Sunday, November 30, 2008

Computer Curse Delays Holiday Posts

We had a very event filled week that I should have been blogging about throughout the week except that my computer rejected the fix that I applied (a new operating system) and continued the descent into interoperability. As a result with the exception of occasionally checking email, I was without connection to the internet.

In short, we finished up our Arches National Park photo shoot getting up before dawn and hiking in the dark to the appointed spot. We spent a half a day there before heading on to Salt Lake City with Gaius Derf and Agent W.

We spent all day Wed cooking for Thanksgiving and Thu finishing up and eating. The peak of the meal was a revised brined turkey cooked at high temperature. Hands down the best turkey I ever made.

On Friday I made a "European" style meal to satisfy my culinary desires. I will go into this with pictures for my next post.

As I had planned to use the inevitable break periods of any holiday visit working, my computer meltdown left me with a huge backlog of work to be done. We headed back early on Saturday and got home in town by 5. I had made the decision to buy a new computer and had it done by 6:30

A lot of people give me grief for using a Mac but I will tell you this, I had my old computer backed up before I left for the store and had the new computer completely set up by 8 PM. It completely duplicated my old settings down to the icons on my desk top in about 45 minutes with four key strokes.

Sunday was an all day work-a-thon.

Pictures from the morning shoot

This was taken at about sunrise - 6:50 AM. We were already out since 6 AM and yes it was COLD.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Wife and I are taking a little break over the Thanksgiving week visiting friend Gaius Derf and Agent W in Salt Lake City. We added a couple of extra days so we could do some photo-tourism...and if it is photo-tourism you can be sure that it probably wasn't my my instigation.

Wife informed me that the proper way to do things is for us to arrive at our destination within an hour of sunset and then go back again just before sunrise. Our destination is Arches National Park just outside of Moab Utah.

The pictures below are from my cell phone. We are scheduled to get up at 5 in the morning tomorrow so we can be in place for the morning shoot.

Not my idea Joe!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Picture is Worth a...

I not only have my travel schedule to blame for my lack of posting but my computer has been on the spritz as well. There was something wrong with the operating system that caused the keyboard and touch pad to not operate - definitely a problem when traveling. But in short I:

Was in Chicago working and got to see MotherRocker and family plus go to our favorite Korean BBQ place.
Had a successful business trip with some good meals with partner Ricardo and Lakeview Coffee including our experience with whole fried smelt pictured below. Really good when just hot out of the fryer. Like super charged calamari without the chewiness.
Then it was on to Connecticut to meet up with my siblings for an 85th birthday with my Dad. He hates all kinds of group things with his offspring but I think he actually had a pretty good time. We went for sushi and it was top notch. The next morning we met a a Canadian breakfast place for pancakes. Because of our Russian heritage we like our pancakes with sour cream not something you find in most places so we brought a quart container ourselves and polished off almost two thirds between four of us.

More Home Remodel Pictures

Wife and I went up today to see how it looks

This will be one of the views from my office window - I'd love to get rid of that tree but I'd feel guilty since it is really a lovely tree

Looking through the space from back to front

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Disconnect from Reality

Or maybe I should just say that my reality seems to be different from the rest of the world at the moment. After a really scary Sep and Oct businesswise, In Nov we billed more than we have ever billed in any single month with a greater net than any previous month. In addition I closed a deal I was working on for almost three years that is going to deliver a very nice fee as well. When it is all over in spite of the operation and my own post-operation malaise, it looks like our financial performance for the year is going to be on par with 2007. In addition we have a nice list of clients, good prospects and lot's of new colleagues out building stuff for us. Go figure

Ace photographic journalist Mrs. de-I said it was really windy cold today so she didn't want to go out and take too many pictures. Plus she said that there wasn't that much apparent difference from yesterday.

On to Connecticut for dinner with my siblings and my Dad for his 85th tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More Construction Progress

Yesterdays construction photo update from Mrs. de-I via Chicago transfer station in Wrigleyville, Chicago Starbucks

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Today's Construction

I'm enduring the unseasonable cold of Chicago but in the clear crystal blue sky city of Albuquerque, ace photographic journalist Mrs. 'Wife' de-I is providing up-to-date pictorial proof that indeed significant activity is happen chez nous. In spite of being under the weather with cold she sent me these pictures.

