Tuesday, March 31, 2009

That rock got in my way

Mr. G and I went off orienteering this past weekend. It was up near Bridgeport Texas, at the Sid Richardson Boy Scout ranch. It is an interesting place.

Back in the late 1970’s, my mom actually worked at the ranch, as a nurse. Part of the camp used to be a cavalry post back in the 1870’s. My Day One route, I side tracked a bit and hit the peak where the old fallen down stone walls are.

We’ve been orienteering up there a few years. I think this was my fourth time. They use two areas of the ranch. The north side was on Saturday. I like that part of the ranch better. It is on a peninsula, with some pretty steep drop offs into the lake. There are some cactus in the area, mostly prickly pear, but not too bad. Most of the rocks are more boulders, so they are easy to avoid. Saturday was very cold, with some snow on the roofs when we got there. Mr. G and I ate some lunch and then suited up. We had starts about 10 minutes into the meet, so we were out pretty early. I had a great time on the course and figured I’d placed pretty well. But we were not sticking around for the day-1 results, as we were driving back and forth, which takes about 1.5 hours in each direction. I only missed one control on day one, almost near the end. I had chosen to climb the cavalry hill, but then forgot to take a photo. I didn’t get a good attack point, spotted a creek area and my control description was the top of a minor creek. I went hunting for it, but didn’t find it. Luckily there was a gas pipeline which “caught” me from going to far. I then relocated back to the road and started taking a new compass bearing. I looked down the hill and actually spotted the control! I’d walked right past it.

Day two was a different story. It was much warmer. We had starts about an hour and fifteen minutes into the meet, or 10:15. We got there and checked on our standings from day one. To my surprise, I was in first place! And by fifteen minutes. Mr. G told me to not screw up and I’d medal no mater what. But then I’ve been known to screw up and search for one control for an hour! Mr. G was in fifth place in his class. We were there before nine, so we suited up and headed to the start, hoping to move our start times up. Sure enough, they were moving people up. On a two day meet, they pre-assign start times, but then some people won’t come back for day-2. That leaves big gaps that other people can fill into. I waited and at 10:33, no one showed up after they called the time twice. I stepped up and so the starter changed my time card. I then proceeded to the second stage, when the pre-assigned person showed up! She decided she wouldn’t take her start, but would take another hole a bit later. I got off to a decent start, which is always a good feeling. I hit the second control with not too much trouble. I headed to the third control. I then got cocky. Not a good thing! I decided to hit a road for a bit and then shoot an attack point from a pipeline. I got cocky because the third control, I’ve been to before, so I got that “I know where this is” attitude. I took a compass bearing and heading into the brush. I saw a hunter’s platform, and let my mind convince me that was the “building” I needed. Wrong! Hunter’s platforms are a different clue. I poked around in the brush, telling myself just how hard a stinking building could be to find! After fifteen minutes, I decided to relocate to the road and try again. I hit the same hunters platform! Obviously, I’m getting more and more upset with my mistakes. I relocate, take a deep breath, and head back into the scrub. I then spot the building! By then, I’m pretty pissed at myself so I decide that since there are not many cactus going down this hill, that I can run down to the building and pick up a few minutes. That was before I allowed my mind to remind me that there were ROCKS everywhere. I take three steps, gaining speed as I head down the hill. Then, a nasty rock jumped right in front of my left foot. My big toe plants right into it and hard. I see the ground coming up at an alarming rate, my mind reminding me to “avoid that cactus” as I face plant down the hill. My right hand takes some of the blow, scraping it all up. My left knee takes a hit on a rock, and I stub my toe hard. I figure I’m not dead, so I proceed to the control and the rest of the course. I get back and clock in at just over 1.5 hours. Not bad, considering my mistakes on the third control. I get Mr. G’s spare key and open up the truck, getting out my dry clothes and such. I then go to take off my left shoe and realize that it hurts and hurts pretty bad! The toe nail is black, with blood pooling up around the edge of the nail.
So here I am two days later, hardly able to walk, my toe is black and it hurts to put on shoes. But I avoided the cactus! I’m usually pulling cactus needles out for the week after a visit to the south side of Sid….

