesday and then started waiting for the rest of the group to arrive.

My work flew in a lot of people for this which was nice - the launch itself was small but there are a lot of different groups that have asked to be part of launches (just to see how users react, bugs that might show up, etc) and so they've started including a few people for each launch. Anyway, we met up with several of them on Tues night for a dinner at a brew house in downtown Detroit before heading back to get some sleep in preparation for Wed morning.

Launch started Wed morning - things went really well for it, with the exception that the 3rd party company didn't ship some stuff between their 2 sites correctly. So I had to make a quick 45 minute drive out of Detroit to pick up something followed by a 20 minute drive to the other site to take some of the excess stuff they had shipped there. Other than that, a smashing success (seriously). Dinner on Wed night was at PJ's Lager House - if you ever get to Detroit, GO. We had a blast - we walked in and it was immediately obvious we didn't belong (it's a dog bar and everyone in there had a dog but us) but everyone was super friendly, the food was good, and the beer list was large. They also had an old record store in their basement. Just a solid experience - one which made me call Blondie and tell him I could live in Detroit.

Thursday was our 2nd launch - we split up our group in the morning so that a few could support the Wed site and the rest went to the new site. All of us met for lunch at Russell's Deli in Eastern Market (sooooo good) and then we all ended up at our 2nd site for the afternoon. Again, things went fairly well and we all left feeling good. Dinner that night was at Suppino's Pizza (again in Eastern Market, and again, sooooo good) and ended early as I was exhausted from the week. And Friday was nice - I supported a site by myself (as some of the team started flying back home) and then kicked my ass as my flight got delayed like crazy. I didn't get home until almost 1 am - but did get 1st class upgrade from Detroit to LaGuardia, so it worked out well.

I spent about 30 hours in New York once I did finally get back. We didn't do shit on that Saturday - I was flat out exhausted from my week(s) and was just lazy the entire time. And then Sunday it was a 6 am flight to San Francisco!

That was a good time - I flew through Atlanta so that I could get to SF early on Sunday; got a 1st class upgrade for NY to Atlanta and then a pretty good seat for Atlanta to SF. The flights felt like they went really fast, and before I knew it, it was noon and I was in my old stomping grounds! I met up with Bbbb and my old friend KT for many drinks early afternoon - and before we knew it, it was 8 pm (11 pm my time) - I'm so glad I got to see them both. Bbbb and I met up first and we had a great talk, and then KT joined a bit later - just a great time. I did a taco run for dinner and then was at my hotel and passed out before I realized it.

Monday was an overall great day. I took BART back to the airport and picked up my rental car, and started the 4.5 hour drive north of SF. It was kind of terrifying driving through SF but I made it over the Golden Gate Bridge okay. And an hour later, after going through wine country, I entered Redwood area. The Redwoods - can't even describe it. It felt other-worldly to me. There is no way to put context into how big these trees are. I took the scenic detour of Avenue of the Giants - and most of the time I was the only car on the road. Not only that, but the trees block the sun so you could only see a bit of sunlight through the leaves. Roads were built around trees, so you'd have to bypass them. And I drove my car through a tree at one point - it was a tourist attraction that I did, and had a blast!

My hotel was pretty pimp too - when I finally got to the town I was staying in, I checked into the hotel. They immediately thrust a huge glass of red wine into my hand (free!) and pointed out a giant platter of snacks (free!) I did some work and responded to email before coming back down to the bar and having a few more glasses of wine and salmon tacos for dinner. The next morning I met up with 2 of my coworkers who had also flown in for breakfast at the hotel restaurant (free! no shit) before a caravan down to our site.

We were there to do a quick off and deep dive on the work they need to do for launch - it's about a 4 hour meeting with me talking for about 3.75 hours of it. Ugh. But we split it up with a lunch break in the middle and went for a quick mexican food run. The team seems really great - and I'm really excited to work with them. They told me about Hops in Humboldt - a big beer fest in the county we were in; but I can't make it as I've got exciting plans during the same weekend. After our meetings ended, it was a 4.5 hour drive back to SF airport, where I did some more work before hopping a red-eye back to NY. I had the whole row of seats to myself so actually got to lay down for the entire flight back.

That Wednesday I was pretty tired but no rest for the weary. It was a trip to the oncologist for Tigga. Always a fun time with a cat who hates the world, but a lot more fun when you're exhausted on top of that ;) The good news is that the issue they saw last time with his potassium levels is no longer an issue. The bad news is his weight stayed the exact same - he didn't gain anything. So they told us to just feed him whatever he'll eat - if that's people food (which it is), just do it. Our only goal now is getting him to gain some weight. The cat is now super happy because he loves ham, so ham is what he's getting.

Thursday it was into the office for a day - it went really fast as everyone is always excited when I'm there (just because I'm not there most of the time) so I got to catch up with people all day long. And then one of my favorite developers had quit, so there was a happy hour on Thursday night - the first one I've been able to go to in a long time! I stayed out pretty late with everyone but had a blast. So I'm glad I had that day in the office.

