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Life in the Express Lane

Filed in PersonalTags: Palliative Polemic

Friday I wasn't able to pick up my car until around five in the evening, and after that, I got together with Matt and Casey. We, along with Casey's cousin, and her cousin's husband, went to Hollywood Bar and Filmworks, and saw "Bridget Jones' Diary." I had a lot of fun with them all, even though we saw a chick flick.

Saturday afternoon I helped Don move into his apartment north of Chicago. When I got there, around 4:30, he and his parents and grandfather had already moved in all of the furniture and boxes. They took off back to Terre Haute, and I helped Don unpack and arrange everything. We had the oddest random occurrence taking the moving truck back. We took the truck back around 5:30 or so (keep in mind that this is a Saturday, and the office is not open), drop the keys and paperwork into the dropbox, and head out. We were trying to turn left out of the rental office, onto a five-lane road. For some reason, these high-school aged kids were wandering down the shoulder of the road, passing in front of the entrance to the rental place. It reminded me of doing highway cleanup, except none of them were picking up trash. So, by the time the first group has (slowly) wandered by the entrance - where I'm waiting to turn out - a semi was coming up from the left, and signaled that it was turning into the rental place. So, I had to back up about 50 feet to give the semi room to turn in. Then, I pulled back up to the entrance, waited for some MORE kids to wander (slowly) by the entrance, and yet ANOTHER semi came up from the left, signaled that it was turning into the rental place. So, once again, I had to back up about 50 feet to give the second semi room to turn in. One more time, I pulled back up to the entrance, waited for yet MORE kids to wander by the entrance, and *finally* got a chance to turn out of the rental place.

So, we went back, got back to putting things away in his apartment, and then went out for dinner and some shopping. We ate dinner at the bar at Lone Star, and that was when I found out that the Pacers managed to come back and miraculously beat the 76ers. After dinner, we picked up some stuff at Kmart, and headed back to the apartment. After we got just about everything put away, we relaxed by watching "Go." Then I went to sleep so that I could be up in time to get to Valpo Sunday morning to see Erica.

Sunday morning, I drove to Valpo (making *much* better time driving through Chicago on a Sunday morning than I did on a Saturday afternoon). When I got there, Erica was still at chapel, so I went in to her room, and laid down for a while until she got back. After she got back, we hung out for a while, and then decided to go get something to eat. We drove around Valpo for a while, looking first for an open florist (unsuccessfully), and then a restaurant. Not finding an open restaurant that sounded good, we decided to drive over to Merrillville. We ended up eating at the Denver Steakhouse. After that, Erica wanted to try on some dresses, and thought it might be fun to look in on Erin (one of my best friends from college), who is a manager at Express, so we went to the mall. Luckily, Erin was working, so we talked with her, and Erica tried on some clothes there. Erin told me about her new boyfriend, and also showed me the Regional Manager commendation she had received. Erica got some jeans, and we walked around in the mall for a while. I made stops at Babbages (I felt like geeking out, so I bought Star Wars: Rebellion) and GNC (needed to replenish my supplements), and then we headed out. We had to go back by Express, and on our way by, Erin motioned for us to come back in. Her boyfriend had stopped by, and she wanted to introduce us. After that, we headed back to Valpo, and then I drove back to Indy.

When I got back to Indy, I noticed that Erica's purse was still in the back seat of my car. So I'll now have to (get to?) stop by Valpo this coming weekend to get it back to her. Anyway, I chatted with my parents for a while, got online to talk to Erica for a while, played my new game for a little while, and then went to bed.

When I got up this morning, I decided to work from my hotel room. I'll probably do that all this week, although I need to go in to Lilly to pick up some documentation tomorrow. While I'm here, I'll have the opportunity to work with my boss on his structural review project. The way I see it, working alongside the boss is always a good idea; it gives me a chance to make a good impression with him. Anyway, I needed to get some food, so I stopped by Kroger, and got a sirloin, and some mushrooms. When we ate lunch Sunday, Erica and I had some *incredible* sauteed mushrooms, so I decided to make them myself. They turned out really well, so I think I might put the recipe I came up with, on my Atkins section.


My Car is Going to Love Me

Filed in PersonalTags: Palliative Polemic

So, still not having anything really to do at work, I slept in Wednesday, and worked a half-day. Since my project is still on hold, I'm helping out another guy with his project, since I've apparently become the resident PLC expert. But, it's okay, because at least, this way, I'm proving my usefulness, and I have something to do.

