Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Avoid Becoming One with the Pavement

Yesterday was not memorable, although the weather was beautiful and I got to eat outside for lunch. We spent time discussing how we'd rather be service monkeys than software engineers. Somehow that grew out of discussion about eating salsa and chips in the car. It was unbearably hot inside and it always makes it harder, knowing that it's gorgeous out, just a few feet away. I got home too late from work to do much more than eat and watch CSI: Miami.

This morning was memorable, since I almost got run over by a steamroller. I usually take a shortcut in the mornings and cut across a part of IBM's campus, in order to avoid a busy intersection at the corner of Alexander and Miami Blvd. They've been widening Alexander for well over a year now and they keep moving the lanes. This morning they were putting cones out, partially blocking the lane for my shortcut. Well, it wasn't clear whether it was still possible to get through or not, until I was suddenly playing chicken with a steamroller. Fortunately, it wasn't going very fast. Several workers put their hands on their hips and were obviously thinking "What is this idiot doing?". I sheepishly went through the cones and got back in the other lane. It seems as if they should put out all the cones before they started using vehicles five times the size of my van, but that's just me.

They were supposed to be fixing the air conditioners at work today, but they weren't working by the time I left (7:30 pm). It was 81 F most of the day and some people were thinking it was cooler and possibly improving, but it was only in the 40's outside, which makes a big difference. Four degrees of difference. Like I told my manager, the maintenance people didn't give us sizings for how long it would take to actually fix it, so it could be a while.

I watched American Idol when I got home. Everyone's hair was so strange. They gave Jon Peter Lewis a perm, which looked terrible. La Toya London had bestial hair extensions and they made Diana DeGarmo look like a conehead. I wonder if the normal stylists were on vacation. They were on something at least. I thought most of the performances were just so-so, but I think part of it was just poor song selection. I wonder how many songs they have to choose from and how much freedom they have. Considering how often the judges criticize their poor choices, each one probably only has two or three from which to choose.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Hoping for an Ice Cream Store

This afternoon, I went over to JJ and JA's new old house to see how the renovations were coming along. They've made a lot of progress and it's very interesting to see what's been uncovered. I think they are going to end up with a really awesome house, with a lot of character. It was such a beautiful day to be outside and JJ showed me where he's thinking of building the garage.

Afterwards, my parents and I watched the Duke v.s. Xavier game. It was definitely a nerve wracking game, since Duke didn't really pull ahead until right at the end. Even then, it was pretty close. The commentary on the game was worse than any I've heard in a long time. They went on and on about players' backgrounds and neglected to mention who committed fouls and what they did to deserve them. It was frustrating. With the one sided officiating and poor shooting inside, I'm amazed that Duke was able to pull out a win. I'm so glad they did!

As soon at the game was over, my dad and I went to check out the new Food Lion, so we could pick up some spaghetti. It's very clean and they have great parking spaces It's just so convenient, since it's probably less than a half mile away from our houses. A video store just opened next to the Subway. I'm really hoping for an ice cream store and a coffee shop, but we'll have to wait and see.

Saturday, March 27, 2004

You Don't Have to Add Sugar

Yesterday, it was very warm at the office, reaching a high of 86 F. They are waiting for more parts, before they fix the air conditioners. Many of us are willing to donate money for overnight shipping of the parts, but I don't know that will make a difference. MS and I have started betting on what the high will be. He bet on 86 and I bet on 87. I think the prize was supposed to be a free piece of candy. Of course, I supply all the candy, so it's a good thing he won. I worked late and didn't get home until 9:15, which was just enough time to eat before watching the Duke v.s. Illinois basketball game.

Today, I went over to the new house. I saw the black marble around the fireplace, which looks very cool. This week, they've been installing the septic tank and they've had to do a lot of digging with bulldozers in the woods in front of the house. My dad took a few more pictures of the work they've been doing.

This evening, I had dinner with RP, SW, JE, DC, SP, BJK, and RH, although I have to say that it didn't seem like quite that many initials at the time. We ate at Bali Hai, a Mongolian Grill, on Wake Forest Road, in North Raleigh. I was very pleased that I didn't get lost, but I did turn too early. Unlike a lot of places, you can't get from one parking lot to another over there. After my u-turn on the side street, I promptly got back on Wake Forest and turned left again, but too late. Oops. The third try was the easiest. Basically, Bali Hai is sort of like a salad bar that gets cooked on the grill. You pick out what you want, tell them the type and heat of the sauce you want and they grill it for you. They didn't have any formerly swimming meat available, but that was perfectly ok. I love bean sprouts, cabbage, eggplant, onions, carrots and pineapple and it all went very nicely with the sauce and the rice. It's comparatively inexpensive and the staff was very attentive.

