Happy Birthday, Jay!

Today my sweet husband spent more time thinking about me than himself, despite the fact that it is his special day. He got up early with the kids, allowing me a rare morning of sleeping late, which was WONDERFUL!! This afternoon I got out for a couple hours sans children to do some errands and some fun window shopping. What a treat.

At the last minute, upon the Birthday Boy’s suggestion, we managed to garner a couple of lovely babysitters who facilitated a night out for us: dinner and a movie, so we finally saw Narnia. We thought the movie was incredibly well done and thoroughly enjoyed it. Sadly, we did not deem it appropriate fare for any of the youngsters in our household at this time, so they shall have to wait and enjoy it in another year, or two, or three….

Well, again, Happy Birthday to Jay. We love you very much!!

Shop-Vac

I’ve always appreciated an orderly living environment (so long as the word “always” is taken to mean “always as a post-adolescent and adult”), but actual cleaning has never captured my attention quite as strongly. I can remember a time in college, as I was shopping at Wal-mart in preparation for my first semester living off campus (that being my 9th and final semester), I ran into a few friends from college. All of these friends were of the female persuasion. So I ask them to look over what I’ve got in the cart and tell me if I’m forgetting anything crucial to apartment living. Approximately 8 tenths of a second later, one of them pipes up and says, “Well, you don’t have a toilet bowl cleaner.” To which I smoothly replied, “Yeah, but I’m only going to be there for 6 months.”

For whatever reason, however, I’ve always wanted a clean garage. Oh, it’s always been organized and kept up, but how do you get rid of all those dead bugs and such that clutter the corners in behind stuff? Enter my new Shop-Vac. Last week, inspiration struck and I headed down to Harbor Freight Tools (which, if you’ve never seen one, has fantastic prices on tools and other cool stuff that belong in a garage) and bought a discontinued 1.5 HP wet/dry Shop-Vac for a song. Though sick as a dog, I have been out in that garage every opportunity since vacuuming, and today I finished.

Absolutely amazing. For the first time in my 10 years of home ownership, I have a clean garage. Not simply organized and swept, but actually clean (or as clean as bare concrete which houses two automobiles can get). I was tempted to set up a folding chair and write this entry from the garage, but it was getting a bit chilly. But let me promise you that prior to Mr. SV I’d have had no such urges.

Happy Birthday, Jay!

Today is Jay’s 34th birthday. What a blessing to have the joy of celebrating yet another birthday with him. Jay, you are a dear husband and a loving father. How thankful we are to have you in our lives! We all love you so very much.

Shortcuts

This past weekend, I installed some component speakers in the front doors of my car. Quick side note: eBay rocks! I picked up a brand new set of speakers for about half of what they sell for locally. Okay, back to our story at hand.

It proved to be a fun project. I’ve never taken apart car doors, and figuring out where and how to mount the crossovers proved challenging, not to mention overcoming intense inhibitions to actually drill holes in the doors to mount the tweeters. Anyway, it was a fun project and the new speakers are a huge improvement. Think AM radio to CD quality sound.

But that’s not the meat of the story, so let me cut to the chase. I did the first door on Saturday, and, as you might expect, it took far longer than the second door which I completed Sunday evening. So on Sunday I’m cranking through the second door, hanging out with my brother-in-law Andrew, and I’m perhaps taking a shortcut now and then.

I’m making the modification to this plastic doohickey that serves no apparent purpose other than getting in the way of where I want to mount the crossover, and I decide to forego the jigsaw (which I had used on the previous door) since the plastic had seemed pretty soft. Well, once I got it in my mind to cut this plastic with an exacto knife, I sort of ignore the warning signs (e.g. the knife getting stuck) and decide I’m going to make it work, even if it means resting the plastic doohickey on my leg while pushing down really hard with the knife.

Right as I’m thinking “this probably isn’t too bright” and contemplating a retreat to the jigsaw, the knife slips out of the plastic, makes short work of my jeans, and ends up in my leg. Thankfully the blade was only extended about half an inch, and the jeans really did slow it down a bit. I sort of look up at Andrew, and he’s waiting for an indication that I did in fact just stick a knife in my leg before he bursts out laughing, so I graciously offer confirmation.

After retreating to the bedroom and dropping my jeans, I found a neat half-inch cut that was perhaps a half-inch deep. Interestingly, it didn’t really hurt for quite some time. However, I’m carrying my keys in my left pocket today so they don’t bump the wound, as the amnesty was only temporary.

Spalcatel

On November 11, I quit working for Nortel. I had worked for Nortel for 11 years, one third of my life. On the 15th of November I entered a confused situation in which I am employed by Alcatel but working at Spatial Wireless, pending Alcatel’s acquisition of Spatial. It has been great fun so far.

A couple facets of the change stand out. First, the gentleman who called me up out of the blue to discuss the position (the man who is now my boss), was the same gentleman who interviewed me at Rice University more than 11 years ago on behalf of Nortel. Second, Nortel had been a pressure cooker for quite some time. I could envision risks associated with the new job, but if the frying pan is hot enough, the fire doesn’t look so bad… and none of those concerns have played out yet. I am grateful for the Lord’s blessing in this whole matter.

