Tuesday, February 28, 2006

More woes

Out of control...

Can't find bottle with my meds in it...

Found other bottle, but it's full of liquid. Well, it was full.

Osama is after me. My world is falling apart.

Two more rejections from agents came in today... AAARRRGGGHH!

(Regular daily post is delayed until tomorrow.)

Need... bed... sleep. Must sleep.

Better... tomorrow... hope!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Uh oh...

I just had a phone call from Homeland Security. They wanted more information about the Conspiracy I’ve revealed on this blog.

Well, since I’m a good, patriotic citizen and determined to do my duty, I agreed to cooperate.

I explained how the whole thing works and presented them with my evidence. At first they seemed confused about the methods used by the various conspiring objects to communicate.

(Can you imagine? I mean, isn’t it obvious?)

I detailed the connection of pipes and wires in my house, and told them that I use a wireless router for my home computer network.

(All of that made sense to them, but they thought it a stretch that my vehicles were a part of it all.)

Ha! THEN I explained that even the car and van have computers in them. They had to acknowledge that!

At one point they seemed to be losing interest in my tales of plumbing leaks, digital file failures, electrical shorts and, of course, the transmission overhaul. But you should have seen them perk up when I told them that the conspiracy is transmitted over the INTERNET!

They thought I just meant that it is spread within the borders of the U.S. that way. “Oh, no,” I told them!

Once I showed them Michelle’s posts from South Africa, and recent comments from my U.K. readers, then they REALLY became animated.

“It’s international!?” they almost shouted.

I affirmed that it is.

“Do you think Osama is behind it?” they demanded, in breathless anticipation. Well, duh!

I told them I didn’t know if he was behind it or not, but that I was pretty sure he was involved to some extent.

(I mean, use your head! What better way for a terrorist organization to wreak havoc on our Western civilization that through these “presumed” inanimate objects?)

(Gee. “Western Civilization.” That would be a great name for a History book.)

Anyway, they promised they’d be back in touch for more information. Oh, and I provided them with a complete list of both all 10,000 of my blog readers. They want to talk to each of YOU, too! I offered them all of your email addresses, but they don’t trust email. They plan to locate you by your I.P. address and use that to trace your telephone number.

Yes, it takes them a lot longer, but they can get more funding from next year’s budget if they make their task appear more difficult.

So don’t be surprised if your phone rings in the middle of the night.

It’ll probably be Osama.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I must do what I must do.


Dear readers, I’m sorry. Several of you have asked... nay, BEGGED me not to write further on this topic. But I fear I am compelled.

The electronic/mechanical/structural conspiracy continues to gain strength, and SOMEBODY has to keep people informed about it!

I have detailed in previous posts how my appliances, electronic equipment, plumbing, automobiles, and even the structure of my home (roof, walls, foundation) are all not only communicating with each other, they are conspiring together to make the lives of us human beings miserable!

The evidence is everywhere! You’ve all heard the old saying that bad things happen in threes? Well, that doesn’t go NEARLY far enough!

I have explained HOW this communication among the various so-called “inanimate” objects occurs. The only remaining mystery is the WHY! WHY do all things seem to conspire against us to fail at the MOST inopportune time, and in the MOST hurtful fashion possible?

For years we have laughed it off as “Murphy’s Law,” or one of the many corollaries thereof. But I have come to know that Murphy was a prophet! His “Law” ("Anything that CAN go wrong, WILL!") is Gospel!

Legend has it that he died a horrible death when all his appliances caught fire simultaneously, his house collapsed around him, and several vehicles on the highway outside his home veered inexplicably and plowed through the rubble of his collapsed and burning home, running him over!

He was only 23 years old at the time, and had JUST written his “theorem” (which later became known as a law, once its immutability was demonstrated) and mailed it to his publisher.

(Yes, Murphy was a writer. He sent in his “theorem” as part of a manuscript the publisher had requested from Murphy’s agent.)

Can you possibly doubt that what I am telling you is true? Have you read the EVIDENCE I have presented in this blog? Have you read the TESTIMONY of my other readers in their frequent comments? You still need MORE proof?!

All right! Here it is!

My daughter’s computer would not boot up. Windows had detected a FATAL ERROR! I told her to try “safe mode,” and that worked. “So what?” you ask? Well, when she then restarted in “Normal” mode, it worked perfectly!

At the same time, my van (which had JUST shredded its transmission requiring a THREE THOUSAND dollar overhaul) began making horrible noises. A mechanic of 30 years drove it and assured me that the front end suspension was surely the culprit and needed immediate replacement before it failed and Carol and I were killed in a horrible fiery wreck!

But when I took it in to have the front suspension replaced, he (the same mechanic) determined that the noise was being made by the transmission dipstick! (I am NOT making this up!) He properly secured the dipstick tube, and the noises ceased.

