12 September 2016

Small world

It's been a long week.  I was out out on the road again with a trip to our sister company and just got back in time to head up to College Station for the first football game last  weekend. 

With my job, I have the opportunity to travel a bit.  Not an obscene amount like in sales or service, but more than the average bear.  I get to travel to wild and exotic places like Manila or Hong Kong or Minneapolis or Buffalo or even Denver to meet with suppliers. Whenever I go, I take the opportunity to tour the sites and experience the area.  Hike the local paths, eat the local food, drink the local beer.  Life's a journey and sometimes we need to take time and enjoy the adventure.     

Enjoy the mountain vistas (we don't have hills like these down in Houston). 

Enjoy a quaint local hotel near the academy

And have the opportunity to meet some really interesting people on the trail.


Yea, Abby already let that cat out of the bag.  Two weekends back, I flew up to Denver to spend a week at our sister division and I took an earlier flight up to make a side trip down to Colorado Springs for the weekend.  I thought, hey, while I'm cruising the Mile High State, why not pop down and try to see some old friends?  Not only does Abby rule the trails down in CS, but I sorta neglected to tell her that my old crazy roommate happens to live in the same town as she does.  Ya know, the George Clooney guy that dresses in a tux for a class reunion?  Well, like many trips I take, I tend to have an ulterior motive.  So I when I planned a trip down to CS to reminiscence over old war stories with my old roommate and, while in the area, have a chance to meet up with another interesting blog friend I have known/talked with for years. I spend Saturday evening having dinner with my friend and his wife and then planned to meet up with Abby on Sunday before heading back up to Denver.  I had originally proposed meeting her for coffee or lunch, but, after reading all of Shadowrun's adventures, I proposed something more energetic.  Too bad that the Incline had closed after Shadowrun had trekked up the trail, so we had to settle for something more sedate for this old flatlander.  I left the choice up to Abby, being the local guide and she chose the Red Rock Canyon as a good alternative.  I met up with Abby and Wolfgang for some hiking.  Wasn't sure that she would recognize me right away so I figured why not wear something obvious (or obnoxious).  Both Abby and Wolfgang were gracious trail guides hosts and we had a great time hiking all over the trails.  I've had the chance to meet a few of my blog friends over the past few years and I always jump at the chance to meet the brains behind the keyboard.  Abby is as funny and energetic as she sounds.  We had a blast hiking the trails and trying to cover a million different topics.  We were talking so much, that I sort of overlooked the trails and we certainly forgot to take any pictures.  The one at the end was our post hike, let's get lunch shot.  With the gathering storm clouds, I suggested lunch and we picked a local watering hole just a few miles down the road that serves some good local beer.  We had lunch at the Roundhouse and spent another hour talking about different things like the Olympics, Ryan Lochte, Airstreams, Dogs, floods, etc.  It was a great time but I had to head back up to Denver so we said goodbye and they headed back home while I drove around the Springs a bit more before heading north.  I am glad to have had the chance to meet up with them, if only for a short while.   

I got up to Arvada to my hotel with no problems and set up to work at the plant.  The second day, when I got back from an morning run, I noted that there was some severe weather down in Colorado Springs and they were hammered by a ton of hail and flooding.  I texted Abby to check in with her and see if they were ok (thought it was ironic that we were talking about people getting flooded out in Louisiana at lunch on Sunday) and they were ok.  I also added that, out of all of the topics we covered, I forgot to talk about my roommate that I had dinner with on Saturday.  I made mention that he might be closer to her than I had originally imagined.  I even noted that I drove past a certain school crossing zone that looked mighty familiar near roomie's house, so they had to be close.  I noted, offhand, that she might have even seen him once or twice around the neighborhood cause he drove one of those unique 4 wheel drive military vehicles called a Unimog.  One of only a handful in Colorado.  Her response was epic - OMG - Your roommate is Unimog Guy?  I never really picture him as "Unimog Guy", but it fits.  Sorry - no pictures of the Unimog - was too dark when I had dinner with him.  Still, I found it amazing that Abby knew of him and how close they actually were.  Small world.          

Unimog guy

26 August 2016

AIRBNB for dogs

Happy National Dog Day!

First Uber, now Airbnb.  

We've got a guest for a while.  My nephew's girlfriend got a new job down in Hawaii and they have some pretty strict regulations about bringing pets onto the island that required a 90 day quarantine for rabies testing.  That usually means, if you want to ship your furry children down to the island, they wind up spending 3-4 months locked up pending the outcome of the tests.  Somehow I sorta volunteered to keep the little guy for a few months while he was under quarantine (must have been the Scotch talking). Starting last weekend, we picked up a new member of the tribe.  

