Winding down for the year

As you may have noticed, I occasionally get busy in real life and don’t get a chance to post. This should not be cause for panic. Like a few folks I know online, I don’t necessarily announce to the world when I’m traveling (why invite trouble?), but will post about it after the fact. Like now:

Last weekend, K and I went to the Chicago area for a nice, long weekend (Wednesday-Sunday, plus we both took Monday off from work) together ’cause due to silly department rules at her workplace, she can’t get the time off right around Christmas, so I’m making this year’s run to Tulsa solo. This, believe it or not, is no skin off K’s nose, as Christmas really isn’t her holiday and really never has been, for reasons that I’m not even going to start discussing. Plus she doesn’t much care for my dad these days. He *has* got a bit of “hardening of the attitude” going on the past few years, now that he’s in his mid-60s, but the big issue is that his har-har-can’t-you-take-a-joke attitude grates on her. I’m used to it and don’t take him even remotely seriously (but yeah, it grates on me, too), but K’s only had very limited exposure to this and prior experience with folks who *were* serious.

Anyway, we drove in on Wednesday, staying in St. Charles, which is pretty much due-west of downtown Chicago about 30 miles, and is a charming little town on the Fox River. Dinner: the St. Charles outpost of Giaradella’s Chicago-style pizza (deep dish you can swim in). Thursday was downtown — Shedd Aquarium to see the baby beluga whale, dolphins, penguins, and sea otters (and a bunch of fish, and for me, the lizard special display and a effing-big anaconda in the Amazon display area), lunch at Rick Bayless’ Frotera restaurant, and a bit of shopping. Parking is stupid-expensive in downtown, and between the monster traffic (foot and vehicle), the cold, the wind, and the unpredicted sudden torrential downpour(!!), we decided to escape rather than fight our way back down to the Sears Tower, so I’ll have to do that on another visit. Dinner: fairly decent BBQ at the BBQ Shack in St. Charles, although the hushpuppies were never done right: burnt outside, still doughy-raw inside. Friday: SHOPPING. Woodfield Mall and surroundings in Schaumburg, including a freakishly-large IKEA store, plus side visits to my old neighborhood in Hoffman Estates and a house Karen’s dad once had in Arlington Heights. While K didn’t score everything on her list, we both landed nice dress shoes at Nordstrom Rack and K also found a nice dressy winter overcoat. Lunch was at Portillo’s Hot Dogs, Dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. Saturday: shopped St. Charles. I scored a Ralph Lauren wool/cashmere dress overcoat at SteinMart (we suspect the “defect” is that it was tagged as a 48L but wears like a 50L — the size I actually need! — ’cause we couldn’t find even a single pulled thread anywhere on it), K wandered around The Container Store, and then we wandered downtown St. Charles until it got too cold, then we drove up the road to Elgin, which is being gentrified — and has a “riverboat” casino that floats but doesn’t cruise (no surprise there!). We didn’t stop. Breakfast: Colonial Cafe. Lunch: Portillo’s in St. Charles. Dinner: completing the Chicago-style pizza competition, the St. Charles location of Gino’s East.

Pizza verdict: I like the Detroit version of Chicago-style deep-dish, as made by Pizza Papalis, better. Why? The Chicago sauces were drab and plain, all tomato, no spice (Gino’s East) or very little spice (Giardella’s). But here in Detroit, we get sauce with some kick. Best of both worlds: Chicago “you can swim in it” deep dish, but some actual flavor. Gino’s had better crust according to K, who thought Giardella’s was a little overdone bordering on burnt.

Drove on home on Sunday, uneventfully. Monday: laundry, dr’s appointments, retrieve Scooterbird from the vet where we board him, etc.

The good news is that things are relatively quiet at work right now, what with most people gone. The US auto industry pretty much shuts down between Christmas and New Year’s, and my employer is no exception: tomorrow (Thursday) is the last work day for the year. Due to how the holidays fall this year, Friday is “Christmas Eve (Observed)” on the company calendar, Monday is, of course, Christmas, Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday are “Floating Holidays”, and next Friday is “New Year’s Eve (Observed)”. Then we’re off New Year’s Day and back at it on Tuesday, January 2.

