October 4, 2007

A quiet night in the city.  I'm still trying to decide whether to get the new Apple itouch video player or not.  There is actually is an itouch available at the Buckhead Best Buy.   It is the smaller (in memory) 8G model as opposed to the 16G model.  So again it is 299 big ones and that is what is holding me back.  All the reviews of the itouch say it is a great device, but big money.  Plus if I take it on the cruise I'm likely to get sand and suntan lotion all over the thing  which probably isn't good for the unit.

Julie and her Mom have arranged a cruise to the Med including the Greek Islands.  Very nice.  They'll go on Royal Caribbean out of either Venice or Rome - can't remember which.  The price is great and they'll have a blast.  I'll be home taking care of the Bailey looking at pictures of the Med.

This weekend we are off for Starkville, MS.  For me it is the second time in three weeks.  Tom and Cindy invited us for homecoming.  There will be a game with serious tailgating Saturday morning.  We have our Mississippi State shirts clean and ready to go.  It is about a 4  1/2 to 5 hour drive over there.  We'll take the Rendezvous complete with navigation system.  It is so wild in Mississippi that many of the roads don't even show up on the display.  Now you know that is real back country.  I am always worried we will be stopped in one of those little towns by the local police and sent to a county work farm.  So when we are passing through and the speed limit says 25 MPH you can be assured that we are going more like 20 MPH.  I don't look good in an orange jump suit.

Here is how high tech and lazy I am tonight.  Bailey is out on the balcony while I sit in the LazyBoy typing away.  The computer monitor blocks my view of the door and I don't want to keep leaning around to see if Bailey wants in.  So I have a camera pointed at the door and have it playing live - so I'll see Bailey move for the the door in the little video window on the computer.  I am using hundreds of dollars of technology to maintain doggy surveillance.  That is the height of nerdiness.

September 30, 2007

Greetings one and all.  It has been a college football extravaganza Mississippi State won at Auburn when we were in Starkviille, MS.  That was the weekend that we took Tom's 1966 Mustang over to Starkville to leave over there.  It was a good trip that was very carefully timed.  We had to pick a Saturday when the weather was perfect.  The car is a convertible and unfortunately the top does not go up.  So we were expose all the way to Mississippi.  It was a good road trip with lots of suntan lotion.

Then this weekend Dave called me and had an extra ticket to go to the Georgia Tech game.  So of course I put on my GATech shirt and cap.  As we were going over there we saw a sea of orange with the Clemson fans everywhere.  At 13th in the nation they were expected to win.  But with a lot of great defense Tech won the game.  Suddenly in the 4th quarter there was less and less orange and lots of gold.  It had to be a long drive back to Clemson with such a loss.  A good time was had by all with a full afternoon of tailgating.

Julie and I are getting ready for the cruise coming up Nov 15th to the southern Caribbean.  There will be no diving on this one - though we will be in some great locations the last diving trip to Key Largo did me in for a while.  So it will be more shopping and excursions this time.  Before going I may get the exciting new Ipod itouch player.  It is a great little unit with an 8meg hard drive and a 3.5 inch video display. The thing will play music, images and video.   Plus it looks snazzy:

Couple things about it.  First it is $299 and second it hasn't shipped yet.  The demand will be sky high when it does arrive in stores so there is no sure bet that I'll be able to get one before the cruise.  But I still have my trusty old ipod mini which currently is packed with 1200 songs,   But the new one is a nice piece of technology.

Lately I have been worried about Eva Longoria

Sure she is a television star, but you never know if someone is really happy.  Sure she is rich, sure she is beautiful, sure she has hundreds of exciting friends, sure she is on the smash TV hit Desperate Housewives, sure she is married to a famous NBA star, sure she lives in the lap of luxury, but . . . is she really happy?  Plus her publicist doesn't seem to be getting her into People Magazine as often.  So I am concerned that her "people" aren't getting the job done.  Now of course compared to Bruce Jenner she has a perfect nose, but I just want her to be healthy and happy.  She deserves that much.  I have the same concern that Payton Manning NFL Colts Quarterback is making enough money.  These are important things to worry about.  Someone has to.

September 8, 2007

We are back from fabulous Tulsa, OK and our visit with the family.  Tulsa really is a nice city - it is booming too.  The only strange thing for most people is the houses don't have basements because the foundations are slab concrete because of the rock earth.  It would cost a bazillian dollars to dig out a basement. But other than that the homes are very nice.  My sister has a great house there and it backs right onto a park. 

I was a little nervous last weekend because I had money down on two Julius Caesar coins.  The plan was I'd bid up on the two and probably walk away with one of them.  I was up to $220 and $235 respectively.  The bids closed at 11:50am on Wednesday.  So of course there are guys out there just waiting for their chance at last minute bids. 

But for a while I was worried I might get both and suddenly have $500 in coins in addition to the two I describe below.  Unfortunately I ended up not getting either.  One went for $311 and the other $275.  Because I was at work I really couldn't log on and do any 11th hour bidding.  I might have gone into the $300 range on one of them because that is still a really good price for a Julius Caesar coin in good condition.  But bid and learn.   I am still deciding whether I really want to collect more coins or just stop at the two I have.

Work was a pain in the butt this week.  I would say more but I am not at liberty to go into it. 

I will also say that my brother is a really good guy.  I would say more but I am not at liberty to say.

On the Website use part of the world we are getting more hits at TimandJulie.net which is nice.  This Monday we had 15 hits in one day.  Julie is going to update the thing because we still have information on the last cruise we took and there are two more coming.  They even have Webcams on the ships that we will link to.
More and more cruise ships are putting up Webcams either on their bridge or pool decks.  You can click here to see some of the Princess cruise line ships.

There is also a cool thing we found last night.  Click here to see a map of the world with the rough locations of the cruise ships.  Neat.

Tonight we are joining Kim and Mark to go to a a Dave Matthews concert at Piedmont Park.  It is unique because it is a green concert which means they are not letting any cars into the area.  You have to take public transportation or live in the area as we do.  Should be great.  So for now I'll sign off.

September 2, 2007

We are in Tulsa, OK visiting family.  Much canasta is being played.  More when I have extra time. 

August 25, 2007

Saturday!  Bailey the dog is exhausted.  We went on the normal 7am walk and she is still recovering though there was enough energy to play fetch for a while. 

The coin I describe below in the Aug 18 entry came in the mail today.  The Roman Denarius is a very small coin.  They are a little smaller than a dime though they are heavier due to the silver content.  It was mind blowing to hold something that old - 2100 years old.  It is the oldest man made thing I've ever touched.  21 Centuries. 

Now that the coin is in the collectors community it could conceivably last another 21 centuries.  What kind of world will that be?  It will be as unimaginable as this world would have been to the average Roman.   By that time an ancient coin could find itself in a home on another planet. 

August 22, 2007

Well I found out I had a winning bid in an electronic auction of Roman coins.  So now I have a collection of 2 coins.  That may be enough for a while.  The bidding was fun and I had five bids in on different coins.  I knew I would get smoked on at least three of them.  Most of the ones I lost shot up to $200 and more when it got time for the auction to close.  On the one I got my bid of $101 held all day and here it is:

The front of the coin has the goddess Roma who was of course the protector of Rome.  That side of the coin is not in great condition, but I wanted it for the back of the coin.  The two horseman are the Dioscuri (the twin sons of Zeus).  Like the first one I got this was minted in Rome.  The amazing thing about this is it was struck after 211 BC.  This is even before the republic of Rome.  It was basically a city. And it was 160 years before the time of Caesar - wow.

If you want to see some interesting stuff you can go to the Website of CNG Coins the dealer I am buying all these from.  They have coins running from $100 up to $24,000.  Needless to say the $100 coins are fine for me.  Now I just have to figure out how to display these small things.   I may have to drop some email to my fellow monster collectors to see how they do it.  I'll put up a photo once I get them mounted in or on something.

August 21, 2007  Cicero Got Whacked!

I am still into all things ancient Rome.  I currently have a bid in on another coin from 130 BC.  The auction closes tomorrow morning so I may have to check it out tonight and put a few more down.  These bids are all below a hundred dollars so I won't be killed if I should get a few winning bids.

Speaking of getting killed . . . in ancient Rome you had to think there was a good chance things could at any moment go badly for you.  Cicero the philosopher, statesman and orator is a good example of no good deed goes unpunished.  As a philosophy major I had to read Cicero in classes - it is the law.  However, I never really knew how he died or shall I say was killed. 

Here is basically how it went down.  After Julius Caesar got stabbed to death in the Roman senate it left a huge power vacuum.  Who would take over now?  Brutus was the lead in offing Caesar so he was out.  Octavian was established as Caesar's adopted son and had a claim to be consul.  Mark Antony was also far up in the power structure and wanted to hold the successor slot.  After a long while of back and forth who was in and who was out it was finally reached that they should share the power.  This was also the de facto way Rome was under the republic.  Two, two , two consuls in one. That is what helped drive Caesar's downfall - people thought he was trashing the dual consul approach and trying to become Chairman, CEO and king.  Many more reasons but that was a biggie.  But I digress.

While all this was going on various senators were advocating for different candidates (mainly M. Antony and Octavian).  Well Cicero would speak for Octavian with wonderful oratory and point out that Octavian was the rightful air to be consul of Rome.  Mark Antony was of course not thrilled that his rival was getting such enthusiastic encouragement, though there were advocates for him as well.  After time passes and it appeared that neither would ultimately succeed Caesar alone they join forces to again have dual consuls of Rome.

But before they did there was one little mafia like arrangement - they each developed a hit list of those who opposed them.  Cicero had already fled Rome realizing advocating Octavian would not put him on the happy side of Mark Antony.  (And apparently it was very important in ancient times at some point in your life to actually flee Rome.  All the fashionable power brokers at one time or other would flee . . . the smart ones headed for war in Gaul, built reputations for being kick butt generals and in the meantime let the heat cool down in Rome for a triumphant return at a later date.  Caesar had to do it, Mark Antony had to do it and now it was Cicero's turn.

Only with Cicero they came after him. When the Roman guys with the big red fluffy things on their helmet are coming they are usually pissed about something. Mark Antony's people tracked him down on the highway, stopped his convoy of flee-ingness and killed him.  So the lesson to all this is watch who you support in the Roman senate because it can get you whacked.  No good oratory goes unpunished.  So being a crappy speaker has its advantages and never ever blow off Mark Antony for a teenage kid no matter how connected the kid might be.

Any resemblance between my explanation and actual history happened by accident, but that is the way I understand the Cicero related events in ancient times.  At least the philosophy part didn't get him killed - it was his political activity.

I wonder if some maniac has outbid my $62 bid on that coin?

Okay more later, but now I am off to screw up more history.

August 18, 2007

Sharlene pounded me for my lack of blog update.  She is right I have to get back in the habit of frequent updates.  So this one is for you Sharlene.  Also a hello out there to Diana.  Two of the best contractors in the training biz.

My latest deal at the moment is big time interest in ancient Rome.  After walking the ruins of the Roman Forum last year the whole Julius Caesar thing, around 44 BC, is just completely amazing.  My interested has been sparked So I've been reading like a wild man.  Now I'll have to go back to Rome - but the 13 hour flight is brutal so it may be awhile. 

For those who have not had much exposure to the era I strongly recommend particularly the first season of the HBO series Rome.  It brings the key players to life and the sets are fantastically realistic after walking the ruins of Rome and Pompeii.  I wish I had been there when I was in school - I would have paid a lot more attention to an amazing part of human history.  The first season of the show was at the time of Caesar - the second season takes place after the death of the big guy.

So finally I decided I wanted to own something from ancient times.  So I researched collecting of ancient coins.  I just purchased a coin from 121 BC minted in Rome.  I got it from one of the reputable international coin dealers CNG Coins.  I paid around $150 which is a bit higher than the coin could go for at auction, but the premium is worth it to dramatically increase the likelihood it is authentic.  CNG would not be in business long as one of the largest numismatic dealers in the world if they were dealing in fakes.

Here is a picture of the exact coin I got:

It is small though - it is only 17mm in diameter - about the size of a dime.  But hey how cool is it to own something that old that could have been used in the Roman market place to buy a meal or some wine or something more exotic and smutty? It was in the hands of humans over 2,000 years ago.  It was minted about 70 years before the time of Caesar so it could have been involved in some payment to a soldier, could have been part of a tax payment or even in a collection of some ancient coin collector over the ages.  It is just too cool.  Can't wait to hold it.  If we return to Italy I will take it with me for a return to Rome and hold it while standing in the middle of the Roman Forum.  Just amazing to wonder about the history of this thing.  And how many people have anything that old?

I am not sure if I will collect them - it is quite expensive obviously.  The coins that were minted at the time of Caesar even for one in average condition can start around $800.  That is a basic coin -nothing special about it.  The finer silver coins from that era easily run up into the tens of thousands.  A little less for the range of coins from Mark Antony or Octavius (who changed his name to Augustus once he hit the big time).  So the time I am most interested in is popular for other collectors as well.  The plan may be to get the coin I just bought and then buy one more from the the time of Antony and Octavius (dual leaders of Rome for a while after Caesar got whacked in the Senate).  It was a lot like the Sopranos television series - a lot of the key players got whacked.  So not necessarily a great time to be alive.

It was really important to me that the coin(s) I get are minted in Rome and have that on the coin itself.  It puts the coin in time and place.  Also weird to think I took Latin in college and again would have paid a lot more attention if I had visited Italy first.  Well that is it for the moment I will say Valete! (goodbye) for today.  Hopefully back tomorrow for another entry.

July 9, 2007

The good people at 1and1.com finally got the Website Builder back and going for me.  Just tried it out a few minutes ago and it worked like a charm.  So I'm finally back on the air.  I can also get in my email as well.  Web life is good again.

I did something whacked to my leg.  It started out as lower back pain and then the back started to feel better, but the right leg then was muscle crampy so I am hobbling around a little, but doing fine with some Advil.  The cool thing is that people as me what I did and I can say, "pulled something in my leg - you know sports thing over the weekend."  How manly is that?  Truth is I don't know what I did - just twisted something wrong.  But other than a slight limp I'm doing fine.

Over the weekend Julie and I got a new 40" flat screen HDTV.  It is nifty.  It is a Samsung 1080p LCD.  We watched a Jodie Foster movie (Flight Plan) last night which was pretty good.  We also watched the HBO television series Rome.  Julie's niece Amanda gave us the boxed set for Christmas.  If you have been to Europe and especially Italy it is a great series to watch.  More tomorrow.

January 28, 2007

Felt not great at the beginning of the week, but feeling much better now.  Of course because the weekend is here.  But tomorrow Julie and I are both off to Washington at the same time, on the same flights coming and going.  We will not however be staying at the same hotel.  I've got to be downtown and Julie has to be in Crystal City I think.  But at least we'll be within 25 miles of each other.  For me it is the monthly national HCAM team meeting.  It is starting to rap up after three years of work.  We'll see how much of it sticks in the culture.

BTW the photos of Bailey below are taken with my $100 camera I bought during Christmas.  I wanted to get something cheap that I could take with me and get good pictures for the Website.   It does pretty well.

The name of the game these days is more travel.  Julie and her Mom are going to Europe in May.  Julie has globe trotting thing going.  They will go to Paris and then Rome.  Not sure which they'll like better being that we haven't been to Paris.  While they are gone Bailey and I will be maintaining the castle.  We'll see if we can stand each other after 10 days of being alone.  I have a feeling she'll go to the puppy hotel for one of the nights just to get a break.  But we'll do fine.

We are less than a month away from our cruise to the southern Caribbean.  We got together with Tom and Cindy and booked excursions in all the ports.  I'll go diving in two of them.  We've got lots of fun things scheduled like a moonlight catamaran, 4 wheel drive back country trip across one of the islands (St. Martin or St. Thomas) and plenty of shopping.  That last part is interesting because we see millions of dollars worth of everything you can imagine and actually buy very little.  Julie and I try to pay attention to the fact that we don't have a lot of space at home and second a lot of things people buy on trips can end up at garage sales a few years later.  I mean do you really need a multi-colored 6 inch surf board?

Still can't wait to see Tom on a cruise ship. Cindy is going to bop him one if he spends all his time in the Internet Cafe sending things back and forth to work.  He needs a relaxing vacation as he has been hard at it for the last year.  So it should be great for him.  He and I may do a super fast jet boat on one of the afternoons in port.  But it will be Caribbean Tom for sure.

We did score big time on the cruise recently.  We originally paid about $1300 per person for the week long.  Then I was surfing by the Royal Caribbean website and saw that our tickets went down to $1000 per person.  So Julie checked with the travel secret agent and sure enough it was a special rate for citizens of Georgia and they honored the lower rate and credited us the $300 back!!!  Now we'll have another $600 bucks between the two of us so look at all the stuff we won't buy.

Well I'm going back to the flight simulator.  I currently have 78 total hours on it. I don't know if that is a good thing or a bad thing.  Most of the time recently has been flying from Naples to Rome.  So Julie isn't the only one who got bit by the European bug.  Well I'm off to the fake friendly skies.

January 18, 2007

Damn it, damn it, damn it.  I had 6 paragraphs worth of stuff and two photos of Bailey all typed in and lost it because of a server glitch.  Not fun.  Oh well here are the two photos of Bailey for your viewing pleasure.  Many folks had asked to see her in her carseat:

You can see she is a pretty happy pup in the carseat and takes it in stride now.

January 13, 2007

A new year has begun.  I always was good at stating the obvious.  Sorry I haven't blogged in a while.  I have been involved in top secret work involving graph paper, a vacuum cleaner and a compass.  Okay I made that up, but it sounded awesome for a second or two.  My new years resolution was not to have any new years resolutions this year - so far I've stuck to it.  Notice the philosophical endless loop of that last sentence - I know I've still got it.  Between that and "every thing I say is a lie" your mind could go into vapor lock.

We are getting excited about our cruise with Tom and Cindy to the southern carribean at the end of February.  I still can't imagine Tom on a ship.  He will have met the captain, made eight real estate deals and won some grand prize by the third night.  He will have known twenty people on the ship (went to school with two of them) and have sung the Mississippi State fight song on talent night.  Yes ladies and gentleman Tom on a ship.  Run for your lives.

We've got a three day weekend for Martin Luther King day.  We'll probably watch some of the services on TV on Monday.  Other than that we will go to movies and shop.  We saw the CIA movie last weekend and it was pretty good all though the end was puzzling - thats all I'll say.  If you are into the CIA and spy stuff you'll love it.  This week we hope to see Music and Lyrics with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore.  Looks cute and is a romantic comedy and you just can't pass up seeing those to escape from crazy life for a bit.

This week my blood pressure went up a few degrees turning in an assignment to national office.  It was a spreadsheet with a list of folks and who had and had not taken either assessments and training.  Sounds simple enough . . . it wasn't.  It was the nightmare assignment.  The clock was ticking because a contractor is getting ready to use that list to send out reassessments to 1,000 people nationwide.  That is 1,000 that will all say, "why am I getting this and why do I have to take this assessment thing."  We will of course have told everyone all about it, but in typical large organization style we'll get people saying "why is this the first we are hearing about it?"  The saving grace of the assignment was the skill of Jessica, Kelly and Ellen who got a million different data systems to cough up the information.

At the end of January will be our normal human capital meeting in DC.  Nothing like being in DC in January.   The birds, the sunshine and the balmy 28 degree temperature all make for an artic like experience.  But it will be good to hang out with Tim and Michele and the crew.  We are also winding down a lot because different parts of the organization now own pieces of the work we've done over the past three years.  There is a lot of change as a result of it so it has not been in vain.  Nice to see ideas that popped up in conference rooms make it into real life - that is cool.

Julie is looking at the possibility of going back to Rome in May with her Mom.  If they go Mary will absolutely love it.  The sights and sounds of that city are amazing.  The ruins, the sights, the food (pizza) and the great people make it one of the greatest cities in the world.  Except you have to look out for maniacs on scooters and those tiny cars (even smaller that mini-Coopers).  That all adds to the flavor of a completely different experience from the normal American city.  She will probably most like the Vatican, which is spectacular to view from the middle of St. Peter's Square.  The architecture is so massive but with intricate features all over it.  More on their plans as they make them.

Bailey is donig well in her car seat.  She knows the routine now so she sticks her head out when you put on the harness and lifts up her paws when you secure the "around the body" ties.  We haven't had any crying or squeeking about being in it.  We think she is used to riding on the pillow on top of the seat and loves being able to look out the window.  So we use the car seat now no matter where we take her be it a trip or just up to daycare.  Julie (notice I didn't spell her name as July this time?) was smart to insist we get it.

I'm going to go flying on the simulator from Rome to Naples in a Boeing 737.  Nothing like navigating through Italy.  (The girls are in the other room having their sorority meeting - Bailey and I are banished to the computer room).

