29 May 2012

Long weekend epilog

Whew!  Even though I had no real agenda, no real objective, I got a lot chores knocked out over the weekend.  

Bugs taken care of.  Shower fixed.  I got some quality time with junior Saturday.  Stephen was in town this weekend for various wedding tasks.  Needed to meet with the minister this weekend, working on invitations.  On Saturday, I offered up to take him to St Arnold's Brewery downtown.  Now, for those not familiar with St Arnolds, please allow me to elaborate.  St Arnolds is a local Houston brewery that has been around for about 18+ years.  Started by a Rice University graduate, it has grown from a local home brewer to a regular craft brewer.  I have been in love with St Arnolds ever since we went to visit Stephen in Seattle.

While enjoying the moment with my son, I was given a mission - I was supposed to work the target to explore on their wedding plans, discover where they were registered, and determine what they wanted for wedding gifts.  I was able to get more intel on their plans, where they were going, where they were registered (nowhere).  It was good to get a beer into him to open up for a few of the details.  This is new territory for us.  We have been to a few weddings, even had one of our own although it was a few years decades ago, so we are trying to figure out what is our role as parents of the groom.  We have offered up to help certain aspects of the wedding.  Tradition has it that the bride's parents cover the wedding costs and the groom’s parents cover the rehearsal dinner, but we don't feel right with that.  So we are offering up to help with the shindig.  Since the kids have decided to get married at our church, we are covering the chapel and minister.  I think the bar tab at the reception is going to be ours (St Arnolds beer will be available).  Rebecca’s dad and I offered that the beer hall at the St Arnold’s Brewery would make a great place for the rehearsal dinner, but I don’t think the moms are quite down with that plan.  My son has not asked for help, but I did offer up my assistance with a few of the wedding logistics.   I proposed to arrange a limo to take them from the chapel to the reception (don't worry about transportation).  After the reception, said limo would whisk them away from the reception to an undisclosed location.  Since they won't fly out on their honeymoon until Sunday evening, we were going to put them up in a local hotel for the night.  That way they could relax and unwind from the day’s excitement and they could make the rounds the following day before heading off to the airport.

On Sunday, I drove up north of town to Rummy’s Beach Club.  This is the place that I visited last fall where they specialize in water training/exercise for dogs.  Lisa runs the place and built a custom pool for dogs to learn how to swim and dock diving.  Despite being two full blooded Golden Retrievers, neither one of them seem to have the aptitude or inclination for swimming, so I elected to take them to Rummy’s to get in the water with them and work their skills.  They did it last time, but they were very nervous.  This time was much better.  Claire has taken to swimming pretty well, and will swim out to the deep end, but I still cannot coax her to jump in from the side of the pool.  Grayson is still uncertain about the whole deal.  He did do much better this time, but needs more time in the water for practice.  I am planning to take them back again this summer for a couple more lessons while the temps are warm.  A number of the Golden Beginnings people have pools at home, so a lot of fosters/adoptees get to spend time in the pool.  

Jump?  Are you crazy?

Yesterday we hit the dog park again, took the kids out for BBQ lunch, cleaned out the breezeway and mowed the yard.  I took some time to tour the Memorial Day service at the local park where they had a mock up display of the Vietnam Memorial Wall.  Sobering display with lots of details/information, but it doesn't compare to the real wall in DC (seen it).  Was a full throttle weekend.  I need to go to work to catch up on my rest.    

28 May 2012

John 15:13

In the middle of all the car sales, parades, BBQ & beer, cookouts, I like to pause and remember the reason we enjoy this day off.   

Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service to our country. 

It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers. 

During the first national celebration, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers who were buried there. This event was inspired by local observances of the day that had taken place in several towns throughout America in the three years since the Civil War. By the late 1800s, many more cities and communities had begun to observe Memorial Day, and after World War I, it became a occasion for honoring those who had died in all America’s wars.  

Memorial Day is celebrated at Arlington National Cemetery each year with a ceremony in which a small American flag is placed on each grave. Traditionally, the President or Vice President lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. About 5,000 people attend the ceremony annually.  

In 1971, Congress declared Memorial Day a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Monday of May.

John 15:13
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

25 May 2012

Long weekend

Shhhh.  Don't tell anyone.  I snuck in a vacation day today to make it a long 4 day weekend.  No solid plans, just minor chores around the hacienda this weekend.  Probably cook something on the grill, take the children to the dog park, wax the truck, test drive a few more cars, mow the yard, plant some more flora, get fitted for a tux, take the kids out for dinner, catch up on wedding plans.  

