Wednesday, June 29, 2011

La Dolce Vita....Colorado style

K found us a sweet package deal to Aspen*, including 3 nights in a very upscale hotel, the Viceroy at Snowmass Village.  When we checked in on Friday afternoon I was indeed impressed.  The lobby had this very elegant contemporary "fire and ice" display:



We arrived at our "room" on the 6th floor (right below the penthouse) to find that it was actually a suite:


*pardon our mess*




Even our  TV menu was personalized:


The clincher, however, was this bath.  It measured 15' x 18'....HUGE:



We spent many happy hours (OK, maybe I exaggerate) under the shower rainhead:


I honestly think 4 or 5 people could have comfortably fit in this shower.  (There must be some mighty kinky folks in Colorado!) The shower was stocked with bottles of designer body wash, shampoo, and conditioner which were also available for purchase from the hotel boutique for $40 each.  (We passed.)

Every morning we put on our fuzzy robes and sat on our balcony, sipping espresso (her) and juice (me).  We also found a German bakery in town and stocked up on a few pastries....yummy!

Mr. Homebuilder here was impressed with the quality of things, too...Poggenpohl European cabinets, Viking, Wolf, & Bosch kitchen and laundry appliances, (2) LG flat screens, see-thru gas fireplace, granite tops and honed marble floors....all top quality stuff.  I wasn't expecting to see this in a hotel!

Valet parking, a concierge of course, an elegant restaurant and bar....it couldn't have been nicer.  Now are you ready for the price? This was regularly a $650 per night room / suite, but we got it for $77 a night.  All I can figure is that Kelly must have sounded SUPER sexy over the phone when she signed us up!  *wink*  :)

S

* "Aspen" is sometimes used generically to include the town and resort of Aspen, and also the nearby area that includes the resorts of Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass Village.  We stayed in Snowmass, but spent most of our time in Aspen proper.











Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Colorado High

We're back from Colorado, and I still can't wipe this silly grin off my face.  It was SO cool, both literally and figuratively.  We flew from Dallas to Aspen via Denver with no hitches (United), arriving there about 1 pm.  Since our hotel check-in wasn't until 4, we decided to make the drive to Independence Pass, along the way passing snowdrifts on the side of the road still 12' high:


There was a photo spot a few hundred yards from the parking lot and I made a beeline for it....and discovered the thin mountain air.  Within 50 yards I began to feel dizzy, and recognizing what it was, stopped in my tracks and regained my balance, then slowed my pace.  I (K too) had a mild headache the rest of the day, but after that we were sufficiently acclimated.  Isn't this view breathtaking?....


All along the drive up we kept passing snow runoff headed towards the Roaring Fork River:


We eventually found a turnoff where we could check out a small tributary up close and personal.  That's where K dipped her foot in the river and pronounced it freezing cold.  Umm....Lover....it's snowmelt!  This was of interest to us as 2 days later we had reservations on a whitewater rafting trip down the Upper Roaring Fork.



Yes Sweetie, you...in there!

Later that day we checked in to our room at the Viceroy at Snowmass (more on that in another post), then went out for a nice meal and at 9 pm, a walking Ghost Tour of Aspen.  It was fun, and the only time all weekend that we had to wear our jackets.  The rest of the time it was cool, but sunny and calm.  (Pixel Peeper...nightimes, low 50's; daytime, upper 70's.)

The next day we drove to Aspen Highlands, then took the shuttle to Maroon Bells, probably the single most-photographed mountain(s) in all of Colorado:


We hiked around the lake towards the mountain, seeing deer and a beaver dam along the way, finally turning back as the last bus of the day left at 5 pm and we didn't dare miss it.

That's enough for now.  I'll share more later.  :)

S

Monday, June 27, 2011

Exhausted

We're at the Aspen a-port, exhausted, hugely satisfied, and dreading the return to the real world. Doing all the typical tourist stuff...sightseeing, hiking, rafting, etc, has flat worn us out, but at least we made the most of our time. We can sleep on Dallas time. I'll share details later.

Hope y'all have been behaving yourselves.

