30 October 2010

A couple of pictures from Parents Weekend

As I sit here in the dank cesspool that is our basement, I've got time to post just a couple of pictures from last weekend's BYU Parents Weekend:
Whitney, Brooke, Ferg with the boss Cubbies shirt, Our Lady of BYU, Me

We took that shot at Malawi Pizza right after dinner.  We'd just enjoyed a very good meal.
At the end of the 5K
This picture is self-explanatory.  Me finishing another 5K.  Better run that I had expected given how crappy my fall running has been.  Weather cooperated wonderfully that morning.

Anyway, trapped here in the basement as we drain a sewer pipe.  Doing it ourselves instead of paying a plumber.  We'll be paying the plumber dearly when he shows up Monday to finish the job.  We had more water issues this morning and it looks like we have a backed up sewer.  I'm over the issues with this house.  I'm done buying older houses and this house wasn't that old.  I'm really over it.  So no using the toilets, no dishwashing, no laundry.  We might as well check into a hotel.  Ugh!

27 October 2010

Lady, the 90's are calling. They want their checks back.

I'm not feeling well.  I've got a cold.  That's what I get for sitting in the rain at the BYU game and then getting on a couple of planes, which we know are veritable flying hot zones of communicable disease.  When I have a cold or any other ailment, I'm not pleasant.  My family can attest to that.

So I should have known better to expect things to go smoothly at the grocery store today.  Wednesday is one of my regular work-from-home days and I started at 515AM because I had a bit of energy when I first woke up (said energy did not last).  Right around noon, I realized that I needed to get some cold medicine so it was off to the Jewel to get some relief. 

I went straight to the cold medicine aisle and found a whole lot of empty shelves.  Was it inventory day?  Remodeling?  No, it appears that now in order to buy cold medicine, unless it's generic, you have to go up to the pharmacy counter, fork over ID, and be deemed worthy to get said medicine.  Seriously?  It's not like I'm trying to buy birth control in Provo, Utah.  I'm a middle-aged man who has managed to NOT abuse over the counter medications and now, for whatever reason, it's nearly a crime to buy cold meds.  Anyway, I took one look at the line of people at the counter for meds and just grabbed a generic and made my way to the front of the store to pay and go.

I'm a big fan of these:
Because, typically, they speed the process and I can just get out.  That was not the case today.  There were several people lined up at one of the aisles that has multiple machines and then there was one lady in another lane, with no one lined up behind her.  I thought it was because people couldn't see over the lame balloons to see that she was the only one in line.

No, I quickly discovered why she was the only one in line.  She was writing a check - A CHECK - in the self-serve lane and then began an epic, and I mean EPIC, battle with the self-service machine to ram her check in as an acceptable form of payment.  I stood there for a little while, watching this battle of wits, and I was completely baffled by a couple of things: A) who, and I mean WHO, still writes a check at the grocery store?!  It's called a debit card, lady, use it; and B) no where does it indicate a place to pay with a check on the machine.  What makes you think it would? Were you raised by wolves?  It's not like this lady was 900 years old either.  I might have thrown her a bone if that were the case.  But I was having none of this battle royale.  I switched over to the other aisle, where a lady who was witnessing the same battle, let me go ahead of her and jump on the next machine, pay - with my debit card - in about ten seconds flat.

So, lady, take a lesson.  The 90's want their checks back and you should look into some of the fine features this century has to offer.  On that note, I should probably go take some more cold medication.  Take the edge off.

23 October 2010

BYU Parents Weekend 2010

Greetings from Provo, UT!  It's Day Two of BYU Parents Weekend and it has been a blast!  This is my third year participating and it's been a great one - maybe my favorite one yet.  It's been great to spend time with Our Lady of BYU.  It is more than evident that these years at school have been transformative for her.  For example, I knew she was a BYU sports fan, but I did not realize the depths to which her fan-aticism goes.  She's turned into a veritable treasure trove of BYU sports knowledge - Cougarboard is a big part of her life!  Her favorite building on campus?  The Marriott Center because it's where basketball is played.  She is cracking me up.  It's been so good to spend time with her.

