Pages

Sunday, October 29, 2006

it's coming...

Home and an Irish Groom

How do people who travel 50% or more of their working lives do it? It must take a really a special person. I am too in love with my cozy home to want to be away for half my life. It's safe to say that I'm glad to be home. It's cold and wet outside and I am enjoying my lazy Sunday afternoon.

The vacation was nice, the conference was good but the year is wrapping up an there is work to be done. Luckily I only have one more trip to make and then I'm done for the year. That trip will top my frequent flyer program into "MVP Status" which means I've flown enough to get early boarding and a 50% miles bonus for each flight but not so much that I could rent my home to strangers.

The extra bonus miles are great as I think I've decided to take a super long wonderful trip to Europe for my 40th birthday. The girls have talked about taking a trip, but I'm not really sure they are doing anything more than just 'talking' at this point.

The wife of one of the conference attendees says I should come to Ireland and participate in the annual engagement ritual or some such thing. She says there's a town where the single women who are ready to marry and the single men who are ready to marry come together and get engaged. This would be fantastic - I could fly over and bring back a man who for would be willing to trade his dignity for citizenship and he could clean my house while I work. Plus, he could make dinner -- Irish Stew is great. There is that small problem of actually loving the man, but I'm sure my mom would love him enough for both of us.

I don't see why it couldn't work. He could be my mail order groom. I'm sure my "no beer" and "no friends when I'm not home" rules would seem reasonable after a while. It's not like I'd make him serve me or anything... I'd still cut my own toe nails and brush my own teeth. It's a great bargain.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

a pall over the whole vacation

I may have mentioned that mom left items behind in our room in New Orleans.  Had it been her shampoo or a single item l would have felt pretty good about telling her to suck it up and get over it, however she left behind to bras, underwear, 3-4 pairs of brand new unworn socks, a new blazer, a new scarf and two boxes of chocolate purchased to take to the cousins

We checked out of the hotel Tuesday morning, discovered the loss Wednesday and called the hotel on Thursday.  That call went unanswered; literally the phone rang about 15 times before I hung up and called again.  That call too was not received by a human, an answering machine, nor a homeless person walking through the lobby.  We called at 9am the next morning and spoke with the front desk clerk who was so nice and said that he would call me back in an hour with some information.  10 am.. no call 11am I called again and spoke with a gal who said that she would also call me back in an hour.  I nicely explained that we were driving back to New Orleans and that we could stop by the hotel and pick up our items that should be safely locked in the housekeeping managers area of the hotel.  We were told that we would have to talk to the head housekeeper and that a message would be left for her and that she would call me back.  (are you sensing a theme?)  We called again at 3pm and asked to speak to the head housekeeper, who doesnt have voicemail the phone was allowed to ring over 15 times before it rang back to the front desk and we were told that a message had been delivered.

When we arrived back into New Orleans we asked the new hotel (at the airport) if they had any inside contacts at the Best Western St. Christopher hotel.  The agent didnt but offered to call anyway I was hopeful that the hotel to hotel communications might be more fruitful than the bitchy customer to hotel conversation.   She did get more information, but it was not what we wanted to hear:  the housekeeping manager has lost items locked in her office and shes gone home for the day.  Call Monday.  Grrrr.

So, after talking mom off the ceiling I waited patiently to Monday and called for the head housekeeper and left ANOTHER message.  Monday afternoon I had escalated to fully pissed and called and asked for the general manager.  The desk agent sent me to a voicemail box where I told my story and that I really needed some help and would appreciate a call back.  I even shared that I had worked at a hotel and that Im aware of how these things work (generally stuff it held for a period of time and then thrown away) but that what I really needed was a call back.

Monday afternoon I called the Best Western Customer Care line to open a ticket which the hotel has 7 days to respond to.  I did get a phone call Tuesday morning from a terse man who in addition to not seeming to understand my request kept pronouncing my name incorrectly over and over again (its tp gal NOT tp GALS!)  I tried to politely tell him my name and what room we were in and he said he had it and would call me back that day by the end of CENTRAL times business day.  He was really specific so I felt pretty good that he would call.  Alas end of the day no call.