It was great talking to RP, SW and everyone else. I got to show off house pictures and hear about SW's woodworking projects. I really hope they get to move somewhere around here.

After dinner went to a Starbuck's down the road, to continue talking. JE rode with me, which I really appreciated. I'm not sure I would have found it otherwise. I got my old standard: cafe mocha, decaf, with skim. It's always nice having that decision already made, even if they have to translate it into whatever is equivalent at the particular coffee shop. The best part is that you don't have to add sugar.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

A Very Short Vacation

This morning, I took a half-day off from work, to see RP's talk. She is interviewing for a faculty position at the computer science department at Duke.

I had set my alarm for 8am, which was delightful, because I really needed the extra sleep. When I arrived at the Levine Science Research Center visitor lot, the parking spaces with the area to the right marked off were all taken. My lift is on the right side of my van, so that makes a big difference. I decided to back into a space. I swear it was one of my best parking efforts so far. I even made my dad come out to look at it, before I had to leave. It was the first time I'd ever backed into a space, by myself, without someone watching (or mocking) me.

RP did an excellent job. She did a great job at explaining her research in a clear and coherent manner. I was pleased, because, despite the fact that there were no database courses available when I was at Duke, I felt as if I more or less understood most of what she talked about. Either I've learned a lot while I've been at IBM, RP is highly proficient at explaining concepts or I'm deluding myself. I'm willing to bet it's all three. Oh, I'm not being complimentary just because she's one of the few regular readers of my blog, outside my immediate family. I was truly impressed.

It was really hot at the office this afternoon and evening. It actually reached 85 F. I heard that there is yet another part, on order, that's needed before the air conditioner will be fixed. Unfortunately, I had to stay quite late again.

Right now I'm watching the World Figure Skating Championships. Brian Joubert , of France, just finished his performance and it was quite amazing.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Get Your Bumpersticker Today

Today was a good day. Now what was it that I did?

One of the early things was that my mom let me know that she ordered some Kerry bumperstickers. You can get a maximum of two free bumperstickers.

Another fun thing you can do is look to see who donated money to various political candidates. All you need is a name or an address. Check out your neighbors, the CEOs of your favorite companies and your podiatrist. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to pick up donations to political parties.

I got to go outside to talk to WH and JA today. That was great! It was beautiful outside and I needed to give WH tickets to a mezzo-soprano concert.

Everything was hectic at work, but instead of subsisting on a bag of potato chips and working late again, I had dinner with JJ at Kurama. I'm sure eating sushi enhances one's programming abilities, right?

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Working Late and Spinach Pizza

I've worked until 8:30 the last couple of nights, which means I've been getting home at 9pm. It's been exhausting.

Today I went out to lunch at Rudino's with a bunch of people. It was fun, because I saw some people that I hadn't seen in a while. We spent a lot of time discussing tales of failed home improvement projects. Rudino's has a wonderful spinach, feta and tomato pizza, called the "Spinach Sophia". They also have a "White Sophia", without tomato sauce. I had one slice of each, but today I liked the red one better.

I'm watching a TiVoed American Idol right now. I intended to get home before it started, but it just didn't happen.

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Always Ask for a Mini

It was a beautiful day today, perfect for sleeping late. Actually, all days are perfect for sleeping late, but waking up at 10:45 with the sun shining is particularly satisfying.

Tonight, I went over to JJ and JA's. We ate an absolutely delicious meal, consisting of pork chops with thinly sliced apples in maple syrup and butternut squash ravioli with finely chopped garlic. I think I need to start saying that I'm a pesco-ovo-lacto-and-whatever-JA-and-JJ-cook-(in latin)-vegetarian. Since they've known me for almost four years, it's harder for them to remember that I've recently quit eating animals that don't prefer swimming. It's actually really nice to have meat as a treat, rather than a staple.

Afterwards, JA went to Goodberry's to pick up frozen custard. I had a chocolate concrete with raspberries, chocolate chips and walnuts. I made the mistake of asking for a medium rather than a mini.

