Monday, July 30, 2012

Home Again Monday

Ahhhh.... home again. Got in around 12:30 and hadn't eaten anything and had no groceries so I was trying to think of what I felt like -- and it came to me... Chinese food! So I had a great sesame chicken lunch, with brown rice, looked through the pile of mail and then ate lunch, have been on the phone and reading email ever since.

I always get paranoid the closer I get to the rental car return that I will have an accident or a fender bender... like "after all these hundreds of miles..." Cars get very close to you in the city and you have to go with the flow.

This is in Manhattan on the back of a soda, I mean "pop," delivery truck. This is about Mayor Bloomburg's edict that you can't buy more than 16 oz of pop/other sugary drinks at a time. Today I heard his new thing is that mothers must breastfeed their newborns unless there is a medical reason to not.

NYC's version of the Amish.

Traffic going up 10th Avenue after having come through the Lincoln Tunnel. I stopped to get gas and kinda/sorta had to go to the bathroom. Saw that this place had three bathrooms close by until I realized that it was the cab drivers' rest stop with a constant flow (PUN INTENDED) of cab driver pee of all nations. Thought wetting my pants might be preferable to using one of these restrooms which were being used 24/7 by cab drivers. (I did make it home in time.)

Through Central Park on 85th Street heading East

Rental car place to cab to my steps where I sat for a while as it was a beautiful day. Bunch of subway workers walking past and I asked each one when the subway is going to be finished and, to a man, they just laughed at me. Here's another piece of equipment on my block, headed for the corner.

By the way, my fall yesterday caused no pain, no bruises, no odd black and blue marks anywhere for which I'm grateful.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Almost Home Sunday

I'm in my usual haunt of Allentown, one last night on the road. I am not in a particular rush, and I started staying here, about two hours out of NYC, in order to avoid Sunday night beach traffic. I'll take it easy in the morning and be home by lunch.

I was getting sleepy this afternoon, and it's something (of course) I have taken seriously. Decided to get off the highway at the next exit which turned out to be the scene of a terrible accident.

This is right off the exit ramp and the white thing in the middle of the photo is the underside of a truck. I dont know if there was another vehicle involved, but somehow this truck turned over.

This was a small town, rural area, and there were many emergency vehicles. By the time I got there, there was a huge crane that was being set up to lift the truck.

I was the second or third card in line getting off the highway and we were just being held there.

Then out of nowhere, this Amish guy (left) strolls up to survey the accident. You can see the wheels on the far left.

 I decided to go to the restroom so I pull into this gas station with convenience store. I wasn't paying (enough) attention... I opened the door and in the next 1/2 second, I am sprawled on the floor. There was a carpet/mat by the front door where the edge was curled and it tripped me. I was so shocked that my heart was pounding, my hand was shaking and I was in a weird position by which I couldn't get up. Yes, help I've fallen and I can't get up. I was embarrassed and sort of pissed off, so this young kid who worked there comes over and wants to help me up, but he was scrawny and I knew I'd pull him down on top of me. Really. Plus, I just wanted to sit there a minute and catch my breath. It's a weird thing to just be strolling into a store and then do a face plant on the floor.

So this young guy, a big strapping kid (yes, good looking too) came over and I could see by his arms he was no 99 pound weakling, and I somehow got on my knees and he helped me up. Of course it seemed like I'd been down on the floor for 20 minutes, but it was more like two minutes.

The manager was frantic -- kept offering free soda, free food, whatever I wanted. It surprised me that he acknowledged it was the store's fault, apologized, which was fine. When I did stand up, I knew everything was ok. I don't know how I fell, but this woman later told me that I rolled, which is how you're supposed to fall but I can't claim credit for thinking gee, what's the best way. I was upright and walking one second, and down on the floor the next.

When I did stand up, I was shaky and asked for a chair. There was a Subway shop attached and they got me a chair and I sat there for a few minutes thinking this is the best part, and maybe the only good part, of getting old. I don't give a damn that I look like a fool sitting on a chair in the middle of a convenience store.

I saw my young strapping boy as I was walking to the restroom -- he was a customer, not an employee, and I thanked him again and said something like when I looked up and saw his arms I felt relieved that he was clearly very strong.