S

Friday, June 24, 2011

Advice for a successful life

To be sure of hitting your target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.  Works every time!  :)


S

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Countin' down the days....

....until vacation.  What it lacks in quantity (4 days, just 3 nights) it more than makes up for in quality (Colorado).  I am SO ready for some cooler weather, even if it's just for a few days.


Today I went with K to her yearly oncology follow-up exam, which turned out to be an all-day affair.  She received an "all clear" which I know is a load off her mind, so now we (she) can go on vacation without any worries.


K is washing our travel clothes tonight and I'm...umm...letting her.  :)


Camera batteries are charged, loose ends at work have been tended to, and the dog sitter is standing by.  Get a few bucks tomorrow from "the machine what spits out the cash", and I'm outta here.


Later everyone.  


S

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

One issue resolved, and another pops up....

Yesterday's situation (see previous post) with the obstinate building inspector has been resolved.  He reviewed the info I brought him and agreed I was doing things per code.  He did want one more bit of documentation, which he admitted was a simple CYA (Cover Your Ass) exercise on his part.  It just never ends!  This is why I have so little use for bureaucrats.... except those whose names start with "D" and end in "orrie".  *wink*


Seriously, when I hear city managers whining about budget shortfalls, and how are they ever going to make ends meet, boohoohoo, I have very little sympathy for them.  I honestly believe we could reduce the size of government by 25% or more and not miss a beat, that's how much dead wood there is.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Now my new, more personal issue:  Last week our apartment management sent crews around to enter our apartments and change our smoke detector batteries.  (Told ya I don't lift a finger here :)  When K came home mid-afternoon for her lunch and to let the dog out she found the dog IN THE BATHTUB! That was apparently their way of getting her out of their way.  How long was she there?...10 minutes?...3 hours? Why did they leave her in there when they were through?  She went to the office to complain, and when I got home later I went and complained, too.  They promised it would never happen again.


This week they notified us they were sending crews around to freshen the paint on our exterior doors, and that if we would prefer to be there to call and set up an appointment.  Remembering the stink from the week before, I made an appointment for 4 PM today.  I got home well before 4 and our housekeeper told me some maintenance guy just let himself in an hour earlier and she shooed him away.  


Back to the office I went to complain.  "Does an appointment mean nothing to you people?  I can't lock my dog up...she doesn't even have a crate.  That's why I prefer to be there."  Then the manager told me she confronted the employee  involved in the dog-in-the-bathtub incident (borrowed from a sister complex elsewhere), and he denied everything.  I told her HE LIED, that my dog literally could not jump into a bathtub.  She's too old and too small.


I will not tolerate a liar.  No more Mr. Nice Guy here.  I'm writing to the parent company and complaining, and if he gets fired, then my position is he fired himself by his actions and his lying.


Rant over.


S

Monday, June 20, 2011

Today I was the "Bug"

You've heard the old saying,"Some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug"?  Today was my day to get squished like a bug on life's windshield.  


I swear I work with idiots difficult people. And these are people in authority, as in "building inspectors".  Today I had a polite row with an inspector, a SENIOR inspector at that, who is now back acting as a field inspector, instead of an office-paper-pusher-bureaucrat / inspector.  He admitted he hasn't inspected anything in years, but insisted he was right on a technical issue...we'll leave it at that.  But he's wrong.  Dead wrong!


I've spent half a day (and remember..."time is money") researching the matter, and I now have documentation my position is correct.  Tomorrow morning I'm going to City Hall to see Mr. Inspector and go over it with him.  It's pretty technical, so I hope he's up to speed and can comprehend the data.  If he does, and will admit my position is allowed per code, life goes on.  (I'm certainly NOT going to gloat and say "I told you so.")  But if he is too proud to admit it and won't back down, or if he just doesn't "get it", then I'm in a quandary.


I can surrender and do what he asks, which will cost me several thousand dollars, or I can go over his head and fight him and probably win, but at what cost?  "Win the battle, lose the war."


Grrrrr!  I hate Mondays.


