Friday, February 29, 2008

Photo Friday

White River, Arkansas
This one is taken at the White River in Northern Arkansas, not quite Deliverance country but close. My point and shoot was set upon a ledge of a gazebo to keep it steady while the frame was open. You can see the fog covering the river. This is in August but the river temperature is in the 50's and thus the fog is created.

If you know anyone that trout fishes, they would love this river.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Corporate Culture - Okie Style

I made a switch a year ago, almost a year to the day, from an IT Business Analyst role to a manufacturing gig. You might say, ‘why on earth would you do that?’ It wasn’t so much the work itself, but the locale had a lot to do with it, as well as upper management. I found it very difficult to get excited about implementing changes to energy billing software; especially the validation and testing portion of it. One huge upside that I miss is telecommuting. That is a phenomenal perk that I truly enjoyed.

Now, I sit at a drafting desk and estimate raw & finished materials for retail fixtures. You know the ones that hold clothes in your local department stores. This is not exactly rocket science and at times I find it difficult to be challenged. Hence the blog posts during the 8 to 5 hours…

And it is a whole change in workforce, like night and day. As K has heard, I’ve taken a shine to nick naming my co-workers. We’ve got the atheist, who I dislike approximately 85% of the time. Then there’s the hobbit, for obvious reasons. Can’t forget senior droopy, or as I call him deputy dog, with his walrus-like mustache and slow delivery. I can’t leave out the Democrat, for lack of a better nickname; maybe I should just call him “It’s all you Republicans fault”. Last but not least there’s my nearest cube mate with the weepy eye and smokers hack. I can always tell when the cough is coming because of the raspy intake of air right before his delivery. Don’t get me wrong they are all good guys, just very ‘down home’. The majority of them came from the shop to the front office and they never left the shop mentality in the shop. That is, breaks are from 10-10:10 and 3 – 3:10 and lunch is from noon to one. Imagine my surprise when, on my 30 day review, I hear “Tony, we’ve noticed you’ve been leaving early for lunch a lot of days, sometimes even as early as 11”. To which I replied, “Well, yeah but I’m always back within an hour”. “But we take lunch from noon to one”.

Oooooook, so that’s how it’s going to be.

I have never been in an environment that was so strict on time for front office employees.

I’m trying to do my part by showing co-workers how ‘flexible’ you can make your schedule. That became evident to them when they asked if we were still on overtime and I asked, “we’re on overtime?”

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Open Wheel Wednesday

The IRL is to hold a press conference today that will be covered live on SPEEDTV. It’s to go over the recently announced unification of the rival open wheel series, the IRL & Champcar World Series.

This will be a tough year for the Champcar teams that will be incorporated into the IRL. They are basically starting from scratch with chassis that are foreign to them; unless they have raced the Indy 500 in the recent past. Testing is a HUGE part of racing and can gain you seconds on the race track. And seconds can be the difference between first place and fifth place; or even last place. What goes on behind the scenes in racing has a massive impact in track performance. Knowing the Champcar teams like Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, Forsythe Racing, PKV Racing, etc one can tell that they will do all they can to prepare themselves for this cluster that is 2008. They are proven winners and their professionalism is rivaled by no one. Whether or not they will be able to compete for podiums this year, remains to be seen; but don’t count them out too soon(especially someone with no fear like Paul Tracy who was airborne, hitting the rev limiter going into a downhill turn in Vegas).

More importantly we as fans, especially staunch Champcar fans, need to suck it up and embrace this unification. It may not be perfect and we may feel like Champcar conceded on everything to unify, but Champcar was bleeding money like a sieve and at times was terribly mis-managed.

For the first time in years we could see 24-26 cars on a race grid! Isn’t that amazing?! We have Newman/Haas competing against Penske and Ganassi. We’ve got the next generation of Rahal vs. Andretti vs. Foyt, names that ring of racing history.

So please, let go of the past, we cannot change it. We may not like it but let’s throw it in the closet and support a unified open wheel racing series.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Where are all the cool co-workers?