December 28th 2006

We made it to Independence.  Bruce, Judy, Mike and Melissa all made it in as well.  So far Bailey is doing well with the crowd.  Last night was amusing.  July went to bed early.  I was up later with Bailey - when it was time to go to bed normal she just follows me into the room.  Last night she did not want to go to bed.  So I had to chase her around the first floor.  It took quite some to finally get her and I had to bribe her with a treat.  She was trying to be a big girl and stay up with the adults.  But we finally got her.

We went on a mission to the store today and got a major score - we went to the World Market and got two bottles of Bellini!  They were only $12 each - I'd feel better if they were more expensive perhaps.  I mean we got the entire bottle for less money than it cost for a single glass in Rome.  It looks like the real Bellini, but tomorrow we'll crack them open and see if they taste like the real thing. 

December 26th 2006

The link actualy works.  Julie and I are flying down I-70 right now and going about 65 miles per hour.

I can surf the Web from the car on the highway though my laptop battery is using juice like it is going out of style.  We are close to the Illoinos boarder.  Bailay is asleep and enjoying the trip she loved Paul and Kathy's big house so she is very tired.  I'll save this for now and write more later so I don't lose the signal.  Happy Holidays from the highway.

December 21, 2006

It is the night before we leave for Pittsburgh and then on to Kansas City.  It will be a whirlwind tour of the midwest for sure.  We are just about packed up and ready to go.  It should be a great time.  Ellen asked us to get a picture of Bailey in the car seat so we can put it into the blog.  I've got all the camera gear and we'll do that on the run tomorrow.

I also sent myself a Christmas present and it arrived yesterday.  It is a set of dive gauges.  I've gone analog again.  I have a digital computer which reads the gas levels without hoses or anything.  It has a transmitter that screws into the regulator and the receiver is just a wireless wrist comptuer.  It is very high tech and state of the art dive gear.  The problem is when diving you also have to be a computer program whiz which is a little difficult when you are thinking about all the diving decisions - it is not a good thing.  Too much head traffic when you are under water for 45 minutes.   So I've gone analog with gauges I just look down at.  That is much less brain intense.  Very simple and straight forward plus they are kind of spiffy with color coded dials.

Here is a link to see the gauges I bought:

Tim's Genesis Gauges

So Merry Christmas to me.  It may be a tough week because I'll be away from the flight simulator for a week.  I thought I'd install a version on my laptop, but I forgot at work they fixed it so only the system administrators can install anything on the machine.  So I'm going sans simulator - eeeek.

Okay the one cool thing that can happen on this trip is we can actually surf the Web in the car on the laptop.  The new blackberry phones we carry are also modems.  So I can plug the laptop into the phone and dial into the national network.  Even better the phone plan we have has unlimited data minutes.  So imagine Julie driving down the road while I am googling my little fingers off in the passenger seat.  Too cool.  I intend to make some blog adds from the road.  I will need to get a $30 dc to ac adapter so that I can run the laptop off the cigarette lighter otherwise I'll have about an hour of surfing battery power and then it all goes poof as the electrons get tired and have to go to sleep.

Hope everyone has a very safe and wonderful Christmas.  Talk to you from the road.

December 16, 2006    Buckle Me In ?   You're Kidding Right?

We've decided that there is too much risk to Bailey when we ride in the car with her in our lap.  If the air bags were to deploy it would be curtains for her that is if she didn't go through the glass.  Just too much of a chance.  An accident is bad enough but having Bailey hurt would be aweful.  So we've invested in a dog car seat.  It lifts her up so she can see out the window but more important it attaches to the seat belt in the back seat and Bailey is fastened to the dog car seat itself. 

As described it means she now has to sit in the back seat whenever she is in the car.  This is a shock and not to pleasing for Bailey.  Not very easy for us to explain the safety aspects of it.  She thinks she should be in the front seat on the passenger's lap.  That is the way it has been and that is the way it should be.

Thursday night we took her for a test ride up to the store.  We buckled her in to her little harness and then into the car seat.  This was a good trip as we kept giving her Cheerios the whole way so she would associate delicious goodness with the car seat.  That seemed to work and she enjoyed looking out the window with treats coming every few minutes.

Then . . . the novelty wore off as we took the return trip home.  She noticed she couldn't climb out of the seat.  The lap situation is where she should be, but this thing wasn't allowing her to jump into the front seat.  Then the squeaking started.  She was making it known that she did not want to be kept back there.  We held our ground and she stayed in the back with more Cheerios of course.  So she is not real sure about this new contraption we have purchased ($100 for the seat).

We are amused to see what she will think of it after several hours of driving when we head to Pittsburg and then on to Kansas City.  We hope the exhaustion finally gets here and she snuggles  in to the little fluffy mat.  But we'll see. 

Julie is about ready to go into cookie overdrive.  She has chosen her receipes and soon she'll be getting cooking supplies.  There are many different kinds of cookies that will be coming out of this effort.  It will include something she calls chocolate mint yummies.  Will I be helping with all this?   Why yes I will.  It will be Christmas in our kitchen and then I'll be gaining some weight.  This will be bad as I am plenty portly now.  But if Bailey can get used to the car seat then I can work to get rid of a few pounds.  I have between now and the end of February before our next cruise leaves for the islands of the Caribbean.   Let the calories begin.

By the way, this post gets the award for the most boring blog of the season.  I've got to get a more exciting life.  Or Bailey needs to get a more exciting life.

December 10,  2006

Back in Atlanta and it has been nasty cold in the mornings, but that hasn't stopped us from taking Bailey for a quick walk.  She seems to think things are just fine even though she is in the cold.  She is taking her time smelling everything near her.  She even backed up four steps yesterday which means, as my brother Bruce would say, she must have thought she had walked past some pretty interesting "doggy p-mail."

Julie is doing the whole Christmas thing - shopping and preparing everything for our trip for Pittsburg and then on to Kansas City for New Years.  It will be a long trip but worth it to see family.  Tonight we are planning to go up to Lake Lanier and see the festival of lights.  It is six miles of things lit up.  This is probably a great thing, but it may be the same idea as 10,000 of our closest friends so it may take a while to go those six miles.  But again hey it is the holidays.

Yesterday I ate something that made me feel a bit below the weather, but recovered quickly and Julie and I went out to see the new movie Holiday with Camron Diaz and Kate Winslet.  It was great.  Neat premise and the acting was wonderful.  Kate Winslet was superb and if you like romantic comedies . . . take our word for it - go see Holiday.

I am spending most of my time at home messing with Flight Simulator X - it just came out a few weeks ago and is the most sophisticated flight simulator yet - it is also the most frustrating to optimize for your particular computer.  Sometimes it works great and other times it kind of chokes on the graphics and I've got a fast machine.  They designed it so you can use more and more of the fancy eye candy as the computers get faster over the next two years.  Cool logic, but at the moment in order to get frame rates high enough for realism . . . all the airport  buildings disappear.  This makes sense because you are just at the airport to take off and land so as long as there are runways there - it is what you need.  But it does make for some pretty desolate viewing on the ground.  But the planes and the sound is just excellent.  Plus my dual monitors make it even better.  I am at the moment reinstalling the simulator to try to fix one glitch I've been having.

We have done our Christmas shopping already.  Well Julie has done most of the shopping, I on the other hand have been pointing-and-clicking my way into some snappy gifts minus the brick and mortar store experience.   Also July found some Bellini imported from Italy in a store called the World something or other.  So we'll be scoring that shortly and with luck it will be less expensive than 14 euro per glass.

Tomorrow is back to work.  The managers subteams are making great progress on HCAM.  They are coming up with all kinds of deliverables that will get the initiative going in the next three months in the region.  This is great to see others doing the lifting up to this point is has been mostly Whitney and Erin and others.  Amy did a great job getting things coordinated and now Mona is cranking away like crazy.  I finally feel like it will happen locally because Dawn, Tara, Brett, Jennifer and the other associates acting as consultants have really gotten things off the ground.  Again Whitney has done amazing work for the past three years - she has been in almost from the very beginning and has made a major impact nationally and regionally.  We would be a butterless piece of toast without her.

We are also on our next rotation of interns.  Just when you really get in the groove with the three you have - they move to the next division.  In the long run it is worth it, because they'll have exposure to the whole business.  But we'll miss QuaVadis, LeAndra and Mark - they all did great with us.  Plus having Ellen as the Deputy Director puts a whole new energy our program and that of the interns.

Well I'm going to finish getting a nice sweater on so I'll be ready for our trip to the festival of lights.  I'll post pictures tomorrow of the sights of the holidays.  PS I've got to start another blog page!  Like I said below there is over a years worth of blog on this single "scroll forever" page.  PSS Campbell Browns nose was all decorated for Christmas this morning on the Weekend Edition of Today on NBC.  Okay I made that up, but her nose was there and rudolph himself would have been frightened.

Special Chicago Supplement   Willie's got the Blues and I Get a Hug

So I jump in the cab at the Chicago airport to take me downtown to the Blake Hotel.  The cab driver says, "where are you go'in little man?"  He is in his late 60's.  I tell him I'm going to the Hotel Blake on Dearborne and I'm hoping he is the guy to get me there.  He says no problem and we'll be there safe and sound in just a few minutes.  I sit back and relax.

Then he asks my name and says that he and I have met before indirectly.  Okay he has my interest.  He tells me he used to sing back-up for vocalist Sam Cooke, the Temptations and other artists from the 60's.  I said wait a minute I was a disc jockey back in Kansas City a few decades ago and I played some of their stuff.  Then he starts singing - and the guy is really good enough that he could have actually been what he says.  He said, "well you have definately heard me if you've heard the phrase in the Sam Cooke song, "that's the sound of the men work'n on the chain gang."  Or the song "You Send Me."

He said his Mom who used to sing background vocals for legend Mahalia Jackson flew him into Los Angles for an audition that ultimately got him a studio job and then the change to tour with some of the greats.  He used to teach music at the Chicago Academy of Music for many years.  He was essentially a professor "of the blues."  Then he said the music scene changed to hip hop and rap and the blues wasn't in the main stream of urban music any longer so he moved on to other things.

So we gabbed away about music legends all the way to the hotel.  Ways he the real deal - I can't be sure, but all the elements were certainly there so I tipped huge.   As I got out of the cab I said, "Willie you are certainly a man of music and you've got the gift."  He went around and got my bag out of the trunk and said, "let me give you a hug little man, you have a good night and thanks for riding in my cab."  So for a few minutes I got connected to one of the bluesiest musical guys I could ever meet.   Willie this Bellini is for you where ever you may be driving tonight.  And I hope you are Twist'n the Night Away.

December 2, 2006     Breaking the Rules of Good Design

Hopefully none of the folks in our marketing group are stopping by the home page of the Website in the next few weeks.  On the front page I've broken several rules of good Web design.  I've got a bunch of different fonts and colors and italics etc in a mish mash of visual glob of text.  Like this page and the buttons above it are all unified and orderly in a spiffy template design.  But on the front page it is as if somone barfed fonts on it.  What a beautiful image.

Today I'm ordering the Christmas gift for Grandma Fran - it will be done on the Web the way Christmas was meant to be purchased.  It is hard for me to remember what shopping was like before we had the Web as the main purchasing channel.  Bless Tim Berners-Lee the father of the Internet.

Today Julie has the sorority over for the holiday function.  They'll be drinking hot apple cider and various muffins.  Bailey will be in the computer room with her nose stuck under the door since we can't trust her not to be a beggar for food or a snoop in peoples purses.  So she is a little frustrated at the moment.  She comes over every few minutes and looks at my like, "hey I'm supposed to be out there guarding the place, let me out there."  But no she'll be stuck in here with me.  Pretty soon she'll be fast asleep, because Julie and I took her for her Saturday morning walk and it was 35 degrees out there.  We aren't out there really that long so she seems oblivious to the cold.  She is kind of like a kid swimming in the ocean - the rest of us would shiver and run out - but it doesn't bother her if she is on a walk.

On the topic of spelling (which has never been at the core of my being - ask Mary) . . .   I don't know if it is part of the natural aging process - which as many of you have said has many downsides or if it is over reliance on spell check, but when I'm am doing the writing for the blog I now have to have dictionary.com open as I go.  It is simple stuff where you just don't trust your mind any more.  It is basic stuff like is it "guard" or "gaurd" - that gets pretty annoying.  I was never a great at spelling, but it seemed like I used to rip right through that stuff.  So my question is - is my spelling ability really starting to degrade in my 40's or is it just more obvious because of technology?  I fear it is a little of both.  My point is if you are in your 20's or 30's spell with enthusiasm because you may be spending more time on dictionary.com as the years go by. 

After much reflection the aging process has its upside.  I would much rather be able to afford multiple cruises each year than spell like a machine. Because when we are on the lido deck enjoying the sun . . . I could care less if it is guard or gaurd.  Nor does Emilea the drink server - if you can sign for the champagne that is what they are concerned about.

The other thing on my mind is peach nector.  One of two central ingrediants (or is it "ingredients"?) for the Bellini . . . it is the only thing standing in the way of me reliving those wonderful moments at Harry's Bar in Venice.  So hopefully peach nector is something I can buy and not something I'll have to buy peach for only to mash up.  I'm kind of a pre-mashed nector kind of guy.

Have a good Saturday and I'm off to fly flight simulator X - cuz I just got a manual for all the inside details.  Oh yeah and I've got to order Fran's birthday gift too.

December 1, 2006     The Snow Storm that Wasn't

I'm here in awesome Chicago.  We had an HCAM meeting up here the last two days and all went well.  Today was supposed to be the monster snow storm that was hitting Chicago.  During the worst predictions they were saying some times we could have had 1 to 2 inches of snow per hour.  Eeeeek.   The storm turned out to be a big fizzle (thankfully) and though there are slight delays the flights are rolling out.  I'm going out of Midway tonight.  O'Hare I think is a different story as they had almost 200 canceled flights this morning.  So they are probably still digging out from that backup.

I am hunkered down at the food court awaiting boarding of my flight - t minus 1 hour so I can't complain.  Plus I scored huge at Ben & Jerry's with the frozen yogurt chocolate brownie. 

Got a great email today from James from the cruise.  He is doing well in Iraq and will be finally coming home for sure in the Spring.  He is still planning his annual rip roaring time in New Orleans during Fat Tuesday.  He actually rents space on the second floor balcony of one of the bars right on you know what street!  He brings his own mini sound system with wireless mic so he can go down and mix with the party maniacs.  What a guy.  He will be accompanied by wife Maria as well.  They were a blast on the cruise, but this must be a whole different professional level of non-stop partying.  It boggles the mind the activies that no doubt take place.

We exchanged names this year for Christmas with Julie's family.  It was reaching the point that it was impossible to buy for the adults cuz we pretty much had all the stuff we needed or bought it during the year.  So we decided to pick names which is much easier.  I still have to do a yule gift list for whomever has my name.  I think the key item may be a new wetsuit.  The last one I bought is great and very warm, but it is so thick and buoyant that I need to put 20 lbs of weight on before I can get under the water.  Almost every dive I was back to the boat to put more weight on which means you are burning precious time and air as you fight to get down, thus the need for more weight.  This is especially a pain in the butt when diving is really more like meditation than a sport. 

So a new thinner wetsuit should make matters a lot easier.  I'll go diving during the upcoming cruise to the South Caribbean, but I'll probably go with the discover scuba excursions the first few days.  That will allow me to get tuned up again since I wasn't totally thrilled with my abilities on the last dives I had in Hawaii.  I actually canceled a second of a two tank dive day because I was just never where I wanted to be in the water - I was always higher or lower than I really needed to be.  You'll understand if you are a diver . . . your placement in the water is all a matter of buoyancy.  When that isn't going right - the dive is less fun.  In the worst case you are either bashing into the sandy bottom kicking up sand and ruining visibility for you and the other divers or second you can risk bumping into the reef which can damage the ecosystem of the fragile environment.  Any decent diver doesn't want to do either or you're a putz.  So getting tuned and comfortable when you haven't gone diving in a while is really vital to enjoying thing.

November 26, 2006    Turkeys for Everyone

It is the hap happiest season of all (unless you are a turkey).  It is the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  We had a wonderful turkey day thanks to Kim's Mom Audrey who put on a wonderful feast as always.  So we shared the day with Kim, Mark, Audrey and Marks Mom and Dad, Sandy and Andy respectively.  The men were pigs and did very little.  The women were awesome and did it all with flair. Part of it was Mark and I didn't know where all the stuff went after clean up and Audrey has one heck of a kitchen. Mark did carve the turkey.  He did a masterful job because as you see below it was not your regular bird.

It is hard to do a turkey like this because people obviously fight over who wants the orange meat and the yellow meat.  And Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time for family.  The real turket is below.

The turkey fed over 56 people because it was a 85 pound turkey (the plate and the oranges next to it are in real life HUGE!   Julie made a pumkin pie and this delicious berry pie.

And really who wants pictures of people when you can shoot food all day?  It really was great and to show you how fancy it was here is the dining room was before the eating began.  Is that decked out or what?  Like I said Audrey knows how to throw a party.

We talked to Mom and Dad and all is fine in KC.  Mom had jury duty downtown so that was a hassle, but she made it.  They had a quiet Thanksgiving just the two of them.  This is okay because the whole family (including John Boy and Mary Ellen) will be home for New Years.

Not sure what tomorrow will bring - we may begin working on a video with the interns (especially Ana who has worked very hard) to roll out the HCAM effort that I have now spent 3 years on.  Yes that is about 1/10th of a career.  So I'm thinking I had better do a good job on my part.  Especially when others are working so hard.

This is also a big week because it is our 3rd Wedding Anniversary which as you know is the zinc anniversary so I'm getting Julie some melted zinc ingots.  I  don't really know if that is how you spell ingots but I always want to do something romantic.  We are however, going to the Sundial restaurant which is on the 72nd floor of the Westin Hotel.

Wednesday night through Friday I'll be in Chicago with Tim, Nikki and the gang.  It is great to spend time with them.  The project work itself is mostly details of implementation which I'm not born to do, but there is still enough of the original spark to keep me going.

Bye for now and I hope you and yours had a wonderful start to the holiday season (which any more seems to start with the 4th of July with the Christmas trees coming out earlier and earlier).  

I thought I would close tonight with an image we've all come to know during the holidays that really symbolizes the feast of generations . . . iced tea.  As many of you know the iced tea with lime was the first drink the Native Americans taught to the settlers to make.  It was also Captain John Miles Standish who first suggested the lime be included.  It was two centuries later that inventor Thomas Edison discovered that lime went great with Margaritas.  Especially when you are tanning as verified by actor George Hamilton during a sun tanning session in 1983. 

Because of these photos aany are starting to suggest that I create a new book of my snapshots of beverages - I'm going to have to drink about that for a while.

Type to you soon.

November 19, 2006

Sorry it has been a few days there were some problems on the server, but that seems to be fixed now.  We are in exciting Starkville, MS.  We came up with Cindy (Tom couldn't make it because he is working like private sector guru this weekend).  We stayed at Tom and Cindy's new house and it is great.  It is smaller of course since it is a weekend house, but it is spacious with 3 good sized bedrooms, nice living room, excellent kitchen and a little dining area.  They don't have all the furniture in yet, but Tom already has an LCD TV up and going.

We'll be driving back in about a half hour.  We've programmed the navigation system in the car and it says it is 289 miles to home (correct), but lists the travel time as 5 hours 58 minutes which is a little long.  We can't figure out why it is throwing an extra hour on there, but it may have something to do with all the state roads we are on close to Starkville.  Just not sure if the nav system is less accurate than the Cadillac or if it is just because we are rural on this trip.

We are also here to see Stacey who is just doing great.  Finals week is coming up fairly shortly so she is the studying woman in the midst of all her other activities. 

We are already planning our next cruise - which leaves in 98 days.  It is scheduled for the end of February and is a 7 night southern Caribbean itinerary.  It should be a blast because Tom and Cindy and their friends Glenna and Jeff are all pretty sure they are going too.  Once you get bitten by the cruise bug . . . you've got to keep them coming.  This time we will be on a Royal Caribbean ship the Adventure of the Seas.  It is one of the Voyager Class ships that are the monster 138,000 gross tons.  They are the ones with the rock climbing wall, ice skating rink and miniature golf course.  The big ships are really the most fun.  This one also sports a 3 story high "main street USA" in the middle of the ship.

You can see what that looks like by clicking below:

Voyager of the Seas Webcam for main street USA in the middle of the ship.

The Adventure of the Sea is the same layout as the Voyager.

November 8, 2006

Here are some photos of the trip.  More coming . . .

The Vatican is beautiful at might - it was rainy this evening but that just added to the charm.   Speaking of charm here is a shot from Venice which really is the most romantic city in the world (along with Paris of course).

Here come the huge sodas we ordered.  There was no price on the menu, but how bad could they be?  Well they were $10 euros each meaning we paid about $25 American for two giant glasses of pop.  We could order about 10 12-packs of Coke for that price back home. But no complaints the day was great and the pizza was excellent.

And below are the finest drinks in the world!!!!  We had them in their birth place Harry's Bar in Venice.  They are called the Bellini.  I had 3 and could have had 3 more.  The are made from Champagne and peach/pear juice.  Delish!  They taste as good as they look.

