Lazy Saturday Morning

Downtown Wilmington Farmer's Market
Today I am off to Munich, Germany for work with two of my colleagues. Next week we will be showing off the new database for the first time to end-users who have not been involved in the design of the system. I really hope they like it!

Since I had to be in Wilmington for SME Week, it was cheaper and less crazy to simply stay over in Wilmington on Friday night and travel with Aaron and Albert from Wilmington to Munich, rather than try to go back to Austin for 24 hours.

The World According to Girls
I am very pleased with my decision to schedule my travel this way. It meant I got to have a lazy Saturday morning before my flight. I slept late, I arranged for a late check-out, and then walked around downtown Wilmington. I stopped by the Farmer’s Market, and then had brunch at Press 102, a newer restaurant that I had been wanting to try. I had Eggs San Franciscan, like Eggs Benedict, but with salmon instead of ham. The food was great, I will definitely go back. The bathroom had a funny poster labeled, “The world according to girls”, I took a picture so you can enjoy it too.

I chatted with my mom, and the got myself packed up and checked out of the hotel. I am now in the airport waiting for the first leg of my flight to board. See you on the flip side!

SME Week

LisaDiane at Britts Donut Shop at Carolina Beach
My project at work has really picked up. We are working on figuring out what topics people will need to be trained on related to the new database that is being built. My team spent the week in Wilmington, NC, meeting with Subject Matter Experts. We had back to back meetings all week (organized beautifully by my team member, Jessica). We began calling it “SME Week”.

PPD building from the Wilmington Convention Center
We made a lot of progress, but all the work this week highlighted how much more there is to do between now and our go-live date, which will be toward the end of the year.

New board walk near Wilmington Convention Center
I did manage to have some fun while I was in Wilmington, though. Dinner with my team, and time with friends. We even made it down to Carolina Beach one evening. Amy insisted that we go to Britt’s Donuts, and as she promised, the donuts were delicious!

St. Patrick’s Day in Wilmington

Harp on St. Patrick's Day
Julie invited me to join her and her husband at their favorite Irish Pub, Harp, for St. Patrick’s Day. It did not take much convincing, and shortly after work, we were standing outside the pub watching people play the bagpipes.

LisaDiane with the TARDIS

As we approached the pub, I noticed that Dr. Who had also traveled to Wilmington for St. Patrick’s Day, as the TARDIS was parked outside the pub. I got a kick out of hearing people walking by asking, “What is a Police Public Call Box?” I never spotted The Doctor, but I am sure he was there somewhere.

We drank green beer, and ate bangers and mash. We hung out with some other friends from work, and generally had a great time.

The McClures

Wilmington Walk

Wilmington Walk - Cape Fear RiverWhenever I am in Wilmington, NC, and the weather is nice, I like to walk down the boardwalk that runs along the Cape Fear River.  It was quite warm, and the first spring flowers have started to bloom.  The night blooming jasmine in one garden I passed was just opening up, and it smelled fantastic. As you can see, I was inspired to take out my camera and snap a few pictures of things I saw on my walk.
Wilmington Walk - Moon over Water Street
Wilmington Walk - Rose

Arriving in North Carolina

I traveled to North Carolina from Baltimore today. I landed in Research Triangle Park, or RTP to those of us who frequent the area, which is between Raleigh and Durham, NC, at around noon. I met up with some colleagues from the RTP office and we went to Neomonde Baking Company Cafe for lunch. Neomonde’s is a favorite stop of mine. I really love middle eastern food, and these folks know how to do it right. After a yummy lunch, I spent a few hours working in the RTP office, and then drove down to Wilmington.

Amy with her new dining table

My friend and colleague, Amy, had told me that, of the nights I will be in town, tonight is the one that she is available.  Amy just got a new place overlooking the Cape Fear River, and we agreed to meet there.  We spent some time catching up, and I helped her put together her new dining table.  Following crazy, unclear directions in order to assemble furniture really worked up our appetite for some dinner!  We drove down to Kure Beach and had all we could eat shrimp.  It was a well deserved feast.

Five states in nine hours

mom-at-her-office I previously posted about a crazy drive around Texas, during which we were in three cities in fourteen hours.  Well, this past weekend I completely topped that when I went to see my mom and dad!  I started in Raleigh, North Carolina at around six in the morning.  I flew to Baltimore, Maryland, where my mom and dad picked me up.  We drove through Maryland and Virginia on the way Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, where my mom works.

I got to see Mom’s building, office, and classrooms.  We walked around Shepherstown, and had lunch in a nice tea shop.  I browsed through the shops on the main street before getting back in the car and driving toward Mom and Dad’s house.  We passed through Maryland again, and finally made it to Greencastle, Pennsylvania around 15:00 in the afternoon.  Five states in nine hours.

