Friday, February 22, 2008

I let him talk me into rutabagas!

On my way in to Huntsville for Gulf Games, I stopped at Niki West's Steak and Seafood in Birmingham. It's a big cafeteria and I found it by calling Dave and having him check his "Roadfood" book for any points of interest in Birmingham. He gave me directions over the phone and it was so easy to find, only about a mile off of the freeway.

The food was pretty tasty. I had a fried pork chop and a few side dishes, my favorite being a broccoli, rice & cheese mixture. I let the guy talk me into rutabagas! I'd never had them before, but they were sweet, surprisingly.

It was definitely worth the stop and I'd go there again!

Here was my dinner:

Gulf Games Day #1

I drove in from Mississippi after my visit with Carolyn last night. It's about a five hour drive, so I called my boss to find out if there was any update to the big project we were working on the week or so before I left for vacation. Long story short: I worked all night on Wednesday and all day Thursday. Obviously, I'm NOT using vacation time for today!

I finally took a shower and got dressed and ventured out into the real world around 6:30 and ran into Dale & co. They intercepted me for dinner and then we were off to Five Guys Burgers! 42 has told me SO much about Five Guys because they are based in Philly and he loves them, but we've never actually made it over to check it out when I've visited him the last couple times. I put about 8 toppings on my burger and it was tasty. I'd definitely try it again! The fries were really good, homemade and yummy.

After dinner, we had our welcome party. I didn't win Take it Easy at my table. There are a lot of newcomers, probably about half of whom I've already met at other cons. I'm already behind in the Friendliest Gamer contest for this Gulf Games, not sure if I can make up the deficit of being holed up in my room all day today.

Highlights of gaming tonight: We played Traumfabrik with five players and I won! With 100 points! It was quite exciting! We also played a couple games of Tichu and I over-called Jon many times during our game and broke him almost every time! It was awesome! I just kept getting the cards to do it. It was fun!

I might go to the Unclaimed Baggage store tomorrow, but considering I have to be ready to go in 5 1/2 hours, I'm not too sure I'll get up in time. I'm going to set my alarm and see how I feel in the morning!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I made it to Mississippi safely

I made it safely to Mississippi and so far am having a wonderful time! Carolyn and her husband Eric have been completely gracious hosts, staying up with me chatting with me until almost 1:00 AM! Their son, Gabriel is totally as cute as his pictures and was amazingly still awake when I arrived! They also have two dogs - Beatrice, a harlequin Great Dane and Chloe, a boxer-lab mix. Chloe loooooves attention, while Beatrice is sort of a bully, but I've been standing my ground. Not as easy as you'd think when you're face to face with a dog that could take a big chunk out of you with one bite! But so far, it's been working!

Tomorrow, I get to sleep in (yea!) and then Carolyn, Gabe & I are going to meet up with Eric for his lunch break at Mint Julep! Apparently, they have awesome fried chicken! Who would've thought I'd be interested in that?! Yes, pictures will be forthcoming. Of people AND food!

Monday, February 18, 2008

OrcCon 2008 Recap

I made it through my weekend in potential convention hell at Strategicon/OrcCon this past weekend. I had a much better time than I have at previous Strategicons, which was NOT due to the hotel! The hotel space seemed a little better, but the parking was awful, the internet in my room never worked and there were no light blocking curtains (that I saw).

I did something that I've never done at a con ever before! I went to bed, both nights, at reasonable hours! On Friday, I only stayed up til 2 AM, then woke up at 8 AM and worked out with Ron at the gym for an hour+ and on Saturday night, I was only up til 3 AM which allowed me to get up at 9 AM on Sunday to be able to make it to the Power Grid tournament.

Power Grid tournament: I rarely, if ever, participate in the tournaments. The thought of getting stuck at a table with a bunch of people I don't wanna play with is tough. My desire to be competitive isn't enough to usually get over that hump. I think getting more sleep helped me be more tolerant of people too. But this time I decided to try the Power Grid tournament because I do enjoy playing the game.

Thirty people entered, so we had five tables of six players each. I ended up winning my table and so did Chris, so we ended up at the finals. The final table was a nail-biter to the end! Chris ended up coming in first, but I came in second! He built and powered 17 cities and I did 16, tying with Bruce, but I had more money in the tie-breaker. It was really fun! Plus, it was a "big" tournament, so the payout was more.

Race for the Galaxy tournament: I LOVE Race for the Galaxy. Instead of doing a separate post about it, I'll just say that I could play this game over and over (and I have!). In fact, with all my dealer dollars that I won in tournaments, I used it to buy a second copy of RftG because my cards are starting to get a little icky. The first time I played this game was on Christmas and since then I've logged 79 plays (conservatively) which puts me in the top 10 people playing it (who log their games on the Geek). I didn't win the tournament, but I did beat Chris, which ultimately is more important anyway! He seems to beat me about 75% of the time, so hopefully the tide is turning! Now I just have to get better at beating 42!

The Quarterly "One in a Million": I'm playing in the Power Grid tournament and a guy from the next table (playing some other game) leans in and says, "Did you used to work at Marie Callender's?" I did (a loooooong time ago), so I said, "Yes..." and I'm lookin' at him and his eyes look familiar and then I checked his name badge. I totally recognize his name! We hung out/dated for just a little while when I was 20! Shortly before I met my husband and got married. And here we are, twelve years later, running into each other at a gaming convention. How weird is that? When I knew him, he was in a band and was really into music stuff, so I never knew he was a geek at heart! I told him that had I known, perhaps the dating would've gone on longer! He lives really close to me, so we talked about gaming together sometime. He's married with two kids, so no potential re-kindling happening there!

