30 October 2009

Friday Follies (Trick or Treat version)

BOO- YA! Made it through another week!

Loading up the truck and heading north as soon as the rain stops. BTW - for those who actually read this tripe, I commented this summer on how bone dry we were. The saying goes: If you don't like Texas weather, just wait a minute and it'll change. Over the past two weeks, we've just about caught up to our rain deficit. Earlier this summer, we were behind 7-8 inches in rainfall. Lots of rain/flooding in low areas. The hill country is always susceptible for flash flooding, so you gotta watch the river crossings. Even though people are griping about the rain/nasty weather, I am glad we are finally getting the rain. I've been out on the trail or in the field when it was pouring down and I'd much rather sit in my office or at home and listen to the rain on the roof and watch the show.

The office had a costume contest yesterday to encourage people to show their spirit. It is kind on an interesting culture where I work. Some groups/department are a bit more open/relaxed and get fired up for these kinds of events (you ought to see them during the Christmas holidays). Other groups (mine) are a bit more reserved and some folks tend to frown on this "dress up". My boss is one who thinks this is silly/unprofessional but I am ok with it. I have told my people that, if you want to dress up for Halloween/Xmas/Mardis Gras, knock yourself out, just keep it legal (no thongs/fishnet). Anyway, there was a company contest and a number of people dressed up in various costumes to see if they could win the prize (dinner, $$$). I applaud everyone's spirit and imagination, but you should always be cognizent of your gear/attire. One pair of engineers dressed up as two Star Trek characters (Kirk & Urhura). I don't think that Lu (Urhura) fully realized the logistical issues with the mini dress uniform that they wore back the 60s. I was in a design meeting with her in the morning and she was having issues maintaining her decorum in the leather conference room chairs.

Lots of ghosts & goblins out on Saturday. Make sure you keep any eye out for the little ones.

Hope everyone has a great and safe Halloween!

28 October 2009

In Training (a lost cause)

Been too busy (or is that lazy?) to come up with anything meaningful to write about. The past week has just flown by and I am staring down the barrel of another weekend. Normally we hold out at the house for Halloween and pass out candy to the roving hordes that roam the neighborhood, but we are heading out to catch a football game at my Alma matter and will spend the weekend camping out in the RV lot in the trailer. Been doing this gig for years with my parents & brother and it is more of a mini-vacation away from home/office. With the fall weather finally here to stay, we try to enjoy the outdoors a lot more.

Got sucked into a training class yesterday. One of those classess/seminars that the company has determined that its entire management team needs. This is one of a series of 4-6 hour classes on various management/leadership techniques (communication, dealing with stress, how to plan projects, conflict resolution, etc.). Not counting the 5+ wonderful years I spent in the Army, I have been in business for ~25 years in various roles from individual contributor to department manager. I have had a plethora of these styles of classes/training over the years and even spend time learning communication when I got my MBA. Given all of that background, I honestly feel that these classes are a total bust. I am trying not to be one of those old, entrenched farts who sits in the back of the class muttering "That'll never work here", but I feel that some of this material cannot be adequately covered in a 4 hour class. To me, some of these classes should be 2 days to be effective and we are cramming them into 4 hours (not counting breaks). Yesterday's class was on communication. We are learning techniques on how to communicate effectively. Would be a good class for the masses, if they spent more time allowing people to absorb the subject. For once, I was glad to have my blackberry so I can keep in touch with the outside world. To me, the highlight of yeserday's training was reading about terri's potty problems. Of course, after years of taking these classes, I tend to go "off script" when it comes to the role playing exercises just to lighten the mood. In one scenario, where my partner (another manager I have worked with for 8 years) and I were to practice communicating about a problem. I was supposed to encourage and empathize with my co-worker about his work load when he griped about it to me, but it came out more like: "Is that all? Oh, just man up and deal with it. Quit whining like a 5 year old and get back in the saddle." Somehow, I don't think the instructor did not seem to appreciate my sense of humor.

And I wonder why I keep getting invited back to these classes...

18 October 2009

Outdoors (part duex) - It's called a DOG park

Weather is still fantastic. It is almost criminal not to be outside enjoying this.

Took the dog to the new dog park yesterday. It is a brand new dog park built down in the bottom land near the Brazos River. Nice big park but still needs some more work. The ground must have been saturated last week because it looks like a herd of elephants had roamed through the area. Not a lot of grass next to the pond and the pond was very muddy. The grass needs to grow a bit more to make it less of mud pit. Of course, the dogs didn’t care. Grayson thought it was just like going to the play ground to meet all sorts of new friends. Young dogs, old dogs, fat dogs, tiny dogs, hairy dogs, slobbery dogs. Dogs with their own bones/balls to fetch. Dogs who loved to swim. Dogs who loved to chase each other. I played with a pair of Huskies who seemed to be enjoying the cooler weather. One girl brought a tiny Corgi named Bo. And by tiny, I mean this dog couldn’t have been more than 4 pounds soaking wet. My dog’s head was bigger that this entire dog. Of course all of the big dogs (including mine) were fascinated by this new “toy” and were checking her out. Funny sit to see three big dogs sniffing out this small, but undaunted Corgi. In spite of his diminutive stature, Bo held his own against his bigger brethren. All in all, the dogs seemed to enjoy the freedom of the open park and the new sights/sounds/smells. On our way out of the park, as Gray & I passed through the gate, I noted a young couple bringing in their dog. What caught my attention was the girl was carrying (ISYN) a ferret! I did one of those classic double takes. A ferret? Who brings a ferret to a dog park? I almost turned around to see if this was going to turn into a YouTube moment but had to head on home. If the pack was interested in a tiny Corgi, I was curious to see what hilarity would ensue with a ferret.

