24 October 2008

Dang, it’s good to be home.

It’s been a long week on the road in Minnesota. Been visiting several suppliers and attending a business conference in wonderful Minnesota Convention Center. Lots of medical device companies displaying their stuff. Lots of sales people glad to talk with you and give you pens & bling. After walking the convention all day Wednesday, my dogs were barking.

The Minneapolis-St Paul area is pretty nice although the weather was sketchy at times. Rainy & cooler, but was a nice break from south Texas. We left this afternoon in very nice temps but the forecast was for much colder weather and rain/snow this weekend. There was a ton of Canadian geese all over the place up there. I just can't wait for them to get down to our neck of the woods. We definitely ate way too much during the week and I was out running everyday to try & work some of it off. Couple of very nice restaurants in the area. The Jax Café was a great spot. Excellent steak & seafood. Been in business since 1933 and was, at one time in its history, a funeral parlor (ok, queue the jokes: The food was to die for. People were just dying to eat there.). They even print up your name on a match book if you make a reservation. All of the places we ate had great food and I will definitely have to run a few more miles this next week to pay for it.

Found a little postcard at the airport on our way out just to capture the essence of Minnesota. We were not able to tour much of the area but there is much to see & do. I cannot believe that I was in Minneapolis and only a mere 100 miles away from the Spam Museum. Terri, you must tell us more about it.

Speaking of Terri, ya’ll need to jump over to her site and congratulate her on getting her photo published (kudos). I was one of the lucky ones to have won her blog contest (lucky guess) and she awarded us with some really neat prizes. Now, I am not as technically savy to try & produce a vlog, so ya’ll will have to settle for the attached pictures. Love the card (did you do that photo?) and the mug. The perfect match to your Friday posts.

Many thanks, Terri!

19 October 2008

On the road again (again)

I’ve always been a closet Willie Nelson fan. Have even been to one of his 4th of July picnics, but that was a lifetime ago (back in his Readheaded stranger days).

I know I have griped earlier, but I like to travel but hate to pack. Not a big fan of sitting on a plane for 3+ hours, but at least it ain’t a connecting flight and we don’t have to go through Atlanta. Spent 5+ hours waiting on a connection in Atlanta back in June and was bored out of my mind. I really hate when a simple flight takes 6-8 hours of your life away. The longest flights I have ever taken were to/from Germany (18 hours) and an 8 hour flight to/from Maui we took for vacation back in 2005. It’s weird to get on a plane at 10:00 am and step off the plane halfway around the world at 08:00 am.

Oh well, it’s part of the job and I am just glad for the opportunity to get out on the road (even with all of the headaches involved). Got an early flight out in the am heading north. Gonna to Minneapolis to visit some suppliers, tour several facilities and will try to swing a day at a local convention. Lots & lots of sales people trying to suck up to you for your business. One thing I always look forward to is all of the bling you get at these conventions. Pens, notepads, shirts, hats, bags, rulers, etc. Anything with a supplier’s logo to get their name in front of you. I am always a sucker for gimmies…

With all of the food & drink we will have on the road, I'll have to double up on my runs just to keep from getting too big.

18 October 2008

In the long run

I run. I don’t really like treadmills, stationary bikes don't get me anywhere, Stairmasters hurts my knees and elliptical equipment doesn’t really do it for me (seem to be spinning my wheels).