Actually, today I am hanging around waiting for the bug guy to come nuke the house.  We usually have him over once a year and that normally keeps the hordes at bay, but in the last 2 weeks I've encountered 5 big 'ol Texas tree roaches inside the house - some dead, some quite alive (3 is my limit before I call in a tactical strike).  Also have a plumber out to fix a leaky shower  faucet.  I'd attempt it myself, but my luck & experience with that kind of plumbing work is not good.  Besides, I've got a home warranty policy that takes care of this for a few bucks, so I'll let the experts deal with it.  

Long weekend ahead.  Monday is Memorial Day.  Lots of people bbq'ing, car sales, mattress sales.  School is about done and summer is about to kick off.  Junior is supposed to be down this weekend with his bride to be.  They have plans to meet with the minister, decide on a DJ, work on invitations.  So far, the wedding tally is going well.  We have the chapel set, minister locked in, reception hall reserved, photographer picked, caterer is lined up, cake place is almost firmed up.  Stephen called me yesterday and told me that he and his best man have been fitted for their tuxes and Rebecca's dad and I need to go to Men's Warehouse to get fitted (another weekend chore).  Looks like is is shaping up to be a full agenda this weekend.  Hope everyone gets off early and can enjoy their weekend!    

23 May 2012

Old jokes

Whew!  It's been another one of those weeks.  In between endless meetings and various reports, I've been cleaning out my e-mails at work to free up some space (thanks Outlook 2010) and stumbled across this joke I got from a neighbor back in 2003 and I still find it funny.  This one's for the engineers out there...  
Redneck Engineering Exam

1.  Calculate the smallest limb diameter on a persimmon tree that will support a 10-pound possum.

2.  Which of the following cars will rust out the quickest when placed on blocks in your front yard? 66 Ford Fairlane, 69 Chevrolet Chevelle, 64 Pontiac GTO.

3.  If your uncle builds a still that operates at a capacity of 20 gallons of shine per hour, how many car radiators are necessary to condense the product?

4.  A woodcutter has a chain saw that operates at 2700 rpm.  The density of the pine trees in a plot to be harvested is 470 per acre. The plot is 2.3 acres in size. The average tree diameter is 14 inches. How many Budweisers will it take to cut the trees?

5.  If every old refrigerator in the state vented a charge of R-12 simultaneously, what would be the decrease in the ozone layer?

6.  A front porch is constructed of 2x8 pine on 24-inch centers with a field rock foundation. The span is 8 feet and the porch length is 16 feet. The porch floor is 1-inch rough sawn pine. When the porch collapses, how many hound dogs will be killed?

7.  A man owns a Tennessee house and 3.7 acres of land in a hollow with an average slope of 15%. The man has 5 children. Can each of the children place a mobile home on the man's land?

8.  A 2-ton truck is overloaded and proceeding 900 yards down a steep grade on a secondary road at 45 mph. The brakes fail. Given the average traffic on secondary roads, what are the chances that it will strike a vehicle that has a muffler?

9.  A coalmine operates a NFPA Class 1, Division 2 Hazardous Area.  The mine employs 120 miners per shift. A gas warning is issued at the beginning of 3rd shift. How many cartons of unfiltered Camels will be smoked during the shift?

10.  At a reduction in gene pool variability rate of 7.5% per generation, how long will it take a town that has been bypassed by the interstate to breed a country-western singer?

20 May 2012

Dog day at the market

Spent the morning at the Urban Market.  According to their website:  "The Urban Market Houston Antique Show is an Extraordinary Outdoor Antique Market held three times a year in Houston. A fabulous collection of dealers, designers, and shop owners with spectacular antiques, furniture, and home decor at unbelievable deals!"  Really neat place to find some bargains on antiques, crafts, knickknacks.  Our rescue group has been tied in with the Urban Market for several years and has a booth there just to promote the group and get the word out to people who might have an interest in adopting or fostering some clingy, hairy, slobbery, fur-ball Golden Retrievers.  I've been planning to go to one of these in the past but have always been out of town or had other plans.  Since this was was just up the road from us and I had the morning free, so I made it a point to go today.  I debated taking only one dog (Claire is much better at working the crowd) but they tend to get all moody/depressed if one is left behind so I took both.  For all my fears about them being a handful, they did great and were the hit of the market.  Both were on their best behaviors and made lots of new friends.  Even thought it is late May, summer is kicking in and it was very hot, but at least we had a nice breeze and a shelter for them to lay down in.  

