21 July 2014

Going to the dogs (and coming out on top)

Dog show this past weekend.  A chance to hang with the big dogs.  Time again for the Annual World Series of Dog Shows at NRG Center this past weekend.  As usual, lots of toys/treats/stuff to buy for your furry children.  Lots of interesting dogs/exhibitions.  Our booth was, as usual, staffed by some enthusiastic volunteers (some even two footed).  From the time we set foot (or paw) in the hall, my two kids were really in the zone - shamelessly working the crowd.  When it comes to Goldens, Grayson is a pretty good attention getter, but he pales in comparison to Ms Claire.  She owns the floor (Literally).  She can win over almost anyone.  

My brother who was in town for the week came down to the show and was amazed on how well all of the dogs behaved - no fights, no humping (well, not serious anyway).  He was amazed by the sheer size of the event and the number of dogs and breed in attendance.  The booth across the isle from us was the Border Collie rescue group and he was seriously tempted to adopt one since one of the dogs he had years ago was a Border Collie named Bosefina.  Beautiful, energetic, and incredibly smart dog.  

No, she's not enjoying this at all....

Some people will do anything for attention

The show was a good distraction on the weekend when we were wrapped up my dad's pending surgery.  The weekend was more of a gathering in advance of my dad's surgery today.  Brother from Seattle had flown in to be here (in case things did not turn out well), and I spend some extra time across town with my parents just because.  My dad was undergoing a similar procedure (not cancer) that I did 7 years ago and, honestly, I was more than a bit concerned.  I walked this same path when I was 50 and came out OK, but my dad has 40 years on me and I worried anytime they do that kind of plumbing work on a structure that old.  I took off today to be with him and mom just to keep a eye on things. I did the same thing when my mom when it for her heart valve replacement surgery 10 years ago.  Things don't always work out as planned and I was really fearing the worst.      

Despite my fears, my dad came out just fine.  He went in for surgery around 10 and by noon, the doc told us there weren't any problems or surprises.  Everything went as planned.  He is in his own room awake and alert but in a fair amount of pain.  Still even has his sense of humor throughout the ordeal.  The hard part is over, now the slow road to recovery.  For now, I am just grateful he is able to move past this.  

17 July 2014

Dog's perspective

Been a hell of a week.

Spent last week up in Wisconsin and Illinois on a pair of audits.  Long week, but productive.  As usual, things just went bat shit crazy at the office so I was busy burning up the airwaves on my crackberry during the day and trying to put out fires at night at the hotel.  Not really a relaxing week but a lot got done.  Nice time of year to go to Chicago (unlike going in November).   With one buyer retired and another out on a cruise, it left us very short handed for the week.  This week has me playing catch up as well with a company wide presentation on Monday and our own ISO auditors paying us a visit for the past few days.  They finished up this afternoon without any major problems which means we can coast into the weekend.  I need the time just to catch up on my reports/projects/interviews.  Yea, I know, I complain a lot.  But I guess it beats being bored.     

I mentioned the dogs in the last post.  Change of pace for our furry children last week.  Normally, I take off on a road trip and momma takes care of the dogs while I am out.  Things tend to be a bit more sedate when I am gone - not as much hoopla or chaos (I seem to cause some of that).  However, since my wife is taking care of her sister full time, it meant the dogs were going to be home alone for most of the week.  My parents decided they needed some excitement in their lives (as if surgery was not enough), they volunteer to take care of my two kids.  So, on Sunday, I took them over to their grandparents house for a week's stay.  Dropped them off on Sunday with enough food and treats to feed an sled team.  Gave my parents strict instructions NOT to walk the dogs, just let them out in the yard and I would take care of de-mining the yard when I got back.  Of course, those instructions were quickly ignored.  They spent a week being the center of attention over there and getting spoiled only the way a grandmom can.  They got to play with next door dog, Walter, another Golden Retriever.  They even met several other Goldens in the neighborhood when my dad took them for a walk.  Sort of a doggy summer camp.  I tried to tell my dad not to walk them, but he is hard headed and still does his early morning walks which made him an instant hit with Grayson.  Claire wasn't as adventurous and preferred camping out on the terrazzo in the foyer (coolest spot in the house) or trying to catch the resident squirrel that has been stealing pecans off the patio table.  Despite their hardship, they got used to the new routine.  Mom normally fixes dad eggs for breakfast every morning (been doing that for 69 years) and somehow the dogs wound up with their own egg for breakfast as well.  And they say I spoil them.  They were happy to see me when I picked them up on Friday but they did miss all of the extra attention they got during the week.  It has taken most of the week for me to "deprogram" them and get them back to normal.  Grandparents always love to spoil the kids.   