In the bathroom, this woman who had witnessed this scene asked me if I was OK and I said I am more embarrassed than anything and she looked a few years older than I am and she said she has a bad knee that will suddenly just go out and she'll fall and we agreed that you need a minute to catch your breath. People's impulse is to immediately get you up but you're too shaken up for that.

I was thinking later how kind people are, and I forget that sometimes. The young kid, the woman in the restroom, even the manager, who apologized again. When I was driving away, I thought beware of what you wish for. I had gotten off the highway in order to get un-groggy and I certainly accomplished that. So now, approximately six hours later, I don't have any new bruises or anything. I don't even think I put my hands out to stop myself so I'm totally OK.

One nice thing is that I didn't have to go that badly, and I was grateful for that. If I had waited too long, I would have suffered the indignity of being sprawled on the floor WHILE simultaneously wetting my pants. Now THAT would have been embarrassing. Small mercies.

Meanwhile, very pretty scenery in PA. Home tomorrow. Yay.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Long Arm of the Law Saturday

Had a run in with the law today... very bizarre... I'm on a big highway, passed a cop on the side of the road with his flashing lights on... kept going... he pulled out to pull me over... did not know what I had done... was not speeding, had seatbelt on, no phone, no texting, no eating, no drinking, nothing... I immediately pull over... he asks me for license and registration... then he says, "Do you know why I stopped you?" Me: No.

He said, "Have you ever seen a deer that was hit by a car?" and I'm thinking did I miss a deer somewhere so I say yes. He says, "Do you understand that a car is a lethal weapon?" and he goes on like this... these roundabout questions... He asked me if I think a gun is a lethal weapon. I say yes. He asks me if I've ever fired a gun, and I said, "yes, once" (at a client's).  So he tells me there's a law called "Move Over America" law (I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP!) that if an emergency vehicle, including a cop car, is on the side of the road, you are required to move over to the next lane. If you cannot safely move over, the law says you must reduce your speed by 10 mph.
This is me being pulled over. You can see the cop car in my rearview mirror.
What was sort of funny is that, when he came back to my car, talking to me via the passenger side open window, he told me to watch in my rearview mirror to see everyone obeying the law by moving over -- well, no one was... about 10 cars pass, not changing lanes, and he says, "there are a lot of lawbreakers out today" and I said, "Yes, and you got me."

I asked if this were just the law in Indiana, and he said "most states" and anyway it's my responsibility to know the laws if I'm driving. I was totally polite, agreed with him, etc.

I have never heard of this law. When he went back to his car, I'm thinking how would I have heard of this? I guess I missed it somehow. I bet in NYC there weren't many public service announcements like there may be in Indiana about the Move Over America law. So he comes back and gives me a warning paper, no ticket and then he wants to chat about this law, how dangerous it is for a cop to pull people over and stand by a highway and I said "Yes, I've seen the terrible videos on tv where officers get injured" blah blah.
I don't know if they were trying to educate the public or raise revenue. He thanked me for not arguing with him "as other drivers do" and I said, rightfully, that I should know the laws as he said. So I thanked him for giving me a warning instead of a ticket... and I was on my way again.

When we were chatting, sort of, I said that I am going to look this up on the Internet tonight (in a gee, i will educate myself way, not a challenging way) and he gave me the URL of

I think I can be calm about this since I just got a warning so thank god I didn't have to call you to bail me out of jail. I was getting slightly worried over how long he took checking out my license. I was having this fantasy based on reality shows of him coming back and sayiing, "Mam, could you step out of the car, please?"

So do you guys know about this law? Did I miss something?

And now, some other photos from today. I started in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, to Illinois, Indiana, had lunch in Michigan, to Ohio where I am now. Tomorrow it's on to Allentown, PA and then home Monday morning by noon. 

My official warning. My thumb is covering my last name.

Got off the Indiana tollroad to have lunch and found myself one minute past the tollbooth in Sturgis, Michigan. Here are two Amish carriages so I guess there's a community somewhere nearby.
I have a fascination with calling coke, ginger ale, etc "Pop." I know they do this in Ohio. In New York, it's always soda but there's something 1950ish about the word "pop."

