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Summer travel intensifies.

Jun. 22nd, 2019 | 07:58 pm

Remind me to pack my love of cornfields.

We've reserved a terribly inefficient SUV with lots of room and on July 3, we will set off for southern Wisconsin for Blockhead's wedding! Rather than fly out to either Madison or Milwaukee and have to rent a car anyway, we decided to make a weeklong road trip out of it. And my 15-year old two-door coupe is certainly not the comfortable way to do that, hence the rental car.

The wedding is on the 6th with a welcome dinner the day prior, so we only have to be there by dinnertime on the 5th, then will leave as soon as the 7th to return. There's a whole lot of Midwest in between here and there, and we've been researching things to do for a while now. There's a good chance we will visit the cities that have been work clients, including Rockford (where we may spend July 4th; very America!) and Peoria in IL. In WI we may also visit Taliesin or House on the Rock, but for now we're keeping the itinerary flexible.

Got any recommendations for traveling through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, or Wisconsin? Let me know in the comments!

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If it's spring, my gym must be on fire.

Jun. 11th, 2019 | 10:52 pm

Mind your machinery, capitalists.

On May 12th (a Sunday), I downed a yogurt, grabbed my umbrella and headed for the gym. It was a somewhat miserable rain that can't really be deflected, and my raincoat would have been the better choice. Still, I have been trying not to succumb to laziness on weekend days, especially when the weather is crappy and I know running won't happen.

The universe decided otherwise, as a fire truck passed me by on Connecticut Ave. while I was around the corner. Not just passed by, but traveling south in the northbound lanes. Where were they going? To my LA Fitness, unfortunately. There were already two trucks there, so as I arrived and saw firefighters running in with hoses and some of the regulars out on the sidewalk shivering, clearly the workout wasn't going to happen.

Luckily that wasn't a serious fire, and based on what floors they needed to replace due to water damage after getting back in I think the actual fire was in other parts of the building*, specifically from one of the elevator banks. While there was some residual smoke odor and the floor had to be replaced in half of one of the downstairs classrooms, I applaud them for reopening within 3 days. And said floor was done within a couple of weeks.

Fast forward to yesterday. I went to work out at 11 am, then showered and went off to work. Later that evening, I saw this on Twitter.

Maybe it's cursed.

Anyhow, as of now their website claims they will be closed through Wednesday (no one is answering the phone, obviously, and I am not interested in attempting to get a non-answer from corporate HQ**). Tomorrow I plan to use the tiny gym at my office. Then we'll see if they have reopened by then, and what water damage they may be mitigating when they do.

*This gym is in the basement and sub-basement levels of a ten-story office building, with other retail/shops on the ground level.

**My contract states that I can start getting prorated bits of my monthly membership fee back if I'm unable to access the facilities for at least 72 hours (I only have a one-location membership, and there aren't any others in the city anyway). My guess is they will try to get back on track before that amount of time has elapsed, and which Taylor pointed out is what they did the first time around.

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Push button, receive bops.

May. 25th, 2019 | 06:58 pm

Love, Carly Rae Jepsen.

Am attempting to consume a lot of media this month: am trying to catch up on Schitt$ Creek, RuPaul's Drag Race, and whatever B may put on the TV, plus listen to new music from Jenny Lewis, Madonna, and yes, Carly Rae Jepsen. Then I have four books currently going. So if I'm not responding to comments all that timely, you know why.

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Five happy hours in two days = a lot of life updates

May. 19th, 2019 | 09:39 pm

San Francisco, Part 4.

Finally wrapping up this travelogue! When we last left the saga, I was running on all cylinders but not sleeping much. That continued for the last several days, and somehow I survived!

Worth the views.

Food and drinks and drinks and drinksCollapse )

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Vincent Van Go-f**k Yourself.

May. 17th, 2019 | 10:23 pm

What I will call you if you make me attempt wall painting. Oh, and this is a Friday Five.

1. Has your house been renovated?
My childhood home was, several times. And houses I've lived in since (all rentals) were prior to me moving in. The most haphazardly done one was where I lived from summer 2008 to summer 2009, but man, did that house have character. And reading back in that tag, I am pretty impressed by how many DIY fixes I made during that move-in and while I lived there, even knowing I would most likely be there just for a year. And I already linked to a bunch of old entries, but THIS is the entry that best captures the essence that was 2111 West Knox Street.

