Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sleeping With Bread

The examen, based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, helps a person hold onto what spiritually nourishes them by looking at what is giving them consolation in their life or causing him desolation. It allows someone to express his gratitude to God for the good stuff and turn to him for solace for the bad stuff. It is quite simple. You simply ask yourself, in the last day/week/month what gave me consolation and what caused me desolation.

So, without further ado ...

The Good.

1. I became an Iron Butt this week! It all started back in August when my brother, Sean, and I rode our motorcycles 1174 miles in one day from Norman, Oklahoma, to Lexington, South Carolina. That was more than enough to complete the 1,000 miles in 24 hours requirement for a "Saddle Sore" Iron Butt ride. The silver Honda Silverwing in front is mine. Sean is on his Yamaha FJR.

I found out this week that my application for an Iron Butt Association ride certification was approved. My membership has also been approved and entered into the Iron Butt Association's member database. I now have an official IBA membership number and it is exceedingly cool. I have made many long distance motorcycle rides before, but none of them met the requirements for IBA memebership. More long distance trips are sure to follow, so stay tuned. I might be riding through a town near you!

2. My son came back from New York today for Christmas. It's really nice to have him back for awhile.

The Bad.

A pair of Managers in the Evil Corporation.

... So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you ...

Maybe it's just me, but as far as Rules go, this one is pretty simple and seems to work 100% of the time. That 100% of the time certainly applies when one is put into a position to supervise the work of others, especially when dealing with our younger employees who need the same sort of compassion and mentoring that You managers received when you were starting out.

If an employee works full time, raises a family, maintains a marriage, AND goes to graduate school at night with her own money, HOW DARE YOU tell her that earning a technical Master's Degree won't do anything to help her do her job any better and that she should go on and get a SECOND Master's Degree (an MBA) because that might, possibly, one day, maybe mean something. If you've got something to say about her performance, by God, be man enough to just say it. Otherwise, be decent enough to recognize that determination, perservence and grit it took to achieve what she did. If you can't recognize an employee's legitmate achievements and accomplishments in their working life, then get the Hell out of MY corporation. Yes, it's MY corporation too!

If an employee accomplishes her assigned duties satisfactorily, AND performs additional duties for our superior organization, AND recieves public recognition and awards for her service, AND earns a particular "Engineer of the Year" award for our part of the Evil Corporation, then please tell why she was given exactly the same annual performance assessment as last year when she was still considered a trainee. Better yet, have the decency to tell HER what she actually has to do to earn even a smidgeon of a better performance assessment. HOW DARE YOU not tell her anything at all like that. What the Hell do you mean that you don't know what it is that she can do to earn more points on that assessment? You wrote the thing.

The Evil Corporation uses a very strange method of evaluating employee performance. To be sure, this method has some potential for positive change in the system. The problem is that in order for that positive, as small as it is, to be realized, Managers must have a spine, guts, heart, brains or whatever organ is the seat of justice, honesty, and decency in the human body. I'm afraid it sets the bar too high to ask that Managers have the courage to simply talk to people.

I've never asked anyone to be perfect. I know that's not possible. I've fallen short of that mark so many times my knees and elbows are literally covered with scars. That's the beauty of this Golden Rule thing. We don't have to be perfect. All we have to do is treat each other the way we want to be treated, and THAT is something I can do. It's something that YOU can do too. Will we always get it right? Hell NO! But think of all the countless times we will get it right for times we stumble and fall. It's worth doing and you know it's the right thing to do. So let's do it - starting right now!

What makes me saddest is that we are going to lose both of these employees.

Maybe that defines the difference between Management and Leadership. Maybe it just goes to show that some people have no sense of shame or decency in them.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Corona Discharge

Today I was leaving work late at usual and heard the most interesting thing. You know that great scene in the old Frankenstien movie when Dr. Frankenstien is going to use the power of electricity to reanimate the monster? All that sizzling snap and crackle as the monster's body went up into the castle tower? That is precisely the sound I heard.

A terrible, wet fog hung over the place. It was so loaded with water that you had to pull hard against it just to breathe. It was still, cold and heavy turning all the sodium lights into fuzzy gumball smears.

I followed my ears to the source of the sizzling arcs. A high tension electrical line, very high up on poles runs across the street from my building. The science of what I saw is pretty cool, but just seeing it happen was really something. An area around the lines would build up a blue and purple glow, then pop with a crackle and dim a little, but not be gone. Then another place would begin to glow.

