Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Yesterday I glanced out the window and saw a large white cloud drift across the blue sky. I don’t know why but all the sudden I was thinking about my youth.

I remembered many times in my early, early years just lying on the cool grass, watching the clouds make their way across sky, trying to figure out what they looked like. Boats, trains, pirates, dragons, houses, trees, cars, and all sorts of wild animals could be seen in those puffy white clouds. We would spend hours watching the clouds and trying to show our friends what we saw.

I also remembered how the clouds would changes appearance as they moved. What might be a boat could easily be a giraffe within a minute or less.

Laying on the grass, watching the clouds – it might have been natures version of video games.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


This week I have learned that frustration comes in many sizes and shapes. It’s really nothing new; I am just a slower learner.

Tuesday was a 15-hour day. I spent six and half-hours in a meeting talking about how to get people to work together. The new buzzword is collaboration. At the end of the meeting we were at farther ends of the spectrum than when we started. I then spent several hours driving to get to a meeting to discuss a conference to be held this fall. The meeting lasted four hours and I am not sure we decided much.

Wednesday I met with four of our financial people. Everything is now done on computers where one spreadsheet automatically feeds into another. We spent several hours plugging in numbers. When they were printed out, it only took a matter of minutes before a computer error was found.

Wednesday night I went golfing with a neighbor. We played the back nine of a big person golf course. This was my second time on a real golf course. I discovered several things. I was worried about not wanting to tear up the grass; I was finally told it happens get over it. I was worried about hitting my club cart, I was told to move it. Then the sand traps and the water sent a shiver up my spine because I might lose a ball. I was told I would lose lots of golf balls so move on.

So what’s the point of the last few days? I discovered I need golf lessons in the worst way.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Ralph on the Range

Last Friday night Tiffany, Nathan, and I went to a golf course to hit a few balls at the driving range. Nathan has been there several times, Tiffany has done this once, this was my first time. This is a picture of me. This is me on the driving range. Hence the title, Ralph on the Range.

When I decided to take up this ‘game’, I shared the exciting news with a person I work with. He is an avid golfer and is actually quite good at the game. He looked at me, shook his head and said, “Ralph I know what you do, I know what you have to deal with. Don’t you have enough frustration in your life already?” I probably do but I decide to try it anyway.

Sunday Nathan and I went out to play a par three course. In an ideal world, I would have shot a 27. I had a 61.

I got information on golf lessons later that morning.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Small Hands, Big Problems

Throughout the week, I reflected on Cliff’s post titled ‘Old Dogs’ many times. It’s been a long week. At times, I had to deal with ‘old dogs’ at other times I was the ‘old dog’. But, one night this week I was able to put it all into perspective. Maybe, just maybe, our problems are somehow related to our age.

These hands belong to my friend. He came over to help me plant flowers. He got irritated twice. The first time he stopped planting, glared at me, and said, “Ralph, I am not seven. I’m eight.” Believe me I’ll never make the mistake of calling him seven again.

The second time he got irritated he threw the planting shovel down, leaned back and said, “Damn it! The hole is too deep.” Not wanting to experience his wrath again, I contained my laughter. I told him to throw some dirt back in the bottom and it would be fine. He looked at me and smiled and said, “Oh yeah, that’ll work.”

So, I am starting to believe many of our problems are age related. I’m going outside to play with my EIGHT-year-old friend.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Eight is Enough

This picture was taken outside a hotel in Buena Vista. Buena Vista is a Spanish term that means ‘good view’ and the town is located in very scenic part of the state. It’s a small mountain community with a population of 2,196.

This week I spent a couple of days in Buena Vista locked in meeting rooms. I arrived a little before noon and a few of us met from noon until 8:45 PM. By that time, we were all brain dead and decided to go to dinner and then get back together the next morning at 6:00 to continue.

At ten o’clock, I walked into the hotel room but was still pretty worked up from the meeting. So, I decided to go for a walk.

Now Buena Vista is one of those towns that shuts down at 10:00 PM, which is not a problem if all you want to do is go for a walk. I decided to walk down the road about a mile to the stoplight, cross the street, and walk back to the hotel. As soon as I started a police officer drove by, not a big deal. A minute or two later he passed again going the other way. Okay, now he is just checking to see what I was up to, still not a big deal. By the time I had walked to the light he had passed me five times. The fifth time I waved – he didn’t.

I crossed the street and was heading back to the hotel thinking my troubles with the law were behind me. But they weren’t. He passed me again – this time slowing way down. The seventh time, I saw him coming so I walked to the curb and gave him a friendly wave. He waved back. Then this thought popped into my head, what if the next time he passes I just take off running. It made me chuckle at least until I remembered that police officers carry guns. He passed me once more by the time I got to the hotel.

Either I was the most suspicious person in Buena Vista or it was a really slow night. So, I repeat, this picture is a view from the hotel - not the police station. I was locked in a meeting room not a jail cell. Which begs the question – is there a difference?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Money Monday

Some days just develop their own theme. Today it is Money Monday. On the way to Fort Collins, my cell phone rang. It was a person I had worked with for years wondering if I had an extra $35,000 laying around. First of all, I would really like to know what an extra $35,000 looks like. Secondly, I think by the laughter they figured out I didn’t.

