NJ & CT

Last weekend GG and I drove out to NJ to visit MB and A. GG and A stayed home and played guitar all day, while MB and I went to lunch at her sister’s restaurant and then took advantage of the beautiful weather and took baby R to Grounds for Sculpture. MB has mentioned it many times, but I’ve never been and didn’t really understand what it was. It’s basically a huge sculpture park on the grounds of a former fair, so there’s some indoor areas but mostly it’s outdoor exhibits. A lot of the sculptures were done by Seward Johnson (of Johnson & Johnson), who is a sculptor and art fan, and created the park. Most of his pieces are realistic sculptures of people just sitting and standing around, and it’s sort of funny because you can sit with them, or they’re set up in places where you think there’s really somebody there. We had some fun posing R with some of the art.

There are also peacocks that are loose on the site, and R got to interact with them a bit. She toddled around after a beautiful white one, and it spread out its tail! I didn’t think she’d be able to catch up with it, and if she did get too close, I figured the peacock wouldn’t stand for it and would run away anyway. Nope – she grabbed a tail feather while the bird just stood there! But he did not look happy. As I did not want to see a baby get her eyes pecked out by a peacock that day, I did scoop her up and carried her around while we looked at the other peacocks sitting on their perch.

R is still the cutest baby and my favorite! After Grounds for Sculpture (and driving through Hamilton, NJ to see some of the other public sculptures in the town), we went back to MB and A’s house for dinner. We ended up hanging out kind of late, which I hadn’t wanted to do because I still had to get home and get ready for my business trip, so it was a bit of a late night, but of course we always enjoy seeing our favorite little family!

The rest of my week was all about work (and, luckily, was a lot of fun too). Two coworkers and I left on Monday afternoon for a week of meetings and stuff at our other site in CT. Usually we can get up there in around four hours, but because of a big accident on the highway, it took us more like six. We’d planned to drive about 40 minutes north to another town for dinner, but after sitting in the car all that time we didn’t really feel like it anymore. So we checked in at the hotel, then went to a nearby seafood place. The sun was just setting over the water when we arrived, and it was really nice.

On Tuesday we had team meetings at the office all day. The morning was just our training team, then we had a lunch break, and then the afternoon was a joint meeting of the training and compliance groups. We’re technically all one group now, but this is a recent thing – however, due to my position, I’ve been in both groups all along, so it was especially nice for me to have everyone together for once. There was a lot of good discussion, but as I’d predicted, nothing really got done, it was just a lot of talking and complaining. Still important for everyone to be able to discuss together, I think. Then we had a combined team dinner at a different seafood place on the water. We seem to always end up at this restaurant when I am up there. We had a lot of fun. The waiter was so strange – he kind of gave everyone a hard time, and joked around a lot. But in the end he turned out to be really funny. For example, one of the specials came with a “baby arugula salad,” and one of the ladies at our table was curious about this salad, but didn’t want the meal. He gave her a hard time and told her the arugula was only available with the special. But later, when he brought out desserts, he also brought her her own little bowl of arugula salad! Also, there is paper over the tables, and crayons, so we were having fun drawing things. In the photo here, she is posing with the arugula salad and a crayon drawing I did of her.

On Wednesday, I didn’t have any “official” meetings, so I just went about my regular business, working from the office up there. It was kind of fun! The office is all open, which is neat for once in a while, but I wouldn’t be able to work there every day. I also got to take advantage of their on-site IT help desk, because apparently I lost connection to the network and locked out my computer account! They couldn’t help me because I was not based at their site, though – they looked me up, saw what the problem was, and said, “But we can’t help you because you’re not a [CT site] person.” Then this other guy walks over: “And why aren’t you a [CT site] person?” I was like, “Um, because I’m a [PA site] person? I’m just here for the week.” They did phone the help desk for me, and they were able to help right away, but that was sort of weird. On Wednesday night I met up with another coworker who’d finally gotten into town, and we went out for dinner and a little walk around this coastal town. By the time we were done, my hair was a mess, what with the slight humidity of being close to the water all the time.

