Monday, December 26, 2005

A Very Veggie Christmas

The Meal

Many of you wonder, and in fact, have asked "What do you eat for Christmas?" (or anytime for that matter). Well, here is a list of what was on our table for our Christmas meal:

  • UnTurkey
  • Vegan gravy (also came in the UnTurkey box)
  • Mashed potatos
  • stir fried Kale and Garlic in lemon juice
  • Vegan chocolate cake page 74 of Sinfully Vegan... iced with Boiled toffee icing (our own recipe)
  • Yellow Tail Shiraz

The Day

Our cat got into the spirit of the season by donning the antlers. Actually (and I'm sure you can tell), she was NOT impressed by these. She did have a good day though, playing with all the toys she received. Our dog, had a fantastic day, helping to unwrap everything, and noshing on her treats.

Today, they are both tuckered out... the excitement was too much for them.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

U2 Vertigo: Concert Review

Live at the Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, PA
MVG and I went to the U2 concert last night at the Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh. We were not sure what to expect, others who had recently attended a U2 concert in Toronto (Ontario, Canada) were disappointed with the performance. This was my 3rd U2 concert (and MVG's second).

We decided NOT to get there early, rather we would skip the opening act and get there for the main event. We were in the Initech box seats (VIP section), very close to the stage. We could see the facial expressions (and wrinkles) on the faces of the band members.
An interesting thing happened... the person sitting next to MVG was a person I went to high school with... about 2000 miles away in "the West" of Canada. Small world.
U2 started performing at about 8:45pm. They played for at least 90 minutes (with two encore performances). The music was fantastic, the atmosphere was electric. There were elements of politics (which was the 'knock' that our source said ruined the show in Toronto), but you have to expect some politics from U2 - they are a politically charged group. I found the politics to be non-offensive, rather it was aimed towards helping to put a stop to poverty. There was also a pause prior to and after the playing of "Miss Sarajevo" to reflect on human rights. Really, the message was "Why can't we all just get along?", and I agree with that message.

Of the three U2 concerts I have been to, I would say this was the best of the bunch. We had fantastic seats, the music was awesome, and the band was very lively and into the show. Well worth seeing (in my opinion).

Read this review from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The only downside to the concert was the ear-ringing that continued until this morning... but, it was worth it.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


...or "why I haven't been complaining so much lately"

Life has been sweet the last week. MVG and I have been off on vacation (didn't go anywhere too far away).

It has been a busy week off for us.
have you ever noticed that a week takes SO long when you are at work, yet is SO short when you are on vacation
We started off last weekend by getting our apartment carpets steam cleaned. The entire family (dog, cat, MVG and I) all went to a local hotel for the night. On Saturday (the cleaning was on Friday), we painted our place a nice deep 'mocha' color. We figured, "hey, we have all the stuff out for cleaning, why not paint". We called these components of our "lease renewal package". We renewed our lease (for a year), so now we are trying to spruce up the place to make it seem like we moved.

Sunday was (more or less) a day of being lazy. We slept in, and I did some studying for the Sun Certified Java Programmer exam that I was taking on Thursday.
you will have to wait to see if I passed
Monday was a bike ride for us (MVG's first since she was in agony with a bad back for the previous 4 days).

Tuesday/Wednesday were spend in the Laurel Highlands at Nemacolin resort. Wow. We were upgraded to a room on a floor with butler service. I highly recommend getting upgraded. We came home on Wednesday to find our Cycle Ops Fluid Trainer had arrived. Funny, it was just sitting outside the door. They didn't bother to take it to the office. The next day, a $5 case for my cell phone arrived while we were out. They did bother to leave this at the office, rather than risk that somebody might take it.

Thursday we had to take the mini in for the 1 year service, and to get state certified. We got it detailed too. Thursday afternoon, I took the SCJP exam... it is regarded as being the hardest certification exam in the IT industry... I'm not sure about that. Anyway, to end the suspense, I passed. I'm now certified (although MVG says that I've always been certifiable). To celebrate, we went to Mad Mex for supper.

Friday, we went to get the Mini from the service center (and return the dogmeat car we rented). We celebrated getting the Mini back by eating at Zenith. Yum. I had the "Tofurkey Dinner".