This is not actually construcn work but some destruction work. Evidently when this light fixture was put into our kitchen it was not mounted properly. So when all the walking and pounding started taking place, it gave way.

Monday, November 17, 2008

More Morning Pics and Construction News

I really love my morning walks especially now that it is colder and darker. There are very few people out and therefore very few to interfere with my solitude. Plus, as I have shared before, wonderful scenes of sunrise.

This morning there was a beautiful band of the red sunrise sky still layered over the darker, edge of night sky below.

Morning Sunlight on Sandia Peak

On the construction front, good news. We finally got the city's framing inspector (who seemed to feel that he had job security as long as he could keep coming back to our house) to give our contractor the green light. So tomorrow, scads of framers are suppose to arrive and start putting up walls and roof on the second floor addition. Chaos will reign and progress will be made. Will this be upsetting my structured life, my equanimity? I think not. I'm in Chicago for business and don't get back until Saturday...then we leave on Monday for another week of vacation over Thanksgiving with Gaius Derf and Agent W in Salt Lake City.

Wife claims I purposely arranged my schedule - as usual - to be away during the Chaos - which is of course ridiculous. Bwahahahahahahahaha.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bits and Pieces from the Weekend

That dear friends is a picture of one of the strangest things I have ever eaten - and totally enjoyed! Earlier in the week, my business partner who is running a Native American owned business which I am also on the Board of (long, long, long story) went out to dinner at one of the few places in Albuquerque that I think are worth going to, Jennifer James 101.

The main course I chose was quail. I read but didn't quite totally pay attention to the side dishes one of which was "pecan pie with foie gras". The foie gras was the attraction to me - I love the stuff. Inside my mind I'm thinking, "it must be some sort of savory take on pecan pie to go with foie gras. I'll give it a try."

So you can imagine my shock and surprise when I taste the pie and no it is plain old real good dessert type pecan pie. Carefully I took a bite with the foie gras. To my surprise it was really good. Foie Gras is almost completely fat so it was like having a savory ice cream or rich, rich unsweetened whipped cream. As the chef had made the quail very salty, the sweet pie with the rich foie gras actually complemented it really well.


Went on our landmark La Luz trail and did a good 8 mile, 2000 foot hike...BUT FORGOT MY CELL PHONE/CAMERA...hence no pictures :(

Wine Tasting at the Visigoths

Son-in-law Tim de Buffalo signed up for what he thought was going to be a snap course so he could keep his GI benefits going. The course was wine appreciation. But it has turned out to be a bear. Plus which the teacher must be a total nut case. Teach assigned a project consisting of making 10 different food items and pairing three different bottle of wine with each course! That means 30 bottles. Plus one of each threesome was supposed to be an expensive bottle. What does this teacher think students are made of - money?

I brought a bunch of my wine loving friends and we did a much scaled down tasting then put everyone's head together to come up with some ficticious responses for all those possibilities. Daughter, Pulisha, was a bit freaked out about all these strangers coming to visit but in the end I think she had a good time.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Charting Your Course Through Troubled Waters - Part 4

Dealing with the Threat or Actuality of Job Loss

Most of you aren't in business for yourselves. You have jobs. And you feel that you are not in control of your destiny. To an extent that is true. But not completely. Not at all. What is more true is that we don't like change so that in spite of obvious signs that there is trouble ahead we just keep staying at the job until we get the ax. I know because I've done it. I also learned that you can tell the signs and not just let yourself be thrown out of work.

Let's start with some simple math. They are projecting unemployment rising to 8%. Assume they're overly optimistic. Assume that it is 10%. Yikes! What does that mean? It means that 90% of people are working! You need to make sure you're in the 90% and not the 10%.

