Saturday, October 31, 2009


Suna and I in 2006, when we won the costume contest. I wore the same costume this year sans beard and glasses but with a bit more grunge.Photo by: Genea

Samhain. Halloween to most in the United States and All Hallows Eve to some. I missed it lady year due to a football game. So I was really glad to be home for it and have it coincide with a nearly full moon. Nothing like Halloween and a full moon.

We had the house decorated with electric pumpkins, foam headstones, and a giant vampire bat, not to mention various miscellaneous decor items. We received many compliments from the adult supervisors as the night wore on.

But most fun was scaring the kids.

I resurrected my “Happy Reaper” costume. Suna told me I couldn’t scare the little ones, so I just tried to stay still as much as I could. Most of the kids didn’t notice, but the ones who caught on to the fact that I didn’t blink were creeped out.

One little Asian boy walked up to me and asked, “Are you real?”

“No,” I said.

He laughed and said, “Yes, you are. You just talked.”

Part of my costume involved blood worms and plastic spiders tangled in my green hair. Every now and then ad then as a kid reached for the candy, I would pull a green tangle and ask, “Would you rather have a spider?”

“Sure,” exclaimed the bravest of a trio of middle school girls as she ripped the plastic delicacy from my hair. Her friends drew back with a shudder.

Suna asked that I go see Gina’s decorations. On the way back, I passed two groups of girls, one high school, the second middle school, trying not to look like they were our together. I aimed straight for the edge of the sidewalk so that I could pass without appearing to yield ground. The older girls brazened it out without dropping their eyes, but laughed in nervous release as soon as they were passed. The younger girls were more nervous. The one on my side whimpered a little as I brushed her arm in passing.

Finally, there was a stare-down with a homicidal clown. OK, “homicidal clown” — that may be redundant…on Halloween, anyway.

All in all, I had a great time helping these kids enjoy their night of safe supernatural danger.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

No Camera When I Need It

I was feeling a might poorly today, so I only ventured forth from the hotel for one round of groceries that had to tide me for the whole day. One of the highlights was a Greek restaurant called Zorba’s — aren’t they all? I ordered a lamb shank that was so delicious and tender I have no words for it.

The other highlight was the sunset on the way back to the hotel. I was driving West into the sunset on AZ202. The sky was a little hazy at the level of the mountain tops. The sun peeking between two peaks lit up the haze in a way that made the mountain tops look translucent. I seemed to be seeing the sun through the peaks, not between them.

Simply breathtaking.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Montezuma and Sedona

This contraption outside Ye Olde UFO Shoppe was so campy we all had to have our picture taken by it. Photo by: Abel L.

Just after I woke up this morning, I got a really nice phone call. Some of the folks I work with wanted to run up to Sedona for the afternoon. That’s just under a hundred miles from where we are. I volunteered to drive.

We grabbed a quick lunch/breakfast at a KFC/A&W combo and headed north.

One of the trainers brought a Garmin GPS system with her. It directed us smoothly through Phoenix and on up to Sedona.

On the way we stopped at Montezuma Castle National Monument – a thousand-plus-year-old settlement that once supported more than 85 people – where I bought a really nice walking stick that I now have to figure out how to get home. It was inhabited for more than 300 years and then mysteriously abandoned. Was it the result of war, drought, or a chupacabra?

After wandering around the settlement, we drove on to Sedona, home of several mystic vortices. We drove to the downtown area, but there were too many tourists to find a parking space. So we drove through town and turned around and headed back.

Then we stopped at a cheesy little group of tourist-trap stores that offered an alien-themed shop and another New Agey one with Kirlian photography to show your aura at $35 a pop. Even my teammate who had been so excited to get her aura photographed balked at the price and the time required. I, however, bought some nice gifts for my loving family. I might not even make them wait until Yule.

The scenery around Sedona is spectacular, and we saw a sunset that was worth the trip. I posted a bunch of pictures on Facebook, and Abel posted some on his MobileMe gallery.

On the trip home, the GPS routed us through the countryside to avoid a 15-mile long construction backup on I-17. I have just been sold on these things.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hearding the Trainers

It seems almost criminal to keep such a beautiful instrument imprisioned in glass. I can see protecting paintings and pottery that way, but instruments only live when they are played.

After two weeks of dealing with the inevitable issues that arise from training in a different time zone and on a different shift that I’m used to, I got a chance to do something fun. This opportunity is impressive because I thought this weekend was going to be dedicated to further issue resolution.

Thankfully, one of the other trainers was able to identify the root cause of a significant headache and turn it over to the content owners for resolution. I learned of this relief when we went to have lunch/breakfast at Chino Bandito – an interesting blend of Chinese, Mexican, and Jamaican cuisine. The operative word here is interesting. The six of us each had a different opinion of the experience. I really liked the blend. Others found a dish that was closer to standard Chinese or Mexican fare.

Anyway, that revelation left me with a couple of free hours this afternoon. So one of my compadres and I took off for the Heard Museum.

The Heard Museum collects Native American arts and crafts – from the Inuit to the Yaqui. It has wonderful displays of modern Native artists who integrate their traditional crafts in modern life. I took a bunch of pictures with my iPhone, but I really wish I had brought my Cannon on this trip.

I took several pictures of the collection, some of which are posted on a Facebook album. Unfortunately, I ran out of space on my phone about the time I got to the “Mothers and Daughters” exhibits. This gallery was filled with work in clay by seven women who were part of the same extended family of artists.

There was a really cool room that looked like comic book art. I thought Beccano would like this, so I deleted a couple of other pics and tried to get a decent shot with the iPhone.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

First Weekend in Chandler

You know it was a slow weekend when I post a picture of a hotel bad.

I didn’t do anything this weekend, my first in Chandler, except catch up on my sleep.

Well, I did go out to a brew pub with some of my coworkers. We had a nice dinner and a very good local version of a Black and Tan and then went back to the hotel for a couple more beers around the pool.

My boss and I arrived here last Sunday to help open a new support site. I spent the week trying to get on schedule working the evening shift, roughly 2:00 PM to 1:00 AM. Unfortunately, there is also a two time zone difference. So, instead of getting back to the hotel between 1:30 and 2:00, my body thinks I am getting back at 3:30 to 4:00. And it still wants to get up about 7:00 in its home time zone.

Now I’m wondering if I should just stay up all night when it’s time to go home.

The hotel, a Hampton Inn, is nice – brand new. It only opened a few days before I arrived. I have a nice suite with a HD TV and no HD channels. Why is it that hotels spend the money on the hardware and ignore the service?