It is currently 3:30 central time the following day and still no call.  Im holding out little hope that my moms new clothes are still at the hotel, but because at no point has anyone from the hotel shared with me a policy of how long they hold lost items before disposing them nor have they said that the items arent there.

At this point I am ready to state for the record that in spite of how grand our stay at the Best Western St. Christopher, New Orleans was. I do not recommend it!  Their customer service ends the minute your credit card is charged!

 

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hmmm... Minneapolis?

The Sr. Group Manager at Target offered me a job.  I wonder what life would be like in Minneapolis?  The idea of living in a city where housing isnt so damned expensive is intriguing but I think for now Ill just hold her card in my back pocket. Id miss my friends.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Alaska...Southwest...Alaska

I hate to fly Southwest airlines.  I want an assigned seat, and I want to board in an orderly manner.  I also dislike their policy of picking people out to pay for an extra seat if they think youre too big.  I agree its no fun to sit next to the fat person but to publicly embarrass them is a dreadful thing to do.

I am a faithful Alaska Airlines customer.  Its easy because Im based in Seattle (their hub) so I know my loyalty is a lot like choice of religion its 75% where you live (where you were born.)  They seem to be on time, they are good with information, the web site it helpful and easy to use, and the rewards program is well connected to things in my life (its easy to earn points for non-travel.)

However, lately the distinction between Southwest and Alaska is getting hard to see.  Alaska has killed its meals for the coach class on domestic flights.  For $5 you can buy a soggy sandwich and a f*cking awesome cookie.  (The cookie really was fantastic.)  My last few flights have been delayed and if it hadnt been for sharp eyes my bags would have only gone to Chicago when I was going to Seattle.  That would have been very very bad.

I have to say that I dont mind paying extra for food on a flight, but I dont want to pay the flight attendant on board.  I seldom have cash on hand and they havent figured out how to take plastic while in flight.   So I say to you Alaska Airlines.. stop nickel and diming me and give me a friken sandwich when I fly cross country

Sunday, October 22, 2006

New Orleans Photos

These are from our 'walk about' in the French Quarter. The blue dog is by a local artist who has used the blue dog to express his pain and anger over the governments (in)action and as a symbol that the city will rise again.

In order the photos are:
The French Quarter
The Blue Dog
Mom and a friend
"THE" House of the rising sun! (overexposed)
the wraught iron corn fence.





Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday... sweet Friday

Yesterday was family day. We drove over to cousin Marlene's house and spent the day with her. She's a delightful lady (72) who is as active as any 50 year old. She was in the Air Force in 1950 something, and then was a commissioned officer in the Army in 1958. She traveled all over and saw many things and had entertaining stories to tell.

Her sister Gloria never left Hodge and took a little bit longer to warm up to, but once I made her laugh we were golden.

We drove all over the county -- er parish to different little church graveyards and took pictures of dead people. (woo hoo) After a full day of that we picked up Gloria and went out to dinner at the Catfish Cafe. We had an artery clogging plate of fried catfish, fried ocra, freedom fries (no joke) and hushpuppies (fried corn bread). Yum. Gloria had fried frogs legs and ate one little frog foot and stopped eating. Those dead frogs asses were staring at me all through my dinner.

We closed the restaraunt down (8:00pm) and headed out to "cousin" Blah-blah's house (no can remember her name) and visited with her a bit. She was very nice and had lots of things to share about Jimmie Tap (some cousin) and Nancy Faye (who knows) she lived way way the heck in the middle of no where and I was worried that Marlene and Gloria were going to kill us for the car.

