Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Stardate 60083.06 - A Day As Cold and Grey as Today

Suzanne Vega has a song with the lyrics, "...on a day, as cold, and grey, as today..." And while it is not particularly cold, it is particularly grey and rainy today. But I thought I'd share with all of you my little corner of the world when I am in Virginia working. I didn't use to have my own office down here. When I first moved to NYC I was an "Associate" and that level didn't warrant my own office in VA when I was living in NYC. After I was promoted to "Senior Associate" then I could maintain an office in McLean while living elsewhere. Of course, in my continued efforts to help the Firm keep costs low (just look at all the crappy hotels I've stayed at), I share the office with the Senior Associate in charge of our Rome, NY office. Usually we are not here at the same time, but when we are whoever gets here first gets the main desk, and whoever is second gets the little round table in the corner. The office is also used as temporary space by new hires, and as a place for my Vice President to park when she is in our building and needs a desk for a few hours (or a day). Oh, and that is a decaf skim latte for those who think I may have fallen off the wagon. I'm still off caffeine.

It is a pretty big office as far as space goes in the building, but it is an odd shape (sort of like a comma) with a tiny floor to ceiling window. My view is also rather uninspiring (at least I have a window), and as I don't like to use the overhead lights it is usually dark until the afternoon sun shines directly in through the window, blinding all who enter my door.

I'm just glad to be getting back home. Loren is progressing pretty quickly developmentally and I hate to miss things, like her first time being able to be pulled into a standing position from being flat on her back.

McLean, VA

Monday, January 30, 2006

Stardate 60081.68 - High Ho, High Ho...

...it's off to work we go. Back in Virginia, but back home tomorrow. Been up since 0420, and once again caught the 0630 down. I'm staying again at the Marriott Courtyard. Even though my initial check in last time was pretty bad, I've decided to give them another chance.

This place is like an organism, with cars the blood cells, roads the arteries, and buildings the organs. And it is a dense organism. And one that sucks the life out of man (and woman).

Every time I come down here, I can't understand how people deal with the traffic. I know I live in NYC, but there the public transportation system is good enough that you don't have to drive. There are no such options here.

McLean, VA

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Stardate 60076.29 - Loren is Out and About in NYC

The day was warm and nice, so we decided to take Loren on a little walk. Before we left, we snapped a picture of her in a present she got from the author of the "Patently Delicious" blog. The shirt says "Patent Pending" in case you cannot read it.

After a quick stop to tour a gym we are thinking of joining, we headed over to the river. Here are Loren's first pictures being out of her stroller in NYC. That is the East River in the background, taken from Carol Schurz Park near Gracie Mansion.

We stopped by a diner on the way back so Cheryl could feed Loren, and Loren had to have two diaper changes while we were there. By the end of the meal, we were all tired and ready to come home. It was a good walk on a nice day.


Stardate 60075.03 - Amazon Software Oddity

I got another odd e-mail from Amazon:

Dear Amazon.com Customer,
We've noticed that customers who have purchased Sideways (Widescreen Edition) also purchased Blood and Wine on DVD. For this reason, you might like to know that Blood and Wine will be released on February 7, 2006 on DVD. You can pre-order yours at a savings of 25% by following the link below.

Humm...is that because of the wine theme? Not sure that Sideways and Blood and Wine are similar in any other way. That's like saying that if you watched Clerks you would like The Sopranos because they both took place in NJ.

Blood and Wine is described as :
Bob Rafelson has stated that this is the final part of an informal trilogy he started with "Five Easy Pieces" and continued with "The King Of Marvin Gardens". In the three, Nicholson has now played son, brother and father. In this one, Nicholson is a wealthy wine dealer who has distanced himself from his wife with his philandering and from his son with his negligence. After he steals a diamond necklace with the help of a safecracker partner, Victor, things start coming apart. His wife sets out to interrupt what she thinks is another one of his weekend dalliances, but is really his trip to pawn the jewels.

I don't think that is like Sideways at all:

Miles is a failed writer living a meager existence in San Diego as an English teacher. With his career seemingly fading and the fate of a book hinging on a publisher's decision, Miles is depressed with himself and what he hasn't achieved. Jack is a television actor whom some recognize but not many do, as if he were a minor actor who got a taste of success. With his best friend Miles, the two embark on a road trip through California's wine country. Miles wants to give his friend a nice sendoff before married life, while Jack simply wants to have a fling beforehand. As they're both nearing middle age with not much to show for it, the two will explore the vineyards while ultimately searching for their identities.


