Friday, October 31, 2008

Camera Found!

This week has been wild and crazy. I, Amy, have entered the working world again. My previous employer called me last Friday and requested that I come in to train yet another person who was hired to replace me. (This is the fourth one.) After some haggling over my "consulting fees," we finally came to an agreement (I'm worth a fortune, don't you know?); and I have been back at work. It's fun seeing my friends again, but I have to admit that getting up early and working all day is quite taxing when one is not used to that. (And yes, I can hear all of you working people saying "Waa-waa." I don't blame you.)

Steve had his check airman flight with the FAA this week. (Someone from the FAA rides along and watches how Steve coaches and grades the pilot on his check flight. The FAA has to approve Steve's new promotion.) Everything went great, and Steve is spending the rest of the weekend completing check flights. Yeah, Steve!

I finally found the camera which was accidentally left in my car. Here are the pictures from last Friday and Saturday:Since you're not allowed to take pictures IN a voting location, Steve decided to take a picture OF the voting location. The number of campaign signs is ridiculous.

For lunch we went to Fogo de Chao. It's our favorite place to eat in Houston.

We LOVE spending time together.

We finally found a restaurant that serves rhubarb pie (Steve's favorite). House of Pies has them year-round. We bought a whole one to take home.

The Chinese Elm that Steve planted on Saturday.
The Bald Cypress that Steve planted on Saturday.

We had a great time hanging out last weekend. November kicks off more travels.

Happy Friday!!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nothing To See Here

Amy and I bought some trees this weekend. Like all projects we started out with the intention of procuring the said tree prior to the intense sunlight and heat of the day. But sadly it wasn't to be, we acquired the foliage at about 1PM leaving me to plant them at the precise time of day I was hoping to avoid. But all is well, and they look great; I would share some pictures but cannot seem to find the camera at this very moment.

I'm headed to Washington DC this weekend, Amy won't be joining me due to the possibility of extreme boredom with a rather hectic work schedule for me. In other news this weekend we got to vote! Where I am from in Washington all the ballots are mailed out. I honestly don't think that they even have polling places, if they do I've never seen them. But voting is fun, and early voting was even more enjoyable. Although the lady behind us who had a panic attack when she realized she was going to have to use a computer was a bit exhausting.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago I was excited about the possibility of returning to swim coaching a couple of days a week. It looks like I am going to get my wish, I have a lot of free time in November (although I didn't get Thanksgiving off) so I sent an email expressing my wishes - more to come on that subject.

On the next post you can look forward to pictures, we just need to find that pesky camera. Have a great day!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The People We Meet

There was a recent comment on our blog that we lead such interesting lives. I have to admit that some of the things that happen to me (Steve) especially are straight out of a movie script. My wife was along for just such an adventure last year. I'll try to keep this short, as I know some of my posts get carried away with every last detail.

I was in St. Louis for an extended training event and Amy came to visit me one weekend. We took time to go to the park and the zoo. We saw the Arch and some other sights. Then we decided we were hungry, we got on the train and came to the conclusion that we would no doubt see an area with lots of dining choices on our ride back to the hotel. And if we didn't that was okay we would just eat at the hotel.

As we neared the half way point on our journey I mentioned something to Amy about the game plan we had concocted and the passenger next to us immediately inserted herself into our conversation. She insisted that if we needed a place to eat she knew just the spot. I told her that we would appreciate the advice, to which she responded that she would take us to the perfect spot. So now our evening involves this complete stranger.

She explained that there was a wonderful strip of restaurants near the stop where she gets off and she would lead us to them. Then she proceeded to ensure us that she could be trusted because she had her employee ID card on a lanyard around her neck which she held out for my inspection. You may be wondering where she worked -- she was a card dealer on one of the riverboats of course.

So we get off the train and follow her for quite a while. No doubt I told you all about when Amy and I were teased with the promise of nice cheap purses in NYC and had to follow this girl in pitch darkness for about 7 blocks -- anyway -- we followed this woman nearly a mile. At one point on the walk I began to doubt her motives, and questioned how much further, she confidently held up her employee badge and stated "You can trust me, I'm not a con artist or anything!" Amy and I looked at each other trying hard not to laugh outloud at this woman. Finally we could start to see some activity. And honestly she was right, this area surely was a happening spot with lots of choices, however remember she had one particular spot in mind.

