Monday, September 12, 2011

The Invisible Snowball

I watched all the hands rolling an invisible snowball on the ground. The hands are attached to people pushing it and pushing it and pushing it between them until it’s a big fricken invisible snowball. Eventually they will roll it over to the client; they will look at it and decide whether they approve of how it was constructed. Sometimes when we’re all rolling around this ball we make a mistake, and it comes out lopsided. Sometimes clients get mad. Sometimes the boss covers her face and tries to hide her rage over the lump on the side and that patch of mud that we picked up. We tried to cover it with clean invisible snow, but it fell off. We argue over who has to tell her about it. “I did it last time,” one of us declares. “Yeah, but that time it wasn’t this bad,” another chimes in, “I took the fall for that big lump last month.”

The boss stands up in a meeting and yells about it. And then other people yell while the rest of us are caught off guard and stammer. She asks how it got to be so misshapen, and why we didn’t clean the mud off. She asks why it crumbled when she presented it to the client. Why did it melt? She probes, pokes, slaps her palm on the table so the water glass belonging to the man sitting next to her splashes a bit onto his notepad. He picks up the pad and shakes the water off, while trying not to look annoyed.

Her rage is directed at me. I was the last one to push this snowball toward the client. I didn’t notice the lump and the mud. I was already on to the next snowball. There’s a row of them parked outside my cubicle, with impatient feet tapping beside them. I warm my hands before the next one is pushed onto my desk. It was my fault, and she knows it. She conjures images of other misshapen snowballs that have left my hands. She rattles them off on her fingers, and moves on to the next hand to finish counting.

The meeting ends. The row of snowballs is leaving a puddle on my cubicle floor. Someone pushed them inside so I would have to deal with them. I step around them and glance at the clock. Tears sting my eyes, I fight the urge to vomit. I kick wildly at the snowballs, grab my bag and meet my husband for lunch. I sprint down the hall and down the stairs to the parking lot. “Do not fucking cry at work! Do not fucking cry at work!”

I end up crying at lunch instead. I barely eat the mango chicken he has ordered for me. I stand in the ladies room and watch the partitions around the toilet tilt inward.

Back in the office the words fall out of my mouth. I feel my right cheek twitch and I wonder if it is doing so visibly. Words like “resignation” and “effective immediately” float in bubbles. They land on the conference room table in front of her and pop, leaving wet rings on the surface. I wait for her to notice, I fight the urge to wipe them with the side of my hand. She is grinding her teeth then storms out. The last paycheck is calculated within minutes, cubicle packed into 2 boxes, and set into the car. Goodbyes are said.

I hear them say “Good for you. I would have done the same thing.” When I ask them to clarify they bend over and push their snowball down the hall, careful to avoid the patch of dirt around the corner.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Survival Tips

As you may have heard, tropical Armageddon has descended upon the Ocean State. Over the last week I have collected these pearls of wisdom that I will now pass along to you all for the next big storm we get.

1. Make awesome friends. Thanks to Charlie from New England Yacht Rigging for replacing the lines on the mooring. There is no way in hell I could have done that on my own. Also? Thank you to Sean and Heidi for helping me get everything off the deck. Thank you to Todd for showing up just as Sean, Heidi and I finished.

2. Don’t buy bottled water. Bottle your own at home before the power goes out.

3. Make sure that when your husband leaves for his business trip, just 2 days before the storm is due to hit, that he sets up the generator. Also, take notes about how to run it, and write legibly—this way you won’t have to try to read an instructions like “Turn on the herglef switch, and plug in the kuzogg wire.”

4. Quit your job 2 days before the storm hits.

5. The day before the storm fly out to Vegas and join your husband on his business trip an entire country width away from the storm.

6. Don’t bother checking the news reports from back home. You’re too busy having fun in Vegas anyway.

I hope that I have helped you to be more prepared for the next big storm. In the meantime, The Strip awaits.

Labels: ,

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Summer Sailing Vacation: Saturday August 6, 2011

We had planned to leave on Friday. But it didn’t happen that way. We met up in Warwick after work to get some Mexican food and to run some last pre-trip errands.

