Friday, November 28, 2008

Perfectly Oregon

Today seems to be perfectly Oregon. It us cool, grey, low lying clouds, too warm for a winter jacket, too cold to go without.

I have been butch today. My dad and I jump started his pick up and made a plan to fix a malfunctioning toilet too. Or maybe I am a lesbian today.

Currently waiting for some friends to arrive so we can do a quick wine tasting. We are at Brooks Winery (I don't think I can link in a mobile blog... If I can, please tell me how).

Perfect timing... My co boozers are here now.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving

So I did finally arrive. I got into PDX about 3 hours late, managed to get to Mac around 1145. Today was a standard day on the home front. We watched TV, went to the store and ate a big dinner. Nothing exciting at all.

The plans for tonight: watch Fletch, pound vitamins and go to sleep. Tomorrow is a quick wine tasting and tortured conversation with Uncle Tom.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Braking News

So, I am sitting here on a flight to PDX waiting for something. We pull away from the gate, the go back, pull away, go back, pull away and finally go back. It's like the plane was humping the jet bridge. Evidently we are having problems with our brakes. Judging what happened on the way to LGA a couple months ago, I think we need brakes.

Even though I am stuck in coach, I am in econ plus and the middle seat next to me is empty. I really can't complain. I am starving though. If we leave right now I will arrive at our scheduled arrival time...not holding my breath.

I was so looking forward to arriving early and getting sushi before my cab comes. That doesn't look likely now. I asked the cab driver to come 45 minutes late, so I could eat. He said no. He said I have until 845 to be in his cab, or he leaves. Now that is customer service.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Vegas, How I Love Thee, Let Me Count the Ways

I returned from Las Vegas today. My original flight was scheduled to land in Chicago at 8pm tonight -- After 5 days in Vegas I just had to get out of town -- I got up at the crack of dawn (5am) in a hope to get on an earlier flight - standby. Luckily I got out on the first flight and was back in Chicago before noon.

Las Vegas was good -- I learned a few things at the conference that will help me and my company over the coming months, met a few people who are dealing with the same issues we are dealing with and I had fun. I won't discuss the work aspects here though. The fun side of the trip consisted of me seeing Barry Manilow (again) at the Hilton this time -- fantastic. We were no more than 50 feet from him during the whole show! On Friday, we went to see Jerry Seinfeld at Caesar's Palace. First off -- I think I want to stay at Caesar's next time I'm in Vegas, it's a fun and happening location. Jerry was a little disappointing. The first 15 minutes I didn't laugh once. He had a few good moments, but all in all - disappointing. His opening act was absolutely fantastic. I could hardly stop laughing -- I think he was worth the cost of the Seinfeld tickets.

On Saturday night a friend was in town (last minute thing). JB (not JFB, not JLP-B or her husband JB) was in from Phoenix for the night. We decided to go see another show. He and I were trying to decide between Andrew Dice Clay, Carrot Top or Chris Angel Mind Freak. I'm not a fan of Cirque or Magic, so Chris Angel wasn't near the top of the list. We went to half price tickets after a decadent shopping trip (oh yeah, I did pretty well at the Craps table -- pretty well indeed). While waiting in line we heard that Clay was sold out, so we settled on Carrot Top. He was playing at our hotel, so it made it much more convenient. I use to love Carrot Top when I was about 10 or 11. I was excited, but didn't have high expectations. OH MAN! He was completely hilarious. I can't say enough good things about it. I laughed almost non-stop for 90 minutes. I think it was the best $39 I have spent in years. Next time I go to Vegas, I would be interested in seeing him again -- put that on your list people.

It is good to be home now. I am here for 3 nights, then off to PDX. JLP-B has set up wine tasting for Friday, I think. I'm looking forward to seeing her and her husband. I always have fun with them. I don't return to Chicago until Monday night. Lilly has been so affectionate today -- I feel bad that she is so lonely when I'm not here.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Trips...

Tomorrow I fly to LAS for work. I get in late night. My conference starts early on Wednesday. Tomorrow won't be anything exciting, just a quick flight and a quiet night. Unfortunately United only flies TED from ORD to LAS. No first class. No Business Class. No free cocktails. No priority bag pass. Just sitting back with the cattle.

