Thursday, July 31, 2008 I come!!!

I thought that the meeting started at 9am this morning (instead of 930), so after about 3 hours of sleep, I got up, got ready, checked out, and walked over to the building on 4th....getting there over an hour early......of course. Oh well, I got myself a white mocha from Firehook Bakery and enjoyed sitting outside on the patio. You can still do that here at 830am. :)

The meeting went we just have to figure out if we want to respond to this bid. Anyways....that's boring. The meeting finished a lot earlier than I thought it was, so I called one of my old customers, who is also one of my customers now, and we had lunch at Chef Geoff's. It was kind of fun to have the ability to call and have a business lunch meeting on such short notice.

I took off after that and actually made it to Herndon without getting lost. I even went a different way than I did last time, and still made it! Woohoo! Got through a few con calls, some work catch up, and then I had to get out of the room.

I went across the street, and watched Wall-E at the movie theater by myself tonight. Again, I suck at movie reviews....I thought it was a little slow at the beginning (that might be because I was having a really hard time keeping my eyes open due to sleep deprivation), but once it picked up, it was pretty cute. Although it had a semi-happy ending, it almost reminded me a little bit of Children of Men; a glimpse of how messed up the earth might be in our future. I mean, it was a cartoon, but still.

After the movie, I walked over to a sushi place in the same complex and scarfed down a few pieces of white tuna, and a Crazy Roll. So good, and totally hit the spot. Oh, I did manage to get soy sauce all over me here.....fantastical.

I am actually going to BED right now. Before 11pm, and planning on getting 7 hours of sleep. I have to work on the presentation for my training tomorrow, but I NEED.SOME.SLEEP, so I'll do it in the morning. Night night!!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

On the Road Again.....oh SO sleepy!!!

Technically, my Wednesday started in Houston at midnight last night right after the Freedom Tour ended there. Part of my schedule rearranging, meant that I'd be driving back to Austin at the ridiculous hour to be home in time to unpack two suitcases, and repack one more to catch my afternoon flight out today.

So that I wouldn't fall asleep on the ride home, Brett came along with me for the drive. We really didn't get much time to chat and catch up during the day while we were both helping getting things done for the kick off show, so it was perfect that we'd have this time to do just that.

Of course, with my geeky and obsessive personality, I'd already gone on and on to some of the group earlier on how fantastical Whataburger's Fancy Ketchup is, and so, outside of Columbus, around 130am, when I saw the orange W, I pulled off the freeway and got us some grubb. I think that Brett at least agreed with my assessment, half-heartedly anyways, and enjoyed the (very) salty (extra yummy) fries with the special ketchup. Maybe I'm crazy, and it isn't that different, but I am convinced that there is something special in that concoction.

Anyways......we ended up getting to Austin around 320 in the morning, and Molly was so happy to see people! I'm the most terrible mom ever as I haven't seen her in almost a week and a half!! I had to sort through mail, pay bills, unpack, repack and all that jazz, so I think that I crashed somewhere after 5am.

So, after I woke up....think I got a few hours of sleep (I honestly have no idea what day it is right now) and worked for a bit before taking off to grab a bite to eat at Texadelphia. I then was happy to take Brett by my new favorite shirt shop to grab an Austin shirt - Tyler's on the drag, and also home to the largest UT Longhorn. :) He'd seen pictures of my newest tee, and since his middle name is Austin, he wanted one like it. We took a the scenic route to drive right by the capitol and then I dropped him off, and said one last goodbye to everyone on the bus, before heading to the airport.

The crew is headed to Dallas now. You can keep up with them here if you like. I know I'll be checking in. :)

I found a new way to the airport from downtown today.....I didn't know that if you took 7th Street East, it hits 183 right where you turn off to get to the my stressing on whether or not I would make it in time from downtown was for nothing. I got to there in about 12 minutes and was at the gate with plenty of time to spare. :)

I got to BWI a little after 7, and to my hotel around 9. I was totally on the right street, and then made one small assumption that I knew where I was going, and ended up getting all turned around. Oh well....gotta go get some work done (I have to take 2 work tests before I go to bed tonight) before a big day tomorrow. (Hitting publish now - It's really 330am here and I have to get up in less than 4 hours.....ugh, I seriously am killing myself with this job!!)

Ok, night night all! :)

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Freedom Tour - Houston, TX head is still spinning from how much greatness happened today. After a few morning conference calls, I headed towards where the Freedom Tour folks were staying, hopped right back on wireless there in the lobby, to be around if I could help with anything during the day.