What’s the connection, you ask? Ha! Isn’t it obvious? All the parties to the conspiracy are laughing at us!! They are mocking! They are fooling us into thinking that major repairs are needed, and then they fix themselves.

Ah! But I know the devious nature of their plans. And I must reveal them to you. Be warned! This is just their “softening up” phase.

They want us to be lulled into thinking that all the glitches are just MINOR, INEXPENSIVE problems that will “go away” if left alone. When we get to that point, the HAMMER will fall! The SWORD OF DAMOCLES will be released!

There. I’ve let the cat out of the bag. I’ve opened the can of worms. (Is there some other hackneyed analogy I can use? Hmmm.)

So, if you read (or hear on the news) that a couple in Victoria, Texas were killed when four semi-trailer trucks crashed into their burning, collapsed home, running over them and crushing them into the hot embers, YOU’LL KNOW!!

(Where the HELL did I put my meds?)

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Odds and ends

First and foremost, I must tell you that Christina’s computer woes are, at least for the present, over! And I must also thank and congratulate The Pointmaster, a.k.a. Hale McKay, a.k.a. Michael Ashley for offering the tip that solved the problem.

For those of you who don’t want to go back to yesterday’s post and comments and see, Mike pointed out (ahem... he IS the “Pointmeister,” after all) that sometimes, once a computer has successfully started in “safe mode” and then been rebooted, the problem heals itself.

(Or goes into hiding, only to surface later at the worst possible time. Mike didn’t say that; I’m just being pessimistic. Given the nature of the con... oops. You know what I mean!)

I wasn’t looking forward to trying to repair the boot sector of the hard drive, much less wiping the whole thing, re-installing Windows and all the other software, putting the data files back where they belonged, and all the rest of THAT noise. That would have taken DAYS, plus Christina would have had to send me the laptop and been without her computer for weeks.

I also wanted to avoid a “system restore” back to a previous point in time. I’ve done that, and as a repair it’s iffy at best.

So thanks Mike! And thanks to the others who offered tips or at least sympathy. Some times I’ll take all of that I can get!

Next, please pause with me for a moment of silence as you view the photo below.

Yes, those are the LAST THREE cookies from our ski trip. Those scrumptious oatmeal, wheat germ, peanut butter, chocolate chip cookies that taste so wonderful. They’re all gone. Til next year, my tasty friends, adieu!


And finally (I’m not sure if this is an “odd” or an “end”), today was chilly and drizzly with one hard shower in the afternoon, so there was no golf today. I spent most of the afternoon preparing queries to send to literary agents for my novel.

I found a few more agents who would accept email queries, and sent those off. One, to my amazement, actually indicated he wanted attachments to the email! These were to contain a synopsis and sample chapters.

So far he is the ONLY agent I’ve found who will even dare to OPEN an email with an attachment, let alone open the attachment itself! They all seem convinced that attachments are the evil spawn of Satan himself, and will infect their systems with agent-eating viruses.

Gee, MY anti-virus software scans incoming email attachments just like every other file, and either deletes or quarantines those with problems. Guess agents haven’t had time to read about that software yet, since they’re so busy reading the 700 queries per week that keep pouring into their mailboxes.

Anyway, I also prepared snail mail queries to send out next week.

I’ll let you know about responses when they come.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Who’s the Computer expert at YOUR house?

Christina (daughter) called me last night. “My computer’s messed up.” (It’s a less-than-two-year-old Dell Inspiron.)

Me: “What’s it doing — or NOT doing?”

Her: “When I boot it up it takes F-O-R-E-V-E-R, and then when it gets to a certain point I get a blue screen that says, ‘Windows has encountered an error, and will now shut down.’ And then it shuts down. I can’t ever get it started up. What should I do?”

Me: “as far as you know, are your Anti-virus definitions up to date?”

Her: “Yes. They are automatically updated once a day.”

Me: “Okay, it’s probably not a virus. Uh... (Long pause, thinking.) Have you tried starting it in ‘safe mode’?”

Her: “What’s that?”

I explain how to start the machine in “safe mode.” She tries it, and while we’re waiting to see if it works, she goes on, “I need this computer! Some of the bills I pay monthly come to me electronically, and I have to have my Outlook Express working to get them!”

I offered to send her the old 1996 desktop Packard Bell machine that she used to use before she got her Dell. That old machine still works, but man, is it slow! And it doesn’t have enough processor or memory to run Windows XP, so she’d be back on Windows 98. That idea did NOT go over well.

We determined that the computer WOULD boot up and run in “safe mode,” and that she could access the internet and her emails that way for a while, so the emergency was over.

Today I asked our I.T. folks at work if they had any suggestions, other than to re-install Windows. Christina really doesn’t want to do that, but she may have no choice. My I.T. guru said that if she had not recently installed something (which might have corrupted a Windows, and which she should immediately UN-install and see if that helped) she would have to re-install Windows.