S

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Plan

Our brief whirlwind trip to Aspen is taking shape.  If all goes as planned we will arrive in Aspen early PM on Friday.  Hotel check-in isn't until 4 PM, so we have time to drive around and scope the place out, including finding a nice restaurant for our first evening there.  Then at 9 PM K has made us reservations for  a 1 1/2 hour-long walking "ghost tour" of Aspen, which is enthusiastically recommended.  Sounds fun!


Saturday morning we're going to the farmers market where they have places to eat breakfast and have live music, too.  In the afternoon we'll take the gondola to the top of the mountain where the views are reportedly spectacular. (Hey, it's ASPEN.  Of course they're spectacular!)  Probably have a nice meal up there later, too.


Early Sunday afternoon we have reservations to go white-water rafting.  I don't think this is a terribly violent excursion, probably more "family friendly".  They will issue us some sort of "wet suit", but they also say to bring a change of clothes for when we return, so I imagine we're still going to get plenty wet.  With the night time temps in the 40's and the river being nothing more than snowmelt, I don't think I'll be whining about being too hot.  If anything pneumonia might be more of an issue.  Haha!


That's all we have planned for now.  Our plane departs around 4 PM Monday.  All the gaps in our schedule can be filled in spontaneously with whatever we see that looks like fun.


And just FYI...this morning at 7:30 in Aspen it was 56 degrees.  :)


S

Friday, June 17, 2011

An afternoon with Sluggo

Today I stopped by to visit with my daughter Erica and my grandson Parker....aka Sluggo.  This kid LOVES baseball...and football, and soccer, and basketball, and just being outside.  Today he wanted to play baseball, so we went out into the yard and he blew me away!  The little guy can actually hit the ball.  I can pitch 'em high, low, fast, slow, it doesn't matter.  He can judge them and connect.   The kid's amazing.  And he only 2! 


At what age do you think it's appropriate to get a sports agent for him?  Haha!

Otherwise today was spent playing referee between dueling subcontractors, trying to make sense of what the new building inspector wants (he contradicts himself), and dropping off/picking up the dog from the groomer.  I still managed to get home before K, so I'm doing a few household chores so she (and I) will have a completely free weekend.  

This weekend we'll be doing our homework researching things to see and do in/around Aspen so we can make the most of our limited time there next week. Can any of you who've been there make any suggestions? I'm sure a lot has changed since I was last there 20+ years ago.

Have a great weekend everyone.  Stay cool.  :)

S

Thursday, June 16, 2011

You know what I'm SICK of?

Pakistan.
  



I honestly don't care if the sun ever rises over Pakistan again.  Ever.  I really don't.  I'm so sick of opening the newspaper and reading Pakistan this, Pakistan that....and none of it is ever good.  All they want from us is the BILLIONS of dollars of foreign aid we send their way every year.  Money we don't have.  The aid we send is skimmed off by a few at the top, and I'm sure the masses never see a dime of it.  And they hate us.  Why do we have to pay 'em to hate us?  They'll do it for free.  SCREW 'EM!


I know, I know.... they have nuclear technology they could pass on to other radical countries/groups who could use it on us.  So why don't we take all the money we send them in aid and instead use it to put a few hundred thousand Americans to work screening everything that comes into this country?  Every plane load of freight, every shipping container....EVERYTHING! Then we would know (well...more than we do now) what was coming in to our country, and we would have some tax revenue from these Americans who are now working, too.


Oh...and Afghanistan.  It is now estimated that 97% of their gross national income is derived from foreign aid, most of it from the US.  Talk about a bunch of parasites!  Any idea how many Americans we could put to work with all that $$$$?  Or how much we could reduce our debt?


So here's my plan:  We all sell our Land Yachts and drive little mini-cars, we downsize from our McMansions to something more manageable, we quit buying stuff we don't need, we put up windmills and solar panels everywhere, etc, then tell Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and all their buddies to go eat camel dung and wash it down with a Big Gulp of oil.  We don't need 'em, and in fact we'd be better off without them. 


Don't I wish it were that easy.  (But I'm serious about cutting off their foreign aid.  That we can do.)


S

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Colorado bound

I'm sitting here at the computer this morning eating my breakfast (a croissant, 2 small link sausages, and a glass of grape juice) just giddy with excitement and anticipation.  Last night in a totally spontaneous move K and I booked our reservations for a long weekend (next week) in Aspen.  WooHoo!!


