Monday, October 31, 2005

Malaga & Fun Shots

Friends from home who are living in Italy for the next two years joined us on Malaga and we enjoyed seeing the sights of Malaga with them.

Nik & Jon live outside of Rome in a small town and after six months are craving some variety in their diet. We found a Thai restaurant in Torre del Mar and had a very fun dinner. Werner, the German proprietor and his wife June (who was Thai) were very nice - but the kitchen was really small. We were the second table to be seated, so we ate second - which seems fair - but normally, you'll get your starters while table one is eating their meal. Not at Werner's. Table one ate starters, meal and dessert before we got starters. Thank heaven for strong drinks!

The next day we drove into Malaga and toured the Alcazar/Alhambra/Aljolson type building there. Again, safety doesn't seem to be a concern. This photo was staged, and we missed the one of Eric falling on the top step of this same staircase. I am going to hell because my reaction then (and even now) is to laugh. See the sign, read the sign, and watch your step dumbass!

This is our little rental car and our map of Spain. Yes, it is a BIG map, but if you look really close you'll see that the front of the map is only half of the country - the other half is on the other side. Sometimes it took us longer to find things on the map than it did to drive to the places in the real world.

It took us a moment to figure out that these signs meant it's NOT ok to take your tractor or your horse onto the freeway. For a moment, I was afraid of what the highway might be like. "Look out... it's Mr. Ed!"

Spain Photos: Granada, The Alhambra and Torre del Mar

After Barcelona, we flew to Malaga and stayed in a little town called Torre del Mar. We rented a small car for the week and drove up to Granada to see the Alhambra -- an extrodinary Morrish castle.

The interior courtyards were created with reflecting pools to keep things cool in the hot summer and visually expand the space. The castle was built on the highest hill in Granada, so they created aquaducts to bring the water up the hill - no small task.

This wall relief was about 18 inches taller than me - so it's about 7 feet tall and the detail is incredible. What you can't see from this posting is that each of the dark spots is actually intricate writing.

This is just a sample of the garden. It's too bad we were here in the fall, I think the summer gardens must be incredible. Not to say this isn't pretty -- it really is.

This is the tower that was outside of our condo. These towers were present up and down the coast. Some of the towers were in terrible shape - the one across the street was leaning at a 50 degree angle - and it made me nervous to see people standing under it.

It's a self portrait. I wish I wasn't making that nutty face - but what can you do?

Yeah! Spain photos!

Now that I'm home and I am managing to stay awake at night, I've been able to organize the spain photo's - once I've uploaded mine into the shutterfly album I'll post the link and you can view all 200+ photo's. Here are a sample of my favorites and one kind of nutty one.

Towers a top the Sagrada Familia - a church that Antoni Gaudi started building in 1882 - and is still under construction.

The Spiral Stairs of Death. We climbed to the top of the tower to take photo's and climbed down for what seemed like weeks. The only light was from the camera flash, and you may note there was no hand rail. My legs hurt for days after this fun trek.

This architectural marvel was giggled at by all. Some designs may need a second opinion.

On the roof of an apartment Gaudi building, this is a close up of the cross.

Alicia and I possing on a second apartment building, this is more than art, it is an air shaft.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Blogs are not for your co-workers...

I will not mention where I work nor share my blog with the people who work at my company. For one thing, there is a company policy that states that we (as employees) will not identify ourselves in forums like this as employees of megabank and since I work for the department that wrote the policy, I'd best not violate it. It's not a dumb rule, the last thing in the world any company wants to see is some dumb ass computer geek quoted in the wall street journal for some comment they made in an online chatroom.

Suzie14n'eger: So, you're a big time stock broker?
Megabankdude: yeah baby, I've got all the hot tips on Megabank.
Suzie14n'eger: Cool, what stock should I buy?
Megabankdude: oh Suzie, cash in your life savings and buy smellevision, it's going to skyrocket. Wanna meet, you sound hot.

The other reason is that the folks I work with think of me as a reasonably sane, responsible, smart person. They don't need to know I'm too stupid to work automatic bill pay, and that my cat humps a blanket.

Yesterday, this concept was driven home to me by a gal at my company I'll call Kat. She recently went to Rome and Germany on a vacation (odd pairing, but whatever) and we have been IMing about the trip and my trip to Spain. She shipped me a link to her online photo album - which I excitedly checked out.

