Monday, December 31, 2007

Whiz kitten

We isolated Hazel in the bathroom at 8:45 am on Sunday. The scene fifteen minutes later was this:

At the bottom of the photo is a bowl of water. The dark thing in the middle of the floor is an aluminum pie pan with the non-absorbent litter pellets for collecting the Golden Compass--um, cat whiz. You can just see Hazel behind Guy's toilet at the top of the photo. Sadly, this was the scene for most of the morning.

Everytime either Guy or I went into the bathroom to check on her, at least once an hour, she was firmly ensconced behind Guy's toilet. At one point, I sat with her for a few minutes in my lap, and she purred so loud that she was nearly chirping. Hazel was quiet but stressed--she only meowed when one of us came in, and it was a low, pitiful whiny mew, remeniscent of the yelps she made when she was only eight weeks old and trapped in a well on my mom's property. Hazel was beside herself, and I was beside myself. "Just pee, pwincess!" I implored each time I went into the room. "Det's all Mama needs is for it to pee!"

It was 5 pm and there was still no pee. I did the only thing I knew to do: I called Mom. "She's not peeing because she thinks she's being punished," said Mom. "Go clean out one of the regular litter boxes and pour the pellets in there. And go spend some time with her so she knows she's not in trouble."

So I did as Mom said. I sat in the floor and read a book while dinner was in the oven, and Hazel slowly came out from behind the can for a petting.

Finally, at 9:15 pm, twelve and a half hours after lockdown, I went into the bathroom and noticed some liquid in the box: Hazel finally went pee. I hollered hallelujah (or maybe it was "SHE PEEEEEEEED!"), and he joined me in the bathroom. While I used a small syringe to draw the pee out of the box and into a collection cup, Guy pet Hazel.

Guy: What a good girl, Hazel! Good girl! Let's get you out of here! [picks up Hazel]

Pixie: [offended} You bastard!

Guy: What?

Pixie: Are you gonna be the "good guy" and "rescue" her from Mommy and the awful bathroom?

Guy: Oh--my--God! Are you gonna be petty about this?

Pixie: [hand and pee-filled syringe on hip] Damn straight I am!

So far, there's been no passive-aggressive pee puddles anywhere in the house, and Hazel has mostly forgiven us. She was a little skittish around the house last night, but after I went to bed, she actually jumped on the bed with me and curled up for a bit. (Yes, sweetie, Mama saved you from the big bad bathroom....)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Teh vet?! WTF Mama? DO NOT WANT!

After some work at the office and a visit to MHRC to talk to some subcontractors, I picked up Guy from his office and made it home about two hours early. Maddy and Hazel were delighted--Mama's home! Maybe we'll get fed early!


After some petting and treats and watching Mama do some yoga in the floor, we were unceremoniously scooped up and tossed in our carriers. Off to the vet we went for our yearly checkup. Which we did not appreciate.

However, the news was mostly good with a slight chance of age-related illnesses. Hazel gained half a pound, which now makes her a healthy 9.0 lbs. Which is odd, considering that Maddy pushes her out of the way of food on a regular basis, and that she will frequently turn her wee tabby nose up to treats in the evening. Her eyes looked a tiny bit cloudy in the center, which is common among cats her age (she'll be 10 in the spring, as will Maddy). So, she's probably lost a little central vision and relies more on her peripheral vision, something that also happens in older people. The vet proclaimed her otherwise healthy, the vet tech took her in back for a blood draw and a urine sample. "Good luck with that," I said. "Urine from Hazel is like blood from a turnip--you're not gettin' it."

Maddy was next for an exam, extracted with a certain amount of force from her soft-sided cage that made the scene look like a National Guardsman grabbing Elian Gonzales out of a closet. Miraculously, she lost over half a pound to make her 11.8 lbs, a weight she hasn't seen since she was only a couple of years old. Oddly enough, it was this year that I decided to start feeding her a little bit more at dinner each night. It occurred to me that my cat had been on a diet for four years, and if you only live 15 or 16 years, that's a mighty long time to be on a diet. She complains less now, and she's even lost a little. Good news all around. Blood and urine tests weren't needed, since she had some done in August when she came in limping and was prescribed Cosequin, which is glucosamine for cats and dogs.

The vet tech returned with Hazel. "You were right; no urine out of this one," she said. The vet then gave me some non-absorbent pellets for "litter" and a vial and asked that I lock Hazel in a room with some water and a small "litter pan" of the pellets and get a sample for them. Kidneys are often what kills a cat, especially in Maddy and Hazel's age range, and it was a good idea to have a test done. So, we have to lock Hazel in our bathroom tomorrow until she whizzes in a pie pan.

Good luck with that.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

When I say Merry Christmas, I by-God mean it

Christmas usually leaves me feeling rather "eh." I enjoy it, to be sure, but I never get the glow of the season that's supposed to be about giving and love and all that crap. It doesn't help to return to work today to get two complaining phone calls from Squidwort--I swear, he must have been fit to be tied for the past five days without me around to call and bitch at. He must have been saving it all up for when I returned, as he didn't even ask me how my holiday went and barely even said anything when I asked him how his was; just launched into the "why doesn't this match the wound clinic standard next door", etc. barrage that he must have been practicing in the mirror for nearly a week.

So I was all ready to come home and gripe about his insolence, but I had to run some errands first downtown. I wasn't necessarily looking forward to being out in the weather. The snowstorm today has dropped several inches on Denver, making traffic difficult and visibility even more difficult. Cars everywhere spun in their tracks or refused to start in the 18-degree day. By the time I was walking down a snow-covered sidewalk at 6pm, it was 15 and blowing snow. A figure ahead of me on the sidewalk saw me, turned away, turned back to look at me, and stood to the side of the sidewalk. Well, not so much stood as hesitated.

As I passed him, he got my attention with a "I hate to bother you, madam." I realized he wasn't wearing a trench coat but a blanket wrapped around his coat, snowflakes collecting on his ratty stocking cap. "I'm trying to get a room at the Volunteers of America shelter tonight, and it costs $35, and I've got $26 from collecting all day, and anything you have would help. I'm not a druggie or a drunk, my word is my bond. I just need a little help and anything you could spare would be appreciated." The man was a bit unkempt but not dirty. His words were clear, unslurred, and his eyes focused well.

My thesis in grad school was to design a shelter and treatment center for the homeless mentally ill, and I learned a great deal there. From a fact sheet at the National Alliance to End Homelessness:
  • Over the course of a year, 2.5 million - 3.5 million people will live either on the streets on in an emergency shelter.
  • About 600,000 families and 1.35 million children experience homelessness in the US each year, and about 50% of the total homeless population is part of a family.
  • It is estimated that 23%-40% of homeless adults are veterans.
  • In rural areas, families, single mothers, and children make up the largest group of people who are homeless.
  • At a given point in time, 45 percent of homeless report indicators of mental health problems during the past year, and 57 percent report having had a mental health problem during their lifetime. About 25 percent of the homelessness population has serious mental illness, including such diagnoses as chronic depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorders, and severe personality disorders.
  • In a 1996 survey, 46 percent of the homeless respondents had an alcohol use problem during the past year, and 62 percent had an alcohol use problem at some point in their lifetime. Thirty-eight percent had a problem with drug use during the past year, and 58 percent had a drug use problem during their lifetime.
  • Of all the homeless people at any given time, only about 5%-7% cannot or do not wish to be helped.

That last bullet point was from my thesis, written in Spring of 2000. I learned a lot doing that thesis, including that you're not supposed to give panhandlers money. You want them to go to a shelter and get in the system, get some legit help.

So there I am, looking a pretty decent-looking human being in the eye, knowing what my research told me and what, frankly, my heart is telling me. This man could be anyone I've ever met. And it's 15 degrees. And I'm about to go to Chipotle and get dinner for Guy and me and go home--home--to my warm, fancy-schmancy highrise condo to my husband and two cats who love me and make me feel welcome and loved and useful every day. And I don't have anything less than a five in my wallet. And then I think

No. Not on my watch. No one freezes outside alone on my watch.

The man spoke again as I pulled out my wallet and opened it. "I'm just nine dollars short, so anything you have--"

I handed him a ten.

Then man took it, started at it, and began to sob quietly.

My eyes teared up a little too, so I just hugged him. He hugged me back, and I patted the back of his head and whipsered, "Take care of yourself, take care of yourself. Go get warm."

He just kept saying softly, "Bless you, God thank you so much..." and walked off in the direction of the VA shelter.