Why do I run? Interesting question and I was pondering it yesterday while I was out running during lunch. I have been running off & on since college (long time ago). Wasn’t really much of an athlete in high school. Played football my freshman & sophomore years but I did not really stick with it. Was a pudgy kid during my high school years and tended to stay in the background for most activities. When I went off to college, I joined the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M and really found my calling. Being a ROTC/military based program, there was lots of running/push ups/calisthenics and I feel that really made a difference in my life and gave me the "kick in the pants" I needed to become a better person. We did lots of running in the corps but I really did not pick up the habit until I went joined the Army and went off to my officer’s course. Was stationed in Fort Knox for 6 months and bunked with a fellow Aggie who was a bit on the heavy side (per Army standards). We started working out together during the winter to get in shape and drop pounds. His favorite exercise was doing jump rope. He would jump rope for almost an hour straight as a means of getting his weight down. I was never that coordinated to do jump rope, but I could run. So every day he would head off to the post gym, crank up the sauna to max temp and start jumping rope. I would run over from our apartment (3-4 miles) and would meet up with him and we would then sit in the sauna for 30-45 minutes. Doing that pattern, I dropped about 15 pounds from the exercise & sweating it out. Of course, we would then hit the o-club and try to gain some of that back. Ever since then, I have been an amateur runner. When stationed in Germany, I would run the trails around our post. When we came back stateside in the 80’s I would try to keep up with running in the evenings. Eventually, life started getting in the way (work, school, family) and it was to find the time to run. When I got a job in south Texas in a pacemaker company, I picked up the pattern of running during lunch. We had a great cafeteria and an even better work out facility with showers and, instead of eating during lunch, I would try to go running on the local roads/trails around the facility. Nothing serious, but I would try to get in a run of 3-4 miles every other day as my schedule allowed. When the company got bought up in 1990 and closed down the plant, I drifted to another local company but it did not have any work out facility, so I stopped running for a while. In 2001, I joined my current company and they have a work out room with a locker room/showers and I got back into the groove. Been running 2-3 times a week ever since then.

But why run? I really prefer the solitude of running to clear my head. Aside of the aerobic benefits, it gives me the opportunity to unload any pent up stress & frustration that I may have from the daily problems at the office. Figured it was better than drinking during the day and sure is less drastic than going postal on someone. I have been trying to build up my distance and stamina to do the Houston half Marathon (13 miles) in January. I have always wanted to do a marathon and my brush with prostate cancer earlier this year was a sort of wake up call for me. Figured life wasn’t getting any easier and if I was ever going to do it, now’s the time. I will be doing the race to donate money for cancer research, but I am really doing it for me. I figure this is some sort of spiritual/emotional accomplishment that I have set for myself. Running is something you have to do on your own. It ain’t a team sport (ok, maybe a relay race is) and no one can really do it for you. I tend to compete against myself to improve my time and distance, but I am really happy just to make it to the finish line. There are many people out there who have their reasons for running (Terri, Saroy) and I salute their efforts to get out and hit the trail.

Happy Trails, Ya’ll!

11 October 2008

'Bout time

Never thought the weekend would get here. Been a hell of a week and I am planning to enjoy the weekend relaxing around the hacienda. After all of the challenges this week has presented, I have no major plans this weekend. Got the a/c in the truck fixed (there goes my flat panel tv this fall), fixed the coffe pot, and bought some new cordless phones on sale. Actually, the new phones are neat. Lots of new features, longer range, battery lasts longer, and cost less than the original phone I replaced. One thing to note, though. Don't let yourself become too dependant upon technology. Hurricane Ike taugh a lot of people lessons in being prepared and improvising. When the power went out, those wonderful cordless phones are as useful as brick. I have held on to one of our old Trimline phones from years back and was able to plug in a talk. With a widespread power outage in the entire Houston area, even the cell phones were unuseable (no power to the cell towers), so we relied on the old-fashioned land lines. Even with the devastation of the hurricane, the phone system was still functional. BTW - the cable (Comcast) went down with the power, so anyone with Comcast phone service had nothing as well.

Was going to try & go to the football game in College Station this weekend, but the trailer still has a leak and I really need to get ready for my road trip next week to the twin cities. May try to fix the lead and take care of a few chores while listening to the game. Beautiful, low key weekends are the best. Like Terri, sometimes we must appreciate/enjoy what blessings we have. Life's too short to spend it whining all of the time.

Besides, I just scored 4 tickets on the floor to TSO (Tran-Siberian Orchestra) in December for my wife & I and my son & his girlfriend. We have made this an annual Christmas event while they are home from college.

Chance favors the prepared mind...

06 October 2008

Gonna be a long week

Didja ever get the hint that it ain't gonna be your day/week?

