jcollie719: (Jerzei head)
Bucktown Tiger visited Colorado this week. I had dinner with him and his wife Thursday at the Ritz Grill. I hadn't seen Bucktown in person since Furry Fiesta 2015.

My mini-vacation with the cruise reunion group in Denver began Friday afternoon. I checked into the Magnolia Hotel around 1 PM. I had bought a portable DVR to record some of the programs on the stations I can't get in Colorado Springs. The hotel has WiFi, but my room doesn't have an Ethernet connection, which the DVR requires. I didn't know my room had both a refrigerator and a microwave. I had bought a couple of meals for work which don't require refrigeration. Last night, I walked to dinner at a rooftop restaurant and bar. I had already eaten dinner at my dad's house, so I just got a plate of sweet potato fries and a few chocolate martinis. Walking back to the hotel, I bought two bottles of water at 7-Eleven, both for me and my APAP.

This afternoon, I'll go with the reunion group to the Mile High Wine Fest, followed by dinner at the Thirsty Lion. I was greeted at work by the smell of burnt coffee. The Friday evening DJ forgot to turn off the coffee pot before leaving.
jcollie719: (Jamie pawpet)
I may not like the taste, but I'll suck it up. (That's what SHE said!)

Last night, I added a small amount of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water to help me with a medical issue (lipomas.) I managed to drink about 3/4 of the glass. It seems to have worked as the lipoma under my right arm is almost gone.

I was able to add another night to my hotel stay in Denver for this weekend. I'm hoping I won't have to change rooms on Sunday. If I do, I'll check out Sunday morning before driving to work, then check in again after the afternoon barbecue. I will shop today for a couple of items I need for the trip.
jcollie719: (Default)
I booked my hotel room yesterday for Furry Fiesta 2018, and booked a room today for the Denver cruise reunion. I will ask a co-worker at KRCC if he can come in at noon on the Saturday and Sunday of the reunion. This way, I'll only need to make up five hours of lost time during the next KRCC membership drive in October. Working an additional 17 hours during the drive will make up for missing work during Furry Fiesta. The Denver hotel only had rooms available for July 7-9. If I'm unable to get a room for an additional day, I will need to find someone else with bed space for Sunday night or check out around 4 AM Sunday since I will be working until the noon check-out time.
jcollie719: (Default)
My state tax refund arrived in the mail today.

2017 GOALS
RMFC
Weight below 280
Second vacation (BLFC or DC singles reunion)
 
I accomplished the last goal last month with the DC reunion. In place of RMFC, I will attend another cruise reunion in Denver in just over a month.
jcollie719: (Jamie pawpet)
My federal tax refund will be deposited into my account on Wednesday.

One of the upsides to gaining weight on vacation is that I usually lose it again fairly quickly. My weight the night before the trip was 313, and I weighed 324 when I got home. A week later, I'm down to 317.

The July cruise reunion in Denver will be much easier and more affordable for me. Depending on which activities are added to the schedule, I will likely only book a room at the hotel for Saturday and Sunday nights. The preliminary schedule shows the group will mainly do sightseeing during the day and have dinner and drinks at night. I could just drive to Denver and back on Thursday and Friday nights, then check into the hotel after work on Saturday. I will ask the announcer who follows my shift if he can come in at 11:30 or noon on that Sunday so I can attend a barbecue hosted at a cruiser's house in Colorado Springs.
jcollie719: (Jamie pawpet)
 My Washington, DC vacation started out a bit shaky but quickly got much better. Since my tax refund -- around which I budgeted my trip -- won't arrive until next month, I applied for a $1,500 loan through the Lending Tree website in the week before the trip. A local branch of One Main Financial completed the loan and said the money would be in my account on Thursday, the day I flew out to Washington. My mood was dampened a little Thursday morning when I got an e-mail from Lending Tree saying the loan wasn't approved. I greatly reduced my spending that day, then got an e-mail that night from One Main saying the loan actually was approved and the money was in my account!

THURSDAY
My first flight from Colorado Springs to Chicago was very peaceful because no kids were on it. I had a cup of orange juice and a stroopwafel on the flight, then got a tomato and mozzarella sandwich and a bottle of water during the layover in Chicago. There was a kid on the flight from Chicago to DC, but it didn't make a lot of noise.

The singles group went to Whitlow's restaurant in Arlington for dinner Thursday night. I had a barbecue bacon cheeseburger, chocolate cake for dessert and a rum-and-coke. Instead of separate checks for each person, the restaurant gave checks to each table of 5-6 people. I didn't have any cash on me at that point. The bill for the table was $120; the others at the table offered to reimburse me if I paid for the table with my credit card. I figured this would still leave me with enough money left on the card for the hotel and one or two nights of dining, along with cash in my wallet (This was a few hours before I learned my loan was approved.)

