Saturday, June 30, 2007

Early morning

Good morning. I've been awake since 4:00 this morning. I typically beat the alarm but this was by a full hour. I guess my body clock has already reset getting ready for eastern time and the trip to Hilton Head. I am taking Susan and her girls with me. We've rented a 3 bedroom villa near the beach. Yes . . . we keep it on the up and up. Honestly. Susan has a room, I have a room, and the girls have a room. This will be the first extended stay I've had with all three of them. We'll have to see if it is hit or a bust. I am going to try to use this time to also reflect on my options concerning work. I know that I shouldn't be thinking about it but if it is there, I may as well take advantage of the time.

I ran an easy 3 miler Friday afternoon between thunderstorms. E and MAC rode their bikes with me. That keeps me on my toes having to make sure that they are obeying the rules while I am trying to breath!

Thanks to my mom and dad for loaning me their GIANT vehicle for the trip. It's a Ford Expedition and it has seemed to swallow everything that we have wanted to put in it. My largest vehicle is a Toyota Highlander. I love the Highlander but it does not have the room to carry all the luggage and other stuff that three needy girls seem to require. All I need are my golf clubs, some clothes, and and a cork screw. We now need food, snacks, drinks (two coolers full), two baskets full of beach toys (I always thought a towel and book did fine), multiple bags of clothes, and whatever else Susan is putting in there this morning before we leave. I have a big transition to make going from a single man trip to a family man trip. Not complaining . . . just having to learn. You know what they say about old dogs. Wish me luck!

I am taking my laptop and hopefully will find access and time to post.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Life changes?

Good evening all.

I just finished having Mexican dinner with Susan and the girls. It is Wednesday evening and I am sitting here watching Jurassic Park. Susan, the girls, and Kelsey (my turncoat Cairn Terrier) have gone back to Susan's house. Good thing that they are watching here tomorrow. I am heading to Vidalia tomorrow. I'll be catching the corporate plane early in the morning. The good thing is that I'll be home tomorrow evening.

Yesterday I did not intend to run. The last several Wednesday bike ride have been tough because I have run the day before and I had planned to take a rest day but I ended up doing an easy 2 miler. I was over at Susan's and E was wanting to ride her new bike. She is finally off her training wheels and on two wheels. Considering that we are wanting to ride bikes while on vacation next week, I figured E would need to get all the practice she needs. Susan and E rode their bikes and I ran. E is doing very well and has finally gotten used to using her coaster brakes.

Today I did 26 miles on the bike . . . again. I know it sounds boring to do the same thing every week but until I really get strong on my bike, I'm sticking to shorter rides. Maybe I'll kick it up to 35 miles in another couple of weeks. It was a good ride this afternoon. There were only three of us. Other than miles 5 thru 9 (steep rolling hills), I felt reasonably strong and was not the weakest link. I actually got in a couple of good sprints and took my turn pulling on the flats. Larry M is still unbelievable . . . . he can separate at will and is very strong. I hate him! (just kidding). My legs are tired but not sore . . . a very good feeling.

Now on to life changes . . . .
I had a job interview on Tuesday morning. I really beleive that it went well and the committee that I had to perform for was cordial and I already knew half of them. It was very relaxed with some light joking interjected between the serious questions. I felt very relaxed and was charming, if I say so myself.

I appreciate the feedback and opinions all my family and friends are giving me. I appreciate all the prayers and thoughts.

As an aside, we have had several meetings the last couple of days so the executives (ball-less wonders that they are) can try to convince us how good this is going to be and how we need to appreciate the opportunity. They can take their "opportunity" and put is where the sun never shines. I guess my opinion would be different if I earned what they make. Half million dollar salary plus bonus . . . Yeah, I could move to Vidalia, GA for that. I hate having to learn new technology but I'd rather do that than have to start life anew 350 miles away. I guess I am just getting old. It is so sad . . . . I've been talking to some of my clients, warning them that I may be leaving. They cannot believe it. They ask who they can go to . . . . my response is "I'm sorry . . . I'm the last one . . . . call the vice president of engineering with your questions". It has really gotten to that point. Relationships that I have grown over the years adn all the trust between peers and clients is going to be thrown away. So sad. However, I have accepted the fact that I am turning a page in my life and I look forward to building new relationships and breaking in new bosses. I do not wish my company ill but it is upsetting that business in my old company will never be the same . . . . and the pricks that have ruined it will waltz off in retirement with their millions of dollars. I am sorry for my friends and collegues at Plant Hatch. Life for everyone is changing.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Lazy Sunday afternoon

Hey all. It's Sunday afternoon about 5:00 and we're praying for rain. Clouds have been zooming by all afternoon with some occassional thunder and we're hoping for a nice, long, set in (southern . . . sorry) rain.