So, tonight I’ll call her and we’ll discuss options. It’s too bad she lives in Tampa, and I’m in Texas, or I could pop in some Saturday and do all of that for her.

The next issue becomes her data files: those need to be backed up prior to the re-install of the operating system.


My plant I.T. guy (a thirty-something) was telling me tales about helping his dad with dad’s laptop when it developed problems. That seems to be more the stereotype — the oldster turns to his kids for computer help. In my case, sometimes that stereotype is reversed.

How about you — who do you turn to when the darn computer won’t compute? Parent, child, spouse, friend, or The Geek Squad from Best Buy?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

More on head hunters

After yesterday’s post I had a number of comments and a few emails about people’s experiences with those "employment service" folks we love to denigrate as head hunters.

They’re not all bad, you know. In fact, one of my sons-in-law is working for a major, nationwide search firm in Chicago. If I mentioned the name, you’d know it. And he is very professional in his dealings with both client companies (who are looking for qualified employees, and willing to pay 30% of a year’s salary to get them) and client job seekers.

In the past I’ve worked with good ones (head hunters) and not-so-good ones. Most of those encounters happened when I was the client company looking for employees. But one of the best was the guy who found me my current day job that has lasted over 20 years now.

Here's the tale:

In 1985 I found myself the victim of the Texas oil boom gone bust. It happened literally overnight. The bust, that is. From the late 1970s through 1981, if you were involved in any oilfield or drilling-related business in Texas you could have been a millionaire. Then, in early 1982, all the big companies cancelled all their big purchase orders. From one week to the next the boom went bust, and the bankruptcies followed like a pack of dogs chasing a female in heat.

I had helped my oilfield related employer double in size in five years, adding 300 employees between 1976 and 1981. In 1982 we began laying them off. By the fall of the year, my turn came. I had become part of the overhead.

I answered an ad in the Wall Street Journal for a “Gulf Coast Manufacturing Plant HR job.” I was living in Corpus Christi then, and had no idea if the plant was in Texas, Florida, or somewhere in between. The ad had been placed by a head hunter.

He put me through the most thorough interview I’d ever had — and I used to GIVE interviews! For example, he didn’t ask me what my most recent salary had been. Rather he asked me to pull out the prior year’s W-2 form and read him the numbers on it. There would be no “fudging” or estimating with him.

Only after he was convinced I had the qualifications and background he needed, he told me about the position. Turned out the plant was only about an 80-minute drive from my home. And it further turned out to be a really good fit for both me and the company. Heck, I’m still here!

My point? I learned some things from that man. Though many SEEM to do so, not all head hunters subscribe to the “spaghetti theory.”

Not familiar with the spaghetti theory? It states that if you throw enough spaghetti against the wall, some of it will stick. That’s the approach many early stage head hunters take. If the applicant is breathing (or maybe even THAT’s not essential), send him to an interview with the client. If he sticks, you collect a fat fee.

Those folks don’t get much repeat business. Shoot, one of the things I’m willing to pay those thousands for is some significant pre-screening. I can get warm bodies with just a cheap ad in the paper.

I guess, like car salesmen, lawyers, and a few other professions, there are some good professional head hunters out there. But it seems (to THOROUGHLY mix my metaphors) that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find that one prince.

Has anyone else had a remotely good head hunter experience? Tell me, please.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

HR Stuff

An email arrived this afternoon from a head hunter search firm professional I’ve never heard of before. He described an HR position on the East Coast at a very attractive salary and bonus plus car allowance.

I looked through it, and replied with a polite note telling him I knew of no one among my local contacts who might be interested.

(Oh! Would any of you like his name and email address? Let me know!)

I used to get these contacts by telephone more than by email, but the world is changing. In fact, there were times when they came so frequently they were a real annoyance. In the past six months I’ve probably only had 3-4, and two of those have been during January and now February. Business must be improving!

I have no idea how that particular head hunter search firm professional got my email address, but no matter. I would guess that he doesn’t read this blog, however, as few firms would have interest in an HR pro at such an advanced age as I have now attained. (And a big raspberry to all of you who have made “old” jokes at my expense following my last two posts!)

Regardless, it’s interesting to read a position profile (“job description” to us older folks) and note the compensation offered and the locale. It keeps me in touch with marketplace values and realities. And if the job is an HR position, and most of them are — that’s why they send them to me, to see if I might nibble at the bait — then I can either feel good or bad about my current job depending on the relationship of my current salary to the one offered.

(And in case you’re wondering, I feel pretty good about my current job after reading this most recent job/salary profile).

How about you? Do you ever get calls or emails from head hunters? Or is it just us HR types? I know that the engineers at our plant get calls regularly, and sometimes various managers do, but I wonder about others. If you do (or have in the past), let me know.