Taking the subway back to the hotel, I thought the train's announcer was beatboxing and calling himself "Willie Rest-In-Peace." Looking at the signs, I realized he was saying the train was headed toward the "Wiehle-Reston East" station and the "beatboxing" was just the announcer clumsily putting the microphone in its holder.

FRIDAY
The day started with a group tour of the Capitol building. There was nothing really going on since Congress wasn't meeting at the time. The group had lunch in one of the Dirksen Senate Building's cafes (I had chicken and fries.) A member of our group took us on a tour of the Senate's TV and radio studios.

The group went to Chadwick's bar before the dinner cruise. The cruise went up and down the Potomac river. I had the parmesan chicken for dinner. After the cruise, the group took an Uber ride to the Crystal City Sports Pub near the hotel. The pub was too crowded, so the group went down the street to Bar Louie instead. I had a couple of s'mores martinis.

SATURDAY
I wasn't able to sign up in time for the White House tour (The deadline had passed before I committed to go on this vacation.) I was told the group would meet at Arlington Cemetery for a bus tour at 1 PM. I took the subway and got there by about 12:50. I waited inside the visitors center and asked the group on Facebook when/where the group was supposed to meet. When I didn't get a response by 2:00, I headed back to the hotel.

That night, the group had a few drinks in the hotel bar, then headed down the street to Ted's Montana Grill for dinner. I had a "Red Rock" bison burger and some "Mountain Breeze" martinis (no relation to the Mountain Dew knockoff from Safeway.)

I got back to the hotel around 10 PM, then played some of the games on Steelwoulfe's Jackbox stream for a couple of hours.

SUNDAY
The group had a brunch buffet at the Crystal City Sports Pub. I got some andouille sausage with peppers and onions, some biscuits with chipped beef, and a mimosa. My ankles had blisters from all of the walking I'd done so far. I decided to just have two of the instant pasta cups I packed for lunch, then had dinner later in the hotel's restaurant. I couldn't stay up to listen to all of Doggy Radio because I needed to get some sleep before my flights.

MONDAY
United Airlines had given me two one-time passes to their "United Club" lounges for this trip. I had a two-hour wait at both DC and Chicago's airports, so I visited the lounges at both locations. I had a light snack at each location, along with coffee in Chicago. My flight from Chicago to Colorado Springs left about 40 minutes late. There was a loud kid a couple rows in front of me on this flight. I had eaten an edible before the flight, so I was thankfully relaxed and unaffected by the kid. The flight wasn't too far behind schedule, arriving 10-15 minutes late.

I thought I had lost weight during the vacation due to all the walking I did because the planes' seat belts fit comfortably on all of the flights. When I got home, I saw I had gained 11 pounds. I don't know if I have less body fat than before or United recently installed longer seat belts. I've had to request seat belt extensions on many of my past United flights, but none this time.

Another cruise reunion is scheduled for July in Denver. That will be much easier and cheaper for me.
jcollie719: (Jamie pawpet)
The weather in Washington, DC will be much nicer for this weekend's vacation. Both the high and low temperatures will be 20-40 degrees higher than Colorado Springs. 

I will bring my U.S. passport with me on vacation just in case my temporary driver's license isn't accepted by the TSA (or if my new license doesn't arrive tomorrow.) I think I've ironed out all the kinks in my vacation plans.
jcollie719: (Tiger Jump)
First the Colorado Department of Revenue needs more information for my state tax refund. Today, a similar letter from the IRS arrived regarding my federal refund. If this issue isn't resolved by next Thursday, I'll need to skimp a bit during my D.C. vacation. I've already planned to bring some instant oatmeal and a few snacks to reduce the food part of my budget. On a happier note, my boss at KRCC let me know he found two people to fill my shifts during vacation.

I had lunch with the international cuisine group today at China Village. There were a bunch of dishes that were tempting. I ordered the curry chicken lunch and a mai-tai.
jcollie719: (Tiger Jump)
My new driver's license hasn't arrived yet. Instead, the Department of Revenue envelope in Saturday's mail had a letter stating my tax refund is being held until they receive an Individual Credit Schedule form. The delay shouldn't affect my plans for the DC trip in less than two weeks since I'll still have enough money for the hotel and trip expenses.

A co-worker's wife gave me some leftovers to have for Easter dinner: turkey, gravy, stuffing, corn, biscuit and chocolate cake.

