Friday, May 25, 2012

Random Thoughts

Today's random thoughts...

I have started bringing headphones with me to Starbucks so I can listen to my music rather than theirs while I surf the web.  It's not that I don't like Starbuck's selections, it's that I hate them, and they blare them at such high volume that I can't seem to block it out...until now.  Ah, thank you inventor of the ear buds, for another service rendered.  Now you have improved the quality of my workouts and my time consuming public wi-fi.

American Idol has lost my interest, but Heather watches the show still, and I caught much of the finale, including a vocally unimpressive but visually unforgettable performance by past winner Fantasia Barrino.  Apparently Taylor Hicks was unavailable, so they had to turn to Fantasia to resurrect one of the least successful Idols of days gone by.  For her performance, someone actually persuaded her that a glossy black sequined body hugging outfit would look great on her, which may have been true 40 pounds ago.  Needless to say, I couldn't help but think of what a rhinoceros would look like if it crawled it's way out of a tar pit.  It really was that bad.  You can probably find a clip on You Tube if you don't believe me.  If you watch it, let me know if Fantasia actually sang any words besides "yeah, yeah, yeaaaaah".

As I pulled into a Taco Bell last night for my first meal of the day at close to 7 pm yesterday (it was a hectic day - strike that, week - at work) an actual Mexican couple was leaving.  I don't know if I've ever seen a real Mexican  eating at a Taco Bell, but this is as close as I've gotten.  If only I'd been there a few minutes earlier.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Just Over the Horizon

During a dinner with several co-workers this week the topic of retirement came up, due to the fact that one of  the Colonels I work for is retiring from the Air Force in a few months.  This has had me thinking a bit about the fact that I will be retirement eligible in 4 years, and what I want to do when I grow up.  Or at least when my time of serving my country in the military comes to a close.

Granted, 4 years is a long time, as I learned when I joined the Army (don't worry mom, it's only 4 years!  Oh, how long those 4 years were).  But time has a way of slipping by quickly.  The idea that the next time we have a presidential election after this fall I could be a full-time Starbucks customer is hard to wrap my head around.  I have contemplated everything from teaching to small business owner, and I really don't feel any closer to figuring out what I want to do with my time.  I may need to buy a magic 8 ball to help with my decision when the time comes.

Add to that the fact that Heather and I have to figure out where we want to live, and it gets even more complicated.  If we don't have to relocate due to a particular job, the canvas of where to reside is a big blank.  We've been mulling around living somewhere in the Northeast, along the lines of New Hampshire or Pennsylvania.  I definitely want to live somewhere with significantly less human beings than San Antonio.  It's not that I don't lie people, I just like them in small doses.  When there's a hundred of them in cars and trucks parked behind a red light in front of me I find that less than desirable.  I realized recently that coming from a tiny town has molded me with a preference for more rural settings, and fortunately Heather shares my love of nature over concrete.

What I look forward to the most is having more free time though.  One day this week I actually got excited and did a fist pump as I was driving away from the office and thinking "Yes, I'm actually getting out of here at a decent time!"  Upon realizing that it was just after 6 pm, I concluded I've let my standards drop considerably.  Although I don't mind working long hours when the work is rewarding, which is why I don't mind the hours I'm currently putting in, there's something alluring about every day being like a weekend.  Wearing jeans and a t-shirt all day would be pretty awesome as well. Pretty awesome indeed.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Something's Missing

When I was a kid I had a brother who loved doing puzzles, and another brother who loved doing models.  Being the youngest, I tried my hand at both hobbies, but I must say painting and assembling a miniature automobile out of plastic parts just isn't my thing.  Not so much because it is difficult or boring - I'm pretty patient and easily entertained - I just don't get a lot of satisfaction over having a tiny Ford Fairlane when I'm done exacto knifing various parts from their holding cells and Supergluing them together for hours on end.

I do like doing puzzles, though.  When I was younger 500 pieces was my limit, but as I've grown more sedentary and also realized there are techniques for making the process easier, such as arranging the pieces by general color and shape, I have taken on some 750 and even a 1000 piece puzzle.

Unfortunately I have found the puzzle section of most stores to be lacking.  I don't know if I just have a hankering for the kinds of pictures that were on the 1970s and 80s era puzzles of my childhood, or if I just don't particularly like dolphins,unicorns or Thomas Kincaid paintings, but I took to the internet a few months ago to try and find some puzzles with the pictures of barns and watermills that I grew up loving so much.

This week I have finally been wrapping up my final purchase, a 1200 piece beast with a lovely picture of a small village in the Alps.  As I am approaching the end, I can't help but notice that I have a lot of red pieces left, which corresponds with the fall colors in one section of the puzzle.  However, I have holes that, unless there is a jarring visual dissonance in the mountains and meadow that I think should be shades of purple and green, reveals the disturbing fact that there are some missing puzzle pieces.  I really don't want to do a 1197 piece puzzle, nor do I expect to gaze with satisfaction upon a view of the mountains with three white gaps staring back at me.

 I suppose this is the chance one takes when buying a used puzzle, but really, how do you lose three pieces to a puzzle?  You take the pieces out of the box, put them all together, then disassemble and put back in the box.  I can understand a piece falling to the floor unnoticed during this process, but three?  Although to be honest, I think having just one piece missing would be even more aggravating.  The sad thing is, I will have to throw this puzzle away when I'm done, because there's no way I'm doing it again knowing it is incomplete.  And I can't stop now, with 40 or so pieces left to go.  I just have to keep trudging on, trying to reach an unattainable goal, all the while knowing I won't get there, like Bob Dole did when he won the Republican nomination for president.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Morrellian Empire

Because the Lt Colonel I work for is deployed to Afghanistan, I get the privilege of doing a Lt Col's job for 10 months for a Major's pay.  Not that I'm complaining.  For one thing, it's kind of rewarding to actually do what I always envisioned officer's doing, and besides, at times I feel a bit overpaid, so at least I'm earning my pay for a while.

A few weeks ago the Colonel in charge of my directorate let me know he was moving some additional folks into the division I'm temporarily running.  At the staff meeting that day when he made the announcement of their relocation, he noted that only one other division was larger than mine, and that only by one person.  A couple of minutes later, one of the folks from that division piped up that he should probably move over as well, since his primary duties better aligned with the other folks who were migrating.  The Col gave his assent, paused, and said "Now Brad has the biggest division.  I guess he's empire building over there."

This soon led to jokes about the "Morrellian Empire".  I take some solace in the fact that the boss wouldn't be joking about it if he really felt I was an "empire builder", and the subject has led to some good laughs.  The Col has a "to-do" board in his office, and one morning we discovered that someone put at the top of his list of future actions "Overthrow the Morrellian Empire".  Then there was the day I arrived a few minutes late to our staff meeting.  When my turn to update the boss came I started with a short apology for coming in late, which he dismissed with a wave of his hand and by saying "don't worry about it, you have an empire to run".

Apparently the joke is gaining legs.  Yesterday, after another long day at the office, I was headed to the parking lot after depositing my garbage at the dumpster (yes, the emperor still has to take out his own trash), and as a car was pulling out of the parking lot I noticed it was a new Lt Colonel who arrived here a couple of weeks ago.  As he drove up he rolled his window down and with a straight face proclaimed out the window "Long live the Empire!" then rolled his window up and drove away.  I couldn't help but laugh as I continued the trek to my car.  I just hope the empire doesn't collapse before my boss gets back from downrange to resume possession of his kingdom.