Monday, March 31, 2014

Dang, I missed it. And I reeeeeeally need me some rattlesnake, too :(

Why didn't one of you remind me?  You know I'm bad about remembering dates.  Two weeks ago was the Sweetwater Jaycees 56th annual Rattlesnake Roundup.  And for the 56th consecutive year I missed it.  DOH!

This is a Western Diamondback rattlesnake.  This is what the mean, nasty little bastards look like. 


And people really do go out and "round them up".  But not me.  I don't have the requisite rattlesnake tattoo or the decided bravery / lack of good sense it demands.

Sweetwater is just west of Abilene, TX, which is quite a ways west of Foat Wuth, which is just 30 miles west of Dallas.  It's in West Texas, an area my dad always said he would be happy to give back to the Indians if they would take it.  It's sparsely populated, and yes, rattlesnakes really do outnumber people there by a wide margin.

For me West Texas is a love / hate sort of place.  I went to college there (in Lubbock) and had a great time, probably due to the fact that it was 363 miles away (or as my Yankee friends might say, "4 states over") from my parents. 


On the negative side, they have some killer dust storms there.  Today the fancy-pants meteorologists call them "haboobs".  We always just called them dust storms 'cause we giggled when we said "haboobs".

And there are lots of rattlesnakes out there.  I cringe now thinking about all the times I went backpacking and rock climbing in Palo Duro Canyon; I was probably within easy striking distance for some of the little bastards, but never realized it at the time.  Ignorance really IS bliss.  :)

Now I read there is a big controversy regarding how the rattlesnake roundup-ers round up their rattlers.  It was apparently common for them to pump gasoline fumes into the little underground dens where the reptiles resided, which brought them to the surface and easy capture. 

Now the PETA folks say that's cruel and unusual punishment and want it stopped.  I say getting bitten by a 5' long rattlesnake is cruel and unusual, too, so go protest THAT! 

I hardly think killing off a few thousand rattlesnakes is going to put them on the endangered list.  It would be like saying putting out a few thousand rat traps is going to eradicate all the rats in NYC.  Ha....NOT!

As you might imagine, the state licensed rattlesnake catchers are incensed.  (So if Gov Rick "Pretty Boy" Perry is so against government regulation, why do rattlesnake catchers have to be licensed?)  

*sigh*  I dunno.  I'll let the scientist-types decide this one.  I'm gonna try and not think about it and instead go have me some fried rattlesnake for dinner.  What's that?  We're fresh out of rattlesnake?  OK then, I'll just have chicken.  :)


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Just kickin' back....

For once I have nothing bad to say about our Texas weather.  Nothing at all.  Right now it's perfect!  Saturday was one of those Chamber of Commerce days where promises of....well....anything wouldn't be enough to coax you back inside.

Yesterday was the first arts festival of the year, and as luck would have it it was just a couple miles up the road from us in beautiful downtown Frisco.

It wasn't a big show at all, nor was it even a judged show, but it was a show.  And as we haven't been to one in 6 months,  I'll take it.  The morning began sweater cool, but it quickly warmed up into the low 70's.  Here is K holding Luke the Wonder Dog, who for a while became an unwitting therapy dog. 

All day long people were trooping over to visit with K and The Lukester.  Pay attention single guys....little dogs are a chick magnet!  (Don't worry, I had them both on a short leash  :)

The setting was our downtown City Hall plaza.  This little country (?) town has blossomed in just a decade from this... this.  

Fifteen years ago our city fathers hustled themselves a giant shopping mall, which is today the city's sales-tax-producing cash cow, enabling us to build ourselves monuments like this opulent City Hall / Library complex.  (Unfortunately many of our residents have let their heads grow to match our city hall's proportions, too.)

We didn't buy anything because the things that appealed to me / us all cost up into four figures.  Ouch!  Instead we pooled our liquid assets and drove over to Hook, Line, and Sinker for some....umm....

....liquid assets.  And some shrimp, catfish, hush puppies, and fries, too.

In the coming weeks we have more art shows in Deep Ellum, Southlake, Foat Wuth, and Cottonwood.  And I'll probably sneak in a Cars and Coffee, also.  

Springtime in Texas is pretty sweet.  Just wish it could last longer.  :)


Saturday, March 29, 2014

They call me "The Hangin' Judge"

Do I have the most inconsiderate neighbors in the world or is this common everywhere else, too?

