Friday, August 22, 2014

Wales Watching

The symbol of Wales is a dragon. Caerphilly, Wales.

Drinking at a bar, overlooking a castle, wondering if I'm ever coming back. Caerphilly, Wales

Capital of Wales. Capital guy in my life. Coincedence? Cardiff, Wales

Cardiff castle flying the stars and stripes. 'Merica. Fuck yeah. But really Cardiff, Wales

Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey

Sort of, kind of, hanging with the royals.

It seems bigger on TV. Westminster Abbey.
Randoms that make me happy

Hehe. You said swallow. Bath, England.

Art. London, England.

Hehe. You said giant pickle building in the middle of London? Wait. What? London, England.

Drinks in Bath, England, after a day of touring.

Underground reservoir that feeds the old Roman baths

The Circus in Bath

And finally, much needed color in Queen Victoria Park on dreary Bath day

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Look kids! Big Ben! Parliament!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Road Warrior

I read an article the other day on the former CEO of MongoDB - he left his job to have a better work/life balance. A line in the article stated that before he quit his job, he had been on pace to fly 300,000 miles that year. And it made my head hurt. How in the world can anyone fly that much? I'm on track for about 75,000 this year and it's making me bat-shit crazy.

And that neatly sums up why I've been absent from blog world - 75,000 miles of travel.

So here is what's been going on in my life. Summed up into 2 parts. Let's start with the YUCK part first.


So I've been in Chicago for the past 3 weeks. Travel started up with a bang on 7/28, and I'm literally on the road until 9/19. I also have 3 other projects queued up behind my current list - I'm hoping to pass some off to the new people on my team, but I haven't been allowed to do that officially yet.

Anyway, 7/28 was actually supposed to be 7/27 but I live my life like I'm in the movies - in this case, the movie was Groundhog Day. I got on a plane out of JFK on 7/27, which was already delayed. We backed away from the gate, parked on the tarmac for a long time, drove around the airport, and ended up back at the terminal several hours later with our flight cancelled. See: 4th of July / Land of Oil trip. So 10 hours after I left my apartment that day, I was back home to sleep in my bed for 4 hours before heading to LaGuardia to really leave NY.

I spent the week of 7/28, 8/4, and this week outside of Chicago (I also spent a day onsite in the Bronx on 8/11 - fell in love with that project that I'm on there, and can't wait to spend some time in my own city on that project). Which ends my time on that specific project - it doesn't launch until next week but I'm in London, and I'm now officially on vacation, so it's out of my hands. Go me.

Anyway, I've enjoyed this project a lot - the team is pretty great, the town is tiny but the people are nice, and the weather is always interesting (massive storms, power outages, etc). I've also been onsite with a great group of people from my work which always helps. There were many late night drinks, great meals, and good conversation going on which always makes my life better.

Some interesting "non-work" stuff from my work was that one day a coworker and I busted through a ton of stuff, and then left the site early to drive up to New Glarus, WI (home of New Glarus Brewery). It was SO WORTH IT. The drive was about an hour, but the town itself was this super cute, super quaint village. The brewery was a beautiful building out in the middle of nowhere (reminded me of Woodford Reserve in KY) and the beers they had on tap that day were nom nom nom. Actually, can you nom nom nom beer? Think - strawberry rhubarb beer, cherry beer, and my all time favorite Spotted Cow.

We then hit up a bar in the village and had some of the freshest cheese I've ever eaten in my life - in this little old divey type bar. I also bought Blondie a shirt with a fake leiderhosen printed on it from the bar (which yes, he's worn already).

Other than that, work has been work. I'm trucking along, working my ass off, having good and bad days <- nothing out of the ordinary.


Not much to report here because, well, 75,000 miles of travel this year. BUT. When Blondie was in New Orleans, I ended up having a great weekend. It started on that Friday I was at work - I knew it was one of my last 3 days in the office until 9/22 (having said that, I've gone through those 3 days and literally will not be back at my desk until 9/22). So I was pretty antsy about that and when one of my coworkers suggested leaving work early and getting some drinks, I was in. About 5 of us left around 2 pm, and headed for lunch and beers into the early evening. It was a nice way to end my "summer break" and thoroughly enjoyed the time that day.

That Saturday then, I met up with my 2 female bar friends - my one friend can do hair and makeup like nobody's business, so she went to town on me and my other friend. And then we went down to the west village for drinks and late dinner to show off our new looks. I had a pouffy ponytail and cat eye makeup and looked pretty dang fine if I do say so myself. We got back home that night around 2 am - I'm the one who ended the party b/c I was supposed to be flying out on Sunday (but if you read my "Work" section, you know how that happened).

The weekend of 8/1 was another great weekend. A really good friend of mine from work and her boyfriend came to my side of town for early afternoon drinks. It was my first time meeting her boyfriend and her first time meeting Blondie. We ended up at our local for several hours, before meeting up with my bar friends at a german beer hall in midtown for evening hours. Where we ended up in a pretty serious discussion about who would engage in cannibalism if it kept you alive (spoiler alert: all of us. All of us would eat someone if that meant not dying. Other spoiler alert: some of us would eat someone just for the experience. Other other spoiler alert: that was not me or Blondie).

