30 April 2009

The long road

Life is full of milestones. You're born, you learn to walk, your first kiss, graduation from school, getting your dirver's license, turning 21 (or 30 or 50), leaving home, getting married, having kids, your first colonoscopy. Each milestone is another notch on the barrel of life. I consider each and every milestone as experience that we grow from.

Momma and I have been together a long time. Hell, we've been together longer than a few countries have been in existence. Next week, my darling bride and I will celebrate/commemorate our union of 29 years. 29 years. Wow. Just saying that makes me feel old. I used to know the list of anniversary gifts for the early years (paper, gold, diamonds) but what is the gift for 29? We are not big on gifts for each other and we tend to celebrate in a nice little quiet restaurant (although nothing says love like a 42 in HD TV).

One of my co-workers (the one I Kilroy'd) just celebrated her 5th year (rookie). She asked me how we stayed together for so long. A few of the many reasons:

  1. I'm old to break in another spouse

  2. She knows all of my jokes

  3. We're trying to see who can outlast the other

  4. I know how to reset the clocks for daylight savings time

  5. I'm the designated bug killer/poop clean up guy

  6. We cannot agree on who would get the dog

What do you get for 29 years?
Wrought Iron?

23 April 2009

Kilroy was here

Dang, I feel old.

I've been having a little fun at work with some of my co-workers (unprofessional) and their new temporary digs. One woman and I have a ongoing friendly sparring match. She is trying to con me into joining their weekly yoga sessions and I am trying to get her on a 10k run (tried to get her to run the 5k run held in tandem with the marathon). All in good fun/spirits. Anyway, she has been grousing about her new cube which, in her opinion is "out in the middle of traffic and unadorned and boring". As concerned coworkers, we have taken turns to leaving notes on her terminal to lighten up personal space. I have even posed a set of eyes on her terminal along with the ominous message "We're watching you". I know - that's juvenile but she find this all amusing. Today, however, I left her the picture below and she thought it was some sort of lewd drawing. I told her what it was and she did not believe me at first. What got me feeling old was how few of her cube mates recognized the picture.

So, pop quiz, folks.
How many of y'all recognize this picture?
Do you know who it is and were it came from?

21 April 2009

18 Minutes

That's all it took.

April 21, 1836.

On this day 173 years ago, General Sam Houston led his army of roughly 900 men to defeat the army of General Santa Anna in the battle of San Jacinto. This was considered to be the decisive battle that paved the way for Texas Independence.

As a native Texan, I find it enlightening/inspiring to know our history.

Remember the Alamo! Remember Goliad!

That's all for the history lesson today, kids.

20 April 2009

What's important...

Last week was a whirlwind of activity. First, we got a new boarder at the house, had to finish up taxes, trying to put our a dozen fires at work, continue to test the new system, and, on top of that, we had to move our office one floor down while the renovate our old area. In these uncertain times, it is nice to know that the company is willing to invest in our area to improve the overall condition for its employees. I try to remind everyone that this is a temporary gig while the area gets demo’d out and renovated, but there are a lot of cranky people down here. We essentially moved a lot of managers/directors down into cubicles. After living in an office for several years, moving back to the cube farm is “interesting”. Some people are treating this like a college move and I have “heard” stories of certain paper objects being tossed over the cube walls. I think they’ll draw the line at beach balls, however.

Moving is a PITA. Had to box up everything I own and move it downstairs myself. Of course, half of what I have I want to keep but I will not use a lot of things while I am in the new digs, so that means living out of a box for a while. We have gone through the files and tossed a ton of old stuff/papers and the shred bins have been overflowing for several days. One interesting aspect is how people set up camp in their new locations. Now, everyone understands this to be a temporary relocation, but a lot of folk have set up their cubes like they are going to be here for years. Pictures, awards, posters, plants that typically adorn the cube walls have found new homes. I was torn with what to put up in my new cube. I have several awards/plaques/attaboys that adorn the top of the cube cabinets only because I have no other place for them. My walls have a few of the certificates I have earned while here plus one or two “meaningful cartoons” and some family pictures. As I was sitting here enjoying the view, I noted I have multiple pictures of the spouse and son. Not as many as some people have (I’ve seen whole walls adorned with photos) but they occupy a predominant spot on the desk. I have always felt that a person’s cube/office/workstation can be a small reflection of people’s life and, if you look deeply enough, you can tell a lot about a person. There are those who appear cluttered and those who have the entire family proudly displayed (including pets). If you are going to spend at least 1/3rd of your day in one location, you ought to be able to give it some personality.

