Monday, December 26, 2011

Holidays in the Rear View Mirror

We had a very happy holiday here at the Smith house. There were family and friends around us, we had lots of good times and no bad ones. We never ran out of food or drink, and the dogs kept us entertained every minute. It was great.

Now as I see the snow on Pilchuck, creepoing down to the bottom of the hill, thoughts turn to skiing and snow activities. I hope things get cold enough to support the snowfall we need for skiing and other activities. The happy start to the season in November seems to have puttered out. It has actually been dry, and we need the snow to kick things into gear. My awesome tires are still awesme, but I don;t have much of a chance to show them off.

We are scheduled to visit Whistler at the end of January, so I suppose that is a sort of guaranteed snow event. Maybe I should not worry?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

To and Fro - this is the Fro part!

Note: I wrote this while on the plane back from Atlanta. I have men remiss for not posting it sooner. My apologies.

After spending a week in Alpharetta it will be good to be home again. There is not too much for me to do when I am there except work, go to dinner, and sleep. I don't get to exercise and it gets dark so walking is genially not possible. The group always goes out for a big lunch so I skip breakfast most days to compensate. Exercising again will be great. And golfing a bit.

Last night was the company holiday party. Most of these have been deadly dull but last night was the exception. I had fun, and so did Judy. She wore a slinky dress and looked fantastic. We mixed and mingled. There were several new folks, all of whom I knew, so we spent some time meeting spouses and SO's, some of whom were very interesting. At the conclusion of the evening we went over to the company president's house for another drink before calling it a night. All in all a very positive evening. And I wore the holiday hat I bought in Finland which was a sensation. Lots of fun.

So here we sit on the plane heading home. We are both in economy but are not sitting together. She is on the aisle in row 34 and ditto for me in row 23. We are getting in about an hour early, so that is good. Hopefully we can spend some quality time at home.

No travels planned this week. Lots of paperwork to deal with, and project work.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Finger nail report

In September I smashed my finger. It is the middle finger on my right hand. A heavy lid came suddenly down on just the end of it, smashing the finger nail and turning a large part of it black. It hurt a fair bit, but the processes that have ensued in the past 3 months have been fascinating to watch. The damaged portion is now in the last one third of the nail, with a new nail growing out normally and under the damaged part. I used a nail file to remove the worst of the damaged part several weeks ago, and now use clear nail polish to glue the top and bottom parts together. I trim off the end of the nail normally with clippers and the damaged and disconnected nail gradually grows out. It looks a bit damaged from a distance, but if you just look at it closely you see normal healthy nail growing out from the base, and dark spots that persist on the sides. Did you know that the center of the nail grows lots faster than the sides? It does!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holidays and Family

Here it is, the last day of the ho,iday weekend. The house has been filled with teh sights, sounds, and smells of the holiday, with all the kids here most nights for dinner. Turkey on T0-day, of course. Carbonarra last night, a triple double batch (and there are no leftovers!). And today we have a big sausage from Spokane that should feed us all. It has been a no-stress, fun-filled weekend.

Judy has been working like mad to finish at least one of the three countdown calendars she is making for hte kids. Jillian's and Will's was finished last night, and they will take it home with them tomorrow when they return to Chicago. The daily markers are individual tree ornaments made of felt in all sorts of shapes, and they are really cute. This feversh work has kept Judy busy, however, and she is happy that they are now, finally, coming together just in time for the season. They are truly beautiful and are a lasting treasure.

Today it is raining, a lot. Welcome to winter.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

How REI has changed my Life!

My whole life I've been a bit confused about my athleticism.

I've always thought of myself as being rather sporting, at least in terms of being able to do things relatively active. I played racketball in college, and was fairly good. I bicycled at that stage of my life. I played basketball in high school (not well) and I participated in other activities. I have been a life long physical education participant, including running, hiking, biking, golfing and and pretty much any sort of physical activity. Now in my mid 50's, I'm still active and can keep up with folks much younger than I am.

So, if I hold fantasies that I can still hike and camp with men 30 years younger than I, am I fooling myself? Does my experience count for something? I suppose that if I am as smart as I think I am, I'd choose not to do dumb things like snow camping! But I think that snow camping sounds like fun! I remember a camp or two I did when I was a teenager and the memories were good, and maybe I don't remember how cold I was! Anyway, it sounds like fun again, and I like the idea of getting the "right" equipment to make the event possible in a modern sense. Cook stoves, hot tea, thermal socks, micro-fiber t-shirts, and all that high-tech stuff we've come up with that make cold weather camping possible for wussies like me are all enticing. Tents and sleeping bags rated for -10C! Cross-country skis and back packs filled with trail mix, Gore-tex and thermal down. Who could resist the technology?

Now, where to go?

Early Winter's Anticipation

What is it about fall?

I have seen the falling of leaves,
the smell of newly fallling snow.
The black and white contrast that comes
from white snow falling upon green trees.

Mountians draped in the season's first mantle.
The clear line that marks the snow level on the horizon.
A sunset's red glow sets the mountain ablaze!

My skis and boots are out and cleaned off in preparation.
Summer's tephera has been brushed off, and all is ready.
At home, rain is counted in inches
But in the mountains, feet are piling up.
Winter's slumber is our delight, our triumph.
So many possibilities, so many winter activities.
How to choose?

Tires are Everything!

I have to comment on this past week's travels. I left on Tuesday from home to go to Spokane. I ascended Steven's Pass in a snow storm, and managed to do so with the M&S rated tires I bought a year ago. They made the trip, although they were slippery and I had to be very careful. Once over the pass things were dry and clear and the way was fine, but the memory of the slippery trip was on my mind.

On Wednesday I returned, also over the pass. This time, with a passenger, the trip was more treacherous, and the tires were more suspect. From the actual pass I called my Snohomish Les Schwab tire retailer and and made a reservation to have the tires chaged to Toyo Blizzak snow tires that same afternoon. It took about an hour, and I was now clad in actual tires made for the snow.

Thursday I was off to Kamloops BC over the Coquahalla Highway. It was snowning harder than ever, and we were stopped by the traffic authorities for over an hour just to be sure that the cars and trucks that ascended the pass were capable to making the trip. My Prius was doing fine, and we jumped to the top of the pass without issue. In fact, after going over the top and making our way along the highway for a while, I noticed that these new tires were kicking up quite a tail behind my car. They looked like the rooster tail that forms behind hydroplanes and the trail was fully as tall as the car. I was so proud! The Prius is front wheel drive and the spray we were creating was from the back tires, where there was no power to do the kicking up! It was strictly sympathetic grip causing the spray. I live for such moments....

Friday was worse in terms of weather and road conditions, but I was bold and fearless. My Prius was solid and reliable on the return trip. The Traction Control light never came on. We sped douwn the hghway wihtout issue and without fear.

Overall, I drove about 1,350 miles over the 4 days this past week. I should be a travel agent!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Government Subsidies for Energy

My business is booming. The companies I work for supplying energy to utility companies that are responding to state mandates for renewable energy. Renewable energy is generally considered to be wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, and biomass. There are others, but they are pretty minor.

An article in the Seattle Times today talked about the crazy way government subsidies have screwed up the energy business when it comes to things like solar energy in California. A $1.6 billion project to install solar panes has been installed, and this will serve some 100,000 homes. That is a trival amount of power for so much money expended. Not to mention that fact that it doesn't help them at night!

I have a series of project sactive in CA just now to convert coal power plants to biomass. Just to mention it in passing, coal is cheap, abundant, and available. Still, coal is OUT for the USA, and biomass in IN.

Anohter segment of my business is in building ship loaders at ports. That part is booming, too. I'm working on bidding a coal loading facility in Louisiana currently. I don't know where the coal will come from, specifically, but I beleive it will come down the Mississippi River from Ohio, Kentucky, Missouri, and elsewhere. Plants in these states are changing from coal to other things, and the coal companies are trying to find markets for their product.

Here is Washington there is a plan to export coal from Wyoming and ship it to China and Korea. There is a opposition from locals who object to coal trains, and perhaps to coal in general. Washington has one coal burning power plant, and it has signed an agreement to convert to natural gas by 2025. Until then, the coal trains will roll.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Surrey BC: My Week

There is a group I belong to called the Forestry Resources Association.  This is a national orginization with regional associations.  I attend the twice-annual meetings that held in the PNW region, and this week it is in Surrey, BC.  It starts tomorrow, Tuesday.

For the first time ever I am going to participate in the Golf Outing part.  There is also a Sturgeon Fishing part being held at the same time, which I am going to skip.  Anyway, I am placed into a group of 3 others and we will see how I do when we actually keep track of the "real score".  The bad news is that today it is quite rainy, and this will make the ground soft and keep my ball from rolling into the hole.  Tomorrow it is supposed to be drier, with only 30% chance of rain, so we will see if it is better.

I get home on Thursday afternoon.  This place is only 120 miles away, so it is not too far.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Translating Passion Into Action

I am reading "The Pedouins" currently. This is an account of a middle-aged guy and his younger wife, and their three young children, as they ride a specially-built 5-person bicycle from Kentucky to Alaska. I'm about half-way through the account, and so far they are in Florida (yes, they didn't take the direct route). He has introduced the players, set up the conditions of the outset of the trip, and highlighted several incidents along the way that show the character and nature of our country, and the diversity of people that inhabit it. Adversity, perseverance, compassion, support from people they meet, problems with the bike, triumphs of the spirit, and determination shine through the tale.

The sheer audacity of the undertaking jumps up at every turn. The three kids are really young: 2, 5, and 7. The 2-year old has a seat but not pedals, if you are wondering! They are experiencing America in the first person, and the parents are using the experience to teach them things that stay-at-home kids would never learn. As I read this account I think of my own experiences in riding, and riding long distances. Their short daily rides are, I'm sure, limited by their riding experience, and by their perspective that they are in for a long ride, that will take a long time, and they are in no hurry. And, I think, the great weight they are trying to push along the highways of America. They camp at night, carrying an REI tent that they set up along the road, at campsites, and in parks. The kids play, as kids do. The parents plan the next day's route, talk about the state of the trip, and assess risks as they can.

