April 9, 2016

Been a while since I have updated anything on the site.  We'll be working on it in the coming days.  We are currently visiting Julie's folks in Davenport.  But we could be home at any moment in case you are thinking of breaking in and stealing my favorite Big Lake t-shirt.

Beautiful but a cold day here in the 30's.   Kind of sad for an April day but this is Iowa.  Beau the dog is right here snuggled in next to me and thankful he doesn't have to go out to do anything at the moment.

Latest exciting event is Julie and I got tickets to a Carrie Underwood concert coming up.  Spent way too much money but got some good seats we think but can't tell for sure since the configuration is a concert in the round.  We'll see.

Hoping to update photos on the site but will leave the banner the same as a mindless trademark of sorts.  Not much to say right now.  I just need to poke around, blow the dust off the pages and see what we can update.

First photo I'll update is the Corvette picture.  We got rid of the  Admiral Blue 94 referenced below and got a 2002 yellow Corvette convertible that we just love.  The manual transmission on the 94 was making  me a nervous wreck at stoplights.  Thus the automatic and you can't really beat a Vett convertible.  Not sure if I could go back to a coupe when used to seeing the world without windows.   Anyway we love the car and I'll get some pics up as soon as I can.

January 25, 2014

At almost 52 years of age it was time for a total mid-life crisis.  So what do men facing this situation do . . . you guessed it sports car!  I have always wanted a Corvette and finally broke down and got it.  It is a 1994 Corvette in Admiral Blue, 300 hp, V8, all stock equipment that they claim will go 140 Mph.  Needless to say at my advanced age I won't be attempting that speed.  

Here is a picture of the dream machine:

I was excited to have a young guy car.  Then I found out the average age of a Corvette owner is 55.  So I have three more years to go before it is a car for a guy my age.  Also one of the most enjoyable things about owning the car is the fun you have getting in and out of the vehicle.  What they say is you basically "fall into and climb out of the Corvette."

Actually I am pretty excited to have the car and spend a lot of time in the Corvette forums talking to other guys who love the machines.

February 13, 2011

Yes that's right, it is the dreaded "Saturday the 13th" oh wait that is friday that is the big deal.  Okay it is a beautiful sunny afternoon in Lees Summit, MO.  The temps are finally above freezing and we have a boat load of snow melting happening.

It is just one we before our big cruise on the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas - the largest cruise ship in the world.  It is 225,000 gross tons.  It is about the length of a Nimitz class aircraft carrier.  It is 210 feet wide.  It is 18 stories high and carries 5,000 passengers.  We are very excited.  We have an oceanview cabin with balcony on the port side of the ship.  It should be just great.

Julie is giving me a hard time because I created a spreadsheet with my clothing selections for each day at see for both day time and night time activities.  This seems like the easiest way to make sure I don't over pack the way I usually do.

October 11, 2010

Been a bunch of months since I last blogged.  For give me father for I have sin. . . oh wait wrong thing.  Okay to the lake house status.  Insurance company has already sent first installment of the claim money.  All paperwork is in to FEMA for the funds to demo the existing home and build a foundation above the flood plain. 

Just to reassure people FEMA flood insurance is just like any other insurance it is paid for by the insured pool.  There are no taxpayer dollars involved.  Some people say if you are in a flood plain you deserve what you get and my taxes shouldn't go to pay for ... so I can assure you it is not taxpayer bucks.  FEMA just sets the guidelines for the program and private sector companies pay the funds.

So we are waiting for the check to come in to build a new foundation 11' above the ground which will make it 1 foot above flood elevation threshold.  It was $450 to get the site survey for our particular lot.  Standard fee for that.

We have a contractor picked out who is going to design a home basically the same floor plan as the old one only 11' up.  We considered doing cool cement columns, but turns out a regular foundation is less expensive and a lot less risky.

We won't put anything in the first floor basement.  It will have some openings and garage door, but no internal stairs or storage really.  Next flood all we want to have to clean up is power washing the basement and that is it.  Always a chance an even more monster flood will come and flood up to or past the second floor, but most people elevated were fine in the flood this summer which is the worst they have had in 60 years.

The demo/foundation money will allow us to issue a notice to proceed to the contractor.  We can't wait to get moving.   It will be very strange to see our lot with nothing on it.  But that is where wer're headed and hope to have the new place done by spring

On to Microsoft.  I have tried for a week to do a clean install of Windows 7 to no success.  I won't bore you with the details but I'll say I have tried every software and hardware trick in the book.  Nothing.  Lots of guys on the Internet discuss the same problem.  A small percentage of them solve it and it seems a large percentage never beat it.  I am so frustrated I basically just ordered a copy of Windows XP to install on the computer which should install and work fine.

What company puts out software that immediately requires you to put the install image on a USB thumb drive to install it?  Goofy.  I've come at the problem about 10 different ways with no luck.  Even involved two three computers and three other operating systems and Linux as well.  Geeeez.  No joy in mudville.  But my Windows XP disk will be here in a few days and computer life should be back to normal.  But shame on Microsoft for putting out an OpSystem that is uninstallable. 

Julie went to see her Mom and Dad this weekend.  Bailey and I stayed home to do some work I can't get done at the office and work on the computer situation.  Should I tell you that we have a total of 6 computers for the two of us.  Well that or five computers for Julie and I and one for the dog.  Bailey actually favors MS Vista.  She has a laptop with a touch pad of course because she has no thumbs so she is pretty much restricted to point and click.

We came home one day to find she had installed a bunch of software for ordering moist dog food.  She knows she is not supposed to have that as her regular food, but there she has it - a bunch of Purina software.  Thank god she doesn't have her own charge cards.

I would blog more but I have got to get some work done.  Hope all is well with you all.  I'll blog sooner this time.

July 27, 2010

We finally got up to the lake house this weekend.  It was pretty bad.  The water line got right up to the ceiling which had started to fall in, mold was all over, the plaster just sank off the walls and the floors where ....well .... icky.  Our $20 boots from Walmart were a great investment.

We met our insurance adjuster up there.  A guy named Reed - nice guy and pointed out damage that wasn't at first visible to us.  It really is in super bad shape. He said it would need to be taken down to the cider block walls and everything gutted.  We'll get the appraisal in about 10 days. 

Whatever the rebuild we have to have the new cabin raised above the flood plain.  So the choices are have the current structure gutted, raised and rebuilt or demo the existing and build new.  We are strongly leaning toward building new.  It all depends on how the math works.  We'll have demo, new foundation or pilings and then the new building.  We'll have to get our calculator clicking.  But it is good to finally get in there so we know what we are facing. 


June 22, 2010

Here is the latest photo of the lake house taken the afternoon of Jun 21st.  Ours is the second house from the right.  The rains continue to come.  The river stage continues to rise.  The previous record flood was 25.5 feet.  They are forecasting 26.1 before it starts to receed.  The downside is the rain continues to come north of the lake and as far as Omaha.  If that continues it may be the worst flood at Big Lake in 50 years.

You can see someone's dock floating right past the front of our cabin.  There are also boats washed against trees in some of the photos of the rest of the lake.  Thank goodness we got our boat and SeaDoo out of there.  Given the location of the floating dock it likely means there will be damage to our boat lift.  It does however look (in another photo) that our new shed is still sitting in place on the property.

No idea yet when it may start to receed.  These photos are again thanks to Jamie Barnes of Barnes Realty who is going up in his helicopter about every two days.  At this point this is the only recent news with a real look at what is happening.

Julie and I continue to be optimistic that we'll rebuild along with our neighbors.  The spirit of the people at the lake is amazing so once we are all able to get in there with boots, shovels, and power washers the recovery can begin.

June 20, 2010

Into every life a little rain must fall.  Sometimes it feels like there is a tremendous rain that falls.  That is exactly what happened to our lake house.  The rains in Nebraska and Missouri had pushed the Missouri River way out of the banks and broke through a levee close to Big Lake.

The floods have been devastating to the lake with massive destruction.  Thankfully no one lost their lives or are injured that we know of.  It was a slow rising flood, but massive.  Below you can see a photo taken from a helicopter on June 18th.  We don't know yet if the flooding was/is getting worse but it is highly likely that it is worse than the photos from two days ago.

Below you can see a picture of the cabin surrounded by what we estimate is 5 feet of flood water.  In the photo our cabin is the one on the right. 

It is very sad.  Again not sure when the waters will start to go down.  It will be weeks before we can get in there and access the range of damage, but we think it will be near total loss.  Thankfully we have flood insurance, but the clean up will be long and no doubt emotionally trying.

Now the upside.  We can and will rebuild.  The new 8' by 10' shed that was delivered the Friday before the flood waters hit appears to be still in place.  It is empty so that may just need some power washing to get that set up again.  Also we were able to get the boat and the seadoo safely in storage.  Thanks to brother-in-law Dave we were able to get most of the large pieces of furniture out before it hit.  So in the grand scheme our situation could be much much worse.  We are grateful to have a great and supportive family and the strength to begin again at our home away from home.

More photos as we get them and I'll try to document things as we clean up and rebuild.  By the way the photos are courtesy of Barnes Realty at Big Lake.  They actually went up in their helicopter and photographed the perimeter of all the lake properties.  This was our first chance to see the current situation.  Special thanks to Jamie and Alyssa Barnes for what had to be an emotional effort.

April 11, 2010

Here was a brilliant move.  Julie had stuff going on at home this weekend.  So my plan was to go up to the lake and make the down payment on the dock construction.  So I plan to meet our guy Doug at the lake at 1:30 Saturday.  Life is good.  I leave in plenty of time to go to the SeaDoo dealer north of the river and buy a new fire extinguisher for the watercraft.  It is on the way to the lake so everything is smooth.

Then I realize that I packed everything to go up to the cabin . . . except the keys to get in the cabin!  Nuts!!!  I was too far north at that point to be able to turn around and go home and pick em up and still have time to make it to the lake for the 1:30 meeting.

So I elected to keep going (my only real choice).  I did have time to stop for a quick lunch and still get there.  Dropped by Subway in Mound City got a foot long and some bottled water.

Got to the cabin and with a great deal of thanks to the gods of winter the place looked really good.  No roof damage, vinyl siding was in great shape, boat lift was good, screened in porch was in great shape including the outdoor glass table.  I peaked in all the windows and things looked really good inside too.  There were some dead bugs here and there, but it looked okay.  I couldn't see any of the mouse traps so not sure if we had any temporary visitors.  But all looked really good - would have loved to have gone inside, but not to be.

Doug showed up right on time.  We reviewed final plans and he'll have it done in two weeks.  We went with him because he is fast, buildings great docks and is super reliable.  So now we have to wait for the end of the month, hope weather is great that weekend, plan on getting the boat and head up . . . with keys this time.  Total bummer yesterday because it was a picture perfect day.

So that was my trip to the lake - I was there all of about 37 minutes, but got to get a fairly good look and feeling good that the dock will be complete when Julie and I get up there with the boat.  My life lesson?  When you think you have forgotten something.  You have probably forgotten something.

April 3, 2010

We made it through a brutal winter.  At one point we had over three feet of snow on the ground.  Okay it was't three feet, but there was quite a long period of weeks where the snow kept coming.  Temps were well below freezing several times. 

Sun is out now and its about 60 degrees.  We are getting anxious about getting up to the lake cabin.  We haven't had it open since November last year.  Hopefully it came through the winter storms okay - it was really worse up there than here.  So we've got to go up and check the place out.

This is the year we are going to get the guest bedroom squared away so we can invite people up.   We also plan to get a new dock built, but the quote we have right now is pretty high.  We've got to negotiate to get that down, descope our desires or quickly move on to another vendor because we'll be up there before you know it.  

Julie is out right now messing with the Grill outside.  I think we have delicious marshmellow dogs on grilled buns or something like that.  Well I'll go for now and try to think of something more exciting to say than this blog.  How do I go from my favorite, "Where do stupid children come from" and now be down to, "Julie is messing with the grill"?

November 15, 2009    SeaDoos and More SeaDoos

Well the last two weeks I have been working on getting a . . . you guessed it a SeaDoo waverunner.  We've got the boat and now the SeaDoo SeaDoo.  It is a 1994 SPX (in great condition and still starts right up as soon as you hit the button).   Got it with a trailer for $700.  The SeaDoo itself is worth about $750 without a trailer.  The trailer is in really nice shape and that is worth about $300 all by itself.  So it really was a can't pass up deal. 

We also got a new car.  My old SUV was within 1,000 miles of its lease mileage limit.  After that it would have been 25 cents a mile.  So suddenly swapping vehicles seemed like a great idea.  We went to the local Buick dealer and ended up getting a Buick LaCross.  It is nifty - white.  It has OnStar and a great new thing called Navigation Assist.

That allows you to call the OnStar operator - then you tell them what location you are trying to get to.  Then (and this is the cool part) they automatically download the directions to your car.  There is a little text display that gives you turn by turn directions.  So even if you don't have a Garmin with you - you can get where you want to go no problem.  In fact you don't even need to have an address.  I just told em one day that I knew there was a RadioShack with 5 miles of me and I wanted to go there.  The guy punched it up on the computer and boom 30 seconds later downloaded to the car!

Julie said if I buy any more vehicles . . . I am a dead man.  So 2009 was the year of acquisitions - we are truly blessed.  We never thought we would have all these amazing opportunities.  We are thankful everyday for our success.  2010 will be the year of second and third jobs to pay for the "year of acquisition."

We can't wait for warm weather to enjoy the lake and the toys.  But it will be a long winter.  I'll be up playing on Microsoft Flight Simulator during the cold weather.  We are not so sure if Bailey is as excited about next spring and summer.  She likes all the smells of the lake, but the boat is a little load.  She'll ride it but she has to be sitting on our laps the whole time.  She did meet some new dog friends so there are pieces of it she really liked.  We'll see how she does next year.

