Saturday, February 28, 2009

I need a Break!

We left Tulsa this morning for a trip to Vegas and the NASCAR race this weekend. As you may have heard the Tulsa airport is the test sight for the Full Body Scans that will replace the metal detectors. You still have to empty things and take off things. You go into a kiosk and hold your hands high in the air. They take a picture of you and you walk out. I would have enjoyed it more if the people at the monitor were not doubled over laughing, when I walked out. Just kidding.
Once checked in at our hotel, we went to In & Out Burger for a fix. They are that good. We went to the track for a while. Tomorrow is shopping, sight seeing, eating and gawking. We may go see Blue Man Group or Ron White. The Race is Sunday. Vegas remains the craziest place that I ever go. It has been almost 2 years since our last trip. There are so many changes and new hotels. The airport is the easiest to maneuver of any and the rental cars now have their own terminal. These people could teach the whole world (except Disney) about how to move people. More later.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Last Monday I mentioned a mistake that was made on one of our projects. Today, I will explain Mike's Theory of msitakes (Mistakes). But first a story:

23 years ago in another life, I was Director of Architecture for a large corporate Architectural/Engineering firm in Tulsa. The firm had about 50 of staff and I was over almost 30 of them. One day, one of our construction observers can to my office to report a problem with one of our large projects. The service elevator had been installed and the elevator "would not reach 2nd Floor!" It lacked 18". In my disbelief, I asked how such a thing could happen. How and why would the install it in that fashion. He explained That the building was laid out and constructed from the structural drawings. He went further and explained that the architectural plans shown the distance between first and second floor different distances depending on which drawing was used (the 18" difference. He said that whoever reviewed and approved the elevator drawings used the incorrect architectural details (and thus the mistake). I, as any manager type had been trained thus, asked who approved the drawings. Walter, the construction guy, replied, " We don't need to go there. Let's just decide that to do about it." The look on his face made me see his embarrassment and I pressed further. "Walter, I want to know who did this." He deferred once more. I pressed again. He saw it was futile and turned bright red and stammered, "You did."
To say the least, I learned and important lesson. A $15,000.00 lesson (1986 dollars).
Mike's rules for mistakes from that day forward became:
1. What is the problem?
2. What is the solution?
3. Which party is responsible for the correction? (Only if cost is involved) Not which person is responsible. If the team is going to accept responsibility for a job well done, it must as a team accept responsibility for the problem.
4. Correct it and move ahead.
5. Make it a learning experience.
When I put too emphasis on who checked the elevator drawings, I in fact placed blame. On me!
In fact the problem started when someone put the wrong floor to floor dimensions on the drawings. It continued when no one coordinated with the engineer's drawings. The contractor did not fully review the detail. And I kept the mistake alive.
I am not very quick in assigning blame to others for mistakes. I have made my share too.
The other thing I have learned that in business (and in life) is the quicker a mistake is corrected (and owned) the easier the rest of the project goes.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Mike's picks for the Academy Awards

I have waited till I had seen as many of the nominated movies as possible to make my picks. Not that mine mean anything, it is just fun. This is the Movie Super Bowl. So:

Best Actor: I saw them all. Before today I thought Frank Langella was the best for Frost/Nixon. I was glad that Richard Jenkins was nominated for the Visitor.

Should win: Sean Penn (Milk)

My favorite: Sean Penn

Best Actress: I saw all but Melissa Leo (Frozen River?)

Should win: Kate Winslett (The Reader)

My favorite: Kate Winslett

Supporting Actor: I saw all but Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road)

Should win: Heath Ledger (Dark Knight)

My favorite: Robert Downey Jr. (Tropic Thunder) Heath deserved it though. After all the role probably killed him!

Supporting Actress: I saw all of them. Critics are saying that Voila Davis deserves the win. But hey, she was only in the movie for 3 minutes?

Should win: Penelope Cruz (Vicky Christina Barcelona)

My favorite: Taraji Henson (Benjamin Button)

Best Picture and Director: I saw all of them

Should win: Slumdog Millionaire

My favorite: Slumdog with The Reader and Benjamin Button (close seconds)

Animated: Wall-E

Got Milk?

Today we went to see "Milk". It was the only movie up for Best Picture that we had not seen. "Milk" is the story of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person elected to public office in the U.S. I have been watching Sean Penn since "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" and he is simply one of the best actors of all time. I was totally blown away by his acting in "Mystic River" and this role is the polar opposite of that (as to character). Many, including me, get uncomfortable watching gay guys making out, but this movie is history. (I still haven't seen Brokeback Mountain!) This movie covering an important time in our history when California was voting on Proposition 6 (aimed at letting gays be fired from jobs because of being gay.) It also revisits the role of Anita Bryant (Tulsa gal) in this fight. The movie uses actual news footage throughout that helps frame the story that ends in 1978 when Milk is killed. It is not my pick for best picture, but Sean Penn should probably win Best Actor. I give the movie ***1/2 stars. I give Sean Penn *****star out of 5.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Bob the Builder Live!

