Friday, February 25, 2005


Things for which I'm grateful today:
  • My job. Going out of town can make things hectic for me, making sure I've got everything caught up. But there are worse things than being busy.
  • Family. Knowing that there are people who love me, despite all my faults and flaws, is comforting beyond measure.
  • More family. Both of our parents have always "been there" for us, as well as our brothers, sisters, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, cousins.
  • Even more family, specifically Ken, Hattie, Mark and Jennifer. Taking care of our girls so that I can take my bride out of town is very much appreciated.
  • My bride. Looking forward to spending time together traveling the next few days.

On another matter, please keep the Shaub family in your prayers. We used to go to church with them a few years ago. Their son, Jonathan, was in a very bad accident last Saturday. (Some of you may remember Jonathan from his days as a starting strong safety from Vanderbilt a few years back.) Jonathan now lives in NYC, and was out running with some friends. While crossing the street, Jonathan was struck by an oil truck. Things are improving, but he's still got a long way to go. His parents and sister went up to be with him, and you can keep up with his progress at a blog the family started to keep everyone in the Nashville area posted.

No blogging for a couple of days. We're only about 24 hours away from landing in San Jose.....then on to the Monterey area.....

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

72 hours and counting.....

I love surprises. That's part of what I love about Christmas. There's nothing like the look on someone's face when you've surpised them (in a good way).

Next month, the bride turns 40. She threw a big party for me last July when I hit 40, and had the Moffitts come down for the event. I knew I had to come up with something. Not that she did my party in anticipation for me doing something for her; I just wanted to do it. So right after my party, I told Susie's cousin, Jennifer, that I would need her help in planning something. I put off planning anything for a few months.

Around the end of January, it hit me that I had less than two months to plan a party for the bride. I started thinking about where to have a party, what kind of food to have, who to invite. After a while, I started thinking about this whole idea of a party. The bride is a very quiet person. Having a party, with her being the center of attention, just isn't her. She'd much rather have something more quiet. So I began thinking about a trip. She's always wanted to do a cruise, but travel time was a big factor. I knew that we really needed to do something before April because of softball season for the girls.

I immediately thought about getting a cabin in Gatlinburg for a few days. That would have been alright, but nothing really special. I thought about trips around the area that we could drive to in 4 hours or less. Nothing jumped out at me. Then I started thinking about places she'd like to go that would require flying. I considered San Francisco and San Diego, thought about the Florida Keys and even North Myrtle Beach. I even looked at some trips to Hawaii, but again, travel time got in the way there. Then it hit me - she always talks about how much she loves the Monterey/Carmel area. I e-mailed the bride's cousin, Jennifer, to see what she thought about it, and she loved it. (She even tried to take partial credit by saying that she almost suggested that to me.....please......)

I started targeting some dates. Leaving on the weekend after her birthday was out, because Sara's birthday is the day before the bride's, and we would most likely have a party that weekend. Anytime I found a possible range of days, I checked the dates with Jennifer and the bride's mom for conflicts in their schedule since they'd be taking care of the girls (in shifts) while we were gone. I found a place just 9 miles north of Monterey in Marina call Marina Dunes that looked perfect. I started scanning airlines and rental car places for the best prices. I kept running into obstacles for the month of March. In fact, I had pretty much decided on leaving on March 12, until I found out that we were hosting about a dozen 14 & 15-year-old girls from church at our house. Time was was running out and I knew I'd have to bump the trip up in order to make it happen.

I finally decided the first week of February that we'd need to leave on Saturday, February 26. I had about three weeks left, and only a few days to pull it together. After doing more research and nailing down the costs, I planned on telling the bride about her surprise trip on Friay, February 4. However, I came home on Wednesday the 2nd and I could automatically tell that she had had one of those days. I had stayed a little later at work that afternoon and had actually put together a PowerPoint slideshow for the bride to view and find out about her trip. I brought it home to fine-tune, but ended up showing it as it was. After supper, I told both girls about the surprise and had them help me with the presentation. I called the bride up to the bonus room, and told her that I wanted her to look at something on the computer. She had no idea about any of this. She later said that she knew I'd been on the computer alot at nights during the last week, but she thought I was bidding for things on e-bay. When she finally realized that we were going, she said, "That's in just three weeks, isn't it?"