2. Have you ever painted a room?
Many. I hated it every time and will gladly hire pros to do it for me.

3. Have you ever put in a new floor in a house?
Not myself, but when I was like 11 or 12 my father ripped out our living room carpet and put in the tile that is still there today. It looked like a shit ton of work. He led all the aforementioned home renovations, including what I originally thought this question meant: adding a second level to that house. That was an epic renovation to live through.

4. Have you ever worked with wallpaper?
Nope! Not my thing. Despite hating the application of wall paint, it works for me.

5. Have you ever choose [sic] new colors for your flat or house?
I don't think so? Not that I remember, anyway. Our blue accent wall was already here in this apartment, and I like it enough that we've kept it. Pretty much everywhere I lived before this had off-white or beige/tan-ish colors that were practical enough to keep.

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Block the exits and you're out of The Planners' Cult!

May. 12th, 2019 | 04:10 pm

San Francisco, Part 3.

Long gap since I resumed the chronicle of this trip, but back we go!

After three days, I learned the Ferry Building's best angles.

Sunday started with yet another run (I haven't been this prolific at any other point in 2019, before or since) along the waterfront, then stopping at Philz for coffee and a breakfast burrito. Amazingly I showered and made it to Moscone by 8:30 for our morning of sessions. They were productive and interesting, but from there I had a free slot for lunch; I walked a bit aimlessly and ended up at the market where I'd bought rosé, where they had some decent-looking sushi options. Took those back to my room and caught up on emails and texts (including planning for the afternoon/evening!) while eating, then back in the box for the afternoon.

Another oddity seen on my run. No idea.

I did in fact learn some fascinating stuff as an audience member during all those sessions, which I ought to share a bit of here. One Sunday panel was intended to tout the organization's credential, and while I have heard all about it before, this one at least offered the real life pursuit of it from two people that took two completely different routes to get there. The second panelist would more closely meet my story (not going for this straightaway from grad school), but what she really put forth was the idea that if this is something I do every day, I should invest to get more value out of it anyway. A good kick in the career pants!

Super cool mural in the Mission. Had trouble getting a better photo with the sun's direction, though.

Also, I'd mentioned previously that we were being constantly chided by moderators* for overfilling session rooms and sitting in aisles, and that came to a head on Sunday morning. One of the most popular sessions (because it's one of the best opportunities for credentialed members to get their required continuing ed credit in "Ethics") is the org reviewing real but anonymized ethics complaint cases they have dealt with over the last year, and they can be somewhat juicy** besides.

Palate-cleansing swan. Marina District.

Anyhow, despite getting there on time all seats were filled so I sat on the floor at an awkward angle, looking at the dais directly from one side. Anyone that arrived after me got even worse seats and by the middle of the session the aisle on my side of the room had people sitting two across on the floor. With that, the Moscone staff started removing people blocking the exits, and the org sent a push notification on the app not to stand in aisles or sit on the floor. Inevitably people were grumbling about it in the hallways all that day, but it isn't that simple, because there is no way to know how many of 6,400 people are going to attend a single 90-minute event over four days, and we all saw plenty of sessions that were half-empty despite being at peak times.

Wrath of the fire marshal invoked!

Once done for the day, I went to Target for more snacks and was reminded that it was Sunday because the place was mobbed (including with dogs?), then I returned it all to my teeny hotel room fridge and went off to have drinks in SOMA with Jason Ru.! I wasn't sure if SF really did Sunday Funday*** but this was our best common availability during my trip, so we gave it a go. First was Powerhouse, during most of which we did our conversation catchups.

Sounds like he is very much loving California, including his job and friend group here. Next was Hole in the Wall, where we struck up a random conversation with a guy in a stability boot, mostly about how he injured himself. Didn't stay that long there, LOL. Finally we went to The Eagle, which really was the center of Sunday Funday and had a grand time there; finally we got amazing burgers at a place of his recommendation, then went our separate ways. Only a 14-hour day this time, ha.

My burger is hidden under all that green stuff. More food pics coming in future posts.

*I did moderate a session last year, and with unexpected IT issues cropping up then, I can appreciate that it's challenging when duties like this end up in your lap!