Passer's by ask about the crazy bike and what they are doing, and in getting the story are told that they are trying to be self-supporting along the way. The passers-by go and get food, sit with them to eat it, and generally participate in the journey.

It is a tale of triumph of spirit, of support from unexpected corners, and travelers being welcomed as in times of old. I met a woman from Denmark several years ago in Lewiston, ID. I had ridden up the Lewiston Grade, an amazing road of some 10 miles length carved into the side of a giant hillside. It carves from the top of the ridge to the bottom of the valley in un-countable switchbacks and curves, at a steady grade up (and an amazingly fun ride down). After the ride I crossed over the Clearwater River and rode down the bike trial to the confluence of the Snake River, and then up the Snake a bit. She was camping in a park along the Snake, and was setting up her tent and sitting on a picnic table. She said she had originally come on a 3 week vacation to British Columbia, and was planning to ride the Lolo Pass to Missoula, and then beyond. She had come from Granger that day, down a long and winding road into the Snake River Valley. She said that she had been camping in parks and public places, and had been having a generally good time of it. I was surprised, honestly, since the Redneck inhabitants of these areas I thought might have hassled her about simply camping out, but she said she hadn't had any problems. She was concerned about the road to Lolo, and I told her that this was a narrow and winding road, and that she should be careful. I hope she was.

The connection here is that both The Pedouins and this Danish woman were living their dream, and their dream was seeing the world from the seat of bicycle. THAT IS MY DREAM TOO! I've been slow to ride even across Washington, and that is EASY in comparison to what these guys are doing. I need to step up my game and get with it. The idea of carrying the gear you would need and camping along the way is attractive to me. Self sufficiency, pushing along as fast and as far as you like, stopping along the way, meeting people, having adventures, and meeting the challenges of the road are what I would like.

After reading this book I am tempted to write a sort of composite summary of the several STP rides I have done and trying to make a composite narrative of them. What I know about riding with others, monitoring my own hydration and nutrition level, and those around me, and recognizing Bonking when it happens, I think I may have something to add to the body of literature that exists on this subject. Is there a body of literature on Bonking? I'm not sure...

Golf? Really?

I wanted to note for my readers that I have been trying to improve my golf game in anticipation of a couple of BRUKS Rockwood company events that will be happening in October. On Oct. 10 I am participating in a Golf Outing in Alpharetta where customers have been invited and I need to be at least OK. Then, on Oct. 21 and 22, I will be playing in the company "tournament" in Destin FL. This is a time of great razzing and hazing, and comporting myself well at this time will mean a lot.

Anyway, I have been playing as often as I can in anticipation of these outings, and I credit David Oldham, my golf partner in Snohomish, with improving my game tremendously. I am now shooting in the mid to high 80's, and this is a great improvement for me.

I also want to thank Chief for sharing his hybrid clubs with me. I have added literally 30-45 yards to the length of some of the short club shots I make (my 9 Iron shots have been about 100 yards, and now they are 135-145 yards, for example). And my accuracy has improved.

The one bad thing is that I shared Chief's putter with David, and he has improved his putting incredibly, sinking putts from 30-50 feet! And he doesn't miss the 6-10 foot putts anymore! Yikes! I was beating him because he 3-putted, and now he is 1 and 2-putting! HUGE DIFFERENCE!

Maybe I need to ask for the putter back?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dikinetic Existence is Killing Me

My life exists in two basic forms. One is the common sitting position with a keyboard in front of me, staring at a screen. The second is running around doing something that is akin to exercise, such as basketball or golf (admittedly golf is less a sport than a way to walk around or drive a cart around while drinking beer, but stick with me on this). When exercising I feel good and there are few problems. When sitting there seem to be little aches and pains that creep into my joints and various muscles. My right hip has been sore for about 10 years, ever since I figured out how to kick that damn red ball 60 yards for the dog to chase (throwing out my hip in the process). Now my left forearm is sore from golfing. After a lifetime of not using my left arm for anything more important than balancing the active right side of my body, it turns on me when I need it most. Rotten appendage. Ungrateful, that's what it is!

I should point out that chasing the ball has not turned out all that well for the dog, either. Riccia is now almost 13 years old, and her right hip joint is worse than mine. She can hardly walk. She hasn't swum for several years, and even just getting around in the house is a challenge. She used to run like the wind and never stopped. Now she can't get up. When she goes outside to pee we have to help her get back into the house by lifting her hind end up the 2 short stairs. I am just glad there is not a quick brown fox around.

Interestingly, bicycling makes my hip feel better. OK, it hurts at the start for the first 3-4 miles, but soon the pain subsides and I can ride fine and I feel good at the end of the ride and all the next day. The limited motion apparently releases the needed endorphins, which work better than any oral medication I've found (and I have not looked much at all - I don't like taking pills).

On another front, we are now starting to actively look for another large black cat to adopt. I stopped by the Snohomish County adoption society yesterday and they had two, but neither was the perfect one. One was kind of scraggly-looking, and the other was a Siamese-cross sort of cat with blue eyes. I liked this one better, he was 16 pounds and built like a brick, and very friendly. I think he would be the kind of cat that will talk with you, once he settled into his home situation. However, we are looking to add this cat sometime in October, not in August, as we still have some traveling to do this fall. I'll keep my eyes open and see what we can find.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Idaho, Georgia, and Rain in Washington

The trip to kellogg was as good as expected. It was sunny and wrm during the day, and cool at night. We rode bicycles, hiked in the mountains, toured the mines of Kellogg, golfed, and generally had the fun we planned to have. It was a great vacation and only dissapointed in that it didn't last longer.

We stopped off in Spokane to visit Mark and Anne on our way over. Mark's healing leg was looking a bit stiff but he is now able to hobble around on it. The casts were off and the wound was in plain evidence. It didn't look at all bad, I thought, and I am hopeful he is able to get back on the golf course ASAP. Mark made me a wonderful gift of his old driver, a true Loaf Of Bread On a Stick, which I made good use of in Kellogg and since. Apparently he didn't get rid of all the bad shots it held inside itself, but I am exercising these demons as often as possible. When I hit it straight the ball really flies, and I thank him again for this wonderful gift (or is it a loan?). Anway,I hope to show him how I have mastered it soon.

One bad thing happened on our vacation. No, I'm not talking about Shannon's multiple crashes on her mountain bike while descending Silver Mountain on narrow mountain trails at high speed. No, Iim not talking about Judy's harrowing adventures on the recumbent bicycle on the Tour de Couer d'Alene's Trail's many miles of open air riding and Moose Viewing. I'm talking about my catching a cold. Yuk. I didn't let it slow me down, but now that the manditory 2 weeks of suffering are over, I'm glad to report that I feel better.

Actually, Judy has really taken to the recumbent and is going great on it. She has mastered the "Getting Started" procedure, and goes straight and fast on the straight parts of the trail. She doesn't like tight turns, and up hills she is definitely slow, but she is getting used to the ride, and likes it. Click here to see a video of our bicycling trip.

We returned home on Saturday, late, and I took the midnight flight on Sunday to Atlanta. Inursed my cold through the week until it finally has cleared up, just in time for a rainy and cool day here today, the first one in a month! I guess Summer is Over for Washington!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August already? I'm ready for a Vacation!

Is it August already? What happened to July? With the traveling I did and the yukky weather keeping me inside on the weekends, I guess I didn't notice that summer is supposed to be here. I've not been avery good correspondent, that's for sure.

I spent a week in Atlanta again, and my time there is going by very quickly these days. I am working with a guy we just hired, Jeff, and he and I have lots to do to get the mobile chipper product line going. I've been trying to put out the 'fires" in the field before I hand it over to Jeff, and one of the fires just doesn't seem to want to go out. It is difficult when you need the support of the BRUKS office in Sweden, and EVERYONE in Sweden is on HOLIDAY all of the month of July, and most of August. It sure crushes motivation on this side of the Atlantic, I can tell you, and customers are not understanding when you tell them you will have an answer in 3-4 weeks! I hate this part of the year for that reason.

Last week I shot through Oregon with Jeff, showing him some of our installations and visiting a mobile chipper down near Roseburg. We had a very nice visit, and the weather was good for most of the trip. We capped it off with a golf outing on Thursday afternoon, and we discovered that we are about even in golf scores (although I believe that he is actually much better and is just rusty).

This week I am working from home, chasing down a couple of projects that are about to become orders. Both are in Oregon, and both are biomass for energy projects. Good work fo rus, but things are hopping all over and the demands on engineering and project management in other corners of this company are mounting. We don't turn away work, but the lead times are beginning to stretch out for drawings. It looks good for me, however, as my commission check is not dependent on the engineering department doing their thing in a timely manner. The customer can get pissed and I have to deal with that, but the check cashes just the same...

Next week we are off to our summer vacation, and we are going to Kellogg, ID for a week of bicycling and fun in the sun. We stayed in this little white house last year, and loved it. Shannon and Clint will be with Judy and I for the week, and my cousin and her family will be with us on Sunday night. The weahter there is always sunny, and the temps are in the 90's. We can't wait to get sun burned and sweaty. There is a rails-to-trails ride along the Couer d'Alene River and Lake C d'A where we will ride. On the southern end of the lake there is a town called Harrison where they have great ice cream stores, and riding to Harrison for a triple scoop cone sounds like a great idea. Or maybe a milkshake. Or both! If you ride there on a bicycle you can eat ice cream guilt free and not gain weight, right?

My heart is breaking for my friends in Spokane. They are dealing with a triple scoop of bad luck! Mark broke his leg in March, and is only now healing past the cast stage. Anne broke her arm this past weekend. And now they have to move to Olympia for Mark's work! Cripes! at least they will be closer to us in Olympia (90 miles away) than in Spokane (260 miles away). Maybe our healing powers will help Anne get better, and I know of some pretty good golf courses down that way that will help Mark find his swing groove again. I can hope, anyway.