I did 17 weeks’ worth of expense reports this morning, dating back to the 2nd half of August(!!). Won’t get reimbursed until next year, but they’re done and waiting for approval from the boss when he gets back after the first of the year. Most of them are piddly mileage claims, but there’s also 3 months’ worth of cell phone bills (the company pays the bill, in exchange, I’m available for business via the phone, about which more anon) and a few business meals in there, along with my annual SAE dues.

Tomorrow will be a VERY light day at the office. Er, half-day. πŸ™‚ Meeting with one of my supplier friends for lunch, then I’m done for the day. Back to the house, get the Cobra ready for my Christmas run to Tulsa and back. Got the new Valentine One ready to go, hook up the XM satellite radio receiver with its wireless FM modulator — which also serves the iPod — and I’m ready for the road. 950 or so miles each way. I’ll get a good, early start on Friday and make it most of the way, then finish up on Saturday. Weather should be okay once I get out of the rain in Michigan/northern Indiana on Friday.

Today, managed to get home early enough to wrap K’s Yule presents while she was still out helping the local DV (that’s “Domestic Violence”) shelter run its Christmas present give-away for residents/former residents. Apparently, being given something for nothing (when you have next to nothing) isn’t quite enough for some people… talking Elmos, bilingual Elmos, older ticklish Elmos were available, but a few were quite put out that nobody donated a couple dozen of the new, scarce, TMX Elmos. Yet another manifestation of what my brother-in-law calls the “breathless sense of entitlement”. The teens have this in spades, says the stepdad of a 17-year-old. What I try to get across: the world owes you NOTHING. It doesn’t owe you a job. It doesn’t owe you a car. It doesn’t owe you a living. It sure as hell doesn’t owe you happiness. YOU have to EARN it, and the best way to do that is education and hard work in whatever field you wish to pursue. Teens really don’t know any better in a lot of cases — they simply lack the experience of life giving you the golden bitch-slap. But it’s really pathetic, in my not-even-remotely-humble opinion, when someone who is in a DV shelter with good reason, and is being given plenty (food, shelter, legal aid, counseling, job-seeking help), no charge, gets bitchy about the choices of free gifts for their children provided by people who chose to give to others in need, people they don’t know and have never even met. Whatever happened to gratefulness? Thankfulness? “Hey, wow, my kid’s going to get to have a Christmas after all, thank you!” Nope: “Hey, why don’t you have any of them TMX Elmos? I can’t believe you don’t have none of them! I want one!” Well, we’ll just get right on that, cupcake, see if we can’t find a store somewhere with a bunch of ’em that have been sitting on the shelves, unsold and unloved, since the day after Thanksgiving. Riiiiiiight. (For those of you playing along at home, TMX Elmos have been sold out, subject to fistfights, sold via lottery, resold at high premiums on eBay, etc., as they’re the new “it” toy for the preschool set. There ARE no “surplus” TMX Elmos anywhere.)

This is one of those times when I feel the need to break out the LART, I’m afraid.

LART: Luser Attitude Readjustment Tool, commonly manifested as a large wooden mallet. Thought to have originated with Afterburner,’s spammer-killing wizard, and propagated throughout USENET by the agents of S.P.U.T.U.(M.) – SubGenius Police Usenet Tactical Unit (Mobile).

So I may be somewhat scarce posting around here for a bit. I’m taking the craptop with me, and my folks have high-speed ‘net access, but time is a premium. It’ll depend on how sleepless I am. πŸ™‚


One Comment

  1. Well, I wouldn’t normally have paniced that you didn’t post for several days, but you’re last post was “I ache, therefore I am” And the grippe has been know to be lethal. I promise I won’t do it any more!!


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