Friday, July 28, 2006

I can't believe it's here already...

Today we leave for our family vacation to NY (see post of 6/27). At 5:25 today, we'll be en route to New York's La Guardia airport to begin our family fun. I'm so excited to see my family, and more importantly, to have my family back in NY get to know my family in Texas.

I can envision just sitting back and watching those relationships build. The kids (Marissa, Dylan and Justin) have only been to NY once, and Cassie hasn't been there in about a year, so that's what I'm most excited about. I've been just about everywhere in NY that we plan to visit, so that's going to be MY fun.

I'm going to blog about a trip, and perhaps post a couple of pictures, so you can all share the fun with us...

See you in NY. I need a real bagel and a real slice of pizza!


Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pool Boy

I've recently come to the conclusion that my beautiful wife (Angie) knows me like no other human being on this earth. What is troublesome about this fact, is that she uses this information to her advantage. Smart? Yes. Devious? Definitely. Expensive? You better believe it. Be careful not to underestimate a beautiful woman.

Here's a recent example; Angie has been bugging me for a while now to get a pool installed. I IMMEDIATELY shut down the discussion telling her that we can't afford it, that we don't have the room in the backyard due to a utility line running through it, and that it isn't in the best interest of our family. Case closed, further discussion averted, right? Wrong!

What does she do? She gets me excited about it. That's all it takes, I guess.

She has scheduled two pool companies to come to the house, to talk about pools, and give us some ideas about price. When I confronted her about having estimates done, she just said she wanted to get some ideas and she thought it would be fun. I think she just knew that getting me involved would start the excitement process. By the way, the best quote heard so far: "We can definitely get you in under $30,000.00" Sheesh, I thought this was going to be expensive!!!

Yesterday is a good example. She had a guy come in, and the next thing I know I'm going through these little plastic templates placing a kidney shaped offering in a drawn to-scale version of my backyard. It was so cool, and what did it do - it got me excited about getting a pool. I inquired about the deck. I asked about the fence. I knew I was in trouble when I offered that I really wanted a hot tub.

Fortunately, the financing will probably bring me down to earth, and we won't do anything stupid, at least not now. However, I now know that Angie knows how to get to me - and that knowledge may be the most expensive thing I can think of.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Am I capable?

As I was sitting on the plane today (I'm in California for a sales offsite), I began to think hard about my career and the leadership positions I am in today and the one I am currently trying to obtain. This thought process was probably brought on because I started reading Winning by former GE CEO Jack Welch. Many consider Mr. Welch as the foremost expert on leadership, management and, well, winning at business.

Several things have come up recently that have continued my quest to understand my leadership capabilities, and where I should be within my career. First and foremost, I interviewed for a Global Director position this week. The interviews went well and I really don't know if I'll get the position, but I believe it is what I've worked toward for the last several years and that it is a position in which I am well suited.

Combined with the quest for a promotion, I recently shared some of my discoveries around self-awareness and its position with respect to leadership at a church conference. My good friend asked to interview me regarding the topic because he knew we spent some significant time on it in the training that I participated in at Wharton. Clearly, understanding yourself is foundational to being able to understand others...which is key in leading others.

Lastly, I've been thinking about what would happen if I actually received a promotion. Am I capable? Can I lead a team? Can I work hard enough to be sucessful? Can I promote others instead of myself? There are many others questions in which I've been working through. Ultimately, I think I can do the job, and with God's help even be successful - even if I'm scared out of my wits.


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Rain, Rain, Please come here...

...water bill is what I fear!

Remember that old kid's song, the one we sang when it was raining and we couldn't go out to play? Well, the above is my version.

You see, North Texas has been under a drought since 2005 and things are getting somewhat nasty. My water bill is the worst of all the nastiness. (For those of you that read my blog regularly, the huge rain that we had a couple of months ago completely missed the lake in which our water is from).

Last week, the city of Rowlett instituted TEMPORARY price increases for water. If you saw my water bill previous to this jacking of prices, you might agree that the price was already crazy. Now, it is just nonsense. How does a family with 4 kids living at home manage water consumption? The answer is that we don't and we are going to get creamed for it.