August 12, 2009    Born for the Sea (or Lake that is)

Julie and I have been busy.  Last Friday we purchased and picked up a used Sea Doo Sportster 1800 jet boat.  Here is a pretty good updated photo.  This is a basic idea of what the boat looks like from a forward view.  Mom wanted me to get a new photo of the boat and I got this one from the Julie camera.

We took it to Big Lake in northwestern Missouri.  The boat ran like a champ all

weekend.  It started right away and is very fast.  So when you have a boat at the lake what else do you need to go with it?  That's right a place at the lake.  So Friday was the boat and Saturday was the cabin/house purchase.

Here is a photo of the house we have under contract:

It is a 2 bedroom cabin that was completely renovated in 2007.  We will close on it on or before September 4th.  So it will indeed be ours before Labor Day weekend.  It is great because it is just an 1 hour and 45 minutes from home.  So we can be up there pretty quickly.  With luck the weather will stay warm for a few months so that it will be a while before we have to button it up for the winter.

So wheeling and dealing was topic of last weekend.  We had great help from Mary who told us every lake property question you could think of when we were in negotiations for it. 

July 11, 2009     We made it back from the Islands - a while ago

Haven't blogged in too long.  Here is the trip report.  On our departure to Hawaii our Thursday morning flight to Denver got canceled (gas was dripping in the plane's wheel well . . . not a good sign - thanks American for canceling).   We waited 7 hours in KC.  We made our connection in Denver and got to San Francisco but we were too late for the flight to Hawaii.

So we were stuck for the night in San Fran - not a bad place to get stuck.  Julie got a great deal on a hotel in Knob Hill.  Checked in at front desk and the hotel dude couldn't believe we got the rate we did.  I pays to look on the web when you get stuck in an airport.

We finally made it to Hawaii on Friday late afternoon.  That meant we only had full days on Sat and Sunday, but we made the most of them.  We walked along the beach, visited Hilton Hawaiian Village, ate everywhere, shopped and generally relaxed.  It was a lightening fast trip and we left Monday afternoon and flew all night to arrive in Chicago with a few hour layover and then back home to KC arriving Tuesday mid-day. 

We're not sure if we would repeat such a long trip for only that short amount of vacation time, but we still had tons of fun.  And we did get to eat twice at Duke's.  We almost bought a painting in Oahu, but ultimately didn't bite on it.   So we got t-shirts, some gifts and chocolate stuff.

Today I will be painting.  I'm painting the console for the flight sim controls that I built with the table saw.  The nerd cockpit builders put several coats of primer on their builds, sand the wood again and then put a bazzilion coats of paint on them.  So I am in the primer stage.  I wanted to finish much sooner but it has been too hot to paint in the garage for over a month.  Then on the few cool days I had other things going.  But I am back to it today.

At work Bob and I are exploring all kinds of social networking software.  We are now both on Twitter.  We follow each other's threads.  We also follow the CIO of GSA now.  Which is cool cuz we'll get all the first scoop on stuff she is working on.  Also we are experimenting with social network and project tracking software package called "Jive."  It is sort of like LotusNotes Connections but a little more intuitive.   We were basically testing this software by a small group at work . . . now there are 25 people on it in a matter of days and the content is getting built up.  We'll see how it goes.

The biggest problem (other than this sticking Web site not allowing for return spacing between paragraphs) is that now in order to track things there is twitter, email, Facebook, instant messaging, Jive and a ton of places to look.  So it is difficult to know which way is up half the time.  I am well behind on email as it is and it is only getting worse.  Plus I am not checking all my accounts regularly because there are so many.  So much for communication getting easier.  This Jive thing just shows up with more stuff going.  It is getting nuts.

May 17, 2009        Headed for the Islands

Julie and I are headed to Hawaii for a long weekend.  It is the usual money saving multi-flight arrangement.  The deal was just too good to pass up though.  So we'll go I think to Chicago, then to San Fran then on to Hawaii.  We'll stay on Oahu right on Wikiki Beach.  So that should be fun.  We'll eat at Duke's the bar and restaurant dedicated to the big time surf gods.  Food is great and atmosphere is surrounded in fine woods of many types.

We'll also go to the mall of course.  I will somehow someway end up smashing my sunglasses while we are headed over and will have to buy new ones at the ABC Store.  There are two pairs going over with me, but it never fails that there will be a smoosh at some point. 

Julie is very excited about the trip and has of course purchased some clothes especially for the trek to the sandy beaches.  Since we are just there for a few days we are packing everything in one duffle bag.  Key will be to keep it below 50 lbs so we aren't charged the baggage fee and the over weight fee too. 

I am just about done with my flight simulator control console.  It all fits together well.  There were some adjustments necessary - though I thought the measurements were all going to be right on target.  There is certainly a difference between the measurement in your head world and the real world - how does that happen?  Well it is built thankfully.  Now it just needs to be primed, painted and all the electronic mounted.   That should happen over the next two weeks now that the weather is nice.  Perfect for painting.  I'll put some before and after photos up when it is complete it.

So those are the big activities of the moment.  I'll probably blog from Hawaii. These days they always seem to have WiFi at the pools of the big hotels.  So there will be sitting in the shade internet surfing time. 

April 12, 2009

For some reason the formatting on the blog is wacky.  Not sure why the returns aren't showing between paragraphs.  I'll look into it (probably not but it's on my to-do list).  So I'll just flow with it for the moment.  Maybe this one will be back to normal.

My flight simulator control console project is coming along slowly.  Yesterday I sanded all the wood within an inch of its life.  Trust me it is smooth.  I used progressively finer grit sandpaper.  It is ready (I think) to get the first coats of primer.  The weather has not cooperated on the weekends so I haven't been able to haul the stuff out of the garage and do the painting yet.    But probably within the week or so I should be at that stage.  I have even greater respect for the guys that build their full size 737 home cockpits from scratch.  Eeeek it is work even for the small stuff let alone the electronics and networked computers for all the displays.  But at least some work is getting done on mine.

Even with half my controls scattered all over the floor of my office I am managing to get in lots of simulated flights.  Because of some software issues at the moment I haven't been flying the 737 much.  My plane of choice is the Cessna 208 Grand Caravan.  It is about a $2 million plane depending on how it is equipped in the real world.   The virtual version comes free with Microsoft Flight Simulator X.  A much better deal.  Landings have been steadily improving.  The other night I safely landed at the downtown Kansas City airport in the middle of a thunderstorm with 30 mph gusts.  An insane situation in the real world, but in the virtual world the wheels kissed the runway gently and right on the center line.   The Grand Caravan is a fun plane though for sure. 

The other oh so fun thing was my dental surgery last weekend.  I am getting four implants including one of the front teeth.  This is due to a Sea-Doo accident I had about 15 years ago.  So for the next three to four months I have a retainer style thing that I wear which basically feels like a mouth full of plastic.  I really don't know how the younger kids do the braces things which Julie tells me often involves a much bigger plastic thing that needs to be worn for a year or more in some instances.  Not fun and even less fun is the expense.  I am purchasing my dentist and oral surgen a really nice 2009 automobile - that or a really nice pool.  They are both good doctors so though it is painful and awkward - a few months from now it will all seem worth it.  Hopefully.

I am supposed to speak at our national intern orientation at the end of the month.  This is something I have done a lot in the past, but often as a lunch speaker.  That bites, but the audiences have been very polite.   But this time I have the kick-off spot at 8:15 to 9:00 on the first day.  What a cool time.  The interns will be all fired up for their week in Washington and they won't have had any other speakers preaching at em' all day.

So the decision now is do I go ahead with it and suffer through the retainer mouth pronounciation of things or cancel until August when my teeth are all ready to go?  Tough decision.  In one sense it is hard to hit a presentation out of the park when you sound a little off.  On the other hand I'd hate to lose the kick-off spot and maybe not get back in the rotation.  So either way it will involve some thought.

By the way if any of you are purchasing various audio, video or computer cables don't get it at any of the box stores.  I wanted a six foot USB extention cable.  At the store they wanted about $30 for it.  I ordered mine from CablesDirect and the same cable no kidding as $4.25.  So I ordered five of them for the price of one at the store.  So again for HDMI cables, USB cables or other high tech cable make sure you go to one of the on-line cable retailers it is a much better alternative.

March 29, 2009

Well it has been a month and a half since I have last blogged (forgive me father).  We recovered from our trip to South America.  We are now into tax season.  I have calculated very carefully and am convinced we are somewhere in the 16 - 40% tax bracket.  I could narrow it down but that would involve some serious mathematics and I am trying to steer clear of that sort of thing. 

Notice this smooth transfer to a new topic . . . I bought a table saw.  That is right one with a spinning blade and everything.  I have cut a lot of wood. Not building anything just cut a lot of wood . . . no actually I have a purpose that will drive me further into nerd land. 

I am building a custom floor console to put all my flight simulator controls in.  I actually had to go over to Jack's house to cut this funky angle in the two side pieces.  So why get the table saw when Jack helped and obviously had a saw himself?  Because I could cut all the other pieces myself - and I use the "measure twice and cut about four times" rule.  I am making lots of friends at home depot.

I would show photos of my progress but aside from cutting the pieces there is no progress.  The weather has not cooperated - I want to do sanding, construction and painting outside.  We had a snow storm yesterday so it slowed me down.  But the pictures are coming of me and safety goggles.  Well there is a lot of construction strategy in my head - and it looks really good in there.

If I had bought a wimpy little metal pre-assembled one that looks like this it would have cost around $279 plus shipping.  Table saw was $250, wood was $75, hardware was $40, gas and six trips to home depot and my time another $4.25, primer and high gloss black paint were $20.   So this means my DIY project not even partially complete yet is costing me around $75 more than if I had just gotten the commercial one.  But mine will be custom made and could be the first in a more robust 737 cockpit build.  And if I cut one more piece of wood - the table saw starts to pay for itself.   So all in all if I avoid any trips to the hospital it won't be too bad.  (Special thanks to Jack for volunteering a 70 degree diagonal cut on wood slightly too big for my saw).

So that is what is happening here.  Julie is doing well.  Bailey is fine and continues to go to my Mom and Dad's during the day.  She loves it.  She gets walks, attention, naps, food, extra treats lots of wild life to look at.  Not a bad life while we are at work.  More on the build shortly when the weather allows for work outdoors. 

February 2, 2009

We made it home today.   After a 9 1/2 hour flight from Santiago, Chile we arrived in Atlanta.  From there we upgraded to first class for our flight from Atlanta to Kansas City on Airtran.  We got some sleep on the flights but for the most part we were glazed donuts by the time we got home.

Our day was wake up on Sunday on the ship about 8:15 am in Valparaso, Chile. Next link up with our private tour guide and check out the sights of Valparaso, have a great lunch by the ocean and then head to a winery and sight seeing tour of Saniago, Chile.  We arrived at the airport about 7:00pm and then waited for three hours playing canasta at the airport Delta Crown Room with Tom and Cindy.  Then we boarded our all night flight back to the US.

The vacation was great.  I highly recommend a two week cruise sometime in your life.  To say it was relaxing was an understatement.  Royal Caribbean did a great job as always.  Tomorrow I'll post some photos from our last day in Chile.  For now we have an appointment with some serious sleep. 

January 31, 2009    Puerto Montt & Last Day Full Day on the Ship

 This will be our last post of the trip before returning home first of next week.

 It is mid-afternoon on the high seas we are still headed almost due north with the coastline of Chile to our east.  We’ve had a great breakfast, lunch and two games of canasta (girls won one and guys won one).  We played general trivia during one of the games and we came in about four points behind the winners. 

 Yesterday at Puerto Montt was a great day on our private tour with Carlos.  We rode up into the high country and went to Emerald Lake and got some great photos of one of the volcanoes.  Waterfalls were the next stop of the day. The color of the water as you can see in the photo below is stunning.  

There is an interesting view going north along the highway.  There is the Pacific Ocean on the left and some mountains with snow caps on the right.  Those of our crew who had been to Europe said it looked a lot like the Swiss Alps.  The rivers and lakes look like those you would see in Colorado or California – but unique in there own way. 

 We had a great lunch yesterday at kind of a log cabin style restaurant in the mountains.  We had Chilean seafood which was superb.  The waiters did not speak a whole lot of English so again Sharon helped us along and when we really had trouble we called for our guide Carlos to translate, but mostly Sharon got us what we needed. 

 We are very bummed our trip is about over.  But at this point we are ready to be home.  We miss Mom and Dad and Bailey a lot and look forward to being with our friends at work.  Three weeks is the longest vacation we’ve ever taken and that is probably as long as we can stand to be away from home. 

 Bailey has probably forgotten who we are at this point as she is happy as a clam at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  There is no way we would have been able to take a vacation this long without them.  It would have been impossible for us to have put her in boarding for that long, the little thing probably would have thought we had left her, but she is in the best of all possible hands at my parents. 

Here are two of the photos I wanted to load the other day:

This is obviously the glacier

This is obviously a big penguin

Tomorrow is going to be a VERY long day.  We get off the ship about 9:00 am, we have an all day private tour of Santiego and then in the evening we jump on our 11 hour flight to Atlanta.  We then have a brief lay lover and then on to KC and home.  So our Sunday and Monday will be a big blur.  But the vacation was worth it.  Once we get home I'll post a 8 - 10 picture gallery of the very best photos.  Thanks for coming along with us on the blog and to our family and friends - can't wait to see you soon.

Signing off from the Pacific Ocean just off Chile - Tim and Julie.