No news from my agent querying efforts lately. I still have 16 email queries out with no response yet, and I’ve begun sending snail mail letters to selected agents who request no emails. Some of those emails are over a month old.

But then, all of the responses that came back within a few days were of the “No thanks” variety. So maybe the others are carefully reading and re-reading my synopsis, getting the full force of emotions from my gripping tale. Or maybe the “John Earle Electronic Conspiracy” traveled virus-like with my email and has afflicted their computers, internet service, and email capability.

Or (more likely), they’re just so busy working with all their existing clients and fighting through each day’s onslaught of submissions, they’re a bit behind.

As I’ve so often said, “What a business!”

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Kids of the Baby Boom

Remember the Bellamy Brothers’ song of that title from a few years ago?

What? How MANY years ago, you ask? We Baby Boomers are losing our memory, so I don’t remember.

Anyway, sometimes a reader’s comment strikes a note (or a chord, or even a whole tune) and I write about it. Yesterday’s post about my recent birthday milestone caused Miss Cellania to accuse me of starting the Baby Boom, for crying out loud!

I replied that I didn’t start anything. My parents participated in starting it, but that was beyond my control.

Regardless, now I am identified as part of a phenomenon that will ruin civilization as we know it! Oh, you’ve heard the reports: within 10 years all the BABY BOOMERS will be retired or retiring and there’ll be fewer payers into the Social Security System than there will be recipients of benefits! All of those (us) old, rich people will be driving around in their (our) motor homes and RVs, consuming natural resources and further destroying the planet.

Further destroying?” Oh yes! We’re already responsible for Global Warming (from burning all those fossil fuels in such a wasteful fashion) and for the growing hole in the Ozone Layer (from using spray cans and old air conditioners with CFCs).

Don’t believe me? Here are the Bellamy Brothers’ lyrics:

Our daddies won the war and came home to our moms
They gave them so much love that all us kids were born
We all grew up on Mickey Mouse and hula-hoops
Then we all bought BMW's and brand new pickup trucks
And we watched John Kennedy die one afternoon
Kids of the baby boom

It was a time of new prosperity in the USA
All the fortunate offsprings never had to pay
We had sympathy for the devil and the Rolling Stones
Then we got a little older, we found Haggard and Jones
A generation screaming for more room
Kids of the baby boom

Kids of the baby boom, we had freedom, we had money
Baby boom, here in the land of milk and honey
Counting our chickens way too soon
Kids of the baby boom

Now we all can run computers and we all can dance
We all have Calvin Klein written on our underpants
And at six-o'clock, like robots, we turn on the news
Watch those third world countries deal out more abuse
Remember the first man on the moon

Kids of the baby boom

Kids of the baby boom, we had freedom, we had money
Baby boom, here in the land of milk and honey
Counting our chickens way too soon
Kids of the baby boom

As our lives become a capsule they send to the stars
And our children look at us like we came from Mars
As the farms disappear and the sky turns black
We're a nation full of takers, never giving back
We never stop to think what we consume
Kids of the baby boom

Kids of the baby boom, we had freedom, we had money
Baby boom, here in the land of milk and honey
Counting our chickens way too soon
Kids of the baby boom

Our optimism mingles with the doom
Kids of the baby boom

So thanks, Miss Cellania, for the reference and the opportunity to rant a bit. Yeah, thanks a LOT!

In retrospect, I guess I’m just glad I’m on the leading edge of this Baby Boom thing. Maybe I’ll reap a FEW of the benefits before the world goes to hell.


Monday, February 20, 2006


“It’s only a number.” Just keep telling yourself, “It’s only a number.”

Why is it, do you suppose, that some birthdays seem overly significant? Why did Jack Benny reach 39 years of age and then stop there, perpetually at a number beyond which he might be perceived as “old?”

Why is it that we start having parties with black balloons at someone’s 40th birthday, or for sure on their 50th?

In the lyrics to “Strawberry Wine” the singer laments, “I still remember, when thirty was old.” And we (who have approached or passed that milestone) laugh, remembering when, as a teenager, WE thought thirty was old.

Frank Sinatra crooned about milestones in “It Was a Very Good Year.” He started at 17, and the small-town girls. Then at 21 he remembered the city girls. After a brief musical interlude he leapt to 35, remembering blue-blooded girls. But that’s as far as he went!

The very next line laments, “But now the days grow short. I’m in the autumn of the year.”

Damn. He must have turned 40, right? What an old guy he had become. He was remembering all those girls of the past because he was too old for girls now, I guess.

In case you’re wondering what I’m rambling about, it’s this: I promised some pictures of the surprise birthday party my family threw for me at the end of our ski trip. So I’m ready to show you the pictures, but they’ll make it very plain what milestone I’ve just attained and passed.

And I’m not sure I want to do that because most of you will think I’m OLD! Well, I’m NOT! So there!

