Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Toilet paper on sale!

Toilet paper on sale!
Originally uploaded by rorytait.
You gotta go to Vancouver, though... but apparently that's all they sell.

Thanks to Anthony for letting me post the least-aesthetic photo in his Flickr collection. For real photography, check out his albums.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

We went flying today...

It always takes us a while to get out the door on the weekends (heck, during the week, too), so by the time we got to the plane, it was quite late in the afternoon. But I've since learned that I love night flying!

David wrote about our last flight in Multiply -- the barrel rolling and all that: The Silent Birdman... Nests

I don't think he mentioned night flying in that post, but it was our first time for me to fly after dark. Flying at night is a whole different experience, but no less beautiful, than flying during the day. In fact, I have a better layout of the valley because the lights of the city and residential areas are more noticeable. I get an idea of neighbourhood density, highways, hospitals, and various other points of interest... and non-interest -- like this chain of ENORMOUS service stations called Sheetz, decked out in red and yellow. They're like the McDonald's of gas stations!

Sunsets are gorgeous from the sky -- you have an unobstructed view, and atop the clouds, it's even more impressive.

David even pulled out a surprise barrel roll on me. We were in this gap in the clouds, and I thought he was banking hard to the left... next thing I knew, we were upside down! Whoa!! But I wasn't scared, it was more thrilling than startling. Woo-hoo!

The moon was extraordinarily bright; we saw it shine through the clouds from a great distance -- it was as if Manhattan was on fire!

I already have a Christmas tree!

Christmas tree
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

wedding kit
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

One of the mums in the Civil Air Patrol has *pun alert* taken me under her wing -- she's given me a wedding kit and a Christmas tree! I'm so chuffed! I'd like to take the tree on the plane, but I think it's a little large... that's too bad, because it will have to stay here while David and I are in Vancouver for Christmas. Oh well, I hope Hugh (the cat) enjoys it.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
I have to give Hugh his own journal entry. He's quite the character:

- about 14 years old (David says)
- is more like a dog: follows people around, underfoot
- will paw at you relentlessly when he's hungry (even if you're asleep)
- likes to play...

This cat makes me laugh. When either of us is lying down, the old bean insists on finding the highest point, then making himself comfortable right there, even if it means 17-lbs of cat weight on some paws digging into your ribcage. Bless 'im!

Monday, November 22, 2004

Mushy Self-portraits

Originally uploaded by AviatorDave.
David and I had a long-postponed photo session last night to take an engagement picture for the local paper.

For those who have seen the two of us together -- thus far a very select few -- it is clear that I'm not the mushy one between us, that would be David. Public displays of affection are just not me, although, this seems to apply only to other adults, not to small children. In Albany earlier this month, the other Orkuters couldn't even get a photo of us kissing -- and they really, really tried. David's even a bit worried that I won't kiss him at our wedding!!

So, here's a photo I took last night of a kiss. For the public. (It was taken in black and white, and David Photoshopped it a bit.) There are more photos in my Flickr albums, if you can stand it.

David and Me

Sunday, November 21, 2004

The Doorknocker, Unveiled

The Doorknocker I
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

The Doorknocker II
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

The Doorknocker III
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.


I'd mentioned in a previous journal entry that there's a ring that has stones we're using to make my engagement and our wedding rings. I didn't have a photo of it until today, only photos of David's grandmother's ring -- which is also very *bling* -- that I'm using as an engagement ring until the designed one is finished.

We went to the jeweller's today to see the designer together, as David's been too busy lately to consult with him until this weekend. It's a father-son team of designers; the father's been working with Bartikowsky's for 40 years, and his son is trained in CAD software to render the rings onscreen. David showed them the drawings he'd made and we discussed what we were looking for and showed him the two rings with the stones. Marc (the son) thought it would be a shame to break up the ring that I'm wearing as the engagement stand-in, but this ring has enough stones in it to supply the three rings David designed. The plan is for David to refine his drawings, send the electronic files directly over to them, they'll drop them into the CAD software, and then it's just a matter of fine-tuning from there. Because David is already supplying them with the design, they said it will be no problem having them done by Christmas. David will fly out to Seattle on December 24 (I'm flying back Dec 13th), and have the ring/s with him.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Gail and The City

I'm still recovering from the hectic, frenetic pace of the last week and a half or so... It culminated on Tuesday, when I went to Manhattan for Paperloop's 12th Annual Global Outlook Conference. Both Ross and Kevin were asked to speak, so I'd spent last week in Vancouver preparing the speeches and working on our big monthly report.