**Unfortunately, our local chapter was the topic of one of the cases, which I know only by connecting the dots about a sudden vacancy in our board and the details of a sexual harassment shared at the conference. :|

***DC does far too much Sunday day drinking, so that's not necessarily a bad thing.

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Yes, occasionally I do professionally develop.

Apr. 24th, 2019 | 10:35 pm

San Francisco, Part 2.

Best font in town.

Picking back up from last time, I managed to maximize my time while in town but that came partially at the expense of sleep. This was Saturday, and I basically repeated my run of the prior morning, except that it was a tad colder and I hadn't packed the best running gear for the climate. Still, I wove through side streets a bit on the way back and got some lovely photos, at least!

The only tourist that woke up at 0700.

I showered and got into decent clothing, then it was time for the conference to start. The opening keynoter was way more popular than anticipated and I listened while sitting on the floor in a side corridor; this would later recur as an unintentionally hilarious theme. He was great, though! From there I got a tub of iced coffee and went back for more sessions, during which time Tracy, Katharine, Tara, and I got a group text going. While waiting for the session just before lunch, I struck up conversation with a planner for the City of SF that was immediately next to me, and we had enough time to go beyond the usual pleasantries. I have her card now, should I decide to give up DC and flee to the West Coast, hah. After the session (which included ex-LJ erJames!) some of us agreed to meet at a salad place that was quite mobbed, but I met a planner from Oregon and saw Greg B. in line! Then Tara and I caught up a bit when I finally got my lunch, before walking back for more sessions.

Model cow cares not for your urban forestry.

After a wardrobe change to a shade more casual, I went back to meet Tara and Katharine for the opening reception, which was typically heavy on students snookering free wine and otherwise not super special. We did stick around and chat with a handful of people, though! After our own wine was done, we took the BART to the Mission to try a newish ramen place for dinner. It both had a table open and was delightful, so we must call that a win.

Spicy ramen comes in the RED bowl.

We then walked down to a cocktail bar and met Dave! He is now engaged, and his fiance Libby was also a delight. Plus they brought their dog! We caught up in a near-shout* for a while, and it was mostly idle conversation about SF and planning. Unit! We discovered in the process that her high school best friend went to college with me! Not only that, but he was the antagonist to my now boyfriend's heroic leadership of the on-campus queer group at the time. Read all about it in our student newspaper whose archives are still online! That was a very strange but amusing conversation, and again showed that American kids from similar age and education cohorts inhabit a pretty small world. Whether the other folks at the table got the similarity I was unsure about, but we did have smashing cocktails all around!

With Katharine, Tara, and Tracy in front of the magical letters

From there I took a Lyft back to the hotel and my 15-hour day was complete.

*Is your fearless protagonist finally getting tired of bars? Maybe!

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It's Friday, why are you behind a laptop?

Apr. 21st, 2019 | 03:07 pm

San Francisco, Part 1.

Kaplan Lane

Rewinding* back to Thursday the 11th, uncharacteristically, I had packed diligently and was ready to go by the evening before. The unfortunate thing was that I still had a work deadline to contend with, so I made it to the airport and through security early, got an iced coffee, and started banging out the copy editing and formatting I needed to do. We boarded on time, I got wifi in the flight, and kept going; ditto after we deboarded and I had to hunt for an open seat near an outlet** in O'Hare to finish it out. Luckily, I got it all done and was able to inhale a burrito and then read my newest library hold on the next flight. Our flight was also delayed by ~45 minutes, allowing me a little break from the pace. And other than one call, I was then done with work for the duration.

I gathered my suitcase, then got on to BART and into the city from there. My hotel was perfectly lovely and well located, then I showered and went out to the Castro to meet Kevin A. at Moby Dick. We had a few drinks, then went over to meet his friends Vaughn and Scott at The Edge, which was also prepping to show Drag Race. I made it about halfway through the ep before I needed rest and foooood, so took a Lyft back to my hotel and ordered Thai delivery.

Fundraising for ALC with the giant vodka bottle

After fiddling with the hotel room thermostat extensively, I managed a good night of sleep and got up for a run on Friday morning. The waterfront views are hard to beat, and would be excellent exercise motivation over the whole trip.

This ol' thing was five blocks from my hotel.