New friends on the Amalfi Coast for lunch with our outstanding driver Adriene who was as twisted as all of the rest of us.  Only he spoke a cooler language.  The view behind us was stunning as it looked down to the coast with small towns of white buildings tucked into the mountain.

This is the scrape on the side of our bus after it slid into the guard rail on a very tight elevated curve with about a 100 foot drop down the side of a mountain straight down to the road below.  Sure some of us were a little nervous - okay lots of us were real nervous.  The original scarpe wasn't bad it was when he had to back up to free us from the rail that was a little dicey since we didn't know exactly where the back wheels were (were they on the pavement of the raised road or perhaps off the side?)  We all survived and that was fine.  It sounds and looks worse than it was, but trust me it got our attention when it happened.

This was our awesome professor and guide in Pompeii.  This guy had a ton of knowledge about the civilization and basically put you back in the day when it was alive and vibrant.  This is also the guy that was flipping shit to all the other guides in ten other languages.  It was incredible to see this guy in action.  If you are going to film a movie about guides in ancient cities - this is your leading man!

November 7, 2006

Slowly we are getting back in the swing of the things.  That is not an easy task after so great a vacation.  The rest of the trip was as good as the first half.  We met even more great people.  Again we just had a blast with James & Maria, Heather, Chris and Bob, Garnett and Rock, Keith and Jackie, Linda and Ted and we met Taffy and Trevor as well.

Once we got off the ship we had one more day in Rome.  It was finally a cold day on the trip, but Rome was well . . . Rome!  We got to explore the ruins and Colloseum.  We also saw the Pantheon and went back to the Vatican.  Julie was able to send her Grandmother and her Mom postcards post marked from the country of the Vatican - how cool is that?   We bought some tourist things - I got a t-shirt (I know how can I spend that kind of money?).

The last day of the cruise we went to Flourence and Piza.  Yup we saw the Leaning Tower and it really is leaning - big time.  You look at it and it really does seem like it will come tumbling down any minute, but the engineers say it is sound at the moment.  Some of our friends went to the top of the tower and they said you had the sensation that it was moving.  It was an optical and sensory illusion, but they said it was a nervous feeling.  Again if you ever have the chance to go and see it - do it.  It is so much more meaningful than seeing it on TV or photos. 

Okay the flight home (this one was direct to Atlanta instead of the one stop like we did on the way out) was 11 hours.  My god - 11 hours on a seat in a plane.  Plus they had over sold the flight.  We get there in plenty of time (which is important at the Rome airport for international flights).  While we are at the gate area we hear the our names called to check in with the gate agent.  This can only mean one thing . . . we will be bumped from the flight and the next one wasn't for hours.

Well it turns out they gave us the choice to upgrade (for free) to business class the only problem was we were not able to sit together.  For an 11 hour flight we decided we could be apart to fly in luxury so we said heck yeah.   Instead of being crammed into coach seats we had seats with about four feet of space between the seats so they could fold into beds!

The seats were completely electric adjustable.  They also had their own video screens.  If you ever wanted a super quadruple double bonus upgrade it is on an 11 hour transatlantic flight.  Plus the flight attendents introduced themselves to each of us and asked if we wanted champagne.  The meal came and it was a five course deal with each course brought out separately.  Dinner for me was a filet mignon.   The steak was actually better than the steak we had at the main seating for dinner on the ship.  What a treat - the seats were good enough, but the meal was even better.  When we were an hour and a half out of Atlanta we got an ice cream sunday.  Wow.

We are still adjusting to the time shift.  It is taking a few days because of the 6 hour difference.  It is enough to throw off your night and days so how it is at the moment is we are very awake each morning (cause it would be noon in Italy) and then very tired the later it gets in the afternoon.  We are doing better, but still it is taking a while.

Photos are coming.  In meantime we are selecting our next Caribbean cruise (a lot less expensive and much much shorter flights).  We spent a ton of cash on this European trip so we really need a less expensive option for the next one.  We are checking both Carnival and Royal Caribbean.  We may take the next one in the Spring.  

November 6, 2006

We made it back from Europe.  Sorry about stopping the blogging the last few days of the trip.  The link on the ship was not great for Internet.  It was taking us 10 minutes just to log on to the server at Admin1and1.com with passwords etc.  So we tried to blog when we were in port but sometimes the Internet Cafes did not exist on the main streets.

We'll post pictures of the trip in the next few days.  It is late and I'm calling it a day.  It is 9:47 pm now but to our bodies it is more like 3:47 am.  So sleeping is good.

October 30, 2006

Well it is Tuesday and we are having a "fun day at sea."  Weather once again is perfect we just can't believe the luck.  It is blue skies and 71 degrees - it is not supposed to be like that here at this time of the year.  We are just off the northern tip of Africa sailing for Barcellona.  The pick pockets are supposed to be especially bad there but we have our around the neck money carrying thing so we'll be safe.  But there are a number of scams where a person spills wine on you, another woman with a baby comes up and pulls out a towel to help wipe it off you while a third person picks your pocket.  We are ready for them as we'll have nothing in our pockets no matter what happens.  Plus we probably aren't their typicial targets as we are still young enough to run after them if caught.  We'll share any stories we get from other folks on the ship but they've warned everyone multiple times not to use wallets etc.

Julie and I just won the general trivia contest.  By a hair.  If Dave and Sharon had been here we would have left everyone in the dust.  But we did get a nice trophy for the win - it is a gold Carnival ship on a stick with a little black plastic base.  Not real glamorous but a trophy nonetheless.

We'll be puttering around the ship today.  We'll meet our friends in the hot tub at 3:30 by the big slide by the forward pool area.  So until then we'll just be going to the shops and wandering.  We still have not played blackjack yet - we ate at the fancy restaurant on the ship last night.  We ate a ton and Julie needed to just chill out afterward.  We had our second glass of Dom Perignon.   It is delicious but at $42 a glass it does get pricey.

Okay we are off.  Talk to you all later.  Hope the weather where you are is as nice.

October 29, 2006

We are typing to you from Sicily - the exact city is Taormina.  It is a day trip from the ship and we are seeing some beautiful sites from the coast.  This is a real European place.  We ate at a restaurant for lunch and the guy who served us was annoyed by everything. It was awesome.  He was bothered we had four for lunch.  He was annoyed it took as long to order as it did.  Then Julie questioned one line on the bill - yes he was annoyed.  It was great  - so  we left a good tip cause I have been waiting for a guy like that the whole trip.

Weather is perfect 76 degrees and sunny blue skies.  Weather last we was cold and wet and weather next week is to be cold and wet. We have just lucked out.  We will go for now we are due back on the ship in 2 hours.  We are going to go look for the Mafia now.

October Whatever

You lose track of time on these cruises.  It is Friday and we just left Venice after two days in port.  It was a perfect time.  Julie and I went on a Gondola ride last night.  We went on the Grand Canel and saw the Rialto Bridge and saw some back channels as well.  The whole getting around on foot and by watercraft thing is so cool.  The shopping there was great.  Julie bought some glass pieces.  I bought a water color for 150 Euros (which translated into dollars is about $16,000 - okay less than that).   We also got masks to wear on the ship as we left port.  They were filming a commercial for Carnival Cruise Lines and wanted to get everyone on the ship to have the masks like a Venice festival.  It was a kick.

Last night I got screwed - I blogged about four paragraphs worth of stuff and ran out of minutes while I typed so I lost it all.  Damn.  But just take it that Venice was one of the most special cities in the world, but again Dubrovnik Croatia is spectacular as well.  We have a fun day at sea tomorrow and then we are on to Mesina the next day. Venice was fun because we hit several shops where the people did not speak much english and we didn't speak a whole lot of Italian, but it is amazing how you are still able to conduct a business transaction through all of it.

We are both happy but so tired - it will be good to have a day at sea to rest again before another port.  We went to one of the Palaces today that was the Courts basically 500 years ago.  It was amazing how similar it is to the courthouses today.  It had separate means of egress for the judges and the prisoners.  The courtrooms were spectacular and the behind the scenes civil servant areas were very stark.  It did give me an appreciation for why our federal judges expect their courthouses to be these amazing monuments to the justice system.  Because in Europe they literally are palaces - paintings on the ceilings and gold everywhere to boot.

I'm going to end so we can go to our 8:30 dinner seating.  Our table continues to be fun and we missed everyone last night because we were still out on the town in Venice most of last night.  We had dinner at a place outside right on the water - I had lasagna that was fantastic.  All the people we met in the shops couldn't have been nicer especially if you tried to speak a little Italian.  Once again it is so stunning that no matter what time period in history or what language or country - everyone's hopes and dreams and problems are all similar.  It gives a wonderful perspective about the things that are and aren't important in terms of getting upset about.

Okay I'm burning time at 55 cents a minute and dinner is calling.  We miss all of you and wish you could all be here with us.

October 25, 2006

It is lunch time and we are in Dubrovnik, Croatia.  It is a very cool city from the 13th Century although lots of the buildings and villas are repaired with new roofs due to the war with the Serbs a while back.  The whole city though is maintained like it was in the 13th Century.  There is a super high wall that rings the city and for 10 Euros you can walk the whole thing (which we did) it is nearly 2 miles up and down stairs.  For those not in good shape it is nasty there are about a billion steps.  Thankfully plenty of places up there to get water and Coke.  You can't get Diet Coke here only Coke Light.  The town bell is ringing in the background to signal the half hour.  This is a great place.

The other good news is we got the curmudgeons blown out of the dinner group - Jackie and Keith are back.  Last night was formal night.  Julie looked stunning and I looked like an older fatter version of James Bond in my tux.  We got some professional photos on the ship. 

I got Julie a glass of Dom Perignon last night.  She had never had it before and she agrees with me - you can tell the difference between that and regular champagne.  Well we'll say so long for now from the Internet Cafe.

October 23, 2006

Greetings from somewhere off the coast of Italy.  We are having a great time.  We were in Naples yesterday and it was a blast.  We got to go with a small group of 8 of us that Julie knew from the Cruise Critiques BBS.   James, Maria and others.  We had an absolute blast.  We saw the Amalfi Coast and it is gorgeous - just like the photos of amazing villages built into the side of mountains with an incredible view of the coast.  It is breath taking.  We can't upload photos from the ship, but we'll do the full photo thing when we get back.  If you haven't been to Italy and ever get the chance please do yourself a treat and go. 

Our table mates are very cool.  Rock, Garnett, Bob and Chris and Keith and Jackie.  Snafu last night the same people we met on the plane from Paris to Rome Joel and Joan ended up at our table (we had to empty slots).  Something happened and they dragged their friends with them Bob and Glenda.  And unfortunately they are curmudgeans.  Keith and Jackie (Keith is a jazz musician) didn't show up so there we enough seats at the table for the curmudgeans.  But tonight there won't be.   We've already tracked Jackie and Keith and told em' the dinner was not the same without em.  So they'll show up early tonight and then we won't have room for the curmudgeans.  It is a great table without them - lots of talk and laughter.  What can we say it is the luck of the draw for tablemates.  Also we are at the late late seating.  8:30 at night it begins.  Last night there was some confusion in the kitchen and the curmudgeans sent every course back for some odd thing or another.  So we didn't get out of there til 11:00pm.  It was okay because that is like 6pm your time.  It wasn't that bad, but local time it is goofy to finish dinner at 11pm.

Yesterday we also saw the ancient city of Pompeii.  It was a very cool city and dated from nine centuries before Christ.  They had art, great architecture, wonderful homes, a red light district and even offices for an ancient Generral Services Administration.  It was clear that people of all ages have so much in common.  Same hopes and dreams.  Same rich and poor.  Same need to eat in restaurants and elect judges and mayors etc.  When it stood before the volcano eruption it had to be just beautiful.  It was also very odd to walk across the same stones as people from almost 3,000 years ago.  We had a great guide at Pompeii.  The guy spoke a billion languages and when we would pass other tour guides he knew he would give them all kinds of shit in their own languages.  He was like the king of the guides and we were lucky to have him.  He was like a wild philosophy professor - he spoke english better than most of us.  He knew everything about Pompeii including those things that we can't be sure about but he would give you the different theories.  Just great.

In any case we are relaxing big time.  We do miss all of you though for sure.  The ship is beautiful and the people we have met so far (especially those from the Web boards) are just fantastic.  So bon voyage are "our vacation - she is bella!"  More tomorrow when we get back from Croatia - weather again is going to be perfect.  Can't wait.

October 22, 2006

Here we are at the Hilton in Rome, Italy.   We went on our three hour Rome at night tour with Pepe (short for Guisseppe spelling?).   It was a great night.  It rained on us at the Vatican (is there a sign there?).  But it was beautiful.  St. Peter's Square is not as big as it looks on TV in terms of width but it is much taller in person - seriously.  And the Pope was in his office last night because Pepe told us which set of windows is the official office and the lights were on.

So far the vacation is going well.  We haven't made any major international blunders.  We are hanging out with Kay who is stealing all the soda bottles in the hotel, but that is okay she only took one as a token of Rome.  All three of us are doing a day tour on the day we get back from the cruise.  Can't wait given what we saw last night.  The ruins of the ancient Romans are spectacular.  You can't see anything like it in the US (obviously).  But if you haven't been here it is worth every penny to come.  It also looks so different than when I remember it from World War II - when I was here.  Okay I made that part up.

The airport in Paris is a dump.  It is sort of the Washington Dulles of Europe.  I would type all day, but Julie is forcing me to stop so we can fill out our tags for the ship.  So we'll talk to you next time from the Carnival Ship liberty.

October 20, 2006

Well a few minutes before we really get going.  So I'm watching Will and Grace.  The real reason I want to blog today is I forgot to tell you about my sister Sharon who is always willing to take on life full throttle.  Here she is on her latest adventure:

How wild is that. Sharon enjoys doing new things and she has more guts than the rest of the family, but we get to live through her on awesome activities like this.  Also this comes after her ultra light flying experience last year.  Some people have the thirst and she is cool enough to follow through. We are all proud of her.  Just so you know there will be no sky diving for Julie and I on this trip.

Bon Voyage everyone.

October 19,  2006

All I  have to say is  2 duffle bags,  2 back packs and 1 rolling garment bag. Yikes we are almost packed up. Tomorrow we leave for Rome. Bailey goes to the puppy hotel.  We think she knows something is up with all the luggage around.  She'll be fine it is like her second family, but we'll still miss her. 

The real issue with leaving is it is probably unlikely that we'll be able to catch Law and Order on TNT - that and Without a Trace.   So no Jack McCoy or Lenny Brisco for a while. To avoid getting the "TV bends" I have a copy of that thunk thunk sound on my ipod.

I am going with no cell phone and no laptop.  Frightening. As stated below if we can't find an Internet Cafe every few days I'll probably just blackout at some point.  We will have cameras and a camcorder, but that is it in terms of technology.  I know I know it is crazy talk.

If you want to check out the Cruise Ship Liberty just click here

The ship is huge - 110,000 tons and is 950 feet long and 115 feet wide.  It is over 30 stories tall (okay I made that part up). The thing has a piano bar so that is where Julie and I will be most nights after the entertainment and shows.  The Carnival ships don't have a rock climbing wall or anything like the Royal Caribbean ships but it is still a floating city. 

It does have a casino - if I go I'll use my funds management rules.  I start at the blackjack tables with $100 and as soon as I'm up or down by $30 I stop for that sitting.  What a high risk gambler I am.  We will however play bingo like wild animals with magic markers.

October 17, 2006

Jerry Springer really needs to end his run on Dancing with the Stars.  His heart is in  the right place, but his feet just don't hit the mark - poor guy he is giving it everything he has got though.

Work is good and bad.  Good that Jessica has now joined the division permenantly in our account management group so that is great.  Bad because the place just is not the same without David in the No. 2 spot.  About 10 times a day I go to copy him on an email and there is no David at the other end of the work line.  Bummer.  We all miss the guy.

Packing, packing and more packing.  Since we leave for Rome on Friday afternoon we are beginning to put together everything we'll take.  I now have started a pile of clothes.  I wearing lots of black shirts - short and long sleeve.  I just think it looks more European.  So watch me - I'll get over there and everyone in Italy will be wearing bright pastels.  Great.  I also have some brown (which is the new black but of course was last years green and the year before thats purple).  We just don't know what the weather will do - we are planning on 60's but we might have a few days in the lower 70's and no idea what the weather will be like on the ship since we'll obviously be out away from land so it could be breezy.

Also we have to take our stuff for the formal nights (I think there are two).  Then you can't wear jeans in the dinning room at night so I've got to take some slacks just to have some casual business type things.

Biggest issue will be getting the chance to blog every now and then to let everybody know how the trip is going.  The ship does have Internet access, but it is a little pricey - but heck it will be fun to get the words out so I'll have to do it sometimes.  Then there are supposed to be Internet Cafes around Europe.  So we'll pop into those when we have some time - we figure the big thing will be taking lots of time to people watch.  How much do you want to bet we'll be at some great outdoor bistro and I'll see that idiot Daniel from the yoga place come strolling by?   That would be terrifying to say the least.

Well I'm going to go look at more clothes and supplies.  I'm also loading my ipod full of TWIT and other technology podcasts for the long plane ride.  I won't be taking either the laptop or the cell phone/blackberry.  We'll be out of coverage from start to finish plus we'll have all the other camera and videocam equipment to lug around.  So it will be the first vacation I've had in over ten years when I will not be traveling with the laptop.  Freaky.  That is why the Internet Cafe route will be vital every now and then.

By the way have you ever noticed that in the photos of Angelina Jollie, Brad Pitt and the kids - the kid never looks that happy?  The parents look like they are filled with joy dancing on a cloud, but the kid looks like he just wants to go home and play with his speak'n spell.  He has that dear in the headlights look that I practice hard to get all my official ID photos to look like.  The poor kid - just take him to the zoo or the Icecapades and call it a day. 

October 14, 2006

It is sorority day so all the beta sigma phi girls are over, but I'm hunkered down in the computer room with Bailey.  Victoria brought over her baby who is the cutest little thing.  Bailey was not sure what that small furless thing was so she is staying her distance.  I've got the door closed and she has her nose buried under it making sure there are no smells that would cause her to protect her area.   She is fairly good when Julie has company over, but she still does her barking routine when people first show up.  I think I blogged that the "dog whisperer" told us that she does that because she thinks she is the pack leader.  They could solve that in four days (without physical punishment) for $750.  

Which in the log run seems a much better quality of life benefit when you compare that to the yoga place.

What about work?  So far behind it isn't funny.  With the trip to Washington this week it got me further behind the 8 ball.  I'll do some work this weekend to make up for some of it, but still lots of work to do next week.  The up and downside of it is I only have until Thursday to get it all in - we leave on the trip on Friday. This also means I'll be getting out all my European clothes this weekend to begin the packing effort.  I still haven't figured out what to put in my groovy new backpack.  Some of it for sure will involve chocolate and other treats for the long flight.

Also have you looked at the latest Hollywood gossip?  It seems Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn appear to have broken up.  This comes in the wake of the news that Jennifer may have gotten chestal enhancement.  That leaves us with the question - was the break up in any way related to the surgery?  It is more than one mind can take.

October 12, 2006

Okay first it was Brittney Spear hair color - she needs to go back to blonde the way God meant Brittney Spears to be.  Now it is Jennifer Aniston and whether she has had "chestal enhancement."  Good lord.  How can this happen?   She is the girl next door and an 11 on a scale of 1 to 10.  (Julie is a 12).  So why would Jennifer even think such a thing is necessary?  The jury is still out at least in People magazine, but. hopefully she hasn't done it.

Michele got people magazine today and just revealed this breaking Jennifer news - we are all upset about it.  Michele was also cool enough to get the group Reese's peanut butter cups.  It was kind of a trick or treat surprise.  This particularly cool that she is still into a holiday given the fact that she got such a crappy rose when she, Frank and I went out to dinner for Valentine's Day.  So thanks to Michele for the sugar fix. 

Tonight flying home from Washington on AirTran.  Its a 4pm flight and with luck I can buy an upgrade on the flight. 

We'll be wrapping up our monthly HCAM team meeting so my head will  be swimming for a day or so on what that all means.  Again without Whitney and Amy it would be a much  harder journey in the region. I'm going back with lots of work for the management implementation team and I've got a week to get it all on track with our trip to the Med starting a week from Friday. 

Tim and I were talking and he recommended that I weigh in on the new news story that the run away bride sueing her would be husband.  Apparently they sold her story and got a butt load (key technical term) of money.  They used that money to jointly purchase a house.  And she wants her share - like $500,000!  Holy cow.  How could she be that crazy enough to do that.   She was smart enough to turn her whole ordeal into a huge cash maker and then puts it at risk with the man she was not yet married to.  How does the law work - can she get half back if they were not married?  Can she get it all back.  Also why did the future husband take this long to walk from the relationship. 