I make it a point to not talk about work on my blog, but I thought I'd make an exception this time.

Paperloop's 12th Annual Global Outlook Conference, Roosevelt Hotel

Ross presenting.

Kevin presenting.

Originally, only Ross was speaking, but the Paperloop people asked Kevin to speak about a week and a half before, so I had to work on two presentations. This wasn't such a big deal, since Kevin's speech was a modified version of one he'd given in Portland to another association a couple of months ago, but with the monthly report looming in the foreground, this was still a lot of work!!

I wanted to take the opportunity to attend this conference so I can see my work up on the big screen. (I have never seen, in more than 6 years, either Ross or Kevin present at a conference, not even in Vancouver!) I wanted to check out the colours, fonts, transitions, which graph styles worked best, and to compare them with other presentations. I might sound biased, but even the IT guy backed me up on it: most of the other presentations had FAR too much data and were difficult to read. You would think, after years and years of electronic presentations (and, before those, years and years of presentations using overhead projectors) that people would learn that there is such a thing as too much on a slide. Especially in a room this large!

As you can see here, I was on the main floor at the back of the room for Kevin's presentation in the morning, and went upstairs to the balcony to view Ross' presentation in the afternoon.

To get to Manhattan for Kevin's speech shortly after 9am, I had to catch a bus at -- eek! -- 5:35am from Scranton. I couldn't believe that people do this every day. I brought along my iPod, DVDs, and other things to amuse myself for the 2.5 hour journey, but I'd imagine most people try to sleep.

It's easy to be anti-commuting when you're single, but I can understand if you have a family and you want to live in something larger than a shoebox, you'll end up commuting. It's just so much wasted time, though. At least on a train or a bus you can do things, instead of just sitting in your car, trying not to go into autopilot. I looked out the window at the beautiful sunrise -- thanks to quality pollution -- and the endless traffic through New Jersey. I realise New Jersey is supposed to be the Garden State, but all I have ever really seen on trips through NJ is desolate wasteland and terrible roads. I've got relatives in Randolph, so I'm hoping to see something more when I visit them.

The traffic into Manhattan was chockers, so I didn't get into the Port Authority until nearly quarter to nine. I took one look a the taxi queue and decided to walk it, instead. It was a fine morning, and I had a vague idea of what direction to go in to find the hotel, so I headed off that way...

My mental map of Manhattan from previous trips served me well, as I only had to ask one doorman where the Roosevelt Hotel was. I saw him later, when I left, and thanked him... jovial guy.

I did have some moments of panic at the conference, though. After observing and recording Kevin's speech on the digital recorder and my digital camera, I had to deal with Ross' speech, which I'd only e-mailed hours before and brought on CD. I'd found the IT guy -- or, rather, he found me -- and he told me that he got my e-mail from 1:30am (yeah, I didn't have much sleep the previous night), showed Ross the file, and Ross said a slide was missing! My heart skipped a beat while Rick explained that it was in the original black and white version I'd e-mailed the week before, so the only difference was that the last slide was not formatted. That wasn't acceptable to me, although he said Ross was OK with it.

I went on an immediate search for an internet connection, which took a while. Eventually, I was able to get a conference person to hook me up via ethernet to a free connection in the their meeting room. I went into the office server, retrieved the file and worked on it locally. But, I had to use Kevin's PowerBook to check the slide in XP because even though I'd loaded Virtual PC on my PowerBook, I forgot my XP CDs at my apartment in Vancouver... argh! What a mess! Anyway, I got it all fixed before lunchtime, so the panic was short-lived. Ross, Kevin, and I went to an Irish bar and grill nearby, and I could finally relax for a while. Had this fantastic Irish cider called Magner's that reminded me of the great cidre I'd had in May in Brittany, France.

I didn't hang around long at the hotel after Ross' speech, as I had to catch the bus back to Pennsylvania -- I wanted to observe David teaching a class at the Civil Air Patrol meeting (they're always on Tuesday). I did get to meet Martin Glass from EMGE, an associate from the south of England, and I showed he and Kevin a couple of videoclips of barrel rolling in the sky last Sunday. He was impressed! -- turns out he has a pilot's license, too.

I headed back to Port Authority in the warm early-evening sunshine, walking along 44th Avenue, passing The Algonquin Hotel (see left) where David and I stayed a few weeks before, then through Times Square. It reminded me of nearly two years before, standing with 600,000 other people, waiting for the ball to drop for New Year's. It also reminded me that I should get in touch with my aunt and uncle who live in Chelsea, who have no idea that I'm around!!