On Thursday we had our huge all-hands meeting. On one hand, it was kind of cheesy and scripted/staged, but on the other hand, it was actually pretty good. Also, I got to see a lot of people I rarely get to see (like my coworker from England who was in my group in our last company, too, and brought me a huge bag of British chocolates!). And I got to meet a lot of new people – both new people in our group who are based at other sites, and people I’ve been working with for a while but had just not met in person yet. For the first half of the day, we randomly chose numbers out of a basket and had to sit at that table number, which was actually a good way to get a mix of people from different groups at each table. But for the second part, we did get to sit and work with our own groups, so I got to be with all my buddies. Most people left after the meeting on Thursday, but I had to stay for something on Friday, so I wasn’t going anywhere. I ended up going to dinner with my boss and two good friends, which was really great. It’s always good to get a chance to get your boss’ ear for a while (plus he is a super great guy), and it was actually cool because the four of us are all from different sites, so this type of get-together would almost never happen. We went to S’s favorite local restaurant, which specializes in “Mediterrasian” food, sort of an Asian/Spanish tapas place.

On Friday morning, I was back at the office to help run a big presentation – we had over 200 people online! Everything went amazingly, and I’m glad I got to be there in person to help present. Afterwards, my two traveling companions and I started back home. We did stop for lunch, but still got home in about four hours. I took an epic afternoon nap, then went out to dinner with GG, and got online to do a little work I hadn’t had a chance to do with the spotty and slow hotel internet connection.

GG did a good job of holding down the fort while I was gone, but the poor kitties were pretty stressed out that I wasn’t there. They spent most of their days hiding from GG, except when it was feeding time. And they were throwing up all week. Poor babies. It took them about a day to get used to me being home again, but as of this evening, the three of them are all snuggled up and relaxing with me. I’m glad they’re happy now, but they really need to be able to survive for a week (not even a week!) without me!

Linky Thursday – 3/8

I have been very bad at Linky Thursdays for a while because lately when I see interesting links I usually just send them to the people I think would enjoy them. Maybe nobody will enjoy these but me, which is why I need to post them here.

How to Make Lip Scrub at Home: I’m obsessed with scrubbing my lips. I recently bought a container of that Fresh sugar scrub, which is great, but way too expensive for a little container of sugar. So I’m eager to try out some of the other lip scrub recipes I’m finding.

Long-Awaited Olive Garden Receives Warm Welcome: I can’t decide whether or not this is supposed to be a joke. Sadly, I think it is not. The saddest line: “Instead of the raspberry lemonade she suggested, I drank water.” Wasn’t there an article almost exactly like this in The Onion once? [Edit] Author Marilyn Hegarty responds to her sudden viral fame! [/Edit]

Cool Like Pie: I know this is supposed to be for kids, but there is a lot of really cool stuff on this blog! I was about to try to list out some categories of things you might see posted here, but they really have some of everything, you just have to check it out :o)

My Body Gallery: Want to feel better about yourself (or… worse)? Put in your measurements and see how you compare to other women of your height and weight.

Planet of the Apes

We watched the original Planet of the Apes last night. Neither GG nor I had seen it before. I saw the remake with Mark Wahlberg, and of course I knew all the references (“You damn dirty apes,” Statue of Liberty, etc.). But it was interesting to see the original.

For one thing, I hadn’t realized it was written by Rod Serling, though it does seem like it could have been a really long “Twilight Zone” episode. And he does love stories where astronauts crash land on some odd planet.

For another thing, I didn’t realize that there was so much of a science vs. faith theme. That’s pretty topical even now. I can think of some people who might benefit from watching the evolution debate from a different point of view…

I also had some problems with this movie. First of all, you mean to tell me in over 1000 years of ape culture, no one has ever thought to explore beyond their little area? It was a couple days’ ride on horseback to get through the “Forbidden Zone,” we’re not talking about a Lewis and Clark expedition here. Also, their language never evolved from 1970s-era American English? I don’t think we’d recognize English from 1000 years ago, language is evolving and changing so much. But, ape culture seemed pretty locked in place, so I guess not. Speaking of which, how did they decide to advance to the point where they had modern automatic weapons, but no better transportation than a horse and cart?

And finally, is a talking doll really proof that there were once talking humans? Will future archaeologists think that there were once talking bears or even talking monsters?

Oh also, as soon as Cornelius showed up, I couldn’t get Return to the Planet of the Apes out of my head. Though he did not at any time wear a toffee-colored cape, to my disappointment.