This under scores how money can mess things up even for those not yet married.  It links to the show Deal or No Deal.  Sometimes the contestant asks their partner (married or not) to pick the next secret case of money.  What happens when the spouse picks a number that deflates the offers received from the show's banker?  For life you are thinking that if your partner had just picked a different briefcase of money you could have had a million dollars but because of the one they picked you ended up with only $25,000 or even less.  This can cause huge problems in the long run.  So the point is if your partner gets on Deal or No Deal and you want to keep the relationship safe never ever pick a case for your partner.

October 9, 2006

What a super bonus weekend.  Not only do we have a three day it is a Law and Order SVU marathon. 

Julie has been busy working hard at putting photo albums together.  Just click on:


and you'll see her work.

October  6, 2006

Greetings all blog fans.  Haven't blogged recently because there has been some difficulty with the server several days in a row.  It now appears to be fixed. 

Julie is fighting a sore throat but the good thing is if she is sick now . . . she'll be healthy on the cruise.  I'm feeling fine after a tough week at work.  But the three day weekend is here and so let the partying begin.  This evenings party is staying at home and watching Deal or No Deal and Law and Order.  What can we say - the Friday nights are relaxed these days.

Tomorrow will be shopping for more European clothes.  Julie is looking for one of those velor jogging type outfits to wear on the plane.  Probably a good idea for an all night flight.  I will be jeans and t-shirt man.  Since we're flying through Paris I figured it would be good to get a t-shirt that says, "French People Bite" - then again we have a three hour lay over so maybe that is a bad idea.

I'm still frustrated by Brittney Spears' hair - it should be blonde again.  There must be a website out there to that point.  I'll go searching later tonight.  I wanted to get something up so that October would be off and running.

September 28, 2006

Why does Brittney Spears have black hair now?  Is it more Mom-like? 

I'm watching the television show Without a Trace (aren't I always watching television?  I need to get a life).  It's about FBI agents looking for missing people.  Cool thing about it is one of the actors on the show is in real life, "Poppy Montgomery."  What a cool name Poppy!  It is not however as cool as Becca - nothing is.  Tune in sometimes it is a good show.  The actor Anthony LePaglia who plays the senior agent also starred as Daphany's brother in the old Frazier show.

Other than that it is a quiet evening.  I'm picking Julie up at work at 7:30pm . . . can you say end of the fiscal year?  Ouch - long day.

We had a retirement party for Dave at work today.  All kinds of the retirees came and they looked great.  They were all smiling so it must go well after you leave the salt mines.  It is bitter sweet to see him go.  It hits me more and more.  We found out Monday is the day he has to finish up.  We thought it was Tuesday, but the regs say he has to finish it up on Monday.  We got "reged" out of one more day with him as the #2 guy.  That bites.  But we know we'll hang out with Dave even though he is not working on the job.  Super cool was how many of the interns were at the party.  Dave makes an impact on everybody.

I'm getting ready for the trip.  Tonight I'm wearing one of my million dollar pair of shoes.  These are the suede slip on pair. They make my feet look like they belong to an elf in the mountains of Germany.  Heck you can't get more European than that!  The key is wearing them enough that they are broken in, but not so much that they look old and no longer elf-like. 

I'm off to watch Law and Order and read People magazine.   Still there is Brittney's hair.

Oh one of my new favorite lines from Law and Order is when Jack McCoy is in court and says the following:

    "Your brief would be a lot more credible if you hadn't just admitted in open court that you chopped your partner's head off."

Now that is good TV.

September 26, 2006

Quite a week.  Lots of returning shows on TV.  We are still into Deal or No Deal.  It is fun and there is a lot of suspense.  It is all about risk and seeing how far people will go if they think they have a shot at the big money ($250,000 - $6,000,000).   The 6 mil was just for opening week.  Regular season amount is $1 million.  It is one of those shows that gets you screaming at the TV like the people can hear you.

The one that is really a disappointment is the return of Dancing with the Stars.  After last season with the stunning Stacey and Nick Lachey's younger brother Drew it is hard to beat.  But this season they have people like a former Ms. America who supposedly has some "tough times" she has coped with recently.  But even with that wouldn't you think a former Ms. America would have some dance talent?  But no it is frightening.  Jerry Springer is also on this year too - but he was the lowest in the ranking.  Tonight he danced the tango and did pretty well. 

We continue to shop for the big trip.  It is a clothing mission these days.  Over the weekend I bought $150 Ecco walking shoes and some black mock neck shirts (very European).  The real tough thing is never having gone to the Med we just don't know how to dress.  The Caribbean cruises are easier - just take two formal outfits, slacks for the evenings and just a collection of colorful floral shirts for the day.  But what to take here is up in the air especially having to pack for 2 weeks - it is not possible to take a lot of extra clothes - we'll wear what we take whether it works or not.  On the days I look goofy I'll try to spend time behind the camera. 

Most amusing is we'll be on the ship for Halloween.  We don't know if they'll have people dress up or not. Should be interesting.

Okay back to Dancing with the Stars.  Mario Lopez (formerly Slater on the TV show Saved by the Bell) just got chewed out by the judges for violating some of the tango dance competition rules.  Too exciting.  Seeing stars get busted on TV now that is fun.

Good night John Boy.

September  20,  2006

Some are interested how I suddenly turned from a Cadillac CTS guy to a Buick SUV guy - kind of a big change in style.  Kind of a move from the high speed life to the more subdued middle age thing.  Some of that is probably true.   Most of the reasons for the change was the way the CTS road - very hard in the BMW style every ping or bump in the road and you'd feel it in your fillings.  Also the car road so low that it wasn't easily seen sometimes and it sat so low to the ground you had to kind of fall into it and pull yourself out.  I had four good years with it, but it was time for a change.  No power steering had me doing more driving work that I would in an other style car.

Several things drew me toward the Buick SUV.  First it was nice to sit up high for a better view of the road.  Second I was looking for some softer cushier seating.  I'm a GM guy and have always liked the way the cars drive.  Smooth power steering and brakes that are smooth as well are both great changes between the two cars.  The new one also has all the computer and navigation systems I loved in the CTS.  And the car I had before that I loved was a black Buick Riviera.  So I just went for a different style vehicle still with the classic black color with the darkened black windows.  It has that mini SUV feel with all the comforts you don't get in a Jeep or a Blazer.  So it worked thanks to the heavy incentives offered by GM.  So for me it still has the cool factor at a great price.

Finally you are starting to see the Cadillac SUVs everywhere these days and I didn't like any of the other cars on the road so I went for the 39 month lease to try this one and give it three years for something cooler to come along.  Car matching personalities is a unique thing, but right now the Rendezvous has the cool, the style, the rarity and the comforts for traveling.  It just works.

September 19, 2006

The big story - the biggest single day unique visits total in the history of the Website.
Yesterday (Monday) a total of 25 people looked at the site!  So we are picking up some people from Google, but more than that you all are coming back and getting friends to try the site. Too fun. 

September 18, 2006

Julie's friend Mark visited with us and he was just great.  He is flying back to Manhattan tonight.  Well once he gets through all the rain delays he'll be headed home.  Julie is baking up a storm for treats for work tomorrow.  There are cookies and all kinds of chocolate things with nuts happening in the kitchen.

I didn't sleep really well last night (for no particular reason) so I'm a little hazy tonight and don't have a lot to say, but after a senior staff meeting in the morning and an HCAM meeting in the afternoon - I'll have plenty on my brain.  Also Julie is getting close to releasing massive new photo albums on the TimandJulie.net site.  It is not quite ready yet so she hasn't uploaded it but she has been working on it throughout the weekend.

I can tell you that Stacey let me know she had a great birthday in Starkville, MS.  Becca got her a beautiful cross, cross-stitched a bookmark and decorated and picture frame for Stacey.  All of these will be worth millions in about 50 years because they are all "original Beccas."  Tom and Cindy sent flowers and the girls in the dorm did the whole decoration of the door thing.  Hippest of all was the Vera Bradley packback she got (in her favorite pattern).  So it was a good birthday for Stacey and she deserves nothing but the best.   We'll be seeing her in November when Julie and I join Tom and Cindy for a Mississippi State football game.

So good night for now from beautiful Midtown Atlanta.  I have to go get Bailey to stop banging her food dish against the wall because she needs another refill.

 September 15, 2006

Its Saturday.  The weekend.  ahhh   Julie and I took Bailey up to the park yesterday afternoon.  She loves to take walks (Bailey - not that Julie doesn't love them too, but I was referring to Bailey about the loving part, not that I don't love Julie, but I was talking about Bailey but I ramble . . . )  What we have discovered is Bailey loves getting to the park and walking home from the park but we are not sure how into the park itself she is.  We took a blanket and got her some doggie ice cream (which was a big hit with Bailey not that it wasn't a big hit with us but Bailey was the one eating it) and got a nice spot under a giant shade tree.  I'm pretty sure that was the species of the tree you know the mighty Shade which of course is a hard wood and not good for building soft wood kind of things like designer pens.  Notice I'm having trouble focusing?

Back to the park.  We stayed at the park for an hour and a half.  Bailey was worn out by the walk, but there were just too many smells and sounds for Bailey to go to sleep.  There was the always exciting squirrel TV - how can a dog pass that up?  So in any case we got home around 5pm and Bailey was exhausted.  She fell over on her side and didn't move for 2 hours while we were in the TV room.  It is the fact that when she most needs sleep after the long walk to the park and the fact that she can't sleep that just makes the whole experience kind of over the top for her.  We just got back from the regular Saturday morning walk and once again she is passed out - happy but passed out.  Also on our trip to the park I got to use my cruise backpack.  It works well and I looked very European though I was wearing a Hawaiian shirt for the park trek.

The Dahn Yoga people have not tried to contact us since I got those three phone calls within 15 minutes at the end of last month.  I think they figured out I wasn't Dahn material, but still you'd like to be hounded just for the principle of the thing.

Stacey sent me details of the birthday a few weeks ago so I'll be posting those shortly.  Also we have worked out all the details and Jessica will be leaving Miami to come work for us as an account manager which is very cool.  So we've got some good things happening at work.  Plus working with all the other interns we continue to see what a great group they are.

Dave retires in about 2 weeks.  Super bummer.  He has got to feel good about the fact that every single director and every single staff person thinks his departure is a loss for the agency and most certainly for the region.  He is one of the best guys you could have in the number 2 management slot.  There is honestly no way to replace the guy.  You can fill the position but whoever gets it they have giant and impossible shoes to fill.  Dave is a computer full of corporate knowledge and he had done just about every job in PBS.  So it is kind of like the last two weeks before the end of a great running TV series.  You know it is about over but you think of all the great episodes through the years.  We can't wait to go out to lunch with Dave after he retires so he can laugh about not being in the middle of all sorts of goofy things that are no fun to deal with. 

Well I'll end for now - got to go out and shop for turtle neck shirts for the trip.  Details of the Stacey birthday coming up.  Also details from a visit with Julie's high school friend coming up tomorrow (he is auditioning for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra) we'll pick him up at the airport and go to brunch with him.

September 13, 2006

Here we are live from Washington DC.  Our HCAM meeting went well.  Got lots done today.  Also had to run over and do a presentation on HCAM at a PBS Academy class.  That went pretty well too.  So tonight it is just some email, a pizza from room service and back to back episodes of Without a Trace on TNT.  That is a full evening.haha

Tomorrow it is back to Atlanta via Delta Airlines.  And oh sure I'm already logged in to be on the upgrade list for first class, but I have as much chance of that happening as Brittney Spears playing left tackle in the NFL.  I think I'm number 157 on the upgrade list and the plane only holds 156 passengers so I think I'll just board with my regular seat assignment.

Tim, Marilyn, Andrea and Todd all went home tonight, but lately I just hate those evening flights out of Reagan National.  So I'm happy to do some work tomorrow and then head home during the day.  It is just much less hassle.  Well that is it from here - just going to finish up the evening and then lay back and relax in the soft comfortable bed of the Hotel Sofitel.  Chow baby (as they say in Buckhead).

September 12, 2006   Up to DC Land of Power Brokers

Well today I'm off to Washington for two days to work on Account Management with McManis and Monsalve and the task team.  Our team has some excellent players on it.  Andrea from New York, Marilyn from Philly, Todd from Seattle and Janice from Denver just to name a few.  We are moving into the home stretch of training development and will have our beta tests in October so the meetings become more important the closer we get.

Bern did her usual great job of finding a nice hotel at the government rate.  She has got some sources that allow us into great hotels at drastically reduced rates.  She is an arragements/HCAM/project manager Goddess!  The super upside is the hotels are close to the national office so we don't have to burn money on cabs to get back and forth to work.   Go Bern.

Thanks to Jessica who sent me a great cartoon yesterday about celebrating Web hits on blogs.  Funny stuff and I'd post it but the copyright violation would crimp my Internet budget.  Speaking of that Julie is going to be putting up new stuff on TimandJulie.net in the next week or so.  She has worked hard on developing photo albums of our various trips and that should be a nice addition.  Bailey hasn't blogged in a while over there so we'll get some new material up there as well.

So later tonight I'll be reporting live from Washington but for now this is Tim heading for Washington now back to you in the studio Bill.

PS If Stacey gives me some good scoop on her birthday I put a few details up here.  And you know it had to be a cool birthday because Becca was involved.

September 10, 2006    Fear and Loathing at the Yellow Daisy Festival

It took forever to get through the gates and on to parking at the Yellow Daisy Festival in Stone Mountain yesterday.  Also we didn't see one yellow daisy.  But 60,000 of our closets friends decided they would go to the festival the same time we were.  Julie did end up getting us rock star parking.  It was the first space at one of the main entrances to the event - we would have to have had an exhibit trailer or handicapped parking to get any closer.

Okay on to the festival.  It had the usual array of festival food including kettle corn, cotton candy, corn dogs, turkey drum sticks, funnel cakes (complete with sugar cocain on top),  BBQ, fruit smoothies and fresh squeezed lemon aide.  The crafts people had glass stuff, ceramic stuff, wooden stuff, stuff made out of twigs, paintings (mostly what I call crap art which is any art I could create myself) and finally nature photographs.  They even had those wooden things you stick in your garden that is a lady's butt bending over to work in the soil which is supposed to fool everyone into thinking there is an actual bending over lady in the garden).

I knew we were in strange territory when a guy in front of us had a confederate flag on his t-shirt that read, "If this shirt offends you . . . then it has made my day."  We were clearly surrounded by morons. That was enough to set the tone for a weird experience.  This obviously was not a guy we would run into in the homemade soap or pot pourri booths. I'm pretty sure whatever that guy is for . . . I'm against.  So we quickly passed him only to be blocked by the stroller patrol.u

It was crowded, I mean really crowded.  Julie and I have been in Times Square had had it less crowded.  If you like moving very slowly and having people stop right in front of you the Yellow Daisy Festival is for you.  We crawled through the crowds to be able to look at all the displays.  There was some thought of eating lunch there, but the lines were too long so we bailed out and went to Applebee's. 

Once safely back at home Julie went ahead and went on line with what I refer to as the "Command Post."  She gets on all the cruise BBSs and looks at the posts from people who will be on the same cruise as us.  She picks up lots of tips including tips on tips.  It seems like a pretty fun crowd and several of the folks we are already scheduled to do tours with.  So that should be worth some serious over seas blogging.

Bailey went for a long walk this morning so she is passed out in an oxygen tent at the moment.  She was sleeping under the bed, but she heard activity in the kitchen so she is on alert for any food which might come her way.  I will be working on some Linux coding commands and Julie will be researching and practicing her Italian.  We might make a run out to Fry's Electronics a little later, so who knows what toys may come from that.

Oh and Julie may also put some work into "TimandJulie.net."  She will put up some new photos and info for her sorority.  So stay tuned for that.  I'll put a link in this blog once there is some new stuff over there.

September  9, 2006

The wheels  finally  got here and it is a dream  machine.   All sleek black and full of goodies.  The navigation system is all touch screen so it is a breeze to program.  Rides for everyone.

Today (this afternoon) should be interesting we are off to the Yellow Daisy Festival at Stone Mountain.  Apparently they are celebrating the yellow flower with all kinds of artists selling all kinds of pieces.  I'm hoping they have Dipp'in Dots or funnel cakes.  Once we get back there will be blogging in case I got my face painted or something really scary.

September 5, 2006

The car guys called and said the new Rendezvous isn't ready yet - they say tomorrow.  Since the car is coming in from North Carolina I'm not sure if it even made it to town today.  But we'll hold em' to their word and expect a Wednesday pick-up.   So that will be exciting.   For the first few days I intend to come to work via Birmgham - sure it is a little out of the way but it will help with those all important first few hundred miles.

Also this week is a big one for Stacey - it is birthday week.  We would send her something but what do you get for a woman who already has her own escalator?  The only one in the county we should add.  So happy birthday Stacey.

Good news on the travel front this week - I don't have to travel this week.  Since the HCAM training was focused on large construction and not account management I get to sit tight until next week.  But don't worry I already have clearance to travel thanks to Bernadette who as usual is all over it.  So  when next week comes I'll be ready to go to DC Tuesday thru Thursday.  I put this early so that Kathy and Dave know where the heck I am.   This week I'm in the office the whole time guys.

Our three new interns are with us.  They are very bright and motivated and Ellen will keep them hopping.  Ellen is about the best person in the world we could hope for with the intern rotations.  She has plans for some great assignments and she will be coaching them the whole way.  So Ellen will be back next week and we miss her when she is not here.   But I did take the interns out for lunch today and they were full of questions. What a great group. 

I'll sign off for the night and go back to watching Without a Trace on TNT.  

September 4, 2006

Last night we had a great dinner with Tom, Cindy and Mary B.  The food was great and the company was even better.   McCormick's and Schmidts is great restaurant.   It is without doubt you should go if given the chance.  Especially if you can dine with Tom, Cindy and Mary B.  Tom looks great as always - the new career is going great for him.

Today we did go out to the dealership in Roswell and look at cars.  We ended up making a deal.  I'm getting an all black Buick Rendezvous that is loaded including navigation system and a DVD entertainment system for the back seat.  That part is a little strange unless Bailey wants to watch a bunch of DVDs but at least the car has it.  The black version of the car looks like this:

So the CTS is now resting at the dealership soon to be someone else's spiffy car.  We have a loaner tonight and will pick up ours tomorrow night.  We'll of course take CDs and DVDs in case Julie wants to watch Finding Nemo or something on the way home.  It is a pretty cool car because there is no option available that it doesn't have.  So if anyone needs a ride anywhere for the next several weeks - just say the word.

I'll end for now since we're a little tired after a full four hours of car buying which is never fast. But it has been a good three day weekend.  Hope you and yours have had a good Labor Day Weekend.  Back to work tomorrow for all of us.

September  3, 2006    Big Wheels Keep on Turning

I'm typing today's blog from inside Linux and not Windows so take that Bill Gates!   No money from my wallet today.  Yesterday was exciting and very European . . .  we bought backpacks to take to Rome on the plane.  Julie has a large one and I have a small one.  Since I won't take my computer bag I needed something to haul my junk in - stuff like my ipod, pillow, books, chap stick, M&Ms and raisens in a small tuperware container in case I get cranky on the plane.  My backpack is a beautiful forest green JanSport.  This means I'll have to wear traveling clothes that look good with it.  I tell Julie I'll wear all black so I look European - she says we are not going to the industrial zones of Germany so I don't have to avoid color.

We also picked up my Tux yesterday.  This is for the two formal nights on the ship.   This is when everyone dresses up and they take a million pictures of  you and charge you like $20 a pop if you want to keep them.  But it will be fun and we'll look spiffy.  Julie is still looking for a dress.

Tomorrow I may be getting set up to get a new car.  The lease is up on my Cadillac CTS and I either need to buy it or get another car.  I'm looking at maybe getting a Buick Rendezvous.   It is more SUV like but refined with a smooth ride - hey its a Buick perfect for Tiger Woods and us old guys that like power everything.  So we'll go out to Carl Black Buick and talk to the guys out there.

The big feature it has to have is a navigation system just like the CTS.  I still don't know anything in Atlanta except for Peachtree, West Peachtree, Piedmont and Juniper.  If it is not on or via one of those four streets I can't get there on my own.  My biggest fear is when people come up to me and ask for directions.  I usually just say, "go up Juniper til you get to Peachtree then go right and look for Piedmont and then it is one street over on West Peachtree."  Once I say that they pretty much know I either don't drive or have an onboard navigation system.   Which is normally Julie, but I like to have an electronic back up just in case.

So we'll go out and see what they have to say.  They've located 3 2006's with the nav system.  They are all within 200 miles of Atlanta so they would want to have a deal before they would transport one in.  I can buy my Cadillac for around $18,000.  So you can tell there is a lot of math involved in all this.  I go into more but it involves complex percentages that could scare small children so I won't go into it.  Here is the car though:

The upside is that now that all my software is free . . . I have money to afford to keep the Cadillac or score a new Rendezvous.  Stay tuned for more from our appointment with Mihail at the dealership tomorrow at 11am.   We would take Bailey but she hates the smell of grease and that rrrrrrrrrrvvvvittt sound that garages have when they are taking tires off cars. 

I'm going to go now so I can put stuff in my backpack and walk around the condo looking at myself in the mirrors to see if I look European.