We arrive at a bar! She stands outside of it all proud, opens the door and says "After you!" it then became clear, she was expecting us to go in there and buy her some evening drinks to show our gratitude for her gracious guide work through the maze that was her neighborhood to her favorite water hole.

Remember, I don't like confrontation, but you would have all been very proud of me. Amy and I pretended to look at the menu in the window, then in my nicest possible voice I thanked her very much for helping us find such a neat part of town; but they didn't really have the type of food we were in the mood for in this bar. She was devastated, she thought surely she had found her meal ticket for the night. Quick on her feet, she offered to take us to another bar farther up the street. We finally were able to loose her, and we found a quaint little Mexican place to eat at, which was very delicious.

Remember to read the blog below and leave your answer, I will reveal the source of this material once we reach ten comments (that would be a record for our blog). And I much like Ms. Valerie was also laughing out loud when I first saw this video and continue to laugh at all subsequent viewings.


I got this video on the email -- I have a challenge -- LEAVE A COMMENT!! --- I want to know if you think this video is real, or a staged event. If you are not a Blogspot member you can leave an anonymous comment, but I am curious how many real readers we have.

The answer tomorrow


Monday, October 20, 2008

Is That Smoke I Smell?

In an effort to save money I have wired the house for TV in such a way that all of the TV’s operate off of one DVR. The cable companies are on to this behavior as they have programmed their DVR’s not to work on more than one TV, instead the other TV's get a warning notice. It took a while but I eventually figured out a way around this, the problem is it requires the audio amplifier in the living room to be on and muted for any other TV in the house to work.

After spending a tidy sum at Best Buy I eventually figured out a way to use a radio frequency remote control with macro capability to operate the DVR from anywhere in the house and we were in business. By the way I heard an ad recently for AT&T U-Verse which offers a DVR that records four shows at once, and (gasp) you only need one for all the TV’s in the whole house. Amy and I would sign up at once if only it was offered in our neighborhood.

Anyway, back to the story; the other day Amy and I were watching the news in our bedroom. Out of the blue the TV suddenly went blank, I quickly figured out that for whatever reason the audio amp had turned off. I turned it back on, and soon after it again turned off. After two more attempts I finally make my way to the living room and realize I’ve entered a cloud of smoke, and it is putrid. I open the entertainment center to see even more smoke billow out.

I spent the entire morning, venting the house, and checking all of the speaker wires just sure that there must be a short somewhere. I don’t find any shorts, but I do re-insulate all of the connections, and try to turn it on again. I have it on for about an hour, when suddenly – you guessed it – smoke, again, horrid smelling white smoke begins pouring out of the device. I finally draw the line in the sand and decide the unit is defective.

Fortunately it is under warranty and I send it to Samsung who promptly returns it repaired and deodorized. I reinstalled it with its own additional heavy duty cooling fan. I’ve decided in the future that if an electronic device turns off for some unknown reason, there is likely a reason; and I should probably get myself out of bed to figure it out.

Have a great Tuesday.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

His Honour

First of all happy Monday, this week will no doubt be an outstanding one! I (Steve) was suppose to be in Tulsa with my adorable bride, but sadly it was not to be, all the flights that were available to me were sold out or overweight. So I had resigned myself to a most boring weekend at home, I scheduled a training session with this Marine recruit I am working with (he is training to pass a most difficult swim test) for 6AM on Saturday. After I was done with him I decided I needed to work in the yard. I got a hot fire going and burned all the unnecessary foliage, I transplanted a couple of plants (Surpirse Amy!!!), and I pulled weeds, I rototilled the flower garden, edged the lawn, washed the driveway, killed ants, pruned the trees, and cleaned the hot tub. I was pretty tired when all of this was done at about 1PM so I was looking to forward to getting cleaned up and relaxing the rest of the day in the living room.

Just then my phone rang, it was work and my services were needed. The schedule they assigned me is six days away from home, which would normally be unacceptable, but since Amy is away it works out, this time anyway. The only problem is I wouldn't have worked myself into a stooper had I known I was going to have to do more work in the evening.