I walked on to Chipotle, picked up dinner, and then headed back to the truck, Guy's Explorer Sport with 4WD, perfect for snow driving. As I found myself about half a block from the truck, I was walking behind a man in a large coat, walking along slowly and clutching his coat together in front of him. He stopped by a trash can, began to rummage around in it. Wonder if he's gonna find any aluminum cans today? I thought. The man's bare fingers found a McDonald's bag. He shook it open, grasping at the few cold french fries still left in it.

Not. On. My. Watch.

I pulled another six bucks out of my wallet and stopped beside the man. He turned to face me partway, trying not to let cold air into his old dirty coat. I smiled and handed him the six bucks. "Get something warm to eat," I said softly.

The old man nodded. "Thank you; I will," came his just-as-soft and grateful reply, and he shuffled off toward Chipotle.

It's entirely possible that I got taken for $16 this evening, but I haven't felt this good in a while. I finally felt the whole point of Christmas. It reminds me of the story about the old man walking down the beach covered in starfish washed up from a storm. He sees a little boy throwing starfish back into the ocean, and he says, "Son, there's thousands of starfish here; you're not gonna make much of a difference." The little boy throws a starfish into the ocean and gestures after it: "I made a difference to that one."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Just in time for a white post-Christmas

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyful Kwanzaa, and Blessed Solstice to all handful of my WAD readers! Rock on!

We had a lovely holiday in St. Louis and made it back just in time for another storm happening tomorrow. We left The Saint late Xmas Day afternoon to get to Topeka before midnight and get a hotel before one storm snowed on us. Evidently, it dumped several inches on snow on Denver on Xmas Day (according to Billy Ray, who called me this morning while we were driving to ask where we should locate a convenience outlet in the hall), and then it veered north, as it dumped very little snow on any part of Kansas other than Colby (yes, the home of the cheeze, y'all). We got here in time to miss that snow as well as get into town before a new winter storm warning just popped up on the TV. Hopefully, streets will be cleared overnight enough that Guy and I can get to work for our extravagant two-day work week. In Very Unfair News, Maddy and Hazel will be going to the vet for their yearly checkup on Friday afternoon. Oh noes!

Also, to send mad props to my sister-in-law in St. Louis, who has in the past posted here as STL Fan, I give you a I Can Has Cheezeburger moment in honor of her dealing with my 17-year-old niece.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Busy but happy, for now

The lack of posts this week has been due to rushing around fixing flooring issues, getting changes made in MHRC radiology to accommodate the new equipment, and oh, cleaning the house for a spur-of-the-moment visit from Jimmy Ray. Long time readers of WAD may recall Jimmy Ray, our much-beloved fellow employee at Design Associates and disco fan, who moved to Chicago with his wife when she got a promotion. Jimmy Ray got a last minute deal on airfare and came out for a weekend of tearing up the slopes on his snowboard, taking Guy careening down the slopes with him. And they have--they hit the slopes yesterday and are back on them today. While they're 'boarding, I've been spending time at the spa, grocery store, and maybe even the gym...or maybe just do my nails and hang out.

It's been good to catch up with Jimmy Ray, and him being in town brought a lot of DA employees out to cavort and hang out. Well, cavort as much as we thirtysomethings can. I've never been able to rock-and-roll all night and party every day, but us 30+-aged folks weren't worth a damn on Friday night at the pool hall/bar we congregated at. We broke up the party at 8:15 pm, leaving the younger interns from DA to carry on. We went out last night before a movie to our favorite Mexican watering hole/restaurant and were only able to have one margarita each so we wouldn't have to get up in the middle of the movie to go pee. How did we get this lame? When did we get uncool?

Jimmy Ray flies out tomorrow morning, and then it's all bidness. I have a PR to get out next week as well as shop drawings from the radiology equipment for MHRC. Right after I get the PR out, we leave after work on Friday to go back to St. Louis for Christmas to visit Guy's family. It's going to be a whirlwind of a week, but I'll try to keep things interesting for all my peeps.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Never look a gift Guy in the mouth

I had some appointments in the morning and afternoon on Friday, and rather than go to work for only a few hours during the day, I decided to call in, cash in a vacation day, and get most of my Xmas shopping and errands done. Guy, if you're reading this, I got you nothing so far. I got you nothing because nothing was on sale, unlike all the gifts I'm sure you've gotten for me. And that I'm sure you'll tell me about when I open them.

Getting gifts from Guy is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, he gets me things I really like, enjoy, want, and need. When he freestyles a gift, it's very useful and wonderful. When I tell him what I want, he gets exactly what I want. Regardless of the gift, though, I know he got it in some kind of sale. Guy is a bargain-hunter extraordinaire. He got us $3,000 off the Civic we bought 18 months ago, he found us a set of 600-thread count sheets and pillowcases for $55, and a yoga/fitness ball for me for $22.50.

It was the fitness ball that set me off, though. A few years ago, when I was heavier and still trying to lose weight to get my blood pressure into a safe range again, I told Guy that I wanted a fitness ball. I showed him a few different brands online and in catalogs, explained how they're sized, and so on. A week or so later, Guy and I were in a sports store when he spotted the balls on a shelf. "Is this what you want?" he asked.

"Right," I replied. "That's what I'm after, and they even have a small size. Here, you can come back later and 'surprise' me with a color."

"Holy shit!" Guy exclaimed. "They're 25% off! Sweet! I'm getting it right now! Yeah!" He pulled one off the shelf and walked to the checkout. "Fuckin' A! 25% off!"

He purchased the ball with me right there, which left me feeling a little bleh. After all, you want some kind of surprise, right? What made this situation long-term annoying was that for the rest of the day, Guy would occasionally shake his head and say "Man, I got that for 25% off!" while wearing a can-you-believe-it expression.

Now, women may be from Venus, but occasionally men are from Uranus. I don't mind him saving money--Guy and I are both cheap-ass Libras, and it's rare that Shorty will buy something on the regular price rack. But can't we just pretend I'm worth the whole $30? Seriously. And even if you save the cash, can we not act like the $7.50 is the same as getting a plasma TV for half-price? So, Guy is wandering around thinking "excellent, I got her the gift she wanted and saved some cash on it, good deal," but he's only saying the last part over and over, the part about saving money. And I'm walking around behind him envisioning daggers in his back and thinking "oh, i'm not worth $7.50? Is $7.50 worth the D-Con I'm thinking about putting in your turkey enchiladas tonight?"

So, this topic lay dormant until recently, when I mentioned it to Kellye the Observant and Amusing. "Well, of course he kept talking about it, Pixie," Kellye replied. "It's like a Viking thing: when he returns from an epic battle or victory, he can't just tell you; he has to sing a song about it." Of course, at this point I was once again laughing while slumped over my keyboard and Kellye sang, "I...have slaaaaaain...the beeeast....of Circuit Cityyyyyyy...!"

Just a few days later, Guy and I were wandering around Estes Park when my eyes lit upon a gorgeous necklace in a shop window. I oohed and ahhed over it, but it's really rare that I can bring myself to buy myself some jewelry. Guy and I went in and looked the display over, whereupon Guy mentioned the possibility of getting me something from the case for Christmas. I pointed out two or three that I liked the best, then said he could come back later and get it when I wasn't looking.

"See," said Guy, verbally pulling out a shovel with which he could dig his own miserly grave, "if I get you the brown one, it comes with earrings, and everything in the case is 30% off, so if the necklace is $59, and the earrings are $39--"

"Would you knock that the fuck off?" I said, five years of irritation dripping through my words. "What, am I not worth the full $59 or something?"

"No," replied Guy, "I'm just a cheap bastard!"

At this point, the standoff broke down into laughter. But we did have a brief discussion about how his commentary makde me feel. I'm fine if he saves money on my gifts; I know he's going to because he's the bargain-master. I just don't like having that be the most important thing to him. So the other night, I mentioned to Guy that I didn't know what to get him for Christmas, since he'd already gotten me something in Estes Park.

"I've gotten you three somethings," he replied.


"After the business with the fitness ball, I felt bad for being so cheap, so I got you a couple other things."

Shit. Now I had to get him three things. Which is okay--for all of my shit that he puts up with, it's the least I can do.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Rattle and schlump

Today was a long, exhausting day full of meetings and changes and phone calls. Tomorrow will be more of the same, so I'm cheezing out and telling you another funny conversation we had today starring Kellye.