Friday, January 27, 2006

Stardate 60073.72 - Glad to be Home

This is your brain on too much travel....

I'm always glad for the long walk from the plane into the terminal when I am back home, although I feel a bit like this photo looks after three hard days in Virginia. I'll be glad when this proposal is complete.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Stardate 60069.47 - Jessica Stover Updates

Since I know all my friends look to me for regular J.Sto updates, I wanted to pass along that Jessica Stover has started a complete make-over of her web site/blog. It looks pretty cool so far.

McLean, VA

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Stardate 60063.86 - My Own Line of Clothing

My fans have apparently created my own line of clothing, based on the post and subsequent discussion of The List.

I will laugh if anyone actually buys one.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Stardate 60061.9 - Quick Camera Picture

Here is a quick picture from my camera phone of Cheryl's grandma with Loren. The walls in the room are yellow, and they cast a yellow tint to everything.

The picture was taken at night, and I think the room doesn't have the best lighting for evening pictures. Other than the off color, the picture is nice.


Stardate 60061.26 - Cheryl's Dad Takes a Trip

Cheryl's Dad Bill had to go on a business trip to Taiwan. It is a short trip, and he'll only be gone a few days. This is how the conversation went with him on Saturday:

Cheryl: How long will you be gone?
Bill: Less than a week.
Cheryl: That is a long way to fly to only be there a few days.
Bill: I need to find out what their XYZ procedures are.
Curt: And that can't be done by teleconference?
Bill: I have to see their XYZ procedures.
Curt: And they can't be e-mailed to you?
Bill: I want to look them in the eye and have them hand me their procedures.
Cheryl: They could hand you a take-out menu and you wouldn't know - you don't read Chinese!

Maybe you had to be there, but I thought that exchange was pretty funny.


Sunday, January 22, 2006

Loren Update (from Cheryl)

I've had a lot of fun watching Loren developing noticeably day by day this week. She is now very smiley and chatty, especially after she's just eaten. She is even smiling on demand for pictures. She's getting very picky about how she is carried; she only wants to face forward (no more over the shoulder -- she even wants to fall asleep facing forward), and is content to watch the world that way for long stretches. I took her to Central Park in the stroller on Friday, and it was warm enough that I didn't need to bundle her to the eyeballs or use the sunshade, so she could see out. She stayed awake all the way to the park watching the cars on 66th St (a record -- until now the stroller put her to sleep within seconds).

Her head control has gotten much more sure in the last few days, and all of a sudden she can sit supported without drooping her head, and she can stand while supported under the armpits. The hands are slowly coming on line too. When we got to my parents' house yesterday, she reached for the flower embroidered on my mom's sweater. That was the first time I've seen her reach for something.

We've been hitting the East Side new mommies' circuit: we're regulars at the breastfeeding support group at NYU hospital, and we've tried the new parents' discussion at the 92nd St. Y and the Upper East Side new mothers' luncheon on 64th St. Since most of my friends in NYC are from the UN and don't live in our neighborhood, it's been great for me to meet women who live near us and have babies Loren's age. There are some challenges to keeping a baby in the city that suburbanites don't have to contend with -- for example, stores are small and carry a limited selection of supplies. You can go to 5 drugstores and not find the kind of diapers you're looking for. It's nice to have a network of people who happen to know "Oh, they have those at Food Emporium on 68th." I don't know that I'd want to do the stay-at-home mom thing indefinitely, but I'm enjoying it for a few months! I'm trying to get some annual leave approved to extend my maternity leave by a few more weeks, until the beginning of April.

Stardate 60059.06 - Houses in Holmdel

So for fun on Sunday after church we went to an open house in a development near where Cheryl grew up. It used to be a farm, but now is "The Vineyard" and is full of million-dollar homes. Cheryl said it is called the "Vineyard" because "The Soybean Field" didn't have the same panache.

The home was listed at a little below $1.3M and had 3800 sq ft finished and another 2000 or so unfinished in the basement. Of course, they had more crap in their basement than Cheryl and I have in our entire apartment!

We don't go for the big columns in front, but the layout inside was actually pretty nice. The carpet and color scheme would need some changes, but the flow was nice. It had four bedrooms upstairs and one "extra" room downstairs. It was up on a hill so the views from the second floor were not bad.

