Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Watch the Stars Come Out

(August 28, 2007)

Warning - proud parent moment coming:
So after I got home from work and ate dinner, I headed outside to paint the house. We just had the siding replaced a month or so ago, but due to all of the rain in the Austin area, we haven't really been able to get out and get it painted. Almost $8,000 worth of work and lumber that's gonna start rotting if not protected! At some point while I'm out playing with the paint and the mosquito's my wife bathed our 4 year old and started the process of getting the little critter to bed. By the time I got into the house, cleaned up, and to her bed to kiss her good night, it's almost 100% dark outside.

The first thing I noticed as I walked into her room is that her curtains are pulled wide open.
The next thing I notice is that rather than at the head of the bed like most of us would have it, my daughter has moved her pillow to the side farthest away from the window, and she is laying sideways on the bed and starting up and out of the window.
"What ya doing with your pillow over there critter?" I asked her.
"I'm looking out the window," she said matter of factually, as if explaining something to an idiot.
"Not much to see up there is there?" I asked, knowing that her room is on the second floor and given the angle of the bed, all she can see is up and out.
"I'm watching for the stars Poppa. You wanna sit with me and watch the stars come out?"
Call me crazy, but that's got to be the one of the sweetest offers I have ever had! I sat behind her, next to her bed for a while, petting her hair and talking to her as we watched the stars come out to play. I suppose it's a good thing it was dark - it just wouldn't do to have her know how easy her Poppa tears up.
Have I mentioned that life is pretty good these days?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Life is Good


In responding to someone's post on CD.com, I was reminded of this and thought it might make a decent blog entry.

About a year and half ago, my daughter was in the hospital for a week with RSV aggravated by asthma. At 2 years old this can be a fairly serious situation, and of course my wife and I stayed with her in the hospital for the entire time. Any of you that have children will understand the torment you feel as a a parent when you watch your little one suffer and know there is nothing you can do to make it better.

At the time I had grown a little disenchanted with my job and perhaps to some extent with my life in general. I grew convinced that I could get a better paying job somewhere else, where my talents would be recognized, and everyone would acknowledge that I was awesome, etc, etc. I was clearly suffering from "The grass is greener on the other side of the hill" syndrome. and this event was a great wake up call. Even though I was scheduled to work with one of our largest customers here in Austin, my manager gave me zero grief and assured me that there was no problem with my staying with my daughter as long as it took. He flew another engineer in to cover the job I was supposed to be doing and put them up for the entire week while I stayed with my daughter.

Several times a day I had to walk by the waiting room for the children's surgery - any time I went to get clothes, get something to eat, etc. Every time you would see couples in the hall sobbing as they held each other waiting to find out if the most precious part of their life was going to make it or not. Those that weren't crying had the "thousand yard" stare, lost in their own misery, hopes, and fears. I started to wonder what they were going through, what was their story. I came to realize that more than likely, some of them had children that were NOT going to be all right. Some of them had children that had serious problems that were not going to be resolved now, but would linger on for months or years, and may well result in death.

This was a pivotal moment in my life when I realized that my life was GOOD, and two years later this lesson remains very vivid with me.
MY daughter WOULD be going home soon and she WOULD be all right.
My son, my wife, and myself were all in good health.
I have a wife who loves me as much as I love her an that's a lot.
I have a good home.
I like my job and they DO like and respect me and they proved it when the cards were down.
I suppose my point is this. If you feel like your life sucks, and you think you have it bad, try to remember that right now there are hundreds or thousands of couples around the world clinging to each other and sobbing. If you aren't one of them, you need to step back and realize that YOUR life is pretty darn good right now.

Monday, August 20, 2007

I met Nicole Meadows and Moon Baby!



I got to meet Nicole Meadows and Moon Baby - nanny nanny booh booh! It turns out that by happy
coincidence they are going to be in the Dallas Area the same day that I am going to be there.