After I returned and showered, I had some downtime to get my room organized and be horrified at the content of daytime TV. Over some leftover Thai food, I participated in the one call that work needed me for, the monthly planning for our LGBTQ group; it was a damn good thing I was there, because no one else that has been working on the global Pride event for late June dialed in. Now I at least feel mildly important. From there I went to the market to pick up rosé and snacks, then took a Lyft to Dolores Park to meet up with Kevin, Vaughn, Scott, and friends again. The weather was a perfectly lovely mid-70s and clear. Thank you weather gods, for that, and we listened to music and bitched and people watched. This was the precise opposite vibe of the frantic work of 24 hours prior, and I needed it.

Life is hard.

Eventually I walked all the way back to the hotel, had some decent Mexican food for dinner, and went to bed. I'll pick up the next entry there, because thematically that fits.

* Not going to backdate these entries, as they depict time not that long ago.
** Time for work to buy me an Admiral's Club membership, right?

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A Friday Five to brush off the dust.

Apr. 19th, 2019 | 10:57 pm

Dusty is my LJ's default state.

Back from San Francisco since Wednesday night, but haven't had much time to focus on blogging. I do have a large pile of photos and stories! Until I get back to that, here's a Friday Five, since I neglected to do these for almost a year:

1. Did you enjoy your senior year of high school?
Sure. I had finally recovered from the (literally) sophomoric dramas of leaving one friend group behind for another earlier in HS, was on good terms with everyone, and obsessed with the college application process.

2. Did you have a senior trip (high school) and were you able to go on it.
This was not a thing in my hometown. However, our Math/Science Academic Bowl chose 75 kids statewide to go to Orlando for a week every year, and I was one of them my senior year. That was a pretty swell trip, and I chose which college to go to right before it, like literally signed the letter and mailed it with the deposit check as my parents dropped me off. So I had that huge relief on top of the excitement of the trip.

3. Was graduating (from either high school or college/university) a big thing with your family or just another day?
Huge. OMG. We had an enormous barbecue after the ceremony, complete with photo ops with everyone. Then I went to several of my friends' parties and got drunk in an alley, LOL.

4. What were you looking forward to the most after graduating from either high school or college/university?
Definitely going to college and being independent-ish.

5. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your graduating self?
You're pretty much right in your judgments of who has your back and who doesn't. Trust those instincts.

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Back to using the office elevators.

Apr. 7th, 2019 | 07:32 pm

But I'm still appropriately terrified of becoming stuck in one for an entire weekend.

Definitely needed a good weekend after all of the toiling of the last week, and got one! On Friday I drove B to work, then met Blake and Nasser at Duplex. I had a steak salad, we bitched over drinks, and watched whatever movies were on at the time. It was a perfectly lovely and low-key evening. Then Rich and Ben G. came in and it just became a whiskey whirlwind, LOL. Patrick B. also stopped in and we had some good catchups. We stuck around with Sarah as she closed up the bar, then walked down to Larry's where, rather unexpectedly, I didn't leave until 3! Thankful for that steak salad to keep me going.

Yesterday I went running, as the weather was pretty much perfect for it: upper 60s but not too sunny. Then I managed to shower, eat some chicken breast, and get out to JR's for David J.'s birthday! He had quite a group assembled, and we got to watch an obscene amount of show tunes videos while having beers, before Lajuan, David, and I went to Stoney's for dinner. And despite the madness of the many people watching the Final Four, Howie was our server and the food came super quickly! Then I went home from there, a much earlier evening than Friday, and emptied the dishwasher when B got home to rant about the closing bartender and his ... subpar performance that is hurting the tip pool. After he had the opportunity to get through the venting, we finished the night by watching SNL* and other random television.

Today was pretty low key, too. I took B back to work, then went to the ATM and to Trader Joe's on a long leisurely walk. Warmer today, but still ok if I wasn't running. Now while my dinner is in the oven I've had some time to read and digest news, I really enjoyed this essay on parents of private school kids in LA feeling entitled to college admissions slots of their choice. It's a savage world, and I am pretty glad to neither be attempting to apply to colleges or have any family members doing the same at this point. Maybe this sting will eventually represent a turnaround into better admissions integrity, I don't know.

*Hard to believe this is still on. Can we just spin off Weekend Update and cancel the rest? I'm sure all the cast members could get new jobs.

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