30 July 2009

Ahm baaack.

Anybody got a towel?

Short version: Nice road trip. Great hotel. Too much food. Good audit. Nice trip to the falls. Long flight home.

Got back late last night. Long flight. Some weather delays on the east coast, but we seemed to skirt the weather problems and were pretty much on time. I hate getting in late at night and having to go in early the next morning just to stay ahead of the pack, but that's the ride I signed up for, so Tally Ho!

Nice time to visit upper state New York. They, like some others around the globe, have had a preponderance of rain this summer and this was their first break in the weather for some time. Very nice weather. Not too cool, not too hot, and, since I was avoiding south Texas and the 98+ temps, I was OK with that. Conducted our audit with no issue and had a chance to visit the falls Tuesday evening. It was nice and not too crowded since it was after 1900. Spend some time wandering around the park and even went down to the Cave of Winds. Basically a tourist gig where you don cheap rain gear and even cheaper sandals to stand at the base of the falls and get wet. Neat, but I'd highly recommend taking a 2nd set of clothes and nothing you don't mind getting wet. The falls were pretty neat and I could have spend a few more hours there exploring, but I was with a supplier and my team wasn't in an adventurous mode so we went off to a nice steak dinner in Lewiston (north of the falls area). I'd like to have had more time to explore the upper New York state area, but you take what you can get. Yesterday was crappy weather so we did not go back to the falls but opted to visit the Anchor Bar& Grill in Buffalo (Home of the Original Buffalo Wings). Not bad, but, honestly, I've had better wings at Hooters. Flight was long & mind numbing. There was one small child who screamed & cried the entire flight from Baltimore to Houston (and I don't mean quiet screams). Not sure what her issue was, but I was vacillating between frustration and empathy. On one hand, I could feel the frustration and irritation of the surrounding passengers (and their eardrums) for being locked in a small metal tube at 30,000 feet with a very loud & unhappy child. On the other hand, I felt sorry for her and her mom who was trying to control/quiet her thoughtout the trip with little success. I guess I may have mellowed in my old age, but having a kid with ear infections (along with a myriad of other strange maladies), I can emphasize with some parents on handling their offspring in public. If you have ever had to deal with a ill or cranky child in a public venue, you may have some sense of understanding.

Now click your heals 3 times and repeat after me:

There's no place like home....

24 July 2009

Shuffle off to Buffalo

Back out on the road (again).

We are in round 2 of our software validation and, as usual, it is going very slowly. Seems like everything we did last time has changed ever-so-slightly which makes us have to spend more time checking it out. Been working the weekends, very long days/nights. Lots of mind-numbing, repetitive testing with regular status update reports/meetings (are we there, yet?).

In the midst of all of this hoop-la, I am headed back on the road again for another supplier audit. This time I am headed north to Buffalo. At least if I have to go into upstate New York, I am going at a decent time of year. Planning to take a side trip to Niagra Falls, if time allows. It's been over 40 years since the last time I visited the falls as a kid.

21 July 2009

I told you it was a matter of time

Remember I mentioned that I was signing up for the Houston Marathon last Friday?
Some of ya'll questioned the fact they were signing people up so early?

Just got this e-mail blast this morning:

Greetings from the Chevron Houston Marathon, Aramco Houston Half Marathon, EP5K and ABB Team Challenge! Open Registration is SOLD OUT!

Open registration for the 2010 Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Houston Half Marathon is closed, with both races selling out in record time! The half marathon reached capacity in less than 24 hours with the marathon selling out just two days later.

And ya'll thought I was crazy for jumping in this early.

Time to start running....

19 July 2009

It's a dog eat dog world

I don't really mean to keep talking about the dog, but yesterday was pretty much an all canine day. Spent a good portion of my day at the dog show at Reliant Park. That's one of those big annual shows where they do all of the contests & competition for dogs and there are lots of booths for various dog organizations and sponsors. Since I got my dog from the GBGRR, I had volunteered to man the booth for a while. Was a wild & crazy booth. People just fall all over those Golden Retrievers and they huge are attention magnets. Funny place. A bazillion people with a ton of different breeds showing and hawking stuff for their Shitzus or Greyhounds or Bassets or Whippets or Malamutes. We had the Malamute booth next to ours and one dog kept howling the entire time (sounds just like a wolf). Would be spooky in the wild but just got annoying after 3 hours. I will say there are lots of crazy people out there who sell/buy stuff for their pets. You can buy dog clothes, dog treadmills, dog hats, dog shoes, dog mailboxes, dog treats, dog books. You can even go see a dog psychologist (dog whisperer) who will tell you what your dog is thinking ("Your dog does not need to be present"). I spotted one poor Corgi who was strapped to the front of a rather "sizable" woman in a baby-like carrier with its legs splayed out in front looking like some sort of papoose. I swear it had a look it is eyes that just said "Please, shoot me".

