28 April 2014

Post Pate

Reader's Digest version:  Long drive, decent weather, miles of car parts & cools stuff.  No major buys, just some interesting sights/finds and a couple deals.  No DeLoreans this year. 

All-in-all, a good trip, if only to see the mass of car parts and the miles we hiked over the two days. 

Left town around noon Thursday hoping to set up camp before and get some picking done before sundown.  Made it to the speedway around 1700, dropped the trailer and headed out to the meet.  Way too much ground to cover in only two hours so we just stuck to a quick walk through to lay out a plan of attack, trying to score up a few "set up" bargains and spot some places we would come back to on Friday.  Around 1930 - we headed back to our trailer to finish our set up and grill up some steaks and good scotch.  That's one thing about doing this road trip with my brother, when he travels, he does it with style.  We're not quite roughing it like we did in our younger days. 

This year was the 42nd annual meet and it seems to keep growing.  Haven't yet seen the final report on attendance, but last year they had over 7,000 vendors on site and this year it was supposed to exceed that tally.  The whole meet is laid out in the parking lot of the Texas Motor Speedway.  If you have never been to a NASCAR track, let me just say that these things are humongous.  I used to think our little weekend football games down in college station were big with a capacity of 75,000 for one game.  TMS can supposedly hold up to 150,000 screaming, sunburnt NASCAR fans.  The parking lot that surrounds the race track is probably the size of a small town.  The meet is set up on the east side of the speedway in streets/rows.  The entire meet is laid out in a very logical grid pattern that takes some planning if you want to see it all.  The first day, we tried to walk one row from north to south and it turned out to be around 3/4 of a mile in length (that's just one row out of 12).  On Saturday, we switched to a grid attach (just combing through each grid to cover the most ground.  I started at 0830 (brother was waiting for his son to show up) and we walked until almost 1900 and just barely covered 1/2 the meet.  Sure, there was lots of digging and looking and talking along the way, but, in the end, my FitBit indicated that we had covered over 10.5 miles.  Almost a half marathon.

Lots of interesting things to see.  From new cars to classics to junkers to what-the-hell-where-they-thinking contraptions.  Car parts for new/old cars. Car memorabilia.  Signs.  Tools.  Bar lights.  Road signs.  A general mish-mash of stuff for different tastes. 

I found a few minor bargains, but nothing really major.  Did score a portable BBQ grill that I have been looking for that is no longer available.  Got it for a really cheap price to boot!  I intend to keep it in my trailer and use it for football games/camp outs.  My brother got a "new" Coors bar light that I spotted.  My nephew scored one of those big, official government looking boxes that he intends to paint and put radioactive stickers on for his DeLorean (ala Back to the Future).  I found a neat road sign of a Texas Farm Road (shape of Texas) for FM 1311 (the numbers on my brother's trailer).  Actually bought two more signs that I intend to peal off the numbers and put on 131 for my dad's rig and 1131 for mine.  Another trinket to adorn the garage wall.     

I noted a lot of people on motor scooters this year.  So many that there were actually two companies running the scooter business and both were sold out by 1000 in the morning on Friday and Saturday.  After hiking over half of the meet on Friday, my brother's hip/knee was hurting him so he opted for one to make the rounds on Saturday.  As much as I scoffed at the scooters, it did seem to make a difference and allowed us to pick up the pace.  Several times we used the scooter to haul out some bigger items (box, grill, road signs) back to the truck. 

I also noted a lot of dogs this year.  I always thought that dogs were not allowed but it appears that rule has been lifted.  Many walking dogs but a few dogs on carts or in wagons or strollers.  I debated taking Claire and Grayson, but after our marathon hike on Friday, decided it would not go well.  Grayson might be able to handle it but I am afraid that much hiking would do in Claire. 

We wrapped up Saturday afternoon and decided to head back south instead of Sunday morning.  Weather reports had a nasty storm headed our way late Saturday and would make driving/packing up pretty messy so we chose to bail out early.  From the number of vendors packing up at 1300 Saturday, a few others had the same idea.  We made it back to Houston about dusk.  Good trip.  Got lots of good ideas for next year. 

24 April 2014

Old cars

I finally got caught up at work enough to take and extended weekend (at least that's my story and I am sticking to it).  Still have several reports to finish up and our end of fiscal year is Friday but I have been planning my escape for a few months now so I am out of here.

Once again, it is time again to hit the road for the annual old guys drive halfway across the state, drink beer, buy old car parts, and talk about our cars/wives/kids/dogs/jobs.  This weekend is the annual Pate Swap Meet.  Big ginormous flea market/swap meet/car show held up north of Fort Worth at the Texas Motor Speedway.   

Typically around 2-3000 vendors selling anything from old car parts to entire cars.  I used to attend this event annually when I lived in Dallas, but have skipped it the last decade.  My brother and I have picked up the torch once again and are planning to make this an annual deal. 