So, that brings us up to speed. I'm studying now for the SCWCD (Sun Certified Web Component Developer) exam now. Tonight we go to see U2... tomorrow, I have a hockey game (to play, not watch). I expect to have some more torturous tales next week though, when I return to Initech.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Great Race - view from the WaterBoy

MVG and I were scheduled to run in the great race on Sept 25. Unfortunately, I injured my leg 10 days prior to the race, so I could not run... I played the role of a WaterBoy for the runners at the finish line (passing out hundreds of bottles of water, before going home and passing out myself).

It was a perfect day for the run. There were 16 runners from Initech in the race (including MVG, Mrs. Fit and my Alter Ego). MVG did very well in the run, finishing the 10k (6.2 miles) in under 60 minutes, taking the "fastest female at Initech" award. There were about 8,000 runners in the race, it was quite a sight to see. Perhaps next year we will both be in it (if I don't overtrain and injure myself again).

P.S. My leg is scheduled to be better by mid October... in case you were wondering.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The New Me

So, I have been feeling a bit 'blah' lately about my workouts, so last week I talked to Ms. Fit about them, and she had me schedule a 'session' to change my workout. Today was that session. It was HARD. I don't think I've had a workout that hard since I was in college... a LONG time ago. I didn't puke though (I'm pleased to report), although, one more set and I may have. Here is the run-down on my last two sets:

  • Concentration Curls - I could only do 15 lbs (usually I do 30 lbs)... at the end, I couldn't even lift the weight, I rolled it over to Ms. Fit to put away for me.
  • Curls (in the machine) - I couldn't even do a single one at 10 lbs (keep in mind this was with both arms).

I'm not a wimp!

Despite this ending, I maintain that I'm not a wimp, I simply worked to utter exhaustion... so much that I had to lay in the fetal position on the floor in the Gym for a while (my nose was even tingling). I recovered (thankfully) in time to ride my bike home from work, but I felt a bit like this guy looks ->

Anyway, my arms are MUCH too tired to continue typing, we'll see what Ms. Fit has in store for me tomorrow.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

MVG's Driving Adventure

...but first, a bruise update
Before getting into the retelling of the 'Voyage Home' from MVG, first I want to update you all on the bruise from the cycling incident. Here is a picture of what the bruise looks like on day 2... nasty. Speaking of cycling, MVG and I rolled out the bikes for another ride today, a hilly endeavor through Sewickley and the hills around it. A nice day, with much nicer motorists (also, much fewer).
MVG had overcome the fatigue from the voyage, and was ready to tackle a challenging ride (she surprised me at one point and PASSED ME on a hill - going up). Unfortunately, I forgot the Starbuck's card, or anything resembling cash, so we couldn't stop for our celebratory coffee.

The Projectile
I was on the phone to MVG on the morning of the departure (Friday, Sept 2). The shuttle craft was leaving the Great White North at 7:30am (for what usually is a 5 - 5 1/2 hour journey). Here are some notes of interest to set the mood for the drive:

  • Pointy purchased a slot machine (henceforth referred to as 'The Projectile')
  • Pointy and Sammy don't really get along or like one another
  • Sammy likes to stop frequently for FULL meals, as well as 'Turnpike Shopping'
  • The occupants of the shuttle craft had spent the entire week together, and were all out of 'small talk'

I had organized the seating arrangements for the occupants of the shuttle in a conversation with MVG earlier in the week. I used an algorithm that would afford MVG both maximum comfort and safety. It is as follows:

1) MVG should NEVER sit in front of 'The Projectile' in case of a crash
2) MVG should MINIMIZE sitting next to 'The Projectile' for the sake of comfort.
3) 'The Projectile' should sit in the rear passenger side seat.
4) Pointy should MAXIMIZE his time next to the projectile (reduction in comfort as a penalty of purchase, and chance of crash is low)
5) When Pointy is not next to 'The Projectile', he should be driving (again to reduce any chance at comfort), and MVG should be positioned in the rear driver's side seat.
6) By process of elimination, Sammy will ALWAYS be in front of 'The Projectile'.

If there is a crash, Pointy would (if not belted in) provide a softer projectile than the actual projectile (which is, in fact, more pointy than Pointy is.)

