Bizarrely enough, one of the best moments is right now, staring out the window. I usurped the window seat on this "wide-open" flight (in the words of the employee that couldn't bump me up), but kept on offering it back to the rightful owner. He had just gone through a hellish crammed noisy-baby filled flight from Oregon, and was grateful to have space. Me, coming from a crammed MUCH SHORTER flight from Indianapolis, felt bad. But it seems he wandered off to his own row and window seat elsewhere, I feel bad. Anyway, the view from the window is the most breathtaking view. And holy shit, the guy who kept on leaning back into my knees is in front of the seat I should have been in, now that's scary. Two flights in a row, him in front of me, bopping and smiling to no one at all. But getting back to the view once more, it's just goddamn incredible. There's a series of storms my sweetie warned me about going on right outside, and it's absolutely majestic. She text messaged me when I was still at Compaq's facility, telling me to check on my flight.
As we flew out of Detroit, I thought that there were two planes in nearby cloud formations, as they blinked white repeatedly. They seemed to be coming closer, and I made out the jagged lightning itself. Wow. We flew up past the storm, around and over part of the storm, and even just barely over part of it. Fucking amazing sight, the light show in the clouds, all the different layers of clouds.... from the thick carpet to the little misty layer (I had their scientific names memorized back in middle school, but forgot, sorry), all lit up with a series of dazzling bursts. The waxing gibbous moon lit the layers with a soft bluish tone, complimenting the yellow manmade lights of decaying urban sprawl below and the flashes of white blinding light.
The flight into Indianapolis gave me some interesting sights. I've flown into Newark often for most of my life, yet I've never seen what seemed to be a drug bust only a few blocks from a speeding car being chased from a plane until I flew into this hick town. It was amazing, seeing the flashing rainbow of justice's lights surrounding some vehicle from above. I also got to see something burning in an empty lot. Odd, I expected to see these things in Newark or Elizabeth first.
Back in Jersey, finishing up the recap... So I had a whirlwind weekend full of massive chaos. Found out Thursday afternoon that I'd be flying to Indianapolis that evening, and returning the following evening. There were a couple co-workers that were a bit more qualified to handle the situation, but they had important things to take care of back at Drew... and they really mostly just wanted me to be there to communicate with people back home, take a look, and raise a stink if need be. And, from what I can see so far, it worked.
Alan drove me to the airport after work, where I used Continental's eticket system to change my seat to a window. Unfortunately, first class was full, and I couldn't get bumped up. That would end up being the story of the trip. So I checked in two laptops, my toiletries, and clothing. Boarded the plane as soon as I could, and sat on the runway for almost two hours extra. Due to a nasty storm to the south, they were routing flights west first, putting us back in line. Finally made it to Indiana later than I had hoped for. The flight wasn't too bad, but by the time I got there I just wanted to go the hell to sleep. I love window-gazing during a flight, and got some amazing views despite leaving so late. I love watching cities below, from the orderly straight lines of warehouse districts or housing projects, to the jumbled jagged lines of other areas. The blazing bright strips of commercial areas, the sleepy near-dark residential sections between. It always makes me feel like I'm in a giant game of Sim City. I could tell when we were over PA before the pilot said so, as it was a dark wasteland lacking any lights below. Snapple (from CS) lives in the area, but it turns out he was busy that night. Considering the advance warning I gave him, I totally understand. oidhche recommended a great bar and limo service, I was too tired and far from the former, and the latter was busy. Oh well. So I took a $40 or so cab ride to the magnificent classy hotel I was booked at, and crashed after checking in with Compaq and my sweetie.
