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Archive for "Things to Do"

My First Escape Room Experience

Posted on March 19, 2017 by under Food and Drink, Things to Do.    

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I’d been wanting to try an escape room ever since the first one opened in Wichita a few years ago. Back when I led the Quality Assurance team in the Customer Relations Center (CRC), we talked about going to Wichita Room Escape. However, they were only open on the weekends at the time. They were first starting out and all the founders had day jobs. I’m not sure if the business is still owned by the same owners because the sign on the front door says Seed Entertainment LLC but their web site has Kingdom1 LLC. Either they’ve changed owners or they’ve grown because they are now open during the work week.

I’ve been team-less for a couple of years now. I’m still technically a member of the CRC team but I haven’t had team members reporting to me for a while. I was so grateful when Darcy invited me and Jeff (our department administrative assistant, who tends to not get invited to things either) to be part of her team building exercise. And, I was even more thrilled when I found out it would be a room escape activity because I’d always wanted to try it.

Darcy booked the Autopsy room for us, which is about a medium difficulty level. We were told the room has about a 30-35% success rate and that everyone who has escaped has used all their clues. After a short briefing about how to operate the various locks that we would find in our room, we were off to the races.

I’m not going to reveal too much here so as not to ruin the fun for others but I will say that it was a ton of fun solving puzzles with Jeff and #TeamAwesome, the team name that Darcy’s team has dubbed themselves. It was so exciting every time we solved one of the puzzles and unlocked one of the locks because it led to even more clues. There were times that we would get stuck and had to use one of our clues (you get to ask for help three times) and then, armed with some guidance, attacked our puzzles with renewed vigor.

The key to remember is to not be stubborn and wait too long to use your clues. There are dozens of puzzles to solve and locks to unlock. You can’t waste 20 minutes being stuck. If you are stubborn and what until the last five minutes of your allotted time (you have exactly an hour to escape the room) to ask for your first clue, it may not be as useful. They’re giving you a clue, not the answer, so you still have to process the information. I don’t know about you, but it’s harder for me to solve puzzles under duress. So that is probably the best advice I can give. Do not wait too long to ask for a clue when you get stuck because it may be too late.

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Since we escaped, we got to write on their wall and that was really cool. We are now members of an elite club of room escapers. LOL.

Even though we escaped the room with plenty of time to spare, it was challenging enough that we still got a rush and sense of accomplishment out of the experience. When we were down to the last 10 minutes of our time, we had no idea how many more puzzles had to be solved or how many locks were left so we did feel a sense of urgency at that point. No one panicked and we got out after roughly 51 minutes and 27 seconds in the room.

I was very impressed at the sheer number of locks and puzzles that they managed to squeeze in to the room. There were clues everywhere. The clues hidden throughout the room also consisted of a good variety to where you weren’t solving the same types of puzzles. And there were some combinations where the clues were laid out in multiple ways so there was more than one way to arrive at the solution. They had us working together and using every bit of that room. It was very stimulating and definitely one of my most favorite team building activities to date.

After working up an appetite solving puzzles, we headed to Dempsey’s Burger Pub next door for lunch. Here are some pictures of our delicious food.

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I had the salmon burger, which I enjoyed immensely. Dempsey’s serves amazing burgers but the Burger Stand in Topeka is still my favorite. I mean, they have ping pong there and Dempsey’s does not. LOL. As far as gourmet burgers go, Dempsey’s is probably as close as it gets around here, though.

After lunch we headed over to Central Standard Brewing where Josh’s girlfriend Alicea met up with us. We played a round of Uno before I had to leave to pick up my little sister (but that ended up being canceled last minute because of something that happened at school) so I really could have stayed for another round of Uno. Anyway, I had so much fun hanging out with #TeamAwesome that day. I hope they invite me to another one of their team building events again soon.

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Stupid Cupid 2 Mile Run

Posted on February 19, 2017 by under Events, Health, Things to Do.    

My friend Andrea talked me into signing up for the Stupid Cupid 2 Mile Run at Sedgwick County Park on February 11. I truly was perfectly satisfied running on the treadmill but Derek and Andrea had both been trying to talk me into signing up for a race. I’d been reluctant because I’m not really fond of running outside. Anyway, when Andrea told me about this one I figured what the heck. It’s only two miles. If I absolutely hate it, then it will be over soon enough.