At the other end of that leash is a dog owner looking around to see if anyone was watching their dog poop.  If they think not, they can't leave the scene of the crime fast enough.

Listen up people:  There are many facets to responsible dog ownership.  You need to love them and give them attention.  You need to feed them healthy food.  You need to give them plenty of water. You need to see to it they get regular medical care.  

You need to kept them clean.  You need to provide them shelter from extreme weather.  You need to keep control of them.  AND YOU NEED TO PICK UP THEIR CRAP WHEN THEY DEPOSIT IT ALL OVER THE NEIGHBORHOOD.  

If you can't live up to any one of those responsibilities, YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE A DOG!

This morning when I was walking Luke the Wonder Dog I saw a lady standing there while her dog was offloading last night's dinner.  Obviously she didn't see me, because as soon as her pooch finished she hustled off leaving the mess where it lay.

After a few steps we made eye contact (she was still a half block away) and I raised up a little "poopie bag" (available free from dispensers positioned on every street corner) and waved it.  She looked away and scooted off double time.

Grrrrr!  They need to put me in charge for a while.  I'd shape them up!

 "Enjoy your weekend, Ma'am."

Good dog. :)


Thursday, March 27, 2014

"But daaaaad, all the other kids have one. I need one, too. Pleeeeeze?"

OK, I readily admit I'm not a techie.  I hear about new gadgets every day that can do things that don't need doing and wonder, "Why?"  And then I get trampled by the stampede of people rushing to buy these gadgets that do things that don't need doing.  Go figure.

It seems to me the gizmo makers are really scratching their butts these days trying to figure out how to sell people "new and improved" versions of things they already have that are so new they're still in warranty.  Their latest ploy:  Cellphones with curved screens.

"Dad, come check this has a curved screen!"

"Oh dear gawd.  What have you done now?  You sat on it, didn't you?  If I've told you once I've told you a thousand times, don't put your phone in your back pocket.  You'll sit on it and break it."

"No dad.  It's new.  I bought it this way.  It's already pre-sat"

"Please tell me you got it off the 'defective / gently used' shelf.  I mean, it IS broken."

"No, it isn't broken.  It's supposed to be this way."

"You paid full price for it that way?"

"Full price?  No!  I paid a premium.  Innit cool?"

"No, it isn't 'cool'.  You got screwed.  You bought a used phone that overheated and partially melted!"

"But it came this way from the factory."

"Bullshit.  If it came from the factory like that, they have a serious quality control problem."

*sigh*  "I read about it in Gizmo Today.  LG has been developing this technology for 3 years."

"No, LG has been dreaming up this story ever since a whole load of their cell phones got hot and warped on the boat ride over."

In my day we called it "putting lipstick on a pig."

I don't get it.

My advice:  Buy LG stock.  Lots of it.  Now.  This is gonna be BIG!  :)


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mom's home cooking....Mmmmmmm!


My mom was an absolutely wonderful person.  If she had been Catholic, I'm sure she would have been made a Saint years ago.  The only blemish on her resume might be her cooking skills.  (Do Saints have to cook or are they assigned a personal chef?)

This photo in the newspaper today pointed out that casseroles are making a comeback.    I'm still traumatized by the "casseroles" my mom tried to feed me when I was  a kid.  I still have to approach casseroles like a dog sniffing something new in his food bowl before he actually tastes it.

Anything mom tried to cook never seemed to be able to hold its shape on the plate.  Everything seemed to just run together into a giant glob.  She tried to cover herself by calling it a "casserole".   I always thought "casserole" was just a French word for "glob".

Back in the day all her casseroles had two main ingredients:  Cream of Mushroom soup and soggy green beans.  To this day when K gives me a grocery list and it mentions Cream of Mushroom soup, I recoil.  And green beans still cause me to cringe, too.  

Chunky, tasteless tuna was also a common ingredient.  And that crusty stuff on top?....I think it's supposed to be crispy bread crumbs or something, right?  Mom's tasted like slightly charred sawdust.

Mom didn't like to cook and didn't want to learn.  (I'm not talking behind her back.  She laughed about her lack of culinary skills, too.)  The highlight of her day was when my dad would come home from work and ask her / us, "Where do you want to go for dinner tonight?" 


She did manage to hit a home run with her spaghetti meat sauce, and she could slice a mean tomato.  Oh, and she made her own barbecue sauce.  It was so good the little hometown newspaper did a story about it / her.

