Monday, October 27, 2008

The Height of the Hunt

It's 6:30am. It's still dark, but I can make out the shape of the tree stand. It looks higher than I thought it would.

I tell Steve, "You know, I have this thing with heights. If I can't get into the stand, I'll go back to the car."

He replies, "NOW YOU TELL ME?!?!"

It seems as though my desire to hunt overrode my fear of heights. And, although the blind is only 14 feet high, it was enough to make getting into it very difficult. Once I was there, the terror lasted about a half hour, once I was convinced it wasn't going to fall.

Unfortunately, the three hours I sat in it on Saturday morning were for nothing. I saw no game.

This weekend was a youth only deer hunt. I was in the stand for hogs. Dylan was with Steve in another stand, and Steve's son Trent was in a third. We sat from 6:30am to 9:30am, and no one saw anything.

We took a break, got some breakfast, fished, and then went to celebrate Angie's uncle's 73rd birthday. By 4:30pm, we were back in our blinds. It was a little easier getting into it this time.

First, I hear something going on in the woods to my left. Never saw anything.

Second, I got accosted by a crazy squirrel who couldn't see me when I was still. He got close enough to make me afraid he was going to bite me. I scared him away.

Third, I heard a turkey below me. It was making hen yelps and I heard it walking in the brush, but I never got a view of it.

Then, what we were all there for...three deer started crossing the field in front of me. I remained still - although I couldn't shoot them, I wanted them to feel comfortable around the feeder. They continued to cross in front of me from right to left. I got my binoculars and saw that they were all does. Can't shoot the ladies...I just watched in awe. They were beautiful. They found the feeder and at for about 40 minutes. I raised my rifle to sight them in and even though I knew I couldn't pull the trigger, adrenalin was making my heart pump hard, and that seemed to attract the mosquitoes. I was covered as I kept my cross hairs on the deer's vitals, but I dared not move.

The deer ate, then walked off from where they came. As they left, so did the mosquitoes.

As they disappeared into the trees to my right, several duck flew by.

It was a perfect ending to an amazing day.

The next morning, Dylan and I shared the blind that he was in with Steve the day before. They saw five deer and several turkey the day before. As we walked to the stand, we saw a lone deer in the tilled wheat field. We weren't ready. I didn't have my binoculars out yet, so we dropped down. I whispered to Dylan to hand me the gun so I could look at it through the scope to see if it was a shooter. It was definitely a buck, but it's antlers need to be big enough to be a shooter.

He either didn't hear me, or wanted to look for himself, but it was the fatal move. I couldn't verify if it was a shooter, so he couldn't shoot. I tried to get my binoculars out, but the deer spied us. It was over. He stuck around and I got a little glimpse through the lenses (I think he was legal, but not sure - and if you aren't sure you don't shoot). He ran off before we ever got sure.

We continued to the stand and sat for several hours. Other than six bearded hen turkeys, we never saw any other game. It was fun watching those turkeys though. They ate a lot of the corn that the feeder leaves for the deer.

We had an awesome weekend. I can't wait until the regular season starts next weekend.

It just goes to show you - whether you make the kill or not, it is just AWESOME to be out there.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Another Bastion Falls

Ok - so perhaps my scatological tendencies leading to my last post weren't the "last bastion", but we are getting pretty darned close.

Another has gone the way of the Dodo.

I have a good bud who started bashing MS Windows a while back and finally made the switch to an Apple not too long ago. I don't understand that decision, but I don't want to come across as some kind of Microsoft apologist. I'm not. I just know that I like options when it comes to software, particularly in the first person shooter genre, and Apple isn't really a choice.

That being said, I don't have any particular loyalty to Microsoft. I have used Apples at school and I don't like them. I like to right-click with my mouse. I like to open up the chassis on my computer and rip, or upgrade, the guts. I like understanding how to use what is in front of me and that has meant WinTel to this point. NO! I DID NOT GET RID OF MY BELOVED DELL FOR SOME TRENDY APPLE.

I do, however, LOVE my iPod. I am probably one of the few iPod owners that has no music on his/her device. I have podcasts, movies, videos, games, sermons, etc., but no music. I started with a Nano several years ago, but wanted video, so I bought Justin's 80GB iPod in May. However, I've been getting tired of carrying my Palm Treo and my iPod, so when my company said they were dropping support for GoodLink in April 2009 I knew what I needed to do IMMEDIATELY - upgrade to a 16GB 3G iPhone. I had my excuse, why wait?

I received my phone today, and holy crap, the thing is AWESOME. Full Internet using the wireless network at home and the 3G AT&T network on the road. My iPod, but with a bigger screen. Video from the web.. you name it. I've yet to set up my e-mail, but I am already so digging this thing.

In fact, I think so highly of this device, and the company behind it, I will no longer bash their computers. Hell, with the market the way it is, it might be time to buy some Apple stock at a discount.

I'm just not ready to make the jump to a Mac, yet.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Last Bastion - Lost

I turned the page, reviled by my curiosity... I scanned the Domestications catalogue, my eyes darting between bedding and drapery, I realized that the last sanctuary I held had been invaded, taken over, ruined forever.

