"Hangs head in shame..."

I was out with a group from work last night and one person asked the question, "What's your guilty TV pleasure that you're embarrassed to tell people you watch?"

Some answers were The Hills and Maury Povich. I get those as being good answers to the question.

When it came time for me to answer, I didn't have one. Not only do I think I watch good TV shows and quickly jettison the bad ones, I tell everyone about what I watch so there's nothing I need to keep secret. I think it helps that the only "reality" TV I watch is cooking shows.

However, I started thinking about channel surfing and coming across movies that I've seen many, many times but I find I can't move the clicker off of them. Some of them are great movies like Die Hard, Ghostbusters, Caddyshack and The Princess Bride.

Others, however, are not great movies. They are, in fact, really bad movies. But, something in me keeps me on the channel.

The worst one that comes to mind:

Remember this one?
That's a pic of the main characters from 1995's Mortal Kombat. A movie based on a video game that was just, well, stupid. The movie, that is, I can't judge the game because I didn't really play it and I'm not in to hack and kill games anyway. Give me something like Tetris and I'm happy.

OK, I got a little off point there so back to the movie. Christopher Lambert was trying to extend his Highlander scifi-fantasy career by playing the mystical know-it-all with bad hair. I think even he recognized how bad this was because he didn't appear in the sequel. Or, maybe he just asked for a boatload of money to make up for the career damage and they settled on James Remar.

Yes, they made a sequel in 1997. And I watched it. And it's even worse than the original and I feel no compulsion to ever see it again.

But, I really can't tell you why the first Mortal Kombat movie sucks me in EVERY. DAMN. TIME.

It is embarrassing and I mentally kick myself for spending time that I can never get back. And, I still watch it to the end.

Squee!

I was in Germany when this text came from a colleague from my office:

Did you grab a wand the last time you were here? In Universal Studios.

My reply:

No. But I want one! I'll pay you back.

I ultimately paid $.89 a minute at international calling rates to discuss which one I wanted. Hermione's, of course.

When I got back to the office, this is what was waiting for me.

So awesome!
It's actually quite pretty with vines and leaves on it. And, it has a bit of a heft to it as well so it feels "real". All of us nerds have taken turns swinging it around while reciting Harry Potter spells.

None of which have worked, by the way. Ripoff!

He also brought me a Ron Weasley pin. Gotta love the Gingers!

First World Travel Problems - Part Five

On my first trip to Germany, the "Dad" in our group was a seasoned veteran of overseas travel. The first thing he did after we got through security was to find an ATM to get Euros. I made note of that for this trip because I could see us taking a cab to the hotel and the driver saying upon our arrival, "No, I don't take credit cards." and us trying to persuade him to take USD off of us.

We did look in Houston at a currency exchange place in the airport and, well, let's just say you'd have to be really desperate or so rich you don't care about money to use one of those. The exchange rate and fee were wack.

So, after we collected our luggage and went through customs in Frankfurt (fastest custom inspection ever, btw), we were in search of an ATM. We found what looked like one but we couldn't figure it out. Fortunately, there were also people at a teller station right next to the ATM so we decided to go with a human assist.

How much to get was our first decision. I think on the first trip, Dad only drew out 100. But, we really weren't going to have a lot of opportunity to spend on the specific trip so I didn't think that was enough for this time. We ultimately decided to get 200 each. I figured I could always use it on my next trip if I got too much.

Seemed simple until we started the transaction. My companion offered up his AmEx. No go. Then he went through a MasterCard and a Visa before we figured out it needed to be a debit card. He got his 200 then it was my turn with another teller. I handed her my debit card and she fiddled around with it before saying she couldn't process it.

Yikes. Moment of panic there.

However, she said her colleague would be able to process it. Whew.

Euros in hand, we headed out thinking we had plenty of paper cash.

We were wrong.

The first thing we encountered were a lot of places that didn't take plastic. I expected that with the cab and I was right but we even found it at what I would call medium sized businesses. We're so used to the USA where you can buy a can of pop from a corner store with a credit card that it didn't occur to us that a restaurant where the final bill was over 50 Euro that they expected cash.

The second thing we found was that many places that did take plastic couldn't take our plastic. I saw this in Canada a few years ago where banks were adding a chip into their cards and that was being used by the machines instead of reading the mag stripe. There was also a PIN tied to those cards which we don't normally use with credit cards.