18 April 2009

Singing in the rain

Time to put the waders on. Been pretty nasty down here since yesterday and has been pouring nonstop since first light. They have even cancelled the MS150 (Houston to Austin) bike ride for today. Tomorrow ain't looking good, either. The good news is that the dog is not as thunderphobic as Shadow was but he living up to his typical Golden "velcro" personality. Bad news is that he needs to go out for a leak now and is not too excited about getting drenched. Poor guy has had a ruff day yesterday. Got a grooming and his plumbing fixed. He ain't quite as chipper today. Even got him his own personal lampshade to wear (to keep from licking).

Sometimes you're the fire hydrant, sometimes you're the dog...

15 April 2009

Needy (the lost posting)

Day Four. (I promise this will not go on for a year).
Grayson seems to be settling in well. He is still a bit unsure about his new home, but he is getting used to us (as we are to him) and doing good. Every day a little bit more of his personality is showing, but we are still in the dark over his history. I am pretty sure he was an outside dog for most of his life. He acts almost guilty being inside with us and, when I open the door to let him in or out, he is hesitant to cross the threshold. It's almost like I have to invite him to go outside. Given his ruff background, I might be worried about him inside the house, but it has been quite the opposite. He is extremely well-behaved inside and has not caused any problems or concerns. He is completely housebroken and shown no interest in jumping up on the furniture. I think he is uncertain of what he is supposed to do inside, so has picked a spot on the bathroom carpet to sleep on (I think it is because the room is smaller and more den-like). He has been great on leash. He takes the lead well and does not drag you down the block. He is what I would label as a "crusier" when he walks. Head up and alert to his surroundings and trots along at a pretty good pace (~9 minute mile). I tried to jog with him to see how it would go and that turned into a mistake - it just encouraged him to go faster. One of his quirks is that he is very affectionate. He does not really jump on people but, if you sit in front of him and rub his head/ears, he will paw you to keep going (Don't stop). One thing that is blowing my mind is that, in spite of his skinny frame (weighs in at 47 lbs) he is not extremely hungry. Eats well, but just not ravenous. On top of that, he has NO interest in human food. No begging at all. I shouldn't complain, but, somehow, in all of my dog years, that just doesn't seem right.

Work is about as much fun as watching paint dry. Still testing the new computer system. We go live the end of July so that means we will be doing this for a long while. Since I am considered a guru in the system, my job is to test/evaluate the entire system to find any problems or bugs. Basically, that means I am supposed to break it, if I can. Sounds like fun, but it can be harder than you imagine. I have to find ways to make it fail and then diagnose the problem for the software guys to fix. I am on line with a woman in Chicago who is fixing my bar code system and every other day I am e-mailing her with another "it no workee" message. She is a terrific programmer and I am glad she has a good sense of humor (and a lot of patience). As I said earlier, it is gonna be a long summer. On top of this task, we are moving our offices down one floor to some temporary cubicals while they rennovate our old area. A lot of the engineers are whining about their new temporary digs, but, I figured it was a break from the routine. Besides, I have lived out of a tent for two weeks with the scouts, spent the summer in a barracks with 35 other guys in training camp, and even spent a month living out of a tank in Germany, so shacking up in a cube farm is a walk in the park. If only I wasn't stationed next door to my boss for the next 4 weeks....

Flower child

Oops. I did it again.


Ever spend a good 30-45 minutes on writing a blog?
Putting in all sorts of inciteful and witting things?
Some general musings and observations?
Even tossed in a couple of them big 10 dollar MBA words and some bad puns?
A picture or two?
And, just when it was about ready to let loose, you go back to clean it up and make a few format changes and, BAM! its gone. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Not even a comma or punctuation mark left.
Makes me want to start drinking again (or curse out the computer).