The next day was a very long day, but a productive day. Joe from Compaq called early, offering to pick me up before I had made sure the computers were freshly imaged with my boss. I ended up missing the complimentary breakfast, as I wanted to be waiting for him outside early. He showed up in his car, a 1981 Camaro he's restoring. I didn't expect such a cool ride. Spent the day with him, and actually really got along well with him, despite all the problems we've been having with the image. I think I melted his heart when he saw me pull out my lucky charm, the hood ornament from my first car, a 1986 Cougar. Him, being a car nut, understood keeping a memento from your first car. Between that and talking about Blizzard games, won him over. He has three vices; restoring cars, smoking tobaccy, and playing computer games. We related on the third, and I could talk enough about the first thanks to my sweetie's younger brother and chiquib. Joe's a good guy, and means well. While his areas of expertise might not have been entirely what we were looking for, he was very helpful in some areas that we at Drew didn't even think of. He and I also related over wanting to be systems administrators one day, yet working in different roles than that dream job. Communication with him was much easier face to face, and some things we were having problems expressing AND HEARING weren't a problem to convey or pick up at all. Joe was afraid I was going to tear him apart, after having such a long rough time coming to Indiana. Luckily for him, I was able to express that anger towards the storm instead of the airline or him.
It was an amazing experience, visiting that facility. Tight security, forcing me to check in every computer I brought in and leave ID at the gate to get a temporary pass. I eventually kept all of my metal in one pocket to make the entry/exit procedure easier. I didn't rehook the watch chiquib bought me until I woke up in Jersey on Saturday. The main room was mind-boggling, a huge room full of conveyer belts, racks of half-built EVOs, and various testing devices. Black and silver Compaq machines were in every direction as far as the eye could see, and I didn't even enter the cavernous hanger-like warehouses at the rear of the facility. There was the consumer-level production area, the steps above it, the networking room, and all sorts of other cool things Joe showed me. His glass-walled cubicle wasn't too bad, as most cubicles are unbearable, decked out with models of cars and the like. His boss was nice, and really made me feel that either I had arrived at dress down Friday, or they always dress that casually. I was incredibly overdressed, but that's almost never a bad thing, it definitely wasn't in this situation. Me showing up from the outside to make sure things got done in a dress shirt and slacks (forgot to pack a tie) probably did not hurt things at all.
At first it seemed that there wasn't much for me to do, until some of the theories my co-workers came up with didn't work. None of us, from Joe to Acadtech, had done anything like this before. Windows XP was new to most of us, much less sysprep. Quite a few phone calls were made back to work (the whole reason I was out there), and windexcowboy had some other ideas to test. Joe and I tried a few things, found a few other improvements on the configuration to make, and kept on working strong. We only took a break for Arby's (my second time that week having it, counting the trip to PA with my sweetie). If the method my co-workers had come up with had worked right off the bat, we would have had a nice Mexican meal instead, but it unfortunately didn't handle Windows activation/registration the way we wanted it to. We kept on trying different things, calling Jersey, and smacking our heads against the wall. Luckily, right before I was going to ask to talk to his boss for ideas or someone to help, a co-worker that he had helped earlier with a networking problem and I were left in the lab room together alone. He asked me what I was trying to do, and I just about wept with joy. I spelled out what exactly we were looking to do with sysprep, Windows XP registration, and our other issues. He had done it for another client, and had documented all the steps the factory had to do. The second Joe stepped back into the room, I stuck his nose in his co-worker's documentation. We did the work needed on our end, tested the steps the factory would have to make, and everything seemed to work fine. There was a couple more tests I would have liked to apply, but the later flight I could have taken might have been missed if I had stayed to test further. Leaving a laptop with the image behind, I gathered my things and got driven to the airport.
Got tagged to have my luggage checked when I picked up my boarding pass, preventing me from having a chance to try and get bumped up. Had to wait around while someone stuffed my luggage through a machine, spitting it out in an entertaining way on the other end. Now slightly later to the gate due to having to wait quite a long time for this procedure, I checked in to board a mere half hour before the flight. New regulations require you to check in fifteen or twenty minutes before take off, and I was fine. But thanks to 9/11, if they see luggage checked in but without a person checked in, they start freaking out as takeoff approaches, naturally assuming it was a bomb. So when I showed my boarding pass, I was tapped to go to the second long line to be searched. That's right, our brave hero got double-tagged for security. No, I wasn't wearing all fucking black. No, I wasn't wearing boots. No, I had shaven that morning. No, I wasn't acting funny. Must have been the long hair. The line to be searched was quite long, and proceeding slowly, so when the flight was only ten minutes from take off and Russell Sprague hadn't boarded, they started panicking and making phone calls. This continued until one brain trust employee bothered to exclaim, "Is there a Russell Sprague here!?!?" Wondering what the fuss was about, and finally finding out why, I waved my hand. Yes, ma'am, I'm here because you fucking deemed me a terrorist threat at random, that's why I haven't boarded the plane to prove my clothing and other laptop is not in fact a bomb. Let me get searched and I'll board and put your fears to rest lady. That flight was hell, an overbooked crowded flight where I had to sit in the aisle seat, getting my elbow slammed every so often despite trying to push the people next to me over. Bleck.