After looking at her photo's I looked at the site they were posted on, it was an MSN personal page with a blog, photo albums and lists of favorite things, music, movies, books and I don't know sex toys. It was pretty cool, and I surfed back over to her photo albums and looked at one of the albums about her cats and saw that one of the albums was called "me and Joe in SF." I did think I was snooping at that point, but she DID send me the link to the whole site, so I thought, what the hell, let's see what her boyfriend looks like.

I clicked the link and a man who looked EXACTLY like one of my married colleagues popped up. I paged ahead a few more pages and it WAS him. There's Joe in a t-shirt on a couch, Joe with no shirt on a bed, Joe near the water and on and on. My heart started to race and I felt sick to my stomach.

I closed the album and Kat pops up on IM.

Kat: so, did you like my pictures?
TP: yeah they're great. Looks like you had fun.

Ok, so I have a choice here, I can ignore what I saw, or acknowledge that I saw it - which is what I did.

TP: so, here's the dangerous thing about passing your personal blog to someone at work... You and Joe?
Kat: TPgal... were you SNOOPING?
TP: oh god, yes, and I am so sorry!
Kat: LOL it's ok, it's just not commonly known, but yes, Joe and I, yes.
TP: wow
Kat: It's not something we broadcast
TP: I would think not
Kat: It's been going on for ages and only a few people know, and now you
TP: I'll keep it under my hat
Kat: thanks
TP: sorry, I have to ask, isn't he uh... married?
Kat: ha ha ha ha ha ha No.


So, while it turns out that the love between Joe and Kat is legal-I really wish I wasn't in on the secret. I really do not have an issue with folks at the same company dating - same department, I have problems with but that's not the case here. My issue is that now I've seen Joe shirtless on a bed and it's going to be a little more difficult to sit across the table from him now that I've got a visual.

So, moral of my story is... my blog is for me and my people and my work people whom I really like... are not 'my people.'

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Ah... Home!

Going on vacation is a glorious thing. I look forward to it with every fiber in my being. I enjoy the preplanning, the searching online for hotels, reading about the location, reviewing the history of the area - I love it all. I love the flight over, the confusion of how to make a phone call in a foreign country it's all good.

Being away from your work life is an important thing to do for yourself. In just two weeks the crazy politics of the office washes away, current events on the news are a distant memory, and all that matters is when does the museum open or should we have seafood or pasta for lunch.

However, the best thing about vacation... is finally sleeping in my own bed again. There is a spot in my bed that is so cozy that it is "home" to me. When I ease into the spot, pull the down comforter up, and the cat snuggles in - I am at peace with the world.

I have a raging case of jet lag, and I have been 'in the spot' for three days not including work and a quick trip out with friends. I can't seem to stay awake past 7pm. Yesterday, I was up at 4:30 am - which usually only happens to me by mistake, so I came to work early. When I finished my day at 4 I managed to go to the grocery store, but it was a dodgy ride home. The tired tears were dripping from the corners of my eyes. I barely made it into my garage before a life ending yawn overtook me. I forced myself to put the groceries away and make dinner. I turned on the tv and ate my salad and then... I don't know. I heard some of Veronica Mars, but couldn't open my eyes. I tried to listen, but by the time I could sit up and get my eyes open it was 11pm. I fed the cat and stumbled to bed. If my body is still on Spain time, I should be getting up around 3 am and be ready to start the day -- but today the alarm woke me up at 5:30. After almost twelve hours of sleep you would think that I'd be a ball of energy. Nope, I am in a stupor that I hope to shake off by the 9am meeting.

Tonight, my goal is to stay awake until 10pm. We'll see how it goes.

Photo's will be back from the developer on Wednesday. I hope to post some of the good ones here by end of day Thursday. Keep checking back.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Second Spain Update (Seville)

We are killing time in an Internet Cafe (all internet, no cafe... sad) until 8:30 so we can go to dinner. We would have walked back to our apartment, but the feet are very tired.