Elliot: Man, my owner on the FrouFrou MOB was getting in my grill hardcore today, but thank GOD Howie stepped to the line and talked this guy down, cuz it was the owner’s fault that things were behind in the first place!
Pixie: Don’t you hate it when owners get overly assholish? I mean, really!
Derek: Oh, man, that’s the worst. I don’t mind getting yelled at when it’s my fault, but don’t yell at me out of hypocrisy.
Pixie: No kidding! It’s like when that one CEO of P___ R___ yelled at us when his building was leaking air. I don’t blame him for being mad about the evident failure in design and construction, but it was stupid when he got all pissed because most of the original design and construction team on P_____ R_____ were no longer with their companies four years later.
Kellye: Yeah?
Pixie: Yeah, he’s all “I don’t like it when faces change!” and we were all looking at each other like, ‘dude, YOUR face changed; you’re not the same CEO we built this hospital with.”
Kellye: What’s that even supposed to mean, when faces change? Like we’re shapeshifters or something?
Pixie: Haahahaa! Like we’re pod people!
Kellye: [throwing arms in air in mock panic] “Aaagh! Oh, I’m turning into an end table!”

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


I’ve said very little about, Kellye, a coworker of mine who sits just over the 42” high partition from me, right next to Elliot. That I have said little about him is not because he’s inconsequential. Kellye, a second-generation Irishman (“I don’t have the accent, but I have Irish fighting eyes—they’re sunk in my skull so you can’t punch them in”) who is also a recently licensed architect (last year, just like Guy and me), Kellye can only be described with two words: freaking hilarious. Okay, three: subtly, freaking hilarious. With a straight face, Kellye can say something that leaves me weak and weeping with laughter, collapsed in my office chair. A sample of his wit:

Pixie: Did y’all hear that Frank Gehry is getting sued?
Elliot: Yeah, I’d sue because his stuff looks like holy hell.
Pixie: I mean, people make fun of Michael Graves for making weird stuff—
Kellye: Well, at least he got over his Facadism before he did the Denver Public Library.
Norman: [turning around from his monitor] Well, he does two-dimensional stuff because he has no depth perception. He’s blind in one eye.

Pixie: Really? That explains why that one eye always looks like this. [holds right hand in front of right eye, curling fingers and aiming hand off to right side]
Kellye: [raises an eyebrow] His right eye looks like it has a claw coming out of it?

Pixie: BAAAhahaaaa!! No, I mean, it looks…haahahaaaa!!
Elliot: It does always look crooked, like he’s looking around you, in a curve!
Kellye: He’s looking toward the future.
[everyone laughs]
Kellye: [not even looking up from his computer monitor] Evidently, the future is about twenty degrees to your left and ten feet behind you.
Pixie: [helpless with laughter, wheezing]

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Well, at least I was warned

Friday morning, Jann asked Derek and me into a conference room to “chat about staffing”. She closed the door behind us and began by thanking us for our help on the major renovation and expansion project she’d been working on for the past several months. A little hospital in Utah that we did several years ago decided it was ready to upgrade and expand, and suddenly Jann had a major project on her hands. Since Howie’s projects were quiet, she borrowed Derek to head up the drawing set team and field phone calls from the engineers while she handled meetings, the rest of the phone calls, and the specs. However, the drawing team for the project always seemed to be hindered by a combination of scattershot project coordination efforts and the pain of Revit, the new drawing software that is very slowly replacing AutoCAD.

Jann sighed heavily. “Monica…Monica’s doing great. She’s really kicked butt on this project,” Jann began. And Monica, a fairly new intern with less than two years’ experience, sure has kicked butt. She does redlines without complaint, asks questions, learns from everything she’s given. Just a sharp young gal overall.

Jann sighed heavily again. “But Arnie, he goes to meetings with me and it’s like he’s not listening or making very good notes, because there’s always a bunch of comments from the meetings that don’t make it into his drawings. I’m thinking, ‘weren’t you in the same meeting as I was?’ It’s weird,” she said of one fellow with four or so years of experience. “He sends drawings to the contractor on my P______ project, and the contractor sends them right back saying ‘this is not what we asked for or need,’ and I’m just letting him flounder a bit because he needs to learn how to pay attention.” Derek and I nodded, made some comments about how experience is the best teacher, blah blah blah.

Jann continued. “Nicky, I see him come in late, not work through lunch, and leave early, and time and again I’m late to meetings because the drawings I’ve asked him to make for me aren’t ready when I need to leave.”

“And Pete, he’s so easily derailed or scattered, especially with a huge project like this one, and…the other day I was at the copier, and I looked up and he was just sitting there in his chair staring at me! I said, ‘what?’ and he said, ‘nothing,’ and I thought ‘well, get to work!’ It’s weird!” Derek and I cracked up at this, because we too have caught him staring at us. Elliot kept noticing him staring at him as he’d go up the stairs in the office too. As I’ve alluded to before, the guy gives off a creepy vibe. Not harmful or malevolent per se, just creepy.

Jann then asked Derek and me for suggestions on how to get this team to perform better. “I’m trying to give them the benefit of the doubt,” she said. “I mean, it’s not all me, but it’s partially me.” I thought to myself, wow, that’s an understatement. After all, I’m licensed, high-performing, and highly competent, and even I have problems working for Jann. I proposed that at this team’s level, they indeed don’t have the knowledge that allows them to keep moving forward, prioritize their work, etc. Hence, Jann needs to be more specific with the problem employees and find some system in which she can hold them accountable for progress made and keep them on track. She seemed agreeable to that idea.

Then, she began discussing future projects. “I think Monica can help you, Derek, with CA on this project for the first few months. I think she’d learn a lot from it. Arnie’s going to move full-time to the P______ project, and I’m going to put Nicky with Doc. I think Doc could keep him in line.”

“So Pixie, MHRC is about to start a few new projects in the spring, and Out-of-Town Medical Center will be cranking up a remodel project for their operating suite and the West Entry. I think Pete would be a good match with you on that. He can do the drawings, and you can handle the meetings and coordination.”

I nodded, but on the inside I thought NOOOOOOOO!!! Oh dear God, not that weirdo!! Now he’s going to want to be my pal even more! AAAAAGGGHH!!!!

On the drive home, I told Guy about the meeting with Jann. As usual, Guy had really good insights. “First,” he said, “if she’s not willing to guide Arnie at least somewhat and help him understand his mistakes, she’s just setting him up for failure, and she’s gonna keep getting the same shitty work out of him that she’s getting now. That’s really bad management on her part. Second, I think it’s perfect that she’s putting Pete with you. Now, you get the chance to set a clear line with Pete. You’re gonna manage him, and you’re gonna work with him, but you’re not interested in being his pal or cutting him some slack, no matter if he’s older than you or has done whatever in previous jobs. Doesn’t matter. His job is to do the job. If he gives you trouble, you tell Jann and let her deal with it, or avoid it, whatever she does.”

Which makes a lot of sense. Often, many women, myself included, make the mistake of trying to be friends at work. We want to be liked and be pals with everyone. However, that’s not the point of work. The point of work is to get work done, first and foremost. It is to make whatever product or service you provide and to do it well. While getting along with your coworkers is important to a great extent, you can get along without being buddies. After all, I get along with Jann without particularly wanting to work with her on a long-term basis. We make the working relationship work. What this means is, I don’t have to be buddies with someone to work with, for, or over them.

Now granted, architecture has its own pitfalls with this situation. The studio environment of college is such that a group of people spend hours and hours all day, night, and weekend with each other, week after week, and semester after semester. By the end of a four- or five-year college career, everyone in that studio knows most of the secrets and half of the people have slept with each other. That culture permeates architectural offices to some extent—coworkers hang out with each other as social friends outside of work on a very regular basis, and architects often marry each other. At one point, Design Associates had six office couples, which meant that a tenth of the office was sleeping with each other. Both Derek and I met our spouses at DA, though neither of our spouses still work there. Even Alex met his second wife when she temped as a receptionist at DA back in the day. S, there are many factors that make it easier for you and your fellow architects to cross professional boundaries without a second thought.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with putting up a few boundaries when necessary. I’ve traditionally been bad at doing so in the past, but as I take on a position of more authority and management in my office, I can see that I need to draw the line somewhere. No time like the present. Even more interesting is that Jann told me she wants me to be honest about Pete’s performance, tell her exactly how he’s doing. Well, we’ll see.

Monday, November 26, 2007

An (almost) clean bill of health...and shocking pictures of bare ankles!

Today brought a few pieces of good news on the health front. First, a visit to the lab at my doctor's office for a cholesterol test the day after Thanksgiving should have portended doom. However, I'm glad to say that after 14 months of Cheerios and oatmeal, my cholsterol dropped an astounding 40 points from 197 to 157. Boo-yah! However, my work is not done: my HDL (good cholsterol) was barely in the good range and my LDL (bad stuff) was a little high. So alas, Shorty has more work to do. It would help if I could cut out the Coffee-Mate flavored creamer every morning...but how I love it in my coffee....

