Baltimore. I flew Southwest for the first time, and it wasn't all that bad. Granted, it was only an hour-long flight, but the only thing missing for a longer flight would be TV screens for a movie. For the flight to Baltimore, I checked in 24 hours in advance online, and got boarding group A, which apparently is very coveted. I scored a window seat towards the front of the plane. On the return flight, however, I did not check in until a few hours before the flight and got group B. This meant I was "stuck" in a middle seat, but once again, it was only for 60 minutes.
As for security, it did not seem any different to me. There were signs telling you about the newly prohibited items, but the lines were not longer than usual. I made sure to remove anything that could be considered a gel- or lotion-like substance from my purse (hand cream, Advil liqui-gels) but no one looked in my bag. I find it difficult to believe that an xray view of my purse would have revealed a tiny bottle of lotion, although perhaps it would have. (I'm going to conduct an experiment when I fly to Philadelphia tomorrow...) Plus, they sell all sorts of banned items in the shops beyond security, but there was no bag check before boarding the plane. They verbally announced that everyone should throw away beverages, etc., but I could have had a bottle of water in my purse and no one would have been the wiser. I suppose that the rationale behind this could be that since I bought it at the airport, it is safe, but then why bother announcing to everyone to throw their recently purchased liquids away? It all seems very inconsistent to me.
The trainings went well in Maryland. There were two sessions, and the second was better than the first because by then I knew what they wanted me to focus on. I was complimented by the district's director of communications--he said I am an excellent trainer, which was very nice to hear. He, in turn, was a very pleasant man to deal with, offering to help me at every step, be it with photocopying extra manuals, passing out materials, etc.
I think you can tell a lot about a school or a district by how these kinds of trainings go. Some places they laugh at my lame jokes ("There is a fine line between informing parents an annoying them" and "Never hit the back button in your browser when scheduling a call, because it will confuse the wizard, and we never want to confuse the wizard") while other groups just stare at me blankly. Some look at me attentively and nod and smile while I'm talking, and some, again, stare at me blankly. Phone trainings can be even worse when there's no affirmation from the folks on the other end of the line that they're getting it. ("See the button on the left called Options? Go ahead and click on that for me, okay?" -waiting- "When you click it you'll see a link at the top and a form at the bottom? -silence- "Did you click on it?") It sounds like you're babying them, but if you don't make sure, they will invariably fall behind and I'll be telling them about the the last thing on the page and they haven't even clicked on Options yet!
Anyway, back to Maryland. The school was in a very nice area, a suburb about 30 minutes north of Baltimore. It reminded me a lot of Apex. There was an old-timey downtown street with little shops, then lots of big, newer shopping centers, and tons of new housing being built. I didn't feel like venturing into the city or trying to find the coast. Crab cakes just aren't that alluring to me!
Weekend. It was my sister-in-law's birthday on Thursday so she and my brother came down with the kids to my parents' house for the weekend. I was supposed to have Direct TV installed between 8-12 Saturday morning, but at 7:40 I got a call from the installation guy saying that he wasn't going to be able to make it until 5 pm or later, because he had all these other "big jobs" two hours away. Since I had a previous commitment, I had to reschedule. Don't think I did this happily. I hope this does not bode poorly for Direct TV's service...although I suppose they should get points for calling ahead of time to let me know. But now I have to wait a whole other week to find out if I can escape the hell that is Mediaworks. Alas, I will probably end up keeping them for internet, though. They recently reduced the price to $39.95 (I know, unheard of!!) and I finally called Bell South and confirmed that I do indeed have to get a land line phone if I want DSL. I was told the cheapest phone package, including taxes and fees, runs about $25, and the DSL I would want (1.5 mbps) is $32.95 (one step down is $24.95 but only 256k), so I'm looking at a bill of $60 as opposed to $40. Granted, it would probably be a faster connection, and I'd get a landline phone out of the deal, but is it worth the extra 20 bucks a month? The internet has been running faster lately, so I'll probably stick with what I've got even though it's Mediasucks.
So I headed over to my parents' house on Saturday afternoon and got to see my nieces and nephew for the first time in a while. Cassidy is walking like a pro now, and she's talking too! Not to mention the mouth full of teeth she has! She still looks like a little baby, though, I think because her hair is so pale and fine. Here she is after enjoying a dinner of ravioli and green beans. She is quite the hambone, as my mother would say, when it comes to posing for the camera:
And she does this really cute "smooshed" face that is so adorable:
Our intentions were to have dinner at the Olive Garden on Saturday night, but the one in Cary was closed due to the water problems (they found e. coli in a water test and insituted a boil-water order city-wide). Consequently, the wait at the Raleigh location was very long, not to mention an hour's drive away. So we decided to go for an early dinner at the one in Greensboro the next day, since it's on the way home for my brother and his family. So I met them all at the restaurant and got to feed Cassidy. She really liked my noodles! She tried her best at my dad's beef but her little teeth couldn't quite grind it enough to swallow it.
Weird dreams. I had a bizarre bunch of dreams last night. One involved snakes, which I think was prompted by the cicadas outside my apartment, which kind of sound like rattlers. Another involved me "accidentally" becoming addicted to...wait for it...heroin. If you know me, you know how preposterous that is, but in my dream I just kind of fell into it, and didn't really think about it until at one point it dawned on me and I thought to myself, "Uh oh, I wonder if I'm addicted already. Oh well, at least now I'll have the glory of kicking the habit." Because it's true, those who hit bottom are esteemed for recovering, while those of us who maintain equilibrium just mosey along unnoticed. Not that I'm looking for attention or anything! Seriously! Don't think this is some sort of cry for help. I always have really weird dreams. Like the one where I was in a gimassive cave and there were bats flying around at the top and I was making photocopies. Analyze THAT, Freud!