Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ready to Head East

 I always say that I'm going to be neat in my hotel room and I never am. Here's what it looked like before I started packing. Now I'm about 85% done. I am going to try to leave around 9 am tomorrow -- fairly long drive to Elyria, Ohio.

This is a nice window seat which I use instead of the luggage rack... this way things can cascade out of my suitcase.

And the desk... all the cords and cables and chargers! More clothes... it's fairly picked up now.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

No ice cream; no selfie

I'm just about run out of energy -- had two events today; didn't get back to the hotel until about 7 pm and left it at 6:30 this morning. Couldn't get a parking space close in and so I was resting on this bench outiside the hotel when these two younger guys came out and started talking to me. Their company sells infrared cameras and I jokingly mentioned Bigfoot -- and they were both Bigfoot fans of all the TV shows I (dopily) watch... I told them I have the popular culture taste of a 15-year old boy so we were talking about all the Bigfoot/ghost/Monsterquest type shows, and, of course,  I can hold my own in those conversations.

They were telling me how fake some of the infrared images are in ghost shows so I was interesting.

Anyway, one more day and then I begin my trek back East.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Miscellany from Tuesday

Here's Amy after the media breakfast this morning:

Tuesday's Selfie

This didn't appeal to me.

This didn't appeal to me either so no ice cream today.

But I did find myself behind this car -- first I started reading the license plate as IC = I see... so I'm saying I See Cream... then I realized it was ICE CREAM.

Clearing the dinner table -- the easy way

Our food last night came in a carton and as soon as we finished with a styrofoam container, into the carton it would go. There's something very efficient about take out that way... and you can see how pleased I am with myself in this photo Brad took:

Monday, July 28, 2014

Dinner with Brad

Brad had this idea that he would go to Cracker Barrel and get us each chicken fried steak and we would take it out and eat it in the breakfast area of the hotel (we're at the same hotel). Well, much to our surpirse, there is no Cracker Barrel in the area which really stunned us.

So Alternate Plan B was to go to the pie place -- Shreiner's -- and I was already back at the hotel and Brad called me to tell me to place an order and he'd pick it up. Well, I didn't know what he wanted or even what kind of salad dressing he likes even though we've talked multiple times a day for years this is only the third time we've ever eaten a meal together.

I ordered one meat loaf dinner and one fried chicken dinner. I knew he wanted mashed and corn since that's what he wanted if we had chicken fried steak. I ordered one blue cheese and one ranch, thinking I'd be happy with either.

Then... PIE!!  I ordered one rhubarb custard and one walnut -- we got drinks from the vending machines and had quite a feast. He took the blue cheese and we split the meat loaf and chicken in half so we each had both. Same with the pie.

Meat loaf dinner -- really good and homemade tasting

Fried chicken with chicken gravy on the mashed potatoes. This was really good.

This is the side salad -- Note the rolls... they were light and fluffy and yeasty and wonderful.

This tasted way better than it looked. This is the rhubarb custard and we each had half. Neither of us had eaten rhubarb in years, and it really was good.

And the walnut pie -- just like pecan pie -- really good. I loved that I got a half piece of two kinds as I don't know which I would have picked.

And here's Brad, my lovely dinner date... we had a great dinner together.

Oshkosh Selfie... then ice cream

Made it to the show, and just by coincidence I bumped into loads of people I wanted to see. Took this selfie (and felt like a damn fool!), but here I am, sitting on the edge of the media tent:

Got compliments on my hat which I like because you can fold it and crumple it.

I have a thing about unnecessary quotation marks -- wonder what these people think it means... that "Personalized" is more dynamic than just plain Personalized?

Pretty flowers at Culver's

This was a tough choice - - but I went with Peanut Butter Cups.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Made it to Oshkosh

Weird weather all day -- from gorgeous and sunny to thunderstorms and back to sunny -- even one of those periods where it's raining in full sunshine. Anyway, I made it.

I had sent a box of stuff ahead and I am so used to chasing the box, the hotel denying they got it, searching, searching -- and today when I gave my name at the front desk, they told me that the box arrived and it's already in my room which was nice.

Here are some pictures:

I slept like a log; didn't open my eyes until 9 am and felt I should hurry. Was in the car by 10, and forgot that I gain an hour from Eastern to Central time.

Stopped for gas... you can see my car pass in the lower left already in place and ready.

Around Chicago, it is constant tolls.

More tolls....

And more....

Heading into the storm

Some really beautiful cloud formations

Here's Chicago's skyline. I believe the tallest building is the Sears Tower.

More tolls.

Getting close -- first sign for Wisconsin.
Checked into the hotel, got my credentials, called Stancie who came out and talked for a while. She and Mac have been here since Wednesday.

Then it was time for a very late lunch/early dinner... headed to Culver's. This flavor of the day sounded good... it would have been perfect if it were cashews instead of pecans so I skipped it.

