Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Business Trips are Not Vacations

Perhaps for a junior staff person attending a conference in a lovely city away form their home, getting to travel for business is a rare nicety. They get to try some new food, perhaps even get a 1/2 day or more of site seeing in. When you have a full time job and then some, the occasional business trip is more of a hassle than a good time. I literally have been on work status since 4:00 Sunday not including the insane o'clock plane time, with the exception of sleeping, and Monday nights meal, and last nights  trip to a CVS. I'm not a big net worker anymore, perhaps never was but forced myself in the past.  10, 15, 20 years ago when I first had the opportunities to attend conferences, I really did try and meet with my colleagues, follow-up on connections, and take professional advantage. Today, I pay attention to the presentations that specifically will resonate with work back home, but don't feel a need to schmooze anymore. I'm not alone. Two other Minnesota colleagues after we got a drink, a plate of food at the reception, and said a few, "Hi, how are yous?" retreated to a calmer table away form the noise. 

All three of us, after a long dinner the night before, chose to forgo a meet-up with others. I took a  walk, longer than I thought it would be, to a CVS to get a razor for my arm pits and legs, a lemonade, and a snack, but was back in my room by 8:00, working. Tonight will be a very large group for dinner, so I am pacing myself by checking and responding to e-mail in my room. None of the 10:30 sessions resonated with my work, and my agency. This is a really great conference, but very targeted to a particular sector of the education field, and not the one I am in. I would have been too distracted sitting in a session with no interest and likely would have been doing the e-mails thing  while pretending to focus. A new session with a key note starts at 12:00, so I'll join that. 

Another difference is the swag pick-ups as you are older and further in your career, I do not plan to go home with dozens of pens, stress balls, pop-sockets, Andean beads. I did though accept the tiny folded up shopping bag that always come in handy and I noticed a few of mine are springing holes. I travel with a carry on bag that I can carefully fit clothes for the trip, but it leaves little room for extras. Plus, I don't need the clutter in home or office. I will bring back some New Orleans Pralines for peers and family though. 

I have a lot of empathy for people who travel regularly for their job. My on-line  friend The Hawaii Plan, is on a much needed sabbatical from her, to me, grueling job that involves regular international trips to London and Japan. Don't get me wrong, both are exciting places, or I assume Tokyo is having never actually been there, but when it is for work, not the same. She writes about  landing, going straight to meetings, getting a bit of sleep, more meetings, and flying home. I almost was a flight attendant. I had been hoping for an airline job in customer service, but then they started fast tracking me to the flight attendant side. Thirty years ago I fit the profile exactly-blond, thin, the perfect height  to the range they wanted, and I still spoke fairly strong French. When we realized how low the starting pay was, the number of flights needed to earn enough pay to cover the cost of the uniform, and having an infant son at the time, I bowed out. I never got back in the customer service lane. My point is that I don't think I would have liked being a flight attendant anyway, even if my earnings increased and for all the free trips around the country and potentially the world. I do appreciate them.

Thanks for indulging my thoughts about work travel. Perhaps because this is my last summer with my daughter, I'm missing being home more. Perhaps because I am missing visiting with my older daughter and hearing about her trip, I am less focused being here. Maybe I just don't like New Orleans overall, or at least not in late June. I might just be difficult this week, but I am really looking forward to being home, with my family, sleeping in my own bed tomorrow night. What a whiny brat I'm being! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

New Orleans Hot Sticky Freezing Cold

I'm in all out work mode so pardon the short or absent posts. Sunday I had more than enough time since I arrived and had an early check-in by 11;30 for a lunch at Mother's Restaurant (pictures below), which I guess is well known. I saw the line and assumed it would be tasty. It was.  I spent from 4:00 until 9:00 then with work colleagues. It was so hot and sticky walking to the meeting and then later meal venue. I thought my face was melting. 

Monday I was in a too cold room from 8:00 until 5:30. I met Minnesota colleagues that were just coming in on Monday for dinner, then more work back in my room. I am half way through Tuesday's sessions/meetings. The room this morning made the one yesterday seem hot. People's fingers were turning blue. I hope they get this adjusted, but I'n grabbing an extra sweater for the afternoon. As Tigger would say, "TTFO" Tah tah for now. 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

All the Leftovers

I was up this morning doing a spot of house work and took out some recycling and garbage. The neighbor boys grad party is later today and I could see a tent up in their back yard and a lot of scurrying between the front of the house, the back yard, and the garage. Oh the memories of a week ago! We'll go over tonight after DH is home, but I've got four others to stop at before. 

I know my neighbor is busy with last hours stuff, creating trays of food, worrying if they have enough. I only recall one person running out of food and that was my niece who held her sons two years ago in a park. Being a vegetarian, she was unprepared for the amount of pulled pork and buns she would need, particularly since it was on a Thursday night and people were coming from work. Plus, there were no other parties for her sons friends to attend so all ate there. She ended up having pizzas delivered. That was not the case for me. 