After ranting a little about the neighborhood children in my last post I was thinking of when I was a kid and all the crazy stuff I did. I certainly did some things that I'm sure embarrassed my parents to no end. I decided I shall start a new series, I have quite a list of fun stories to tell -- oh man I'm getting red in the face just thinking of some of the shenanigans I pulled.

But for now the story of my first speeding ticket. I was working for a Church and had been called in the middle of the night to fix a water leak at the pastor's home. I had a buddy with me, and we were done with the small repair within about 30 minutes. On the way home (in a church vehicle mind you) I was driving through a small town named Bixby in Oklahoma. It was nearly midnight and the road was pretty empty. I honestly don't know how fast I was going, but anyone who has ridden with me knows I'm not a big fan of the accelerator. When I was learning to drive anything more than a half inch depression on the gas pedal got a stern exclamation from my Grandfather "There goes another gallon of gas, right out the tail pipe, you'll learn when you pay for gas...." He had lots of sayings, one of my favorites was at the bowling alley "Right for the gutter, you aimed that ball right for the gutter!" My cousins and I heard that one quite often, ever the encouraging one. Anyway the point is I wasn't driving fast or reckless so when I saw flashing lights ahead I thought nothing of it.

As I neared the flashing lights I realized that the police department of Bixby had set up roadblocks at every road of a four way stop. They had quite the set-up, there were portable light units, at least fifteen tow trucks lined up, and about seven police cars. I honestly thought to myself, 'These guys are serious about catching drunk drivers, I sure am glad they are here!' Once I reached the officer in my lane I handed him my drivers license as requested which was from Utah. He took immediate attitude and scoffed at my out of state license with an inquiry as to why. I explained that I was a student, to which he wanted proof. Then he asked "Why are you in such a hurry?" My jaw fell open a little, I was so astonished at his line of questioning. I responded "Excuse me?" "Why were you speeding?" "I wasn't aware that I was." "Yep, you were going at least 45 and this is a 35 zone!" He goes on to explain that he isn't giving me a ticket for the out of state license but is for speeding, and tells me to pull around the corner.

I wait for about ten minutes and nobody comes to issue the said ticket, there is so much going on at this intersection these people actually forgot about me. Eventually someone comes and asks why I am there. I stupidly tell them I was waiting for a speeding ticket. I get the ticket and move on. Over the next few days I begin to stew over the chain of events that took place that evening, I didn't believe that anyone actually used a radar device on me, I began to realize that these Police Officers were just making things up as cars arrived at the road block. There was just too much activity to be that organized, I mean for crying out loud they forgot why I was pulled over to begin with.

I went back to the scene and quickly learned that there were no posted speed limit signs anywhere on the road where I was pulled over until after the said intersection, and then the speed limit was 45. I decided I had a case and was headed to court. I learned that I could choose not to pay the fine, and instead appear before the judge to plead my case, the court date was on the ticket. The day finally came, I was ready with pictures, an affidavit from the guy that was riding with me, and Google Earth satellite imagery of the area in question. I went all out, I get dressed and leave work early one day to go win my case.

I arrive at the ridiculously small City Hall/Courthouse/Police Station/Jail. And much to my surprise the building is all but abandoned. I go in the court room to see an empty room with no lights on. As I wander around the building a little more I realize that undoubtedly the Officer wrote the wrong date on the ticket. I check it again to make sure and then realize to my horror that I am actually the one who made an error, my court date was last week. I find the Police Dispatcher and ask him what I need to do, and most importantly is there a warrant for my arrest for failure to appear?

He is nice enough and assures me that there was in fact no warrant, but I had a failure to appear hearing the following week. So the date comes and I learn that my boss also has a summons to appear at the same hearing I am headed too. We carpool and walk into the courtroom which is filled beyond capacity. We hear that the prosecutor is meeting with some people to negotiate plea bargains, but sadly we don't have an opportunity to meet with him before the court is called to order. Enter 'His Honour'.