For the evening's entertainment, we watched a video of Swimming to Cambodia, which is a monologue by Spalding Gray. It was his description of his experiences as an actor in the film, The Killing Fields. His monologue was very educational regarding the US bombing and occupation of Cambodia. Gray had a fairly unique style and the film had a lot of imagery, despite only showing a few clips from the film. Our watching Swimming to Cambodia was somewhat of a memorial, since he committed suicide only a couple of weeks ago.

Basketball and Taxes

What are two things that are certain in life? Basketball and taxes. That was the theme for the day. I got up and dressed early (1 pm) to be prepared to watch Duke play in the second round of the NCAA tournament. It was a nice and comparatively relaxing game, since Duke was ahead by a large margin for most of it.

Not long after that, while watching other games, I attempted to install Turbo Tax Deluxe. It kept saying that it was "Adding necessary font files...". Then it proceeded to hang. I've been using Turbo Tax for years and never had any problems before. I tried checking the support website and they recommended deleting the fonts and trying again. I did that a couple of times, to no avail. Finally, I tried their "chat" feature and talked to what was supposedly a real person, who was able to send me things to register the fonts through their chat application. That seemed to work. It was actually sounding as if I were going to have to install it while windows was in safe mode, but it seemed to keep goiing when i tried to shut it down. It finished installing and completing my tax forms was far easier than completing the installation. Now I'm finished with my taxes, with the exception of printing my things out and actually mailing my state forms. It's kind of annoying that the "free e-file rebate" doesn't include the state forms.

At some point, between installation attempts, my dad and I drove to Durham to pick up sushi at Kurama. Now I have lots of rebate forms to fill out, but that can wait for another day.

Friday, March 19, 2004

Patio Consequences

Today the weather was nice enough to eat outside. It was a little chilly, so I wanted to sit in the sun the whole time and even moved to continue being in the sun. You, intelligent readers that you are, can probably guess that I got a nice sunburn in the process. I can burn when it's overcast, so it's even easier to burn with clear skies. I enjoyed being outside, producing vitamin D and talking to my friends, who joined me out on the patio. I was reluctant to go back inside to work, although it's a good thing I did.

I got home from work fairly late, so I haven't done much since then other than eat dinner and watch a few bits of some of the ball games.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

The Day After St. Patrick's Day

Finally, I left the parking lot at work today at a reasonable time, 5:40. I had dinner with JJ, JA and EB. We ate at the James Joyce Irish Pub, next to Brightleaf Square. I'd never been there and it was an enjoyable experience. We had baked brie as an appetizer and I had fish and chips for my entree. The fish had a tasty beer batter breading and it was served with a large quantity of fries. We had a very good time. We sat at the table right in the window, which has a clear view of the comparable window at Nikos. I half expected to see my parents at one of the visible tables, but my dad was busy tonight. That's probably the only reason I didn't. The only negative aspect of the whole evening was that my raincoat now smells like smoke. It's a good thing we didn't decide to go there for dinner last night. Since it was St. Patrick's day, it was apparently unbelievably crowded. To finish it all off, we shared two pieces of Bailey's cheese cake.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


Today I worked late again, but I got home in time to see the American Idol results show and eat dinner.

For the past several years, the people in my second line manager's organization have used Yahoo to record our NCAA picks. I selected mine tonight, but I didn't put a tremendous amount of thought into them. There are usually a few prizes of little or no monetary values for the top winners. It can be fun, sometimes you find yourself cheering on the teams that you selected, rather than the teams you would ordinarily want to win, which seems somewhat wrong.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Waiting for No Show

Tonight, I left work early (6:40 pm) so I could go to a Skywarn severe weather spotting training class, taught by the guy who gave the talk to the DFMA a couple months ago, Jeff Orrock. Well, I was talking to CL, so I left a little later than I had planned. I listened to the "talk-in" amateur radio frequency along the way and was pleased to hear, a few minutes after 7, that the class instructor hadn't arrived yet either.

I got there at 7:08 and he still wasn't there. It was being held at a church in Durham and quite a few people were waiting in the fellowship hall. I ate a peanut butter sandwich and a smoothie, but he still didn't show up. Some of the guys called the 800 number for the National Weather Service and got through to the local office. Apparently, he had downloaded the directions to the church onto his laptop and the laptop died on the way. After an hour, we finally gave up and drove home.

