Saturday, December 27, 2008

Surviving the Lights of Vegas - Part 1

I'm exhausted again, but it's a good kind of tired. You'd think at some point, I'd just stop running myself into the ground, but there's the tired from being lethargic after consuming your body weight in snack food and soda and then there's the tired from actually working hard to accomplish something. My tired has a lot to do with the latter, and so stick with me as I detail my adventures from the past few weeks.

Sunday, December 14th - The snow obsession detailed in my last entry finally came true with some crazy snow and ice falling around our home. Although I wasn't around to see it much, as I ventured to NW Portland to watch a footy match and then participate in practice. When I got to the pub, there was nothing wrong, just a rather cold morning. That all changed about 9:30 AM when the heavens broke down and the snow came down. It appeared to be wet and not sticking, so I decided to practice instead of heading home. Bad move on my part, as unbeknown to me, the snow was significantly falling east side, and roads were closing while I was running about. And of course, my cell phone battery decided to die about the time practice started, so I had no way of being contacted or calling out. Yeah, needless to say, the drive home was an adventure but I took it really slowly and cautiously and made it home without issue. I will now promise never to do anything that dumb for at least the next 15 minutes or so. The snow fell for the rest of the day, meaning that the likelihood of going to work tomorrow was falling between slim and none. However, my friend dublinx did get a great shot of me playing in the snow.

Monday, December 15th - With the snow still down on the ground, I woke up Monday deciding to work from home at my primary job. I love the fact that my job is flexible enough to allow me this alternative, rather than me trying to drive on semi-dangerous roads with other people who drive like there's nothing wrong with the roads. Despite the fact that cars are leaving the road on a regular basis trying to stay upright, there is a part of the population here that thinks driving as fast as possible works and hey, if you don't hit anything, there's nothing wrong here. Thankfully, I can connect with my workstation from home, and my meeting schedule is pretty consistent so I know where I'm supposed to be most of the time. As I work away at my stuff, girl is working hard on her grant writing. With some of the mangled grammar still showing on the page, she curses the world according to Clippy and just wonders if she has anyone that can make nouns and verbs agree. The snow tapers off later in the day, but things are still chilly as the temperature hovers about 20 degrees for most of the day and night, so basically, the snow that fell isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

Tuesday, December 16th - Well, I woke up at 7:30 am and seeing how things hadn't dramatically changed from overnight, I decided to venture into the office anyway by transit. I bundled up in my best eskimo wear, with snow pants, gloves, hat, and butt warmers present, and wandered off to catch the train and bus. Since the snow and ice were still about, I had visions of sitting at the stop waiting for long times and nothing coming. I've lived in Portland since 1989 and know that when things get snowy and icy here, transit still tries to operate with varying degrees of success. I've experienced 4 hour bus rides home packed to the hilt, busses stopping because of conditions, and busses smacking each other in a crazy version of Chinese Checkers, so I had expectations that I might be waiting for a while. And I couldn't have been more wrong.

The train was totally on time, and got me to the bus stop in plenty of time to make my connection, which was also on time. I spent not more that 40 minutes getting into work, which was absolutely crazy considering the conditions outside with ice, cold and blowing snow. As I take off my layers at my desk, many of my coworkers are sharing reports of snow and ice in their area, and the many reports of what possibly is coming to hit us later that day. Apparently, the paranoia about the weather is being listened to, as many folks complete a few hours of work, then disappear home before things get worse. I decide to stick it out as I have a few things to complete before I leave, and if all else fails, I live close enough to work that I could walk home if needed. The afternoon gets quieter and quieter as more of my co-workers head home, and then girl calls me after one of my meetings. Apparently, she's grown frustrated at the staff she works with, and has asked for my help to edit some of her work.

Ok, in my past life, I've written for a college newspaper, I've written dozens of reports and project documents, hundreds of important notices, dozens of procedure updates, even more new procedure documents, and countless self training documents. While I may not have the best grasp of grammar usage around, I can write and write quickly. And most of the time, it makes sense. After careful consideration lasting about 30 seconds, I agree to provide some help to her. Within moments of this news, I find out by email that our bowling league is cancelled for the night, as the alley is closing in case conditions get bad. I tell you, the paranoia about snow here is big. It's suddenly more true as the snow starts to hit later that night, with a light dusting at first, but then getting more consistent as the night goes on. I listen to girl's instructions about what she reviews in her documents, what the particulars are to look for, and suddenly I'm off in editor land.

And I have to say that I'm glad I don't have an editor for this exercise here. I'm sure that most grammar nazis would cringe at some of the words I use, plus I break a lot of English rules by starting sentances with prepositions or ending them with one. When I blog, I tend to be extremely conversational in my style, which is great for reading but not so much if you are being completely attentive to correct style. Anyway, after a late night of editing, I'm off to sleep and wondering if I will venture to work or not.