We're about 72 hours away from leaving, and we haven't started packing yet. But that should start tonight. We leave for LA at 8:00 Saturday morning, and should be in San Jose by 1:00. From there it's about 65 miles to Marina, so the drive won't be too bad. We'll be back home by 8:00 Wednesday night.

I'm really looking forward to the trip, maybe even as much as my bride. While we're out there, we plan to hit Monterey, Carmel, Pacific Grove, Big Sur and San Francisco. We've got a bungalow in the dunes overlooking the Pacific Ocean, so I'm looking forward to doing some relaxing and taking walks on the beach. But most of all, I'm looking forward to spending time with my bride. It may be another ten years before we get to do another trip like this, so I plan to enjoy it as much as possible.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

i know what i've got.....

It's been said that sometimes you don't know what you've got until it's gone. Well, I believe I know what I've got.

As I mentioned yesterday, the girls and I were supposed to vacate the premises last night since the bride was hosting Bunco. (I have a home inspector coming sometime today to check the foundation for damage. There was a bit of an uproar over a $30 pot toward the end of the evening. Luckily, the local law enforcement didn't have to be notified, and the ladies involved came away with only minor abrasions and cuts.) We left the house around 6:30 and stayed out until a little after 9:00. We didn't do anything special, unless you count getting milkshakes from Sonic on the way home. We did some shopping for a new softball glove for Meg, returned some jeans at the mall, and Sara had a gift card from Build-A-Bear that had been burning a hole in her purse. We looked at PS2 games, DVDs and CDs. I can't tell you how many times I heard, "Oh, Daddy, I reeeeeaaaaalllllyyyy want this CD/DVD!" Sara wanted to buy a book at Walden Books, and when I told her "no" she said, "Dad, you ALWAYS say that!" I simply smiled and said, "Then you should be use to it by now, sweetie." (I'm not against reading, but why buy a book when you can check it out at the library? If it's one you want to have at home, buy it if you like it.)

The bride and I are very blessed to have two intelligent, healthy, beautiful daughters. I really had alot of fun just being with my girls for a few hours last night. There weren't as many eye-rolls as I had anticipated, and they didn't start fighting until we got home, so that's a plus. At one point, while they shopped in Limited Too and I was on a bench outside the store (who, me? go in there? yeah....), I felt very blessed. I was having a great dad-moment, right then and there. Even the guy on his cell phone, with a belt buckle the size of a hubcap, talking about "that number 24 car - whoooo-wee!" (an actual quote), couln't steal my moment.....

Monday, February 21, 2005

family and a lazy day.....

The Friday night date with Sara went well. There were six dads who got together with their daughters for supper before the dance. And the girls learn the going-to-the-bathroom-in-a-herd thing at an early age. Two got up to go, and within 10 seconds the other four followed. We stayed at the dance until the last song was played.

We spent Saturday just hanging out with Devonna and Mom and Dad. After lunch, Dad and I got to spend some time together running around the Cool Springs area and drooling over plasma televisions and other electronic items. That night, Julie, Dale and Grace joined the rest of us for supper. Just being around each other as a family was nice.

Yesterday was a bit unusual for us, but extremely relaxing and restful. Mom and Dad spent the night with us Saturday night, so we decided that rather than rush around and get ready for church before they left, we'd just spend time with them. If we made it to late service, fine; if not, no big deal. It was a rainy day, and we ended up staying in all day long. The bride and I did some reading on our books and got caught up on all our shows that we taped last week but had yet to watch. The past week we've all had a bit of a sore throat, so it was nice to be able to let our bodies just exist and recover a little before heading into another week.

Now it's back to another week of work. But I've got our trip to look forward to.....

P.S. - Tonight the bride is hosting Bunco at our house. I'll be taking the girls out for a couple of hours so that we won't "mess up the Bunco players' concentration". Takes ALOT of skill to roll those dice just right.....oh, and scream because you may have won $5.....

