26 June 2011

Auf der Straße wieder

Leaving on a jet plane, don’t know when I’ll be back again (with deference to Peter, Paul & Mary).

Once again, I am going back out on the road for another round of supplier audits. I know I regale everyone on my travels in the past and how much of a PITA these can be, but this one is different. For years, I have been working my schedule around these audits. Business comes first, but, if I can control the trip, I will try to coordinate it with other trips/sites. That was how I got to see the Harbor Seals in Carpinteria or the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia or Hollywood in California. Didn’t cost the company anything and I figured if I gotta travel 5-8 hours to one side of the country or another, I might get a little side trip out of the deal.

So, with that in mind, I’m heading back to my old stomping grounds. I am gearing up for a week long road trip to Germany. Been working this deal for over a year and finally got the clearance/approval. I will be in Frankfurt for a week with a supplier. As much of a hassle as this is, just between you and me, I am really jazzed. Momma and I were stationed over in Stuttgart for 5 years with the Army and we got to know the area & people pretty well. Germany is my favorite place to live/visit and I had every intention of going back someday.  I am looking forward to drinking some good German Beire and eating some Weinerschnizel.  Just not looking towards a 10+ hour plane ride.

Auf Weidersen, ya'll 

25 June 2011

Save The Males

I used to run 10ks on the weekend many years back. That was before scouts and soccer and band performances and swim meets and Eagle projects and summer camps and football games. With junior off to college, I've gotten a portion of my weekends back but my other four footed kids seem to have taken up the slack. This past weekend I picked back up on that habit again. Won a drawing at work (most miles logged over a 3 month period) and I got a gift card to a local running store (new shoes!). Neat little specialty store (On The Run) that caters to runners. It’s been there for years and I’ve been meaning to check it out, but just didn’t find the time. It’s run by a woman who is a typical hard core runner – all of 100 lbs, no body fat. Nice little store with my brand of shoes, some nice gear/attire and interesting changing rooms. I definitely will have to blow the card there (plus some).

Changing rooms

While there, I noted there was a run scheduled for Father's Day weekend. Since I’ve recently signed up for next year’s half marathon, I thought I could do a simple 5k run for training. This one piqued my interested because it was “Save the Males”. The organizers set up a run (1k walk, 3 k & 5 k run) tied to Father’s Day to increase awareness and generate donations for Prostate Cancer. Since I am a member of that club, it intrigued me to sign up. Actually it was a pretty nice run. Downtown Houston by the Symphony Hall running past the Aquarium on one of the older boulevards that meanders out from the city. A simple down & back 5k (3.1 miles) on flat streets with a few overpasses. No big challenge. Except if you don’t account for the 85 degree and 70% humidity starting conditions. A wee bit warm, but I’ve been working to condition myself by running during lunch. I wasn’t impressed with my time, but that wasn’t my intention on this course. One thing that made it interesting was that I was in a “elite” group of runners. As you signed up for the run, they asked if you were running as a group or running for someone or if you were a cancer survivor. I fit the last profile that bumped me into the small group of survivors. First time I’ve been in my own special group that wasn’t age based. A small number (31) of runners in that category. Would love to say I really kicked running butt for the survivors but when a 67 year old man puts in a 7:54 pace, I’m not all that and a bag of chips.

One more mile down the road

19 June 2011

Pater Familias

Happy Father's Day to all you dads out there!  Grab the remote, pop in a Die Hard DVD, kick back with a cold one and enjoy the day.  

I joined the dad's club almost 24 years ago.  It's a tough club.  Oh, yeah, a lot of guys can have a child, but, in my mind, it takes real man to be a father.  There ain't any manuals, no classes to take, to online programs you can view to give you a clear picture.  It's not a temporary gig, it's a long term deal.  Weekends at the ball field, summer vacations camping out in the woods, recitals, band concerts, football games, braces, hospital trips in the middle of the night, bills, expensive uniforms, video games, birthday parties, college tuition.  Lots of anxiety and frustration involved.  Worrying about things you can't control.  Trying to make sure everything goes right, while not trying to interfere.  And yet, even with all these challenges, I would not trade the title for anything.  Watching your son walk for the first time, score the winning run, play a solo, achieve his Eagle Rank, graduate from High School & College, get engaged to his high school girlfriend makes it all worth it.    

My dad is out on the road again going to another rally.  As avid RVers, he and mom spend a several months a year on the road to various rallies or destinations.  Both have been members of the Wally Byam Airstream Club (requirement is to own an Airstream) ever since he retired and has gone all over the US.  The used to pull up stakes around the beginning of May and not come home until mid September.  I think it was to avoid the heat down here, but they do love to travel together.  You'd think at 88 years old, they'd start slowing down, but it is hard to nail them down.  We miss them when they are out on the road, but I consider them to be fortunate that they are able to still do these adventures.  Many of their friends have long since moved into retirement homes or given up their travels.  

For many years, my dad hasn't been here for father's day so we've made it a habit to call him and try to send some cards/gifts out to him at the rally.  With the boy scout troop, we've typically been in camp or on the trail over father's day, so I am not always able to reach him.  

