Archive for February, 2013

A Trying Day

I wasn’t having a good day yesterday. I spent most of the day analyzing regression test results which can be trying and agonizing. Late in day I got email from Nan asking for my test case files for a job I worked on in December, which is now in production. I suspected she was going to throw me under the bus again for something that had gone wrong. A few minutes later I get an email from a product manager detailing ten issues she found with code that is going out in April. As I looked over the list I could feel myself getting overwhelmed. How could I have missed all of these issues? I decided to deal with the product manager’s list later. I IM’d Grace to see if she knew why Nan wanted my files. Grace agreed to do some reconnaissance and get back to me. I emailed my files to Nan and hoped for the best. My day was done so I logged of the network.

I try logging on the network this morning. The Westminster gateway seems to be down. I have no luck with the Newark Gateway. This is not a good sign. I try the Frankfurt and Kuala Lumpur gateways with no luck. I contemplate trying the Shanghai gateway but some of the applications I use can’t be accessed through this gateway because of security issues. I call the IT help desk and hear an announcement advising the corporate VPN is experiencing intermittent global outages. If I can’t access the VPN I’ll have to drive to the office in Westminster. At this time of day it’s an hour drive to the office. I try the Newark gateway one more time and I get in. Wonders never cease!

I open my email and watch the messages start pouring in. Luckily, I only have seventeen new messages. The first email is from Manny, a developer in Toronto, who is one of the super stars of the team. Manny had responded to the product manager’s issues. Manny’s response was close to being a dissertation on why the product managers requirements were poorly written and how the code was performing as expected. He went on to explain how the product manager should have written her requirements to get the expected results. It was a relief to know I didn’t miss an outage. Manny lived up to his super star reputation. The next email is from Grace. She found out Nan couldn’t get a test cases to run for the flagship product line. Nan needed my test files so she could add on her product and see how the models communicated. Nan wasn’t going to throw me under the bus after all.

A potential day from hell has turned into a pleasant drama free day. The day is still young. I’m still looking out of the corner of my eye for the bus that may turn the corner at any moment.

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Dreams Do Come True

The last time I worked out with Carlos he was ecstatic with the news that his favorite strip club is building a larger facility. The strip club, nicknamed “The Glendale Performing Arts Center”, is going to construct a new 10,800 square foot building next door to the present facility. The larger building will have eight stages and will include more amenities with upgrades to lighting, sound and food. Carlos is already planning a guy’s night out at the new club which will not be open for at least nine months. Could this be a sign that our local economy is improving?

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Trying To Move On

It snowed all day on Sunday. The snow was ten inches deep in most places in the yard. Yesterday it was sunny all day so the driveway, walkways and pavers in the courtyard are dry. Today, it’s overcast before a second winter storm moves in. A few more inches of snow are expected today. The cloudy day hasn’t helped my blue mood.

Both Sheila and Trish have told me to dump Helena. They feel I don’t need a troubled person like her in my life. HIH left a comment basically saying the same thing. Anne Marie agrees Helena needs professional help. I talked to my friend and professional peer, Dana, who is also Helena’s client. Dana told me she only schedules morning appointment because Helena drinks too much in the afternoon. Dana said her last haircut was awful. She is looking for a new stylist. Dana no longer socializes with Helena because of a bad dinner experience where Helena stole the salt and pepper shakers.

I’ve felt out of sorts for the last two days. I know I should let her go but it’s hard. I’ve known Helena for at least twenty years. I know I can’t fix her, or make her get help, so I feel like I’m abandoning her. But when I think about it, I realize she ruined what could have been a nice evening.

I had a hard time composing thank you notes for Jeff and Helena. I know people will think it is odd that I sent a thank you note. Just because Helena behaved poorly doesn’t excuse me from thanking her for dinner. I’m hoping my thank you note makes her realize she owes me an apology when she is not drunk. I doubt I Helena will ever apologize. It’s her loss. I’m a good person and people are lucky to have me in their life.

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The Dinner From Hell

It’s an overcast snowy Sunday morning. I’m once again sitting in the family room watching the CBS Sunday Morning news program while snow falls furiously in the rear courtyard. I’m still reeling from dinner last night. A dinner that was to be a joyous celebration turned into a three ring circus nightmare.

Jeff called yesterday afternoon to wish me a belated happy birthday. Jeff and Helena wanted to take me out for dinner to celebrate my birthday. Helena called a little later. Plans were made for an early dinner in order to avoid driving home in the approaching winter storm.

Jeff and Helena arrived at my house a little before six. Helena was already drunk. She managed to get trashed in the short time between leaving the hair salon and arriving at my house. I’m sure Jeff and Helena had a few beers and pounded shots of tequila at Jeff’s house before picking me up. I said a silent prayer that Helena would behave herself but deep down I knew the evening had just boarded a rocket ship headed straight to hell.