Wednesday we stopped by the "town" where mom lived as a litte girl. By town I mean the intersection of hwy 77 and lousiana route 4316. It's basically where a two lane road meets a smaller wo lane road. There are many of these places and they all have names. This one was "Mt. Olive. There were two cemetaries and a run down store. Well, apparently my grandfather Milton built the store with wood from the land and they lived behind the store. Mom had me drive around back to see some tree. As we got out of the mini-van we saw the single wide back in the woods a bit. The roof had been reinforced with plywood and a porch added on. Jimmy Foodwood (or whatever) came out and started to shoo us away, but once he heard my mom's name he realized that we're kin! Jimmy wore black (nasty) pants, a camoflauge vest and no shirt. He wanted us to come in the house real bad but we excused ourselves. Yikes.

We drove back to New Orleans today and have been trying to call the first hotel we stayed at. Mom left her new coat, scarf, undies and some other things in the room. We called 4 times today and each time they said they'd call us back. We had the manager of this hotel call and he got a different answer, they didn't "find" our stuff and to call back Monday when the housekeeping manager will be in. SHE WAS IN TODAY... grr. Oh well, I'll call on Monday and speak to the General Manger and (s)he will send her stuff back on their dime.

So, all is well other than mom not having any undies - and we're ready to come home. I of course turn around and leave again on Sunday for a business trip, but that will be 5 days in one place. Easy easy.

See ya!

Pictues to come.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lucky

Status: still alive, having fun, a few exciting adventures.
Left New Orleans and was directed by mom to take a highway and well, she was wrong. We drove for ages through a swamp. Upon agreeing that we were headed in the wrong direction we pulled off to turn around and were a little worried to see that the off ramp and under the highway was flooded. We braved the water and were thankful for the lame but tall mini-van. There was a Nissan that wasn't so fortunate.
We found our way to the places on our agenda. We toured two plantations. I love the big houses, but was worried they wouldn't mention the slaves. The first place we toured was much better about including information about the slaves and their less than delightful life. The other plantation -- the more lucrative (and still money making) site glossed over the slavery issue all together.
We spent so much time at the two sites (and our "good" lunch at Bonnie B's diner) that we had to take the freeway to "Cousin Richards". Getting from the side roads to the highway wasn't as easy as we thought, but we did "get" to cross the Mississippi again! , and then one more time to correct our mistake.
We had a little giggle about a stop at Grosse Tete. Gross Tit?
Meeting Cousin Richard was great. He and Mrs Richard were wonderful. We had dinner and talked for hours and hours. They have a stunning house at the end of a lane, next to the river.
Today we drove out to Jonesboro, where Richard and Judy have a house. (Her mothers) we stopped at the Walmart picked up dinner and have spent the evening in.
We did the cemetery thing today. It didn't suck as bad as I had feared. But it was hot as hell and I was looking forward to a cool shower. This house (worthy of inclusion into a museum as a stellar display of all that was un-holy about American home decor) has no showers. The bath was surprisingly good and I'm looking forward to a night in dead grandma's bed.
We also did laundry, but the dryer has only two settings: off and cremation so our clothes are a little crispy.
Tomorrow were off to see Marlene and I don't know what is on the agenda.
One last thing, we visited the town where Steel Magnolias was filmed. We learned that the movie was based on a book that was the true story of the authors sister written for his nephew so he could know something about his mother. The family is from the town. Who knew?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Questions from the road

SYP asks: has you mom changed her watch yet?

Finally, yes.

We were just laughing about the (seriously) tornado warnings and the levee breaches.

Our room doesn't have any windows (or closets for that matter so we should be ok... Tonight. We're supposed to drive into the "red" area tomorrow.

Just got back from dinner and three for one margaritas. Oh my! We aren't out very late but we had fun.

The news ticker is providing the number to call to report missing street signs.

The flooding is due to wind, not rain. Odd. Its fricken HOT out there and my hair looks like CRAP... Frizz and damp. Yuck.

Monday

It was windy today..we discovered that there is a tornado warning in effect when we dropped our "stuff" off at the hotel. We're taking a small break before deciding where to have dinner. Mom wants to wander over to some creole place -I wanted to mix it up a little, but she's the boss.