We would ask ahead of time if a place took credit cards, but they wouldn't always get our "without a chip" situation and would tell us it would work. It wasn't until processing the bill that we would find out they couldn't take our cards.

So, despite trying to use plastic whenever we could, we went through our 400 Euro in 5 days and had to pull out another 200.

The best, or most embarrassing depending on your comfort level for looking foolish, incident was when we invited a German colleague out to lunch to a local pizza place and found out at the end of the meal that they didn't take plastic. The bill was almost 60 Euro and between all of us Americans, we probably would have covered it but it would have been a "here's all our money from every pocket, is it enough?" moments.

Our colleague paid for the bill. Thanks, Theo!

Clearly, the US needs to get on this chip in the card bandwagon.

And, clearly, we dumb Americans need to manage our cash better.

First World Travel Problems - Part Four

While in Frankfurt, my companion and I decided to take a city bus tour. When we bought the tickets, I asked if they did the tour in English as well as German and was told they did. Sweet.

It was one of those double deckers with an open top. We got on and climbed to the top level and situated ourselves. I looked in front of me and saw this:

Ten Languages!
The only problem was that there were no headphones in sight. I had my own pair so I plugged in and I told my companion, "They must come around and hand them out." The bus then started filling up and a couple sat in front of us. The man looked at the language selection then looked for the non-existent headphones then went down the stairs. My companion started to follow, thinking the guy knew where headphones were but before he got to the stairs, the man came up and sort of shrugged at his wife and sat down.

We took that to mean there were no more headphones to be found.

We tried to share an earbud apiece but between the noise of the bus and the German broadcast over the speakers, it was too hard. So, I listened on the go around then suggested we go one more time so my companion could use the earphones and listen to the tour. I had tried to give him the key points as we were driving around the first time but I knew I hadn't done a super job of it.

They directed us to another bus that was taking off right away and we sat downstairs since we'd had the top view already. My companion plugged in with my headphones and, since I was just hanging out and not paying attention, I checked out the bus.

Where I saw:

That's like a hundred set of headphones right there.
Yep, right at the front of the bus and where we walked by to go upstairs, there was a huge bin of headphones. What we think happened to the other guy was that he went down and asked in German about them and they said, "Eh, don't worry because we put it out over the speakers in German."

Doh!

The other reason I wanted to go around a second time was to get off at the Sachsenhausen area which is allegedly famous for its Apple Wine. Like, really famous. 

There's some not so fine print on the tour pamphlet that says the route may be altered at any time. Sure enough, the second time through, the drive completely missed Sachsenhausen. We suspect it was because traffic was heavy and she was running behind schedule.

So, we rode around a second time when we didn't need to and also then had to hoof it back to the area we wanted to visit. By the time we got there, my companion was not at all interested in trying to find Apple Wine and more interested in getting back to the hotel and getting off of his feet. 

No Apple Wine for the Princess that night!

First World Travel Problems - Part Three

I had researched the heck out of Frankfurt for tours and activities and my companion and I decided on taking a city bus tour. Everything I saw online said the tour ticket office was next to Paul's Church (Paulskirche).

We asked the desk clerk at the hotel how to get to Paul's Church and she had no idea. In fact, she looked like she had never heard of it. They did have a big tourist map at the front desk and I was able to find it so she told us it was a 15 minute walk. My companion had already figured it was 1.2 miles away so more than 15 minutes for old, fat, Americans. I persuaded him to walk with promises to stop along the way for beers. Well, beers for me and Coke Zeros for him.

After stopping twice, we finally made it to the area on the map where Pau's Church was supposed to be. The only problem was, there were about seven churches that we found but none of them were Paul's.

He said, "I read online that it had a copper dome so look for that."

I replied, "I saw a copper dome while we were crossing the bridge so it must be close."

Alas, we couldn't find it. We decided that our story was, "Yeah, we found it and it was cool." to make up for our lack of geographical skills.

We did, however, find the place to buy our tickets for the bus tour so we managed to do that. Since the tour wasn't leaving for close to an hour, we decided to have another drink at an outside cafe in the square.

A few minutes after we sat down, he looked around behind me and saw...