This picture doesn't do any of it justice, but you kind of see how the pole and the line were glowing. It was supremely cool.

Here is what they say about the science of it:
The electric field contains enough electricity to ionize the air. Specifically, it will ionize oxygen and nitrogen in the air. This can produce a low energy plasma, the corona discharge. A plasma is a fourth state of matter (after solid, liquid, and gas). It is like a gas or liquid, but molecules are separated into atoms, and the outer electrons are stripped off and are freed into the plasma. In comparison, the sun is essentially a big ball of very hot plasma.

The current carried in the power line alternates direction, usually 60 times a second (60Hz). This propagates to the electrical field, affecting the plasma, and producing the audible vibration of air.

Will be back to the questions and answers soon.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Answer #4

Question #4. Leah asks "Which Harry Potter character are you most like? and if you haven't read Harry Potter, then I'm doing a male version of your question to me: Are you more Kirk or more Spock?"

Answer #4. I've got all the Harry Potter novels on the shelf! My son loved the stories and so did I. Which of the characters am I most like?

Well, it couldn't be Harry. I like academic challenge and sports same as Harry, but Hogwarts isn't ready for someone with the physique of an offensive lineman flying around the Quidditch field on a broom.

As much as I like Severus Snape, he and I are different people altogehter for the same reason that Albus Dumbledore and I are different persons. They don't get the girl. (That being said, I'll never be able to see Professor Snape without picturing Leah nearby. Ron Weasley gets the girl, but doesn't get the academics or sports so that's a bust too.

The one person I really identify with is the late blooming Neville Longbottom.

Neville has a tough start in life, but he finds his way eventually in academia and eventually becomes a Herbology professor. Through "Dumbledore's Army", he gains his confidence and becomes the person he wants to be. He has to get tested in battle first, but comes through nicely. Best of all, he wins over the beautiful Hannah Abbott, a Hufflepuff knockout, they marry and live together over a pub, the Leaky Cauldron.

Can anyone tell me how life gets better than that?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Answer #3

Question #3. Leah gets the first of her questions answered this evening. She would like to know about my first kiss? Where, who, anything about it?

Answer #3. Oh my, this goes all the way back to second grade. We lived about as far out in the country in southeastern Colorado as one could possibly get without being closer to some other town. Our nearest neighbor, old Mr. Kelley, was a farmer same as us. He had the same sort of luck at farming as did most everyone in that part of the world (bloody awful). He did have one treasure that he valued above all others - his three daughters.

The eldest daughter was the smart one. She wore thick glasses and had "academic curves"; that is, the rounded shoulders of someone who clutched books too close to her chest too tightly and too often, the thick and sturdy middle that comes with preferring pastry to P.E., and the smile of a angel too bashful to share.

The middle daughter was the strong one. She wore skirts that touched her ankles so that no one would ever forget that her mother had given birth to three girl babies, not just two. This daughter could run, jump and throw, and was singularly un-afflicted by beauty. She inherited every mustachioed crumb of East German Olympian (shot put) in her family tree. If the tractor broke down and the horses tired, she could pull the plow by herself.

The Angels themselves decorated the youngest daughter, Christie, with beauty and elegance, but left her as fragile as glass. Her skin had to be hidden from the Sun because she was as pale as the wind driven snow. She had hair that touched the middle of her back and was the color of the wheat fields the week before harvest. From time to time she would lift her dark glasses and let the boys look into her amethyst eyes with which she froze them still as statues where they stood. She was the first girl that ever made us say, WoW!

One day my mom needed to buy some milk, so we went to visit Mr. Kelley. He had an old Guernsey that give milk so thick and rich that the cats had to scratch through the cream just to get a drink. While the grown ups were in the big house talking, I was outside rousting chickens and playing with the dogs. Christie and the middle daughter came out to play. Christie was a year older than I was and her sister was two more than that.

Her parents didn't let Christie come out of the house very often and I just wanted to be near her. So I asked her what game she wanted to play. She said, "If you catch me, you can kiss me." Then she raised her glasses and winked at me. I couldn't move! For a minute I thought I had just wished those words into being. Then she ran off, laughing out loud, with her sister sprinting ahead and the dogs trailing behind.

I tried a few permutations of the words she said, trying to find some combination of them that made more sense than "If you catch me, you can kiss me." The world just doesn't work that way. I mean really! How often do you find money on the ground, or get free ice cream, or collect enough empty Coca Cola bottles to redeem for a candy bar, or have the object of your earthly desires ... just lay it out there like that? Couldn't be real.