Okay, so back to the actual trip. I may as well tell you the duration now, to get it over with... but you have to promise to continue reading (in case the duration was the only reason you have been reading thus far). It was 10 hours. TEN HOURS. The pickup of 'The Projectile' added a significant amount of time, since Pointy did not, in fact, know where 'The Projectile' was located in the state of Michigan (he left the map in his hotel room in the Great White North). Fortunately, MVG had used mapquest the night before to plot it, and had a vague recollection of where it was hidden... a BP petrol station provided the missing link en route. After gathering 'The Projectile', the next stop was a rest area (a.k.a. Grease Pit) on the Ohio Turnpike. Sammy had a milkshake, Pointy had a burger, and MVG ate her pre-packed Clif Bar.

Upon arrival at Pointy's house, MVG had to help pointy remove 'The Projectile' (which, by the way, weighed in at over 250 pounds... slightly more than Pointy himself). They wrestled 'The Projectile' (somehow) into Pointy's basement and set it up next to the other similar projectiles. From this point, Sammy took the helm of the shuttle craft, and began the 60 minute half hour hell ride to return MVG home (1/2 hour drive that took a full hour). Apparently Sammy does not have ANY depth perception, so is unable to detect if she is about to plow into the back of another vehicle. Fortunately, she drives far to slow to have this occur.

Anyhow, that is the story as told to me from MVG, and is the reason why she is so tired...

P.S. She has a sore back now, probably from lifting 'The Projectile', and may have to miss some work due to the pain.

Until next time, signing off... VG

What is wrong with people?

People Suck!
So, yesterday (the start of a lovely long weekend), MVG and I decide to go for a bike ride (despite her lingering fatigue from the 10 hour return drive from the Great White North with a 250 pound projectile... details later). We started at our lovely abode, and rode down to the valley. En route to the valley, we spotted a lady on the side of the road adjusting her mountain bike, when an SUV passes her and somebody within it throws a pop at her (similar to the image shown, but NOT actually a Big Gulp). Of course, it hit her... WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? I'm really baffled by this behavior, it JUST DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE. I cannot even begin to comprehend what (other than air) is going on in the head of a person that would do that.

We continued on our way, travelling along the riverside. I was out in front, so did not witness the next act of sheer stupidity that was performed by a so called member of the human race, but MVG did witness in the sense that she was the victim. While riding along the lovely route by the river, a car (on the opposite side of the road) approached, MVG witnessed an arm come out from the driver's side of the vehicle and throw something towards her. It narrowly missed her head, but hit her in the right thigh causing a large swelling and bruise. I HATE PEOPLE is the only thing I can conjure up. A person that does this obviously has no respect for life of any sort, so therefore, has no right to life himself. Unfortunately, we did not get a license plate number, otherwise a call to the police would have ensued with the intent to lay a charge of assault.

Here is a photo of the bruise that was left on MVG's leg from this senseless act. I'm tempted to carry golf balls with me on a bike ride to hurl back at the fools in the cars.

So, I will now sign off, still in my state of rage. Thanks to the stupid F%ck that ruined our ride.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Full of Sheet

I ate at a gas station - I admit it.

Okay, so Ms. Fit finally managed to get me to dine at her favorite restaurant (Sheetz gas station). I've been holding off for as long as I could, but the time had come. I did manage (during my hold-out) to get Ms. Fit and the entire Team Fit to delve into the world of organics and veganism too though (not fully, mind you, but at least to try some of the cuisine on the 'light' side). The recently acquired Mr. Fit is the real holdout now, Ms. Fit, and Mrs. Fit have both admitted that they like what they have tried so far (especially Mrs. Fit... her and my Alter Ego have even started shopping in our grocery stores)

Okay, so after saying time and again:

I can't eat at a gas station.

I broke down and ate at a gas station. It pains me (to some degree) to say this, but it was actually good.

I know, you are skeptical, so was I, but it was above even Jared and his Subway in quality, as well as menu diversity. Here is the play by play of the evening, it will be like you are on the date with us (I call it a date simply because MVG and I like to fuel rumors about ourselves - just for fun).