They did have an interesting master bed, which matches a wine rack we got for our Wedding. Cheryl couldn't resist snapping a picture.

Holmdel, NJ

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Captain's Log Supplemental - Things Left Behind

When Cheryl and I sold our home in Vienna, VA and moved to NYC, we had to leave a lot of things behind. We gave away a lot of furniture, and load and loads of books (that really pained me) along with bookshelves. We also gave away almost all of our plants. My friend Brian took most of them, but some got scattered among various people.

While I was in McLean for meetings this week, I happened by the space of my boss' Executive Assistant (secretary), and lo and behold, I saw something I recognized...the rubber tree plant Cheryl and I used to have! I had forgotten that I gave some plants to her (she worked for a different Principal in the Firm at that time), and apparently the rubber tree plant had not only survived these past 4+ years, but it had thrived!

What's the old saying about, "If you love something set it free, if it comes back its yours and if not it never was"? Is that applicable here? Perhaps not.

Or just maybe, "There are some things better left behind."

Or better yet, "There are some things better for having been left behind."

Holmdel, NJ

Stardate 60056.66 - Going for a Ride

So Cheryl's Dad finally purchased a Toyota Prius. Cheryl's Grandmother has had one for a while, and her Dad has been singing its praises for years. He's been working on Cheryl's Mom to replace their Mazda Protege with one, and Carol finally gave in a couple of weeks ago.

So while we were in NJ this weekend Bill took Cheryl and me for a ride while Loren napped at their house and Carol baby-sat.

The car is pretty neat and it appeals to the science fiction nerd in me with the display showing where the power is coming from and tracking the MPG and everything, but Bill is way into it. Here Cheryl is pointing at something on the display and asking a question. She called shotgun so I ended up in the back. I forget how much MPG we averaged on the trip, but according to the picture there were several times we were just running on the batteries and not the engine.

I know that the extra cost doesn't really offset the gas savings for quite a few years, but I think the point is just to be driving something that is better for the environment. That's pretty cool.

Holmdel, NJ

Friday, January 20, 2006

Captain's Log Supplemental - Pictures of Loren from this week

Since most people come to this blog not to hear me pimp for Jessica Stover's latest project, or to hear me gripe about hotels, or to hear me discuss the social implications of a D&D game, and not to hear me yell about Cingular - but rather to see pictures of Loren, then here are some recent shots that Cheryl took and e-mailed to me while I'm on my trip so that I can see her grow on a daily basis. And I think that may have been the longest run-on sentence I have ever written.

McLean, VA

Stardate 60053.47 - More D&D in Person

One advantage of traveling to McLean for the past two weeks is that we get to play D&D in person rather than over the Internet. Don't get me wrong, with broadband and Skype and Fantasygrounds playing on-line is so much better than the days of old crappy NetMeeting, but there is just no substitute for being there in person.

Here are our characters, having just finished off some nasty, heat-sucking brown mold from the inside of a coffin and now we are looking to see how to activate a special key hole we found in the bottom of the item. Later in the evening we went down the trap door (marked with the "X" and a circle) and had our butts kicked by a mummy. But we lived to fight another day, and his re-death will be coming at our hands...just not last night.

I won't harp on this subject any more as I beat it to death last week.

McLean, VA

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Stardate 60050.3 - Anyone Else Got a List?

I posted a blog entry about my list a couple of days ago (thanks, Steve, for the answer that this concept appeared on Friends). I didn't get many comments on it. I'm curious as to what my male readers thought of my list, and if they keep a list of their own. Lets get some dialog going!

I'm still going to try and convince Cheryl to put up her list, but she tells me she doesn't really have more than a couple of people on the actual list...she just knows which actors she finds attractive.

McLean, VA

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Stardate 60048.66 - Hotels Just Suck

I am really not an old man. Cheryl says I am turning into a cranky old man who complains about things all the time and writes cranky letters. I say that I have reached a point in my life where I have traveled enough so that I know what I want and I speak up when something is wrong.

I don’t think it is too much to ask to have a problem-free check-in and stay at a hotel. But people are just incompetent. For example, I just stayed Monday night at the Ritz, and even there they forgot that my corporate rate included club access and had to call me to come back to the lobby so my room key could be encoded to provide club access. I would expect that at the Ritz of all places, they would have the check-in process down pat.

