29 June 2010

Up, Up and Away!

Every time you step out the front door, you never know what bizzare things life will bring your way.

Was on my way to work yesterday morning.  Running a bit late, trying to take care of some tasks before the week ramps up.  Left the house a bit before 0700 and made the normal route down the main road heading across town.  Not more than 2 blocks from the house, as I pulled up to an intersection, off to the right on the side of a road, I spotted two bicyclists coming out of the neighborhood.  A man and woman riding together on two bikes headed east on the sidewalk.  Now, normally, this would not be enough to get more than a passing glance or even merit a blog entry, but today was a wee bit different.  What caught my eye (and I almost choke on my coffee) was the small detail that the guy was wearing a Superman costume.  Not your off-the-shelf, cheap Walmart costume.  Oh, no.  A full blown Superman costume with cape, tights, boots, and a big "S" on his chest.  And the woman was right behind him in a Supergirl costume complete with cape, skirt, and boots.  The only detractor was the bike helmet she was wearing.  That sight certainly kicked over my giggle box yesterday.  I had half a mind to turn around and go back to snap a cell phone shot but was running late.  Not every day you see the Man & Woman of Steel.

27 June 2010

Younger days

Been on a mission.  After working with my brother last weekend to send him old family  pictures for the parents, I have gotten a bug in me to scan a lot of my older pictures.  Started with several albums from college and working my way backwards.  Some of these pictures have faded over time (as have we) so I am trying to capture some of them electronically so that they will not be lost. 

Watch out ladies!

Got lots of embarrasing pictures from the past that I've been posting on facebook.

A few loose nuts from my outfit

26 June 2010

Working for the weekend

Another week down.  I was going to start out griping about how busy things are and the typical chaos we have at the office.  Too many projects/crisises, not enough time.  Trying to keep several balls in the air.  My mom would say: "Busier than a one armed paper hanger with an itch". 

But as I was walking the dogs early in the morning and enjoying the "cooler" morning air when it hit me that, inspite of my grousing, life ain't too bad.  Still got a job.  Got a roof over my head.  The kid is doing well in school.  The family's doing well.  I've got two goofy dogs that worship me.  We have our health.  What more could I ask for?   

Sometimes you have to stop, center yourself, go back to the basics and count your blessings.  Time to put the big boy pants on and get on with life.     

From wilder times...

23 June 2010

Blood from a stone

Soap box time (aka I'm griping)

Got a notice from the perky little admin in HR that we had a blood drive today.  I'm not griping about this activity or getting the notice, but it just serves to remind me on how pissed off I am with the Blood Bank and all of their rules/conditions.

Before I vent, let me take you back a few years.

I used to give blood. Started out in college during one semester at the quack shack (campus medical center). Gave blood once. Hurt but I liked the feeling of helping others. Became a regular habit. I would give blood 2-3 times a year depending upon when the blood drive was and if I was not sick. Kept going through college, and did it in the Army for years. I even kept up with it when I left the Army and moved to Dallas/Houston. I did it well before the policy that you could donate/bank it for family/friends. I didn't mind the process and, honestly, it didn't hurt (too much). I would recommend donating blood if you are able and up to it. Not everyone can and, you never know, it might save a life.

