Archive for April, 2008

Calibrating Happiness

With over thirty years left until retirement, I’m still at the early end of my career. But even at this stage in the game, I’ve gotten to visit a variety of industries– production facilities, dairy processing plants, food testing laboratories and even mine operations.

One thing each of those industries have to contend with is calibration. They need to routinely check and make sure their equipment and devices are measuring accurately. A way to check on calibration – measure something simple. For example, with a thermometer, one may confirm the temperature of ice water reads 0 degrees C. A scale you may reset when nothing is on it and then put on a fixed weight. A level you may check against a known flat surface.

On Thursday night, I drove down to rural Floyd, Virginia and joined a friend of mine and her family for supper. Our meal was not extravagant – beans, homemade coleslaw, shells and cheese, sliced tomatoes, sliced onions, cornbread and homemade grape jam. For entertainment, we had nothing but good conversation… and a golf cart.

When I first boarded the golf cart, I was under the impression our ride was for my friend’s twenty-two month old daughter. Little Ali was the one, afterall, who kept getting in the golf cart and repeating, “Ride. Ride.”

Ali wants a ride

But as we ventured through the property, I appreciated the fresh air and eyed the beautiful countryside. And when the golf cart barreled and bounced down hills, it was me shrieking and giggling more than anyone!

Family pond from the golf cart

Chestnut trees at dusk

When I left Floyd County that night, I had a belly full of delicious homemade food… and a big smile on my face. The evening was not just dinner anymore. By measuring something simple, I knew- my happiness was properly calibrated.

Thursday was a stressful day for me.  The next day I had an early customer meeting and then a drive to Pennsylvania.  I had test server updates to perform on Friday afternoon, production server updates for Sunday night and then a training session to conduct on Monday.  I could have easily declined the dinner invitation.  I could have easily declared that I was “too busy”.

But just how even the busiest organizations make time for calibration, so should we.  Amid stress and frustration, we should all remember to take a little time out and enjoy something simple.

Keep ourselves calibrated.

April 16, 2008 at 8:28 am 3 comments

Season Compare: New River Gorge

Whenever I find myself feeling pretty darn good about my blog stats, I take a sneak peak at Clint‘s metrics and suddenly I feel mortal again.  🙂  Every now and then, I perform a similiar exercise on Flickr using their global tags. 

Yesterday, when looking at pictures tagged “newrivergorgebridge“, I ran across some gorgeous shots last fall by the user Trask.  Independently, a few of our shots came close to matching up.  So today’s season compare comes to you courtesy of a stranger!

New River Gorge on October 25, 2007 by Trask

New River Gorge on April 11, 2008

New River Gorge Bridge on October 25, 2007 by Trask

New River Gorge Bridge on April 11, 2008

I don’t think these are even close to Trask’s best shots– these are just the ones that happened to look similiar to ones I took!  His full set of amazing New River Gorge pictures are on his Flickr site.

April 16, 2008 at 7:53 am 2 comments

New River Gorge Bridge

Last Friday night, I drove from Blacksburg, Virginia to my Great Uncle’s farm in New Castle, Pennsylvania. 

My trip takes me right over the New River Gorge Bridge which crosses, surprisingly enough, the New River Gorge.  The bridge was completed in 1977 and is currently the Western Hemisphere’s Largest Steel Arch Bridge.  On the north side of the New River, there is a visitor’s center and observation platforms.  Some people stop there to see the bridge.  Some people stop there to admire New River Gorge.  And for a single day each October, hundreds of thousands of people stop to witness “Bridge Day” where parachutists and rappellers jump off the bridge.

As for me, I stopped there because of fog.

Yup, fog.  It was a stipulation I set up well ahead of time when I was still paying tolls on I-77, “I’m only stopping if the fog is phenomenal.”

Miles later on US-19, I was crossing the bridge and sure enough there was fog.  My right turn blinker was activated almost instantly and within a few minutes I was running down to the observation platform.

The fog was quick to lift, but I managed to get a few shots in before continuing on my six-hour journey.

New River Gorge with Fog

Wet evergreens with the New River Gorge Bridge

Evergreens, gorge, fog

More pictures of my quick stop at New River Gorge can be found on my Flickr site.