January 29, 2009   Sea Day

We are sailing off the cost of Chile.  We are still south but the captain is cranking along at about 19 knots (fast).  The ship was rocking last night.  It was perfect for sleeping but wow.  We found out the night before the winds were at 100km which is 800 miles per hour if you convert.  Okay that isn’t quite the conversion but the 100kim winds part is for real.  You can do your own conversion to mph.

We just have today, tomorrow and Saturday on the ship then Sunday we disembark in Santiago, Chile for a quick tour of the city during the day and then our night flight to Atlanta and then on to Kansas City.  So we are a little bummed we are getting near the end, but we have one more port of call tomorrow.

Yesterday the captain took a detour so we could see this massive glacier.  We got there at 3pm and he spun the ship around so you had a magnificent view from every part of the ship.  The glacier was spectacular.  It was the whole experience you’d imagine – large ice chunks in the water, mountains in the background and then the white and blue ice of the glacier itself.  The blue was kind of the color of windshield wiper fluid if stuck under ice cubes.  There was even a little mist on the water.  It was just great and the view you are seeing is what we saw standing on our cabin balcony.

The link on the Internet is not letting me load photos to the Web site at the moment - so I'll add the glacier photo tonight.

A photo absolutely does not do it justice, but you get an idea.  The scale is all wacky – the ship was still a half mile away though it looks much closer and in a way smaller.  But it was huge.  

With so much talk about Penguins I thought I’d show you this picture.  There is something scary about a human in a giant penguin suit.  I had to catch this one from a bus we had already boarded.  Had I seen this guy when I was outside myself you can be sure  I would have had a photo taken with him instead of just a photo of him.

Awaiting ability to post photos.

January 28th Supplement 2009

We’ve had a great day in Punto Arenas, Chile.  We went to the town square and went through a little market they had there with wool sweaters, t-shirts, wooden and marble penguins, hats – you name it.  We bought a few things, went to an awesome museum that used to be a mansion for a local family (modeled after the mansions in Europe) and then had a great lunch at a super cool restaurant in downtown. 


Finally we ended back at the port for our four hour excursion to see the Magellan Penguins.  They were very stylish in their white and black.  Each couple (who mate for life) builds their own burrow.  They are big enough for both parents and one or two eggs or little penguins after they hatch.  Some of their burrow condos were right on the beach (very expensive), some are adjacent to main penguin roads/paths and others are more suburban – not right on the beach but built at a decent price with lots of square footage compared to their coastal neighbors.


Most of the penguins were at the beach swimming so things were quiet around the condos and burrows.  Several of them were relaxing trying to figure out why a lot of humans were looking at them.  Others were just crashed out laying down for a snooze.  Tom got some incredible shots

We were dropped off at the pier with about 45 minutes to board the ship so Julie did some lightening fast shopping and then got in line to take a tender ride back to the ship.  We grabbed a quick meal in the main seating room and then hot footed our way to tonight’s Name-That-Tune trivia contest.  It was all cartoon soundtrack trivia – we got 22 out of 23.  We missed Road Runner of all things, but again they play part of the song that isn’t the part everyone sings. So it is a little tougher.

It is getting so bad with the trivia wins that we are thinking of sitting out this evening so other passengers don’t freak out that we get it a lot.  Though last night’s prizes were very cool - Royal Caribbean hats for all of us.  Sitting out could be tough because it is 80’s Name-That-Tune which will be Michael Jackson, Madonna, Billy Joel etc.  But out of self preservation we are better off to go and not to play.

There is a new condition I am naming called “ tourista photo euphoria” it is the condition that exists when you suddenly MUST take a photograph of something you see all the time at home and wouldn’t dream of taking a picture of.  Because you are in an exotic location like Chile you see a duck and suddenly it is “holy crap, stop the bus, I must get a photo of that duck!”  We all seem to be suffering from that.  Though yesterday we did get some enjoy taking photos of penguins, flamingos, condors etc.  Our fear though is it may degenerate to the point we’ll be overwhelmed with the need to photograph a Chilean running shoe or something.

(My god, while I am writing this one of the bands on the ship playing in the main atrium is butchering Shania Twain’s song, “From This Moment.”  Frightening  - I want my Mommy, some green jello and a blanket – it is that bad).  But even with less than stellar live music we love being on the ship.

Oh yeah something I forgot from the other day.  Something new in the history of the world – I have done something no other human has done – ever.  When we were on the tenders in the Falkland Islands coming out of Port Stanley on the way back to the ship I had my ipod (itouch actually).  I was listening to the song: “Son You’re Going to Drive Me to Drinking that Hot Rod Lincoln.”  I am convinced there is no other human in the world to have done that.  I know it boggles the mind.  With that I’ll end for today.  More photos below:

There is nothing redeeming about the guy in the white suit.  He caused quite the stir in the Viking Lounge.  I was just proud to be able to get this shot so quickly.  We have caught a guy in a red Speedos but I need to get that one from Tom.

Also a big hello to everyone in Organizational Resources too.  You guys would be having a blast if you were here.  But since you are not here I know you are doing your normal great work especially with the two conferences coming up next week.   Thanks for all your hard work!  We really do miss you.

January 28, 2009

Special hello to everyone from Financial Management and the rest of GSA.  Thanks for checking out our travels.   I have got several installments coming with photos - one of them of a guy on the ship/pool that is very frightening so stay tuned for that.

We had a great trip yesterday at Ushuaia, Argentina.  We went to a national park and then on a boat trip through Beagle's Straight.  The area was beautiful.  Down at the bottom of the planet it looked like Colorado in some ways.  Lots of snow capped mountains and stunning rivers and ocean.   Especially the national park/forest was just breathtaking.  Pictures to follow tonight.

Today we are in Chile for the first time.  We are still in very very south South America.  We will go into town in Punta Arenas and do some exploring.  Then we board a tour bus and head for a location where we'll see penguins after about a mile hike.  So shopping and nature in one day!

We continue to win Name-That-Tune about every other time.  We have more Royal Caribbean keychains and highlighers and pens than you can imagine.   It is pretty amusing and we are having a great time.

We certainly miss everybody though.  It would be much for fun to be sharing this with our family and friends but hopefully the photos we'll be posting will help you feel just a little a part of the trip.  I'll sign off for now and post late this evening with photos and more detailed updates of the past two days.   Have a great day - we will.

January 25, 2009    Cape Horn


It is about 10:30 am and we are hunkered down in the Viking Lounge at the top of the ship (Deck 13).  We are right off the tip of South America.  We will be coming up on Cape Horn in an hour so we will be as south near land as you can be without being all the way down in Antarctica. 

We are so far south as a matter of fact that the day only lasts 13 hours and the sun stays up for 12 ½ of those hours.  Computer disk drives spin the opposite direction and none of the stars have that twinkling effect at night because we are not looking through the horizon at such as steep angle.  Okay I made up all of that stuff, but take my word for it we are way south.

The seas have been remarkably calm.  We expected the ship would be rocking big time but it has been fairly smooth and about 45 degrees F the last two days.  The captain has told us that we are in between two low pressure systems that have given us a perfect weather window to get into Cape Horn in good conditions.  Once we spend an hour or two out here he is going to crank up the speed and get us up to Chile. 

Tom learned that had we sailed into the Falklands yesterday instead of Friday we would not have been able to get in as it would have been too rough for the tenders to make it to shore.  Gee I would have missed the Falklands – bummer.

Tom also learned that there is a large number of Argentinians on the ship and they really wanted to go to the Falklands because up until 2006 the British government would not let anyone with a Visa from Argentina on the island because of the war.  So - many wanted to take this opportunity to get there as family members had fallen during the conflict.

We continue to do well in trivia.  Last night we won in movie theme song trivia.  They are doing Part II of that contest tonight.  We keep winning pens, highlighters and key chains.  They say the prizes will get even better during the rest of the cruise.  We’ll have to see what cool things we may have a chance at.

I’m signing off for now while we take in the Cape Horn experience.

January 24, 2009  At sea headed toward the southern most tip of South America

Tom the adventure photographer and world traveler summed it up this morning when he said, “the Falklands – cold, gray, desolate.”  I’m going to post three photos below.  Trust me once you have seen these three photos – you have seen the Falkland Islands.  There will be no reason to ever go there.  That is unless you are with the British military and of course it is a post of 1,500.

You have now see the Falklands.

We had breakfast on the ship.  Then we caught the tenders to shore (because the ship is too large to dock at the Falklands).  We got off the tenders and found our tour guides, jumped on the mini-buses and headed to a farm where we all divided up and got into four-by-four Land Rovers. 

The Land Rovers took us on our 60 minute journey traveling at about 5 – 10 miles per hour.  Why so slow?  We were driven over peat bogs where there were essentially no roads.  Look at the terrain photo below and you’ll see that we drove over barren earth. We were bouncing around a lot though slowly.  We finally made it to the Penguins.  They were amusing but after you got 10 minutes of photos you pretty much had the experience.  But you have to stay there an hour until the next Land Rovers returned to take our whole group back to the farm.

What are the good parts of the day?  Were there any good parts of the Falklands?  Yes.  The people there are super friendly.  They are very gracious.  We also learned that the vast majority of people born on the Falklands stay there or return after they have completed school.  That tells you a lot – it is a very close community where people make a difficult but good life.  They are great people to spend time with.

Next they had port-a-potties out by the penguins.  Thankfully these facilities were for the people not the penguins.  The penguins were not shy about doing their business anytime and anywhere.  Luckily we were not allowed to get any closer than about 15 feet from them.  Without the potties it would have been a leg crossing event with little hope of holding it across the bouncing bog ride back.

By the way if you ever have the chance to smell a penguin . . . don’t do it.  Oh my god they are stinky but happily little creatures.  We were near the rock hopper penguins who get there name because they go ploink from one rock to the next.  We recorded some video that I may post once I figure out how.

Apparently one of the key activities if you are a rock hopper penguin is to wait until another penguin goes for food and hops away.  Then you go to that penguin’s nest and steal a stick to put in your own nest.  Except the first penguin often shows back up and give you the what for.  Other times the key activity is falling over to take a nap.  I guess you get so tired you can’t take one more hop and have to get some sleep.

Also the weather (for the Falklands) was perfect.  Zero wind and 58 degrees under cloudy skies.  No massive rain – no chilling biting cold.  It was rare that there is a day that calm out here.  So we were lucky.

Okay for civilization – there isn’t any by my definition of having a Radio Shack.   My travel companions forced me to further define what I meant by a Radio Shack.  By that I now mean a retail store of some kind which sells batteries, some type of radio and has computer cables.  They used to have such a place on the Falklands called “Zack’s Computers” but it quickly went out of business – I rest my case.  There is no radio shack on the islands.

This is actually a good thing.  Tom promised to buy me a drink upon returning to the ship if we couldn’t find a radio shack place.  Then I also have the free card to play for this and future cruises . . . if I want to stay on the ship and avoid a port I have freedom to do so.  Looking at it that way, as Cindy put it, it was a good day.  Bottom line:  I liked the people and the penguins, but would have had a fine time if I would have skipped it and stayed on the Radiance of the Seas.

Today the 24th it is the first of two sea days.  So it is relaxing time.  I'm in the lobby coffee bar with a cup of hot chocolate while Julie looks at her mail on the Web. It will be a good relaxing day.  Ahhhhhh.

January 22, 2009  250 Nautical miles at sea North West of the Falkland Islands

Holy cow we got beat in 70’s Name That Tune yesterday.  Bummer.  It was all disco – there was no Billy Joel, no Paul McCartney, no Kool and the Gang.  It was all disco.  They played literally about 2 seconds of a song and you had to come up with the title.  The answers were things like Boogie Nights, Boogie Ooogie Ooogie, Boogie Wonderland. All sounded alike.  Dave and Julie were the ones who got us through as well as we did.  We got 9 out of 25 but the winning team had 16!  

It was a tough loss.  We even prepared ourselves all through dinner before the competition – it was too late in decade for Dave to be his lethal self and too early for my radio stuff to kick in.  We did predict and they played YMCA, We Are Family and I Will Survive.  But the rest was boogie everything.

Dave, Sharon, Julie and Duncan and Anna (from Scotland who joined us) won this morning in general trivia.  It was most geography with some other topics thrown in.  So they got us more Royal Caribbean key chains.  Tonight is 90’s Name That Tune so we’ll see how we do on that.  They said the prizes will get better as the week goes on.  So that may give us a chance at cool things.

The tour yesterday of Puerto Madryn was kind of a bust.  We were on a beautiful bus, but it had an engine alarm going off the whole hour and a half drive out.  The bus driver confirmed there was no real mechanical problem, but that thing kept buzzing into your brain.

We then finally arrived at a small dinosaur museum for an hour and then onto a farm to look at rocks and 100 year-old farm implements used by the Welch community that founded the cities in the area in the 1930’s.  We then ended up at 2:30 for an hour long float trip down a river in giant rubber rafts.  There were no rapids at all and was a very calm ride, but it was super hot and we saw some birds, cows and trees – whoopee. 

We hadn’t had any food all day since breakfast until the float trip ended at 3:30.  We got some bread and sausage and water with a little wine.  Then a little guy around nine years old played an out of tune guitar and sang.  He was good despite the guitar.  So that was a little bit of fun to see him really getting into it.  He had a pretty good little voice.

Then we were back on the bus for an hour and a half drive back to the ship.  This is a new port for the cruise ships so they don’t really have their tours together yet, but this one was way below par except for the guides who were all excellent – it was just the activities were less than thrilling.  The landscape for most of the trip was desert with very little vegetation and looked like the land you’d see on the old television show M.A.S.H.  But no matter what we were outside and away from work so even a day like we had was not too bad relatively speaking.