I guess I will have to dredge up a song in my head like some people do to keep from running over people on the way into work (Don't Worry. Be Happy!)

14 April 2009

Day three

Still doing well.

Dog is showing more of his personality every day. He is a well behaved guy but we have yet to hear him bark. Walks well on a leash and seems to be very friendly to all. He has a certain propensity to want to greet/play with the neighborhood cat, but the cat seemed to be late for an appointment. Not sure how he is with other dogs, yet but we are trying to determine his group skills.

Seems to like the water...

12 April 2009

Day two

Happy Easter!

So far, so good.

Grayson is doing very well. He has taken to us as well as we have taken to him. I had a kennel set up for him to use, but he is bigger than the kennel so I took a chance he was house broken and would not be a problem and I was proven right. He was fairly calm and quiet throughout the night but I still think he is nervous about his new surroundings/environment. Probably still has some abandonment issues. He is a very affectionate dog and craves attention, but not overly. My son and his girlfriend drove down from Austin last night and Grayson was elated to meet them. They are just back for the weekend and will head back this afternoon after Easter dinner. I honestly think that he only came back to see the new dog, but I can live with that.

I have not seen a lot of negatives with Grayson. For a stray/abandoned dog, he is remarkably well behaved. Is not hyperactive and is fairly playful. I think he has had a good amount of human interaction, but may be hungry for affection/attention. Speaking of hungry, he is very skinny for his size. He looks to be a medium to large frame dog but is about 10-15 lbs underweight. His coat is thick and full, but when you pet his back and hind quarters, you can feel his ribs and hip bones. The boy needs to put on some meat. We are not sure if it was because he was a stray or if it was because of the heartworms, but we are going to try and fatten him up. I have left food out for him but his is not wolfing it down like he was starving, but he has eaten ok. He eats treats, but not like Shadow. He will take a milk bone and eat a just portion of it and leave a pile of crumbs on the floor (Shadow would hoover the area for any remnants). He has not yet had any accidents in the house although he was eye-balling the area where Shadow had a few "events". He walks on a leash very well. Does not pull you down the block but will go to the limit of the leash (I have one of those 15 foot retractable jobs) and then keep pace with you. He is definitely not a sniffer like Shadow, but is actually more of a "cruiser" and keeps up a good clip. I am actually thinking about trying to run with him but he may wind up running my butt into the pavement. Aside of the hair (needs a grooming) and bad breath (needs a tic-tac), he is a great dog. We're off to church in a bit, so this will be the first test of him alone in the house (locked in the utility room). I am trying to determine his level of trust with us, so I am letting him roam the house but keeping a watchful eye on him, just in case.

Enough with the pictures, already!

11 April 2009

Drum Roll Please....

Ladies & Gentlemen,

Please allow me to introduce the newest member to our band....


He is a 2-3 year old Golden Retriever that was picked up as a stray in southeast Houston last week. We recently decided to open up our house to foster some of the dogs who have been abused/abandoned/turned in to shelters in the area. We don't have many details on him and they rescue group we are working with just got him earlier this week, so we have no idea as to his temperament or disposition, but I have faith and confidence he is a great dog in need of a good home. (Addendum: is a very affectionate and gentle dog.)

We joined a local group of people who love the Golden Retriever breed and go to extreme lengths to rescue dogs from shelters or pounds or bad situations. This group (Golden Beginings Golden Retriever Rescue) strives to place all of their dogs in homes instead of kennels. They try to foster the dogs in homes until they can find their permanent (forever) home. I been cruising their website and doing a couple of meet & greets and finally decided to jump into the kiddie pool last weekend. It didn't take long before they called me with a new dog that just arrived. The poor guy was a stray/abandoned over in Pasadena and he is a medium sized dog but a bit underweight and needs some TLC. Needs to be neutered and has been tested positive for heartworms, so we will have to address those issues first. We are not sure of his name yet. The GBGRR group picked Grayson as a foster name, but he's not yet fixed to that name yet so we can pretty much call him what we like (might as well call him Bob).