K is an excellent cook.  She's served up a casserole or two, and despite my original trepidation, they were actually very good.  Maybe time does heal all wounds.  :)

Love you mom.  :)


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

When computers strike....

Here's an original hypothesis (mine) that could explain the disappearance of MH370 that has a less-than-a-needle-in-a-haystack chance of ever being proven:  Unknown hackers gained remote control of the jetliner, leaving the pilots powerless to control their craft.  The hackers disabled certain systems and steered the plane in a direction of their choosing.  

The pilots couldn't control turn, climb, descent, or even communicate their dilemma.  It was a beta test to see if they could actually do it.  Then the hackers crashed it into the most remote spot they could think of that would make recovery all but impossible.

It's technically possible.  As a demonstration some "good guy" hackers have shown they can get into the computers that control a car's functions and apply the brakes, turn the steering, shut off the power, etc.  (Read more about it via THIS link.)  With such reliance on onboard computers, cars, planes, power grids, even home appliances can be tapped into and subverted.  The possibilities are real and endless.

Can you imagine the hysteria that would paralyze us if we thought bad guys could take control of our transportation system and cause wrecks willy-nilly?  Transportation is critical to advanced civilizations.  The mobility of people, and more importantly commerce, defines modern society.  Lose that ability and we're screwed.

Of course, if investigators found this to be the cause of the MH370 crash they couldn't admit it, as just the knowledge such a thing was possible would paralyze us.  

"Live by computer, die by computer" as they say.  My yellow pad and #2 pencil are lookin' pretty good now, huh?  :)

aka The Technological Neanderthal

EDIT:  As I was composing this K came into the Great Room and said, "Oops.  I think I changed the channel on your TV by mistake.  Sorry."  It seems she was in the bedroom and, using a cell phone app, changed the channel on the wrong TV.    *cue The Twilight Zone music*

Monday, March 24, 2014

Youth and vigor are no match for old age and treachery

Do you recognize her?  I'll bet not, unless you read the same obscure "Where are they now" article online I did yesterday.

I've never been too conscious of age, or birthdays, or getting old.  It's gonna happen anyway, so just roll with it, right?  Wrinkles happen, hair takes a vacation, sometimes teeth take up residence in a glass in the bathroom overnight.  It's all good.

But that article yesterday really got me to thinking about how old all the sports / entertainment / news icons of my yoot are, or would have been, today.  Yikes!

Elvis, had he lived, would have been 79.

Captain Kangaroo (Bob Keeshan) would have been 89.

Paul Newman would have been 89 also.  Paul Newman!

Sophia Loren is 79.  Lemme say it again....SEVENTY NINE!

Henry Winkler, aka Fonzi, aka The Fonz....68.

Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, would have been 88.

Roger Staubach (Dallas QB) is 72.

Raquel Welch is 73.
Diane Sawyer, the TV news anchor, is 68.

Frankie Avalon is 73.

Little Richard is 81.

This old geezer is 63.

Chubby Checker is 72.

Terry Bradshaw (Pittsburgh QB) acts a forever young 65.

One of my main teenage crushes, Leslie Gore, is 67.  (Unfortunately for me I wasn't "her type".)

And this beautiful lady, whose picture adorned many a young boy's room back in the 1960's, is the same as the first photo shown above....79 year old Bridget Bardot.

Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick....just roll with it.  

All my "beautiful people" are....umm....still beautiful. ;)


Saturday, March 22, 2014

It's all a matter of perspective

I'm sure if I lived in Minnesota or Pennsylvania or somewhere in New England I would be sick of winter too, and would be giddy thinking about all the things I was going to do outside once it got warmer.

But I don't. I live in Texas (which all things considered is a pretty good place to live).  Yesterday it hit 82 degrees here, and I broke a sweat.  Just thinking about what's to come debilitates me.

I'm Soooooo over summer.

What's that?  It's just now Spring?  Summer won't even arrive for three more months?  DOH!

Maybe I need a motor home so I can just keep moving along, chasing cool comfortable weather wherever it goes.  I suppose it's just my inner Don Quixote tilting at windmills again.


Friday, March 21, 2014

"If I had some film I'd take a picture if I had a camera"

That title probably makes good sense to an electric car engineer.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) has done tests to determine the effects of heat and cold on the battery life of electric cars, and the results might make a thinking person wonder, "Why bother?" 