19 May 2012

Three words

I'm working on a project for work that requires a little creativity/inspiration.  Last year the company won an award as one of Houston's best companies to work for/at (one of 100).    HR is in the middle of working for a repeat of that award and is encouraging employees to add in their comments about the company.  To do that, they have thrown down the gauntlet to produce a 5-10 second video clip of what makes it great to work here.  They shamelessly stole it from ABC news about using three words to describe the a situation or person.  Normally, being an engineer and manager, I have little time or patience for this stuff, but somehow, my inner muse struck me earlier this week and gave me an inspiration for a clip.  I am working on one this weekend and plan to post it later.  It's going to require a bit more tweaking, some creative editing and a wee bit o' scotch, but I have a funny theme in mind.  Of course, I really could use Meleah's expertise in videography help to really make this shine, but I guess I will have to improvise, adapt and overcome.

In the meanwhile, for those not tied in with the corporate world, I thought would share something my Golden Beginnings Rescue Group has been passing along this past week describing the typical corporate environment (in dog terms).  


13 May 2012

Mother may I?

Happy Mother's Day!

Here's a toast to all the hard working, dedicated, tireless moms out there (especially to my mom and my wife).

Once again, men and boys everywhere are scrambling to buy last minute cards and flowers and a boxes of chocolates for the most important woman in their life.  

Happy Mothers Day terri, abby, meleah, judy, ShadowRun300!!!

We have so much to be grateful for. You brought us into this world, loved us unconditionally, showed us how things are done, healed our hurts, paid our bills, and set us on the path of life. No mere card or flowers or cheesy bauble or hallmark memento can ever express the gratitude I/we owe. I couldn't even hold a candle to what you ladies do, thanks for making it all happen. It may be just one guy's opinion, but I think the hardest thing of being a mom is letting your children go. 

Thanks Mom!

And remember, you made me what I am so, in some way, you are to blame...

12 May 2012

Idle time

One of the nice things about having your offspring out of the house is the weekends become ours again.  5 years back when Stephen left for college, we discovered something wondrous - our weekends were free.  No more football games, no more scout events, no more projects, no more school related activities.  Even in college, there were certain events we participated/attended (weekend football games, etc.).  Now that junior has graduated and off into the working world, our calendar has opened up a bit.  We've been doing a few more unscripted or impromptu things.  Like the rally we went to a few weeks back or the BBQ cook off or the Epilepsy Walk or last weekend's mulch exercise.  

I had a bunch of plans this year, some worked out, some still on the board.  I had hoped to take a road trip on a Saturday or Sunday and head north towards Austin with the dogs.  The spring is one of the best times to cruise the back roads of Texas because that's when the wildflowers explode.  Each year is a bit different, but this year was supposed to be spectacular with all of the recent rains.  Acres of Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrush cover the plains and hill country of Texas making for some really outstanding photo ops.  Around springtime, carloads of people descend upon the area between Houston and Austin with the intent to take pictures of their girlfriend, wife, kids, dogs posed against the background of Bluebonnets.  I had intended to to that with the two dogs, but got busy on several weekends and most of the blooms are gone now.  

I wanted to go down to Galveston for their Mardi Gras celebration but never had the time available to make the drive.  

I had intended to go to north Texas to attend Pate (one of the largest swap meets) but junior was coming in town that weekend so that scuttled those plants.  Maybe next year.  Eventually, I intend to take the dogs to the beach just to see what they do with that much sand and water.      

Was hoping to go back to Rummy's Beach Club with the dogs to see if I can teach them to swim.  That's a 1/2 day run I have planned for some day this summer when it is ungodly hot.    

Looks like this year may be the year I finally get off my butt and have a new driveway installed.  

So for this weekend, while shopping for a few last minute gifts for my maternal unit, I took a quick side trip downtown to participate/witness a parade.  This particular parade is going on its 25th year.  It is kind of famous (or at least down here) for its eclectic nature.  Something that defines the different/creative/kooky side of this town.  Houston's not known for its off beat nature as as, say Austin (Keep Austin Weird), but it does have its moments.  So, for something different, I finally made it down to see the 25th Annual Houston Art Car Parade.    

Overall, 280 cars/cycles/scooters/wagons/skaters/mechanical conveyances involved. 

Interesting to see what goes on around here when you have the time....