Friday, February 18, 2005

working for the weekend.....

Those great philosophers in the band LoverBoy knew exactly what they were talking about. Because let's face it, no matter how much you enjoy your job, you're basically doing your job so that you can have money to do what you really want to do with your life.

I really do love my job. I'm able to do alot of things that I've always wanted to do, and for the most part I work with and around people I like. But as much as I love my job, there are much more important things in my life. It's almost like when I leave my office, I can't wait to drive home and start enjoying that aspect of my life.

For example, tonight's the big father/daughter dance with Franklin-area girl scout troops. Tomorrow Mom and Dad will be at our house and will stay until Sunday morning. Tomorrow afternoon my sisters and their family will be at our house. All fun stuff; stuff that matters.

So this week is wrapping up, with all of its meetings and proposals. Next week should be a blur, with a few more meetings and getting ready for a trip with the bride. More on that next week.....

Thursday, February 17, 2005

i felt like rosanne rosannadanna.....

There's nothing quite like a meeting to hinder your productivity. Seems that this week has been chocked full of meetings. I'll be glad to get them over with. Just 4 more this week.....

Remember Rosanne Rosannadanna, Gilda Radner's character on SNL? She did a bit about being in a sauna with Dr. Joyce Brothers and wanting to flick a sweat ball from Dr. Brothers' nose that was just hanging there and wouldn't fall off. It's very distracting to notice something about someone you're talking with and trying to ignore whatever it is. Happened to me this morning.

I had another meeting with a couple of gentlemen this morning who want to do business with our company. About half-way into the meeting, I looked at the guy on my right. He was explaining about company strength, customer satisfaction, all those things. I don't know if it had been there since he came in my office or not, but all of the sudden I noticed that there was a hair protruding about 1/4" to 3/8" from his left nostril. It wasn't wavy, wasn't even moving; it was almost like a cactus needle. It was as if he had gelled it this morning before coming to work. I tried not to look, but it was so obvious that I couldn't help myself.

The guy is married, he mentioned that in the meeting. So why didn't his wife say something to him about it? Because of the nose hair length, it's not like it grew since breakfast this morning. And even if his wife didn't catch the foliage, why didn't someone in his office say something to him?

Could be that I'm the only one who saw it. I notice wierd stuff pretty easily, alot like I retain trivial knowledge much better than stuff I can actually use. The one difference between me a Rosanne Rosannadanna is that while she wanted to flick the little bitty sweatball from Dr. Joyce Brothers' nose, I had no inclination to reach out and do a little topiary work for this guy. Maybe I'll send him a nose hair trimmer anonomously.....

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

hey, that's alan.....

Not only should you not take sinus medicine before going into a software demo where the lights are dimmed, but you should never schedule software demos on back-to-back days.

So I'm sitting in on this one alone. I'm watching software and hardware work together and store documents digitally. I went into the demo 99.9% sure that I wouldn't do business with this company, but the salesman caught me with my guard down a couple of weeks ago and I agreed to an appointment.

Have you ever meet someone and know he looks familiar but you can't place him? (There used to be a janitor at my high school who everyone thought looked like Conway Twitty. One of my friends asked him for his autograph one day, and he signed it "Bob".) The whole time I'm trying to stay awake, because document storage can only be just so exciting, and I keep thinking "this guy looks so familiar, where have I seen him before?" He's from the west coast, so I know I haven't bumped into him at Bi-Lo or TJ Maxx lately. So he finishes his presentation and starts packing his computer equipment up, and it hits me - he's a dead-ringer for Alan (Jon Cryer) on Two And A Half Men! I immediately start wondering if his wife threw him out of the house and he's in the middle of a divorce, trying to raise a 10-year-old son while living with an ever-cavorting brother.

I had the decency not to mention his resemblance to Alan, but I was tempted to ask him about it. Turns out he's the father of four and still married, so he was pretty much the opposite of Alan.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

helpful hint.....

Sinus medicine + 6-hour software demo = zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Monday, February 14, 2005

18 years and counting.....

