We spent most of the last couple of weeks visiting family and playing tourist back East; some day, I’ll get around to seeing if I took any decent pictures. Having a digital camera provides the opportunity for instant editing and feedback, but somehow that seems less enticing when there are actual people around to talk to and be with — and now that I’m home, I seem to be too busy to get around to looking at my pictures (and they’re on the other computer, anyway).
We started with a lovely trip to JFK (business class seats; coach food; coach prices) and a visit to Diane’s father, who’d been home from the hospital for about a week. I could tell he wasn’t up to 100% when we got there, but he was doing amazingly well — and by the time we left, he was up to at least 90% of his usual self. And he was already well back into the swing of things — on Tuesday of our visit, he and his girlfriend were busy participating in a musical at Lido Beach, so we were left to our own devices! We spent the day in Manhattan, visiting the World Trade Center, the NYSE, South Street Seaport (somehow, it feels wrong for there to be a Gap in the Fulton Fish building), and finishing with dinner at the new food court in Grand Central Station (recommended).
We did spend most of the rest of our time there with Diane’s father and his girlfriend, visiting places like the Nassau County Museum of Arts. We also saw what Long Island supermarkets are like (I prefer the ones here, thank you very much indeed) and ate good pizza. We also had one unfortunate food experience — if you find yourself in Valley Stream and have the opportunity to eat at Mitchell’s Restaurant, try somewhere else. It took a long time to be served and the food wasn’t very good — but there was plenty of it.
After Valley Stream, we drove to Richmond to visit my mother and brother; again, we had a pleasant visit. This time, our field trip was to my brother’s beach condo (along with his wife and son), and again, a lovely time was had by all. And once more, we had an unfortunate food experience, this time at Aunt Sarah’s Pancake House in Richmond. After waiting for our food for 50 minutes (being told “it’s coming” every few minutes), my mother complained, politely, to the waitress, who was rather unpleasant in return — then the waitress went over to another table and thanked them for being so nice, because “it makes dealing with rude people more bearable.” Not everyone at our table heard the remark, but those of us who did immediately rose to leave — we didn’t want to find out what interesting additives the waitress might have included in our food. I don’t think I’ve ever left a restaurant without being served before, but then, I’ve never been openly dissed by the waiter before, either.
The other thing I did on vacation was reach my 25th service anniversary with IBM. There are many traditions associated with reaching this milestone — I now am the proud owner of a new silver keyring and can choose from a number of gifts (the choice used to be between a few clocks, but they’ve broadened the options — I’m probably going to take a clock anyway, though). And usually, there’s a luncheon on the day of the anniversary itself — but since I was on vacation, I’ll have to have the luncheon some other time (preferably when my manager comes to California).
When the luncheon happens, I’ll be presented with a binder of congratulatory letters from friends and colleagues. But a few of my friends have sent e-congratulations, and I thought I’d share one of those letters, Sam’s Note, here; it’s too good (and probably too embarrassing) to bury in a binder.