The new pricing is based on 1000 gallon increments, and goes up after 15,000 gallons. That is a lot of water, isn't it? Well, it might be, but it is NOT enough for us. Two months ago we used a whopping 58,000 gallons. That would have resulted in a water bill over $640 bucks. Last month, 38,000 - still a HUGE bill. We mostly reduced our consumption by watering the lawn less. Now, as per city regulations, we water once a week - on trash day. I'll give it 20 minutes per zone in the morning, and another 20 minutes in the evening. Gets the lawn a little over an inch per week (recommended by most lawn care services).

We are going to meet with the kids about saving water. We're taking steps that should help us reduce our usage even more than just watering less. We've started turning the water off while we shower, shave and brush our teeth. We are reusing water from the kiddie pool in our landscaping, and running less bath water for Cassie. I don't know how much more we can cut, but we're trying. I'll update when we get this month's water bill.

One last thing - In North Texas, the soil quality is such that we need to keep the moisture content stable around the foundations of our houses. One of the reasons why I watered so often, is that the sprinklers would ensure that this was done. Now, I have to go and buy soaker hoses to do this...anyone know how often or how long I should keep the soakers on to ensure that the foundation stays good? Let me know.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Party at my house...

This weekend we had some good friends over for no good reason other to spend time with them. If you remember, a couple of entries ago, I blogged about how we all gave the house a very good cleaning. Once that was done, it was easy to say, "Let's have everyone over". You see, I love to entertain in our house, but Angie and I (mostly me) really feel like our home has to be inviting in order to do it. This typically means making sure it is clean. Actually, Angie and I have different takes on this, but when you look at it, we are really the same.

In order for us to invite people over, I want my home to be neat, orderly and clean. This is one of the ways that I feel we can convey to our friends that we want them there. Most of them tell us that it is nonsense, and that may be true. Most of us have multiple children, and most of our homes are pretty much in disarray most of the time.

For Angie, she was to decorate when company is coming, not clean. She hangs pictures, rearranges furniture, and basically does a "decorating on a dime" before our friends arrive. Everything typically looks great when she's done, and this time is no different. The house looks great.

One thing we agree on is how the outside should look. We both felt motivate to get the flowerbeds weeded and planted. (Un)fortunately, this year we hired our landscaper to do the work. Between work, school and general laziness, we hadn't gotten it done this year. He cleaned our the grass, planted the flowers that Angie and I bought at Home Depot, and laid down the mulch. It looks great. Everything did and we had a great time with friends.

Now I just need to figure out how we are going to keep all of those plants alive with the water restrictions in place. Apparently, our IMMENSE water bill is going to go up 4X unless we figure out how to lower our usage. I'll blog about that one next time...


Monday, July 03, 2006

S, as is Snake

It was 11:30PM, Friday evening, and I was stepping outside to sit on the porch and enjoy the nice summer breeze. As I opened the door, I saw a snake sitting on the flagstone. It was late, relatively dark and I couldn't really make out too much of it - other than it was the largest snake I've ever seen where there wasn't glass separating the two of us (this doesn't include to cobras and pit vipers I've seen at the Croc-bank in India, but we did have a wall between us then).

Needless to say, I quickly went to fetch Angie. She's from Texas, and has had a more run-ins with our limbless neighbors than I have. She was home when the 5 foot rat snake was on our window sill, and when our neighbor killed a 5 foot copperhead that was on our driveway.

I don't know too much about snakes other than they CAN be venomous. In fact, of the 4 types of venomous snakes in North America, all four can be found in Texas (Water Moccasin (Cottonmouth), Copperhead, Rattlesnake, and Coral snake). I was pretty sure this was either a rat snake or a copperhead, but it was too dark to see it well. Angie knew only one thing - it needed to die.

I killed it, but I've been struggling with that fact since I separated its head from its body. If it were a rat snake, then it posed very little hazard to us, and they are very beneficial (keeping the rodent and snake population down - and since we have a large field and creek behind the house, keeping both in control is good for us). I've spent some time on websites since the incident, and have come to the determination that it was probably a rat snake. It appears that if it were anything else, it should have had "slit" eyes (Coral snakes have round eyes, but I know the coloring of the coral snake).

I think next time, I may just take a little more time and be sure...I could be killing the very thing that would eat that mouse or venomous snake that really wants in the house.