So, in my best Al Pacino impression:  Say Hello To My Little Friend!    


40  pounds of energy packed in an 11 pound frame.  We're all getting used to each other, but he is fitting in well.  Grayson is not quite sure what to make of our new guest.  He wants to play with Osiris, but the dynamics are was different from Claire.  Grayson feels he will squish Osiris but that hasn't kept O from running amok.  I think Grayson's a bit sad that he's no longer top dog and has to share.  

In the meanwhile we are back to two mutts for the next few months.            

14 August 2016

Dog Uber

Another weekend, another drive in the country.

As part of our rescue group, GBGRR, there are many jobs or assignments to spread the load.  We tried our hand at fostering, but didn't seem to grasp the concept of letting them go once they crossed our doorstep.  So, one of the things I can do is  is playing doggy uber for rescues being shipped in from south Texas.  Since I'm on the southwest side of town, it is more convenient for me to drive south to pick up an incoming foster.  Several times I have been called to meet someone coming up from the valley or Corpus Christi.  It's a good 3.5 hour drive (one way)  from Corpus and at least 6 hours from Brownsville.  Occasionally, we have a dog or two turned into another rescue group down south and they make arrangements to transport up to Houston to turn over to GBGRR.  To make it easier on the people coming up, we will send out a person to handle the exchange and take the dog the rest of the way.  I've done a few runs down south.  Our go-to spot is usually Mikeska's BBQ in El Campo.  Good, convenient spot to make that is a bit over an hour south of my place.  Not quite half way, I've proposed a place further south to give the other driver some break but this seems to be the most visible and convenient spot.

I've done three since Claire passed and each has been hard to hand them off.  Especially the one back in March - Twinky.  I swear she was the spitting image of Claire but with a few extra pounds.  I'd really like to take them home and introduce them to Grayson, but the coordinator says that the dogs are a lot of under stress from the transport and introducing them to another dog too soon could create problems.  One day.  

Today's fare was not one but two dogs.  A 4 year old Golden/Chow male mix named Buddy and a 10 month old Golden female named Chase.  One was a found dog, the other was an OTI (owner turn in).  I've done a few OTis and some can be really hard, especially if the owner doesn't want to really let them go.  Both were great dogs and had a good rid up to Houston where I handed them off to their temporary fosters.  Chase was going to one of our fosters and Buddy was going to a sister rescue group (Golden Retriever Rescue).  Today was interesting in that there were a number of dogs being transferred.  Two Goldens, two poodles, a chow and two Pyrenees.  All being picked up by their respective rescue groups.  It was sad to see so many dogs being transferred but good to see so many people working to find them homes.  I played just a small part of this relay race, but it was heartening to help.         



Both rode home well.  I used a cage since I wasn't sure how the two would react.  Buddy got the cage first and Chase rode in the open truck.  At first, Chase was very shy and nervous, but as soon as I put her in the truck, her tail perked up and she started to wag her tail.  After a few miles she parked herself right next to Buddy's cage and slept the rest of the way.  Long day for both dogs, but I think they are on their way to a good home.      

12 August 2016

More road tales

My job has definitely gotten interesting.  With our merger last October, change was expected and change we have gotten.  Several reorgs have seen people come and go.  New bosses, new job titles, new roles.  And the changes are still coming.  Becoming part of a larger, global company is changing everyone's perspective/outlook.  And, with any change, you must learn to adapt and roll with the tide otherwise you run the risk of being swept under/aside.  

My role hasn't fully changed, yet, but we see which way the tide is going so we are adjusting our approach.  Lately, everyone has gotten into the habit of checking the company org chart on Friday morning.  That seems to be the time when changes are posted.  

Even with the changes, I'm still traveling a bit.  Some for audits, some for conferences.  As I did last year, I attended a conference on Conflict Minerals in Chicago.  Nice three day deal in downtown Chicago, but they definitely don't hold this gig in the local Motel 6.  Very nice hotel right on the river - the Londonhouse.  Great corner room on the top floor.  Impressive views of downtown Chicago and the downtown river.            


I am a bit of an architecture nut and love older buildings.  If I hadn't gone into Mechanical Engineering, I was considering Architecture as a major.  I find older cities and the building fascinating.  