The historic part of Seville isn´t really that big, but it´s very similar to Venice in that there are a million little streets with no names and no signs. We attempted to find the front gate to the Alcazar yesterday and ended up walking around the entire park looking for an entrance that was about 40 feet away from where we started. The whole trip took about an hour, so I estimate it was about 3 miles. Upon finally getting to the gate i could only laugh at the sign that said that it was closed on Mondays. You would think that three reasonably smart people would know to look at the hours in the guidebook before we set out...

We did get in to the big *ss church in the center of town. The Catedral (no h) is the third largest cathedral in Europe. It is impressive and was a nice way to get inside away from the rain. I won´t complain about one day of rain because they (Spain) have been having a drought and what´s one day of rain? As the Spanish would say, de nada.

We did climb to the top of the tower which wasn´t a horrible climb. Thirty four flights up but it was mostly ramps so it wasn´t as painful as stairs. The view was worth the effort and if I can ever afford to have my film developed I´m sure the pictures will be lovely.

Last night we saw a Flamenco show at the mini cultural center near our apartment. It was fabulous. Juan, the man flamenco dancer seemed to take a shine to Eric but once he got going it was amazing! It was a lot of fun and on our way back to the apartment we passed a little bar with no sign and popped in. Inside we found another flamenco show that we could almost see through the blue haze of the cigarette smoke. We decided to leave after the first show and on the way out we had to step aside for the mother pushing her 9 month old baby in the cart. (I was shocked anjudgmentalemental about taking the baby to asmokeyy smoky bar...)

Our apartment is great and in a good location. We are on the second floor and have access to the roof for a deck. The bed in my room was questionable in that it tips a little from the right and I had a hard time sleeping the first night bevery timeerytime I rolled over that way the mattress would leave the springs and I felt like I was going to fling myself onto the floor.

Last night I pulled out the trundle (?) under the main bed and slept down there and it was nice!

We are off tomorrow to Madrid and hopefully less photo opportunities. I´m going to go broke when I get back.

I´m having a lot of fun, and have only thought of ending the life of my travel companions once or twice. Starbucks is all over in Seville but who´s going to pay 5 euro for a coffee when for that amount you could get 3 cafe con leches and 3 rolls at regular cafeteria.

(The gal next to me at the cafe is using the instant messenger chat with some guy and she has a camera set up... I can see my fawhacked my wacked out hair plain as day. I don´t love it...)

Good night!

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Greetings from Spain!

Ola! We are officially half way through our holiday, and it´s been grand!
In Barcelona we viewed the Picasso museum, climbed to the top of the Sagrata Familia, viewed apartments designed by Gaudi, found a Jesus Museum with 2500-3000 crosses, madonna & childs, and talked our way into a private party sale at a fun store for skinny girls.

In Malaga (actually Torre del Mar) we have played in the Mediteranian Sea, viewed the Alhambra, seen the other Picasso museum and napped.

Off to Seville tomorrow and then to Madrid. So far, I´m not spending as much money as I had feared, and am getting a sunny tan.

Friends of Alicia´s who are living in Italy met us here yesterday and we´ve been hanging out.

Taking lots of pictures, and inventing new phrases... "look, he has Mime disease..." and "a dingbat licked my baby!"

Today was some sort of special day and we counted no less than nine brides in the city. Bridal party to go! Nutty.

Don´t be afraid, but I´ve also been driving over here... fun

see you in a week!


Thursday, October 06, 2005

The problem with automatic bill pay is...

operator error!

I am a smart person, but I may be too confident in my own abilities. I decided that I was tired of writing the same checks over and over each month. Cell phone: $43, Cable bill $70, home phone, $45. Because the automatic payment for my car and mortgage has worked out so well, I decided to set up all my revolving bills on the bill pay service offered by my credit union. Once they were set up, I sat back and relaxed.

FAST FORWARD: three months

I am living in bliss. The bills roll in, I don't even bother to open the envelopes as I KNOW they are being paid while I spend my time living my life.

RING RING (the phone in my house jingles one evening)
tp_gal: hello?
evil qwest collection agent: pay your phone bill you dead beat!
tp_gal: huh? I paid my phone bill -- see it's right here on my checking statement
evil qwest collection agent: you're a terrible person, and you're not worthy of our superior service and excellent customer relations
tp_gal: oh golly, something must be wrong... I'll call you back tomorrow once I call my bank (that is now closed.)
evil qwest collection agent: you'ld better call back girlie... or I'll get you and your little dog (sized cat) too!