Though it might sometimes seem that we've known each other all of our lives, the bride and I actually met about 18 years ago this week. It was either on Monday the 16th or Tuesday the 17th, just a couple of days after Valentines Day. Here's how we came to be:

I'm walking around the lobby of my former employer one day, minding my own business. I was 22 and had been in Nashville for about seven months. One of the employees was going through some pictures on her desk. She came across some pictures of college roommates, and there was this girl in one of the pictures with pretty green eyes, dark hair and a great tan. I said, "Hey, she's cute! Why don't you fix me up with her?" Within a couple of days, I had her phone number. Our first conversation lasted about 90 minutes. A few days later we decided to go out. Just in case I was some sort of a serial killer, the bride made it a double-date with the girl who set us up and her fiancee`. We went to a middle school basketball game, where the bride's friend's fiancee` was a coach. She took a chance and assumed that I was not a mental case, and we went out for dessert alone so we could talk and get to know each other. Being the classy guy that I was back then, we went to Shoneys. Shoneys. Let me type that again. Shoneys. 18 years later, I hate Shoneys. Not because we went there on our first date, but because the food stinks. But we went for the hot fudge cake, and I have to admit that it's very good. Then something happened that I feared would seal my doom with the bride.

Now, remember, I was 22 and pretty immature. We're sitting there talking, and the waitress brings out our drinks. I was being casual, things seemed to be going pretty well. So I go to remove the wrapper off my straw - why, I'm not sure, because I don't use a straw. Something came over me, and I instantly became 9. I tore the tip off the straw wrapper, and proceeded to blow the rest of the paper off of the straw. Yep, good move. But it gets better. See, when you're 9, you want to shoot the straw wrapper and hit your opponent somewhere in the face area. If you hit them in the eye, that's the most points. The wrapper from my straw didn't hit her face. My straw wrapper made impact about 8 inches south of the bride's nose. Uh-huh, right there. I think my face went completely red within less than a second. However, being the mature individual that she was (and still is), she played it off like nothing ever happened.

Evidently she excused my miscue, because we've been together ever since. I knew within that first week that she was the girl for me. In about two months, we will have been married for seventeen years, and we get to know each other a little better every day. In some respects I'm still that immature guy from eighteen years ago. I always tell the bride to think about how boring her life would have been if she had married some boring guy. Sometimes she looks off far away and smiles, as if she's imagining a life like that, but she snaps back to reality quickly and says that she loves me just the way I am. Then I pop her on the behind with a towel and she reconsiders......

Happy Valentines Day!

Friday, February 11, 2005

i had no idea birthday parties cost that much.....

So we're channel surfing last night. Actually, I was channel surfing and the bride was just along for the ride. It was during that in-between time for us on Wednesday night. We never got into "The Apprentice" (apparently we're two of the few in America), and "ER" didn't come on for another half-hour. I had been watching a game show bloopers show on VH1, and during a commercial I started looking for something else.

We came across a show called "My Super Sweet Sixteen" on MTV. Evidently there are several episodes of this, where a rich kid gets this outrageous 16th birthday party thrown for him/her by his/her parents. I caught the tail-end of the one that came on at 8:00. The girl, right before her 16th birthday, went shopping in Santa Barbara and used her parents' credit card for several purchases, one of which was an $8,000 piece of jewelry. The girls' mom called and cancelled the card. Later that day, the girl tells the camera that she's really going to be mad if she doesn't get a car for her birthday. The next day, as they went out to eat at some exclusive restaurant, the camera shows the girl bawling her eyes out because her parents didn't buy a car for her birthday. On the second episode, it was a guy who was turning 16, and his dad shelled out (get ready for this) $250,000 for the party. Yep, that's right, one-quarter mil. The party had a tennis theme, and it was in an old warehouse. The dad even hired dancers (and not Riverdancers, either) to entertain at the party, and he and his son "went shopping" for them. I didn't let the bride see this happen, but a tear rolled down my cheek as the father and son embraced after choosing the two dancers. Such a moment!

Our kids' birthday parties have been at such exotic places as a bowling alley, Chuckie Cheese, the skating rink and the neighborhood pool. After watching these shows last night, it's very clear to me that we're going to have to kick it up a notch for the next party. I'm thinking maybe extra chocolate for dessert.....