Now is a good time for us to sneak away for a short refresher.  The parts that I'm responsible for (structural) on the 2 homes we have under construction right now are wrapping up.  My brother will soon be taking the lead with our customers in choosing paint colors, tile, countertops, etc, and I can coast for a while. And K is setting the world on fire at her new position, even being called out by the boss at a meeting earlier this week, but at a price.  She's tired.


Isn't this exactly why God made mountains, and Colorado?  Two facts are stuck in my mind:  At 6 AM this morning it was 41 degrees in Aspen, with a high expected to be 73 later on.  Sweeeeeeet!  I know this won't impress you "the hotter the better" types, but to this Texas boy "hotter" is not "better".  Maybe this will get me through until autumn.


We have reservations on a puddle-jumper jet to Aspen, a room at a swanky hotel/resort/spa, and even a tiny tin-can rent car.  Now I just have to get through one more sweltering week in Dallas.  *I can do this...I can do this...*


S

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A little piece of me died yesterday....

....when I saw this on the news:



This was a WWII-vintage B-17 that crashed yesterday in Illinois.  Fortunately everyone on board escaped, but another piece of history has been lost forever.  

For 20 years beginning in the mid-80's I was very involved with a group known then as the Confederate Air Force.  (It has since changed it's name to the Commemorative Air Force.)  I was a "Ramp Boss" and I led our group of marshallers as we volunteered many of our weekends attending airshows across the country.  We didn't make money at it, but the shows did pay our expenses so it was a relatively cheap hobby.  

After the show planes landed the air traffic controllers would turn them over to us to park on the show ramp, which was a fairly complex undertaking.  It was like a giant jigsaw puzzle....every plane had to go in a certain spot for it to work, space being very tight.  During those years I worked with many hundreds of different planes, probably including this one, and their crews.  Whenever one goes down it really hurts.  I'm not familiar with this plane under this name, but they do change hands and get renamed with some regularity.

If you've never been up close to one, and I mean within just a few feet, with engines running, and heard and felt those huge radial engines turning, and seen the looks on the pilot's faces as if they were saying, "Please get me out of this cramped, scary ramp", then you probably won't understand the affection I have for the planes and their crews and the history they keep alive. 

I'm afraid the world is now one step closer to having none of these beautiful historic aircraft left for us to admire.  And their original WWII crews?  These now-elderly gentlemen are dying at the rate of 1,000 a day.  Of course it's inevitable, but it's still sad.

S

Monday, June 13, 2011

I did it! I really did it!!

I watched an entire basketball game start to finish.  That might not sound like it's any big deal, but you have no idea how quickly my short attention span can lose interest in basketball.  For one thing I don't understand the game. Sure, you put the ball through the hoop more than the other guys, I get that.  But is there any strategy?  


It seems like a game for simpletons.  That, or it's an extremely complex game requiring immense intelligence and cunning, which makes me the simpleton for not getting it.  It looks to me like 5 guys just run around and around and pass the ball back and forth and back and forth until they catch the other guys a half-step out of position and then take their shot.  *yawn*  Is that it? 


Oh well, the home town team (Dallas) won, so to be able to participate at the water-cooler post-game back-slapping party today I did my homework and watched.  "Did you see 'ol Tyrone Bigfoot do that trip-fall with a half-twist hook shot at the buzzer?  Hot damn!!  I ain't never seen nuthin' like it!"  I'm ready.


On to more exciting news...we had an earthquake in Dallas yesterday.  It registered 2-point-something.  I think I saw my ace earthquake-predictor dog Emma Belle wake up, give a little yelp, then go back to sleep.  At the time I just thought she had gas, but then I heard about the 'quake on the news.  I don't think my friends in California would have been too impressed.  Which is just as well.


Stay cool.


S

Sunday, June 12, 2011

They're unstoppable!