There was another "cube it" moment during my KRCC shift today. When answering a question about calculating the age of the universe, a show's guest used "cube it" in the equation. Hearing the phrase "cube it" always reminds me of Jim Ward quoting Bill Cosby's "Noah" bit on the Stephanie Miller Show: "RIIIIIGHT! What's a cubit? Vooka-vooka-vooka!"
jcollie719: (Craig Ferguson Ooooo)
I hope I'm able to find a substitute for my KRCC shifts during my upcoming vacation. The person listed as a part-time sub said he wasn't available that weekend. There are other part-time staff members, but I'm unsure which ones would be allowed to fill in for me.

I will soon be able to talk more on the air at KRCC. After the recent schedule change and partial switch to automation, Weekend Edition was the only program with breaks where I could talk. The station engineer said now that the automation system's kinks are mostly ironed out, he would insert 15- or 30-second breaks in the remaining programs so I could give a quick weather report, announce upcoming shows, etc.

Reading about the United passenger who was forcibly removed from a flight due to overbooking was disturbing. Four passengers were removed so four United employees could have their seats, according to news reports. When I began taking singles cruises in 2006, I signed up for Continental Airlines' frequent flyer program since they had the lowest-priced flights at the time. I was moved to the UnitedPlus program when Continental and United merged. I had flown American Airlines to last year's cruise in Grenada because United doesn't fly there. I had a better experience flying with American. Having a hub in Dallas is also a plus for Furry Fiesta. My flights to and from DC this month are on United (bought mostly with miles,) but I will likely use other airlines in the future until United improves.

I still haven't received my federal tax refund. My dad filed the return, so he said he would look into why it hasn't been deposited.
jcollie719: (JCollie Fursuit Head)
My boss at KRCC tried to contact me during my Toastmasters meeting earlier, looking for additional phone staff for the membership drive's final day.

I just saw an article about a proposed "Hyperloop" train which would serve various cities:
http://www.kktv.com/content/news/Colorado-proposal-among-finalists-for-Hyperloop-system-418587193.html

One of the planned routes would go from Cheyenne, WY to Houston, TX, with stops including Denver, Colorado Springs and Pueblo. I don't know if this route would stop in Dallas/Fort Worth, but there's another route linking DFW with Houston. This would be a nice system (if I'm still alive when it's completed) for traveling to Texas Furry Fiesta.

Just 20 days until my Washington, DC trip, and 124 days until Rocky Mountain Fur Con!
jcollie719: (American Flag)
This year's Spring membership drive at KRCC will be in early-April instead of late-April (actually starting on March 30th.) This means I will be able to attend the singles cruise reunion in Washington, DC at the end of April. I reserved a hotel room and booked the flights, using my frequent flyer miles to save money on the flights. I missed the deadline to get a spot on the group's White House tour, but there are other sites I'll be able to visit. I haven't been to DC since I was a teenager.
jcollie719: (I Haz A Sad)
Plans to attend my non-RMFC vacation in 2017 (TFF, BLFC or the singles cruise reunion) may have to be canceled if I don't find a new job before then. I could afford two vacations, but I wouldn't have enough money left over for emergencies or much else.

As soon as I actually put an effort into cleaning my condo, I'd like to eventually have my windows fixed or replaced. Another wasp was flying around behind the blinds of one window again. I'm assuming it flew out whatever opening it entered through since I don't hear it now nor see a dead wasp anywhere. Depression over eventually being unemployed, the vagueness of when my last work day will actually be, and my desire to find a new job/business and new home have zapped my motivation to do anything. I don't consider myself a hoarder, but I've been too lazy to throw out some of the boxes and bags in my condo.
jcollie719: (Panda Kigurumi)
I'm looking at the conventions/vacations I want to do in 2017 and seeing which ones I should attend or skip. I likely could only afford Rocky Mountain Fur Con and one other choice. A third option may open up if any Colorado furs could give me a ride to and/or share a room at Furry Fiesta or BLFC. I have plenty of frequent flyer miles saved up to pay for the airfare to one of the destinations.

March: Furry Fiesta
-- I've attended this con four times since 2010. The past two years allowed me to see several furry musicians live. TFF allowed me to meet many of my online friends in person when I first attended. The availability of food trucks and some restaurants within walking distance is excellent.

April: Singles Cruise reunion in Washington, DC
--I haven't been to DC since 1984. The singles group is debating whether to stay in a hotel in DC or the Virginia suburbs near a subway line. One of my brothers lives in Alexandria.

June: Biggest Little Fur Con
--This would be my first time at BLFC. All the positive feedback I've heard about the con and the resort hotel have made it tempting for me. The resort has lots of activities available like bowling and go-carts.