“How about,” Todd yawned, “we get up tomorrow morning and head to Vermont. I am just too damn tired after this week.”

I was tired too. I had been preparing to be out for the 2 week trip for nearly a month. I made sure that all the tasks that needed to be finished were assigned to appropriate people, and that they knew how to do them. I did the ones I could do before I left. I worked late. So did Todd.

On Saturday morning I wrote the list of errands on the bathroom mirror in dry erase marker. Clean car, pack, clean out truck, get drugs from CVS, Todd’s haircut. We packed Todd’s Nissan Rogue for the ride to Vermont. Normally we would do a one way car rental, so we wouldn’t have to leave a car that we’d end up picking up later on. But there weren’t any car rental places willing to rent us an SUV and leave it in the booming metropolis of Rutland, VT. I called all of them; no dice. We relented to Todd not having his car, and we packed it with inches to spare with Todd’s Tetris-like abilities. I swear he could fit an elephant in a barrel.

A 4 hour drive ends up to be very long when you stop a lot. We left the truck at New England Yacht Rigging, which is near our home mooring in East Greenwich. We said goodbye to our friends Maggie and Charlie at the shop, and headed north.

“Trust me. I am a technology consultant.” I’ve heard Todd say something like that so many times. He says it like doctors on TV do. In the car Todd was logged in and working while I drove. But his Verizon hot spot wasn’t working properly and he decided to stop and get another one at a store in South Hadley, MA. Then we stood in the parking lot for awhile after while he helped a complete stranger configure his Droid.

The good karma he racked up in that parking lot paid off and was a great start to what would be one of the most amazing trips we’d ever sailed.

I don't know how we'd get around without the onboard beagle navigation system.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I’m Still Here

In April I wrote a blog entry. And then a week went by and I didn’t write anything else. And then another week went by, and then a month, and then another month. Before I knew it, 4 months went by.

But it’s not like I didn’t have anything to say. I just kinda went dry, that’s all. I continued to have adventures, but life stuff happened too. I’ve been on 2 trips this summer, and am just back from sailing Sabine back from Vermont.

What happened was I just got tired. Work has been kicking me in the ass lately, and when I get home the last thing I want to do is to think. I have been working on the book during lunch hours, and trying like hell to sell it. But the man’s been wearing me down lately. I need to find a way to keep that from happening. I don’t know how yet. So far I’ve come up with ideas that involve purchasing large quantities of lottery tickets. I think to formulate a more certain plan.

But I am still here. And I will write about this summer’s adventures. I promise.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Steel Trap

“I have something to show you. Wait here,” he gestured to the chair in the kitchen. This is not the first time that he’s said that. Dad’s full of random artifacts that at first glance don’t really look like much, but then when he explains you end up thinking about it for days.

See, he’s the kind of guy who has a stack of newspaper pages on the bookshelf in the small TV room near the front door of his long ranch house. He reads the newspaper every day, cover to cover, and often finds something randomly interesting about an article. He tears out the page and sets it on top of the stack. Over the years that stack has grown to about 12 inches high. My mom pleaded with him to throw it away. But on a frequent basis he rifles through the stack and finds the exact article he was thinking of, and he almost always knows exactly where in the stack that one article is.

This time the thing he wanted to show me wasn’t in the stack. He pulled out an envelope from the photo processing place; my nieces and nephews tease that their Dziadiu is the only person left on the planet who still shoots with film. He sets the photos in front of me.

In the picture is a museum exhibit of a nuclear bomb. It’s a B83 gravity bomb that weighs 2,400 pounds, 18 inches in diameter, and 12 feet long. He points to a metal plate somewhere near the midpoint of the fuselage.

Then he pulls out a photo from another envelope; in it is a metal object resting on a granite table. I recognize the table; Dad has these granite tables at his machine shop. The stone doesn’t chip, so it’s easy to slide precision measuring instruments on the surface to get an accurate reading on some part he’s made. See, Dad is a machinist, job shop primarily. Other companies come to him to make components that go into bigger things. Over the years he’s made things like engine parts for the F-14 fighter jet, and hinges for missile silos on submarines.