As soon as I got to the office, I was ushered into a budget meeting. As it turns out it was a fairly heated meeting. We seem to have a lot of those this time of year.

This is “daughter of Ralph” she will be home from college soon. While we are looking forward to having her home, she needs to work on her timing. When setting in the meeting my cell rang. I glanced at it and noticed it was ‘daughter of Ralph”. Now, when certain people call they become the highest priority – that includes family members and quite a few friends. So, I left the meeting to answer it. It was ‘daughter of Ralph” (DOR) our conversation went like this:
ME: This is Ralph.
DOR: Ralph, this is DOR. You will cover my travel expenses right?
ME: What expenses?
DOR: I have to mail some boxes home and they are really heavy. You paid for it last year.
ME: Don't overnight them.
DOR: Okay but you will pay right?
ME: Sure why not, will find the money somewhere (That's a typical answer this time of year.)

Even when you try to get away from some of those money issues, you never quite can.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Forty-Five Degree Rule

Last Friday I spent the night with Dan and Julie in Lincoln. That is when I taught Dan the 45-degree rule.

We had gone out and had a great time with Dan and Julies friends. Back at the house, Julie and both the kids went to bed. Dan and I went to the basement to watch a movie. Dan said he had seen part of it before and it was pretty funny.

Now you have to understand two things about watching TV with Dan. They have one of those televisions that can revival a movie theater. It is a large TV. Secondly, they have the most comfortable recliner I have ever been in. When you put those two factors together and the 45-degree rule comes into play. Put me at a 45-degree angle and turn on the television I will fall asleep – immediately.

Early the next morning Dan said the beginning of the movie was really funny. He was laughing and turned to see why I wasn’t when he noticed my eyes were closed. He also said the snoring didn’t bother him that much – he had the remote and could adjust the volume.

Next time I’ll watch it standing up.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ralph and his Most Excellent Adventure

It was a wet and chilly Friday morning when I headed for Nebraska. The kind of day you should just stay inside and cuddle up with a good book or at least someone who has read one. But, I knew I had to make this trip (okay, I wanted to make this trip).

The van was running great and I was working on my second cup of coffee when near Brush, Colorado, I had to pull onto the shoulder of I-76. That’s where I realized I couldn’t complain about Char and her luggage anymore. I mean I was going on a four-day adventure and had five pairs of shoes! I had to pull off the road until I was able to quit laughing.

After I settled myself down things went well until Alda, Nebraska. At Alda, I was bored and turned on the radio. For twenty minutes, I listened to a man and a woman talk about a business that was expanding. Seems like Ted and Wally’s Ice Cream was going to open their second store. That made me laugh again but I was able to stay on the road this time.

A little after 5:00, I arrived at Dan and Julie’s. This picture of Allison and I should go down in history. This is most likely the only baby born in the last thirty years that I have gotten to see and hold before Char. She is one cute little girl. But then so is her sister and her mom. Then there’s Dan. Speaking of Dan. . . .

. . . we were at a party for one his friends. He looked at me and said, “It’s a little warm in here isn’t it?” I told him I didn’t think so. That’s when he took off his coat to reveal this t-shirt. I about spit a mouthful of adult beverage across the table. I only knew six people at this party but it was amazing how many came over and said, “Hey, you’re the guy on Dan’s shirt.” That was a good one Dan. The party also gave me a chance to visit with Tom and Stephanie. There will be more about my visit to Lincoln in another post.

The next morning I went to Nebraska City for a work related activity. This was the view from my window. I have always liked this view especially the hazelnut plantation in the foreground. As much as I like this place and this view, I was anxious to get to Tekamah. Early the next morning, I realized I had never made the trip from Nebraska City to Tekamah before. But really how hard could it be? Just follow the highway signs. Take I-75 up to Omaha get on I-80 east and get off at the Blair exit. Things were going just as planned at least until I passed a sign that read, “Welcome to Iowa”.

I eventually found my way back to Nebraska and then even got to Tekamah without further incident. Then driving down the road to the Morrow’s farm, right at the intersection, I met Cliff and Marilyn on their way to church. Thirty seconds either way and we would have missed each other. That had to be fate. Speaking of fate, have you ever noticed how some people just have a gift? Cliff and Marilyn’s daughter Julie does. She played the piano in church for the Tekamah-Herman swing choir. She has the uncanny ability to make it seem so easy and to make other people really look good with her piano talent. She has always impressed me.

Following church, we went to the City Cafe for lunch with Fran and Robbie. The lunch was good but not nearly as good as the rhubarb tort we had back at Fran and Robbie’s house.

After a good visit, we went to Cliff and Marilyn’s. Two things need to be pointed out in this picture. The first is the window on the far left. This is where the kitchen table sets. A lot of good times and a lot of good meals have happened at that kitchen table. Sunday night Cliff showed me another great way to make roast and potatoes. The following morning we had a great breakfast. Fortunately, there were no hash browns. The other thing is the porch. “A View from the Porch” shows up on Cliff’s blog from time to time. All great photos to let us know what is going on.

Monday morning after a good visit with Cliff and Marilyn it was time to head home. 594.8 miles later, I walked in and kissed Char. That’s the distant between Cliff’s porch and mine. Marilyn and Char have concluded that is a ‘reasonably safe distance’ to separate Cliff and I.

Sorry for the length of this blog but it’s hard to have a short excellent adventure.