We drove a short distance to a nice neighborhood restaurant over in Bonnie Brae. We were seated at a table in the corner of the heated outdoor enclosed patio. Our Lithuanian waitress had an unusual name starting with an I. Helena had trouble pronouncing the waitress’s name and managed to mangle it several times. The waitress politely corrected Helena each time. Finally, Helena caller her ice bitch. I was shocked and mortified. I told Helena she was rude. Helena apologized to the waitress. The waitress left with our drink order. Helena and Jeff ordered wine while I stayed with water. Helena excused herself and to go to the ladies room while Jeff and I caught up with each other. Helena was taking an exceptionally long time in the ladies room. When she returned to table we found out she had stopped by the bar for a tequila shot.

The small patio area filled up rather quickly. Helena started to get loud and obnoxious. Cussing soon followed. Helena was dropping the f-bomb. Nearby diners were starting to throw nasty looks our direction. Diners from the far end of the patio were craning their necks to see what was going on at our table. Helena’s behavior was embarrassing and I was uncomfortable. Jeff had his back to the other diners so he couldn’t see the dirty looks we were getting. I felt for the other patrons. They came to this normally peaceful restaurant for dinner and had to put up with their evening being interrupted by the disgraceful behavior of a fifty something drunk.

I tried to quiet Helena down and only succeeded in fanning the fires of her rudeness. She screamed that I knew how she behaved when she went out. Almost the entire room was looking at our table. I was sure the manager would soon ask us to leave. I told Helena she was drunk and needed to calm down. Helena then burst into tears. The other dinners once again all turned to look at our table. I got up grabbed my coat and tried to leave. Helena blocked my exit with her chair and I was trapped in the corner. I felt like I was in a stage production of Whose Afraid of Virginia Wolf with Helena playing Martha. All of this happened before we ordered our entrees.

Helena finally calmed down and once again excused herself to go to the ladies room to repair her make up. I had lost my appetite. I wanted to leave. Jeff convinced me to stay but I knew it was going to be an uncomfortable dinner. I expressed my disappointment with Helena’s behavior to Jeff. Jeff told me Helena had a lot going on in her life. I said that was no excuse for her behavior. Helena had disturbed the whole room and interrupted the other diner’s evening. Jeff changed the subject and we made tentative plans for the Wrangler’s Sunday beer bust when the weather warms up.

The waitress took our order while Helena was still in the ladies room. I had visions of Helena pounding more shots at the bar. Helena finally returned to the table. She had composed herself and managed to behave for the rest of dinner expect for snarky comments she directed towards me.

The other diners seemed to eat and leave in record time. I’m sure our presence ruined their evening. The patio was soon empty and we were just starting our entrees.

Eventually, the dinner from hell ended. Helena generously picked up the tab as if the kind gesture made up for her inexcusable behavior.

I was home by eight. I was numb and upset. The house was quiet. I grabbed Tom’s book and curled up on the living room sofa hoping to get my mind off the dinner. I was trying to clear my mind so I could have a peaceful night of sleep free from nightmares about the dinner. I wanted to be able to sleep without taking an Ambien. An hour or so later I looked towards the window. I could see the snow falling through the slats of the plantation shutters. I closed the book and headed to the bedroom. A light blanket of snow had lightly dusted the rear courtyard and backyard landscaping. The bamboo by the pond was gently swaying in a light breeze. Everything looked calm and peaceful. If only dinner had been the same.

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A Festive Friday Night

Tom’s book signing was a huge success. The room was filled friends, neighbors, people from the local opera community and opera fans. Tom read several passages from his book including one that described the drama behind the first staging of Mr. Floyd’s first opera, Susannah, which made him an overnight success. Jesse, the artist who painted the portrait of Carlisle for the frontispiece, spoke about his creative process and trials and errors of creating the finished work. Sam and Aaron met me at the book singing and accompanied me to the after reception at Tom and Sheila’s house. The reception was a lively event. The liquor flowed while guests grazed on smoked salmon, a cheese platter and a variety of desserts. (I gifted Sheila with a slab of salmon which she smoked on Thursday. I also make honey butter cookies and olive shortbread cookies for the desert spread.) I had a great time at the party. As usual, the guests were a mix a people from a variety of back grounds and occupations. There were so many interesting people to talk to and meet. I left with the final guests a little before midnight.

I’m moving a little slow today even though I got eight hours of sleep. I think I may have had too much cava last night. I’ve been sitting on the sofa in the family room watching the Food Channel. I need to get cleaned up and run my errands as another winter storm is headed our way. Snow is expected to start falling later today and will continue through most of Sunday. The forecast calls for either five or twelve inches of snow, depending upon the storm’s path, and if a front moving up from the Gulf of Mexico crosses its path. Mike borrowed a new Range Rover Sport from a dealership for the weekend so we’re going to go play in snow tomorrow while his partner is at work. It’s time to hit the shower.