This trip to McLean the Ritz did not have our lower corporate rate available, so I am staying at the Marriott Courtyard. This is a hotel that opened about 4 years or so ago, and I stayed here shortly after they opened. I had a litany of complaints on that trip, but the three biggest were that they put me in a smoking room instead of non-smoking, the hallways were about 450 degrees centigrade, and they didn’t have their snack area opened yet – even though the books in the room touted their snack bar. I went to the lobby and asked where the snack bar was, and they told me, “Oh, that’s not open yet.” They didn’t seem to think that advertising a service that wasn’t open was a problem. Just freak’n tell me at check-in. I stayed at the Doubletree last week, and they shut down their Honors club and didn’t mention that at check-in, even though I am a Hilton Honors Gold member.

Anyway, after the Courtyard experience, I wrote a letter to the manager that was not acknowledged in any way. So I declared this Courtyard a “no-fly zone” and never stayed here again.

But I have gotten so mad at the Doubletree recently that I decided to try the Courtyard again. After all, it had been 4 years so they had to have improved, correct? Well, so far I give them a “C”. When I checked in I was assigned a room on the 6th floor. When I got to the 6th floor, the smell of fresh varnish overwhelmed me. Apparently they were re-varnishing all the room doors on 6. And warily eyeing the “wet paint” sign on the door I tried to get into my assigned room but the key didn’t work. So back down to the lobby.

Turns out they are varnishing on 5 and 6 and the people at the front desk didn’t know that. That type of situation is just poor management. Don’t put guests onto a floor with the smell of varnish. How difficult is that? They did resolve the issue by moving me to the top floor, and my key worked this time. We’ll see if the hotel service improves any over the next few days.


Stardate 60047.93 - Back and Forth and Back Again

This was my third morning in a row getting up between 4 and 5 AM. I had to fly to McLean for a meeting Monday, but was immediately put to work on another proposal which required me to be back in Virginia Wed-Fri of this week. Of course, I didn't know this when I flew down on Monday, so I only packed the bare minimum for an overnight trip. So I flew back first thing Tuesday morning, and then flew back down to McLean on the 0600 USAirways flight this morning (thank you, Delta, for calling me at 9 PM last night to tell me you cancelled my 0630 flight - and while it was nice of you to put me on the 0830 instead, I had a 0830 meeting in McLean...so you lost my business this morning but I'll be back again because your shuttles are nicer than USAirways, even if they do have a first class section for the senators to use).

It was raining nastily this morning as I drove in to work from the airport, but as you can see it has brightened up somewhat since then.

McLean, VA

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Captain's Log Supplemental - 12.4

Loren weighed 12 pounds 4 oz at Cheryl's group today. I think she finally outweighs the cats.


Stardate 60045.46 – The List

I think there was an episode of Friends, although it may have been Seinfield I just don’t remember, where they were talking about people’s lists. Specifically, a list of people with whom you were allowed to cheat on your spouse/significant other. The list had to be people who were unattainable, so movie stars could be on the list but neighbors/friends/co-workers/etc could not. The thought was that since you had no chance with any of these people anyway, it was alright to have “permission” to sleep with them if the opportunity arose. The list had to be small, also. I think three or five people maximum. If anyone can remember what show first talked about this, please drop a comment.

Anyway, we were watching Alias Season Two on DVD the other day and Cheryl commented, “Vaughn (Michael Vartan) is on my list.” It occurred to me that I had not revisited my list in some time. So here it is, in no particular order:

  • Kate BeckinsalePicture. Underworld. Such a great look. I need say no more.

  • Paige DavisPicture. I’ve had a crush on her ever since the first Trading Spaces episode I ever watched. Cheryl says its ok to have her on the list because she and Cheryl have similar physiques.

  • Keira KnightleyPicture. Although she is way too young for me, I’ve had her on the list for a couple of years.

  • Meg RyanPicture. I think she was the first person to go on my list, before I even knew about the list. The Presidio sealed the deal for me.

  • Scarlett JohanssonPicture. Scarlett went on my list after Lost in Translation but she is probably the first person I’d bump off the list to make room for someone else.

Doubt I’d get Cheryl to post her list, but who knows?