Life's short and I am not one to complain (ok, I try not to whine too often ) but sometimes things just don't go your way. Started last week and seems to be piling on. Window in the wife's car is going south. Motor will allow it to go up & down, but sticks halfway up with an ugly grinding sound. Figure I need to take the panel off and replace the motor/gear assembly (translation: $$$). Have done it twice on my son's Camry, but this is a Cadillac and nothing comes cheap or easy with this beast. Phone in kitchen is dying and the antenna is broken and momma wants a new one (ok, so duct taping the antenna was not chic). My rug cleaner has stopped working again (brushes won't turn) - essential piece of equipment with an old dog. Got a serious leak in the water line in the trailer that may require a trip to the shop. Being a boy scout, I'm down with living in the trailer sans water for a while, but somebody prefers to have indoor plumbing. On Saturday, the A/C in the truck decided it was time to stop working. Now, for most of you folk living north of the Red River, that may not seem to be a major problem, but down here in the swamps of south Texas, it tends to stay a might bit warm until Halloween. The only good thing is that it, ever since Ike dropped by, it has been getting cooler. Not looking forward to that repair bill.

Now, all of these "challenges" are things I have tried to take in stride and not get depressed/frustrated, but this morning the coffee pot (my favorite) decided it was time to go on strike. Damn. I'll try to coax it to work (using a BFH), but looks like I will be using momma's pot for a while.

If I were a paranoid guy, I would feel that somebody had it in for me.

Just a set back. Like the Marines, your learn to Improvise, Overcome & Adapt.

One of my mottos has been: "Life's hard, get a helmet"

02 October 2008

Ike be gone

One last observation of Ike. I have one friend who just got his power back on yesterday (3+ weeks). You really don't miss electricity until you don't have it and your neighbors do.

Life is slowly returning to normal (or something close to it).

The job is as hectic as usual. Lots of projects to finish up, many meetings, orders to place, supplier trips to make. October just started and I am already booked up solid until Halloween. Oh, well, I once griped about being bored with the job. As the say goes, be careful what you wish for. I am just grateful for the work/postition and don't really have too much to complain about. One of the benefits of being so busy is that it makes the day/week fly by.

Road trip this month! I get to spend a wonderful week in Minneapolis/St Paul visiting with several of my suppliers, performing an audit of one company and attending a convention. Looking forward to seeing Minnesota for the first time, although it is not as glamorous as it sounds. The new job requires me to be on the road more and I have to make a number of supplier audits on a monthly/quarterly basis. While it is nice to visit some of these areas, I am not a big fan of these road trips. I love to travel, but these trips are more of a chore. Long lines at the airports, crowded planes, flight delays, generic hotels, eating too much, no time to see the area. In the last three months, I have been to Tulsa, Orlando, Austin, & Salt Lake City. Nothing like someone in sales, but it is more than I have been used to. Glad to have the opportunity and will live with the minor inconveniences although I am not as young and flexible as I once was. A 4-5 hour plane ride and my knees are squalking. When I go, I do try to max out the opportunity and get some running in and see the local area, but when you travel with others, it is hard to get them on your agenda. Typically wind up eating big meals and drinking scotch at the bar. Prefer to travel alone so I am on my own agenda. 3 years back I went to Charlotte for a small software convention and some training. Arrived late Friday and sat in class for most of Saturday. Had most of Sunday open before the convention and I wound up taking the car and heading west towards Kentucky. Tried to make it to GSMNP (Great Smokey Mountain National Park) but it was too far to make in one afternoon. Wound up touring the countryside taking pictures (amatuer photographer) of various scenery. Stumbled across an antique tractor show somewhere in east SC. I'm a geek for antique car shows/swap meets and this seemed right up my alley. Great little show in a very small town put on by the locals and the boy scout troop. All sorts of tractors from the small Allis-Chalmers, Farmalls & Fords to some very old John Deeres. Totally unplanned & off the books but I had a blast. Life is full of surprises and opportunities if you keep your eyes open.

Chance favors the prepared mind...