29 June 2012

Trailer tails

Thanks for all the compliments on my new toy.  From some back end conversations I had with RC, I realized that I should probably give a few more details about these shiny metal looking trailers and what is my fixation with them.  Forgive me if I go long, but I thought I would break this saga up into two posts just to relieve the monotony (or build the suspense).  Bear with me and I will give you a little peek in to agg79's warped family past.  And I promise more pictures of the new trailer next.  

To answer Rock's challenge, yes, they do look like an old Air Force B29 bomber, but that is by design.  This trailer is call an Airstream.  The actual design was based on old aircraft frames the early 30s/40s.  The designer/founder was Wally Byam and he started building travel trailers by hand back in the late 1920's and he even published an article on “How to build a trailer for One Hundred Dollars”.  There was so much demand for more trailers and information, he started a business of building these trailers and they have been on the road ever since.  Of more than 400 travel trailer builders operating in 1936, Airstream was the sole survivor of the Depression.  They are built with an aluminum frame and skin and are structurally stronger than most standard square fiberglass trailers and usually weight less.  One of the original marking ploys Wally used was that the trailer was so lite and well balanced, it could be towed by one guy on a bicycle.  

The original trailers were built torpedo style to cut the wind.  They were the first of several companies to build a “towable” camper and considered a step up from tent camping of the 20's and 30s.  During World War II, travel became a luxury most could not afford and non-military industries faced an acute aluminum shortage. When World War II ended, the economy boomed, and people's attention once again turned towards leisure travel, Airstream went back into production in 1948.   

Airstream trailers have been all over the world.  They seem to have become an iconic treasure from the past.  If you look back at some of the earlier NASA picture of astronauts, you will see an Airstream motorhome used by NASA.  These trailers are built to last years.  There are a number of trailers from the 60s and 70s still in use.  My other trailer is a 25 foot 1979 model (33 years old) Airstream Sovereign.  My "new" one, while looking somewhat newer is actually 16 years old (circa 1996).  My parents belong to an Airstream club that travels all over the US to various rallies.  They joined the club when I graduated from college (ahem, 33 years ago) and have been wandering the highways and byways ever since.  Mom and dad bought their first Airstream in 1979 from my uncle (retired Air Force Colonel who liked to travel the US in style) and, once my dad retired, they joined the club full time and has been out traveling ever since.  My brother and I got sucked into the club 15 years ago.  He bought his first trailer at a swap meet and has had owned several since.  I bought my brother's first trailer from him when he wanted to move up and have had used it for 10+ years.  After countless weekend football games, Airstream rallies, road trips to visit junior in Austin, and one road trip to Branson, Missouri, she may not be the biggest rig in the park, but she has held up well.  Classy.

Shadow standing post as guard dog

Next up:  Changing of the guard...

25 June 2012

New toy

Long road trip.  650 miles.  Left town at 0600 and did not get back until 1930 (7:30 pm for all the non-regs).  On top of that, it was hovering around 100 degrees Saturday and Sunday.  But, despite the heat, a deal was struck and success was achieved.  As of now, daddy has a new toy.            

More later as I have time. 

22 June 2012

Impromptu road trip

It's been another one of those "I need a new bottle of scotch" weeks.  

I'm off in the morning for a 10 hour road trip to north Texas to look at a trailer.  Will post details later.

Since Rock is posting music videos, I thought I would post a comparison of the Gotye video:

20 June 2012

Run down

Dateline Houston:  Tall, out of shape 55 year old Houstonian tries to best last year’s champion in the annual Dad’s Day 5k road race, but fails to bring home the trophy.

I meant to post this late Saturday, but I just got plain busy doing “stuff”.  I was hopping from project to project from Friday afternoon until late Sunday evening.  Physicals, 5k runs, dog park, birthday shopping, scoping out a newer trailer - one of those weekends that just seem to fly by.