Cooper dome, church like building...
We must have walked around this stupid building at least five times without seeing it. Seriously, how could that huge thing have been out of sight for so long?

First World Travel Problems - Part Two

Once I figured out how to get the power on in my room (FYI, I forgot several times and tried to turn on switches without putting the key in the contraption at both hotels we stayed at), I took a quick shower and proceeded to try to dry my hair.

Did you catch the "try" part?

I tried the hotel supplied dryer. Its maximum effort was little better than blowing air through your mouth. In addition, it also turned itself off after 10 seconds of use then refused to turn back on until a few minutes had passed.

So, I got out my own dryer and plugged it in using the same adaptor that I used in Reinbek on our last Germany trip.

Instead of a gentle breeze, I got haboob level winds at a temperature near molten lava. For about 10 seconds then it turned off.

Well, it didn't exactly turn off, I blew it up. Because that specific adaptor didn't convert wattage. Did I mention I used it in Reinbek with no issues?

Sigh.

I went back to using the hotel dryer and managed to get my bangs done with only one or two shutdowns. I relegated the rest of my mop to air drying which meant that I had poodle hair going on for the next several days.

After relaying the story to my traveling companion, he told me that he'd tried to defog his mirror post-shower and the hair dryer in his room shut down, too. At least, it wasn't something I was doing wrong like needed to put the hotel key in to the dryer to keep it going.

Our third traveling companion showed up the next day and I told him the tale. He said, "You're the only one who knows it because that's how your hair always looks."

Really? REALLY?!?!

Why do I bother drying and curling my hair every day if no one can tell the difference? That's a rhetorical question, BTW.

I checked my hair dryer every day to see if maybe it had resurrected itself. Nope, really dead. So, I left in the garbage can and tried to celebrate the idea that I gained some luggage room in my duffel bag.

We checked in to the hotel in Hamburg and I didn't see a hair dryer in the wash room. The desk attendant told me it was in a drawer under the sink. Whew! I was picturing having to buy a travel dryer that I would then have to carry an adaptor with unless I was in Germany.

The new hotel dryer worked fine. As long as I kept holding the power button down the entire time otherwise, it shut off.

Sometimes, bald sounds like a good hairdo.

First World Travel Problems - Part One

One would think with all the traveling I do, I'd be smarter at it.

One would be wrong.

I got/had to go to Germany again for work. We decided to get in ahead of when we needed to be in the office to sightsee and overcome jet lag so we flew into Frankfurt with plans to drive to Hamburg a few days later.

After leaving Phoenix at 12:15 PM on a Thursday, we arrived in Frankfurt at 11:45 AM on Friday. I did manage to catch some winks on the plane but I wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed upon arrival. We checked into the hotel and decided to shower and change then go explore.

One of the first few things I did when I got to my room was to unload my clothes and to plug in my phone but the charging bolt didn't show. I tried it in another outlet and it still wasn't getting juice. I then thought I needed to flip on some switches so I hit every single one in the room. No lights came on anywhere.

Thinking to myself that it would suck to have to change rooms with my stuff mostly unpacked, I looked all over the room for a solution because, seriously, how could the power not work?

That's when I saw a contraption by the front door. I vaguely recalled being in a hotel where you had to do something with said contraption. I tried pushing on what could maybe be a button but still no power.

So, I called the front desk and got the girl who only spoke a small amount of English (but 1,000 times better than I speak German) and said, "How do I get the power on in the room?" She said something back that I couldn't interpret but I assumed she was asking for my room number. I told her, "Room 221" and she said, "Hold, please." then I heard a busy signal.

She had just transferred my call to my own room while I was on that phone.

Sigh.

So, I called back immediately and she answered, "She must not be in her room." I said, "I'm IN room 221, I can't turn on the electricity."

When she explained, I felt like a complete idiot. Yeah, you're supposed to slide your hotel key card into the contraption. Just like the hotel that I saw it at before made me do.

Defeated by modern technology
It's a good thing I live to be a lesson to others.

Mental Health Day

The last few weeks have been filled with too many work problems to mention, some big, some small. I've come in to work several times to find myself in the middle of a storm. I've been hit up with issues before I've even got out of my jammies. I've had days of meeting after meeting with no time for actual "work". Many of us have also felt the pressure of getting a major project done that went live this week. Oh, and scheduling our next trip to Germany for another major project has been time consuming.

