26 September 2010

10 years later...

Reunion:  a reuniting of persons after separation

I've been to a number of reunions in my life (more than I care to admit).  A couple of high school, several college, many family reunions.  There are lots of reasons why we go (or don't go) to these events.  To catch up with old friends, to share stories of the past, to relive those glory days, to see if Bob still has his hair or who has the biggest gut or who has the most kids/grand kids.  Who got divorced/remarried?  How's the old girlfriend/boyfriend turn out?  Did Susy ever stop being a b$#%h?  Sometimes, it is funnier to see how people have changed since you last saw them.  Life has a way of changing your plans.

Yesterday I had an opportunity to attend a different sort of reunion.  Many moons ago, I had an opportunity to work for a little company that made pacemakers located south of Houston.  Intermedics started back in 1973 in Lake Jackson, Texas and, over 25 years, had grown into one of the top medical device companies building cardiac pacemakers.  It grew from a small, store front operation to a multi million dollar enterprise with over 2100 employees.  Since it was located in Brazoria County, Texas, most of the work force was from the surrounding counties & towns.  There were a lot of people who worked their entire careers there.  There were a number of marriages, divorces, births and deaths that happened at that place.  I joined the company in early 1990 and worked my way up through numerous jobs/positions.  The atmosphere there was one of purpose/pride.  We were making stuff to improve/save lives.  Even though the ranks grew, it still felt like a small company.   People were proud/happy to work there and many (like me) thought they would eventually retire from this place.     

As I said earlier, life has a way of changing your plans.  A larger, international company had bought up Intermedics in 1989 and was looking to grow it into one of their "medical pillars".  In 1998, the company decided to spin off Intermedics to gain more revenue for development/investment (or something like that), so they sold Intermedics to a competitor.  Everyone was a bit surprised/nervous about the pending sale, but we were assured that the employees would be "looked after".  In early February 1999, the deal finally went through and the SEC approved the sale and we were sold to Guidant.  The next morning, we squeezed the entire company into the cafeteria to meet with the new owners.  Lots of anticipation/nervousness/excitement as we waited to finally hear the plans for the future.  The announcement, however, was not what everyone had hoped for.  The new owners were going to close down the entire company and shift one of the production lines to their facility in Puerto Rico.  You could have heard a pin drop when they told everyone.  Needless to say, everyone was stunned.  After 25 years, the place was to be sold off and closed up.  Many people who has spent their entire lives working for this place were completely overwhelmed/crushed. 

Anyway, some people still live in the area and wanted to gather together to remember some of the old times.  I was initially hesitant to go, but wanted to see some of my old friends/co-workers.  One interesting sidebar was that the organizers of the event were able to score a deal to have the party at the old plant.  Seems that, in the 10 intervening years since the sale, they have not been able to sell the plant to anyone and it has stood vacant for the entire time as a testament to a lost cause.  For such a sad occasion, the turnout was surprisingly good.  Lots of people, many old faces, a few more wrinkles, a little less hair.  Spent a lot of time talking about old days, catching up on where everyone was, who was still around.  I brought a case of old products/shirts/memorabilia.  Some people brought old posters and pictures.  There was even our famous lawsuit poster.  Back in the old days in the 80's, we were kinda cocky with our quality and how sold our products.  The marketing group even came up with a spin off of the old Sears Diehard adds for one of our new pacemakers (Thinlith).  Warped, but it was funny in a twisted sort of way.  Not too many of these posters can be found  - seems that some people did not see the humor and the company got sued.   
There is a missing line on this version that said - Thinlith - The Diehard

21 September 2010

Trying to catch up

Two days into the week and I am still running in 5th place.  Thought I would post a few more pictures from Laguna Beach. 

Chess anyone?

More woodies

A Ford Classic

California dreamin...

Laguna Beach

There's no place like home...

I hate traveling.  Oh, we stayed in some nice hotels (and one crappy one) and got to visit a place I have never been to before but the hassles of flying and dealing with business travel sucks most of the fun out of the deal.  Spend a week on the road in SoCal (Southern California).  Been to Cali a few times over the past few years, but this time we were as far south as you can get while still having a US zip code.  Tuesday found us crossing the border into Tijuana to visit one of our suppliers, but that was fairly uneventful.  The surrounding town of TJ is interesting (colorful?) but not one I would want to walk the streets at night.  The border crossing was more of a PITA, about like clearing airport security, only the border guards have even less of a sense of humor than your average TSA agent. 

The other two plant trips were typical.  In by 0800, out by 1700.  Long days, lots of notes, talking, writing.  The week is a whirlwind of audits and, after three in a row, things tend to get blurry.  Aside of traveling from San Diego to Santa Anna and changing hotels 3 times, one of my biggest gripes is the mountain of work/messages I have when I get back to the office.  As of yesterday morning, I had over 574 messages, a large number are "repeaters".  Three audit reports, one weekly status report, two inventory updates, two meetings, one conference call and a huge expense statement later, I was finally able to break free after 1830 last night.  This week will be another long stretch.  I'm back to juggling chainsaws.  It's Tuesday and I am already two weeks behind.  At least I am still gainfully employed.  

