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1:12 p.m. - September 28, 2006
Safely Back Home With A Story To Tell (Of Course)
Well, I survived the trip!

I actually made it home with all of my luggage intact, all of my clothes, all of the cords to my laptop, my iPod and everything else.

Of course, I had to buy a new phone charger (story below) but I don’t know if I left it in Evansville, or forgot to pack it when I switched from one bag to another. I had no idea how good/bad the weather was going to be when I left, so I came prepared.

The main reason for the trip was a conference in Toledo, and that went well. For the first time in a while, I didn’t have to plan it so I was sitting back and relaxing and not worrying about logistics or how the sessions were going or anything else.

And I did learn quite a bit about the conversion over to the new software when the products become integrated. Wait, don’t fall asleep, that’s the last of shop talk. Well, except for the chance that I may be speaking at another conference next year, which may be four or five that I’m speaking at in 2007. Go me!

To take this trip, I got a car from the Wabash motor pool. Well, it seemed that everyone at the college had a trip to take, so they had to rent some cars from local establishments. So, for me, myself, and I going on a trip that involved a lot of driving, I got….a minivan.

A sexxxxy minivan. Heh.

Well, it was fully loaded with a DVD player, satellite radio, and all kinds of what not. For me, myself, and I. What a waste.

Saturday, after the Wabash game, I drove down to Evansville to start a writing project, and have some Smed time. I also was invited to a party at some MyBacon…er…MySpace buddies house, (thanks Harold and Tonya!), and that was a freakin’ blast. I needed a good cutting loose. I cut a rug, met some cool new people, talked my brains out, and maybe imbibed a bit.

It was a long, long night, though, and while once in a while this 40-year old man can rock and roll all night, the next day is definitely not a party.

So then I drove to Toledo, from Evansville a wee bit, um, slow in the uptake, as it were. But it only extended the trip by an hour or so, go figure. Sunday I had a good night, attended the conference on Monday. The big hit for me was the breakfast buffet with unlimited bacon. Mmmm…bacon!

Monday night, I met the wonderful and charming Kat and her friend the Libertarian. We talked and talked and talked about racing, hockey and all kinds of things. Of course, Kat was there when I received a call from Liz about some family drama on my side of the family. Sigh.

I felt like a bonehead because I suggested we go to a sports bar nearby for some good food, forgetting that Kat was a vegetarian. Silly me. But she got some nachos without meat and some Guinness, because Guinness does a body good.

Kat definitely has an opinion about things, which is great! Don’t get her started on Tony George or the Detroit Red Wings, for sure!

Tuesday, I led a great roundtable, and then I had to run up to Michigan for some work. While I was there on Tuesday Moonfaeryy met me at a BBQ place (oh, man, was it good!) and then she showed me the infamous Tridge of Midland, Michigan. It’s actually in a neat park by where two rivers converge and merge. There are three land masses that this connects, so it’s a normal span with a third leg meeting in the middle, as it were. Here is a link that may explain it better.

And no, I didn’t get quizzed about the names of her cats, thankfully. I know she’s printed them in her site, but that’s a lot of cats to remember.

Wednesday, it was home and I passed through Lansing. There, I met with Dandy and Kiki.

Wow, what a great lunch. Talk, talk, laugh, gab, talk, laugh, laugh, gab. They’re super people and it was just too short of a time to spend with them. But I had to be homeward bound. I had some very important people to see.

And it was well worth it, as Katie stayed up to greet me and gave me a great big hug and I read a story to her. Then, this morning, Liz got Kristin up early and Kristin gave me the biggest hug in the world when she saw me. She definitely missed her daddy. Awwww….

But the trip would not be complete without some Smed adventure, now would it?

As I said, I could not find the cell phone charger. When I got back to my room after meeting Kat, and called Liz to see if there was anymore drama, I noticed my phone had just two battery bars. So, I looked for my charger.

I looked here, I looked there, I looked everywhere. It was nowhere to be found.