My older brother from Seattle is flying in tomorrow.  He wants to be here when my dad goes in for surgery on Monday.  Normally I do not converse with him on a regular basis (like once every few years) but occasionally he gets "chatty".  That was the case last week.  He was asking about how we were doing and how SIL was doing and it wound up in a conversation about cancer and doctors and chemo and such.  Typical exchange of e-mails on how people react differently to situations.  We even discussed how dogs seem to deal with stressful situations differently.  At one point, I added my philosophical outlook on how some dogs handle life's problems:   

Dogs do have a great outlook on life's problems. If you cannot roll in it, eat it, or play with it, piss on it and move on. 

The weekend ahead is looking busy.  Toilet repair, clean the carpets, dog show, mini family gathering.  Should be interesting (or at least not boring). 

06 July 2014

Elementary, My dear Watson

Just call me Sherlock Holmes of the net.  Actually, Terri nailed it pretty much out of the gate but I pursued the same line of thought.    

After an extensive google search, it turns out that Terri had the right train of thought.  There is a fitness company called Orangetheory Fitness  engaged in a guerrilla marketing campaign to raise awareness on their program.  An innovative way to advertise some of their new gyms as they enter the market in the area.  I am not sure of the effectiveness of the campaign.  The bike I spotted was beside a busy road and not near any pedestrian (or cyclist) paths.  Hard to understand the meaning of the campaign if it is not recognized.  Of course, here I am discussing these bikes with my blog friends so I guess that they accomplished one of their objectives:  Brand Awareness.  

Still, I am not convinced.  Reading some of the notes I have found on the net, the reaction is mixed.  In some areas where they take their cycling seriously, this hasn't been well received.  I read an article from Seattle that has some people complaining that the company is trying to exploit on the ghost bike theme where people leave bikes painted white as a memorial for cyclists who have died in accidents.   
This bike is one of 13 spray-painted bikes locked up at shopping centers along University Parkway.

Orange-painted bikes near Dale Mabry and Kennedy Boulevard advertise for Orangetheory Fitness.

I would tend to agree with that line of thinking.  If your intended market is people who are exercise and work out for fitness, do you really want to get sideways with them?  Cyclists can be a very loyal, fanatical, die hard breed.  Not necessarily a group I would want to cross lightly.   

Speaking of lightly, I am on the road again in the morning.  Heading out to the midwest for a few days of back-to-back audits.  I am still way behind at work, but at least it's a change of scenery.  Oh, and remind me to tell you of the dogs' adventures.... 

04 July 2014

Customer service

Happy 4th of July, ya'll!  This is not the favorite holiday for my two furry children.  Try not to eat too many hot dogs or blow something off in celebration.    

Got myself a father's day present.  I have been eyeballing this trinket for a while.  It is a trailer lock from Deadbolt called a Blockhead.  It is designed to keep someone from hooking up and taking off with a trailer.  Normally, I find it hard to imagine someone would be looking to steal an 18 year old trailer, but chance favors a prepared mind.  Always looking for a deal (translation:  cheapskate), I scoured the net for the best price for this lock and found the best deal at e-trailer.com and placed my order.  Took it a while to get here but when it did, I was mildly disappointed.  Turns out they sent the wrong model.  The model I had ordered was a aluminum block that matched the trailer skin.  There is a second model that is in high visibility yellow that is supposed to be some visual deterrent to someone looking to steal a trailer.  Sort of a clear warning flag that to potential thieves  and miscreants to move on.  

Now, both locks are the exact same.  They cover the tongue and are very secure.  I had just wanted mine to be similar in color to the trailer.  I was debating if it was worth the cost & hassle to send it back and get the original block when I got a follow up e-mail from the company asking for my feedback on my order.  I responded that, while I did get the order, the model of the lock was wrong and I was pondering keeping it or sending it back for the other model.  I wasn't really complaining per se, I was just debating my options and letting them know that their actual inventory might be incorrect.  I hadn't made up my mind on the deal when a day later I got a message from the supervisor of Customer Service apologizing for the mix up and indicating that the correct lock was being shipped down along with a return authorization to ship back the other lock.  Pretty much took all of the headache out of the return.  The lock arrived last week and all I had to do was drop the other one in the box and ship it back out.  Easy-peasy.                   

I have to admit, I was not initially impressed with the company when I got the original order, but their response to make it right has really scored points in my book.  I drafted a response back to them thanking them for their efforts.  Good customer service (especially after the sale) is sometimes a lost art dying, but these guys really stepped up and that puts them high on my list.