I was tempted to try this place since I had never heard of it. It was drive-thru only so I couldn't judge by the parking lot. Decided against it and went to Taco Bell instead.

Pretty clouds in Indiana.

Pretty clouds in Ohio

The view from the door to my room.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Finally it's Friday

When I got up today for the fifth time before 6 am, I was half boxer sitting on the little stool after going five rounds and not wanting to go back in the ring. The other half of me was the coach telling the boxer, "Just one more; come on, you can do this."

This place doesn't have guest laundry facilities and I was unable, as planned, to wear any clothes a second time due to the heat, mud, rain, sweat, etc. The front desk told me they would do laundry for $5 a load which I thought was a better idea than dragging my sorry ass to a laundromat.

Having been a victim of hotel laundry/dry cleaning services, I was worried that there was no bag for the laundry so I had a good idea of putting everything in a pillowcase. Thus at 6:20 this morning, I presented my pillowcase with laundry inside to the front desk girl who was not the most confidence inspiring. She wrote my room number on a tiny post-it note, and I made her add my name. Of course the post-it note wouldn't stick to the pillowcase so I told her to tape it as well. I confirmed that I'd get the laundry back today.

Off I went, did my event. If I'd had the energy, I would have clicked my heels when it was done. I hung around for a while and then took a nice drive into the country, had lunch, and came back to the hotel. I had had it with work. I was done.

I was driving aimlessly, just making turns, seeing how lost I could get, and found myself on this little road lined with blue flowers and Queen Anne's Lace. Very summery and pretty.

This is how the road looked... you can see I pulled over to one side since there wasn't a car in sight anywhere.

Then I got stuck with this train. I was trying to turn left. Even though the very considerate Wisconsin drivers were waving at me that they'd let me sneak in line after the train, the oncoming cars from the opposite side of the track made it impossible for me to turn for a few minutes.

I was a bit surprised my laundry wasn't in my room so I called and was assured it would be there "by this evening." I called again at 4:30  because I didn't want to hear the refrain, "Oh the girl who did it went home and we don't know where she put it."

On the second call, she told me my stuff (two pairs of pants and three tops) were in the dryer so I took that as a good sign. I was tempted to tell her to take it out now and bring it as I was sure it was in some commercial dryer at 870 degrees fahrenheit.

I have previously mentioned the totally poor housekeeping which has reigned all week so what happened next... well, what happened next still surprised me. I would typically tip, but I felt they had relinguished a right to a tip and as it turned out I'm glad I didn't even give a dollar.

I didn't really pay attention, just took this flimsy, filmy plastic bag and put it on the bed. The one shirt was hanging out and it annoyed me that she had been sloppy with it. I went to fix it and realized that she had taken my hot clothes straight from the dryer, still hot, and simply crammed them in the bag, just a balled up mess of clothes.

Oh, was I supposed to ask if my clothes got folded? Earlier that day, I'd told someone that a corporate lawyer friend had advised me to "always articulate the obvious" -- so if you order a hamburer, ask if it comes with a bun. It did occur to me to ask if the laundry would be done that day (articulate the obvious) but never would it have occurred to me to ask if it would be folded.

I am glad I was in the room to fold, but there are many more hot wrinkles in there than there should be. What a joke.

Meanwhile, at this place, cleaning the room means new towels and empty the wastebasket and pull up the sheets. That's it. A paper cup from the ice bucket tray that I used in the bathroom remained there all week, as did the soap wrapper, as did the empty toilet paper roll (Yes, there are two rolls so I guess I should be
 happy there were!) The sink is not cleaned, nor is the bathtub.  I had a paper soda cup from a fast food place with a napkin crumpled in it on the nightstand which has stayed there a few days until I threw it away. I always tip the maids, even for one night, but I am not leaving a tip for this crew.

I am torn about signing up for next year. I like this hotel (yes, that sounds surprising, doesn't it?) -- well, I like the location and the rooms and I sort of feel confident in the devil I know. Maybe I'll sign up when I check out for next year and see if anything else arises.