So, I left work (and I'm going to take a slight tangent here since I've put in a gas pump and all) and walked the DeeOhGee (Dog for those of you who can't spell), then fed both animals. Peptide (as always) was feigning starvation. I left home to go pick up Ms. Fit in the micro-mobile, stopping en route to fill up with gas. At this time, it was at $2.59/gallon for low-grade (we use premium at $2.79/gallon)...
time warpto do a slight time-warp here, it was $2.99/gallon for low-grade when the date ended... end of time warp.
Okay, back to 'the date'. I picked up Ms. Fit, then we went to Sheetz. It was very exciting. First, we perused the aisles – Twinkees, Ding-Dongs, donuts, the works. The coolers were bubbling with liquid HFCS (a.k.a. Soft drinks)... To the computer (yes, you order via a computer, no talking to any humans here). It was VERY sophisticated. I (slowly) ordered a 6” veggie on whole wheat with a TON of veggies... supplemented with a hot pretzel. Ms. Fit's fingers danced across the screen as she ordered a veggie wrap (good choice in my opinion). We then ate at the pic-nic tables in the parking lot watching people pump gas. Survey says:

  • Food Quality – High
  • Company Quality - High
  • Humor Content - High
  • over all - two thumbs up

From Sheetz, to the Trek store. We drooled over the new bikes (Ms. Fit would like a cyclo-cross bike), then went shopping at 'The Mall'. I picked up two shirts (with the help of my fashion advisor - Ms. Fit).

From there, we went to Starbucks for two Grande Soy Mochas (no whip), enjoyed some nice conversation, then Ms. Fit returned to her home, and I returned home to once again care for les animaux, talk to MVG on the phone, then retire to bed. Two more daze until MVG is home.

Until the next time, au revoir.

P.S. In previous posts, Ms. Fit was referred to as 'personal trainer'. This was an error, it contains too many letters, thus the new reference is 'Ms. Fit' since it has many fewer letters, and with the rising cost of gas, we don't want to overuse letters (it increases server load, which in turn makes air conditioners work harder, using more gas, and increasing the cost of 'The Internet').

P.P.S Mrs. Fit and Mr. Fit are not married to one another, Mrs. Fit is married to my Alter Ego, Ms. Fit is dating Atom.

Monday, August 29, 2005


So, we returned to the 'Great White North' last weekend (Aug 26 - 28). MVG has team meetings all through the following week, so we went up early for a homecoming party. The 'cast' threw a party, where there was drinking and foosball. It went until about 3am. Dang seemed to be the most wasted of all... about 2am he jumped in the pool (it is still not clear if he was naked), then crashed face first into the couch where he remained until 3.

Peptide got a new box (well, actually, it was a box that was at her former sitter's house), so here is a shot of her in it. Either the box has shrunk, or she has grown... (she is convinced the box shrunk). Day two involved some poker (Texas hold 'em)... I was the beeg weiner. Also got to ride on the micro-bike (picture to follow at a later date).

Anyhoo... that is it for now. I'm flying solo this week, I have a big date at 'Sheetz' on Wednesday with Ms. Fit, details will follow on that. It will be my first dining experience at a gas station (local cuisine). I seem to go on a lot of 'dates' when MVG is out of town... shh, don't tell!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Big News (a.k.a. - It's the end of the world as I know it)

Well, my world changed today. Tenzil has 'tendered' his resignation. His last day will be on September 2. I say this changes my world, because now my workload will double (since everything he did will now become mine). This is the news I've been anticipating for the last week.

Why this is good: This is good news from a few points of view:

  • It is a great opportunity for Tenzil
  • It shows that the IT job market is strong

Why this is bad:This is bad news from a few points of view:

  • Tenzil and I are the only people on the team that have similar skills, so I get his workload by default
  • There is A LOT of work going on in our areas
  • I like having a 'like-minded' person in the next cube

Tenzil and I went for beer after work today to celebrate (with his fine family)... I had Arrogant Bastard Ale... it was yummy.

In other news, it came to light today that my wife wants to see Tenzil naked. I was a bit shocked, but what can you do?* Raitch also seems interested in Tenzil's nudity (as well as many others so it seems). As you can see by the photo of the chat, it is late, and people should be sleeping, so I will sign off yet again.

P.S. It seems that I am not the only one plagued with travel horrors, I learned of some woesome travel today from Marijuana Mike, I won't share them here though, those stories belong to him.

*Of course, the entire nudity thing was taken out of context, but I thought it made for some good plotlines.