We've got some good meals planned with a couple of vendors and a friend from BP and I (the woman who I met in Philly last year and went to Tiajuana with in May) are going to see Barry Manilow on Wednesday night. Yes, I am a fanilow. Go ahead and make fun of me -- you can go fuck yourself. :)

On Friday night JO and I are going to see Jerry Seinfeld. I wonder if he is still funny. I haven't heard much about or from him since his show went off the air in 1998. I hope his show doesn't suck. Saturday and Sunday I'll be spending some nice quality time at the spa and perhaps going to the outlet malls. I'm quite confident I will be spending some time at the pool too.

I am looking forward to a relaxing week/weekend away from everything.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Art of Negotiation

So I thought I had my deal all squared away with the Newberg cabinet maker. He kicks back on Thursday saying he realized he wasn't making enough money on my project and wanted me to find someone to help move table. After a couple of emails we both blinked. He wanted $X more to actually provide the services that we had agreed to -- I offered 50% of $X. It is still a good deal. I thought about telling him to stick it -- we had a contract in place and he couldn't change the arrangements after we entered into the contract. I was going to tell him just to forget it -- or to go fuck himself and do the service for what he had originally quoted. I figured the latter option wasn't very good because he could take the table and never come back. I don't think this guy is a scheister at all -- I just think he needed the work and leaped before he looked. The table is now in his workshop being fixed -- it should be back in 7 business days. I'm looking forward to getting it back -- and it not sucking.

I went to a CAF event on Thursday night at the Driehaus Foundation, more specifically the Nickerson Mansion. The event was nice, it is always good to see my CAF Aux Board friends. Tracking my family history is a bit problematic. It seems we have some blank spaces that no one can fill in. We came to Oregon in the 1920s (my dad's mom's side of the family -- the Henry's-- were in Oregon for a couple generations before my dad's dad's side), from Kansas -- probably during the dust bowl. Not much before that is known. The family was from Boston before that -- but we don't know when they left or when they came. So, the Nickerson Mansion has been restored with original furnishings (not period pieces, but original pieces owned by the Nickersons). The house was a bit extreme -- not really my taste, but I am a bit eclectic. In the dining room the formal table looked remarkably like the table I inherited. There were a few minor differences -- but it was about 80% there. Do you ever watch the Antiques Road Show on PBS (or that episode of Frasier)? I wonder if my refinishing this table (and the fact that previous generations of Nickerson's attempted to refinish this table before me) have destroyed tens of thousands of dollars of value? Whatever -- it's a table, it should be used and enjoyed -- it's not a 401k plan, right?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Bad Economy

My crazy Uncle gave me my Great Grandmother's dining table earlier this year. He doesn't give things unless there are many conditions. The major condition associated with taking this table was that I would NEVER sell it. He wants it to remain in the family forever. Don't tell me what I can and cannot do, you damn pirate. Of course I told him I would keep it forever. I have no qualms about selling this if I need the money. It isn't something I would sell if I want to go on a vacation, but if it would allow me to keep my condo (assuming I had one and needed more cash to keep it), or allow my dad to have another month of chemo I would sell it in a minute.

This table isn't really my style. I am much more of a modern design guy. This table is a solid oak table (blonde wood) with thick solid legs (like Tipper Gore). Without the leaves it is nearly a perfect square (maybe 36" x 36"). My family has never been "rich" (what does rich mean, I don't know). When my great grandmother died, she didn't have much to give to her many children, so she gave what she could. One child got the dining table, another got the chairs, another got the hutch. Unfortunately the chairs are missing in action. My uncle decided the best place to keep the leaves for the dining table was outside in the barn. Usually a pretty safe bet -- solid oak, outside in rainy and damp Oregon -- definitely a wise choice.

In July I had a carpenter come over and look at a few pieces of furniture, including this table. He provided a quote to build two leaves (solid oak, with aprons, not just a flat piece of wood to slide in), replane the top of the table, refinish the whole thing including the large ornate legs. Remember, this table, once completed, will have to be shipped 2200 miles from Oregon to Illinois. Not only does it have to be transported, but I also have to buy 8 chairs too. The rate I was quoted was about twice what I was expecting. Basically, I decided this was crazy and I'd just buy a new dining set and call it good.

I did feel a bit odd -- I wanted to keep this family antique in the family, especially since my family doesn't have much that we pass down from generation to generation. So today I decided to email the cabinet guy and ask if he'd cut his price dramatically. I figured the worst thing he could say was "hell no". I had no idea if he'd take it or not. He did. He bit immediately. I probably could have gotten a better deal, but I'm happy. He will pick up the table on Friday and return it in 9 days (7 business days). We'll have it back by Thanksgiving.