Luckily boarding in Detroit was much easier. I just had a short jaunt down the hallway, a brief sit, and tried to get bumped up again. As I had mentioned before, the uncommunicative employee was unable to do so. But it worked out, and I had an amazing beautiful flight home. I got to see fireworks from what I think was a Newark Bears game as I descended, and got to see my symbol of Jersey.
For years, my dad would take me to "Doc's", an Italian restaurant in the Iron Bound section of Newark. Actually named Anna Marie's, it was a great place, and he was old friends with the owner. I have many childhood memories of going there with the women he dated between marriages, my brother, and various other people. My brother had so much lasagna there, they named it after him. Well, they named many dishes after regulars who ate them all the time, it was just cool to see his name on the menu. Countless nights, I laid in the back of my dad's car, full and sleepily watching the sights from Route 1&9 heading south. One landmark in the night sky was the Bud Brewery along the way. A huge circular neon sign shows their logo, and a flying eagle, in a loop. Decades later, that sign still means Jersey to me. Flying in from Chicago, Savannah, London, SoCal, San Francisco, or wherever... I don't feel home until I see that sign from the plane. I don't even like Bud.. I can barely stomach that pisswater... but it makes me feel safe and home to see that neon sign, the steam from the brewery all about it. So yeah, I'm back home. My sweetie picked me up, and we had an amazing time hanging out despite me being so exhausted I could barely see straight. And a good time in the morning, until she left to teach swim lessons. I missed her, despite being gone for only a day.
The next day I attended mrfantasy's social shindig. Most of acadtech was there, as well as a few other graduates from drewuniversity like yesthattom, who was good to see again. Unfortuantely, I was still quite out of it, and didn't get to talk to people as much as I would like to have. The food, as always, was great despite being hippie tree-hugging fare. They throw a good event, with good people and good times. Unfortunately, my new boss thought she had found a problem with the config I ventured to hell (well, cornfields) and back to get, so I spent most of the event talking to windexcowboy trying to figure out what was wrong. Finally, we gave up and went to Drew to take a look. Luckily, it turned out to be a minor issue that occurs on all computers on the Drew network, and not a problem with the config. So I, already late, rushed to see my sweetie. Along the way I called AAA for a stranded motorist, and got to her place even later. But I'm always late to just about everything except jobs where I'm paid hourly. Bad habit, working on breaking it.
The next morning we went to Mountain Creek, formerly known as Action Park, now known as Water World. A whole bunch of people from her Y attended, from life guards of hers to her swimmers and their families. Unfortunately, she had a ticket she had to give to one family, so we had to wait at the entrance for seventy-five fucking minutes baking for those people to show up. Eventually, we got into the park, and had a great day. We rode on most of the rides, most of them multiple times. From water slides to raft rides to water tubes, it was great. I jumped off the Canyon Cliff three times, but my sweetie took a pass on that one. We spent most of the time in the wave pool fighting waves in the deep end, which was tons of fun. We did the two-person raft ride a couple of times, my posterior taking a beating from that ride and most of the others. My ass hurts now, days later. I burned slightly, but didn't tan a bit. We ended the day with a long raft ride with the person who almost became our landlord on 9/13 and his daughter.
That night we hung out at her powerless place, and I crashed when I hit my bed later that night. I'm still sore and tired now, days later.
Pictures of caniswolfie and I at CFM are up. So yeah. Laundry night tonight. Yay. Gotta grab Wendy's and race home to meet my sweetie.