Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Panama & Work

My days were spent hiking and exploring Panama, because the nights were taken over by a trade show my company was taking part in.

We had no idea the show hours were at night, but I was really grateful for it. it gave me daylight to explore. They do the shows at night because they want people to be able to attend after their work shift.

We arrived Tuesday. A co-worker had already been there since Sunday setting the booth up mainly by himself. He's the man.

Wednesday he and I walked from the hotel in the a.m. to meet a customer down the road from the hotel who had just decided to buy equipment from us. Yay. We then cabbed it over to the convention center, where I helped put the finishing touches (hanging things up, moving catalogs, arranging a table). We were there from around 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. Very tired.

Day 1

Day 2: The show's hours were 3:00 - 9:30 p.m.

David and I pose in front of a ginormous wheel of some truck being displayed by another company.

Scene from the show.

On Day 1, I wore nice shoes. Day 2? Sneakers. 12 hours standing up the previous day had done a number on my feet.

The show was PACKED. We were in a separate hall from the main one, and I think the AC was broken. It was HOT. At one point, I did a spazzy freak-out dance because something slid down my shirt front and down my chest. What was it? Sweat. LOL

On our way in to the convention center on Day 1, we noticed this above. This is our equipment being used by one of our customers whom we sold the equipment to, on the building directly in front of the convention center. Hello? What LUCK!! My co-worker called up the customer and Boom....

...they let us hang a banner. What GREAT advertising! We actually had customers find our booth and say "We saw your stage outside and decided to drop by." Very cool!

Our nights were usually long and we got into the (bad) habit of eating late. Here we are eating dinner around 10:30 p.m. in an outdoor cafe. We stopped the late eating on day 3 and 4, choosing to grab quick meals inside the convention center itself.

We had Wi-Fi inside and I was able to create quotes for customers as they stood there asking for them. I can imagine their surprise when the got into their e-mails the following mornings to see quotes already in their in-boxes. :) All in all, for being our first time there, the show was a success.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Letterboxing in Panama

While we hiked the forest in Panama City, we also went letterboxing. Yep, people have planted boxes in Panama. There were three of Ryan's boxes located in the park.

The first box was actually out in the open, behind the tree it was supposed to be hidden under. It had not been found since 2005, so I'm pretty sure it was just time and animals that moved it from its spot.

Once we opened it, we found this:

Mushy pulp. So long, logbook. We did not come prepared with any new baggies or log books. Sorry Ryan. I used my water bottle to clean off the stamp, and placed the stamp into the tuppy container, after David cleaned it out. We disposed of the baggie and its mushy contents.

Box # 2 was fine as well. I did not get a picture of it. The log book (roll of paper, actually) was slightly damp. We blotted it with a towel

Box # 3, below, was fine as well. I think this one had been found this February or so by another 'boxer. Again, it was damp, and David wiped the log book and inside with his towel.

It's very exciting to have found boxes in another country. :)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Meanwhile, Back in Florida

While we were in Panama, the kids were being watched by David's mom. She drove and picked up Isabel from school, made their meals and went grocery shopping.

They also planted new flowers in our back yard. Grandma Tricia brought with her for Isabel some kid gardening tools. They went to Wal-Mart for flowers and planted some beautiful ones.

Isabel also did a lot of drawing. She is quite the artist. Look at this one. Click to "enbiggen." (I so love that ridiculous word.)

Do you get it? Isabel Mrs. Mommy and Daddy. Well, Mrs. is pronounced 'Misses', right? So there. I LOVE it.

On the left is Jake. Notice he is in black, as usual. Also notice that he is bawling because he misses us so much. Next up is my mother-in-law, Tricia, complete with her glasses and earrings that Isabel admired when she arrived. Then we have Isabel, who although she "Mrs." us, is not bawling like her big brother. The clouds are sad though. That's nice.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Gut-Wrenching Buffy Moment

All the voting going on over at Buffyfest reminded me of a poll I created back in 2003. Back in the day, I was a member of a Delphi forum. At its height, while Buffy and Angel were still on, it was the #1 entertainment forum on Delphi. Good times. I was one of the mods on the board.

I had a poll in July 2, 2003. I've copied it over here. It is on the top of the blog up there. *pointing up* Just cause it's fun and I remember all the conversations we had about it. (It's a dead forum now. R.I.P.)
Cast a vote on the top of my blog.