Now that I have your attention, I'm gonna bore the hell outta ya. (Don't worry, we'll get back to that story in a second)

Frazzled. That was my day pretty much from start to end - frazzled.
I'd have to back up a little to put it into context and give you any idea why I was so frazzled.
I've been on the road for work three Saturdays in the last 30 days or so, then last week my flights home from my service call on Friday were screwed up with multiple delays. The plane coming in that was to be used for our flight out was late by 40 minutes. When it landed they had to call maintenance because a bird had the audacity to commit suicide on the wind shield. Flight takes off about an hour and a half late and I'm thinking I just might make my connection after all. EEEHHHHH - WRONG! The pilot comes on the intercom to explain that due to a storm we will be circling Atlanta for 45 minutes. Oh goody. Missed my connection and the next one going to Austin didn't leave until 10PM. WRONG - it was of course delayed and didn't leave until after 11PM. By the time I got my bag and my car and made the drive home it was after 2AM.

TMI follows - you might want to skip this paragraph.

/BEGIN TMI.
I think I mentioned that I have this wonderful condition called Erythema nodosum. More or less, it results in very large bruises just miraculously appearing all over my legs for no reason, no known cause, and no cure. Ironically enough it is a primarily female problem so perhaps fate is getting a kick out of it. Like "hey, watch this! This one wants to be a girl! Let's chuck 'em a curve ball and see how he likes it!"
Anyway, it got to the point where it hurt to stand and it hurt to sit - purty well screwed, so despite getting in so late I got up early and went to the Scott and White clinic to see what they could do for the swelling and they gave me steroids. Yeh, just what a guy trying to look female wants - steroids. NOT. These things make me just jittery and nervous as hell. I mean we are talking a crack addict on over drive. Not the energy the crack addict has mind you, just the jitters and jumpiness.
\END TMI

So Monday morning I head north to Dallas. Due to my work load the week before, I've never even had the chance to call the customer I'm going to visit and so I call him on the way. It turns out the problem he is having is NOT what he described to my manager, and not what my manager described to me. So an hour into my trip I have discovered that I probably don't have the appropriate parts to fix it. I'm burnt out, jumpy as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, and I know I'm headed for almost certain failure. In the Army we had a term for this - it's SNAFU. Many people have seen this acronym but I bet a lot of you may not know what it stands for: "Situation Normal, All F#&$@d Up!"
I get to our office in Dallas where I have been asked to help them set up a test stand I created years ago to work with a new instrument. Of course the instrument is from a huge customer of ours, they need it ASAP, and it can't be tested until I set the stand up for it. I had thought this was going to be a simple matter of adding some info to a data file, a 10 minute job. Wrong. I had to actually edit the software, and we are talking about a very old compiler called QBasic and I had long since moved away from it and can hardly remember anything about it or the program I had written using it. I had expected it to take 10 minutes - It took all day.
So I get to the hotel at about 430PM and start to get ready to meet Nicole and MB for dinner. This was an unusual situation for me and I just couldn't be pleased with me or my appearance. Most of the time when I go to meet someone for the first time, it's someone I've chatted with once or twice, or maybe someone that a friend has recommended. While I wouldn't care to be thought poorly of by anyone, I'm not going to loose any sleep if most of these folks aren't impressed with me. Nicole and MB are different for me. I've chatted with them a lot on a forum, in yahoo 360, and Yahoo Messenger over the last few months. These are people that I have grown to like and respect over the internet and their opinion MATTERS to me. It doesn't help that given the popularity of their 360 pages, I feel like these two are almost famous. I'm going to dinner with THE Nicole and MB! So several hours later I give up on the makeup and decide this is as good as it gets.

Thinking we were to meet at 7:30PM, I called Nicole just before 7 to see if they were almost there. This is where I find out that apparently I was even more frazzled than I had thought because I was supposed to meet them at 6:30 to 7, NOT 7:30 to 8 as I had been thinking. On her first night out, I have left Nicole sitting in a restaurant with out the support of another T friend she had been counting on. Way to go Kimberly - your off to a great start with these folks.

So I get there late and as I walk in the door I see this very pretty young lady walking up to me with a smile - it's Moon Baby (MB)! She looks wonderful and is wearing a great dress that is just the right combination of cute and flirty. She is SO adorable! Kind and wonderful eyes that are so expressive - it would be easy to get lost looking in there. One look in her eyes and you just knew that Nicole had chosen (or been chosen) well.