So I headed to the other one and this flavor didn't appeal to me so I just went with plain vanilla.

I noted at the drive thru that you can also order pints -- they do have caramel cashew... I think that would be my first choice, followed by Peanut Butter Cup.

tomorrow: work begins

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Resting in Elkhart, Indiana

Another good day -- this was the longest leg -- and the day started out so beautifully with the weather. It was simply glorious... then the farther west I went, the cloudier it got; drove through some showers, but more like sprinkles.

Nothing too important to report until about 20 minutes from the hotel. I was zooming along Route 80 with everyone else when all of a sudden the cars/trucks in front of me came to a complete stop. I stopped in time, but I did steer a bit onto the shoulder. There we sat, not moving. 

I tapped my brake light a few times to get the attention of the cars zooming up behind me. That's something I learned when I was in high school from the father of the kids I was babysitting and all these years later I still think of him when I do it.

I could see that whatever happened was about 100 yards ahead -- no cops, no ambulances... after a few minutes, the lane started moving and it turned out the accident had just happened, literally minutes previously -- no first responders on the scene. The cars/van that were stopped in the middle of the highway didn't look like they had been in an accident and then I saw a young man lying on his back with a crowd of people around him. Kept driving slowly along in a single lane and then I saw a very disturbing sight: an overturned motorcycle, still turned on, with lights blinking. I don't know if he was hit, got thrown or what. I said a prayer for him... he was just lying on the highway.

Whenever I see something like that, I think how incredibly lucky I was that literally three to five seconds difference I would have been part of that accident.

Got to the hotel; again a very friendly greeting. I had been thinking about chicken all day and so I didn't even go to my room, but went in search and found what I wanted. Now I'm relaxing, watching Suze Orman and all is well.

On with the pics:
This is the typical rest stop along Route 80 in Pennsylvania. I like it as it isn't a hike to the bathroom. Inside, there are vending machines and bathrooms. The only thing I don't like is that they have those high pressure hand dryers and how my hand skin gets pushed around looking makes me naseous.

The rest stop had this really pretty picnic area... this is where it was so beautiful... sunny, mid 70s, breezy -- so beautiful that I even got biblical and said, "this is the day the Lord has made; rejoice and be glad in it." Made me want to have a picnic.

West through [flat] Ohio, heading to Indiana. Getting cloudy.

Made it to "Lincoln's Boyhood Home"

Winner, winner, chicken dinner. The dipping sauce I chose was orange ginger and it was really good.

Mashed potatoes with gravy -- so good in that institutional tasting way.

Cold, fresh cole slaw -- so good on top of a forkfull of chicken.


Friday, July 25, 2014

One Leg (trip, not body part) Down

Here I am in Clearfield, Pennsylvania, where it's in the low 60s. My day started with a bit of sticker shock -- I am pretty much used to New York prices, but the last time I parked a car overnight on my block was probably more than 10 years ago and it was about $20. That's what I was expecting to pay.

Got out, got my giant suitcase, cane, totebag and myself down my front steps and to the parking garage. I handed the guy the ticket/receipt and he said "47." I said, "What?" and he said, "47" again -- I thought he was telling me what space my car was in or something... so he said "47" again and I said, "47 what?" and he said, "dollars."

Oh man! Forty-seven dollars to park a car from about 2:30 pm until 10 am. Plus tip. Oh well. I won't be doing that again any time soon -- but it was still a good system and worked well.

Uneventful trip, beautiful day, my car turned out to have satellite radio so I hope that lasts for the whole trip.

I am in a Super 8 which is the exception to the rule. I am only paying $60 (had read loads of customer reviews.) This place is clean, smells clean, feels clean, smells new -- new bedding, big screen tv, microwave and fridge, desk, coffee, everything... even nice little bathroom amenities. The woman at the front desk couldn't have been nicer.

So on with the photos:

I'm on Route 80 from the George Washington Bridge to Chicago. Makes navigation easy.

The view from my (king size) bed

OK, for sixty bucks, I can't expect much of a view out my window!

This is a hotel key that I've never seen before. It's electronic and you stick the key in the slot, a green light comes on and you open the door. The drawback is that it's very small and I had knocked it on the floor on the dark carpet and had a heck of a time finding it.

Dinner! I had lasagna and salad delivered. I chose plain old oil and vinegar dressing which I hadn't had in ages and I forgot how much I liked it. I picked out most of the onions -- not a fan of raw onions -- and also the "hot peppers" -- I thought they might be like banana peppers which I like but I nibbled on one and it is HOT! Great, fresh salad. It also came with bread and butter and I wasn't going to eat the bread because it didn't look that good, but when I picked it up, it was warm and soft, and I thought of Fran (who is also warm and soft...) No, that's not the reason -- we are Italian bread afficianados and I thought Fran would love this bread.

