30 December 2013

Winding down 2013

I hope everyone is having a happy and safe holiday season.  

It's been a busy/different holiday season down here for us.  

I'd like to say it has been all fun & games, but at least it has been quiet.  I have all sorts of time off and I was hoping to get some chores done, but I don't seem to have accomplished half of what I had set out to do.  This year has been a bit off for us.  With SIL in the hospital, the Thanksgiving holiday was pretty low key.  We did not have the normal celebration at our house and spent some time at the hospital with SIL.  We did get to celebrate some of the week with Rebecca's folks and my brother, but it was different from what we have done for years.  With SIL getting out of hospital, we figured Christmas was going to be different as well.  Even though she is back home, she still needs some hands-on care and someone needs to stay with her during the day/night.  We have a caregiver staying for part of the day and my wife has taken the night shift.  I have even tried to take a shift or two to help out.  Momma was pretty overloaded so I attempted to pick up the slack for Xmas plans.  Organized/acquired most of the gifts, arranged for Christmas dinner, did the decorations/lights, even made an effort to clean the house (or at least stay two steps ahead of the dogs).  Managed to pull it off, but it is not to the same scale as we have had in the past.  We had a low-key celebration at our house with my parents and son (DIL was sick) and SIL (she is able to get out, but very tired).  No pictures this year, just a nice time with the family.  

I got the gift shopping done but it was almost up to the last minute.  As usual, I set out with one thing in mind and wind up with a totally different gift idea for people.  I envy people who are organized and disciplined enough to have their shopping done by Thanksgiving.  I keep telling myself I need to do better but somehow I repeat the same saga every year.   I also wind up getting too many gifts.  Think I find the perfect gift for nephew A or brother only to find something better three stores down.  I typically wind up with several ungifted gifts at the end that I wind up taking back or giving next year (still have three gifts left over from last year).  Anybody looking for a dancing Flamingo with a Santa hat?  

Maybe it is a factor of getting older or how the families are spreading out, but I am glad we had the time/opportunity to share the day, but it was definitely a bit more sedate that prior years.  At least the dogs have been getting plenty of attention.  All this time off has given me the opportunity to catch up on my reading and Netflix queue.  Going to be hard to go back to work after New Years.  

My Airstream group is having their annual New Years rally.  The difference is that there is a different team running the rally and they picked a new spot.  No longer the old RV ranch out west of here, but a new campground that is located about 3 miles away from where my trailer is currently parked.  Will probably take me longer to hook up the trailer that it will to drive over there.  I will be attending with just the dogs as momma will still be keeping an eye on her sister.  One good thing about this being close is that it is a short hop over to visit/sit with sister to give momma a much needed break.  I am looking forward to a fairly low key New Years celebration - the group is fairly sedate when it comes to partying.  Will be ringing in the new year with Champagne and black eyed peas. 

Happy New Year.

21 December 2013

Getting into the spirit

Off for the holidays.  As usual, I wind up the year with a boatload of accrued vacation days.  I could blame the system validation we were dong over the last 9 months or the plethora of road trip I took this year, but the basic problem is that I didn't manage my vacation time and didn't take off enough days.   The company used to have a policy of "use it or lose it".  Basically meant if you didn't take all of your earned days, Sorry Charlie.  Made for some unhappy people at year end and a bunch of people taking most of December off.  

A few years ago, they changed the policy and now allow you to cash out your vacation if you do not use it all.  For the old farts who have been around for a while (moi), this  alleviates some of that urgency to burn up the vacation by year end.  The old Purchasing manager before me had so much accrued vacation that he would start taking off every Friday staring right after Halloween.  

So I find myself in the same boat.  I am going to cash out a bunch of days but still need to burn some days or run the risk of losing them.  Tough life, eh?  I realize not everyone has this opportunity and I, for one, am immensely grateful to have that kind of dilemma.  One of the perks of this company.  

One of the other things the company does is throw a good party on occasion.  I mentioned the new CEO came on board a few years ago and set out to energize the company and promote the esprit de corps among the troops.  Lots of really good motivational things to inspire the minions.  

One thing is the annual Christmas party.  Every year they hold the party at a local venue.  One year it was a a big five star hotel near downtown, one year it was at the local country club, last year it was a local Hilton a few mile south.  This year they decide to "up" the ante a bit.  We held the shindig at Space Center Houston.  This is the information/tourist center adjacent to NASA and houses a lot of history from the space program.  Life sized versions of the lunar lander, the command modules for various launches, actual rockets planned for launch, a shuttle simulator and even a shuttle mock up.    

And there the an exhibit on Leonardo Da Vinci

And a shuttle simulator

And lunar lander

Of course, the party was pretty interesting awesome depending upon what mood you were in and how well you enjoyed the music.  Plenty of food, drink, a band and, of course some dancing.  There was a fair amount of slide dancing and booty shaking, but, alas, no twerking.

Of course, there was some other interesting displays of techy geekness.  Anyone recognize where this was used?  {Hint:  To Boldy Go Where No Man Has Gone Before}      

18 December 2013

Car 54, Where Are You?

To paraphrase Twain:  Rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated.  

Yea, I'm still here.  Wish I had a good excuse, but I really don't. I could regale you with stories of work or shopping or hospital parking or doctors visits or working on the trailer or prepping for the holidays or sniffing glue, but all of those are really boring.  Honestly, I have lost my muse and cannot seem to find her.  I have been playing catch up at the office (seems like I am always doing that) on all of the reports and projects I have picked up.  Sorry if I have overlooked my blog friends, but I have been ignoring the computer for a while.  I actually started 2-3 posts but they wound up sounding, well lame or whiny or downright narcissistic to me in the daylight so I pitched them.  Lately, I am spending a good chunk of my day on the computer and I have no real motivation to jump on the computer when I get home.  Especially when greeted with this face...

SIL Update - after 33 days in hospital, they finally released her on Monday to go home.  Extended recovery and some complications with infection kept her there for way longer than planned.  As tired as we were on making the trek up to the hospital every other day, she was ready to finally make a break.  Still going to be a long road to recovery, but at least she is doing it at home.  My wife is planning to spend the nights with her for the next month or so, which really puts a twist in on our holiday plans.  

Holiday prep - Still a long ways to go for my Xmas shopping.  Seems like I go later each year on finding the right gifts for everyone.  So far, I have avoided the mall completely this year, but may have to make a run this weekend to nail down a few things.  With our chaotic schedule it has been hard to get into the spirit but we are making progress.  I only have 1/2 the lights up but I hope to get everything out by this weekend.  At least the tree is up now.  Now if I can only find some figgy pudding.  Ho Ho Ho.