August 31  Where Did This Month Go?

Holy cow this month just whipped by - what happened.  Oh yeah all I have to do  is scroll down and look at the blog.  Duh.   Well Ubuntu is going well - it's difficult but I'm making slow progress.  Last night I downloaded my first programs from the Internet (free and legal which is the whole point to Linux).  Now I can listen to MP3's and watch DVDs and Divx movies.  The Divx is important because my version of the movie Office Space is on Dvix.

Well Dave is pretty much down to his last month with the agency.  I'm completely bummed out as are the other directors and pretty much everyone in the region.  Dave had done most of the jobs in PBS and done the well.  His memory just didn't quit and he was fair had corporate street smarts if you know what I mean.  So it will be tough to say goodbye to a rock'n friend in the corner office.

This week was in town.  Next week is off to Washington for 2 days we are getting close to being done with development of the account management training.  It is coming along well.  Janice is doing some heavy lifting this week so we know we are in good shape with the team's efforts.  Sherrie is up there as well working.  It is a good crew.  We'll know in about 6 weeks if it is what we wanted it to be.  So far it looks good.

The Dahn Yoga place is on to us.  They called me last night and asked why we hadn't been in.  I of course was honest and said Julie and I had both been out of the country (yeah right).  I didn't have the guts to tell them their "Brain Power Exercise" scared me to the depths of my soul.  They asked if we wanted to come in for another "evaluation" before our month membership ran out today.  I said no Julie and I would talk on our own and decide if we wanted to "re up."  I hung up and I got two from the same phone number within five minutes of each other.   I didn't answer because I figured they would be calling to wish darkness upon my crops or something like that.  So I'll have to tell you if they call back today.

I'll end for now.  Special hey to Jana and Nikki - thanks again for taking me out on the town in Denver.  The are both too funny and great people.  I also missed the HCAM national team because we couldn't travel to be in person so we did a marathon conference call instead - that is not easy nor as fruitfull as in person meetings.  Next month we'll all be in Washington.  Type to you soon and you all have a good day.

August 26, 2006    A New Level of Nerdousity

That's right - I finally took the plung.  I now have one computer running Windows XP and the other computer (old one) running Linux.  A full open architecture operating system.  The power of Linux is that it is a light operating system that doesn't take up the 8 million gigs of memory used by the typical Windows install.  The second thing that makes it so powerfull is you can do all kinds of things through command line edits.  In that way it is like the old DOS commands of microsoft operating systems.   The difference is that Linux is more powerful.  For those computer folks that are into this there are as you know several flavors of Linux:  Open-Suse, Red-Hat, and others.  The version I'm using is the hot one at the moment called "Ubuntu."  Which sounds like something the yoga instructors would say.   It is completely free to own and free to download not the $200+ of Windows XP.  That also means all the programs that are out there on the web for Ubuntu Linux are completely free to download and use without any copyright violation.   The learning curve for Linux is worth it for  all the free stuff and the ability to customize anything I want on the system.  Too cool.   With ham radio and flight simulator the addition of a computer running Linux puts me in a whole new realm of Nerdousity but Julie loves me anyway.

Julie is in Davenport visiting her Mom and Dad.  Today she is going to hang out with the cousins Anne and Julie (I think the other one is named Julie - if not we'll just call her Julie - it shouldn't matter since I'm sure she doesn't read this blog).   But she is having a good time golfing with her Dad and shopping with her Mom.  Tonight it is Grandma and Bill coming over.  Bill is a wild guy he is in his 90's and still swims everyday.  Heck that is probably why he is in his 90's.  Julie's Grandma is also in her 90's and is still driving and volunteering for things.  Bill and her Grandma Fran are inspirations to say the least.

Bailey is past out on the floor with all the computers humming around her.  I took her for a mile long walk this morning when we woke up at 7:00am.  That is 2:00 o'clock in the morning Hawaii time.  So it was quite the exercise for her and she should be passed out most of the day.   Once I'm worn out and in need of a nap later she'll be ready to play full tilt - wonderful how that works out.

Plan for the rest of the day?  Perhaps going to Fry's Electronics in Gwinnett to get a quieter power supply for the Linux computer.  It currenlty sounds like a jet engine while my monster 64-bit screaming fast main computer is a whisper of fans.  Quiet is good in computer land and my old machine is anything but.  I could also drive to a dealership in Monroe, GA that sells both Cadillacs and Buicks.  My lease on the Cadillac is just about up and I either need to buy that car or the only other thing that I would buy is a buick Rendezvous SUV thing.  Rendezvous is a nifty car, but I want one with a nagivation system in it and those are hard to find.   What to do what to do?   I'll probably wait til Julie comes back so we can both go.  The dealership that carries both cars is about an hour away.

It is now between 50 and 60 days before we are off on our 12 night Med cruise leaving from Rome.  Can't wait for the 8 hour flight - eeeek.  It should be worth it though.   We'll be on the Carnival Ship Liberty.  Many of the stops are in Italy so Julie and I are using flash cards to try to get a little Italian under our belts - I intend to start eating meals exclusively at the Olive Garden to get mired in the culture of the old country.  I'll also watch moves about wise guys while eating Italian sausage.  Speaking of sausage my brother Bruce always says, "there are two things that if people saw how they were made they'd never eat it.  One is sausage and the other is blank."  We can never find the right second food for the phrase - what food is scarier than sausage?

Okay I'm off on my day - BTW I'm also reading Michael Crichton's book "State of Fear."  It is okay so far.   It is about global warming and sonic cavitation in the hands of the wrong people.  It is semi good up to page 202.  It is not quite as good as his other books, but heck it is Michael Crichton so I've got to read it. 

I'm going now and Bailey is still passed out as of 10:41am eastern.  "Brain Power" to one and all.

August 24, 2006    Good Times in Denver

Just got back from Denver and had a great time with some of my favorite people.  The Scissors Off the Wall speech went well Tuesday morning.   Paul was gracious as always.  He is an amazing manager to be sure.

Got to go to PF Chang's for lunch with Paul and the management team.  Two words De Licious.  Best part was a ride in Kelly's brand new GTO.  The sweet machine has a Corvette engine in it.  It is basically a rocket on four wheels.  If you are looking for an awesome car with massive power . . . go get the Pontiac GTO.  It really is amazing.

Tuesday night the crew took me out for drinks.  Lots of laughs and some great micro brew beer.  It was a great group - Kelly, Jana, Nikki and Janice.  We yucked it up for several hours.   Wednesday morning it was off to the airport and the flight back.

Thursday was catch up day back home.  I'm still behind on email and a ton of to do's still wait for some action.  Friday should allow the rest of the catch up effort.  What am I behind on?   HCAM of course.  Also Friday we've got a major regional strategy meeting for HCAM with Amy and Amy (of Beverly Hills - that just sounds like a chic high end clothing shop).  Implementation is coming and it has been a long time in the works.  It will be nice to see some changes actually occur. 

We haven't been back to Yoga.  The brain power thing is just nuts.  I'm up for off the wall stuff, but that just has nothing to do with yoga no matter how loose you are supposed to be.  And did I mention I hate that guy Daniel who is probably there smiling up a storm tonight. 

August 18, 2006

Holy cow yoga is popluar.  We hit a new record on Thursday with a total of 23 visits in one day.  Pretty exciting.

So as long as we are on the yoga kick I promised to tell you about the "Power Brain" exercise.  It is a little practice they do at the start of a regular yoga session.  It involves putting you thumbs in your ears and waggling your fingers in the fake moose looking way.  Then as you are standing across from someone else you pat hands in the air, give them the thumbs up signal, tell em that you love them and then lock arms and dance around in the Hokie Pokie or Chicken Dance manner.  This they say with a straight face allows people to clear away all the seriousness and stress of the day so that you are ready for yoga.

More amusing is they make you do this with all the five or six people in your class.  Everyone does this like it is a normal thing.  Didn't seem like any big deal at the time, but looking back on it - it seems way over the edge to pay somebody $150 a month for the privilege of doing the Power Brain.  And of course Daniel does it like it is the best thing in the world.  (He would - the little loser smiling the whole time).

On to the rest of the stuff - I'm sitting in the Melrose Hotel after a long two days in DC working on the creation of the account management training.  Nikki and Janice were here with the rest of the crew.  The cool thing is that Bernadette is setting up the hotels and she has got us in some great places at the government rate.  The Melrose is very nice and we are going for the Embassy Suites.  Go Bern!  Cooler than that was she took us up to the roof top of the Washington Hotel last night.  The weather was perfect and we got to watch the sun go down all with a great view of the White House south lawn as the planes were coming in for final approach at Reagan National. 

It was a perfect night except for Julie wasn't with me - she would have loved it.  If you are ever in town really do yourself a favor and head over the Washington Hotel for drinks and dinner.  It is exceptional.  What can I say Bernadette knows how to live life right.

I checked the flight back to Atlanta for tomorrow and even though it is 6:00am flight the upside is that I got upgraded to first class.  So I'll be exhausted but traveling in style. It has been a good week.  

August 15, 2006

Just sitting in bed after a long day waiting for the psychadelic drugs to take effect (alright Flinestone chewable vit C).  But it sounds way more 60's the first way.

Neither Julie or I have been back to the Dahn Center - I'm still in a quandary whether to go back or just tell em to pound their green tea and Daniel along with it.  This would of course mess with their revenue numbers.  They probably figure on at least $1,000 a person.  If we don't go back all they get is the $150 each.  They may have the district manager have to walk on hot coals or somethin.

They really lost me on something they call the "Power Brain."  I'm too tired to write about it tonight, but I'll share it with you and you'll probably agree it is way out there.

Flying to Washington tomorrow for Thursday and Friday sessions of development of the account management training.  We are going to reshape it a little bit.  Martha (big wig in National Office) rightly wants to keep the training at a sophisticated level and not talk down to our people.  But in the first draft of the curriculum there were two scary items.  One was "the value of building relationships: (yeah no shit) and the second one was "active listening."  So we'll be tossing those out tomorrow with yesterday's salute to the obvious.  If we can't train on new concepts we might as well buy off the shelf and we are paying more than for off the shelf.

Next week is loopy crazy.  I'll go to Denver Monday night (late).  It is like an 8:10 departure.  Then Tuesday morning I do scissors off the wall in Denver.  Then have lunch with Paul the ARA for the region.  Then I'll go back to the hotel and work on the 2007 regional business plan.  Then I'll fly from Denver to Washington and do two more days of training development.  I'll be a tired pup at the end of next week.  But all the work is worthy of the time so no complaints.

I have decided to start my own airline and I'm calling it "Becca Air."  That name is just too good.  Hey that is a really nice power drill you have there.  Of course its a Becca.   Oh an I love those shoes.  Thank you they are Becca's.  That is a serious vacuum cleaner - sure it's a Becca.   Those speakers sound fantastic!  You know they have got to be Beccas to sound that good. 

None of us know exactly what Becca will end up doing with her degree from Mississippi State but we expect big things - some massive conglomerate kind of like Martha Stewart only more diverse and without the jail time.   Of course all this will happen while Stacey becomes the Senator from Mississippi.  Big things out of those two I tell you.

Well I'm crashing for the day - may visions of Dahn Yoga dance in your heads.  Be sure and remind me to write up the Power Brain - you seriously won't believe it.  Good night all.  Good night John Boy.

August 12, 2006    Yoga and the Money Train

First let me give a warm hello to Stacey and Becca who are reading the blog from the one and only MIssissippi State.  They are excited because their building now boasts the only escalator in the county.  That is big.  BTW isn't Becca the coolest name?

Okay on to Yoga.  After a week here is the scoop - after an hour class you do actually feel more relaxed yet still have more energy.  It is good to get away from the stress of everyday life.

We have an interesting master/instructor.   She is about 2' 3" tall . . . okay she is a little taller than that.  She is a very sweet Korean girl who barely speaks english.  This is a problem when someone is trying to teach you brand new things.  Here is what I"ve been able to translate so far "change your energy, bad energy out," and "homework very important yeah."  The best thing is after she is done talking for two minutes and those phrases have been said a time or two she ends with, "you understand?"  All the students just smile and nod.  None of us really know what the hell she said, but she is so nice you don't want to make her feel bad.

Each class is four segments. First is this series of tapping on your chest, waist and lower abdomen (the lower abdomen is hugely important in the whole yoga world - it is also where most of your guts are).  This is the energy center.

Next come vibration exercises.  They play drums on the stereo and you jiggle and move to the music.  Close your eyes and do this naturally is the instruction.  I usually open one eye and peak to see if I look any goofier than the rest of the class. 

Third, comes meditation.  You lay down and focus on your breathing and yup you guessed it . . . the lower abdomen.   They play peaceful music and you just relax because, "bad energy-it come out."  The meditation is the best part of Dahn yoga because you don't look weird and how can you mess up be sprawled out on the floor?

Finally they end with fifteen minutes of Tai Chi.  This involves lots of fluid movements and bizarre poses.  It is stretching and bending of the knees.  I can tell the master has pity on me because she has to come over and yank my leg or ankles where they are supposed to be (multiple classes - multiple times she has to help me). 

Then after the yoga session it is sharing time.  You drink green tea and sit in a circle.  Then one by one everyone shares how they felt during the hour and how they feel now. The first time I introduced myself by saying, "hi my name is Tim and I'm an alcoholic."  I'm pretty sure that wasn't good but everyone laughed and the master didn't know enough english to pound me.  The best answer to give is "I feel relaxed and happier than when I came in."  After each person talks you bow and say, "Cum Sa Mida."  Which is Korean for "And you are weird too."  The tea is not bad.  At the end of sharing time our master says, "energy come out, homework very important."  Yeah we've got that part down.

Like I said there is some benefit, but my mind isn't quite where it is supposed to be because there is this guy Daniel, a class member, who helps mop the gym when we are done.  He also runs and gets the tea when we are finishing up with yoga.  The guy is so peaceful and always smiling and it just makes me want to smack him.  I'm pretty sure this means I haven't opened my heart and mind.  But I still want to smack him - He is like the yoga nerd who is the master's pet.  Stop smiling continuously while batting your eyes like you are Kung Fu.  Screw you Daniel.

You feel better, but the money bite is continuous.  It is $150 a person to join for a one month trial membership (you can go to as many classes as you like).  But they continually tell you that it can take a year to really see life changing benefits (or three months for those less financially stocked). 

Then they have these workshops on the weekends that you are strongly encouraged to attend because they are, "very important"  I'm pretty sure they are important to the income stream of the Dahn Center.  Then for folks like me who are tightly rapped and a little off center . . . private sessions are suggested.  Turns out to adjust my physical, emotional (holy crap) and spiritual energy I would need $300 private sessions with the mega master.   They said I would probably benefit from ten sessions to get to the point of normal members attending group sessions. They are probably right since I want to smoosh Daniel, but I'm not into it enough to kick out $3,000 in addition to the $100 - $150 a month for regular membership.  Did I mention the $50 uniforms?

The real confusing part about the whole thing is after our class they always have an advanced class.  Two of the people who show up for that look very relaxed and fit and are enthusiastic about the program - and they don't look like cult members.

So that is the yoga experience, part Korean translation, part health benefit and part money making scam.  The question is do you put up with some of the money train stuff for the sake of health or do you tell them, "my bank account very important, don't like money out?"  It is a quandary.  What will I do?  No idea, but I'm either going to pound Daniel or he'll become my best yoga friend.

To close I'll simply say, "Cum Sa Mida."

August 6, 2006   Let the Force Be With All of Us

Friday night was interesting as we did something totally new - Julie and I signed up for yoga classes.  It is supposed to get one more fit, increase a sense of well being and quiet the mind (which in my case is extra good).  We have groovy uniforms that look like marshal arts garb.  We wear our regular clothes in and out of the place.  We could walk the few blocks in the uniforms but my luck some hooligans would think we are marshal arts people when in fact all I could to is meditate at someone.  Thus we change clothes.

The first night is interesting.  They go slow and the workout is well paced you don't know you are working out until the heart rate is suddenly high (and the sweating part is a hint too).  It involves Dahn Yoga and some meditation and Taichi.  You can look at the place we go online at:

Dahn Yoga Center

We have no stock in the business so no blogging conflict of interest there.  It was kind of fun and at the end they make you sit as a group and have green tea.  We both felt much more relaxed after the hour long session.  Plus you learn a few phrases in Korean - I found that mumbling and bowing works as affectively as long as your hands are in a prayer position.  There must be something about not pounding anyone as long as they    have prayer hands and bow - even if you actually said, "your socks make a lovely home" in your mumbling.   We'll go back for more classes this week.  They did tell me to throttle back my expectation that levitation was a good goal for the program.

Thursday night I went to my first meeting of the Atlanta Amateur Radio Club.  Pretty nice guys and they have some serious money in their VHF repeaters.  Wow the Kansas City crew had great stuff, but these guys are serious too.  One of their receive/transmit antennas is on top of the Bank of America Building this is visible from our balcony.  So I think I can bring up that repeater with a 3volt battery, a dime and some string.  My little handi-talkie does just fine on it.   There was a cool guy named Jack with a great voice and he used to work at WDAF and KCMO in Kansas City.  We had fun talking - the guy is full of life and runs the meetings.   Got to go back to see him in action some more.

I'll end for now.  Sorry it has been so many days since I blogged.  It was a hectic week.  But a quick shout out to Ellen and Brett who faithfully check out the site. 

July 29, 2006     Birthday Bash

Today is Julie's birthday!  So of course she does a charity project today.  She is working at the Atlanta Food Bank this morning and then going out to lunch with her friends.  Tonight we're going to a party at the home of her boss Dave.  Should be fun.  She deserves a great day.

I am slowly turning into my Grandfather.  And not the one who was the wood working genius who swore like a sailor and would have been the perfect Grandfather role model for me.  It is the other grandfather who once said, "Why should I go to California and look at palm trees . . . we have trees in Buffalo, NY."  Yikes, the good thing is he ended up going on the trip and I think enjoyed himself some of the time.

I used to proclaim I would never just sit in the recliner wearing a baseball cap with a sport fish on it (he had one - the hat not the fish).  He would also sit in the car and wait when he would take us shopping . . . wearing the baseball cap with the fish.  Two things happen to turn me into him.  First I'm in the recliner and turn the TV off.  You can see your reflection in the glass and there I was sitting in the recliner with a baseball cap with a fish on it (though I got mine from Hawaii, but I don't think the point of purchase matters).  The second thing is waiting in the car (without the hat) seem appealing because I can listen to the ham radio while waiting for Julie.

So slowly I'm turning into him.  He was a really special guy and did lots of things for other people.  He was very active in our church and if someone had a birth, illness or death in the family (think Mac the dead guy in our pool) my grandpa would be right there with grandma to share the experience with the family.  Probably if you had a dollar for every time he visited someone or a family in the hospital you'd be rich and then some.

Which leaves me with one question.  Is it bad to turn into our parents and grand parents?  Depends on them.  If I'm turning into either of them hopefully it is the best of what they are or were.  They all get smarter by the day the older I get.  It's an old line but it is true.  Excuse me I now have to go make a noise when getting out of my chair and try to ring the doorbell with a giant sneeze.  PS - I've got to get rid of the hat though, Hawaii or not.

July 23,  2006     Photo  Deception

As stated earlier our camera has deceived us all.  The dudes at Wolf Camera convinced me that the sensor was bad in the camera.  Two years old and it's one year out of warranty.  Bummer.  $168 to fix.  So for an extra $100 we simply got a brand new camera of the latest model.  Hopefully whatever was wrong with the old one won't be suspect on the new one.  Julie read the entire instruction manual last night - determined to have the functioning of the camera down by the time we hit Europe.  The 12 nite Med Cruise is in three months.

Bailey is running around at maximum Bicheon speed at the moment.  Julie just got back from shopping and Bailey wants to make sure there is nothing for herself that might be overlooked were she in another room.  But she is safe.

I've been listening on the ham radio to the local VHF frequencies and it has been very quiet.  This is not good.  One of the most precious resources available are radio frequencies.  Business want to gobble them up all the time.  There are chunks of the spectrum which are allocated to ham radio, but when there is silence on those bands it leads one to wonder if the hams really need the space.  It is the utlimate radio use it or kiss it good-bye.  It is also curious because guys have put a lot of money in the repeaters to rebroadcast signals to the greater Atlanta area and not to hear activity is a shame.

We went to the IMAX today and saw a show on dolphins.   It was excellent - on the screen many of the dolphins were larger than life size thru the magic of IMAX.  It is pretty impressive how smart they are.  There were several pieces regarding their communications and their ham radio bands are loaded with talk.  I'm giving the scientific community another 3 years to crack the dolphin language and them Im going to jump in myself as it were.  I'll be using an old cassette player in a ziplock bag, a Commodore 64 computer and lots of underwater toys. 

I figure working day and night I should be able to have a dolphin to human translation by 2467.  Unless of course some dolphin is working on the same thing and then I should be able (with the dolphin's help) break it by 2233 around June.  It is all highly complex and will use fractions and graph paper.