He points to one end of the part, and sure enough it matches the metal plate on the picture of the nuclear bomb. “I made 360 of these things in 1981,” he points out. “And then we went on vacation in New Mexico and I see one on display in a museum in Albuquerque.”

Turns out, he still has a few of them at the shop, and he dug one out when he got back from his trip. At the time he didn’t know that these parts would be used on a nuclear bomb. He had suspected they would be used on cruise missiles. But that was a common thing at the time. He got most of his work from defense contractors back then, and most of the time the part he produced was so obscure he had no idea what it would be used for. And that was precisely the point.

We scratched our heads over the random nature of how he found one of his pieces. I scratch my head at how he was able to recognize the one at that museum that day, after having produced it 30 years ago.

It’s not just the newspaper articles that he remembers. It’s everything.


Monday, April 11, 2011

The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful

It was a weekend of separate adventures. I went to visit my old college housemates an descended upon Krista’s apartment just north of Providence, while Todd and 2 of his co-workers hiked a mile or so into the forest in Connecticut and camped for the night.

It was one of those weekends where I wanted to be cloned, so I could go on both trips. While it was so great to have some girl time with some of my oldest friends, there’s just something about waking up in a tent outside. If only I could find a way to combine camping with the girl time. But in my circle of girlfriends I am the “outdoorsy” one.

But we did other stuff that involved drinking margaritas, painting pottery, driving to the other side of Boston for a cupcake, and laughing. Of course, the laughing makes it all worthwhile.

Thanks for an awesome weekend, ladies. Even though I’d never convince you all to go camping, (I can still dream, eh?) I still had a fabulous time with you all.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

“Wake up,” Todd nudged me at 9 AM on Sunday. I’d taken a shot of Tussionex the night before in an effort to fend off my infamous semi-annual-chronic-cough and I was groggy. “I got the reservations. We need to leave in an hour.”

The afternoon before we looked into the possibility of taking a car on the ferry to Block Island to go geocaching. Reservations are required for transporting a car, and it’s still a bit cold to be biking around on a small island 15 miles offshore.

“I’m going to clean out the Jeep and pack a daypack. You wash up and get something to eat. The ferry’s at 11, we need to leave at 10,” he instructed while I rubbed my eyes.

At 10:50 we arrived at the ferry landing in Point Judith, RI. I backed the Jeep onto the ferry and rubbed my palms together in excitement, the adventure was about to begin.

The last time we’d been to Block we’d sailed there. I can’t remember if it was 2004. Maybe. At any rate, we were due for a visit.

Here I am in the ferry bay, just after backing in and getting ready to go upstairs to the main level of the boat. When we got into the seating level we saw that other people brought their dogs to sit with them. We left the boys in the car, and instead made a list of all the geocaches we wanted to find. There are dozens of them on the island. Many are about a half mile apart, if that.

The ferry is about to land in New Harbor.  This section of the island, for obvious reasons, is the downtown area.  Not many people have cars on the island.  There is bike rental and scooter rental and there are flat rate taxis on the island driven by full year residents.

After lunch we headed to our first cache, just south of the ferry landing. We were greeted by a dozen or so seals lounging in the sun. We watched them drape themselves over the jagged edges of the rocks.

“How can that possibly be comfortable?” Todd asked.

“They probably can’t even feel it through all that blubber,” I pointed out.

We got back into the car and headed to the next cache at Mohegan Bluffs.  The Bluffs is quite possibly my favorite beach in all of Rhode Island.  You have to go down 144 stairs to get to the beach.  The dogs bounded down them the moment they got out of the car, Griffen dying for a swim.  We called them from the top of the stairs, but the crashing surf is too loud we had to go down all those stairs to get them back. 

Looks like Nemo got a bit wet too.

After the Bluffs we headed to the west side of the island, and got there about a minute later, Block Island is that small. The next cache was near the life guard station, but we didn’t find that cache. Most of the caches on Block Island are micro caches. That means that the container that holds them is very small. Usually it only holds the tiniest of notepads for a log book, and you have to bring your own pen to sign it. I am not a fan of micro caches, because the fun part is to see what’s in the box. Usually it’s just junk, we end up taking one silly little toy and put it into another cache. But the micro caches are pretty uneventful.