I still run and ski and swim and snorkel and walk the golf course. My wonderful wife and I still have an active, uh, (sorry kids, I know this embarrasses you) physical life.

So go ahead. Look at the pictures. Figure out my age. Feel smug.

But remember...

It’s only a number!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

More ski trip pictures

Sorry, no more pretty scenery. But some of you have demanded pictures of the matching sweaters, so I had to post these shots for you.

In the next day or two I’ll try to put up the last of the pictures, most of which were taken at the surprise birthday party my family threw for me at the restaurant.

Or maybe I’ll actually try to write something entertaining for a change.

Depends on... Whatever strikes me!

Friday, February 17, 2006

Ski Pictures! Ski Pictures!

You've waited very patiently, but I know you've been anxious. So here they are.

The promised SKI TRIP PICTURES!!

I'll have more trip pictures in another day or two, but these are the shots we took up on the mountain.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

"Like Comin’ Home"

“That peaceful easy feelin' at the end of a long, long road.”

Lonestar sings it. I was reminded of it last night after driving all day from before dawn in Amarillo to nearly sunset in Victoria, Texas. "The end of a long, long road." Yeah.

Today was a very busy day at the office. It’s the same whenever you come back to work after a few days of vacation: things have piled up, lots of people want to talk to you about stuff they’ve been saving up, and everybody wants an answer TODAY because they’ve been waiting over a week already. It’s hard to stay pleasant. I have to fight the initial reaction to snap and tell them to give me a little space and time.

But I understand. I expect that people returning from over a week of vacation will be rested, refreshed and in a good mood. So I need to be that way.

I wait until they’ve left my office, and THEN I snarl under my breath. Then I feel better. Until the next person knocks and says (invariably), “You got a minute?” Which always means at least 30 minutes.

Oh well. That’s why they pay me these “big” bucks.

And so I was again reminded of the Lonestar song as I hopped in my car to start for home after 9+ hours in the office today. About halfway through my 35-minute commute I began to sense “that peaceful easy feelin’.”

I was Comin’ Home!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Home at last!

We awoke this morning in Amarillo, hit the road by 6:30, and were home in Victoria by about 5:00 p.m. The car was unpacked by 5:45, family notified that we were home safe, and all the suitcases and other stuff pretty much put away by 6:30.

This will be another short post, because I’m too tired to worry about messing with our pictures or further detailing our trip tonight. Tomorrow morning I get up at 4:45 (the usual work-day time) to go to work and avoid wasting spending any more vacation days.

But I gotta admit; having three days during which we just sat around and did very little in our Denver hotel room was kind of nice.

I’m NOT looking forward to going to the office in the morning and getting caught up on phone calls and mail and emails. Fortunately I’ve been checking voice messages and work emails while on the trip, so the burden won’t be TOO bad. Maybe I’ll just charge myself with two extra days of vacation, since I did do some work while sitting in Denver. Hey, that ought to be fair, no?

I’ll talk to my boss about that tomorrow.

Whaddaya say Greg? Two extra days, or three?

(I’ve got a feeling it’s gonna be three.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Heading home!

Called the transmission shop this morning and was told they expected the van to be finished and ready to drive by noon!!

Great news! We packed up the little rental car, checked out of our hotel, and drove the 20 miles to the repair shop. Can you believe there is an Enterprise rental office right across the street? Since our little rental is from Enterprise, we turned it in there, transferred our considerable baggage to the van, and hit the road.

Tonight we’re in a motel in Amarillo, and should make it home tomorrow with plenty of time to unpack, clean up and relax a bit before bed and back to work on Thursday.

Christina, her husband Johnny and my grandson Trevor all seem to have come down with colds. So far none of the others on our ski trip have reported illness. I hope it stays that way.

Give me a few days to get back in a groove, and I’ll have some ski pictures to show you.

Michelle especially should appreciate them as she’s in the middle of summer heat in South Africa. Soon. I promise.

Hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. Getting to start for home made ours very good, indeed! Oh, and the fact that we still have cookies left over makes it even better!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Waiting. Meanwhile, a story…

This past Friday night (as you’ll remember from yesterday’s post) we had a reservation at a Denver-area Macaroni Grill restaurant. When the van’s transmission quit, some of our party seemed to become really concerned about missing our reservation time.

I thought little of it. Eating at that restaurant, all of us decked out in our matching ski sweaters, is part of the long-term tradition of this annual trip. Plus, we’ve become friends with Katie, a server (waitress) there, and contact her every year to make our reservations. She (Katie) just really goes above and beyond any call of duty to take good care of us and be friendly to us. In fact, as a favor to us for the last two years, I have sent her money and she has bought for us deeply discounted ski lift tickets that are only available in local stores. Anyway, we really look forward to seeing her every year and were disappointed that we might not get into Denver in time on Friday.