Saturday, August 20, 2005


For some reason, we were very groggy today... no energy. I don't think the 95 degree weather helped. A quick food of the day review, then into the activities:

1) Breakfast - Optimum Power with Blueberries, Flax seeds and Soy Milk
2) Brunch - East End Food Coop - yum (kale, potatos, tofu scramble, soy patties)
3) Afternoon snack - Toast, popsicle, smoothie
4) Supper - Baja Fresh (Veggie Burrito - me, Veggie Bare - S)
5) Eve Snack - Vegan Ginger cookies, beer.

So, this morning, we drove over to our personal trainer's place, picked her up and went to the "Jail Trail" for some roller blading (in-line skating is probably the correct term, but who's counting). No crashes today. Last time out, both the trainer and I crashed. It was a pleasent day, Sheila was just flying on her blades (as you can see in the picture).

Man, she was on fire on those blades today. We did the five mile loop, then went to the Coop. We asked the 'trainer' if she would like to come to the party up north next weekend (aka Sarnia Homecoming), but she had some plans next Friday that clashed... too bad... Retard would really like to see the trainer.

This eve, we did some 'Barnes and Nobling', when a HUGE storm hit. Got soaked running the five feet to the car. Poor Cherry was terrified when we got home (Pepper was just mad that we were late coming home to feed her).

I'm still groggy... so, I'm gonna end this now. It seems pretty boring anyway.

UPDATE: The grog is catching... look at our cat, she is groggy too!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

DC Day 4 - The voyage home

Day 4... my legs are like stumps today. I forgot to mention that I ran 10k yesterday (which was preceded by a 5.5 mile run on Tuesday). I also wandered about downtown around the White House and stuff (a reverse protest was taking place with people proclaiming their love of Dubya on placards)... The few people who were protesting were doing so in a pathetic manner... using 8 1/2" x 11" bits of paper with "Stop the War" printed on them. Not very effective next to the "We love ya Dubya" 8 1/2' x 11' placards.

So, I finished part one of my work by lunch, Mr. Gamgee and I went to an Afghan restaurant to celebrate. It was a buffet... Huff (HBO) was the host, waiter, busboy, etc. Mr. Gamgee packed a lot of food into his chops... it was mighty tasty though (I had a kidney bean dish, rice and bread with water - Samwise had mounds of meat and other animal bits).

I left for the airport at about 1:40 (in an effort to get on an earlier flight going standby). I was originally scheduled to leave DC at 6:30pm, but there is (was) a flight at 4:15pm. I had called our travel corp on Tuesday about switching... they said it would cost $45, but the flight was underbooked, so I could just show up and go standby. So, upon arrival at the airport (more than 4 hours in advance of my original flight), I went to the ticket desk and asked how to get on standby...
"Click here... there... okay, that is an extra $200"


Apparently, there is a standby fee', and the flight at 4:15 is a "costlier" flight. I'm not sure how that can be, since they serve NOTHING on the flight (unless fuel prices at the time they filled that plane jumped, then fell again in time for the 6:30 flight)... so, here I sit in the airport... it is 5:46pm...

Let's talk about airport food. Choices in this particular section are:

1) Cinnabon
2) Auntie Annie's pretzels
3) Some deep fried chicken stand
4) Great Steak and Potato (although, the closest thing they have to a steak is a hot dog)
5) Pizza

Fat, Grease (okay, technically also fat), Sugar, flesh. Yup, all the basic food groups are there.

I'm in the corner finishing my water, and thanking myself for bringing a Soy Milk drink box and spare Clif Bar. What is it about my luck with airports? I dunno, maybe all people are travel impaired, but I'm feeling cursed or something.

Okay, 11 minutes until boarding (no plane yet though, so unlikely)...
According to the airline website, this flight has a 69% chance of being on time. The next flight has a 51% chance, then the one after has a 39% chance... The flight I wanted to get on had an 85% chance of being punctual. Interesting.

Okay. Bye.

There was no wireless in the DC airport, but I'm now home. 9:29 pm... 3 hours from the time my flight left DC. Amazing. So, the reason that I couldn't go standby was the fact that I had luggage to check (hence the change fee), if I only had carry on (carrion), then I could have gone to the gate and asked if there were open seats...

So, back from that tangent (you'll see where I'm going), the reason it is 9:30 is the fact that I waited for an hour (this particular airline is famous for slow baggage retrieval), then went to the 'lost luggage' desk. One agent - many, many people lined up to complain. By the time it was my turn, they looked at my luggage sticker thingy and said "oh, we have that here, it came on the earlier flight". Ugh.