This little bald man introduces himself as Judge Studeny, and begins to go over the litany of rules for his courtroom. He proceeded to explain (which I still see as unconstitutional) that when we were called to the front and read the charge our response was to be either guilty or no contest. He told everyone that if they dared to plea not guilty the consequences would be severe; he would require a jury trial, and when we were ultimately found guilty he would order us to pay all costs associated with the trail including the jury wages etc. Anyway at this point I am dumbfounded, I feel like I am on a TV show or something. Judge Studeny then begins a short monologue about the consequences cellular telephones making any noises whatsoever in his courtroom.

He explains that if any phone or pager rings for any reason, no matter the excuse. The owner will be promptly arrested for contempt of court, put in jail for ten days, and fined $700. Good grief!!! -- so my boss and I are frantically attempting to remove the batteries from our phone should there be some fluke and an unsuspecting alarm that might go off. I can't get my battery out and actually consider smashing my phone under my chair leg, this is how terrified I am of Judge Studeny.

It turns out this hearing had nothing to do with me trying to prove my speeding ticket invalid, no no, instead this hearing was all about trying to skip out on paying the fine. I go to the bench when my name is called, plead guilty as directed, and then pay my now doubled fine.

I tell the story frequently, especially the part about the cell phones, because I just thought it was so outrageous. Time goes on and I begin to forget about Judge Studeny, then it happened. My last semester in college and a required class -- Aviation Law. I sit in the front row as usual, and see a stoic short, bald professor sitting in front of me, looking down his nose at the class of what he no doubt sees as misfits. The clock reaches the start time, and the professor begins to talk, about -- you guessed it --- cell phones! -- The moment he speaks, I literally gasp, so loudly that a few heads turn. I realize, it's him!! It turns out his hatred for cell phones goes far beyond the court room and into the classroom. He explains that if any cell phone goes off for any reason during the semester the owner of the phone will fail the course and have to repeat it.

We all hate cell phones at one point or another in our daily lives, but seriously, Judge Studeny please lighten up on the phone rules, its okay. People aren't out to get you with their phone, they aren't trying to be disrespectful or is some way pull one over on you. They just forgot to turn it off. Its true that your threatening tactics probably work well to mitigate any accidental ringings. But in the end life is too short to make such a big deal about what amounts to an inconsequential stupid thing. Don't sweat the small stuff -- its just a phone.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

"UMMMM I'm Thirsty"

Okay -- before I get to my most curious title I must first ask if anyone besides me has noticed that the Kleenex Tissue in some hotels changes colors? -- I've noticed this once before, and today I noticed it again, its true. Every three or four tissues the color of the the dispensed tissue changes from white to off white. Just a curious observation, but really why? No doubt (much like flavored dentists gloves) its more expensive, and certainly a more complicated manufacturing process. Who knows?

A long time ago I found myself literally thrust into the vending business. When Amy and I moved to Houston we decided that those days were behind us, but after just ten short months I found myself once again negotiating vending contracts. This time however I focused only on Fitness Centers where the discretionary income is higher, and things like Myoplex, and Monster energy drinks can sell for 3-5 dollars. So there is the quick background, because of our small size I pay a company to receive my beverage orders, but I store them in my garage (which was built too short to hold my exceptionally long truck) -- note to self, for next house measure truck before commencing a build.

Over the years (two and a half) that we have lived in our neighborhood I have OCCASIONALLY, been known to take a couple of Powerades over to the boys next door playing basketball, or offered a drink to the odd neighbor. I don't really make a habit of it, but if I have extra drinks, am working outside, and happen to see a couple of kids, I'll offer them a drink.

Amy had mentioned to me some time ago that the doorbell rings a couple of evenings a week, and that she would ignore it -- as she was never expecting anyone, and didn't want to deal with a potential sales person. I never really thought anything of it, then on Sunday this week I was draining the water heater for its annual preventative maintenance (can you tell I use to be a maintenance guy). Anyway, this required the garage to be open and me watching the water drain out of a hose (by the way only in Texas have I seen a water heater in the attic.) After some time three boys came up and gave me the look. After a few awkward moments they asked if they could have a drink. I probably had 30 cases in the garage, and decided I could give each of them a Powerade. After thanking me they gleefully ran off and disappeared. Five minutes later three girls show up, they too would like a drink. I oblige -- and really don't think anything of it. I do make mental note at this time that kids are getting more brazen, and I should probably not make this too much of a habit.