My big decision is whether to end up going on the trip we have in the Falkland Islands.  It is going to be even more rustic than Puerto Madryn (there is no Radio Shack-like place on the island which is my usual metric for any kind of civilization).  So it will basically be a long bus ride to the other side of the island.  There will be no shopping or anything as there are only 2,500 residents in the whole country (territory of the United Kingdom).  So remaining on the ship could be a much nicer day in spite of missing Penguins.  It will be a decision I make tonight, which will be unpopular should I decide not to go.   But especially after yesterday . . . we’ll see.

Today is another day at sea.  It has super relaxing.  I am sitting in the library just outside our room with Centrum atrium off to my left open to six floors below.  They have a really good band playing now.  They are doing a song from the movie Notting Hill.  We’ll keep relaxing and I’ll post some pictures tonight.

January 20, 2009 Off the Coast of South America

I thought I would post a beautiful shot that Julie took at the vineyards yesterday.  Can you say grapes? 

Right now it is 9:35 local time off the coast of Argentina heading well south of the equator.  Our location is getting close to the southern tip of South America.  I am sitting out on the balcony of our cabin just watching the stars of the Southern Hemisphere as the waves roll off the side of the ship as we cruise along at a smooth 17 knots.  The sun is down and you can just see a sliver of orange and pink on the horizon.  It doesn’t get more relaxing than this.

It was a perfect day at sea.  Gorgeous blue skies, calm winds and around 75 – 80 degrees (F) today.  The Radiance of the Seas is a beautiful ship.  Below is a shot of the Centrium lounge on deck 5.  This is the view we get if we go about 10 feet out of our cabin door and look down from the library.  Our cabin location is just perfect and is central to about everything on the ship.  Julie did great with all the plans as usual.

Today was eating, trivia, watching the Inauguration, eating again, more trivia, wine tasting (Tom working out), formal night, champagne, formal dinner and then more trivia.  This morning our of Dave, Cindy, Sharon, me and Julie won the trivia contest.  We got plastic pens and the envy of all our shipmates. 

We just finished playing name-that-tune.  There were 25 songs and we got 16 right.  They played snippets of TV theme songs and you had to write down your answer.   Before we started this I said, “if they play anything from Saved By the Bell or Dawson’s Creek I’ve got them nailed – if they play a lot of music from the Fresh Prince of Bellaire it will be a little tougher.  Well as part of the 25 they played . . . Saved By the Bell, Dawson’s Creek and the Fresh Prince of Bellaire!  However you spell clairvoyant – tonight I had it.  The game show host also played Friends, Will and Grace and CSI.  We won both Royal Caribbean highlighter pens and key chains for our victory.

Tomorrow night is . . . get this . . . 70’s music name-that-tune!  Dave and Sharon have the first half of the decade, Julie and I have the last half and Tom and Cindy should easily pick up the years in the middle.  We aren’t guaranteeing a win, but we’ll be super competitive.  The other teams are all gracious but do say that we need to get a life.  Time to get some sleep in the morning we’ll be in our next port of call and off to go on a river float trip.

I had a couple requests to prove I actually did the tango at the vineyard yesterday.  Well here you go.  I would be the overweight guy in green. 

January 19, 2009 from Uruguay

We are in fabulous Montevideo, Uruguay.  Here is a beautiful artzie fartzie photo I took of the ship in port.


Buenos Aires was fun, but our time in Uruguay was very nice.  Ship docked and we disembarked around 10:15 am.  We boarded a bus and headed out to a winery about 45 minutes from the port.  This was a good thing as unlike the Caribbean and European tours we did not have to drive through winding mountainous roads with sheer cliffs off the side of the bus.  There were no freaked out prayers on the trip out or back.

The winery tour was a look at the vineyards, tasting the grapes right off the vine, then a walk through the wine cellar, up to a beautiful almost rustic looking room for wine tasting.  The room had large windows, stone walls and large round super-thick wooden tables. 


The wine was all very good.  We learned that this winery doesn’t use used oak barrels to store the wine – for each wine cycle they use fresh barrels imported from France.  Attention to detail like that was the hallmark of this winery.  It looked very organized, the staff knew what they were talking about and great art was everywhere around the main building we were in. 

The topper of the whole wine tasting was a tango show.  This was the Uruguayan version of the tango.  This version is much more athletic and almost ballet-like in some ways.  This is very different than the wonderfully smutty and passionate tango in Buenos Aires.  They had two couples dancing right after the wine tasting.  At the end of the show they kept playing tango music and you guessed it . . .

One of the girls came over and got me up out of the chair and to many protests that “I can’t dance,” she just smiled and said, “it’s okay – I don’t speak English.”  And with that I was dancing a super basic tango dance step with her.  Tom, Julie and the rest of the crew were greatly amused by this and took many photos and shot some video.  I am hoping that Julie’s threats that it will be up on the internet video sites tonight are all idle.

Oh and I forgot a great detail of our Buenos Aires trip portion.  We were going down one of the main pedestrian only market streets with tons of stores on each side.  Two and three story buildings lined the streets.  The vendors from the various shops would come up and invite you in.  The rest of the group told me I was being way too polite to them but I greeted them, smiled and said, “no gracias” if I wasn’t interested.

Julie and Cindy went to a kiosk type shop in the middle of the street to get postcards.  While I am standing on the other side of the kiosk an attractive girl came up and was speaking to me in really fluid Spanish (I guess I had that suave cosmopolitan look of a man of many languages).  So I of course smile and nod like I know what the heck she is talking about.  I finally figure out she is inviting me to a strip joint/sex shop around the corner.  It looked like a fine establishment looking at it down the street. 

There I stand trying to say I am married and appreciate the invitation, but no.  I got the no part out, yet she was insistent.  Then she looks at my panic and my pointing.  She nods and puts her index fingers together to indicate I am “paired” with family/wife. 

Thank god – communication registers for both of us!  She motions that she understands and I probably shouldn’t go.  So there must be some universal understanding of situations that would cause the shit to hit the fan between a husband and wife.  She nodded and clearly said something like yes your wife would kill you.  I just love it when two cultures suddenly reach the same conclusion regardless of language differences.

So far this trip I have been invited to a strip club and yanked from the audience to do the tango.  Now that is a vacation.  Tomorrow is a day at sea which should be uneventful except for the many trips to the frozen yogurt stand. 

But if you ever get the chance to go to Uruguay I think you will enjoy it.  The people are very nice, but know even less English than Buenos Aires, yet seem more friendly (with the exception of young Argentinian woman with flyers).

That’s it for the day from Montevideo.  We are back on the ship and ready to set sail about 5pm. 

January 18, 2009 from Argentina

I am writing this from the Buenos Aires Hilton Hotel.  We are slated to board the Royal Caribbean ship "Something" of the Seas in a few hours.  The city is a lot of fun.  Yesterday is was crazy hot.  It was around 102 with massive humidity.  We drank lots of liquids.  We also went into places with air condition a lot.

The lanuage thing is serious down here.  It is different than Europe where they are a lot of people who speak english.  Down here it is Spanish and not a lot of people know anything other than Spanish.  They do speak a little english in some of the eateries.  Our first day though we had lunch at a place that knew zero english.  We didn't know exactly what we were ordering, but we managed to interact enough with them to get sandwiches and pasta and drinks and pay for it at a great price.

Sharon is the one that is saving us.  She knows enough spanish to get us through the most challenging situations.  I know a little and seem to do well with my pronounciation.  The other night I had Bife de Lomo which is filet and it was great.  It was a short phrase obviously but the waiters like it when you order in spanish.  Curiously "Milk Shake" is "Milk Shake" in both languages.  And we can all smile an say chocolate with no problem. 

Last night was the tango show.  It was fantastic.  It too was all in Spanish but we had a great time.  Very talented musicians and singers.  The emotion and their passion really came through.  They asked us where we were from at one point and and sang New York New York and when it came time to sing it they changed it to "Kansas City Kansas City."  We were a little afraid the boos would start when we said we were from the USA, but people were cool and clapped.  I wanted to learn how to say, "we are not for George Bush" in spanish but so far it hasn't come up thankfully.  I am fully prepared to smile large and say "Obama  bueno!"

We are just about out of local currency which is good so we won't have to exchange cash.  Once we hit the ship most of it will be billed to our rooms or they will take credit cards and US dollars.

Julie and Cindy went to a downtown market they do every Sunday.  They will be there for a few hours while Tom and I are hunkered down in the rooms on the Internet.  Nothing say, enjoying a new country like sitting in the room on the computer.

We will go for now and report next time from the ship the Radiance of the Seas.  And if you are thinking of coming down to Argentina anytime (and you should) for gods sake know spanish - you will get lot more out of it.

Buenos Dias Amigos

December 27, 2008

Well we did beat Mother Nature going up.  We did not beat her going home.  About an hour and a half west of Davenport we hit nasty ice.  We fish tailed slightly a few times.  It was around 11:30am and we had been traveling at about 30 miles per hour for a while.  Between that and the slow progress we decided to get off the highway at Grinnell. 

We found a cool Best Western where they let Julie and I and Bailey hangout in their main lounge and watch the weather channel.  So we tried that for a bit.  Another couple from Michigan were there basically doing the same thing - just waiting out the storm.  They were trying to get down to Texas. 

The couple starting talking to us and kept talking to us and kept talking to us.  After the first 20 minutes I felt like sticking a phillips head screw driver in my eye to get some relief.  They were one of these couples that wouldn't take a breath.  Just kept talking.  So I told Julie that I thought the weather was bad enough that we ought to get a room and stay til the afternoon to see if things improved. 

The couple that wouldn't stop talking said they had a gotten a room to.  Yet they were still in the main lobby lounge . . . talking.  Finally Julie got us checked in and got the room key.  We tried to excuse ourselves and get squared away in our room and yup you guessed it they just kept talking.  We finally just kept walking and just kept nodding as we went out the front door as we wished them safe travels.

So here we are in Room 311.  Nice place really.  King size bed, refrigerator, nice desk and a chair.  TV has cable so we have spent most of the day watching reruns of CSI and CSI Miami.  Now we are watching NCIS.  So we've had lost of crime investigation thoughout the day. 

Julie is still feeling weak from whatever virus kicked her in the butt on Thursday night.  We did make it over to the truckstop, gas station and Subway sandwich shop next door.  It is about 200 feet away but we took the car because our shoes were slipping and sliding all over the parking lot to even get to the car.  The road between the motel and the stop was driven on and sanded so we got over there and back thanks to the Chevy Trail Blazer. 

I am obviously up blogging.  Did I mention that road conditions absolutely were terrible this morning? Turns out we made the right decision to wait it out until tomorrow.  Forecast through Iowa was more rain, sleet and snow.  If we would have kept going we would have ended up in a ditch or still going 25 miles an hour sliding all over the place all the way to Kansas City.  So here we are warm and dry. 

The snow is just coming down in buckets now.  Wind is nasty.  It was so bad I took Bailey out 30 minutes ago and we got out the side door of the hotel.  There was ice and snow everywhere.  She didn't even think about strolling around.  She just did her business in about 45 seconds we were back in the door on the way to the room.  That was an hour ago.

Just looked out the window a few minutes ago and the snow is blizzard like and the flag on the truck stop is blowing straight away from the pole.  There is some accumulation on the ground now.  Either I can't see the highway from our room anymore or there is nothing still moving out there going east or west.  Even Santa wouldn't fly on a night like this let alone put four rubber tires on the iced highways.

Hopefully the roads will be much better tomorrow.  For tonight we are all snug in our bed.  And the nutball couple from Michigan . . . we'll they are probably still in the lobby waiting for more unsuspecting travelers to get caught in their conversational web from hell.

December 22, 2008

Can we beat Mother Nature?  That is the plan.  With snow forecast for most of Iowa and even more probable in Davenport we are going to get out of KC early. We'll head north and try to be there before it turns white.  This is a particularly amusing thought when looking at the graphic banner at the top of this page.  The last thing I was thinking about at that moment was snow in Iowa.

Of course the most feared time we'll have is when we go through . . . black ice . . . which as you know is the most dangerous ice there is.  It is of course invisible so you don't really know you are going through it until you have spun around six times and rolled the car.  That is one of those signs that the you know what has hit the fan. 

Black ice is somewhat like radon which you can't smell.  I like to ask friends in buildings, "can you smell that?"  They say "I can't smell anything."  I respond, exactly if you don't smell anything you know you've got radon.  If you smelled something you know it is not radon, unless of course you are smelling something in addition to radon which you can't smell.  It is important to think about things like this.  And believe me I am also still concerned that Eva Longoria is happy, that Patton Manning is making enough money and that Campbell Brown's nose is scary. 

I'd write more but I have to slide into some sleep for our snow trek tomorrow.  Words from the road tomorrow. 

December 21, 2008

Tonight is the big Canasta Spectacular at our house.  Nine people in total - that's right it means two (count em') two tables of four.  We'll start the evening with dinner at Culver's with delicious butter burgers - around 1,000 calories per burger.  Then it's back to the house with Julie feverishly racing to be the first one in the house so she can plug in the Christmas lights before everyone arrives.   When it comes to party hostessing she can move like a rocket.

Wednesday morning we'll get up and drive to Davenport, IA.  We plan to be up early and on the road by 7am.  This is such a different holiday drive than we have had the past nine years.  No more two day drive from Atlanta.  This will be the cakewalk 5 1/2 hour drive.   With the time change we'll leave Kansas City at 7am and we'll arrive in Davenport around 10pm next Tuesday.  The international dateline is on the Iowa/Missouri boarder as most people know.

Of course we won't have the benefit of the monster Garmin 255W GPS device on the way up.  Given that it is my Christmas gift it has been wrapped for opening on the big night so we'll have it on the way back. It will be most necessary because Julie has only made the trip like 200 times and we could easily get lost on the two highways we'll be on the whole way.