Signing off... tired in Pittsburgh.

D.C. Day 3

Eat it up...

Lunch - Chipotle Mexican. I had the Fajita Burrito (veggie of course). It was a lot like Qdoba, except they serve booze (I had water). Supper - Bombay Palace. I had the Aloo Gobi, Aloo Paratha Bread and a Veggie Samosa to start it all off. Kingfisher beer washed it down.

So... what is the news of the day other than food? Good question. I could spew some work stuff out, but that would put both the author and reader to sleep. The only real news is that I found out our Integration consultant (Gigantor) was given notice that his last day is on Friday.

This is the Canadian in the US Capital signing off for another day... bye.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

D.C. Day 2

Another day done.  Spent the day at ACC working on Infrastructure diagrams, and composing a report of the current state of the Infrastructure, as well as next steps to be taken.

Lunch today was Baja Fresh - a lovely Veggie Bare Burrito (sans cheese and sour cream).  I also had the 'Pronto' Guacamole.  My search for sunglasses was again fruitless.  It appears you cannot buy sunglasses in D.C., perhaps I have to pull some off of somebody's face to get a pair.  It is a shame that mine are in Pittsburgh, while I am here.

Supper was "The Thai Place" on Pennsylvania ave.  Yum.  Veggie Green Curry, followed by Mango & Sweet Sticky Rice.  A bottle of Sam Adams washed it all down.  Samwise Gamgee went with me to the Thai Place, discussed work (in particular, the lying Boy Wonder).

Other than that, not much going on.  Started the day with a 5.5 mile run, went to the Gym to do some weights after work.  Tomorrow, a 10k (6.2 mile run), and perhaps a visit to the Mall and Smithsonian after work.

Until then... bye.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

D.C. Day 1

After a rushed experience at the Pittsburgh airport (20+ minutes to get boarding pass, 30+ minutes to get through security, 10 minutes to get to gate, then immediately board the plane), I arrived in Washington D.C. as scheduled. The flight was uneventful (other than the bad breath of the passenger next to me... if only he wouldn't have been breathing...). I got to the hotel, checked in, unpacked and was at the ACC before 9:15am.

I spent much of the day working on network diagrams and the like - boring, no details on that here. The highlights of the day were: 1) lunch - Yellow Thai Curry 2) Supper - Aloo Chole, Roti Bread, Samosa. 3) Georgetown - walked about 5 miles in and around Georgetown, some very nice bicycle shops.

Other than that, nothing else to report. I was beat from getting up early and having an intense weekend of activities. Perhaps Day 2 will have more to offer.

Bye for now...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

The re-awakening

Bone Fricken Idle

Okay, okay. I'm lazy. The first step is to admit it. I have neglected the blog for long enough. I mean, it was hard to top the 'Trip to Nowhere', but I guess there are other tales to tell.

Where to start? Our personal lives have been a mix of good and bad. Good is the fact that we are managing to get in a lot of cycling... bad because work seems to be invading and corrupting what once was our sanctuary. I'm not sure why, but there seems to be SO much more work now that we've moved, yet at the same time, the work seems so much more trivial and meaningless.

The problem with work is, well, how much can we say about it. Even though this blog site has nothing to do with work, is our private domain and such, apparently, people can get fired for talking about work in a blog:

Fired Blogger.

So, that is it for now. The blog is alive and well, and waking from its hibernation. Next week, I go to "our nation's capitol", so some very interesting stories should come of it.


Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Business Trip to Nowhere

March 1, 2005 - March 2, 2005

Perhaps it was doomed from the start. Late last week, I was in a meeting where I found out that I would have to travel from Pittsburgh to Calgary on Tuesday night (leaving at 7:30pm EST arriving at 2:30am EST) attend meetings all day in Calgary, then return Wednesday night (actually Thursday morning, leaving at 2:27am EST returning at 10:30am EST).

Day 1:
The saga starts on Tuesday, March 1. Blizzard in Pittsburgh. I get to the airport at 6:15pm (Sheila and Jessica dropped me off). I go to the ticket agent, who informs me that the Pittsburgh to Toronto leg is cancelled. GREAT! They could put me on a flight that would go via Las Vegas, getting to Calgary at 3:54am local time (this would be 5:54am EST). I said

I don't think so!

