Monday, December 31, 2012

Last post of 2012

Honestly, I'd be fine to go to bed and call it a year.  But I feel compelled to stay up and suffer.  I really, really should have had the foresight to get some cough syrup at some point today.

Medicinal, not recreational... this time.

Happy New Year, friends.

And enemies?  Piss off!


Happy New Year

It's the last day of 2012.  It's been quite a year.  I traveled a lot, I ate too much.  It's been fun.

Fun, games and:

Bee suits.  

I'll be posting resolutions tomorrow.  I'm pretty sure you know the drill.  Eat better, exercise more.  Swear less, read more... the usual.

No big plans for NYE. In fact, no plans at all.  I have 7 hours or so to come up with something.



Sunday, December 30, 2012

Chicken and Dumplings, Redux

I thought I should let you know, I learned the secret to cheater dumplings.  Canned biscuits, flattened and pressed in flour, sliced into strips, then dropped into the chicken.

Next time, I won't overdo the pepper.  I had some hit the back of my throat and render me mute for a few minutes.

Which is what happens when you've had a cold for a week and get a little spicy in just the wrong spot of what used to be your tonsils.

But, special thanks to Flora for setting me straight on the secret to passable dumplings.  Bisquick who?  Yeah, that's what I thought.

Tomorrow, I'm throwing a corned beef brisket in the crock pot with a few bottles of Yazoo Sly Rye Porter.   Love me some microbrew. I also have cabbage, and if I haven't frozen the potatoes in the mudroom, I'll boil some of those as well.

New Year's Day, I have my black eyed peas for luck, I have my greens for money...

I'd better enjoy it now - after the new year it's all chicken breasts, rice cakes and lemon water.

With the occasional piece of chocolate to keep me sweet.



Facebook Confidential

Confidential to friend from High School:  You constantly bitch about your crazy mother.  You created a fake Facebook profile so that you could avoid being tracked by your crazy mother.  You are turning into your crazy mother.  It's clear as day, and I believe you're the one person who doesn't see it. Have fun!

Confidential to friend from Middle School and High School:  You have made several references to your crazy mother.  See confidential number one.  Also, congrats on your engagement.  Don't know when you got religion, but man, did you get it.  Also, I always thought your Mom was delightful.

Confidential to a guy friend:  Slow down, friend... love is a marathon, not a sprint.

Confidential to several people:  I'm not going to play Farmville, or Gem Grubbin' or Bubble Twat or any dumb game on FB.  Thanks.

Confidential to guy from high school:  You should have accepted when I asked you out.  I don't think it would have changed your destiny, but we'd have had fun, and I wouldn't have felt so awkward.  On the other hand, getting rejected for deer hunting has given me two decades of comedy gold.  So, thanks.  Looks like you have a nice wife, you've done well.  Go forth.

Confidential to two extremely pretty girls from Middle/High School:  I cannot figure out why you're both still single - especially the one in Texas.  Maybe guys are intimidated... or maybe you're being unrealistic.  Either way... you're both gorgeous and I hate you for it.

Confidential to college friend 1:  You bitch constantly about your kids.  You are always looking for people to meet up with you so that your horrible kids can play with their kids.  Do your kids know how much you seem to hate them?

Confidential to college friend 2:  Your kids are delightful, you're doing an amazing job, and I'd spend a day with the three of you in a heartbeat. I hope your ex-husband wakes up every morning regretting the choices he's made.

Confidential to the guy who is FB stalking college friend 2:  Dude, we all know you're crushing hard on this girl.  And I get it - she and her kids are amazing.  But I think she's perfectly content being a single mom, so... you know... ease off.  You're cute, based on that thumbnail pic that hasn't changed in three years - I'm sure someone would appreciate what you have to offer.

Confidential to another college friend:  Your updates on your kids are amusing, but seriously, you may want to medicate the youngest one.  Or medicate yourself.   Armchair psychologist, thinking here.

Confidential to another high school friend: I find it hard to believe that with your nice degree from an expensive school, you have chosen to sell hot wings and take pole dancing classes.  But hey, you look ridiculously happy, so who am I to judge?

Confidential to several people:  Your comments on my posts are sometimes inappropriate.  I both celebrate and cringe.