TiVo was happily recording tonight's American Idol, so we started watching that as soon as we got home. I probably enjoyed Jon Peter Lewis's performance the best, but most of them did a great job. My mom said that she thought he reminded her of Howard Dean, which I thought was hilarious. I may agree with her a little. I was thrilled to see that George Huff shaved off his moustache. He looks so much younger. I haven't liked any of Leah LaBelle's singing, so I thought she was very consistent.

Monday, March 15, 2004


I had to go back to work after the long weekend. Well, it was a normal weekend in length, but I didn't work either Saturday or Sunday, so that made it seem long. It was great.

It doesn't sounds as if I can get my laptop fixed anytime soon. If you stick a toothpick in the hole, you can get the backlight to turn on and off fairly consistently. It works much better than the tine of a plastic fork. With MS's help, I got it hooked up to my monitor so I can at least use the machine. They won't be able to provide me with a loaner, so I'll have to ship it off before I go on vacation or something. It shouldn't take more than a couple of days, but I really don't have a couple of days to spare.

I got home from work fairly late. After eating dinner, I spent twenty minutes or so reading Paul Krugman's The Great Unraveling, which I've been reading on and off for a couple of months, mostly during Christmas vacation. It's a very interesting book and I really need to finish it.

On the local news, just now, I was watching footage of the collapse of the front wall of the Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina. Despite the fact that there was a similar collapse in 1986, which wasn't too long ago, I find such collapses and melting to be somewhat disturbing.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Haircut, Tournament and a Good Meal

I got a haircut this morning, which, as I believe I might have mentioned, is always a traumatic experience. I was in a rush today, because I wanted to watch the final game of the ACC Tournament and I always like to take a shower after getting a haircut. I think it's actually more traumatic for my mom, who does a great job of cutting my hair, because she knows that she will endure my wrath if she slips up. ...as if I'm not irritable enough already.

I watched Duke lose in the tournament. It was sad, but surprisingly enough, they're still a #1 seed in the East bracket of the NCAA tournament. I'm not quite sure I understand that, but I won't complain.

For dinner we went to ACME Food & Beverage Company, in Carrboro. I had pecan encrusted sea bass in a Creole gumbo with shrimp and crawfish. It was as good as it sounds. For dessert, I had the chocolate bourbon bread pudding, for the third time. Actually, I shared it with both of my parents. I believe I also had three rolls, which necessitated the sharing of the dessert.

Now I need to stare at the Schlage brochure and decide on door handle lever things, before I forget again.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

House and Dinner

I went over to the new house today to see all the sheetrock and brick work. It looks great. It's so nice and bright with the light colored walls and the acoustics are completely different. My dad and I took lots of pictures.

For dinner, I met SH at Neomonde. I probably last saw him at graduation, so it's been almost four years. We talked about all kinds of things and I showed him the pictures of my house on my camera. I had a sampler platter with pita, labneh, falafel, grape leaves and tabouli. I really like Neomonde's grape leaves and I haven't liked them from a lot of other restaurants. We talked about what he's doing in grad school, our families and I showed him the controls in my van. I had a good time.

Friday, March 12, 2004

Prying and Poking

It's been an interesting day.

I started off with a dental appointment, to get my permanent crown. I asked my dad, before I left, how Dr. Howell would get the temporary one off. He said he would just pry it off. When I told Dr. Howell this, he said, "Pry it off?! You're making it sound as if I use a crow bar!" He went on to explain the importance of "double-talk", how he also said that I might "feel a little pinch" when he's giving a shot of novacaine, rather saying that it's going to "hurt like heck" and how he says that I'll feel "a little pressure" instead of "I'm going to rip off your jaw". It was very entertaining. Fortunately, it was completely painless and I was out in a half hour, without an anesthetic. All my warnings to people at the office about the likelihood of my being cranky in the afternoon after the novacaine wore off were unnecessary.

Not long after I got back to work, I got an invitation to go have Indian food at Tandoor Indian Restaurant from LK. I picked him up and his co-worker, S, and we had an excellent meal. MS had picked up an Entertainment book for me at the IBM Club and I debated long and hard whether I should use the coupon today for lunch or wait until I can get a 2 for 1 dinner. It's amazing how much effort I put into agonizing over such things.

After being told that my work related plans were insanely ambitious, it was clear that it made sense to scale them back and take the weekend off. That was the best decision so far this year. I really need the break.