Electric plug-in type cars, with the exception of Tesla, have a range of between 38 and 87 miles, or at least that's what their manufacturers claim.  

But according to the AAA test, if the battery is in a cold climate, that number drops by an average of 57%, to a range of 16-50 miles.  In a hot climate the range is degraded by an average of 33%, to just 25-58 miles.  Which I guess isn't so bad if everywhere you go is downhill.

And it gets better: Two of the cars tested, the Mitsubishi and the Ford, had a dedicated "battery temperature maintenance system" (to heat or cool the battery) which in theory should enable the cars to maintain their original range estimate, right?  WRONG!

Researchers found that with only one source of power in the car....the power the temperature maintenance system, the energy the system sucks from the battery to heat/cool the battery reduces the charge of the battery which....wait for it....shortens the range of the car.  Well DUH!  It's like watching a dog chase his tail.

Here's to you, electric car engineers.*  You rock!  :)

Happy Weekend everyone!

* I'm sure they're brilliant.  It's just that their theoretical world hasn't caught up with the REAL world.  (I think Tesla snapped up the few that "get it".) 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Poor quality lasts long after the cheap price is forgotten

I like watching those home building/remodeling TV shows.  The granddaddy of them all is This Old House.  It's easy for me to watch and instantly pick out the "builders" from the "pretty boys".  Guys like Norm Abrams and Tom Silva know their stuff.  I doubt guys like original host Bob Vila know which end of a hammer to hold.

The ones that build a house for a deserving owner while they're on vacation for a few days scare me.  Think about it...would you want a house built in 4 days?  There would be workers crawling all over each other to get their part done and get the hell out, quality be damned!  In 4 days the paint isn't even dry yet.

Now there's a new show that I'll admit I haven't watched yet, but sounds interesting, called Catch a Contractor.  Love it!  There are indeed a bunch, maybe even a majority of contractors who need to be caught....and tarred and feathered.

BUT....IMO there should also be a companion show called Stupid takes two to tango.  Here's an example of what happens to me often:

Mr & Mrs B (previous customers from 16 years ago) came back to me and said they wanted a new home built.  They had a budget of $X, wanted Y square feet, and wanted ABC amenities.  

We went to the architect and began the design process, but along the way they kept adding footage (10% more) and amenities (now they wanted ABCDEFGHI & J), but they would absolutely NOT raise their budget.  They said if I couldn't do it, there was another builder they had talked to that could.  

Adios Mr & Mrs B!

My brother recently ran into Mrs B in a local store and she rather sheepishly volunteered that things hadn't gone exactly smoothly.  Bro later checked the public records and found that the B's had to go back to their bank and renegotiate their loan upwards twice, totaling over $100K.  And to hear them tell it it was all the contractors fault.  

Their cheapness got them what the deserved....a cheap, crappy house!  The builder told them what they wanted to hear to get the job, but could then only hire whatever left-over labor was still out there.  Same with materials.  

He was a crook for doing business that way, and the B's had larceny in their heart, too, trying to get lots of extra stuff for nothing. 

Cry me a river.  They deserve each other.

Do yourself a favor before you build or remodel: RESEARCH carefully.  Three references aren't enough.  Get at least a dozen.  Call them all.  Call their subcontractors and see if they pay their bills.  If they don't you'll find lots of subs who have only worked for that contractor for a few months.  Longevity is good.

Check public records to see if they have liens filed against them.  A Better Business Bureau A+ record doesn't mean what it used to.  (Many claim the BBB is now just interested in signing up new dues-paying members.)

And THINK! You're not going to get a Mercedes for the price of a Chevy, I don't care what the salesman says.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

KISS....Keep It Simple Stupid

We tend to make things more complicated than they need be.  Case in point: the search for the missing Malaysian Airlines triple-7.  My friend Elaine Webb shared on Facebook an article by an experienced Canadian pilot, Chris Goodfellow, which gave a simple and entirely credible explanation of what might have happened.

He pointed out that pilots, especially those as experienced as the Malaysian Airlines pilots, are constantly updating in their mind where the nearest divert airfields are in case of an emergency.  This would include airfields ahead, beside, and behind them.  This way if something goes wrong, they don't have to think where they could go....they already KNOW where to go.