We were all over the French Quarter today, up and down Bourbon Street and all around Jackson Square. We attended a tour of the home of a famous Confeterate general. As the only two people on the tour we had all our questions answered.

After walking the French Quarter we decided to take the buggy tour. It was fun, but essentially it was the same places we had just walked.

We enjoyed coffee and beignets at the much recommended Cafe du Mond. Covered in powdered sugar these hot pastries were spectacular!

Must go... There are drinks to ba had!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Arrival

The Budget Fastbreak lady was so ready to go home that she flipped off the lights and locked the door to her little kiosk before I could drop my creditcard back into my wallet. Ten or fifteen seconds more with us may have saved us a scary 11:30 pm jaunt around the superdome and an unexpected trip across the Mississippi river.

After passing the damned hotel three times we finally just backed up on the one way street and abandoned the car. That what insurance is for right?

Mom quirk: unwillingness to adjust her watch to the local time. ADJUST damn it ADJUST.

'Gnite y'all

In Chicago

Nothing too exciting to report yet, we had a small "incident" in Seattle. Mom was watching the football game on the tv and the Seahawks scored a touch down and she yelped and scared the ticket agent who looked as though he wanted the TSA to take the crazy lady away.

Sitting next to us on the Seattle to Chicago leg was a Nun. She was grading papers and as we landed Mom started to give her the third degree. Are you a teacher, where did you go to school, where do you teach, what do you teach, oh..what is that? (She taught college level bio-eithics and morality.)

So, now we're waiting for our three hour layover to conclude. CNN is interviewing a Hawaiian lady who lost her rock wall in the earthquake, and is reporting that the K-mart on poi-pu-ku-lu-na avenue is open. The quote of the crisis will be "thanks to the grace of God that the whole rock wall (around her garden) wasn't taken. "

Friday, October 13, 2006

Vacation: On

My desk is clean, a huge project done and delivered and I'm on my way home.

Mom and Dad have solved the plumbing problem enough to move into their house. Mom was calm enough to pack and drive over today. I should have just enough time to take out the trash an vacuum before she arrives.

We're going to hit the nail salon for pedicures in the morning and then swing by the mall to spend some dough on vacation clothes. Rico and Replacement Ali are hosting dinner for us tomorrow night. (I really should give her a name because every time she displays un-Ali like behavior it surprizes me. I think that might change if I allow her to have her own identity.)

Mom was also calm enough to have a rational discussion about ALL the things on our agenda. She agreed with me that visiting Uncle Woody was too ambitious. It would have been an eight hour drive (not includi ng rest stops or side jaunts to "see this or that.) I'm pleased about this development because it allows us to be more flexible when visiting "cousin richard" and "relative of unknown title Marlene".

I'll be checking in, so y'all come back now ya hear!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

White House, NSA staffers bought fake diplomas from Spokane Web site

Dear NSA,

Who would do such a thing?

I'm shocked!

Sincerely,

Dr. TP gal, PhD, DDS, MBA

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Oh Good Lord

This vacation just gets more and more exciting…I expressed to my momma (the closer we get to the Louisiana vacation the more southern I get) that I wasn’t going to sleep over at anyone’s house on this trip. “Hi! We’re loud, liberal and we’re movin’ in! Got anything to eat?”

Well, she must have expressed this to “Cousin Richard” because this was imbedded at the bottom of a forwarded message:

Tell your daughter we are hillbillies, we talk slow and different; eat turnip greens, sweet potatoes, ham hocks, and corn bread. We like country music, shop at Wal-Mart, talk about the weather, but we have feelings, care about other people, cry, laugh, get mad, get even, just like folks in Washington.

Good Christ… what must she have told him?

I wonder if we’ll need to have an “accident” in the bayou – two went out only one came back.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

That doesn't happen every day

I bought a couple new "foundation" items yesterday. Foundation is the marketing term for "bra". Why? No clue.

These two items are pretty snazzy, racer back with a front metal clasp. Most ladies have a preference, front or back. Front is nice because you don't have to do the twist or yoga to get the damn thing on. But, most bras are back clasps. Why? No clue.