A couple of hours later Amy and I are watching a movie - and the volume is up pretty loud and at some point I think I hear something unusual, but dismiss it. A couple of minutes later I clearly hear the doorbell. I go to the door and answer it -- there are three of the six kids I gave drinks to earlier standing at my doorstep -- suddenly one remarks "Ummmm, I'm thirsty." While I felt like telling them to go home and get a drink, I was much nicer than that, and simply explained that I'd given away all I could for the day.

It turns out I should have omitted the 'day' part of my answer. The very next evening as Amy and I were watching something on the TV (I'm sure it was the 700 Club, or some TBN special, or maybe it was Paris Hilton's My New BFF, I can't remember). Anyway I suspect it could again be these kids, much to my surprise I open the door to see seven children at my doorstep and overflowing into the lawn. "Do you have any drinks today?" they ask. I suddenly realize that these kids must do this all of the time, and Amy just ignores them. I firmly advise all of the beggars that I can't give out drinks all the time, and that while once in a while I can give some out, they mustn't knock and the door to ask for drinks. They all agree and go away.

I want to be a nice guy, but seriously -- there are A LOT of kids in our hood. I don't want to become the local watering hole for the underage children in our neighborhood. Especially since Amy and I don't have any kids of our own. What will people think?

Have a great day!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bathroom Noises

My husband loves the stories I tell when I emerge from the ladies' room. Women are, by nature, very social creatures. We do everything in groups, including visits to the loo. As a result, there is always a lot of chatter. As requested by my husband, I will share a couple of the recent stories with you.

The first took place at church. Our church is very large, and so are the restrooms. They can accommodate at least 40 women at a time. I was in the upstairs ladies room - on the third floor - the Sunday School floor. It's important to note that not everyone at our church attends Sunday School - only those who are serious church goers - those who desire to learn more about God - who really want to live a Godly life. Those who are just Sunday-morning Christians stay on the first or second floors and do not venture up to the third and fourth floors. So here I was, on a Sunday morning, just before class began, in a crowded third-floor ladies' room which was buzzing with giggles and chatter, when above all of the noise, we heard an exclamation of "OH S#^!" The entire room became silent. No one even dared to breathe loudly enough to be heard. It's church after all, and someone just uttered a completely unladylike expression in the House of God. After a few long moments of uncomfortable silence, a small voice said, "I'm so sorry, ladies. I just dropped my Bible in the toilet." After a few of the giggles and chuckles settled down, a more mature-sounding voice calmly and kindly inquired, "Is it the Bible you write in?" The reply came softly, "No, I dropped it in a puddle outside last week, and this was my replacement Bible." After a short pause, the mature voice replied with, "Well, honey, fish it out a' there. Throw it away. Buy you a new Bible, and this time get you a Bible cover with some handles so that you can hold onto it. You'll be alright." Seconds later we heard some splashing around, which I can only guess were the sounds of the poor dear fishing her new Bible out of the toilet. When I emerged and told my husband the story, I thought he was going to bust a gut. I almost had to pick him up off of the floor in the hallway. Every week since, he has asked me for the most recent story. There is always a story, but this one has topped them all for several weeks now.

My soapbox interlude: One of my pet peeves is when mothers think it's OK to bring their older boys into the ladies' room, especially considering that so many places now have family rooms and most especially when the dads are there and just refuse to take any responsibility for the kids. As I am not a mother, I am not exactly sure what the cut-off age should be, but I have been in the ladies' room and had women walk in with their sons who are as tall as I am. Seriously, if he's as big as I am, shouldn't he be able to wipe his own hiney? And if you're worried about a predator, if he's that big and doesn't know how to fight, enroll him in karate or something. STOP bringing him into the ladies' room. That just makes him a pervert and grosses the rest of us out.