"Can we do it? Yes we can!" No friends that is not an Obama rally, it is Bob the Builder Live! Seems Barak borrowed the motto of Bob. It is a call that most kids under 5 already know. Tonight, I learned. I know my priorities, too. When we saw the Eagles, we were in the upper deck. When we saw Kenny Chesney, upper. Brad Paisley, lower level but back a ways. same for Celine. Bob the Builder: 4th row! The grandsons were decked out in their yellow hard hats and holding a battery powered wind mill that throws off bright colors.

(The show's theme was recycling and wind energy!) If I was a Republican, I would have sworn that this was liberal brain washing of our young! As it was, it was a show that Addison (2) hung on every word, song and gesture. All the kids had a great time. All the ADULTS smiled and bought all the Bob the Builder stuff (paying more for the hats than the tickets cost.) Now that is something that a Republican could understand.
We were glad we could take the boys. Their smiles were worth any price.

Thinking that I had successfully planted another seed in their minds that they would follow me into the construction world. Avery announced as we pulled away from the parking lot, "Do you know what I'm going to be when I grow up? A monster truck driver!"

The International

We went to the movies last night to see, "The International" starring Clive Barker. It is a timely little spy thriller about corporate banks controlling the world. It is a good flick for a popcorn movie. It is also a rare opportunity to watch a shoot out in one of Frank Lloyd Wright's prize buildings. (ah, special effects ) It is a cautionary tail about the manipulation of society, but it is not as scary as real life. ** stars

I must say though that when they started advertising, "The International", my mind would drift to the Christopher Walken skits on Saturday Night Live and I couldn't keep from smiling.

During the movie, I thought that Walken's "International" character would have been a great substitute to Barker's.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

15 albums

One of those lists that people use on facebook came to me today. My friend, Jim Blair, sent a challenge to name the 15 albums (records, cds, etc.) that impacted my life. He listed his and I saw that we had a lot in common. These do not necessarily reflect our favorites but do represent an important passage or time. I tried to do it in a logical way, but 15 is not a lot and I kept thinking of albums that I had forgotten. This is my attempt. It is interesting that each is an important point in my life, but I do notice that many of my favorite artists aren't included!

1. I Walk The Line, Johnny Cash (my first album, Haskell did not have a large selection.)

2. Beatles 65 (My favorite early rock album)

3. Endless Summer, The Beach Boys (I get Around, favorite high school song)

4. Mad Dogs & Englishmen, Joe Cocker (My introduction to Leon Russell)

5. A1A, Jimmy Buffet (became a Parrot Head)

6. Beatles White Album (Our first year of marriage & and a Christmas present)

7. Tapestry, Carol King (Got us thru Fort Leonardwood)

8. Red Headed Stranger, Willie Nelson, (My conversion to country)

9. Road to Hell, Chris Rea (just blew me away)

10. Roses, Kathy Mattea (one of the best crafted set of songs ever)

11. Roll With it, Steve Winwood ( soundtrack of the late 80's)

12. Greatest Hits, Dan Fogelberg (soundtrack of the early 90's)

13. *for the ones I forgot!

14. Songs from the Daily Planet, Todd Snider (This century)

15. Mission Temple Fireworks Stand, Paul Thorn (My Current Life Soundtrack)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


answer: The wrench. It's the only one that can't be opened.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bad Days and Mondays

I knew it was going to be a bad day when one of the staff called from the office to ask if this was a holiday, because when they got there the place was locked and no one home. That got better. Then I got to the office and opened my e-mail. Someone in an organization (close to me) sent me a message telling me how they wanted to redesign something that I was working on (for free) and how they needed the changes and the pricing by Friday (for free and without input). At that point I took a breath. Then by e-mail told them that if they were going that far keep going, I was not needed. That got better. Then after lunch I get a call from a construction site, we had made a mistake on the drawings. At that point I retreated to spider solitaire, but somehow that didn't help. I called the owner and explained that we will fix the issue. Then I called my insurance company and told them, "Hey, guess what?" These mistakes happen so rarely that I think the office will all go to lunch and celebrate. Yes, celebrate. If this was a perfect world, I would not be allowed in. Celebrate that if this is a bad day, we really have it good! As I have learned, it is all compared to what. I know bad days. Sometimes my eyes are clouded, but this was not one of those. As I learned heard a preacher say this weekend, "The main thing in life is to make the main thing in life the main thing in life."

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Mike does NOT go to a Movie

Yes, it has been 7 days since I have seen a movie. I did, however, go to Fort Worth and eat, eat, eat and drive, drive, drive. Happy Valiumtines Day and Presidents Day (Those who get off!) My boss won't let me off.

