Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A sombre shade of yellow

I'm not working this week, but I'm on vacation with my family and I believe that merits a bit of blathering - especially since this is not a 'GO! GO! GO!' kind of vacation. More just a relaxing, enjoyable, sand-filled week of bliss.

I took a walk on the beach this morning. Despite the fact that we're in Southern California, it was rather overcast and a bit cool. Not too cool for school, just cool enough to enjoy a walk on the beach. I felt, as I was sauntering along the shore, like I should have been in a seminary video and gaining a deep and abiding testimony of the Book of Mormon. I even stopped to ponder on an outcropping of rock. The biggest disadvantage to the cool weather (it's colder here than in Salt Lake this week) aside from the dead squid which had been cruelly displaced from their habitat by the tide, is the fact that there's not much to look at or enjoy on the beach *wink wink*...at least not in the morning when it's still overcast.

I love being an uncle. My most active nephew is about a year and half old and full of piss and vinegar...or juice and nilla wafers depending on the time of day. He dances, babbles in his car seat, and had the (insert generic colloquialism for fecal matter) scared out of him yesterday at the Angel's baseball game we went to. Two jets flew over the stadium directly after the small fireworks which followed the national anthem. No one was expecting them, least of all this tiny cherub. He jumped about 3 feet in the air and began to cry. For the rest of the night whenever they lit off any fireworks he would get a bit scared and look around for more jets. He may have been traumatized for life. On the upside I can still get him to dance with me whenever upbeat music starts to play.

We took family pictures on the beach. I'm not gonna lie, they're pretty much awesome. We even got a beginning to a sitcom 'running-up-the-beach-away-from-the-crashing-surf' picture with all of the siblings. I'm quite excited about that. I'm also excited about my far-too-contrived, yet all-too-attractive individual pictures. There's just something about the beach, a white shirt, and the late afternoon lighting that would make anyone look hot.

As a PS I'm including a picture of the spidery Canadian chandelier I mentioned earlier in my blog. Angie requested a picture, and my camera was being temperamental at the time, so I couldn't accommodate until now. To see said reference, please refer to the post entitled "Edge of the Tundra" from May 9.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

DC al Coda

We stayed in a different hotel every night this week. I don't think I can even begin to explain how exasperating that is. It's one thing to live out of a suitcase from one hotel room for a week, but when you have to unpack and pack every day - bleh.

Right now there is a really bad instrumental, Kenny-G, elevator music version of Midnight at the Oasis playing over the speaker system. In its original form it's laughable, but this is just painful.

Word of the Day: Flagitious. /fluh-JISH-uhs/ adj.: Disgracefully or shamefully criminal, villainous, scandalous. Greg is perfectly flagitious in his ability to dress well.

Interesting historical factoid: The Spanish Armada set sail on this day in 1588

(WOD and factoid provided by The Enterprise Center at BCC)

I have two weeks off. I'm excited to be home for a moment or two.

I love how quickly I become acclimated to a new environment. At the end of a week in Canada I was telling everyone where they could find the washroom as opposed to the restroom, and this week I'm saying things like "It's in North Jersey" and "We have to catch a flight out of Philly." Love it.

One of our attendees was taking donations for the American Cancer Institute. I didn't want to be uncharitable, and therefore gave a donation. The funny part of this story is that I only had $20 bills, and though I want to give, I don't want to go overboard, so I had to make change out of the previously donated funds. I felt awkward. It's like making change in the collection plate.

Philadelphia is the only major airport I've ever been to that didn't sell postcards. You can get a kit to learn how to speak Hebrew, but not a postcard.

I think one should always use a toilet seat cover whenever possible.

I found the remainder of the silver lamay jacket lady. Big, and I'm talking really big, blond hair, too much eye shadow, large glasses - the whole ten yards. She was on the plane from Minneapolis to Salt Lake. What a joy.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday...but my Thursday.

I got a blister while running today. I think the socks I was wearing were a bit too thin.

East coast accents rock my world. Everyone sounds so confident while speaking with a Jersey accent. You would never expect to hear a characteristically timid person bust out with something like "Shut up! I'll break ya face!" Not that I did hear that, I'm just sayin'...