And here's the lasagna... It was a bit soupy, but had great flavor... so now I had reverse sticker shock. The lasagna came with the bread (that whole mini-loaf), butter (two big pats) and the salad. Price delivered to my room? $6.95. I don't think I'm in Manhattan any more. Delivery minimum was $7.00 and I ordered a drink. I think I got my moneysworth.

So tomorrow it's on to Elkhart, Indiana. Oh, I have to add that I'm feeling fine, had no trouble walking, driving, sitting, lugging the suitcase... I admit my coming down the steps of my building was not a pretty sight, but I did it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Almost Ready for Departure

I typically pick the rental car up at 10 am, but I thought that with my cane, my suitcase and getting a cab, it would be easier to pick the car up today, park it, and so tomorrow morning all I have to do is take my suitcase to the car, no worries about getting a cab.

And that's what I did. Today was the first day I'd gotten in and out of a car well... I'm thinking... since December. Of course, all went well. The other thing that went well is picking up a car at 2 pm. When I do it in the morning, there are typically 3 or 4 people ahead of me and it can take more than an hour to get out of there. Today I was in and out in 3 minutes.

I drove the car to the parking garage on my block and am pleased with myself. I had also found a coupon for a free rental day when I was decluttering papers and it actually worked... so I feel like I got today for free anyway.

I am 95% packed and ready. I have two books on CD, all the cords and chargers (I think!), my car pass, my medicines, underwear -- the whole enchilada.

Speaking of Mexican food, Marilyn packed my bag in what she calls "Burrito packing" which means she rolls stuff. Very interesting and she'd done that once before for me and it's amazing how many fewer wrinkles your clothes get.

I have my camera so I'll be live blogging all the way to Fond du Lac.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Stancie Knows Me ... too well?

I have chuckled about this all day, even though the joke is on me. Stancie had written me last night saying she can come help me if I need it during Oshkosh. I wrote back and asked, "Will you change my Depends if I make PooPoo in them?"

Yes, that was a joke. No Depends... yet.

Stancie writes back and says, "Yes, I will because I know you would do it for me -- or else you'd convince Mary to do it..."

You know, I don't know if I like when all my various friends know each other and can compare notes!!

Attempted Scam

Phone rings about 7 pm and it's this guy with an Indian accent named Danny, calling from "Technical Maintenance Department" --- and I knew immediately what it was. I asked why he was calling and he said that my computer was being hacked.

I immediately replied, "No you are trying to scam me. How do you look at yourself in the mirror?"


End of conversation.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Just for Mary

Mary had a bad crush on James Garner, whom we hope in resting in peace. I remember watching Maverick, but don't remember much about it. I do admit James looks pretty hot as a young man and as an older man. Loved him in that movie about the old astronauts whose name I can't recall. Space something?

O Happy Mail Delivery

This is the one day a year where I let out a whoop when I open my mailbox. Yes, my Oshkosh car pass arrived. I am so grateful for it. I have it and the accompanying map in my underpants drawer for safekeeping.

I did call the "your credit card was declined" place -- what a bureaucracy. It was the typical phone tree, then the typical "this call may be recorded..." You know, if there's so much training, why are these people still so horrid? Every time she wasn't speaking, she'd put me on hold so I'd get Muzak and more announcements about how the call was important to them.

At one point, she asked something like "what's the account?" and I said my name and then spelled it and she really barked at me, "WHAT'S THE ACCOUNT NUMBER?" and I said, "Gee, you don't have to be so snappy."

So, of course, she runs the card through again and says, "this time it went through" -- I know she thought I was a deadbeat. It reminds me of that wonderful scene in Best in Show where the couple is trying to check into the hotel and their card is declined.

After she said that, I asked if everything was paid up or something and she snapped back some answer. Anyway, it's now done.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Loose Ends

I've been trying to tie up some loose ends in advance of my leaving for Oshkosh on Friday. Of course, it's always something. I had taken five or six doctors' bills where I owed $100 to $200 on them and put them on a back up credit card -- one I don't use thinking that I could pay them all without feeling strapped and then just pay off the card.

Got a notice yesterday that on one of them, my credit card was declined so I am supposed to call. I hate when I'm (unfairly) characterized as a deadbeat. I don't know what went wrong -- maybe I wrote the account number wrong.

I finally shaved my legs which was so overdue as to be pitiful. Now I look like a girl again.

Then I spent about 45 minutes totally going over a client's final version of a news release, making sure every space, every hyphen, every capital letter was correct and consistent... and then... god only knows what I was thinking, I clicked on "don't save." OMG, I love the feature where you can retrieve a file like that so it had a happy ending.

It continues to be fall like here -- mid 70s -- nothing much going on.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Logan and Delaney (Mary's great niece and nephew)

What a lovely big brother!