It is now 9:09am and the atheist and the hobbit are just getting around to ‘work’. Wait, I take that back, work has not begun as there has been another journey around the cube wall for visitation. I'm waiting to hear 'live long and prosper'. This has gone on since 8:00am.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for shooting the bull with co-workers but I’m also of the belief that I should put in a good 5 hours of work in an 8 hour day. Ok maybe it should be closer to 8. However, these two knuckleheads spend the better part of their day philosophizing on the finer points of manufacturing with tangents in to the cool new collectors edition of Dungeon’s & Dragons that they scored on eBay. Currently they are discussing Warren Buffet, Barack O’Bama and Berkshire Hathaway. Mostly it’s the atheist talking while everyone else has to listen. When he’s not spewing forth his endless Cliff Clavin-esque factoids he’s busy bashing Christianity and how religion is a nice ‘superstition’. Yes he informed me on my first day in this group, that he is an atheist. Great just want I needed. Finally getting a firm grasp on my Christianity and I have to be exposed to this?

Can’t I just set my beliefs aside for 10 seconds while I ‘punch him in his Jack Johnson’?

It’s now 9:22 and no relief from their diarrhea of the mouth.

Monday, February 25, 2008

And the winner is....

I was very happy to see No Country for Old Men win Best Picture, Best Director, & Best Supporting Actor. K and I got a chance to see the movie on one of our infrequent date nights, sans kids.

What would you do if you were a veteran of the Vietnam War, stumbled upon the remnants of a drug deal gone all wrong and took $2 M dollars from the scene? Then to have pangs of guilt for the one wounded Mexican at the scene and decide to go back and give him drinking water later that night. That’s a loose translation of the plot, but it’s a setup for the rest of this fantastic movie.

Josh Brolin plays the grizzled Vietnam vet who has the misfortune of finding this grisly scene. Tommy Lee Jones is the ‘I’m about to retire’ sheriff trying to track him down before the proprietors of the loot can get to him. And Best Supporting Actor, Javier Bardem, plays the hit man sent to track him down and retrieve the money; it was no contest for supporting actor. Javier was chilling as the killer, even more chilling than his weapon of choice (which shall remain nameless). But was it more chilling than his haircut?

Set in the post Vietnam War era this movie captures the isolation of Brolin’s character with the vast open landscapes of its Southwest Texas surroundings. I am somewhat biased due to the fact that the Coen brothers are the directors of one of my all time favorite movies, Raising Arizona (“These here balloons blow up into funny shapes?”, ‘Not unless round’s funny’). I could quote this movie all day long; K can attest to that. They also directed O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which was extremely funny as well.

Even if you’re not a fan of violence in films, I would highly recommend No Country for Old Men. Deep characters, great cinematography and direction make this a must-see. I will be the first to admit that I still have no idea what in the world happens in the last 20 minutes, or so, of the movie.

I need someone more literary to figure that one out…

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Will we ever get a sunny day again?

We have had the most difficult time cleaning up our yard post-December ice storm. Perhaps you heard of it on the national news.

More about the storm on a later post. Suffice it to say, I've been praying for pleasant weekends just to clean up our place. We've got the worst yard on the block to begin with, but the debris build up from the ice storm has definitely leveled the playing field. We don't look so bad now do we, eh?

The sun peeked through the clouds at about 2:30pm this afternoon, and I think I caught myself saying "The sun is out" about 4 times in a row. Everytime, getting no response from the peanut gallery. So heck with them, I headed out to rake leaves. It was only 48 F degrees but who cares, the sun was out! Three bags of leaves later, I had no idea what to do next...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

For Better or Worse, It's Done

The merger that is. Love it or hate it, it's done. For the hardcore Champcar fans like myself, it's a bitter pill to swallow. Just like a racer, we wanted to win. We wanted to stick it to Tony George and his reproduction of CART, called the IRL. But each year we watched our series slide backwards instead of moving forward. Sure we watched the unveiling of a new chassis and new events but viewership and sponsorship faded into near oblivion. That can't be good.