I got in 3 miles this afternoon in the opressive heat and humidity. MAC rode her bike with me but we actually had to stop for water mid-way. It was mid 90s and indescribable. Sort of like New Orleans or Houston. Just plain old nasty. I told MAC that we were going to go slow and for that we were both grateful. I was using the run as a recover from yesterday's bike ride. The legs were not sore . . . just a wee bit tired. I guess the worst part of the run today was the fact that my hamstrings felt like they were about to cramp. Never did buy I could tell they were on the edge.

Saturday's bike ride-it was my first semi-long ride this year. I've been doing 26 milers every Wed after work but decided to join my compadres for an early Saturday morning jaunt around south Shelby county. Larry M was the ride leader and wanted to start at 6:30. Half the folks wanted to start at 7:00. We compromised on 6:45 wheels down and rolling. Of course I slept late and had to scamper to make it. I always wonder about how smart it is to drive 30 minutes to ride my bike for 40 or 50 miles. Wouldn't it be nicer to just start at my house, go out 20 or 25 miles and then turn around and come home? Of course it would but then I'd be having to climb some of the taller mountains in the state (not that we're known for big mountains). Anyway, I made it in time to do a quick safety check on my bike, put on shoes, throw my cell phone, pistol, and insurance card in the saddle pack, and head out with the group. My legs were tired from the week's running and riding but we had several folks who hadn't done much distance (including me) so we agreed to make it an easy ride. The first 12 miles were a breeze, cruising along shady two lane roads and the sun still not above the tree line on the horizon. We made a quick stop after 12 miles for quick water and some folks even took on some gel. I felt pretty good despite the slow start earlier in the morning. The next leg was about 16 miles and included a few rolling hills and some open fields (SUN, no shade). We'd get a straggler on the hills (no, not me!) and slow down for them to catch up and start rolling again. I was ready for a snack after the second leg and we all took about a 10 minute stop at one of the local gas stations where we normally stop and the attendant is always friendly and will round down purchases to keep us from having to carry change. We always make sure that we try to do business there when we can and always leave loose change to make up for the Saturday rides. After a bottle of something blue and a gel, I was ready to tackle the final leg back to the cars. The last leg was going to be around 17 or 18 miles and it was starting to heat up. There is a beautiful stretch of road that has just been paved and there is very little traffic on it. We jumped into a double pace line and hammered out 10 miles in no time. The last 7 miles or so hits some rolling hills but is luckily in the shade. We all made it back to the cars sweaty but safely. Total ride was 45 miles with an average speed of 16.1 mph. Not great but not shabby considering folks like me were on board and undoubtedly slowing down our faster riders.