The down side of the whole trip is that since we'll have Bailey, my folks won't see her for four days.  They may very well go into withdrawal.  I don't think it is that big a deal that Julie and I will be out of town for Christmas - I think it is a big deal they won't have Bailey on Christmas.  But they'll get their fill of her for three solid weeks when we go off to South America.

The temp in KC is about 8 with a wind chill of 15 - 20 below.  The wind is gusting to 25 mph or more.  As usually since the back of the house has a western exposure the windows on the back are stretching and straining.  Like the storms in the fall you worry sometimes that the glass will get blown into the house. We have the blinds down just in case.  The sound will worry you, but so far the windows are intact.  If they do blow out some night you'll read it here first.  Because when news or windows break we'll be there first.

PS  My new favorite song is the Subway commercial "5 Dollar Foot Long" jingle.  This is very disturbing.

December 20, 2008

Got the last of the Christmas shopping done this morning.  There is nothing like going to BestBuy at 9 in the morning.  Just a few shoppers there, had total access to the guys in the blue shirts and got checked out right away with no waiting.  It is almost a little of what the after life might be.  However BestBuy in the after life could be problematic.  It is hard to use a $300 pair of Bose headphones for example if you have no ears.  So right there a whole cascade of questions and problems occur. 

It is difficult to get gifts for me.  Julie was struggling because I pretty much have every nerd necessity there is. All my flight sim gear is good and I have purchased new clothes recently so what do you do?   Basically I just bought myself my own gift from Julie.  It is a Garmin 255w GPS device.  Dave has one and it works great it even got them from Tulsa to our house which isn't on a lot of maps yet.  So for sure I am getting something I'll be happy with.  That is the great thing about Julie - she lets me get what I know I really want.  So now I'll just have to make sure I get real excited and go bonkers when I open it up.

I finally broke down and am getting her the Wii for Christmas.  The Fit Bundle is what is coming.  So it has all the little sports and skiing games and things like that with it.  When I was at BestBuy this morning I picked up another controler and remote so two people can play.  The plan is for us to use it and actually workout with it while playing fun games.  That is the Julie plan anyway.  The purchase was made on eBay the other night.  Just went for one of the "buy it now" sellers.  So no bidding process was necessary.

Today I am supposedly tasked with cleaning the house.  You'll note that the trip to the store this morning stalled that.  Then I had to take a nap so no cleaning yet there.  Now I am doing the laundry so that should at least keep Julie from bonking me in the head though I can't put off vacuuming and cleaning much longer . . . hey aren't those Christmas cookies over there?  Yeah I could vacuum now or eat some of those instead!  Got to go there are cookies to eat - cleaning can wait.  At least until Julie reads this and then I'm a dead man typing.

Hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season - and for goodness sake get yourself you own Web site for the holidays.  It is only about $6 a month and think of all the publicity and fun you'll have!  So don't wait, order now - use only as directed, not valid in Vermont or Alasksa note some models may differ, prolonged use could result in serious illness - contact your doctor if you use your Website more than 4 hours per day.  The message not licensed by the National Football League or this station.

December 14, 2008

Getting close to Christmas.  We had our holiday lunch at work at Figlio's on the Country Club Plaza.  It was very nice and almost everyone from our 25 person staff showed up.  It was very fun.  We did the gift deal where each person can steal a gift already open or go for one of the wrapped gifts.  A reindeer that sang and had red LEDs in its nostrals was the big hit.  And really nothing says Christmas like LEDs in the nostrals????

We are going to the big Happy Hour for everyone on Thursday.  We are doing another gift exchange there too.  Julie already has her gift.  I have to get mine probably tonight.  Macys is open until midnight tonight - what fun for the employees that must be.  Sears is open until 10pm.  So shopping will be a late night effort.  I may try to find an ugly tie or sweater to wear at the event. 

Julie has finally decided what she wants for Christmas . . . a Nintendo Wii game console with wireless controlers and sports software.  This of course is the only toy nationwide that you can't get so her timing was perfect.  Oh she'll get her Wii but lord knows when.  I tried to score one on eBay today but my account is all jacked up as is my PayPal account which makes an ebay purchase impossible.  So I'll have to work on getting those straight, but bottom line is it is difficult shopping for the Wii.

We are watching the Chiefs today and they are actually winning going into the 3rd Quarter.  For the Chiefs that is reason for celebration.

At work we got secret Santa gifts for a family.  I won't say we went overboard but we got them a Winnebago, 37 toys, a hot tub, 2 Ford Mustangs and 500 pairs of shoes. What can I say our team knows how to shop.  And I was worried we'd be able to get enough stuff for 3 kids.  The staff did just an outstanding job - okay I made some of the stuff up but the family should have a really nice Christmas with the above-and-beyond effort mostly by Kelly who just did great organizing the whole thing.

November 30, 2008

Happy Holidays one and all.  We had our first Thanksgiving at the new house.  Julie's Mom and Dad came in from Davenport and my Mom and Dad came over.  Julie and her Mom were cooking up a storm on Thursday and it turned out great.  We even got in some Canasta.

I am in the midst of completing some computer upgrades.  My old computer was starting to look like a slide show projector.  Firefox was taking forever to come up and the boot-up of the machine was taking 4 and a half minutes.  We were on about our seventh year of a Windows XP install and it was time to go to a fresh install.  Of course since the motherboard, processor, RAM and componants were all new the previous XP install was not going to cooperate.  I had reached the end of my reinstall ropes on that copy. 

This meant it was time for a new OEM version to be purchased.  It installed without too much problem.  Right now it is a beautiful looking clean install.  It is like seeing a new car long before all the dings and dents of years of use on the Internet super highway.

At the moment the pc is not talking to the router - oh joy.  But if it wasn't a challenge then everyone would be ripping apart their computers and putting new operating systems in.  Plus it is a good to have a project over the holidays.

The real work will be reinstalling MS Flight Simulator and the PMDG 737 software.  Which is the real reason I went for the new parts and software.  I was down to getting about 14 frames per second on the old computer.  So with a 3.16 gig processor (before over clocking) and a new os install - it should make a major difference.  In addition I got a new nvidia video card that will beat my old 6800 series with no problem.

The goal for the day is to (well actually the goal for the day is to see the Chiefs maybe win their second game all season) get the pc on to router and talking to the world.  Once I get the software under control I am considerinng moving to a 37 inch hdtv as a computer monitor.  The srewy thing is that right now the 37 tvs are actually more expensive than the 40 inch sets. So though it is really too big to have right in front of your eyeballs I may have to go with a 40" Samsung 1080p lcd instead of a 37".  But as I say I have got to get a lot more software under control before I go video hog wild.

Julie is out looking for more Christmas stuff.  Lighted stuff.  Our neighbor Jeff has gone over the Christmas light deep end.  It looks like the movie Christmas Vacation over there.  I am however jealous of his cool Northpole arrow sign on a red and white barber pole looking thing about 4' high.  I also looked at one of those inflatable 8 or 9 foot deals with Santa hanging out by a palm tree.  I figured Julie would freak out so I avoided the urge to buy that.

Well I'm off to screw around with the computer(s) for a while.  If you hear screaming and a monitor being thrown out a window - that would be me.  You'll know things aren't going well. 

November 1, 2008

Julie called from Venice yesterday.  They are off the ship after their week long cruise.  They spent the night at a Best Western Hotel in a suburb of Venice right across the street from the train station.  They took a rest and headed into the city to do some more exploring.  They are on the plane right now headed back to Chicago O'Hare.  At the moment they are somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean.  They bought a few things, but not sure exactly what.  

Julie will call me about 8pm or so when they touch down back in the country.  She'll stay the night in Davenport with her Mom.  Then tomorrow she'll get up and drive home.  That means we'll be back in the Canasta rotation.  This also means I'll have to do some cleaning around the house.  I have finally thrown away the salad that was sitting in the frig for two weeks.  It was not quite a science experiment yet, but good I dumped it.

Work is going well.  I am finishing up the performance evaluation process for my team.  The folks who work for me are so good that it makes it easy.  Still I'm glad that it comes only once a year.

We had about 25 or 30 trick or treaters on Friday night.  The kids were fun.  Bailey wasn't sure about the whole Halloween thing.  I held her most of the time the kids were coming.  She did let a few of the little people pet her so overall she did well.  Jeff our neighbor went all out on halloween displays.  The front yard was filled with blinking, flashing lit up ghosts and goblins.  It looked pretty cool.  If Julie is in town next year we may have to go all out.

The first Christmas in the new house is coming up.  So we have no real display plan.  The roof pitch is so varied that putting lights on the house and having it look decent could be a chore.   I may call a Christmas display company in Lees Summit to find out how much it would cost to have the exterior lights done for us.  I mean how much money could it really cost?  Don't answer that yet.  With Johnny the builder right next door I figure he'll have a good display.  So we can't have something half baked.  Julie will have the inside of the house done right.  Pretty quickly we'll have to establish the budget and plan.

October 26, 2008

Julie and her Mom are off on a cruise to Europe.  She is going to the Med coast and the Greek Islands.  They are having a great time so far. She'll be back just in time to vote.

Bailey and I are taking care of the house.  We pretty much did nothing yesterday and it was everything we thought it could be.haha  Today we were a little more active and then this evening it is off to play Canasta with my Mom and Dad.  Bailey will of course come along and spend the evening lounging around the living room.  So it will be a perfect day and evening for her.

Tomorrow I'm back at work.  This is employee performance review time.  Ick.  That is very little fun.  I had my review with Mary last week and it went fine.  I agreed with all her comments and ratings so that one was easy.

I am in the midst of upgrading my computer for flight simulator.  I've got a new motherboard (MSI) and the Intel 3.16 Ghz processor (E8500).  Should be able to overclock that to about 3.5 without much touble.  I've got a new NVidia video card (9800GT).  Got two gigs of DDR2 RAM - I could have gotten 4 gigs of RAM but MS Flight Simulator will only utilize 2 gigs.  So I decided to save a little cash since surfing the Web and MSFS is about all I use the computer for.

It is a sunny day here in Lees Summit.  LIfe is good and the living is easy.  I don't have any amusing observations at the moment.  I am basically computer guy these days.  I'll write more as the work week progresses. 

June 29, 2008

We are in the new house and making it home.  We are now majority share holders in Bed, Bath and Beyond.  If they see a spike in national sales during June . . . that would be Julie and I.  Some of the furniture arrives next week including all the bedroom stuff.  No more lamps and clock radios on the floor.

We have had some pretty strong storms here over the past few weeks so the lawn is pretty green.  Perhaps the other reason is we are learning to program the sprinkler system.  So far we have it down so it turns on Mondays at 4:00am and finally turns off on the following Friday at 8:00pm.  Sure the water bills are high but we'll get the hang of the automatic timer eventually.  Keep in mind the developer lives right next door so he gets to come home several times a day and gets to see our sprinklers on at all kinds of odd times.  Imagine him just shaking his head and thinking sprinkler novices.

The alarm system is finally in.  It only took four visits to the house by the alarm guy.  The first day he didn't come at all.  The second day he "forgot his ladder."  How do you forget to take an 8 foot ladder?  He must have left it in his other pants.  But after many return trips it seems to be in good working order.  Bailey seems to be getting used to the beeps when we arm it.

I flew my first virtual airline flight for Virtual Southwest Airlines.  I have been off it for just about four months.  Flight went pretty well but I was a little rusty on the descent.  I am pretty sure the virtual ground crew had to clean up some virtual vomit.  (Notice how rare it is for someone to talk about virtual vomit on a blog.  I might be the only one so far.  Sure a lot of people have probably blogged about drinking stories and actual vomit, but this is different . . . this is all virtual).

We also got a 10 foot ladder (yes Tom it is fiber glass) for the house.  We pretty much needed one that large to replace the light bulbs in the foyer and in the basement.  Haven't had to use it yet, but by golly we have it - the other neighbors are pretty jealous about it.  They give us that, "you have a 10 foot ladder and we don't" kind of look whenever we wave to them.

Bailey is  doing pretty well.  She has  toys and food bowls at both grandma's  house and here.  Mom and Dad are doing an excellent job of taking care of her.   Dad even takes her out sometimes and has even used the muffin mit dog pick-up thing.  She is happy as a clam over at their house and we think likes it better than here, because it is more cozy.  That and there are a lot more furniture choices over there.  But with or without the house she thinks grandma and grandpa are the greatest things since puppy treats.

June 8, 2008

We have officially closed on the condo several weeks ago, we got our equity check and turned around and put it on the new house.   We were rich for a few days.  I of course immediately thought of retirement with the check, but retirement would have been difficult without the house.  Utlimately I decided to stay at work - that and because it is a fun job as well.

So we are closed on the house shown below.  We did all the signing of documents on Thursday.  We have the keys and have spent some time in it though there is no furniture there yet.  Actually I spent the whole day there on Friday.  We had appliances delivered, a new tree put in the front landscape since the previous one went belly up.  The cable TV installer showed (and was very cool - he helped me figure out all the fancy shmancy wiring in the house).  The phone guy from ATT finally showed up around 4:30 and it took him about an hour.

The wacked thing about ATT is that when you set up a time for service installation they really narrow it down for you so you don't have to sit around all day.  Oh yes - the official installation time was, get this, "between 8am and 8pm."  Holy cow.  I guess the competition is getting thinner again in the phone world.  A few years ago they probably wouldn't have gotten away with that.