So we say all the usual things for people that have just met and she walks me back to their table where I meet Nicole. Nicole is just as you would imagine from her 360 page - intelligent, well spoken, and beautiful. She ALSO has very deep and caring eyes - it's easy to see part of what these two may have seen n each other. As you may have noticed, I'm big on eyes. I'm a firm believer that you can "judge" (for lack of a better word) the character of a person by using very few words and taking a good long look in their eyes. They are good people - you know that immediately.
So I want to describe what they are like but they don't fit comfortably into most of the categories you would typically try and use! Well, let's give it a shot anyway! They are both skinny, and yes I hated them for it! :-) Nicole is a bit on the tall side, MB is . . . not. In less than 5 minutes with MB you felt like part of the family. She is smart, friendly, talkative, animated, and expressive. Almost immediately MB is sharing herself with you, no act, no facade, no mask - you are talking to the real person.
Nicole is every bit as friendly but maybe a bit more reserved. She gives the impression that she taking it all in and is just filled with pent up energy waiting to go BOOM!. Like a race horse just before the gate is opened, or a muscle car just before it roars to life as you turn the key that first click. She just radiates this pent up energy, this attitude of excitement, and it's infectious. I remember my first night out around people - I was scared to death. Not Nicole. She sat there smiling, appearing completely comfortable and pretty much giving the impression that she damn well belonged out in the world.
We had a great meal, talked a lot, and just enjoyed the evening! I hope we will get to meet again, perhaps when I am not so frazzled so that maybe I wont make a fool outta myself!
Wonderful people - I hope you get the chance to meet them.

Got back to the hotel . . . and discovered my card key doesn't work in the door. Didn't matter how many times I slid the darn think in and out of the lock, I kept getting the red led and the locked door. I got stubborn thinking if I just keep trying it's bound to take it sooner or later! Well, no, no it wasn't bound to work, and no it didn't. All I could think of as I headed down the steps to the front desk was "Yup, SNAFU, no question, SNAFU". Of course things are getting better - as far as disasters while dressed, this sure beats the hell outta getting your car towed or stuck on a curb.

What do ya know, the folks behind the counter treated me just like a "normal" human being when I walked up, put the key card on the desk and said "This wonderful little widget no worky". She asks me for my room number, then runs the card through the programmer. She looks at me and proves she is sharp and thoughtful! Rather then say "Mr Huddle?" she pauses and says instead "Last name Huddle?" I almost giggled as I said "uh huh" and wanted to hug her just for caring enough to make that little gesture.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fish for the Sharks

(19 Aug 2007)

So last night I'm putting my (almost) 4 year old daughter to bed. It's a whole routine where we take a bath, brush teeth and hair, and read a book - usually something real exciting like "Red Fish, Blue Fish", "Cat in the Hat", etc. Anyway, somewhere along the line we wound up talking about sharks. It's funny how you find out what sticks with the little ones, because she launched into this whole talk about how sharks are scary and eat people, but your safe if your in a (under water) cage . I didn't want her to have nightmares so I knew I had to say something to ease her mind, so I also took the chance to try and toss a little environmental education out there.
"Sweetheart, sharks don't really like to eat people," I said
"Then how come they bite people?" she asks with that innocent little voice.
"Well, they are VERY hungry!" I told her. "You see sharks eat fish and people eat eat fish too. The problem is people are so VERY good at catching and eating fish that we aren't leaving enough for the sharks, so they are very hungry!" Okay, okay, I really have no idea if our fishing is causing the sharks problems, but it seemed like such a good chance to toss out some ideas about not hogging the planets resources
She looks up at me with the most sincere eyes you have ever seen - you know, that look that only a little critter can pull off, and says "But I will give my fish to the sharks! Let's go give the sharks some fish tomorrow!"
So my tiny little 4 year old critter, who thinks sharks are big, bad, and scary, is willing to get in a cage under the water and give the sharks some fish because she thinks its sad that the sharks are so hungry. What a kind and brave little person she is. I'm thinking we must have done something right .

Friday, August 17, 2007

Little Rock and Easy Street

You know, every one warned me that Little Rock AR was not going to be a good place for a cross dresser to go out. We're talking the bible belt here where anything not found in your Sunday school classes is likely to be frowned on. To tell the truth, I had my own doubts, but I think they were unfounded.

Monday, my first day there, I went to a Barnes and Noble book store and purchased a couple of
books. Either no one "made" me or they were decent and polite - no worries there. The SA at the register was cute and adorable (wow I wish I were young again) and smiled at me as we did the debit card thing. Among other things she told me she thought my hair was cute! I am getting much more comfortable dealing with people and my smart a$$ tendencies had me biting my tongue before telling her that she too could own this hair for the low low price of . . . nah, I just smiled and told her thank you very much!