Saturday, January 14, 2006

Stardate 60037.34 - Loren's First Subway Ride

We took Loren down to 14th Street - Union Square today on the 6 train to the Babies-R-Us store so we could pick up a few things. This was her first subway ride. Then we stopped by Jackson Hole for burgers on the way back as Cheryl had been craving a hamburger and fries. We snapped all these pictures with my camera phone, and the lighting is pretty bad in most of them, but the one immediately below is particularly funny. In the subway, Loren is apparently ready if anyone tries to accost her for money or anything else. Look which finger she is displaying.


Friday, January 13, 2006

Captain's Log Supplemental - Last Word on Cingular

As you know, my phone now works. I did receive a call from the Cingular Office of the President in response to my angry letter. Bear in mind, I wrote that letter over the delivery issues. I had not even tried to activate my phone yet. Nina asked if my issue was resolved, and offered to cancel any shipping charges on my phone. I don't think I had any shipping charges, but I said "ok". I then tried to talk about all my activation problems, and she acknowledged them, but mainly seemed to want to talk about the issue for which I'd sent the letter...the slow delivery. She didn't tell me why the web page lied, but by this time I was so tired of the entire experience I didn't press the point.

I also got a call on Wednesday from Jaime at Cingular confirming that my phone was indeed working. She told me she would make sure my bill got pro-rated for those days my phone wasn't working, and offered to see if there was anything else she could do once she gained access to my actual bill.

So, lessons learned from this entire experience:

  • All bets are off in terms of placing an order on the Cingular web site if you are a former AT&T Wireless customer - expect double the estimate time
  • All bets are off in terms of porting your "Cingular Blue" number (former AT&T Wireless) over to a "Cingular Orange" number (actual Cingular). Expect it to take 10 business days, and be prepared to spend a lot of time on the phone with customer service.
  • The staff in the stores and the staff at customer service on the phone line do not think highly of each other.
  • Writing a letter and sending it via US Postal Mail to the Office of the President of Cingular with a complaint will elicit a response within 3 weeks.
I may post something later if they do something really nice for me in terms of my bill or any refunds, but otherwise I now consider this matter closed.

My jihad against Cingular is now over.

McLean, VA

Stardate 60033.84 - People Just Don't Get D&D

People who don't play D&D just don't get D&D. There was a lot of sound and fury back in the 80s about how playing D&D would make you worship Satan or go kill people, and I say mentally unbalanced people don't need an excuse to do those things. I've been playing D&D for 20 years now (off and on), but I've been playing steadily for the past 8 years, mostly as the DM (Dungeon Master, who runs the game), but occasionally and most recently as a player. It gives me the opportunity to create a character and then use his personality quirks to really annoy all my friends.

But the game is more than just the game. It is an opportunity to still get together with my friends (all married now, and almost everyone with children). It forces us to keep a block of time open every week or two (or sometimes three) where we all get together. We usually chat for the first hour, try to figure out what we had been doing and get set up for about 15 minutes, eat for 15-30 minutes, and then do our serious playing for about 2.5 hours.

But the game is about friends and spending time together. As you can tell from this picture (taken with my new phone), food and drink are occupying as much of the table as the figures and the cave we are exploring.

The game is more than just the game. Some people play Monopoly, some people play bridge, and some people have Sex and the City viewings. I play D&D. What is really happening is that people are coming together to enjoy each others company, tell some jokes, hang out, and generally have a good time (except when the damn undead wolves are killing our cleric, but that is another story for another blog).

People just don't understand. They get hung up on the concept of D&D and never think that it really isn't all that different than a weekly poker game. People get together, they do something fun, and hang out.

Except that the stakes are a little higher for your character in D&D. ;-)

McLean, VA

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Stardate 60031.06 - Pictures of Loren at 2 Months

Cheryl sent me these while I'm on business travel. Thought I'd share with all of you. Loren continues to get bigger and bigger. She was almost 12 pounds when weighed on Tuesday, as I think I mentioned. She just had her 2-month birthday yesterday (yes, I missed it because I was on travel).

McLean, VA

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Stardate 60028.61 - New Planes for Delta Shuttle

I was thrown for a bit of a loop as I boarded the Delta Shuttle flight at 0600 this morning and the plane wasn't right. Apparently, Delta Shuttle replaced its 737-300G aircraft with MD-88 aircraft, configured as a single-class cabin with 134 leather seats. This increased capacity, while changing the internal configuration to 3x2 instead of the 737's 3x3 seating. This threw me as I have a "normal" seat that I like to fly in on these shuttle flights. Now I have to pick a new seat!