July 20, 2006     Til You See the Whites in Their Eyes

Note to self.   If you are going to work and you are washing whites the night before . . . put them in the dryer that same night.  I'm in dry cycle now and then I'm off to work.  Too much information?   Well that is what a blog is for.  I'm held hostage by laundry.  And that seems like a great story line for the Dr. Phil Show.

We had a great time on the Cod over the weekend.  The weather was perfect.  The lobster party was great and we met a little Pug dog named Millie.  We shopped til we dropped and thankfully didn't spend a whole lot of money.  Because just getting to and staying on the Cod is pricey.

We went in stores that had things like boxes inside other boxes inside other boxes all made from fine wood.  What the hell exactly are you supposed to do with that?  But someone must apparently love that stuff because it was $375.  If you are going into some type of box competition it might come in handy.

The downside to the trip was our digital camera gave up the ghost.  We are getting a digital artifact problem of big pink lines on top of each photo.  This is a problem unless of course you are taking pictures of big pink lines.  So we had to switch (and this is frightening) to a disposable film camera.  So I will have some photos to post once I go to CVS.   What a pain in the butt no digital.  This could mean the purchase of a new toy so it is not all bad.  But just imagine a Cape Cod style house and that is what the houses look like on the Cod . . . it is the strangest thing.

During the trip we spent a day on Martha's Vineyard.  If you ever have the chance to do that . . . stay half a day on Martha's Vineyard.  Nantuckett is more tourist interesting.   Though there are stars like James Taylor living there.  The thing that is great about Nantuckett is the t-shirt sayings.   My favorite t-shirt says, "I am the man from Nantuckett!"  Beautiful.

I'll type more but I think the dryer is just about to turn off so I'm leaving for work now.  Photos of the Cod coming.

July 11, 2006   Pods and Mommies

Okay how about being in a conference room all morning talking about definitions of pods of work?   I want my Mommy, and a blanket and a chocolate chip cookie.  At this point in the morning I would be close to a coma; however, I've got to explain this conversation to about 15 people once I get back home.

The question at the moment is do we move the CPI adjustments in leasing to one pod (task of work) or another.  This is very complex and top secret - I can't even share the answer.  We are running our logic through NASA to determine the impact in foot pounds pressure on the lunar surface.

Nikki is doing an incredible job facilitating this discussion.  Soon we'll be creating new charts and graphs before we turn the execution over to interns.  We may also be turning this over to CDC to look at the health impacts of various pod groupings.

Michele got busted last night at the hotel bar because she was drinking a Coke from Subway in the bar.   She was cool about it.   She asked if she could simply get a glass and pour it in especially since she was ready to immediately buy a beer.  But the bar woman wouldn't go for it.  So Michele just went out front with her Coke and finished it.  Then she came back to the bar and didn't order a beer so the bar really lost money when they originally and a beer order coming.  It is a tangled web of intrigue at the Helix Hotel.

More later.

July 9, 2006

Julie was able to see the Tim McGraw/Faith Hill concert last night at Phillips arena with Cindy and Stacey.  She said Faith just has a crystal clear voice in concert and they had a great time.

I on the other hand had an "all nerd weekend."  I went out and bought a ham radio handi-talkie (read walkie talkie just called handi in Ham radio world).  It is the Mac Daddy of handis . . . the Kenwood TH-F6A.   Amall picture below:

It is not only a transceiver, but it is a scanner.  So if I want to listen to Mall or Hotel security frequencies I can.  I'm not sure why anyone would want to do that, but the point is I could.  It has 5 watts of power on the 2m, 220Mhz and 440Mhz ham bands.  It is what we call a "tri-bander" - that simply means way more expensive than a dual bander.  In ham radio the larger the number the more expensive the thing.  I won't tell you how much an Icom 7800 costs . . . okay I will tell you it is $10,500 but it is way more than a handi-talkie, it is a high frequency base station rig with full color LCD display.  At that much for an HF rig . . . it is basically for single guys cuz what wife or girl friend wouldn't be a little freaked out to see the bill for that come home?

Bailey is in dog wonderland.  We got her some different dog food for variety.  We put the new stuff in her dish that already had some old stuff.  So she grabbed a mouth full and headed for the bedroom.  There she ate just the new stuff and left a little pile of the old food on the floor and left.  That must be dog for, "yes I'm bored to death with the stuff you feed me everyday.  Thank god you were finally smart enough to get me something a little different."   She still isn't as excited as when we get her moist food.  You open the can and she able has a stroke right there waiting for you to dump it in her dish.

Tomorrow is a half day at work and then off to Washington DC to have the monthly HCAM meeting.  I sat out last month so it will be good to see everyone.  I'll return on Thursday and then Friday we're off to the Code.  What a jet set life.  Sometimes it is just cool to be home doing nothing - which is the plan for today.

July 6, 2006

So I'm watching the Doctor Phil Show.  They have a guy on who wants his wife to stop having the kids in the bedroom.  So what does he do?  He pitches a tent on the roof of their house and moves up there at night!  So far the guy has done it for 14 days and he is promising to stay up there until she changes her mind.  Classic.  They actually look to be a pretty cool couple.  Dr. Phil was trying to get them to stop giving each other ultimatums (spelling?).  If you want to check this out the guy has created his own Website:

Husband on Strike

Too funny.  I just hope they work it out before the guy falls off the roof.

Everybody at the condominium got some bad news.  The other night one of the residents was up at the pool very late by themselves and apparently slipped, hit his head, fell in the pool . . . and died.  He was in his fifties.  He had even done some work for us in the condo a few years ago.

They discovered the body at 1:30am.  Police investigated and confirmed that he died of natural causes with no foul play.  The reason I bring up such a gruesome thing is to illustrate how short life can be.  You never know how short so enjoy the people and times of our lives while we can.

July 4, 2006

First of all I wish everyone a very happy and safe 4th of July.  Like Google I have changed the banner photo especially for today.  The usual photo will be back tomorrow evening.

Julie is in New York having a great time.  They have made good use of the double decker bus tours and had a nice habor lights cruise last night.  I just hung loose at home with the Bailey.  Today was shopping for the trip to "the "Cod."   There were clothing sales everywhere.  I jumped out to Gwinnet Place Mall out on I-85 and Pleasant Hill Road.  The whole mall was discounting things so drastically that they actually gave me money in addition to the merchandise.  Okay that didn't happen, but I can dream.

So now it is 2pm in the afternoon.  Bailey is fast asleep by the computer and it is time for serious flight simulation efforts.  This will be capped off by hotdog and hamburger left overs from the other night at Audrey's - so I'm having an all American meal.  Then later we'll watch the fireworks on TV and open up the doors so we can hear the sound whisp across downtown.  That is the 4th for me quiet and calm just the way Bill Gates meant them to be.
July 2, 2006

Maiximum excitement - go to Google and type in Tim Pfohl . . . when you do this Website will be at the top of the list.  I finially have enough hits that I topped the list.  How cool is that.   So now when people go out at surf Tim Pfohl (you know like the two people that will do that in the next 3 years) there won't be any scrolling necessary.  Topping the Google count.  Very cool and took a little over 8 months to do it.  There are a total of about six different Tim Pfohl connected to various sites on the Web.  I like to think about this as the home of the Tim Pfohl's everywhere.

Well we are going into a strange week.  Work Monday, then off for the 4th of July Tuesday and then back to work Wednesday - Friday.  Today is a quiet Sunday.   Julie is off in the Big Apple with Donna and Brooke.  They saw Mama Mia on Broadway last night and had a great time.  Today they are on a double decker bus seeing the sights of New York.  Bailey and I are keeping the home fires burning.  I'll post some photos of the New York trip when Julie gets back on Wednesday.

Most interesting was I heard from another Tim Pfohl.  This one from the great Northwest and even more amusing he is married to a Julie (we are pretty much sure it is not the same Julie, but you never know since my Julie is out of town).  He worked with two other Tim Pfohl's in a chain in Buffalo New York.  We figure we have to be related somehow since both my Mom and Dad were born and grew up in Buffalo.  In any case there are more and more Tim Pfohl's populating the planet.

This afternoon I'm going over to Audrey's with Kim and Mark for a basic American cook out.  We'll do burgers and dogs and the usual Sunday outdoor fixins.  Before that - can this be any more nerd like - I'll probably brush up on my Morse Code since I've gotten a little rusty not using it and not doing much ham radio.  So that may be most of the day when you throw in a few hours on the flight simulator.

Tomorrow at work it will mostly be a day or presentation preparation.  We are going in to present to the directors regarding a lot of HCAM issues and looking for support before we go into and talk to Ron about our future direction.  The team is doing great work and having Amy as the regional coordinator is a huge huge step in the right direction.  She is doing amazingly well and the timing is perfect as the effort heats up.   So go Amy!

June 25, 2006

We are all here in Independence having a great time.  Sharon, Dave and Lindsay went to the wedding of their friend last night.  We've had lots of birthday cake here.  Bruce got a new Sony digital camera - very compact and excellent picture quality.  So we did our usual Best Buy run last night.  The photos are very sharp.   In fact here is one of last nights dessert, can you say luscious?

Here are David and Lindsay on the couch:

Just 23, 2006

Off to the friendly sky this morning.  We are jetting to Kansas City for my Dad's 80th birthday.  How cool is that.  Mom and Dad will pick us up at the airport and then shuttle us to the hometown of Harry Truman - Independence, Missoui. My sister and brother are coming in town too.  We haven't seen any of them since Christmas so this will be a fun trip.

BTW, the song that was going thru my head upon waking is, The Bangles - Walk Like an Egyptian.  So that will be the song of the day.  Now I'm pissed because I can't get the song out of my head and I want to make those goofy hand gestures as well.  The near miss song of the day was the theme to the Love Boat, but it was swamped for some reason by Walk Like an Egyptian.

We'll be taking Bailey to the Puppy Hotel.  She'll be the recipient of extra play times, the nature walk and a bed.  It is what I call the dog parental "guilt package."   She loves going there, but I feel the twing of guilt when you send your kids off to summer camp.   You know they'll have a good time, but you still worry about them.

We'll talk to you live from Independence tonight.   I'll also have photos.

June 20,  2006    The  Heat of  the  Safari

Today was the employee picnic.  It was hot, really hot, but everyone had a great time.  I got to eat great BBQ, spend 2 hours on a conference call and have Julie toss a water balloon at my legs.  It was dangerous as well - I got my sparkling white tennis shoes muddy.  But no limbs were broken.  More importantly our summer hire Mario was not injured in the 3 leg race.  This is good since he is a key member of the GA Tech basketball team.  Can you imagine explaining to the coach how I got one of his star players all busted up at a picnic?  Not good, but he left as healthy and when he came.

The interns did a GREAT job getting the Safari together.  Brett, Sarah, Megan and others with the excellent work of Bridget really made the thing come together.  I've said it before it is great to see the next generation of GSA moving up.  They are superb, fun and a credit to public service.   It makes you proud to work with them and work at the agency.

I of course was just thrilled that the picnic wasn't at Einsteins.  Can you imagine, "yes we'll we can't seat you until all 300 attendees are here."  Einsteins could learn a great deal about hospitality from the interns.

Well I still feel like an overheated piece of toast so I'm going to end for now.  Keep your eyes posted for scary photos of Meg Ryan.

June 18, 2006    Amendment

How can I forget this.  So I mention below we went to Einsteins last night for dinner.  Norm, Julie and I show up and Kim and Mark are on the way.  So the three of us get there and want to put our name in to sit on the patio.  There are tables available as it was only 7:30 and too early for the beautiful people.

The guy at Einsteins tell us they can't seat us until our entire party of 5 is there.  Okay annoying but whatever.   Then, get this, when Julie asks if we can put our name in so we'll be ready when Mark and Kim arrive . . . the guy tells us we can't even put our name in until all the entire party is present!!!!   Holy cow.  Now Einsteins is nice and it is hip but it is not the elite eating establishment of Atlanta.  What a pain in the butt.

What bothers me about this?  Well it is a reverse Cape Cod experience.  If you get that kind of treatment at Cape Cod it is no big deal . . . because after all it is Cape Cod.  I don't mind feeling like riff raff there.  Heck I am riff raff there.  If your family hasn't been worth at least $200 million for longer than 200 years you are riff raff.  That is what I love about the Code.  But worse in this situation . . . they don't even do that at Cape Cod.   Its Einsteins for gods sake in Atlanta, GA.  Meals are $8 to $25 dollars.  We finally all got there, they put us at a nice table outside on the patio and the service and food were great.  But if you have the chance to avoid the snooty - then certainly don't eat at Einsteins.  We can't put your name in until your entire party arrives?  Holy crap.  Your money is better spent on Cape Cod where they are actually nice to the super rich and the riff raff.

Oh and a side note when we go to the Code on the Friday night Mark is having a movie outside on the green.  How cool is that.  He won't reveal what movie he will be showing, but the concept is great and we'll all have a blast.

June 18, 2006

It has been an active weekend.  Julie's Dad Norm is here for Father's Day weekend.  He and Julie have been hitting the golf links.  They had a fantastic time yesterday at a new course up in Conyers.  It had lots of interesting holes and fruit trees and plenty of shade.  I should have gone with them but I'm really no good at golf and any heat above 74 degree gets uncomfortable and the closer the temp  gets to 95 the more cranky I get.  Yet yesterday turned out to be a gorgeous day.

We had a great dinner with Kim and Mark at Einsteins.  We forced Norm to walk after a full day of golf.  I think it admirable he is still talking to Julie, but he did fine.  We feel wonderful this morning because last night we had a great pre-dinner dish of Mojo Pork Figs.  To get one's Mojo on especially when it comes on a stick is fantastic.  Then in honor of myself I had the jerk chicken.  It was delightful.

Bailey has been getting on my nerves.  Yesterday two different times she tells me she has to go outside so I run her down to the courtyard and she just smells the wind for 5 minutes and does nothing else.  Twice mind you.  Then on one of our other trips the lady across the hall (really nice) named Sheila was coming out of the door with her dog the same time Bailey and I were.  Her dog, Hank, is the nicest little guy - another happy little white dog.   Bailey gowls and aggressively goes after Hank!  And, shame on me, I didn't have her on the leash.

So at this point I am fed up with her.  So she and I weren't speaking most of the afternoon.  She has completely lost her leash free privileges.  This week I'm calling dog psychologists "How to Talk Dog" and see what the issue might be.  The issue will basically be how I interact with her to cause this - which is probably give her anything she wants.  Those days are over because she is such a brat.  So we'll get to the bottom of it with the dog experts.  She also goes into barking zone when we have visitors.  One of us needs to change to get things right again.  What happened to my dream of have a precious little dog who would be sweet enough to take to an old folks home?  She would probably chew the arm off some poor elderly shut-in.   So we won't be doing that during this dog lifetime.

After talking to Kim and Mark apparently Meg Ryan has had some nasty plastic surgery.  Even the lip injections.   They said she looks rather freakish - and she used to be a real cutie.  When will it end?  I'll have to hunt around the web for some frightening current images of her.

Well I'm off to flip on the flight simulator and enjoy some chocolate milk out of my super fancy ceramic mug.  That mug is just a classic (pictured below).  I may have to do a complete 24 set dish set of the custom paint job.  I figured with the reasonable rates for the customer ceramics that I could do it all for a reasonable $5,000.   Sure this is a boat load of money for a dish set, but hey . . . its custom and you can't put a price on that . . . wait, yes you can its $5,000.  So we won't be doing that anytime soon either, but I might to one place setting of dishes and saucer.   I could probably do that for less than $430.

Quick hello to Brett one of our new interns.  She is awesome and picks things up very quickly.  The current crop of new hires is just outstanding.  So hello to Brett and Krystal and the rest of our new super crew!

June 15, 2006 - The Terror Continues

Campbell Brown's nose as know is scary.  But she is not the only nose job celeb who has taken a perfectly good nose and headed more toward Michael Jackson territory.  Yes men do it too.  Even men in great shape.  I've got proof.  Former Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner clearly has had some "work done" and probably shouldn't have.  Here are before and after pictures.


Now After

In the second photo it appears he has had some eye work done as well.  And perhaps some dental too.  He is just too plastic looking and it scares me.  An all American nose just thrown to the surgeons.   Where will it end.  I'd even bank that Jenner had his nose job years before Campbell Brown.  Which means she had clear evidence of another celeb going to the dark side - the dark side of nose shapes and she went ahead and did it anyway.   It is a shame I tell you.  Where will it end.  Want to be more scared?  Just look what all the surgery has done after some years of living.

I'm glad I don't have kids they would ask all innocently, "why Daddy, why?"  Because there are those in the world who seek to do evil to their own noses.  And for those really into the knife they go for the face lift too. Don't grow up and do that little Timmy Jr. unless of course your nose is really ugly and there is no choice."   Then little Timmy and I will watch the Today Show and he'll scream like a school girl.

There is a bright spot in the Tuesday/Wednesday realm.  Tim H. had his second born come into the world.  He is happy and healthy (apparently nose is perfect).  Congrats to him and we'll post photos when available.

Now end the reading of the blog by playing Billy Joel's Don't Go Change'n (official title "Just the Way You Are") and enjoy your day.

Don't go changing, to try and please me,
You never let me down before,
Don't imagine, you're too familiar,
And I don't see you anymore.

I would not leave you, in times of trouble,
We never could have come this far,
I took the good times, I'll take the bad times,
I'll take you just the way you are.

June 14, 2006

The visits have been up and down so far this week.  We had 8 Sunday, 15 Monday and 6 yesterday.   Seems like, no shock, Mondays and Fridays are big surf the net days.  Be interesting to see todays hit rate.  It may peak back up.  More later, just wanted to share the visit count with you.

June 13, 2006

It's Tuesday the 13th - spooky.  Oh wait that is Friday the 13th and I guess we all survived 06/06/06. 

We are still recovering from our great time at the lake.  The boating and the friends were the best part.  We played a game called ImagineIf.  You write people's names around the board and then pull out a six question card and it might read, "Imagine if XXXX were a television show he/she would most likely be Baywatch, Leave it Beaver, the Nightly News, Rocky and Bullwinkle etc.  Then everyone gives their opinion and when opinions match you get a point.  Our favorite person was Ellen.  Almost everybody would figure out the same answer to Imagine if Ellen . . . It is a pretty fun game and you should try it if you have 5 or more people.

The pressure is starting to loom for the Ornament part for Christmas.  Each year every makes ornaments and then trades them with others.  So there is pressure on two fronts first you've got to be creative.  Second you have the production issue to make around 20 ornaments, one for each attendee.  This is one of those things that if you wait until December . . . you are screwed.  The time flies and you end up the night before the party with no ornament idea and no time on the clock to produce it even if you had an idea.   So to do something spectacular you have to start thinking in the summer and producing in the fall before the holidays hit.   So we are in the heart of "figure out what you ornament will look like" time.  With the success of the mug the name of the game this year maybe "ceramics."

Off to senior staff later this morning.  It should be interesting because we have a new Administrator at the agency and that means new initiatives.  That is normal but we are hardly through executing the current initiatives.  But we'll get some indication today from Ron perhaps what things she is interested in out of the gate.  We'll of course roll with whatever it is, but change is coming with the new leader.  

June 11, 2006  -  Time on the Lake ahhhh

We just got back from the lake.  It was a great relaxing weekend.  It was good food, good friends and great boating.   Here you can see Tom behind the wheel of the mighty Bayliner.

Then even more spectacular . . . Stacey on the water looking like a sports goddess:

June 8, 2006 -  The Mug has Arrived

Yes after some serious waiting the mug is here seen in beautiful living color.  Pretty neat huh?  Lots better than the fish plate.  Notice the speckles on the gold color on the bottom of the mug.  That was the premium paint I bought.  The big decision is whether to take the mug to work or not. I might just put it in my room under a single spot light no on a revolving mount.  Or maybe just put some chocolate milk in it and go from there.

Also notice how the blue is not splotchy.  Just nice solid blue.  That was what I worked on the hardest.

I'd love to go on blogging but I've got to get to bed because Stacey, Julie and I are driving up to the lake after work.  So its time to crash.  Hope you enjoyed the mug - more ceramics may be coming I mean where else are you going to get a $35 mug you did yourself?  Though I may break into soap dishes next time.

June 6, 2006    -   Six six six - spooky

Haven't blogged in few days - got a little overwhelmed by things, but now I'm back in town.  There are 21 things on my work to-do list.  I can delegate three of them.  What kind of manager does that make me?haha   I should probably be in the delegating half range, but I'll get through it no doubts.  Tomorrow I'm meeting and conference call man.  Meeting at 10, conference call at 11 and then an HCAM meeting after lunch.  With all that I'll still be home in plenty of time to cook dinner for my wife.  Wait a minute . . . it is my turn to pick the restaurant.  For those in Atlanta be sure to eat at Franco's Italian place on Piedmont.  It has the best pizza in town.

