Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Almost as old as me and looking better than me..

Last month (October) was the 40th anniversary for Walt Disney World (WDW), specifically the Magic Kingdom. The first time I visited that magical place (it is also known as "The Most Magical Place on Earth") about 5 months after they opened. ( I have the pictures to prove it.)  It was started by a man with a dream and that dream continues many years later.

Now almost 40 years later I am preparing to make another visit.  This is not my second visit by any measure, but I don't think it is my 40th either.  I have visited numerous times over the years, and I always look forward to each trip with them same amount of excitement a child has when Santa is about visit.  It is a place that I can relax and not be a consultant or an responsible adult, at least for a little while.

The second best place to visit is, of course,  EPCOT. Built with a view to the future, it now highlights the technology of today and what we can do for the future.  A place to see what is, and what will be.  Also a place to travel the world all in one day.  You can visit the likes of Japan, Germany, Norway, Mexico, England, Canada and interact with people who are from those same countries.

This post was simply to remind us of the past and the future and to always be a child at heart.


Monday, November 28, 2011

The beauty of fall...

A friend of mine introduced me to a new app for my Android based phone called HDR Camera+.  The technology involved is called HDR (High Dynamic Imaging) and it basically allows the camera to see things the same way our eyes do instead of the normal under/over exposure that a camera perceives.

With that in mind let's take a look at a picture I recently took outside a clients building.  This was taken at about 8AM. and sadly, the next days these trees were pretty much bare thanks to the wind and rain.

If you have a smart phone, I would recommend this app so you can take some of the best photos yet.  I will be posting a few others over the next few weeks as well.


Friday, November 25, 2011

So much for that theory

The other day my wife and I had to return a can of paint that we had purchased at WalMart and while we were there we decided to check on the Santa hats they had since my current hat were in pretty bad shape.

We didn't find a good hat, but we did pick up a few other sundries.  As we were checking out I noticed that we were at checkout 20, and it happened to be the express "lane".  Intestingly enough, express was 20 items or less... on checkout 20. Hmmm, I wonder if 19 was express as well, but only 19 items or less?

Nope.  It's just a plain old ordinary checkout.  Nothing express here.

But that leads to another thought.  Express is 20 items?!?  In most places I visit, the express lane is 12 items or less.  I am assuming that this is because the average item count for a persons order is not that large.  If that is true, then what does this say about an express lane that is for 20 or less?


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Whatever happened to equality of the sexes?

Through the years I have heard all about how women have it rough and that they want equal treatment.  They demand equal treatment then want special treatment at the same time.  I have always worked to treat my fellow female employee with respect and as an equal and yet I still hear about equality.

I believed this. But then I was onsite at a customers site and realized that we have been lied to as men.  A kind young lady, who shall remain nameless as I am sure the legions of women will want to take retribution upon this traitor, brought to me evidence of the true state of affairs.  Proof that we men really are actually getting the short end of the stick.

She brought me a picture she took while in the women's bathroom, a place so mysterious that men shudder at the thought of entering that distant and strange land.  A picture that will surely put a crack in the steely front women present when discussing equality.  Something that defines the true equality in this world.

The truth is that they have a couch in there but the men's room has only this lowly plastic chair.

And they have Charmin, too!

So much for equality, huh?


Monday, November 21, 2011

Random Pic - 6

Just thought I would post another random picture from my archives.

This one comes from the Red Rocks region outside of Denver, CO.  I was driving in a random direction one evening after working with the client and I found myself over by Red Rocks,  I decided I needed to get out and take pictures while there was still light, and this big mound of rock was right by the car.  Since I like to take pictures of things from an unusual point of view, this little valley in the mound was perfect fodder.

I would love to actually go to Red Rocks sometime to see what the whole area looks like.


Friday, November 18, 2011

I am getting a reputation.

I have been spending a lot of time in Kansas City, Kansas a lot lately.