Confidential to a Nashville acquaintance:  He seems really nice. I hope you get engaged. If that's what you want, and I think it probably is.  I'm glad I've gotten to know you.

Confidential to everyone:  I appreciate all the kid photos, but I'd love to see more photos of your dogs.  Possibly in funny hats.

Confidential to me:  Jeez, you're insightful and hilarious - it's a good thing your use of FB is flawless!



Saturday, December 29, 2012

Let a smile be your umbrella. Or not.

The first time I saw Blade Runner was here in Nashville back in 2008.  It amazed me.  I'd heard of it from the geeky boys I dated, but based on their love of it alone, I wasn't interested.  

But there was a midnight showing at the Belcourt, so we went.  And I loved it.  At the time I saw it, I fell in love with the street scenes, and in particular, the umbrellas that people carried through the acid rain:

Three are better pictures, but basically, they're lit up through the handle.  Amazing.

So, about a month ago, I'm on the elevator at work, and I hear one grown-up geek boy telling another grown-up geek boy that he's seen these Blade Runner umbrellas online and has asked for one for Christmas.

As soon as I get to a computer, I hit up Google and a plan is born.  I asked for it for Christmas, and sure enough, on Christmas Day, I became the lucky new owner of a Blade Runner inspired umbrella.

Like so:

It's a good look - and with all the rain we've had this winter, I think it's just about perfect.

I should mention, it lights up in seven colors and does a cycle through if you so choose.

I love it.

We might need to re-watch Blade Runner tonight.

Here's how much I love that movie, if you go through my training database, you'll find Roy Batty and Rick Deckert.

Just saying.

It's a good movie.  Watch it with someone you love.

Friday, December 28, 2012


So. I took a sleeping pill and some Mucinex and settled into bed. At seven on a Friday night. Because  I am puny. But I did want to post. What to do? Entter the Smart Phone. l am amazed by technology every day. That said typing with my thumbs is a total PITA.  So until tomorrow.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Inflating my annual post count? Never!

Rarely do I post back to back - but I'm going to.  And you can't stop me!

Being that it's the end of the year, all media outlets are doing their end of the year best of and what not.

I decided that I would take the time to work my way through my calendar and pick out all the trips I made for work this year.

Here they are, in chronological order:

St. Louis, MO/Cahokia IL

Columbia, SC

Seattle, WA

Russellville, KY

Lanham, MD

Garner, NC

New Orleans, LA

Northbrook, IL

Cincinnati, OH

Northbrook, IL

Atlantic City, NJ

Melville, NY

Skowhegan, ME (a stretch, but since it was work adjacent, I'm counting it)

Seymour, IN

Seattle, WA

Melville, NY

Somerset, NJ

Raleigh-Durham/Winston-Salem, NC

Hebron, OH

Cleveland/Elmont/Toledo, OH

Northbrook, IL

Twenty-one trips.  That averages to one trip every 2.47 weeks. 

So, let's give out some awards, then, shall we?

Best Hotel:  That's a toughie.  I'm going to have to give it to the Hilton in Northbrook.  Quiet, safe, clean and cozy. I stayed in two Doubletrees (Somerset and Winston-Salem) that were nice.  The Executive Pacific in Seattle had the best toiletries.  And Hamptons are generally the nicest hotels across the board.   I have it pretty good.  But the Northbrook Hilton takes the prize this year.

Worst Hotel:   The Marriott in Melville, NY.  The ice machine flooded the carpet on my floor, and there was a vague wet dog smell there.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't good.  I mean, really "worst" is subjective.  I never stay anywhere skeezy (once, two years ago in Peoria, I stayed at a sketch place called AmericInn). The second trip we stayed in a Hilton.  Much better.

Best Restaurant, Ambience - Old Ebbit's Grill, Washington DC.  Because we got to see the freaking White House across the street.  The crabcakes were a bonus.

1600 Pennsylvania Ave.  Washington, DC

Best Meal, Restaurant (Expensed):  Superdawg - Chicago.  Honorable mention to Portillo's in Chicago as well, although, I paid out of pocket for that one and may not submit to get reimbursed.  Other honorable mention to the slice of pizza we had in NYC.  Can you go wrong with pizza?  Another honorable mention to Lou Malnati's, Chicago.  Jesus, I'm starting to see how I gained  back all that weight this year.