Went from there to the movies where I saw "Star Dust" - A real cute show! Wonderful scenes and costumes to die for! By the way, the movie has a few scenes about cross dressing! They were reasonably kind with their portrayal - I can't elaborate any more without giving away too much info and being a spoiler. It's not gonna make my top ten favorite movie list but it was worth the seeing.

I went from the movies to a place called Easy Street in Little Rock. It's a piano bar that I found on line.
On this night I was not terribly impressed to be honest. It was fairly nice way to spend the evening, but being all by myself it was not real exciting. I tried to order a Long Island Ice Tea (HEY! I never hid the fact that I'm a lush here!) and the bartender politely informed me that they serve wine and beer - suddenly a beer sounded like the ticket! I guess I never will pick up a taste for wine.

They had one gentleman on the piano and another on a small set of drums. They were OK, and drinking a beer and listening to them beat the hell outta sitting alone in my hotel room. There were a few people there, but they had their own little click going. I heard one of them joking with the others about fake nails when he did drag, so I made a wise crack or two as a feeble effort to join the conversation - no one took the bait so I pretty much kept to myself.

Tuesday and Wednesday sucked for me! The instrument installation I was here to perform had gone very poorly forcing me to work late both days thus killing any chance or desire for going out. Things went so poorly that I had to extend my stay until Friday to complete the install - this turned out to be a good thing as I would later find out! Things finally came together for my install on Thursday and I wound up getting off around 2PM - PLENTY of time to go out so I headed back to Easy Street!

Wow! If y'all weren't at "Easy Street" in Little Rock Arkansas Thursday night (and you weren't - I would have spotted you!) you missed a hell of a show! As you know from my posting my own songs in my blog, I am an amateur musician/song writer. While I don't place myself into the "good" category, I would like to think that I am good enough that I can at least spot good musicians. I've got to tell you, these guys were great!
Often with groups like this that get together once or twice a week, your dealing with a bunch of folks like me that have day jobs and then dabble with music at night - not these guys. Maybe that IS what they do, but if so, they are damn good at their night job! This sort of Jazz is not really my preferred style of music, but I was captivated the moment I walked in. They play together as a team - musicians will know what I mean. Often musicians all want to outdo each other, to wow the folks, and who cares if the music or song suffers a bit for it - not these guys. They played TOGETHER and when it came time for a solo (and there were a lot with this style of music) they backed of politely and let the soloist have the moment.

They had 6 players - a piano player, the drummer, the bass, and three horns. I've never actually been in the same room with people playing horns - every band I've ever been around was purely guitar and key boards. These guys were just awesome - each and everyone of them clearly an expert on their instrument - it was a joy to experience. There was a large crowd there and these folks were active and vocal, cheering them on, dancing, and just having a good time.

OK, so the band was good - doesn't mean you want to go there right? I was the only TGirl there and obviously stood out just a bit. Several patrons smiled, and one real cute little blond girl even smiled and waved hello to me, so we are talking nice folks. The owner himself came and sat with me twice - once to introduce himself, and once just to be a good host.

I was just way impressed with this place and with the people and band in it. Here I thought Little Rock was gonna suck, but after this, it is near the top of my list of places I will look forward to visiting. So, if you find yourself in Little Rock Arkansas for the night, especially a Thursday night, make sure you drop into Easy Street and enjoy the awesome music and the friendly atmosphere!

On my trip home, I went through the Detroit airport. They have a really awesome tunnel that takes you to one of the terminals. It provides both a music and light show, and I was so captivated that I made a short video using my cell phone:


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Rabbit Food . . .

(14 Aug 2007)

 I'm trying to be good and have been eating a lot of rabbit food . . .errr. . . I mean salad lately. Of course my goal is all about the figure and NOTHING to do with being a decent being and not eating another creature.
So last night while I'm eating my Wendy's salad and feeling sorry for myself because it wasn't a great big plate of pasta, or maybe a thick steak, I had this moment of brilliance! Maybe I can take the salad outside and use it as bait . . . you know. . . to catch and eat the darn rabbits!
I 'm a terrible person . .