Well, after arranging a tow, getting a rental minivan ($130 per day (!) – a ski resort rip-off), transferring people and essential baggage, and all the rest, we hobbled into Denver and made it to our hotel rooms at about 8:30 p.m. After showers and changing into ski sweaters, we made it to Katie’s restaurant at about 9:45 for a late meal.

When we went inside I was looking around for Katie and not paying attention to where the hostess was seating us. I noticed my daughters and others staring at me, grinning. I said, “What?” They glanced at the table they were standing around, so I looked at it.

Balloons! Centerpiece! Decorations! Wrapped gifts!

Topping the balloon bouquet were two 3-foot high mylar silver balloon numerals. Then I realized. (I can be very slow on the uptake occasionally sometimes often.) No, NEVER MIND what the numerals were!

Friday was just over a week before my birthday, and my family had secretly arranged (through Katie, naturally) to have a party for me at the restaurant. And, as if that wasn’t sweet enough, they opted NOT to do the joking, black balloons, “You’re so ancient!” routine. Oh no! They did a “John appreciation” night and made me cry!

Oh, there were a few joke gifts and funny cards. They know, intimately and from YEARS of painful experience, of my proclivity for puns and jokes. But there were also serious gifts. Daughter Amy gave me a book of nothing but news, events, advertisements, movie listings, etc., from the year I was born. (Boy, did THAT make me feel old!) Aaaand…

Do you remember a picture that I posted here about a month ago, taken of me when I was 25? If not, don’t worry. I have a picture to show you just below.

Carol doctored up the photo and had it printed on a tee shirt with a caption…

Yeah, I know; you can’t even tell that the guy holding up the shirt is the same guy that’s in the picture. Doesn’t matter! Hey, if SHE thinks I am used to be sexy, what more could a guy want?

Oh, the caption at the bottom? That’s a reference to my novel. Which, by the way, is a slightly fictionalized version of how I met Carol, tried unsuccessfully to woo her away from the guy she was pinned to, learned of her later engagement to him, and just three weeks before their wedding… No, you have to read the book. Call your favorite literary agent or publisher and tell him/her someone just HAS to publish this story!! (Thanks!)

Anyway, back to the party. My two daughters and Misty (their good friend and someone Carol and I consider as almost an adopted daughter), AND their husbands, one at a time told me some of the reasons they appreciated me so much, and what an influence I had had on their lives, and darn if they didn’t get me wet-eyed!

And THEN (get this!) Katie had a gift for me. Plus she had bought a little stuffed bunny toy for Trevor. Not your typical restaurant waitress/patron relationship, huh? (Yes, I always give her a VERY generous tip, like about 50% of the tab, but still!! She earns it, I’d say.)

My daughters talked about memories of their Dad from when they were little through the present. They included some things I’ve written about on this blog, like reading to them when they were tiny, singing songs to them when we drove on vacation trips, advising them on career and job choices, doing their income taxes, and so on. Misty had even asked me to walk her down the aisle at her wedding as a surrogate father. It was sweet and touching. What a wonderful family I have!

Quick Update: Our van transmission will be rebuilt and should be ready to drive by tomorrow afternoon. If so I will be heading for Texas. More details to come.

Meanwhile, we’re waiting.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Good News, Bad News, and No News

Good News: The ski vacation was close to perfect -- clear skies, PLENTY of snow, great snow conditions, and moderate temperatures -- until Friday. Thursday night a cold front blew through and it snowed. Not too much, but it put about 5 inches of fresh powder on top of the well-packed base.

For those used to skiing on powder, the conditions had to be just about as good as it gets. For us flatland-dwelling, one-week-per-year skiers, it was a little harder to maneuver on than the groomed packed base had been all week. But the worst part was the temperature. We’d been used to temps in the 20s, that morning it was below zero! Extra layers didn’t seem to help much. The wind would cut right through you.

We could handle about two runs down the mountain before escaping to the warming hut or restaurant. Since it was our last day, and we had to get into Denver that evening in time for our annual traditional after-ski dinner at a particular Macaroni Grill restaurant, we left the mountain a bit early to turn in our rented ski equipment.

We, a group of 8 adults and one infant (my grandson, Trevor), took off in our Dodge full-size van and a rented minivan. The temperature was now about 8 degrees above zero.

Bad News: We were only 5 miles out of Winter Park heading for Denver when my van's transmission failed. Without going into details here, I'm pretty sure it's shot.

(The Conspiracy striking? What else could it be? And if you’re not familiar with The Conspiracy, you haven’t been reading Romantic Ramblings very long. Or Kenju’s blog, or maybe Michelle’s blog. Check them out!)

We arranged a tow, got a rental vehicle from Fraser -- a town near Winter Park -- and made it into Denver. That was important because our daughters had flights out on Saturday morning. We were supposed to eat at Macaroni Grill at 7:30. Several of our group seemed pretty upset that we were going to be late for that reservation, and I didn’t understand it at the time. I did later, but that’s a subject for a later post.

