Tuesday, December 7, 2010

3.5 Miles and 360 Units of Wow

Remember yesterday when I got all shmoopy about how much I love snow?  I stand by that, but the snow did make my commute home into a challenge yesterday.

I waited by the bus stop for close to 15 minutes, watching a bus on the horizon.  It was close enough that it should have pulled up to the stop in 3 minutes.  Instead, it hardly seemed to grow closer at all.  Traffic was literally crawling.  It occurred to me that I could walk faster than the cars.  So, impulsively, I left the growing crowd at the bus stop behind, and started to walk all the way home.

I just checked the route, and Google maps tells me that I walked around 3.5 miles.  One of those miles goes through a ravine.  It's half a mile steeply downhill, and another half mile straight up again.  Initially, I passed cars almost as though they were parked.  I felt triumphant.  But closer to home the bottleneck cleared up, and six buses passed me as I shuffled exhaustedly between stops, feeling somewhat foolish.  By that point, I didn't want to stop and wait for a bus, because surely, if I did, one wouldn't come for half an hour.  I considered jettisoning my heavy purse.  I don't fill it with crap, but the bag itself is heavy because it's made of thick leather and covered in decorative metal grommets. In the end, the purse made it home with me.  I'm glad that I walked all the way - it was a satisfying challenge to conquer - but I think that next time I'll just wait for the stupid bus.

Considering that traffic, I made a point of getting up extra-early this morning so that I could get to my appointment on time.  I was due to attend a technology conference, the type sponsored by vendors who lure you in with muffins and branded pens so that you'll sit through their sales pitch.  Registration was scheduled for between 8:30 and 9:30 am.  I made it out of the house in record time... and arrived at the venue at 8:10 am.  Miraculously, traffic was light.  I had my pick of the muffin tray, which was nice, but in retrospect I would have preferred an extra hour of sleep.

They fed us well, I'll give them that.  Fresh muffins with butter, croissants with strawberry jam, coffee, a selection of teas, a selection of juices - and that was just breakfast.  Lunch was similarly varied and nommish.

It was the coldest conference venue I've ever been to, and that's saying a lot.  I find that conference centres don't bother to run their furnaces, because "it helps to keep the audience awake".  Sure.  Shivering uncontrollably is a great way to ensure that you don't nod off after lunch.

Having been to my share of these refrigerated events, I was prepared.  To tally just one level of clothing, I had on an undershirt, a thick turtleneck, a wool cardigan, and a fleece jacket, and I was still a mite chilly.  It was so cold that the men were complaining.  That may be the first time that I've ever heard men admit, as a group no less, that they were too cold.

The conference organizers requested that the hotel turn on the heat.  There was a dramatic whooshing of vents, followed by a stench that quickly grew to unbearable proportions.  So far as I could tell, the furnaces at that place were powered by burning piles of mouldy cigars.  The reek was worse than the cold, so the furnaces were turned off again and we all lined up for cups of hot tea and coffee at every break.

By the afternoon sessions, I was pretty bored.  Most of the applications being showcased had no relevance to my workplace.  The only reason I stuck around was to be present for a draw at the end of the day.  There were a couple  of half-decent prizes on offer, and enough people were leaving early that there wouldn't be too much competition for them.  I figured it was worth a try.  In any case they might offer cookies for afternoon break.  And they did!  Hurray for cookies!

When the last seminar was finally over, we all trooped into the main hall.  Entry into the draw was via one's folded-up seminar evaluation sheet.  Each person was allowed to fold their paper any way they pleased.  One guy crumpled his into a ball. I went for maximum surface area along with unusual shape: I folded my sheet in half, then rolled it into a tube so it was a bit curly.

The prizes were called one by one.  They had to draw several papers for some of them because the potential winners had already left.  Someone won a Microsoft keyboard.  Whoop de do.  Someone else won a webcam.  The woman beside me whispered "Don't those come built into all computers these days?"  I shrugged.  A couple of other not-very-exciting prizes were called.  Then it was time for the draw everyone had been waiting for: an XBox 360 Kinect.

They called the name: "Sparkling Red".  What!?  Me!  It's me!  I'm here!  Holy cow, I WON A FREAKING XBOX!!!

I ran up to the front waving my arms over my head and yelling "YAAAAAAAY!" like Kermit the Frog.  I was happy, and I figured the sponsors would appreciate a big reaction.  Paparazzi were ready with a video and a still camera, to capture me grinning ear to ear while the company representatives handed over the XBox.  It felt like I was accepting an Oscar.  Pretty freaking awesome, I've got to tell you.  Best and biggest thing I've ever won in my life.  Ken's pretty happy about it too.

My blog is finally living up to its new name.  Adventures in Sparkland, you bet!


Warped Mind of Ron said...

An X box!!! Awesome!

kenju said...

WOW! My grandkids all want one of those!


Jameil said...

MAN! so not fair!! I want to win something huge and awesome!!

DarcsFalcon said...

Woo, and XBOX! That is too freaking awesome! Congratulations on the awesomely awesome win! Yay! :D

Glad to hear you could make a trek over 3 miles. That's saying quite a lot, considering how poorly you've felt in recent months. I'm so proud of you (I know, I'm weird!) and happy too. Big answer to prayers, that's for sure.

Don't know if you're celebrating Hanukkah with your family, but in the event you are, Happy Hanukkah! If not, Merry Christmas! :D

G said...

Fantastic buildup for your blog post.

X Box. You'll be the envy of everyone in the neighborhood.


Anonymous said...

I wonder what Ken was really thinking.
"An XBox, hmm. This marriage just got interesting."

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: We'll see. I've just been informed that players need to stand at least 6 feet away from the camera for the thing to work, and my living room is not that big! This baby might get adopted out to my friends with the big game room in the basement.

Kenju: Thanks! All kids love game machines, for sure.

Jameil: I know that feeling from all the other draws I've been in, which netted nothing but disappointment.

DarcsFalcon: Thanks! There was a voice of caution in my head, worried that I was overdoing it with this giant walk, but fortunately I got away with it. I'm lucky. I could have been severely overtired, and then I really would have been kicking myself.

G: Thanks! I can't wait to unpack it and give it a try. Even if we don't have enough space to use the camera attachment, we might be able to squeeze some entertainment out of the games that use hand-held controllers.

wigsf3: He said that I was his lucky penny.

Karen said...


Lynn said...

Wow - congratulations! How fun is that? You will enjoy that.

Jenski said...

NICE! And it's a good thing you had walked home because you used up all those calories they fed you at the meeting. ;-)

LL Cool Joe said...

How did I miss this post!!

How cool! I'm just picturing you like Kermit The Frog.