Thursday, February 10, 2005

no deliveries allowed.....

The local media is making a big deal out of something that's evidently not that big of a deal to those affected. Centennial High School in Franklin will not allow flower deliveries on Valentines Day. WKRN, Channel 2 in Nashville, played the story twice this morning as I was getting ready for work.

I'm trying to look at this from two different perspectives. First of all, Meg is a freshman at Centennial, and from what she says it's really not that big of a deal to the students. Sure, you may have a few high school divas who will be devastated because the "love of their life" (or the love of their past 3 weeks) couldn't send them flowers at school for everyone to see, but that's life - better learn how to deal with disappointment now while you're young. Plus, you may have a few who order flowers for themselves so that their friends would think they have a secret admirer. So, looking from Meg's point of view, it appears not to be that big of a problem. Now, trying to think back 25 years, and imagining myself at 15, how would I react. I think I'd be washing the principal's car in appreciation. I'm off the hook! I don't have to buy overpriced roses! Sure, any girlfriend would assume that she's getting something on February 14th, but I still wouldn't have to worry about having flowers delieverd to school for her. (Besides, my dad always accused me of breaking up with girls right before Christmas and birthdays. For the record, that only happened once.)

I think the clubs and organizations at Centennial are missing a huge fund-raising opportunity. Some club needs to buy flowers in bulk and sell them at $5 a pop. Maybe for $7.50, they deliever them to the girls' classroom. You want a dozen? Special price of $45, $55 delivered. Easy money. A guy walking down the halls with his girlfriend, they pass a table with roses, he's dead. He has no choice but to buy flowers.

I buy flowers for the bride occaisionally, but almost never on Valentines Day. She views it as wasted money, and that's probably one of the reasons I love her so much.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

wonder if this is wrong.....

Seems that any time you have to ask yourself this question, you already know the answer. Sort of like I've always told employees: if you have to ask me whether or not an outfit is appropriate to wear to work, it's probably not.

So I'm in a meeting yesterday, and a former boss made a comment to the speaker during a question/answer session. The comment had something to do with an opening at my former workplace, and my former boss kiddingly offered the speaker the job. The speaker said, "Oh, yeah, *******, I'd want to work for day.....after day....after day...." The whole crowd roared, and I was right in there with them.

This former boss of mine is not very well liked in our industry. I have to say that without my experience there, I wouldn't be where I am today, so I am very grateful for the training I received there over the years. However, my former boss and I didn't always see eye-to-eye. I didn't have a problem with it, because that's just normal in business, but this person didn't see things that way. This person is old-school when it comes to management technique. If things went well, the boss wanted the credit; if things went bad, it was everyone else's fault. I guess that's one of the most important things I learned NOT to do here at my current position. I always tell my employees that I don't care who scores the touchdown, as long as we get it over the goal line.

Looking back, it probably wasn't that big of a deal for me to enjoy a laugh at this person's expense. I didn't personally attack the person, nor did I initiate the laugh. Man, was it funny, though.....

Monday, February 07, 2005

fast, yet productive, weekend.....

Friday was a longer day than I had anticipated. I figured the carpet installers would be finished by around noon,but they were there from 8:30 until about 4:30. However, it was worth the extra time because they did an amazing job! If anyone is looking for carpet, consider Home Depot. Their prices beat everyone we compared them with, and the work was great.

I spent most of the morning on the PS2 in the bonus room while the bride read. I wasn't in the mood to read, so I played either three or four games of NCAA Football 2004. Yes, I'm 40, but I love playing football and baseball video games.

We had to keep the dog in the garage all day to keep him out of the installers' way. He drove us crazy, barking, whining, etc., all day long. At one point, I asked the head carpet installer if he wanted a dog. They appeared to be either Iranian or Kurdish, not sure which. His reply of a simple "yes" accompanied by a quick nod of the head told me that he had no idea what I had just said. The way he responded reminded me alot of "Pedro" from Napoleon Dynamite. So maybe he wasn't Kurdish or Iranian after all.