From just a marketing perspective, this needed to happen and it needed to happen soon. I'm a big picture guy and I despise how the France family has taken NASCAR and done their part to fill the void that was created by the open wheel split in 1995. But now NASCAR has plateaued, in my opinion, and it's time to attack. It's the perfect timing to unify and start a marketing push to get Indy car racing back on the map. Will it happen over night? No way. Can it happen in the next five years? I think so. I think the IRL has always had the upper hand on Champcar from an advertising perspective and I think they really push now, to win back the fans that feel alienated from open wheel racing.

This can be done this year by championing the unification of the two series. "Don't miss this years 500 as we see the return of Paul Newman, Paul Tracy, Jimmy Vasser, yada, yada, yada". I think you market the RETURN of everyone this year. I think 2009 needs to be built around the return of tracks that will fall off the schedule this year. It's a shame to see Toronto and Cleveland not get a race this year. I HOPE they return as well as Laguna Seca(need I remind you of Zanardi's move?)

There is nothing perfect in this unification and there never would have been any perfect scenario but they can build from this and work to get open wheel racing back to something similar to it's glory days.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Photo Friday

Chicago L
This is from an L stop in Chicago. Strictly point & shoot as we don't have the $$ to get a fancy schmancy digital SLR Nikon D40 or D80. Taken with a Canon PowerShot A570.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Do I hear Barry White?

I'm sitting at the table looking through my Family Handyman magazine and I look over to see Lola making sweet, sweet love to her penguin. Mind you, the penguin is twice the size of our 5.1 lb Chihuahua but she is bound and determined to have her way with it. You would have thought that the spaying would have taken care of this 'urge'. The 'urge' that makes the kids come running, "Hey Lola is hopping up and down on the penguin like this!". To which we reply, "Just leave her alone and she'll get it out of her system. She has a disorder."

"What's a disorder?"

"Nevermind, isn't Hannah Montana on?"

"Oh I think so, hey look a butterfly!"

No, spaying hasn't deterred Lola in the least. I don't know if it's her telling us, "Don't mess with me, I'm the boss of this penguin" or what.

sweet sweet Lola love

Thought for the Day

Never pet a burning cat...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

We always end up paying for our sins

We’re knee deep into the whole debt reduction plan. Cut back, pinch pennies, say ‘no’ instead of ‘yes’ at the store, buying bulk when cost effective; you get the gist.

Something happened last night and I couldn’t say ‘no’. I’m not sure if it’s due to the redundancy of eating pot roast and barbecue scalloped potatoes every day for lunch and dinner since Sunday or because it’s been so long since we’ve eaten out. But, the words Cheesecake and Factory were put together, by my wife, in a way that left me at her mercy. She could have requested anything else and I would have balked but ‘she had me at hello’.

We arrive at said Cheesecake Factory around 5:45pm. ‘Lobby doesn’t look too bad, we should get right in.’ ‘Why won’t these two girls in front of us give there name to the hostess’. ‘Are you in line? Then mooooove’. I should have known things were off.

Seated a few minutes later in a section with no kids, and off the main floor, proved to be very quiet place. Great now we’ll wait for our drink order, ‘hey that couple that came in after us is already getting their drinks’, ‘where’s our waiter, better yet, who’s our waiter?’

Here he comes, great, I’m ready to get a beverage. Ok, the special is yada, yada; man he sounds like he’s got cigarette smoke for life blood. I can’t even look him in the eye, because of the moley, moley, moley( or is it the feeling he’s going to have a serpentine tongue come lashing out of his mouth at me?). VERY nice though, I know he’s getting a good tip from me. Then I excused myself from the table, telling K that he had spit on my hand while giving us his recommendations for dinner.