While setting up this morning I put in my new CD by the Scissor Sisters. Great music. It's like a modern twist on the Bee Gee's.

An old man came up to the registration table and pulled his invitation out of his pants. Not his pants pocket, his pants. Then I shook his hand, then I washed my hand.

I love it when caricatures of life show up. There was a woman this morning who had long horrendous fake fingernails painted a horrendous shade of sparkly red. She also had on a horrendous silver lamay jacket. I half expected to look up and see big yellow hair, bright blue eye shadow, with red lipstick extending half-way up to her nose and hear "Bingo!" Instead it was a frumpy hair-do, no makeup, and a husband with a walker. Some people just don't live up to their potential.

We went to a movie tonight - Shrek the Third. Worth the price of admission, but I don't know if it was good as the first two. It might have been, and there were definitely funny parts, but I think I'm too tired right now for a thorough critical analysis.

On the way to the movie we were waylaid by the New Jersey road system and consequently had to do some off-roading in our Kia mini-van. I felt like Indiana Jones meets Rob the Hero. Very adventurous.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

An eventful day

I ate an apple while I showered this morning. Sort of an odd experience - eating in the shower, but it was fun. After my shower I ate an orange. I think I've discovered the most important difference between apples and oranges. Apples are a convenience, on-the-go kind of food. Grab an apple and go. Oranges, on the other hand, were designed to be enjoyed. Perfectly sectioned and portioned. You can't really do anything else while you're eating an orange. Nature has made it rather difficult to do so.

Theory - well first, some background. This is my 12th week on the road this year. 3 countries, 3 provinces, 7 states and the District of Columbia. Numberless hotel rooms and an equal number of ballrooms. I have yet to leave anything behind. My theory is that when one travels a lot, the gods of travel don't take anything. Usually when you go on vacation, or whatever the reason you're away from home, you lose something or leave something behind. If I left something behind in every hotel room/ballroom - soon I wouldn't have anything to leave. So I think the powers that be leave me alone in that respect.

I hate when the bathroom light switch is on the outside. I'm not comfortable with someone else having control of the lights while I'm in the shower.

The highlight of my morning - I walked downstairs and passed a bunch of young people getting a pep-talk on the stairs. As I was walking to the car I thought to myself "That reminds me of the Cutco conference I went to." When I returned, I saw with delight, that it was, in fact, a Cutco conference! I was a Cutco rep for about three months, so to see the new masses of young people being indoctrinated to cut the rope and smile just did my heart good.

Here's a video I saw last night that made me cry it was so funny. I'm into videos right now because I have lots of time on my hands. Please forgive me...but laugh anyway!

I think as far as gaudy conference carpeting is concerned, Marriot is at the head of the pack. They've always got the best, and it's always in the best of taste.

I love paper mate pens.

We have a little bonus thing that we offer at the end of our conferences and people who take advantage of said bonus get a free MP3 player. Granted, it's a generic, rather ghetto MP3 player, but it works, and it's free. So, today this guy came up and grabbed one, well my manager informed him that they aren't free and then walked away to help some other people. I saw the guy hurriedly stuff it into his shirt! The guy was like 50 and he was trying to steal an MP3 player! But since I saw him I said, sir, those aren't free. He played dumb, and said "Oh, they're not, ok." And put it back. Unbelievable.

I've taken to winking at people. I feel odd, but it's now sort of a habit, and I just can't stop myself. Although I think it adds and air of mystery to every I do.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Goose droppings

Yesterday I bought a banana and a yogurt cup for breakfast - $3.75. Today I spent $7.00. What did I eat? 3 breakfast bars and a Yoohoo. I could get three times that much food at the Denny's for less money! Granted, it's the Denny's vs. a hotel gift shop, but regardless.

One day I would like to walk around all day with a milk and/or whipped cream mustache and just see what people do.

Uni-brows are most unfortunate. More unfortunate is when the person donning said uni-brow is painfully unaware of the fact, and thus does nothing to counteract it's devastating effects to mankind.