Now to my gripe. After many years of giving blood, they started to reward the frequent bleeders. T-shirts, pens, lunch certificates, cookies (I'm in it for the brownies). After a certain point the blood bank will give you a coffee mug as you pass certain gallon marks. I got my 1 gallon cup. Even got my 3 gallon cup. Was working towards my 5 gallon cup a few years back. One day, I plopped myself down to give and the technician kindly informed me that I was on one of the banned lists. WTF? SRSLY?  Now, I am pretty sure I had not done drugs or had major surgery or some communicable disease or paid for "relations with another person" or had a tattoo.  I was pretty much leading a clean life (ok, beer doesn't count).  My brother and his family had been banned for years because they lived in Scotland for a few years and the blood bank has a permanent injunction against people who lived there because of Mad Cow disease. Now I have never been to England (flew over it on my way to Germany), but that was not an issue, until a few years ago. All of a sudden a new restriction was added: If you served in the military and were stationed in Germany between 1980 - 1990, then you were banned from giving blood. Seems that there may have been some instances where the commissary bought its meat from England. Supposedly the blood bank does not have any way to test for this disease, so I am on a permanent ban. Not temporary. Permanent. Now that just chaps my a%%. For almost 20 years, I've been spilling my blood and, until now, it was ok. Now I am blackballed. I tried to contact the blood bank directly but they are tied up by CDC regulations. I make it a point to visit the bloodmobile every time they are on the property to see if I am still on the list. Here I am ready & willing to donate and no takers.  Bummer...

And the next stop down memory lane...

Care to guess the year?

Old photos

My brother (the one who lives out on the west coast) hit me up Friday night for old pictures.  He is trying to put together a collage of pictures (with music) for my parents' upcoming 65th anniversary.  He's the creative one of the tribe and he's done this before for their 60th (or was it the 55th?).  He and his wife are driving out to meet my parents after their rally in Yellowstone NP.  I spend part of Sunday morning combing through old photo albums and scanning in pictures.  We have a ton of pictures from college and pre & post kid but they are not digital, so I am on a mission to capture some of the past digitally. 

Brings back lots of memories.  Were we really that skinny?  What the hell was I thinking wearing that?  Where did my hair go?  Damn, I was good looking.  What ever happened to that tube top I gave you?  I wonder were Mark/Bob/John is now?

Since we are hitting the summer doldrums and the heat is kicking in, I thought I might share a few older gems.

This one got pretty much the same reaction from the wife and I:

Looks like some sort of psycopath or stalker

Got lots of laughs from my spouse, but I pointed out to her "Well, you married him."

More to follow

22 June 2010

Welcome to Texas summer. Hot days, warm nights. A/C running nonstop.

This weekend started out in the low 80s and was pegging 98 each day.  Was out trying to run at noon yesterday when it was near 92.

I took both dogs to the dog part Sunday to let them cavort and swim in the pond and there wasn't anybody there. I don't think I have ever gone to the dog park where wasn't some hyperactive lab chasing balls in the pond or a horny German Shepard. Was kind of strange that the two had the entire park to themselves for a while. OF course, it was sweltering in the shade so I bet the smart people were staying home in the a/c. Claire finally got in the pond and started swimming, but Grayson still only goes in up to his chest. Wore out both dogs, but they had a blast. Claire's getting a bit shaggy and I am going to take her in this week for a trim. Mom & I are debating how much to cut off and she may wind up with a Chihuahua hairstyle. I may post before & after picts.

Father's Day was pretty low key. I talked with my dad out in Wyoming for a good long while. They are doing well and enjoying their rally. Temps are way better than down here. My son called me several times to wish me a happy Father's Day, but he was busy moving into his new temporary house. I would have been happy to lend a hand (or back), but glad I wasn't tied into that deal this time (Been there. Done that.).

I have always found Father's Day (from my perspective) to be out of sync with my plans. Over the past 12 years, we've never been home for Father's Day. Ever since we joined the scouts, we have been out on the trail or in camp during during Father's Day. Many times we are either on the way to or coming home from camp. Unlike Mother's Day, we never planned campouts or held activities on that weekend. A few years back, as the troop camping coordinator, I made the mistake of booking a campout over Mother's Day (no choice - all other weekends/camps were booked) and I'm still getting hate mail over that one. Father's Day doesn't quite seem to have the same limitations and I prefer it that way. Probably one of the most memorable ones was back in 2004 when we were on the trail at Philmont. We were 6 days into a 12 day expedition covering an 80 mile trek of the northern New Mexico mountains. Father's Day found us camped out on Mount Phillips at 11,900 feet eating freeze dried lasagna and pemmican bars. I was one of 4 dads on the crew of 12 boys and each one of the boys came up and wished us a happy Father's Day. One wanted to borrow my cell phone to call his dad back in Texas  (Sorry, Brad, but lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part).  Besides, I'm not carrying a phone all over the Sangre de Christo Mountains for 12 days just so someone can call home to momma.

