Wednesday, December 30, 2009

KittehWatch: tubby and healthy!

Took the kittehs to the vet yesterday, and a lousy time was had by some. We hate leaving the house, first of all, and we also hate going to the vet's office. It smells like other people and creatures, occasionally punctuated by the smell of 70% isopropyl alcohol. Bleh! And we get poked and prodded and our moufs lifted up so people can look at our teefs--wtf, Mama?!

But the vet gave Maddy and Hazel good reviews. After taking blood and urine, she snuggled Hazel a bit and pronounced that her recent addition of a tummy was a good thing, especially in her older years. And she couldn't find Maddy's lymph nodes when pushing on her stomach, just as the vet oncologist couldn't. "I don't want to get your hopes up," she told me, "but I've seen cats live three or four years on the medicine regimen she's on for her cancer." Well, every day is an extra day; I'll take what I can get.

This morning, everyone's milling around, wondering why I won't give them my cereal milk and rollrollrolling in the floor. Guy and I are heading out of town today for a li'l trip to the mountains, back in a few days. In the meantime, everyone enjoy your New Year's holiday, and have fun and stay safe!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Here and gone again 2: Electric Boogaloo

We made it back to Denver safely late Sunday afternoon, having missed most of the bad weather over the Western Plains. We hit some crappy stuff heading from St. Louis to Kansas City, where we visited a cousin of Guy's and spent the night on Saturday, but the drive on Sunday was fairly decent. Though I still feel like I'm moving....urk. Maddy and Hazel were a little shell-shocked when we finally decided to roll in this afternoon, but after some medicine, a few treats, some dinner, and some petting, they're starting to act kinda normal. Kinda normal...they're cats, you know.

Guy's going back to work tomorrow for a few days, but this week is the rest of my required furlough days. I have some writing to do, but that's about all I have mandated for myself. I might get into some sorting and cleaning of a few things, maybe scrub the back deck a little again around the cat boxes. (They keep thinking outside the box, and not in a good way, but with the same results as many corporate-speak instances of "thinking outside the box": there's crap everywhere and someone else has to clean it up.) While I've been off work, I really haven't been home and/or sitting still very much, and it's starting to catch up to me, so I look forward to the next few days.

But then it's off to the mountains about mid-week, where we rented a condo with a few friends and will be skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, cooking, drinking (a little), and goofing off again some before it's back to work. But I still have a week off, and some of it isn't all that busy. Time to sleep with a cat on my head...

...oh crap, the cats are due at the vet...

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Belated Hanukkah, and stuff!

Hope everyone's having/had a great holiday. We're in St. Louis enjoying some time with Guy's family and dodging oncoming snowstorms as we go from point A to point B. Everybody eat a little and laugh a lot!

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

Update: We made it to St. Louis ahead of the snow (though we spent the entirety of Kansas driving through fog and rain). We're actually having a White Christmas in STL today, so we're preparing to drive safely to loved ones' homes and to be safe. (And it's still almost warmer here than it was in GA last week. yikes!) Merry merry to all!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Here and gone again

I just got back into Denver from Georgia last night, and we're leaving today for St. Louis. We were going to leave tomorrow, but the approaching snow and ice will make driving across Kansas difficult and uncomfortable. Driving across Kansas under the best of conditions is boring and uncomfortable, so why throw black ice in there as well? Hence, we'll drive partway this afternoon/tonight after we have a late lunch with Elliot, and then we'll drive the rest of the way there tomorrow morning. So I'm not even going to have 24 hours at home. And y'all, my kittehs missed me. Well, sorta. Maddy and Hazel tolerated Papa last week, and they were sorta amused to see me last night. Maddy almost didn't know who I was, it seemed. Silleh kitteh.

The condo is kinda grody. Once I'm done posting, I've got to go sweep and Swiff this place and take out the recycling, and I had to wipe down the kitchen this morning after an hour on the treadmill. Evidently, Guy was living like a bachelor all week while I was gone, and I'm telling all of you because his mother reads my blog and I hope she gives him hell for it. (I'm kidding--no one has to heckle him; I already did last night and this morning.) But we might have Elliot come in and give Maddy and Hazel some wet food while we're gone. (Maddy just jumped in my lap and purred her agreement to this notion.)

