Friday, February 19, 2010

Saving the company a buck or two

I returned home from a work trip yesterday and the ride to the airport was the best part. Sure, we got a lot accomplished in the meetings and I was on the way home to my loving family (they saved me a jelly donut), but the ride to the airport was quite entertaining.

My plans were just to take a taxi. I learned there were a few others who were going to the airport about the same time, so we decided to ride together and share a cab. In the last meeting of the day, our small group was offered a ride from another airport bound traveler.

The rental Nissan Altima was the ride for 5 grown adults, all with briefcases, laptop or messenger bags. The humor started when no one could figure out how to open the trunk. No biggie, it was less than 30 minutes to the airport, so we'd just carry our bags on our laps.

Everyone had traveled very light, as it was a day trip for most of the people. We all piled in and the three of us in the back were packed in tightly. At this point, the punchiness really started to show through.
"You're in the safest spot, you've got fully deployed airbags all around you!"
"Yeah, you guys are full of hot air."

Another Nissan Altima drove by and the guy in the middle seat said, "Hey, those people in that car are wondering why all those guys are carrying their bags on their laps."
"When we get the airport, its gonna be like a clown car dumping every body out."

Our driver started to take some windy way to the airport, through a light industrial area. Our CIO said, "I've never been to the airport this way. Are you sure you're taking us to the airport?" At this point, we started to wonder why we couldn't get into the trunk. "Who is in the trunk?"

Stuffed full with 5 grown adults, the little car started to get hot. Two windows were opened, but with my messenger bag on my lap, I could only flail my arms in the direction of the window switch. I was told, "Don't worry about it, you might open the door and we'll all fall out."

Conversation turned to when was everyone's flight. The one who was driving had to return the rental car and had the earliest flight at 6:09. Commenting that it was a strange time for a flight, the front seat passenger looked for the clock. "We need to hurry since your flight is soon. Its 540." Turns out the display he was looking at said 540 AM, but it was late in the afternoon and the display was the radio! So much for easy to read displays in that car.

We drove into the airport and our CIO offered to return the car for the guy driving, so he could make his flight. They guy driving declined and drove us all to the curbside drop off! It was quite nice of him, especially since he was on a tight time frame. He could have taken us with him to return the rental car.

The humor, though, doesn't end here. The backseat passengers all tried to get out of the car, hurrying so that he wouldn't miss his flight, but we couldn't open the doors. We try the lock buttons, the driver tries his lock button, but no luck. It turns out, the child locks were activated! The front seat passenger let us out and we all fell out of the car, laughing out loud.

All in all, we saved the company some taxi fares and had a fun drive to the airport. Early plane flights and all day meetings make people quite punchy! How much fun!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Birthday fun

My birthday was this week, on Thursday, but with my MBA and work and the kids' swimming, a week day birthday is just plain ol' inconvenient. Why can't these things come on the weekend? Heather may say that I'm older than dirt, but I'm not yet old enough to just wish that birthdays would skip me altogether. With all that we've got going on, Heather blocked Saturday for some double-super-secret birthday stuff.

Yes, she needed to block my calendar so that I wouldn't schedule an MBA team meeting or take the kids to swim practice at 5am.

So, after living up to Kid 1's Friday night challenge of staying up past 9:30pm (and he exaggerates, I typically go to bed around 10:30pm), I slept in to a luxurious ridiculously late 7:30am. I think Kid 1 and 2 were already awake, since they slept on the couch in front of the TV. Heather woke up a bit later and we headed out for the secret activities. All I knew was that the required uniform was jeans and a sweater.

It turns out that the sweater was almost overkill, because we had a beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest. Crazy, almost spring-like weather (though winter is back today).

Our first stop for the day was a new Dim Sum restaurant which just opened in Issaquah, Macky's Dim Sum Restaurant. The food is good, all very fresh, and not oily, and the owner is quite friendly. It was a great word of mouth marketing find - I discovered it via the Issaquah Press's Twitter page and sent the link on to Heather and she chose it for the our lunch spot. We didn't turn down a dish they brought by and throughly enjoyed every one. The BBQ pork is quite good and the Turnip cake was a surprise delight for Heather. Their dumplings are wonderful, any one of them.

From there, we headed into Seattle. As we approached I-5 North, the traffic was looking awful, but Heather was getting off the freeway at the first exit. I had no clue where we were going - I'm not all that familiar with the area other than thats were Roger used to live. We ended up at the Frye Museum, someplace I'd never been to before. We wandered through and enjoyed the exhibits and we're pleasantly surprised by a new exhibit opening. We got to listen to a presentation about the exhibit, the art and more. The Frye's had quite a penchant for German painters and the salon hanging. I'll have to come here more often: parking and admission is free!

The museum went a bit faster than Heather had planned and so we headed to a park in Seattle, again, someplace we'd never been before. Just picking a destination and seeing whats there was a continual theme of the day, and played out quite well for us. We drove to Golden Gardens Park, but never found any gardens. There were beautiful views of the snow capped Olympic mountains and people and dogs playing on the beach. Heather let me use her camera, but had to remind me to save battery, as our dinner spot was going to have a great view of sunset.

At about 4:30, we headed over to Ray's Cafe for dinner. The timing was perfect, as we were seated the sun began to dance lower on the horizon, illuminating the skyline with a beautiful glow. We started with off-menu (ohh, aren't we fancy) sweet potato fries for an appetizer Heather had the Cioppino (delicious, peppery and creamy) and I had the crab and shrimp cakes (not something you find too often). The portions weren't so large, so that we had room for dessert and we ordered half of the dessert menu and forks all around and shared 5 different desserts. Every single one was great.

After that, Heather told the GPS to direct us home. I think her GPS has routing options of shortest, fastest and creepiest. We drove on surface streets, through a waterfront industrial area and it had to be the creepiest way home. We were only a block from a much larger, well populated, well lit street, but this was the way the GPS took us.

As we were driving South, paralleling I-5, we could see a large, well lit building up on a hill. It had a gigantic round window on it and it looked like a mausoleum. So, we headed out to see what it was. We had a rough idea where we were going and Google maps indicated that there was a cemetery close by, so I figured that it pretty much cemented my guess of a mausoleum.

As we approached the cemetery, I pointed out to Kid 2, the one who is scared of anything zombie related that the barb wire on the cemetery fence was designed to keep people in the cemetery, rather than keep people out. She didn't find it funny. Being that it was also quite dark out didn't help either.

We discovered another park, Volunteer Park, which has an arboretum and the Seattle Asian Art Museum, but couldn't find our mausoleum. As we wandered (driving) through the rather nice neighborhood, we stumbled upon St Marks Cathedral! It was the "masoleum" we were seeing. There is a gigantic rose window which at night, they illuminate so it can be seen from the rest of Seattle. The view from the Cathedral is beautiful - on a clear night like we had, you could see the Seattle skyline, the Space Needle and more.

Having found our mystery destination, we headed home. It was an enjoyable day, out and about with my family. I enjoy visiting museums and spending time with my family relaxing.

Thanks Heather and Kids 1, 2 and 3 for the great day!