24 February 2013


Yep.  That about sums it up.  

22 February 2013

Good things come to those who wait

Sometimes patience and loyalty pays off. 

We had an interesting event today at work.  But before I regale you with the details, let me just give you a little background on my company to give you some perspective.   

Normally I don’t like to talk about my work a lot (except for all the road trips I take).  IMHO, most would find it boring and I definitely don’t feel that I should be venting my complaints about people on this meager blog (some people do).  Not my style and, besides, I believe, if you say things about people or the company, it usually comes back to bite you in the hindquarters.      

I work for a medical device company.  We manufacture an implantable device used for the treatment of epilepsy and depression.  Similar to a pacemaker except it delivers simulation to the brain.    It’s not for everyone, but it is an option for patients with refractory epilepsy who have already gone through several rounds of medication and surgery without much success.  It gives the patients and physicians an option in lieu of the standard drug therapy.  Founded in 1987 and we are currently celebrating our 25th year.  I’m going on my 12th year here so I guess that makes me one of the “seasoned old farts”.  Couple that experience with the 10 years I spent at a pacemaker company and that gives me some kind of street cred for medical manufacturers.  I've worked for a defense contractor and an oil company contractor and came to the conclusion:  I like working for a company where you see the direct benefit that your product provides to people.  We have many testimonials on how our devices have made a difference in people’s lives, gave them back their freedom.  Oh sure, the paycheck certainly helps, but, to me, there is some intrinsic reward in making something that improves quality of life.  My reasons for joining the company many years ago were even more personal – my son had a form of epilepsy when he was younger.  Suffered several gran mal seizures and had a multitude of tests/analysis performed.  Fortunately he grew out of it, but for several years it scared the living crap out of us.

But this is not a sales job about the company or our saga, it is how people are sometimes recognized for what contributions they make.  Over the past 5 years, we have seen a rebirth of the company.  Previous management was focused on different objectives and different visions for growth.  We has several tumultuous years where the market was not kind.  Several years back, the senior staff was outed and we brought in a whole new management team.  New guys from another medical firm.  As with any change, everyone was on pins & needles about how the new CEO and his team would run things.  Turns out the new CEO is way more down to earth than the previous guy.  Very amiable, self-effacing, wicked sense of humor.  He is not above making himself the butt of a joke if it improves the morale or helps support a cause.  At our tailgating party last fall, he was one of the participants in the hot dog eating contest.  He’s done a lot of good for the company and has really served to motivate others to greater heights.  The company is in a great position now – all our debt has been paid off, we bought our building, sales are up - totally different from 5 years ago.  They've invested money and resources into growing the brand and developing the corporate culture.  A lot more “fun” activities, contests, prizes.  I won airline tickets last year.  One of my buyers got 4 tickets at the Christmas party.  They are really big on giving out awards for recognition of service or contributions. 

That brings us to today.  Today we had our quarterly meeting.  Typical financial performance reports, service recognition, accolades.  For everyone who has reached the  5 year milestone, you get a gift certificate for a $5.00 foot long at Subway (running joke).  For the 10 year anniversary you get, can you guess?  - TWO $5.00 foot longs.  This year we had one employee (employee #2) who is the first person to celebrate her 25th anniversary.  Guess what she got?  Yep.  FIVE $5.00 foot longs.  But, that’s just part of the subtle joke.  They also gave her 25 $25 gift cards to various stores in the area (Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, Cheesecake Factory, etc.).  But that was still not enough.  The CEO spent a lot of time hamming it up and building it up until they finally got around to giving her the “big” gift:  A freakin’ new car.  Wow.  Totally over the top.  It felt like an Oprah moment.  I know that we have been doing pretty darned well over the last few years, but that just blew all of us away.  I think it is great that they honor for someone who has committed a quarter century to this place but it had several of us pondering the same question:  Just how many more years do I have to go?  (13.6 for moi)  

20 February 2013

Looking for motivation

Whenever I start to feel sorry for myself, I find a good healthy dose of reality will really put things in perspective.  We've been watching the saga of the cruise ship (non story).  No working plumbing, no showers, no a/c, no phones, no internet (the horror!), food shortages (but there was an open bar).  I can emphasize with their problems and the headaches that they had to handle, but I kept thinking about all the men and women who have been serving overseas in Afghanistan or Iraq.     

When training for my half marathon in January, there were days I just really didn't feel the desire to hit the road.  Some lame excuse about being too tired, or too cold, or too wet to lace up my ASICS.  I did use some motivational techniques from long term runners:  On those days when you don't feel like running, lace up your shoes and go out for just a mile run.  You usually find that once you've gone that mile, you find it easier to go further. 

Lately I have been busy are work and my motivation is seriously lacking.  Haven't run in two weeks and I am getting testy.  I've working through my Netflix queue and some of my tv additions.  I normally don't get hooked on the latest shows.  I don't watch The Voice, DWTS, Survivor, Top Model, Jersey Shore, Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo.  I will take time for American Pickers, Top Gear, and the occasional Pawn Stars.  The latest two shows I am kinda hooked on is Walking Dead and Justified.  I missed this commercial during the Super Bowl but still found it funny.    

14 February 2013

Love Boat (not) addendum

Not sure how much info everyone is getting elsewhere, but we are following the Triumph saga with a lot of interest.  Perhaps it is because it is because the ship sailed out Texas (Galveston).  Perhaps it is because there are some people from the area who are either on board now or have family onboard.  Perhaps it is because we know of two co-workers who are currently onboard.  Or perhaps the group of friends (Red Hat Society) who are onboard as well.  Or maybe it is because we have taken a similar cruise from the same port 5 years ago (different ship).  Or maybe it is because we just completed our own little 10 journey across the Caribbean last fall. 

