Saturday, August 13, 2011

August Nights

This week is hot August nights in Reno, Nevada. It is the biggest event of the year according to the locals. The main attractions are the old, vintage and classic cars assembled in front of the hotel and then paraded down the main street in down town Reno. Almost all the cars are lovingly restored with great paint jobs and high end engines although some cars keep their parts genuine. It is the biggest car convention I have ever seen. It’s pure luck that the assembly of cars was right in front of our hotel. A live band played classic rock and pop songs. Most of the people who went to the convention seemed to be in their fifties or sixties although there were sprinkling of young people here and there. The weather was just right, a bit nippy despite being in the desert. I learned that Reno is about 4500 feet above sea level which explains the cool temperature despite being in a near-desert landscape of surrounding brown, tree less and majestic mountains.

The first day we arrived, on Sunday, we hit a few balls in the hotels’ driving range, played bowling, bought toothpaste in Wall-mart and had an excellent dinner of roasted duck.  The next day on Monday, we went to work, set up the computers, did some tests, and processed the first batch of transactions. There were problems but were fixed as the day went on. Go live was officially the next day. For lunch, we drove to ‘Border Town’ a small restaurant cum casino near the Nevada - California border. After work, we drove to Lake Tahoe with our other colleagues who arrived that afternoon. We had dinner in a lovely restaurant beside Lake Tahoe called Garwood located in the California side. I had a salad topped with trout. We drove back to Reno through the Sierra Nevada Mountains surrounding the lake and back into Reno along the highway that followed the Truckee River that flowed into Reno city and towards Pyramid Lake. I was exhausted when I got to my room as I woke up early and went to the gym and exercised for 30 minutes in the early morning.

On Tuesday, the new system went live although there were problems in the label printer. It took a while to fix but it got going to complete the work. We had to go back to the hotel at noon and pay our bill as our company had authorized payment for that day only. Earlier our credit cards were declined as the hotel was registered as a casino not a hotel in the computer system. So after resolving that snafu, we ate lunch at the hotel restaurant. I had pork fried rice which I also had on Sunday along with wanton soup. We returned to the office and continued the work. There was another glitch at the end of the day were the interface could not be uploaded. So we called the Indian support team at head office to fix the bug. The problem was soon fixed and we drove back to the hotel were we had cocktails during happy hour at the lobby bar ($1 per drink) and we had whisky and coke and rum and coke. We had dinner at an Italian restaurant where I had pork spaghetti. Afterwards, we walked out in the company parking lot where the car convention was taking place. We took pictures of the vintage cars in pristine condition.

On Wednesday, most of the major issues were fixed. The business leader wrote a status report and sent out an email calling the roll-out a success. We struggled a bit in getting the second printer to run and managed to fix the problem near the end of the day. There is a remaining problem in the carrier report and forwarded the issue to our contractors in Ohio. We had lunch again in ‘Border Town’ where I ate beef liver in onions with mashed potatoes. The day ended in high spirits and the team went to down town. We visited the known hotel casinos Silver Lake, Circus Circus and El Dorado. We walked along the main street and took pictures of the famous arch sign ‘Reno – the Biggest Little City in the World’ and took more pictures in the bridge beside the Truckee River where a group of teenagers were riding their skateboards. We walked back to the Silver Lake hotel and had dinner where I had a miserable dish of Hot and Sour soup and Hong Kong fried noodles. After dinner, we went out in the street again and watched the parade of cars where an emcee entertained us with jokes. It was the most impressive parade of vintage cars I have ever seen.

We went back to the hotel and after depositing my things in my room, I went back down again with my camera to see the cars assembled in the hotel’s massive parking lot. I took more pictures and watched the band playing in a stage at a corner of the lot. There were a lot of people walking about, dancing and listening to the music. I returned to the hotel and I saw my office colleagues drinking coffee in the hotel lobby bar. I joined them and had butter pecan ice cream and later a martini as we watched the couples dancing in front of the live band and the people walking about the casino lobby. We exchanges jokes and stories while we watched the dancing forms and the beautiful girls. My two colleagues were old friends for nearly 30 years in the company. It was fun to watch them exchange old stories and reminiscence of long lost friends. I went to my room at about 10 pm and went to sleep immediately after a shower. I brought a lot of thing to read and an audio book to listen too but I was too tired.

This morning our two other colleagues flew back home while my team mate remained for the day. We will both leave the next day but my flight is at noon while his is early morning. We had breakfast at the usual cafe, where I had 2 eggs, sausage, hash brown and toast.  We drove to work feeling a bit tired after the last 4 days of activity. It was a slow day today, I wrote emails, sent meeting invites discussed relevant subjects with users and tested the remaining business cases. My boss called me to ask how things were in the project. I gave a quick report and discussed the coming requirements. I had lunch of cheeseburger and garlic fries and came back to the office. It was an excellent day with the sun shine out in the blue sky and the brown hills surrounding the horizon. The office lay in a valley near the main highway and the scenery was spectacular as I gazed out the window of the office. We still have not decided what to do in the evening although we would go back to the hotel to take a rest.

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