I am open to any suggestions for good dog names from the peanut gallery.

Sidenote: There is no way we could ever replace Shadow in our hearts. He was a great dog and we miss his personality/spirit. We just felt the need to help out some of the other dogs in need of a home. I am honestly not sure how long Grayson will be with us. We are fostering him to help him through his current issues and get him ready for a more permanent home. Even with that goal, there have been several "foster failures" where the fostering family winds up adopting the dog, but it is too soon to make that call. For now, I am just glad to welcome him aboard...

Almost there...

I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful Easter weekend.

It's been a long week and I was hoping to kick back this weekend and relax, but I know it will be anything but.

Taxes are almost done. My system testing is going slow and sloppy, but we are making headway. We are moving our offices next week temporarily so they can rennovate our area which means we have to pack up everything and move downstairs. Will be living out of a box for a couple of weeks.

I am just grateful to have survived the week intact.

And, NO, I am not breaking the news yet.

10 April 2009

Can you smell the anticipation?

Nope. Not yet.

Got big news but not ready to publish, yet.

Should have some news tommorrow afternoon.

No peeking.....

Second thoughts

Ever stand on the precipice of some event or decision and start getting 2nd thoughts?

  • Am I doing the right thing?
  • Do I know enough?
  • Am I strong enough to do this?
  • Am I smart enough?
  • Am I good enough for her (or him)?
  • Can we afford this?
  • Is this a good career move?
  • Is this the right time?
  • Are we ready for this?
  • Do we know enough to be parents?
  • Will I be funny?
  • Can I lead/inspire others?
  • Will people like it/me?
  • What will others think?
  • Why am I jumping out of a perfectly good airplane?
I think part of it is due to the build up of emotional energy prior to a pending event. Anticipation, fear, concern, excitement, doubt all combine to give you that emotional roller coaster of feelings. Call it butterflys, call it cold feet, call it buyer's remorse. You've made your decision, cast the die, and now you await to see the results. Some events in life are huge, life changing events (weddings, births, school, work, buying your first house/car) while other decisions are a bit more mundane. It is that lull between making your choice and awaiting the outcome that doubt will sometimes creep in and make you question your decision (what was I thinking?).

I live for times like these. It is the prospect of entering into the unknown that gives me that adrenalin rush and makes life interesting.

Resistance is futile.
Change is inevitable.
Chance favors the prepared mind.

09 April 2009

Change is good?

Long week. I mentioned before that I am in charge of a computer system upgrade at the office and we are in testing mode this week. Lots of early mornings/late nights. We are trying to validate the system to insure it works properly. That means testing every nook & cranny to see if all of the functions work. There are a ton of different tests/scenarios to test out and I have a small crew of people testing all day & night. Since I am the point man on this deal and considered to have the most knowledge, any problems that occur along the way wind up on my desk and there are a sizeable number of problems. Most of my days have been trying to diagnose the issue (is it a system or operator problem) and keep this thing on track. It's definitely been a test of my good nature/humor to keep a smile on this week. And this is only the 2nd round of testing we have to do while we validate. We have several more to run before we go live in July. It's gonna be a long summer.

Looks like it's Easter dinner here at our house again this year. Seems like we have become an annual tradition. It's not that I don't mind dining with my family, it is just all of the logistical prep work that goes into the event. Me? I am a simple guy and prefer simpler venues like the 3 B's (bugers & dogs & beer), but I will go with whatever my commander directs me.

And along the line of Be Careful of What You Wish For - there is a big change in the wind for us. Not to spill the beans but we are about to embark upon an interesting challenge this week.

Stay tuned. Details to follow...

Life is hard. Get a helmet.

