25 March 2012

Having a ball

What's your definition of fun?

A couple of goofy dogs?  Check
Chaos & Pandemonium

Dry weather?  Check

Wide open dog park?  Check

Room to roam
Plenty of room to run?  Check 
Starting out
No leash?  Check
One clean dog 
 Plenty of new dogs to play with?  Check
Making new friends 
A chance to roll around in the dirt?  Check 
Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches 
 New people to meet/lick?  Check
Claire the greeter
 Opportunity for mischief?  Check
Throw in one mud bath 
Dog with a penchant for water holes?  Check
And one water dog
More chances as mischief?  Check 
There's a Golden under all that

Methinks someone is having a blast
Now you may understand why I tend to shy away from the dog park after it's been raining.   

22 March 2012

Double nickel

One more lap around the sun.  That's the greeting my older brother sent me on Wednesday.  

I am not one to toot my own horn.  OK, maybe writing a blog about myself is sorta tooting my horn (or a tad narcissistic), but I really don't like to make a big deal about birthdays, especially mine.  I've had my fair share.  I done the party thing and lost a few brain cells (not the important ones) but I'm now sort of past that point.  I'd rather celebrate with a quiet dinner.  That's pretty much how my day went.  Go to work, dodge people who keep asking my age, get birthday wishes from the family, leave early, take the dogs out for a long walk/run, dinner with the wife, crash early.  I guess I have become an old fart.  

I've lapped the sun more than a few times.  I always find it interesting to note who else was born on the same day.  I share my birthday with a few notable characters:  Mathew Broderick, Gary Oldman , Timothy Dalton, Johann Sebastian Bach, and, of course, Lucy Pie.

Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.  Mark Twain


20 March 2012

Mind if I play through?

Despite my concerns, it was a pretty darn good day on the golf course.  I was able to get in early, knock out my report, get consensus in both meetings, and take care of a few tasks before I skied out around 1030 to head to the course.  Weather looked like it was going to turn bad, but we only had a lot of wind on the course and the rain stayed away until this morning.  

I used to play golf regularly back in the 80s.  I got a set of knock off clubs from a golf shop and a nice bag and even played in a regular Wednesday league with other Engineers on courses around the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  I was really into the whole golf thing back then.  I recall a few days where I would leave work early and would change into my golf clothes (at the stop lights) while driving up to the course to allow us more time on the course before it got dark.  I thought I was doing pretty good, but I never really got the knack.  I could play OK, but never broke into the lower scores (never broke par).  I kept at it for a while after my son was born, but with his activities kept me busy off the course.  Scouting pretty much killed any of the remaining free time I had, and, since I was never destined for the PGA, I kind of let it go.  I would play in the occasional tournament at work, but nothing serious.  The last few years, I was more disappointed in my play (or lack of skills) that pretty much put a stake in if for me.  Golf is one of those tricky sports.  If you are halfway coordinated or have some athletic abilities (neither of which apply to me), you can play a decent game.  I got tired of playing with other, more talented players and had pretty much retired.  Three years back when I dislocated my shoulder, I figured I wasn't going to hit the links again.  Last year, I was out on an audit and didn't have time to play (that's my excuse), even though I cajoled a number of my suppliers to play.  This year, I got my arm twisted to play, even though I knew it wouldn't end well.  

I I was teamed up with several co-workers who have played before.  They've played pretty good and have always had a good time.  Their fourth player had signed up with another team, so they asked me.  I tried to put them off several times, but they were persistent.  I figured it was going to be ugly but I was quite surprised at the outcome.  Was a pretty darned good outing.  We didn't burn up the course, but we did decent.  I muffed more than a few shots, lost more balls than I found, put several in the water/woods, and even managed to nit a ball backwards (once) but still had a few solid drives.  After missing a lot of shots you finally connect on a solid hit and drive the ball straight down the fairway for serious yardage and it gives you hope.  I really sucked on most of my drives but I was hot on my short game.  On several holes, I sunk the long putt (pure luck) to save the team score.  I wish I could say it was skill, but that would be a lie.  Still, with our combined foursome, we did well enough to come in 2nd, even with my help.  Of course, playing in south Texas, you always encounter some interesting obstacles.  Can anyone identify the object in the picture below near my ball (hint:  center left)?  Is this what they would call an "improvable lie"?  Needless to say, I did not recover that ball.     