Wednesday, December 17th - The conditions aren't terrible outside, but they haven't changed since the snow hit, and with the cold, cars aren't moving around much in the morning. You know it's bad when city officials are telling people that if possible, just stay home. I heed the warning and settle in to work at home for the second day of the week. I have some requirements to review, some testing to complete, and a few meetings on my schedule, so I have a rather busy day of work on the schedule. As I quietly work, knocking off task by task, I realize that by noon, I'm done with my tasks and there's still a good half a day left. Well, I need to do some more reading and there's a few emails that have piled up.

Work email is a necessary work communication tool, but at points, I think people just send them to make it look like they are doing some work. The note may not accomplish anything more that stirring up more questions, which may be the approach, but by sending a note, real work can be avoided. I must learn the ways of this skill, as the inbox piles up. By quitting time, I'm back caught up with my email, and now it's off to complete more editing for the night. It's not such bad work, and I'm actually getting pretty good at it. The weather guys are predicting more snow for tomorrow, which would be good if you like snow, but bad if you were thinking of getting into work. And honestly, I'm getting a bit of cabin fever so getting out of the house is starting to sound like a good idea.

Thursday, December 18th - The predicted snow hasn't started as of 7:45 AM when I wake up and the roads are clear, so I trudge down to shower and get ready for work. No sooner than I walk upstairs at 8:10 AM, the skies turn purple and it's a snow downpour. I suppose I could try to get into work, but that idea fades as the snow starts to stick and it's now slowing down at all. I settle in for another day of working in the basement. I tend to my work documents and meetings while also getting laundry ready for our big trip. Tomorrow, we head to Las Vegas, and I'm excited. There's a bit of concern that the weather might keep us here, depending on when the storm might hit, but at this time, it's a go. As I look at my work task list getting shorter, my home task list is getting bigger with packing, other editing, and house chores. Girl and I have tickets to the Trail Blazer game that night, and under normal circumstances, we never miss a game. But the snow keeps falling, the work keeps piling up, and there's not time to divert our attention from the tasks here for hoops. As much as I hate to, I end up selling my tickets to a friend for the game.

The editing is flying along, the packing is going well, and I even decide to hook up the radio to listen to the game. My tickets were picked up, and going to a good cause. And the cause got better as the game went on, as Brandon Roy had a career night in scoring 52 points in the Blazers beating the Suns for the first time in 12 tries. I had to go upstairs to watch the fourth quarter, as it was a game for the ages. But I knew that going to the game would mean that there would be numerous things here at the house that needed attention that would be ignored, and so I was where I needed to be. And besides, if you need a fallback plan, listening to Wheels call a game isn't a bad back up option. Girl and I end up working late, and then I knock off about midnight to finish packing, and curl up for sleep. Our shuttle arrives at 9:30 AM to get us to the airport for our flight, and I can't wait.

Friday, December 19th - Travel Day is here, and I'm ready and raring to go. A few last minute items to clear up, and we're ready to fly south to avoid the cold. In watching the news, though, snow had hit Vegas the night before and the airport had closed for a while because of the conditions. Wow, the snow is following us all over? Well, we are going to chance it anyway, and the shuttle arrives a bit early ready to take us to the airport. The conditions on the roads are a bit dicey, but as long as you drive slowly, it's not that terrible. Our driver takes his time getting us to the terminal, and we arrive in plenty of time before our flight at 1:30 pm. After a quick visit to the bank for some much needed gambling funds and a stop for some snacks, we settle into our gate for the flight.

Well, ok, girl had lost her stocking hat on the way back from coffee, so I went on a mission to find it and I did right in front of Good Dog, Bad Dog sausages. And our gate actually changed to another location. Plus, we ran into our friend Dick Danger, who works at the airport and was there getting his check. So, there was plenty to do while waiting for our flight, and that doesn't include the people watching opportunities that were abound. Airports are an amazing study in people, as you have the folks that dress to the nines when traveling, showing off the latest fashion styles with their designer bags, and then you have the people that just rolled out of bed and don't care what they look like. Add this with the conversations with fellow travelers, and seeing people meet up at the gate, it's truly interesting to watch. The movie Dogma had a few scenes about what happens at airports, and I believe it's the truth. When you see someone at the gate, you are truly happy to see them and it's a true show of emotion. We got to watch a few tearful reunions before we got the call to board our plane.

As we took off from Portland, it didn't matter that the conditions were cold and snowy here, or that things might be getting worse while we were gone, or did we forget anything at the house. It was the simple emotion of being able to put the trials and cares away for a few days and just be somewhere different for a few days. And I was looking forward to having a few adventures while we were gone, then return home in time for Christmas. What I didn't expect was how many crazy adventures we'd have between the time we left Portland and the time we came back to the very snowy Rose City.

Next Time - Adventures in Gambling and Buffets, and Gee, We aren't the only city under construction right now.

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