When I arrived on Friday, I first stopped and saw some friends and it was great to reconnect.  It's so good to see old friends.  And then it was off to see Our Lady.  Her new place is such an improvement over the crime-scene/tenement she lived in last year.  We headed over to campus where we were greeted by this:
Once again, guess who's featured in all the promotion/advertising?  We saw one poster outside the Wilkinson Center, where someone had written Sarah's name on it.  Her mortification continues.  Let me just say, BYU has more than gotten it's money worth out of this picture!

Friday night was dinner at Malawi Pizza with Our Lady and a few of her friends.  Good pizza and another earnest cause like last year's dinner.  Apparently, a part of our bill is donated to feed a family in Africa.  After dinner, the girls headed out and I didn't  Fine with me.  Saturday morning was 5K time.  Once again, the weather people had predicted hideous weather at the time of the race and it was totally decent.  For as out of sync I am running-wise, I was not totally embarrassed by how this run went.  Our Lady was there to cheer me on, which was fun.  Soon after the run, the weather did tank and it started raining.  Not good for a noon kick-off or the tailgate with friends before the game.  That turned into a literal huddle under trees, all of us shivering in our ponchos.  Mercifully by the end of Q1, the rain stopped.  While it stayed chilly, it seemed to help BYU, who finally managed to eke out a win.  FINALLY!  Suffice to say, it's been a rough season.  We capped Saturday with dinner at Tucanos Brazilian Grill.  There were 17 of us and we had a really good time.  It was a couple of other parents and a slew of Our Lady's friends.  The food was really good and never-ending.  Strangely enough, my favorite was not the bacon-wrapped filet mignon, but the chicken hearts!  They were terrific!

And now, I'm back in my hotel room, sated and ready to call it a night.  I'll join Our Lady for a little religion in the morning and then it's back home on Mother United.  I've had a really good time with my daughter this weekend.  And I've delighted in how much things have changed at my alma mater.  And they are good changes.  I loved it here when I was a student.  Never wanted it to end.  And I'm thrilled to see how it's going for my girl.  It's all good.  It really is.

18 October 2010

I can't believe I made that mistake.

I like to think that after years and years of managing travel and speaking around the world on travel management issues, you'd think I'd remember things like checking the dates you've booked on that non-refundable ticket before hitting "purchase."  One would think.  And I thought I had until this Sunday when the Voice from EasyUpdate called to tell me my First Class upgrade had cleared.

"Odd," I thought since I get upgraded 120 hours from departure and that specific flight is 168 hours away (note that upgrade addicts have their upgrade eligibility hours seared to their very souls).  So I tried to pull up Mother United's website on my phone (please, please, please Mother United, get an iPhone app ASAP!) and got nowhere, so when I got home I pulled up my itin and discovered that I'd booked my outbound and return all for the same day.  Spank me!

Seriously.  I knew I was spanked.  And spanked I was.  I got the "B" team for sure when I called for help.  Held for four minutes before the call was answered and then after explaining my issue, the agent spent the next seven minutes tapping on her keyboard, right out of the scene from "Meet the Parents," before she let out a sigh that I felt through the phone line, to announce that my error was going to cost me.  Um, thanks, Copernincus, I already knew that.

Cost me it did.  It wasn't pretty.  But I had to do it.  I can't miss Parents Weekend and it's time to go see Our Lady of BYU.  So I'll be kicking myself all the way there for this stupid, stupid mistake.

So, lesson learned here people!  Always, always check and double-check before you hit "purchase."  Oh, the agony!

14 October 2010

Flying standby ain't all it's cracked up to be...

This post's title says it all.  And it's a lesson I learned a long, long time ago.  My days of non-revenue flying are long gone.  Sayonara to them.  Unfortunately, the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML got schooled in non-revenue standby travel earlier this week.  Without going into all the gory details, she found out that running from gate to gate to gate at Chicago's Midway Airport is no picnic.  Getting told flight after flight is sold out or looks bad was NOT music to her ear, since only one of her ears works.  After the trudge to her third gate, she called me to say how much she preferred flying with me.  Well, sure you do and here's why:  A) You're confirmed.  B) You're usually in First or Business Class. C) You've got club access.  D) You have nothing to worry about.  I like flying with me too!

