Saturday, April 4, 2015

Busy season

When I started changing jobs almost 4 weeks ago, I was also going to lose my pick up truck, which was a company owned vehicle. This created a deadline to get the roof work done.   Without a truck to haul around lumber and debris, I was not going to be able to repair the roof on the front porch of our house as planned.   The roof was leaking and had to get repaired this year.   The plastic siding that was covering the old wood -which was completely rotten in many spots-was falling off and it was time to fix it or forget it.  So I rounded up some scaffolding, ordered house jacks--(the porch was 8 inches lower on one end than the other), ordered the metal roofing and started the process.    Last weekend was expected to be rain free and I removed the old roof, did the necessary structure repairs-- (a lot of that)-- and put down the new metal roof.   I looks great and last night it rained really hard for a bit and it did not leak.  That was good news.    
There are also several decorative elements on the porch posts that were rotting on the ends, (as a result of the roof leaks), and needed to be repaired or removed.  They are shaped like a "P" with small holes drilled for relief.   I removed them and will repair as needed.  They are made of three boards that are cut to shape and then nailed together.  They add nothing structurally, but do break up the silhouette and give the owner somewhere to put some accent color.  When I reinstall them, they will not be completely white.   With the roof on, I can repair the decorative elements at my leisure, and complete the other work that was a result of the water damage.  Also, putting on some paint that might be a more than white with a splash of white is an important part of the process.
Last weekend, March 29 was my sister's birthday.  She would have been 53.  If you think something is wrong with you, go the doctor.  Waiting solves nothing. 
Our daughter Rosemary is in town for the Easter weekend.  She flew in from Austin yesterday.  I flew in from Portland about an hour earlier, so I just met her at the gate. The airports were pretty busy yesterday, the Spring breakers mixed with the normal Friday traffic really made for a crowd.    Today is spa day and I need it after the long plane rides this week.  The planes seats are hard on my back.    We are also going to The Hermitage Hotel for Easter Brunch, they do it real nice. Eating and relaxing, I like the sound of that. 
Next up is gardening and mowing,  I am a little behind because of the porch repairs.  This week I am not planning on any travel and can hopefully get the dirt tilled and some planting started.
I am still getting some treadmill work in to stay in shape on my trips.   I am running a couple times a week and when we get some warm weather, I will get outside.  No current injuries to report and that is my main goal this year--run healthy.   I feel strong when I run, so I think I will have a good season for the oldest man in the group-- 55 to 59. I need to lose a few more pounds, but otherwise, I feel ready to race.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March in Massachusetts

The last time I was this cold was in January 2014 when it was too cold to deer hunt in Ohio, and too cold to hunt is dangerous cold.  Today in MA it was 27 and windy.  Beautiful sun shine, but cold enough to kill you if you were not looking--just like in Minnesota.   Wow!  I do not miss any of this crap.   Snow is still stacked up everywhere and melts some during the day and then freezes again in the evening and makes for some really slick new ice daily.  It is March and still way to cold to go outside and enjoy.    Linda sent me a picture of our first daffodil bloom, that is March weather in my opinion,  enough said.

I am in Massachusetts for a visit to my new home office-- I now work for Kadant, based in Auburn, MA. I just got my new computer--on which this blog is being written and will get an iPad  as well.  I am loading my data and short cuts on the new machine slowly but surely.  I will take a few days to get everything adjusted to my liking, and I am fussy about how the computer display looks and works.     The other details like cars, what trips I need to plan, presentations, how to do expenses, get paid, etc. are the minor details that are also on the docket.   Details, details details.....   

My first impressions at Kadant are very positive.  We have a dominant position for supplying doctoring equipment in the tissue and paper industry, which  is right up my alley.  Hopefully,  this new relationship will be good for both of us. As I explore the new products, I can see some very good opportunities in the tissue making business and I will hit the ground running, so to speak.  And since my conditioning is pretty good now, it could be a blur to the competitors.

I ran outside in Tennessee last weekend and really enjoyed the fresh air.  I did a little speed work and felt pretty strong, but mostly did slower longer stuff to continue with the fitness improvement.   75 and sunny was great running weather.  Yesterday I ran on a treadmill in MA, the outside temperature was in the 20's and way to cold to try anything outside.   A great way to burn the lungs and get pneumonia.   It is amazing the difference a plane ride can make.