Also, here's a screen shot of the poll results, from 6 years ago. Click to make it bigger.

(The poll is acting wonky. I had to hit refresh 3 times for it to show up).

Oh, & watch "Dollhouse!"

New Camera!!

My birthday present arrived (a day late). It's a Nikon D3000. Whoot!
I'll be back later when the battery is done charging and I've read the manual. Whoot!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Forest within the City

Welcome to El Parque Natural Metropolitano de Panama. A tropical forest located within the city of Panama, this park is minutes away from downtown and yet feels like you're in a totally remote area once you're well in it.

Since my mornings were free, with the trade show being at night, David and I took a cab to the park and began the hike along its trails. Click on the map below to see the trails. We did them all.

We were really hoping to see some sloths or tamarins (David saw the little monkey-like creatures a couple of days before, when he came here on his own while I was working). Alas (earwax), we did not see any on this trip. Insert pout here.

Find the frog!

Everywhere we looked, hardworking ants formed lines that went as far as the eye could see.

At the summit of the Cienequita trail, you can look out over the city.

On our way back down, we encountered this. Click in it to make it bigger. It's a hummingbird. This little guy was right in front of us, buzzing around, but cheap camera could not keep up.

We saw many pretty butterflies

and crazy termite mounds on the trees.

Let me leave you with a couple of videos. This first one is of a group of ants hard at work. The second is just us, walking quietly, so you can hear the birds and the silence of the forest within the city.

Happy Birthday to Me

Happy Bday to Me

Now, who is going to make me a cake?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Exploring the City; Panama City

Panama City is very crowded, so they keep building up instead of out. They've only got so much room to work with.

Everywhere we looked, there was a building going up.

Eeeep! Hand-pump hoists! What a pain!

Up, Up & Away!

These two pictures above are views of the city as we walked around. We're under some sidewalk protection scaffolding, under yet another building being constructed.

Public transportation consists of school buses, like the colorful one above, that stop every 5 seconds to let someone on, and tons of really cheap cabs! Really cheap. Don't just take the cab at your hotel. Those cab drivers have to pay higher insurance and taxes to the government for the right to park in front of the hotels and serve tourists. They pass these costs on to you.

Case in point: David and I wanted to go to one of the older parts of town, Casco Viejo. While sipping coffee on the bench outside the lobby, we asked the hotel-stationed cab drivers how much it would cost to take us there. Ten dollars, one says. But by this time, we already knew the tricks of the trade (meaning, David got charged a $30 cab ride once when the guy "changed his mind" after quoting him $20.) We politely declined and walked 4 blocks to one of the main roads heading in the direction we wanted to go. We hailed a cab from the street to take us to Casco Viejo. Total trip fee? $2.00.

We saw various funny named shops, for instance this Snob Shop. What the heck do they sell? I have no clue.

There's a lot of honking going on in the streets. Not angry honking. Just "Hey, I'm passing you on your right" honking. Or, "Don't try to come in my lane cause I'm speeding up honking." It was quite bizarre. All the cab drivers we used honked often, yet were never angry or yelling at the person they honked at. And they drive kind of crazy.

Crazy how, you ask? Oh man. You have NO clue how tame we Americans drive compared to Panamanians. There are hardly any traffic lights. People just...go. Including pedestrians! It's a timing thing. Like choreographed madness. I called it a ballet of metal and rust. Cars pass through intersections almost colliding, but not doing so because they're timing their drive through the intersection based on someone else's speed going across their path. No one hesitates, they just know how fast they need to go to clear the person going through the intersection at the same time. The cars also stop for random pedestrians who decide to brave the crossing the streets, and the drivers don't get mad. It's just the way it is. Just crazy, yet in my 6 days there, I saw two accidents. One bus vs. car both merging into the same lane and one motorcycle hitting the tail of a truck that went through an intersection and paused.

The city reminded me, in some places, of Puerto Rico, except with way more high rises and crazier drivers.

Emmy for Joss

See?? I miss all the good stuff when I'm in foreign countries! Thank Heaven for the intranet!

Congratulations Joss and Mutant Enemy on your Emmy win!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Whedonverse Does Panama

(click picture to make bigger)

Do you think that Maxim and Charisma Carpenter know her picture is being used as an ad for a Gentleman's Club in Panama?