Left work early Friday for round 3 of my physical.  1st round last week was the typical physical – height, weight, blood pressure, EKG, blood work, DRE.  Everything checked out 5 by 5.  Thursday I went in for a Carotid artery ultrasound (?) where they scan your neck to see what shape your veins are in.  Weird little test.  Doc told me afterwards that everything looked good and I have no plaque, but my vein wall thickness were those of a 67 year old man?  WTF?  SRSLY???  Friday I went in for a treadmill stress test.  First time I’ve done one of those.  Now, for the record, I hate treadmills.  All that running and sweating and you don’t get anywhere.  I prefer running the streets/trails over treadmills every time.  The doc hooked me up a wiring harness with about 12 wires that made me look like a marionette.  Then I got up on the treadmill to start the test.  Started with a slow pace, no elevation.  I think I had a turtle pass me up.  My only problem that speed is I want to run/walk faster than the treadmill will allow.  During the test, the doc will take my blood pressure and hold up a sign where you rate the difficulty you are feeling at the time on a scale of 1-20 (1 - easy, 10 - moderately hard, 20 - kill me now).  Every 3 minutes, my sadistic doc would dial it up a notch.  First we stepped up the pace to 2 and cranked the elevation up one level.  He kept doing this every 3-4 minutes until I was at a 7.5 MPH pace and 25 degree incline.  Not wanting to wimp out on the test, I felt that, if he took it up another notch, I was going to hurt him.  Fortunately, he finished the test and I didn't have to kill him.  Results were good, see you next year.

Couldn't sleep Friday night so I got up early with plans to head downtown early enough to find some parking close to the start.  Walked the dogs, caught up on e-mails, collected some trailer gear, lost track of time and did not leave the house until 0715 (0800 start time).  Had to fly into town, navigate a traffic jam, find a parking spot, and sprint to the starting line ½ mile away.  I made the line with about 3 minutes to spare, found my way into the herd of runners and found my pace time (9-10 minutes).  Last year there was a massive line at the registration to get your bib/packet that took almost 45 minutes.  This year, I got smart and paid to have my packet mailed to me.  By the time the gun sounded, I was warmed up.  Conditions at start time was 83 degrees, 72% humidity.  Race was pretty good, but I had the crowd at the outset.  Just like the Marathon, the first kilometer was packed with bodies all running at different paces.  Some sprinters, some joggers, some walkers.  Spent a lot of time trying to pick my way through the mob.  Took me most of the 1st kilometer to get clear of the crowd.  It may have been due to the pre-race sprint or the stress test on Friday, but I started to feel old around mile two.  I finished up in the middle of the pack with a mediocre time of 31:47 (10:11 pace), not a PR.  At 22:08 (7:06 pace) I don’t think Bernie felt any pressure from me.  All-in-all, good race.  I just need to run more to improve my time.  The lead runners were pulling down a 15-16 minute time (sub 6  minute pace).  

No way I am getting beat by a 6 year old in a tutu...

Hung around for photos and award ceremony and headed to the west side of town to look at a camping trailer I was looking to buy.  We have an older Airstream trailer and I was looking to get something a bit newer.  The trailer popped up late last week and I was interested in making a deal but the story got sideways and the deal fell through.  Will explain more details in another post.  

Was a quiet Father's Day.  Took the dogs to the dog park for another mud bath, called my dad to wish him a happy father's day, took a call from my son doing the same, did some online shopping for my wife's upcoming birthday, cooked up some steaks on the grill.  All-in-all, a good low key weekend to enjoy at home with my wife and the dogs.

13 June 2012

Running for a cause

Here I go again.  Talking myself into things when I should know better.   

Nowadays, everybody is holding runs/events for all sorts of fundraisers.  Almost every weekend you could don your shoes and find a 5 or 10 k run for some charity or cause.  Last year, I stumbled across a local little charity run called the Dad's Day 5K.  This is an annual 5K run held on the Saturday before Father's Day.  The primary cause for this event (to coincide with Father's Day) is to promote awareness of prostate cancer.  I never knew of this gig until last year and this year is lucky 13th.  Somehow, I talked myself into doing it again this year.   

The logo for the run is:  Save the Males

Pretty interesting crowd.  Lots of folks turn out for various reasons.  A lot of companies partner up to sponsor the event (Marathon, Hess, Randall's, United, Baker Hughes).  Several teams are organized to run the event along company/family lines.  Trophies are awarded for fasted time, oldest runners, largest groups.  Two of the largest group were family based.  One family had over 25 people (young & old) participate in honor of the dad who was a prostate cancer survivor.  

It's an easy, flat course.  A simple down and back 5k along the downtown streets.  The biggest challenge will be that, at race time (0800) the temps will be hovering around the mid 80s with a humidity level of over 75% (Can you say "sweating buckets"?).  Like last year, I am in an "elite" class of runners - ones who are prostate cancer survivors. It felt kinda strange/weird to be in that small of a group.  For the first time in like EVER, I actually came in the top 5 of my bracket.  This year I hope to improve on that ranking and might actually beat that 67 year old guy who took 1st place last year.  