Here’s the downside (perhaps one day I’ll call this “the curse of Spatial”): since starting at Spatial, I’ve had bronchitis, a sinus infection, and strep throat. Along the way everyone else in the family has also been sick. Tricia has been a constant whirlwind of activity and largely kept things sane through force of will. She has been absolutely terrific!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY JAY!!

I just wanted to take a moment to say a very Happy Birthday to my dear hubby. Due to an unexpected turn of events, his trip to Israel which should have taken place this week was cancelled, so we are thankful to actually have him here to wish Happy Birthday to. I am overwhelmingly grateful for Jay and for what he means to me and the children. We are immensely blessed to be the recipients of his love and devotion and care. WE LOVE YOU JAY!!

Trip to Israel

On Friday, November 14, I headed off to Israel on behalf of my employer. Now, the last time I had some international travel, both I and Tricia (on the home front) had enormously challenging situations arise (for those who regularly read House of Horne, think “duck foot”), so I was expecting this trip to be rather straight forward in comparison. Oh well.

One hour prior to landing in Tel Aviv after flying from DFW to Chicago to Zurich, I came down with a migraine headache. Thankfully, I had packed my meds in my carry-on. Unfortunately, they didn�t seem to work, and I was pretty much ready to throw up from the pain about two hours into the Israel international customs experience. I eventually made it to the hotel and got to sleep. The next morning, as the group I was with was to begin working, I came down with another migraine that lasted through the morning and into the afternoon. At that point, I was dealing with two major issues: 1) the hit to my body of the travel, migraines, and forced fasting (I couldn�t eat while having the migraines), and 2) utter terror that something had gone terribly wrong and I was going to have one migraine right after another indefinitely.

As it turned out, the second migraine was the last, so on Monday I commenced a day late one of the more challenging work weeks I�ve ever had. We were together working, eating and talking about work, traveling and talking about work, etc. for about 18 hours a day. We did take an afternoon off to tour the old city of Jerusalem (I�ll probably put up a separate post on the tour) and one afternoon to hit the beach (we were staying right on the Mediterranean).

I landed back at DFW Sunday afternoon… it is good to be home.

Revenge of Duck Foot

I arrived in Beijing late Sunday afternoon and successfully made it through the airport after standing in approximately 5 different long, slow lines. A driver, who had my name scrawled in black marker on the back of a piece of paper, was waiting in the crush of taxi drivers and others who were yelling at me to acquire my business. He spoke no English, drove like a man with a death-wish, but got me to my hotel in one piece. He held his steering wheel in what I believed to be a fairly unique way with his hands on the middle part of the wheel positioned such that he could either honk the horn or flash the brights in rapid succession with finger twitches. It didn’t seem to matter that he couldn’t work the turn signals from this position since he didn’t actually use lanes in the classic sense of actually driving in a particular lane.

Duck_Foot_small.jpgI didn’t sleep particularly well that first night though I was incredibly weary, having been up for some 30 hours. It more closely resembled four consecutive naps than an actual night of sleep. The first day in the office went well, though around four in the afternoon I found myself vertically challenged as my body tried to shut down. That night I got an actual night of sleep, though it was far too short (perhaps 5 hours or so). Tuesday was more of the same, but culminated in several of us going out to a classy restaurant. We had a nicely appointed room to ourselves with great service and mostly excellent food.

Now, I like to try new things, so when they served the duck feet, I figured I wouldn’t reflect on it, I’d just eat one. Turns out that this restaurant was classy enough to actually remove the bones. What I discovered was that once you take out the bones, the only things left in a duck foot are all the parts I most despise in any form of fowl: fatty skin, ligaments, tendon, and cartilage. It was utterly disgusting, but I got it down. The picture of the moment was taken on a phone camera, so its not the best resolution, but it captured the moment fairly well. I was glad to have the whole episode behind me and went on to enjoy the remainder of the meal.

Getting to China

Near the end of May, the Nortel folks in Beijing that work the various Chinese accounts requested that we send someone over to discuss with them our network architecture evolution (background: I am the senior manager for Nortel’s GSM/UMTS media gateway product management team, but have a sort of side job keeping an eye on the overall network evolution on behalf of my boss). Two things quickly became evident: 1) that person would have to be me; and 2) the trip wasn’t likely given the SARS travel restrictions at Nortel.

The issue went back and forth for quite some time until the accounts managed to swing approvals from the relavent management types . However, this took place early in the morning on Wednesday June 4th, leaving very little time to pull off the trip given a planned leave date of Saturday June 7. By Wednesday afternoon, we managed to book my travel. On a whim, I happened to ask the travel arranger if she knew of any further arrangements I would need to make. Her answer was something along the lines of “just a passport and visa”.

At that point my admin, who was also on the call, said something like “I forgot about the visa” (as I had), so around 5 p.m. she (my admin) began frantically trying to make arrangements with an agency to pull off a two-day turnaround on a visa to China while I rushed off to get Visa pictures taken. She found an agency willing to guarantee a visa by early Saturday morning (right before my plane was to leave) but they reminded her we needed a letter describing the need for the trip and signed by HR. It was at this point that things got really complex.