The phone installation went well and our number is working.  We have an unlisted number which unfortunately you have to pay for these day.  We also got signed up for the national do not call registry which stops the telephone solicitors from turning your life into being a switch board operator during dinner time. I would have hotlinked it but that feature isn't working on my website builder at the moment.  So if you have not already registered on that list I would encourage you to do so it is free and available at:


The couple that built the house installed all kinds of nice features, but when I went to hook up the DSL I discovered there was no phone outlet in the room we'll use as an office.  I'd rather not WiFi the main computer so we really need a jack in there.  The phone company wants $120 to drop a new outlet which isn't super bad, but they will have to go through the attic to do it and it was a little toasty on Friday.  The back of the house is just too hight to make it from the ground to the second floor.  I will have to make a second appointment to do that.  The other option is to call Absolute Audio and Video in Lees Summit - those are the guys that did the fancy structured wiring of all the speakers throughout the house.  So there are alternatives, but it won't be fun for whomever has to climb up and around the attic.

We got a new Panasonic wireless phone set from Costco.  The six phones that came in the package have the capability of running communications with the Space Shuttle so I'm still going though the users guide.  I'll post a picture of the phone system tomorrow - it really is over the top.  One wacky feature is it has talking caller ID.  I turned that feature off as I didn't want it to mangle the "Pfohl" family name everytime Mom and Dad called.  It also has belt clips and a jack for a headset microphone on each handset.  Seriously this thing is just nuts with handset to handset paging and handset locator tones.  It was around $140 but so far it is impressive for that amount of money. 

Julie and I are going to take some more stuff over to the house in a few minutes and then it is back to Costco.  We finally have enough space to buy food by the gross ton at the wholesale places.  That capability will be exploited to the fullest extent of the law.

May 9, 2008

We are at day three of closing up the condo.  Wednesday and Thursday was wrapping things up for storage and then loading the truck began late yesterday afternoon.  We were thinking we had a chance to be done and leaving Thursday night, but access to the elevator slowed the loading process down so it is taking until this morning to get things completed.

Last night Julie and I stayed in a little suite at the Wyndham Hotel on 10th Street.  Little did we think that all those years of walking past that hotel on our weekend walks with Bailey that it would be where we spent our last night in Atlanta.  We ate dinner at the Chinese restaurant on Juniper last night which was good. 

So here I am blogging on Friday morning as they are crating the final pieces in the house.  My best guess is they'll be finished between 10am - 10:30am at the condo.  Then we go for the final pick up of the items at our storage space up on Piedmont.  With luck that won't take more than an hour once the truck is parked.  That would put Julie and I back at the condo for a final walk-through around 11:30 or 11:45.  And then as they say - that's all folks.  We will bid Midtown Atlanta farewell. 

The sad thing is that for the last two days I have been bidding all the landmarks in Atlanta, "so long, farewell."  Julie is ready to smash me in the head if I keep it up much longer.  She will do it as we really depart for the final time though. 

The really funny thing is we can still vividly remember coming to Atlanta, living in temporary housing and then the moving into the Dakota.  It really doesn't seem that long ago.  First day here we went to Einstein's restaurant on 12th and Juniper.  Many of the buildings standing now were just vacant lots at the time.  That afternoon around Feb 1 we sat outside with friends David and Renee for drinks and food.  We were thinking that was the life and there was no way we'd be eating outside anywhere in Kansas City on the 1st of February.  It is easy to get used to the weather here.

We are just about to wrap things up here.  So I'll sign off for the final time in beautiful Midtown Atlanta, "so long - farewell Atlanta, farewell."

May 6, 2008

We are just about an hour away from heading to the airport.  Julie and I will fly back to Atlanta this morning.  The packers come tomorrow and the moving van shows up Thursday.  Might take until Friday to get all the stuff in the van but we doubt it.  We'll be hopping every minute returning cable boxes etc.  The one thing we had to do for the sale of the condo was to have the HVAC system tuned up.  Nothing to be repaired besides that.  My own cost estimates show that should run somewhere between $200 and $100,000.  We can't narrow it down much more than that not being HVAC people.  Thankfully Drew the realtor has his act together and will know what we are in for.

So the week will be filled with movers, packers and running around taking back cable boxes and terminating other services like phones etc.  At least after 7 years in the condo we had HDTV for about 5 days for Julie and I got to enjoy it for 4 hours.  It was awesome while it lasted.  It appears we will have HD capability at the new house so within about a month or so we should be "hooked up" as the kids say.

It will be weird no longer being on Walton's Mountain without Mary Ellen and the . . . oh wait that was a TV show.  Okay it will be strange bidding farewell to the condo and a great city and our friends.  To see the condo empty will have some impact.  It served us well and we have lots of fond memories from there.  And there were a lot of virtual airline flights flown in and out of the den.  But this will be the last time we officially live in Atlanta.

Once all the movers are done with their piece Julie and I will jump in her car and start for Kansas City.  That will be interesting because Bailey will be staying with Mom and Dad.  We think they are more than ready.  Between all the love, trips ouside and hours spent lounging on the deck she figures they are pretty cool.  When we have to go to work Bailey is, "okay do whatever you need if you have to go I'll just be fine here with Grandma and Grandpa.  So they will have four days alone with the dog, but it appears they are looking forward to it.  They should all be fine.

What that does mean is that for the first time in seven years Julie and I are taking an extended car ride without Bailey in the back in her car seat.  This may seem small, but it means we don't have to stop every three hours nor do we have to go to only fast food restaurants and eat in the car.  Our plan is to head for Nashville and stay there.  Then we'll drive the rest of the way to KC either Friday or Saturday.  We are ready for the big trip.

Before we leave the ATL we have one more hair cut with stylist Perry Steel at the Helmet Salon.  We'll have cool hair for about a month.  Then we begin the terrifying process of finding a hair cutting god or goddess in KC.  We think there are several close to the new house.  So that will be our last hurrah - hair cuts.  Are we exciting or what?

Oh yeah this weekend Julie and I went to Nebraska Furniture Mart.  It is this massive (really massive) store that has everything you would buy for the house including every furniture thing in the world, outdoor patio sets, office stuff, appliances, TVs, knick knacks, artwork, mattresses and they even have a Quiznos which we sampled after being famished.  We ended up getting a few rooms worth of stuff.  This designer dynamo their named Debbie hauled us all over store once we looked at our floor plan and discussed colors.  We would have been clueless on our own but Debbie knew her stuff and then some.  Once we close on the condo we'll finalize all those selections and await delivery.

We are getting really excited about the new place.  We went to measure some more last night and it is really beginning to feel like our house.  Once the furniture rolls in it will really become a home.  We also went over to see if it survived the rash of storms to hit the area.  It came through with no damage thankfully.  More from ATL with the final blogs from the great South.

April 29, 2008

What a month!!!!   We are still getting situated back in Kansas City but every day excited about the new things happening.  Since I wrote last we have sold the condo - it sold in just 3 weeks of being on the market.  So much for the slow housing market.  We actually had it move because our realtor was one of the most creative guys on the planet.  If there was a way to market it - he thought about it and did it.  His name is Drew McGukin and works for Keller Williams Realty in Atlanta.  If you are trying to sell a condo in the ATL . . . Drew is the best there is - seriously.  Three weeks - unreal.

More exciting than that is Julie and I have bought a brand new house in Lee's Summit, MO.  Here is a picture of the new house:

It is groovy.  We got a great price and the backyard view is spectacular.  We'll move in in just a few weeks.  We just went through all the mortgage putting together official paperwork stuff.  It was very complex to say the least.  We had to sign say 20 pages or so.  With our own names.  Crazy.  That is a lot of pressure.  I am particularly proud that I brought my own pen for the signings . . . and it was even blue ink.  That means I am a business man (though right now I don't have my own business cards).  I think the mortgage banker was impressed that I had my own.  They clearly had two ink pens laying on the desk for Julie and I.  Then I whip out my own . . . pen that is.  I think that screams, "I am a financial wizard."

We are also looking at refrigerators right now.  Do you know they have a refrigerator that is like $65,000.  It comes with an lcd, a rear view mirror and 4 wheel drive.  Okay I made that part up but they can be pretty expensive these days.  Julie wants one with french doors with in the door water and ice dispenser.  I just want one that stays cold.  I have low expectations with things like a frig. 

Lots of new efforts coming as we get closer to acquiring the house.  We will have trips to pick out tile and garage door openers.  There should be some good stories coming with those adventures.  Because lets face it - there are a lot of twisted people out there we haven't even met yet.  I'm guessing we'll find a few on our upcoming house adventures.

April 5, 2008

Still in KC and loving it.  I finished my first week back at GSA Region 6.  It is good to be home.  My staff in our new division is excellent - the work they crank out everyday is superb.  How cool is that to have a great team and be back home?  I am missing Julie and Bailey big time.  They are still back in Atlanta at the moment.  At the end of this next week I will fly home on Friday, we'll pack up the car with as much as we can bring with us and then Saturday drive the 12 hour trip to KC.

Julie is the one with the difficult week - it is her last week at work and they are having a lot of the big wigs in from Washington.  So there will be a lot going on during the day and then the usual dinners and functions at night.  It is a tough way to end your service in Atlanta when really you just want to slowly get packed up.

Weather in KC is beautiful right now.  It is cloudy and foggy in Atlanta.  We were supposed to have an open house for the condo today, but it poured rain all day - bummer.  The good news is that our Drew our agent is bringing a whole caravan of real estate agents over on Tuesday so that should pick the traffic back up.

Because of having the condo up for sale Bailey has had to go to day care every single day.  She also had to go in today (Saturday usually being a resting day).  At day care they said she didn't move at all once she got there.  She just fell asleep and didn't move until Julie picked her up again in the afternoon.  Right now she is conked out at home. 

March 30, 2008

I am having the blogging experience from hell.  I typed about four paragraphs of stuff in here on Saturday afternoon and then my computer froze right before I hit save.  I lost all of it and wasn't real thrilled about retyping it all.  Then a few minutes ago I had a paragraph or two on here and hit some button on the laptop and lost that.   Jeeeeeez.

In any case I am officially a Kansas City guy again.  Julie and I are tranferring back to the Heartland Region this month.  So we've gone from KC to Atlanta to KC again in nine years. It was neat because at work they had a recption for me on Wednesday including cake and lots of people saying some pretty great things about the impact I have had there.  It was great to hear.

I think finished up some stuff on Thursday and briefed Jack and Whitney on human capital stuff.  Friday I got serious about packing up the office.  Then it all got done and it was time to check out.  Kind of wild going through the last few days in a city you have lived in for nine year.  Plus we love a lot of the people and our Midtown life was pretty great.  Great location!  Now the condo is up for sale.

People in Atlanta thought I was nuts to finish up work there on Friday and then start right away on Monday morning in KC.  Time off would have been nice but there were some cool things happening here that I didn't want to miss.  So it will be worth it to be in on all that.  Next week is the management offsite when we will set the priorities for the next year.  Again it is working with all the folks in management that I started with in the intern program.  So that is all pretty great.  I am looking forward to starting tomorrow right at 8:00.

I have a zippy little rental car.  It is a silver pontiac that is the replacement for the grand am model which was sporty too.  Good stereo and the automatic transmission is like silk shifting between gears.  So that will be good for the next two weeks.  Julie will be with me in just a few weeks herself not to mention Bailey will be with us.

Things are well.  Stay tuned and I'll fill you in on the latest on the whole move.

March 1, 2008

Holy cow it has been a long time since I have updated the blog.  Well our big news for the moment is we are off on another cruise today. This one in the Western Caribbean - we'll be back to Cozumel, Mexico where we got engaged a few years ago.  So that will be fun.  With the recent diamond upgrade we will probably be avoiding Diamonds International.

We are going with our great friends Tom and Cindy.  Believe me they have been working like maniacs the past several months so they absolutely need the time away.  I am trying to figure out if I should take my laptop with us.  We can't really check the email from work and the Internet connections on the ships are so slow it is painful - and super expensive - often 50 cents a minute or more.

Julie is ready to go and got us packed up in fine fashion.  I am really hoping to avoid the bus/van rides through the twisting turning mountains of these islands.  As you know from past blogs the crazed drivers go 60 on one lane roads around curves!  Just another day at the office for them.  Just another day of putting your life at risk for us.

The ships we are going on is Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas.  It is the biggest passenger ship on the water.  The big ships we have been on in the past have topped out at 140,000 gross tons.   This one is 160,000 gross tons.  So it is bigger better and more obnoxious when we pull into port next to the other cruise ships.  But of course that is why you go on the biggest one this is.  Other people will have "cruise ship envy."

The ship has the rock climbing wall and a wave machine for surfing on the back of the ship (it is on the upper desk so you are nowhere near the sea).  We won't be doing either of those activities, but we will go ice skating hopefully not busting anything vital.

Well we have got to go to the airport.  Have a great week.  I'm sure we'll have stories from the islands.

December 23, 2007

We made it to Davenport.  Yesterday we pulled into Morton, IL about 5pm and the temperature was around 55 degrees.  We woke up this morning and it had dropped to about 20.  Ouch!  It was nasty cold with wind gusts as high as 35 miles and hour.  I took Bailey out for official puppy business about 8:30.  She went out the front door at the hotel and walked out ran about 50 feet, realized it was terribly cold and then turn around and ran right back to the door.  It was 10:30 before she had to do her thing regardless of the frigid weather.   That allowed us to pack up the car and head to the Quad Cities (which of course was the birth place of the new Intel Quad Core CPU).

It was a slow drive from Morton to Davenport.  Conditions were still extremely windy.  There was still some snow and possibly slushy ice in the passing lane almost the whole way.  So we were lucky if we were going 55 mph a lot of the way.  But we finally made it in one piece without any mishaps or blown engines. 

Julie's brother and niece are having flight delays out of Pittsburgh.  They were trying to hit tight connections in Detroit.  The plane out of PA got delayed enough they had no chance to make it.  So her niece is on a flight out of Detriot for Moline leaving at 7:30pm.  Her brother is still stuck in Pittsburgh (at home) trying to book something that will get here hopefully still tonight that may route out of someplace else.  The trials of holiday travel.  Eeeeek.   But we will all make it eventually.