One of my trips I had to stay at a Hampton Inn near our client's office. I had a nice 4th floor room (room 415) with a fridge and microwave and a king size room.  Ah, the comforts I need for the life on the road.  Only hitch was the "desk" that was a rolling table that rolled into the cubby on the outside wall.  Not bad, but a little tight when you consider that the chair was pushed back against the bed and the TV is on the cabinet behind.

My first day in there the room was a bit chilly, and the world outside was cloudy and gloomy. I left for the client and returned to a room that was somewhat cool, but it was still comfortable.  Day too was colder, but the room was still just cool, not as warm as the day before, but then it was colder outside.

Day 3 was just plain freezing outside.  I returned to the room and started working on other client issues that needed to be dealt with right away.  As I sat there I realized my feet were not just cold but were actually starting to feel frozen!

I got out of the chair and looked around for the thermostat, but to no avail.  I walk over to the heater unit by the desk, and pop open the cover only to find that I have been in this room for three days and the cotton picking heater has been OFF.  No wonder I was cold.  So naturally I turned on the heater, set the temperature, and then sat back in my chair to continue working.

Shortly after I begin to smell the usual smell we all get when firing up a heater for the first time.  It's the smell of dust and other unknown particles being burned to a crisp on the heating elements.  This is a smell I usually welcome because it means that the heat is on and my comfort level is on the way up.  Ah what a wonderful thing heat is when you are just plain cold.

However, I quickly realized that something just wasn't quite right. I smelled something more than just that usual scent, this smelled like something was burning.  As a matter of fact, it was getting smoky too.  Uh, I had think I had better do something before...


Yup, too late. It's the smoke alarm.  I found myself scrambling to get the heater off and grab a coat, hoping all the while that I had not just set off ALL the alarms in the building.  As I exited into the hall I gasp for and and then breathe a sigh of relief (and fresh air) as the alarms were silent int he hallway, which is more than I can say for my room.

I head downstairs to the front desk and talk with the attendant.  I am in luck, she had not realized that the alarm had been tripped (although I am not sure how lucky that really is now).  She quickly assigned me a new room and came up to help me move into the other room around the corner from my now smoke filled room. As she stepped off the elevator she quickly stated this was the worst she had ever smelled.

I checked out the next morning and the staff the next morning thanked me for not burning down the entire hotel.

Fast forward two weeks and I am headed back to the same client.  I call the same hotel and as I am discussing the rate fro my room I suddenly hear her exclaim "I know who you are!"

Here it comes...

"You're room 415!  You set the heater on fire a while back."

Yes, I was known.

So I check in the next night and as the clerk hands me my key card I notice that he is grinning.  I look a the room number and guess what it says?  Yep, 415.

"I heard you really liked that room, sir." *wink*

I laugh and head off to my room for another fun filled week of work.  Surprise, surprise, they had a new heater unit in the room.  Oh look, it doesn't smoke!  I spent an uneventful week in that room and headed home again.

Fast forward another week.  I am again on the phone with the same hotel.  I got as far as my name and they already knew me by reputation, and I was already assigned the same room.

Well, at least there is consistency in my life, right?


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Smoke gets in my... room?

CC license - David Hegarty 
For those of you unlucky enough to actually know me, you know that I am not a smoker, and I really am not partial to the smell of cigarette smoke.
When asked at a restaurant if I want smoking or non-smoking, I would invariably answer with "Non, VERY non" as I wish to taste my food and since a large part of taste is actually smell I want to have clean air to breathe and smell instead of smoke from someone's after dinner burner.

Since I travel a lot I get to spend a lot of time in hotels rooms under various circumstances.  a recent stay underscored the fact that many people, smokers and non-smokers alike, do not understand the ability of cigarette smoke to go where it is not welcome.

I had checked into the hotel over lunch and been assigned a room on the 3rd floor.  When I went to the room to drop off my luggage (and scan for bed bugs) I noticed that the hotel had recently sprayed something in the hallway to mask a scent.  Probably Fabreze or something of that sort.  If I had not been focused on getting back to the client site I might have taken a moment to ponder this observation, but I did not.