So I'm pretty much packed and next stop is Cleveland. I'm not sure what time I'm getting up. This is a longer drive -- 8.5 hours -- so I'd rather get going sooner rather than later. I actually could have left after this breakfast this morning, but that would mean too much hassle in the morning. I was thinking if I come next year, I will do my breakfast event, then come to the hotel and check out by 11 and drive to some nice Lake Michigan hotel, some sweet little cabin on the lake.. I think that would be a nice way to spend the night.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Crazy Weather Thursday

First, I must say I am wiped out. I've successfully completed six of my seven events, plus meetings, plus schmoozing, plus everything else. I have one more tomorrow and then I am finished.

After I left the show today, I took a drive to old haunts, including a rental house I stayed at in my previous job -- more than 20 years ago. This was a lovely house, but it was stuffed to the gills with country kitsch. No corner was left undecorated with clutter. A goose with a dress on; fake flowers; cute little signs, primitives, fake pot belly stove. We always would sit in the living room which had these beautiful beams and a picture window to the pool and dream about stripping the place of all interior decor.

I hadn't been by there in years, and from the amount of crap hanging from trees, lining the driveway, it seems like the original occupants may still live there. Or else they sold to someone with their exact taste. One of my memories from decades ago was pulling into their driveway with a coworker when the people were still there and there were all these chipmunks, and the owner asked me in his best Wisconsinese, "Those are chipmunks, do you have chipmunks in New York City?" We said yes, and later my coworker said to me that he wanted to say, "Yes, but in New York, we call them rats."

This is not the rental house, but the neighbor's house. I instantly remembered this deer which I swear is more than 30 years old. That deer has survived fire, flood, blizzards, draughts, and no doubt chipmunk invasions. But proudly he (she?) stands, looking only a bit worse for wear:

I hadn't eaten lunch so I went to this chain called Culver's which Melissa knows. I don't think there are Culver's on the East Coast. It's basically good burgers and ice cream. Each day there is a flavor of the day. I surrendered the first day to "turtle sundae" flavor which is caramel streaks and pecans in soft-serve vanilla. Had a cone. Yesterday was strawberry cheesecake which I have to say does not appeal to me, and today it was "rootbeer float" which also did not appeal to me.

Yesterday, people were talking about root beer floats which got me thinking. More on that in a minute. So a storm was brewing:

And then the deluge started. It was unbelievable... even the car was shaking. I felt as if someone was throwing buckets of water at the windshield. And the car would move a bit from the wind.

And, of course, the windshield wiper couldn't keep up with the rain and I was glad to be parked.

The rain stopped after about 15 minutes and it was just a flood.

Oshkosh folks and businesses are really into decorating with landscaping and flowers. I don't think you'd see something like this in an East Coast fast food.

I left the parking lot, and the sun came out and dried everything up.

There's an area of town by the lake with beautiful Victorian homes and I like driving there and looking at the houses. Some of them are just huge. I look at the ones for sale. Of the ones I saw, this was my favorite. I wonder how much it costs.

The house above is two blocks from Lake Winnebago.

Then I drove downtown. This is an opera house, built in 1883, which was also featured in that Johnny Depp movie "Dillinger." If you have any interest in historic preservation, this old building has a wonderful story. You can read it at It was renovated twice and the townspeople rallied to save it twice.

You can see "Opera House" here on the front.

Now, back to the root beer float. This is Ardy & Ed's -- straight from 1958 with carhops and home-made signs. It's been around forever and I hadn't been there in a number of years. Decided to have a rootbeer float which I don't think I've had in 50 years or more. My mother used to make them.

And here it is, looking wonderful. Unfortunately, I didn't enjoy the taste. Either the ice cream was old or else it was just too buttery, so I guess some things are better left in the past. Maybe I was expecting too much, but I dumped it.

This was another customer -- this cute little dog, and when the man was ordering, he was leaning out the window looking at the carhop.

Here's another thing we don't see in NYC, terribly long freight trains, and I've gotten stuck at a crossing and always, of course, when you're running late because they go on forever. I was going to wait and get a picture of the caboose, but this train just wouldn't stop coming.

And finally, one last thing we don't see much of in NY that fascinates me -- big skies with beautiful cloud formations. Just don't see more that a portion of the sky at once.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Hot Again on Wednesday

The first sound I heard this morning as my feet touched the carpet was a big booming blast of thunder. I worried about the rain, whether I could drive on the grass or would it be muddy and whether people would show up for my press event.