It appears my schedule will fill up quickly for travel in my new role and getting outside runs will be at a premium until the Nasty Winter of 2014 goes away for good.   Good riddance from where I am currently shivering away.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Switch is on

New phone number this week--I do not recommend this to anyone that does not have at least 12 hours to hover and update the dozens of places your phone number is used and/or required.   Whew!  You will need both phones to be active to get everything actually completed.  I got most of important ones done, but some places you do not use on a regular basis are a mystery on how to make the change.   Next week, it will be a new computer and all the nuances that go with that process.  "They" whoever they may be, claim that some change in your life is a good thing to stimulate growth and all that crap.  Could be , but "they" can come over and work through the computer conversion next week.  I need a massage..

I finished up with Buckman this week and started to get some tools for my new role at Kadant.  The phone and new employee packet were two days late due to the ice and snow that was dumped on us last week.  I am in full transition mode of payroll, insurance, expenses, credit cards, cars, travel rules, new boss, a lot of shit to remember and and even more to just screw up.  But this is what I wanted and I got it.   Next week will be the real work in terms of getting all the paperwork completed and the following week I will be in the main office doing the rest of my transition stuff with HR and IT.  My old phone and computer get send home next week as well.

TONIGHT WE CELEBRATE.  Linda and I are headed to the Omni Hotel to check out Bob's Steakhouse and celebrate one of life's little changes that is actually for the good.  My nephew and his wife from Martin, TN are going to jump in on the fun as well. Linda is celebrating her great year as the # 1 LS in your company.  I am thinking some steak and expensive bourbon.

The weather appears to be breaking up, it better,  the time change is tonight..  Daffodils are straining at their leashes, ready to explode into Spring.  The sun is doing all it can to force the issue, now if we can get the rest of the snow piles melted, we will be on to something.

  I am ready to run outside.

I have been running 3 times per week on the treadmill and the work is paying off.  I feel pretty fit and would love to get an outdoor work out.  My gout is under control and I have had no issues with pain or swelling.   The last couple of sessions I have not used KT tape on my right foot which was the poster child for plantar fasciitis.  I have worn the KT every time I have run the last 3 years.   I have used some really tight compression socks instead.  Only issue with these socks are, you are exhausted getting them on, it is a struggle.  I think I will still use the tape most days, the confidence factor is higher with the additional support.

  I am switching companies, the time is switching, Mother Nature could go ahead and switch the seasons as well.  I am ready, already.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The 8 Year Itch

I announced to Buckman this week that I would be leaving for another job in the paper business.  I currently work in the specialty chemicals field of tissue manufacturing  and I will be taking on a new position in the equipment end of the business.  Kadant hired me to champion a new product line of ceramic tipped doctor blades they will be developing.   I will be basically calling on the same tissue manufacturers, but in a different role with a different logo on my shirt. 

In my career,  I have worked  in various roles in the paper business for 8, 4, 12, and 8 years.  Average it up and 8 years is the magic number for my career changes.  I am 58 now and another 8 years puts me at retirement age and at that point it will be a wrap.  I like the math.  I have worked in manufacturing of paper, selling of chemicals to paper mills and I will close the circle with this new role as a supplier of hardware and wear parts to the tissue business.   I am a gear head at heart and I am excited to get into the hardware biz. 

Some people will ask, "What are you doing giving up a perfectly good job at your age?"   They may have a great point, but I think it is a great move for me.  A college class mate from Miami University called me late last year and laid out a situation  with Kadant that really fit my strengths as a paper professional.  So, I followed up with an interview in mid December and liked the situation and the people and here we are.  So if you do good work and have connections in the right places, good things can happen.   My new role will be called Tissue Applications Manager, and it will be based in the US and I will continue to work from my home in the Nashville area. I will continue to travel extensively in the US and some International work as needed.   I think this is a situation where I get cake and get to eat it  too. I like cake a lot, by the way.