We started moving some of our stuff back into the closets, but not all of it. Seeing nice, clean, non-overstuffed closets is very appealing, and we want to hold onto that wonderful feeling as long as we can. Plus, all the furniture's back in place, and that's what counts.

Saturday was beautiful in Franklin, around 65 degrees and sunny. Even though I knew they wouldn't stay clean for long with the impending ugly weather, I washed both vehicles. It had been around two months since I had hand-washed either, and they were filthy. But not any more!

Very good SuperBowl! I had hoped the Eagles would win, but the Patriots deserved it. McNabb, for all the great passes he made, made some equally horrible decisions. As for the commercials, here's my top three favorites: - monkeys in the office. All three commercials were great, but the nod goes to the one with the whoopie cushion.

Degree deodorant - The Further Adventures of Mama's Boy. Some mean don't ever take risks. Great commercial.

AmeriQuest Mortgage - Don't Judge Too Quickly. Guy on cell phone with headset, tells person he's being robbed, store owner thinks he's talking to him instead.

Worst commercial? Hands down.

Now to make everyone jealous. I've got meetings today and tomorrow dealing with legislative and regulatory issues. Top that off with bad food for lunch, and you've got a completely boring event. Envious?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

stuff on the floor.....

You never realize just how much stuff you have on your floors at home until you have to remove all the stuff to have new carpet installed. Then you have to find temporary quarters for your stuff.

We ordered carpet from Home Depot about 3 weeks ago. A week later, we were told that it was on back-order, and that we probably shouldn't expect it to be installed until about the middle of February. Last night, as we were watching American Idol, a guy from Home Depot called to tell us that they would call us Friday morning between 7 AM and 9 AM to tell us when they would be by Friday to do the installation. So that means a vacation day for me tomorrow.....

The bride started painting the trim-work in the den and dining room yesterday. When she found out about Friday, she realized she'd have to finish it up today. I don't envy her, because I detest having to paint.

As soon as I get home tonight, we'll start attacking the floors, entertainment center and various other items. The bride will have to do something with her Snow Babies display, and that won't be alot of fun. My biggest job will be removing all the electronic stuff out of the entertainment center and finding a place for it. The BEST part is that after the carpet is installed, we get to move it all again. I guess there are worse problems to have, huh?

Should be a relatively late night tonight. Anyone who's bored is welcome to come by and help. But you'd have to be pretty bored to volunteer to move furniture.....

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

oh, the stench.....

Do you ever have to speak in front of groups? I do a presentation for our sponsor group's new employees twice a month. I know my material, backwards and forwards, no doubts there. But there are times when I know I bomb. Today was one such day. I didn't stutter, I didn't skip over anything, I'm not sure what it was; it just wasn't there, and I could tell. The only way I could have bombed worse is if I had broken wind in the middle of the presentation.....

what a difference a year makes.....

Saturday, I did something that I would have never done a year ago. This could mean that I'm (gasp!) maturing. Since maturity is sort of uncharted waters for me, I'm proceeding with caution.

The bride went out furniture shopping Saturday morning with her mom and cousin. She'd been looking for a coffee table for several months, and went north of Nashville to a furniture store. (OK, enough suspense on the coffee table - SHE BOUGHT ONE! I slept so much better Saturday night.) It was a cold, rainy day for all of middle Tennessee. I rolled out of bed, got the paper, then read it while getting my caffiene fix. The bride left around 8:30, and I did a few things around the kitchen and den. Then, at around 9:00, I put in 5 light jazz cd's, plopped in my leather recliner, and.......I started reading! In fact, I read for about 3 hours that day. 365 days ago, I would have laughed if someone had suggested that I sit down and read a book. Now, I find quite a bit of enjoyment in reading.

I finished up the book, The King of Torts, last night. Very good book! I had hoped for a different ending, but even so, a very good book. In the past 6 months, I've read 8 of Grisham's 17 books, so I'll go for number 9 at the Brentwood library after work.

I guess this maturity thing isn't all that bad. Besides, if I don't like it, I can always go back, right?