See the water "hazard"?
The entire tournament was a huge success.  I think we cleared a lot of money, but we won't know until everything has been tallied.  There was one hole where we hired a guy who is this longest drive champion.  He plays exhibitions where he shows how to hit the ball long.  He set up on 14 and, for a donation to the Epilepsy Foundation, he would drive the tee shot for your team.  He could drive the ball over 400+ yards.  His hole alone cleared $11k for the charity.  And that doesn't include the money collected at the Jello shot and Margarita holes.  All-in-all, it was a very good day.  IMHO, way better than sitting in meetings all day. 

19 March 2012


I'm off the grid today.  Well, sort of.
I'm signed up to play in the charity tournament today.  I'm not expecting a great deal.  It's been over 2 years since I have picked up a club and I haven't played full round since I dislocated my shoulder 3 years ago.  I did make it out to the driving range to hit a couple of buckets over the weekend.  I only hope the rest of my foursome can put up with my play today.  I hope my putting game is on cause my driving sucks.  I hope not to kill anyone (that's frowned upon).  Weather report is dicey (warm & wet).  Supposed to be a round of storms roll through this afternoon/tonight, so it may be a wet course.  Of course, the old saying is:  A Bad Day of Golf is Still Better Than A good Day at Work.  We're on track to have a full crew out on the course today.  Over 120 golfers and we are looking to pull in a lot of $$$ from the event, after the expenses are paid.  

Of course, I do get the day off, even if I have to pay for it.  I just have to run in and finish my weekly report and update a few files and chair two meetings.

16 March 2012

Macht nichts

We are all a product of our life experiences. 

As I have grown older (not up), I’ve picked up a few sayings/expressions/phrases along the way.  Some from college, some from the Army (not all can be repeated in public), some from Germany, some from Scouts, some from work, some from home.  A number are a mishmash of German/French/Spanish/Army.  Even though I graduated from school many, many decades ago, I am always learning new things/expressions as I encounter new people and situations.   Occasionally, a few old sayings will crop up in my conversations with others as the situation presents itself. 

Of course, as I hear or encounter new expressions, I will make a mental note of the special ones for future reference/use. 

A few of the “jewels” I’ve collected over the years:
  • That idea is like a fart in church (nobody wants to claim it)
  • Busier than a one armed paper hanger with an itch (one of my favorites)
  • If we were having any more fun, we’d have to pay admission to get in the door
  • If Barnum and Bailey ever found this place, they’d throw a tent over it and charge admission
  • Who’s in charge of this Mickey Mouse operation?  Goofy?
  • That idea will float like a rock 
  • That’s about as useful as a screen door on a submarine (an old one)
  • I’m not your momma (from the Scouts)
  • You’ve mistaken me for someone who cares.  I’m a feeling kind of guy, not a caring one.  I feel bad, but I just don’t care.   (ref Grace Under Fire)   
  • Sometimes you’re the bug, sometimes you’re the windshield
  • Sometimes you’re the hammer, sometimes you’re the nail
  • Sometimes you’re the dog, sometimes you’re the fire hydrant (my favorite)
  • Time to cowboy up and get back in the saddle
  • Time to put on your big boy pants
  • That’s about as easy as herding cats
  • The problem with the Gene pool is there aren't any lifeguards
  • Ever stopped to consider some people’s existence is to serve as a warning to others?
  • He’s got that seagull style of management down pat (flies in, dumps on everyone, flies off)
  • Macht nichts to me (doesn’t matter to me)
  • À  bientôt (see you later)
  • D ‘accord (ok, or I agree)

Macht Nichts to me.  I used this earlier today in an e-mail exchange with a couple of engineers.  Most ignored it (I doubt they got it) but my buyer came to me on the side and asked me what the hell I said.  Sometimes I’ll lapse into my old Army expressions just to get a rise out of people. 

How about it?  Any expressions you use ad nauseum?  

À bientôt!

13 March 2012

It's only money

I briefly mentioned last week about various fundraisers we do to collect $$$ for the Epilepsy Foundation.  Within the last few months, we've had a number of different events to generate donations/money for the cause.  We’ve had a tailgating party, Fantasy Football, Superbowl lottery drawings, the chili cook off, March Madness, silent auctions, collected pledges from the Marathon.  The big push for collections usually starts up around the beginning of each year with a culmination at the Epilepsy Walk in April.  Lots of contests with some sweet prizes.  At Tuesday's cook off, we gave out tickets to the rodeo show (Reba McEntire), the dining train tour to Galveston, two airline tickets (round trip) an iPod Nano and even a new iPad 3.  We usually scrape up lots of donations from various suppliers to hand out some sweet prizes.  Part of my job as purchasing manager is to negotiate (read cajole) some of these donations from our suppliers.  I have been working hard to round up prizes for the upcoming golf tournament next week.  I am still holding out hope for my own iPad one day, but, since I've been batting 0.000 over the past 10+ years at this things, I guess I will have to buy my own.      