He theorizes that there was some sort of fire, probably electrical, that caused them to pull the circuit breaker(s) to identify and control the fire.  This could have caused the interruptions in communications.  Then the pilot turned towards the nearest, longest runway in the area (13,000') at Pulau Lankawi, which is why he made the sudden left turn. 

He didn't return to Kuala Lampur because he knew he would have to cross over an 8,000' mountain ridge, and he might not be able to make it.  His divert field at Pulau Lankawi was on the same approximate heading (in the direction) he was going after his turn.  Mr. Goodfellow believes the plane crashed somewhere between its last known location and Pulau Lankawi, and that's where investigators should be looking.

But what about reports that land radar had the plane crossing back over the Malaysian peninsula and heading back out into the Indian Ocean?  Just today it was said many believe there are too many powerful radars along that route for a plane to get through quietly unannounced.  Hmmmm....

Interesting hypothesis.


There was a story in the news this morning that was accompanied by this picture:

The caption called this "the face of cold authority".


Then it dawned on me....Putin looks like the ice-cold villain in the James Bond movie Casino Royale.  Look at the expressionless eyes and the tight lipped mouth.  Let's hope Pootie Pooh suffers a similar fate as Bond's nemesis.

Hump Day!  :)


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

They drive a Land Yacht, but want to negotiate for a cheeseburger

Consumers are funny creatures.  Some will throw bags of money at some things on their wish list, while others will fight tooth and nail to penny pinch on something else. 

The wealthy don't seem to bat an eye:

Bentley Flying Spur....$200,000+.  "Want the dual-color instrument lighting for only $3,500 more?"
"Sure, I'm worth it.  Put it on my tab."  

"Want your initials embroidered on your headrest for another $2,500?"

"But of course."

Jimmy Choo shoes...*let's see....material, $35; labor, 1 Third World guy in a sweat shop, 1 hour. $.95; Jimmy Choo label, $3*  "For you Madam, $795."

"These, and some in blue, too, please."

And those on the other end of the economic spectrum seem willing to cough up whatever they're asked, too.

Tract house....."What's that sir?  You want the shutters painted a color other than the gray of the rest of the house?  Oh, gee....let's see, there's the labor to bring in a specialist from East St. Louis, a special order from Le Home Depot for some designer special-tint paint....that'll be $525."

"Well, that's what the Mrs wants, so I guess I can go sell some more blood."

Meanwhile, the customers I seem to attract, who get their ideas off the internet and those decorating magazines at the bookstore....

"So you want to add a tiered media room over your garage, complete with a home theater system, mood lighting, a fully stocked bar and a bath?  Yes, of course, Sir.  And what is your budget?"

"3,500.  And if you play your cards right there's a 20 in it for you, too.  You're welcome."

I must have "stoopid" written on my forehead.  I should go look.


Monday, March 17, 2014

Now you see you don't

 I love weather....nothing destructive of course, but just lots of lightning, thunder, and rain coming down in sheets.  Saturday evening I was like a kid on Christmas morning when a line of heavy thunderstorms rolled through.

In Texas, more often than not these storms come through in long, narrow north/south bands moving from west to east.  It will storm wildly for half an hour,'s over.  Just like that.

I was impressed by this "supersonic goose" flying in from the northwest.  It looks like it has its wings swept back like an F-14.

And then, pretty much as fast as it blew in.... was gone.
(Full disclosure: these beautiful photos were taken by K. :)  


My Deep Thought for the week:

These are interesting times we live in.  I've always enjoyed studying international relations.  It's like a giant chess game:  The smart players plan many moves ahead instead of just reacting to the last move of their opponent.  


Yesterday Vladimir Putin made another move towards "check".  The people of Crimea voted to join Russia, and of course Russia will immediately accept.  Then they will no longer be an "occupier"; Crimea will be an integral part of the Russian Federation.

Shortly the ethnic majority in eastern Ukraine, also Russian speaking, will start down that same road.  Those regions will sooner rather than later demand an election, the conclusion forgone, and Russian troops currently sitting just across their common border will move in to "protect" them.

The US, EU, and NATO will sit on their hands as usual while all this happens.  They have the ability to act, but lack the will to do anything.  Which is just as well since those regions mean more to Russia than they do to the West, and any efforts to intercede would be doomed from the get-go.