Fashion feauxpas - 80's track jacket. It was complete with a neon pink stripe. Fortunately she wasn't wearing the pants that match. Unfortunately her hair was a disaster. She was wearing one of those giant tooth clips. Not quite a banana clip, but close. Only it was clipped side-ways across the top of her head and contained only about half of her hair - which had been dampened by the rain. Her lip-stick, however, shone with all the effervescence of a highway patrolman's spot light, and was a shade just this side of 'whore'.

I offended someone today. Now, you may be thinking - "Greg? Offend someone? Never!" But it happened. A woman excitedly asked for one of the sharpies we use to write name-tags. They're industrial sized, not the normal size you get at Wal-mart. So I made a joke about her ulterior motives for desiring said sharpie. She laughed it off initially, but after the presentation she brought it to my attention that it was, in fact, "not ok." She claimed I had defamed her character and that I didn't know her, and was therefore not in a position to joke in such a manner. I sincerely apologized and explained that it was not my intent to offend. I guess I'll have to be more careful in the future.

Tonight's festivities were crowned by a lush piece of moist, decadent, rich chocolate cake. It hurts so good.

Youtube has become my new friend - clearly I have too much time on my hands.

One of the saddest, most pathetic sights your eyes will ever behold is a wet squirrel. We had a rainstorm today. Just outside the window in front of the ballroom there was a squirrel clutching the wall for protection. He was completely drenched and nothing short of absolutely pitiful.

On my afternoon walk I was sauntering along a riverbank. There was a park located just across the street from our hotel. I noticed a small dock sticking out into the water, so I ventured out. It was quite picturesque standing at the end viewing the mixture of nature's creations and man's while softly bobbing up and down with the ebb and flow of the river's current. It all gave me an intense desire to throw myself in the river...and go for a swim. But, I only brought one pair of dress pants, so it was not to be.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Better on time than never

Raul is one of the most exotic names I know. It's short, simple, and yet so full of mystery and mystique. It brings to mind every Romance novel cover you've ever seen. Picturesque landscapes with well built, shirtless men, and buxom, seductively disheveled women in the throes of passion. Plus it's fun to say!

I exercised this morning - 25 more minutes of straight running (ha ha, in my current mood, that sentence sounds really funny), but today - no jell-o legs. Woot.

We had more people show up late today than we had all week in Ontario. Why is it so hard to show up on time? Punctuality is a lost art. Usually I would be able to read for an hour or so between registration and the end of the presentation. Not here. I can barely get through a paragraph before someone else walks up. We had more than one person show up an hour late. The presentation is only 90 minutes long - at most. Sometimes Americans vex me.

I love crisp apples. There's nothing more disappointing than a mealy apple...except maybe when all you've really eaten all day is a turkey croissant sandwich, and you can't handle another one, but you're miles from any open restaurant, room service is closed, the candy machine doesn't take $5 bills, and all there is to eat is an apple and a bottle of water.

I just watched this video and peed a little. It completely made my day, partly because of the Disney theme, and despite the fact that Lindsay Lohan is in it:

Monday, May 14, 2007

The curtain

Sitting on the coach side of the dividing line between coach and First Class is...mysterious. I don't know how else to put it. Those of us doomed to the lowly arena of three seats across are shut out as soon as the curtain is drawn. What goes on behind the curtain anyway? It's not like they're having some fantastical orgy of airline food and unrestrained movie watching - or are they? I think it's even more laughable when there isn't a curtain, but simply a strap Velcroed in the middle thus establishing the mental barrier between those who can afford a meal on an airplane, and those who simply receive a snack box.

I'm in New Jersey. I don't yet know how I feel about that. All I know so far is that the business and residential districts aren't nearly as separated as they are in Utah.

If you're ever in trouble in the middle of the night, run to a Walgreen's. They have security guards.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


I just heard something outrageous. I'm watching the Canadian news and some supposedly educated person said that the thing which separates Canada from the US is the Canadian sense of humor. In my experience Canadians have no sense of humor. People like Mike Meyers, Jim Carey etc. etc. etc. are the exception rather than the rule. How presumptuous.