If you have given up checking this blog due to inactivity I certainly understand. I had intended to make this a more frequent stop for me as I hit airport after airport, or in recent times, hotel after hotel along I-5, but I have been remiss. Kick my butt, metaphorically, by sending a courteously worded response to this blog and let me know how you feel abandoned. It will help motivate me in the future...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tour de France Update

I have to comment on the Tour de France this year. I watch this race every July, and I have loved to watch the play between the many teams, the interplay between the riders, and the strategies that are played out in all the 22+ stages played out over the entire month. Lance made a huge difference to me, and watching him was always a highlight.

This year things are different. Lance is gone and retired. Team Radio Shack is very different. I'm rooting for riders from Belgium and Norway. It is just different.

Today was quite terrible. It was a sunny day, and things seemed to be going well. Then, all of a sudden, a huge crash knocked out 80+ riders. Some were able to get back on their bikes and try and get back into the race, One in particular was knocked out, managed to get back up on his bike, and eventually finished 12.5 minutes after the rest (which is a long time in the TdF, I can tell you). This rider is Chris Horner, and he is a neat and special guy. At the finish line he didn't know where he was, was asking what happened, when did he crash, and questions like that. Very scary. He was taken to the hospital for tests, and I'm waiting to hear the results. I don't expect to see him in the race tomorrow.

Levi Leipheimer is another of my favorites, and while he was involved in the crash he seems to have survived in OK physical condition, although he lost time. He is a team mate of Chris', and they often rode together.

Team Radio Shack is not doing well this year. Each team is allowed 9 riders at the start, and they can't add replacements if people are not able to finish. Radio Shack is down to maybe 6 riders at this point, and they need 5 to be a viable team in the race. Fewer than 5 and they are disqualified. Of the 4 contenders they had at the start, 3 have been knocked out by crashes. This is not good.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

July 7 - Situation normal

People check my blog! Who knew? I'm getting feedback from my postings, and I love it. Thanks!

This week is an in-house week. I am working on a series of proposals and follow-up documents that relate to my work on biomass energy projects. The email has been brisk, and the phone calls are numerous. People are on vacation, but not everyone. I am getting in contact with folks, and they are calling me about this and that. Good times for a sales suy.

Next week will be an out-house week (literally!). I will be in south central Oregon Monday and Tuesday, Vancouver BC on Wednesday, and who knows on Thursday and Friday? The week is still young! Maybe Idaho and Spokane. I have a need to visit there, and with a couple of days to plan, maybe I can make something happen. Actually, I have a project in Powell River, BC, which is a short ferry ride from Vancouver, so if I have to be in Van on Wednesday it may make sense to travel to Powell River and visit there.... We'll see.

Beek and Will arrive on Thursday evening, so if I can I should be here then. They are attending and participating in a wedding over the weekend, and will not be around much for us, but Thursday night they will be here, and a bit on Saturday morning. Kids... They grow up just like their parents...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Summer! It found us!

Man, I've got to blog more. I am so behind on things that are going on. You all deserve better!

We made a pact in our house - no more complaining about the weather. Rain is a way of life. so, once we made this pact the clouds dispersed and the sun came out. It is WONDERFUL and we are all loving it. Warm. Sunny. Summer. yippee.

Saturday we visited John and Ginny in Moses Lake. I borrowed his bicycle last fall and I felt guilty still having it my garage when it could just as easily have been in his garage. Judy, Marilyn, and I all drove over, and we brought our friend David Oldham from Kentucky. He hadn't really seen the dry side of Washington, so we gave him a proper tour. Moses Lake was quite nice when we were there, and our visit back through Dry Falls was educational and very interesting. It seemed like a long day to me, but Marilyn was very interested in the history of my state, and the distribution of my relatives. We drive through Douglas, and Farmer, and Waterville. If you don't know, Waterville is named for the one thing that there is none of. Really.

The 4th was quiet around here. Did I say quiet? There were explosions all over, with the neighbors clearly enjoying the freedom to be crazy on the 4th! Judy was in her element - she loves fireworks and explosions. She was out on the deck watching them all. I went to bed early, and she enjoyed the display.

This week is so beautiful aroung here it is hard to stay working. The sun is out, and I feel like golfing/bicycling/kayaking. What to do? It is a hard decision.

I'm thinking about Idaho in August, and how much fun we will have just kicking back and enjoying the space there. Fro the 6th to the 14th or so, we will be in Kellogg, bicycling, visiting, golfing, and being. I can't wait.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

2 or not to 2? That is the Question!

I've walked into the Apple Store several times with the express purpose of walking out with an iPad 2, only to leave empty handed. as I have vowed to manage this blog only with an iPad I could possibly justify the purchase by being more efficient, or perhaps by having room for more cool apps, or some such fuzzy thinking reasoning. However, I am using here the same iPad I first purchased and I can't bring myself to pull the trigger dor the new one. It just doesn't do enough more than this one to justify the cost. End of story.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

GA, TN, KS, and Home

I find it ironic that the more I travel, the less I blog. It seems that the process of pulling out my iPad and jotting some thoughts as I fly from here to there just doesn't seem to happen. Clint may be to blame. He introduced me to a new game called Plants vs. Zombies, and I can report that I have achieved Level 5-5, but my overall productivity may be somewhat off.

Let me catch you up with where I have been. Memorial Day found me at the Crystal Falls Golf Club, in Ball Ground GA. I played a round of 18 holes with 3 others from BRUKS and had a great time. I flew overnight, hit the ground running, and we tee'd off at 10:50 at a temperature of about 88F, and it quickly went to the mid-90's. I did OK, for me, but I was the worst of the 4 of us. The heat, the beer, and my tiredness combined to fell this oak, and when I got back to the room I literally fell asleep immediately. I napped for 2 hours, and then went out for a simple dinner.

Tuesday I spent in the office interviewing applicants for a position we had open. Wednesday I drove from Atlanta to western Alabama, and I had lunch in Tuscaloosa, AL, in the area of recent devastation. Thursday was half in the office, which including extending an offer of employment to one of the candidates, and then off to the airport to pick up Judy, Shannon, and Clint for our Tremper vacation in the Smoky Mountains! Actually they took the Marta to save me some time!

Anyway, on the way to the vacation my rental car was rear-ended. I had a sort f premonition about this, so when it happened I was mentally prepared. Interestingly the offending driver contacted Progressive Insurance, and they called me with the incident number and the necessary contact info, so when I turned the car in it was no problem and I was not required to pay anything. How many rental cars do I rent in a year, and this is my second incident. Pretty good record, I think.

We stayed Thursday through Sunday at Gatlinburg, TN. What a great time to spend with all the Trempers! We were 15 at the zenith, and we all had a great time. Hiking in the mountains. White water rafting on the Pigeon River. Beer drinking. Eating. Visiting with close and distant relatives. Bears walking through the parking area. Corn hole! Playing pool in the basement. Hot tub sitting with 8 people at once! Sitting on the porch playing games. Just hanging out. It was wonderful.

No sooner did I get home but I headed out to Kansas City on Monday, and spent the day there on Tuesday. It was in the high 90's and clear, but it didn't seem all that hot. I had a very good meeting with my customer, and that project looks like it will proceed with my company supplying the equipment, so things are going well.

Today I played basketball at the Y at noon. Having not played in 2 weeks my game was a bit off, but at least I got sweaty running around. I need the exercise.

More trips are planned, but I will let the next posting cover those. Keep traveling! Keep your eyes open! Have fun!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A longer discussion of what is happening

I work from home. I don't usually go out of the house, other than to go to the Y to play basketball at noon. Judy and I share an office space for about 4 hours a day, since she goes to the Y in the morning and doesn't show up in the office until about 10:00, and I depart at 11:40 to dash to my game. So, if all this is true, why do I feel that I shouldn't just sit around in my old nasty blue jeans and skanky t-shirt? And I feel that should NOT sit around in these disreputable clothes, but instead should try and dress up a bit.

Today I wore nice pants, a nice shirt, black socks, and my good shoes. I still just sat at my computer and worked on stuff, and answered the phone and all that. But my dress made me feel better, and I liked the change. I plan to do this more in the future. Dress for the job you want, they always say. I'm dressing for the job I used to have.

The sun came out this afternoon and I wanted to get out into it. Juruf and I headed out at about 5:00 to the driving range, and we both hit some balls. Judy is giving it at least some effort, and she was able to drive a ball to the 75 yard marker in the air on several occasions. My poor teaching did not hold her back too much.

By a stroke of terrible planning I have managed to book myself on a flight on Sunday night to Atlanta. I arrive on Monday morning at 6:00 eastern time. For some crazy reason my Outlook calendar does not show holidays, and I am dumb enough not to know that May 29 is Memorial Day this year. So there I will be, in Atlanta, planning to work in the office for the day, with the office closed and everyone enjoying a day off. I have been invited to play golf with Ken from the office, and he invited me over to his house later to share in the grilling of some dead cow or some such, so the day will not be wasted, but honestly, I would have rather been home and traveled on Monday night. The change fees were just too much for me to deal with, so I swallowed hard and just cursed my stupidity.

The next weekend we will be partying with the Trempers in Gatlinburg, TN. Judy, Clint, and Shannon fly down to Atlanta on Thursday where I pick them up, and we all travel to the fun city for a weekend of family rememberences (even though I don't really have many with the Trempers that don't deal with the wedding...). My Atlanta buddies all know the area, and they are encouraging me to see different things. Apparently fudge is popular there, and bar-b-que. How far away is the Jack Daniel's distillery, do you think?

We fly home on Sunday, June 5. On Monday, June 6 I fly to Kansas City, and then have an all day meeting with customers set for Tuesday. I am hoping this works out well, as this project will actually go into a plant in Klamath Falls, OR, and I have bid equipment from about 5 different companies. BRUKS is on the "short list" which means that I have probably priced the project too low, but even so we can make good money if we get the order. Besides, my job is to sell, not walk away from difficult projects.