19 June 2010

Pater familias

It's all your fault.  You started this whole mess almost 65 year ago and look what it led to.  A whole family of crackpots and loony toons.   

I was once asked in a job interview to name one of my heroes.  It may have been a corny answer but without batting an eyelash, I named my father.  He has been a role model for three sons and an extended family of daughter-in-laws and associated grandsons.  He worked hard for many decades but always had time for the family.  In some circles, he could be considered a bit A/R.  He is up early (ala 0500) every morning, walks 2-3 miles before breakfast (even on the road), is a tinkerer (able to fix things), keeps his vehicles in pristine shape, is quick to step in and help anyone.  He retired from work during my last year of college (30 years ago) and he and mom have been out traveling in their trailer ever since (we've accused them of trying to run away).  I consider myself blessed that I can do a lot of things in life and have unlimited opportunities/potential and I owe it all to that guy (and a good portion to you too, mom).

Thanks, Dad.
Happy Father's Day!

14 June 2010

Old Glory

Once again, it's time for another history lesson. June 14th is officially Flag Day but you wouldn't know if from the local news sources. I've been scanning the local paper website and a few of the channels, but haven't had much luck. The Philadelphia Inquirer at least has a short blurb on it. I guess I am just an old curmudgeon but this tends to irritate me. I reckon this comes from my years in the Corps at A&M or the stent in the Army or even the past few years as a scout leader, but I tend to remember this day and post my flag outside. To me, it seems like this is one of those forgotten dates, not celebrated with any parades or hoopla or picnics or sales.

Anyway, just to keep everyone informed, a little history about Flag Day:

In the United States, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened that day by resolution of the Second Continental Congress in 1777.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day; in August 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress.

Flag Day is not an official federal holiday, though on June 14, 1937, Pennsylvania became the first (and only) U.S. state to celebrate Flag Day as a state holiday, beginning in the town of Rennerdale. Title 36 of the United States Code, Subtitle I, Part A, CHAPTER 1, § 110 is the official statute on Flag Day; however, it is at the President's discretion to proclaim officially the observance.

Since 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation establishing a national Flag Day on June 14, Americans have commemorated the adoption of the Stars and Stripes by celebrating June 14 as Flag Day. Prior to 1916, many localities and a few states had been celebrating the day for years. Congressional legislation designating that date as the national Flag Day was signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1949; the legislation also called upon the president to issue a flag day proclamation every year.

According to legend, in 1776, George Washington commissioned Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross to create a flag for the new nation. Scholars debate this legend, but agree that Mrs. Ross most likely knew Washington and sewed flags. To date, there have been twenty-seven official versions of the flag, but the arrangement of the stars varied according to the flag-makers' preferences until 1912 when President Taft standardized the then-new flag's forty-eight stars into six rows of eight. The forty-nine-star flag (1959-60), as well as the fifty-star flag, also have standardized star patterns. The current version of the flag dates to July 4, 1960, after Hawaii became the 50th state on August 21, 1959.

07 June 2010

Run, Forest, Run!

Here is it early June and already I am getting e-mail alerts for next year's Houston Marathon. 

Last year it was totally off the hook. Registration opened up at midnight Friday July 17th and within 24 hours, the half marathon had completely filled up (11,000 participants) and by Sunday the full marathon had hit the limit as well. I took a chance and jumped on at 0400 and got registered but this year, I was expecting to stay up until midnight to make sure I got a spot on the course.