The plane did seem very new and clean inside, but the issue with the MD-80 series airframes is that the engines are mounted on the plane in the back, not under the wings. It makes for a noisy rear of the aircraft, which is where I normally sit.

For Steve's benefit, my breakfast consisted of a bagel (better than you'd expect, but not great) and OJ.

I hope to talk Cheryl into posting some updates over the next couple of days, but she will have her hands full with Loren now that I am on a short bit of travel, so don't hold your breath.

Oh, and my new phone has been performing quite well. No issues so far. My friend Ryan has given up, justifiably.

For your viewing pleasure, here are pictures of my office in McLean and my view through my single, tiny window. (I should have mentioned that these were taken by my new phone...the quality and resolution seem pretty good for a camera built into a mobile phone, I believe.)

McLean, VA

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Captain's Log Supplemental - Loren Weight Check

Loren and Cheryl went to group today, and Loren weighed in at 11 pounds 11 oz. She is closing in on 12 pounds! She will finally out-weigh the cats!!

This picture is before church on Sunday, in an outfit Nanna and Cracker sent her.


Captain's Log Supplemental - Make the Noise Stop

This is what is going on across the street from our building right now. And it is loud. Very loud. The noise is even bothering Loren at times, and she can sleep through most anything. The good news is that when it is over, there will be a 20 or so story building right across the street, blocking our view. Yeah, progress!

Might have to look at homes in Jersey a year from now...


Stardate 60026.01 - They are wearing parkas in hell...

They are wearing parkas in hell...because it must be snowing there right now. That's right, the impossible has happened...my Cingular phone is finally working!

I checked the Cingular store locator web site to see what time the store near me opened this morning (it said 0900, but when I got there at 0945 the doors said 1000 so I waited 15 minutes). I then went to the store and told the person there about how Cingular told me to go to the store, get another SIM, and have the store personnel call this special number. The person at the store looked at me like I was an idiot. She then got another SIM, put it in the phone, and proceeded to activate it. In 20 minutes my phone was up and running. I don't know if it was her (doubtful) or if all the "technical team" efforts just made it so that the next SIM would work (more likely).

Anyway, my new phone is up and running! The saga officially ends!!

For those keeping score, Today is 13 business days after I ordered the phone, 7 business days after I first tried to activate it, and a whopping 12 calendar days after I first tried to activate the phone.

At least it is finally working.


Monday, January 09, 2006

Stardate 60023.28 - Cingular Saga Continues

Cingular called me today (Jamie) at 1151 to tell me that I need to go to the Cingular store to get my third, yes my third, SIMM card and to get the store to personally call to activate it. I am supposed to tell the store expressly not to go through Customer Care but to instead call the Port and Activation Number directly.

She was apologetic and insists that they have never had this much trouble with anyone before. Tell that to Ryan.

Sooooooo...tomorrow I'll go to the store and I'll take the new phone and all the packaging material and if it doesn't get fixed tomorrow then I'm turning it all back in and canceling my account.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Stardate 60018.87 - Quick Note

Since I am sure Monday will contain the mother of all rants against Cingular when my phone continues to serve as a paperweight and Cingular continues to fail miserably in their attempts to activate it, we'll try to post some Loren pictures and information on Sunday. We do have some good stories, we just seemed to spend all day today writing thank you notes for Christmas presents, going to the post office before the rates go up (if you're reading this note you are already too late), buying diapers, straightening up the apartment, etc. Tomorrow we'll try to write about Loren's first trip to the United Nations, her first database meeting there, and Cheryl may even break the poopy diaper rule to tell about what happenes when your child has a blow-out in your office. Lets just say that the travel changing pad from the diaper bag will need to be replaced...but perhaps I've said too much already.

Off to bed...Loren is grumpy, my back hurts, and we're all really tired. Tomorrow the tree comes down and all the Christmas decorations go back into the box.


Friday, January 06, 2006

Stardate 60015.24 - Cingular Says Wait Again

Talked to Cingular today again about trying to get my phone activated again. Spent 19 minutes (1315-1334) on the phone with human #5, Jamie, who told me (I'm paraphrasing) that Lisa or the technical department f'd up and the "case was issued on the 4th". This means that 72 hours from Wednesday (that's right! Next Monday! The 9th!) is when the issue should be solved. Deja Vu - Exactly what Lisa told me last Friday! Jamie also told me, "This just happened to another guy who was a former AT&T customer." Really...just cements my belief that Cingular doesn't give a rat's ass about the AT&T customers they gained. As long as they could talk about "the largest customer base" in their commercials they were happy.