That's just the work stuff.

I've had delivery issues with Amazon that have been infuriating. First, packages that said delivered but never showed up. Then a replacement package that said delivered...to the Dock and signed by Doyle. I have no dock at my condo and I also have no Doyle. (That wouldn't be a bad pet name, though.) That package showed up the next day which saved Amazon and UPS from a wrathful harangue but they're not off the hook yet. I have a few more things coming that were supposed to arrive yesterday.

And, there are a bunch of other things that normally wouldn't be a big deal but at my current stress level are likely to send me off into a rage.

The work stuff has turned into a running gag. Something happens and I tell the person whose responsibility it is that they're fired. I think I've even fired the messenger and I've also fired a guy for making me late to a meeting by two minutes. So, I'm clearly not being too discriminating about it. Also, one guy got a "Return your bonus check" email from me.

Fortunately, they keep coming back to work and no one has cried. Or, reported me for creating a hostile work environment.

Last night, I was out with a few co-workers, including the VP of HR and I told them I was tired of firing people over the past few weeks. I think I nearly gave her a heart attack because she thought, for a moment, that I was serious and she didn't know anything about it.

On Monday, I saw that I had no meetings scheduled for Friday so I blocked off the day just in case I wanted to take it off. I didn't want to have to mess with moving meetings at the last minute.

On Tuesday, I knew I wanted to take it. I emailed my "mutually bad influence" buddy to see if he could play hooky in the afternoon. Maybe hit a spring training game or watch some hoops. He didn't reply back so he got a "are you ignoring me" text from me last night. Fortunately, he's used to me being an impatient brat to him. Although, to be fair, he is the type you have to push.

We have a plan. I'm going to run errands tomorrow morning that have been piling up. Then, we're going to park ourselves at the Vine and watch NCAA games in the afternoon. After that, well, there's no telling what we'll do. There's that "mutual bad influence" thing in action.

Of course, a bunch of people on my team are threatening to call me or text me. However, I think it will take the building burning down before they actually do it.

Unless, they really want to be fired.


Throw Back Thursday

I never remember to prep a #TBT picture and am surprised every week when other people are posting theirs. I should probably put something on the calendar, because if it's not on my calendar, it's not on my radar.

A while back, one of my Uncles scanned an old photo of all of the grandkids on my Mom's side and sent it out to a bunch of us. Just in time for a #TBT but I think that was a coincidence. He's cool but I don't think he's that much in to social media.

I threw the picture up and saw later that one of my cousins had done the same. Thanks, Uncle Myron, for helping us represent!

Descendants of Don and Jean Terry
I showed the picture later to co-workers. A sign of how old I am is that I was just damn excited it was in color because my early pics are all in black and white. Not because it was cool but because that's what they had back then.

Sugar Daddy tried to pick me out and picked my cousin Cathy. Close. I reminded him that I was always the kid with the horrible pixie haircut so he then found me. "I forgot you're not really a redhead" was his excuse for the miss.

So, that's me on the left with the short brown hair and white top. We're pretty much displayed by age, oldest at the top, youngest at the bottom. For the record, I'm the fifth youngest. Since I'm an age denier, it's important to me to point out my relative youthfulness every chance I get.

I'm pretty sure this was taken in our backyard in Port Washington, WI. My Dad doesn't think so but my Mom agrees.

Every time I look at this picture, I find something new to warm my heart. 

My first glance made me laugh at the older boys. Why are they making goofy faces? Oh, yeah, they're boys. 

My second glance was why are the littlest ones looking like they're on the verge of tears? Oh, yeah, they were probably getting picked on.

I then have to laugh at my poor cousins who are one year apart in age and couldn't be more different than each other but my Aunt always dressed them in matching outfits. Poor kids.

This photo also reminds me of the countless others we've taken over the years of all the kids on steps. Many of them were on Uncle Myron and Aunt Donna's stairs in their house. It's just easy to pile a lot of people in a small space. To this day, their family still poses there. 

I can also remember being on the front steps of my Grandparents' house in Adams, WI. Those pictures also included our youngest Uncle, Jim, who's only a couple of years older than my oldest cousin.

Great memories of my family and I really love that my Uncle took the time to scan the photo for us all.

I just wish I didn't have that stupid haircut.