I'm finding myself extremely intrigued by the history of France. Especially during the French revolution. I don't know why, but that whole period is quite fascinating. I'll have to read more about it.


posthumous comments (though no one has died...)

It is now Monday afternoon, but due to travel, Mother's Day, sleep deprivation, and Canadian Border Control I haven't been able to wrap up my week, before I do put a neat little button on my time in "northern Ontario" I'd like to suggest a trip to Paradise Bakery and Cafe. There are at least two in Utah and they have the BEST tomato soup. I don't really even like tomato soup, but theirs is spectacular, so find one and get the soup...and a cookie. Now to round out the week:

I had another unexpected "don't worry about it" moment. There's a burger place across from the Holiday In where we were staying, so I went there for dinner on Friday. I ordered their chicken on a bun sandwich and a delightful butter/sugar/heart-attack-in-a-pastry dessert. The total was about $7 Canadian. They don't take cards. The man behind the counter explained he could take American cash, but I rebutted that I was only in possession of about $3.67 Canadian. He said, "Well, I guess that'll be ok, don't worry about it." So I got dinner for less than $4.

The Sudbury International Airport, located in Sudbury, Ontario, is probably the smallest airport I've ever seen. Even smaller than Cedar City - I know it doesn't sound possible. They had a total of 4 vending machines, 3 doors, and one toilet. They weren't even big enough to sell postcards. We flew from there to Toronto Saturday night, and spent the night in the Holiday Inn Airport which, for future travel information, contains a 24 hour Perkin's restaurant.

Sunday morning was...early. Our flight left at 6:40 a.m. It was an international flight so we had to be at the airport two hours early - 4:40. We had to catch the shuttle from the hotel that would get us to the airport on time - 4:05. Which means I woke up at about 3:45. When we arrived at the airport we had to stand in line for US customs (on the Canadian side you go through customs before leaving Canada, which would mean that there are parts of all major Canadian airports that are technically US soil - unfortunately Verizon hasn't been informed of that yet)...it wasn't a long line, but due to our early arrival at the airport, customs wasn't open yet. Apparently we left on the first flight of the day.

No upgrades this weekend either. Luckily there were no large people to sit next to either, so I was comfortable in coach, comfortable and slumbering.

On the flight from Atlanta to SLC they had no milk.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Not a lengthy visitor

This will however, be a lengthy post, so be forewarned.

First, some venting, and then some good old-fashioned observational humor.

When people come to our events then encounter a large sign in the hallway that says "Internet Conference," we also have an 8' table cloth that says "Internet Conference," these items are accompanied by a small pile of brochures all declaring "Internet Conference." Why is it, then, that people invariably say "Is this the uh...internet conference?"

Secondly we give name-tags to everyone. They are the "Hello, my name is..." type, only ours say - you guessed it - "Internet Conference," but they're the hand-written type none-the-less. I write the names and hand the tags to the guests. I generally get three responses: 1 - Thank you. 2 - Where do I put this? 3 - What do I do with this? Response one seems reasonable and expected. Response 2, a little out of the ordinary, but I usually just say "Right there," or "Wherever you want." Response 3, however, is enough to make we want to go postal. What else would a name-tag be for?
I heard the song "Mockingbird" twice today. You know the one - "Mock, ya! Ing, ya! Bird, ya! Mock-ing-bird ya!" Two different times, two different artists. Who knew someone would deign to remake such a song!

A woman told me that I look like David Hyde Peirce. I've heard Robert Downy Jr. a number of times, but never Mr. Peirce. I was intrigued, but flattered.

It wasn't until a guest pointed it out today that I noticed, but our speaker sounds remarkably like George W. Bush.

My legs are entirely too sore today. I have trouble walking downstairs, and they say one should lift with the legs, and not the back, but that has become quite a difficult task today. I suppose that just means I'm going to have - as my friend Andrea would put it - "The legs of a Greek God."

I'm starting to learn new html codes, and they're quite fun. I may have to implement them more in future blogs. Keep your eyes peeled. There may be a prize involved...