Turns out that Shyla had a few errands to run, and so I offered to drive and go with her, not promising, however, to not get her a little lost in the meanwhile (man, one of these days I'm going to be able to get around Houston better than a blind mouse). With 2 iPhone maps, and a little help from the gas station attendant one street shy of where I was going, we managed to make it to SuperTarget for stop 1 - some basic necessities for the tour bus (think of what you need when you move into your first college apartment....yup, all those things were needed), and a ton of other fun stuff to be sure that the bus was going to be a livable spot for everyone over the next few weeks.

After dropping off the two completely full shopping carts of goodies at the bus, we were off driving more around Houston (yes, I managed to get us turned around AGAIN, and had to place numerous more phone calls to Lora for assistance) for some bedding, a fancy coffee machine, and then finally some nutrition before getting setup for the presentations that evening.

I have to tell you that I had the absolute best time with Shyla all day today running around - I am so thankful to have met and spent time with her today. She's a girl after my own heart....she is living her dream (photography), she's AMAZING at it, she upped and moved to Boston from CA after only being there one time (how many times have I said that I want to do something like that?), loves music, and is just an all around easy going and super person. I WILL be taking her up on the offer to visit her in Boston later this year, once she's back and all settled from the tour.

So....tonight. I am not very good at expressing myself in words....that is Jasmine's forte.....but tonight was phenomenal. DJ and Jasmine wow-ed every single person in the room. I felt like at times they were speaking directly to me, and I'm going to take every word to heart, and start doing what I can to get myself going in a direction that will make me the happy person that I want to be. It's scary as all get out, will take time, and a LOT of hard work.....but nothing worth it is easy.

The last two days have been so special to me. I made, what I feel, will be lifelong friends. I want to thank every single person that I met for being a motivation and inspiration to me.

(P.S. I really have to figure out how to make the pictures bigger on this thing....the little preview is driving me crazy!) **EDITED TO ADD: Yay, I did it!!**:)

Monday, July 28, 2008

"Es Pretty Good" in Texas Today

I'm still in Houston.....I did a little rearranging of my schedule to be sure that I was going to be able to attend the Freedom Tour. I have to fly out for work on the night that I was supposed to go in Austin, so I did a little massaging to my calendar....and it all worked out that I'll still get to go, and also get to spend some time with my buddy, Brett, while he was here. You know, since he made it ALL the way to Texas......and Lora and I are still indebted to him for being our fabulous tour guide in Santa Barbara at the beginning of the year. :)

So, after working all day from Lora's (man, seriously, today was one busy day - ugh), I headed to the airport to pick up Brett and a few others so they'd have a proper Texas welcome this afternoon. I can only imagine how horrid the heat must feel here to them.....coming in from CA, MA and IL......ugh, it's sooooo bad. Anyways........

After everyone arrived and got a little settled in, I got to test out if 8 adults really CAN fit in my car tonight when we all headed to enjoy some great TexMex and conversations at Lupe Tortilla. I can't say enough wonderful things about everyone that was part of dinner tonight - DJ, Jasmine, Paul, Shyla, Kenny, and of course Brett - the pleasure of your company was all Lora's and mine. :)

I just have to say too, that it's so lovely to be around people that enjoy the same things that you do. It's kind of weird to realize how much hearing people talk so excitedly about how much they love what they do, or about how much they love a certain piece of glass, can make you feel so great your liver is smiling. I'm excited about hearing DJ and Jasmine speak tomorrow, and meeting some more great people.....oh, not to mention seeing the new stuff in Lightroom 2.0 and ShowIt Sites. Just in the short time with the folks tonight, it's strikingly apparent why they are so successful at what they do. I'm a little nervous that they might be a little too inspiring, and I might want to take some leaps that I've honestly been way too scared to take before. But....for now, I need some sleep. So, I'll keep you all posted if I do anything drastic. :)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Jumping on the 'Band'wagon

Ah....Sundays. A day to relax, sit on the couch, and do nothing. HA! Not for me and LG. :)

We ate yummy subs at Lenny's for lunch and decided to check out Step Brothers. In the words of Lora "Will Farrell can do no wrong with me.". I wasn't completely aware that I knew that about her before today, but we can still be friends. I'm indifferent about him, but I'm totally OK with a few laughs. I'm no movie critic....and my reviews are usually one here goes. The movie was funny at parts, totally stupid concept, annoying in bits, and I wouldn't run out and spend your next lunch's money on it...but go if you want. :) Yeah, I'll keep my day job, I know.

Afterwards, we came back and a little Wii party started up in the living room. Christy, Kara, Mindi and Stacie came over to test out Lora's Wii to see if they might want to get one of their own. I ended up doing some work on the computer and watching, I didn't' really need to play those games more than I really needed to get caught up on work.

