Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Snowpocalypse 2009

A lot of people not from Texas are surprised that Texas gets its fair share of snow. Granted, it's not months and months of snow like in the northern regions, but in north Texas, where I grew up, we usually got a few weeks of snow every winter. Typically, the snow hit in late January or early February, but we sometimes had a white Christmas.

However, we never had anything like this year. (In the literary world, this is known as foreshadowing.)

Early last week, I drove up to my dad's in north Texas. I had planned on spending a few days there and leaving on Wednesday the 23rd. However, I later decided to stay an extra day and leave for the Dallas area (to visit my brother and his family) on Thursday.

Little did I know that that decision would forever change my life. (More foreshadowing and a lot of exaggeration.)

Around 4:00 AM Thursday morning I awoke to hear a heavy rain falling. It rained a few hours, creating a nice layer of ice on the ground. Later, still early in the morning, it began to snow. By the time I tried to leave there were already several inches of snow on the ground. I was unable to get my car on the highway. I was also unable to get my car back up the driveway, so my car remained uncovered the rest of the day.

It snowed almost the entire day with the wind gusting to 30-40 MPH. Several of the highways in the area closed, and some travelers were stranded for 10-12 hours. Many had to abandon their cars. By the end of the day, my hometown reportedly had 15 inches of snow. As far as I can remember it's the most snow we've ever had.

On Christmas morning I again thought about driving to my brother's. However, several of the roads remained closed, and my car was going to take some time to dig out. So I stayed one more day.

By Saturday morning I was ready to leave. I was a little burned out on playing the Wii, and I really wanted to sleep in my own bed. After I dug out my car, my sister and some neighbors helped push me out of the driveway, and I headed out.

The roads were still somewhat icy, but on the major highways there was usually one lane that was fairly clear. The most difficult part was passing the really, really slow traffic because that meant switching over to the lane that was less clear. Several of the abandoned cars were still on the side of the highway.

The first part of the trip was very slow-going. It took 3 hours to travel a distance that normally would take 1 hour. But once I got far enough south the roads were much better. Once I got south of Ft. Worth, there was no snow or ice to be seen at all.

So, after 8 hours of traveling, including a stop at my brother's to drop off Christmas presents (and to play Guitar Hero), I finally made it back home. It was nice to finally sleep in my own bed.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Canine Massage Therapy

I was getting my hair cut today. My hairstylist has been cutting my hair for years, so we usually chitchat about things going on in our lives. Today, she mentioned an additional career that she wanted to try, which involved going to Canine Massage Therapy School.

I paused, wondering if I heard her correctly. And I thought, did a Mr. and Mrs. Canine open a massage therapy school, or was there a school to teach massage therapy for canines? So I asked.

And yes, she wants to learn massage therapy for canines. Again I paused, wondering just how tense could a dog's life be. Do they get knotted muscles from the stress of laying around the house all day? Do they complain all day about their backs hurting because they "slept wrong?"

It was explained to me that this massage therapy was for rehabilitation, not relaxation. So, in the future if you have a dog who needs to rehab from a surgery or injury, I might have a specialist I can recommend.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The D stands for awesome!

It's been said that you can't give yourself a nickname. In an episode of Seinfeld George Costanza tries to get people to call him "T-Bone" only to end up with the nickname "Gammy." In my youth I once tried to get people to call me "Doc" because my first two initials are D.R. No one ever called me "Doc."

That's not to say I didn't have a nickname or two growing up. Since my full name is Donald and my incredibly handsome twin brother's full name is Ronald we heard our share of Ronald McDonald variations. And yes, we've heard them all.

(And just to clear up a common joke: we were often told that if we'd been triplets the "other one" could have been named Mack so it would be Ronald, Mack, Donald. My response: Look, genius, it's not MacDonald's, it's McDonald's. The "other one" would have been named Mick. Get the joke right.)

Some classmates used to call me Onald to ensure they were never calling me by the wrong name. An older kid in the neighborhood used to call Ron and I "Ding" and "Dong" which was actually one of my favorite nicknames. And my dad still refers to me as Ronald-Donald because he likes to pretend he doesn't know which one I am.

Recently, however, I was able to give myself a nickname that stuck. At my job we did a lot of software demos (and still do). It involved calling a conference number and logging into a meeting application such as WebEx or LiveMeeting. When someone was doing a demo they would have to share their desktop with the other attendees. To do that, the moderator or the most recent presenter would have to scroll through the names of the attendees and make them a presenter. If there was a lot of people in the list it sometimes took several minutes to find the name of the next presenter.

So I decided to do the old phone book trick of signing in with an "A" name, ensuring my name would be near the top of the list, and making it easier to find. The name I used: Awesome Don.

Over the course of several months and many, many demos that name stuck. Perhaps it was for ironic reasons (like calling a bald man Curly), but it stuck nonetheless. And recently, the nickname has spilled out into life outside of work. People ask me how I got that name, and I could tell them the boring truth (like I just did), or I could make up a fantastic story about doing something truly awesome.

Or I could just tell them that my name is Don, and the D stands for awesome!