I've been watching the 24 Hours of Le Mans on TV off and on for...well...24 hours now, and my heroes at Audi have done it again.  For the 10th time in 12 years Audi has won this prestigious race, despite a couple of horrific crashes like this one:



It was an absolute miracle the car didn't jump the fence and plow into the crowd, but by the Grace of God it didn't.  In fact, none of the spectators/photographers showered with debris were hurt, and the driver was able to walk away!  No, I'm not a big motorsport fan, but Le Mans has such a storied history it's hard not to follow this one.

Today is just a lounge-around-the-house-and-relax day, after our customary trip out for some caffeine and a read, of course.  There's a lot to be said for doing nothing.  :)

S




Saturday, June 11, 2011

Save the Ta-Ta's

Our neighborhood was a beehive of activity this morning.  When I took Emma Belle out for her dootie call at 6:30 (on a Saturday morning....that just ain't right!) the organizers were setting things up for our annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.  It's always held on the grounds of the Hewlett Packard campus (the old EDS campus) one block from our home.  This was the scene early this morning:






The Susan G. Komen organization was started by Nancy Brinker, sister of Ms. Komen and wife of legendary Dallas restaurateur Norman Brinker (Chili's, Maggiano's), it's goal to eradicate breast cancer, the disease that took her sister's life at only 36 years old.  It's still headquartered in Dallas, but is now marketed internationally.

And what a marketing job they do!  Not a day goes by that I don't see a pink ribbon, T-shirt, or hat somewhere.  As I recall even the National Football League came on board last year and had players wearing pink gloves and referees wearing pink hats.  (I still have nightmares about that one.)

That said, I think they have a lot more marketing opportunities left to tap.  For example, NASCAR.  Imagine a pink car, number 00.  And in India....mega-conglomerate Tata Group would be a natural partner.  Eggland Farms, the egg people, could sell eggs in pink cartons by the pair, 6 pair per carton.  Remember pink Hostess Snowballs?....they could be re-introduced to a whole new generation.  The possibilities are endless!

Seriously, it's a very worthwhile cause.  With a wife who's a breast cancer survivor and 3 daughters with a genetic background that makes them susceptible (their mother and great-aunt), I'm acutely aware of how important the need is to find a cure.  Please help any way you can.

Come race time I might take Emma Belle back to see the event.  She seems to draw a lot of attention.  *wink*

S


Friday, June 10, 2011

Guys night out

Last night my friend Gary invited me to go to a Frisco Rough Riders (Texas Rangers AA farm team) game with him.  His company has season tickets right behind home plate, and best of all, they come with free food.  Yum!






The crowd was a little thin as the Dallas Mavericks were playing on TV (they won), which just left more food/beverage/fun for the rest of us.


Between innings they try to keep the crowd entertained, and this night they had a lady with some frisbee-chasing dogs.  I caught this little pooch ^ in mid-jump.   They were hilarious!  Notice the beach umbrellas in the center field cheap seats?  They have a swimming pool out there you can rent for parties. Great idea!

Turns out we lost in 15 innings, but who cares.  It was still a fun evening.  I got home late, took a shower to cool off, and then crashed and slept like a baby.  Not a bad way to ease into the weekend, was it?  ;)

S

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Am I in the Twilight Zone?

Remember the old Rod Serling series?  It's like I'm here, but I'm not experiencing the same things everyone else is.


Yesterday I'm driving 70 MPH down the Dallas North Tollway and the radio traffic report says the DNT is stop-and-go from Frisco.  Huh?  Then later the weather report said winds were kicking up all over the Metroplex at 20, gusting to 30.  I looked out and saw flags hanging limp, and trees without a single leaf fluttering.


About 6:45 yesterday evening our building fire alarm went off, so I put on my shoes, grabbed the dog, and went outside.  (False alarm.)  I was the only one there.  The parking garage was full, but all the blinds in all the apartments were closed.   Even the social events calendar they stick in all our doors were untouched, except mine.


What was that old classic movie where the guy goes outside to find he's the only one in Metropolis?  He's screaming, "Where is everybody?", but nobody answers.  That's what it felt like here yesterday evening.  And walking the dog this morning....nothing.  Not even any early traffic on the roads.


Maybe I should just go with it and enjoy the peace and quiet.  But in a neighborhood this dense, it's just weird.