There is more to tell, but there are more days for blogging. I'll leave it at that for the moment.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Where is Summer?

Another week has passed and my blogging has been nil. i apologize. What's the sense of being the Traveling Man if i don't keep you all up to date with my traveling? I might as well be the Stationary Man, for cripes sake!

Last Sunday I departed home at 5:00 pm after an early dinner, and headed to Eugene, OR. I hooked up my iPad to my Aux input and listened to a book on tape, called "The Man Who Loved China" about a very special guy from Britain who was sent on a diplomatic and scientific mission to China in the 1940's. I'm about half way through it now, and I find it very interesting.

Monday I traveled down to Roseburg and visited the BRUKS mobile chipper that was processing tops and branches on landing sites in a harvested valley in the mountains. Very pretty area, but also quire exposed. Then I drove back to Eugene in the afternoon and met with a company there. I visited a really neat clock store that had maybe 10,000 clocks for sale, and included a back room with all sorts of collectible antiques like model trains, airplanes, shaving equipment, cameras, and others sorts of neat old things. Dinner at the Hop House, a local brew pub. Very nice end of the day.

Tuesday I was up and out by 7:00. My destination was Lyons, OR, a veneer mill that needed a chipper. My visit was short, and the mission was a bit of a wild goose chase in as much as the application is not "main stream" but is a bit difficult. Why can't I get the normal projects where what the customer wants is something we can supply?

I was home Tuesday night, and home Thursday through Friday. Friday was beautiful and I took the day for a game of golf with Bill Duprey. We had a great time, We played at the Carnation Golf Club as a part of a coupon deal over the internet. Golf cart, 2 guys for 18 holes, with a $5 voucher for lunch, each. The course was a bit wet (like, water hazards on every hole!), but the course was still pretty fun to play. We had a great time. Bill is a lot of fun to have as a partner.

Saturday I spent the morning cleaning up road trash as a part of a crew from the UU, and worked at home in the afternoon doing the lawn and working with Juruf cleaning up around the place. I go to run the chipper for a bit. The weather was a bit iffy, with clouds and just a bit of misty rain.

Today I did 35 miles on the bike in the morning, and then maybe 15 holes of golf at Flowing lakes GC by myself. My hip is killing me, and my right knee. Too much walking I guess. I am applying a bit of rum internally to help stem the pain, and it helps. My game was OK, and I did get a par several times, but there was the occasional nasty shank that kills my confidence. Still, my putting is great, and I hit 2 out of 3 chips. That is a good thing, right? I hit par on several holes.

I vow to do better with my blogging. I don't get comments, so how do I know how I actual do? You have to tell me.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Sunday Morning in the Rain

There are times when you just can't seem to find a WiFi Hotspot to use to publish a post! The one I just put up is from last Thursday, and I have been busy ever since. Sorry about that.

Today is Sunday, and the sunny weather that greeted me upon my return to Seattle has now moved over the mountains. The rain is back, and I will be off again, into the spray (literally) this afternoon. I have meeting tomorrow in Oregon and will be there through at least Tuesday. It is going to rain most of the time, I'm afraid.

BQ went generally well, although I find myself anxious to share what I have learned, more than wanting to hear about other people's perception of China. I guess I want to teach a class on China, not discuss it. My bad.

Duncan has pointed out that iTunes has free lectures on many subjects for download, and I looked this up. I have 3 new lectures on China's growing economy, and USA relations in particular. I will listen to these this afternoon when I'm driving. One BQ participant pointed out a book she found good on this topic, and I have downloaded that in audio-format so I can listen to it as I drive. With the several hours I will have in the car in the next few days, it will be a pleasure to have so much interesting audio to entertain me.

A Traveling Day

12 May 2011

A traveling Day

Today I depart Chicago for home. My flight is at noon, which is a strange of time of day for me to depart. The conference started at 10, so I didn't have time to spend there at all. Ken will have to cover the activity alone today, as I did yesterday. He can handle it. I arrived at the airport a bit early and now I am sitting in the Delta Crown Room, the special area with free booze and food for frequent travelers. Since my personal policy is not to drink until after 5:00 normally I am having a cup of tea and a jam-filled thing that looks like an oversized Fig Newton. Very tasty.

Last night was the Gala Reception put on by one of the big companies at the Power Conference, complete with free drinks, food, and dancing girls. They started a rumor that these were the GooGoo Dlls, but I don;t think that is true. They did sing and dance, however, and the party was well attended. I suffered a burden of riches, as I was invited to this one, and to another one. Ken and I attended both, but we bolted the one for the other, thinking the fancy party would be better than the stodgy, guys-only work party. We gave up a better bar and better food for a floor show, which actually didn't seem like that great a trade to me.

The conference was filled with vendors again, and many were singing the blues with respect to biomass projects and lack of orders for equipment. I had to work this morning on re-submitting a final proposal for a project in Stockton CA that is worth $3.6 million, and they are going to issue the PO to us next week. No, really. So we have that one, and there have been several others in the past month that add up to several million dollars in rock solid sales, so I am not quite as negative about biomass as others. We are doing very well.

The Power Conference is all about electric power in its many forms, but mostly about coal power. One of the hot topics is the prospect of exporting coal to other countries, primarily China. The economics seem to work, and with the curtailments of coal use in the USA in favor of more expensive fuels there is excess capacity in the existing coal mining and transportation industries. All they need is an export terminal and empty boats. Bellingham is #1 on the list of new ports to be built, and everyone with any possible interest in that project was talking about it. We were encouraged to offer our equipment, too.

In Washington there are people who are not in favor of having trains of coal rumbling through town, and don't want to see "USA raw material resources" exported to 3rd world countries. They seem to think that China would be better off with some other energy source, and perhaps they would be, but the economics of coal are hard to ignore. China needs to clean up their processing facilities, for sure, but I'm not sure I oppose the exporting of coal when we are already exporting trees from Washington and buying back finished goods. We used to complain that Japan was sucking up all the good trees in the PNW, and they were, but now China and Korea have joined the party in this regard. Customers on the Olympic Peninsula are struggling to find enough wood to run, even when they have hardly any orders for lumber to fill! It is a strange confluence of factors at work here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chicago for One More Day

Is it May 11 already? Where has the time gone?

I'm in Chicago and have been for almost a week. I go home tomorrow and it is about time. I've enjoyed my time here but travel gets old after a while. I need some clean clothes!

Last night I saw my first Cubs game in Wrigley Field. The game wasn't memorable but my hay fever was! I was quite miserable later and I didn't get much sleep last night. Nasty stuff when it affects the eyes, nose, and throat. I tossed and turned for hours, and that is not like me. I normally drop off to sleep almost instantly. Tonite it is fine.

I'll write more later. Parties at the conference have me ready for bed tonite.

Friday, April 29, 2011

On the Verge of a Good Weekend

Last Saturday was beautiful. Tomorrow promises to be good, with sunny weather in the high 50's forecast. I plan to take as much advantage of the weather as I can, and get out and enjoy it. I hope to see you there!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Best Day of 2011

70 degrees! OMG! What a wonderful day!

Today was the Des Official BEST day of 2011. Warm. Sunny. Warm. And Sunny. We attended the Easter Parade in downtown Snohomish from 11-12:30, then I did a bicycle ride with daughter Shannon for 24 miles on the Centennial Trail. I was able to mix in a bit of yard work with the striing trimmer, and after the yard mowing of yesterday, the front looks fabulous. Now I am going to cook steaks on the grill for dinner, and then a movie with the girls. What could be better?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pagosa Springs, and Chipping Ponderosa Pines

Actually, I left for Colorado on Monday and returned on Wednesday. I spent the day on Tuesday in the woods of southern CO, in the Ponderosa Pine woods, and it was very lovely. I took a ton of pictures, but they are now on my Dell computer and not on the iPad, so I don't have them to put on the Blog. Sorry. Imagine pictures of trees bing chipped up in a big blue chipper thing, running around the woods on the back of a big red wagon. That is what I was watching in the Ponderosa woods.

I want to make a comment about Pagosa Springs. I had no previous contact with this place, and didn't know what to expect. Pagosa Springs is built around a spring. Who knew? The spring is a hot water spring that comes up alongside a river, the San Juan River, and has been built into a sort of vacation destination resort area. There is one main Spa Resort, and several smaller resorts built along the river's edge. Pools have been built that have spring water flowing through them at different temperatures, and people sit in the pools and "take the cure". I stayed at a hotel far from the springs, but the hotel offered a pass for $18 that allowed you to spend the day immersed in the healing waters. I didn't have the time, but it did sound inviting.

Today in Snohomish has been a day of mixed weather. Hail this morning. Sun in the afternoon. I have been on my computer all day, sending emails and and staying inside. Tomorrow is an official day off, so if the weather is good I'd love to go golfing. Hopefully this is what will happen. Golfing, biking, or some such. Not working.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Colorado Bound

Every flight seems to be the same in important ways. Crowded. Hot. Interesting smells. That sense of anxiousness that comes from the mild competition for space. And for time. Managing to get through TSA security intact. Finding the gate and waiting to board. Checking emails. Making calls. Pushing though the process and getting it done.

Today I am off to Denver first. On the ground for just over an hour and then off to Durango. That is a name people know, but not many have ever visited. The reason is that it is not on the way to anywhere. You have to go to Durango intentionally, unless you have taken the scenic route from east to west, and did't understand what the notation on the map meant labeled "pass". Pass means high places. Cold places even in the summer. Snowy places at any time of the year. Scary places for people not accustomed to the heights and exposure of open road driving. Above treeline and open spaces with vista views. High Country.

I don't think my travel takes me over any passes on this trip. I jump over them in a plane, which takes the fun out of some of it, I admit. Once I get on the ground I drive an hour in a mostly lateral way to Pagosa Springs, a small farming community on the edge of the forest. My customer on this trip is called Pagosa Cattle Company, and they may be a bit more diverse than just cattle to want to get into the power business. They are harvesting dead pine trees, chipping them with a BRUKS chipper and making electrical power with the chips. They have one chipper now, and they are planning to add several more before too long. At least one can hope.