So Julie and her Mom are off to Hy-Vee and I am here at the house blogging.  In a bit they will be back and I'll go with her Mom to pick up some brass items that she had cleaned and polish.  The brass guy is supposed to be a trip so I want to meet him.  That is everything from here at the moment. 

December 19, 2007

just checked the numbers for the site.  This time I looked at number of unique hits per month.  November was the biggest month yet with 350 hits.  The current month we are up to about 230.  Not sure how the holidays may impact the visitor density.  One would think it would slow it down, but I would have said the same thing last month and it turned out to be the biggest month of the year.

I still get a major kick out of people visiting the site.  There is obviously no advertising or marketing.  The name Pfohl is so rare and the only thing going for me is that Tim Pfohl on Google lists my site on top.  Other than that it is just the folks who drop and check to see if there is anything new.  Well heck there is always new babbling.

The funniest thing about the blog is that it is how Julie learns about what is going on with me.  I don't usually talk about work a whole lot and at night I am just relaxing in our sprawling Midtown condominium so I don't really convey a lot of what I am thinking.  So this is how Julie keeps up.  Oh yes and I also forget to tell her who is having a baby or who is engaged.

The best one was when my friend Ellen came over to our building to be my Deputy Director.  Julie sees Ellen in the building and asks "nice to see you - what are you doing over here?"  And Ellen told her I work in this building now.  Julie asks "doing what?"  And Ellen replies, "working for Tim . . . didn't he tell you?"  Opps . . . . guess I forgot to mention it.  So this is why Julie faithfully reads the blog.  It is more than just getting the numbers up (although that would be okay too).

I still haven't figured out what to do with my Best Buy gift certificate but it is burning a hole in my pocket for sure.  I am torn between the Sony T200 camera as described below or the Garmin GPS unit (the Garman 350 to be exact). But before the year is over I will have one of the two.  Or maybe something else I haven't even thought of yet.  That is the magic of Christmas and when your cool division gives you a going away gift certificate. 

December 17, 2007

It has been a full weekend of baking for Julie.  She has been cranking away night after night.  I have participated by doing things like sampling the finished product and smashing candy canes.  I am not sure exactly what happened to the smooshed candy canes but when your wife says smash candy with a hammer you have to do it.

We are watching Monday Night Football at the moment and they just showed a fan who was wearing  sun glasses.   That is just wacky.   It is a night game in a domed stadium!  Also we are very disturbed that the Viking uniforms are blue and not purple.  What happened?  Vikings are purple and gold.  Now we feel like with are watching San Diego or the Rams.  There needs to be a law past against teams changing uniform colors.  The big thing is the fans invest in clothes and other fan stuff (including painting the inside of the garage or even fan buses) - some spending major money and then the team switches the colors?

Also I am worried about all the "angry" Christmas music around.  It is Manheim Steamrolloer that is the worst offender.  There arrangements are just so intense.  Here is how I judge whether a Christmas song is okay or not.  You imagine them playing the song for the baby Jesus.  If the song would frighten the baby Jesus then it is too angry.  Listen to the Christmas Song, Silent Night. Linus and Lucy, Up On the Rooftop or even Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas is You - all of those songs would be fine. 

Then  get out the Manheim Steamroller and I promise you the little guy would not be happy hearing it in the manger. It would scare him.  Sure there is other stuff like the artist interpretation, the vocals, the arrangement to consider but my first benchmark is whether it is angry Christmas music.  Also same thing goes for Trans Siberian Railroad!  It is okay musically but I am not sure it should officially be Christmas music it is just too angry.

December 15, 2007

It was interesting - we had the most hits on the Website on Tuesday and Friday.  A big Friday is normal, but not sure why Tuesday is so popular for the site.  It is fun to watch the flow of the visits.  In a future blog I'll post the statistics in chart form in a one month format so you can take a look.  Wish I knew why some days are more active than others.

Today is the day I venture out (with Julie) to the malls for some Christmas shopping. It is 8:25 in the morning now and we should be up and going already.  Unfortunately we just took Bailey out for her walk and now we are just sitting around while she sleeps. But we've got to get moving soon or we will be hitting the malls at the worst possible time.  But mentally I am prepared for the crowds.  If you know you'll be another consumer statistic in a sea of people it is easier to take.

Yesterday I moved into my new office in the other building.  It is a nice office, but doesn't quite compete with floor to ceiling glass on the 23rd floor with a panoramic view of downtown.  Still it is a great office large and comfortable.  The furniture is modular which I actually like more than free standing furniture.  It is more wrap around and it feels like there is much more work surface.  So I am kind of grooving on it.  My computer docking station for the laptop will arrive Monday or Tuesday.  

There is a new computer add-on for the flight simulator that is a replica of an FMC Flight Management Computer.  It plugs into a USB port and allows you to input all your flight data just as real jetliner pilots do on essentially the same style unit.  Here is a picture of it:

That is in the super cool, but no way in hell I would EVER buy it category.  Get this the price of the thing is $1,024 . . . that is in Euros!!!!  So given the value of the dollar in Europe it translates into about $325,890.00 US.  If it did the math correctly.  There are also two other problems.  !) I haven't been doing the flight simulator a whole lot lately and more importantly #2 is I don't really like flying jetliners with a Flight Management Computer.  So it is expensive as all get out and I would never use the thing anyway or would not really enjoy it if I did use it ... other than that it is perfect for me.  I just blogged it so you can see the cutting edge of flight simulator add-ons these days. It boggles the mind!  But for serious computer flight jockeys with no wives or girlfriends you can see the appeal.

We did our emergency preparedness drills this week and I found out something cool we actually have an HF transceiver in our building with an antenna on the roof of the 31st floor.  This is basically a ham radio operators dream.  It means I could talk to hams in Guam on about a watt and a half and still sound like WNBC radio.  There is a chance I may be able to try it out sometime.   So if you here K0OA coming through your television or car radio one afternoon - that would be me.

Well this blog has been much more nerd-like than I thought it would be, but it has been awhile since I have been in a radio shack and I guess it shows.  Good luck to one and all as you shop for holiday gifts and a special hello to international visitors to the Website.

December 12, 2007

Julie is out Christmas shopping in full force.  I will venture out this weekend.  We are also getting ready to make the trek through the Midwest for the holidays.  We'll head for Davenport and then on to Kansas City.  Bailey will go along too and usually she is amused by all the attention and the opportunity to stay in motels. She also gets to deal with some cold weather which doesn't seem to bother her in short doses.

December 8, 2007

I man it through the week.  It turns out the presentation for the US Postal Service went great.  The group that was there was really gracious and we found out the two organizations have a lot in common.  The guy I did it with from Central Office was a really good guy.  It was a lot of fun.  So this is rare for me but I was dreading it for nothing.  A life lesson?  Perhaps.

Tomorrow I fly to Washington to speak at the reception for the new employee orientation and then speak as the keynote for lunch on Monday.  I am looking forward to this task as it is a topic area I am very familiar with but we'll do some audience interaction stuff.  It is amazing how highly an audience rates their satisfaction with a presentation when they do a lot of the talking.  So I will use that to advantage for sure.

I am boxing up my office at work to move over to the other building next week - it looks like a tornado hit the 23rd floor office.  My plan to get everything packed up on Thursday and Friday of this week just deteriorated.   Thankfully I don't have to clear the office for anyone moving in immediately behind me.  So that is the upside.

Later today I've got to pray that Julie's access card works so I can get in the building so I can get my computer power supply.  If we can't get it . . . it will make my preparation for the Washington trip down to almost nothing but the charge on the laptop at the moment.  Could also mean a trip RadioShack hoping they might have a power supply that will work with a Dell.  Julie is out shopping at the moment and then she'll be home and we'll make the trek to the building with our fingers crossed.

At the moment I am off to fold laundry and then it is back high school championship football.  I am such a guy sometimes. 

December 2, 2007

Just watching football today and working on that stupid presentation I should never have agreed to do in the first place.  I did take a peak over at the social news site Digg.  Here is a good article I found on the real cost of flipping houses they show on TLC.

Click here to go to article.

Julie is putting up all the Christmas decorations today and tonight we may get a dinner and/or movie with Kim and Mark.  But right now ... back to the presentation.

December 1, 2007

I am posting a photo of the cabana we rented on the beach at Princess Cays.  It was the way to go - a little shade and a little sun.  The cabana and 2 chairs were only $20 for the whole day.  Though there were many rows of the cabanas leading up to the edge of the beach we were right on the water - no obstructed view at all - nothing to look at but beautiful ocean.   All you can say is ahhhh.

I am just swamping my poor parents internet connection - this image is like 500K . . . they are still on dial-up.  So in the next day or two I need to resize this thing to something manageable. But for the moment here it is at high resolution.

Here is a smaller image comprehensive of the beauty of Prince Cays.  We would certainly go there again.

November 30, 2007

Yesterday was a popular day on the site.  We had 18 visitors - again not bad for a Website that doesn't sell anything or contain volumes of information in specialty subject areas.  Here are the graphs for traffic this week:

I am starting to get over the cold but my head still feels like a toaster whatever that means.  The NyQuil will still be close at hand through the weekend.

You know those times when you say yes you'll do something and you should have said no?  Well I did it this week and I'd like to kick myself.  Here is the deal.  One of our client agencies wants a presentation on how project management and real estate work together.  They originally called Central Office and of course the people in project management and real estate avoided it.  So they call me since the meeting is happening here in Atlanta.  So I say yes I will help them out.  I need to call the client agency back on Monday because at the moment I am working on a presentation for an audience I have very little information on and doing a topic that is really undefined.  This violates every rule of public speaking 101.  So I'm heading into a formula made for failure if I don't turn it around and get things filled in by Monday.  That is really too late to put a good presentation together for first thing Wednesday morning.  I am dreading the thing at the moment and I should have said no, but I'll do it and learn once again not to say yes to every request.  You think that lesson would have sunk in by now, but apparently not.   Jeeeez.

November 29, 2007

We made it back from the cruise and had great time.  Especially great was a private sailboat ride/lunch/snorkeling in St. Thomas.  The ship was called the Rumbaba and for the first time on one of these sailboat deals . . . we actually sailed.  The Captain (Bobby) was a skilled sailor.  The lunch he served was all fresh and made to perfection.  I mean the food was as good if not better than any of the specialty restaurants on the cruise ship.  It was a full day but we got to go to pristine snorkel locations or stay on the ship and lazily lay in the sun (which I did).

I did manage to catch a cold at the end of the cruise.  I made it to work on Tuesday and then felt cruddy on Wednesday and today.  Julie is taking good care of me even though I am yet to eat the can of chicken noodle soup she got me.  I am also using my Zicam again, but I think I started taking it too late when the cold already had taken hold.  But I am feeling human today so I'll be back at work tomorrow.

Julie and I really enjoyed Princess cruises.  The food is better than certainly Carnival and even Royal Caribbean.  Having said that I think we like the ships better on Royal Caribbean.  They top out at 140,000 gross tons with a new one coming on line at 160,000.  The ship we were on this time was still big but a little cozy in spots at 110,000.   You really can tell a big difference in the sizes.  But make no mistake the Emerald of the Seas was a great ship.

Now we are looking forward to our cruise in March with the Walkers.  It is fun having others cruise with you - there is always a group ready for excursions or dinner.  We did hear of a couple on this voyage though that had taken 87 cruises in the last 10 years or so.  If you do the math at an average of $1,700 per person per cruise it adds up to $295,800.  Keep in mind that would not include any drinks, trinkets or excursions.  It wouldn't take too much to throw another $87,000 on top of that.  They must be really good at what they do (Miami drug dealers?).  What an accomplishment though and we don't doubt that the story is true.  There are hardcore cruisers out there.

It was a good trip.  The people watching was enjoyable.   There were only about 20 or so really beautiful people on the ship.  Of course we hated them and were convinced that they were not really happy.  Most were those (like me) who should not really be wearing swimsuits out in public. 

Our cabin on both sides had kids in them.  It was funny because you could hear little people voices through the walls (sometimes when they used their yelling voices).  They would be going bonkers around 8:30 and then by 10:00pm everything was quiet.  One of the couples apparently bought an inside cabin right across the hall where the kids were sleeping at night.  What a great plan.  What we don't know was if they were going bonkers when they got to be alone.   It was fine with us though because it did quiet down.

I am going to end for now and get some more NyQuill have a pleasant day - cruise photos to come in the days ahead.

November 14, 2007

It is the eve before we fly to Ft. Lauderdale. We spend one night and then board the Emerald Princess on Friday for our 10 night cruise.  First stop is Aruba on Sunday.  If you would like to check out some of the action click here to see the bridge webcam on the ship.  They say it is the bridge camera, but at the moment they have it focused on the pool deck where you can see the very large screen.  They do what they call MUTS - Movies Under the Stars.  So probably during the day they'll show the view toward the bow of the ship.  Click here to see our itinerary.

Tomorrow I finish up our week long conference around noon or so.  Then I race home and Julie and I head for the airport.  The conference is going pretty well.  Today I had a Coke for lunch and then a Frappucino from Starbucks.  So even now (at 6:47pm) I am caffined to the hilt. So I am freaked out and probably not going to get much sleep tonight.  There is always the choice of staying up and watching the 8 mllionth rerun of Law and Order.

Our packing is going well however Julie is wondering why I have 22 shirts for a 10 day vacation.  This is particularly out of hand when considering we"ll buy more shirts when we are in the ports.  It seems that I actually am taking more stuff than Julie is.  How can that happen?

