27 March 2010

One man's junk is another man's treasure

You never know what you see when walking your dog. Especially in the early pre-dawn light.

I will confess. I have been dumpster diving. More than once. I like to find something that a person has lost interest in or found no further use for and tossed on the trash pile. When we lived in Germany in the 80's, they used to have trash day where everyone would put out their big items for pick up and all of the neighbors would pick over the collection to see what they want. We picked up a chair and end table one week.

Anyway, every week, people toss out their garbage/items. When I walk the dog (dogs, when Claire is off restriction) early in the morning, I tend to walk past certain collections to see if there is anything of interest. More than once I have returned home with some trophy. A solid kitchen chair (with junior in Austin), a set of platic storage boxes, several plastic lawn chairs (to replace mine), an off road bicycle, a vacuum cleaner (exact model of our older cleaner - had plans to cannibalize the motor/housing to keep our running). Some treasures have found a place/use, others have kinda wound their way back out into our trash pile. Was going to use the older vacuum as spare parts for ours, but never finished up the deal. I gotta admit, I'm a pack rat at heart. I am always collecting things for future use. Never know when you'll need that special nut or widget for some future problem. Anyway, this morning's score was epic. Was walking Grayson way earlier than I intended this morning (0500 - can we sleep in this morning, boy?) and I spoted the latest score.

What do ya think?

26 March 2010

Up to no good

Been another busy week.

Junior was home on spring break all last week and left on Sunday to go back to school. Was great to have him here, even if for a short while. Even though he is 3 hours away from home, with all of today's technology, he is a simple e-mail/text message/phone call away. We actually converse with him on a regular basis way more that we did when we were in college many moons ago. It is good to have that kind of close communication with him, even if it electronic. Still, we get so much more when he is home. We are finally figuring out what his plans are for summer this year. Staying in Austin, working for a small software company. After working for da man the previous summers (Microsoft last summer), this is more of a smaller venture. Still not sure where his career will land him, but I no longer worry that he will not be able to find his niche in life. The boy has a level head and pretty keen bead on life at this point. Don't know where he got that from.

Dog update - took both dogs into the shop on Monday. Grayson was in to get his teeth cleaned. We have it nice with our dentist/hygienists. To clean dogs' teeth (and cats I imagine), they have to sedate the dog (gee, I wonder why) for the process. That makes them a bit groggy afterwards. This is the first time we have done it for our dogs, so I am not if it is worth it, but he does have a some nice gleaming fangs now. Claire went in for HW treatment round 2. They kept her overnight to make sure there were no problems. I picked her up Tuesday and she is a bit slow/tired. 4 more weeks of restricted duty before she can cut loose. Already she is feeling better and wants to play with Grayson. She is depressed right now because she doesn't get to go on the walk when I take Grayson out (sits by the back door waiting for us to return), but I explained it was "doctor's orders". Still, she is in good spirits and doing well.

Played golf on Monday. Actually it was a charity tournament for the company. Since my company provides a device for the treatment of Epilepsy, we are big time supporters of the Epilepsy Foundation. We are always holding raffles or fundraisers to collect money for the foundation. Every year in spring, we participate in the annual Epilepsy walk and, through all of these drives, we have typically been able to raise some serious coin for the cause. Not to be a noodge, but sometimes is is annoying to be barraged with all of the different fundraisers at the office, but it is for a good cause. Next week is the company wide garage sale. Anyway, we organized a golf tournament at the local country club. I haven't played in about 4 years but, since I have been "encouraging" my suppliers to participate, I felt slightly obligated to play along with them. Played with one of my suppliers and I played about as lousy as I remembered. Having a dislocated shoulder from last year did not improve my game, but it did not make it any worse. I used to play golf years ago, but life got in the way (family, scouts, work, school, band) and I fell out of the habit. I never was a good player and just never could improve my game so I wasn't gunning to get back into the game. I held my own, but definitely was not the A (or B) player in the foursome.

Tried to work on the yard last weekend, but a front blew in around 1100 and I just about drowned in the back yard. Ever try to mow a yard in a downpour? Kinda hard to pick up the leaves that way. Spent the rest of the day trying to stay dry and deal with typical adult chores (vehicle registrations, depositing checks, dropping off payments, picking up supplies/dog food). Was busy, but in a good way.

And, oh, yeah, somewhere along the way I had another birthday. Spent a part of the day on Sunday helping my son prep to leave back to school and then we all migrated over the the parent's house for dinner/birthday pie (butterscotch). There's a story there that I will save for a later blog, but suffice it to say, the family tradition for birthdays and celebrations has been butterscotch pies. I am still amazed that my poor old 87 year old mother makes them the same way she did when we were pups. Not only did she do a butterscotch pie, but she did a chocolate one as well. My older brother (his birthday is next week but he is on the road) and I enjoyed the pies. Pretty low key affair, but we did take cell phone pictures of the pie and send it to the middle brother in Seattle just to make him jealous.

