Our trip started Thursday night. The cheapest way to get to and from Phoenix was via Southwest, which doesn't fly out of Rochester, so we went to Buffalo. We stayed the night at my favorite sister and brother in laws, boxed wine and Buffalo (err, Tonawanda) pizza made for a good night. My bil was recovering from an invasive procedure so he couldn't drink the Pilsner I brought, but I'm sure he enjoyed it the next day.
The morning started early and tired, as my sil is a teacher. We got out the door and to BUF. The last time I was there the most interesting thing was coin operated black and white TVs, yeah, it was about 30 years ago. Security was a breeze, and forewarned by my parents about SW's open boarding policy, I paid extra to get A tickets.
The flights were about as pleasant as a cross continental flight can be, with the girls seated in the window seats and us parents in the middle. On the way to Las Vegas I sat with thirteen year old while Mrs. Ha sat with eight year old. I saw some huge airport just west of the Rockies, probably Denver, which prompted me to listen to 7/8/78 Redrocks on my phone, and mentally curse whatever a*hole decided that a 3.5 mm stereo plug was just too big for a cell phone, and went to a flaky 2.5mm plug, or maybe it's just the LG is too flaky.
For takeoff, I passed out gum to Mrs. Ha and eight year old. I told thirteen year old no, she has braces, we'd like to have one trip without a dental catastrophe.
You guessed, over the midwest I had some gummy fruit snacks and lost my crown, one of the ones I lost last summer. I kept it out for the trip, it made me look more peasantish.
Mrs. Ha won big in our hour and a half in La Vegas, ending up $15 richer playing the airport slots. That took a little finagling, as kids aren't supposed to linger near the machines, and I had to explain to Mrs. Ha how to play them. I made them get soft pretzels.
We got to Phoenix and went to the rental place to wait for my parents. They flew Delta through Atlanta, and severe weather (thunderstorms) made a mess out if it, they were late leaving Rochester, late leaving Atlanta, and got to
Phoenix about an hour after they were supposed to. They showed up, dealt with seemingly incompetent Dollar, and rented a huge white Suburban, where upon we went to a non-descript Red Roof in Chandler, then off to the groom's family.
They're Irish, but were serving corned beef and cabbage on a Friday, maybe they got a papal dispensation. They had a nice sprawling single floor house in a tract, with pool, hot tub and trampoline. We did the meet and greet, and then eventually back to the hotel. I was surprised to find out that thirteen year old liked corned beef, during the flight she also discovered she liked Slim Jims. She likes pepperoni, big surprise.
The next morning, even more tired, we left early for the Ren Fest. The expressways in Arizona are great, but no freeze thaw cycle will do that. We didn't see any easy Starbucks on the way, and we ended up 45 minutes before the gates opened, no bridal party, and undercaffeinated. I'd say about one third of the customers dressed up, with the most common outfits being Lords in velvet, poofy hats and peace tied swords, ladies on bodices and such, and midriff baring young women wearing wings, plus an assortment of monks, moors, belly dancers and such. Not too many peasants like me.
Now, at one time I got into dressing up, there were a few cons in maybe 1983 (SimCon, UrCon ?) where once I dressed up as a faux-Viking (my plastic helmet had horns!), and once as a TL 8-9 Forward Observer, non-working laser carbine and all. This time I put time into the outfit, but not into a backstory, I was tired, undercaffeinated, parental and anxious since the wedding party was still missing, so I wasn't especially ebullient when some costumed party came up to me to chat and get me into the spirit. I tried, and the girls enjoyed his story. Thanks Sir Victor.
Finally my sister arrived, we met the Fest co-ordinator, got to the wedding area and Mrs. Ha and I got a break, we went for coffee and a small wander.
The wedding was nice, imagine a Ren Fest wedding, there you go, just substitute a real harpist for Enya.
After the wedding, we had a an hour and half before the Pleasure Feast, so we wandered, bought some food, let the kids play a dart game, and wandered more. They didn't want to go on a ride, I didn't want to pay an arm and leg for souvenirs, which turned out to be wise.
Then, the Pleasure Feast, a pricey ($85) long meal with bawdy entertainment, and free booze. The "Queen" stopped by, but I remembered my manners, it's not for me to remind them our country fought to rid themselves of nobility. It's in my worth doing once for the experience column.
This was near the end of the fest, we were tired, we could have hung around to see jousting or entertainment, but the festivities and the travel made it hard, so we went back to the hotel for a quick swim, then back to the groom's parents for cake, then back to the hotel to go to bed to get up early for the taxi to get to the airport by seven, though not as early as my parents, who got there by five for a seven am flight.
The taxi was not aware we wanted to use a card, but since I was stingy at the Fest, I still had cash. The flight back was about as pleasant as a cross continental flight can be with an eight year old falling asleep on your arm.
Since Arizona doesn't follow DST, we didn't lose that hour of sleep until Monday morning. We're still feeling it.
I'm willing to give the local Fest a chance, I'll be better rested, and less anxious. It would be easy to laugh at those folks who spend $$ to dress up funny and hang out at a Disneyfied Faire, but hey, it's really no sillier than pushing around cardboard soldiers, or festooning an obsolete air cooled engined motorcycle with chrome for a short weekly ride.