For the final event of the evening, I eagerly booted up my laptop to blog and the backlight didn't come on. I spent lots of time trying to figure out if I simply needed to press a function key to get it back into a normal state. My dad finally tried poking a plastic fork tine in the little hole for the sensor that detects when to turn off the backlight when it's closed. It came on for a second, but it hasn't since. There's probably something wrong with that switch and I'm probably going to have to get it repaired. Since it's my only development machine, it is dreadful timing. Well, it's good in the sense that I didn't plan to work this weekend, but bad for Monday. Ugh.

One correction: Apparently the stilts are used for taping and spackling the tops of the walls with nine foot ceilings, not the vaulted ceiling. The stilts aren't the kind one might see in the circus that would be useful for vaulted ceilings. They probably just used ladders for those.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Two Days

Last night, I didn't leave work until 8:30 pm and then I watched a TiVoed American Idol results show. I was pleased that the "pen salesman", Jon Peter Lewis, was America's choice. I like it when American people vote and I agree with the results. It happened with Clay Aiken in last year's wildcard vote. It happened this time. Let's hope it happens in November.

I've had so much work to do lately and it doesn't feel as if there's an end in sight. Of course, by some respects, this is a good thing. It's a little tiring, though.

My dad drove the van to Kernersville (near Greensboro) to get everything checked and lubricated. He vacuumed everything inside before driving it over there, so it's nice and clean. It's always comforting to have things checked, because occasionally they have found broken bolts and other problems. This time, it was fine.

Tonight we had takeout food from Neomonde I mostly ate labneh, pita and tabouli. It was delicious.

Yesterday, my parents went over to see the new house. They said all the sheetrock is up. The coolest thing is that they apparently used stilts for attaching it to the vaulted ceilings. That must have been neat to watch, but they weren't using them while my parents were there. I'm looking forward to going over there this weekend to see how it looks.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

No Goop For You

I don't remember what I did other than work yesterday, so it must not have been important.

Today I worked, of course. When I got there, I was eager to have an egg and cheese biscuit, but they were out of biscuits. I tried a cheese omelet instead, but it wasn't nearly as good. MS told me that I needed to ask for a "fresh egg" omelet so I'd get freshly cracked eggs instead of the egg goop that the grill guy, S, has in his container. MS is always happy to give me tips like that. According to him, if you get egg goop, it has to go on a biscuit or bread. I was enlightened.

It was supposed to snow today, but I didn't see anything other than rain. The ground was too warm for it to stick, so it didn't make much difference, either way.

I worked late again, but I got home in time to see American Idol, with TiVo's assistance. I was not overwhelmed by the wildcard show. I think I liked the "pen salesman" the best. Note that the only time I've ever voted for anyone was when I voted ten times for Clay Aiken in the final vote.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Turtles and Wind

This morning, the main event was turtle watching. We have a pond that's about a third of an acre and over the last few days, my mom has been noticing very large turtles swimming and sitting around the edge. They are huge. She first worried that they were snappers, due to their size, but they really don't look like them, so that seems unlikely. They look a lot more like yellow bellied sliders. I'm not sure though. My mom decided to walk up down the driveway to get a better look. They must have gotten scared, because they all jumped in the water at once. Those guys can really move. Then they were all swimming with their surprisingly large blue heads sticking out of the water. I'll have to ask my friend, ES, if she has some idea what kind they might be.

I spent most of the afternoon, evening and night working. I really didn't feel like working.

Around 7:30pm, my parents heard over one of the emergency services radio frequencies an announcement that there was a high wind warning. Shortly after that I got e-mail that the national weather service had issued a warning for winds of 40-50 mph until 10:30pm! That's pretty brisk. Sure enough, a few minutes later, there was a sudden steady roar of high winds. I always get worried that a branch is going to fly through one of the two windows in my room. It's going to be great once I move into a house with even more glass. I'll be hiding in the guest bathroom all the time. The lights dimmed several times, so I think we were lucky that we didn't lose power. There were apparently lots of brush fires breaking out in Orange County through all of this and there were a few trees down. Of course, we won't know how much tree damage there was on our property until tomorrow. Everything seems fairly calm now, so I should be able to get some sleep with no problems.

The Rivalry

It was windy during the night and gloomy when I woke up this morning. I was worried about severe weather, since it has been so unseasonably warm, but that wasn't an issue.