After our drunken cannibalism conversation, we decided to walk back to our hood with my work friends, stopping for junk at 7-11 before downing razz-beritas on our patio. Finally around midnight, 10 hours after I started drinking, I ended up passed out in bed. It was a most excellent night.

And last weekend, it was off to Minneapolis / northern WI. Blondie's friend from college has about 400 acres in the "middle of nowhere" WI, and he throws a giant party / college reunion on a yearly basis. We haven't been up in a lot of years, so we decided to head up this year. We flew in Friday night to Minneapolis, and then rented a muscle car (hahahah - OMG. Never give us 2 a muscle car. Never) and drove up to the property. It's supposed to be a 2.5 hour drive, that we made in 2 hours, because I can haz muscle car.

We sat up late Friday night, drinking beers around a campfire with a ton of Blondie's friends. We caught up with his old roommate - whom Blondie was living with when I met him - and just generally had a blast. We had a cabin on the property for the weekend, so I was in bed around 1:30 am, with Blondie coming in around 3 am. Saturday was another great day - we got up and ate breakfast (eggs and sausage cooked over a grill - YUM). And then made the command decision with our friends that next year we would bring the fixings for a "make your own bloody mary" bar. Afterwards, we watched all the little kids do a "kids tough mudder" - a 1 mile obstacle course through the woods on the property. Yes - they had an "adult tough mudder" early morning which we slept through. To make up for it, we took the hayride with everyone and cheered on the kids. It was hard work climbing on the hayride. It was just like we did a tough mudder.

After the tough mudder, it was time for beers. We still sat around the campfire, but by then, it was every single one of Blondie's friends there - all of them joining our circle and drinking and laughing. After lunch, it was down to the mud and sand volleyball pits. Where I kept drinking and cheering people on. And then a nap. Oops. But I set my alarm so I didn't miss the WATERMELON CANNON.

OMG. Blondie's friend rigged a "cannon" to fire frozen watermelons across his property (seriously - this place is huge. It has a giant alfalfa field, houses/cabins/etc, surrounded by tons of acres of woods). It was so awesome to see - the best was this thing fired and this giant frozen watermelon goes like 400 yards down the alfalfa field, followed by 3 dogs chasing it. It made me laugh so hard.

After the cannon, it was time for dinner (chicken, ribs, corn on the cob), a lot more drinking and a cover band that played live for the party. We sat around the campfires and "candles" (hollowed out tree stumps that they lit on fire from the inside and looked like candles), drinking beer, talking to friends, and listening to the band. The night was chilly, and the beer, conversation and fire pit (okay, just the fire pit) kept us warm. There were some fireworks to end the night for the kids, lit off over the alfalfa field. And then it was just the adults, yet MORE beer, and the end of a great weekend.

On Sunday, we said goodbye to everyone and got back in our muscle car, and made our way to Chippewa Falls, WI, to tour the Leinenkugel's Brewery. But the wait was really long so we just did free tastings while chatting about our weekend and what fun we had. It was then back to Minneapolis, where we plopped down at a bar and enjoyed watching New England get beat up in their pre-season game. And then a flight back to NY, where I had to turn around the next day and head to Chicago.

Switching notes now - Tigga is doing really well. He's up to about 9.5 lbs which is a 2+ lb gain from when he was diagnosed with cancer. He's got a tiny little puff of a stomach now - but he just looks so much better physically. He's losing some fur - his nose is becoming bare, and he keeps dropping tufts of fur from various parts of his body, but he's acting like his old self. So what's a little fur loss.

And we're off to London tomorrow! We're having someone stay at our apartment with Tigga to watch over him and give him his meds, so that's a worry off my mind. And I can enjoy my LONDON TIME! Big plans - we're staying in London from Saturday - Tues, going to Bath on Tues, Wales (and a castle tour) on Wed, Bath (Stonehenge, a Harry Potter tour) on Thurs, and Oxford Friday and Saturday, before coming back on Sunday.

And I'm off to Alaska for Labor Day! I have to be in WA state the week before Labor Day and northern CA the week of Labor Day so I called my cray cray uncle to see if I could visit Labor Day weekend (would rather not do 2 cross-continental trips in 2 weeks). He was all "well, we're going to be in Alaska, so why don't you come there?" And that was all it took.

Travel plans are insane - 8/16-8/24 in London, 8/25-8/29 at the OR/WA border, 8/29-9/1 in AK, 9/1-9/6 in northern CA, 9/8-9/12 in the Bronx, 9/15-9/19 at the OR/WA border. And coming right after that is 2 more Michigan projects and a Brooklyn project.

I'll try to post when I'm back from London.

And of course: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO BROTHER R AND SIS!!!! Hope you had great days!
AND HAPPY EARLY BIRTHDAY TO MR POOH!!!! I'll try to text from London on your birthday!