Got going, got there on time in intermittent rain. Then the sun came out and it was actually pleasant, but was growing hotter as the minutes passed. Event went really well, had three meetings and then another big event. Gene Cernan, the astronaut and "last man on the moon" (also the name of his book) was the speaker.

I had a direct connection to that since a colleague was asked to be Gene's "handler" when he came to an aviation museum to speak. He asked my colleague if he knew anyone associated with my client company and my colleague said yes. That was me. So one thing led to another and Gene (I should be calling him Captain Cernan) got my client's equipment for his airplane, he built a relationship with my client so we asked him to speak at this customer event. He was amazing, interesting; everyone could have heard him talk forever as he really describes in lay terms what it's like to walk on the moon. We gave everyone an autographed copy of his book.

By the time it was over and cleaned up the venue, it was 6 pm and I got back to my car (conveniently parked close by thank god due to my car pass) and it was an oven. The thermometer on the dashboard (see photo below) read 105 degrees, and I believe every degree of it.

I was supposed to have dinner with someone, but I canceled. I was/am just too worn out.

On with the photos:

You can see how dry everything is here with the leaves already turning due to lack of rain.

Here's the book, and if you are at all interested in space, I think you'd enjoy it because he writes very clearly and answers things the average joe wonders about.

This illustrates how I dodged a bullet. I so rarely run out of food at an event, but today we ran out of drinks because everyone was so dehydrated due to the heat. So the program had just begun and I asked the caterer if they could get me more water quickly -- 100 bottles -- I didn't even ask the client for permission -- and they said they could get the water there in 15 minutes, which they did. Meanwhile, when the program was over and people were leaving and getting their autographed book, they also were offered a bottle of cool water to go which looked as if we had done this on purpose. I would definitely have water to go again if it were appropriate for an event. So it was a good way to turn a bad thing into a good thing.

This was the event with Captain Cernan speaking and we had about 100 people who are this client's customers.

So this caught my eye when I turned on the car and was waiting for some cooling to take place. At first I thought it was just because the car was in the sun, but all the way back to the hotel, it dropped first to 102 and then to 98. Very hot.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cooler Tuesday

The temperature dropped about 15 degrees. Heard today that it reached 101 on the field yesterday. I believe it. So I had one event yesterday, three events today, and two events tomorrow. All is well. Tomorrow it's supposed to rain which I hope somehow bypasses us. I have to say, though, the area really needs the water.

This morning I had to be on the field before 7 and I was too lazy to get gas last night. Oshkosh is 20 miles away and I had 1/8 tank of gas. I remember my mother used to say "as long as the needle moves" and the needle moved when I turned on the car, but I don't know this car and the thought of running out of gas on site was not a pleasant one.

So I quickly pull into this gas station, realized you had to pay inside, which is a pain, but you gas up and then pay. I did all that and the pump kept reading "One moment please." Turns out the damn place wasn't open yet so off I go, now more hurried, to find another gas station which are rarely around when you need one. Got gas, got there in record time. The caterer was all set up, and my client wasn't there yet so I sat down and the whole group of client people walked in about 15 seconds later so it appeared as if I'd been there way longer than I had. Great timing on my part.

Not much else to report. Another early breakfast tomorrow.

On to the slide show...

This is driving in this morning with my orange car pass approaching the second check point. In the first one, they pull you out of the caravan of cars headed to the dreaded public parking. Yes, I feel like an elite.

Another checkpoint where you stop until they wave you on.

Closer to that stop.

This is the dreaded public parking which doesn't really do it justice. Imagine this about a 15-minute walk away from the show -- and remember it's not even 7 am yet. Think how much farther back you are if you arrive at 10 am.

this is just a cross walk for pedestrians where you have to stop

The last checkpoint until you're on your own. I know I am incredibly lucky to park about 50 steps from where my work is. Today I ate lunch off site and was able to leave the show, eat lunch, come back and get another close in space to where I was going to be. When I was in this VIP-type building (which I was in because I was holding a meeting there), the woman who actually mailed me my car pass came over to introduce herself -- I guess someone pointed her out to me -- and I told her that I bless her every time I use the car, which I do. I want it indelibly printed in her head, "Gee, Pat appreciates this car pass."