After all the gloom in the morning, it turned out to be lovely with a high of 71 F. In the afternoon, I went over to the new house to admire the brickwork, up close and personal. My dad and I also wanted to make sure we documented which interior walls had insulation and which ones did not, since the large piles of sheetrock will be up soon.

For dinner we tried out Vegetarian Nuggets from the Whole Foods deli section. My mom had tried them before, so she was very eager to serve them to us. They are really pretty good. The texture is pleasant and reminiscent of meat. I'm a big fan of honey mustard sauce, so I was disappointed that we didn't have any, but they really didn't need any sauce. In that respect, they were actually better than chicken.

After working a while, it was time to watch the Duke v.s. Carolina basketball game. The Cameron Crazies were out in full force. For the last couple of years, they've done a superb job at dressing up for the games, with loads of face and body paint and outrageous wigs. They even had a Wizard of Oz troupe, to honor the first appearance at Cameron of Roy Williams as head coach of UNC. This isn't Kansas anymore and Duke proved it by pulling off a win. It was definitely an appropriate senior day for Chris Duhon and Nick Horvath.
While J.J. Redick wasn't burying three pointer after three pointer, he was essential to the game, with his guaranteed foul shots and his excellent ball handling ability, demonstrating that, unlike the opinion of the UNC player before the game, he was definitely in the picture without shooting much from outside the arc.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Dancing and Ranting

I'm rapidly falling asleep, so I better make this snappy.

This morning, as I was leaving from work and driving by my new house, I stopped to admire the technique of the brick layers. The had scaffolding up and they were working on the right side of the garage, near the roof. They had several people working there, but one of the guys was literally throwing bricks to another guy working near the roof. I wouldn't want bricks flying toward me, but I suppose you get used to it. Everything was looking very nice.

I ate outside for lunch again and it was pleasantly windy, but not quite as idyllic as yesterday. Most people were even busier today, so I was only joined by one co-worker.

I left on the early side (for me), 5:30pm. I needed to rush home and eat Chinese food before going to a "Belly Dancing Hafla" in downtown Hillsborough. One of my friends, AMF, has gotten into belly dancing in the last year or two and her class has what are effectively recitals once in a while. This was the second one that I've attended. It's been pretty interesting. The music is great and the costumes are very elaborate. AMF did a great job, performing a veil dance and a lively gypsy dance. It just amazes me that these women can perform in very revealing costumes (AMF's was comparatively conservative), remember their choreography and not trip, all while doing abdominal contortions. One nine year old, the daughter of the instructor, did a brief performance with a sword balanced on her head the whole time. That had to take a lot of practice.

So, Martha Stewart was convicted today. As I've been ranting to whomever would listen, I think the fact that she will almost certainly be facing prison time is just wrong. She, like many people who have committed financial crimes, is absolutely no danger to society. Wouldn't it make more sense to make such a person do a large amount of community service? So many violent criminals get nothing more than a slap on the wrist and yet they are going to lock Martha Stewart up. It's ridiculous. Yes, she may have lied to federal investigators. Our president lied to the American people. How many Iraqi civilians and American soldiers have been killed due to Martha's dishonesty?

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Beautiful Weather

When I talked to my builder on the phone this morning, he said I really needed to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather. He was right. Almost every day, I send out instant messages to the lunch crowd. I'm not sure they eat if I don't, because some of them get upset when I don't gather everyone, for one reason or another. Anyway, today I specified that we should eat outside. Usually, the decision to eat outside is a spontaneous decision on the way to the cafeteria and we kind of hope for the best as far as everyone's finding us. Today I didn't leave it up to chance. Four of us enjoyed the simply perfect temperature. My boss's boss (formerly my boss) even joined us, simply because we were eating outside. Four is a comparatively small lunch crowd, but most of us have been really busy lately.

I worked late and got home after eight. That just left time for watching Survivor while eating dinner and, of course, a blog contribution. Oh, in case you're wondering, the temperature inside the office was comfortable again. Thank goodness!

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Melting at the Office

Today, it was so hot at the office. 84 F is just a little warm for thinking. It was getting to lots of people and several called it in. There were rumors that they were working on fixing it, so hopefully it will be better tomorrow. I think, just before I left, there was air coming out of my ceiling vent, but I'm not entirely positive. It was making noises and there was a dangling string that was wiggling, but I didn't actually feel any air blowing out of it.