I will post a picture or two of the area. It has been years since I have been in this area - like 25 years or more. Too long. With the Cascades of Washington in may backyard, the allure of the Colorado Rockies is far less intense. Let the easterners yearn for the first big mountains they come to as they head west and leave our greener Cascades for us.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Finally a Sunny Day!

Has it really been 10 days since the last post? Where has the time gone?

I spent the last week in Atlanta. The weather was in the mid-70's and sunny. I took my short and walking shoes, and was able to get in a walk along the Big Creek walking path. It is a very popular place for evening walkers. And joggers, and bicyclists. Recent flooding has left portions of the path with some sand and grit, but this has been cleared away for the most part. Anyway, it was good to get out and do something in the evening. I only had one night, Wednesday, that I was able to make it happen, but i cherished it.

Today it cleared up about 11:00 and the rest of the day has been sunny. The high temp will probably be about 50 so it was definitely not warm, but he sun was most welcome. I did a ride to Everett and back on my LeMond bike this afternoon and it was good to get out on the road again. I am totally out of shape for this, however, and I need to take every opportunity to ride and get back into shape. I am signed up fo NO rides this year, so far. I need to fix that, too. Many of my favorite rides are in conflict with known travels, so at least I have some excuse. Still, no STP, no Apple Century, and they have cancelled Hot August Days and the Dam to Dam. I'll have to make up my own rides on the Dry Side and be self-supporting. I've done that before. It works out fine. Wanna go with me?

I'm cooking dinner right now, so I have to go and check the kabobs.

Tomorrow I'm off to southern Colorado. I go from Seattle to Denver, and then to Durango. There I rent a car and drive to Pagosa Springs. Look it up on a map. It is about a 75 minute drive. I should arrive at Pagosa Springs about 6:30 local time, just in time for dinner. I'm meeting a guy from Sweden who has come over to do some work on a mobile shipper there. It seems to heat up too much at elevations above 7,000 feet. Hmmmmm..... I wonder if the altitude has anything to do with this? Sweden as a country is entirely at seal level. We are putting on a bigger radiator and upgrading the pumping system. Sounds logical. I hope it works.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April Doldrums

Sun! I saw the sun today. It was playing hide and seek with big fluffy clouds, but late in the day it was definitely out. Wonder of Wonders.

I was more productve today, probably because I'm feeling the heat of a deadline. Slogging away at a large project can go on indefinitely, with me trying to make the final product look good, then better, and so forth. It is a recursive and asymptotic impossibility to make the thing actully great, and I don't honestly have the interest in trying anyway, so having a deadline makes it possible to cut off the work and just live with what you get done. Providing it is perceived by others to be superior work, my own criticism may not be all that important.

Next week I will be in Atlanta again, and the folks there are mostly going to be gone. I am trying to set up a visit to a mill in western Alabama, what should be a 5-6 hour drive from Atlanta. The road time will do me good, and I need to remember to bring one of my lecture series with me, as I will be making this trip solo.

Speaking of new CD's, I have acquired a 2 CD set of Ecstatic Chanting music, also called Kirtan, from Jon Witte. This stuff is pretty neat, and although I don't count myself in the ranks of the Truly Washed, I do rather enjoy some of the chanting songs. As a way to get into a meditative mind set, this seems to work.

The girls and I had dinner tonight at the Cathouse Pizza. This was not too bad, actually. We shared the signature pie with a beer (Mac and Jack for me), and chatted with the waitress who we all agreed looked like Sandra Bullock. The Master's was on several HD screens in the background, and I don't think I've watched so much golf at one time in years (and that is couting the times I have actually played golf myself!). We had a good experience, and I'm sure we will be back there again. Next time we try Fred's pizza.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Weather and Context

Today has been a day of extreme weather. We have had sleet, rain, snow, hail, and sun, each in its turn. It waa sleeting as I sat in the hot tub this morning at 6:00. It transitioned to snow by 8:00. It was sunny at noon, and the hail started pounding down at 3:00, accumulating more than a trace before it stopped. The temperature was in the low 40's, so it wasn't going to stick around, but seeing the variety was interesting. We even had thunder in the later afternoon, along with thunder clouds. It is like we are living in the midwest, and not the northwest.

I've been lacking a certain motivation lately. project work is routine, although very detailed. I've been slogging through that for the past week or so. No particular visits are needed. I will be in Atlanta next week, but most of the folks I usually visit will be out of town for the week. so, I will be on my own to finish off th proposals, phone my contacts and stay in touch, and try and keeo things moving along. Not anything too fancy or difficult.

Write to me. I'll need the stimulation.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Do people have a life?

I don't mean for this question to be a Big Question. I am asking if the huge numbers of people who chat away like monkeys on the Durham Friends site all day have a life other than reminiscing over their high school days in Durham, NH? I just shut off the account on which these annoying emails come in to my iPad. In about 2 hours this afternoon 53 new emails popped up, all on the subject of old restaurants in and around the Durham area from the 1960's and 1970's. BORING! And ANNOYING! This isn't memory lane, this is dementia.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wow. What a day for things going on. Family things. Work things. Men's Retreat this past weekend at Fort Worden. Durham Friends emails that pile up at a terrific rate. There is just so much going on that it is hard to find the time to blog.

I have been taking a statin drug for cholesterol control since about last October. My new Doc suggested that a low dose would be good idea. I had my first blood test since starting it today, and the LDL level was cut in half. So, now I can live forever, yee ha!

I've been on the road the past two weeks. First I visited Eugene for a conference. Then I spent a week in the south for a week, touring with customers to mills in Florida and Alabama. I put on 1,000 miles on the rental car in 2.5 days. I traversed the length of Alabama, from Florida to Tennessee, and then back to Atlanta. Surprisingly, I really liked the hill country of northern Alabama, and discovered parts I did not know existed. I didn't stop to talk to anybody, however, and the musical refrain from Deliverance kept running through my head...

I got home late on Thursday night, and on Friday I traveled to Port Townsend and Fort Worden to take part in the Evergreen UU Men's Retreat. I did this last year, and I sort of liked it. This year it was better, and with 19 men sitting in the circle we didn't lack for interaction or topics. It was a really good group, and we did fun things like Exstatic Dance, Yoga, Meditation, and Howlling Like Wolves Inside the Bunkers at the Fort! All were very cool activities.

Sorry for being short, but it is now dinner time and Judy is pressing me to get off the blog.


Friday, March 18, 2011

What a week

688 miles on the Prius this week. I traveled to Eugene OR to attend a conference Tuesday through Thursday. The conference was held in the Eugene Hilton, which I know sounds very nice, but from my perspective is a bit boring. I stayed there last April at another conference, and I used to schedule my own conferences there in the early 2000's. In fact, I had a WesTAG conference at this same hotel September 12-14, 2001. Does the date ring a bell? What a disaster! Nobody who flew could come, and we lost our shirts on that one.

And rain!! Terrible. It was nice as I drove home yesterday, with some sun in the late afternoon.

I did get a chance to visit with my mother, and took her to dinner on Wednesday night. She seems to be doing as well as can be expected. She looks good. The short term memory bit is still a challenge. She can't remember things from moment to moment, but has a good memory for things long ago. We ended the evening by joining a sing-along led by one a son of one of the other residents of the facility, and it was very nice. It was good to see people who are in many ways almost comatose, but when songs of the 1920's and 30's were being sung, could at least lip-sync, if not actually sing along. The mind is a strange place for memories.

Tonight is BQ, and the topic is Arete. Excellence in life, excellence in living, and excellence in personal perspective. To what extent do we all strive to achieve Arete?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Salix 4/1/08 - 3/14/11

Dear Salix didn't last long. His last week was spent sleeping on his beloved Love Fleece on our bed and hanging around with us. He was in good spirits, purred when I held him, and liked to be picked up and snuggled. He seemed to eat OK, and didn't develop any bad bathroom habits. Still, you could see he was in decline, and he finally slipped away this morning. He was with us in bed last night, but was in the bathroom when I got up this morning. He and I snuggled a bit on the floor. He was wobbly when he walked. His eyes were glassy a bit. He clearly was fading. I said goodbye to him, and maybe that helped the transition. We ended up taking him to the Vet Clinic and they administered the final medication.

Judy, Marilyn and I buried him in the courtyard in the rain, next to Doux Chat, our wonderful Burman cat who was with us until his age of about 22 years, and Rufous the Bunny, who lived about 6.5 years. We are developing a regular Pet Cemetery.

Sleep well, old friend.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Salix and a Virus

The news about Salix is not good. I took him in for an evaluation and the diagnosis is that he has Feline virus. This is a non-treatable condition that affects all the internal organs. Salix was quite yellow in his skin color, indicating possible kidney failure among his many possible problems. He weighs 8 pounds, down from the 13 pounds of last year when I brought him home. His attitude is good, and he is lovey, purrs, and sleeps with us at night. He still likes me, and is always wanting to be picked up and held. They said he was dehydrated, but he drinks a lot and eats well. They didn't have any sort of timeframe for him, so we can only hope for the best. He had the virus when I adopted him, so it is not necessarily a fast-moving disease.

It is not likely that Calla will get the virus from Salix, as it requires that they fight and share some sort of fluid transfer to make this happen. In a year this has not happened, so I think it unlikely. Calla certainly does not suffer from a "failure to thrive" condition.

So, we are all a bit sad about this. Salix seems OK with it, and he is just the same. If his condition takes a turn for the worse we will certainly step in and make his last days as comfortable as possible. Until then, he is as happy and friendly as ever.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A call to action

I follow several blogs, including YOURS! I scan them for news of interest, to see how you are doing on a day to day basis, and to catch glimpses of your life. Even those of you who live close by still seem a bit far away to visit at times, and have your own lives to live. You may post a few lines on FB from time to time, or many times daily, but I find that these are often links to things you have found on the internet, or momentary thoughts that quickly fly by. I find them a good way to know you are out there, but not great at feeling the mettle of the day.