The last few weeks have been tough to keep my mouth shut about what I was doing with the job change.  Waiting for drug screens and background check results, and taking the  physical add some level of anxiety to the wait.  All that is now over and I can relax and enjoy the transition.  My last day with Buckman is a week from today.  As I was finalizing my letter of resignation and hovering over the send button, a lot happy and sad moments flash through your head.   I will miss some great people that I have been working with the last 8 years and in the next instant you have the exhilaration for a new job and all the new possibilities.  All this made for a pretty "scattered" couple of weeks for me emotionally.

I have been busy in the gym this week doing some treadmill work.  I have been doing the fitness work that I typically do each winter and feel pretty good.  I have been able to run 2000 meters without taking a break--which is hard for a sprinter to be that patient--and not max out my heart rate.  I have also been getting in some good stretching and I am ready for outdoors as soon as mother nature cooperates. Nothing is hurt--yippee!!  I was looking seriously at some indoor meets, but being in job limbo and the possibility that I  may not have health insurance for a month has kept any race dates up in the air.  Sooner or later,  I will pull on the spikes and have a go...

Sunday, February 22, 2015

I do not need reminded as much

I lived in the Northern part of the US a large part of my life and suffered as did everyone else in that same boat as I.  I do not need reminded how lousy the weather can be--this last week for example.  But Mother Nature laid it on real thick this week with a reminder that I can go back to the days of wet feet, cold hands, blowing ice water, fog and general mayhem that will cause cabin fever and generally dark behavior.  Linda had the best solution--next year we will be on an island--away  from this mess.  Smart woman!!

I was in Mexico again this last week.  High elevation and clear warm weather with the pollution in relative good order for a change.  It is the dry season there, no real rain has fallen since September, so there is a lot of dust in the air. My sinuses were fine, just a general deposit of concrete in my noise.   I was very busy with a project that we finally finished and had little time to do anything but work and eat.   We ate a lot of local food, because that is all that exists in the area NE of Mexico City called Ciudad Sahagun.   This week I had a couple of new dishes that I had somehow missed on my last 3 trips to this area.  We had something that you put in a soft tortilla, they were large ant eggs with cilantro.  Put on some red or green sauce and it was food.  I prefer the green chili sauce.    On the day we left, we stopped at the roadside BBQ for breakfast and had some bean soup, BBQ lamb and stomach.   Put on some red sauce and off you go.  By the way, the red sauce here would melt your face...  and the next day melt the other end.  I stayed away from that.  A 3 hour plane ride with an upset tummy would be really, really bad timing.

Winter time travel is a crap shoot, I had said that for years and it is the best way to describe getting from Point A to Point B when snow or ice can cause delays.  For example on this trip, three people were in my group from the US and we landed in Atlanta and then had one more hop to our home airports.  I managed to get home on schedule.  One got to the airport and had to hole up until the ice melted so he could get home on Saturday, the other missed his flight to Lexington and changed to Louisville and rented a car to finish the trip.  They crapped out and I managed to hang on a little longer and make my home airport. 

Now for the details:  The plane left Mexico City late--it is Delta and expected-  and thus we arrived in Atlanta and did not have a gate.  Lost some time there.  I had 90 minutes ( in the perfect world)  between flights to clear customs and get to my connection to Nashville.   I am watching my watch, like that helps anything, while I am in the line in customs.  I think a 747 had landed just ahead of us and it was jammed.  We slowly made our way to the customs agent and had some more delays as people had "lost" their passports and that really halted the process ahead of us.  How do you loose the more important thing in your life at the time??  Are you that dumb?? Answer-yes.   Finally cleared customs, got my bag, went thru another check and left my bag at the baggage check in the International entry area. I go thru the security screen and round up all the gear and I don't even tie my shoes at this point.  My flight leaves in 20 minutes at that point. I check the board for a gate, it is not on the board any more and I am not sure of the gate.  What?? My Delta app on my phone has a gate number for me.    I head for the train with a small glimpse of hope.   I am in Concourse E and my flight leaves from Concourse A, gate 34.  Do I actually try to make it or just go get some dinner and make the next flight??  Well it is winter and you do not know what is in store. You gotta try. I could spend the night is friendly old Atlanta.

Just for your information, all connecting flights that I manage to get are at the LAST GATE in the concourse when I am really strapped for time.  I refuse to run in airports, I walk fast, but I will not run to get a damn plane.  I hustle to the  gate, it is way down there, and by the time I get close and can see the door is still open with the agent out in the hall looking around and trying to find stragglers--me.  I get in the plane door, sit down and in 3 minutes the door was closed and we were off to Nashville. Whew!   By the way, I was really thirsty and needed to pee, I did not have time for either in the last hour in the customs or airport.  Just regular old winter time travel activity.