Now - Practical Advice

  1. Analyze the company you're working for. Come on. You know if they're doing good, bad or indifferent. If they're doing bad, you need to accept it and accept that you need to get out of there.
  2. Analyze your position in the company. Come on. You know that too. You know if you're essential, one of many, totally superfluous. If you're not on the short list that they might want to keep, accept that you need to get out of there.
  3. Don't just let the bus run you over. You can feel it. You can see what's happening. It never really is a total surprise. You have to take action before they let you go.
  4. Take your action with urgency. Don't do a halfhearted job. Write that resume. Get on the web sites. Talk to the head hunters. Make it a priority.
  5. If your region is totally in the pits consider relocation. That's a tough one. But there are times when a state, city, region is just totally in the pits. If it is for the good of your family and your economic well-being, you might have to move on even if it means leaving family and friends. I've done it.
Hard times are never fun. But they don't have to be the end of times. I said this in an earlier post - don't be a victim.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Construction Progress 2

Plumbing is done up top

Waiting for inspection

Need another inspection on the structural support - our guy thinks the inspector is being a jerk. This could lead to much drilling into our walls, floors, perhaps pouring footing in various places. We hope not.

Once that part is done the real business of framing the upstairs will start. It is possible that by Xmas they will have that done, windows in, roof broken through and rudimentary stairs in.

Having the roughed in new story available for all the family to see would be sooooo cool.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Nice Hike - Bad Picture Day

As I had no one to hike with on Saturday, I decided to do one of the shorter trails. I chose the Piedra Lisa trail. It is a trail toward the northern part of the Sandia west side. I hadn't hiked it in years.

I do the southern section, about 2 miles that goes from 6,700 feet to 8,100 - a nice bit of work but certainly no killer. The views from the ridge where this hike leads to and to the main part of the mountain to the east are spectacular.

Unfortunately, my trusty cell phone camera came up short. I don't know if I had a setting off or the brightness of the light was just too much, but most of the shots where not usable :(

So here are the slim pickings

My destination from about a third of the way up

Same Destination Just Before Final Ascent
(the trail is not really anywhere near as hard as it looks from this picture)

View to The West
If you blow the picture up and look at the upper right corner you can see Cabazon, a rather neat extinct volcanic core mountian

Looking North
This is a nice view of the northern half of the Sandia mountain. I've only hike that side once and only part way. It's on the agenda for the coming year.

Looking South
Just before descending, this is looking back toward Albuquerque with the full breath of the Rio Grande Valley before you

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Roasting Cauliflower

Roasting vegetables is so easy, I'm not sure why I don't do it more often. I had never done Cauliflower and I was in a hurry to make Wife dinner after coming home from a late meeting.

I simply tossed the cauliflower with some garam masala, cumin, onion powder, a little salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and vegetable oil put it in a baking dish and baked at 350 for 30 minutes. That gave me plenty of time to change my clothes and relax. Since we were having some leftover roast chicken as our protein. Nothing else was required.

The cauliflower came out very sweet with non of the wettness that you get from steaming or other water cooking techniques. Kudos as well for my flavor combination.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Clouds in the Morning

Pictures from my walk this morning

Monday, November 3, 2008

Calm Down - A Little Market History

I'm sure that many of you are decrying the losses in your 401(k) and are hearing many others crying about the losses they have had in their investments with many people saying they've had 40% hits. Well maybe that is true if you just bought all of your investments in the last part of 2007 or first part of 2008.

Unfortunately most people have the historical memory of a gnat. If you have been putting money into your retirement over a long period of time that is probably not true.

If you have been investing over the last 10 years your basis should be (using the DJIA) around 10000. In fact during the period of 1999-2002 and 2004-2006 it has hovered in the 10000 plus or minus range. 2006 was a year that saw the beginning of the big rise that has just ended with it beginning in the range of 10000 and ending the year at 12500. So with the market now in the low 9000's you average paper loss isn't that much

And remember there was a big drop in 2003-2004 when it was trading in the 8000 plus/minus range. So if you did any buying then, those investments really haven't lost much at all.

Finally it is helpful to note that during the period from 1991 to 1999 the DJIA rose from the 2000 range to the 10000 range. So if you started your investing during that period, you certainly have not lost money.

So in spite of all the trauma over the last few months (and not knowing what the future may bring) the current value is not that far out of line with what has been the experience over the last decade.

Don't get carried away with everyone whose only understanding of history is what happened last week.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Construction Progress

Stuff is actually getting built!

The trusses arrived correctly and the beginnings of the 2nd story can not start to be seen. They are also beginning to run all the ducting and conduits for heating/cooling, electrical, and plumbing.

View from the front at the trusses

View from the back where (if you click on the picture) you can see the ducting