Anyway, she returns this weekend on a revenue ticket, so it should be an easier journey home.  She's having a great time with her sister and family.  It was her sister's birthday and having the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML join the party was a big deal.  I'm glad she was able to make this trip.  Her relationship with her sister is priceless and a wonderful example to our daughters.  My girls would do well to have the relationship that their mom and aunt have.

10 October 2010

The Church Organ as a Weapon of Mass Destruction

For anyone that's ever attended Sunday services at a Mormon (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) church, it's a wicked solid bet that you are NOT going to hear musical stylings like these:
I can assure you that the gospel axe isn't going to be swinging in an LDS chapel anytime soon.  Nor do we get the sounds of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir piped in, or any other LDS singer for that matter (sorry, Osmonds in any form, David Archuleta, Jericho Road, etc.).  No, it's typically a pretty staid affair on Sundays.  The organ gets fired up, a few traditional hymns are sung, a choir chimes in, and that's how it goes.

On rare occasion, an organist pops up who knows how to use the church organ as a weapon of mass destruction and I mean that in a good way.  Today was one of those days.  Every six months, all of our local wards (congregations) get together for a conference.  It's two days of meetings and they always roll out this one guy who plays the devil, as it were, out of the organ.  It's pretty much awesome.  I have no idea how the organ works, I just know that he knows what levers to push to get that organ to shake the building.  He is able to interpret the hymns in such a way that he simply destroys any bad mood you might be in and it facilitates one great feeling.  He plays the organ the way it should be played.  Kind of like this:

This much I know...our organist would not have dropped dead like the organist at the First Church of Springfield did had he been presented with an interpretation of "In A Gadda Davida."  Anyway, it was a good day for music in church today.  I like days like that.

09 October 2010

Well, that run was awful. Just awful.

After basically taking the last six weeks off from any real running, I decided to jump back in today.  The weather has suddenly gone all summer like here (minus the 90-plus degree temps and swampy humidity that we enjoyed endured this summer) and I felt I was good for a six-miler.  I was not.  What I was ready for was a serious serving of humble pie.  And I got it, big-time.  I'm not even going to tell you what my splits were for the 3.3 miles I would up running crawling.

I pretty much ignored everything I've learned since I started running two-plus years ago.  First, taking six weeks for no other reason than I was busy at work was stupid.  Second, I totally forgot that perhaps some build up was in order before marching out on a six-miler.  Third, I was fooled by Mother Nature and figured I didn't need that much water.  Basically, I need to go read this:

Because what I did today was just dumb and it was, well, awful.  Just awful.  So I'm hanging my head in shame for the rest of the day.  I'm glad we decided NOT to go down to the Chicago Marathon Expo.  That would have been humiliating after today's run slog.

So I've got two weeks to get myself ready for my last race of the year.  It's a 5K but it's in Utah so it's elevation and it's so not flat.  It's the third year I've run it and I need not humiliate myself or Our Lady Of BYU, who will, in theory, be there cheering me on.  There's work to be done.

03 October 2010

When it's time to change, it's time to rearrange...

An impressive group of philosophers from the Brady School once said, and profoundly I might add, "When it's time to change, it's time to rearrange."  Brilliant counsel, brilliant.  I've taken shelter in those words as I find myself on the precipice of a significant change starting tomorrow.

You see, after more than twenty years in the same professional field, I am starting a new role in my company completely outside of what I've been doing.  This is very significant for me.

 I've loved what I've been doing.  I got pretty darn good at it and have had the chance to literally go around the world sharing that skill and being able to interact with some really great people.  I've been very, very lucky.   It's been a very good career and one that has been very good to me.  And yet, I've sensed that it's time to try something else.

My current employer is aggressive at promoting from within and giving people the opportunity to stretch their skill-sets in new roles.  And that's what has happened to me.  I'll be working in a new area, completely outside of what I've been doing for the last twenty years.  It looks like it's going to be a very rewarding role, as I will be working in a community-facing role.  I'm excited and, well, a little hesitant.  Hesitant in that the scope of this change is huge for me and change is always a challenge.  But it'll be good.  I mean, the philosophers at the Brady School taught us that.

If you're wondering about how you can learn more about the geniuses at the Brady School, let me give you a video preview of their instruction on change management:

I don't apologize for them.  How could anyone apologize enough?