The few pictures and words I posted about Tuesday's chili cook off did not do it justice.  From a few of the ensuing questions, I thought I might elaborate a bit more.  The whole deal is organized by the HR department.  Each department forms teams to compete for two prizes:  Best chili and Best Display.  Whichever team wins will represent the company in an upcoming Houston wide event at the end of March.  There were 8 teams competing, each with their own special recipe and decorations.  The Marketing team did chicken chili (kinda bland), one did uber hot chili, another did mystery meat chili.  Decorations were, once again, over the top.  The Clinical group did the medical theme (their chili was really good) and they served the chili in spit trays and urinary jars (all sterile).  The Operations team was decorated in 60's diner styles, the HR team did a Hollywood theme and the Quality group did a 60's Groovy theme.   We even had side contests on top of the main contest.  Jalapeno eating contest.  Root Beer chugging.  Flip cup competition (sort of like a college drinking game).  Lots of opportunities to "invest" your money...

The three stooges (plus one)

Flip cup

Big turnout

Was a wet weekend.  Major storms rolled through town on Friday and it pretty much rained then entire weekend.  We are continuing to make up for last year's drought.  I think we are up to 15 inches of rain so far this year.  The back pond is almost overflowing at this point.  

In spite of the rain, we drove out to take one more look at possible reception venues.  We went back out to a golf course/country club site we toured a few weeks back.  They were set up for a wedding that night so we got to see what it would look like in full regalia.  We are still pondering 1 or 2 other sites, but this one is at the head of the pack.  

The big house

One of the table decorations

The grand staircase

Anyone up for a wedding?

07 March 2012

Playing catch up

It was a good road trip to Austin last week, but as I told SR300, I’m still paying for it now.  I take 2 ½ days off to play hooky in a training class and I find myself 2 weeks behind on my chores. 

I started out drafting this as a general gripe about how swamped I am and how I don’t have time to do these road trips, but then I realized how whiney that sounded.  Oooh poor me.   Waah waah, I’m sooo busy.  Geeeze.  Talk about a pity party.  

Life’s busy for everyone.  A lot of people have bigger problems than mine.  I need to shut up, hit the streets, and get to work.   Time to put my big boy pants on and deal with it.       

A spot of refreshment in Austin

Austin was nice.  I got to spend a few hours with my son on Monday before the training started and was able to share a few beers with him.  Training was good - more geared for sales negotiation and advocacy training, not something I normally face each day, but interesting nonetheless.   

Driving through some of the burn area south of Bastrop.
Last year, those trees were so dense, you couldn't even see the buildings.

Drove back Wednesday night and have been running non stop ever since.  I was able to knock out a few chores at home (yard work, vet appointments, dog park), but the weekend seemed to fly by.  This week has already had all sorts of different tasks.  My company is big on donating to the Epilepsy Foundation (our core business), so we are having a multitude of fundraisers leading up to the Epilepsy Walk in April.  Each year we sign up a large number of people to participate and we hand over one single check to the foundation from all the fundraising efforts.  Last year we ponied up one of those Publisher's Sweepstakes-sized checks for $77,777.  This year, given all the events and donations we've had, we are on track for, go figure, $88,888.  Lord knows what they will shoot for next year.   I am involved in a number of these activities and it is great to see the end results, but after several back-to-back pushes, one does get a bit tired.  I am supposed to play in a charity golf tournament in two weeks, against my better judgement (gave it up a few years ago).  I haven't picked up a stick in almost two years and this could be ugly.  I have told the guys in my foursome they might want to up their insurance.  Yesterday, we had a chili cook off with a number of departments competing.  It is usually a glorified food fest with a variety of different chili flavors/recipes.  Our operations group took top prize (3rd year in a row) and they get to participate in a bigger cook off to be held in Houston in late March.  Not a bad event with lots of different themed booths (like the 60's Peace, Love and Chili team) and they pulled in over $9200.         

Chili cook off 

Medic Alert chili team
Yea, life's tough.