Yesterday morning, I took my car in to the Honda dealer for quite a bit of maintenance work. I'll have the complete list of work, but I know it includes the 30,000-mile maintenance (engine timing, belt alignments, suspension inspection, exhaust inspection, etc), plus the front suspension (shocks/struts/coils) are being replaced, the rear breaks are being replaced, the oil pan (which was recently damaged) is being replaced, the cam seal (which may be the reason for the mysterious, and heretofore undiscovered, reason for the car losing oil) is being replaced, and some other things. All told, it will be fifteen or sixteen hundred bucks... which is why I waited until I got my tax return to take care of it.

Since they needed to keep my car overnight, I got a ride with one of my Alpha Chi Sigma brothers, to the Indy Pro meeting after work. We hold our meetings on the third Thursday of every month, always at a different restaurant in the Indianapolis area. Last night's meeting was at BD's Mongolian BBQ, at Keystone at the Crossing. Think of it as an all-you-can-eat Chinese Buffet and Mongolian grill, only without the buffet. The restaurant was quite interesting; sort of an Americanized version of the Mongolian Grill, and the food was really good. Last night's meeting was mainly social, since we did't have that much business to attend to.

When I got back to my hotel, I talked to Erica on ICQ for a little while. When I go see her Sunday, if the weather is nice enough, we may go to the Dunes (I've never been); if not, who knows. In any case, it will be nice to spend some time together.

This morning, a co-worker picked me up at my hotel so that I could get to work. Honda is supposed to call sometime today, letting me know the work on my car is finished. After work, as usual, I'll be driving back home. Tomorrow morning, I'm going to drive to Kenosha, IL, to help Don move into his new apartment.


The Easter Bunny Stole My Voice

Filed in PersonalTags: Palliative Polemic



The Legend of College Weekends

Filed in PersonalTags: Palliative Polemic

I decided to stop in Muncie on my way back home yesterday, so I could visit an old friend of mine from high school, Michelle. She and her sister both go to Ball State. She and I, and a couple of her friends, went out to dinner, and hung out for a while, and then I headed home. I tried to get in touch with DJ, who also lives in Muncie, but he wasn't home.

Once I got home, it was about midnight, so I pretty much just went to bed. Times have really changed since college, when I would almost *never* be in bed that early on a weekend night. Heck, we would just be getting ready to go out around 10:00. Friday night would usually turn into late Saturday morning, with random conversations about religion, sex (to which I obviously didn't contribute much), or anything else other than school. If we were lucky, we'd be asleep in time to wake up before lunch ended at 1:00 in the Union.

Anyway, back to the present. I got up this morning in time to get to the bank to deposit my tax return check, and then pretty much lazed around the apartment for the rest of the afternoon. I watched "The Legend of Bagger Vance," which I had just picked up on DVD last night. I like this movie for three reasons: It's about golf, it has Will Smith, and it has Matt Damon. Smith and Damon are two of my favorite actors, and because of my dad, I like golf. Actually, this movie is one of the movies he and I have seen together in the theater.

Since I'm going down to Shelbyville for church tomorrow, I drove back to Indy this evening. Thus continues my weekend completely different from my weekends in college - sitting by myself in a hotel room on a Saturday evening. Not that I'm complaining or anything; although, it did take me a while at first, after graduating, to get adjusted to the sudden change in my social life. When I moved to Kalamazoo, I didn't know anybody; here in Indy, I have quite a few friends from college, and even some from high school. Now that I've been back here for almost two months, I'm really looking forward to moving back down here in a year or so. While I really like the friends I've made in Kalamazoo, and I'll miss volunteering at the Kalamazoo Civic Theater, I really miss being this close to my extended family, and to many of my close friends. Besides, I'll always be a Hoosier at heart.


Boy Meets Grill

Filed in PersonalTags: Palliative Polemic

So, knowing I had nothing to do at work yesterday, I slept in a little late, and made my way into the office around quarter to nine. I did nothing constructive all day, except talk in Spanish with the woman overseeing my project, and her husband. I did get to overhear my boss here in Indy give the owner of our company an "attaboy" on my behalf; He told the owner that I'm doing, "a fantastic job here."

I did get my Easter plans set, though. I called up my uncle in Shelbyville, and will be going to church Sunday morning at my home church, Town & Country Christian in Shelbyville, and then eating lunch with my aunt, uncle, and cousins.