The Supercheesy, Whoopercheesy and Francheesy are all viable options. YUM.

Other Best Meal, Grocery Store (Expensed):  The muffaletta at Central Grocery in NOLA.  Of course, the Shrimp Po Boy I had at dinner that night at some hole in the wall place was equally amazeballs.  OMG.  New Orleans.

Best Meal, Restaurant (Not Expensed): Stewman's; Bar Harbor, ME.  A lobster roll, courtesy of the lovely Price family.   Actually, the ice cream at Ben and Bill's later that afternoon was also amazing.  Oh, and Giffords had good ice cream, too.

Best Meal, Provided by Customer: Fried chicken and mashed potatoes and green beans and this cherry cheesecake pie  - provided by my friends in Russellville, KY.  When your facility is 20 miles from anywhere, you have to plan ahead.  This was a great meal.  And the people were all so NICE.

Best Meal, Other:  Lunch on the Green Egg; Skowhegan, ME.   Andrew made burgers with homemade smoked cheese.  Michelle brought a pie, Wanda brought ambrosia, I made potato salad, Derek played sous chef, and we had a fine lunch.  As a bonus, we all smelled like wood smoke for the rest of the day.  Delicious, and some of the nicest people ever.

Derek, me, Andrew - New House

Best Airline:  TIE -   Southwest and Frontier.  Day in and day out, Southwest provides the best service and the easiest experience.  But Frontier offered to courtesy check my bag at no charge because they noticed both my flights were going to be full, and they thought it would make it easier on me.  It did.  Thanks, Frontier.

Worst Airline:US Scareways.  Not friendly, not helpful, never once did I take off on time... I'll avoid them like the plague.

Favorite Airport:  Hartsfield Jackson - Atlanta, GA.  It's the airport of my youth - it has the best shopping, the best food and I love the train that takes you to each Concourse.  Cafe Intermezzo at Concourse B beats a Chili's Too any day of the week.    For a teeny tiny airport, I'd give mad props to Columbia, SC.

Least Favorite Airport:  Charlotte.  Because of US Airways, and because I never found any food there that wasn't a little gross.  LaGuardia and O'Hare may not be my favorites, but they're still better than CLT, which I have been reminded is just an i away from clit.

Best Training Space: Fire Hall Classroom - Garner, NC.  Functional wireless, natural light, a good screen and projector, but most importantly, Lucy, the firehouse dog was allowed to wander in and chill with us.

Fire Hall, Garner, NC

Best After Work Fun Activity (Non-Skowhegan): Driving into New York City with Jonathan, Clover and Mike.  I cannot believe I drove.  In New York City.  In Times Square.  And didn't kill anyone.  Also, I got to look at some sweet, sweet eye candy.


Best Crazy Decision:  Getting my nose pierced.  Love.  It.

Blue House, Skowhegan, ME

Favorite Rental Car:  Mazda 2 in Chicago, or the Mazda 3 in Columbia and Skowhegan.  Either way, sweet ride.  I'd definitely look at that for my next car. The Ford Edge didn't totally suck, either.  Especially in NYC.

Least Favorite Rental Car:  Crown Victoria.  Driving this heavy POS in Chicago traffic make me grind my teeth.   I also had a Chevy Aveo, and they suuuuuuck.

Favorite New "Duh!" City:  New Orleans - Duh!   So nice, I went there twice.  The second trip was in May, and it was a 40th birthday boondoggle for my friend Jim.  Love it there.

Cafe du Monde, NOLA

Favorite New "Really?" City:  Cincinnati.  Really?  Yep.  Well, more specifically, Covington, KY, just over the river.  But baby, if you ever wonder, wonder whatever became of me - I'm eating dinner at the Hofbrau Haus near Cincinnati.  Amazing, and a cute neighborhood.  Similar vibe in Columbus, OH.  I do love a good sausage (giggle).

Schmidt Haus, Columbus, OH

Favorite New "Yeah, but wait til Winter City":  Skowhegan.  Yeah, but wait til Winter.  I know, I know - but August there was delightfully charming.