But it was a wonderful, relaxing week in Georgia,hanging out with my sister and mom and getting lots done on my presentation that I have to do next year, donuts for breakfast and BBQ for lunch and dinner, and kittehs on the bed every morning and night while we sleep, relax, or read magazines. A few lines from the week:
  • "Did you just fart, or was that the cat?" "Which cat?"
  • "This is the Toilet Shuffle, a forgotten dance of the 1960s!"
  • Me: "Why do all my cookies look retarded?" Mom: "Operator error."
  • "Mom, what would you do if we bought you this fabric to make a dress out of?" "Disown you."
  • "Why are those two trying to reproduce?! God, now I can't eat my pasta."
  • Mom: "Don't bother the cat, she just went in her little house and went to sleep!" [cute voice] "Don't 'sturb it! Go 'way! GO 'WAY!"
  • Kitty: "I could have lived my life without ever knowing what an upstairs tenant or a hot pocket was. What has been learned cannot be unlearned." Me: "You know what we have to do now, don't you?" Kitty: "What?" Me: "Tell Mom." Kitty: "AUUUGH!"
  • Mom: "Why did you have to tell me what those were? God, I need ear bleach." [sighs] "Six years of college...twelve if you count her sister...."
See, Kitty and I have learned that we can't embarrass Mom, so now we're going for grossing her out. We can't do anything so awful or silly that she'd leave us in the middle of Target or the fabric store, so we just try to get her to give us the "why in God's name would you say/think/do that?" look. It's the best we can do.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I can haz break? Yayz!

Y’all, it’s been a nice couple of days here in Georgia, not drawing anything and not fretting about flashing details. Hell, I can’t say I’ve worried about a whole lot of anything the past couple of days. I’m about to be gone from work for three weeks, and as you’ve likely been able to tell from my past few posts, I’m gone not a moment too soon. I’ve been reflexively angry at the sound of Howie’s voice, my heart immediately sinks when I see certain engineers’ names and numbers flash up on my phone’s Caller ID, and I’ve been unable to drag out of bed to go for a walk or run or do yoga or anything. How cranky do you have to be to not want to do yoga? Honestly. [shakes head and purses lips disapprovingly]

When everything leaves you flat and annoyed and inconsolable, it’s time for a break. I’m lucky Guy bought me tickets to GTFO of Colorado for a week, because having a change of pace and scenery is startlingly helpful. First of all, it truly is a change of pace. Guy and I realized it over Thanksgiving when we were here—cars drive slower and take longer to pull out of driveways and parking lots, people walk and talk slower, folks wait their turn everywhere and aren’t in a rush to get done, and so on. One of my well-traveled coworkers commented that the closer you get to the equator, the slower people move—“Maybe it’s the heat, and maybe it’s the gravitational pull, but there’s less movement and less hurrying.”

The scenery helps too. Everything’s green, like super green. It’s been raining buckets here in Georgia for a several weeks now, and the trees are amazing shades and hues of reds, yellows, and tans, while the manifold evergreens provide a lovely contrast where leaves have fallen. The humidity makes my hair curl delightfully (I don’t even have to style it, really) and makes my skin moisturized and almost dewy. I need so little lotion to be here, and I don’t wake up from sleep parched and drained. Kitty’s HKC is quiet, except for the occasional BONK! of something being knocked over by its quadripedal denizens or a long, low train whistle arcing over the still countryside as it chugs through town. We awake to the sound of Leroy the rooster “rrt-rr-rrtr-RRRR!”ing between 7am and 8am, and we drive to D2U along a two-lane country road/state highway and enjoy the rolling hills and surprise goats and sheep sightings along the way.

My posts from here to the end of the year will be irregular, but I’ll post something here and there to update my faithful dozens of readers on my little climb back to sanity and stability. And I’ll do my best to work in a Mile-High-Visitation version of Ask Mom.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I'm not finished, but I'm done.

Seriously. I'm there.

I'll spare you the gory details because they make me so angry, but my structural consultant on TCMC (who's never given me a bit of trouble in nearly ten years) hasn't really looked at the drawings in a month until his QC guy noticed that we were removing a bunch of walls that he needed to remain in order to carry some roof loads. He notices this on Monday, and then he notices again on Wednesday when I called him to ask him about his final revisions to his plans that were due later that day. He blamed the lack of oversight on a tight budget, but come. on. We removed five exterior walls from this area of the building in the drawings two months ago. Spend half an hour with the drawing set and I think that would become clear pretty quickly.

Thing is, architecture is done, and structural is done. We're waiting on mechanical to reconfigure their ductwork with all these new walls and beams suddenly in the space where they weren't before. Mechanical has not impressed me so far on this project...well, up until now. They've really stepped up after the contortions that structural gave us so late in the game, and I appreciate it like hell. And Howie says we're probably going to owe them a li'l cash when this is over. Rightfully so--I'm sure they've gone way over their fee for reasons that were completely out of their control. But the fee thing is killing everyone these days. In order to get jobs, we're all getting paid less because every client wants a deal, like they're buying their plans at Costco or something. But the project is at the point where no one can afford to work on it, which sends it into a death spiral of poor quality, and if we do a crappy job we won't get hired again, and then we won't get work....