We get our tea & water. Place our order after countless changes. You would have thought I had my finger on the red button at the Pentagon to unleash WWIII on the world; it was that kind of decision. I ended up ordering the Crusted Romano Chicken Pasta and was not disappointed. We also brought the 7 yr olds homework so that would not be a struggle to finish later that night. As she worked on that, K and I watched as a waiter, not our waiter, busted his rear to serve 4 tables in our area. From my guestimation, our waiter had three tables. Then I made the fatal mistake, I did not ask for our bill when he came by for drink refills (I should have pushed the red button!). The problem was that our waiter was TOO friendly. As we pondered the universe and our place in it, as well as doing some long division for fun, he was busy yucking it up with another table. By the time we left everyone that came in around the same time as us was GONE. I felt like there was a pause in time and 30 minutes of our meal was just obliterated.

We walked out at 7:40.

Then I had the Chocolate cheesecake with peanut butter cookie dough in the center for take out and I lost track of time again.

So what did we gain by eating out against our better judgment? A belly full of good food and leftovers, but a serious lapse in the time space continuum.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Is it a done deal?

First Castro steps down in Cuba and word this morning that the merger could be complete with announcement some time this week.

Monday, February 18, 2008

We Can't Always Be Right....

But we can be clean.

So my prediction was off the mark. Don't tell me Jr doesn't get an advantage sometimes though...

I barely even caught any of the race. I was too busy helping the Mrs. clean our house. It has been a few weeks, maybe several, since it's gotten a good cleaning. With the three kids around I had my own little work crew. I was drill sergeant for a day. "Ok you guys, here's the plan 1) finish your breakfast, 2) get dressed - no small task for these three, 3) clean up your rooms so they can be vacuumed, 4) 4 yr old pick up all toys in living room, 7 yr old dust everything, 9 yr old vacuum everything." Boy did that feel good! And the beauty of it all, they accomplished their task, not in record time. I can't remember how many times I told 4 yr old to stop playing with the toys to clean them up.

I love it when a plan comes together.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The Fix Will Be In

I'm going out on a limb, albeit a pretty sturdy one, by saying Dale Jr. will win the Daytona 500. Or should I say Dayyyyal, as pronounced by his minions of fans.

I'm not a Nascar fan by any stretch of the imagination. I prefer open wheel racing, specifically Champcar or Formula 1. You may say, 'what about the IRL?' Well my feeling on the IRL is that they tried to instill a business model to copy that of Nascar. Only problem is, most open wheel fans want more than just the roundy round tracks on the schedule. They want something that shows off the drivers skills to the nth degree and that requires right turns as well as left turns, off camber turns, out braking a competitor on a blind uphill turn to gain a position, etc. We want more than just to know a racer is brave(or stupid) for driving on a high banked speedway. But NOW IRL is becoming what it despised....CART.

Back to my prediction, Dayyyyal is going to win. NASCAR needs it. As their ticket prices go up, TV ratings go down, and track attendance goes down they want, no they NEED Dayyyyal to win because he has the fan base. NASCAR has a history of mysterious yellow flags to bring the pack back together for an 'exciting finish'. Is that right to manipulate like that? What happened to the best man winning based on his skill and his machine, regardless of the gap between positions?

While I wait for the needed merger of the IRL & Champcar(rumor this morning is that it's a done deal), I'll probably tune in to the snoozer 500 today from time to time to see the obligatory 'big one'. But don't be one bit surprised to see the former Bud poster boy win this one and have the fans leaving Daytona satisfied.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Who's Wilco? I got Radiohead tickets!!

Fortunately for me, Ric called last night to ask if I wanted to try and secure two tickets to Radiohead in Dallas. My reply, "Hails yea! They're coming to Dallas?! Are you sure it's not a tribute band?" Yes, May 18th they will be at the Smirnoff Center, which I believe used to be called the Starplex ampitheater. Ahh, yes, where I saw one of the first Lollapalooza's. Check out this lineup Violent Femmes(who filled the spot for Fishbone on that stop), The Rollins Band, Butthole Surfers, Ice-T's Bodycount, Living Colour(the whole purpose for my presence), Souixie and the Banshees and last but not least Jane's Addiction. Can you believe that list?! Back when alternative was alternative, eh?