That said, my next story is about a little boy in the ladies' room - a little boy who could not have been older than three. When we were at Ben & Jerry's in Vermont, I entered the ladies' room. There was a lady standing by the sinks who asked, "Is everything OK, Jared?" Suddenly one of the stall doors opened and out came the cutest little blond-haired boy who, while displaying jazz hands and a giant smile, loudly exclaimed, "Ta Da!" as he exited the stall. How cute is that?! Don't be surprised if you ever see Steve or I exciting a loo with jazz hands and a smile while exlaiming, "Ta Da!" We find this hilariously funny and now do it all of the time. Feel free to join us in our silliness, if you would like.

It is also important to note that womens' fitting rooms in department stores are also places that women gather and feel free to say anything. Tales from the fitting rooms to follow at a later date. (Although truth be told, my mom and I probably have caused more people to chuckle than anyone else. We act so silly when we're together. I may even divulge some of our tales.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Dreaded Allergies

I don't claim them -- I don't say 'My allergies are bothering me' -- but some stray allergens have found their way to my body and are giving me a really hard time. I was never bothered by allergies until I moved to this part of the country (meaning OK and TX) -- but since I have discovered this new challenge in my life I have worked very hard to find a solution to make the symptoms less intrusive.

Any ideas??

I've tried all the big names, and ultimately have found that treating the symptoms with regular cough syrups is the best solution. The problem is most of those things are off limits when operating heavy equipment like say -- an airplane. Yesterday at the store I found Zicam Allergy Formula -- I tried it and it seems to have worked a miracle. I'll keep you posted.

In the past the most effective treatment has been some advice offered by an old guy named Larry Miller (Miller Swim School for you Tulsans) -- he said to open my eyes under running water every day and wash out my nose in the shower. Doing that at least once a day does help some. Larry swore that he does it every day of his life and has never had any allergy symptoms since.

Amy has even had a little bit of allergy symptoms -- it must be Houston, maybe we should hit the road again -- more to come


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Fall Tour of New England - Week Two

We just wrapped up our second week of our Fall Tour of New England. WOW! I don't think my pictures do it justice, but at least you can have an idea of what we saw.

We started with a full day in NYC - our favorite city to visit. We spent time shopping - Bloomingdale's, Tiffany's, FAO Schwartz, to name some of our favorite spots. And yes, we started our Christmas shopping!!!

Then we went down to the financial district. Steve had never been in that part of Manhattan before, and neither of us had been since 9/11. Here are a few pics:

Steve in front of the New York Stock Exchange:
The famous bull - notice all of the Chinese people who were taking their own photos with the bull. Seriously, just how much of that bull is going to show up in your picture when you're taking a self-portrait that close? There were so many Chinese people surrounding it, that we couldn't get any closer to take a better picture.
Then we headed over to Ground Zero, if you can still call it that. It is no longer just a giant whole in the ground. It is full of construction, and it's difficult to get close enough to take a picture. The city is definitely rebuilding.
These pictures were taken through a small whole in the fence.
The construction dumpsters are all painted with a reminder of why they are there.
Yes, I know, I took a picture of a garbage dumpster; but in this case, I truly believe it's art.
And there are still crosses and other monuments made from the remnants of the WTC that line the streets near the construction site.Steve's First Officer for the week experienced and survived 9/11. He told Steve all about it. Hopefully Steve will be able to share that with you within the next week or two. Even though it seems at times like it happened so long ago - it seems like it could never happen again - it happened. It happened here. And we must never forget!

Our day in NYC included lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. (And for those interested in pop culture, yes, we saw the Naked Cowboy. He's not all that impressive.) We had dinner at our favorite pizza place in Little Italy - Rudy's. We sat on the sidewalk patio and enjoyed a perfectly beautiful evening while we ate our pizza. We had a fabulous time!

Then we were off to New Hampshire. We stayed at a beautiful inn. They have a really nice courtyard with trees and a pond filled with koi. Steve just had to take this picture of the sign posted above the pond.
Our favorite part of this sign is "if you must make a wish". Seriously, are there people out there who MUST make a wish?! (Those of our readers with three-year-old boys may indeed know of someone who MUST make a wish! lol)

Once again, we took a road trip. We went from New Hampshire to Vermont. It was raining, and most of the pictures were taken from the car; but here are some New Hampshire pics:
Then we crossed over into Vermont - which I must say is the most gorgeous place we visited this year. We even had to pull over a few times to take some pictures.
While in Vermont, we visited the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory - complete with free samples of their new flavor - Half Baked. It is DE-LISH!
It's official - we love New England in the Fall.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Oh Happy Day!!