Of course, the most interesting view was right outside of my window across the river...
And nobody was climbing up the side of it...
On many of my road trips, if time allows, I will explore around the local area trying to find the more interesting/mundane things.  

 Enjoying some local street food and drink.

And a local piano bar.   Since Ms Agg is a redhead, I just had to send her a picture of this.   

I am a regular TripAdvisor contributor so I tend to review and rate the places I visit - hotels, restaurants, bars, venues.  The hotel was supposedly just opened a month before as part of a complete renovation.  I found the hotel very nice but there were a few quirks that I had noted.  I wasn't really all that impressed with their elevator system, the room was an odd layout (IMHO poor use of space) and I found an odd situation in the bathroom. 

And, of course, the throne room. 

Can you spot what I might find as odd with this set up?

I've got a few more trips coming up.  I will post up any pictures that may peak my interest.  Like, perhaps, another dog run this weekend.      

06 August 2016

Pate post mortem

Yea, Abby, Pate is definitely full of testosterone.  Old cars, cigars, scotch and lots of guy stuff.  When your basic meal plan involves beef jerky, chicharrones, and beer, you can just imagine the stories told and deals made.  But, to plagiarize the old Vegas slogan:  What happens at Pate, stays at Pate.  

Yes I was briefly tempted by the old Mustang but. fortunately, I was sober enough not to take the bait.  Besides, I figured I already had a Mustang project car that wasn't getting any attention.        

As with many of the "deals" you find at Pate, there is always a back story, just like you may hear when out hunting or fishing with your buddies.  Something about the conquest makes the story more "unique".  

Of course, just like any "buddy" trip, there is always someone giving your advice or encouraging you to "go for it" .  We were trying to convince the nephew to buy the Delorean golf cart.  After all, he already has a real Delorean.  
The details alone made it a prize - working flux capacitor, Mr Fusion, smoke generator. 
Unfortunately, the price of the golf card was equal to what he actually paid for his actual Delorean. so that pretty much was a deal killer right there.  

Of course, that did not stop us from "test driving" or checking out some of the other deals.

Doesn't everyone need a backhoe?  

An old Airstream project that was up for auction. 
 Of course, it required a "little" work  
An old Westfalia Vanagon.  This one is for my brother out west in Washington.  He owns one of these campers.   

The nephew used to own one a Firebird back in college (Smokey & The Bandit version - complete with the screaming chicken on the hood).  A real money pit.  That is why he bought the hood to hang in his back yard as "yard art".

After we hauled it back to our trailer and set it up so we could admire our daily haul we noted something interesting.  It may have been the scotch talking but I swore that you could see the face of Jesus on the hood and THAT is why he had to buy it.   

03 August 2016

Catching up

As I said last time, I would try to post more often.  Thought I would start with a few pictures from my travels over the past few months.  Things have been busy, both at work and at home.  Hard to believe that football season is just a few weeks away.

I've been out on the road a fair amount.  Chicago, Buffalo, Atlanta, Fort Worth,  Some for work, some for play.  Looks like the job is kicking it up a notch and I will be  back out on the road this fall to more far off and exotic places like Denver, Minneapolis, San Jose, Dallas, Paris, Milan, etc.  I know, life's hard all over.

I was able to sneak off to Pate again in April for a few days of R&R.  Typical guy trip with my brother and one of his sons.  This was a pretty good year - weather was sketchy, nobody go sick, we scored a few deals, bought another bar light (or two), drank some beer, didn't come home with any new projects (well, except for the car lift). 

Weather looked ominous for a while...
You can find all sorts of conveyances...

My brother hurt his knee (translation:  he's an old fart) and he wound up renting one of those mobility scooters to ride all over Pate while we browsed for the deals.  Good thing for him - we wound up covering about 6-8 miles per day covering the entire meet.  

Not quite the same as texting and driving...
Need a lift?
Wagon train

Yard art?

When you really need to go back in time for another round...

And a new ride for the grandkids...

Of course, when my brother crashed for the afternoon, nephew and I "borrowed" the scooter to make one last run through the meet...

And I had my eye on this sweet looking convertible.  Just slightly older than my son but still a nice ride.. 

But this one really got my attention.  Only a measly $2k and you can drive it home today!  

A 1966 Mustang "Ranch" car.  It's had a "few" modifications done... 

Of course, being frugal (aka cheap), I didn't really buy much this year.  Instead, I blew my Pate money on getting the driver's seat for the landbarge reupholstered at a local shop while we were up at Pate.  It was pretty rough before, but looks like new now.