In other news, this afternoon brought about trip #2 to the physical therapist, who continued to be mildly astounded at my progress. Today, I went through a round of balance exercises that involve strengthening my ankle without really moving it. The PT also said to keep going with the massage and icing of the ankle, so Guy is still not off the hook for rubbing my ankle.
In the meantime, I've had some requests for pictures of the Ankle In Question. Let's go to the film, shall we?

This is about one week after the spraining. Note the purple bruising below and above the anklebone. I chipped the end of my fibula off, behind that anklebone, and a chipped or broken bone often provides more bruising because there are indeed blood vessels to be disrupted. You also can tell how fluffy the ankle looks compared to the bonyness of the left ankle.

This is about two weeks after the spraining. There's still a lot of discoloration above and below the anklebone as well as a fair amount of bruising up the calf. I've had bruising spiraling here and there almost up to my knee for most of the past month. I'm sure the bruising the day or four after I did it was brutal, but it hurt so bad it couldn't be held or looked at--I was in a splint for four days before I even saw the ankle. Now, let's fast forward a bit.

You can see bruising still, five weeks later (the sprain happened on October 22). The bruising has become less speckled and intense, but now it's a little more faded mixed in with some yellow tint of old brusing. You can still see some swelling in the right ankle, but not near what you saw in Week 1 and Week 2. However, it's really really improved. I've been given the okay to get a lighter brace to wear both in the gym and at work, and I've been greenlighted to spend some time on a stationary bike and 5-10 minutes at a time on an elliptical. Just before I go back in two weeks, I'm supposed to try jogging on the treadmill a little bit (like 5mph for a couple of minutes, as opposed to the 40 mins of 6+ mph I used to do before the injury).

God, I'm looking forward to getting back into some cardio. I never realized how much I relied on aerobic exercise as a sleep aid, a mood stabilizer, and an antidepressant. I can't wait to get at least some of the old me back.

Friday, November 23, 2007

All quiet on the western front

We had a lovely Thanksgiving Day with my coworker and partner-in-crime Ethel and her family as well as our friends Jeff and Moira. Ethel's 10-year-old daughter, Twyla, rather attached herself to Guy, constantly threatening to tickle him when he would steal her ball of tin foil away. For some reason, the child made a ball of tin foil out of the foil that covered all the food in the oven, and it took on such a life of its own that Guy and I had to hug it goodbye at the end of the evening (which looked even funnier than it sounds). Guy (who's 6'-0" tal and 205 lbs) put on Twyla's little light blue jacket (she's 4'-8" and about 80 lbs) and started imitating her, at which point she grabbed a pillow, stuffed it under her sweatshirtlike she had a post-Thanksgiving tummy, and began imitating Guy. Holy crap, I wish I'd had a camcorder for that moment. Ethel and I nearly wet ourselves laughing.

They sent us home with leftovers, which we've safely stashed in the fridge, and now it's off to Estes Park for a few days. I hope everyone out there safely enjoys whatever time off you can get this weekend.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Frank Gehry, I must sue you for your disasterpiece.

This is a little bit old news, but MIT is suing architect Frank Gehry for continuing leaks and construction problems in their $300+ million Stata Center.

Now, I'm somewhat inclined to throw Mr. Gehry under the bus. His fanciful-schmanciful design aesthetic may look really cool, but those swooping curves and angles make it really hard to flash and seal things up the same way you do in a building made of lots of clean and/or simple angles or fewer curves. Hence, I'm not surprised at all that the building is having leakage and slab cracking problems. In the NY Times article, Gehry states that MIT is "after [his] insurance money." Okay, fine.  I've heard that very complicated buildings often take out insurance policies just to be safe. Having worked on much less complicated buildings than either the DAM addition or the Stata, I find the idea rather intelligent and as demonstrating foresight. Sounds like Mr. Gehry should have done the same, if he hadn't already. But let's step back to the design process itself: if Franky-baby is going to be willing to design such weirdness, he's going to have to doubly stand behind it and vouch for the quality of said design. By quality of design, I mean a wide range of things, including how well it satisfies the program, how physically comfortable the space is, how easy it is to heat/cool, and how well it keeps out the elements.


I have to go up to the board of MIT and the Stata Center, grasp them firmly by the shoulders, and then shake the living crap out of them. And as I shook them, I would ask in a loud voice, "Have you not seen the kind of Pink-Floyd-and-Demerol-nightmare shit that Gehry designs?!?!?!" Because, frankly, if Gehry didn't take leak/fuck-up insurance out, then MIT shoulda. I mean, did they seriously not know what they were getting? And frankly, if ANY of them have ever built a building, they would know that there are ALWAYS a few problems. Even know as I type this, there's a weird leak in a wall in Wheatlands. Our assumption is that part of the VE (value-engineering) process removed some insulation around some roof drain pipes. Now, condensation is forming on those pipes and seeping through the walls. Likewise, Gehry is asserting in his defense that the cracking and problems are the result of VE measures, which were supposed to save them money on the front end, but alas, as VE often does, it costs money in the long run.

So, I fall on both sides of this lawsuit. I think it should be resolved through a karaoke sing-off. Tiebreaker song: ABBA's "Dancing Queen."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

CrutchWatch '07: They tried to make me go to rehab but I said...okay.

Saturday was my first day without crutches, a relief indeed. The doc wanted me to start putting weight on my ankle, and he even gave me this gel brace thing, but all it did was irritate a nerve in my lower outside calf. So, Saturday was spent on my ankle wrapped tightly in an ace bandage, and it held up pretty well. I'm still taking elevators everywhere I go, and I'm still limping due to a loss of flexibility in the ankle, but it's all good, overall.

Yesterday I managed to get in to see a physical therapist in the rehab/PT department at my particular HMO. A nice enough fellow, he seemed rather impressed that I was "walking;" evidently, most people who do what I did are still on crutches three weeks later. He gave me some rubber bands to use to help strengthen my ankle and improve range of motion, then gave me the first of two wonderful pronouncements: "You've got fluid in your ankle still, and it needs to get out. Keep your ankle elevated anytime you can and as much as you can, and here are some massages that your husband needs to do to help get the fluid out."

Um, wait. Guy has to rub my foot once a day? To help me get better? Now this should be interesting.

And it was. I made the mistake of asking Guy to rub my foot while he was in the final rounds of an internet poker game and watching the Nuggets stomp the Cavaliers on ESPN. My at-home rehab went like this:

Guy: [pawing distractedly at my injured foot while clicking with the mouse] Okay, here you go.
Me: OUCH! Not so hard! It's an easy motion, like a squeegee from my toes down... [making hand motion]
Guy: Uh-huh. [watching Carmelo Anthony at the free throw line]
Me: You're not even looking. Look, it's like--
Guy: [clicking mouse, looking at computer screen] I'm doing it! Look, I'm rubbing your foot!
Me: No you're not! [throwing hands in air] This is hopeless! Maddy, come rub Mama's feetie!
Maddy: [in floor] Mrroow!

And so it went. Now Guy's out of town for his last trip on his present project, which means I'm having to self-squeegee my foot. Good thing I do yoga--I'm actually flexible enough to reach past my foot when sitting and leaning forward. However, Maddy still refuses to rub my foot. She just sort of bonks it with her head.

The other wonderful pronouncement from the physical therapist was that, in a couple of months with steady work, I will most likely run again. Were the ankle not injured this would make me leap with joy. I cannot adequately express how happy this makes me. Running, moving quickly under my own power, is an antidepressant and stimulant for me. It makes me feel strong, competent, powerful. Knowing that I will/can eventually return to my favorite activity, I can be patient through the winter.

Meanwhile, MHRC slogs on. I haven't felt like posting about it because it's so mundane, or at least it's mundane to me. The procedure suite is getting built, we should have a permit any day now for the radiology department, and multiple other little projects ebb and flow. I have some funny/interesting things to post this week, just need to get the energy. I never realize how tiring my days are, limping and hopping around, until I get home at 5:45 and nearly fall into a chair, just worn out.

Friday, November 9, 2007

...meanwhile, the Pixie limps on...

I've been remiss in posting lately, and for good reason. Several good reasons, in fact: namely, I've been exhausted and achy. I've been so tired I didn't even post a happy birthday to my sister Miss Kitty on Thursday. It's been a rattling week, what with some drama at MHRC and general ankle pain and stiffness. This ankle thing has slowed me down to what feels like a glacial speed. If I forget something in the office or house after I'm in my car, I can't just "run" back in and get it.