So today at 11:55 I started the call to Ticketmaster and online refreshing every 10 seconds to make sure I got through in some fashion. Finally 12 noon hits and I get right in to the website. "you are in line for tickets, it will be no more than 1 minute", sweet!, "it will be no more than 2 minutes", hey wait this is going the wrong way! It took about 3 minutes, or an eternity in my eyes, to get two tickets. With pre-sale and all, we ended up with reserved seats midway back right of middle stage. At least they're under the awning and not on the grassy knoll(in Dallas but not by the book conservatory...)

Radiohead is one of those bands that I've followed from the beginning. You probably all remember "Creep" from their first album, Pablo Honey. Not really one of their better albums, not really an omen of what they would evolve into either. Next was The Bends, which was quite the rocking album, that spawned "Fake Plastic Trees" and "High & Dry". But OK Computer was the artistic breakthrough that, as a band, they never looked back from. Presently they're riding the press of offering they're new album In Rainbows to fans online; only asking for contributions of what we feel is appropriate. Even if you wanted to pay zippo. I'll never say what I paid for it, wink wink.

It doesn't hold the same appeal to me that Hail to the Thief and all their previous works hold but it is still Radiohead and I'm finally going to get to see them live. Kind of a 'U2' moment for me if you will.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Every Irrelevance

Since reunification stories broke last Friday it is becoming clearer by the day that they mean next to nothing. Nothing from either camp other than 'third parties are hindering chances of a merger'. Baloney!

Each series slides further and further into irrelevance to everyone outside of a handful of die-hard fans. All the while leaving thousands of employees, teams, sponsors, etc waiting for some kind of answer.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Ripples of Debt Reduction

Doing our Total Money Makeover has all kinds of consequences in our daily lives. For instance, I rarely hear my wife come home saying, 'Hey look what I got for the kids'. Instead it's, 'There's this great deal on shirts for summer at Wally World, can we do it?'. Tracking every penny from our paychecks makes us reassess our spending on a daily basis and put the emphasis on reducing outstanding debt and making our 'impulse buys' secondary.

Of course my 'impulse buys' revolve around music and concerts. So out of my mouth you're starting to hear, 'It's sold out?! It can't be sold out! We get paid on Friday! It's sold out?!

I'm referring to Wilco. The Chicago(WOOHOO!) based group spearheaded by Jeff Tweedy. The same Jeff Tweedy of Uncle Tupelo fame.

Out of Uncle Tupelo also came Son Volt, fronted by Jay Farrar. They both have solo projects as well. Uncle Tupelo could be characterized as an "alternative country" band. Not quite country(real country here folks not Rascal Flatts or Carrie Underwood) and not quite rock & roll.

I've enjoyed both men's vision for music but in different ways. Whereas Jay Farrar and Son Volt tend to stay more in a alt country style, Jeff Tweedy and Wilco have taken Americana style of music, thrown in some tangents and experimentation and pulled off some amazing and I mean amazing music.

You may want to start with their first couple of albums, A.M. and Being There but you'll see the evolution in scope on Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and the follow up A Ghost is Born.

Two incredibly rewarding albums, sans the 10 minutes of feedback at the end of one track(you'll have to figure out which one I'm referring to).

To parlay off of YHF, the album, you want to check out the DVD documentary, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart. The director set out to follow the making of an album and caught a lot more; Jeff Tweedy dealing with the departure of two members, a record label that doesn't buy in to their new album and artistic breakthrough of enormous proportions.

But to really get a grasp of their music, you HAVE to catch them live. I had the pleasure to see them at the Cain's Ballroom on the Ghost is Born tour. At the time, I had heard one album of theirs and picked up a pair of tickets knowing I HAD to go. My friend fell through and I went by myself; not a big deal to me as most concerts are an individual experience for the most part.

If you've never been to the Cain's, you should check it out. It is steeped in history of who's who in country music and was the home of Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. It was never known for it's sound quality; low ceiling, plaster walls, wood floor. Not good acoustics.

A few years ago it was purchased by a local doctor and hired a couple of individuals who completely renovated the place and also purchased a new sound system. The changes have been great!

Back to Wilco. This was their first time to Tulsa and it showed. Most bands who haven't played here do not know what to expect from the crowds. But the sight of a sell out crowd, singing every lyric blew them away. It showed in their music.