After working with the client for the day I headed back, dropped off my stuff, and headed out to dinner.  My nose tried to get my attention, but my stomach was just a bit louder and demanding at that moment so it was ignored again.  (Sometimes my brain really needs to learn to listen to the rest of me more.)  I had a wonderful repast and headed back to the room to start on my mid-term test for my online class.  As I stepped off the elevator I immediately noticed something off... I smelled cigarettes.  Only faintly, but I did smell it none the less. As I sat down to start my 90 minutes test, I found that the scent in my non-smoking room was becoming stronger by the minute.

"How could this be?", I wondered.  I was checked into a non-smoking room and thus should not be smelling cigarette smoke. My test was a timed test and I could not afford to take the time to deal with this situation, so I reached over to the control for the heater and cranked up the fan to blow fresh air on me while I tested (why do they always put the desk right next to the noisiest device in the room?) and went back to failing my test (for a intro course the material was far from intro).

After the test I decided to talk with the front desk and headed out to find out about moving rooms.  As I exited my room I ran smack dab into a cloud of cigarette smoke that I could have cut with a dull butter knife (why use one of my good ones on that stuff?) and stank to high heaven.

A quick review of the rooms on my floor turned up that about 66% were non-smoking, and the rest were smoking rooms, thus the reason for the cloud of smoke in the hallway.  I can just imagine what it would have looked like if one of the smoking rooms suddenly opened their door.

A quick discussion with the front desk had me moving to a room on the second floor, and a revelation that they are in the process of converting all the rooms to non-smoking.  Surprising information to follow... the smoking rooms were not making them much money (they are the last to book) and they have to move people frequently because of the smoking.

My thoughts on all this?  Why do people insist on thinking that cigarette smoke is smart and knows not to cross over through the trellis that separates the smoking and non-smoking areas in a restaurant, or to stay on it's own end of the floor in a hotel?  Why do they assume that telling people to smoke outside is going to keep the smoke from coming in every time someone enters the facility, especially since thy put the smoking area right outside the door? Separation requires physical, impermeable, surfaces like a wall or a door to keep smoke from going through to the other side.

Did you know that the presence of a smoker in a house is a sure guarantee of the early demise of your computer?  That's right, your computer.  Years ago, when I was still working on hardware, we could always tell when a smoker was working at a computer because the scent would be stuck in the plastics, and if you opened the system you had to let it air out.  But unfortunately, computers are also incredible air filters.  If it is in the air,it will be in your computer.  Dust, dirt, bugs, and smoke all settle in there and form a very thick tar-like residue that kills your PC quicker than anything else.  We hated cleaning those computers, it was more work than any other cleaning project we had on a PC.

After that night I had to remind myself to always check if I am on the smoking floor, and too put in a note on my reservation that I do not wish to be on the same floor as smoking rooms.  If it were me, I would be sure to note on the room selection page of hotel sites when the rooms in question are on a smoking floor.

But then nobody asked me. ;)


Monday, November 14, 2011

View from the Rock

30 Rockefeller Center
If you have ever been to NYC, or even seen movies about the borough of Manhattan then you have encountered 30 Rockefeller Center, the home of NBC.

Prometheus stealing fire form the gods
The Christmas tree they alway show.. 30 Rock.

The TV series... 30 Rock

The skating rink with the golden Prometheus... 30 Rock

Turns out there is one heck of a
Atlas holding the world
observation platform at the top of the main building in the complex.  Called the Top of the Rock,  it is two levels of glass walls that give you a view of the entire city like know other.  I have been to the viewing level of the Empire State Building (ESB), and also the mooring level of the same.  The view is good, but noting like the view from Top of the Rock.  TotR has glass walls so you don't get the wind, but your view isn't hampered, and you don't have to have to look through a chain link fence.