I'll keep an eye on it for you! Trust me!

18 March 2010


Just how important is your call, anyway?
I have a pet peeve about people talking on their phones in all sorts of places. This has been building for a while but yesterday just set me off.

Driving - If you are driving, get a blue tooth or headset and keep your damn hands on the wheel. I don't care if you are talking to your long lost sister you haven't seen in 30 years or you are calling little Johnny to see how the soccer game is going. Nothing. Let me repeat that, NOTHING is important enough to risk your life and mine. You may be the world's most best stunt driver, but holding a phone to your face for 10 miles as you careen down the beltway at 75 MPH is not my idea of safe driving. And texting while driving is grounds for getting shot (or, at a minimum, flipped off). I say admit that I am guilty of this transgression in the past but I have repented and learned the error of my ways. I have blue tooth set and will use it occasionally while driving but prefer not to take calls while I am driving. Texas already has a law on the books that makes it illegal to use a cell phone while in a school zone (blue tooth is ok). My home town just enacted a new ordinance that will ban texting/e-mailing while driving anywhere inside the city limits. Even if you are parked at a light, it is verboten.

Public places - restaurants, bars, airports, an elevator, the doctor's office, on a plane, in the store. I know you have to keep in touch, but keep in mind that not everyone in the immediate vicinity wants to share in your conversation. I've said it before: I'm a feeling person, but not a caring person. I really don't care to hear where you are going for dinner or how your last job sucked. Private conversations should be just that, private. If you want to have some fun with these people, strike up your own conversation loudly right next to them. More than once I have taken a call to my friend about some fictitious ailment (Yeah, the doc said I should stay away from Mexican food for a couple of weeks. Otherwise it gives me the runs and some really bad gas.) Of course, to do this requires some amount of humility but I am too old to get embarrassed easily.

Rest rooms - do I really have to say this? Is this really something we should have a rule about? When you are on the phone and going to the bathroom at the SAME TIME, it is time to get a new hobby/life. I stepped into the bathroom this afternoon to "take care of business" and there was one accountant standing next to me TALKING ON A PHONE. Multi-tasking, my ass. There has to be some sort of rule about keeping focused on the job at hand. Does the person on the other end realize where this conversation is going (or coming from)? Sadly, this is NOT the first time I have encountered this situation. Whenever I run into this kind of scenario, my a#%@*@ persona kicks in and I tend to make way more noise than necessary. A few will get the hint. Others are just plain clueless.

17 March 2010

St Paddy's Day

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Time to drink green beer, wear something obnoxiously green, kiss a Leprechan and try to remember the words to Danny Boy.

Some people will take any excuse to have have more beer (even if it is green).


Lame Irish joke:

Finnegan: My wife has a terrible habit of staying up 'til two o'clock in the morning. I can't break her of it.

Keenan: What on earth is she doin' at that time?

Finnegan: Waitin' for me to come home.

14 March 2010

Happy Pi Day!

Beautiful weekend. Weather is fantastic. I am trying to spend as much time outside before the temps get hot. Been working on momma's car door, helping my neighbor replacing a back fence. Off to the brother's house to give him a file cabinet I bought from work.

Claire is finishing up her 1st month of HW treatment. 1 month down, 1 month to go and she is doing well. I can tell that she is going to be trouble (just like a red head). She is supposed to not get excited or too agitated, but whenever Grayson gets into hyper mode, she kinda eggs him on. Gray will sometimes start playing with me and Claire wants to join in. She'll start nipping at him and that just winds him up more. I can't wait to see her off restriction. I've already nicknamed them Chaos & Pandemonium.

Trouble? Us?

The prodigal son has not yet returned, but we expect him tomorrow. He is attending the South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin which is a huge music/film/interactive technology festival held every spring in Austin. It started out years ago as a 3 day music festival but has morphed into a week long event for bands and films and technology shows. There are shows/concerts/parties/seminars throughout Austin all week and the place is sold out. Don't confuse this with some sort of grunge or farm aide kind of event. This has become mainstream with tickets to venues running from a few bucks ($100) to a bit more expensive ($500++) to attend all events. Some big name bands play alongside of a lot of indies. Junior should be home tomorrow. Today he is attending the Facebook workshop.

And in deference to all of the geeks out there, Happy Pi Day (3.14). In case you did not catch it last year, our distinguished House of Representatives voted on a nonbinding resolution (H RES 224) last year to officially recognize 3-14 as National Pi Day. Go out and make a circle somewhere!