Friday I worked from home a partial day and then Blondie and I headed to the airport to catch a flight to Miami! We were a little delayed going down, but not too bad. We took off and it was 55 and raining, and landed to 82 and heat. SO WORTH IT. We grabbed our rental car, drove in circles around the airport b/c our phones wouldn't find GPS (look kids - Big Ben! Parliament!) and finally made our way towards Key West. The drive down was in the dark so we couldn't see anything, but our hotel was crazy. When I checked in, the hotel guy said "I see you paid for an upgrade to the presidential suite" and I was all "I did?" But yes, I did. And the room was insane. We were on the beach with a private staircase from our balcony to the sand. It was perfect.

Saturday we went for a breakfast and bloody mary's before laying down in loungers by the pool and drinking the day away - we literally didn't do anything else during the day. That night we took the hotel shuttle to Duvall Street (the Bourbon Street of Key West) and had dinner, listened to some great music, and ended our night drinking beers on a patio overlooking Duvall Street and people watching. Sunday we started off with a trip to the southernmost point in the continental US and then on to Hemingway House - we did a tour of the house and played with the cats that lived there. Hemingway had a thing for 6-toed cats as he thought they brought good luck, so there are now about 40 cats with the 6-toed gene in them that live onsite and have a full-time vet to tend to them.

After the house, we walked down to Duvall for slices of Key Lime pie and then ran into a bar that had a bacon bloody mary - we popped in there for a quick drink. And Blondie loved that bloody - said it was in his top 3 bloody's ever. Part of what our tour guide at Hemingway House had talked about was Hemingway's local bar in Key West. And after bacon bloody mary time, we found that bar. We stopped in thinking we were going to have a quick drink, and ended up staying for lunch also. And then finally, we found a bar with a huge front porch, called appropriately "Porch" and split some fruity beers (mango ale, lemon shandy) before catching our shuttle back to our hotel and crashing out on the beach for the rest of the afternoon.

We watched the sunset that night from the beach while drinking many beers and both of us realized that while we love NY, it's been an intense 8 years of living in big cities. We're ready to downgrade our lives a bit, and maybe the Florida Keys are the way to go. Not necessarily Key West, but one of the other keys closer to Miami.

We drove back to Miami on Monday and then we could truly see what everyone talks about when they talk about the views on that drive - it was GORGEOUS. 120 miles of bridges, and ocean, with a new key popping up every so often. We ate lunch in Key Largo and then into Miami to fly home. The good thing about this flight was I had made gold status with our flight down to Miami, so we got to bypass all the cluster fuck of security lines at Miami airport on the way back. And I got upgraded to 1st class on the way back, so I gave my seat to Blondie for his birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY BLONDIE! We landed in NY and Blondie was refreshed and relaxed - had a couple of beers on the plane and he was quite content. I'm glad we got to end the trip that way.

This week was sort of low-key, sort of not. I was back in the office on Tuesday and did some training of the new guy on my team on Tuesday and Wednesday. And then Thurs I went out to my NJ site - took the new guy with me and we had a good day out there. It was nice getting to see everyone again, and things seem to be going pretty well there which makes me relieved as we had such a bad start to that project.

Also on Thursday, 2 of Blondie's uncles and their wives (the S clan) flew in to visit NY for the first time! So after I got my train back to NY on Thurs night, I met up with them all for dinner before we headed to our local to introduce them to everyone and have a few drinks. Friday was a long day at the office - I was just tired and didn't want to be there, so took off around 4 pm to go home for the day. Blondie and I headed out around 6 pm to our local and then met up with the S Clan for dinner around 8 pm before heading back to our local after for many drinks.

Yesterday was a go-go-go day. We met up with the S Clan at 11:30 for International Food Fest. We took several hours walking up and down the street, eating delicious food, before settling in at poison bar for a few drinks. And then we took a train down to Washington Sq Park and showed them that area, before trying to get in at McSorley's Ale House (they were full up though). Afterwards, we walked to Lombardi's for pizza before wandering around Little Italy and Chinatown for a bit. A stop at Blondie's office completed our time at that end of the island. We then came back up and showed them Times Square at night before saying goodnight, coming home and collapsing in bed at 9:15 pm.

Today we have on tap tickets to a play called "The Cripple of Inishmaan" starring Harry Potter! Well, not really Harry Potter, but the kid who played Harry Potter. Afterwards we have reservations at a french restaurant in our hood with tickets to a jazz club to end our evening. Tomorrow it's a flight back to San Francisco to start training for the new group - coming back on the red-eye on Wed night. Blondie and I have decided to do NOTHING next weekend (except maybe to see Hedwig on Broadway) and I cannot wait for that.

Our exciting plans I referenced in the section about Hops in Humboldt - we bought our tickets to go to London!!!! We will be gone for 11 days in August - London, Scotland and Ireland! I'm so excited I can't hardly stand it!

Okay people, off to relax for a bit before the madness of today starts.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Enough Said

Saturday, May 10, 2014


Happy 2 days early birthday to one of my favorite people in the world! Love you sooooo much Blondie! Happy 1 day early mothers day to mom, mom-in-law, and Mrs Pooh! And happy vacation to me.