Will send some pictures of the sites/sounds when I get back on Sunday. 

19 April 2014

Bueller? Bueller?

Yea, I'm still here.  Been busy the past few weeks and I kinda lost track of time.  Wrapping up the fiscal year at the office has us doing all sorts of handstands and cartwheels.  I spent 4.5 hours in a meeting on Wednesday reviewing a new project that is supposed to launch in September in the UK (4.5 hours of my life I will never get back).  Had to host another supplier conference on Tuesday.  Just all sorts of fun stuff just to keep the ship upright and heading in the right direction.  Somedays, the bait shop is starting to look better and better (inside joke).  

On top of the work stuff, I've been uber busy at home.  About the last time I posted, my PC decided it was time to retire.  And not in a good way.  I've seen this one coming for a while so I have been backing up my files and trying to prepare to jump to a new system.  Still, having the box die on my two weeks prior to tax day did not help make it easier or less complex.  Got a new system, but had problems from the outset.  Started setting up the new box when it quit displaying any images (graphics died).  First thought it was the PC was having issues and took it back to the store.  They tweaked it and told me to try it again.  That didn't work so I got a new system.  Tried 2nd box and still no picture.  So the next step was to try out a new monitor.  Hadn't intended to get one but it turned out that the monitor was DOA as well.  Seems suspiciously convenient, but it worked.  Now I have a new box and huge screen to read everyone's blogs.  I intend to spend part of this weekend playing catch up with everyone.   

Of course, setting up the PC has been not with out some challenges/headaches.  I try to keep an open mind on new technology and changes (even got an iPad last year), but I have to admit that I really starting to hate Windows 8.0.  Nothing like my old set up.  Links are not where I expect them, the screen set up is totally different, I am still trying to figure out where the files are stored and how to recover some of my pictures from the cloud.  I have been working through several scenarios and I am about 75% back to normal, but still not happy with the set up.  I know this sounds so whiney and there are way more important things to worry about, but this just irritates me.  One interesting thing I discovered was that somehow, all of my favorites got imported over to the new PC.  Not sure how that happened but I am able to find all of my old favorites and links that I set up on the old box.  I blew a few days revisiting some of the old blog sites I used to follow to see if they were still in business. 

In the meanwhile, life moves on despite my PCs travails.  Spring has arrived and the dogs have been busy collecting as many goatheads as they can carry.  I take them to the neighborhood park and wind up with so many of the prickly things that I have been contemplating going Chihuahua on their coats.  No, I won't go that far (that would get one ostracized from the GBGRR meets), but it is tempting.  Spent last Saturday at a local charity event in Houston for dogs called Doggy Party at CityCentre.  A massive gathering sponsored by the city (even the Mayor was there) of various organizations for dogs and their servants owners.  Booths for vet services, grooming, dog food, boarding, training, supplies, and even a group for emotional support for pet loss.  They have a special line of booths for rescue groups like ours called Rescue Row where we can try to drum up attention and donations.  There is even a mini parade for the rescue groups with some potential big prizes.  Last year our group took first place so we were going for a repeat.  Some of our group tend to go overboard for these things and this year was no different.  One woman made capes for all of the dogs as our theme was Rescue Heroes.  Was funny to see 30 or so Goldens in capes.  One guy even build a float out of plywood and paper Mache in a distinctive shape (see the picture).  Good turn out but we wound up taking 2nd place.  Still pretty shiny gifts for 2nd place.  All sorts of donations for food and services from companies - we tend to use them later on at our annual picnic as prizes.       

Unique bakery treats for dogs
A well trained dog
Two heroes resting up

01 April 2014

I'll be the judge of that

Still having a challenge with my new PC.  I'll explain more when (or if) I ever get it up & running.  In the interim, I am roaming the vast internet via my iPad so things are not totally hopeless.  I will say that posting up to my blog using my iPad does have its challenges...  

In the interim, I am off doing my civic duty today.  Got a jury summons back in February but I had other plans to go freeze my nose off in Minnesota so I requested a postponement until today.  I've served on a few trials over the years, so this is somewhat old hat for me.  I will say the new justice center is way nicer than the last time I got the call (over 14 years ago).  Last time we gathered in a collection of older, well-worn (translation: ratty) temporary buildings across from the old courthouse.  This new complex is the bees knees.  Very fancy, modern, state of the art complete with interactive media system (where they show the same old movie about jury service).  But they have the same old, rock hard church pews to sit on.  Still, this ain't my first rodeo, so I came prepared for the long haul (fully charged iPad and a cheesy paperback novel to read).  Normally, I would welcome the break from work, but I have a ton of things to do at the office that will be waiting for me when I return which, I hope, will be tomorrow. 

Update:  Close but no cigar.  Did not get picked.  Good thing, too.  Was going to be a week long trial.