My road partner and I got to see a lot of the California coastline during our stint.  We drove across the San Diego area from the border to northern SD.  I drove up the coast on I5 to Santa Anna after one audit.  Nice drive, even if traffic was a bit heavy.  IMHO, California traffic is no worse than some of the freeways we have down here.  Not much time to sight see on these trips but on Friday, our flight did not leave until 1300, so we drove out to Laguna beach to see the shoreline/waves.  Weather was foggy/overcast/grey, so the coast was not as picturesque as I had hoped, but we did get to walk the beaches.  Even ran across a pack of woodies at a local hotel/restaurant.  As an old car guy, I recognized most of these classics.  I've been a part of a couple of old car clubs and have done one or two of these "rides" where the group will get together and drive their cars to a town or spot for the weekend.  It can be a blast and definitely draws a crowd wherever you go.  

And appologies for not posting sooner or seeming to ignor everyone's updates/postings.  Been busier than a one armed paper hanger with an itch down here and have not had time to add my lame comments.  Mi scusi!   

13 September 2010

Mixed feelings

Up early with the dogs.  Cannot go back to sleep.  Have a report to write, need to finish packing for my road trip.  Heading out to San Diego this morning.  Tomorrow we are to tour a supplier in Tijuana, Mexico.  Lots of people are concerned for us given the current chaos along the border.  This is a company sanctioned trip and we are being escorted across the border so I'm hoping there won't  be any problems.  Just trying not to forget our passports so we don't get stuck south of the border. 

I am disappointed/disenfranchised/pissed off.  In this humble forum, I try to shy away from politics, religion, work as these are fairly touchy subjects for many, and there are a lot wiser folk out there than I.  However, last week really pushed my buttons.  My nephew has been working at his company for 10 years (just got his 10 year anniversary award).  He had a good role and has dedicated a lot of his energy & time to the organization over the past decade.  On Thursday, they let him go without any warning.  To my knowledge, there wasn't single, solid reason (theft, fraud, missing work, drugs, layoff, etc.).  A young kid (30) with a beautiful wife and 9 month old daughter.  This had been the only job he had right out of college.  A lot of his co-workers/friends/family are shocked and disappointed.  Loyalty is hard to earn and it seems that 10 years doesn't to buy you much credit these days.  I only hope that he can look beyond this setback and move forward to the next rung on the career ladder. 

12 September 2010

Temporary delays

It's been a hellofa two weeks.

Since momma is now pulling down full time duty at her parents home, I've tried to pick up the slack over here by picking up the normal chores.  I don't feel like I am helping much with her family issues, but I am trying to keep this place under control so it is one less headache to deal with.  

I did make it out to Fredericksburg for a few days.  Nice trip, but long drive.  Momma couldn't make the trek, but took both dogs.  They were properly spoiled by my parents.  Was able to tour some of the area, take in a few shows, but it was too short to enjoy. 

Was off one week and last week was a short one so I am way behind. I had four days to catch up and I go back out on the road again for another supplier audit this week. Off to SOCAL to check up on some suppliers. Not too enthusiastic on this road trip. Too much on the plate, too pissed off to enjoy it (more about that later). 

01 September 2010

Slow going

So Long, Summer!  Hello Fall!
Off for the week. 

I mentioned earlier that I had a pile of vacation to burn through before the end of the year.  The company changed their policy a few years back on vacation and PTO (personal time off).  Used to be able to carry over a good portion of your vacation.  Now you can only carry over what your earn on a quarterly basis (40-50 hours).  Old policy was to pay for whatever days/time you did not use.  New policy is:  Use it or lose it.   Since I have a couple of weeks stashed up and no serious long term plans, I am taking off a week or two.  I will probably take off another week later for a road trip or some hunting.  I may even start taking off every other Friday.  It is nice to have the time off, but it seems to put me behind on my chores at the office.

This week's plans are in the toilet (literally).  There's a Airstream rally out in Fredricksburg over Labor Day we had signed up for and we were going to take the trailer up to Austin to visit with the son.  However, momma's folks are not doing well and need some help around the house.  On top of that, her sister fell last week and broke her ankle, so now there she is taking care of 3 people.  I am trying to help out by doing various clean up/repair jobs at their house to give her a break.  I am also trying to take care of the normal chores over our hacienda (shopping, cleaning, laundry) so at least she doesn't have to deal with two homesteads.  Been working through some past due chores.  Fixed a toilet, cleaned the carpets (both houses), cleaned out some drains, took dogs in for shots/checkup. new tires on the trailer  Not a real exciting vacation, but I am getting a few things done, catching up on old projects, finishing up some movies, reading a book.