Furthermore, I've had it with Howie on this project. He believed that when my structural guy called up all surprised about these walls that were "suddenly" missing, I should have called him on it and made him admit that he didn't look at my drawings. I didn't do that for two reasons: one, I had problems to solve. We can point fingers later, but right now I need everyone's cooperation in order to solve it in the short amount of time we have to get this done. And second, the engineer already admitted inadvertently that he hadn't looked at my drawings--he did so on Monday when he said, "I just the report back from my QC guy, and it appears that you guys are all of a sudden now taking out all the exterior walls in this area--is that correct?" It wasn't all of a sudden; the walls have been gone for about two months. And also, your QC saw this, not you? Busted. So no, Howie, I didn't give him grief when he said it, because I used my "psychic female intuition," which is commonly called "listening" and "making logical conclusions" to figure out in about 2.3 nanoseconds just exactly how this got missed. I didn't need to engage in your particular brand of a macho-man pissing contest in order to make him admit guilt. It doesn't satisfy me the way it does you. now get the fuck out of my way and let me finish this project.

So, I'm just done.

Today, we should be getting the mechanical engineer's information, and we'll work with him some to make sure that nothing in his model is colliding with anything important in any other model, and then we'll print the drawings and be done. The submittal to the state health department will have to happen next week by someone other than me, because I'm gone-baby-gone to Georgia for a week. And if those dipshits are lucky, I'll check my email periodically to see if anyone has any questions.

Guess who needs a massage and a nap?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Still here...sorta

My deadline got pushed to Wednesday, so Intern Timmy and I still have one more day of work to do on TCMC. Turns out that our structural engineer hasn't really looked at the drawings for the past two months, and he suddenly realized that we were tearing out a lot more of the load-bearing walls than he originally thought. Plus, we finally heard back from the OR equipment company about where the surgery booms should be placed, which left the MEP engineers very little time to really revise their drawings properly for a deadline today. Hence, the delay in the deadline.

This one-day extension is good and bad. Good in that we've got a little extra time to check things, coordinate stuff, get everyone on the same page. Bad in that everyone was planning on being done today--the engineers had booked their drafters on other projects tomorrow, and Intern Timmy and I are both working overtime and need to take those hours off pretty soon. Further complicating matters is that the delay in deadline means that I have to get a package ready to go to the state health department for review, but it might not be ready to go out until next week...when I'm gone to Georgia.

My sister and I IM'd briefly today regarding our maddening end-of-year schedules, and we came to the same conclusion: we may not be finished, but we're DONE.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Justwaittiltuesday justwaittiltuesday justwaittiltuesday...

Y'all, it appears that I'm going to have to work both days this weekend, both for TCMC's Tuesday deadline and for Mickey's project that I'm helping him with, for which he has to pick up drawings from the office Sunday night to take with him on an early Monday morning flight to an all-week client meeting. And I'm so worn out from changing mental gears but racing along in 6th gear physically (occasionally with m parking brake on) for the past three days that I only have the energy to read catalogs when I get home. Not even magazines, y'all: catalogs.

Hence, I'm not gonna have anything useful or coherent to say on WAD until Wednesday. Please stand by--I'll be back soon after my deadlines have passed. Word.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Balancing acts: the irony of my expertise

Y'all know I have kvetched before about how Howie, my project manager, needs me to work no more than 18 hours a week on TCMC's surgery renovation and addition. The reason I'm annoyed by his request/demand is twofold: a) we're supposed to do to this project in less time but still maintain his standards, and b) we're supposed to do this in less time and maintain any kind of decent standards. While Intern Timmy can do a lot of drawing and figuring out some stuff without my help, I need to look at the drawings and the set one more time before this all goes out a week from today, and there are certain pieces of information of which I need to keep track (or track down). Hence, I still have to spend some time on the project, and that 18 hours can build up fast. First, I make some phone calls and review the specs with Howie. That spec review will surely spur some questions that I have to go ask of someone and research and so on, and then a day will pass and some of the phone calls get returned with actual answers and other phone calls and emails will be returned with more questions. This gets even more complicated when you remember that Howie has to know everything about the project, and so instead of being able to use one's best judgement, we now have to involve Howie. There are times when that process is helpful, and there are times when it's beyond frustrating and slows us down.

I remarked to Howie last week that I was trying desperately not to work more than 18 hrs/wk on TCMC, but that there's stuff that just has to be done, and not doing it is not an option, and handing it over to Intern Timmy isn't an option either. Howie sighed empathetically. "Yeah, that's the problem. This job can't afford you and me, but we need you and me to get the jobs." That's the sad irony of it all. In order to get work, especially in this climate, a firm needs really good, skilled, knowledgeable healthcare architects who understand a building inside and out in order to go after the work. We have to be able to walk into a room and say, "Look at these architects we have! They will design your building/department for you, and they know sooooo much about healthcare buildings!" What we don't tell them is that we bill our clients upwards of $100/hr for my time and even more for Howie's time. So we ask for a low fee in order to get the job, and then we can't even afford to work on it and use the expertise that a project like this so desperately needs. It's such an unfortunate situation that I've used the word "desperate" twice in this paragraph, not including this sentence.

So I have to find other things to do, such as work on a project with Mickey. And oddly enough, I'm fine with it, as his project has lots to do in a short amount of time, and they need the help. But it feels really weird to do interior elevation redlines for another project when your own project has a deadline less than a week away. Eeek.