Thursday, September 30, 2010

Road Trip!

Headed to Portland, OR over the weekend for a bit of relaxation.  Well, actually the purpose for the trip was to attend a seminar on healthy eating and multiple sclerosis.  I'd gotten an e-mail notification about it and thought that Boy might find it interesting and educational.  He thought it might be good so we piled into the car on Friday afternoon and set off.

There are two ways of getting from here to Portland--the interstate on the Oregon side or the two-lane highway on the Washington side.  We took the interstate there and came back the highway side.  We definitely like the highway side better.  For all that it's the same bits of scenery from a different side, it seems somehow more scenic on the north side.  I think we'll pick that route for any future trips in the Portland direction.

On our way to Portland, we saw a tree farm, trucks full of apples, a barge with a smiley face on it, rivers, dams, trains, rocks, and mountains.  No rain.

In Portland, we saw a nice fire inside the Carmelcorn shop though there was no reduced-price popcorn afterward.  I hope the burnt popcorn smell didn't spread into the neighboring stores at the mall. There is a skating rink inside the mall, which I haven't seen outside of Minnesota. We declined to skate. We did have some delicious "Japanese" stir fry though and we giggled over a book of Disney astrology that labeled a crusty friend of ours Winnie-the-Pooh, based on his birth date.  I am Mittens the cat.  Boy is Jock the terrier from Lady and the Tramp.

After a delish and extremely filling brunch at the hotel restaurant, we headed out of town with a small detour for coffee.  Well, the detour started small. The handy TomTom GPS unit gave us directions to find a coffee shop that apparently no longer exists. I finally said we'd just have to find a yarn shop instead.  TomTom indicated there was one only 7 miles away and then proceeded to tell us to drive 10 miles back the way we came.  Apparently distances to locations are calculated by direct line, rather than road distance. We ended up going back past the hotel we'd just left.  But we were successful in finding not only yarn, but also coffee.  Yarn Garden fixed us up with some sock yarn that will become socks for Boy and some lace-weight yarn that will become a shawl for me.  Tiny's Coffee fixed us up with a mocha and a latte before we got back on the highway.  Shortly after hitting the road, we saw a sheep on a road trip too. 


And a waterfall.


We had a splendid lunch on Sunday at the 3 Rivers Grille in Hood River.  When we ordered the falafel platter, our waitress, Ally, said she'd just been thinking that would taste really delicious.  Although we probably should have resisted, we did order dessert.  Blueberry/blackberry cobbler for me and some chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting for Boy.  He did specifically ask for a small piece and commented that the frosting tasted really salty.

There were kite boarders out on the river.

And a neato mosaic on a retention wall.


 And four trucks that apparently had a fun time mudding.


The rest of the drive home was quite relaxing and we saw a gorgeous sunset as we neared home.  All in all it was a wonderful relaxing getaway weekend.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Brief Update

Summer is over.

My downstairs neighbor is moving out. This means that the little boy who lives there won't be randomly ringing my doorbell any more or letting their front door slam.  This also means he won't be leaving me any more chalk drawings on my sidewalk or advising me that I shouldn't walk in the street because there might be cars. He was really quite cute and sociable, even if he did apparently dislike bathtime with a vengeance. (Darned good set of lungs on the little bugger.)   I hope the incoming neighbors are as quiet and non-bothersome as the outgoing neighbors have been.


I'm learning Mandarin.  I've been told my pronunciation is good but that I need to work on my tones. It would seem that I (and most of the rest of the class) speak in a monotone. This can lead to problems since the same syllable can be pronounced four different ways.  A classmate who has already had a beginner's Mandarin class learned this when he called a co-worker Amanda Chest Hair instead of Amanda Panda. Fortunately she laughed at him.  This is probably also how my former TA Craig unintentionally ordered the chef's wife for dinner.

And finally, a recent sunset. Alas, this isn't the peak of the sunset that night. Silly me didn't have my camera with me and things faded a bit while I ran to get it.  Lots of reds, pinks, purples, golds and oranges.  I'm hoping to catch more of them during my evening walk.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Conundrums

I seem to find myself in a lot of these lately.....
One of the "rules" at work appears to be that one only gets to talk to prospective clients if one has completed work for clients in the past and can thus show the prospective clients the kind of work that might be done.  Of course, it's hard to have any work to show if you aren't allowed to talk to the clients in order to get the work...

We are supposed to end the fiscal year with a zero balance on over/under hours. This means working extra hours or taking extra time off to break even.  Of course, at the end of the fiscal year there are oodles of reports, etc due so that you end up working all kinds of extra time and taking any time off is not a welcome proposal. (At least it doesn't seem to be ok for me. Several of my colleagues complained about my having a weekend off a few weeks ago even though they regularly take days off regardless of what work needs to be done. I even warned them ahead of time that I'd be gone and not likely checking mail very often, if at all.)  So I'm likely to end the fiscal year >40 hours over my allotted time. I doubt I'll be able to take that time off between now and the end of the month, even if I space it out among days/weeks.  I won't get compensated for that time and the balance will reset to zero on Oct 1. Oh well....