Click here for the Original Picture. (pssst - Butt Cleavage in the original. Just sayin.' In case you have kids around or whatever).

Is it weird that I knew exactly who this was when I thumbed through the newspaper? :)

Panama City, Panama 2009

We're back!! There's SO much to tell! Six days in Panama, mostly for work. I'm breaking my "No Talking About Work" rule.

First, thank you to my mother-in-law Tricia, who came down to spend the week with the kids. Jake and Isabel loved having her here. So THANK YOU TRICIA.

We flew from Orlando to Miami, and Miami to Panama. A nice, uneventful flight, and most importantly, I got my first-ever passport stamp. :0
Happy 7th Anniversary to us on 9/15/09.

In Panama, we were greeted by Samuel, a Panamanian taxi driver We (capital "We" means the company) hired to take Us (the company "Us") to and from the airport, restaurants and the convention center. We were there for a Panamanian Trade show, where We would have a booth manned by the Spanish-speaking contingent of the company.

View of Panama City as we drove in from the airport

We arrived at the Four Points Sheraton. Talk about a fantastic staff. By the end of day 1, the staff knew all Our names, room numbers, etc. Terrific place.
View off the elevators from our floor.

View from our room.

Hello David!

Another view of the city from our room.

We walked around when we arrived, finding a Sushi Express for lunch/dinner. I know. Random. Sushi in Panama?? :) We're weird. It was inexpensive and quick.
We met up with other co-workers later in the evening and had coffee while they had their dinner at the hotel. Our first night in Panama was at an end.

Monday, September 14, 2009

One Thing After Another

Isabel's weekend was BAD. Bad, bad, bad.

1. She cracked a tooth that was already dead. A baby tooth. This happened of course on Saturday morning at 8 a.m, when no dental offices are open. She ate all of 3/4 of a Pop Tart (that caused the crack) and a "Dora" yogurt, before things got worse.

2. While David washed the vehicles, she stepped, barefoot, into an ant pile. She did not realize it until they were all around both feet and ankles, and they started biting. After David hosed her off, he sent her in, soaking wet and crying. I carried her up to my bath tub, undressed and washed her legs, applied ointment and gave her a chewable Children's Benadryl, to help with the itchy bites. This pill I had to cut with my teeth and then feed to her piece by piece. She could not bite with the front teeth. I dressed her in pj's, although it as only mid afternoon, and put her to bed for a nap. A nap that she didn't even complain about.

3. When she woke up from her nap, hurling happened. We think the lack of food plus the Children's Benadryl caused the reaction. there was nothing *in* her stomach to vomit, so it was this clear, mucous. She and I hung out watching "My Neighbor Totoro" and we eventually slept together that evening in the "mattress room." It's an empty spare bedroom with misc. toys, book shelves, a tv, dvd player and a mattress on the floor. Since her bed is so high, I wanted her closer to the floor and the trash can. Six times that evening we both woke so she could vomit the clear bile into the can. Poor sweet heart!!

4. Sunday, she awoke with a ferocious appetite, which we had to abate slowly, with soft foods eaten with her back teeth; oatmeal, bread, pancakes for lunch/early dinner, lots of juices and milk. she ran a low-grade fever all day, but managed to keep all her food down.

I am too tired to go into what happened today with dentists and oral surgeons.

We leave tomorrow for Panama. David's mom has all the authorization forms needed to provide medical care for the kids. Keep us in your thoughts as we travel, and my MIL and kids as they stay here this week.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Getting Ready

Hello on this drizzling Saturday afternoon. David was cleaning the cars but only got as far as vacuuming the insides of both before the rain started.

I am doing several things. I baked two 8" cakes last night and made homemade raspberry filling. This morning, I made a batch of Marshmallow Fondant, sliced, filled and iced the cakes into one larger 8" cake. It's in the fridge right now waiting for me to proceed with it later. I'm making a cake for my boss and his wife, but more on that later, on my cake blog.

Panama America Pictures, Images and Photos

We are currently getting ready for our trip to Panama. I also did 4 loads of laundry The trip is for me, for work. Since I will be getting my own room (only female in the Spanish-speaking group going), I wondered if it would be ok for David to come if we pay for his flight and expenses. Sure thing, said both my immediate superiors.

David's mom will be coming down from GA/TN area to stay with the kids. Schedules printed, authorization forms signed and notarized, insurance cards copied and we are almost ready for her. Currently I am cleaning both the upstairs full baths (taking a break to type this because I HATE cleaning bathrooms.)