I'd also like to go back to Arizona and enjoy the scenery. From far away it looked amazing, close up it was strip malls, plazas, tracts and trailer parks, and burger chains (I didn't get a chance to go In and Out or Whataburger). The Ren Fest and it's parking lot were as close to nature as we got. Needless to say, no Gila Monsters, and the only scorpions I saw were encased in sugar.
Tuesday I mailed off three prescriptions for Mrs. Ha. Then I had to go to my Health Savings Account Website to see if I have enough pre-tax money to pay for them, since I haven't found the reimbursement method. Then I had to go to the mail order pharmacy website (because it's $87 per script mail order versus $270 per script at a brick and mortar pharmacy) to see what the scripts will cost, and change my CC number on file if the cost will be less than what my account holds. HIPPA thwarted me on cost, but I changed the CC number anyways. That was about half an hour of my work day.
This is more of a vent than a complaint. By most American's perspective, I have a good health plan. My HSA is pre-tax money and thus regressive, I live far enough from hand to mouth that I can afford taking out $250 a pay period (which only costs me about $215), I can get a three month prescription for $87 instead of the $1800 "street" price, boy it must suck to have a chronic condition, treatable by drugs, and no drug insurance (I guess Medicare D helps with that, shame it wasn't properly funded).
Plus you know, legions of people are employed as middlemen, people in health care providers hired just to deal with insurance companies, people in insurance companies hired just to negotiate between providers and consumers/corporations, people in corporations hired to negotiate between insurance companies and employees, and all those government boards to regulate insurance companies. Legions.
I should see if my electronic time card has an option for assigning time to dealing with company provided insurance issues, I can charge proving my dependents are mine and legal to that too.
In other work news, the corp just sold a huge building in Henrietta. Most of our manufacturing and development is in a complex in an eastern suburb, which sprung up in the 60's after the corp developed an immensely disruptive technology and held a near monopoly on it. There are some buildings where you can see office furniture from the 60's, still. But, the suburb decided to tax the corp too highly, so they took office space around the county in cheaper places, built a tower downtown, and moved the HQ to Connecticut. I started as a permanent in a resortish type place in a distant suburb, for a few months I had a window cube and when working overnights I could see the sunrise over the distant Bristol hills, pretty.
But I left, and my team went to the huge building in Henrietta, so huge it was rare to walk from one side to the other. If you wanted to visit the K people, you went to the eastern side, the CMYK people, the west.
I would have been fine working, the shopping is better. At one time it was much better, but now there's a Target (instead of only a KMart), B&N, Dick's, JoAnns and Hobby Lobby. Still, Henrietta has a gaming store, and a beer store, and my parents.
But, they're all moving up here, our local force is about one third what it was at it's height, nowadays we only make the flagship products here, so we have plenty of room. We're moving too, from our Fortress of Dorkitude, and we'll end up co-located with the hotlines and Field Engineers. My oldest work friend will probably end up in the same building, that will be nice.
In book news, I finished A Game of Thrones, it was a good book for long cramped plane rides. It's another big thick multivolume fantasy type series with no concluding book, and there may not be one. To compare it to WOT, the lead characters are nobles (not common folk tucked in a remote outpost of the Empire who have oddly unusual talents and origins), it takes place mostly on an Britain sized island, and magic and fantastical beasts are rare (characters don't keep stumbling over trollocs). Unlike many fantasy books, it's more grey than black vs white in characters, and unsentimental, good likeable main characters get killed. In short, seven main Houses deal with a reluctant King who dies, all while a decade long winter is coming from the North. The two main houses are the northern, rugged Starks and the southwestern good looking Lannisters (the Queen and heir apparent to the just deceased King are Lannisters), and parallels between the War of the Roses (Yorks and Lancasters) are intended.
In other book news, I finished Long Range Desert Group a book first published in 1943 by Kennedy Shaw, a member of the British Long Range Desert Group, in which Laszlo Almasy sort of appears (The English Patient). I brought it on the trip, to read in the desert, but I didn't really experience the desert, so I finished it here. It's got a freshenss to it, since it was written and published during WWII, and for every battle, there's also logistics accounts. Recommended.
Wednesday was too busy of an evening, eight year old had a school exhibition at the Science Museum. I rushed home, we had a quick dinner of corned beef and cabbage and one glass of stout (good thing), then brushed teeth and off to the exhibition. This session they studied Native American cultures, I always get a kick out of the dioramas of the Indians making canoes, or long houses, or hunting (we'll have to go to the Buffalo Museum, I haven't been there in a long time). The school can appear hippy dippy, what with dancing and singing and everything interrelated, but it tests very well (I blame the overachieving parents, in the class of 30 there's at least three doctors, a assistant DA, an architect, and a PhD or two). I'm going to miss it when she gets out of there.
Traffic was backed up on the way home, there was a police checkpoint. We passed.
After everyone went to bed, I decided to unwind with a few glasses of stout while watching Victory at Sea's "Target Surabuchi", about Iwo Jima, and rear bases, and logistics, and typhoons.
Saturday each girl has a party. Thirteen year old has a class reunion skating party at ESL sports complex from 2-4ish, eight year old has a Y party in Webster from 3:30-5ish. Complicating things is the monthly gaming meet on Saturday, I'm trying to get there early.
We sort of have some carpooling planned for the Y party on Saturday, in that we bring eight year old and preschool_girl, and then bring ours home, since preschool_mom has plans right after. For thirteen year old, I'm, bringing her and newspaper_girl, they're bringing back.
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