Everyone else was to fly out of Denver on Saturday morning. Carol and I were to drive home. We should have been there by now.

No News: I'm writing this from my hotel room in Denver. The van was towed to a Denver transmission shop, which was/is not open all weekend. We'll find out tomorrow the extent of the damage and the estimated time to fix or replace the transmission. Yes, that picture is the front end of our van as it sits parked at the transmission shop.

I’ve called my boss and emailed the folks in my little department that I’ll be just a little late getting back from vacation. Tomorrow, after the transmission shop opens, maybe I’ll find out how late. Maybe. That’s if they can get to my van, as opposed to having a work backlog. And if they can determine what needs to be done and how long it’ll take to get the parts or the rebuilt transmission. I figure I’ll leave here on Wednesday at the earliest, unless the problem is VERY simple and the shop gets started right away. It could be as long as Thursday or Friday.

Meanwhile, I have internet access here and great cell phone service so I'm not out of reach. I also anticipate that I will have little to occupy my time (understatement), so maybe I can get caught up on all my blogroll friends’ posts for the last week. Shoot, I MIGHT even get some writing done.

It’s too bad the only literary agent in Denver has already said, “No thanks” to my query – I’d take the time to meet her and convince her that she and I could make big money together. Or maybe a little money. Oh, well.

So, today we have spent time surfing the internet (researching new vehicles in case the verdict is REALLY bad on our van, which IS getting up there in years and mileage), catching up on email, and watching an old movie on TV.

Tomorrow I’ll write a post about whatever news we get from the transmission. Stay tuned. (Yes, Viki, another tease. Hey, it’s what I do!)

Update: I think The Conspiracy is striking again! This hotel’s WiFi internet service just went down. BEFORE I was able to post this to my blog. I’m writing this offline in Word, so I’ll just save it and try to post it later. If the WiFi doesn’t come back soon, I MAY drive down the street to find some other WiFi hotspot and use it. If, that is, the rental car I’m driving doesn’t have a mechanical failure, too. Never underestimate the power of The Conspiracy!

Final update: WiFi is back. We’ll see for how long!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Quick update

Sorry about the dearth of blog posts from me this week. I don’t have wireless internet access in the place where we’re staying (ski lodge!) unless I walk over to the lobby of the main building, and I just haven’t had taken the time away from my family on this vacation to write posts.

Thanks to those of you who are still stopping by and leaving comments.

I promise several posts next week with details about the trip and all the fun we’re having, but suffice it to say tonight that the skiing has been WONDERFUL, the family time has been great, and we’re already talking about coming back again next year.

I will have a BUNCH of pictures posted on a web page by sometime next week. When they are ready I’ll supply the link here on “Romantic Ramblings.” You’ll just have to come back here to find it. (See VIKI, another tease to bring people back!)

Gotta go. More to come, probably on Monday and beyond.

Monday, February 06, 2006

A Great First Day!

We arrived in Winter Park in time to get our reserved lockers at the ski area base, drive into town and pick up our reserved rental skis, boot, and poles, and then take that equipment back out to the ski area and put it in the lockers. Then we unloaded the van and waited for our daughters and their husbands (and our grandson) to arrive.

Last night was an early night since everybody was fatigued from their travels and the unaccustomed high altitude.

Today we skied! I’m typing this before dinner time. We will take our meal here at the lodge dining room and then return to our quarters for games, or a movie (depending on how energetic everyone is).

Ski conditions could hardly be better. This area has had FEET of snow in the last month, and about 18 inches in the last week. Last night we got a slight dusting, but there’s plenty of powder to last for a LONG time. The forecast for all this week is clear skies and sunshine. Conditions should remain just about perfect.

I just checked my email and have another rejection from another agent. This one is quite disappointing as I have a lot of regard for her. It’s Kirsten Nelson (the Nelson Literary Agency), the lady who seems to speak “common sense” in her web info and her blog. If I thought I could change her mind I’d try, but that’s a hopeless cause. Guess I’ll just start snail-mail querying after this trip and see if anybody will take a shot at pitching this book of mine. There are lots of agents, and as they all say, “It just takes one!”

I won’t be able to post every day, but will try to keep you informed of our snowy adventures when I can. Michelle, sorry about all your heat. I’ll eat some snow and think about you!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

On the road

Short post. We had a good driving day – great weather, no problems, few stops, and made really good time.

We got to Raton, NM earlier than we expected, checked in to our motel, and ordered pizza. Yeah, pizza! It was great! Got a good night’s sleep, and were on our way by 6:30 this morning.

More to come.