Less Paper, More iPad

I think I've written before that I feel as if I have not tamed the paper dragon of financial, business, miscellaneous papers. Yesterday Marilyn was here and we tackled a table which is a dumping ground. Now that I have finally filed my 2013 income taxes, I could file away a whole lot of paper.

I can be ruthless in throwing, but I became more so. For example, I started shredding the monthly brokerage paper statements. I only really check my SEP and Roth on line so why keep those endless reports? Later that day, I happened to talk to my broker and told him that -- and he said that he could provide me with any month's statement I wanted.

We ended up with two recycling bags of paper and one garbage bag of other papers.

Here's a good example: I have people's addresses in an excel spread sheet, but when my former computer died, I lost the spreadsheet and started building a new one. I still had people's addresses from Christmas cards to enter -- and of course that was never a priority so I'd pick up the same damn envelope with someone's address on it 100 times. Now all of that is gone and entered.

Marilyn also gave me my first iPad lesson and now I can see what all the shouting is about. Now I can get mail, Google and do YouTube on my iPad and when she comes back next week we'll go on to another lesson, but it's been fun learning.

Cool today in the low 70s -- it's really more like late September than mid-July.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Could You be a Worse Person?

There's a local news story about a little kid who was hit by a car and died and the family didn't have the money for a funeral so a local store started taking up a collection for the kid's funeral and someone stole the money.

Really... how terrible and perverted are you to steal money collected to bury a 4-year old? Luckily, the store had video so they know exactly who did it.

Meanwhile the story does have a happy ending in that a bunch of other stores started collecting and now the family not only has money for the funeral, but extra money.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Mid-Summer's Night Burger

Barbara came for dinner tonight on this dark and stormy day. We have torrential rain and flooding... and at one point the thunder was so loud, I jumped and grabbed Barbara's hand.

The thing about living in NYC is that there can sometimes be too many choices. You can literally choose any cuisine -- Ethiopian anyone? -- and have it delivered.

But being the all-American girls that we are, we reverted to Gracie's and had burgers. Here's our system: We order one cheeseburger deluxe and one cheeseburger. Barbara had cheddar; I had American. I also ordered sauteed mushrooms for mine. We split the fries, Barbara gets the tomatoes and we split the lettuce. The deluxe comes with two onion rings -- yup, we each got one.

We drank lemonade and listened to the rhythm of the falling rain, telling us just what fools we've been. Remember that song?

So now we're all caught up and set our next dinner date for August 13. I recycled the Rockefeller/cannibal book to her -- along with a photograph I found this week of Barbara that we know pre-dates 1986. I took the photo of her, sitting in my office, and my ashtray is there with butts in it and I stopped smoking in 1986. Barbara doesn't remember the hairstyle, the scarf or the sweater she's wearing.

And the rain continues...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Little Lotta

I really don't remember what kind of adventures or storylines Little Lotta had -- but this cover looks fairly typical:

Here's a rundown from Wikipedia -- I have to say I don't remember this other than Lotta was well-liked. She was friends with Little Dot and Richie -- also Wikipedia mentioned Little Audrey who I also liked:
Far from being the "unpopular fat kid" stereotype represented in other popular media (such as her contemporary Tubby in Little Lulu) Lotta was depicted as friendly, kind-hearted and always ready to use her tremendous strength for what she deemed as good. She has her share of bullying, but any tormentors quickly regret provoking her wrath. In a sense, Lotta's storylines fulfill two very common childhood fantasies: the satisfaction of visceral desires (eating everything in sight) and freedom through physical power.
Who else remembers Little Audrey?

Comic Books

My sister and I were avid readers of comic books growing up -- and no, we never held on to any of them. I was reminded of our reading when I saw today that Archie comics are going to come to an end -- and Archie gets killed (no, I am not making this up) defending a gay character. Wow, things have changed from the malt shop days.

I always like Betty more than Veronica, didn't like Reggie at all, and was fascinated by Jughead's hat. Here they all are:

    I know we had no African-American characters -- wonder when Nancy and Chuck were introduced. I remember Moose and Midge - don't remember Ethel at all.

In addition, I liked Richie Rich, Little Dot, Little Lotta (who would be so politically incorrect today as I think the whole point of the comic was how much she ate), Nancy and Sluggo... then as I got older, I was a Superman/Superboy/Supergirl fan big time. Never a Batman or any other superhero fan.

I remember comics were 10 cents and the "annuals" which were actually more like "quarterlies" were 25 cents. What my sister and I would do is scrounge up a dollar... and we'd buy nine comic books for 10 cents each and then buy two Sugar Daddies for five cents each. Luckily we had the same taste in reading (and candy.) Today I would love to eat a Sugar Daddy, but I'm afraid half my dental work would come out. I remember in the summer, Sugar Daddies would get nice and soft. To have nine comics and a Sugar Daddy was my version of Heaven.

So RIP Archie!