Reviewing a food blog from the midwest (it could be the Phacter, or others) I find that some blog correspondents have not accessed their page in over a month. And have not added any photos of the Grand-PUPPY. What's up with that? I want to see pictures of snow, and the puppy. I want to see pictures of the new phone, and the puppy. Get the picture?

Speaking of pets, I'm worried about Salix. He is getting skinnier and skinnier. He seems to eat OK, and he gets around without pain, but there is something definitely not right about him, somehow. He should be gaining weight, not losing it. I will take him in this week for a check up and hopefully something obvious and easily dealt with can be diagnosed. He still sleeps with us, and loves the Love Fleece blanket we have on the bed. We leave a bit of it exposed from beneath the covering duvet, and he always goes directly there and kneads his claws into it. Thankfully the fleece is thicker than his claws are long!

Riccia is not doing well. Her back hips are really giving her trouble. She can't run anymore, and chasing the ball even in slow motion often leads to her falling down. The back right leg just won't carry her weight anymore. She lays around all day, and only gets up for scheduled events like food and cookies. She talks at dinner, and is a pest for an evening cookie, so she still has a good spirit.

Calla and Mandy are doing fine. Nothing to report there, unless you want to hear about how much Calla loves Judy, and how she jumps into Judy's lap, purrs like a freight train, and kneads into Judy's chest. Sheesh. What a love cat!

The weather is good toady and I think Juruf and I will try and get out on the recumbent this afternoon. I'll post pictures if anything happens.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A note about work

The company I work for is an engineering company. It does not actuallly make anything. We design stuff, sell it, adn then get others to actually make it. This is actually a viable business plan, and mostly it works well. It tends to have a problem only when the volume of things we sell is greater than the ability of the "project execution group" to actually get the stuff done. I think we have hit that point.

We have forecast $26 million in sales in 2011. That sounds like a lot, but let me put things into perspective. In January we sold 5 projects totalling $11 million. This week we have received commitments from 2 different projects that amount to $8 million. I have a project in Nova Scotia where we had a sort of kick-off meeting this week that will become a project in April that is worth $6.2 million. Help me out... This adds up to $25.2 million already, and we are still in the 1st quarter of the year. I personally have more projects that I think we will book, that might add another $17 million before summer. And the boys in Atlanta have their own projects at a similar level. We are hiring engineers in the Atlanta office, and 2 start on Monday. I don't think this is enough.

Can I take off the rest of the year?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Snow and Clams

Is the clock speeding up? why does everything seem to happen so fast anymore? My phone starts ringing at 7:00 am, and I'm checking emails starting at 6:00. Now it is going on 6:00 pm and I'm still checking emails, doing my blogging, and thinking about the several things I had planned to do today but was not able to get to. Sheesh!

The extended Birthday this past weekend was good. Marilyn celebrated her BD on Saturday, and I did mine on Sunday and Monday. The kids came over on Saturday night. Fred's was the locale for the beer and dinner gathering last night. Many good friends came to celebrate the day with us.

It snowed all day on Saturday making the roads icy, and there was trouble on the hills around us at about 8:00 when folks were heading home. Judy shoveled the snow at our house, as always, but I have to note that she is grumbling a bit about it. Apparently even her endless patience for snow and show shoveling has an end. I saw it snowing today, but when the temperature is in the mid-30's it doesn't stick. La Nina apparently has full control of our winter weather this year, and we are all suffering from it.

I have been semi-invited to participate in a razor clam digging outing this spring. For those who are not familiar with razor clams, they are 4-7" long, live in the sand flats of places called Long Beach and Moclips, and have the life strategy of digging rapidly straight down when you walk near them. To catch them you use a "clam gun". Yes, it is called a gun. It is actually a pipe with a cap and handle on one end, and a small hole in the cap. You plunge it into the sand over the spout that indicates the clam's position, put your finger over the hole, and pull as hard as you can to haul up the sand column inside the pipe (and hopefully the clam is inside!). What I have not yet mentioned is that you have to do this at low tide, and low tide does not care one twit when it might happen. Clamming at night is common. And in a cold wind, with rain. And did I mention it is wet everywhere? Anyway, once you have enough anti-freeze inside you, it really doesn't matter. The clams are very good fried in a beer batter, but they are a bit rubbery. I think it is an acquired taste. I have acquired it, though.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Rans and Juruf

Here is Judy on the new Rans Recumbent. You can see the bike, and you can see Judy's determination to ride it. We worked on basic skills for about an hour, and Judy;s abilities and skills visibly improved. She can make a turn and go in a circle now, where she could not do these without stopping when we started. She goes fine in a straigh line, but being able to turn around is a needed skill.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Golf on Frozen Greens

When the weather is clear in Snohomish, can it be any better?

I accepted an invitation to play golf today, and met David at the course at 9:30. We actually started off the first tee at 10:20, so I had some time to practice putting, and even a little chipping. My first hole experience was dismal, and my flight partners wrote me off for a hacker, which if course I am! I did better on hole 2, and occasionally thereafter, and I managed to salvage a bit of my image. I had a couple of holes where I ended up on the wrong side of a line of trees, and I honestly hammered the trees repeatedly with what would have been excellent shots if not for the branches, etc. I actually broke out in guffaws at times, it was so funny. I did make some long putts, and I did hit a fairway wood, but my mid-fairway game is in the toilet. Where did my ability to hit irons go? If it is not a 9-iron shot, I'm screwed.

The temperatures today were something to talk about. The greens were frozen when we started. I'm talking white with frost, grass breaks off where the ball touches it frozen. Surprisingly they weren't terribly fast, and putting was predictable and fun. My partners were about the same ability as me when it came to putting, meaning they missed the same sorts of shots I missed. David did make the long putt of the day, and we all cheered him. When we finished the temp was 43 F, which seemed warmer (especially in the sun), but not actually warm.

My hip and knee got sore, as did my feet. I guess sitting at me desk all day, weeks on end, does not leave me fit for walking for 6 hours. Who knew? Punctuating events of basketball and walleyball don't seem to make the difference. Rats. Do I need to walk around the neighborhood too? Damn.

Tomorrow I am the lay leader of the UU Fellowship service. I have the presentation all ready to go, and the children's story, the readings, and the guided meditation. I guess I'm ready. I plan to use my iPad as the source for the written word. Wish me luck.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Middle February Doldrums

For those who keep track, my leg has been fine. I played walleyball today, and had a great time. No pain, and good movement. I think it is an "in" or "out" condition, and if the socket and leg bone are together, I am fine. Apparently things are currently in alignment.

Today was a day of strange weather. This afternoon we had hail of sorts. It was dramatic and a lot, whatever it was. I ave it on video (I wonder how I am supposed to get that into my blog). It snowed in higher lowlands areas, but not at the house. There were plenty of cars from Arlington and environs with snow on their roofs, blowing off on the trestle.

Judy and Marilyn are cooking together for dinner tonight. Sausage, paprika potatoes, and Nappa Cabbage salad. Maybe a bit of broccoli thrown in for good measure. Another good dinner. Beek, where are you with your progressive cooking plan? Let's see some photos in your blog of amazing and wonderful food. I can't wait.

For the past several nights we have been playing Sequence. This is a game where you use a double deck of cards, and a playing board with images of all the cards and colored chips that you place on the board. As you turn over the few cards in your hand you place your chip onto the board, and try and make lines of chips that are 5 long. This is the sequence. Until last nigth I have been winning all the games, and some by huge margins. It has just been Judy and I, but last night Marilyn joined in. Judy won, and most of the chips were on the board. I had 3 sequences of 4 with interior open cards, and do you think I could draw the cards I needed to win? No! The card Gods hated me last night.

Tomorrow night is BQ, so no evening blog, that's for sure. I will try and get back on Saturday, but if the weather is good, I'll be cycling!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Recumbent Snow Geese?

Sorry for the hiatus. I've been busy, and feeling a bit under the weather. The sinus infection seems to be getting the best of me and I haven't been blogging as I should. I'm taking an antibiotic, which I would have thought would have kicked the bugs in the head and have me back to normal in no time, but it is taking much longer. Damn.

This weekend was an interesting one. On Saturday we took a road trip to LaConnor, a small fishing village on the Skagit River that has remade itself into a vacation spot and fancy boutique shop area. We saw literally hundreds of snow geese sitting in an open field, and 6 bald eagles also on the ground. There were high winds at the time but no rain, and the birds were magnificent. They were a bit far away to take good pictures. Judy tried to take a picture of some geese that were flying overhead against a strong wind, and they were almost stationary in the air above us. Very cool.

We had lunch in a small restaurant on the water, and there were water birds to watch, and boats going by. We wandered after the meal and found a wood item store filled with tons of wonderful wooden items. We looked at the furniture things, but they were ridiculously expensive. The shelf nick-nacks were nice. We settled on a puzzle in the shape of a grizzly bear. It comes apart in about 10 pieces, but inside the main piece there is a secret compartment where a small salmon hides, supposedly inside the bear's tummy. We have it sitting on the mantle, and it looks great.

Sunday was the Seattle Bike Swap, and I wandered around loking for inspiration. I found a Rans Recumbent bike I liked. I is a long wheel base design, in perfect condition, and was offered at a reasonable price. It is sitting in my garage now. I did the Centennial from Snohomish to Lake Cassidy, a round trip of about 22 miles, and it was a good ride. I certainly got sweaty (probably why I am sick today). The muscles needed to ride a recumbent are different than an upright bike, and they are in surprising places. My left butt cheek was sore, which was odd. I averaged about 15 MPH, which I considered to be OK, but I was definitely slower in the last half of the ride. Can I blame my weakened condition on the sense of strenuous activity? Maybe. Maybe I'm just an old wuss, and I need to get used to it! I'm hoping that Judy will like it, and use it to ride with me on the trail.