Fortunately for the West that will be as far as it goes.  Any attempt by Russia to take over the rest of Ukraine would be received much the same as the treatment the Rooskies and the US experienced in Afghanistan....there would be a guerrilla behind every rock, something they can't afford.

I'm sure Russia would like to regain control of their former Baltic republics, but they are now integrated as full members of NATO and the European Union, and the West probably would get physically involved there if push came to shove.

That's my prediction.  Let's see if I read it right or not.  And If it turns out I did read it right, that begs the question, if dumb s__t little me sitting here in Frisco, TX can figure it out, why can't those overpaid gubment weenies in Washington figure it out, too?  Why are they always caught flat footed?


Saturday, March 15, 2014

That's my story and I'm stickin' with it!

I get razzed a lot for my rather pathetic attempt at retirement.  I work a while, then I coast a while, then rinse and repeat.  Here's why I can't / don't just hang it up completely:

First, K is still working (did I mention she just got a BIG promotion / raise?), so we can't just hop in the car and drive off for weeks or months at a time.

Second, while I did officially retire a year and a half ago....I resigned as company president and turned it all over to my brother....he does still need help in one important area.  For all those years I handled the operations (actual construction) while bro handled the "office administration", and there is a ton of office administration.  The paperwork burden just keeps growing and growing!

My brother's weakness is his lack of deep understanding of the structural aspects of building.  I'm talking about the foundation, framing, installation of mechanicals, etc, and understanding the building codes.  

When we have a home just beginning construction I come out of hibernation and handle things up through getting inspections.  After that it's pretty much cosmetic....picking paint and stain colors, marble, granite, fixtures, etc.  Bro is great at working with customers on all that.  That's when I can take a step back and coast.

While I no longer have any day-to-day responsibility, I still own half the company and derive income from it, so of course I want to see it succeed.  We're too small a company to hire someone else full-time to do what I did.  It's a nicely profitable business if you watch your overhead, but another split of the $$$ won't work, so.....

And finally, I actually like building homes.  I enjoy watching things progress day-to-day all the way to completion.  I like driving through a neighborhood we built in 5 or 10 years ago and saying to myself, "We built that one, and that one, and that one...".   And when one of those old customers comes back and asks us to build them another, it's hard to say no to a friend.

If I can just steer clear of all the #$^& paperwork, I rather enjoy the work / retire rotation.  We'll see how long it stays fun.  :)


Friday, March 14, 2014

"To be, or not to be? the question."

Wha...?  I think what Bill Shakespeare meant was "To be retired, or not to be retired?  That is the question."  Lemme answer that:  Retirement is OK for a while, but occasionally it's nice to do something a little more challenging.

One of our previous customers, M/M "W", called on us to make another addition to the home we built for them just 2 years ago.  They're bringing in "mom", but I don't think they want her right on top of them, so they bought the lot next door and are building her her own quarters.


"Quarters"?  It's a good sized house all by itself.

It was about a month ago that we began construction, drilling 33 piers (steel reinforced concrete shafts that go down to bedrock) to support the foundation.

Then we put in all the PVC drain pipes and copper water lines, inspected it, and covered it with a moisture membrane.

After the foundation set-up was then inspected and approved by the design engineer we brought in the concrete pumper truck and things got interesting.

This is how the concrete comes out the other end of the hydraulic pump 60' away from the truck.

It's kinda cool to watch as it slowly oozes down into the deep beams, rather like molten lava flowing downhill. 

After the concrete had cured for a week and the cables had been tensioned (stretched), the carpenters began framing.  This is where we were as of yesterday.


It's funny how a home seems to grow larger in size as work progresses.  The slab frankly isn't very impressive, but when framing starts and you can get a sense of perspective, it blossoms.  From this angle it seems to stretch for a city block.  (That's the existing home we're tying in to.)

My job in all this?  I walk around with a clipboard and a set of blueprints under my arm.  Occasionally I unroll the plans (making sure I have them turned right-side-up....appearance is everything, you know) and look critically at something, then roll them back up.  

I also walk around, nod, smile, and say "Hola" a lot.  They call me "patron", which I think means "the one who brings the donuts".  

I think I have the work / retire ratio just about right.  When either starts getting a bit tedious I switch over to the other for a while.  Right now the work is good.  Maybe in a few weeks / months I'll retire again for a while.  One nice thing about learn to appreciate weekends again. 

Speaking of weekends, have a great one all you fellow working stiffs.  :)