August: Rocky Mountain Fur Con
--RMFC is the only definite con on my list for 2017. It's only an hour's drive away for me. If worst comes to worst financially, I could share a hotel room to save money. Sharing a room with a handler would be good since my fursuit should be finished by then.
jcollie719: (Turtle Farm)
I got home from my vacation in Grenada last night. I felt like I had either a cold or bad allergy when I woke up today, but taking a Zyrtec and drinking lots of water seems to be reducing it.

I just weighed myself and found I gained about 15 pounds during the cruise. I didn't eat a lot of junk food during the cruise since this was a small working ship instead of a large cruise ship with lots of food options. I was hoping I had lost weight since a red shirt which had been a little tight on me fit comfortably during the trip.

FRIDAY, JULY 1
A woman from Pueblo going on the same vacation said hello to me at the Colorado Springs airport. Our assigned seats were across the aisle from each other during all three flights. While waiting for the first flight, we saw another passenger with a small dog named Bashful, though it sure didn't seem bashful! I had a breakfast quesadilla during the first layover in Dallas. When the second plane landed in Miami, it had to wait on the tarmac about 30 minutes since a plane with mechanical problems was stuck at the gate our plane was supposed to use. Another gate was found, and my cruise friend and I took a cart to the connecting gate. We landed in Grenada on time, but my friend and I discovered our suitcases were still in Miami.

The cruise group stayed at the Flamboyant Hotel. The hotel itself is spread out with dozens of buildings, and getting from one place to another requires taking flights of steep steps outside. The group met for dinner and drinks at the hotel's Owl Sports Bar.

The rest of the trip... )

RANDOM THOUGHTS DURING MY VACATION

I forgot to pack my name necklace for the singles cruise. The cruise director made me a new one. He had to make one with my last name since he didn't have an O to spell John.

If I do a trip like this again, remember to pack laundry soap and a change of clothes in my carry-on.

The streets on many of the islands remind me of San Francisco. Any unemployed mechanics could move to this area and make a good living repairing brakes and transmissions.

Each of the ship's cabins has an en-suite bathroom about the size of a walk-in closet. I could never get hot water through the sink or shower. Also the floor in the rest of the cabin is tile. "People are going to be stepping out of the shower with wet feet on a boat that's rocking. Let's put down slick tile for them. Not just any tile, but dark blue tile that won't reflect any light in the cabin."

The island tours were okay, but being in the back of a truck with occasional breezes is not the same as being in an air-conditioned vehicle.

PSA: If an out-of-shape person asks how far away something is, either give an estimate or say you don't know. An out-of-shape person's idea of "not very far" is a much shorter distance than someone in shape.

I had a slightly bothersome ear infection before and during the trip. Also, my hemorrhoids began bugging me halfway through the trip.

When asking myself if I wanted to do this cruise again, I thought I would only do it if it were a private charter like this trip was. Also, I'd definitely work harder to lose much more weight before then.
jcollie719: (Conan's Got Ducks)
PAY for Saturday, May 28th: 11 hours (9 AM-8 PM)
Sunday, May 29th: 8 hours (5 AM-1 PM)

My upcoming cruise vacation (35 more days) will take me away from work for two weekends, or 20 work hours. The midday announcer asked for a sub this weekend, so I offered. The extra shifts would cover 9 of the 20 hours.
jcollie719: (Ryan Headdesk)
I got the last two tax forms I needed in the mail yesterday.

I woke up to snow today. After a few days of warm weather and a warmer weekend in Texas, it's a bit of a downer. On top of that, it just had to snow on a day I need to be out and about. The warm weather will return for a bit next week.

While thinking about my upcoming vacations, I remembered I have plenty of frequent flyer miles saved up; I could save money on travel next year by using them.
jcollie719: (Collie Wink)
I was able to find work substitutes for next weekend.

Paying for all three of this year's vacations in advance has put a slight strain on my account. It should be able to gradually recover over the next few months. I'll be much more careful with vacation planning next year. I decided to splurge on a cruise later this year because I haven't taken one in 8 years, and this is a much smaller, private cruise (about 50 people) in an area of the Caribbean I haven't been before.
jcollie719: (Ryan Headdesk)
The reduced amount of daylight during Fall/Winter tends to lower my energy level. It's only 8:50 PM as I'm typing this, but it feels like it's after midnight. Thinking about next year's vacations in Dallas and Grenada makes me even more anxious about the winter.

I read articles on Facebook about presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson launching a campaign advertisement with a rap song. I was reminded of two Bloom County comic strips from 1988 in which Opus caused the enaction of a "rap ban treaty."


jcollie719: (tiger jump)
Coming home from a vacation is depressing enough, but catching up on financial issues is even worse. I'm going through a weekend of mail and picking out the bills that need to be paid.

At least this "First World Problem" will get another temporary reprieve in two weeks with RMFC.

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