They told me there was a Northwest flight they could get me on via Minneapolis/St.Paul. This was acceptable... off to the Northwest agent.

I get to the Northwest desk, the time is now 6:26pm. The lady informs me that the flight leaves at 6:45pm, I can't make it. I told her that I only have carry on, so she issues a ticket and tells me to hurry. I rush to the security check point (where I am 'randomly' selected for additional security screening).

Fortunately, the flight boards 10 minutes late. I grab a bowl of grease (disguised as noodles) from Wok and Roll en route to the gate. I board the plane (DC9)... and sit... and sit. We sit in the plane (doors shut) for 30 minutes, then the captain announces:

We're just having some routine maintenance, we'll be on our way shortly.

30 minutes later, we finally push off from the gate... it will be close making my connection now, I'll have about 30 minutes to spare. Most people on the plane seem anxious and angry, it occurs to me now that this may be the original DC9... the chairs are no more than metal rods and posts poking into my body from every angle.

The plane taxis along the runway... seemingly forever (are we driving there or flying?). Then, we stop to 'de-ice'. This takes about 30 minutes (great... excellent. They couldn't do this while they performed the maintenance). Okay, finally we are in the air... based on timing, we should land about when my plane departs. I just hope that plane is late too.

I work on the plane, I have a lot of preparation to do for the meetings. Finally, the Captain comes on to announce that we will be landing in Minneapolis at 9:10pm local time (my flight leaves at 9:18pm). When we finally do land, and get to the gate, it is 9:20pm. As we taxi, the flight attendent announces:

all passengers with exception of (two people who were named) please report to gate C4 to see the agent.

I know what this means... no flight for me.

The agent was a nice lady. She informs me that they have put me in a hotel (Ramada Thunderbird Inn), have a meal voucher for the hotel restaurant, and have scheduled me on a flight tomorrow to Calgary (leaves at 11:58am, arrives in Calgary at 2:54pm local time). By the time I could get to the office in Calgary, it would be about time to turn around and go back to the airport. I ask the agent to put me on a flight back to Pittsburgh instead, it is scheduled to leave at 7:45am.

After wandering around (lost) in the airport, I finally find the shuttle to the hotel (when I arrive, I realize it doesn't really deserve the term hotel, more like hovel). Conveniently enough, the hotel restaurant is closed, so much for a meal, I get a 5:30 wake up call and head off to bed.

Day 2:
I wake up, shave and dress then head on the shuttle to the airport. I stand in the long line for security where I am again randomly selected for additional security screening (I begin to get suspicious that this may not be so random... I must look suspect). I stop at Starbucks for a nice breakfast consisting of a Soy Cappucino, then head to the gate. They have wireless at the airport, so I decide to connect so that I can send my documents to Calgary for the meetings I will be missing. Unfortunately, every attempt I make to create a logon id fails (the logon ids all seemed to be in use), I abort the mission and decide to read instead.

The plane boards on time. It is a new Bombardier Canadair jet... much nicer than the DC9 yesterday. The flight is uneventful and comfortable. I return to Pittsburgh, and get to the office just after noon. The saga is over. I spend the afternoon recounting the story to unbelieving coworkers. ("No Way!" they would remark over and over). I then dial in to some of the meetings that I should have been physically at.

I contacted the travel agent when I returned to the office. She then contacted the airline (Air Canada) who informed her that there would be no refund for the outbound flights to Calgary, since it was cancelled for mechanical reasons rather than weather (yeah, this makes sense). I would get a 'credit' for the return flights from Calgary (that I didn't take since I never arrived). I also get dinged for the hotel that I never got to in Calgary since I cancelled after 6pm and it was guarenteed on a credit card. I didn't, however, get charged for the rental car that I didn't use, so that was a real bonus.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Veggie Tales in Vail - Day 4

Feb 17, 2005

Bright and sunny day this morning... woke up from a nice 10 hour nap. I now have 5 blisters on my feet. Temp is 7 degrees Fahrenheit... Sheila is all bundled up.

We took the bus to the slope today (rather than enduring the 4 or so block walk). There was a small German boy on the bus crying endlessly about not wanting to ski... his mother could not placate him. I worry that Sheila may use this tactic. We get off the bus, and stroll to our local breakfast nook of choice, although they had difficulty getting the "two" orders of toast right.