But what really caught me was the ability to completely deconstruct a song halfway through and pull it all back together by the end was remarkable. While Jeff is playing acoustic guitar and singing at a slow tempo, along with the bassist, the rest of the band begins to play out of key, banging away at their instruments to their own beat, not unlike acid jazz or something very bizarre, only to fall right back in to tempo and key with Mr. Tweedy in the next line of the song.

I would go to see them any time they came through Oklahoma

Flash forward to now...They are coming to Oklahoma!!! And I told my wife that we have to go, you will love it. She gave me the obligatory, 'ok, dear'. So it was set, I had a date to Wilco at the Cain's Ballroom, what could be better?

On a Wednesday night about a month ago, we're standing in a hallway of our church waiting for our small group to start. There's a younger couple that is there and the husband is wearing an Austin City Limits Festival t-shirt. And I have found a compadre in my musical journey. He too, thinks Wilco is incredible. He too, wants to go to the Cain's show. He then tells me it sold out.

Refer back to my reaction in paragraph #2.

The short term pain of our debt reduction will be a blip on the radar, but MAN that blip hurts alot right now.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Our Total Money Makeover vs. Valentines

So I did the obligatory flowers for Valentines; not one to go with the pack I went with Gerbera Daisies instead of roses. What I would REALLY like to do is to go out for DINNER. We had an awful lunch today after picking up the 4Runner from the tire store(part of our Total Money Makeover).

It was a recommended Mexican place near the tire place. A dead giveaway should have been that there were no Mexicans working there or eating there. Yes, that is correct. I think my 'combination' burrito was a combination of refried beans and Manwich. Smothered in a scrumptious helping of Ricardo's canned cheese. Or commonly referred to as Ballpark Nacho Cheese. Urp.

Back to the makeover. My wife got on a roll of listening to Dave Ramsey's radio show while at work. And we decided, as a couple, that we would get on the debt reduction bandwagon. After reading Dave's book we were ready to go. It is not an easy task. It takes more discipline than anything else I can imagine, but the results are easy to see. We have not used a credit card in 10 months and we are starting to snowball our debt. But we're still climbing UP the hill and we haven't come close to the peak. Once we itemized EVERY penny that went out of the bank account it became obvious where we could make cuts in spending.

So here I sit with a belly full of cheese, that may or may not come up before the night is through, the wifey happy with a bouquet of flowers for Valentines, and a few more dollars left in our wallets.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

I'm Speechless

Mini muscle man


My beautiful wife sent me a link today talking about a study involving step-dads and the troubles encountered between them and their step-kids. I have two kids from a previous marriage and sweet K has one, a daughter. She has sole custody of her so I have been immersed in the day to day dynamics that make up the House of D.

Like anything else some days are better than others. We have our moments of pure FUN and our moments of pure STUBBORNNESS(and that’s on both parts). Some things working in our favor: she’s young, I’m the only Dad in the picture and I have a strong faith in God. I am constantly praying for the patience to hear and listen, the courage to dive in head first and the care to let her know I will be there for her when she needs me. And my prayers do get answered. But these are baby steps, or more specifically, micro steps. Everything is fluid, nothing stays the same.

Some days I’m walking on a tightrope, carefully watching the boundary line, making sure Mom is there first for the tough decisions, but ready to give my input as needed. Only problem is my mouth is usually working on a different circuit than my brain. And that circuit has a 10 second head start on the brain’s circuit. So by the time I say the wrong thing, I’m already getting ‘The Look’. Yes guys you all know ‘The Look’. It’s the same one that makes the dog put their tail between their legs.

But you know what? I relish this role. Not because I have to fix everything, or have a need to please everyone. It’s because it’s a challenge and I have the opportunity to not only make a difference in my two children’s lives but also to a child that doesn’t have a dad in her life. I can be someone she can look up to, someone she can ask how to change the oil in a car, how to install crown molding, how to change the wax ring on a toilet, how to use a chainsaw, how to fix the chain on a bike, how to hit the apex of a turn just right so you can accelerate through the corner(in my dreams the kids can be racers). Ok, ok, she’s a girl and she won’t want ANYTHING to do with what I just said. BUT, I can show her how a man is supposed to treat his wife, and how he is supposed to give a child the tools to make it as an adult. And I get to see the look on my wife’s face for being all those things for her.