November 12, 2007

The traffic on the site is up.  I am running between 17 and 20 hits per day.  This is up from 10 or 12 in the summer.  Interesting.  It is still amazing for a site with zero advertising out there to get any outside traffic at all other than people who know me.  Also interesting is the international visitors.  There are many from the UK who stop by which is totally cool.  So if you are elsewhere in the world special hello to you!

This is the short week for us.  It was a day off today and then off for Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday afternoon.  Ship leaves Friday.  It will be hectic though.  I am also quite pleased that I haven't caved in and purchased the ITouch or the Sony T200 camera.  This means there is more cash to spend in the Caribbean.  I have no idea what I'll buy but there has to be something out there.  You know the classic small wooden surf boards stained in multiple colors.  Now that is something that will end up in a garage sale or the garbage two years from now.

Not into blogging really tonight.  Since tomorrow is a conference that I am emceeing there should be some stories to tell.

November 8, 2007   Picture Perfect

We are getting closer to leaving on the cruise.  Next week at this time we will be at the hotel in Ft. Lauderdale getting ready to snooze and head for the ship the next morning. 

I have been thinking about buying the new Sony T200 digital camera.  Of course it is at the $399 price tag where I start to go insane and be frozen in a state of technological indecision.  I have got to stop going to Fry's electronics store

The salesgirl smelled my nerdness from two  aisles over. So I come over to the camera section and she asks if she can answer any questions in that relaxed seductive way they do.  So I say I was thinking about getting one of those high end slim line digital cameras.  She quickly turns my attention to the Sony T200 and reeled me in.  "Look how small it is yet it still has an 8.1 megapixel resolution.   And look at this my favorite feature is the huge 3.5 inch lcd display on the back."  Damn you salesgirl!  "You will notice that there are no buttons on the back of the camera at all just the display - everything is selected on the lcd that is also a TOUCHSCREEN."

Damn you devil woman there are no buttons.  "Look how light it is.  Let me show you the new auto smile detection shutter.  Watch I'll set the camera to automatic and press the shutter button now just stand back and smile and the camera will automatically take a photo as soon as you smile with its face recognition software."   Holy crap.  It worked just like she said.  These Frys people are cruel.  So I ask how much and she says, "Just $399."  It couldn't be $320 or even $600 in which case I wouldn't have thought about getting it.  So now I am stuck with get it don't get it get it don't get it.

The upside to all this is I am holding off.  The downside is I can order one on the Web for $348  but that also requires a purchase of a Sony memory stick for another $64.  Now I would have to ship it over night to get it here before we leave for sure.  Plus I would need a day or two to play with it so Julie and I wouldn't miss important shots because we don't know how it works.

So will I get the Sony T200? Only time will run out to tell.  But the people at Fry's are hip to geeks of all ages and they are ready to suck you into their web of electronic toys at the first sign of vulnerability.  So now the Sony T200 mocks me in my sleep.  Julie says she will bean me in the head if I don't just shut up and buy it.  But you all know me you can't rush these decisions.  I have to figure out whether it is like dual monitors (a must have for nerds) or if it is like the Corvette - something that I could get but just don't really get the use out of.  But if they had a Corvette with a built in digital camera with 8.1 megapixel resolution - then heck I would buy that!

November 7, 2007

Again I must say how good Zicam was in keeping my cold to a minimum.  I have no stock in the company . . . the stuff just works.  So if you are feeling the tickling in the back of your throat or congestion that means a cold is coming - stock up.  It works.

Well I am switching jobs at work.  I just announced this afternoon to my staff.  I'll be joining the staff of the big guy to work on changing the organization to match the human capital stuff I have worked on for four years.  How cool is that.  Nothing like being in the middle of change in a large organization.  It will be fun, challenging and at times nutty - but you have to go for it sometimes.

After looking at the statistics for timpfohl.com it is running about 18 hits a day.  That is a steady number which is up from even the summer.  So thanks to everyone reading the site.  I need to get off my butt and start writing more of the story under the Stories tab.  Once again content is king - if you have stuff people are interested in looking at you can generate a continuous increase in traffic.  Tom sent me a great article on some senior citizens who are making a few thousand dollars a month with their Websites because they took their hobbies and just kept cranking out daily content.  Their traffic went up regularly and reached such a point that banner ads started earning them a decent monthly check. 

The other interesting thing I saw was a news story at Digg.com that the Website is in negotiations with several major companies.  The price they were throwing around was in the zone of $300 million.  This will be split by a 30 year old guy who founded the site from zero to the social news driver it has become.  All this happened in 2 1/2 years.  Think about that - from zero to over a hundred million in a little over two years.  It is amazing.  Click on Digg above and check out the site it is pretty cool especially if you have "nerdal" tendencies.

More later - I have got to go get some drugs at CVS.   But think about that again - several hundred million from nothing in two years.  Heck wouldn't you settle for like $2 million?  And Kevin Rose is only 30!!!!!!  Gotta go.

October 27, 2007

Feeling a little better today thanks to all that zicam which seems to work.  Mark and I went out to Frys Electronic Superstore this afternoon.  They actually had the Apple itouch.  We got to play with it for about 15 - 20 minutes.  It is an amazing device - the 3.5 inch lcd is impressive.  I also made the decision that I am not going to get one.  It came down to the fact that after the first 4 hours of the "this is really cool" I couldn't figure out what to do with it. It is truly is too expensive to take out to the beach and risk scratching the display or getting it wet.  I probably wouldn't want to take it on deck either for similar reasons.  Yes it surfs the Web with WiFi connection, but I have this computer to surf the Web or use the laptop both with 15 inch displays.  Lounging watch movies will also be done on the laptop.  So it came down to using it as an MP3 player and the problem there is . . . I already have one of the older models which works fine.  So I have finally found piece with not having the itouch.

There is; however, a very nice new Sony camera . . .

October 26, 2007

I finally got hit by the bug that Julie had.  So I am drinking lots of orange juice and taking that Zicam stuff which is supposed to help you fight off cold symptoms.  So maybe I won't develop the whole thing since I am catching it early.  This of course means the weekend will be a quiet one.

There still has been no itouch purchase.  As I get older I find though I can afford stuff I don't want the stuff so much.  Great case in point is a Corvette.  When I was younger I thought it was the dream car.  Now I can afford to lease one and I find I have no desire to get one.  Reasons?  They are so low to the ground it is a pain literally to get in and out of one.  Gas mileage is awful.  Insurance is crazy.  Finally I don't want to be an old guy in a Corvette where people shake their heads when they see, "an old guy in a Corvette."  Some old guys look good in a Corvette.  I would not be one of them.  So the itouch may be in the same vain - I can afford it but I don't really want it that much?

Mom and Dad got a new Toyota.  This is a switch from the old Lincoln. It is a good thing because they have the latest safety devices and it has to be easier than getting the old one in and out of the garage.  The Lincoln was like trying to drive a 747 into a shed.  The new one will likely not require the guys with the orange flashlights to wave you in.  So good for them. 

Well it is time for another Zicam tablet.

October 21, 2007  (midday)

Oh my god.  We are watching the Atlanta Falcons play the New Orleans Saints on the flat screen.  This is not going to be pretty. Plus they are playing in New Orleans. By the time you are reading this we probably will have already lost by a score of 45 to 10. 

Julie has whatever bug is going around and it has hit her for a week now.  Lots of coughing and NyQuil (on the rocks with a twist of lime).  Last night may have been pushing it a little so she is taking it very easy today.  Bailey is mellow today as well.

I'm still thinking of getting the Apple itouch.  You should always take weeks to make a decision like this.  I have also made it more difficult to decide because the $399 is the one I would buy.  With the $299 model I had almost decided to jump on it.  But at $399 I am thrown for a purchasing loop.  It is technology though and you can never lose with that.  Part of it is we'll spend some cash on the cruise so do I really want to burn that much money before we are sailing?

Princess is a little different cruise line in terms of the goodies you can order.  Oddly there is no package to purchase for room decorations.  You can get strawberries dipped in chocolate and romance massage, champagne packages.  A full massage is around $200 alone.  But it is weird they don't have the wider selection of stuff that you find on Carnival and Royal Caribbean.  But everyone says the food on Princess is better so we'll have some trade offs which is fine.  We have booked so many cruises with Mary our travel agent that she gave Julie a brand new Princess cruise line waffle bath robe this week.  Including the one next month Julie has four cruises stacked up between now and January 2009.

I am going to stop now and go taunt myself by checking out which Best Buy stores have the itouch in stock (which last night was every single one including the one that is about four miles away).  This decision is too much pressure . . . maybe I'll wait.

October 21, 2007  (early morning)

Well it is on the road this week, but it will be a quick one.  Ron and I are flying up to Chicago on Tuesday night to meet with the folks in Region 5.  It is a fairly important trip.  That region went from dead last out of eleven regions on the ordering official customer satisfaction scores to first in one year.  They gained 30 points so we are heading up there to hear how they did it.  We are staying at the Chicago Hyatt Regency - we got the government rate how cool is that?

Julie and I have booked a cruise in January of 2009 to South America.  Tom and Cindy are going too so that should be a blast.  We will all be broke but should be a wonderful experience.  Julie and her Mom have booked one in October (I think) of 2008 from Venice to the Greek Islands.  Not too shabby.  I could go too, but lots of money and a very long flight.  It is very unlikely that we would have a prayer of getting business class. 

Kim and Mark and Julie and I went out for dinner tonight.   The place we were going to had a long wait.  Right across the street was a great restaurant called Grape.  Their bar had no waiting so we zipped over there while we waited.  I had a glass of champagne - then I ordered some chocolate fondue.  So imagine strawberries, pineapple and pound cake all dipped in chocolate! Heavenly.  Then we went and had some pizza at the dinner place called Fritte.  Delicious. It is a really great Atlanta hot spot for Italian food.

I am very troubled by some news that Eva Longoria, of Desperate Housewives, may be getting a divorce from the NBA star she married on July 7, 2007.  It seems she is spending all her time with Mario Lopez who was recently on the show Dancing with the Stars.  He was also on the television show Saved By the Bell years ago.  She was Mario's date at a birthday bash a week or so ago.  So her new husband is thinking what the hell why is my wife being a date for this "friend" she hangs out with all the time?  He is probably right.  But Eva is in for a rude awakening when it all hits.  It is going to be a sad story.  She is smiling here, but not for long with the break up coming.  Here are Mario and Eva looking very couplish.

October 15, 2007

Today was a daycare day for Bailey.  The Puppy Hotel is all decorated for Halloween.  They are planning a big costume party with new toys and Licks-a-Lot ice cream for dogs. So we are just a few weeks away.  They say they already have the costumes picked out for each dog.  We won't know what that is until we see the photographs.  Bailey loves them there so she will probably put up with a little indignity.  If the photos are good I will post em here on the blog.

The day went quickly today.  I met with Ron and Sabina this morning to talk strategic stuff for the organization which is always challenging.  More on that later.  Then I went to an intern panel for Karen.  That was important because she has asked me to be her mentor.  I was honored to be asked so I better show up at things like her panels to senior leadership.  She did well - all the interns continue to blow me away with their capabilities.  Each rotation group that shows up really is packed with talent.

At the moment I am watching the Falcons get beat by the Giants.  It is depressing, but at least there are some points on the board for the Falcons - it could be worse.  Bailey is so upset with the game she has decided to go to sleep.  Okay she would be doing the same thing if they were winning, but it makes it seem more dramatic.

I am still holding off getting the new Apple itouch.  Just not sure if I would use the thing no matter how cool.  It may be that I am more in love with the idea of owning one than actually owning it.  So while I still can't surf the Web and watch videos on 4oz machine I am up $300 in the savings account.  But it still looks so sweet.

We are just one month away from our Caribbean cruise.  Princess is supposed to be one of the nice lines.  Heck it is the love boat for goodness sake.  Odd though on their Web site you can order extra amenities for the room on their home page.  You've got to print off a form and fax it in to their HQ.  Also strange is that you can't get the room decorated for special occasions like you can on Carnival and Royal Caribbean.  Seems like they are leaving some money on the table without this option.  More tomorrow so for now go Falcons and everyone have a good evening. 

PS   We had 15 separate visitors to the Web site today which is not bad at all.

October 13, 2007

I finally had to start a new page for the blog.  I had over a years worth of posts on that page and it was taking forever to load.  So I just retitled that page "Archives" and left all the stuff up there.  So the blog will be here, hopefully the three people that read this thing won't have their bookmarks set to link to a different page now heck it might even generate a 404 error.

Today we went to Taste of Atlanta.  It is a bunch of restaurants in town that have booths set up so you can try some of their food.  And I mean a bunch.  It took a few hours to get through the crowds and see it all and taste some of it. 

You pay $35 per person to get in.  With that admission  you get 10 food tickets.  Then you wander through the booths and the various food dish samples are either 1, 2 or 3 tickets.  If you need more you can buy them at stations throughout the displays.  We however couldn't use all of our 20 combined for both of us.  I ate some chocolate moose (yet it was really a moose)  I believe it is actually mousse that I ate.  It was rich, I mean really rich - the kind of dessert you have to wash down with a 20oz of water.  It was excellent - I should have taken the camera and put a photo up, but I remembered that about booth number 30.  I knew I forgot something.

The best part of the whole day was the fact the entire event took place outside at Atlanta Station shopping and residential development.  Not a cloud in the sky and 72 degrees.  It was perfect.

I am now frustrated with Dr. Phil.   He used to have really good looking people on with problems.  I felt better about myself to see really beautiful people having tough lives.  But now that has changed seemingly.  He has people on who aren't very good looking but still have problems.  Who wants to see that?  That is everyday life we don't need to tune in to get a chance to see that.  So Dr. Phil if you are reading this bring back the pretty people!