So, I'm wearing my fancy new item today, liking the racer back (no slipping straps) and thinking about picking up more in designer colors like beige or black. (Sassy). Around two I was sitting in my "office" aka the fishbowl and a strange thing happened. I reached across my body to grab something and all of a sudden the "ladies" were free! The secure metal clasp had worked its way undone and I had very little coverage.

I opted to repair in place rather than make the cross building trek to the bathroom. I figured the chances of someone walking by were marginally more attractive than the nine people I would have to pass on the way to the loo.

Later on...it happened again! I'm not really sure what's going on, but I refuse to be the office Gloria Steinham (sorry, that's spelled wrong) and I declare for all to know that I will be covered! There are things that are intended to be free in the work place (like post-its and pencils) but my boobs aren't on the list.

I'm hopeful that I can make it home before the next "showing".

Monday, October 09, 2006

Vacationing with mom

Every single gal in her late 30's dreams of vacationing with her mother - they deny it but they would all rather negotiate a 9pm bed time than have a hot man take them to Mexico and make love to them under the stars.

Well, this might not be quite accurate, I am looking forward to the upcoming vacation with Moms. She and I get along very well after we get the usual "talks" out of the way which are for the record:

1) you need to lose weight. (i don't deny it)
2) you should get married (um, I'm not even dating anyone so that might be pushing it.)
3) grandchildren would make me happy. (then you adopt them. I have a hard enough time keeping the food in the fridge from molding, imagine what I would do to a baby.)

Once those 'talks' are done we settle into a normal rhythm and have a great time. She's generally a good travel partner, but she's like a small child who wants everything she sees. This gets a little old because her "ideal day" is to drive around aimlessly and stopping at all the garage sales. I"m more of a have a plan girl and as the one who drives it's frustrating to go nowhere. The garage sale thing loses it's fun for me after about two. I can assess in a few moments if there's anything that I might potentially want but she likes to dig through people's stuff as if she's going to find a Picasso. She lives in an economically disadvantaged location and garage sales are usually baby clothes and chipped dishes, neither of which I need.

I'm hoping the Louisiana trip will be less like aimless driving and more like a fun road trip. I fired off an e-mail to "Cousin Richard" who is the superintendent of schools in his town (parish?) but haven't heard back from him yet. I'm ok with having some things in the air, but I don't want to just drop in on people even if they are family (that I've never met or talked to...)

Mom comes to town Friday and we're going shopping on Saturday and then having dinner with Rico and the replacement Ali. I'm warming up to her by the way. She seems ok with Rico's quirks and she's very much in 'adoration' with him. He's holding back a little, which is probably healthy, but they are planning for a vacation next July.

Speaking of Ali - she's dating too. Wow! She seems happy and is focused on living in the moment. So, the world goes on... and I go on vacation with my mom!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

The Departed: a tpGal Movie Review


As I walked out of the theater three little girls (ages approximately 9-12) asked me how the movie was, and I immediately answered "it's not for kids." The mom, an exasperated woman rolled her eyes and said to the girls "See I told you. You're not seeing it!"

I assume these girls are recent Leo DiCaprio converts as they were too young to be original Titanic fans. Unless they are having heart palpatations for Matt Damon or Jack. Regardless, I stand by my assessment -- the Departed is not for kids or even most folks in the mid-west.

Remember that scene in The Usual Suspects - no, scratch that... Reservoir Dogs where the cops and the bad guys are standing in a circle and they all have their guns pointed at each other and then all of a sudden all hell breaks loose and in the end it isn't clear who's alive or who shot first. This whole movie was basically a 3 hour version of that scene - but without the colorful names.

One minor complaint (other than the last shot which was cheesy) was that some of the dialog had been toned down but they didn't reshoot the scenes, they just dubbed it softer. If a character mouths the word "f*ck" I don't want to hear "hell" or nothing at all. I think maybe the idea is to tone down the language to get a lower rating, but with everyone's brains all over the floor what is one more "f*ck"?