That's when I saw them round the corner of the milking barn and disappear. What if it wasn't real and I just ran up to her, caught her and kissed her anyway? Sure, it was bold, but ... what if? She would slap me for sure, probably knee me in the groin, and might even call her sister over to whoop me, but you know, it didn't seem that bad when you thought about it more. I could take a black eye home with me AND still have that kiss from her and no one could make me give it back!

So I started running. I looped through the barn and over the corrals and saw them head toward the haystack. The whelping dogs were going to guide me on victory. I pumped my arms and drove my legs as hard as they would go, and I was gaining ground on all of them.

We ran around the biggest, tallest haystack in the world once and started in for a second. I rounded the corner closest to the house and heard those dogs running straight on from the other side. I came out of the turn and saw Christie and the dogs making a beeline toward the hay meadow. The knee deep grass there would slow them down considerably. This wasn't going to be easy, but it was within reach now.

All of the sudden and arm reached out of the haystack and hooked me hard under the chin. My head stopped, but my feet went up into the air, and at that moment when no more motion was going to happen, gravity yanked me down onto a hay bale and crushed the air out of me.

I struggled to catch my breath and a face appeared over me. It was the middle daughter, puckering up. She held me down and kissed me. I thought I would die from lack of oxygen. The air eventually came back, and she kept on kissing. You know, as long as my eyes were closed, it wasn't too bad really. In fact I kind of liked it. The more she kissed, the more I liked it actually. Then she started liking it too, and it was really, really good. That's when both of us began to worry.

My Mother had told me a story about a dread molecule ... that boys had inside of them that was exceedingly dangerous.

This molecule would leave the boys body and enter a girls body and make them pregnant. The molecule had power, and people were supposed to be afraid of it. And I was. I didn't even know where the molecule was at inside of me. Mom hadn't told me how this evil molecule escaped from the boys body in the first place, and I had never thought to ask before that very moment. Another thing I needed to ask was ... what happened next? Would I even know if the molecule had left my body? If so, how bad would it hurt? Would I need surgery or stitches to repair the wound it made when it escaped? Exactly what kind of damage would this molecule do to me after it was done with the girl ... and it wanted to climb back inside of me?

The middle daughter and I never spoke of ... atoms or molecules ever again. It was just too scary.

My mom and I never talked about the molecule after that, but the time it was "time" to talk about that, I had already seen the sex education film at school and learned that people have babies the same way that farm animals do ... only without the veterinarian.

Mr. Kelley's eldest daughter went to the University, got a degree in Industrial Engineering and came back to southeastern Colorado to run a commercial bakery. It was her dream job.

The middle daughter went to Colorado State University on an athletic scholarship.

Christie disappeared when her family quit farming and moved to the city during the economic catastrophe of the late 70's. She had lots of boyfriends, none of which were me.

Sam Wins!!!

Ladies & Gents, the news is out. Sam Bradford won the Heisman Trophy!!!

Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hopeful Friday

Sorry to pre-empt the questions and answers, but just got some news that I thought you all might enjoy hearing. Back in October, we had a bon voyage party for a colleague who was travelling to India to pick up a baby that she and her husband had adopted from a Church orphanage.

She is back now and the baby has recovered from jetlag the long flight across the ocean. Everyone had to take a turn at holding her. By the time this poor fellow got a chance to hold her, she was completely worn out from too much attention.

Best wishes to the happy family - Father, Mother and Child.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Answers #1 and #2

Question #1. Terri asks what is my "Favorite female body part"?

Answer #1. This is not what I thought the first one would be. Yes, dear, I do picture you smiling, an evil laugh one a moment away, rubbing your hands together with devilish glee.

Well, a promise made is a debt unpaid, so as I write this check, please allow me to visualize my favorite female form and all the rest. The night is young and the skies are clear ... so if you want to go dancing dear ... put your hand in mine, those long slender fingers, and see me smile. I'd bow just to get a look at those legs that go all the way to the ground. You'd smile and say, "I'm up here" and yes, you are. I'd pull you close, hip to hip, and take you for a little dip. As my hand moved from your waist to wonderfully warmer climes, you'd pull it back and say, "I'm up here" and yes, you are. As we move across the floor, cheek to cheek, you can tell at a glance what a night this is for romance. You can hear dear Mother Nature murmuring low "Let yourself go", and sometimes you will, but this time you won't. You want to catch your breath, but you catch me instead ... coz the ... ahem ... girls ... jiggle with every breath, and you say, "I'm up here" and yes, you are. When I kiss your pillow soft lips, just say to me "It's delightful, it's delicious, it's delectable, it's delirious." That's when you pull me close and say, "I'm up here" and I'd look into your eyes, your beautiful eyes and know that yes, you are. And that would be my favorite part.