BUT....after that was finished, and everyone left except for Stacie....we got out Rock Band. I'd heard of this, but never played it myself. Dabbled a few times on Guitar Hero, and loved it, but never spent a prolonged amount of time with the game.

Well, that all changed. We were all a little shy at first......but then after a few songs....we had our groove going. I was on vocals, Lora was rocking the drums, and Stacie strummed a mean guitar. We decided to go on tour with our gig, and "The Luna" was formed.

We ended up playing for, oh, about 4 hours, and 25 songs later.....after my voice was sore, Lora's hands hurt, and Stacie's fingers were cramping.....and after saying "just one more song" about 3 times...played our final encore and left the stage.

We'll keep you all posted on our next tour date so you can get front row seats. Luna and Mo might also be making another guest appearance, and that'll make it all worth it for sure! :)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Midtown Tour

Tonight I got to do something else that I hadn't ever done before....and that was have Miss Nita all to myself. I love when we have our big group (well, not big....but you know, all the girls) together, but it's such a treat when you get a little one on one time with each other, to really talk. It was an absolute pleasure!

After dinner, we went over to Front Porch to meet up with a few others that were finished with their earlier obligation....and then we stole Lora away because it was kind of boring.

The 3 of us took off and did a little walking tour of midtown Houston, stopping at Pub Fiction to dance a bit, moving on to Shot Bar to see if there was any room to dance chance, so headed back to meet up with the rest of the folks, but not before we had a little photo shoot on the street first. :)

Animals, Trains, Boats and JUMPS - Oh MY!!!

To continue the celebration for Lora's birthday....we did something that we knew Lora would love this afternoon. Nita, Lora and I headed out in the unbearable heat (ha! that was for you, Kara) and spent some of our afternoon at the zoo. (Oh, we ate at Black Walnut Cafe in Rice Villi age for lunch before. No pictures.....but whoa, was it yummy. Go there and enjoy.).

I honestly think that we had more fun at the zoo than 3 grown women should.....but that's just what we do. Millions of crazy kids running around isn't going to spoil our good time. I can't recall the last time that I went to the zoo, and I'd never been to the one in Houston, so this was a treat for me too. All of the animals were so cute....I think that it was a consensus that the meerkats were all of our favorite.

After we visited all of the animals at the zoo (there are way too many pictures to even think about posting 10% of them), we tried out the train and paddle boats at Hermann Park. The small breeze that we were able to catch while riding the choo choo was perfect. The life jackets in the heat were not. But....two other things that I hadn't done in Houston, and since I'm always up for new was great.

On the way home, Nita (of all people - our favorite conservative) remembered that this certain wall that we'd talked about was in the same area we were driving around right then. So, a quick iMap lookup, and we made one last pit stop for the day.

Nita was such a sport.....and kept trying until she got the shot! Lora and I were exhausted after all the jumps it took to get just the right one! But once again, totally worth it.

Friday, July 25, 2008

We're gonna BOWL tonight.....

Before I left NY, I went to spend a little bit more time with the office folks for lunch before I headed back towards the airport to get back to Austin today.

Nothing too exciting happened at the airport, and I landed right on schedule at 6pm in Austin. Went straight to my car, and drove to Houston to make it right in time to join the gang for the first part of Lora's birthday celebration at Dave & Buster's. We played skee ball, some weird jump rope game, an AWESOME trivia game, and all sorts of the others while waiting for our lanes to become available.

Then........we bowled. It was such a great time....I think that I liked it even more because it was night bowling the entire time. Just makes it that much better. None of us were really good, but that made it even more fun. Nothing like some friendly competition when the highest score on the boards is 117. :)

It was a good old fashioned birthday party, and I was very thankful that I made the drive in for the fun.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Meat Packing in NYC

Today's day of training was grueling to say the least. I think that the lack of sleep and traveling is starting to catch up with me.....or it might just be that I didn't get a lot of sleep LAST night, and sitting in training isn't the best way to try to stay awake.

BUT....I made it....and my eyes were open the whole time. I had made plans to visit with NYC offices after it was over with a few of the HP folks, and then take them all out afterward for a happy hour.

The office visit was actually really wonderful! I had only briefly met a few of the folks when I was at the sales meeting a few months back, so it was fantastic to reconnect, and put names with faces of those that were new to me. Everyone that I met was awesome, and it just reinforced that I'm at a great company.

We walked over to Stout after work was finished for some drinks and snacks. Oh, did I mention how much I am really starting to enjoy being in cities that you can walk everyone, and for the places that you can't walk, take the public transport.....well, yeah, it's awesome. I love it.