I'm reading Charles Dicken's A Tale of Two Cities and I love it. This is my third Dickens novel, and I'm completely infatuated. I'm next going to tackle David Copperfield. It's rather large, but my friend Isaac recommended it to me. He said most people don't care for it, but it's his favorite. I'm taking it on vacation. And now, I'd like to share my favorite paragraph from A Tale of Two Cities:

"Monseigneur could swallow a great many things with ease, and was by some few sullen minds supposed to be rather rapidly swallowing France; but, his morning's chocolate could not so much as get into the throat of Monseigneur, without the aid of four strong men besides the Cook.
Yes, it took four men, all four a-blaze with gorgeous decoration, and the Chief of them unable to exist with fewer than two gold watches in his pocket, emulative of the noble and chaste fashion set by Monseigneur, to conduct the happy chocolate to Monseigneur's lips. One lacquey carried the chocolate-pot into the sacred presence; a second milled and frothed the chocolate with the little instrument he bore for that function; a third, presented the favoured napkin; a fourth (he of the two gold watches), poured the chocolate out. It was impossible for Monseigneur to dispense with one of these attendants on the chocolate and hold his high place under the admiring Heavens. Deep would have been the blot upon his escutcheon if his chocolate had been ignobly waited on by only three men; he must have died of two."

I love that. Absolutely brilliant.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

A Foggy Ontario Town

This morning I was sans déjeuner continental (see how the French Canadians are affecting me!) so I walked to the grocery store next door to see what I could see. I bought a fruit/granola/yogurt bowl (For some reason I now feel like I should be out crusading against breast cancer or combating the injustices of child labor - but the day is young...). On my short walk I noticed that the area in which I'm staying was very British in its early morning appearance. Lots of brick buildings, fog, and a misty haze that sort of hung about everywhere.

I'm on a health kick at the moment, as I've written afore time and as is apparent from my yogurt purchase. I went jogging this morning (25 minutes straight - WOOT! P.S. Thanks for the shorts Toph and Carm, they were a huge motivation.) in the hotel's workout room - which consists of two treadmills and an exercise bike. My legs feel like jell-o and my arms can only stand so much typing - is this what it feels like to be healthy? Lucky for me I haven't had to heft to many boxes.

I just watched an internet video of a snake regurgitating a hippo.

Every hotel bell cart I utilize feels as though it may disintegrate at any moment, and yet they never do...

I think brownies and cheesecake will lead to my ultimate downfall. I suppose it's a positive thing that I don't plan on being in any positions of power where certain members of society might be inclined to plan my demise, because they would most certainly succeed if they used brownies or cheesecake, and they would undoubtedly succeed if they used them together.


Musings from my evening walk -

It was a gorgeous evening and I had some extra time on my hands, so I took a walk. There was a carnival set up in one of the larger parking lots just down the street from the hotel. It's amazing that the same type of people frequent the carnival whether it's in Cedar City Utah or Sudbury Ontario. I suppose the slightly overweight men with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths as they call for participants in their devilish midway games attract the same characters regardless of location. I was going to go on a ride, but rides really lose their effect, for me at least, when there's no one to share it with.

I passed a McDonald's in my wanderings. The sign declared "over 99 billion served." This means that on average, every person on the face of the planet has been served more than 15 times by McDonald's.

It was s nice enough night that I didn't need a jacket, but not so warm that a cup of hot chocolate would be unwelcome. Thus, I stopped at a gas station to buy some. I was elated when the clerk informed me that I simply walk out of the establishment and not concern myself with payment. Free hot chocolate! The downside - it was quite possibly the worst cup of hot chocolate I've ever had. It was really just slightly chocolate flavored hot water. Luckily I passed a Tim Horton's in my meanderings. Tim Horton's is like Starbucks meets Dunkin' Donuts meets Quizno's. I believe there are more Tim Horton's in Canada than there are McDonald's. And for just a dollar, I got a delightful replacement that warmed my belly and my soul.