S

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Just looking back at some old photos...

I was browsing through some of my old photos this afternoon and several brought back some great memories:




Isn't this a great looking 1920's era storybook cottage?  This was taken in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California when we were there for our wedding back in 2006.  I love quaint old homes like this, and some day before I retire I want to build one.  The hard part won't be the actual construction, but dealing with the Planning and Zoning bureaucrats and Home Owners Association Nazi's beforehand.




I like to look at this one every year about this time to remind myself what it's like to walk around our neighborhood without sweating.  I know you Yankee-types think I'm crazy, but it was just a couple of inches of snow and the temps were only in the upper 20's, and doggone it, it felt so good to come home after a brisk walk without being drenched in sweat.  Oh well...such is this Texans fate.




Finally....my bride, all dolled up for my daughter's wedding.  Isn't she beautiful?  I truly have some wonderful women in my life. :)  


I've bored you enough.  Time to cruise into the evening.  G'nite all.


S

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"There's one born every minute" according to TX Governor Rick Perry

It worked for PT Barnum, and Texas Governor Rick Perry is hoping it will work for him, too.  Specifically, he's been the driving force behind a Christian revival scheduled for Houston's Reliant Stadium in August.  This is the same Rick Perry who DEFINITELY WILL NOT run for president....oh, wait, probably won't run for president....OK, he'll now consider running for president.  


I've never seen a more blatant, shameless, fishing-for-votes ploy. If he can pack the place and get 'em to crying like babies, then he'll be the darling of the evangelical right.  And he'll ride that pony all the way to the primaries next spring.  


Lemme fill you in on Governor Rick Perry:  He's a SNAKE!  He'll kiss your baby, steal your wallet, and feel up your wife at the same time, all while smiling and telling you what you want to hear.  He's been governor for the past 11 years, with 4 more on the way, only because Texas is a heavily Republican state.  Heck, that Weiner fella from NY could be elected governor of Texas if he'd put a "R" beside his name.


Now I'm all for Christians.  I are one.  But I wouldn't go to that revival for fear of being struck by lightning.  Or having my wife felt up.  (He's already picked my pocket.)  


Trust me...find someone else to vote for.


S

Her 15 minutes of fame



Yesterday as I was driving down the Dallas North Parkway I spotted this...um...zoo escapee?  (I happened to have my 'lil pocket camera at hand and traffic was moving slowly, as always.)  I've bought a lot of cars in my lifetime, but I don't ever recall seeing on the option list a leopard spot paint job. Have you? 


Changing course, yesterday Joan Perry (Charleston Daily Photo) had a link to a cute game, The Longevity Game.  You enter your height, weight, how much you smoke, drink, whether you drive like a maniac, etc, and it tells you how long you'll live. Of course everyone wants to see "100 years" or some such ripe old age, but based on a serious story I read over the weekend, that seems increasingly unlikely.


Long story short, there are too many people in the world.  The world's population has roughly doubled in my lifetime, and a baby born today can expect to see it double again in his lifetime, to 10-12 billion people.  (It's about 6.5 billion today.)


In centuries past various maladies...wars, plagues, famines... have conspired to hold the population in check, but not today.  Climate change...think drought in Australia, floods in the USA, heat waves in Europe, violent storms everywhere, etc...are making it difficult for the food supply to keep up with world population gains.  Plus all these new people want their piece of the pie such as cars, a comfortable place to live, and other creature comforts, all requiring more mining for raw materials, polluting production facilities, roads, all dictating less arable land for agriculture.  The vicious circle just goes on and on.


Not to sound all doomy and gloomy, but maybe we should set our sights on a more modest number of years to roam the earth than The Longevity Game suggests we should expect. One way or another, it's going to catch up with us.


"Quality" and "quantity" are two very different things.  Party on.  :) 


S

Monday, June 6, 2011

Well...DUH!

I wonder how much Harvard spent on this gem of a research project?.......


Harvard report: Housing recovery hinges on return of demand


Really?  I coulda told 'em that for half of what they paid one of their tenured eggheads, I'm sure.  Must have been a government funded study.  Jeez!


S