We promise there will be pictures from our recent travels, but for now you are just going to have to wait!

The never ending battle that I have with Comcast seems to have been momentarily settled -- since we switched to HD we have gone through six converter boxes as it never seems to work right. The shows we are watching skip a lot, and the sound will mute frequently for no reason. Yesterday I once again make the journey to the Comcast store, waited in the un-necessarily long line, watched children that were lacking guidance and discipline run around the place like lunatics. Seriously, when you tell a child no, and he throws a fit, and you ultimately give in and allow the previously forbidden behavior, they learn -- throw fit = get what I want. I learned that on Supernanny, I can't take all the credit.

Anyway after I reached the counter I was as pathetic as possible, tried my hardest to appeal to the nice agents emotions, and it worked -- she gave me a different model that (gasp) had never been used before, lets keep our fingers crossed that it will continue to function as designed.

As I was re-reading my post about fun times in Utah I was reminded of another really humorous story that I thought I would share. One morning while watching the news I saw an interview with a guy that owned a business installing Christmas lights. Being the go-getter that I am -- I too formed a Christmas light installation business by noon that very day with a friend of mine. It was a crazy idea, but resulted in ridiculous success. Early on in our venture we would accept any client (later we limited it to those who lived in gated neighborhoods, and had at least one 60K + car in the garage).

One of our first customers was this really old couple, once we arrived my buddy told me to drive on, and not even stop. I was tempted but wanted to follow through with the appointment I had set. There was a string of mini-lights on their front walkway that appeared to have been there since 1960. The woman who lived there told me she called to have them replaced because they no longer worked. These lights actually disintegrated in our hands as we removed them. Mind you we didn't need a ladder, the roof line was so low that we could reach them from standing in the front yard. Once we got it all done the nice lady had an extra string left over.

I asked her where she wanted them, she told me that she wanted them put on her bush. Now I've scoured the Internet looking for a picture that somewhat resembles what this bush looked like, and here is the result.

Picture this bush in the middle of a front yard -- the pinnacle of the landscape if you will. She seemed very proud of her bush. Anyway I confirm with her a couple of times that she actually wants this thing illuminated. She confirms my suspicions, and I begin wrapping, or really draping the bush in mini-lights. Now as you can see this bush is very brittle, and highly entangled. As I pushed the lights in between the branches the entangled mess was getting worse.

As I was nearly done the nice woman came out and declared "I've decided I don't like how that looks, lets just take those off." This was going to be a delicate operation, every time I removed part of the string, hunks of branch would break off in my hand. At some point the lady comes out on her porch to preview my progress, at the same time I am getting a little more aggressive, I pull the lights just a little, and suddenly the entire bush breaks off at the ground and is in my hand. I am instantly horrified, but to my relief the homeowner doesn't seem to notice. I start laughing pretty hard while quickly ripping off the rest of the lights. Once I get them all off I shove the stump end of what is now a twig into the ground and continue laughing almost uncontrollably. The nice lady notices, and wonders about what I am laughing -- I play it off and quickly wrap things up -- and away we go.

Every time I see a bush like this I think of this story, and oh how funny it was to be there -- the horror that I felt when her prized bush was literally destroyed at my hand. I remember thinking that whomever mows the lawn next will hit it, it will fall over and they will think that they destroyed the bush.

Oh fun times -- please have a great day -- and BELIEVE that there will soon be a post with pictures.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Why Does the Bird Hate Me?

I spoke on the phone the other day to a woman from Utah who I used to work with. I was asking some questions about when Amy and I should travel to Utah for a scenic drive. After I hung up I was thinking about the fun I used to have when working for this company called Outdoor Recreation (need I remind everyone of being a snow-mobile guide without ever having actually been on a snow-mobile myself).