I traipsed about the area of town close to my hotel. This area of town holds quite a few large parking lots. As I was walking through them I thought to myself "Good Greg, walk right to your death." I was walking right into the plot of 90% of Hollywood's thriller movies, and yet I survived. If I can make it through dimly lit parking lots, scary carnivals full of unique people, and a bad cup of hot chocolate - I can do anything!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Edge of the Tundra

I'm working with a scientologist this week. If you didn't know he was a scientologist, he'd seem just like some old guy from the farm, but the scientology aspect adds a certain oddity to everything he does...

The police showed up today. They were some sort of Canadian international something or other. They sat through the entire seminar and decided to make a scene at the end, instead of talking to someone at the beginning and resolving any concerns they might have had. Oddly enough their random outburst didn't really produce any noticeable effect.

The lights in the room today looked like a cross between a spider and those glass bubbles one often associates with the nautical world. They were basically a fixture consisting of about 30 glass balls with light bulbs inside, suspended from the ceiling by string. Very odd, but a nice look.

I had apple pie, a large piece of chocolate cake, and a strawberry smoothie today. Not bad as far as roughage goes. Of course this isn't very helpful for my 'getting healthy' kick. But I also had a salad, some sort of vegetable and lentil filled quiche, and vegetarian lasagna.

One parting thought for the day - Frank Sinatra always makes me want to tap dance.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Self Assessment

A couple by the last name of Goddard dropped in today. The name Goddard always makes me think of the speaker John Goddard. He's the one who set all of those goals and achieved them - like flying a jet, and hiking Mt. Everest, and learning to play the cello etc. The reason I think of him is because he came to our high school to talk about goals once and not long after my friend Joe and I went to a college recruiting thing at Weber State where Joe won a t-shirt that said "Goddard means business." Their business school was named after a Goddard. The whole affair was quite humorous.

I exercised this morning. It's been a while since I've been in the habit and it shows. I substituted our projector case for weights since our hotel didn't have a gym, and I don't regularly carry a set of weights with me. I thought it was funny. Doing curls with a big pelican case is slightly awkward, but it did the trick. My arms are now sore, and I'm wondering how I'll be able to haul boxes full of organizers around Ontario for the rest of the week.

On an optimistic note - not one person asked about their free gift before the meeting today, and every single person arrived at least 10 minutes early. We had no late-comers. If only every day could be as delightful.

Large Russian men would really scare me, I think, if it weren’t for the fact that they seem like giant teddy bears what with their insecurity with the English language.

I think Canada has a tendency to put me in a melancholy mood. I’ve been rather pensive this week. I’d expound, but I’m really more of a light-hearted fellow, and don’t want to darken the pages of my blog with musings of my disconsolate disposition. I’m sure I’ll be fine after a good workout and some breakfast in the morning.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Flight Attendee

This morning's romp through the airport was less than enjoyable. We arrived a few minutes later that would have been ideal. I waited on the curb while the manager checked his baggage. I then headed inside and encountered a mass exodus from Salt Lake. There were so many people. I waited in the line for the check-in kiosk only to arrive to late to check in automatically - we were on an international flight and one must arrive at least 60 minutes prior. I walked up to the desk where they informed me they couldn't help and that I must wait go to the international check-in counter. So I waited in another line and arrived at the counter too late to check in to the flight at all. So they changed my flight, and I arrived in Toronto several hours later than the rest of my party. Between SLC and Toronto I was at the top of the upgrade list for both of my flights, but didn't get upgraded, and I had to fly from Atlanta to Toronto next to a large man who smelled of cigarette smoke. After a frustrating day of air travel a Cinnabon and some random airport eye candy sure helped.

I think it's sad when people's feet bulge out the top their shoes.

I finished Peter Pan today. What a delightful book. The language was fun to read and the story was entrancing. It's quite a bit more graphic than any movie that's ever been made of the book. Lots more killing and blood. I was a little surprised at this, but still enjoyed the book.

Friday, May 4, 2007

If I may speak frankly

My second audition went well. The auditioner now has to contact the VP of my department and work out training and scheduling. So I may not be speaking for a while, but I will be speaking. I also may not be consistently speaking to start out with, but at least they're giving me a shot. So, I now get to do what I love, and make money at it. Livin' the dream folks, livin' the dream.