So....anyways, after the work part of the evening ended, and most of the older folks headed home already, the 'cool kids', AnnMary, Jimmeth, and I, headed to the Meat Packing District for some more fun. For the life of me, I can't remember the name of the place we went to.....this is why I take pictures.....but it was awesome. It was a hotel that is also a bar. Or maybe it was just a bar that was named something hotel, I can't recall. Regardless, it was outside, wrapped around the building with an open balcony, and it was awesome. We got there right as the sun was setting, and Jimmeth was able to score us some seats around the pool. I had a great time getting to know AnnMary, she's an awesome girl. Turns out that she was named after her two grandmothers, just like I was. So funny. [Edited to add: It was the Gansevoort Hotel.]

I was having such a great time, that I wanted to be sure to get a few photos. I was thrilled that when I finally did pull out my camera, I didn't scare the two of them, and they were happy to be in a few shots with me. We even got to have a little fun with some of the folks that worked there too. :)

I've had such a great time in NYC, and I can't wait until I get to come back again soon!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mets Game at Shea Stadium

I made it through the training today, thankfully on less sleep than I would have liked, and was excited about the evening activity planned for those of us that attended.

After deciding that it was worth it to test the weather, and give it the chance to not rain out the game, we all boarded a bus and headed into wherever Shea Stadium was for the Mets vs Phillies 710pm baseball game. I'm not the biggest fan of baseball, I guess I'm really more indifferent, but Shea is being town down after the new one is finished being built, so this was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity for me.

I was so glad that I ended up going, as I had a great time hanging out and chatting it up with my new New Yorker pals. Chris, Anthony and Danny from ASI, Adam, Rob, and James from Synnex, and all the others made it such a great night. Not to mention the fact that we were all given Mets Bucks to do with what we pleased. These were perfect tender for the beers and hot dogs, but we had a few leftover to get a few hats too. Even though my first hat ever was a Yankees 1961 Roger Marris hat, my new Mets one will add very nicely to my ever growing collection.

James and I ended up meeting a guy that had a lot to work for tonight. Let me tell you a little story about a man named Ronnie. Everytime that James would be at the beer counter right outside our seating area, I'd inevitbly show up at the same time, and we'd order 2 beers. We took great care of Ronnie, even though he said that he wasn't supposed to accept tips....we nice folks from the South just can't help it. So, we saw him quite a few times, to where he knew what we'd want when we rolled up, and smiled at us each and every time.

Well, after James, Cati and I had spent the last few Mets Bucks on a some tee shirts (double score!!!), all the stands were closed, but we were looking for one last beer. We saw Ronnie, and pleaded with him, but he wasn't able to sell us anything else. BUT, there was one last one sitting there in the back, and he happily rewarded us with it to take it back to our seats. Not 3 minutes later....guess who shows our seats....with a grocery bag full of beer. Yup, it was Ronnie. He wanted to come spend the last few minutes with his favorite customers of the night.

As soon as he sat down, and we all cheered his joining us, he whips out his flip phone, and shows us a picture of a brand new little baby. I smiled and said "Oh, Ronnie. She's a beauty. Is that your granddaughter?". His reply shocked the hell out of James and me. "No, that's my brand new baby girl!".


Turns out that Ronnie.....who is 60 years old.....just had his 4th child. He has kids that are 40, 23, 17 and now, a 7 week old child. The baby mamma is 32 years old. Whoa!!! We had a great time laughing with Ronnie.....and were happy to contribute to (what we thought would have been a life long career for him, but instead turned out to be day 2 of his new job) his now much needed income, for the evening. He was working with the fry cooks on day 1, and slinging beers on day 2.

Aw....good ole Ronnie.

The bus ride home was fun....I'm surprised I stayed awake with it being so dark in there, and this was also after the rain storms started. But, there were several of us staying at the same hotel, so we decided to head to the hotel bar after we got back, and shut it down for the night, while still enjoying everyone's company.

Tomorrow is going to be a tough one to get up for......night night!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hobknobbing with Virginia and the Forbes Family

So, I got home last night around 1am.....packed for the next 7 days (two trips).....worked until 415am.....went to bed, and then got up a few hours later to be right BACK at the Austin airport at 830am. I had a few calls for work before I got on the plane, and thought it was going to be easier to get that taken care of if I was already at the gate. My 1130am flight was delayed until 130pm, so I was able to get a lot of work done before I took off for NY.

I am in NY for a few days of training and visiting with the office folks here, but after I got here tonight, I had plans to meet up with my cousin, Virginia, for some dinner.