Watch your back Bernie.  You're goin' down like a sweet muffin.  

11 June 2012

10 June 2012

A movie from a different angle

Mrs Doubtfire Recut As A Horror Film

I guess it is my warped sense of humor that found this funny...

09 June 2012

In search of some bandwidth

Are we there yet?  Man, the weekend just would not could not get here fast enough.

It has been another one of those insanely crazy, chock-a-block full, nonstop mayhem weeks from when I stepped out of bed Monday morning.  I'm keeping a lot of balls in the air right now.  Lots of projects coming due, reports to write, meetings to sleep through sit in, e-mails to write, blogs to read.  Yadda, yadda, yadda.  Yea, I know, it sucks to be me.  

I am working on a couple of upcoming audits in July & August  while we're getting ready for an in-house audit next week.  Even though the summer has just started, my calendar is already filling up fast.  I've got 3 or 4 road trips planned between now and August.  Fortunately, my trip to the Philippines has been pushed out until the fall, but the rest of the trips are domestic hops around the states.  I blocked out a week of my calendar in early August for the wedding, so it was interesting to note what days/weeks I will be off the grid this summer.  

It's hard to plan things when your Internet dies.  Our modem gave up the ghost Tuesday night leaving us in the stone ages.  Couldn't even get on live via my iPhone for a while.  I had to go to the Comcast store (they wouldn't come out until Saturday) to get a new router.  To complicate things, I had another doctor's appointment on Wednesday am for a Physical.  Not the same as the one we had at work, this one is more "intrusive" by my doc.  I used to do these every year for Scout camp (something about worrying about us old farts stroking out at camp).  Last time I went to this doc is when he uncovered my prostate cancer, so it has been a few years since I have been back.  Normal physical stuff, but I have to go back for a cardiac ultrasound and treadmill test next week.  Blood work came back OK and, so far, I am still checking out 5 by 5. 

Wednesday morning was the day they opened registration for the Marathon and I was unable to log on line to register before I left for the physical.  While waiting my turn in the office, I was trying to keep up with work and the net.  I stole some bandwidth in the waiting room and was able to read everyone's blogs, check the news, catch up on e-mails.  I decided not to wait until got into the office to register so I managed to log onto the Marathon website and sign up.  With the lottery system, normally I wouldn't know my status for a few weeks, but, since I decided to step it up a notch and sign up for the Run for A Reason Charity, I got a confirmed slot for January 13th.  Whoo-Hoo!  I have many people to thank for encouraging me to abuse myself.

217 days and counting... 

06 June 2012

Life's Little Lessons

While dealing with the daily chores/meetings/projects (walking the dogs), I was pondering life's little blessings.  After 55 years wandering this globe, you tend to accumulate bits of information, some of which might actually be useful. This is something they don't teach you in school and I have picked up along the trail and I'd thought pass this along to you guys for free.  Some need no explanation. 

  1. Don't scrimp on toilet paper.    
  2. Never go cheap on dog poop bags. 
  3. You will pay for cheap Tequila later 
  4. Never pee on an electric fence. 
  5. Look for a proctologist with small hands. 
  6. Jalapenos burn twice. 
  7. A freshly bathed dog will find and roll in something dead in the yard 
  8. The amount of the vehicles involved in a freeway traffic jam is directly proportional to how late you are. 
  9. If you find a pair of shoes that fit, are comfortable, are stylish,and are on sale, buy 5 pairs. 
  10. The day after the warranty expires is the day it will break. 
  11. Today is the yesterday you will look back upon fondly tomorrow. 
  12. Duct Tape fixes everything.

03 June 2012

And so the streak ends...

OK.  Before I delve into the topic de jour, let me just comment on my last post.  Y'all are not helping me here.  I was sorta hoping someone would raise the bar of sanity and talk me out of this.  But, Noooo, you guys are all sorts of supportive.  Gee, Thanks.  Now I going to have to sign up and run it again.  I just want you to know that, somewhere around mile 10, when my knees are grumbling, I am going to be blaming thinking of you guys...