Bailey has been active at puppy daycare.  She even played with a Yorky puppy.  Very unlike Bailey - we'll be taking her to the vet to see if we can get her non-commital attitude back.  But at least our money to get her activity is a good investment at the moment.  Currently she is lording over her world on the balcony.  Opps she just strolled back in and headed toward the kitchen.  Probably a drink of water more important than royal responsibilities at the moment.

We have yet to pick up the ceramics, but they should be good.  We'll have to pick them up one of the nights this week.  Over the weekend we are going to the lake with Tom, Cindy and Stacey.   That should be cool.  I'm going to have to get out my speedo.  No I don't want to terrify poor Stacey and her sorority sister.  Bad enough that it was 666 this week.  The speedo could put some people over the edge.   Plus they don't really have any colors that are flattering to me. 

My piloting skills continue to grow (slowly) at this point I could do some rudimentary programming of an FMC or Flight Management Computer on a Boeing 737.  Enough to input a basic flight plan and talk intelligently with a pilot about all the things I don't know.  But I could at least help if it was ever necessary.  In my own fake universe I can get the plane in the air, programmed with no "discontinuities" which is a big deal in FMC programming and finally get it lined up for final approach with the auto pilot on and lots of help from ATC.  You know the kind where they say . . . "you didn't just push the blue button before the yellow button did you?!?!?!?!" 

Bailey has just walked in from and out to the balcony three times while I'm sitting here.  There appears to be no one entering "her area" and the lack of action is making her restless.  Well I'm done for the night I'm off to program a flight from Washington Dulles to JFK.  See you all tomorrow. 

Oh speaking of Bruce Jenner's fake nose I'll give you a little teaser of the regular old natural Jenner nose when he won gold at the Olympics.  Just check out the all american-ness of his nose.  Now tomorrow when I put that with a photo of his current fake nose you'll be very very frightened.  Trust me.

RECORD     RECORD     RECORD   22 Vistors May 25th   RECORD   RECORD   RECORD

May 30, 2006

Well for sure yesterday was a holiday - we had two hits.  I didn't log on or blog either.  We went over to Kim's Mom's and grilled steak, hamburgers and hotdogs.  Yes it is true I was actually cooking on an outdoor gas grill.  Two good things happened . . . food came out great and nothing caught on fire.  That is a good holiday outing.

Getting very excited because we are just days away from getting the ceramic mug back.  The mug I am confident will actually look good and find its way to work.  Probably by Friday or Satursday at the latest we'll have photos of that up on the site.

I'm blogging live from beautiful Denver, CO tonight.  I'm here for a quick one day turn around on HCAM Account Management stuff.  We are meeting Martha and Ron from National Office as well as Tim H the project manager and the ever working Nikki.  We are going over the Account Management Playbook as well as the other elements of the account management initiative.  It will be a long day.  Currently I'm slated for a 5:30 flight out of Denver that gets in to Atlanta around 10:30 pm so that puts me home fairly late. 

Or I could stay over an extra night and fly home Thursday morning.  No matter what I end up doing my Thursday morning is pretty much hosed.  I'm writing this at 10pm eastern time, so today was a long day too.  But as I sit here I'm watching a beautiful picture postcard quality sunset over the Rocky Mountains.  So that alone is worth the travel.  I should have brought a camera to snap it for you all, but traveling lite for the one day.  But just imagine a gorgeous sunset, mountains and clouds of pink and orange and you've got what is looks like.  I've got the window open and its about 72 degrees.  Perfect evening except Julie isn't here.

I'll blog tomorrow night and give you a run down of what we got done.   There are many topics that can have national impact so we are going to try hard to get it right.  We've got good folks on it though.  So good night from the Rockies.

May 28, 2006

Holy cow.  We just got back from an early morning trip to the driving range.  It was hot and then some.  It was so much expended energy that I've lost over 35 pounds.   Now I am back to my modeling weight of 110 lbs.  Actually I think I'm the only person who could practice some form of sports out in the heat and actually gain weight.  It was fun but unsuccessful.  It is the rare golfer who can hit the ball at 90 degree angles.   I can drive the ball about 250 -  175 straight ahead and then 75 more when it zings off to the side.

Back to Idol.  My Mom told me she had heard that Randy and Paula are making somewhere possibly up to 8 million.  Ryan Seacrest is making about 14 million and Simon (since he makes the show) is getting 30 million.  If that is true everyone reading or writing this blog are in the wrong business.

Yesterday it was back to the ceramics world.  We went to a place closer to home called "Wired and Fired" over in the Virginia Highlands.  This place is more expensive than the one out on Roswell Road.  This place charges the standard fee for the item you choose to paint, then they creatively charge you extra for any premium paint (heck yeah I had to use some of that), they charge you for any paints more than four colors and this is the big one . . . they charge you $8 per hour/per person to stay there and paint.  What a ceramic scam.  So to anyone out there - go to the place on Roswell Road we wrote about below.  Better selection and better Karma.  I did a mug this time and Julie did a soap dispenser.  My mug make actually look pretty cool.  Photos to come.

In terms of hits to the Web site even on the weekends the volume is pretty high.  We had 15 hits yesterday . . . on a Saturday of a holiday weekend.  Not bad at all.  The traffic is certainly picking up. I think those Georgia Tech folks are helping things along.  So go Tech.

BTW Bailey the dog has learned to spell.  We used to just say, "I may have to take the dog OUT."  Just the mention of it got her off the couch and headed to the door.  So then we got clever and spelled it, "the dog may have to go O - U - T."  Whatever cue we are giving off the spelling of it is enough to get her tail wagging and looking toward the door.  Then once we're out and it is time to come back in and you say, "come on Bailey lets go inside," the dog suddenly becomes deaf and cannot recognize any part of the english language.   She really is a fur covered con artist.

At the moment she is sleeping with her head laying out of the door to the balcony for maximum smellage while the remaining dog body is inside on the carpet for maximum comfort and air-conditioning. 

So far the weekend has included the forementioned ceramics and driving range as well as bowling Friday night.  Next will come music therapy when I sing along to "Shower the People You Love with Love." whilst I slowly bang on a tambourine. Whew-wee it is an action packed weekend.  Now Julie is in watching the Indy 500 and I'm blogging.

I thought it would be cool to show you guys the graph of how I have a general idea who is visiting the site.  Below is a graph by Internet service provider.  I can tell where people are coming to the site from, but obviously I can't tell who is visiting - probably best to protect the innocent. 

What this shows you is a lot of people from GSA are visiting the site.  It seems for some it is a daily aid to the professional happenings at the agency.  This of course makes sense because most of the people I know are from GSA.  Also interesting are the "googlebots" these are the automatic crawlers that sweep the site every few days to see if any content has changed.  That is what keeps me up on the google search results.  But also family, friends and of course the folks from gatech.edu.  This pushes me to the new goal of visitors.  The desire is for 30 unique visits in a single day in the next 2 months.  This is more challenging because the first 20 or so can be hit by those who know Julie or me.  To push much past that we need visitors who don't know us, but stop by the site.

For $5 a month for the site you can't beat the entertainment value.  And thanks again to everyone who visits.  And Denver folks . . . I still need a photo of Jana's little one to post.  Although I did hear the kid has a site on MySpace.com and it is running 5 - 6,000 visits a day.  Darn kids.

May 26, 2006

Ellen's work continues to pay off.  Plus a hello out to the folks from Georgia Tech who are dropping by I saw the .edu in the server logs soo welcome to you all.  We topped the old record site visits by one.  We hit 22 visitors yesterday.  Which is even more amazing when you figure we had back to back monster high volume days.  Lots of folks came and they all came back.  Some of it is my teaser about my expose on Bruce Jenner's nose job.  I'll be hunting for the very best before and after photos tonight and then look out.

No new content yesterday cause the day basically bit.  Can you say overwhelmed?  Can you say the day was in color but I felt like I was watching it in black and white?  Feel free to play the Idol song, "So You Had a Bad Day."  On Boston Legal they would say I had Mad Cow.  More like bummed out cow.

I will be back at it once I get to work today.  Lots of HCAM stuff going on.  I'll need to spend about a half hour on the phone with Tim Horne to get caught up on the activity nationally.  Plus I got a note from Linda that our training contractor wants to meet next week so I might jazz up to DC for that.  One trip is already on the slate though - it is out to the beautiful Rocky Mountains to meet on the account management playbook.  We will be positively giddy once we are in final draft of that.  Nothing like writing a 12 page document as a semi-cooperative effort of 25 people.  But Nikki should just about be putting it on ice.

Speaking of Nikki I still need to get the latest photos of the Jana baby.  It is growing quickly and is now 18 years old.  This is just part of the advanced child effort happening in the United States.  They grow up quick and usually have a masters from Georgia Tech by the age of 11 as engineering prodigies.  Yes that was a shameless referrence to GATech since you guys are visiting the site.

On to American Idol.  The season is over and Taylor is the man.  The unfortunate thing is his first single "Do I Make You Proud" bites the big one.  It is okay, but in Julie's words it was like someone just slapped together a song in an afternoon and said yeah here you go Taylor . . . your first hit.  We think not.  If you are going to have a debut record wouldn't you come out with some smoke'n hot blues number?  Wouldn't you cash in the Soul Patrol?  Wouldn't you showcase the guy instead of giving him a half baked ballad?  It is sad.  His next tune will probably be a hit, but this first one I bet has about a 10 minute shelf life.

And put your safety belts on . . . we may be going back to the ceramic place this weekend.  This time as stated earlier in the blog I will likely take on a mug of some type since Julie's turned out so nice.  I also thought it would be cool to have the letters, ".com" on the wall of my room, but they have a zillion different letters but no period or dot.  Bummer.

Okay I'm signing off for now to head to work.  Since so many people are hitting the site I'll put up some cool photos or more of the story the Silver Delmar.  Again thanks to one and all for stopping by.  I'm still thinking of a new visitor goal for the coming month.  If you have suggestions feel free to email me.

In the words of Boston Legal . . . Denny Crane

May 24, 2006

Excitement big time.  Ellen must have been working the phones because we hit our target 4 months early.  We broke the goal of having 20 people visit the site in one day.  The magic number is 21.   Julie just told me that she didn't look at the site so it might have been 22.   Bailey has no thumbs and therefore can't type worth a darn so it could have been her friends.

I checked Google and the site volume gives me a Web ranking of:

    347,987,200,403,511,349,621,752,945th most popular web site.

With volume like this by the end of the summer we could easilly have the

    347,987,200,403,511,349,621,752,943rd most popular web site.

To prove this momentus occasion here is the site log as of tonight:

I'm considering getting a bunch of commemorative ceramic mugs made (by someone else) to honor the occasion.  Or I might even got paint the number 21 and have it put in the kiln for dramatic firing effect.

It kind of makes you tear right up when you know that the peak visits to the site happened the same night as Amercan Idol's end of season show.  Which apparently 200,000,000 people watched around the world.  Which means for every 10,000,000 who watched the end of Idol . . . one person visited the Web site.  That is the kind of traffic that make a site.  I also figured tonight that if I put ads on the site I would make approximately 0.0000000000000000374 of a penny each month.  So thankfully I've decided to go ad free as a salute to the loyal visitors.

Back to Idol.  My Mom wrote me a note to say that for she and Dad Kat won hands down.  You've got to love Taylor.  His personality and energy can win over anybody, but last night Kat had it.  But the fates had already decided it by then.  But Kat did look beautiful last night and what a gracious runner up she was.  I'll also predict that she may very well find more commercial success than Taylor.  After all his last name is Hicks.  Not the most hip name on the planet.

And in terms of special guests . . . can you guys believe they got Prince to appear on the show.  He appears on no televsions shows.  The best part was he came on stage did his two numbers and then walked off - very Beatle-esk.  I'm still blown away they got him. 

The other special moment was when they got the geeky guy from the early auditions singing and then had Clay Aiken walk out the poor guy almost fell over dead.  How cool is that.  Julie did not like Clay's Beatles hair cut though.  It was just a little too British invasion for her.  Especially since she just got back from England herself.  Also I thought Kelly Pickler looked gorgeous in her red dress, but she is old enough to be my great great great great grand daughter so I mean that in an admiring/proud of her kind of way.

Now that the Idol season is over I'll be back to look to expose celebrity fright.  Be watching the blog - I am just about  ready to reveal Bruce Jenner's terrifying nose job with comparison photos.  So run for your lives now and for heaven sake don't let any young children check out the blog for the next few days.  And remember that Bruce Jenner was married for a while to Elvis' girlfirend Linda Thompson.  Making the nose job even more frightening.

What other suprises will tomorrow bring.  Not sure and now that we've met our traffic goal 4 months early - a new goal will have to be formulated.  This may take some serious thinking and various forms of math.  Speaking of that though I met one of our new interns Bret and she is very smart.  She used to run a Sylvan learning center.  She was also a regular school teacher as well.  She had some cool stories about all the nutty things she would hear from students.  Cool and we are glad to have her aboard.  Welcome Bret.  Maybe Bret has two t's I'll have to check before I mangle the poor girls name in future blogs.

That is it for tonight and hats off and thanks to all the 21 and other faithful visitors to the site.  You make blogging worth it all.  Because . . . this blog is for you.  Now go have a Bud light and surf the Web.

May 23, 2006

Two marathon meetings this morning and then Stacey, Ellen, Dave and I went to lunch.  This isn't just any lunch - yup we went Artery clogging hot dog place.  Dave decided his diet could use a little adjustment for one day so he had the chili dogs.  I had my usual "two naked dogs."  A good meal was had by all.

We found out two interesting things last week.  When we peaked at 19 unique visitors last week it was because Ellen single handedly did a major phone push to get everyone she knows to check out the site.  It absolutely made a difference.  Things are a little slower this week with 7 people visiting yesterday.  Mondays are typically slower days though.

The second thing sparked a mathematical debate.  It seems the rule for guys dating younger women is this:  The man takes his age divides that in half and then add seven years to the half.  Thus I'm 44.  Half of that is 22 and then the addition of 7 leaves us with a result of 29.  That 29 is an important number it means that is the youngest age woman a 44 year old man could date without it being over the top. This sparked a lot of discussion.  Basically Stacey reminded me that I in fact could not date a woman of any age as Julie would obviously have a problem with it.  Stacey is right of course, but more than that I hated dating. 

I also realized this result basically says if you dated a woman any younger than the formula allows then the likelihood that you would be old enough to be your date's father become more and more probable.  We haven't tested this rule.  Likely other factors would come into play.  My immaturity level would have to drop that number below 29.  But notice below 29 year old woman for a 44 year old man jumps into the creepy zone.  So these other factors may always be over shadowed by the original result.

This was a complex discussion certainly not for those with a fear of math.  It is ann interesting topic.  It is also best to have the discussion about generic men or woman lest you get smacked by one of your colleagues.  The final result for me is I'm thrilled I no longer have to date.  It was too difficult and in the words of Homer Simpson, "Anything hard is not worth doing."

After lunch I decide it was too nice a day just to go back to work so I got Dave's approval to take some leave and I took the afternoon off.  It involved sitting on the balcony and reading some flight simulator stuff (you know the kind of thing that would really turn a 29 year old off).  Then I took a serious nap with the balcony door open.   It was aaahhhhh relaxing.  I would actually enjoy taking the rest of the month off but it would quickly cause a bit of a cash flow problem at work so I think I'll make the choice to head into work tomorrow and enjoy it.

Ellen is also very interested in the ceramic effort.  Especially the part about bringing you own beer and wine sounds appealing.  She is write.  Your painting certainly get sloppier, but it doesn't seem to bother you as much.  The name of the place we went to is Art and Soul located on Fountain Oaks shopping plaza on Roswell road.  We recommend the place cuz the owner is just loopy for ceramics and is willing to teach you what you need to know.

I should also give you a review of the DaVinci Code.  It was a movie.  A movie we saw.  A movie we saw at a thearter.  A movie Julie liked and Tim thought was okay.  Most disturbing is Tom Hanks hair.  It is pulled back but wavy.  Not good for Hanks.  The movie is like this if you read the book you tended to enjoy it more because you have the big picture of all the subtle clues.  If you didn't read the book the movie was slow to unfold.  It is worth seeing but Julie would probably give it three stars and I'd give it two and a quarter stars.   If scary hair doesn't bother you - go see it.  If however Cambpell Brown had been in the movie I would have run screaming out of the theater.  More on the DaVinci Code tomorrow and why I just can't buy the theory on pure fugitive reasons alone.

May 21, 2006

This was a big week and an even bigger weekend.   Typically Saturdays are fairly slow with around 8 or so unique visits in one day.  Yesterday was a new record at 19 people.  That is just one visit away from the goal of 20 in a single day.  Pretty exciting.

This of course means that we may have to move up the creation of the timpfohl.com t-shirts.  My goal there would be to sell approximately 1 or less per year (cause I'd buy one myself each year out of shear self t-shirt pity).  This would also be a companion t-shirt to my favorite "Zippidy Freak'n Do Da" - this would of then allow me to be sued heavily by the Mouse House in Florida.  So maybe I should just stay out of the t-shirt business.

For the fellow nerds out there I may be ready to install the Linux operating system on my old computer which is sitting next to my recliner.  The computer itself is a nice artifact of ancient computing.   You can tell because it sounds like a 747 when you fire it up.  The motherboard is too old for it to be able to mount the super quiet fans of today.  So I'm using it as my play box.

Real flight simulator nerds use their second computer to drive a whole new set of monitors for a complete wrap around effect.  I have run out of desk and wall space for additional monitors . . . unless I hung them from the ceiling . . . oh I forgot Julie reads this blog.  Never mind.

We got up and took Bailey for a walk this morning and went to Starbucks.  We don't really want to go to Starbucks but when you live in the city it is the law.  A walk = Starbucks.  There is something like a $1,000 fine if you go to CVS and get drinks there instead of going Starbucks.  Bailey did the first part of the walk like the normal rocket on a string dog.  Then she started to wear out so I had to carry her the last 1/4 mile to Starbucks.  She survived the trek and is now passed out on the couch.

And for those of you who read yesterdays blog the Starbucks purchase came out of Julie's bank account today.  And the moral of that story is people who have bank accounts should drink coffee.  That is unless you are Campbell Brown of NBCs Today Show and then you run the risk of coffee shooting out your plastic surgery nose.

May 20, 2006

Well after thinking and doing some soul searching over American Idol I think that Ellen maybe right.  I reread her comments below and they hold a lot of merit:

"What are you thinking pulling for Kat?  She has missed lyrics in 2 songs in the last 4 weeks.  She also has a little attitude.  Yea, she's cute but what the heck....I wanted Chris to win so badly and I'm really pissed that he is gone...."

I believe Ellen has something there.  Kat did kind of slide by with those less than par performances.  And I love Taylor's voice but his dancing is really getting annoying.  Have you noticed that his elbows are pinned to the sides of his body.  The hands are moving all over but the elbows are stapled to him.  My advice to Taylor is let your arms be free like doves over a meadow, they long to be away from you making their own gestures.

Okay I decided to put up a photo of my flight simulator equipment.  And yes I have gone overboard.  The dual monitors are nice as you can see the runway spans both monitors (cool) [so imagine what three would be like].  The electronic radio stack is about $1000 (though some Christmas presents like the $300 autopilot unit.  The yoke is $180, the throttles $150, the rudders are $140 and the extra monitor $300.  Plus I have a $400 video card in the computer which is fast fast fast.

This brings me to a discussion on money and marriage.  If I were not me but my spouse and my spouse spent almost $2000 on flight simulator toys I would go nuts.  I would also keep the spouse away from Radio Shack and the Apple Store.  I mean bad enough I spent the money on it - worse I've nerdized our home computer. I'd go ballistic. 

But that is not the case with Julie and I because we have separate bank accounts which I highly recommend.  This allows Julie to get any extravegant thing she wants (though I've yet to see her do that).  If she did I'm perfectly fine with that.  She also doesn't get mad if I decide to go out and buy a Gretsch guitar.  So you see separate bank accounts are a wonderful thing in a marriage.  So the moral of this story is if you have a bank account get married.  Wait that isn't the moral but you get my drift.

In terms of nerdizing the home Julie lovingly says the computer room is mine and I can do whatever I want to it.  She can just close the door and go in the living room.  Is that a cool wife or what.  Though if we had a home with room to spread out can you imagine the shear horror I could generate with a full size aircraft flight deck in the basement.  So the moral of this story is - if you are a real nerd don't get married unless your spouse is one of the coolest people on the planet.  Unless you have separate bank accounts then you should get married anyway. 

And the last 2 sage things I'll say are the important lessons, "there is no 'I' in moron."  And lastly, "People who live in glass houses should have a lot of Windex."

PS The fish plate still bothers me.

May 19, 2006  Headed to the Goal

Just checked the stats for the Website and yesterday . . . get this . . . we had 18 unique visits to the site.  That is just two away from the goal.  Very exciting. 

I also tried to blog yesterday but had technical difficulty.  Ellen called me and expressed some concern over my support of Kat on American Idol.  She was still update about Chris being off 2 shows ago.  That was surprising and there were many out there who felt all along that Chris would go all the way.  So I can understand her frustration.

