Halloween at the Grand Floridian

Here I sit, on Halloween, in a gorgeous hotel room at Walt Disney World. Luxury to me is the little touches, and this place has 'em. I'm listening to my iPod Touch, which is docked in the iHome alarm clock. (Incidentally, my iPod on shuffle is bizarre–Rasputina's If Your Kisses Can't Hold the Man You Love followed by Handel's And With His Stripes We Are Healed.) I'm eating a delicious giant sugar cookies from Gasparilla's Grill, where I had dinner: grilled salmon and smashed potatoes and asparagus on a paper plate. (Dinner reservations at the Grand Floridian Cafe, where I had lunch, would've been at 8:45 pm)

Had the easiest/best flight ever. Nonstop is the way to go, and rare, it seems. Southwest is excellent. The stewards and stewardesses are generally quite amusing. Case in point: while giving the oxygen mask spiel, the steward said, "If you're seated with a child, put the mask on yourself first and then on the child. If you're with more than one child, put it on the one who shows the most promise." I about fell out of my seat laughing. I don't think the guy beside me was paying attention. The flight wasn't full either, which made it wonderful. When I say "guy beside me," I mean there was a seat between us. Ah, luxury again.

I suppose I "should" have looked into getting tickets to some Disney thing, but I am so happy right now, just relaxing and not following any "shoulds" that pop into my head. I took a nap this afternoon. I wore my sling for traveling, and it was hot and really tired me out. Really glad I wore it, though.

Last night brought it home to me that my shoulder is still not healed. Thomas and I went to Spooks in the Stacks, the second annual celebration of the University of Montevallo's ghosts, sponsored by the Carmichael Library. The weather was perfect–drizzly and windy. Three stations were set up at King House, King Cemetery and Main Hall where people in costume told stories of the ghosts there. In the basement of the library, Birmingham Paranormal Society did a presentation. I was disappointed by that; we had to wait about 45 minutes, when the presentations were supposed to be 15-20minutes long. I think the group before us got wild with questions. Ours was barely 10 minutes. They are recruiting, however. Would love to join them. But we heard about Condi Cunningham, the ghost who haunts Main, a young woman who ran screaming after she set herself on fire while making fudge on an illegal chafing dish in her room. We also saw "THE door," the famed one on which her face keeps appearing. It doesn't look very old to me. At the Cemetery, students made up as zombies leaped from trees and behind walls. A man in civilian Civil War attire told about the massacre in Reynolds Hall, a hospital during the Civil War days. Quite tame, but fun and diverting.

Tomorrow I get together with my brother and his lovely wife! Hope we can get reservations…

Ektron Synergy events start tomorrow night.

No Post Zone

Yikes! I didn't post at all during the month of August. Probably because the month of August was a month of Insanely Busy! I fought the CMS and the CMS nearly won, but we held a Come to Jesus meeting and the CMS Powers That Be sent an Ektron Savior who helped us in our time of need and now we are Good to Go.* We launched a new home page to great acclaim after an incredible number of hours spent working on it. I fell in the lobby of my building and popped my shoulder out the Friday before we were supposed to go live on Monday. We played Fruit Basket Turnover with offices–my team and I all reside within polite calling distance of each other on the 4th floor, which is a truly wonderful thing. And we have a meeting space. My bestest bud had liver surgery (!), but it was not the Big Scary we feared and he is recovering at a mutant healing rate.

I'm still playing catch up, so this is brief. The best news is–we resumed gaming this past weekend! A new campaign with two new players. I'm running "The Winds of Change" homebrew, yoinking from Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes and using the new Pathfinder RPG rules and setting. How long has it been since we've actually played with 4 players?? Should be fun.

*In English: We had extensive troubles with our content management system, Ektron. My division Vice-President and the campus Chief Information Officer and various directors had a phone conference with Ektron chiefs about it. They sent a technical support engineer to our campus for two days, at their expense, who determined what the problems were and fixed them.

New Hampshire

Ah, am I happy to be going home tomorrow. I've been in Nashua, New Hampshire since Monday. It's not a bad place, but we traveled all day Monday, getting in about 7:30 p.m., then were in training all day, so I haven't seen any of it by daylight, except the distance from the hotel to the Ektron Training Center, a 5 minute walk. I did see some lovely yellow leaves on the ground yesterday that I scuffed through, but that's the extent of it. It rained all day today, and the temperature was in the upper 50s, so I don't think it was typical New England weather. Tomorrow my assistant and I drive back to the airport in Manchester by daylight, so maybe we'll see a little of the state.

I would believe that the results of Tuesday's election were a dream, were it not for yesterday's USA Today headlines exulting, "OBAMA WINS." Traveling is such a strange experience for me, as I always feel very out of touch. Ironic, that, since here I sit with a laptop and free internet at my disposal, as well as today's edition of the aforementioned candy-paper and a large flatscreen tv, but somehow none of it feels real without my familiar surroundings.

I did learn a new phrase, "All set?" Used by waitresses to ask if you had finished with your food. No one sneered, either, when told we were from Alabama.

The food here was good, although somewhat limited in its scope. I had fish and chips at Speaker's Corner, the hotel restaurant, the first night, served with huge onion rings. The next night we ventured to downtown Nashua (hilarious drive–me at the wheel, my assistant navigating, three male colleagues squished into the back of my rental Dodge Avenger trying to also navigate using an iPhone–I never made so many U-turns in my life) and ate at Michael Timothy's, a paneled, cozy place that features wood grilled pizzas. I had essentially a taco pizza with a very thin crust. Quite yummy, with a lovely salad. The next night dinner was across the street at Surf, owned by the same owner as the previous night's place. I managed only one U-turn this time, and had delicious crab cakes and another very nice field greens salad. Dessert this time–banana rum cake, with a fried plantain slice on top. Mmmm. Tonight we were all too tired to drive anywhere, so we ate in the hotel restaurant again. This time I ate New York sirloin, served on a pile of mashed potatoes, with steamed spinach in between, with fried onion straws (essentially) on top. Oh so good.

Lunches at Ektron training were very good as well. Chicken alfredo with penne pasta on Tuesday, chicken/corn/black bean enchildas on Wednesday and ricotta cheese/meat sauce in giant pasta shells today, all with yet more yummy salads. Excellent stuff.

I had delicious breakfasts in the hotel as well.

I have not slept well, though. Getting up early, going to bed early…Oh well.

I learned a lot. Now I'm an Ektron Certified Developer!