The Food: I was so fortunate to not have to drive anywhere for food the entire length of the con! Erin and others went out and picked up food and for that I am grateful! I am often the food courier, so I know what a pain it can be and I want to say THANK YOU for the Tito's tacos, Chick-Fil-A, In-n-Out, Johnnie's pastrami, Dinah's fried chicken, Chinese food, and more I'm sure! Everything was yummy!!!!

Overall, this was a pretty decent con. I didn't play ANY Werewolf though!! But I did get sleep and my sleep schedule isn't all wacky, so that's a plus. I think I've finally adjusted to the format of the con. And I've lowered my expectations! Going to BGG.CON as my first gaming convention in 2006 ruined me forever as far as the local cons go.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Heading to OrcCon

I'm headed out to OrcCon/Strategicon for the weekend. I have a handful of posts that I've halfway written up and maybe will finish sometime this weekend! I've been busy with work and socializing and haven't put much time into the blog lately. With my trip coming up next weekend, I'm not sure when I'll have time!

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Going to the South

I'm headed to Alabama in a couple weeks to go to Gulf Games. I have a friend I met in a discussion room on MSN about personal finance. I had posted a message about anyone wanting a referral to ING for $$ to contact me and I think she may have been the only person who did! Lucky for me! Wow, hard to believe that was back in October 2005!

I've never actually met her, but at the beginning we exchanged several LONG emails and got to "know" one another. I keep up with her and her family through her blog. So, I am thrilled to report that I'm going to visit her before I head over to Huntsville for Gulf Games!

I'm going to fly into Jackson, MS on Tuesday night and drive out to her place, spend the night, hang out with her on Wednesday during the day and then drive up to Huntsville that night! I'm so excited to actually be going out to visit her!! I'm also very excited to see her baby, Gabe! He looks super-cute in the photos. It's been a while since I've been around a baby. Oh, babies. They're so darn cute!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Changes at Work

My boss' final day at work was last Friday. It was a sad day... We all got together after work last Wednesday for his surprise farewell dinner, which, I'm happy to report, he thoroughly enjoyed. He was greatly touched by everyone who attended and said that it was perfect. I was thrilled that he enjoyed it so much because even though my gut said he would like it, there's always the chance that he'd hate it!

His last day, he went around the shop at the 2:00 PM break to say his final good-byes to everyone and then came up front to say good-bye to us in the front and of course, Marilyn started crying, which made him get all teary and then he came to give me a hug and say "bye" and then I started crying. After he left, Marilyn and I just sat at our desks just crying and crying. It probably sounds weird to a lot of people, especially if you don't care much for your boss, but he means so much to me and has been a force in my life for the last ten years. It's like getting a divorce almost, but from a non-romantic relationship!

Last week, I was offered his office in the front. There are three bigger offices right in the front lobby area. My office is in the hall area. I love my office. I put the floors in, picked out the color for the walls and all the furniture. My desk is beautiful birds-eye maple on top and everything is just the way I like it. But, because of the promotion and other stuff going on, I couldn't say "no" to moving into my boss' old office.

Here are some pictures of my office before I started cleaning it out. And this is a candid shot of exactly how it looked when I walked in, warts and all!

The view from the doorway:

I went in on Saturday to clear out my old desk, which took HOURS. Here's a list of things that seem to spontaneously multiply: pennies, paper clips and paychecks! I have paycheck stubs from over 10 years ago sitting in my desk. It's funny to look back and just be fascinated by how much money I made back then and think, that used to be "enough"!

My aunt Terry used to say about Jason, "He's cute, smart, sweet... he's the whole package!" So, when I found this note, I started cracking up and felt happy and sad at the same time... This was the funniest thing I found in my desk:

I have no idea when he called and said that, but I must've thought it was funny even then because I tucked it away. And, yes, it got transferred to my new desk.

Here is a "before" photo of my new office taken on Saturday:

It will end up looking different though because this morning, I came in and rearranged all the furniture. I liked the desk better in the office across the lobby, so I had the guys move that desk and the matching credenza into my office and move a bunch of other stuff around. Before we made all those changes, I was really NOT looking forward to moving into my new office because of the configuration. Plus, my old office was so much "happier" looking. It as bright and light! Now, I am much happier and will probably love this office too. Now I just need to get stuff on the walls!

Marilyn is thrilled with her new (and my old) office. She should be! I will miss my desk. If it remotely matched at ALL with my new office, I would've moved it in there. In the meantime, here's what it looked like after I took all my stuff off of it.

I was joking saying that I'll probably enjoy the desk even more, now that she's in there since she's such a neatnik, I'll actually be able to see the desk! I'm a stacker, through and through, but since my new office is so visible, that will be the big challenge. Keeping my desk cleared off. I'm really not looking forward to that!

I'll have to post some "after" pictures once I get settled in.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Our First Fight

This past Tuesday, 42 and I had our first official fight! Via instant messenger, no less! That's a first for me. I know I said a couple things I shouldn't have and now they're recorded in our chat history. Forever.

The good news? I was really pissed off and I: (a) didn't break up with him, or even feel like breaking up with him during the fight (actually quite the opposite!), and (b) talked to him that night and we agreed to do certain things for each other and we were fine. More than fine.

For me, I think that was the weirdest part. It seems like when I was with Jason, we'd have fights that lingered for days. Looking back, I think the reason for that was because those fights were about fundamental life issues/goals that were not easily resolved. Well, considering we're divorced, I guess those things never got resolved!

It's really interesting (and so much less stressful) to be with someone who I don't have to worry about fighting about unresolvable life issues. We talked about all the major life issues (that we could think of) at the very beginning and seem to be remarkably compatible. Now we just need to see if our styles are compatible enough. Only time will tell!