All in all, it was suspenseful and enjoyable. Mark Wahlberg was great, and it's nice to see Donny W. even if he doesn't get to talk.

What gives?

My mailbox held a mean little reminder that time keeps ticking by regardless of if you're ready or not. There was a bright blue envelope with a Virginia Madson looking woman on the beach and in blocky colors it announced ACT YOUR AGE, welcome to the one magazine for women over 40 who love to act their age.

Hold the phone people-- I've got almost two full years before they should even start to try to get me to sign up. What's worse than something in my market profile that makes them think I'm over 40 is the fact that the damn information packet in the envelope was in large print... like 16 point type.

I'm not quite ready for a magazine with a section called Menopause survival. I'll send it back with a deliver after 2008 noted on the envelope.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I can't stop!

This nutty web site is addictive... I'm 50% wierd, I failed 8th grade spanish (no soy el spanish-o). my gay cartoon personality is Tinky Winky the purple teletubby with the red purse, i'm 80% psychic (but I knew that already)... each little quiz takes but a moment and I can't stop

You Passed 8th Grade Science

Congratulations, you got 7/8 correct!


You Are Most Like Bill Clinton

No doubt, your legacy may be a little seedier than you'd like.
But even though you've done some questionable things, you're still loved by almost all.

Who would have guessed?

Your Taste in Music:

80's Pop: Highest Influence
80's Rock: Highest Influence
80's Alternative: High Influence
90's Rock: High Influence
Adult Alternative: Medium Influence

Thursday, October 05, 2006


You may recall viewing the demolition photos from mom & dad's house from this summer. Well they are still at it. The "kid" (as they call him) finished the plumbing and the walls went up in the kitchen and bathroom. When mom used the sink she noticed a significant leak. Further inspection showed that the kid didn't seal the pipe connections (anywhere) and the leaks are pervasive. So now they are faced with tearing the walls back out and having a professional plumber come in to fix the mess caused by the kid.

I feel bad for them. They need to occupy the house before winter sets in and the extra expense of the plumber is going to hurt.

The kid seemed questionable to me, but the work I saw looked pretty good. (You know, with my vast experience as a home inspection professional.) They don't even have the luxury of suing him because they haven't paid him.

Mom said to me today, I wish you were here. To do what punish him by talking about multi-factor authentication until his head explodes? It would hardly be fair.

So, like all problems they will have to throw money at it which kills the plan of having a home with no mortgage. Well, worst case scenario they could winter with me, but let's ALL pray that it doesn't come to that. Please pray!

PS I'm liking the ability to blog while on the bus! Multi-tasking. Do THAT in your car!

PPS: Bush sucks, and I'm worried that our "liboration" activites will haunt us for decades. When will it stop?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Things that are scary

Halloween is now T minus 28 days and todays list is of the things people (that I know) are afraid of:

Sock Monkeys

Rubber Bands

Cows

Spirits (Not ghosts, but Lizzie Bordens remaining energy.  Shiver)

Spiders (its bad when you have to call a neighbor to get it out of your shower)

Snakes

Boats (small, 2-person, youll be dead in 5 minutes boats)

Madonna movies the girl can NOT act.

Voldemort

Feel free to add your own.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Why?

Why is it that PayPal can take money OUT of my account in real time, but it takes 3-4 days to put it back in?

Why do people say my bad when Im sorry is what they mean?

Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?

How does the cat know to step on my bladder only when its full?

When people say hes my baby daddy do they really think they sound cool?

Why am I going on vacation to a place that lists the Sunshine Festival as their annual community event?

Do they have so little to do that celebrating the sun coming up IS a big deal?

Do you think they will be sad when I tell them that the sun shines in the north too?

For whom does the bell toll?

Fall

After a weekend of the arts (Ballet on Friday and a Billy Bragg show) I spent Sunday afternoon at the arboretum and took some photos. Mostly the Japanese Maples were the trees with the most pop, but I'm sure in a week the other trees will turn and it will be spectacular.