Monday, November 15, 2004

Roll Out the Barrel !!!

Home Office, Pennsylvania

Folks, I haven't dropped off the map (I'm flying over it -- haha), I've just been leading this double life that involves a lot of travel and too much work at the moment. I'll be posting lots of updates this week now that I'm back in Pennsylvania and hooked up to highspeed internet full-time again. I was only in Vancouver for six days and swamped to the gills, arriving at JFK on Saturday night for a reunion with David. I'll be here for at least a couple of weeks, but more likely longer as there are new developments at work which allow me to return later than originally planned.

So, for now, I'll leave a video link of some VERY EXCITING flying yesterday afternoon with David.

Barrel rolls!!! (5MBs, avi format)

In the other video, you can hear me yelling, "Again! Again!" I think David did four rolls in one take! WOO-HOO!

sunset from the plane
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
Watching the sun set over the horizon from the plane is something to behold!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Fly Chicks for the Geeky Guy -- Dax, Dre, and Dan Triple Birthday Bash

I touched down in Vancouver on Sunday, and I'm overdue to post about last weekend. I'll let the photos do the talking right now, and add text later.

Oh, and there's a videoclip, too: Happy Birthday Dax, Dre, and Dan! (AVI file, 12.3MBs)

Gail's Photos on Flickr
Andre's Photo Gallery
Heather's Photo Gallery

Thursday, November 04, 2004


Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
*pun alert* See this film.

You can be a blind person, and feel the film through its music. Images are not necessary, even though I found the film a visual treat. The editing, the colours, the camera angles, the closeups, the transitions, the imagery, the lighting, the use of archives, the period itself -- I can't tell you how much I enjoyed it all... and that doesn't even cover the acting or music.

I LOVED the music. I wouldn't be surprised if people get up to dance in the cinema. I want to get the soundtrack asap, so I can groove to it whenever I want. My favourite Ray Charles songs are on it, in all their groovy splendour.

The acting is splendid, too -- Jamie Foxx flexes his acting chops here. I'm not that familiar with his body of work, but I'm aware that this isn't his usual genre.

Don't get me wrong -- there are parts of this film that didn't do it for me. I won't spoil the film by detailing them here (hint: morality messages dripping in cheese), because I don't want to detract from the film's spotlight on the man and his music. You don't have to like the man to love the music. You don't even have to be familiar with Ray Charles at all to enjoy the film. I usually select films for the storyline, but occasionally I'll see a film if it focuses on music that I like -- an example of this is Standing in the Shadows of Motown, a documentary. (See it!) This biopic (by definition, not a documentary) is on par with it... it doesn't skirt Ray's shortcomings as a human being, but it does highlight his significant contributions to music, the challenges of being a blind person in a sighted world, and rising above what you're told you are, to what you could be. It's inspirational, it's moving (in all kinds of ways), and it's at a cinema near you.

Civil Air Patrol

David with his cadets
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

cadet program, CAP
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.

I've mentioned before that David is a member of the Civil Air Patrol. Here's are some fast facts, off the website:

Nonprofit, 501(c)(3) corporation
The Auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force
More than 64,000 members, including 27,000 cadets ages 12- 21
Eight geographic regions, 52 wings, 1,700 units
National Headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., 160 support staff
World's largest fleet (550) of single-engine, piston aircraft
Nation's most extensive communications network
1,000 emergency services vehicles

100 aerospace education workshops each year
Aerospace classroom materials, grades K through college
Nation's premier annual aerospace education conference

Multi-step leadership training
Cadet glider and powered orientation flights, flight training scholarships
International Air Cadet Exchange program

95% of nation's inland search and rescue
100 lives saved per year
Aerial reconnaissance for homeland security
Disaster-relief and damage assessment
Transport for time-sensitive medical materials
Counterdrug missions

I took the top left photo on Tuesday night, at the weekly meeting. I met quite a few people the week before, when the Big Announcement was made, but there were people who hadn't attended, so I met several more senior members the other night and hobnobbed with the ones I'd met before. David is very much involved with the CAP and has been for about six years, so to meet the CAP people and observe and participate is to delve into a big part of David's life. It's very obvious, even from the very first meeting, that his cadets and the other senior members have a great deal of respect and admiration for him, not just as a knowledgeable and experienced pilot, but on a personal level. He's a natural instructor, too -- very patient, and thorough. It sounds like I'm just gushing on, here, biased and all that, but other people see him that way, too... and they're not engaged to him!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Wal-Mart Wine

Far be it from me to regurgitate items from my Inbox, so I'm pilfering this from someone else's Inbox. But, I had to pass this on for some *pun alert* cheap laughs:

Some Walmart customers soon will be able to sample a new discount item: Wal-Mart's own brand of wine.