Hope you moved your clocks forward.

07 March 2010

Something different

I have a confession: I like to shop.

No, not the malls and stores, but occasionally I do the grocery shopping and I actually enjoy it. Way back in the 80s when we we were DINKs, we would tend to split the shopping every week. As an engineer and manager, I liked the challenge of getting in and out of the store in minimal time. Being a tight wad, I am not embarrassed to use coupons or go for the generics. I tackle the store like going on patrol. Lay out a strategy, gear up, organize my ammo, secure the perimeter. And don't even think of touching my cart. My only pet peeve is when momma gives me some off the wall, odd request (like whale blubber) that takes me 20 minutes to find in the store.

Anyway, we were running short of dog food (imagine that) and rawhide bones this am, so I popped off to the store to for a short run and to get some gas. I was planning to hit Wally world, but decided that HEB had most of everything I needed and their prices are on par with Walmart. HEB has some really neat stores down here that have character. It a small chain that started out in the San Antonio area and has expanded into Houston in recent years. They tend to stick to the suburbs have some really great selections/prices/deals. Being a San Antonio based store, they have a lot of really good Mexican food and supplies, but they pride themselves on carrying a wide array of different cuisines and have an outstanding selection of wine and beer (local brewers). Last month, I came across some really good coffee (Caribou Coffee) that I had not seen around here before (but I heard about it from somebody up north). HEB is fast becoming my favorite grocery store, although momma still prefers Kroger.

As I was cruising the isles this morning, I can across a section I had not observed in past excursions. HEB likes to cater to a wide variety of clientele and I guess I was unaware of a large number of people who prefer English goods. I actually had to stop and take a few pictures just to make sure it wasn't my imagination. I am curious (RC - feel free to chime in here) if things are the same when we import them to the states as would be in their home country. Are some of these really popular in England, or is our narrow view of what English folk eat? I spent 5 years in Germany and, on occasion, we would come across some American items out in the local stores or shops and they were considered as "gourmet cuisine" by the locals. Sorry, but Frito's, Budweiser & SPAM do not qualify as gourmet. During our 5 year stint, the wife and I stumbled across one Mexican food restaurant in Stuttgart that, to be kind, did not quite qualify as Mexican. Maybe it is because we have some really good places down here and I am slightly jaded when it comes to my salsa, but it definitely wasn't like home.

And momma did not believe me when I listed off some of the products available. Since I am always accused of acting like a 10 year old, I had to chuckle when I spied a can of Spotted Dick. Momma did not feel adventurous enough to try it out.

OK, RC, here's your chance to enlighten/educate us colonials. From what I can read, it is a pudding best served with custard. Is it any good? Worth a shot?

05 March 2010

Friday Follies

Busy week. So little time, so many people to do.

The good thing about be overloaded, it makes the week go by really, really fast. Now, if they could only outlaw Mondays...

Just a few nuggets to ponder for the weekend ahead:

  • Deja moo; the feeling you've heard this bull before.

  • Law of the workshop: any tool, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.

  • What do you call a song sung in an automobile? A cartoon.

  • What do you get when you cross poison ivy with a 4-leaf clover? A rash of good luck.

  • What do you get when you cross a cat with a tree? A cat-a-logue!

02 March 2010

History Lesson

For those who traffic this site frequently (ok, all three of you), you might surmise I tend to recall history (when the brain is functioning properly) on occasion.

Today, 2 March, is officially Texas Independance Day!

On 2 March 1836, Texicans met at Washington-on-the-Brazos and declared their independance from Mexico and officially established the Republic of Texas. It is from those meager beginnings sprang such great things (the Alamo, Lone Star Beer, Spindletop, NASA, The Astrodome, the Dallas Cowboys, DALLAS, Enron).
History is cool. One must learn from the the past in order not to repeat the same mistakes.

01 March 2010

I'm just saying

One day in and the week has already gotten away from me. With all of the "challenges" tossed my way, I find the only was I can stay sane is to keep a sense of humor. As I considered today's "opportunities", I am reminded of many old expressions I have collected over the years. Some of these I stole, some I made up on my own (a mind is a terrible thing to waste):


Smile and the world smiles with you. Laugh maniacally, and people will leave you alone.

If I was having any more fun, I'd have to pay to get in the door.

If Barnum & Bailey ever found this place, they'd throw a tent over it and charge admission.

I am busier than a one-armed paper hanger with an itch.

That's about as easy as herding cats.

That idea is like a fart in church (no one wants to claim it).

The beatings will continue until morale improves.

Great. Wonderful. Best day of my life. (My Mantra)

Do I look like a people person?

You have me mistaken for a caring person. I am a feeling person. I feel bad, but I just don't care.