Kennebec River, Skowhegan, ME

Favorite Did You Know? Moment:  Did you know my parent company has all these wolf statues on campus that are there to keep the Canada Geese off the grounds.  Maintenance is charged with moving them around daily to keep the geese confused.  It doesn't work very well.

So a lot of great travel, great experiences.  If you'll notice the photos I'm in, they all have one thing in common.  Me, smiling.

I'm happy.

I'm also well-fed.

I intend to keep up the travels, but it's time to slim down a little.

Does that mean I give up Portillos?  Hell no. 

It does mean that I give up Raisinettes at the airport. 

And that concludes my 2012 Travelogue - Best Of Edition.


The Name Game

I was back in the office today for the first time since December 14th.  Everything was basically the same. My philodendron was kind of wilted, but I gave it a nice drink of water, and by tomorrow it should look pretty much good as new.

Or I can lay out another $3 for a new plant.  Whatevs.

My colleagues are all pretty much the same.  Basically, back to work.

So, today, I had some work to do that involved loading a database with a group of employees from Asia.  What I found is that many of them had given themselves American first names, which came over in parentheses on the spreadsheet..  Lots of Shirleys and Cathys and Daniels and Andys.

But then, there were a few that cracked me up:

I kind of get it.  When I was in High School,  we chose authentic names for our French class - I spent four years as Colette.   But one of my classmates chose as her name, Virgule.   Which means 'comma', but also sounds like it could be a name.  So I get it.

But I wonder... what was Protein thinking when he chose that name?  Or Bobo, or Peon?  Did it sound pretty?  Was it meant to be funny or ironic?

I'll never know.

But I do know they're loaded and ready to use our software.

Work isn't all hard.  Trust me, I make it look easy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


The past few days have been insanity. 

We popped down to Dalton for the big Dirty Santa Party.

I gave this:

I received a duck call.  And a bottle of Southern Comfort.  I know it's better to give than receive, but I really want one of these... I may need to go ahead and purchase one for myself.  Alternately, I could just get out the Nair, and... too much information, sorry.

Sunday after breakfast, I came home to get Lola and wrap a ton of presents.  I was coming down with something, so my biggest goal was to get to bed and sleep.  I took three Benadryl to aid that effort.

It worked.

Getting out of bed on Christmas Eve morning was punishing.  I got into the shower with the hope of waking up.  Eventually, I got reasonably coherent, dragged myself out of the shower and got dressed.

I let Lola out the back door for her morning pee, and she shot out of the mudroom and pushed open the side gate and took off.  That's not like her.  She's 14 and has no really gumption.  I ran out to get her and found that she was face to face with evil.  Evil in marsupial form:

This is the actual possum that Lola had been chasing.  They were standing inches from each other, neither knowing what to do next.  I picked Lola up and deposited her in the back yard, then came back to capture the above photo.  Note that the little fucker is HISSING at me.

Anyway, I went back in and Lola had gone under our deck.  Our deck is only about 2 feet tall and runs the length of the back of the house.  I left Lola to hang out under the deck and chill while I loaded the car.  I kept an eye on the possum in the side yard who was still hissing and stomping around in the leaves.

Lola started barking again while I loaded the car.  I came back to the deck and called her to come out.  She stopped barking, but wouldn't budge.  The possum had gone up into a tree and was out of sight good riddance.  I ended up changing into old shorts and a t shirt, and crawled on my belly under the deck to come remove Lola forcibly.  And that's when I saw the second possum huddled in a corner near the stairs of the deck.  And Lola pacing by it, back and forth, giving it the stink eye.  This was a different possum.  It was light silvery gray, where the one in the side yard was more black.  Also, possum #2 was not hissing, THANK JEBUS.

I don't mind snakes, spiders, bugs or vermin, but possums freak me the hell out. 

I managed to get Lola to come out from under the deck and hustled her into the house.  I was covered in mud at that point, so another quick shower was required before getting on the road.
After a quick stop in Dalton, we finally got there about 2:30 ET.  We chilled out, I took a quick nap, told everyone about my excellent adventures. 

After dinner, we listened to some music, told some stories, I did some wrapping for Dad, and we crashed.

Christmas itself was excellent - everyone seemed to like their gifts.  The only one I really held my breath on was this one:

We got Henry, my four year old nephew, a large stuffed Cheetah and sent it to California.