You see, many men consider their bathroom their castle. I know I do. In fact, the coolest thing about my bathroom is that is has a magazine rack. Mine is full with:

* the Bass Pro Hunting Master Catalogue, over 600 pages of everything hunting. It is the redneck bible.

* the Holy Bible. Yes, I keep a bible in my bathroom. Some of the best alone time (sometimes the only alone time) I get is in there. There's a lock on the door, and you have to go through another locked door (my bedroom door), just to get to that.

* The Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife 2008-2009 Annual, which has all the rules, regulations, limits and season dates for hunting and fishing in Texas.

* Yahtzee and "Deal or No Deal" handheld electronic games. Sometimes, I don't want to read.

* Assorted, more temporary, reading materials.

Now that Domestications is in there, what's next? Oprah's magazine, O? Potpourri on the tank? Some weird plug in Raspberry flavored air freshener? The Victoria's Secret catalogue?

Actually, the Victoria's Secret catalogue would be ok.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Gifts Presentation

"As fate would have it, my presentation is the only thing keeping you from the casino and the cocktails and we've started 15 minutes late due to technical difficulties. Like the airlines, I will try to make up some of the time in the air so I can get you out on time."

Thus started my presentation.

Interestingly enough, I wasn't nervous at all once it started. In fact, I wasn't too nervous before hand, either. I knew I knew the material and I had done a couple of walk-throughs prior, so I felt pretty confident.

Not that the deck couldn't have used some sprucing up, or perhaps my delivery could have been more rehearsed...but I was confident that I was mostly ready.

My boss, another colleague and Angie made up three of the perhaps 30 people in my session. This wasn't one of those 1000 attendee conferences - instead there were perhaps 50-60 people attending the two separate tracks. Ultimately, this meant that it was a real good situation to get my feet wet in presenting.

My boss asked Angie if I have presented like this before - apparently I came across as being very comfortable as I presented. Other than many training sessions I used to give, I really have never done anything like this. I used to present updates and performance at quarterly and annual off-sites, but nothing like this.

Angie and my boss both said it went well. She gave me some constructive criticism about several things I could have improved upon, but for my first in a long time, I'll take it. Her most important critique is that I need to work on letting my charm and personality come across. Perhaps add a little more humor and connect more with the audience. She's right, and I appreciate her honest feedback.

I'm already looking forward to the next one. Anything to get me back to Vegas.


Monday, October 06, 2008

Sweet Suite

Angie and I just arrived at the Palazzo Las Vegas..."Palace" is it's English equivalent.

It is aptly named. There are over 3000 suites in the hotel. Our room is spacious, to say the least. Angie can't get over the velour couch that sits in our sitting area and the fact that our suite has three flat screen televisions; one in the sitting area, one in the bedroom area and one in the bathroom - yes, the bathroom.

Angie isn't used to opulence. Frankly, I'm not either...but I have experienced it a bit more often than she has. It's funny how quickly we can get comfortable in it, however. Angie is sitting on the couch with her feet up perusing the menus for dinner. She's not sure if she would rather eat at the Mario Batali steakhouse or the Wolfgang Puck restaurant. Some girls just can't make up their mind.

As she relaxes, I am putting the final touches on my presentation. I present at the Service Strategies Services Industry Summit. My topic is, "Vendor Management - Strategies for Managing Your Outsource Relationships". Needless to say, I'm a little bit nervous. Although I've spoken in front of good numbers of people before, and I am typically a pretty good public speaker, I always dread it until I get started. I'll be better tomorrow afternoon, when its over.

Besides, how much better does it get when you can come to Vegas for two days on someone else's dime, get to bring your lovely lady with ya, get two shows (Love and Rita Rudner), and some great drinks and meals - all for one hour's work???

It doesn't get any better than that.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Fare Day

I just finished paying off the small loan from a couple of years ago. What do I do? I take another one out.

My sister Michele is down from NY for two weeks. She wanted to go to the State Fair of Texas. We needed a sitter while we are in Vegas for my speaking engagement. The timing was perfect. The bank account is empty.

The old joke is that you have to take a medium-sized mortgage out to afford the Fair. Although that is an exaggeration, the Fair is a very expensive proposition. In fact, if the attendance and the gluttony on all things fried is any indication, our economy is booming.

It was my second time walking under Big Tex's blank stare and waving hand. It was fun with the kids the first time, but after walking around, buying coupons, eating fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and trying to keep said fried PB&Js from coming back up after riding a ride, I've had enough. But, Michele is watching the kids for us so Cassie, the Yankee, and her brother packed into the pickup and headed for Fair Park.

My sister is a chef and was real intrigued by the aforementioned fried foods, so we sampled the fried bacon (very good), fried chocolate truffle (she loved it, I wasn't impressed), fried s'mores (AWESOME), fried Coke (interesting), fried Olive Bites (ok), and fried Corn Dog (yummy). We passed on some of the others like fried snickers, fried oreos, etc. Next year, I'm looking for the fried fries.

Interestingly enough, we really didn't do too much else. We played some games, walked through the livestock area, we looked at some of the Chevy's (finding my next truck), rode some rides, etc. We didn't stay long enough to take in another of the evening events.

After several hundred tickets, we were done. In fact, we were fried.