Regardless, this whole saga has gotten a lot of attention down here.  People are lined up waiting to watch the boat come into port in Mobile (not Galveston).  So far, we have heard nothing from the people on board, but they should be within cell phone range in a few hours (if not already).  They are not slated to make port until later this evening (need to be towed 30  miles upriver to Mobile).  From the new feeds, sounds pretty ugly, but I am not sure how much of the media hoopla would believe.  I can see the difficulties with losing power on the ship and how it would make life miserable.  On our PC cruise, when we docked in Curacao, the ship cut power on the a/c system to do some adjustment/maintenance.  We took the  opportunity to hit the tour, do a tour, get lunch off boat.  When we got back around 3, they had turned the a/c system back on but it was still stifling below decks.  The one good thing is we had a cabin with a balcony that we got a breeze.  Lose power on a ship that size and nothing works.  No a/c.  No elevators.  No water.  No working toilets.  Pooping in bags, peeing in showers, long lines for food, no showers.  That’s a recipe for a really nasty time.  This was supposed to be a short 5 day “down & out” cruise.  Leave Galveston on Thursday, head down to Mexico to hit one or two ports and then head back to Galveston.  They were supposed to dock early Monday morning.  This has turned from a 5 day cruise into an 8 day cruise and I can tell you, even with power, after 5 days, things get old.  Even more so when you are dead in the water.  They have been on the boat without power since Sunday. 

This was one of the fears some expressed to me about our recent cruise and I don’t blame people for being concerned.  Cruises can be fantastic opportunities to see new sights, explore the world.  But when things go wrong, no matter how rare, things get ugly real fast.  Will be interesting to hear all the stories and see the pictures.    

Addendum:  Tim from IT who runs the a lot of the websites for our company.  He is one of the co-workers I mentioned who is on board.  What I did not know until this afternoon is that he is on his honeymoon.  Wow.  What a way to start out.  

12 February 2013

Split the sheets

Between busy the last two weeks.  Work's been kicking my butt and I have a plethora of projects around the house to complete.  I wound up doing two dog events last weekend - Farmer's Market and the Urban Market.  Lots of dogs, lots of people, lots of heavy petting.    


Not sure who enjoyed it more.  The dogs or the people.  

I have a coworker I have known for over 20 years.  I first met her back in 1990 at our previous company and we worked there for almost 10 years before it was bought out.  We wound up at the same company and have been working together here for over 12 years.  So we have been down that road quite a while.  She has worked for me many of those years although she claims that she trained me when I first started.  We have a unique relationship that I value above anyone else.  We've known each other for a long time.  I've been with her when she buried her father and then her mother.  Been to both daughter's weddings and she was been to my son's last August.  I've visited with her when she was in the hospital and she did the same when I was in as well.  We've known each other so long that I refer to her as my work wife.  We've celebrated birthdays together, triumphs and heartaches.  So it broke my heart when her youngest daughter separated from her husband.  It was sad, but I don't blame her, her husband was having issues and and he went, to coin a phrase from one of my favorite blogstresses:  "Bat Shit Crazy".  She left him and moved back home to Texas and started her life anew.  Her divorce is final this week and my coworker is taking off tomorrow to go out with her daughters to "celebrate" the occasion.  Her family and friends are throwing a small party for her and I found it morbidly amusing to find that there is a niche industry for these kinds of things.  Decorations, invitations, cards, etc.  They are even getting a cake (her's is the 1st one).   

Left me wondering what kinds of gifts you get for this...

03 February 2013

Family time

Super bowl weekend.  Anyone really gearing up for it?  Honestly, if your team is not on the sidelines in New Orleans, what's the interest level?  Not really planning anything special, but I will probably watch tonight's game if only for the over hyped commercials.  But I have even seen a few of commercials on the net already.  Not even sure if we will make it back in time for kick off.  My mom is turning 90 on Monday.  My older brother (the one who lives in a yurt in Seattle) made it a point to fly back down this weekend for her birthday.  Since Monday is a school night for many, the family is planning a big birthday dinner party at an fancy Italian restaurant across town.  Everyone is going to be there.  Sons, grandsons, DILs, wives, and 2 grandkids.  Should be a fun time.  We even got the restaurant to open back up just for us (normally closed on Superbowl Sunday).  Mom is still pretty spry for a 90 year old lady.  Both her and dad are still out roaming the countryside  in their trailer.  They are even up in Montgomery today at a rally with their Airstream club.  So far, they have show little signs of slowing down and I am happy that they are as active and mobile as they are.  Stephen found this little nugget on the Internet for her birthday.  

Trailer life is for the birds
Stephen and Rebecca came home late Friday to attend the party as well.  Good to see the kids again.  We went out to Outback last night with them and her parents and afterwards we went to their home to play a board game called Acquire.  An old fashioned board game that is a cross between monopoly and risk.  You buy and sell hotels and try to make as money as you can:

  • Acquire is one of the older games to be played at ManorCon. The players form chains of hotels on the board, and then buy shares in them. As the chains expand, their value increases. Eventually takeovers start to occur, with the larger chains swallowing up the smaller ones. When this happens, the shareholders in the smaller chains are bought out, with a nice little cash bonus going to the two largest shareholders. Of course, their are new chains appearing all the time, a few of which grow to be large, but most get swallowed up by the large chains before they have a chance. Eventually the hotel market becomes saturated, at which point the players count up their money and the value of their shares, with the player with the highest value winning.

We had never played it before so it took a bit of learning but we finally got the hang of it.  We haven't done board games in a while and, despite my grumpy nature, it was kind of fun (in a geeky way), but it requires some thinking/strategy.  I think I'll stick to something simpler like Mexican train.

With all the technological devices available and video games, it is nice to sometimes go old school with the family.