It was either in Evansville, or at home. I swore I packed it, but like I said, I switched bags after packing originally and I may have just missed it. But I really needed a charger, so I sought out a Cingular store. I figured I could go after breakfast on Tuesday since my session was right before lunch.

I found one that was pretty darn conveniently located, and off I went. When I arrived there, I saw that it didn’t open before 10, and it was 9:30. Ah, well, I can kill time somewhere. There’s a mall nearby, and well, right next door there was a Barnes & Noble.

So I walked in and browsed. I found the music section and spotted a couple of books that I wanted to buy. Yes, I know I overspent just a tad, but hey…I’ve been reasonably good on purchases of media this year. It was nearing 10 and so I went off to pay.

I gave the cashier my credit card, and she said, “I need to call for approval. Do you have another card?”

I didn’t want to use my other card, so I said no. So off she went to approve this.

She contacted the credit card service, who said that they had to transfer her to the issuing bank. So she was on hold for a while, then someone at that bank answered and went through about 10, 20, 451 questions about me, my purchase, the dollar amount, where I live, my driver’s license number, and what shoe size I wear. (Size 10 ˝, by the way, in dress shoes) Then, the nice person trying to help me looked in horror.

“I think they just cut me off.”

So she tried my card again. Same message. So she called back, and was transferred again. All of the same questions had to be answered. Finally, after all that, it seemed I was in the clear.

But NOOOOOO! She had to hand the phone to me. The lady at the bank reassured me that everything was OK, but they needed to verify a couple of things. First, they wanted to know Liz’s birthdate, and second, they asked about a recent charge on the account, so they wanted to know where we took our cats the last time they went to the vet.

I have to say I was more confident answering the second question than the first. I mean, I DO know Liz’s birthdate, but still, I get nervous answering that question.

It seems that my card was flagged as I had two cash advances, and charges from Evansville to Toledo in a short amount of time. Whatever. Hey bank, you hear of a business trip? Yeesh.

By then, it was time for the Cingular store to open. When I got there, a phalanx of people were waiting for the doors to open.

OK, it was just four, so it wasn’t a true phalanx. A mini-phalanx, how’s that? Most of them looked like they needed to pay their bill.

The doors opened and they made us enter and sign in, please. Ok, I’m either on What’s My Line or trying to get a cell phone charger. While I was waiting, being fifth in line, about four or five others come in behind me. NOW, it’s a phalanx.
It doesn’t take long, and I’m called (and chosen too – thus disproving that maxim about few being chosen at least when you are dealing in the wireless industry) and tell the clerk my tale of woe.

No problem. I fortunately have a very common phone model from the #1 manufacturer that Cingular stocks for the cheap bastards like me who just want a phone, and not all of the whiz-bangs. So a travel charger was secured, then procured, and I hastened swiftly (but not softly, since I was jammin’ on the tunes I made for Moonfaerry in the sexxxy mini-van) back to the hotel.

Sweet blessed relief! The charger worked, and I was getting some mambo juice. It didn’t take long for the phone to charge up to a reasonable battery life, and I was good to go.

But I still wondered about all of the questions that the bank asked. The clerk at the store had to get my driver’s license and verify information. Now, of course, the driver’s license has my picture. It has my address. It has my date of birth. It has my social security and license number. But most importantly, IT HAS MY PICTURE.

And the picture looks like ME! So I think the clerk could have just told the bank that, yeah, it’s him, fo’ sho’.

Instead, I had to wait while they got disconnected, then the rigmarole started again, and then I am asked two questions. What would have happened if they asked about something that Liz bought that I couldn’t think of? Liz does our finances now, and I don’t really look at the credit card statement (probably a good thing, all in all) so something could have been selected that I knew little or nothing about.

Ah, well, lesson learned. I think. Perhaps the lesson is don’t spend money on books when you have four books waiting to be read at home. I mean, Hitler is just dying to be elected Chancellor of Germany, and I haven’t even finished off the Weimar Republic yet.


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