On a side note, I've been teasing my parents with a deliberate lack of information concerning part of my personal life. Sometimes you just don't want to bother folks with the minutia of life. I've decided that I'll spill the beans today. Over the last six months or so, the brain trust at work has been studying a restructuring of the organization. In such a Dilbertesque, they announced their intentions of "studying" the organization and benchmarking against our competitors. They have since updated us with the progess no more than twice. This past week, they had what they like to call a "town hall meeting" with us to inform us that they a new organizational structure that they will put in place over the next several months. Let me take a quick moment to assure my parents that I do have a job . . . not to worry about that. However, the question over the last six months has been: where will I have a job? I found out this past week that they have decided that the design engineering teams need to be located at the plant sites and not in the corparate office. The bottom line is that they want to relocate about 60 folks to the three nuclear sites. That includes me. HMMMMMMM. The question is this: do I want to live in Vidalia, GA. Don't get me wrong. I like Vidalia. I've spent lots and lots of time down there. I lived down there for a couple of year in the 80s and spend between weeks at a time down there even now. But do I want to be a resident? Believe me, I've been thinking about this long and hard for months since the rumors (fairly accurate, by the way) started flying early. Of course being one that does not like other folks making decisions for me, I started beating the bushes for other jobs, internal and external to my company. I've had offers to work as a contractor in other parts of the country for VERY GOOD money. However, a move away from home is a move away from home. That is sort of a do it as last resort kind of thing. I've been talking to folks I know in another subsidiary of our mother company and there is lots of work over there (next door in the next office building). However, I'd be making the switch from nuclear design to working on scrubber and SCRs (environmental controls) for our systems coal plants. That is sort of uncomfortable too. I know nuclear. I like nuclear. All my background and contacts are in nuclear. Now I'm thinking about working at the direction of the tree huggers (no offense intended). I have an interview on Tuesday morning with the environmental group and I feel pretty confident that I can have the job. And get this . . . to further complicate matters, one of the vice presidents contacted me ex-parte this past Friday. He told me that I didn't want me to go next door and that the company does not want to lose my knowledge and experience. HMMMMM . . . . . sounds flattering. What's the catch? They want me to take a job as a cost estimator and out of engineering. He said that this would only by for a while til the dust settles but I'm not sure I want to take that route either. I'd stay in nuclear but out of design. What's a boy to do? Can I find a rich woman out there to marry me???? (Susan, I'm just kidding). That is my quandry . . . . do I keep my job and move out of town? Do I continue work in design engineering but change what I work on? Do I stay with my present company where my background and knowledge are strong but learn a new task? Or do I say heck with them all and go chasing around the country in search of the mighty dollar? Your feedback is certainly welcome!

Have a great week!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Is going foward really progress?

A very deep question that I have pondered over the last several weeks. In some aspects it is a deeply philosophical question. In others arenas of life, it is a simple question. Ask yourself the question . . . how do you interpret it and how do you answer it? Sort of makes you twist up your mouth and go "HMMMMMMM".

Yes. I am running. And, yes, I am biking. Rather I am getting back into biking. Since I am such a bad blogger, let me briefly catch you up-

Last week I ran on Monday and Tuesday. About 4 miles each day. And man, has it been hot. Mid 90s the last several weeks with no relief in sight. As my buddy Amy who lives in Macon knows, 95 degrees in the south is hot. I digress. sorry. Last Wed I did a 26 mile ride. Miserable conditions-it was 97 when we started at 4:45 and there were only three of us. The other two riders have been pedaling all year and all last winter. Needless to say, they pushed the pace and I kept up for the first 13 miles. Fortunately, they wanted to do 40 and I was doing 26 so we parted ways on two different routes after mile 13. I managed to struggle in at about a 15.5 mph pace. Yuck. I was doing this same route last year and averaging right at 18 mph. But as I asked above, is going forward progress? I guess it is considering that I stayed off the bike all winter and spring. I ran Thursday afternoon and my legs were crying for mercy. I was grateful for taking Friday off. I took it off from work and from running. I slept until 8:00 (very late for me) and spent the day cleaning up my garage. Saturday morning I went over to Susan's and we did a nice trail run of about 4 miles. There were lots of people on the trail and I was somewhat surprised by the amount of folks considering how hot it has been.

Trying to establish a pattern, I have repeated last week for this week. I ran Monday and Tuesday. Rode 26 miles on Wednesday. The ride was somewhat better as three of us stuck together. We had to . . . . it was high 90s again and the wind was kicking in the 15-20 mph range. VERY TOUGH on a bike. Thank goodness for pace lines! I ran Thursday afternoon at Susan's house. We had a fun family outing trying to prepare for vacation in a couple of weeks. I ran and MAC rode her bike with me while Susan ran and E rode her bike with her. MAC and I did 3 quick miles while Susan and E did 2 not so quick miles. Of course E is still learning to ride her bike so Susan is having to stop and help E on occassions.

I am blogging from Susan's house on Friday afternoon after work. We're going to some friend's house tonight for dinner and then I am heading home fairly early. Yes, I am a kill joy but I know that I am doing my first 50 mile ride in the morning early. MAC THINKS that she wants to try this but I am not going to let her show me up!!! There is nothing more embarrassing than being shown up by a 10 year old GIRL. After the the ride, I'll shower up and head over to Susans. I have promised MAC that I'd ride or run with her tomorrow afternoon so I'm sure I'll be sleeping well tomorrow night.