17 October 2009


Must get out.

For those of y'all north of the Red River or east of LA (Louisiana), south Texas weather is sometimes a unique experience. One day it will be 99+ degrees & 95% humidity and you will be camped out in the a/c, but by the afternoon, you are putting on a jacket. Normally, the temps crawl up into the 90's around May and don't come back down until October. The last week, we've had some serious storms roll through the area and the temps have dropped dramatically ushering in the fall season. Yesterday, the clouds finally broke and it is now crystal clear and ~58 degrees and should hold this way until some time next week. Beautiful hunting weather. We typically don't have this kind of weather but once or twice a year. I actually drove home to/from work with all windows down enjoying the fall afternoon (hard to do in traffic). I intend to take advantage of this situation and max out my outdoor activities. My plans are to work in the yard, trim up some bushes, work on the Mustang, and will take Gray to the new dog park in our town that just opened up last weekend.

I hope everybody has a great weekend!

Life's short. Enjoy it while you can...

16 October 2009

Friday Follies

Another week in the bag.

Two weeks down on the new system and everyone is starting to get comfortable with the changes (translation: less whining/complaints). Perhaps they are now comfortable with the new system and are begining to grasp the improvements that will make life easier/better. It's that or they just got tired of complaining to me (or I've stopped listening to them). We've actually been making progress every day. Would have liked to go live with a perfect system, but we didn't have an army of programmers to fix everything and we wanted to implement this before we all retired. So we chose to cast off with a few holes/leaks and a couple of rolls of duct tape. Life's more fun when you have challenges ahead of you.

Oh, yea. Forgot to post this up on my way out of town on last Friday.

You can blame terri for this picture.

And, no that is not mold on my tongue
(was enjoying a blue lolipop from the vet)

11 October 2009


are for old people. Wait, I think I be one.

Such a innocent looking bunch...

Hard to believe it has been 30 years. Just got back this afternoon from our reunion. We really had a really good time. The weather finally turned cooler (~59 degrees)down here and it was damp/drizzley for most of the football game. Spent some time roaming around campus trying to remember where we had classes and just griping on how many new buildings have gone up since we left. We got to see a whole bunch of people at the reception and meetings, many of which I did not recongnize. The good news is that most of the guys from my outfit made it to this year's gig so we were able to spend a lot of time trying to remember the old war stories. Most of the formal meetings/gatherings were more of a trying to remember somebody's name or where they've been over the last 30 years or how many kids (or wives) they've had. One of my guys lives in town and we all met at his house Saturday after the game and spent about 6 hours reliving the glory days.

Man, what studs...

Now, I know that many people may not like or go to reunions because they tend to be dry and boring filled with old farts trying to relive their youth. Most of the participation at these reunions comes from the people who were in the corps and some of these guys have yet to grow up. I consider myself lucky in that a lot of the guys in my outfit still communicate with each other. Out of the 16 young, cocky, hot heads that survived the freshman year, we graduated 13 guys (some took longer than 4 years) and 9 showed up this weekend (two from out of state) for this shindig. I spend 4+ intense years with these guys and we formed as bond that still exists today. It is funny to sit with these guys 30 years later and try to remember all of the crap we did when were were young and invincible (& stupid). Looking back, I am surprised we made it out alive. Interesting to break bread with guys I used to get drunk with or fight with or study with. Most of these guys are bit older, a bit grayer, a bit heavier, have less hair, and have 2-3 kids (plus 2 grandkids) that are our age when were we were in college. I asked my old roommate if he would let his daugher date a guy like he was back in our days (did not get an answer). It was heartening to see that most of the guys were still married/hitched to the same partner that they knew in college (all of the wives know each other from back then). Everybody has kids, everybody is doing well, everyone is in good health.

After all the votes are in, I'd have to say that a good time had by all.

Addendum: As typical with any football game weekend, accomodations were sparse and not cheap. I was able to find a room at the local LaQuinta across from campus that served us well. The interesting point about this factoid is that this is the exact same hotel that my wife and I stayed in after we got married and before we headed out on our honeymoon. Pretty good shape for a 30+ year old hotel, but then again, I don't recall too much of the decor the last time we stayed there...

09 October 2009

Back to the stone age

Off to my 30 year college reunion.