I used 50 pounds of hamburger and ended up with 13, 3/4 full gallons bags of  packaged Sloppy Joes. We went through five and 1/2. The other 1/2 bag was used on Fathers Day, but I am left with seven frozen bags. It's hard to say how  much each package will serve. By plate count, 120 people had meals, but there were also those going for just another sandwich on a small plate. From what I looked up on-line in planning, 50 pounds would feed 220 people, but I guess 220 people with really big appetites as I shouldn't have had quite so much left. I estimate each bag will make 20 decent Sloppy Joes. Fortunately, I didn't buy quite as many buns, figuring I would just send my son if we needed more. We ended up with 7 packages of 8 buns left, freezing two, freezing one at the lake, and the rest have been used as bread this past week for sandwiches, toast, and a French toast bake. The Sloppy Joes will keep through the summer and will be used 4th of July week, for a potluck at work, labor day weekend, a card night, and when DD2 has friends  up to the lake. I'll probably put the  joe's on in a crock pot the week before she goes to college and invite friends for a last fire of the summer. 

I did better on fruit and vegetable buying, but still had a lot left over. I froze the peppers for future fajitas. We'll be nibbling on the carrots and cherry tomatoes as part of our lunch's, and they are good for another week or so and will also toss in the freezer before expiring. We made Buffalo cauliflower for dinner Tuesday night. I made a broccoli, grape, bacon, and sunflower seed salad, but there is more broccoli left, so into the freezer with that as well.  The bananas, strawberries, melon, and grapes have been eaten for breakfasts and lunches, plus smoothies. I bought just enough tortilla chips, but have loads of cheese sauce left. Besides buying more chips, I made a nacho mac and cheese to go with burgers. I'm sorry to say though, some might still end up going to waste, unless I figure out if it can be frozen. Thoughts? Its about four cups worth. The chocolate will be used over the summer and then for holiday baking and treats. The coolers worth of beer went to the lake with my older kids, and the cooler of pop and water we'll use through out the summer. I've been sipping on the white wine, but will finish next weekend, perhaps with friends and family, the remainder as it is supposed to keep a couple weeks. I also had a lot of paper ware, but will use the open stuff as we need for picnics and such. The unopened napkins and small desert plates in school colors went to a friend who's party is next weekend. I really hope to not waste or avoid it as much as possible. 

I still need to figure out exactly what we spent on the party, from invites to thank you cards and postage, and all the food, decorations and everything in between. I am going to estimate about $1,100, but considering how many people came, less than $10 a guest. I'll also be cutting down on future groceries as I use up the leftovers, so perhaps really more like $1000. Yes, it was a lot of work, but much of the preparation was stuff we should have been doing on the house all along. Considering to rent a space, even for just a few hours on an afternoon would have been several hundred before food, I think I did pretty well budget wise. What's your take? I know a few of you host events regularly. Did I pull it off successfully or where would you have done things differently? Do you feel I overspent, or spent enough considering it was an open house with no specific RSVP list? Please join in the comments.  

Friday, June 21, 2019

Preparing for the Weekend and Week Ahead

I'm about t head into work. I managed to get fairly well caught up, but today will be focused on things that need to be done before the end of business close on Friday, our fiscal year end. I have to plan ahead each day since I will not be back in until next Friday, though will be in work status all week. My plane leaves at 7:05 Sunday and I have a brief change over in St Louis before arriving in New Orleans at 10:35. I'll be able to store my suitcase, but not check in  until after 3:00, so will need to make sure I travel light for carry-on with comfortable shoes. I may just plant myself someone shady with an ice tea. I have a 4:00 meeting then a 7:00 meeting/dinner followed by meetings and then conference sessions straight until Thursday at 12:30. My nights will be busy staying connected to the office. I don't mind. I'm not a great business traveler. I tire of being in large rooms all day and without my family and close friends, exploring isn't quite the same. 

Tonight we will have a mellow night, though I want to get ahead of laundry. It is National Music Day and the third year in a row our small town is taking part with live music acts scattered all through the town each hour. It ends down by the river with a big band until 9:00. Depending on how DH feels after work, the humidity or rain, we might head down for that. DD2 has been burning the candle at both ends, spending time with friends on her days off, but I don't know her plans yet. We won't eat out-I have stuff for either fajitas or just simple burritos. I'll need to grocery shop easy things for the two of them while I'm gone though. I'll throw chicken in the crock pot in the morning ready cooked for several meals, and supplement with some steaming bags of vegetables and rice dish sides. 

I have a ton of errands, the house to clean with DD2, and  finish any stray laundry, and pack on Saturday morning. Then, we have at least five grad parties-DD2 probably more, that we want to go to. We probably won't spend more than an hour at any. These are either parties of DD2's close friends or children of my friends or both,. It will be a fun day seeing and visiting with people, but I'll need to make it an early night. DH will go with us to the neighbor boys across the street, but likely not the others unless we go to one or two very late afternoon. We have to plan the route still and I'm not sure if  my daughter is doing the rounds with her friends or with me since most are the same parties this weekend. Last weekend was too though she had a couple extras plus was the driver for friends, so we attended separately. Next year will be more like last year-just a few. 

What's on your plate this weekend? Are you in full summer mode yet? Does your community participate in National music day? Let's catch-up in the comments.