After leaving work, I went over to Matt and Casey's house for their inaugural cookout. I felt right at home making the hamburger patties, and, along with Matt, manning the grill. Along with Matt, Casey, and I, Dave was there, along with three of Casey's friends, Ryan, Candice, and Jen. By the time the food was all cooked, it had started to turn darker (and colder), but it was still a lot of fun. In my haste to change and get to their house, I had left my glasses at my hotel, and left with just my sunglasses. We decided to watch a movie, and while the rest of them debated what movie to watch, I drove back to my hotel to get my glasses. I was amazed how well I could see, even at night, with the polarized lenses. They really do a great job of allowing light through. Anyway, I got my glasses and made it back to their house in about ten minutes. We decided to watch "There's Something About Mary" and Dave and I both ended up falling asleep by the end of the movie.

I had originally planned to go in to work today, but then, realizing that I would be earning overtime hours to do nothing, instead decided to take today off, since it wouldn't cost me any vacation hours. So, I am just hanging out in my hotel until I decide to head for home. I'm going home this weekend, to deposit my tax refund, and pick up some things from the office in Kalamazoo, and to check my mail and what not, before returning here for Easter.


The Tax Man Cometh

Filed in PersonalTags: Palliative Polemic

Not really a whole lot to talk about today. All week at work, I have been pretty much sitting around with my thumbs stuck up my butt, waiting for the reviewers to get my documents back to me. Basically, the ball is in their court, and they are paying for me to be here, doing nothing. My job here is to complete the Computer System Validation (CSV) package for the computer and Human-Machine Interface used to operate a system of sterility isolators. This validation package includes a number of documentation deliverables, as well as the completed Installation Qualification / Operational Qualification protocols. The system was *supposed* to be operational by 15 April, but that date has been moved back to 1 May. Basically, I have presented the reviewers with the entire package for review and approval, and am now waiting for the package to be returned, so that I can actually perform the tests. I had a meeting today with the Senior Project Engineer and a number of the senior people involved with the project. They gave a run-down of why the project is behind, and what it will take to get back on-schedule. The bottom line for me, however, is that I am likely to be sitting here with nothing to do until Monday. But, my company gets paid, and I get paid, for me to be here, regardless, so other than spending a rather boring week, it's not really a big deal.

Interestingly, my boss is also down here now, working on an entirely different project. I may actually get the opportunity to work with him on the project, giving me some invaluable experience, as well as allowing me to kibbutz with the boss. Not a bad deal, either!

Last night, I went to get my taxes done. I've already started the habit of going to a tax advisor to have my taxes done. Right now, I could probably still do my own taxes, but starting next year, it will be much more difficult. I'll have significant savings, 401(k) earnings, IRA earnings, and probably some personal investments to deal with. This year was not all that simple, what with part-year residency and earnings in both Indiana and Michigan, plus factoring in the Educational credit from my last year of college. In the end, though, I made out quite nicely, and will be getting a pretty fat refund check. The other reason to see a tax advisor was to amend last year's filing. My parents were given some bogus tax advice, and were told that they could claim me on their return, even though I was claiming myself. Well, the IRS didn't like that, and since it would cost less for me to amend, we're fixing it that way. The less money I give to the IRS, the better, in my opinion.

I got an email yesterday from Matt, inviting me over to his house tomorrow for a cookout, in celebration of their purchase of a new barbecue grill. I'm already craving some char-grilled steak... of course, it's going to make me *really* want to get a grill for my apartment in Kalamazoo. But, if you know me, you know that if I were to get a grill, it would have to be a top-of-the-line Weber or Viking. And I'm not sure if I want to risk having that nice of a grill at my apartment, where I wouldn't be able to keep it safe, locked up inside, since I don't have a garage, just a patio. However, I spent all last summer having to pan-fry all my meat, and it about killed me. I just *have* to have my grill!


Cool Chemistry

Filed in PersonalTags: Palliative Polemic

Thursday, I picked up my new glasses, but had to wait until Friday for the prescription sunglasses. I really like both; I can see much better now. Since the sunglasses are polarized, driving is now much easier on my eyes also. I had forgotten how much driving vision improves when I'm wearing polarized lenses.

Speaking of driving, my car will turn 210,000 miles this week. I'm going to take it in for the 30,000-mile maintenance/tune-up next week, if I can get it scheduled.

I drove home Friday night, and, on my Dad's recommendation, I bought Remember the Titans on DVD. I was very impressed with the movie. For a Disney production, it did an excellent job of telling the story, without trying to make a social/political statement.