I still need to tell you guys about my job . . . .

Have to keep my mom wondering!!!!!! :)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Still plugging away

Greetings from the land of HOT and DRY.

As much as I don't want to find myself agreeing with tree huggers and Al Gore, I have to admit that this old third rock from the sun seems to be warming up. Temps over the last week have been in the 90s and still no rain in sight. The area I live in is around 16 below normal rain fall for the year and the temps are running 10-12 degrees above normal. I know that Phil out in AZ is laughing at my whining but it is not supposed to be mid-90s in early June in Alabama. While in Vidalia, GA last week, I saw triple digits and it was 98 on my home from work yesterday. I am normally not bothered by much, but the last week or so my sinuses have been screwed up. I do not have allergies . . . at least I didn't. I am taking benedryl to get rid of the constant running nose and sniffles. I'm thinking it is all the dust in the air from the lack of rain. I'll give it another few days and then call the Dr. It is way too tough to run when my nose is running faster than I am.

About the "plugging away" . . . yes, the old body is starting to respond better to the increased (and more regular) exercise that I am imposing on it. I am still running sans watch. Right now, it is more about regularity and getting acclimated to the heat. I ran yesterday afternoon at 5:00. According to my mini-weather station at the house, it was 96 degrees when I got started. Susan and the girls came over for dinner when I finished running. We ate reasonably healthy-I had the grilled orange roughy and a salad. I checked the temperature when I got home after dinner about 8:30ish and it was still 87 degrees. Needless to say, it is the season for sweating.

Maybe Susan will update her blog . . . She needs to brag on her daughter MAC for making the "A" travel soccer team.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Still going

I have a few minutes in the office before work starts and was feeling guilty about not keeping everyone up to date on the progress in my life. So here's a brief attempt to catch you up.

My running and cycling, though not where I was a year ago, are starting to pick up. I actually ran four days last week, which is pretty good, considering my until now, recent lack of enthusiasm. I have run Monday and Tuesday this week-untimed and no big mileage but getting myself back into the pattern of Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Sat. However, I am going out of town for a quick trip and will more likely slide my Thursday run to Friday since it will not be likely I'll have time to run while gone. I am starting to feel stronger, despite the extra baggage I have acquired and the heat. I know that Phil lives in AZ and it is much hotter there, but we are supposed to be in the mid 90s this week . . . pretty warm for this early in the year here in Alabama. Speaking of Phil, be sure to go by his site (linked on the right side of my page) and read his account of the San Diego Marathon he recently ran. Congratulations to him for a PR! His success has gotten me me thinking about trying to improve my PR of 3:48. Maybe we should challenge each other to see who makes 3:45 first???

Onto other things in my life-
The treehouse, fort, swingset thingy do I put together for Susan's girls has been finished for over a week now and the girls have been enjoying it. I've still to figure out what is the best thing to put under it. Presently, there is a combination of old pine straw and mulch. I was thinking about trying artificial mulch. Let me know if you have any thoughts about that. I will be posting a series of pictures later on showing progress from start to finish.

Susan is trying to get back to her running since school is out and she has more time on her hands. She's worse than me about posting on her blog! We've been trying to decide if we should take a vacation this summer and if so, where to go. Personally, I'd just like to get away from the office for a week. Here's the typical discussion . . . . E says "let's go to DineyWorld!". MAC says "lets go to the beach!". I say "which beach? Hilton Head or Seaside?", MAC says "BOTH!". Susan says "nobody listens to me. I want to go to Jamestown and Williamsburg!". Susan is correct in that it would be neat to go to VA for the 400 year celebration of the first permanent English settlement. It might be somewhat interesting for 10 year old MAC. I'm not sure E really cares about American history at this point in her life. Maybe the smart thing to do would be make everyone unhappy and either stay home and go to a state park camping or go to Vegas. Your opinions are welcome.

Have I mentioned that I work in the world of Dilbert? We have been teased with information over the last six months about another reorganization. The fourth in five years. Our braintrust keeps scratching their heads wondering why things aren't operating smoothly. I am not a rocket scientist but "DUH" . . . how about leaving us alone long enough to let us work? It seems that chaos and turmoil are the chosen flavor of the day around here. Confuse and conquer, that's what I always say! I'll vent more about this later. Time for me to get back to work . . . . oh the joy.