Question #2. Harshita would love to know how I and the Sunshine of my life met for the first time?

Answer #2. There aren't many girls who are interested in computers and engineering. We met in that context. We studied the same things at the university. We worked in the same place. We saw each other everyday, so we talked. She was interesting, above average in so many ways, and singularly spectacular in several more. She is pretty, and when she smiles, Miss Sunshine is radiant.

When the time came, I had no idea how to ask her, how to tell her, how to let her know how I felt. One day she said something to me that I would never forget. Maybe it was an accident, or an on purpose (coz she's really good at those), or a misunderstanding. I knew that I had to say something to her right then. Didn't know what to say, and that's when my old friend Cole Porter stepped in.

I told her that I had a song I'd like her to hear. Of course that was some time ago and we didn't have this YouTube video format available then, so I had to do it the old fashioned way. With real music, you know. She thought it was a little strange, but was willing to try. Here it is ...

If you could have seen the look on her face as the lyrics passed by.

And that's why birds do it ... (she didn't know what to make of it)
bees do it ... (a tiny WTF)
Even educated fleas do it ... (a quick questioning look at me)
Let's do it ... (a jaw dropping shocker, thought i was going to be slapped actually)
Let's fall in love.

She smiled and so did I as I shook my head up and down.

That's the important stuff anyway. It was a long time ago and "we" have been "us" ever since. And Cole Porter, God rest his soul, is still our friend.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Ask Skeeter - 30 questions, 30 answers

Howdy All!

After giving the matter some serious consideration, I've decided to pick up the gauntlet that Leah threw down. If ya'all will be so kind as to ask me 30 questions, I will answer them. That's right ladies and germs ...

30 questions & 30 answers!

Some people have laid down a few rules for this adventure, so will I. Please try not to ask more than a couple of questions at a time. That way everyone gets a chance. On the other hand, feel perfectly free to ask more questions at different times though. I'll answer the first 30 questions, but after that I need to stick a fork in it coz its done. I'll try to answer your queries as completely and honestly as my dark, devious heart permits.

OK, kids, give me your best shot!

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Sleeping With Bread

The examen, based on the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, helps a person hold onto what spiritually nourishes him by looking at what is giving him consolation in his life or causing him desolation. It allows someone to express his gratitude to God for the good stuff and turn to him for solace for the bad stuff. It is quite simple. You simply ask yourself, in the last day/week/month what gave me consolation and what caused me desolation.

So, without further ado ...

The Good.

We just found out (officially) that our beloved Sooners will play for another National Championship in football. I live in Norman and the mood here is jublilant. We have played for four National Championships since 2000 and our record isn't the best. We won one and absolutely got smoked in the rest. Well, this is how we live and die in Oklahoma - Crimson and Cream.

My Son is attending the University of Rochester and is on the school Swim Team. He was born in Norman Regional Hospital and lived his first two years in married student housing on the campus University of Oklahoma. Unfortunately, OU doesn't have a swim team. Our arch rivals, the University of Texas, Texas A&M University and the University of Missouri all do though.

Miss Sunshine. I love you more than I can say.

The Bad.

Stress. These last few weeks have difficult.

Yes, the dental drill. Woe was me ... ouch!

Stupid people who litter. Please pick up your soiled baby diapers and dispose of them properly. It's not THAT hard!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Have you ever opened a fortune cookie and found two fortunes inside? Sunshine and I were out for lunch and I got lucky ... twice.

Oh come on! I didn't mean it THAT way.

Srsly u guys ... u guys ... srsly ... we r for realsies ... I think

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

New Kid in Town

Hi! At long last, the first images of my newest nephew, Connor, have arrived. Here was the first one I opened.

The other ones included a sleeping Daddy-O, three of the classic Mommy's "Please God don't take my picture while I'm delivering a baby!" shots, and a host of angry young man pictures.

Really now, wouldn't you be angry if some doctor had pulled you into this world ... by your head ... with forceps?