An End, a Beginning and an End to a Beginning

During the summer of 2006 I interviewed at a company owned partly by a former supervisor’s husband, the job was to be an Office Manager. I interviewed with three people, one of them was my current boss Jim DiLuigi.

I was kind of selling myself as something of an IT guy and Jim asked me if I knew why he was getting so many spam emails for Viagra in his inbox. I answered simply – “It’s the sites your visiting.” which he didn’t take well at all. I should have clarified that it is about filing out information on websites that ask for your age and gender and those sites selling your information to spamming companies.

I didn’t get the job, partly I think because of that answer. Jim doesn’t recall it that way, but I’ll bet that’s what happened. The same company did call me a few weeks later to offer me an Administrative Assistant position which I gladly accepted.

While at this company I sat facing Jim and we quickly developed a good working routine where he’d pass me things to type and I’d hand him the document that he’d then edit a bazillion times, sometimes reinserting words he’d deleted three drafts ago – that was kind of annoying (still is today). We were quick, efficient and comfortable.

In a few short months it was obvious the Office Manager they hired wasn’t meeting expectations, she was let go and the position was offered to me. I took it, glad that my hard work hadn’t gone unnoticed and thankful for the opportunity to grow.

In the fall of 2007 things with the other boss were getting crazier and crazier and logic was being tossed out the window at regular intervals. The other boss got it into his head that he should fire Jim and nothing I could say would deter him from that goal. So in December, Jim was terminated and I made plans to exit that company as well.

In January of 2008 Jim approached me with the idea of starting a new firm, I had let him know previously I would be giving notice at the beginning of the year. Initially I was just humoring Jim, and thought such an endeavor would last maybe a few months and then he’d want to do something else or I wouldn’t like it… Jim asked if we could give it a try for five years and we both agreed to that.

We did pretty well in those five years. We laughed almost every day. Every day I got a hug in the morning and a hug in the evening. We’d have lunch and take trips and spend time in waiting rooms and walk around the city. We worked too, Jim would travel all over the country to help find simple solutions for accessibility issues and then come back and we’d write up reports for the client and answer their calls and emails.

One thing I’ve loved about this is Jim’s open-mindedness, even with the law he knows so well. He’d take my suggestions sometimes and answer my questions no matter how trivial they might have seemed to me.

We survived snowmageddon, the earth quake, my Pa and his Ma’s passing, his friend passing, my failed engagement and arguments here and there. We took trips to Boca Raton, Maui, Cancun, San Antonio, Danville, and more. We ditched the PC’s and went Mac. We’ve had some of the most interesting clients and situations come up that kept us intrigued and entertained.

The goal was never really about making money, the goal was about having fun and helping others. We met the goals.

Sadly, we’re going to be closing our doors January 31, it was a great run and I’ve received a great friend (and his family) out of the deal. I’m a lucky man. I’ve just had the best job a person could ask for and it taught me the importance of loving the job you have and the people you work with, go do what you love and do it with people that are worth knowing.

My boss, my friend, my partner – Jim DiLuigi is worth knowing.

42 to Las Vegas

If you follow me on Twitter or Tumblr or Facebook or Four Square (there might be too many of these social networking sites) you probably already know what I did for my birthday trip. If you don’t you can find out here, even those of you that think you know what all I did might want to read along as I didn’t get to express everything in photos and hashtags.

Flat Pat and Suzanne

This summer I had asked my two best friends Suzanne and Pat to go with me on this trip, but circumstances didn’t allow for that to happen so I made them into Flat Pat and Flat Suzanne ala Flat Stanley and Flat Stella Fame.

I left Wednesday December 5th from Washington National Airport, the day before I had tried to check in on my Delta app on my phone but it wouldn’t work – when I checked in online I discovered that it was a Delta Flight operated by Alaska Airlines. That was a new airline for me but they gave me Delta miles for the trip so it’s all good. Nothing different about the plane really – but the crew were all, or at least appeared to be, Native American. The flight was uneventful – a little turbulence, a few screaming babies and lots of BO. We landed in LAX in enough time, deplaned and made it to the gate with plenty of time – the connection was delayed of course so we sat at the gate (not on the plane) for an hour extra I’d say. While waiting I noticed ZZ Top was in our waiting area, several people were bothering them and I tried not to stare too much. Once on the plane I asked Billy Gibson to pose with Flat Pat and Flat Suzanne and he did! wow, cool guy.

ZZ Top is cool

ZZ Top is cool

Landing in Las Vegas was normal, the lady taxi cab drivers daughter’s birthday was also December 6, that was pretty cool. I arrived safely at the Tuscany Suites and checked into my room (G203).  It was around four I was hungry and made dinner reservations at the hotel’s Italian restaurant. I gambled a little and was in bed by 9 (I had been up since 5 East Coast time).