This week has been hectic so far. Work is busy, and there are lots of things coming up that I need to keep track of. I got a call today about a project in Sacramento that I had honestly forgotten about. It is definitely tangential to what I normally do, so I forgive myself for forgetting, but that doesn't mean that I can blow it off. I need to make trip down there in the next week or so. But next week I'll be in Atlanta again. Damn linear time!

Tomorrow I am in Vancouver BC visiting clients. It is just a day trip, however. I should be home for dinner. Thursday and Friday are predicted to contain snow at our elevation, so travel might need to be local only. I need to go to Portland, so we will see.....

Friday, February 11, 2011

Basketball and a Friday Beer

I haven't played basketball for several weeks, as I hav been suffering from a painful right leg tendon issue. Bicycling doesn't seem to bother it, but at times the twisting and turning of hoops does. It has been feeling better, so I tried it out today. Very nice. I was able to run without pain, and I did. I shot well, scoring several baskets in the first set of games, and the winner in the final set. Most were from 3-point range, which was very satisfying. When younger I used to think that constant practice was needed, and I did practice at home, at school, and so forth. As an adult whose roundball career has seemed to stretch beyond all practical reason, my "skills" seems to have become innate. I practice and that does help, but the determining factor seems more to be attitude, positive thinking, and how I generally feel. I can hit a 20 foot jumper most of the time, but I miss when I am not paying attention, or at least not the right sort of attention. Pain distracts me, damn it.

What better way to end the week than with the kids coming over to eat Gulyas, and drink a beer or two. They better show up pretty soon or they will be a beer behind (or 2!). Gulyas, or Goulash as some people say it, is wonderful stuff. Curly noodles are the base, topped with beef chunks, peppers, tomatoes, and a soup-like sauce flavored with paprika. We have some nice hot paprika just now that makes it spicy with a bit of a bite. I think it is great, really. I smell it cooking, and I have a hard time waiting.

I love ethnic food!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Cashmere Visit and Family

Uncle Les' funeral was nice, and it was good to see all the cousins. All 8 of Les and Sabina's kids were there, and many of their kids. What I would normally call couslings, although in this case they were in their 20's and 30's, and seemed to be much more than the little ones I usually think of couslings. Good looking, one and all. Several of them live in San Diego and decided to drive up en masse, which they report took 23 hours. I don't envy them the ride back home.

I visited with the branch of the Smith clan involving Fransce and family. Her siblings Helen and John were there, and mother Gerry. John and Ginny Peterson were there, and John's brothers Brian and Chris, and his sister Marianne. John's mother Helen looked fabulous, as did Sabina. She is really remarkable. She never changes. She was a lucid, bright-eyed, and sharp in conversation as I can ever remember. And hardly a wrinkly for someone in their 90's! Amazing!

The most fun aspect of the visit was seeing the AMAZING role of genetics in everyone. Little Les was there (Terry), and Sabina's Twin (Kate). And the features and mannerisms that distinguish the Kane's, and the interwoven Smith characters that show up in all of us. We are definitely related. Incredible.

Judy made a connection with cousin Sabina. Sabina had wandered into the Interfaith Church Judy has started to attend in Lynnwood, and they had lots to talk about.

It would be nice to meet everyone in a different setting, but I know it will never happen. I may stop by and visit Sabina when I shoot through Cashmere in the future, but the "whole gang" won't be together, and probably never will be again. Sad, but human nature, I think.

It does make me think that the effort for a Weller Family Reunion may be well spent. I should start a blog about that. It might be the easiest way to get the word out, and to get everyone talking. It would be fantastic if all we end up with is a bunch of family photos with everyone in them, fixed in time, as it were, so we can have a point where we can refer in some future context. There were photos of Les and family taken thorugh his life, blown up to poster size and displayed in the meeting hall at the church. It is good to see him as a young man (he was born in 1915!), and not as the old man I always knew him.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Shooting Stars and Funerals

The sky was perfectly clear this morning as I sat in the hot tub at 6:00. The stars were twinkling, and one lost its footing and shot across the sky. The eastern glow started softly at first, then grew, and finally erupted into a mass of golden sunlight, but by this time I was reading the paper at the kitchen counter, smelling the coffee and planning the day.

Tomorrow Judy and I take a trip to Cashmere to attend the funeral of my Uncle Les Kane. He has finally succumbed to the vicissitudes of life, after 92 some years. He was never one to rush into anything, and I always found him to be one of the most calm, pedantic people I knew. I liked him, but we never really connected. John Peterson and I were visiting in Wenatchee as late teenagers, I recall, and Les and John's dad Clyde were sitting on the couch talking. John turn to me and says, "Let's go for a walk." When we get outside he tells me that we need to get out of there. He thinks that sitting and listening to these slow talkers will drain the life out of us. Maybe he is right, or perhaps the pace they set will prolong life? It didn't work for Clyde.

I have a ton of cousins. Tomorow I will likely see something like 30 to 40 cousins. Direct, first cousins THAT I DONT' KNOW! Damn Smith relatives were prolific as hell, and all of them are older than me. Well, most of them are older. John will be there, and maybe Francse Hansen. Grace Kane and Jim Kane are the only ones close enough in age that I actually know. The rest were off and out by the time I was an person that might be of any interest. Funny how families work. If you keep in contact the little ones that seem so distant became quite interesting, and the only thing you need to do to make the transitory shift is to stay in contact. Just be "present" as the transcendentalists say. With the Kane kids, I was not "present".

Soon I will blog about "being" and "becoming". I know, you can't wait...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A sunny day in Snohomish

A flash trip to Portland and I caught the end of the Super Bowl. I was pleased with the outcome. I pull for the under dog. Was Green Bay favored? I don't know. I did enjoy seeing Ben Rothlesburger's quick shave after the game. Apparently he was taking the Stanley Cup approach to shaving and not cutting his facial locks as long as they were still in the playoffs. Maybe I should do the same when I'm working on a particularly important proposal? Grow my beard until the customer buys? That's an intresting idea!

There was an Op Ed piece in the Seattle Times today about biomass use for burning in Washington today. I don't want to call the author names, particularly, but this crackpot environmentalist granola-munching tree hugger has no clue how the world works! I can refute each and every one of his bogus claims on technical and political grounds, and I think the Times did the community a disservice by publishing his bile. I've considered writing a rebuttal. Maybe I should.

John Wayne once said in a movie, "Someone should knock your block off. But I won't. But I Won't. The Hell I won't!" and then he punched the guy into the next county. That's the way I feel about these idiots.

The power industry's new bumper sticker: Environmentalists: Let the bastards freeze in the dark!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Testing the mobile blog!

Super Sunday - On the Road

Home for a day, and then off again. I spent a couple of hours at the Clinic getting rid of a pesty sinus infection I've been fighting for a week. Killer headaches and lots of pain in the upper jaw. Strange how the nerves of the face are arranged. Early on I thought I had a toothache, but then I recognized the symptoms. I've had this one before. Amazing nose spray knocked out the pairful stuff with the first blast. Thank goodness. The sulfa drug they gave me has an interesting side effect: I woke up at 2:00 am in the spare bedroom bed, and I have no idea how I got there!

I need to be in Portland at 7:00 tonight, so I have to leave just about kickoff time this afternoon. Rats. I'll have to listen to the game on the radio, I guess. Others in the house will be attending SB parties, but not poor old me. Driving, driving.

I see nephew Alex has a photo of himself having a face-to-face phone call with someone using his iPhone 4. I was wondering, do any of you kids have iPods with front and back cameras that can do this? I've been trying to talk Judy into getting one so we can have video conversations when I am traveling. So far she is resistant and in fact, I don't have one either. The next version of the iPad is supposed to have this capability, and some of the iPad competitors have it now. It has to be easier than Skype, which is pretty easy already, and portable so you don't have to be exactly at your computer when talking.

I made a sweet dough yesterday evening and turned it into 2 pans of sticky buns and one loaf of cinnamon raisin bread. Marilyn is in rapture, and Judy even had a hot bun when they came out of the oven. I had a half bun this morning, and they are very nice. The bread didn't rise as much as I would have liked, but I am sure it will be fine, too.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rainy Night in Georgia

They predicted 1-2" of rain tonight, and I swear there have been 3" fallen already. The office roof has a rather transparent insulation and while it is not exactly rain on a flat tin roof, it is not far off of that. I find that it is a sort of comforting sound as long as there aren't any drips falling exactly you, I guess.

When I visit in Atlanta my days in the office are typically 12 hours long, from 7 to 7. It reminds me of graduate school days, honestly. I have nothing to do when I am here but work, and then to take myself out for a good dinner if I can. Skimp on lunch and am still hungry. Tonight I'm hungry. I'm sitting at a Longhorn's steak house waiting for a prime rib dinner, enjoying a Sam Adams lager. What could be better?

The other thing that happens when I visit here is that I get reintegrated into the company. My biggest problem with working remotely is that I miss the daily interactions with people. Phone conversations are different than face to face conversations. That, and I can have multiple contacts over the course of a day. I am of the opinion that remote working can be productive, and I feel that I am productive when I work from my home office, but I am more productive when I am here, no question.

I had lunch today with a customer. Their office is in Kennesaw, which is 45 minutes away driving at 70 miles an hour. As a crow flies it is actually fairly close, but there is no road here as the crow flies! You have to take the super slab, and that takes longer. Anyway, I had not met this customer before and we seemed to hit it off very well. I have 2 large packages bid to his company and he gave me good feedback about both projects. Nice.

We are actually facing the enviable problem of having too much work shortly. The pent up demand seems to breaking out into Go Projects as 2011 opens up, and there are indications that this will accelerate. Good news for us, but also a problem. Deliveries are slipping out, cost are creeping up, and engineering is getting hard to get applied to projects. With so many "window shoppers" of the past couple of years now converting to the beloved category of Buyers, things could be looking up. And lots of them are in my western territory. Yum!

