Saturday, September 30, 2006

Two people have sent me links to the same video.  Are they trying to tell me something?  Ha ha.

Long live the weekend.

Last night, I was happy to chill at Cafe al Dente where I had pork chops and a mango relish with couscous, and a chocolate hazelnut tartufo which had some kind of raspberry syrup drizzled on the plate.  That place always amazes me with really good inexpensive food and how empty it is on a Friday night.  It's definitely a best kept secret in Kansas City.  Nic and I went to Skies and sipped port wine and watched the skyline go by, then we went to Harrah's where I played poker against some players that were so bad that *I* lost.  Limit Hold 'Em works out that way sometimes.  I got there too late to encounter the NASCAR crowd.  I should have gone to Ameristar.  Tonight I'm going to see KMFDM at the Grand Emporium, then head to Stifler's Mom's birthday bash house party at The Neida's place.  I promised myself that I would keep in mind that I have a hockey game tomorrow.  I'll see about going to the 49'ers game tomorrow, too.  I'll walk over to the stadium at game time and see if I can find a cheap ticket.

I skipped out on Octoberfest and the American Royal Parade today so I could have some greasy spoon breakfast at Debby's Diner, because Nic wanted coffee and the coffee at Monica's Diner isn't as good.  Of the diners on Hwy 40, Debby's is greasier than The Big Biscuit or Monica's put together.  I usually eat at Monica's because I like the food despite the use of canned mushrooms in the omelettes, so I avoid that, but otherwise I like their food. I just get milk or tea, because their coffee is really that bad.  Today at Debby's, I got the diced ham and scrambled eggs with a half order of biscuits and gravy with a side of hash browns with grilled onions.  It was 8.5 on a 10 point grease scale and the room was so smoky that my eyes were burning and my sinuses inflamed for over an hour after I left.  I read the local section of the KC Star which had egg yolk and hash brown bits on the editorial page.  I would have been more grossed out if it was yesterday's paper.  The coffee was good, but it was totally not worth it.  I wanted comfort food and ended up in discomfort.  <sigh>

I'll hit the American Royal BBQ next week for sure.  Since I'll be free during the day that day, not much could keep me away from it.  It *is* the largest barbecue contest in the world. 

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hockey season

Hockey season has begun.  In the past week, I've played in no less than 5 hockey games.  Sunday, I stopped a very hard slapshot just inside my right thigh just above the knee where there's no pad, so I have a very impressive scabby abrasion surrounded by an equally impressive purple bruise about the size of my hand.  I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but that one made my eyes water.  To add insult to injury, we lost that game.  Tuesday night, I stopped a wrist shot with my soleus, so I have a bruise there. . . same leg.  Tonight, I played through the pain, but I had to use tape on my ankles where the skates tend to rub the skin raw.  I winced when I removed the tape, because hair was also removed.  Despite all the pain, I have had a LOT of fun and made a bunch of new friends.  In the adult league, I'm playing for the Whiteman Bombers again, and the makeup of the team is somewhat different.  Some of the good players are back from Iraq, and there are some new faces who have skills.  We have a 1-1 record, but due to some scheduling mishap we had a bye week followed by a double header right out of the gate.  We won the first game, and lost the second game because A) it's the beginning of the season and most of the team hadn't skated since the Spring, and B) we were pretty tired following a hard fought first game while the other team had fresh legs.

So far, I like my Project Management class.  It's pretty intuitive to me, after having seen successful (and unsuccessful) projects at Time Warner Cable.  The real lessons I learned were from the crash and burn projects that got hobbled together and then reworked from scratch, or projects that were DOA and never got off the ground, or the projects that only survived to completion because of the technical ability of the people in the field doing whatever it took to make it work despite a half-baked idea and really crappy documentation.  With that experience, I can clearly tell who in my class have glassy eyes and believe the project management hype, and the one's who work for dysfunctional companies where projects are salvaged by a few smart people.  That said, I'm learning the tricks of the trade with regard to keeping a project on track, because the professor clearly recognizes the difference between textbook project management and reality.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Vampire mode (cont.)

I just got home from Harrah's.  I bought in for $100, played for an hour or so, tipped the dealer $5, and got up from the poker table with $223.  I played really tight.  I bet so aggressively that everyone just got mad and folded, and the only time I did show down, I had the nut straight.  It's a pretty good feeling to sit down at the poker table populated with tipsy hipsters in clubwear while I'm unshaven and wearing a concert t-shirt and flip flops. . . then proceed to dominate.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Vampire mode

After a full week of working midnights, I'm pretty well adjusted to muting my phone and sleeping from 9am to 3pm.  I was jet lagged at first, and it really affected me more than I would have expected.  After a few days of waking up to answer my phone, I realized it was going to be important for me to turn the thing off completely when I need to be sleeping.  If you're calling me at noon, that's the equivalent of me calling you at 3am.  I check my voicemail at 4pm, which is breakfast time for me.  On Sundays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, I play hockey in the PM hours before work.  On Thursday I have a Project Management class.  Monday, Friday, and Saturday evening are the only times I'm really available for social pursuits.  If it wasn't for the DVR, I wouldn't watch any television.  Although, I'm bombarded by news and weather channels at work.  Regarding staying up all night, I'm learning what's open late at night, and in Overland Park, that's McDonald's, Price Chopper, QT, and IHOP.  In KC, being a night owl is a bit easier.  For the weekends, I found a hangout which is open til 5am.  It's been there since 1904.  The cover is $8 because it's the only place serving past 3am.  If I'm off on a weeknight, basically the casinos are open, or I can go sit at home and read, surf the web, or watch TV.