P.S. This year’s Bridge Day is October 18th.  Anyone going?

April 15, 2008 at 2:28 pm 4 comments

Happy 11th Birthday Jimmie!

Today, my dog Jimmie turns 11 years old.  Last year, I highlighted his first ten years of adventures, so this year I can take a more modest scope.  Here are just a few of Jimmie’s adventures from this past year:

Devil’s Marbleyard

Backpacking Mount Rogers 

Backpacking Peters Mountain
War Spur in Snow

Tinker Cliffs
Dragon’s Tooth
Sinking Creek Mountain
Kelly’s Knob

Modeling Hairnet 

If everyone on this expansive planet of ours could stumble upon just one companion as steadfast, as devoted and as comforting as a good dog could be, the world would be a dramatically different place.  Less lonely.  More merry.

To Jimmie– I wish a happy birthday and look forward to another year’s worth of adventures.

To everyone else– may you find your “Jimmie” and the joys that tend to tag along.

April 15, 2008 at 12:00 am 11 comments

links for 2008-04-12

April 12, 2008 at 2:30 pm 2 comments

Drop Results

Last week, I questioned whether or not I drop things than most people.  So ala MythBusters, I kept a tally.  My results for the last week are below:

Drops broken down by item

Drops by Day

My cell phone took the bulk of gravity’s wrath– it was dropped a total of six times all on SATURDAY! I’m going to go ahead and blame that on tight jeans.  Due to the snug fit of the garment, the pockets were no longer functional storage areas.  As a result, I carried the phone in my hands, thereby increasing the opportunity for it to slip through my fingers.

On the subject of my cell phone, I do have to say the LG enV is very robust.  In the past year, I have given it an extensive (and completely unintentional) stress test which it has continued to pass with flying colors!

I was surprised I never dropped my car keys.  But the dog leash being tied for second place, seems about right.

On Sunday, I didn’t drop anything at all!  That day, I pretty much did nothing except sit around and watch my brother take pictures of Transformer logos and drive home.  And also, I was not wearing the aforementioned jeans.  I had on cargo pants…with plenty of pockets.  🙂

Anyway, those were my results.  How did you guys end up?

April 10, 2008 at 3:35 pm 3 comments

links for 2008-04-10

April 10, 2008 at 2:31 pm 2 comments

Commuting by Rollerblades

A few years ago, I dropped my car off for some maintenance in Blacksburg and I couldn’t find anyone to pick me up. I happened to have my rollerblades in my car, so I strapped them on, skated three miles to the other side of town and met up with a co-worker who was stuck waiting for the cable guy. Once the cable guy had come and gone, I had my ride to work!

I wouldn’t be able to that nowadays.

Blacksburg prohibits and, thanks to the March 11, 2008 Town Council Meeting (which I missed– whoops), now issues a fine for skating in the downtown areas. With the center of town off-limits, I have no viable path to get from one side of town to the other.

I don’t think the Town Council members are bad people. I’m sure their intent is related to safety. And I know Blacksburg is not alone. In my travels, I’ve run across other places with similiar restrictions:

Evansville Indiana also has in-line skating ordinances.

With the exception of a park in Kansas, I have complied to restricted areas. BUT, I certainly don’t agree with these types of rules. I think in this day in age with obesity and lethargy as prevalent as they are, we should not be taking steps to discourage people from being active. And with rising concerns about carbon footprints and gas prices, why discourage people from other means of travel?

Well now that my two cents are out there, there is a bit of a good news. I may not be able to rollerblade across my own town, but I can still commute between towns.

On Tuesday nights, I typically take advantage of the Regal Cinema’s Free Popcorn Night. Yesterday the weather was nice and I had just enough lead time, so I rollerbladed from Blacksburg to the theatre in Christiansburg, via the Huckleberry Trail.

The Huckleberry Trail is always beautiful, especially in the spring with all the Bradford Pear trees. But with a little less room in this world to skate, yesterday this paved path seemed more stunning than usual.

I love you, Huckleberry Trail

April 9, 2008 at 3:10 pm 15 comments

links for 2008-04-09

April 9, 2008 at 2:32 pm 1 comment

links for 2008-04-08

April 8, 2008 at 2:31 pm 1 comment

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