Monday, July 31, 2006

Mixing business with pleasure

I got to go on my first business trip through work. One of my project teams visited Social Security offices in New York last week. We were up there from Tuesday through Thursday. It was a weird experience. I didn't expect to have as much fun as I did. We managed to get our work done and see some cool sights. It was nice riding the Amtrak, but I bet that was because we were in the roomy, non-smelly, double the cost of normal, business class Acela Express.

We stayed in Manhattan and visited offices in Lower Manhattan, Central Manhattan and Brooklyn. The first day we went down to the Historic Seashore to have dinner and then visit an office. After the visit, we walked down to ground zero. I don't know what I was really expecting but it wasn't what I thought it would be. There's a huge fence around the area with a list of people who perished in the towers. Also, they have some sort of plans up for what they are planning on doing there. We also managed to shop at the largest department store - Century 21 right across from Ground Zero. I remember when I visited the Twin Towers many years ago, there was almost nothing around them. On this first day, we took a cab, a bus, walked a couple miles and took the subway.

The second day, we took the subway to Brooklyn. After our work was done, we came back to the hotel in Manhattan and then walked to the Empire State Building where we ate at a wonderful restaurant - Heartland Chophouse and Brewery. We thought about going up to the Observation Deck but the line was huge, so we walked down 34th street to a huge Macys. Well, the others did that while I stopped at every one of the gazillion shoe stores on that street within a radius of 2 blocks. It was tough though since we ended dinner at 8:30 and the shops closed at 9. Then we walked up Broadway to Times Square. I was there too many years ago and it just seemed like there were more people and more stores than I remembered, which is probably true.

Our third day was a half day, since we were returning to Baltimore right after our office visit. So, I woke up a little early and walked over to the U.N. which was a block away from our hotel and got some pictures. I wish I had known they allowd visitors in. Though now I have a really nice long list of things for me and Jeff to do whenever we plan our trip to the Big Apple.

Photos to come!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Killing it softly ...

Do I need any words? Maybe just to explain that that's a stuffed elephant in a tutu and pointe shoes. It was given to me by a friend in IL and now it's Bandit's best friend ... though you wouldn't know by the way he's carrying it in his teeth or grabs it in his front paws and attacks it with his back claws!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

More stuff to move the next time we move

So, after many weeks of cramming my groceries in to the kitchen cabinets, I found this beautiful hutch on craigslist. It comes apart into two pieces and guess what? We transported it in the back of my Element. The people we bought it form had just moved into their place from southern CA, actually the same town as Jeff's parents. The guy and Jeff stood at the back of the car saying it wasn't going to fit. I got in it from the front and told them what to do after I measured the height and width of the car and the hutch. And, it fit. So, the guy says, "Wow, how'd you do that? You must be good at crosswords or something." Huh?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Good news and bad news!

Good news:

This is the middle of my ninth week and my security check has finally come back clean and clear. This means that as of today, I can walk into SSA's buildings without needing to be signed in or escorted. Also, before today, I had to wear a bright orange tag that could be seen from miles away and identified me as a non-belonger. Now, I belong! Next step is to have my online access established so I can get work email and use the computer in my cube.

Bad news:

I am immune to shoes! About 4 weeks ago, I spent a day at the Annapolis Mall because I went with Jeff and he was working. I must have gone to 3 shoe stores and shoe departments in 4 other stores I tried on shoes I liked and then just didn't buy them. 3 weeks ago, I go back with Jeff and go into one store where I had liked the shoes the best. The shoes I had wanted were on sale, down to $7 from $30, and also buy one, get one free. I still didn't get any. I know of some outlet malls near me and last weekend, thought about going there and looking at shoes but no, didn't want to. Now, friends and family members who know me, and know of my relationship with shoes, will definitely understand how disconcerting this is to me.

I don't want to be immune. I like my shoes and would like to buy more. I just seem to have lost the inclination!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Wet cat

We gave Bandit his first bath and the poor guy looked like a wet rag.

He also loves the fridge apparently. I almost closed him in it once:

Friday, July 07, 2006

Fireworks from over the water

This year, Jeff and I decided we were not going to fight for parking or a sitting space to watch fireworks in Baltimore or Washington D.C. So, we went on a cruise out on the Chesapeake Bay. It was nice, food, music and then fireworks from a premium view!

Some photos: