Manatees! I'll get to that.
So let's see, stuff to catch up on!
Friday I had a couple meetings with my boss and his boss (our VP), so I got to make a second drive for the week over to St. Petersburg. This is going to be an awesome expense report, I need to get that submitted today! The meetings went well--one was about how the merger is taking shape, and it actually left me feeling pretty optimistic. The big fear, of course, has been that the new company will try to slash costs and consolidate operations as much as possible, meaning lots of layoffs. But it actually sounds like their plan is just the opposite: they intend to leave most of the local operations in place, and not only do they not plan major layoffs, they expect to increase internal headcount by bringing the calls we currently outsource back in-house. Our VP said that when the deal closes, the new company will have 80k employees, and that's expected to increase to 100k as they bring that volume back in. And the company will have a presence in 41 states, so the opportunities for both advancement and relocation will be much better. Not that I'm actively looking to go anywhere soon, but it's always good to have options. Maybe some of what we're being told is smokescreen, but that's not the feeling I have. We'll see, but I guess we aren't expecting any major changes around here until next year at the earliest.
After the meetings, I went to check out a park not too far from the office. I was a little hesitant driving in--the entrance was at the back of a fairly run-down neighborhood, and the first thing you see driving in is a little retention pond strewn with trash. But the park itself ended up being pretty awesome! A nice long boardwalk through wetlands, essentially a huge cypress swamp at the edge of a lake. It was a gorgeous day, so I had a nice walk and saw some good critters: a few juvenile alligators (and one rather huge adult) lounging in the sun, a few armadilloes, the usual birds and whatnot. Nice place. There are a few places over there I want to show the girls, we'll have to make the trek on a nice weekend. Maybe next weekend!
Then I happened to pass by my usual Goodwill over there on the way home, so I said what the heck. I didn't spend much time there, because I quickly found something I couldn't pass up--I've been meaning to get a new ceiling fan for Hallie's room, since the one in there is old and kinda noisy. Found one in the box, not new but in good shape, for $12. I figured that was worth a try. Haven't installed it yet, I'll have to do that some evening this week.
Saturday we decided to go walk around Downtown Disney--sorry, now it's called Disney Springs. Mainly we wanted to see if the LEGO store there has the awesome new Ghostbusters firehouse
in stock. They did, but we didn't want to drop $350 on it just yet. Bonus time, perhaps. :) Or I should book a couple photography gigs and earmark the proceeds.
Saturday evening I was excited to go to the rare (for me, anyway) concert! I think I mentioned it before--last summer Def Leppard had a date in Tampa with Tesla and Styx, and I didn't get tickets. Turned out that was a good call, because the venue was an outdoor amphitheater and there was a big thunderstorm which kept a couple of the bands from even taking the stage. So when I found out that same lineup had added a date at Orlando's arena, I jumped on it as a Christmas present for myself. :) So anyway, I headed out, ready to rock. I was going to park in the garage attached to the arena because that's convenient, so I got in the line of cars for that--and quickly saw something was amiss. For some reason they weren't letting any cars into the garage. I rolled down my windows and heard someone say something about police activity in the garage. Hm, okay. Right on the other side of the street were a couple of private parking lots, so I hopped over there instead. But I didn't have the cash and they didn't take credit, so the attendant said no problem, just park and then you can walk down to the ATM and come back. So I did that--but on my way back to the parking lot I overheard people saying the show had been cancelled. I hung around for a few minutes until I was convinced that was the official word, and then headed home. Bummer! I'd heard Def Lep's lead singer had laryngitis, which prevented him from performing on a cruise last week. Sure enough, that was the reason for the cancel. I guess that's just as well, I'd prefer to see them in proper form anyway. They intend to reschedule, and my ticket will be good for that, of course. I just hope they're able to reschedule on a day I can go, and with the same lineup of bands! It's kinda funny, Def Leppard and I seem cursed. Way back in 1988, my step-sister and her boyfriend at the time (later her husband, now her ex-husband) very kindly tried to take me to see them on the Hysteria tour, and his car broke down on the way so we never made it. Now almost 30 years later I try again, and it's the band who's a no-show. Sheesh.
Sunday was another nice day, so we headed out to Blue Spring State Park. In the winter the park's spring run is very popular with manatees, who seek out its warmer waters (the springs around here are around 72F year-round) on cool nights. Park staff conduct a headcount of manatees in the spring run each morning and post it for visitors--a good morning is usually around 150, so we were a bit shocked to drive up and see the count posted at 277! Very cool, though. And we managed to get there early enough that the park wasn't too crowded yet--it tends to fill up quickly on winter days when the manatees are there in force, and on summer days when people come to swim instead. So that was a good time.
On the way home we stopped at a few stores, including GameStop where I indeed sold back that Wii game I found at Goodwill last week. I paid $3, and since they were running a 50%-bonus deal I ended up getting $16 in credit for it. Nice! So I turned around and bought a couple more LEGo Dimensions fun packs. The girls have been enjoying playing that, so I figured it was a good investment. I've already got that compartmentalized container I bought last week almost full!
Today I'm back to work, and a little anxious to see how tonight's caucuses in Iowa turn out. As Paul Krugman put it, the Republican side of the contest is easy enough to predict: "someone horrifying will come in first, and someone horrifying will come in second. The names are less clear." But on the Democratic side, this will be the first chance to see whether the huge crowds and numbers of donations Bernie Sanders has been able to attract can translate to turnout at the polls. It's really up to the Millennials, and whether they will turn their excitement into attendance. If they show up, I say Sanders carries the majority. If not, it's Hillary's day. From the standpoint of delegates at the nominating convention, it matters hardly at all--but the momentum Bernie would get from wining both Iowa and New Hampshire next week would be huge. Similarly, if Hillary handily wins Iowa, it could boost her momentum to make her more competitive in NH, and going forward. And no candidate going back to 1980 has won their party's nomination without winning Iowa, New Hampshire, or both. Definitely going to be interesting, whatever happens.
Okay, have some more photos from the events described above. :)( Clicky! )
That's it for now, thanks for reading and have a fantastic day!