I had been in nice weather all week and when I landed in Nashville. I pulled out two long sleeve pieces of clothing while on the plane and put them on.  Got my bag and pulled out gloves and a hat and hit the cold air.  I was stunned that we even came to Nashville, Southwest had shut down and it was snowing pretty good and the run way was  slippery.  I had missed an entire week of ice and snow, so they cooked up some fresh when I got back-  I appreciate the honor, but I could pass. 

I got my truck, which is a 4x4, at the offsite lot and they had done a decent job of deicing it and immediately got gasoline and finished the window cleaning.  It had sit out in all bad stuff and was iced badly.   I was heading down the ramp to I 40, which was slushy, and the car ahead was going 5 MPH.  Not 7 or 9, Five!! You cannot go onto the Interstate at 5 MPH, it is sure death.  I just passed on the berm, you can die, not me.  I looked in the mirror as they were still going 5 as I went out of sight, it was nuts.  By the way cars were tailgating them down the ramp.   Comedy at every turn here.  The interstate was drivable, run 45 and stay off the brakes, use your gas feed and stay off the brakes, repeat stay off the brakes.  You drive in the winter with your accelerator and gears.   My truck has the electric shift, so I put it in 5 so I could lug it along about 1500 RPM and we cruised home.  I used the brakes at one stoplight, I just ran everything else when it was clear.  I kinda weaved thru the lanes to maintain my clearance and momentum and made it just fine from the airport. 

Now for my real problem with idiots driving in the winter.  You do not need to run your flashers as you go down the Interstate, I can see you just fine.  Driving on ice and snow is all about being smooth and controlled-relaxed.  I do not need you making me nervous or anxious with your flashers, turn them off and drive your car.  Running you flashers makes it no safer or better for anyone.  I think if you need flashers, you need a cab or a hotel room.   I DON'T WANT TO BE ON THE ROAD WITH YOU!   Stay off the brakes too.  Hint, if you hit the brakes on a FWD car and think you can turn or slow down, call your insurance company now.  That is not what happens.

Yesterday I tried to find some salt and sand to get the ice sheet broken up a little.  I found some sand and we bought a lot of table salt to get the melting started.  But if you have a water softener and need salt, you may to drive to Houston to get some.  The town was out of rock salt, period.   The crap is breaking up, but the gloom looks like it will stay.  Linda wants me to get my happy light out and she is right, I need some help this weekend.   I am going to add some flashers to my couch just to let everyone know that the weather is bad and I am felling it.  Share the pain a little.

Any planes headed to Miami this week??

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Sunny Day

What a beautiful day in middle Tennessee.  The sun was out all day and Linda and I took advantage of the rays.    In the mid morning I cut down some more trash trees and reduced them to either firewood size or brush pile size with the chainsaw.  Great work out with the saw if you can look at it in that manner, sometimes it is just work, but it felt good to enjoy the sun today.   The crocus are still out and now the daffodils are just on the edge of bursting open.   So Spring must be close.........

We headed to the gym in the afternoon and she swam and I did some running,  but I had little gas in the tank.  I was dehydrated from the saw work, so I really worked on the stretching and ran some slower events on the treadmill.   I was in Mexico this week at 8000 feet elevation with quite a bit of air pollution and that really drags me down.   We were working just NE of Mexico City in the volcanic high lands.  There is a very large active volcano this about 40 miles from where we were working that was completely snow covered with some steam rolling out--the one clear day--it was quite a sight.    After the gym we took a nice walk to soak up some more sun and check out the new park up the street.  I love these days--maximizing the time outside.

I have been fooling around with a garden this winter and we picked some Kale that come on after the cold snap.  I was wonderful in the salad we had with our fresh salmon.  Yummy stuff.   Linda and I had been discussing bread making for a long time and finally today, she gave it the first shot.  She had a little goof early but recovered nicely to work up enough dough for a pan of rolls and a loaf.  The recipe uses a lot of fiber and that was the idea, get more fiber into the old guy. I have to get fiber or there is trouble, and not the kind I really care to deal with.  