Saturday, September 9, 2006

71000 square feet

After my shift this morning, I went in search of breakfast on the Sprint campus.  Yesterday morning, I bought a made to order omelette with some delicious mushrooms and tomato bits.  Today being Saturday, however, the gates were down over the cafeteria entrance.  So, I proceeded across the amphitheater to Java City, where I had bought a pretty good turkey and bacon wrap previously. . . to no avail.  It was also gated.  So, I walked to the area known as Town Center, which is more or less an impeccably landscaped open air mini mall. I found that only the gym was open.  I figured a place where 14,000 people work would have a nice gym, but I had no idea what awaited.  So, I scanned in and asked the front desk cutie for a tour.  She showed me the first floor cardio area, strength machines, the free weight area, and the treadwall which is like one of those rock climbing walls, but it loops continuously.  I saw a gym with three basketball courts and a bulletin board with the basketball and volleyball schedules.  The biggest aerobics room I've ever seen.  A separate room for cycling classes.  Table tennis.  Putting greens.  On the third floor, a 1/8 mile track around a very well equipped aerobics theater with screens all around replete with signs showing which FM frequency to tune to for the audio.  I saw the door to the yoga room and a brochure rack with a newsletter full of nutrition tips and brochures for upcoming local foot and cycle races.  We went back to the first floor and she gestured toward the locker rooms, so I checked that out, too.  Deee Luxe!  Wooden lockers.  Rows of shower stalls.  A steam room and a dry sauna.  So, what's the damage if I join?  $15 a week.  I might pay that just to be able to shower, shave, and change clothes before my shift.  Can I use chalk?  No.  Can I drop the weights?  No.  Is a trainer available?  Yes, to write a workout program for you based on your goals.  Will someone on staff spot for me?  Yes, if they are capable.  If not, they can ask another member to help. . . this coming from a little petite thing that probably weighed 120 or less.  Okay, so this gym is a show piece.  There were a few serious people in the free weight area.  It's not like a token gym which you'd find in a hotel chain where they'd crowd a few essential pieces of equipment intoa small room with mirrors.  This is a well equipped mega gym built with the best intentions.  Seventy one thousand square feet!  Landscaped with fountains and pampas grass. 

Friday, September 8, 2006

My plate is full.

The most unique thing today is the Asada Fries at Pancho's.  It's basically a mound of fries with a mound of carne asada with guacamole and sour cream dobbed on top.  Guac on fries is the most delicious surprise.  Asada Fries looked gratuitous and tasted pretty amazing.

It may seem that I've dropped off the face of the planet lately, but I'm just settling into a new routine which includes dressing in business casual, a 30 minute commute each way, a night shift in the Sprint Network Control Center, a big breakfast, a grueling morning workout with heavy weights, a big lunch, sleeping with my phone turned OFF during the day, ice hockey 3 nights a week, graduate school one night a week, graduate school work when I can get it done, a side business involving telemarketing in the late afternoon, a big dinner, and a social life whereever I can fit it in edgewise.

I was unusually strong this morning.  My bench press is almost back where it was when I stopped lifting heavy back in May.  The "muscle has memory" axiom may be true.  My body weight is back to 194 pounds.    Part of the gain is muscle, but I have to confess and attribute part of the weight gain to the additional stress yields cortisol yeilds extra fat mechanism.  I was fitted for a tuxedo so I can usher at Adam & JoLynn's wedding and the tailor wrote that I have a 35 inch waist.  Ouch.  33 is more usual.  I have noticed that my "business casual" pants are fitting a little tight.  I stopped by the store after my Project Management class tonight to grab some "business casual" pants.  Luckily, I didn't have to change.  It's technically a "jeans" Friday due to a company barbecue, which doesn't happen until long after my shift.  The word is that midnight shift can play it both ways and wear jeans on Friday morning as well as Friday night (Saturday morning). 

The new job is going well, and I attribute it to the fact that I'm a fast learner.  Once I figured out that I could watch two training programs in separate browser windows at a time with background music from in a third window, I'm plowing through the training at double speed.  My computer has six big flat screen monitors on a tree so I can rearrange them.  They've got me doing the mindless repetitive work for now, since I'm not up to speed and stilltaking online training.  I have a handset which receives email reminders when it's time to conduct wireless tests.  I'm monitoring wireless data tonight.  Short mail, web mail, Virgin Mobile, and a variety of 2G features.  Most of the testing is done via automated probes represented by a giant green rectangle on one of my screens.  If part of that rectangle changes colors, something broke.  At the top of every hour, I have a checklist to go through and test a set of messaging servers from a customer's perspective. . . on four different handsets, all with different menu systems.  I've spent $15 on ringtones in the past few hours.  I found a menu full of Larry the Cable Guy ringtones, which keeps things light around here.  Well, it's time to test again.  I'm downloading some Nelly Furtado ringtones next.  Super cheesy busy work. Ciao.