So, Jamie assured me that she would call me on Monday after the tech department is done working their magic (which apparently takes 72 hours) and she has activated the phone. She told me I should hear by 1 PM my time. Why do I feel like I'm being lied to? That's right, because Lisa told me the same thing one week ago today! And she didn't call me back...

For those keeping score, Monday is 12 business days after I ordered the phone, 6 business days after I first tried to activate it, and a whopping 11 calendar days after I first tried to activate the phone.

So here is my plan:
  1. I've contacted both a friend of mine who worked the Nextel/Sprint merger, and a relative who works for a small wireless company to see if there is any regulatory body I can complain to. Justice? Commerce? SEC?
  2. If that f****** phone isn't working Monday, it is going in the box back to the store for a full refund. I'll then walk from the store to a T-Mobile store, purchase a new phone and port my number over to them. I'll also send a letter to the President of Cingular with the details of this entire process (not that it will do any good).
  3. I'll switch my wife over from Cingular as soon as is feasible.
  4. I'll put the entire story together in a huge post and will tell all my friends, family, and other readers about it.
  5. I may even call one of the local TV stations, like CBS' "Shame on You" segment, to see if they are interested in this as a story.
I believe I have been more than patient.


As I was finishing this post, at 1401 Lisa called me back to tell me to turn off my old phone. She said she would call the technical department and work through the problem immediately, and would then call me back. We'll see. I've been lied to before.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.


Lisa called me back at 1414 to say that there was "some problem" with changing me over and that "someone" was supposed to call me back on Wednesday to let me know. My issue has been "escalated" to another technical group, and someone will call me back at some point to let me know what is going on, but she had no idea how long it might take. She was very apologetic that no-one called me on Wednesday, but I just don't care anymore. I. Just. Want. My. Phone. To. Work. I think I am still going to execute my plan above if it isn't working by Monday.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Captain's Log Supplemental - Christmas Picture

Here is a picture Steve took at Christmas of our little family.


Stardate 60012.17 - Latest on Cingular

So no calls from Cingular yesterday, although I had been assured that I would hear from them Wednesday ‚“at the latest”. So I turned off my old cell phone and about 10 minutes later turned on the new one to see if there was any difference in my status.

It still says ‚“no service”. So I’m going to call them back to see what the hell is going on.


Cingular is getting more efficient at telling me that they suck. After only 10 minutes on the phone with "Ede" (1108-1118) she had tried, and failed, to activate my phone for what must be the fifth or sixth time. And of course, she had no information on the technical "solution" that was supposed to have been worked. So she sent an e-mail to Lisa to have her call me to let me know an updated time that they think they can get this issue resolved.

At this point, I am ready to take the phone back to the store, demand a refund on it, got to T-Mobile and transfer my number to them, paying whatever the f*** I have to pay to get out of my contract with Cingular. This entire situation is beyond ridiculous.


It is now 4.5 hours since Ede was going to send an e-mail to Lisa, asking Lisa to call me with an update. I'm sending another letter to the President of Cingular once this is all over, telling him/her how much their company sucks. I'm going to look at the T-Mobile page now, to see how their plans look.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Captain's Log Supplemental - Still No Word from Cingular

As I wrote last Friday:

Lisa is supposed to get an e-mail message once it is fixed, and then she is supposed to call me. She said they have to work Monday so I should hear no later than Wednesday and maybe even Tuesday.

Well, it is now past 5 PM on Wednesday and no-one has called. Cingular continues to...what?...that's right....Suck...My...Ass.


Captain's Log Supplemental - Another Blog from Another Friend

Got an e-mail from my friend Ellie today. She and I worked together at Virginia Tech in the Honor System Office before she became Panhellenic President and had to leave the Honor System organization due to time commitments. Her husband has started a blog, so I've added them to my list of blogs off to the right.

Now for a technical issue:

I use Newsgator (an Outlook plug-in, so to speak) to receive RSS feeds so I can keep up with everyone's blogs. Recently, I've noticed that Newsgator seems to be really slow in updating feeds, and for some blogs it seems to have just stopped. Anyone else using Newsgator and having these problems?