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.  Attended a company party yesterday.  Ever since the new CEO came in, he has changed course on the company direction and gotten us back on track.  Over the last four years, we've completely eliminated the large debt and brought the company back into the black and a really strong projections going forward.  One of the things this guy has done is to recharge the company spirit.  I've like him from the day he walked in the door.  He's a very self effacing guy who is approachable and willing to joke with everyone.  Not what I'm used to seeing from a CEO.  180 degrees opposite from our last guy.  Dan has built up a solid rep and re-energized the company spirit.  They have held many company functions and events to promote the success of the company and extol the troops.  Last year, he rented out a local venue called The Main Event.  It is one of those indoor all-in-one entertainment places where you can bowl, shoot pool, do rock climbing, laser tag, glow golf, or just get lost in the arcade games.  He set up the party just for the company employees to celebrate our success for last year.  This year is the company's 25th anniversary and they wanted to have another party but this time they included the families as well.  So we rented out a local place that serves as gathering place for corporate picnics, parties, gatherings.  It used to be a working ranch that has a huge covered barn/pavilion, putt putt golf, softball fields, pool horseshoe pits, shuffleboard, basketball courts, and a trackless train ride.  It was kinda warm, but it was a great turn out.  Lots of food, drinks, games and entertainment for the whole family.           

I've gone to every single company party/event since I joined 10+ years ago and I have never one any of the door prizes or give-a-ways.  I was even boasting to my new buyer that I had yet to win anything at these shindigs, so if she won anything (only been here 3 months) I would be perturbed (not really).  Well, I guess lady luck finally took pity on me and I won one of the two grand prizes - a pair of round trip airline tickets to anywhere in the continental US (except Alaska or Hawaii).  Boo-Yah!  The running company joke is, several years back, when Dan had just arrived, we had another company gathering and he awarded a pair of round trip tickets to a woman working in our Clinical department.  These were primo tickets for anywhere in the US (including Hawaii and Alaska).  When asked where she wanted to go, she stated she wanted to go to Alabama (has family there).  Everyone was expecting Hawaii.  Eventually she did use the tickets to go to Hawaii, but she is still asked every year about where she would go again.  When I was asked where I was going, I indicated that I would like to go to Vegas, but I had to consult a higher authority (aka my bride).  She has expressed a desire to visit Charleston.  We may be headed to the east coast  later this year.       

02 June 2012

To run or not to run

To run, or not to run, that is the question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer 
The Blisters and Sweat of an outrageous course,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of tired knees, 
And by opposing end them: to rest, to sleep late
No more; and by a sleep late, to say we end
The back-ache, and the sore muscles 
That Flesh is heir to? 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To rest to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream of running; Ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep, what dreams may come.  
(my apologies to Shakespeare)

'Tis that time again, dear friends.  Time to set aside the daily drudgery, stop working on the weekly report, to put down the crackberry, turn off the TV, get off my posterior, man up and make a decision.  A little over 7 months from now (224 days to be precise), the horde of insane, hard bodied, adrenalin filled running nuts will descend upon the streets of Houston in the cold predawn light to participate in the 41st annual Houston Marathon.  Competition for this thing has grown exponentially over the past few years.  Last year they had 28,000 runners participate in the Marathon and Half Marathon and this year they upped the limit to 30,000.   Yes, that's 30,000 sweaty bodies crammed together on the downtown streets outside of the Minute Maid Park awaiting the starting gun.  Doing the Marathon was on my bucket list for years and I started doing the 1/2 Marathon back in '09 (2008 I had to settle for the 5k because the sign up list was full).  It was my first attempt at a long distance run greater than my normal 10ks and I survived.  No course record, no inspirational saga, just tired feet and sore calves.  Ever since, for some reason I cannot fathom, I keep going back to that well for another round.  The sign up process is long and the list fills insanely quickly (in 2010, they opened up the sign up at midnight in the middle of July and within 24 hours the 1/2 Marathon roster was full).  Two years back they started a lottery system where you put your name in and you didn't know if you got accepted until late August.  Two ways you get a guaranteed slot - be a Veteran Marathoner (have finished 10 or more Houston Marathons) or sign up for one of the many charities that are associated with the event (must raise $350).  Each year, I have signed up for one of the Run For a Reason slots (last year was the Epilepsy Foundation) and it got me an inside track on getting a slot.  Each year as I drag myself across the finish line I question if I will do it again.  At the time I finish, I feel tired/sore/elated and think to myself "Yea, I can do this again".  But once the afterglow fades, reality sets in and I start to question that strategy.  I've considered going the full distance on the next round, but somehow 13 miles seems to be my niche.  

On Wednesday morning, they open up registration for the 2013 Marathon and I am once again debating signing up.  Some days I tell myself that I am too old for this stuff.  32 weeks is not that far off, but come late December, there are a few doubts.