Thanks dad for all you've done for me and my ne'er-do-well brothers.  We were a pain in the butt at times, cost you a fortune and your hairline, and were probably the source of all your heartburn.  In spite of all of our troubles and shortfalls, we turned out alright, which can only be testament to how you raised us.  I admire you for your strength, your patience, your leadership, your guidance, your integrity.  In everything I do, I strive to live up to your standards.  I was once asked in an interview who was my hero and my immediate reply was my dad.  I am one lucky sob to have such a great dad and I owe a lot of what I am to him.  I can only hope that I can do the same job for my son. 

Thanks, Dad.  

10 June 2011


Terri recently tagged a bunch of folk with a nonmeme meme.  One of those "tell us 5 things about yourself nobody else knows".  I'm not into memes all that much. My life's way too boring and mundane to try to try and impress everyone with my brilliance and good looks.

But, one thing I will admit to is that I am a bit of a tightwad. Don't know where I got it from. My parents certainly did not hold back on us boys. We may not have lived in a mansion and dined on quail eggs and caviar, but we were comfortable. Nice big house in New Jersey (yes, Jersey), dad worked for one of the big oil companies in New York, one car (Pontiac Catalina Station Wagon), vacations were typically camping trips to Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine. My parents weren't rich but they took good care of us and we always had their love and support. My dad instilled in me a lot of values that I carry with me today. We may not have had the newest toys or gear, but we did well.

As I got married and started my own family, I tried to follow his lead. I wanted the best for my wife and kid, but always kept an eye on the bottom line. As my son grew older, I was challenged to satisfy his requests. Sure, I caved on the Nintendo and PlayStation, but I was not always willing to jump to the new technology as soon as it hit the stores. I may not have the latest whizz-bang technology, but what we have works. The landbarge (the youngest vehicle in the fleet) is over 11 years old, we still have analog TVs, two old DVD/VCRs, the digital camera is 6 years old, I still have my cassette tape deck, a turntable that still works, and my cell phones are two generations old. I guess I've been hesitant (or too cheap) to change, but I've been working on changing that. With the last tuition check cut, I am starting to see a few more pennies in the account. I finally ponied up for an HDTV last Christmas. I took the plunge on one of those high end Keurig coffee makers last month for our anniversary. Still those big ticket items gave me pause when I reached the check out line.

So, when it came down to my son's recent graduation, I was debating what to get him to show how proud we were of his accomplishments. Some people buy their kids a car or fund a trip to Europe as a reward for graduating. Some people (aka my brother) have the opinion that having his education paid for was gift enough. I am not quite of that mind. Still, I wanted something more than a simple card and set of Parker Pens or Samsonite Briefcase (inside joke).  So, with some trepidation to my financial muse, I wound up getting him this:  

You tell me.  Too much?  Not enough?  At this point, I did not balk at the price.  He is my only child/son.  He has a good head on his shoulders and a good bead on life.  What more could a dad (or mom) wish for?

Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend. 
And happy anniversary RC!

05 June 2011


Spent most of yesterday prepping and executing our little celebration for the kids.  Since a number of the family could not make the graduation ceremony in Austin two weekends ago and they got engaged last weekend, I invited everyone over to our casa for a small gathering.  Most of my family (sans the brother in Seattle and nephew in Jamaica) and Rebecca's parents for some steaks, snacks & beer.  

Was a great gig, but way hot.  We are still in a drought (no rain since January) and the yard is starting to look like an old sandlot baseball field.  Put up a couple of shelters and several fans to provide a breeze to help keep it cooler.  Everyone had a great time, way too much food, lots of conversation. 

One highlight was my nephew and his wife brought their 1.5 year old daughter (Julianna) over.  We don't get to see her that much.  I was worried on how she would take to the dogs.  Big dogs tend to scare little kids.  Like most Golden Retrievers, Claire and Grayson can be a bit overwhelming.  They are very loving & gentle dogs with a serious center-of-attention deficit problem (they crave attention).  Grayson in particular is the younger boy and tend to be a wee bit overly exuberant in his actions.  He is my "paws on" dog.  When he wants more attention (which is always), he will put one paw up on your leg.  He can be a bit overwhelming at times and I am working on that habit.  Claire is my "licker".  She has that sweet disposition and will park herself at your feet and lick your hand/elbow/knee/face or whatever is within reach.  Given those traits, I tend to watch over the two dogs to make sure they do not cause problems.  What amazed everyone was how Grayson acted around Julianna.  First, Julianna had never dealt with dogs up close before, so we were worried she might freak out or their excitement might scare her.  Au contraire.  She thought these dogs were big horses for her enjoyment.  She showed no fear of the dogs and they did not overwhelm her.  Grayson, for all his lanky exuberance, was incredibly gentle and patient around her.  She played with him and he was very calm and reserved around her.  Even when she bopped him in the nose, he was still licking her.  When she got up and explored the yard, Grayson laid there waiting for her to return.  Everyone told me they were amazed with Grayson's patience with Julianna, I just keep telling them that it was the Golden personality.  Regardless, the dogs were well behaved.  The steaks were good, the beer was consumed, a good time was had by all. 

I probably spent more money than I should have on the party, but it was an excellent time to congratulate the young couple upon their pending union (date TBD).  We were just  ecstatic to see them, if only for a short while.  

Happy couple