Yes, it’s not easy being a step parent but God has tasked me with it and I plan on making the most of it.

The Lonely End of the Rink...

The silence is deafening as we impatiently await word on whether Champcar & the IRL are going to merge. It seems that the wagons have been circled after word leaked (or didn’t leak) out on Thursday. Oh to be a fly on the wall in Motegi

It may be silent on that front but I must endure eight hours with Nick the atheist and his sidekick Parrish the hobbit as they burn through hours of babble like, “if you have a time machine and go back in time to shoot the inventor of a laser gun, would you still have it in your hand after you off him?”. I’m serious; they waste upwards of 50% of their work day with nonstop banter.

Here’s what I ponder, “when the heck will I find a meaningful, fulfilling and challenging job away from these social retards?” Then I answer that question with “looks like never”.

A little bit of background – I came from a telecom company where I was a circuit designer and contract negotiator after that. Unfortunately telecom is as turbulent as a Cessna flying over the Rockies on a windy day and our group was let go after a buyout. Next I moved into business analyst role with an IT company that handled the billing for energy clients; great job, freedom, telecommuting, etc. (wrong company). Flash forward to now; working as an estimator for a manufacturer of retail fixtures. Not glamorous or challenging. Some days I think my brain is oozing out my ear from lack of use. I get more use of it by watching Power Rangers with my four year old.

All this makes me look forward to my daily lunch date with my wife where we meet at home for her delicious Crockpot leftovers for about 20 minutes. It makes my day. Todays menu is leftovers from our weekend lunch at Halim & Mimis; a local Lebanese restaurant that is incredible. We purposely avoided devouring our lunches so that we could get a second meal out of them. Unfortunately for me, she is booked on Mondays through lunch.

So off I go to the lonely end of the rink.

Merger? No Merger? Champcar vs. IRL

It has been a whirlwind of gossip and quotes in the past couple of days around my beloved Champcar series. With Robin Miller’s article on Thursday we hear that talks are apparently hot and heavy. This has been reported before only to have everything fall apart; according to Kevin Kalkhoven due to leaks in the press(that in itself can stop a merger????). I truly hope that these two series can come to some type of arrangement but I don’t know how that can be done for the ‘08 season, no way, no how.

I had the chance to meet Kalkhoven and he acted sincere in what we thought about the price points for the RedBull suite tickets we purchased(for the Denver Grand Prix) and what we thought, as fans, could be done to improve for the following year.

Well, next year never came as it was cancelled for 2007, and along with it went my chance for a guys road trip. Maybe I can work out Wrigley Field somehow!

Here’s my take on the whole ball of wax: Remember when Honda dumped CART/Champcar for greener pastures in the IRL(to make it more like CART)? Now they may be in a position that can be a potential hurdle in the two series merging, due to the Motegi race date. Go figure.

Personally I WANT THIS MERGER TO HAPPEN. Have I mentioned that? BUT…..I cannot stand the Dallaras that the IRL uses. Hate ‘em, hate ‘em, hate ‘em. They’re boxy, loud, and sound like nothing more than a souped up NeckCar engine. I got to see them in action at Texas Motor Speedway from row 1. Which brings up another kick in the pants. I was at TMS for the CART debacle in which the race was cancelled on race day. I don’t blame them; I watched qualifying on Saturday and Michael Andretti took a line out of the front stretch kink that made me think he was seeing CareBears and unicorns. I didn’t want to see anyone die on that track.

I would love to see the DP01 for years to come but if they merge we may no longer see that chassis. It’s nice and has had most of the bugs worked out.

For now, I’ll keep my fingers crossed that something fruitful comes out of these talks and they can get a plan together for the ‘09 season.