So, you can see that the On The Road nature of my blog can mean At Work. Sorry if this isn't what you are interested in, but this is what is on my mind today. Tomorrow I shift locations and begin to attend the MOTAG meeting at the Atlanta Airport Hilton, with a fair amount of drinking with old friends, lying to competitors, and sniffing out new projects. Perhaps my blog will take on a different tone...

Monday, January 31, 2011


This is what the Traveling Man is supposed to be doing - writing a blog while sitting in the airport, ready to get on an airplane. I am in Seattle going to Atlanta for the week. I say that the early morning flights are really just a way to get into the eastern time zone early. 3:30 am is just 6:30 in Atlanta, and here I go. Tomorrow I have to get up that early anyway! My flight is at 6:10, which is about 50 minutes from now. No problem. Traffic is light, and the latte stand was open (I was the first customer this morning).

This is a good week for me, with lots of things happening. I have this afternoon in the office, and Tuesday and Wednesday until early afternoon. Then down to the Hilton at the airport for the MOTAG-South meetings through until Friday afternoon. MOTAG is a meeting where all my pulp and a paper buddies come for an annual meeting just to network and to share stories. There is an actual technical program (on which I regularly present, but not this time), and dinners with your customers and friends. I have dinners scheduled for Wed and Thursday nights at this point, so there is always something to do. Fun.

Projects seem active. I have a couple that seem about to cut loose with PO's, so that is good. One in Stockton, CA, and another in OR. Lots of action on the West Coast.

Have fun this week.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hornets and Spiders in the Crawl Space

With a weekend of unfettered promise ahead of us, Judy and I started out the day with a trip to Trader Joe's. It doesn't sound like a lot of fun, but it always is. With $3 Chuck now down to $2.49, what's not to like?

I spent the day doing odd jobs, including replacing the thermostat on the 2nd water heater, cleaning up fallen insulation in the limited access walkway to that heater, and then working in the garage on a small woodworking project. I added a wood frame to the back of the Big Question Sign I put out in front of the house on BQ nights. The thin hardboard sheet had curved to the point it didn't want to stand on its own all that well. Now it looks Loud and Proud, as they say.

We watched the 3rd of the Steig Larsson movies last night, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest. As with the others, having read the book is almost required. There are big parts that are left out, and some sub-plots are started but not finished, such as the mysterious email'er who threatens Erica Berger and throws a brick though her window, but in the movie is never named and there is no closure on this. Strange. In the book Selander has a role to play in this mystery, and the person is revealed. In the movie all you get are the threats and the brick. And the role of the police investigator with whom Blomquist has an affair is almost non-existent. She is on screen 2-3 times, and is always 100% focused on work. At least they did a good job with the demise of Neidermann, and that is very satisfying.

Salix sat on our laps throughout the movie, and is getting to be a real lovey cat. We like this transition. And so does he, apparently. He comes when he is called, he follows me from room to room, he sits beside me while I am working at my desk downstairs, and is generally transforming into the Dog Cat we like around here. He is sitting on the counter behind the iPad as I write this, making sure I don't say anything bad about him, I'm sure.

Chief sent me a book review concerning a new book about and by Steven Hawking, and the review has some interesting topics and issues. I'm tempted to add this to my reading list, too. I will have more to say about this shortly, when I digest the ideas contained therein. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Warm breezes on my mind

Another Friday night at the Smith house. Fred's was OK this evening. We didn't really do much, but the wings were good and plentiful. I'm not hungry for dinner any time soon. I tried a winter beer called Never Summer, and it was way too sweet. I had the last 6 oz in the house, too. I'm all about free beer, but what is the victory it represents when it is one you don't like all that much?

I did my expense account for January this afternoon. I'm under an injunction against travel, mostly as a corporate decree to reduce costs. I have not ben traveling as much, I know, but seeing just how many days I spent in the office in January is a bit daunting. In fact when I did travel I stayed with Chief and Rose so I have no hotel bills for all of January, and vey little in restaurant bills. If I can alternate between Portland and Spokane as a base, maybe keeping a set of golf clubs in Spokane so I can spend Quality Time with Mark and Anne, I can make something of this job?

I had this humungo proposal I was working on which went to the customer today, but it hardly justifies staying home all that much. I will say that the paperwork side of the job has been increasing lately and I'm not getting to everything I need to do. Writing projects, papers, advertising projects, and just plain paperwork responses for customers has been daunting. I'd love to know my word count for this past 2 weeks. Maybe I don't want to know...

I do need to talk about the Village Theatre production we saw Wednesday night, Anne of Green Gables. Everybody has heard of the story, but I did not actually know what it was about. It is wonderful. The stage production is a musical, and the music is really good. There is a bit of stagecraft involved in the production, and I would say a minimum of the obligatory dancing scenes that are just prancing about and not moving the story ahead, but the series of vignettes of Anne's life and the interactions she has with her adoptive "parents" and the friends she makes on PEI (yes, it is Canadian!) are really good. I've downloaded the original story (free on Kindle) and started to read it in the original, and so far I would say the production and the story are the same. Very nice. I remain impressed (really impressed) with the professionalism and production quality of the Village Theatre company. Everything they do is First Class, and boy, can they sing! Wonderful stuff.

(A small note: the production company has several pretty girls in the group, but I swear they aren't over 5' 3". They are tiny! Put a microphone on them and they can belt our their parts, though, and they do a great job.)

I'm hoping to get on the bike this weekend if the weather cooperates. I have Cousin John's recumbent and I want to see if this is something I can ride. Or if Judy will ride it. It looks great sitting in my garage, but this is not what it is supposed to be doing. Riding, that is what bicycling is all about. Curse you, winter! Where are my warm spring winds and sunny days? Kenny, damn you, the weather in Phoenix these days is what I want!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The value of education

I missed my lunchtime workout today. I had planned to do my bicycle workout in the basement while watching The Greek and Persion Wars on DVD, which I am enjoying, but instead I was pulled into a 1.5 hour long conference call with a group of biomass consultants in Winnepeg, Thunder Bay, and Toronto. Nice guys, and a good meeting, but I'm missing my exercise. Maybe I'll be able to get an extra ride in tomorrow? Unlikely, but possible.

I got out a proposal today that I have been working on for several weeks. This does not mean that this is all I have been doing, but it certainly takes the time. It is a sort of thing that is never really done. I just decided that I have been working on it long enough and today was the day. I am doing this one in collaboration with a group in Oregon and now I have kicked it to them to add their parts and submit to the customer. It is the largest project in the companies history if they buy it as I have put it together, so I hope it goes. the actual project is in very wsouthern Oregon, so it is sort of local. It is in Lakeview, which is on the CA border, just above the point where CA and NV have a common border with OR. It will take something like 10 hours to drive there from home, so "local" is strictly a relative term.

I've been spending some time on the Bank of America site going through the Des and Judy Accounts over the past few months. I am very interested in just where our accounts have been going since the income is going to be very different in the next short while, at least. Some very interesting patterns occur. Have you listed all your expenses by category and then sorted by value, highest to lowest? I had no idea Internt costs at home were so high. Is a Comcast bill of $180 / month normal? Yikes! This one snuck up on me. I had no idea we were paying that much. No wonder some of you kids are opting not to use commercial TV but only internet sources. We are sitting around tonite deciding to play hardball with Comcast tomorrow to get our rates down. And insurance, and who knows what all!

Did you see the Dunesbury cartooon in Sunday's paper? Of course you didn't, because you don't read newspapers. In this particular column a university professor is giving a lecture and when he concludes a particularly difficutlt part he turns around and asks the class if they were able to follow his presentation while they texted and IM'ed each other? He points put that this one class is costing them about $175 each to hear. We all know this is what an education costs, but having it laid out like this is depressing. I emailed my professorial friend Joe and asked his opinion. He told me a story about when he kicked out a guy reading a newspaper in his class, and I guess this is similar. If students are into their phones and computers during class he takes note, and if they have problems with the exams and come to see him, he cuts them NO SLACK! I applaud him for this approach. It makes sense to me.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

An ordinary Saturday

First, I would suggest you check out the Big Questions blog concurring last night's meeting. This is what is on my mind this morning.

As for the funk I was in on Thursday, some of the fog was lifted Friday when my paycheck was deposited in the account. The amount was significantly less than in 2010 owing to a new compensation package that had been discussed in general terms with me, but not spelled out specifically. Now that I could see the base salary change, I contacted the home office for clarity about the rest. They assured me that the commission package "would make me happy", but I still have no specifics. I hope they do make me happy. Right now I am Not Happy.

Today a co-worker from Atlanta is arriving about now and we are to meet at the Redhook Brewery for lunch and a tour. Sounds like fun to me. I like this guy, and he is not at all involved in the mess of the previous paragraph. I'm not sure how the afternoon will play out, but I am hopeful he will be here for dinner. He is staying in Seattle tonight and Sunday nights, so he will have plenty of time to fool around in town if he wants to.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A moment of introspection

Why do I feel like things are speeding up, and I'm being left behind?

I once knew a guy who had previously been in posts that most people would think are pretty important; Sales Manager, General Manager, etc. When I met him he was a Territorieal Salesman at the age of 65. He once told me, "I don't care whose fingers I step on as I climb down the ladder of success!" I feel like this is happening to me, and I'm not ready for it! I still have too much to give, and I want to give it.

For the past couple of months I've been stuck in a sort of limbo where I am waiting for an offiail announcement concerning my employment fate. I wait, and I wait, and still I hear nothing. It put me into a sort of depression for a while, but I'm not one to stay down long. Still, here I am, ready to make a big difference in the company through my sales efforts and they can't seem to make a final official statement. I am ready to make a decision on my part if the ruling goes against me (meaning, if they cut my compensation by too much, I'm outta here). Still, it is not a bad job and I'd like to ride it out if I can.

Things go up, and things go down. Maybe Im having a low biorhythm day today. I d]guess sI am. I'll be up tomorrow.