Get to see a bunch of old farts reminisce about the good old days back in the 70's. Back when there was:

  • Only one Star Wars movie
  • The first gas crisis
  • Smokey & The Bandit
  • CB Radios
  • Disco
  • Billy Beer
  • Sony Walkmans
  • Three Mile Island
  • Pink Floyd - "The Wall"
  • Gloria Gainer - "I Will Survive"
  • The Eagles - "Hotel California"
  • First Cell Phones
  • Happy Days
  • Charlies Angels
  • MASH
  • Space Invaders
  • Transalaskan Pipe Line opens
  • The King Dies
  • Roots

All of a sudden, I feel old.

07 October 2009

Health food

My nephew was in Dallas last weekend watching my team lose in the new Cowboys temple.

While there, he partook in the annual tradition of cheesy carnival games, car displays, and animal exposition (aka Texas State Fair). Somewhere along the way, he & his buddy got hungry for some good, nutritious health food.

Fried Butter...Mmmmmm.

04 October 2009

What's your cause?

Kids. Pets. Family. School. Charity. Church. Political. Social. Spiritual.

We all have causes.

Whether it is supporting your local firefighters or the police or the church or a specific foundation for a disease or the local animal shelter or a political group or your kid's school or a soccer/baseball team or the food bank or the local , people sometimes find causes they believe in and get behind to support. I have supported many causes over my life for different reasons, some more than others. Some I support with a check while others I have donated time and sweat equity to help out.

A few (but not all) of the ones I've supported over my life:

Now, please do not mistake me as some sort of pariah or saint. I am not rich, but I tend to support things that are near & dear to my heart. I have not been able to support a lot of groups or causes because I have limited funds and time, but I try to lend my support where I can. I am a big supporter of the BSA both financially and spiritually. I have spent many summer vacations on the trail or in camp in support of their efforts to educate and train young adults. I am a firm believer in their objectives and support their mission whenever I can. One of the paybacks has been wth my son earning his Eagle Scout rank. Some people give money, some give their time while others dedicate their lives to causes that they believe in. Everybody has their reasons for supporting their own cause/effort.

What's your cause?

03 October 2009

It's a dog eat dog world

Taking a break today from all of the work crap.
Drove out to Katy (west of Houston) to participate in the annual Katy Rice Harvest Festival Parade. The Golden Beginnings Golden Retriever Rescue group (to which we belong) was participating in the parade and I though Grayson would appreciate the exercise and playing with some of his brothers & sisters. Small town parade through the older section of town. Lots of typical parade entries (bands, floats, mayoral candidate, local real estate office, the Katy Cowgirls riding club, the local historical society, etc.). Our little group was the nonprofit animal rescue club. We had a heck of a turn out (21 dogs) of all ages, shapes and sizes. From a highly rambunctous and energetic 7 month old puppy (Oakley) to an seasoned 11 year old veteran (Ting), all of the dogs were up to the challenge. Turns our everybody loves dogs and loves to pet them as they walk by in the parade route. Of course, the typical Golden is just built for that kind of attention, so they were the hit of the parade. Didn't take very long before Grayson got the idea (Hey! If I walk up to that kid on the curb, I can get all sorts of love and attention!).

Of course, when mister center of attention gets hot & tired, he likes to lay in the gutter with the water & mud. There goes that bath I gave him last night...

02 October 2009

Friday follies

Day one of our new system and I've spent it just putting out fires. Things that were supposed to work, didn't. Things that were never going to happen, did. People cannot log in. Where's my report? How do I do this? What's my password?

I try to be an accomodating kinda guy, but there is a REASON I did not go into the customer service field. Today went fairly well, given the major paradigm shift we have done to the company. New system , new language, the problems. I left the office last night around 0130 and the calls started coming at 0600. Oh, well, at least they are looking at the system now (they have to espeically since we disabled the old system). One side benefit is that my name is now on the lips of everybody in the company. The bad news is that any thing wrong with the system I get blamed for (remember, folks, I am not IT). The way today was going, if the toilets don't flush right, I will be blamed for it.

On top of a long day yesterday and late night, I hit the doorstep around 0200 ready to hit the rack and get a few hours of sleep. Of course, my adorable canine family member who loves to greet me at the door decided yesterday that he needed some adventure & excitement. He found something enticing in the yard and proceded to roll in it completely. By the time I got home 4 hours later (after he marinated a bit), he smelled like he had rolled in a litter box and a used diaper combined. Of course, he was extra clingy and wanted to be petted. I know, I know, he's a dog and I should expect this, but it is just not what I was looking forward to when I come dragging home in the middle of the night.

Some days you are the dog, some days you are the fire hydrant...

from the trenches

Building burning.
Women & children first.
General breakdown in social order.
Cannibalism rampant.

Spoke too soon. We spent all day yesterday playing catch up on system transactions. Kept having problems with the system we had not seen in our earlier testing (Please See Your System Administrator). We finally nailed down all of the problems and finished up our transactions around 0130. We officially turned the old system on last night and are now "live" (although I feel like the living dead). Getting this system up and running while we continue to operate has been way more fun that you can imagine. It's kinda like trying to put tires on the bus as we drive down the road. Regardless of how we feel, we turned this thing over to the users at 0300. Now we just need to sit back and wait for the accolades/praise (or complaints).

Let the games begin...