I was up early on my birthday, December 6, and had pork chops and eggs at the hotel’s 24 hour restaurant (bad coffee, bad pork chops, and undercooked eggs – there is a region difference when you ask someone to make you eggs over easy, I’ve found that here in DC and apparently in this little restaurant over easy means something different than it does in WI, very undercooked so in the future if I ordered there again I’d order eggs over medium, but I digress). Then I sat in the hot tub for a good while – but the pool was too cold to sit in (its advertised as heated, but I doubt it was) and tried to take a nap, but it didn’t take. I walked down to the strip and then through Caesars shops and I did spend a good while liking posts on my Facebook wall and responding to emails and texts from friends and family.

Thursday afternoon my date arrived and we CENSORED…. before getting dressed and going off to see the Cirque Du Soleil show Ka at the MGM Grand. I was very excited to see it and had gotten tickets a while back. First things first, we were about 12 rows back from the stage and I think I would have rather been at least 25 rows back. I had a lot of preconceived notions about the show that didn’t materialize, but still enjoyed it immensely. I also think we were seated right near some speakers and it was very loud (you kids get off my lawn). Glad I saw it but would have likely enjoyed the Beatles Love more.

Then we went to our dinner reservation at Craftsteak also at the MGM Grand. Craftsteak is a Tom Colicchio, of TopChef,  restaurant. I had Organic Lettuce with Lemon Vinaigrette, Ribeye steak and Fingerling Potatoes followed up with the Farmers Market Fruit (consisting of Blueberry, Blackberry, Dates, Clementine, Dragon Fruit, Figs, Finger Lime, Kiwi, Passion Fruit, Pear, Persimmon, Pomegranates, and Raspberry)

Farmers Market Fruit

Farmers Market Fruit

OMG so delicious… all of it. I really can’t express in words how flavorful, beautiful and just all around great this was for my birthday dinner. The kicker for me was the painted cows on the walls – it reminded me of the cow that visited the crew at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe and I was certain I’d eaten one of the cows that was on the wall. It was the perfect place to have a 42 Birthday dinner. Quite expensive, worth every dollar. My date dropped me off with a kiss and he was on his way, it was a nice day for a birthday.

Friday morning I tried to have breakfast with my friend Danny and new friend Larry but they wanted to hear a speaker and I really need breakfast to function properly…. after breakfast I met them in the banquet hall for the end of “AA History” then we had a decent break and heard “How to live with crazy people”. Most of the rest of the talks that weekend were on steps. Two of the speakers on the original schedule didn’t make it for personal reasons.

Danny being silly

Danny being silly

I had a few meals with Danny and Larry one at P.F. Changs and one at CheeseCake Factory.

Overall my room was ok, it was very big and had two double beds. It had a decent shower and a tub. The TV did make static like noises ever few minutes for some reason and there was a high pitch beep every 5 or ten minutes that would last a minute too. The staff was nice and efficient.

I was in the gift shop looking over the shoulders of a few women in front of me at the available snacks. One of the women noticed me and apologized for being in my way – I assured her I was fine and just trying to decide which nuts to buy. Her eyes lit up and she asked if I wanted some peanuts. I said I usually get almonds. She then started to talk about these peanuts and how good they were, pulled them out of her purse opened them up and said that I would really love them and proceeded to pour a nice sized handful in my hand. They were pretty good peanuts, very crunchy. But I think it was weird to have a woman give you a handful of nuts in a gift store…

At lunch with Danny and Larry at the CheeseCake Factory we were carrying on and a woman next to us kept looking at us and smiling. We started to talk to her, seems she was also at the conference. It was a nice lunch and we made a new friend.

Some of the folks at our table for the conference included an ex-prison guard, a guy who moved from Florida to Alaska a few years ago (he did it on purpose) and a newcomer who wouldn’t shut up that I wanted to inflict physical harm upon. Great fun.

I played some roulette at the casino and while I didn’t win, I certainly enjoyed it. One woman came up to the table, put $100 on black,which hit and she then walked away with $200 – smart lady.

I met a nice guy named MiMichael from England who was there at the conference, hope to hear from him soon.

There were folks from the Chippewa Valley that made it to this conference as well: Mary Jo, Michelle, Al S and two other fellas. That was nice to see too.

Monday I was up bright and early for my flight, I had heard that there were horrible long lines at the Las Vegas Airport as it turns out it was pretty empty and before I knew it I was at my gate for my flight to Memphis (one stop). Even before we landed in Memphis I had received an email that my connecting flight would be delayed an hour, by the time our flight landed I received a few more emails and a voicemail. The updates and delays went as far as a five hour delay but ended up being only three hours, thankfully. The Delta agent was quite nice posing for a photo with Flat Pat and Flat Suzanne as well.

Delta Guy and my delayed flight

Delta Guy and my delayed flight

I arrived home around 8:30 or so, Mouse was here waiting for me at the door and was a loving purr machine for a few minutes before remembering I had left her and then she was a bit more aloof. This morning she loves me once again. I have the best roommate, Gary, who takes care of her sometimes when I’m away.

All in all, it was a great birthday trip, but I think next year I’ll be happier lying by a pool in Ft Lauderdale like normal.

Happy 42!