Sheila is complaining that she is hot. We begin by skiing in some of our familiar areas again today, then venture off to new territory after lunch. We finally get to see the beauty of the view from the top.

Mountain View

Sheila decides that she is tired, and would like to rest in the lodge for a while, I hit the 'back bowls'.

Sheila near Lodge

As I make my way to the 'Blue Sky Basin', I accidently do some cliff jumping... gets the heart pumping, that's for sure. The snow is great, I enter the 'Extreme Terrain' areas... turns out that means cliffs and trees. They have trails posted, but I don't think there actually are any. I quickly (within an hour) become 'knackered', so I head back to the lodge to retrieve Sheila. When I get there, I can see her through the window, but the lodge is closed (and locked). I missed it by 5 minutes (likely due to the fact that I was trapped for 20 minutes on a stopped chair lift).

We return to our hotel to be greeted by our still dirty glasses... alas, the vacation is nearly complete. We finish it off at an Asian restaurant (they serve Chinese, Thai, and Japanese food) with a bottle of warm Sake. Fly home tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Veggie Tales in Vail - Day 3

Feb 16, 2005

Still a blizzard outside this morning. Sheila put on several layers of clothing to avoid getting cold (she then complains of being to hot... it doesn't last, she got cold on the chair lift).

My left arm seems to be non functional today, not sure why. I didn't fall yesterday, and have no real memory of banging it against something. Is it from hockey on Sunday? Perhaps skiing? Maybe work? A mystery for certain, Sheila will likely point the finger at hockey.

Sheila had a meltdown today... claimed she couldn't ski (after which she proceeded to ski like a pro). We took some photos (although the snow made it difficult), here is Sheila at the summit.

Wheelchair Ramp

Returned to the room after skiing to an amazing sight... they actually made up the room... although, they didn't leave any glasses... Sheila called to have some sent up... they were very prompt, and notice below how clean they were.

Wheelchair Ramp

Back to the Nepal restaurant for supper, took the camera with us to get this nice phote of the establishment next door (liquor store)... struck me as a bit funny.

Wheelchair Ramp

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Veggie Tales in Vail - Day 2

Feb 15, 2005

Well, it was our first day on the slopes, and the word of the day for Sheila is


The snow on the hill was excellent, it was a blizzard all day as you can see from this picture of me at the top of 'Giant Steps'

Wheelchair Ramp

I ventured to the 'Extreme Terain' area for a while while Sheila warmed up in the lodge... complete white out, couldn't see at all (probably for the best - if you don't see the cliff, it can't hurt you right?)

While Sheila shivered, I found myself getting a bit warm, so I had to shed a few layers.

There were horses parked at our hotel when we returned... they were getting ready for some sort of carriage rides in the village (though I can't understand why anybody would want to ride around behind a horse). Sheila warmed up by (pracically in) the fireplace. The room hasn't been made up yet, though it is still early (5:30pm). We go to a nice Indian restaurant (Nepal actually) for supper. Excellent cuisine.

Return from the restaurant, still no sign of any house-keeping... the response from the desk is surprise though I think they do it on purpose...

Monday, February 14, 2005

Veggie Tales in Vail - Day 1

Valentine's (Vegantine's) Day

Our chauffeur arrived promptly to deliver us to the airport... raining in Pitt of course (I just washed the car yesterday). We actually had a good experience at the airport. We got there, got on the plane, and took off with virtually no waiting.

The longest wait of the day was at the Hertz desk to get our car. Drive to Vail was nice, although poorly signed... 120 miles from Denver to the 'Dump' (a.k.a. Chateau Vail). We parked by the wheelchair ramp (12" deep snow on the ramp, which terminates at a flight of stairs). I then had a nice luke warm bath (that was as hot as the water got).

Wheelchair Ramp
This is a view from our room, the wheelchair ramp is to the left... can you see it?

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Veggie Tales in Vail

Okay, well, here we go again. Tomorrow (Mon, Feb 14, 2005) Sheila and I will be going to Vail Colorado for a ski trip. As is typical prior to any vacation, I have now taken ill. Last week I was lucky enough to spend every day locked in meetings with some very ill people, who were kind enough to pass on the virus to me just in time for my vacation...

Anyway, we leave from Pittsburgh airport tomorrow morning... skiing on Tues, Wed, Thu and return on Friday. We'll take photos and log any 'items of interest'.