Saturday morning, I did some laundry and then drove down to Valpo. I was headed to Purdue for their Axe chapter's initiation. Although Erica couldn't go, Chrissy wanted to, so I offered to give her a ride. Erica and I had a quick lunch, and then Chrissy and I headed off for West Lafayette. Initiation went well, although I ended up getting a headache because I offered to help, and I did my part right around the time when I should have been getting something to eat. By the time initiation was done, and we were all back at the chapter house, I was getting a pretty good headache. Mike, Chrissy and I took a walk around West Lafayette, and ended up at at coffee shop (that served overpriced, watered-down coffee), where we stayed for an hour or so. I had taken some ibuprofen, and dozed off for a while while Mike and Chrissy talked. We walked back to the house around 1:30 or 2:00, and, since I was feeling better, and neither Chrissy or I really wanted to sleep at the house (on a random couch or the floor), we decided to drive back to Valpo that night. We got back to Valpo around 3:00, and I went up to Erica's room and slept there.

Erica and I went to the 10:30 Palm Sunday service on campus, which ended up running almost an hour longer than usual. Since she had to start setting up for Kids' Discovery Day at 12:30, we had a rushed lunch, and then got ready. Erica is in the Valpo Chem Club, which was doing demonstrations as their part of Discovery Day, which they called Cool Chemistry. Since I had done many similar demonstrations as part of Iota chapter's Chemistry on Wheels program, and since I love doing them (and interacting with kids), I decided to stick around and help out. We performed the demonstrations for four groups of about ten kids each, and it really was a lot of fun. After helping to clean up, I left around 5:00 to head back to Indy. I got some dinner, talked to my parents for a while, talked to Erica on icq for a while, and then went to bed.


Eye Exam

Filed in PersonalTags: Palliative Polemic

Until today, I had not had an eye exam since 1997. Considering my eyesight, four years is way too long to go without an exam. Lately, I've been getting more and more frequent heacaches. So, I scheduled an appointment for today, with the optometrist I used before moving to Michigan. As I had figured, my astigmatism has worsened. Although my old contacts (gas-permeable, which help correct astigmatism) should still work fine, I needed new glasses. So, I got a new pair of glasses, and also a pair of prescription sunglasses. They should be done tomorrow, which really surprised me.

I had another long conversation via ICQ with Erica last night. I really missed those while she was on spring break, and I'm sure that I'll miss them this summer as well. Although, I'm still hoping that she'll have more free time this summer, so that we might be able to get together more often.

I'm getting more and more upset about the situation involving China illegally detaining our plane and holding the crew hostage, but I'll save my comments for a rant, which you can expect to see in the SoapBox section as soon as I have all of my thoughts laid out to my liking.

Short entry today, but I would like to get to bed early tonight.


Sick Day

Filed in PersonalTags: Palliative Polemic

Yesterday was takeout Chinese with Matt... we took dinner back to Casey, since she wasn't feeling well. I didn't stay long, since she had a lot of homework to do, and I needed to get back to the hotel so that I could get my weekly call in with my parents. We've been talking weekly by phone since my freshman year of college. It's a nice way to stay in touch, especially since they moved out east, and aren't close enough any more for a random evening visit. Actually, I haven't seen them since I spent Christmas with them. Hopefully, Erica and I will be able to go out there for a long Memorial Day weekend.

After that, Erica and I had a nice, long chat on ICQ. I think that program has saved long-distance couples thousands of dollars in phone bills. I think the highlights (and the state of our relationship) can be summed up with her comments, "We've been disgustingly sweet together because we were still in the infatuation stage; I think we're moving beyond that now." and, "I don't want you to change. You make me happy."

I slept over 9 hours last night, and still woke up not feeling well. As has been more common lately, I had a headache. I think it's my glasses prescription, since I haven't had an eye exam in about four years. So, I have one scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, at the same place that I used to go when I still lived in Indiana. That will also give me the chance to pick up my records. Hopefully, by this time next week, I'll have some spiffy new specs.

I also had to take my car back to the Honda dealer today. I got the oil changed about two weeks ago, and since then, have noticed oil spots where I'm parking. Matt pointed it out last night, and when I checked it out, I could see oil coming from the oil pan, in the area of the oil plug. I called the dealer, and they wanted me to bring it in right away. I took it in this afternoon, and they replaced the oil plug, and re-threaded the drain hole. Apparently, some road debris managed to hit the underside of the car, at *exactly* the right spot to cause the leak at the oil plug, so I'll have to replace the oil pan pretty soon. That's okay, I need to take it in for a 30,000 mile tuneup this summer (actually, right on schedule, since I will turn 210,000 miles sometime later this month).