The section of Mexico I was in last week- Hidalgo State--is a very industrial area with a very large working class population.  The working class in Mexico makes about 1/10 of what an industrial worker makes in the US, but most of the expenses are similar.  Cars, fuel ($ 4 US/gallon), clothes, hotels, etc is similar to what I would pay. 90% of the cars were 30 years old or more, this stuff will not die, amazing how long a clunker can go.   Food is quite inexpensive and it is all local, in a town of 25,000 I did not see one chain of any sort.  One McDonalds near the airport, that was it for chains.  The airport had some chains, but they did charge would it would cost to eat in any US airport.  

The locals eat very simple meals of fruit, some veggies, meat ( their chicken is the best of their meat) peppers, beans and something with real sugar. Then a choice of green or red sauce.   The green chili or red chili is like our salt and pepper-which is absent--and served at all meals.  I have to plant some green chili peppers this year, when pureed, they are tasty without burning your mouth off.  The red chili pepper sauce, just kicks your ass when you eat it-literally.  They use very little processed food --high fructose corn syrup was scarce-- and little is processed until it is time to prepare for service.  The variety of food was limited, but I think the summer would present much different food options. 

Breakfast at our hotel was interesting.  The breakfast meat was ham--which was sliced lunch meat.  No bacon, sausage, biscuits or cereal to be found.  Eggs were available.   I like to have my roughage for breakfast, raisin bran is my favorite, and that cereal was not to  be found.   I will take some next trip.  The breads were delicious, but all processed white flour.   Their menu's had a total lack of fiber available in the forms that I typically consume. No whole wheat anything, which I use a lot.   OK,OK, I might be whining some,  but that is a big change for me.   How you get past that fiber problem is to eat enough hot stuff--green or red sauce-- which will keep you lower GI healthy by that method of expulsion.    I worked for 4 days, but I think a couple weeks would be a strain on my system. 

I would struggle to survive in Mexico.   Simple concrete houses, very little heating if any, no yard to garden, stinky open water, rough roads with corrupt cops. Bad air, really bad air.   Not for me, I will stay in the US and fight my battle here.  And more importantly, a sun you can see and feel on the days the clouds allow, that is a big deal that makes it worthwhile.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Last Day for Football

Super Bowl XLIX is today and the NFL comes to a close with a lot of thuds today.  I think this will be a 'body bag' game, because these guys can tackle and hit pretty good.   Once this event is over, I always start hoping for Spring to start, something with success, sometimes not.  Come on Phil, make it Spring.

In central Tennessee we have some crocus up and shining their lovely violets and yellow colors.  Some of daffodils are pushing their luck and could bloom in a week or so if it stays warm.  I planted some yellow onions yesterday to see if they make it.  I have been gardening all winter and will continue to push that envelop.   I also cut out some ugly trees yesterday that have been damaged in storms and were never going to recover.  The 20 inch bar solved their dilemma real quick.  I am ready for Spring.  Come on Phil,  I am routing for you. 

Last weekend, I think I was at my darkest in terms of light induced depression.   I was struggling and Linda was commenting that she could see it coming and I needed to work through it pretty quickly.  I had a very tough work week and was not getting the results that I expected and that with the lack of clear weather was starting to take it toll.  If I were going to take a trip to break up the winter, last week would have been the week. 
I have been working on the treadmill to increase my fitness and even those work outs were not very encouraging.  But, this week, with the days  actually getting longer, I have able to get outside and get some light on my body and things are picking up.  It is amazing how the mood can be effected by the environment. 
It about a week ago, that the weather cleared up nicely and I ran on the Raptor track next door.  I had a very good workout and tested my fitness and speed.  My speed is good and as usual the fitness need to get better.   So, I continue to work on the fitness.    I was trying to race indoors in February, but a work schedule change has really effected my opportunity to race.  I have two trips to Mexico booked and training is not really an option.  We stay at 8000 feet elevation and the pollution is pretty bad. It takes me a couple for days to get over the altitude sickness- I have headache the first two days and do not feel like doing anything to make me breath harder. As you get older, the arteries do harden and the blood flow is effected enough that the altitude change is significant over 5000 feet.   Hopefully, I can find a way to make it happen.