Finally around 2PM yesterday, we called out there to see if he liked it.

He named it Henry
I think he liked it!

As for me - I got all kinds of nice things.  My favorites are a set of paring knives from Mom and Dad, and a very special umbrella from Matt.  I'll take photos of that soon.

But here's a hint.  Ever seen Bladerunner?


And now we're back in Nashville, and it's time to go back to work.

Stay happy and possum free.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry, merry. Why you buggin'?

So, I have wrapped my last present, I am ready to pack up the car.  Tomorrow morning, Lola and I will head to my parents'.  By way of Dalton. Carpet capital of the World.  I know, I hate to brag.

I feel like I'm coming down with a cold, so as soon as I get one last load of laundry into the dryer, I'm downing a Airborne, taking a sleeping pill and crashing.

And then, it's Christmas.

This hasn't been the tidiest, best, most festive season ever.  But I made it through a crazy year. And I have presents, I have clean clothes, and hopefully in the morning, I'll be in the perfect spirit for the festivities.

And if not, that's why there's champagne.

Or NyQuil.

Hell, it's Christmas - why not both?

Happiest of holidays to you and yours.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Feast of Seven Fishes, Minus Six

So, I had a weird week of travel.  A last minute trip to Toledo by way of Cleveland, followed by an extended remix trip to the Mothership in Northbrook.

View from the conference room at Building One.  My friend Andrew pointed out our logo was backwards, and that's not very safe.  Love all the exposed beams and duct work.  The cubes are nice, too.  Office envy.  

This time, at the rental desk, they gave me a brand new car.  I was the first driver of this pretty little Mazda 2.  Zoom, zoom! Indeed.  Loved that little baby.  So fun.  So much fun.  Plus - new car smell.

The hotels I stayed in, all three of them, were great.

What's that you say?  Three hotels?  Yes.  The one in Ohio, the one in Northbrook, and the one next to Chicago Midway where I camped out after my flight got cancelled yesterday.  Snowmageddon.  Didn't really hit down that far south, and although it was bitterly cold and windy, the snow was just a dusting.  It didn't freak me out, and I'm from Atlanta.  So.

I ended up needing clean underwear, but that's why Walgreen's exists.  I hung out at the hotel watching crappy reality TV (an episode of Say Yes to the Dress that made my blood boil) and Adult Swim (ah, Squidbillies).

This morning, I hopped a flight home, and here I am.  Rock me like a hurricane.

I arrived to a huge stack of Christmas cards, which made me feel totally popular, and even better, I got a package from Maine.  I had been clued in by Derek that he, Andrew and Michelle had sent a little gift for Christmas:

Matt named him Lobbie.  I call him NomNom.

This is a chocolate lobster.  With candy lemon, an ear of corn, and chocolate drawn butter.  If' I'm not the luckiest woman in the world, I don't know who is.

It's too pretty to eat.

And I'm really not hurting for sustenance.  I ate plenty on my travels.  Some of it healthy.  Most of it, not.

Starting January, there's a new sheriff in town.  Exercise and diet become my new way of life.

Which means I'd best get started on that lobster.

Merry, merry.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Holy Toledo

So, I was heading to breakfast with friends yesterday at Monell's when I got a frantic text from my colleague.  His house had been broken into, he didn't think he could take his scheduled trip today, what should he do?

So, this morning, I boarded a plane to Toledo for him.

Well, technically, I boarded a plane to Cleveland.  And then we drove to Fremont.  Which is near Toledo.  I ate lunch here.  At 3PM.

Frickin' Delicious

As we speak, I'm kicking it in a hotel room in Fremont, OH.  Meeting til 4 tomorrow, then back to Cleveland.  Hop a plane to MDW quick layover, then home for less than 12 hours, and then... back to the airport, and off to a different Chicago airport.  It's what I do.

I get home late Thursday.  I think I'll work a half day Friday, then clean house and get ready to go to Dalton early Saturday.  Sunday morning, I'm back to Nashville, packing up the car for Christmas, rescuing my beast, and driving back down to Dalton Monday to get Matt, then to Atlanta.

Actually, maybe kicking it lazy style in the hotel?  Not a bad idea to pre-game for the rest of the week.