To those who say they’d rather go someplace warm… Well, let me just say it’s hard to snow ski where it’s warm. But I live where it’s warm for most of the year. So for me, taking a week to go where there’s snow is fun because it’s different.

But yeah, for the rest of the year… I’ll golf!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Carly Simon had it right!

Ahhhh. The last work day before a long-awaited vacation trip.

Well, I ought to put the word “work” in quote marks. Very little actual “work” got done today.

Oh, I cleaned up the office. I put a temporary outgoing message on my voice mailbox. “I will next be in the office on Monday, February 13. If you need assistance before then, press zero now. Or you may leave me a message after the tone and I’ll respond when I return.”

I set up the “Out of Office Auto-Reply” in my email program. I made sure EVERYBODY knew I was going skiing next week.
No, I was not gloating! I was extending to my peers the professional courtesy of keeping them informed as to my absence. So there!

Oh, OK, I was too gloating! But I tried not to grin TOO broadly when they complained about all the work going on next week that I’ll miss.

Yeah, I know. The week of the 13th will be a bitch, because all the work of the preceding week will have piled up and I’ll be spending extra time to get it all done and get caught up. But it’ll be worth it.

But back to Carly. Remember “Anticipation?”

“We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway, yay...

Anticipation, anticipation
Is makin' me late
Is keepin' me waitin'”

As I said to Kenju in response to her comment yesterday, “Just like the anticipation of a dentist visit is usually worse than the actual visit, the anticipation of a vacation trip is often BETTER than the trip itself.”

Anyway, the car is now packed except for the last minute (refrigerated) stuff, and all is in readiness. Even if things go wrong on the trip, this is going to be fun! I can feel it. I “anticipate” it.


“cause these are the good old days.
These are, the good old days.”

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick.

T minus 36 hours, and counting...

T being defined as Departure Time. For the ski trip, of course.

The den is now piled with “stuff” that we don’t want to forget and leave behind. Likewise parts of the kitchen countertop.

Our “office/computer room/sewing room” has a file folder containing checklists, reservations, and general notes on things we need to know or remember.

Today was laundry day. The cooking and baking are done, and all the food has been put into appropriate containers for transport to Colorado. All but the last-day shopping has been completed. The house has been vacuumed and dusted. (Why that last is important escapes me — something about Carol not wanting to return to a dirty house. As if her house is ever really dirty! Must be a “woman thing.”)

All that’s left for tomorrow is packing our travel clothes, loading up the van, and getting a good night’s sleep prior to our pre-dawn departure on Saturday.

As blogger T. over at Beautiful Vibe has written, the Earles take vacationing very seriously!


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Final ski trip preparations

It’s sure hard to concentrate on work issues, between checking the latest snow reports, arranging for neighbors to pick up our mail, and notifying the newspaper to hold our deliveries for a week.

Making matters worse, yesterday was cookie baking day. When I got home from work the kitchen had dozens of still-warm (let’s see if I can get this right...) Oatmeal Wheat Germ Chocolate Chip Cookies (Yea!!) laid out in rows on paper towels, cooling.

Well, of course I just had to sample one. Mmmmmm.

I was pretty sure it was OK, but just to be doubly careful I sampled another.

Hmmm. Not convinced yet. There might be a hint of something wrong here. I’d better sample just one more to be positive.

Ahhhh. Yes!! I pronounced them “Perfect!”

At that point Carol, glaring and indignant, came into the kitchen and demanded, “You haven’t been eating those, have you?”

“Me? Oh, no! Of course not,” I mumbled, with cookie crumbs spilling out of my mouth.

Later, after dinner, I suddenly had the urge to sample them again. I mean, I had to be certain that they were OK for my family to eat in Colorado, right? Hey, if anybody was going to get sick from them, it ought to be me. So as a completely altruistic gesture, I ate three more before bed. (Carol was in the shower! I was careful not to drop any crumbs.)

My verdict? Well, as of now I think they’re safe. But over the next few days I MAY be compelled to continue sampling them. Better safe than sorry.

Tonight we’ll get together our checklists and begin staging the baggage in the den where we can’t miss it. We don’t dare wait until the eve of departure to do this, or we’ll invariably leave behind something vital. Even with all this early preparation we’ll forget something. But that’s what credit cards are for, I guess.

Oh! That reminds me; I need to call our credit card company and let them know our travel plans. Twice in recent years they’ve suspended our card when we’ve had large purchases in Colorado that don’t seem to match our “buying patterns.”

This is a good thing, and helps minimize losses if somebody were to have stolen our cards. But it’s a pain when you’re on the road and suddenly you can’t buy a tankful of gas because your credit card doesn’t work. But one toll-free call later, and all is well again.

We’ll be leaving on Saturday morning, so my blogging may be a bit irregular for the next week or so.

But Saturday’s still three days away. Plenty of time.

Darn it. I'm ready NOW!

Guess I'll go eat a cookie to console myself.