Of course, the PTB (powers-that-be) came up with a new scheme. Just got an e-mail alert that they are doing a lottery this year. Registration opens up at 0600 on July 27th and remains open for 17 days to allow everyone time to enter. You will be notified on August 12th if you get a slot. Not sure I like this new system. Basically it means I have to sign up and wait to see if my name gets picked. Can they make this more difficult? I heard much grumbling last year about the pace that registration went and know of a few people who did not get in. IMHO, this may serve to sour more people on the run. My hair stylist (yes, I use a stylist - at Sportsclips), Nhiti, is a consummate runner and has run many marathons and even did the Boston Marathon last year. She is a wiry, 45 year old Vietnamese woman that looks like she could outrun a greyhound (I swear she has a negative body mass index). She passed on last year's Marathon because she has done it so many times (6-8, I think) and was tired of the course (and the chaos). Not that I am anywhere near her pace class, but I was really looking forward to seeing her at the finish line. Although, I'll admit it is a wee bit humbling to finish a half marathon in the time that others finish a full marathon.

There is a potential inside track to secure a spot if you sign up for the "Run for a Reason - Become a Hero" where you commit to raise $350 for one of the specified charities. Each charity will have a set number of guarantee spots, if you agree to raise money for the cause. I donated money last year to my cause (Cancer Society, Houston SPCA), but they screwed up my registration so no hat/special bib. Of course that $350 is on top of the normal registration fees ($95 for the half, $115 for the full).  I dimly recall it costing $45 a few years back.  Who said running was a cheap form of exercise?

06 June 2010

Back from the dark ages

We're alive!  Was going to blog about last weekend's adventure but the cable router got fried early on Tuesday and we've been living sans Internet for several days.  Finally, Comcast (Bless Their Hearts) granted us an audience Friday afternoon and replaced the router and, Voila!  We have Internet!  It was not pretty.  Suffering under inhumane conditions.  We had to read a paper to get our news.  I could not read the shenanigans of my favorite bloggers.  The wife and I actually had to engage in conversation during dinner!  Turned out to be rather nice & quiet for a while.  Although we did kinda feel like we were living back in the 80's.   

Long week.  Spent my Memorial Day weekend in Austin helping my son move out of apartment.  Was able to get most of his junk transported into some remote storage unit somewhere north of town (1/2 way to Dallas, I believe).  Took a few trips and some heavy lifting and creative stacking, but everything he owns fits in a 5-10 storage room.  It's one of those skills I picked up way back in the stone age when I was a poor, innocent college student was how to pack a 1969 Plymouth Fury III with an entire dorm room/apartment and cram it in a tiny space.  

Short week at the office.  Monday was a holiday, and Friday was a our company picnic/Family Fun Day.  I said that I like the style of the new management.  They kicked in for a family style party with burgers and dogs and all sorts of games for kids to play at.  Big hoop-te-do that even included a dunking book for the big dogs.  Nice to see they are humble enough to allow people to make fun of them.  The CEO & CFO and many of our esteemed VPs spent a lot of time in the dunking tank (all for charity).  My contribution?  I offered up an idea that, in hindsight, might have been left on the table.  Way back in my Army days, we had limited ways to generate funds for the company (bake sale, raffles).  One idea that generated a serious amount of coin was a "pie in your face" auction.  You could bid on a pie to put it in the face of your favorite Company Commander, XO (me), Lieutenant, First Sargent, Platoon Sargent.  If you got the highest bid, you won the chance to put a pie in the face of your intended victim.  There were a few privates & PFCs who dropped a whole month's paycheck to pie the First Sargent.

Anyway, I made the suggestion thinking that it would not get any interest but the CEO thought it was a great idea and was willing to do it first hand.  Needless to say, since this was kinda my idea, I had to be willing to take one for the team.

Got a wee bit messy.  I can't complain since a number of people higher up on the food chain than I took a lot more abuse.  Besides, we garnered another $2,315 for the Epilepsy Foundation.