I may take an early bedtime.


Friday, December 14, 2012

In case you wondered...

So I’m sure you read about the school shooting in Connecticut this afternoon, and your first thought was, “I wonder what Allison has to say about all of it.”

Naturally, I do have some thoughts.

Let me start by saying that childhood can be terrifying.  I’m a naturally anxious person, and I didn’t just grow into that anxiety.  As a young kid, I was living in the suburbs of Atlanta during the Wayne Williams Child Murders.  I remember lying very still in bed at night, so that if he crept into my home, he wouldn’t see me and would keep on going.

Which, let’s be honest, was unnecessary.   But I was quite young, and all I knew is that there was a murderer out there killing kids, and that one of the local news stations had given kids safety whistles to blow in case of kidnapping.   If you read, you’ll notice that he wasn’t especially interested in young suburban white girls.  Who knew?

I also had a fair amount of anxiety at sleepovers.  I would be fine until lights out, and then I’d be terrified that something bad would happen to my parents in my absence, and so they’d have to come and get me.  This went on for some years, until I was roughly 9 or so. 

Now, that said, I rarely felt anxious at school.  I never questioned my safety, and it never occurred to me for a minute that my teachers didn’t have it all under control.  I kind of got a thrill out of the fire and tornado drills, even though I now realize that had we experienced an actual tornado, the only thing keeping me from certain bodily harm was a spelling book.  

Good luck not getting impaled with a metal desk, kid.

 Our elementary school was made of metal and glass and brick, and was older than old.  

But I didn’t know.  I believed that within the walls of that school, I was safe.  I didn’t really even experience bullying – well, not until Middle School, and that all took place on the bus.  Nobody is safe on the bus.  Ever.

I also fretted over the annual Presidential Fitness Challenge - but I now realize I was ahead of my time - and the "chubby" that I was back in 1984 would fall squarely to the left of the bell curve these days.


I’ve already made my point about guns in an earlier post.  They terrify me, I don’t want one.  I understand why someone might.  But does this not make the point that maybe we can’t easily judge who’s a mentally deranged asshole and who just wants to bag a six point buck this weekend?

All murders are senseless and tragic.

But for a guy to go into a school and mow down a bunch of unarmed kids, and the teachers whose job it is to protect them?  And during the holidays?

Well, that’s not practicing Peace on Earth.  It’s not Goodwill to Men. 

It’s sick, and it’s wrong, and it’s heartbreaking.

And none of that is exactly news. 

So, can we please work together as a country to figure out ways to stop it?

And can we start by not tearing each other apart on Facebook?

Amen.  Pass the biscuits.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Who are you?

So, two nights ago, I was walking over from our offices to the hotel next door for a little Christmas cocktail hour with my colleagues.  Our holiday party, as it were.  I introduced myself to a gentleman I'd never met who works out of Texas.  He's Danish.  Wrap your mind around those two accents for a second.  Anyway, I have some passing knowledge of Danish customs, so we chatted for a minute or two.

About twenty minutes later, as I was drinking my rum and diet and wrestling with a tenacious Brie en Croûte at the buffet, when another colleague, from Maine, asked our Danish Texan if we'd met.  "Have you met Allison?  You need to know Allison."

So, yeah - I'm kind of a big deal.

I was just looking at the word croûte, and I feel that I should tell you - the circonflexe over the u is a linguistic indicator that an earlier version of the word had an S after the vowel - so, basically, "crust".  I know, I know - my linguist tangents are just fascinating.

Last night, I went to see a comedian that I've been watching on TV lately.  His name is W. Kamau Bell.   He has a show called Totally Biased on FX, and he is damn funny.  I mean, solidly hilarious.   One of his writers opened for us.  She was equally funny.  Both of them do a lot of social humor - politics, sex, religion... and those things make me laugh.  A lot.  

I laughed hard enough that I woke up with a sore throat.

Here's a quick celebrity sighting of me with the headliner himself:


I'm having some hair issues, and growing a "third eye" zit, but other than that, good photo.  He could not have been nicer!

There was a  local guy who opened for him - did an impression of Werner Herzog reading a review of the movie Groundhog Day.  I howled.

Laughter is the best medicineEven if you're not sick.