The next day while online at work which I NEVER do (ouch my nose) I noticed something odd about the Qwest bill profile on my online bill pay account...the area code was wrong. Oh Shit! Not only were the bills going to the wrong account -- it was MY FAULT!

I called the EQCA and explained the situation and they promised (F*cking liars) that they would research it and contact me with the results. In the meantime, I corrected the bill and paid the current months charges.


RING RING (the phone in my house jingles once again)
tp_gal: hello?
evil qwest collection agent: pay your phone bill you dead beat!
tp_gal: huh? I called and explained the mistake -- doesn't it show on my account what happened?
evil qwest collection agent: no you lazy, no good, phone service stealing ho!
tp_gal: hey...I'm not lazy!
evil qwest collection agent: if you claim that you've paid you're going to have prove it(liar)... Fax over a copy of your birth certificate, your citizenship grade from the Fourth Grade, proof of your virginity and a copy of the payment stubs to our office in New Orleans and we'll get to it as soon as we find the fax machine.
tp_gal: ok, will do!
evil qwest collection agent: And, in order to keep your phone service on.. you'll have to call us every day until we pull our heads out of our asses to remind us that we forgot to deal with your mistake.
tp_gal: no can do, heading to Spain for two weeks starting tomorrow.
evil qwest collection agent: Bwahahahahaha no phone service for you!

The moral of the story is: don't trust your own typing skills, and when you set up bill pay you still have to review the bills every month.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Does this mean they actually have sex?

Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes expecting baby

I'd like to know why it is that I could care less about Demi and Ashton and why it is that this story creeps me out? Maybe it's because in all the photo's I've seen of KH - she looks like an abused child.

As a teen, I really believed the best thing that could ever happen to me would be to meet and fall in love with Tom Cruise. I was so misguided. However, I am also the same person- who in 1982 had a 4 foot by 3 foot poster of Michael Jackson hanging over her bed. Who knew!?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Vacation Count Down

Three!!! I went to get money today and found out that my bank doesn't "do foreign currency" but they tell me that they could convert my American money into Canadian.

I think the Canadians might be sad to learn that they are not considered foreigners by American bankers. eh?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Spain Count Down: 4 days

Tick tock tick tock. Time is running short.

I started the packing preparation this weekend. I pulled out everything I thought I would be taking and did an assessment. I didn't think it was too terrible:

Capri's (sage green)
shorts (tan)
skirt (light weight denim)

camisoles: black, white, tan
two gauzy pheasant shirts (to go over the cami's noted above)
black sweater

swim suit

Shoes - two pair - red mary janes and the most comfortable sandal's ever made (they look like sandal's, but wear like great tennis shoes.)

A rain jacket (the 10 day forecast for Barcelona was predicting rain on Sunday - but a quick check shows it looks to be 75 and sunny) Maybe I will risk it without a rain coat - can't decide.

And undies -- socks and the like. On the Italy trip I took 14 pair of the ugliest underoo's known to man, wore each pair once and threw them out as I moved across the country. The only problem was they were fraught with problems, creeping, lines and generally uncomfortable. I'm not a big fan of the sink washed clothes; they just never get quite dry enough for my taste, but in the interest of space, I may have to move outside my comfort zone.

Anyway -- once I had these items sorted out and was sure that every top and every bottom color coordinated to be worn in a multitude of ways I did a dry run into the suitcase. It became quite clear that I'm taking too much stuff. Even if I wear one outfit on the plane there will be little room for personal grooming items. I really wanted to do this in one bag. I had also hoped for space to bring things back -- I would like to do most of my holiday shopping in Spain.

Rick Steves says to lay out the bare minimum of what you think you need to take - and then take half of those items. Of course, he is comfortable wearing the same pants everyday - I myself need some variety. I can probably tone down the number of shirts - but it's thinks like the rainjacket that are bulky even though I can pack it up into a ziplock bag and remove the air to make it as small as possible.

Anyway - there's more to do when i get home tonight. We'll see how it goes.

There won't be any posts while I'm away - so I'm thinking about leaving something I wrote ages ago to keep you entertained... We'll see if that actually happens (the posting or the entertainment - your choice.)