Of course, my day started way early. Got up around midnight (0020 to be exact). Dog woke me up by basically standing on me in bed. We're still trying to figure out his signals, but I take that as a "I need to go out, NOW" and, trust me, I'd rather deal with an early wake up call than the consequences. So I drug my self to the back door in shorts and no glasses to let him out and, as soon as the door opened, he took off like a shot (remember that he has had heartworm treatment and is supposed to take it easy). Of course I am yelling at him in a very loud whisper as he tore over the back corner of the yard. Now typically, there is some nocturnal ramblings of our neighbor's cat, so I figured he was chasing after Jinx. But when he came trotting back with something HUGE in his mouth, I was mortified. First thought it was a armadillo because it was big & grey but it turned out to be a full blown possum. I immediately told him to drop it and he did and looked it over to see if it was still alive. I like to think I am a brave guy, but, folks, in the dead of night at 0030, that possum looked downright ugly. He was all teeth and hair and looked like something out of a Wes Craven movie. Got a broomstick and tried to poke him to see if he was dead or playing possum (even smacked him a few times to make sure). I finally scooped him up in a bucket with locking lid and put him out for the trash guys to pick up. Of course, dog was happy with himself (but he ain't licking my face any time soon).

Corollary to story: When I went out to put out the garbage at 0600 that morning, I cracked the lid on the bucket only to find him glaring up at me all teeth and hair. I took the bucket on my way to the dog show and relocated him to another county way far away from the city (and my yard). I ain't a bit fan of possums (and raccoons & havelinas). Too many conflicts from my days camping in the wilds with the scouts. Nothing like coming nose to nose with a possum at midnight to give you that shot of adrenaline.

17 July 2009

Just a matter of time

Ok, here we go again. For some reason that I cannot fathom, I've gone and signed up AGAIN for the 2010 Aramco Houston Half Marathon. They just opened up registration this morning (at midnight actually) and I just had to jump on board and sign up. Now the race is actually 6 months away and typically fills up pretty fast. I bet that registration will close within 30-45 days. My cause de jour this year is Elves & More.

Of course, when I tried to prep for the last run, things did not go quite as planned. All told, the 2009 race probably cost me a lot of $$$ from the ancillary events. This year, I'm gonna train by watching lots of bowl games and drinking beer.

Somebody stop me...

12 July 2009

Hair cut



Hey babe.

What's your sign?

So, what do ya think?

Like his new doo?

I did not intend for it to be this short, but he does seems a bit cooler.

11 July 2009

Hot dog

How come everytime I go swimming, the paparazzi show up?

We made it to another weekend! Went out for bagels this morning and the temps are already in the mid 80s. Supposed to hit 100 today and the forecast is for much of the same for the next 7 days. Tough to run in these kinds of temps unless you do it early.

Grayson is back from his treatment and "grooming". He is doing very well and you couldn't tell he had anything wrong with him. The vet says he should remain calm & quiet (not get excited) for the next 30 days and I am not supposed to walk him for at least 2-3 weeks. Of course, he doesn't understand that restriction. He thinks he is being punished cause I won't take him for a walk or play with him too roughly. Been trying to use those sad, brown eyes on me to no avail. He'll just have to wait like the rest of us.
While he was in the shop, I had him groomed. Well, groomed is not quite the right word. I told the groomer I wanted him to get a "shave down" to keep him cooler in the hot temps and get rid of his fleas and I kinda regret it now. He now has taken on the look of a yellow lab and looks a lot like a larger version of our older dog, Shadow. I think he looks more handsome with a fuller coat, so we are going to let it grow back out. Althought, right now, he is cooler and not panting as much. I will post a picture of his new "doo" later this weekend.
In the meanwhile, I am off to mow the yard. Thanks to the constant watering of last week and a 2.5 inch rain we had on Wednesday, the yard is coming back with a vengance. Of course, with the forecast as it is, it will probably start to brown up again by next weekend. Low key weekend planned. Mow yard, wash/wax cars, hit the range, sort through some boxes junior brought home (momma likes to organize) before he returns next month.