Today was my first day without crutches in almost three weeks. It's a double-edged sword, like most things. I'm a little slower without my crutches, but at least I can carry things as I perambulate. However, the gel brace my doctor gave me to wear hides under my pants, meaning that no one can overtly see why I'm limping. With crutches, I'm the injured girl you feel a little sorry for and sympathize with. You'll hold open doors for her, ask her how she did it, compliment her on how fast she's getting around with those crutches. Without the crutches, I'm the handicapped girl who's struggling along and kind of weird. You won't make eye contact with her, and that door you used to hold open falls shut because you don't want to catch whatever makes her a little slow, a little limpy. It's startling.

There's plenty going on in the architectural world for me to comment on; I'll blog later on them. I'm still pretty damn tired.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Wave your foot in the air and party lazy like you just don't care

The day was spent with foot on pillow, and a good time was had by most. I fell asleep while reading a book Dame Judith loaned me, only to have sleep snatched from me by the roving pack of yowling hunger-beasts known as Maddy and Hazel. Have they no shame? I mean, really. I'm all laid up here, and these two want crunchy treats. Fortunately, Papa Guy stepped up to the plate and chucked treats at said kittehs. Then he cooked dinner and even brought me my plate. Awwwwww.

Today will be more of the same--much laying around with foot in air on pillows, perhaps even some ice on the ankle. Guy and I noticed last night that my left leg is looking larger than my right. In two short weeks, that right leg is atrophied from not walking around and getting some activity. Weird. Two weeks is all it takes, it seems. At least it's not in a cast, so I can shave the leg and paint the toenails, rendering them unawful to look at. While Guy's out getting groceries, I suppose this is a good a time as any to lay down and do some more nothing. (Though doing nothing makes it hard to go back to work and do stuff, I find. Makes me forget what I was doing there in the first place.)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Worn slap out

Too tired to really say anything, y'all. Between limping and dragging myself around with crutches, I have less than zero energy. I'll post later this weekend when I've had some real rest. If anything, the past week and a half has revealed that, with an injury, I can't go at the same speed at which I go when both legs work.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Crutchwatch '07: two steps forward and one step back (and a lesson on contractors)

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. I generally don't feel like being on the computer when I get home after staring at one all day, and that feeling compounds when Guy is gone for part of the week and I'd rather hang out with him than do anything online. The feeling then multiplies when my ankle hurts like a sumbitch, which it started doing today. The outside, especially along that tendon/muscle that connect the outside anklebone to your calf, has been achy and easily agitated all day long, even in the Darth Vader Boot of Protection. Tonight's post is gonna be short so I can go play with the Vicodin.

When I say "contractor", I often use that term interchangeably. Sometimes it just means the company that's doing the construction. Other times I mean one particular representative from the GC, or general contractor. Construction companies employ several people to see a project through, and this process is most often seen in large projects like, say, building or renovating a hospital. Norton Construction, the contractor on MHRC, has a few folks behind the scenes, like a VP or manager in charge of certain types of construction, and this VP/manager is often an architect's first contact when a project starts. Norton also has a team of estimators, who take my drawings and get pricing for the various systems. They can also do ballpark estimates on prices, based on recent completed or bid projects.

But when the work really starts on a large project, the "contractor" comes down to three people: the project manager (PM), the superintendent (the super), and the field engineer or project engineer (proj-eng*). The PM is someone with a fair amount of experience in construction, and this person is in charge of balancing work with budget. This guy's equivalent in my office is Howie. The PM deals a lot with money and financial issues related to the project, which gives the super the room to just get it built. This is just as how Howie handles costs and fees on my behalf and argues with the owner and the contractor about who pays for what so that I can just get questions answered and help get the damn thing built. It's a handy good cop/bad cop division of labor that's also efficient.

My equivalent on the contractor's side is, for the most part, the super. Though really, my job is sorta split between the proj-eng and the super. The super makes sure everything's getting built according to the drawings and specs, and he's the contact point for all the subcontractors on the site. He (I'm not being sexist here--I've never seen or heard of a female super, though I'm sure it's not impossible to have one) answers questions, makes sure construction is on schedule, looks ahead for possible problems and checks with the architect to solve these ahead of time. This part of the work bleeds over into the proj-eng's job. He or she (more proj-engs I've worked with here lately have been shes than hes) handles a lot of paperwork. A lot. There's a lot in construction, for sure. She issues and keeps track of questions to the architect and engineers from the field, shop drawings and product info from subcontractors, and changes to the documents. She will also sometimes help the PM track down pricing and be a go-between for the architect and a subcontractor.

All of these people come to the OAC meeting each week (or however often it happens). The architect spends a great deal of time on the phone and in person with the super and the proj-eng and not as much with the PM. On MHRC procedure suite, Phil is the PM, Billy Ray (whom y'all have met) is the super, and Zahara is the proj-eng. Just wanted to introduce them, as I'm sure I'll be talking about them a lot for the next few months.

*Sometimes a project engineer will say their title is "PE," but that is a misleading term. When a mechanical or electrical engineer has passed their licensure exams, they are alowed to use "P.E." after their names, which means "professional engineer." While a project engineer does good, hard work, they are not engineers as I think of them. And though they are called engineers, none of the aforementioned people drive trains, nor do they wear striped bib overalls and red handkerchiefs around their necks.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Quasi Detail of the Week: Fun with Asbestos

Even though I got several phone calls today from my contractor, it was quiet overall, and I got a fair amount of drawing and RFI-answering done, all while propping my foot up on my desk. Every little bit of elevation helps, it seems. It was quiet because, as I mentioned in an earlier post, my procedure suite project was shut down until Tuesday for asbestos abatement and removal.

Quick refresher for some: asbestos was long used as fireproofing on building elements (like beams and columns) as well as in finishes (like wall coverings, fabrics, and flooring products). Even in Roman times, asbestos was used in napkins because they could be burned clean (wish I could find the source on that). However, it was discovered in teh late-1970s/early-1980s that breathing asbestos fibers gave one a touch of the cancer, so asbestos had to be removed or at least sealed up wherever possible (a process called abatement). I recall doing a remodel job up in Fort Collins back when I started at Design Associates in 2000 in the art building at a small college. The project manager I was with wanted to look in the ceiling (we call that "popping a tile", as in popping a ceiling tile up out of its grid so as to have a look around), and the building manager nearly had a stroke. "If you pop a tile, I'll have to shut the building down--we have asbestos on our structure!" he gasped. Hence, until abatement occurred, no one could even do so much as replace a ceiling tile--just had to patch it up.

In the procedure suite at MHRC, the VCT (vinyl composition tile) was safe, but the adhesive used to attach the tile to the concrete slab has asbestos. We had originally planned to just cover the floor, tile, sealant and all, with the new flooring, but the slab was in such bad shape from demolition that we were going to have to bead-blast it (not sure what that entails), then pour a self-leveling topping over the slab, then lay our new flooring on that. The bead-blasting, which I imagine is a lot like sandblasting, would have made the asbestos fibers friable--that is, singular and crispy, able to be handled and breathed--so we had to shut the area down and have it abated.

Not all asbestos removal is this drastic. Sometimes, it's found in pipe insulation on old plumbing systems, and it can simply be removed while wearing some gloves, put in a bag, and picked up by the hazardous waste folks. That also happened on the demo of the procedure area, and it was handled nicely and quietly.

So, the abatement company, which charges handily for its services, will be working through the weekend (charging even more handily, I'm sure) to finish removal. Monday, the state health board comes in and looks everything over and approves it. After that, we can go back in and get going again. My contractor will then begin looking for ways to accelerate the construction schedule so that we can make up for lost time and finish when we said we'd finish.

More construction details later. Guy should be home from his business trip any moment now. I'll have my foot up, anxiously awaiting his arrival. Wonder if I should just go ahead and call Pizza Hut now?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

CrutchWatch '07: Hijinks With Howie

"Holy shit, what happened?!" Howie's eyes flew open when he saw me round the corner into the kitchen, crutchcrutchcrutching along with Ethel carrying my coffee/water mug. Howie, my prodigal boss for whom I've been unable to work for the past few months due to all my projects being on hold, had been out of the office for a few days and hadn't seen me in my new state of infirmity.

"Twisted my ankle jogging. Chipped the end off my fibula and got a bad sprain in my ankle." I balanced on my left leg while Ethel got me some water.

"Wow," replied Howie. "Can I see your crutches?"

"Sure," I said, and before I could utter another word, he'd flipped them upside-down, climbed up onto them with his feet on the handholds, and proceeded to stilt-walk around the kitchen on my crutches. Incredulous laughter bubbled up in the office as people began realizing what my straight-laced, perfectly-gelled-haired, tie-wearing boss was doing. Ethel couldn't contain her laughter, nor could I. She said, "Up until just now, he really intimidated me. I don't know if I can look at him the same way again!" I just shook my head. Howie's a straight-on guy, but sometimes, you just never know.

This afternoon, I saw the doc for a follow-up, which required an x-ray of my foot. We discovered a lot of bruising and swelling on my instep, leading the doc to believe that I might have had an actual foot break. (It also alternately fascinated me and grossed me out.) After an ungodly amount of waiting, it was revealed that it was just swelling, no breakage, and I would only be needing the "Darth Vader" walking cast, which velcros all around my foot and lower leg. I also have to come back in ten days for yet another follow-up to see how I'm progressing. I still can't really put any weight on it, so I still need the crutches, but I can better use it for balance now. On the upside, I got a prescription for Vicodin...finally. Now all I need is my copy of "Dark Side of the Moon" and my weekend will be complete.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Crutching with a vengeance

That was how Jacqueline described my quasi-perambulation around the office today. Evidently, I'm nearly as fast on crutches as I am on two feet. However, my armpits are so sore they feel like they should be blistered--the crutches say theyre' for folk 5'-2" to 5'-10", and I'm only 5'-0". So, ouch. At least the office is full of people who wanted to help me out today. Ethel followed me to the bathroom/kitchen twice today, and even Wanda carried some shop drawings up to the front desk for me. I hate having to get that kind of help all the time. It's really inefficient and annoying. Tomorrow I have to go walk around the procedure suite area with Billy Ray to figure our where to reroute a duct into the basement. yay. According to the flooring guy, the floor in there is the worst he's seen in ten years, and he needs to fill the pits and holes left in it (which remain from demoing the CMU walls and chunks of random slabs), but before he fills that in and then pours leveling compound on it, the abation experts have to come in and remove the old VCT tiles because the adhesive containes asbestos. We wanted to just pour the leveling compund over the old tiles, but in order to apply the compound, you have to bead-blast the slab, and in doing so it's gonna tear up the tiles and release the asbestos. Asbestos in the air, right next to the asthma clinic. And me trying to walk over this really uneven survace. Yippee-fuckin'-do.

Meanwhile, I'm convinced that we're saving entirely too many lives with smoke barrier walls. In a rated smoke barrier wall, you need a closer on every door. The closer is at the top of a door; it's a contraption that pulls the door shut once it's opened. My experience today has been that closers are set to shut waaaaaay too fast, usually they shut on me as I'm zipping through the door. Or, zipping as much as one can on crutches. We have an elevator in our building, but it's in a back hall, where we share it with the other half of our building (presently vacated). The elevator is in a rated enclosure, so I have to keep stumbling through doors with closers to get between floors. Hence, it's crutchcrutchcrutchcrutch to the other side of the office, fight the door open and get through, trundle upstairs or downstairs in the ancient elevator, then fight through the next door and crutchcrutchcrutchcrutch back across the office to go pee, check the large-format plotter, get anything done. Then repeat the laborious process back to my desk. I know that in a few months, I'll be back to normal, but fuck if I could handle this the rest of my days. The constant stumbling, leaning, taking forever to get anywhere or get anything done. If I could reach the bottle in the cabinet, I'd have a drink.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I suppose I could work at IHOP...

Things that I have discovered to be difficult on one foot/crutches/with a splint-cast:

  • Moving
  • Peeing
  • Getting through doors with closers on them
  • Carrying a bowl of cereal
  • Carrying anything
  • Answering a phone
  • Bathing
  • Working on the computer/blogging

Things that aren't that hard:

  • Not a whole hell of a lot

Getting around today--and there wasn't that much getting around in my house--has left me frustrated and with sore underarms from the crutches. It's every little thing, too. I want to lay down with my foot up and with ice on my ankle, but that requires getting magazines, pillows, ice in the pack, water, and phone all in one place. Then as I get almost settled, I have to pee. So it's back up and hophophopping to the can, frightening cats along the way. I'm just annoyed.

On the plus side, I have much to be thankful for. Ultimately, this handicap is temporary. Also, I'm glad I've taken as good care of my body as I have. Good upper body strength has made lifting myself off of surfaces--including out of the tub this morning--rather easy. My abs are in decent enough shape that I can move myself around, swinging my legs here and there, without too much trouble. Practice balancing in yoga has made balancing...well, not easy, per se, but easier than I imagine it would be. At the very least, I can still do activities with my upper body. But still. Argh.

Time for more Advil.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Snow and grits

Mile High Guy and I awoke this morning to see huge, fat snowflakes falling--nay, hurtling--from solid grey skies over Denver. It was 75 yesterday, FYI. Which is nice, because at least that means that the snow isn't sticking to roads and sidewalks. Cars drive by with a slushing sound instead of a muffled crunching sound, which is a relief to me today. I'm going over to Dame Judith's house today to help her out with a few things, then over to the eye doctor to get a checkup and another year's worth of contact lenses. And since my Southern ass shouldn't be driving in snow, it's nice to know that the roads are failry clear.

Upon seeing this weather, I arose and made coffee (Vanilla Hazelnut from Einstein's), looked into the freezer...and decided it was time. It was Time to Make Grits. My sister, Miss Kitty, gave me a cloth bag full of stone-ground grits--just plain ground-up corn--with directions how to cook 'em properly. As it was stated in My Cousin Vinny, no self-respecting Southerner uses instant grits. And I'm no exception. I make my own buttermilk biscuits, my own whipped cream, and my own grits, dammit. So, I'm rinsing the grits, pouring up water, boiling them, simmering them, and then Guy the Unenlightened Native St. Louisian comes in and says, "What's that?"

"Them's grits," I replied as I cut up sausage from a roll.

Guy looked like a golden retriever doing calculus at the stove. "What's up with the grits?"

I responded with semi-mock surprise. "Whaddya mean, what's up with the grits? I'm fixing you a Southern breakfast! Eggs, sausage, and GRITS!" Guy rolled his eyes, sighed, and returned to the living room to read the Sunday Denver Post.

Oh, y'all. My grits simmered for half an hour, barely pop-bubbling by the end. They were thick, bloopy but not dribbly. I let out a Jerry Clower-esque yell. "Oh, honeh! I think these may be the Finest Grits in the World!!" I shouted to Guy.

Guy strolled into the kitchen. "As if I'd know a damn thing about grits," came his reply. I planted my hands on my hips. "Just yell like you're in heaven when you eat them," I retorted. "Anything less and you're sleeping on the sofa."

They were indeed the Finest Grits in the World. A little butter, salt, and pepper made them perfectly Pixielicious. Guy even made some noise like he enjoyed them. They were at least edible to him, as he polished his off without gagging. But oh, was a shorty in heaven with her proper grits. I might have the sunzabitches for dinner this week too, they were that good.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

These boots are not made for walking

I spent way more time at MHRC today than I'd planned to. When you go to the site, and especially when you go to a meeting at MHRC, you can't just do the meeting and leave. The first meeting was to coordinate all the trades in the ceiling, but they all wanted me to come out to the procedure suite afterwards and look around at the ceiling, then the framing guy had questions, then Billy Ray showed me an entire wall that the demo contractors said they didn't have to take down per the drawings (but why they didn't ask why they weren't taking it down is beyond me--it was the only wall left standing in the whole 6,000 sf area, duh), get the drift.

I made it back to the office just in time to make the lunch presentation and was able to sit through most of it, but had to leave a little early (forgive me, Mikhail and Katya) so I could write a letter for Howie and then draw a detail of all the trades coming together in this one place in the ceiling, then rip back across town over to MHRC for another meeting about a clinic area they want to remodel. I had to walk and stand and walk and stand and answer questions about what are we doing in this room and the drawings say this but the narrative says that and that's not a built-in cabinet and what sink did we use in here. That walk was followed by a long meeting with Billy Ray, resolving the last of the issues I have to include in the PR I'm issuing tomorrow. I made it back to the office at 4:45, just in time to turn in my timesheet and meet my friend Vinnie for a drink.

I wore the cutest boots today, and for normal wear they're quite comfortable. But with all the walking and standing and tromping across rough concrete slabs, my feet freakin' hurt.

But I did look cute.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

News of late

My sister, Miss Kitty, came and went way too quickly--we had a total blast in our 3.5 days together, and we're already planning our next visit in the spring. Dare we ask for a week's time? Oh, I think we dare. As I've been backsliding on my posting lately, let's see if I can get the shortest version of the latest news:
  • I thought on Sunday when I went in to do casework shops that Thurston (an annoying Pomme de Terre staff member) had been fired or quit, but alas, he only moved desks. Damn. He's been a pain in the ass to two of my interns.
  • Demo is moving forward on the MHRC procedure suite. Once the demo crew is done there, they'll move up a few floors and across the campus to the present lab area where the new radiology suite is going to be and start demoing that area.
  • Casework shops suck. Seriously. I've spent the better part of 16 hours on them, and as soon as you solve one issue, there's another to solve. I looked at the casework shops for the original MHRC project we did a couple of years ago (which was completed in early spring this year), and I'm amazed they were able to build casework off these shops. There were no details on them, so I had to go to the building and walk around to see what the casework (countertops and cabinets, for the uninitiated) looked like, and I found yet again two different ways of doing them. And, I might add, neither of these ways looks like what we drew in our drawings. I swear to Phillip Johnson, I don't know how this building got built.
  • Upon arriving home late this evening, I saw in the elevator that our next door condo neighbor, who has had MS for 12 years, has finally been put into a nursing home/longterm care facility. Finally. This man has been in a wheelchair the entire 6 years we've lived here, and he's been in a motorized wheelchair or unable to leave his unit of his own volition for at least two or three years. I should also add that we live in an unsprinklered high-rise building. If there was a fire, this guy could only roll out onto his balcony and wait for the fire department to show up. For the past few years, he's needed round the clock live-in care, and one of his nurses last year ended up stealing some very valuable jewelry from him. People walked in and out of there like Grand Central Station, so none of us neighbors could say anything--we never knew who belonged there. Guy and I would often ask each other, "Can you really call what he's doing 'independent living,' for crying out loud?" perhaps now he can live in a safer place. The building manager provided an address so folks could visit him.

That's all for now. I'll post again when I have my wits about me.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Playing hooky with Kitty

The past two days have been a blast. After seven years of visiting me here, I've finally learned to schedule our activities for the afternoon of each day. While I'm one of the 5% of Americans who are morning people, Kitty, like most human beings, is not. I used to book our spa appointments at 10am, forcing me to hustle her out of bed and to the spa downtown, but alas, Shorty has learned her lesson. Thursday, our appointment was at 2:30pm, which gave us plenty of time to drink a pot of coffee, read the paper, and bug the crap out of Maddy and Hazel, who are not accustomed to such fierce snuggling as they receive at the hands of Aunt Kitty. While getting ready for a lazy brunch, Billy Ray called my cell phone, wanting to make sure that we were demoing the existing heating coils in the walls of the procedure suite. I sighed as I weighed the options and tried to expain infilling the panels with metal studs and drywall. "Everytime I solve a problem, it seems to cause another one, doesn't it?" I asked Billy Ray. He chuckled. "If this was easy, Pix, everyone would do it."

The sp was heavenly. Dinner afterwards was heavenly. Poor Guy came home to a condo full of cackling women with home-decorating magazines scattered around the dining room and his precious TV room, which is also our guest bedroom. He took it well. What a trooper.

Friday was spent at the new Sephora store in Boulder. All I can say is OMGWTFBBQSEPHORA. We spent probably at least 90 minutes in there, rubbing various potions on our hands, faces, and lips. I was heartbroken when I couldn't find the Bourjois Lip Stain pen I coveted so much (Kitty showed it to me), but I found some other makeup and skincare delights. Bwaahahaahaaaaa!! My cosmetic domination is at hand! My skin will be clear and my complexion dewy! My eyes will coordinate with my perfectly glossed lips! BWAAAAHHAHAAAAA!!!!

Um, sorry. Where was I?

Guy cooked us a marvelous casserole dinner after we returned from a walk around my lovely neighborhood, which is filled with delightful little houses. Delightful meaning ornate late 19th-century scrollwork and Victorian paint jobs and slate roofs and rambling gardens, and little meaning 5 bed/4 bath upwards of $600,000 each. But lovely nonetheless. After dinner, we watched the Rockies whoop up (again) on the D-backs and hit the sack. Today is more lounging around and then visiting my favorite no-kill cat shelter to pet kitties and clean boxes. Cuteness will abide.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Crossing the streams, part deux

So, most of the cleaning is done around the house is done. There's still some clutter here and there due to unfinished remodeling, but otherwise the house is presentable for my sister Miss Kitty's visit. She arrives Wednesday night and will hang out with me for four glorious days of shopping, spa-going, kitty-snuggling, and general tomfoolery. I'm taking Thursday and Friday off to enjoy her visit.

However, having a short week while the MHRC procedure suite demolition is in full swing and we're a week away from getting our building permit for MHRC radiology is going to be tough. The next couple of days might leak over into some after-5 nights, which will reek while I'm working but will be more than worth it when Kitty and I roll into the spa for our massages.

Friday, October 5, 2007

And a good day was had by all

If he were still alive, my father would be 61 today. I make it a point to have fun on his birthday, as I think he would also try to do something fun on his birthday too. This morning, Norman and Elliot and I met for breakfast at Snore, a little brunchy spot near our neighborhood, and then at lunch Norman and I joined a couple of the admin gals for some kick-ass barbecue. Finally this evening, Guy will be returning home from an overnight business trip, at which point we'll go to our favorite Mexican restaurant for happy-birthday margaritas and chile rellenos and quesadillas. Elsewhere, my sister Miss Kitty presented her paper at a conference to rave reviews, so it seems. (As if we thought it would turn out any other way!)

Tomorrow, things continue to go well. I'll have the day to play and hang out with Guy, but the late afternoon belongs to my shopping pal from work, Ethel, with whom I am going for a manicure and then to dinner and THEN (are you listening, SpookyRach?) to see Spamalot.

And Sunday? I think I'll be sleeping all this off. That or cleaning the house like a madwoman for when Miss Kitty comes to see me next week.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Lurrve Boat, Part 2: Mom the Inadvertent Haggler, and the Angel of American Airlines

Okay, where were we?

Oh, snubaing. After snuba, Mom, Guy, and I went back to the cruise ship and dried off, changed clothes, and got lunch. Guy wandered around solo while Mom and I went back to shore to do a little duty-free shopping. Our first stop was the jewelry markets, where we thought we might find some nice silver, for which Cozumel is known. Despite the downpours soaking Cozumel on Saturday, the vendors were out and about, beckoning us into their shops with heavily accented, "Come see, Miss! Have a look, Senora! Welcome!" Mom and I wandered into a store loaded with silver jewelry glittering in its windows. I'm a sucker for silver, and Mom's always been drawn to prehistoric and ancient symbols and mythology, so we knew we were in the right place when we found silver pendants with images of Mayan gods on them.

"This one," said the store manager as he held up a malachite and silver pendant a little smaller than a half-dollar, "is the Mayan god of rain."

"We're in a bad drought in Georgia," replied Mom. "I'll take it!"

She went to the counter only briefly, then returned to the shelf from whence she got it. She leaned into my ear and whispered, "No can do. He wanted $165 for it. That's way out of my price range."

"Oh well," I whispered back. "We might be able to find you something a little more affordable in another store." I continued to look around a bit, and it took a few minutes to realize that my mother and the manager were still chatting back and forth, his voice having taken on a hopeful tone. I had made a lap around the store to find Mom back at the counter with the man, who was shining the pendant and holding it up eagerly.

"Forty dollars?" offered the man.

Mom looked at me, eyebrows arched. "What do you think?" she asked. Her face was a bit pinched, like she wasn't sure if she was being robbed or not.

"It's a nice pendant, Mom," I replied, cool as a margarita. "And that's a good price for malachite."

"Okay, I think I can do $40," Mom said.

"Excellent!" the manager replied. "I wrap for you!"

Now, I might have been cool on the outside, but inside I was going WTF? My mom just bargained El Jefe down to 24% of his asking price? Damn, I gotta take her shopping more often! The fellow then proceeded to sell me a lapis lazuli pendant and earrings for a little less than half price, though I wish I bargained him down a little more. I think Mom put me to shame on that one. As we left the store, Mom explained to me that she just really couldn't afford to pay a lot for jewelry, since only El Seebeno is working and they had to fix their car recently, so she wasn't trying to be rude, just honest. Suddenly she stopped and turned to me, a little surprised. "Did I just haggle?" she asked.
"You didn't just haggle, Mom," I laughed. "You kicked ass."