Mr. G didn't medal. We ate lunch, helped clean up the scout dining hall, and I got a first place. All the other males in my 50+ class, had DQed. Only one male in the 18 to 49 year old class, had also finished. I had spotted him when he must have been going away from that third point on day-2. I guess that day-2 Brown course, had taken it's toll!

The photo’s are of the lake from the forest, a really neat trail, a control bag near some rock formations, with a passage way beneath the rocks, and the day-1 start which was next to a gas well (Sid has a lot of those).

Friday, March 27, 2009

This soon will pass...I hope

I officially started my new job this past Monday. Same job, same company even, just I am now employed instead of an hourly contractor. They did seven in my area. We are all frustrated by the "old to new" that we are going through.
I should have a new email. Except they have not told us HOW to log onto it. They don't copy over all our security and programs at one shot. So we wind up trying to see if something works, and then chasing around to find the right person to turn it on.
Toss in studying up on new benefits. I've decided what to sign up for, but have not done it yet. I think I have the logon id and password for that!!
On my main job, I just wandered down the hall as I know the technical support person for the security product. He sort of waved a magic wand and set my old ID's up, to be employee ID's. Three less logons and passwords to monkey with. He went one step farther and set up just ONE logon across all three major machines. I used to have a different one for each. I spent about two days, copying from my now "old" logons to my new ones. But this will be very goodness!! Only one Logon and one password to deal with! He smiled and told me "if they hand you a new logon, thank them....then run down here and I'll do some more magic and you won't have to deal with any other logons or passwords".

Now, if I can just figure out how to get into my "new" email!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Fraternity hazing in history

I finally figured out what this King Tut deal is all about. I got all confused and thought it was Steve Martin out doing his famous King Tut routine.

Wikipedia has a write up on King Tut, and there is a lot of ideas on how the boy-king died. He died at 19. He might have had a head injury, or broken ribs from falling out of his chariot, or a badly broken leg and gangrene. They all missed it. He was 19. He was a swinging rich kid. He got way drunk at a fraternity initiation ritual. He then decided to take dads wheels (chariot) out for a drive, fell out of it, got all busted up, drank the rest of the keg dry and died of alcohol poisoning.

So the wife and sister actually went to a historical display for a frat party gone wrong. You don’t read about this, because they hushed it up.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

King Tut

My wife and my sister decided to attend King Tut exhibit here in Big-D. I decided not to go. They had tickets for this afternoon show. I was surprised this guy is still touring.

Friday, March 13, 2009

I quit my job this past Monday

Really. Except my next job, is the same as the old job. Didn't The Who sing about that?
Here's the short story, ten years in the making.
1998, I'd been working for a gas pipeline company for thirteen years. They get bought out and will be shut down, jobs sent to Houston. I take a contracting job down the street for Mobil oil. Things go great for the next 2.5 years. I have all benefits and a great hourly rate. That is the downside of contract work, you are paid by the hour. Then, Exxon showed up and here I go again. They actually paid me a bonus to stick around! I stayed with the same contracting company, with benefits, at the next assignment. One of the worst places I ever worked. It only lasted a year and then I hit unemployment for a few months. By then, the world was in a tail spin, post 9/11, etc. I wind up contracting at a huge consumer products company, but zero benefits and less pay. But, hey, a job when a lot of people I know, didn't have one, were changing careers and such. Six YEARS later, I'm still here. My team started with four of us. One shifted to a new technology. One retired and the other contractor quit. They did bring in a great guy into the one employee position, leaving just the two of us. This last fall, the place actually laid people off. However, they approached me, and nine others doing what I do, and offered us full time employment! I was very happy to take them up. Everyone has been. Paid vacation, paid sick time, some match on 401K, retirement, training in other technologies.....
I even stay at the same desk.
So, after six years, I resigned from my contract company. They are happy for me, even though it means a drop in revenue for them.
One more week as a contractor. 10 years ago, I never thought I'd be contracting this long.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I lost the battle, but won the war