I do feel a bit bad about this too. I don't know how much money a cabinet maker in Newberg can make, but I figured with the economy as it is, he is probably hurting for cash. Christmas is just around the corner -- maybe he needs money for the kids, or maybe he needs money to keep his house. I don't feel guilty about getting a deal -- I just wonder if the guy was trying to screw me with his initial number ("some guy from Chicago coming in to get family furniture refinished -- man oh man, I can make a ton of coin off him"). Or maybe he is doing this at a near loss just so he'll have the income (loss on labor, not expenses).

I won't lose any sleep over this really, I just wonder how bad this economy will get -- how many people will provide their master craftsmanship for a deep discount just to keep their family fed. How many people out there are in such bad positions they cannot survive? -- Fuck, as far as I know he's using the money I give him for this project to get a prostitute or a shit load of meth...

Monday, November 10, 2008

I am pleased, but come on people...

I wouldn't say I am a socialist, but I am a tax and spend liberal. I would rather pay a huge percentage of my income in taxes as long as our nation had excellent health care, transportation, education and security. I am not afraid of "big government". I'm not 100% sold that Obama's government will be bigger and more intrusive than Bush Junior's government. I feel that W's government is just watching us (and everyone else) constantly, but not really doing anything to help us -- except keep hundreds of people captive on the tip of Cuba. The detainees in Guantanamo remind me quite a bit of the hostages taken in Tehran in November 1979, except when the Iranians took hostages the didn't leave their country -- we went to other countries to steal people from their homes.

Although there is still time, I don't think that W will bring the world to an end -- a few years ago, I was sure he would. I also don't think that Obama is the Messiah. In Chicago so many people think he will make the entire world a better place instantly. They won't even wait for January 20, they expect him to start running the country now and all sorts of policies will change, the sun will shine, the harvests will be bountiful, the skies and waterways will be clear of pollution, hunger will be gone and everyone lose those last 10 pounds they've wanted to shed for years. He is just a man people. He will will do his best based on the knowledge he has at the time. He will make some excellent choices. He will also make some bad decisions -- possibly some horribly wrong decisions. Even Bill Clinton made some decisions that still haunt us today ("Don't Ask Don't Tell", "I did not have sexual relations with that fat ugly girl from Lewis and Clark College", The Clinton Doctrine on Terrorist Retaliation -- Afghanistan, The Sudan, Yemen, Pakistan -- the failed Clinton policies directly led to the September 11th Attacks).

I shouldn't be too down on people who are so excited about Obama. It has been so long since our country had hope about the future. I've had hope in each presidential election I have voted in -- unfortunately the votes never really fell the way I had hoped.

Only time will tell. Expectations are high -- anything less than extreme excellence will be seen as failure. We shall wait and see -- no, he's not the second coming of Christ. (If he is, I will revise this blog posting before the end...just to hedge my bets).

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Blimey!

Today is Election Day. Today is the third time that I have voted in a Presidential Election. It is possible today is the first time I have not been horribly disappointed in the turn out. I am not going to jinx us all though.

I am not going to Grant Park tonight to cheer on Barack Obama. The weather is absolutely fantastic here. I like the idea of being part of the massive crowd (theoretically celebrating the win) listening to Obama give his speech later tonight. The idea of 1MM people trying to get out of downtown after the rally just gives me much angst. Sometimes (many times) I just hate people.

It is now about 9pm on Election Night. I think it is quite funny that Obama has .5MM-1MM people in Grant Park to celebrate with him and McMain has an invite only party at a posh hotel in Phoenix. Doesn't this just typify the difference between these two parties -- everyone welcome versus only the elite?

Bad news for Tim -- my trip to Hartford and Manhattan has been cancelled. The class I was taking -- the class I was looking forward to for 7 months was cancelled 6 days prior. What a mess. So instead of just rebooking my airfare and spending the weekend in Manhattan with JDE I am cancelling the whole thing. She needs to study and I really shouldn't spend two grand for 3 days -- especially when I'm trying to save money for a house. These are my flights -- fingers cross nothing happens to them -- but if something does, we'll know it was a good move that my class was cancelled (11/10/2008 UAL 1114, ORD-BDL. 11/16/2008 UAL 0679, LGA-ORD).

Vegas is still in the queue -- be sure to book your tickets straight away.

I've also had a headache for the last 3 days. I hope it is just election/future stress and tomorrow it will be all gone. Fingers crossed that my head isn't going to explode momentarily.