There are many, many funny stories from my time at Outdoor Recreation, but a classic was Pete the bird. I’m not entirely sure his name was Pete, as this was at least nine years ago. What I do remember for sure was that a management intern came on the scene. For whatever reason one day she brought a bird to the office and put it out where everyone could see it. The only other time I remember being around caged birds was when I was little and my Grandma Mary had one – well she had a few during my lifetime, but all I know is they were dirty, loud, and for some reason had to have a sheet over their cage at night.

I was never allowed to touch any of Grandma Mary’s birds, only look at them from a distance. When I was about 12 or so I visited Grandma Mary for this first time in two or three years. I’m not sure how it came about, but she decided that I must be mature enough to touch her bird, and so she allowed, at my request, a bird touching. I reached in to pet it, or let it climb on me or something and it flipped the heck out. Flapping all around, feathers flying – it was a mess. The next day that bird died, Grandma Mary insisted that I had given the bird a heart attack and killed it. I don’t know what I could have done differently, but evidently I offended that bird to the core.

Okay so back to Outdoor Recreation. I notice the bird in the cage, and likely as a result of my lack in childhood I ask if I can pet the bird. One thing leads to another and the bird is on my finger. I am thrilled that finally I have found a bird that likes me. The problem is the Pete liked me a little too much. My finger wasn’t enough; he clawed his way all the way up my arm to my shoulder where he sat perched for a few minutes. Then for whatever reason he made his way down my back. His little claws were hurting so I finally had to get down on all fours to make Pete level in hopes he would retract his claws. It worked; but the bird wouldn’t get off of me for anything. Finally after everyone in the room was in hysterics Kelly (the birds’ owner) forcefully removed the bird from my person and put him back in his cage.

My only assumption is that little Pete was mortally embarrassed by this escapade as future attempts to get him on my finger were failures. In fact Pete grew hostile towards me, over time squawking loudly at the mere sight of me. Everyone would wonder why when I walked in the room Pete would panic and freak out. Pete’s built up hostility and anger towards me grew and festered in to a distinct hatred for me. This bird would get out of control every time he saw me – eventually resorting to sharpening his beak at the sight of me just in case he needed to attack (given the opportunity I feel he may have).

Everyone just thought this was so funny, but I was a little offended. I finally asked Kelly “What should I do to regain Pete’s trust?” She replied “Just put your hand in there and let him climb on.” “Not a good idea,” I thought to myself. A few days later I came up with a solution – welders gloves. On this day I walk in to the office, and as usual Pete starts screaming, he runs over to his beak sharpening stone and begins ferociously sharpening to ensure epidermis penetration when he bites. But then much to his surprise I forgo my normal route far out of Pete’s sight, and instead set course straight for his cage.

He was most uncomfortable with my stand, and made his thoughts known, to keep me in sight he had to abandon his beak sharpening stone, and turn around, he then commenced the beak sharpening on the bars of the cage. This bird was crazy, I’m telling you. I don the gloves, open the door, and insert my gloved hand. It’s a good thing I wore the gloves; this plan did not work, Pete literally tore chunks out of the hard thick leather gloves. He really hated me, talk about bitter. I never again attempted to have interaction with Pete, and although over time he stopped being so vocal he would always commence beak sharpening at the mere sight of me.

Tonight back to New York for a delicious dinner before we must go back to reality (and hot humid weather) in Houston. HAVE A GREAT DAY!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Simple Instructions

We've all been there, we check in at the airport, the agent asks us to take our bags to the screening area and proceed to our gate. Well evidently an older woman in Sweden heard "Take yourself over to the screening area and lay down...."

An elderly woman had an unexpected layover while attempting to check in at Sweden’s main airport Tuesday. The 78-year-old woman misunderstood instructions and fell down a baggage chute after placing herself, rather than her bags, on the belt, AFP reported.
The woman, who was not named, was preparing to depart from Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport for Germany, when she lay down on the baggage belt thinking she was following the check-in instructions.
Staff members helped her catch her flight after she was swept off to the baggage handling center.

I wish I had been there to see it.

Amy and I were in NYC yesterday (one of Amy's favorite places in the whole world) - we had a great time, today we are going to a certain ice cream factory in Vermont, any guesses??