It was beautiful outside today, which probably didn't help our morale.

I could have gone to a friend's house this evening, but I was just too beat. Instead, I watched the second half of a basketball game. Duke lost to Georgia Tech. I also watched the American Idol results show and was very happy to see that John Stevens, the redhead, was a finalist.

Time to get some sleep...

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Clay Aiken Concert

Last night, I went to the Clay Aiken concert in the RBC Center, in Raleigh! My mom met me in the parking lot at the office and we left, two hours before the concert was supposed to start. The traffic wasn't too bad and we found a parking space fairly close to the stadium. That isn't always guaranteed, based on an ice skating show I went to, last year. There were cars decorated with Clay slogans and people waving signs. There was a huge crowd of people in a line outside, all waiting to go through security. There were random bursts of screaming emanating from young girls everywhere. Fortunately, the line was moving fairly quickly and we made it in. Our seats were in section 229, which was in the corner, opposite from the left side of the stage. It was far away and people setting up the stage looked like ants, but we did have a completely clear view. I ate a small Goodberry's cup of chocolate mint chip "frozen custard" for dinner. I was thirsty, but neither one of us wanted to go back downstairs and pay $4 for some water.

At 7pm, the Beu Sisters came on stage and performed as the opening act for approximatley 20 minutes. It seemed longer. They were okay, but the sound was so loud that their high pitched voices were distorted. The songs weren't terribly memorable. After an intermission, Kelly Clarkson started performing. Unfortunately, her voice was distorted for some of the songs, too. It was good, but I haven't purchased her album, so I hadn't heard a lot of her songs before. I enjoyed "Miss Independence" and "A Moment Like This", but again, they were familiar. Of all of her other songs, I probably liked the ballad, "Beautiful Disaster" the best. I was still thirsty. Every song was another delay before Clay's performance. Believe me, during the first season of American Idol, I liked Kelly Clarkson a great deal and definitely thought and still think that she was the best singer that season. Kelly did have fun making the crowd scream, every time she said Clay's name.

After her performance, they had to completely rebuild the stage, which took what seemed like an eternity.
I kept eyeing bottles of water of water being consumed by people in neighboring seats and wondering how much I would be willing to pay now. When Clay emerged, singing and walking through the crowd on the way to the stage, all feelings of thirst disappeared. He had a marvelous performance and his voice was low enough, such that there was little or no distortion. The change in his confidence since he started on American Idol last year is amazing. One of the cute things he did was spontaneously take someone's cell phone and hold it to his hear while he was singing "When You Say You Love Me". That had to be a treat for the girl who was on the line.

Of course, I bought Clay's album not long after it was released, so I knew all of the songs he sang. The one that was still going through my head the next morning was "No More Sad Songs". (Note that Willam Hung's rendition of "She Bangs" had similar lasting effects, but that's different.) He just has a beautiful voice and a great personality. My mom was disappointed that he didn't sing "This is the Night", but I think he made up for it with all his other selections. I took several pictures (visualize: ant with green shirt on stage, possibly fuzzy) and I still need to look to see how they turned out. Finally, Kelly and Clay did a duet of "Open Arms" for the encore.

I wanted to buy a program as I left, but there was a mob of people around the booth. Once we waded through all the people and got outside, we realized that we had no idea where I had parked. Oops. In the future, I will make a note of that. We wandered around and then a woman approached us saying that she had no idea where her car was either, but she knew she parked near us so, so she asked to tag along. Eventually we talked to a perosn who worked there who convinced the woman that her car was on the east side of the building. My mom reasoned that we were on the west side, so that's where we headed. I noticed that, by that point, there weren't many people in line at the souvenir booth, so we got a program! We also found the van and told a security/traffic guy to call on the radio to tell security that the woman's car was, indeed, on the west side.

By that time, there wasn't a lot of traffic and it was easy to leave the RBC Center parking area. That made it a lot more pleasant than having to fight one's way back to I-40. We were cruising along. We noticed IBM's lights, which were visible from the freeway. We drove along. We almost passed downtown when my mom pointed out that we'd forgotten her car in the IBM parking lot. Oops. It wasn't a big deal, because she could ride in with me in the morning, but it proved, once again, for the second time in one evening, that I'm a space cadet.

Nothing much happened today, except I nearly melted in the 83-84 F heat, in my office.