Stardate 60009.21 - Sorry, But Another Rant

Babies generate a lot of laundry. Every time Loren spits up on something, we have to add it to the hamper. Babies also have sensitive skin, so we can't send her clothes out as we do our own. Instead, we wash them ourselves. Our building has a laundry facility in the basement, with about 12 washers and 12 dryers. The general "rule" I believe for all laundry facilities is that you take your single washer load and place it into a single dryer.

Well, let me tell you about my experience last night. Cheryl got the laundry started, but by the time things were ready for the dryer, Loren was feeding so I went down. There were about 6 dryers available at the time. My laundry had about 3 minutes left, so I just hung out there, skimming the book titles on the small "library" that was established in our building by a very short-lived tenants association. A woman (referred to as the "Bitch" in the rest of this post, which is a nicer word than I called her when I got back to my apartment and was venting to Cheryl) came in whose laundry had finished the wash cycle, and then she proceeded to take her three loads of laundry and spread them out over 5 dryers. She would have taken all 6, but before she could finish my laundry was done and I had started to put clothes into one of the dryers. I had three washer loads of laundry and I got one...that's right, one...dryer. She had 3 loads and got 5 dryers. So I had to wait in the laundry room for about 20 minutes, at which time one of the other non-Bitch dryers had finished and someone came to retrieve her clothes. So I got one more of my loads into a dryer. I did not get another dryer until my first one finished.

Oh, did I mention that our dryers are on 30 minute cycles, but that you can re-insert your cash card and increase the time? The Bitch did this...to all five of her dryers. She put 45 minutes on them all.

I am amazed at:
  1. How stupid the human race can be
  2. How inconsiderate the human race can be
Does no-one learn the Golden Rule anymore?
Report filed from NYC.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Stardate 60007.33 - Weight Check

Cheryl strapped on the Bjorn and went down to her class in the freezing rain today, and Loren weighed in at nearly 11 pounds (she was over 11 pounds just slightly, but she had a t-shirt and diaper on, so Cheryl guesses that she is really slightly under). We didn't get a picture of her adorable polar bear snowsuit (she was like a living teddy bear). I'll try to get that next time Cheryl takes her out. This photo is from later in the afternoon, when Cheryl tried Loren front-facing in the Bjorn for the first time so she could go get a package from downstairs. Loren was very happy until I got the camera out to take a picture, and then...well, you can see the result.

As I mentioned, Cheryl went to get a package. The packages in our building are finally catching up. We live in a 24-hour doorman building, which I never really cared about when we were looking for places in NYC 4 years ago, but now that we have it I don't want to ever live in an apartment without. One of the advantages is that the doorman can sign for packages. Normally I get an e-mail when one has arrived, but they had connectivity issues early in December, and then they got really far behind over the holidays. Cheryl went down this morning to pick one up, but they gave her one that arrived yesterday, so she had to go back down to say no, I have another one. And I just got an e-mail that yet another package has arrived. No-one probably finds this interesting, so I'll move on.

Jessica Stover does this cool thing where at the top of each post she lets you know where she is as she writes the post. As I am sure some of my travel will begin to pick up again, I've decided to steal her good idea, but as any good consultant would do I'll modify her idea to place it at the bottom, thus turning it into a new idea - mine.

I've been writing some fiction over the past month. It is based on our USS Excalibur crew, and I'm up to 9,000 or so words so far (about 45 pages double-spaced; two chapters). So far it is going very quickly. We'll see were it ends up once I am done. Jessica publishing her book inspired me to finally try to do some pseudo-serious writing.

Report filed from NYC.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Stardate 60001.6 - Happy New Year!

Cheryl, Loren, and I barely made it to 10 PM last night before we were off to bed. Of course, Loren was up a couple of times, so I think we greeted the new year around 1 AM.

We took Loren to church for the first time, the Church Of St. Vincent Ferrer. It is only a couple of blocks away. After some initial fussiness once the stroller stopped moving, Cheryl got Loren to settle down and she slept through the service. Not many people at church at 10AM on New Year's Day, but apparently more than the priest was expecting.

I have tomorrow off, and then I am back to work on a full-time schedule after having worked minimal hours over the past week. Business e-mail traffic was light last week, so I think most people took the week off or worked minimal hours. I think I ended up taking just shy of 40 hours of leave for the second half of December.

And if all goes well, then I should have my cell phone working by week's end (haha).

And here is a picture of Loren from Christmas for your enjoyment.

Happy New Year, everyone!