We sailed out of Cozumel late that afternoon and spent a day at sea, arriving back into Mobile, AL on our birthday, which was Monday. After finally getting through customs, Mom and El Seebeno drove us to the Pensacola airport and dropped us off. We waited around for our flight, which was to take off at 5pm sharp. At 4:30pm, the gate agent for American Airlines informed us over the loudspeaker that the plane was finally pulling in, so they'd clean it really quickly and get us loaded. Five minutes later, a new announcement: the plane that would take us to Dallas (where Guy and I would then return to Denver) was hit by lightning on its way to Pensacola, so there was no chance it was getting back off the ground until it had been worked on. They were very sorry, blah blah blah, they were going to start moving folks onto other flights, wait until your name is called, blah blah blah.

"Whatever," said Guy. "You stand in line; I'm gonna run back to the terminal to see if we can get on another airline."

Guy retruned about ten minutes later with no good news. One AA guy read him the riot act for not being at the gate, while the other one said that yes, if he found a flight on another airline, he'd transfer the tickets for us. AirTran had no good news; any flight they got us on wouldn't get us to Denver until the next day, as we'd miss all their connecting flights out of Atlanta. Guy, however, was undaunted.

"Stay here," he huffed, out of breath from running all over the wee Pensacola Airport/Hair Salon/Tire Center. "I'm gonna run down to the gates below us and check Continental."

Guy returned less than five minutes later. "Come on; we're going to Chicago."

We ran downstairs from our present gate to see a small, blond woman typing furiously on a computer, muttering, "Come on, gimme that screen, come, not that one, this we go...back up back up back up dadgummit...." After about five minutes of her solid typing, she pointed at me, then Guy. "You're in 6B, you're in 5A. Go run get on the plane, and I'll bring you your boarding passes for your connecting flight."

"Thank you!" we practically prayed to her as we ran across the tarmac to hop on a flight to Chicago that should have been gone twenty minutes before. After several more minutes, the flight attendant was about to shut the door when we all heard a small shout of "WAIT!" outside the plane. Out our western windows, here comes our American Airlines angel, running hellbent for leather across the tarmac screaming "Give these to 6B and 5A!"

With our connecting flight boarding passes in hand, Guy and I took off for the Windy City with a sigh of relief. It was not until we got to Chicago that we realized that our angel had booked us on FIRST CLASS on the flight to Denver. We curled up in our oversized seats with nice fuzzy blankets and snoozed the entire two hours home from Chicago. Our luggage didn't make it home to us until Tuesday afternoon, but who gives a damn? It's extremely rare that I use real names on this blog, but Patricia Gifford of American Airlines at the Pensacola Regional Airport performed a minor miracle for us on Monday. Happy birthday to us!

All in all, the trip was marvelous and a welcome escape from the everyday. Hopefully we can go on a cruise again in the next few years, perhaps on a bigger boat with a bowling alley. Or more shuffleboards, so we can have a rematch against Mom and El Seebeno. It was a delight to hang out with my mom, whom I love dearly, and my stepdad, who always makes me laugh, and my Guy, who may be the best birthday gift ever.

And who, hopefully, will now stop singing "The Love Boat" theme.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Lurrve Boat, Part 1: The Libido Deck and snubarifficness

Okay, I'm finally back from the cruise. I misspoke earlier in that our cruise was not in the Carribean, but rather in the Gulf of Tonkin--um, I mean, Mexico. We sailed out of Mobile to Cozumel and back and had a wonderful, wonderful time. Guy and I had some nice us time in our lovely stateroom with a king size bed (made of two smaller beds that formed a ridge between us and kept me from hogging the bed, says Guy) and a great view of the ocean. I never realized just how blue the ocean is. I either see it from way up high in a plane or at the Atlantic Ocean coast, where it's brown/grey and fonky. Y'all, we really do live on a blue planet. And it's a beautiful planet indeed.

The ship was an older one, had a bit of a disco-ish feel, but it was a good size for the four of us in that it was hard to get too lost. After a day and a half, we knew where most everything was. The food was pretty darn good as well, the main dining rooms being yummier and more elegantly prepared than the main buffet on the Lido Deck. After lunch the first day, Mom and I did recon around the boat, seeking out the gym and spa, first and foremost. We wandered up to the top deck and found the gym, then sat down on a bench in the gym lobby to review the list of classes and services. Suddenly, three rather heavyset, middle-aged women wandered off the elevator, saw the word "gym", and turned to confer with each other.

"Huh," said one. "Ah thank we went too far up."
"I thank so," said another. "Y'all wanna go to the buffet on the Libido deck?"
"Yeah," said the third. "Let's go back dayown to the Libido deck."

May I interject that this conversation took place without a trace of humor or irony. However, the humor and irony of it was not lost on us. Mom got the joke first, but it took a few seconds to hit my two-cycle weedwhacker of a brain. Mom was shaking with laughter until they were safely down the stairs.
"Gawd!" she burst out laughing. "The Libido Deck?"
I looked around for a hidden camera. "Do you think she even knows what she said?"
"Christ, I dunno," Mom said as she wiped her eyes. "I don't know much, but even I know what a libido is, and I don't think that woman would know one if it bit her on her ass."
"She might if it had a buffet," I replied.

Saturday in Cozumel, El Seebeno found something relaxing to do while Mom, Guy, and I went snuba. Snuba is kinda like going scuba diving, except that your breathing thingy apparatus/darth Vader mouthpiece is attached not to tanks on your back but to a long tube that goes up to an air tank that floats on the surface on a little raft. You can only go down about 18 or 20 feet, but it was still pretty damn cool. We saw lots of totally neato fish, including a rockfish that our guide goosed out of its hiding place. Of course, we can never stray too far from our usual humor: Guy spotted a fish taking a dump as it swam along, pointed it out, and made me laugh. Hint: never laugh with a scuba breathing thing in your mouth. Smiling introduces nonair-like substances into your mouth, like seawater. Even though the sun hid the whole day and it even rained on us, we had a great time under the sea. Those swimming fins make you swim really far. I actually had the thought, "I wonder if this is what being a mermaid is like!" Yes, Pixie, that's exactly what it's like, except the mermaids come to Cozumel via unicorn. However, my mommy was cute in her silver swimsuit and bright red hair flailing behind her as she swam above Guy and me.

I'm really tired today for reasons I will explain tomorrow in part two of my cruise report.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Shiny Object Syndrome and Dorkapalooza

My SOS was doing well today until Elliot and I sat down with one of the partners to talk about the Intern 101 seminar, which is now scheduled for the Friday after I get back. After a brief but productive meeting and a fairly productive day (not too many emails and phone calls to interrupt me), my SOS kicked in with 1.5 hours to go in the workday. Elliot and I heckled each other along with our new colleage Will, who sits in the seat vacated by the ever-dear Jimmy Ray, who occasionally tosses in quips for his own amusement and ours. I took breaks to post new comments from Miss Kitty and Baxtersmum, who continue to heckle each other about various levels of dorkitude on my blog. You have to understand that Bax and I went to Georgia Tech, whereas Miss Kitty went to our rival school, University of Georgia, presumably because she did not already have a high school diploma. I must say in UGA's defense that I rather enjoy visiting its campus in Athens, GA, as it is well-laid out, green, walkable, easy to park on, and there's the added bonus that if you drive past the campus with your car window down, they'll throw a diploma in your back seat. (Seriously, it's a great campus, fantastic downtown with great shopping and dining, and unlike most colleges, their on-campus dining is spectacular.)

A little later, Sarge came by to kvetch about the sorry state of Wanda's drawings. Yes, Wanda is still around, but she's annoying in new ways these days. "I swear to God," lamented Sarge. "What is up with Design Associates hiring all these 'architects' who can't use CAD worth a damn! Seriously, people, learn to draw a line and use a space object correctly!" We also indulged in a bit of schadefreude over the recent termination of a usually-annoying employee at DA. Evidently, this young intern decided she couldn't work with her immediate boss and didn't want to work on the banks that our office does, so they told her to hit the bricks. She then tried to backpedal with no success. I suppose it's for the best. It's odd, though, as she'd been acting a lot less annoying lately, but I guess this little stunt was more than anyone felt like tolerating.

Finally, I'd had enough. I left at two til five, came home and made a little dinner, then cleaned the kitchen and started the dishwasher. I cleaned the bathroom and the floors (mostly) this weekend and did all my laundry too. There's something about going on a trip that makes me want everything clean. I guess after staying in nice hotel rooms on vacation, you want to come home to a clean, pretty house where you can just dump your luggage and be done.

We fly out tomorrow morning. See you kids next week!