But on Block it looks like hiding caches is quite hard. In the summer the bushes off the paths becomes quite overgrown to the point where you couldn’t possibly get through it to get at a cache. And many caches get thrown out because non-geocachers don’t know what they are and assume it’s litter. Hence, micro caches are the way to go because they can be hidden inside things easily.

On the west side of the island we kept Griff on the leash so he would have the chance to dry off and not get the inside of the car sopping wet.

As we drove to the next cache, in the cemetery at the center of the island, I spotted a deer on the side of the road. It hadn’t occurred to me that deer would be on an island 15 miles off shore. I wondered how they managed to get out there. Sure, I’ve seen deer on Jamestown (island in the center of Narragansett Bay) and on Aquidneck Island (island that Newport is on). But those islands have bridges to them, and the distances to those islands is much shorter. For example, the bridge connecting Jamestown to Aquidneck is 2 miles long. A deer could cross that bridge easily, or swim across. How the heck did deer manage to arrive on Block Island.

I googled around and learned that deer were brought over on the ferry in 1968 at the request of hunters. Since then, the deer population on the island boomed and is now labeled a nuisance. Apparently, there is a running debate about whether to eradicate the entire population because deer transmit Lyme disease through ticks and pose a threat to public health. Most island residents have either contracted Lyme disease or knows someone who has.


We found a few more uneventful caches after that. Overall, it was a beautiful day on Block Island, and I leave you with my new favorite picture from the day.

Husband in the sun.



Wednesday, March 23, 2011

And Then,Bbefore I Knew It, An Entire Month Went By

It’s been awhile, yes, I know. What can I say? It’s all February’s fault.

See, I hate February. A lot. It’s a short month, but a pretty damn long one. Todd, the dogs and I all get cabin fever after awhile. Luckily February this year went by without any major spats in our house.

But let me tell you about the toll February has on me.

I mentioned the cabin fever. That can be remedied by a hike on a Saturday afternoon. However, this year the snow on the ground remained at knee height for much of the month. It had melted enough to be a soggy pain in the ass, but still too much snow to go tromping around in.

It also kind of pisses me off. I get irritated about having to spend each day of my life sitting in a cubicle from 8 to 5. I look outward chanting “There’s got to be a better way” under my breath. Exasperated, I haven’t found it yet. And so the month continues.

Now that most of March is over, I look forward to other adventures. I look forward to the Owl Prowl we’re going to this Friday night. I look forward to a vacation in Florida in June, and sailing back from Champlain in July. I look forward to diving. I look forward to spending whole days with the top down on the car.

But for now, I wait for March to be over. But on NPR this morning they said that we’re in for 2-4” of snow tonight. Just when I thought it had all melted for the year.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Step Aside, Chuck Norris

Yeah, you heard me. Step aside. You ain’t got nuthin’ on my man.

Yeah, I am sure you could kill me with 1 punch. I am sure that you could roundhouse kick something large enough to block the hole in the ozone layer into the sky and save us all from skin cancer.

But can you rebuild a rotted attic vent and whip up a crème brulee from scratch in just 1 day? Not even 1 day, try half a day.

Didn’t think so.

But my man? He totally can. And he did. Yesterday.

So, Chuck Norris? Who dat?

Labels: , ,

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Three Favorite Pictures: July 11, 2010

I've never seen a bald eagle in the wild.  Sure, I've seen the one at the Roger Williams Zoo.  But living in a zoon isn't nearly dignified enough for a bird this magnificent.  He was flying near the Bear Mountain Bridge, near West Point.

This one happened when I was trying to take a picture of something on the shore just north of New York City.  It was, as Bob Ross would call it, a "happy little accident."  I've always wanted to take a picture like this.  I've tried and tried.  And then managed to actually get it by dumb luck.  Who've thunk it?

I am a sucker for pictures of Sabine at anchor.  I have scads of them.  This was taken just north of West Point, near an intake for the New York City water department.  I totally peed in the water, sorry citizens of New York.

Labels: , ,