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Anyway, Andrea couldn’t take that Saturday off work so her husband Donavan ended up running in her place. Here’s a picture of the two of us together.

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My coworker Joe who has recently started running signed up for the run as well. Above is a picture of him with me and Brian. Brian didn’t run but he was there for moral support and to cheer me on, of course.

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Derek and his friend Vicky were also there. I think they signed up for the race months before I even heard about it. Above is a pre-race picture of the five of us. From left: Joe, me, Donavan, Vicky, and Derek.

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Derek is a running fanatic. He actually ran eight miles before the race because he’s training for a marathon and wanted to run fatigued. Even so, he still managed to finish first in his age group and fourth overall.

Here are a few more photos of the race. See if you can spot some of us.

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Here’s Derek and bowtie guy. They finished back to back.

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Here’s Donavan as he approached the finish line.

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Here are a couple of pictures of Vicky as she approached the finish line.

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Here’s Joe approaching the finish line.

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And here’s me.

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I didn’t have any specific goals, with it being my first race and all. I was pretty slow, as you can see from my race results below. Joe and I are celebrating anyway because this was a first race for both of us and now we’re no longer race virgins.

Anyway, since I didn’t absolutely hate this experience, I figured that I would give running outside a try so I went on Joe’s 5 AM run the other day. I didn’t hate it either so I may run with him again this week. He’s on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday running schedule. It’s supposed to be rainy on Tuesday so we’ll see.

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TORUK – The First Flight

Posted on February 7, 2017 by under Things to Do, Videos.    

Brian and I got tickets to TORUK several months ago and we were so excited when the day finally came for us to see it. Our favorite food truck, the Kamayan Truck, just happened to be down the street at Aero Plains Brewing that same evening so we decided to make a night of it and check out the new brewery, which we hadn’t been to yet, and also enjoy some Kamayan food.

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We didn’t have time for a brewery tour but I did manage to take a few photos.

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Here’s a picture of the bar area.

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The place isn’t very big but there’s ample seating inside and out.

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Here’s a picture of the beer menu.

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Brian really wanted to try the Irish Red but they were completely out.

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He had to settle for something else instead. I’m pretty sure we will be back so he will just have to try it on our next visit.

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Here are some pictures of our dinner, which you have already seen before because we always get the same stuff. He gets ribs with sticky rice and I get the porchetta with steamed rice.

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Here’s the Kamayan menu for that evening.

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And now for a few pictures from the show… with an obligatory selfie first.

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He’s what the stage looked like before the show began. They used the entire arena and even walked among the audience at different points during the show. This was our first Cirque du Soleil show so we didn’t know what to expect. It was quite interactive. I wish we would have known about the app ahead of time because we didn’t have enough signal at the arena to be able to download the app. I tried several times, in vain, while we were waiting for the show to begin.

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We had excellent seats and actually ended up sitting behind one of Brian’s high school classmates and her husband. They’re both Cirque du Soleil buffs and have been to several shows.

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I only took a handful of photos during the performance because I’m used to music theater where they frown on that sort of thing. I guess at Cirque shows they don’t mind as long as you don’t use your flash.

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They did a really good job on the tree.

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The lighting, special effects, and costumes were all amazing. I also liked this closing scene a lot with the flowers from the tree floating up and down in a beautiful and fluid motion. It was magical!

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Here’s another picture of the final scene.

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Here’s the cast at the end.

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I took this photo before they were packing everything up at the end of the show.

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Then Brian and I went down for a closer picture of the tree.

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I took one last picture before we left. This is after most of the audience had already left the arena and after they turned off all of the lighting effects and turned on the regular lights.

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Here’s a preview of the show. I highly recommend seeing it next time it comes into town.

Here’s another good video of the show’s highlights that I found on YouTube.

These videos do not do justice to the performance. You have to go see it!

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Andover Rotary Club

Posted on January 27, 2017 by under Things to Do.    

Due to my current work assignment, I’ve missed my Rotary Club meetings over the last few months. This month hasn’t been too bad, however. I was actually fortunate enough to be able to attend two consecutive club meetings. And I’m so glad that I was present for them because they were both amazing meetings.