Have a great weekend!

08 July 2009

Seattle et. al.

Who-ah! You are never too old to learn new tricks. This morning I uncovered a better way on how to upload my pictures! I have always been vexed by eblogger and trying to post cool pictures that people can click on to expand. Typically, I add my musings/diatribe first and then upload several pictures to the page and then manipulate them to a different spot and, when I was done, they were not clickable. This morning I tried a different tactic and uploaded the pictures first and then added text second and, voilĂ ! the pictures are expandable. Watch out, world.

A few more shots from our trip last week to the great northwest. Sorry for the repeats, but I think they look better when you can blow them up.

Flowers from the SiL's garden.

Light house on Vashon Island with Mount Rainier in background.

Looking southward from Vashon towards Tacoma and Mount Rainier

2nd try. I'm off again to the vet this morning for Grayson's treatment. Hoping to get his coat trimmed (his summer cut) before they start the shots. Poor guy has a lot on his plate today and I feel sorry for him.

06 July 2009


Who-hoo! No shot today!

That's a negative, Maverick. I took Grayson into the vet this morning for his initial heartworm treatment and, even though I called in to remind them last week, they were essentially overbooked (had 6+ dogs to treat this morning). The vet & I talked it over and we agreed to to postpone starting treatment until Wednesday. We are going to try to get him in for a grooming beforehand to thin out his coat so he is not so hot. Doc said he is in good health (has picked up 10-12 lbs since his last visit) and looks great. X-Rays confirmed that he has a pretty bad infestation of heartworms and will need the full 3 shot treatment to eliminate them.

While we were out in Seattle last week enjoying the 70 degree temps, Grayson was bunking with a friend (MB) and he proved himself to be a perfect gentledog. No problems for her (only one minor accident) although he did show a certain propensity to wake up/get playful early (ala 0400). Did not take to the kennel real well but was well behaved in her house (as well as ours). He even got lots of personal attention from a neighbor couple (and their 5 year old daughter) who took extra special care of him while MB was at work. They lost their Golden a few weeks back and I think they are already in the queue to adopt another one. Their daughter who is having a hard time reading would sit there are read a book (barnyard animals) to Gray and he would just sit next to her and hung on her every word. MB indicated that everyone loved Gray and, if we did not adopt him, there were several neighbors who would be happy to give him a forever home. He is happy to be back at home and sleeping on our bed.

Dog days of summer

Burning up down here. Temps have been hovering around the 100+ mark for the past week and the weekend was no different. A/C is running nonstop and the yard is dying. I have been watering to save what I can, but some areas of my yard are starting to look like a highway median.

I haven't had much to update our mutt Grayson lately. He's been doing good, has picked up some weight and pretty much taking over the house (Did I mention that Golden Retriever's are slightly hairy?). In spite of his progress and good looks, he is still heartworm positive. I've got to take him in early this morning to the vet for the first round of the treatment and I know he is not going to enjoy the next few weeks. This treatment is the kind where they give the dog a shot and then he must be kept quiet for 30 days (some people will kennel the dog for the entire time) to prevent any stress or excitement for the dog (could have severe consequences). I am not even supposed to walk him until the treatment is done. After 30 days, they give him a second shot and we repeat the cycle. Pretty nasty stuff, but it is supposed to be the best/only way to eliminate heartworms. I feel kinda bad for him so I took him back to the bark park Saturday to let him run free and socialize with the other dogs and play in the lakes. Would have been more enjoyable if it wasn't so hot. I'll get one last walk in this morning before we head in.

Who let the dogs out?

03 July 2009

Post trip log

I'm one of those A/R kind of guys that likes to analyze everything. After each of my road trips, I tend to look back to see what worked and what didn't. I always tend to over-analyze past trips in my mind to see what we liked and what what we would want to do differently (if we go back). This last trip we did a lot and I am not sure I would change much. I did not make it up the Space Needle, but in hindsight, that was not a big deal (sure, paying $25-30 to ride to the top of the needle to see a panoramic view of the Seattle area is nice, but we saw lots of great views from our vantage point). I would have liked to take a day to go to Mount Rainier and hike some of the local trails. I made it a point to sample some of the local flavor (i.e. breweries) and we were going to try for a winery or two, but just ran out of time.

Got to spend a lot of time with junior and even got to see my brother & wife, so I would call the trip a success.

Some of the interesting sights of the Washington State area: