29 March 2011

Envy

I know, it's one of the 7.  Still, I'll admit I can be envious of others at times.    

Attended/participated in a bodacious retirement party yesterday for a woman I've know for almost 20 years.  I've known Jane since we first crossed paths back in our previous company.  We've worked together on many projects/assignments before we got bought out and the place got closed it down.  We both wound up starting with our new company around the same time.  She was one of the friendly faces I knew from the old company.  A number of us got picked up for our experience/skills (except me - I got picked up for my looks) and, over the years, we tended to stick together.  I guess, once you have fought in the trenches with people, you watch each other's backs.     

Jane and I started at this place about 10 years ago.  While we both worked in different groups, our job requirements had us crossing paths daily.  She ran the documentation group, I ran the materials group and the process had us working side-by-side on many projects.  Over the years, we've shared a lot of time trying to deal with the current crisis or adjust to the latest change.  We've both been through 2-3 reorgs, several product launches, a couple of Lean Six Sigma projects.  There were many times in the past that no one could leave until everything was released.  I recall more than a few nights of heading home at 4:00 am only because the server went down for its nightly back up.  Throughout it all, Jane has kept her cool/sanity.  Always willing to lend a hand and help others (even when they really deserved a beating).  And always bringing in some dessert or cake for no good reason.  

Jane's retiring this week at the ripe young age of 65.  This has been coming for a while.  Her team organized a secret retirement party for her complete with pot luck lunch.  I whipped up a peach cobbler (using my Boy Scout recipe) that was practically inhaled.  I got assigned to bring drinks so, I stopped off on my way in to buy a couple of liters of soda.  I figured it to be a small party and 3-4 bottles should suffice.  Christine informed me that I was the only one who signed up to bring drinks and 3-4 might not be enough for the crowd of 60+ who signed up to attend.  60??  That's not a small gathering, that's a mob.  I had to rush off to the store to score another 10 bottles for the throng.  Still, turned out great.  A lot of people there to see her off.  Even the CEO showed up for a few comments.  Most everyone pitched in for a gift card, but the company decided that she had done so much over the past 10 years, they bought her a new Dell laptop.  I told her it was because they wanted to send her e-mails for her help on urgent documents.   

She and her husband are loading up their trailer and heading off to Silverton, CO for the summer.  They've got a deal to work/live at an RV park for the entire summer as part time office support and general handyman.  They're not planning to be back down here until the temps are back in the 80s (should be around Halloween).  With all the projects/reports/reviews ahead of me, I am kinda envious of her change.  I am a good 10-12 years out from taking that road.

27 March 2011

One more lap down

Looking for my muse.  I've been by here several times and started a few ideas for posting, but never found anything that I liked with which to bother you good people.  Cannot really blame any one thing.  Work's been crazy busy.  Once again, I feel like I'm trying to juggle cats.  Haven't gotten much done at home aside of clean up the yard and trimming bushes.  Trying to build up a one of the beds and plant new flowers (lost the last ones to the cold weather).    
Planted a couple of dogs to see what comes up

With daylight savings time, it does give me more time in the evenings to walk the dogs.  Used to rush home to take the dogs out before it got too dark.  Now I am able to drive home at a leisurely pace and take the dogs to our neighborhood park to let them run off leash.  Normally, I do not let them off the leash if there is anybody else in the park.  They're good mutts and will obey most of my commands, but anytime there is another person or dog in the general vicinity, their genetics will kick in.  Remember that these two are Golden Attention Retrievers who love everyone they meet.  Grayson is the paws on dog who loves to run up and sniff/check out anybody within 1/2 mile but typically will not bother them.  Claire is licker who loves to run up to people and park herself at your feet and lick your hands.  She's got that sweet look that tends to get her lots of attention.  While most people tend to think the dogs are cute/friendly, there are those who do not like dogs and don't like it when a 68 lb wild looking hairy mutt comes barreling towards them.  That's why I will keep them on a leash whenever people are around.  Still, they do loving running free in the park.  Especially the dog park where there are lots of new things (butts) to sniff.

Marco!  Polo!

Oh, yea. One more year in the books. Celebrated another birthday last Monday. Not a milestone one, but another one I can cross off my calendar. No party, no hoopla (my preference), just a quiet dinner with my bride. My brother turns 60 next year. Plenty of time to think up something appropriate.

20 March 2011

Farewell 'ol friend

34 years is a long time.  It's been a good run, but it had to end some time. 

I've been accused of holding on things well past their prime.  I tend to get attached to things/stuff/junk and have a hard time letting it go (or so says my better half).  Remember:  One man's trash is another man's treasure?  It sorta runs in the family. 

Way, way, way back in the stone age, when I was a kid in college, my parents bought me a cube refrigerator for my dorm room.  Nothing fancy, just a plain old brown fridge for $89 at the local Sears for me to store milk and fresh vegetables (hops is a vegtable, right?)that I could consume while I studied hard.  Got lots of use during my 4 years at that institution.  After I graduated, I left it with my folks since I couldn't haul it overseas to Germany.  They never chose to get rid of it and I eventually reclaimed it for a while when we lived in Dallas (made a good garage refridge).  When my brother's kids wound up at the same college, I passed it along to them to use.  It made the rounds through 4 boys and eventually wound up back at my brother's house serving as a beverage chilling device for many long, hot Texas summers.  Each kid would add their own statement to the door/side with a bumper sticker (or two).   Sarge finally sucumbed to old age last week and my brother sent him off with all the dignity and recognition befitting his years of service. 
Old Sarge
Wake to be held.

Side note:  The wife chided me that "you need to let things go".  I gently reminded her that I've known her as long as old Sarge...

18 March 2011

I'm not a nice person

I've been called a lot of names in life.  Some nice, some not.  My lovely bride has called me all sorts of names over the past 30+ years, some of them I deserve. 

Anyway, I bugged out early from the office and got home with enough daylight to do a long walk with the dogs.  As I was just getting back home, my wife called me and was wondering if I wanted to get Chinese food (she thought I was driving home at the time).  Normally, I wouldn't blink at getting some Chinese food, but I had already gotten home and had pretty much unplugged from the world.  I have a few pet peeves and one is having to go out again after you get home.  My answer was a kinda whiney "I'm already home and just got back from walking the dogs and didn't want to go out" response.  Now, she was busy taking care of her parents for most of the day and that was probably not the answer she wanted to hear, but since it was my birthday penumbra (will explain later), she gave me understanding "that's o-kaaay" response.  So after cleaning up the kitchen, I called her back and asked what kind of meal she wanted.  I drove out to our local cheap-a$$ Chinese place and got our usual orders.  When I came back home, I unloaded the food and set out dinner for me knowing she wasn't going to be home for a while.  Took the following picture of her dinner and sent it to her on her cell phone.
 
Claire is guarding your food for you...

I know, I am an asshole at times. 

16 March 2011

Slapdash

Went running again today.  No rain, no lightening strikes, no near death experiences.  You know, when they say that all this exercise could kill you, I never took it so literal.

Today's word of the day:  Slapdash

It is coming up on review time again.  Already said how much I love doing reviews.  Had a training class on the new review system.  Not much improvement from last year's (IMHO).  I don't care how much training and how many reviews I've done, I still don't like the process.  Somehow cramming one year's accomplishments into a single piece of paper and a 30 minute discussion on how you can improve your performance doesn't seem to sell it for me.  But I can play the game like the rest of them.  During the class, we had a 20 minute video about how to give a good review.  Actually it was more of how not to give a bad interview.  Three scenarios about reviews and how they can go bad.  Was an old film from the late 80's or early 90's obviously done by a British company (having John Cleese in it was a clue).  Typically funny clip on how not to do a review.  One of the scenarios was where a supervisor was trying to coach her employee about how she was a bit careless and pissed off some other groups.  The offended employee felt she was being labeled as "slapdash" and went postal.  I commented to my coworker who was attending as well that I had never heard of or even used slapdash before and pondered if it was some thing more used in England.  But I do like the term and it may wind up in one of my reviews.  No matter how old you get, you are never too old to learn something new.   

BTW - Slapdash is defined by Websters as haphazard or slipshod.

Running scared

Maybe it's the age or perhaps it is all of the band trips, but back when junior was in school, I don't recall everyone taking off at the same time.  Now that the son is off the grid in college, we are into a different routine and we no longer take off spring break.  So, that means I am working this week when, apparently, everyone else has taken off.  Was hoping to catch up this week but I cannot get anything done because it seems like 2/3rds of the place is gone.  It's the same story around Christmas time.  Yet, I don't begrudge them their time off to be with their families.  Been there.  Done that.  Life's too short to spend it all at work.  You have to take care of the important things - family & friends. 

Trying to get back into a rhythm of running at lunch.  I try to knock down a few miles instead of eating some greasy, fast food junk at the local irish establishment.  Now that winter is almost gone down here, I am trying to take advantage of the cooler temps before the hot & humid summer arrives.  Monday was a typical spring day in south Texas.  Cloudy, semi-cool, light wind, the threat of rain in the air.  The skies were dark and it looked like rain, but nothing really serious, so I chose to hit the trail.  Told myself that I wasn't going to let a little rain keep me from running.  If I ever intend on improving my 1/2 marathon time, I have to learn to run in all sorts of weather.  Started out ok, streets a bit wet and some smattering of raindrops.  But, the weather gods down here have a wicked sense of humor and decided that, around the 1/2 mark to cut loose.  I was still about 1.5 miles out and heading back and already getting soaked, so I cowboyed up and kept running.  Ain't gonna let a few raindrops stop me.  I was cutting through the parking lot of the local college when the bolt of lightening hit one of the lights in the parking lot knocking out power for the lights and scaring the beejesus out of me (not to mention the guy walking across said lot talking on his cell phone).  At that point, common sense took over and I detoured to one of the buildings on campus to wait out the storm.  I'll run when it is somewhat crappy out, but when lightening is being tossed around, I'll yield the battlefield.  Besides, running while crouched over does not improve my times.  After about 20 minutes of deluge, it let up enough for me to wade back to work.  Next time, I think I will stick with the treadmill...       

Spring's just around the corner


13 March 2011

Something old, something new

Is it 7 or 8 am?  Oh, yea.  Time to run around the house and reset all the clocks and change the batteries in the smoke detectors.  Sometimes, I think daylights savings time is actually a sinister plot by Duracell and Eveready just to boost sales of 9 volt batteries.    

Wedding was great.  Was a long drive out & back to Dayton (1.5 hours) but well worth it.  The only downside was driving back late last night at 1000 (or was it 1100?).  The wedding was actually held on a ranch/hunting lodge out in East Texas along the Trinity River.  The trip out was an adventure.  You started out heading northeast out of Houston and up into the back woods of east Texas.  Once we hit the town of Dayton, we turned north and drove out about 12 miles on a winding country back road.  THEN we turned off onto a one lane blacktop road for another 6 miles until we hit the ranch gate.  Crossed the cattle guard onto the dirt/sandy road and drove in 2 miles along the riverbank and through the cattle until we reached the lodge.  At this point, one might question where the hell we were going (I kept humming the theme to Deliverance) but there were signs and eventually we pulled up to the lodge with a huge tent and all sorts of decorations.  Pretty strange site to see out in deep woods of East Texas. 

Of course, it's not about the trip, but the event.  The ceremony was simple and funny.  When you have an outdoor wedding, especially in a ranch setting, you learn to be flexible.  Celebration afterwards was excellent.  Everyone had a great time, especially the bride & groom. 

The happy couple
  
Wedding Cake

Groom's Cake
(yes, that's a hunting blind)

And it's not a wedding without the refreshments

The Thee Stooges (aka my brothers & I)
)Note the Ranch Casual attire)
Reception
The Wedding Party
All in all, a great wedding for a great couple.  Those kids are off on a great adventure together. 

And, of course, a couple of spectators


11 March 2011

Time to nut up or shut up

Did anybody see a week lying around here?  I seem to have misplaced mine.
Between work and home projects, this week has disappeared faster than a dozen doughnuts at a cop convention (old joke). 

I was just complaining about Monday's schedule and here it is Friday.  Still stuck in a bunch of different meetings (all to improve performance) or doing interviews or trying to write reports.  I am typically up at the crack of early (that happens when you have dogs for an alarm clock), fire up the coffee pot, walk the dogs, and log onto my work account to check the day's chores.  Today is a light one - only 5 meetings.  I might actually get something done today, but it is early and there is so much opportunity for things to go wrong.... 

This weekend is pretty much over already.  It is time for the Ranch Wedding for my nephew.  Rehearsal dinner tonight.  Well, it is not really a rehearsal, but more of another dinner/party.  Wedding is tomorrow afternoon on the ranch about 1.5 hours east of here.  Still trying to nail down exactly what is "Ranch Casual" but it does involve blue jeans and boots.  Not sure if I am going to take a cowboy hat.  Should be an interesting gig but will be late getting back.  There is a post wedding reception on Sunday morning, but since the bride & groom will be flying out to Jamaica at 0300, I think it is just for the parents/family of the bride.  We've passed on that event since junior is in just for the weekend and is heading back to Austin around noon.  Something about work and attending SXSW (South by Southwest) next week so we only have a short time to see him. 

I've been talking with the nephew about his pending nuptials.  I was watching Zombieland on the cable the other night and picked up the slogan above.  The kid's getting lots of advice from us old married farts - some of it actually useful.  As one of his friends commented on his FB countdown - 36 hours to go (of freedom or new life?). 

10 March 2011

Food on a stick

Ok, Fat Tuesday is over.  Time to put the Mardi Gras beads away and start hauling out four leaf clovers and St Patrick's Day decorations.  Is it just me or does it seem that Hallmark has taken over the calendar?

I mentioned last week it is rodeo time down here.  It is actually an odd time of the year for us down here.  Lots to do.  Mardi Gras in Galveston, Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo, the Azalea Trail, Austin SXSW.  So much to see, so much do, so little time 

As with most state fairs and rodeos, one of the big draws is the food.  Things you would never consider eating all year (even drunk) are fair game.  Turkey legs, funnel cake, cotton candy, kettle corn, corn on the cob, corn dogs, cheesecake on a stick, pizza on a stick, all the normal food groups.  Of course, your traditional deep fried favorites:  fried twinkies, fried oreos, fried ice cream, fried Dr Pepper, fried beer, fried butter, chicken fried bacon, fried moon pies, fried pickles.  This year we have chocolate covered pickles and meat sundaes. 
Chocolate Pickle
5 lb meatball sandwich

Pizza on a Stick

Meat sundae

Remember, if it comes covered in chocolate or served on a stick, the calories don't count.

07 March 2011

04 March 2011

More work rules

I'm trying to be a better person.  Really.  I try to play nice.  I always have a positive attitude, I am friendly to all my co-workers, I treat everyone with the same amount of courtesy and respect as I would expect to get.  

We spend more than 1/3rd of our lives at work in the company of people we may or may not like.  Day in and day out, we spend a large amount of the day sharing the same work environment with many people.  The same equipment, the same resources, the same facilities.  That includes the break room.  We share one lunch room with a a two vending machines, one coffee pot, a couple of microwaves and two refrigerators.  I find that it helps we we follow a few simple (common sense) rules
  • If you use the area, just like at home, clean up after yourself.  If you make a mess, clean it up. 
  • If you take the last cup of coffee, either start a new batch or turn off the pot (nothing like trying to scrap the 1/2 inch of crusty, baked on coffee off the bottom of the pot)
  • Two refrigerators/limited space.  Please don't bring your entire week's groceries. 
  • Please do not store your open drinks or leftover, uncovered Mexican food with lot of onions and jalapenos on the shelf.
  • Please don't leave open food containers in the refrigerator for several days (or weeks). 
  • If you use the microwave, please clean it out afterwards (if it make a mess - see item 1).  Much as I appreciate you having your food warm, I really don't like to nuke my food after your burrito has burped up its contents beforehand.  And, for the love of God, please cover your food in the mircrowave.  Nothing is as appetizing as smelling freshly microwaved fish heads or corn on the cob.   
Ok, enough griping for one day.    



Have a great day!

03 March 2011

Booked up

Follow up from a previous posting on books. 

There was one other book I finished up a few months back that I found interesting.  Something different from my traditional, cookie cutter, Barnes & Noble mystery fodder.  One of the events of our rescue group from last year was a meet & greet with an author who has written a story that involves (can you guess?)...Golden Retrievers.  A great story about a woman in north Texas who worked search and rescue and how she trained a Golden Retriever puppy to become a search dog.  Not my normal read, but I thoroughly enjoyed the story. 

   I got the opportunity to meet the author, Susannah Charleson, and her dog, Puzzle.

02 March 2011

Dog Tails

Nope.  It’s not about my two loons.

Went to a wedding shower Saturday for my nephew. He’s a “young” (26) kid who is getting hitched to a cute redhead he’s known since high school. Those two seemed to be made for each other. The wedding is in two weeks out in the country and is supposed to be a “Casual Ranch Affair”. We’re still trying to figure what that translates into for attire.

We attended a wedding shower over at her parent’s house Saturday night.  Very nice party, but, honestly, I just wasn’t up for it.  Had a massive headache that I was trying to work through and wasn’t in a party mood.  I popped some Advil and thought I could manage a glass of wine but that just amplified the problem.

The folks have a very nice house.  They even have a one of those skinny little Daschunds that is all of 5 inches high and 10 inches long. Cute little dog.  I tend to make friends with most dogs as I have two highly needy ones at home.  Besides, I like petting or playing other dogs just to give my herd something to check out when I get home.

Of course being good hosts, there was lots of food & drink throughout the house.  In the living room there was an end table with a bowl of nuts/cashews.  While cracking jokes with my other nephew and his wife, we observed the little dog proceed to stand up on his little hind legs and proceed to chow down on some of the nuts. To me, it appeared this wasn’t a new trick for him.  I found this amusing (or perhaps gross?) given I had just had a handful of nuts from the very same bowl.  

You always should keep an eye on your nuts...