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Last week Geri Appel, Dr. Fred Heismeyer, Joyce Heismeyer, Greg Sullivan, and DeAnn Sullivan talked about their visit to Russia last summer as part of the Open World Program. In Fall 2015, local Rotarians had the opportunity to host seven Russian business people through the Open World Program. In summer 2016, it was their turn to visit. The group has been visiting local Rotary Clubs to share their FABLES (tales from their trip) and promote the Open World Program.

FABLES stands for Food Adventure Beauty Lore Entertainment and Surprise and is kind of a fun way to recall one’s travel adventures. I thought it was pretty clever anyway and will probably talk about my own trips in the same manner in the future.

I was completely enthralled as they talked about the food (and drinks) they tasted, the place they visited and all of the beautiful architecture they saw, interesting things they learned and did, and shared stories from the trip. Their Open World experience has been so overwhelmingly positive that I would actually consider being one of the hosts for the next delegation of Open World visitors to Wichita.

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Geri even brought samples of her homemade horseradish vodka, which they first tasted during their visit. She’s learned how to make it and has never run out.

For the record, I did not try the vodka because I went back to work after the meeting. I wasn’t concerned about missing out because I’m sure there will be another opportunity to try it.

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Yesterday our speaker was Barry Style, all the way from Zimbabwe. Barry Style serves as Director of the Chiredzi River African Wildlife Trust (CRAWT) and his family also operates the Buffalo Range Safari. CRAWT not only helps through their anti-poaching and preservation efforts but they also support the community. One of the projects that they have undertaken is a school, which did not have running water until recent upgrades were made with financial help from the Andover Rotary Club. This project has not only made a positive impact on the lives of the students, but the community as a whole.

The efforts on behalf of the Andover Rotary Club have been spearheaded by Dr. Ron Kutter and Lori Kutter, who have traveled there on a number of occasions to help. Let me know if you want to learn more and I’ll be happy to put you in touch with Ron and Lori. They are picture below next to Barry Styles.

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Pictured above: Warrick (Barry’s nephew), Ron, Lori, Barry, and Troy

I am so grateful that my work schedule over the last two weeks allowed me the opportunity to attend both meetings. I’m hoping that, once the dust settles, my schedule will return to normal and I’ll be able to start attending Rotary Club meetings regularly again. Connecting with my fellow Rotarians and listening to our wonderful speakers always rejuvenates me.

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Oeno’s Last Day

Posted on December 29, 2016 by under Food and Drink, Things to Do.    

Oeno closed last week after ten years of business. It made us so sad because it’s our favorite place for salsa and Latin dancing.

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Well, we used to go to Suede. I remember when we used to go there religiously on Friday nights, even when it’s cold and snowing outside. That was our regular Friday night thing.

Then Suede closed and there wasn’t a fun place for us to go for dancing (at least the type of dancing we enjoy). That is, until we discovered Oeno. Naturally, we had to go on the final night. We didn’t care if it was just the two of us. We had to go to close out this chapter.

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Whenever we are at Oeno, we usually get the lavash.

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We also like their charcuterie (meat and cheese board).

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They were doing 50% OFF bottles of wine that night and discounted wines by the glass but Brian couldn’t drink (he can’t drink for a few more days – until after his follow up appointment with the doctor) so I ended up getting a pitcher of sangria. I don’t usually drink entire bottles of wine but I’ve been known to put away pitchers of sangria without remorse. LOL.

Anyway, it’s not as fun drinking by yourself. And, Brian gave me a look of disapproval each time he refilled my glass. I was hoping some of our friends would show up and help me finish the pitcher but everyone else either already had plans or they were too tired to come out. Christmas shopping and preparing for Christmas in general can take a lot out of you so it’s completely understandable.

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At least Hideki and Amy came by. They were down the street, having dinner at the Anchor. And then they had a show at Public. They stopped by for a bit, though.

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The rest of the sangria did not go to waste!

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Here’s the four of us on the very last night of Oeno being open. It was so very sad.

On Tuesday, after the holiday, local restaurateur Melad Stephan auctioned off everything. They auctioned off the furniture, plates, barware, everything.

So that’s it then. Now it’s time to look for a new place for salsa night. I sure wish we had a place like Cuba Libre here.

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