Dec, Jan, Feb 09-10 058 I had a great time getting to see Mom and Dad’s new place.  Dad showed me his projector and screen set-up.  We also checked out his amazing outdoor kitchen.  Dad grilled some fantastic steaks for dinner, and mom made sweet potatoes and sauteed spinach with leeks.  Yum!

The visit ended too soon, and I had to get back on a plane and head back to Raleigh for another week of work in North Carolina.

New Manager, Old Manager

My manager, Heidi, is leaving my company. She is adopting a baby, and has decided that she wants to stay home with her new daughter.  I totally respect and support her decision, but I am really bummed she won’t be my manager anymore. I really love working with her!

Happily, the person who is taking over as my manager is a co-worker that I admire. Her name is Tracy, and she is officially my boss on Monday.  My old manager and new manager are in the picture; Heidi is on the left, and Tracy is on the right.  I should clarify that by “old” I mean former, not aged.

Tracy and Heidi have done a great job with the transition. They even met with me in person to talk about performance reviews, and where I want to go over the next year. Performance reviews at my company are coming up soon, so it would be pretty awkward for Tracy to have to do my review with no input from Heidi. The review would say something like, “well, she has worked for me for three days, but she hasn’t complained so far.  On the other hand, she hasn’t trained one class, or produced any work product either… huh, maybe she sucks.” Thank goodness for a smooth and well thought out hand off!

On a related note, the position I had prior to joining my current team was eliminated.  Yikes! Now, did they eliminate the job because that position had no work to do?  No!  They just assumed that my group would absorb the work.   Some nerve.  Not to mention, they did not even tell my boss’s boss! I feel no need to be included in high level business decisions.   I would just as soon be left out conversations that include words like “work flow”, “action item”, and “full time equivalent”, but I feel that someone whose title includes the words “director of training” (my boss’s boss, for example) ought to know about an entire training group being dissolved, and the work load coming our way.  Call me crazy!  Anyway, thanks to some quick thinking on the part of the people in my old position, and clever management on the part of my boss’s boss, today we interviewed some of that group for positions within my team. Yeah! I am happy because this could mean a training partner in Austin.

I am feeling grateful about the fact that I am in North Carolina for all of the changes, transitions, and interviews.  It was not planned, but it worked out well in the end.   I do have to say, I am out of practice with the travel.  Used to be a two week trip was a piece of cake, but it has been hard, and I am ready to go home. Tomorrow evening I fly back to Austin.

Drive to Durham

Today I drove from Wilmington, NC to Durham, NC. I always stay in a hotel in Durham. My co-workers usually stay at hotels near the airport. There are lots of fast food restaurants and business parks. It is not very friendly or welcoming. A few years ago, when I was spending every other week in this part of North Carolina, I discovered that there is a DoubleTree Hotel about a ten minute drive from my office. It is in more of a neighborhood, and not to far from a major shopping center that has good restaurants and stores like Target and CVS.

Anyway, I made the drive from Wilmington to my hotel in Durham on I-40. The drive is not too far by Texas standards. It is about the same as driving from downtown San Antonio to North Austin. The major difference is that there are no access roads on I-40. None! You would never know what businesses are at each exit if it were not for the blue signs that list out the gas stations, hotels, and restaurants. This lack of access roads makes it tough if you want to stop, but it also means that the scenery is much nicer! The road is lined with huge trees. The leaves are all turning right now. Don’t ask how I got it, but here is a picture of the drive.

Relaxing Saturday

I decided to take it easy, and have a relaxing Saturday.  I slept in a little bit.  I worked on my knitting project.

At lunch time, I met Farrah at Brasserie du Soleil.  We were both craving the same thing: Brasserie Burgers – small burgers (my mom used to call them “mighty bites”) – with roasted tomatoes, carmelized onion and gruyere.  We also got macaroni and cheese. 

After lunch we went shopping at Belk.  Fun for me because we don’t have this store in Austin.  I spent the rest of the afternoon giving myself a pedicure and manicure.  I tried to go to the movies, but there was nothing I really wanted to see showing at the theatre.  So I spent some more time knitting.

Happy Hour – or Happy Day?

Hapy Hour is actually illegal in North Carolina.  You heard me.  There is no such thing as happy hour.  The state government of North Carolina, in their wisdom, has decided that having drink specials at certain hours causes people to drink too much too fast.  Restaurants and bars can have daily drink specials, but not happy hour specials.

One of my favorite places to go for “not happy hour” in Wilmington is the Cafe Phoenix.  First of all, they have a cool name, and a cool logo.  Secondly, they have half price wine all day Thursday, by the bottle or by the glass.  Whenever I am in Wilmington on a Thursday, Nicole and I try to go over and take advantage of this quirk of North Carolina law.

Nicole and Shelley and I spent a few hours yesterday evening enjoying the groovy atmosphere, watching the pedestrians on Front Street, drinking wine, and eating appetizers.  We thought the appetizers were half off as well; it turned out they were not, but they tasted great anyway!