This past Saturday, the North Texas Orienteering Association, NTOA, held a bare-bones orienteering event at the LBJ National grasslands. That is a bit north of Decatur Texas, on the way to Oklahoma. Bare-bones meant that they did a mass start. Everyone started at the same time. Instead of six courses, they only had three. They had a Yellow for people wanting an easy orienteering course. They had Brown for short advanced and then a Red, for long distance, advanced. My friend, Mr. G, was course setter for the event and also the meet director. Which meant he yelled out the instructions to everyone, had the maps made, put the control bags out on the courses for us to navigate to. It also meant that he’d have to be up there real early. So I drove up by myself, making it in just about one hour. I was glad they had signs out at all the turns, as finding the place is an orienteering exercise in itself! The bare-bones event also meant no awards, following, working together, faking each other out, were all acceptable.
So about a hundred people took the mass start and headed out following each other. I arrived at the first control, with about 10 other people. The second control was interesting, down in a dry stream bed. By the fourth control, I had paired up with another Brown, person. Going to the fifth control, was where I lost the battle. We followed a trail around a high ridge, but then butt-slid down the hill to a trail below us. At that point, we had to search around in some thicket area. Unfortunately, there was no identifiable point close by. Something we call an “attack point”, where we could get a bearing from. At one point, we decided to head back to the hill and then decide what to do. That was when I was viciously attacked by a thicket, shredding my arm. We got to the top of the hill, I was bleeding, we’d lost about 25 minutes looking for it, so we decided to head on to the next controls. In this event, you get to skip one control, and we decided we could get the rest of them and not worry about this one.

Once back, I found that some very experienced orienteer’s also had not found it and a lot had chosen to skip it, since it was in an overgrown area, down a big hill, which you would have to climb back out of anyway.

The photo at the top is my arm about 4 hours post the battle. It actually looks worse now, two days later, as it is all scabbed and some bruising. The other photos are some of the grass lands.

I stayed after the event also. They usually have a JROTC school helping at these events, to go out and gather up the control bags and punches. I knew they didn’t have a school, so stayed and went back out to collect one area of the bags. That is fun to do, but you are also very much “alone” as no one else will be in the area.

Other interesting items seen. Lots of horses being ridden and we flushed three deer also.

And LBJ Grass Lands, well, a lot is forest and thickets.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Urine Sample time

In the last two weeks, I've become an expert in modern urine sampling.
The first sample, was actually at my doctors office. It was my yearly physical. They check your weight (up), height (I'm not shrinking yet), then urine. In his office, they hand you the cup and you fill it, put it into this miniature medicine box and leave. I think they check it and figure out how much money they have for running more expensive test. I thought it was a bit odd, as I had to first report to a laboratory for my blood draw. We'd assumed the urine test would be there. Nope. The insurance wanted the blood at their lab, but the urine test at the doctors was OK. Go figure it out.
Today's sample was a pre-employment one. A LOT more "formal". I had to empty my pockets into a lock box. Put that key, and only that key, into my pocket. Rinse, but no soap, on my hands and dry. Go in and "fill 'er up". But do NOT flush, or the sample is over for 24 hours. Return the cup to the nurse, who marks it and did something and THEN told me to take the rest, and flush it. I then got to wash my hands, with soap. And then initial and date my "sample". Watch her put it into the mail thing. Then, retrieve my junk and head home to await the results.

Now for the strange part. I walked into the place. There were three of us. The nurse and one other victim. Except, we know each other! She was in for some pre-op testing.


Monday, March 2, 2009

You know your getting old when....

Our oldest daughter turned 18 a week back. Unbelievable. I blogged about all the Soda's that teen aged boys can consume. This past Saturday I was heading into the kitchen and a diaper wipe warmer, new in the box, was sitting on our kitchen table.
One of these.

Well, our youngest is 14. We are both over 39 now (well over), so I'm starting to wonder what is this for? I have a moment of panic attack, but then the wife wandered by and answered the question.

Eldest daughter works in a store and one of the other employees is "expecting" so they are giving her a baby shower. Glad it isn't anyone in our house!

But it makes me feel old. When our daughter now is participating in baby showers.