The Professor, The Piano Guys and Star Wars

Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth-largest city in the United States. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of 579 square miles. ~ Wikipedia

I was in Houston for 3 days. In the 4th largest city in the U.S., I had dinner with a college professor from New Jersey. As I got into the cab in Houston to meet the man from Ewing, the cab driver was quietly crying while he listened to the funeral of “Miss Whitney Houston” on the radio that was taking place in Ewing, New Jersey.

It was all sort of surreal. Whitney Houston and Houston and Ewing all merging for a few moments in the rain in a Yellow Cab in Texas.

It went from surreal to really special when the elevator opened at the Holiday Inn and out stepped the professor, my son, whom I hadn’t seen in 2 1/2 years. It was a glorious 8 hours of catching up on so much more than just the everyday things. If small talking is like my regular book and bobber and a worm on the hook, then this was like chartering a private boat to unknown places and deep-sea fishing.

We had dinner at Pappadeaux where we ate Cajun style seafood and grits and dirty rice. As is always the case when I have the privilege of spending time with either of my children, who are long past childhood, I learned so much and treasured every moment.

I can’t remember Dan and I ever having a conflict. I don’t happen to share his love of football but I did watch all the Star Wars movies with him. So Dan, this video is for you. I’m pretty sure you’ll love The Piano Guys (even though this one just features Steven Sharp Nelson on dueling cellos). 😀

And to all you Star Wars fans, or cello fans, this is such an amazing video! I hope you have some fun with it and may the force be with you!

Year in Review Part 14 – A Night With Darth Vader

It’s been 8 months since I wrote this post early last May. Sadly, the wildfires did come to Texas and even with the rain, we’ve begun 2012 in a drought. The wind is whipping again tonight reminding me of the night Darth Vader came to Smiley.
Way out here they have a name for wind and rain and fire
The rain is Tes,
the fire’s Joe,
and they call the wind Mariah

Mariah blows the stars around,
sets the clouds a’flyin’
Mariah makes the mountain sound
like folks was up there dyin’
There’s hasn’t been any sign of Tes for more than four months which is an invitation we all pray Joe continues to refuse. Mariah doesn’t need an invitation.
She’s a permanent resident.
If you Paint Your Own Wagon, you may Call the Wind Mariah.
Here in southern Texas, we just call her Fierce.
The wind is relentless in the flat lands, howling night and day.

The substance of the winds is too thin for human eyes…  ~John Muir

John Muir, the famous naturalist, clearly didn’t spend a lot of time in Texas. In Texas you can see the wind.

I used to think dirt devils were vacuum cleaners. Now I know they’re day time apparitions in the southern Texas sky. They swirl like mini-tornadoes, hiding only when I grab the camera.

With the temperature creeping up to almost 100 today, all who passed through the gate ate grit when they opened their windows. By night fall, everyone was wind whipped and weary.

The gate finally slowed down as midnight approached. As I reach for my coffee, one soft light flickers to the rhythmic beating of the wind. I turn the page. The RV sways like a doll’s house.

The empty over-stuffed chair begins to rock on its own. I can see the whites of Henry’s eyes.

The bell rings and my arm nearly flies off with the door as the wind races in. I step outside. No one’s there.

Henry’s ears stand straight up. I open the shades and turn off the flickering lamp. As I scoop up Henry, I hear the distinctive breathing in the dark. On this moonless night, Darth Vader has slipped into my living room.



I slowly reach behind me and flip the light back on. The wind continues to cry through the door and the RV feels like a small ship on a rough sea. Henry remains on high alert.  I can’t see the invader.

I pick up my dropped book and read several chapters, tension building. Suddenly the wind stops completely. The dramatic stillness is eerie.

Then, he breathes again. This time I look up in time to see him. His raspy breath seeps out of the dredges of my coffee pot. I turn it off. He emits one final sigh and moan.

Darth Vader returns to his alternate universe just as the wind picks up, once again rattling the windows and beating at the door.

LinkedIn … More or Less

Wonder what really makes people cringe when they look at your LinkedIn Profile?

Me either.  😀 It’s quite on the ranch tonight so I did a little catch up reading. Even though I’m no longer LinkedIn, this article caught my eye. I figure people are probably cringing over these words whether they’re linked or unlinked.

It’s those clichéd words and phrases. You know what they are — those ambiguous ones that really don’t tell you anything.

As we head into 2011 our Analytics Team decided to take a crack at finding the most clichéd and overused phrases for the past year using over 85 million LinkedIn profiles.  Here are our 2010 top 10 buzzwords used in the USA.

I immediately reread all 204 Fork blog posts to see if I’d become clichéd. OK, I didn’t actually reread all 204 posts. I didn’t read any of them, but I remember quite a few and I’m pretty sure not one of these words has ever appeared. Now I feel like a massive underachiever.

Then I took a second look and decided I could have used these over used buzzwords:

1. Extensive experience –  It’s on Like Donkey Kong  I could have referenced my now vast up close  Extensive experience with cattle. Anyone who has been a salt like for 4 young calves has Extensive experience that’s almost unparalleled in my  current profession.

2. Innovative –  Leaning Left was an example of being Innovative, a little ugly, but innovative.

3. Motivated – Spinning a Yarn. I was Motivated to learn to knit. I just wasn’t Motivated to learn to knit anything in particular.

4. Results Oriented – Mighty Mouse and Me  I was very Results Oriented in my attempt(s) to persuade the shark to stay off the beach, at least until the tourist were gone

5. Dynamic – Planting Myself in a WalMart Flower Pot   It was just about too Dynamic

6. Proven Track Record – Why Do I Open My Mouth  I demonstrated a Proven Track Record of repeatedly doing something completely superfluous – for years

7. Team Player – You Don’t Argue with Henry VIII   I certainly have learned a lot about being a Team Player from Henry.

8. Fast Paced – Happy as a Dead Pig in Sunshine   Really, does it get any more Fast Paced than a gate guard chasing wild pigs for a photo opp, and getting chased by wild pigs for revenge?

9. Problem Solver – Half In/Half Out  When it comes to being a Problem Solver, it is always Heidi  This was apparent from the very first week of gate guarding when she had to crawl in and out of the window for 6 hours

10. Entrepreneurial – A Night With Darth Vader  Between Mariah and Darth, it may not have been very Entrepreneurial but it certainly was commercial

So there you have it. I’ve linked in, sort of, with the 10 most over used buzzwords of 2010 and I’ve linked you in with 10 posts that recap 10 months of gate guarding!