Central Park
The cost is minimal, and you aren't going to spend all day waiting to get the top while also having to go through the indignity of TSA security like ESB.  As a plus, you have an clear view of the north and south end of the island as well the the other boroughs as well.
Empire State Building

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Veterans Day!

Here in the United States we have a specific day (November 11) set aside to celebrate and honor the price paid by those who have served in our armed forces.  As the son of a veteran I can attest to the price that is paid by the service member, and even their family.  We traveled the world and saw many cool things, but we also missed out on a lot in the US while we were gone.  My father missed a lot of time with the family while he was deployed, and still lives with the effects of his decision to serve his country.

I also have many dear friends that are still serving today.  They are putting their lives on the line everyday doing something that I could not, and I appreciate them that mush more for it.  I only wish I could reward them somehow.

They deserve your respect and honor and I hope you will take a moment and thank someone who has served.  I know I will.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Even Mickey loves that town

As anybody who knows me can easily tell you, I am a Disney fan.  I had no chance at not being one, my first trip to Disney World was in November of 1971, and I have relatives that live in Florida so I have made many trips back there over the years.

Imagine my joy when I made a trip to NYC and come across the World of Disney store near Times Square.  It is no longer there, but I still have a great picture of how they celebrated being in NYC.  the store was an awesome place to shop for Disney paraphernalia, as it has all the goods you could find in the parks without going there.

I also have some great pictures taken from the air as we approached Manhattan.  Yes, I realize that the camera should be off, but the Mrs. was rather excited and who am I to argue with her?

Enjoy NYC from the air.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Random Pic 5

Time for another random picture from my trips.

This one was taken in Florida at my Uncle's old Condo.  I looked down from his balcony at the patio below and saw these lizards and the shadows and just had to take it.



Friday, November 4, 2011

Can I get a different glass?

 Last week my wife and another couple recently ate at a new restaurant in the Omaha area and had a most unpleasant experience. Omaha is known for the number of restaurants and it is a big event when a new eatery opens in town. We get new locations opening all the time, and many do not last the year.

Although the seats were uncomfortable and there was dust and lint falling in profuse amounts onto our food and into our drinks, the real problem for me was the condition of the glasses from which we were drinking.

I have a problem when glasses look like they rinsed them off and put them back into service rather than cleaning them before serving them to your customer.  This is a simple and very obvious indicator of the attention to detail that a restaurant has and the respect for their customers.

We plan to give this restaurant another chance in a few months when they are not being swarmed from the recent opening, and give them another chance to impress upon us that they are worth visiting on a regular basis.

-- TT


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Dunnie with a story

I recently posted a picture of a client's collection of vinyl collectibles including a large number of Dunnies.  I have to admit that I was facinated with all the different types of collectibles on display and the stories about them. We talked a lot about the unique characters he had, and all the spares he had because they are sold "Blind Box".  When you purchase a box with a collectible you do not know what is in the box until you open it.

As we wrapped up the week he presented me with a box as a way of saying "Thank you" for all the work I had done during the week to improve the performance and stability of his environment.  I opened the box and found that I had a "Green Taxi" Dunnie which made this Dunnie particularly important to me for a big reason.

10 years ago I spent several weeks in Mexico City working for a company that was selling a billing software to a major television network.  During that time there we had a few rules.
  1. Don't drink the water
  2. Don't brush your teeth with tap water.
  3. No ice in the drinks.
  4. Do NOT buy the bottled water from the people selling them on the streets, only from the bodegas.
  5. No walking around at night without an escort.
  6. Do NOT use the green taxis, only the "Radio Taxi". (One of our group did actually use the green taxi to get across town, and they had a hilarious, but no less scary, tale of that trip involving careening down the road in curb lanes; cutting in and out of traffic; and holding on for dear life)
Now I have a memento of my time in Mexico and also my time at my recent clients office. Thanks!

-- TT