05 April 2009

Never a dull moment around here

I've been trying to coordinate life & work and not making much progress. I took the truck into the dealer last week and they finished up on Wednesday. I knew it wasn't cheap and I was right. As there might be children in the room, I won't give you the exact figures, but let's just say there goes my Sony 52 inch Flat Panel HD tv this year. I had a major tune up and the air suspension replaced in the rear. It is one of those gianormus landbarges with a load leveling system that makes it great to pull a trailer. The only problem is that they tend to start to leak after a while and sparky is getting a bit old (9 years). She is running better but I think that one of the rear shocks still has a minor leak and will need to get checked out so I will probably take it back on Tuesday for a follow up. As I said earlier, I have a high level of distrust of auto mechanics and one of the biggest things they can do to loose my confidence is to have to return to refix it. I figure if I am investing my wheels and money in your business, you have one shot to get it right.

Trying to do the taxes but not making much headway. I pay the bills but momma handles the taxes. We hope to have it done before next weekend and are not expecting much of a return. With the current state of affairs, I am surprised we get anything at all, but at least I have a job to pay taxes upon, so that is a good thing.

Finally got the yard cleaned up this afternoon. Lots of pollen/oak in the air so I will be feeling that for a while.

Work is like a three ring circus and I sometimes feel my job is to clean up after the elephants. We are in the middle of testing our software upgrade which means a lot of early mornings/late nights to test the system. I am running tests this afternoon in preparation of a major week long test of the system. Starting tomorrow, we have our first full shake down test of the system to verify everything works. I think we are about 70% solid but there are some big holes to deal with. I have a bad feeling that the test next week will be rather ugly but no one wants to postpone this thing so we will have to soldier on. Should make for a long week.

I am pondering a decision and would appreciate any input from the peanut gallery. I've mentionned several times how much we miss Shadow (ok, it is mainly me). With our son off in college, we have fallen into that empty nester point of our life and it has been quiet around here. With the loss of the dog, it has been rather quiet/depressing around here without some canine antics. I guess momma is leaving it up to me to make that leap and I am pondering getting another one. I am looking at another Golden Retriever and have been reviewing two of the local groups around here who handle rescued dogs. I actually went out to a meet & greet yesterday to see the group and look at some of the available dogs up for adoption. There were a lot of great/beautiful dogs there but I wound up spending a lot of time with one great dog who has had more than his share of bad luck. I was not planning to get back into the pool so soon (or even at all), but we may foster one of the dogs to see if we can handle another one (or it can handle us). One of the groups allows you to foster dogs to help the dogs adjust into a normal life and also see if it is a good fit. Its been quiet around here lately (too quiet) and I sometimes miss the hassles you get with having a pet. This is funny considering that I was the one against getting a dog 13 years ago. Am I nuts? Perhaps, but I am seriously pondering the possibility of another mouth to feed and mutt to walk/pick up after.

Somebody slap me...

01 April 2009

No foolin'

Sorry folks. Never took much stock in doing the April Fools gags/jokes. Guess I wasn't much of a prankster in my yout.

Of course the joke's on me lately. One of my new(er) sayings is:

Life's cheap.
It's the accessories that'll cost you.

Finally bite the bullet and took the land barge in for service at the dealer last weekend. I have been debating taking to the dealer as I figured it was going to run me 2x what a local shop would run, but it was showing some serious problems and I just did not want to trust it to my local Goodyear place. Finding a good, trustworthy mechanic that will not gouge you is almost like a leprechaun's gold. I was puckered up waiting to hear the bad news from the dealer when he called and told me it was just bad coil and needed new plugs/100k mile service. That little job was only going to run me $6-700! Surprisingly, I was happy to get that estimate. I was expecting something 2-3 times that in transmisstion repairs. But, alas, no good deed goes unpunished. I had them check the rear end while it was on the rack and my rear suspension is leaking. This is one of those automatic air suspensions that levels the truck when under a load (like hauling a trailer). Of course, those puppies don't come cheap to repair. Looks like my earlier estimate/fear will come true. I am waying my options at this point, but it looks like I will have to cowboy up for the repairs if I want to keep this rig for a while and be able to tow my trailer. I am old school (or like to think I am) when it comes to vehicle repairs - I prefer to do a lot of the maintenance/repairs myself. However, this job is beyond my capacity at this point and I need to have it fixed to prevent further damage/costs. I guess I should look on the bright side, she's paid for and I have a dependable mode of transportation (once the repairs are done).

Oh well, there goes my HD TV this year...