One of our rotating interns left us yesterday.  Jessica is rotating back to her own division. We are all bummed about that but heck she may be back someday.  Our summer hire Mario continues to just crank away at anything we give him.  Great guy.

Oh yes another Ellen item.   She wanted me to look into getting a forum where people could leave comments etc.  So I'll be checking that out this weekend.

May 16, 2006   Something is Fishy Around Here

Below is the ceramic fish plate.  As you can see the colors turned out splotchy because I didn't do enough coats of paint.  Also the light colored dots didn't really work to well.  So this is why I must go back and try another piece.  Julie's mug turned out much better and I would have gotten a photo to show you, but she took it to work.  Maybe we'll take the camera in to work so you can see it.  But here we go on mine

So in order to really enjoy the plate I'm going out to get a box of Triskets or perhaps some peanut butter and jelly finger sandwiches.  

Today was a good day at work.  I am so impressed by the interns we have with us.  Mario our Georgia Tech summer hire is just the nicest guy and willing to pitch in and learn whatever it takes.  And Jessica is super bright.  She also has a killer funny sense of humor.  She edited some Scissors Off the Wall documents for me today.  This allowed me to ship the material out to a contractor who is using the text and PowerPoint with another Federal agency - which is cool.  So thanks to Jessica and Mario for impressing us old guys.  The agency is in good hands with them as our future.

We are tuned into American Idol while blogging tonight.  All the contestants are doing a great job.  I'm pulling for Kat and Taylor.  Both are excellent.  If I had to go with with one Kat gets my vote for the next American Idol.  All three finalists are good, but Elliot just drives me nuts with the vibrato - good lord someone needs to stick a nob on his head and turn it down.

Also we heard from the cruising couples today.  The ship pulled into port for the day at Key West.  Unfortunately it rained most of the day.  So they hunkered down at a bar and enjoyed the local cocktails.  So hey to Linda, Renee, Jerry and Al on the high seas.  Tomorrow is a "fun day at sea" as they head for Cozumel, Mexico for their Thursday in port of call.  We hope they are having a blast.

May 14th Server Logs

We continue to have a pretty good visit rate to the site.  On good days we are pushing up to 11 or 12 unique visits.  Not bad.  Look at how the number changes on different days.  Apparently Fridays are a big day for people checking out the Web.  For several weeks we've seen a peak on Friday and some low views during mid week.  Fun to see it.  And my goal remains the same . . . a day with 20 unique visits to be accomplished sometime in the next 5 months.

Song of the day:  Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone

May 14, 2006

Haven't blogged in several days.  It was a heck of a week.  Had two big presentations to the boss - one on the budget and the other on our departmental business measures.  Both went well.   Also had to finish the business plan for the division and held two mid-year reviews.  I survived all the hoopla in a fashion that allows me to use words like hoopla.  I used to be so hip and now I say hoopla.  I just look at the kids today and think, "enjoy all your hipness now, cuz eventually you get older and you just become mature."

Julie made it back from England.  She said it was fantastic.  By the second day her Mom was starting get be a little more mobile thankfully and they got around to all kinds of the famous places.  They also road the Tube all over.  Their favorite place was Harrods department store.  They said it is so big it would take days to get around to all the departments.  Julie brought me home those chocolate things wrapped up to look like gold coins.  Needless to say those were consumed by Thursday and she returned on Tuesday night.

We picked up our ceramics projects.  I'll get a picture of my fish up on the site here in the next day or two.  Julie did a mug that is blue and yellow and very stylish.  It turned out great.  My fish plate is so so.  What they don't tell you is though you need at least three coats . . . there really ought to be more and they should be heavy coats if you want your project to have solid colors.  Otherwise you have sort of the watercolor look to it all.  They places that I painted multiple multiple times came out looking the best.  Go with five coats especially on the dark colors because if those are thin then you get the water color effect.

So though I am semi-happy with the fish plate I'm challenged to go back and do it again with another object now that I know the procedures to follow.  Probably this next time I'll go for a mug like Julie.  Just need to come up with the design and then talk Julie into going back up to the place.  It is sort of a long drive though.  There is a similar place in the Virginia Highlands which is a super trendy area about 10 minutes drive. So we might try there.

Tomorrow we are having an intern rotate through our office for several days.  I've met her and she is pretty sharp so we'll have to keep on our toes to show her some good stuff.  I'll have her spend a day with the Courts Account Management group.  That is a client which usually involves lots of project drama for a number of reasons. 

We are also getting a summer hire coming to us.  He is a really nice guy named Mario from George Tech.  The summer hires are interesting because you want them to get something out of their time with you, but they are only there for about ten weeks.  So what the heck kind of project do you get them involved in?  Ten weeks is about five too long and ten too short to give em obvious projects.  But we'll find a way to get him hopping on something.   Our recruitments have been very good from University of Georgia and Georgia Tech so it is important the summer hires have a good experience to report.

Well tomorrow Renee, Al, Jerry and Linda are off on their four night cruise to the Caribbean on the Carnival Cruise Ship Facination.   I still could have gone and would have had a blast, but it is a lot to go through for a four night deal in the middle of the week.  So the upside is I saved a thousand bucks.  The downside is I'll miss some great times with friends and four scuba dives.  Bummer.  But in just a few short weeks we'll be off for Kansas City and then Cape Cod where all the rich and famous go "to summer."  So we'll have a blast with Kim and Mark doing that.

That's all for lazy Sunday.   Tune in tomorrow when I describe our trip to the Renaissance Festival we went to yesterday.  There will be no photos though, just photos of the fish plate and mug. 

May 7, 2006

Went to the auto show and spent about two hours looking around.  I got to see the Ford CrapMaster 5000, the Nissan Blah and the Chrysler hohum.  The cars are pretty boring really.  No real differences on the inside to be sure and lots of sameness on the the outside as well.  No major changes in the Cadillac line from what I have.  The interiors are all very very similar.  Big differences are the size of the engines and that makes a big price tag jump.  So if I go Cadillac I ought to just keep my car which has only 19,000 miles on it in the last 4 years.

Only thing that was the least bit interesting was the Buick Rendezvous.  It is an SUV/Minivan/Sedan cross over type vehicle.  It is little but sits taller than a car.  It would probably be around the same length as mine and is about $4,000 less than the CTS.  The inside is comfortable and hopefully it has a smoother ride than the road hugging/rattling CTS.  So it comes down to those two really.  May just keep the Caddi.

The did have cotton candy at the show, but I opted for some Dippin Dots since it is the ice cream of the future.  Chocolate and it was good and probably 500 calories. (But worth every one of them).

Spent the rest of the day puddering around the house with Bailey.  We went for a walk and she was a happy camper.  The weather was really nice.  Not sure what it is doing in England right now for Julie and her Mom.  When I talked to them yesterday they were having a great time and her Mom was able to get around without the cane.  Whenever they call they are someplace noisy so London must be a happening place.

This morning I got up about 8:00am and went straight for the American Road House restaurant - I have the road house waffle with strawberries and blueberries and lots of whipped cream on top.  Probably 1,000 calories and perhaps worth every calorie but certainly getting up there.  Rest of the day should be quiet.  It rained heavy this morning and I got a little soaked going out of the restaurant, but hey I'm wash'n wear. 

Bailey is acting like she wants to go out and do something.  We may wait for the ground to get a little dryer and then go for a walk.  I have to type the word "walk" very quietly because she knows what that means and generally goes bonkers if she thinks we are headed out for a walk.  She gets so excited it is hard to put her leash.  That will be the next thing on the list for the day.

May 6, 2006

It is t-minus 45 minutes before I'm off for the autoshow.  Should be interesting.  My only real hope is that they'll have corn dogs and cotton candy at the show lunch area.  But then I guess cotton candy with all those sticky fingers on the car wouldn't exactly be a good idea for the dealerships.

I have my brochure of GM cars.  I might look at something else but I doubt it. I've had bad luck with both Ford and Chrysler.  I like some of their cars, but don't want the risk I'm happy with GM.  The cars range from nifty sports cars to SUVs to Buick Sedans.  I want something with power everything (my current CTS has BMW like psuedo power steering and its a pain).  I also want cushy suspension.  The CTS is bone rattling when going over any obstruction on the road surface.  Julie says I just need to look at cars for old people and I should find something I like. Between Lindsay and her suggestions and Julie with hers - I don't need many more helpers.

What I'm really looking for is a refined cushy SUV for less than $40,000.  I'm also looking to shake hands with Shania Twain someday and that won't be happening either.  So I'm off to the show to see what is out there.  During my scouting trip Bailey will be home sleeping without knowing how hard I am working trying to get transportation of the quality she has come to expect.  Opps someone was in her area a minute ago so she was walking around the balcony snortting.

I plugged in the second monitor to the computer last night.  The duplicate monitor arrived yesterday afternoon.  I plugged it in (it is sitting on exactly the same type of mounting arm that is on the first one) and Wow.  Flying the flight simulator that is twice as wide while looking out the cockpit is pretty amazing.  Well worth the investment. 

But of course there is enough man in me to think cool if two monitors are great what would three monitors look like?  I've seen pictures of guys who have flight simulators with as many as six monitors providing a wrap around environment.  No doubt these are guys with no wives or girlfirends.  We don't have the room to try something like that out here and I don't know if the condo has enough electricity that every traffic light in Midtown wouldn't go out if I plugged in a third monitor.

May 5, 2006

Well its an overcast Friday here in the big Atlanta.  Julie and her Mom did successfully touch down in London England a few hours ago.  Down side is that her Mom stepped off a curb and twisted her ankle so they'll be hobbling around a bit.  Bummer, but I guess if you are going to be injured then London is not a bad place to be.  Could mean free beer.

I am home with Bailey this weekend.  Big plans are for weekend are to go to the autoshow to see what kind of car to get when my lease runs out on the Cadillac CTS.  Not sure what to do so I'm sure I'll make friends with all kinds of guys in plaid jackets.  No it will probably a fun show.  That is coming up tomorrow - I'll get there right at 10am when the gates open up.  I'm looking forward to it.

May 1, 2006

Bailey is happy as a clam tonight because she just got one of her favorite Dingo brand rawhide bones with chicken in the middle.  I've tasted them and they are a lot like fudge bar.  Okay actually I just ate a fudge bar while she chewed away for an hour and a half.  But had I tasted the rawhide bone it would have tasted a lot like chicken.

After my hideously failed attempt to get high tech equipment at Compusa I ordered what I wanted over the mail.  Now tonight I ordered a duplicate monitor to go with my ViewSonic 924.  I order it from Zoom, Zip, Fly for $100 less than Compusa.  On-line buying is just the way to go - NewEgg is another great spot to try.  Just wait a few days and then boom product arrives at your house no fuss no muss.  So for my high tech self I'm feeling like I look in the picture above.

Oh in case people are feeling too comfortable out there I just have two words...

Campbell Brown !!!!!

And speaking of her they showed photos from her honeymoon on the Today Show the weekend before last.  They went to Africa.  Who goes to Africa for a honeymoon?  I've seen hippos and they are not romantic.  I've seen tigers and they just don't bring up the feeling of amore.  Just weird.  I mean go to Africa on a trip, but a honeymoon?  Goofy.

April 30, 2006

It's Sunday in the city (actually it is Sunday everywhere, but you get the gritty 1950's baclk and white detective show feel I was shooting for).  It is a little gray out there today.  Breezy and a little cooler is the order of the day.

Okay Friday night we went to a ceramics place to do some painting and then you come back in five days after the object of your paintousity has been fired in the kiln (or given a pink slip as I like to call it).  This was an interesting place. 

It is in a shopping plaza on the second floor.  It has concrete floors which are a good thing for a place with paint.  You can bring whatever food in you like and drink for that matter.   The place is crowded with every kind of ceramic thing you can imagine: plates, ash trays, decorative trays, tooth brush holders, coasters, mugs, tea pots, vases, letters, dragons, frogs, cheese trays - you name it and they've got it.

So you go in and the owner Stacey gives you a lightening fast education on ceramics, painting, the color wheel and says to me, "for example if you mix yellow and red Tim what color do you get?"  I had to explain to poor Stacey that I don't even know the names of the cheeses and she wants to get into color mixing with me?  I told her if I had to quiz on the color wheel I was a dead man kilning.  I did take a minute or two to think and finally said, "yellow and blue make . . . plaid."  Thinking she would be impressed by my obvious lethal understanding of colors.  She laughed and stuck paint bottles at me and just said don't mix this with this.  Now there is a lesson I can get behind.

There are about 20 tables there and it looks exactly like high school art class. (except people hadn't ground words like "fart" into the tables, but other than that it was exactly like high school art class oh and people bring wine with them, and you could eat food whilst you paint . . .).  There were brushes, and stamps and sponges and Q-tips of every type.  Stacey also had books of ceramics projects in them for the art challenged.

Julie had been in the store a week before at a sorority function.  She did kind of a candy jar vase thingy.  It took me a half hour to decide what I wanted to paint, but in the end it was perfect - a tray in the shape of a fish! A fish tray as it were if you will so to speak.  That was the easy part - the tough part is all the colors you have to choose from look super flat without the benefit of the kiln at a billion degrees for 124 hours.

The paint is difficult as you go along because for instance there can be 10 different shades of yellow once the piece is fired.  But when you are just painting the flat colors all the shade are indistinguishable.  So the various combinations next to each other look like bird poop.  But I slogged on and kept painting.

I went for a sort of Partridge Family Bus kind of a look with red, yellow, green, purple and orange.  I should have put black lines to separate all the squares of colors, but honestly the ceramic dust start to make me hallucinate so I just went with color next to color.

The ceramic place was cool and I had fun doing it.  I wore a smock so I didn't get my $18 black polo shirt from JC Penneys stained.  When you are blowing that much cash on a wardrobe you can't be too careful.

An odd thing about the evening was I was the only guy in the place.  And that is okay, but I was surrounded by suburban Mom's giggling and drinking wine.  Some of them would compliment my fish plate as they walked by (secretly they wanted my plate).  One of the Moms when told of alternate color choices by Stacey remarked, "no brown or gray for me, my kid had projectile poop all week."  Ewwwww.  I swear she said it and we had to laugh.

I'll be posting a photo showing the results of our trip to ceramic land on Thursday once we've picked up the fired items.  Do I recommend a trip to a ceramic painting place?  Heck yeah - just take your own wine or beer.  I just stuck with TCBY yogurt and my art suffered because of it.  It was fun though.

April 28, 2006

Holy cow you all must be telling other people about the site, because yesterday marked a new record for unique site visits.  17 people stopped by to view the site the previous record for any single day was 12.   It appears we may actually reach the goal of having 20 unique visits on a single day within the next 3 months.  Wow.  Thanks for all publicity - now I really have to be sure I'm putting up good Blog content and keep writing the story.

April 27, 2006

Need I say it?  The cold cruel reality hit Kelly Pickler is off idol.  The shame of it is she really did deserve getting booted off.  Yet that doesn't make it any easier.  After all her Dad is in prison.  She lives with her grandfather.  But she is bubbly and might very well go on to some TV show.  I'd type more but I'm really so impacted by her departure.

April 25, 2006

American Idol on tonight and little Kelly Pickler isn't doing to well.  She could be in trouble.  She has gone as far as her cuteness can take her.  So tomorrow night unless a lot of people give her the benefit of the doubt she could be going, going and gone.

I spent most of the day writing today.  It was a little hardcore.  I was linking our 2008 budget request to the President's Management Agenda.  At first hard to rope it in, but after working it for a bit a lot of what our division does is right on target from e-government to human capital to financial responsibilities.  So after writing and reading it stepping back made me appreciate the revelence of what we do everyday.

Also got to interview a great guy from Georgia Tech.   We'll bring him on this summer for a three month stint.  He is a nice guy who is really looking for a start in life with a good organization.  He graduates next month so it is cool to see somebody where I was a bunch of years ago (okay a lot of bunch of years ago).

Tomorrow I'm going to post some pictures of Bruce Jenner's nose.  Seriously it is funky it is more of a Michael Jackson thing than Campbell Brown, but you can tell he has done a bad thing to himself.

April 24, 2006

It is Monday and there is nothing on TV.  Yeah yeah yeah we went to work blah blah blah.  The important part of the day is TV - and today there isn't any.  Right now we are watching a show on the history channel about the search for ancient civilizations in the jungles of the Amazon.  Holy cow.  Ancient civilizations in the rain forest!

There was however a facinating segment on the Pezians.  It was an ancient civilization based on the candy necklaces with the little beads you can eat.  Then the elastic band gets wet from spit and you throw it away.  The Pezians made these necklaces and used Pez for money trading their wears along the Amazon.  Unfortunately they met their demise at the hands of the Ringians who made rings made of giant candy gem stones that looked like a pacifier.  It seems the candy pacifier rings would survive the rain forest while the Pezians wears would eventually crumble into powder.  It is a sad story.

Back to TV. There is no American Idol on and that is a hardship because without Kelly Pickler it just doesn't seem like a full day.  And I'm so glad Bucky is gone.  What the heck kind of name is Bucky - that is nobodys idol . . . Bucky?  Coupled with the fact that he couldn't sing made him a candidate for the highway - thankfully America has by their lack of votes given Bucky the walking papers.  This had better not happen to Kelly Pickler. 

Although next time it is on check out her hips - they are large hips and she is young so they are probably going to get very large - so the question becomes could you be an American Idol with big hips?  Sure you say Ruben Studdard - but what has happened to him.  He's dropped off the face of the musical earth.  Ruben had big hips too - I think it is like a politician with a bad smile - it seems like it could work but in the long run just doesn't happen.

As you can see there is a lot on my mind for a Monday.  It is the joy of TV and not having an actual life other than virtual flight simulation life which is way better than actual flying life cuz in the virtual world you never get stuck in the middle seat between two guys who have giant sholders and smoosh you.  In fact in the virtual world you can charge them each fake money to buy to virtual extra seats.

Anyway Tuesday will be a better day and with that Bailey the dog has fallen over on her side meaning it is time to go to bed and listen to another episode of TWIT (This Week in Technology).  Say good night Bailey.

PS Campbell browns nostrals are back from the honeymoon and they are still on the vertical - I'd rather have Kelly Picklers big hips.  Because Campbell Brown could never have made it on American Idol.

PSS Tomorrow I'll add more to the story the Silver Delmar: Trouble in the City.

Special Note:  If you have the chance zip over to Tikibartv.com and download the latest episode of Tiki Bar.  It is a great little episode with Dr. Tiki and Lala.  It is a great episode for all the fans of things legal.  It is such a quirky little 4 minute show.  It is just oddly appealing. 

April 23, 2006

Finally made it home the other night but it was one heck of a day.  Lots of rest this weekend so I am full of vim and vigor whatever that is. 

The day is perfect here in Atlanta.  Low 70's this morning and not a cloud in the sky.  You can't beat it.  It is one of those days that is just full of promise and accomplishment.   That will last a few more hours until I pass out in my chair.haha  Then it will be the day that I could have done all kinds of things.

We actually have an assignment today.  Two of them actually.  The first is to drive out to the airport and buy our plane tickets for Cape Cod.  We are using the Delta dollars I scored for being bought off a flight so when using those you have to buy the tickets at a ticket counter.  We're looking forward to our trip to what the hip people now call the "the Cod."  "The Cape" is the old term baby.

Seond thing I've got going to day is trying to fix Dave Jameson's laptop.  The video drivers and showing an IRQ conflict and it is jacking the machine up big time.   So of course my plan is to open up the case, pull all the guts out of it and then start soldering.  No kidding - just keeping Dave on his toes in case he drops by to read this.

The Bailey dog is exhausted.  She should be because, let's see, she has done . . . absolutely nothing all day. 

Let me also bitch about the internet inventory system of Compusa.  I am looking for another mounting arm (and we all know how painful that can be) for a second LCD monitor for my main system.  So I want to duplicate the one I have on the first monitor which I purcased at Compusa.

The stocks were either out or extremely low showing at the stores near us.  In fact within 20 miles there was only one store that showed them in limited quantity.  So I haul myself out south of the airport to the store.  I search all over the store myself and found nothing.  Then I flag down one of the Compusa dudes.  He looks in the back and nothing.   I tell him to check their own Website showing inventory.   But nope nothing available.  

This is my second experience with Compusa on-line inventory.  The first one was I went to a store that showed no inventory on the item (of course I found several items there).  This second was showing they had a product and didn't.   What the heck good is that kind of system?  It gives the illusion of the electronic assistance, but in actuality god knows how they keep up their inventory list or perhaps just leave it random.  What a crock.  So I ordered the arm on the Web and it will be delivered in two days.

PS  My brother Bruce just got a new PC, but he won't tell any of us what he has got under the hood so I don't know if I need computer envy or not.  Can he beat my 3.2 AMD 64 bit processor with 600 gig of hard drive storage in an SATA raid configuration with 10 USB 2.0 ports, DVD, CD, four independent variable fans accompanied by a 19" ViewSonic LCD soon to be two?  After thinking about it - nah.  Unless he went for a 3.8 dual core - damn him and his evil high tech purchases!