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Gay Networking Event

Last night Sam invited Aaron, his wingman, and I to attend a gay professional networking event at new apartment building in LODO. The building recently opened and the models on the 8th floor were open for viewing. The apartments ranged in size from 475 sq. ft. to 1152 sq. ft. while rent ranged from $1320 to $2445 a month. The apartments were nice but seemed pricey and utilitarian. Cocktails were served in the large lobby. The crowd was mostly men in the thirty to sixty age range. I couldn’t help wonder if women were not invited since there were only a handful in attendance.

Overall, it was nice evening. I met a few people and saw one other man I knew previously. Otherwise the crowd was a sea of new faces. Sam seemed bored and didn’t participate in conversations unless directly questioned. His demographic, the under thirty Hispanic male, was not in attendance. Aaron was a lot fun. He seems to be able to talk to anyone and turns on the Irish accent when he wants to be charming.

It was my first venture out to try to meet new people and expand my social circle. I achieved my goal by meeting an artist, an HR director and a gay republican who unsuccessfully ran for office in a predominantly gay democratic district. The gay republican talked about giving up alcohol for lent. Being a reformed Catholic, I forgot it was that time of year.

Next on the agenda is Tom’s book signing at the Tattered Cover tomorrow night followed by a reception at Tom and Sheila’s house.

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Mike’s $300 Day

Mike called me on the way home from Aspen yesterday to tell me about his $300 one day trip. He had delivered a new Audi A8 to a client and was driving her year old A8 back to Denver. The client decided she wanted a different color so she bought a new A8. Mike met his client at Hotel Jerome for breakfast as he arrived mid-morning. The client had too much to drink the night before so she checked into the hotel rather than risk crashing on her way home. The breakfast cost $130 at the hotel. Mike knew it would be pricey but he didn’t expect it to be that much. Then it cost him $111 to fill up the gas tank on the trade in since the car was on empty and gas was almost $5 a gallon. This is in addition to the $63 he spent topping off the tank on the new A8 because he always delivers a car with a full tank of gas.

I found this all rather amusing. Mike employs two housekeepers, a pool service, a landscape service, a service to pick up the dog turds in the back yard and a window washing service yet complains about an overpriced breakfast. I guess it all depends upon your point of view.

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For Anne Marie

Orange Raisin Muffins

1 medium orange
1 cup raisins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon sugar

Peel orange. Scrape off white portion of rind. Set orange aside. Process orange rind and raisins in a food processor until minced. Combine orange rind mixture, flour, and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Make well in center of mixture. Combine butter, and eggs; add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon into greased muffin pans, filling two-thirds full. Bake at 400 for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from pans immediately. Squeeze orange sections reserving juice. Brush muffins with orange juice and sprinkle evenly with 1 tablespoon sugar.

I added some cinnamon to the mix and substituted low fat yogurt for the buttermilk. I also baked the muffins in cupcake papers instead of greasing the pan.

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Nothing To Do

Several key members of my team were on furlough on Friday and are on furlough today. Their absence has left me with no work in my queue. Being contracted labor, I get paid to sit here and do nothing. I find this all very ironic given the furlough days were instituted to save the company money. My management team across the pond is trying to find something for me to do but so far they have not come up with anything. I have to be available in case something comes up so I have to sit here and wait. It looks like I’ll get paid to surf the net today.

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A Beautiful Day

Trish came over for brunch this morning. We had planned to go out but I decided to make a frittata and orange raisin muffins last night. I threw together a simple fruit salad this morning a few minutes before Trish arrived. It was nice way to start the day.

After brunch we decided to head over to the Denver Botanic Gardens and stroll around. It was a beautiful warm sunny day and we wanted to do something outside and enjoy the day while avoiding the inevitable crowds that would flock to Washington and Cheesman Parks. Most people avoid the botanic garden in the winter because nothing is in bloom. Today was no exception. There were only a handful of visitors walking around. Trish and I had a fun looking for xeriscape plants that would be suitable additions to our yards and gardens. Trish is a master gardener so her knowledge of native plants and grasses suitable for our high plains desert climate is priceless. The best part of the garden was the orangery which was filled with orchids and a variety of orange trees in bloom. The fragrance from the orange tree blooms was incredible. After a quick stop in the gift shop we headed home.

The rest of the afternoon was spent cleaning up the brunch dishes, watering the yard and chatting with Sheila about Tom’s book signing at the Tattered Cover on Friday night and the reception at their house afterward.

I plan on having a quiet evening at home watching TV. Maggie Smith is being interviewed on Sixty Minutes and the new season of The Amazing Race starts tonight. I’ll also probably watch Girls, Enlightened and Downton Abby to round out the evening. Then I’ll be off to bed as a new week of QA is just around the corner.

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