The world's largest retail chain is teaming up with E&J Gallo Winery of Modesto, California, to produce the spirits at an affordable price, in the $2-5 range.

While wine connoisseurs may not be inclined to throw bottle of Walmart brand wine into their shopping carts, there is a market for cheap wine, said Kathy Micken, professor of marketing at Roger Williams University in Bristol, R.I. She said: "The right name is important." So, here we go:

The Top 12 suggested names for Walmart Wine:

12. Chateau Traileur Parc
11. White Trashfindel
10. Big Red Gulp
 9. Grape Expectations
 8. Domaine Wal-Mart "Merde du Pays"
 7. NASCARbernet
 6. Chef Boyardeaux
 5. Peanut Noir
 4. Chateau des Moines
 3. I Can't Believe It's Not Vinegar!
 2. World Championship Riesling

And the number 1 name for Wal-Mart Wine ....

 1. Nasti Spumante

The beauty of Wal-Mart wine is that it can be served with white meat (Possum) and red meat (squirrel).


heirloom ring, in the sky
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
No, this is NOT my engagement ring. It's a stand-in ring, until we get our rings designed and finished by the jewellers in Wilkes-Barre.

Last week, David's mother gave us two heirloom rings. I'd love to be able to show the other ring, but I don't have a photo of it right now. Suffice to say, it's MUCH more *bling* than this one, and that's why I'm not wearing it. Think of a golden, jewel-encrusted tree sticking out of my knuckle, replete with branches. This one looks rather understated, by comparison...

This ring (left) gilding my left hand on Sunday's flight above Lake Wallenpaupack, belonged to David's grandmother, who passed away 20 years ago. It has a fair number of stones (more than 20) that can be put towards other jewellery, and more recently, I've been thinking we could use it (and the bling-bling ring) to make earrings and/or a necklace as well.

Last Friday we went to the jewellers with our Plan B, which was to select an engagement ring for me to take back to Vancouver. Initially, we were thinking of having David design the ring, but then we decided it would be a better idea for me to have it before I went to Vancouver this time. When we went to jewellers, none of the designs I viewed really stood out for me. By that time I had a basic concept in mind of how I wanted it to look, but nothing that was on display resembled it. I tried to explain it to the sales lady, but she didn't think they had anything similar to what I'd described. Thankfully, David caught on to what I was attempting to explain, and we decided then and there that we'd stick to our original plan of our own designs for the engagement and wedding rings. We gave her the two rings to see if they could be used towards new rings, and she said they'd be able to custom-craft them by Christmas if we submitted our designs in the next couple of weeks.

I don't have anything to show right now, but the material will be white gold, fashioned in the Art Nouveau style of Paris at the turn of the century. David's the one with the art degree, and has the knowledge of this period, which fits with what I'd had in mind for how the rings should look. My engagement and wedding rings will fit together, and be low-profile. (No doorknobs, thanks!) David's mum is so excited about the engagement ring, I joked that she should come along with us to the jeweller's... in the end, I'm glad we returned to our original idea instead of purchasing something from the display.

Monday, November 01, 2004

playing with the clouds

playing with the clouds
Originally uploaded by gailontheweb.
We went flying yesterday, and David took us high into the clouds. It was AMAZING. I'm waiting for him to write about it in Multiply to provide the technical details, but I could never describe the feeling...

I've got some video of the little plane manoeuvring around and through the clouds, but it doesn't do flight justice. David loves clouds, and I can definitely see the appeal -- to be thousands of feet above ground, twisting and turning in the air around the "fluff"... We could see our shadow in the cloud, with a halo made of a rainbow. It's beautiful. I'll see if I can find a good, clear photo of it.

David's account of the day, in Multiply: Of Clouds and Glory

Tomorrow is the Big Election, as if anyone could forget. I'm going with David to the polls to observe the process, but of course I can't vote. Last night we phoned my parents to apprise them of the upcoming nuptials, but interestingly, they were both very keen to know who David was going to vote for. Maybe it's part of their approval process...