Then today, Iz's tooth goes "crack" and we have an ordeal with trying to get a hold of my wonderful dentist and the boys' not-so-wonderful dentist. (I go to a place near my work, because it's convenient for me to go on my lunch breaks, while Jake and David go to one near home.) Iz has been to mine once. I paged him, he immediately called back and after I explained what happened, he apologized. He was 4 hours away at a convention, but had he been home, he would have met us at his office this morning. He assured me that if we walk in on Monday morning without an appointment, he would get us right in. The boys' dentist called 2 hours after my page, and although he's in town, he said he normally does not see kids until they come in for a prelim visit to see if they can "behave." Nice. Both David and Jake want to come to my dentist, but it's usually a logistical mess, with two school schedules, the dentist being 35-40 minutes away, etc. I think we'll still attempt it. Their dentist stinks.

But I digress.

Back to Panama.

Yay. Excited and nervous. Beside Puerto Rico and one night crossing the border to go to a bar with coworkers from San Francisco into Mexico, I have never been out of the U.S. and I am a nervous Nellie. I will only have one non-working day in the city to do "stuff" so we're hoping to get some of Ryan's letterboxes and see the Panama Canal on that day.

Panama America Pictures, Images and Photos

Well, back to the toilets. By the way, boys are GROSS.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I'm Getting Old

My body's just breaking down the older I get, apparently.

About 3 months ago, my right knew started to hurt. Again. It's all totally my fault. At the age of 18 or 19, I was a work-out fiend. I would work out 6-7 days a week. High impact aerobics. Even with my knees hurting, I'd work out.

I'm paying for my youthful stupidity now. It comes and goes, the knee pains. I even went to physical therapy about 5 years ago for the right knee. I could not get my leg flat on the floor or in bed no matter how long I tried. The therapy worked.

The knee pains come in cycles. I really have not noticed why or at what intervals. They just hurt and then they don't.

So, 3 months ago, pain. I stopped working out for a month. NOT good. Ugh. Then I started back up again, but last week Wednesday, *pop.* My right knee gave a ping of pain 45 minutes into an hour workout.

Here I am, a week and a half later. I've started dieting again. Normally I eat whatever I want, and work out to maintain. Since I can't work out, I'm having to diet. I hate to diet, but there it is. This Tuesday, I took a 45 minute brisk walk with the kids (Isabel in a stroller because she cannot keep up, and she stops to pick up every yellow weed "flower" and dandelion around). Yesterday, I did a quick 35 minute work-out, wearing a knee brace. I only had a few awkward moments while wearing the brace, but did fine. Today? Shin splint. I'm telling you, I am falling apart.

Tonight, the kids and I will walk the 1.8 miles to Jake's Open House and the 1.8 miles back. I need all the exercise I can get. I need to NOT diet.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Animal Farm

George Orwell's "Animal Farm" is on pretty much every high school student's reading list. It was on mine, and now it's on Jake's. Not really remembering much of it (Swiss-cheese memory in the # 1 reason for my blog posts; so I can remember things), I decided to read it after Jacob did.

animal farm Pictures, Images and Photos

The book was Orwell's snub at Joseph Stalin, Soviet Union leader from 1941 to 1953. It deals with a farm where the animals revolt against the human farmer. They take over the land and start tending to it on their own. They start out with good intentions of all of them being equal, but as time progresses, the pigs (the smartest of the lot) keep imposing their own agenda, always saying it is best for the farm, when in reality, it just improves the pigs' lot.

It's sly, how slowly and sneakily the pigs work to twist things around. And it's sad how the rest of the population just goes along with it. No one questions it. They're all wiling "sheep." Well, almost. Some object, but those who do suddenly get branded as evil and get chased away, or worse, get killed.

Everyone is so busy following rules for their own good, they can no longer remember what it was like before the revolt. In reality, all the other animals are in a worse state than before they revolted against the humans, and sadly they can no longer tell the pigs apart from the humans anymore.

A lot to think about.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Friday, September 4, 2009

Buffy Episode Tournament

Hey, Buffyfest is having a Buffy Episode Tournament!

Are you a true diehard fan? Go vote for your favorite episodes until there is just ONE! The Chosen one.

Vote for Round 1a

A to Zee Pictures, Images and Photos