After my $80+ and 1 hour 15 minute cab ride into the city, and getting checked into my swanky Times Square hotel, I went to meet Virginia at Chelsea Brewing Company at the Pier. We had great food, enjoyed a local brew, and talked for a few hours outside right on the water. There were amazing boats all lining the dock, and so we opted to take that route to get back to where we could get transportation for the way home.

Well, during our getting caught up chat, Virginia had talked about seeing this one boat, from the view from her gym, that always hosted private parties, and also always had a bag piper on board. So, upon our walk along the pier, when we came upon this impressive boat, I had to snap a few photos. Right as I was pressing the button to capture it, 3 guys walked around the corner, and asked us if we wanted to join them for a Jack and Coke, and a tour of this particular boat. Virginia, being a born and raised NYer, was a little leery of these strangers at first....but after my many "Really? You can get on this boat? Are you serious?", and the reply being "Yes. Honest. If this key opens this door, will you believe us then?", I looked at her and said "Why not?!". I consider myself a pretty good judge of character, and knew that we were in OK hands, and in for a treat.

So, we boarded The Highlander, and Chris, along with the other two professional crew for the boat, and they proceeded to make good on their offer. We gladly took our drinks, and in hand, accepted a tour of this fantastic yacht. It was 151 feet, and I think about 4 stories. We went all throughout it, in awe the entire time.

Oh, I forgot to mention. This boat is owned by the Forbes family, as in Steve Forbes....of Forbes magazine. Crazy, huh? It was beautiful. This was The Highlander V, and had some amazing stories. All sorts of US Presidents have been entertained on this boat, as well as Elizabeth Taylor, Margaret Thatcher....and others, to many to mention. It's sailed the world a number of times, and is so detailed in every aspect.

We got to go into the main operation room....where it was mind numbing to me that this ONE steering wheel was in charge of the motion of this entire boat! There have been some pretty important people that have taken a picture just like the one we did. They were hanging on the wall in that same room. Ronnie Reagan was one of them - crazy!

The main engine room was spotless and beautiful. My dad would have loved to have seen that room.

Chris did a great job recounting the stories and history of the family, as well as the boat. It was so neat that I think that my jaw didn't come back to my mouth the entire time we were walking around. When we toured the guest quarters, I took the chance to lay where Malcolm Forbes used to....the pillow read 'Home Sweet Yacht'. I can only dream that one day I'll have one like that of my own - ha!!

Overall, we spent about an hour and a half on the boat, and since it was after 1am, and I had to get up early for training the next day.....said our thank yous, and restarted our journey home.

Virginia helped me hail a cab, and I made it home safe and sound. I love being able to travel for my job to see different parts of the US, and meet new poeple, but mostly because I have the unique opportunity to be able to do fun things like this, and catch up with people that I don't get to see very often. Thanks to Virginia for a great night!!! I hope we get to do it again sometime soon!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Making the most of a Monday in Colorado!

We said goodbye to Jennifer at the hotel this morning, and since we had almost the entire day before we were set to head home.....we had a few fun things up our sleeves planned. First thing....the rest of us were off to Idaho Springs, CO, for some white water rafting!

We met Abby and Kyle, the guides, and after getting all dolled up in our wetsuits, hats, booties, and life jackets, we were off to the water. We were feeling real sorry for the folks that chose different rafting companies than we did, because they were sans wetsuits....and boy, did those come in handy. We were told that the water was going to be freezing, as it wasn't all fully melted just the day before....but I guess we are all pretty tough ladies, because we all handled it very well. The rafting trip was great....we hit some good Class IV much so that Abby was clear knocked out of her raft....but we all managed to stay inside the boats, and thoroughly enjoyed our trip down Clear Creek.

Dana got a water camera that I'm sure will turn up some other interesting photos...but this is all we got from the land one before we took off.

After our activity, we were starving, and visited the local Tommyknocker Brewery based on Kyle's recommendation. It was a great choice....we sampled some of the local brews and all stuffed our faces on yummy food....complete with garlic fries. :)

On the way back towards town and to the airport, we made a quick stop off at Jump guessed it.....JUMP. In the purest sense of the word. This place was about half the size of a football field, with about 18 trampolines all connected together. It was so much fun. Of course, we were the only adults there....but we liked it that way. We almost had the whole place to ourselves so we could all try out our toe touches!

We totally exhausted ourselves, and hit rush hour traffic to get to the airport. We all ended up making it home, at ridiculous hours (1am for Austin, 315am for the Houston girls), 100% pooped, but with more fantastic memories to cherish forever.