I will make a movie this week, but my culture calendar is full. Friday, we take the boys to BOB, the Builder. This may be better than Springsteen.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday the 13th

Techno World 2

I am not a techno-geek. Our DVD player still blinks "12:00" on the clock. I have all the bells and whistles stuff, but do not use 25% of the capability of these items. I do like that they have much and better memory than I.

Last night, I had an interview for a church project in McAlester. Two churches are merging and building on a ten acre site that houses one of the churches. The interview was at 6:30 pm and I set in my truck wondering why no one had arrived. Given that most people are late for church, it wasn't that unusual. At 6:15 both my watch and my phone, in unison, sounded out. I looked at one then the other. Both said: "church interview, 3rd and Carl Albert". That was not my location! I made it to the correct location in time. Saved again by techno world! I liked being synced.

On another front, I have XM radio in all of our cars and Sirius in two of them. Now that the two companies are merging, there programing is similar and there will soon be no reason to have both. I called to get the Sirius removed from my truck from Sound World and Ernie says, "I'll have to get back with you. We have never removed one! We don't know what to charge!" He soon called back and it is scheduled. Techno World marches on.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Just do it!

Today, I was pondering the class that I would lead tonight. We are studying a DVD series, "Suffering and the Sovereignty of God". This is NOT a superficial study. It deals with human suffering and the why of it. Last week we started a lecture by Dr. Mark Talbot entitled, "All the Good that is Ours in Christ" (Seeing God's Gracious hand in the Hurts Others Do Us). Tonight we finish it. He mentions in his opening remarks of his accident, but never explains. I was pondering this today and so I googled him. I found out where he was and all that he has published, but no clue to the accident. So-o-o-0 I called him!

he was not at the school (Wheaton University, Illinois, but I got his answering machine and then his home phone. I called and his wife answered and then I talked to him! He is a nice guy and immediately sent an email containing 2 documents. There was a writing that tells of his accident, and a more in depth version of the talk we are listening to. He even said call again if anything. He also talked about how his wife usually screens his calls, but let me through. He also surprised that I would call (and a little delighted). he told me that he was writing a new book on Christian suffering. I told him that I felt that Christians do not discuss this subject in any depth.
he said that was why the book!

I must say it was a neat few minutes. I have never talked to an author while I was studying their work. Pretty Cool.

I think I will give old John Grisham a call!
By the way: When he was 17, he fell 50 feet from a Tarzan type rope and broke his back leaving him partly paralyzed.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Good Read: The Associate

I am reading "The Associate" by John Grisham. It is a timely legal tale about Wall Street greed and the how far people will go to satisfy their greed. John Grisham is unique because he is not only one of the most popular writers of mass fiction, but he is a Christian. He can and does weave it into many of his books in a way that shows the world the good side of our faith. The story follows a guy through his last year of law school, taking the bar exam, going to work for a large greedy firm.

The part of the book where he waited to see if he passed his exam, reminded me of the day I found out i passed the Architect's Exam. We celebrated by going to the movies to see the premier of "Towering Inferno" starring Paul Newman (the architect) and Steve McQueen (Fire Chief). Talk about a bad movie. My test paid off immediately when I saw all of the things in the movie that were totally not possible such as Architect Newman opening an electrical panel, grabbing a pair of snips and starting to cut live wires.

Now that reminds me of my current peeve with one of my favorite shows, "24", (Though others do it too). Good old Jack Bauer calls the head quarters and says, "Upload the schematics of that building into my cell phone." This envisions that somewhere in the USA there is a file of every possible building plan that is somehow updated daily. Man, would I like that contract!

I don't how I connected the book with "24" but there it is.

By the way the book, moves fast and is a great story. They have already started making the movie of it starring the young actor from Eagle Eye and Indiana Jones 4 (Shia LeBeouf).

Friday, February 6, 2009

IRS Blindside, PART 2

Remember, my blog last month about the IRS sending us a "Notice to Levy Certain Assets" because they claimed we owed them $25.25 from 2006. Remember how i said it probably cost a few hundred dollars to collect this small amount. Well, we sent them a check for $25.25 to stay out of jail. In today's mail receive back a check from THEM for $25.28. WE MADE 3 CENTS ON THIS DEAL! But that's not all the check noted that the 3 pennies was for 12 days interest. They also attached a card that said that we would soon receive a SECOND letter explaining what they did. Oh Goody!

We have just received a 3 penny stimulus!

He's just not into this movie!

We continued our new Friday ritual and went to a late afternoon movie. Carol had an item to return at a store so I went ahead to the box office to buy the tickets. When I asked for two tickets to "He's Just Not That into you", the kid says, "Aw man is she making you go to that "Chick Flick?" I grinned and said we go to many movies. He says that he couldn't take these chick movies. (He thinks he is a manly man.) Funny thing is he is exactly who needs to see this movie! I have two thoughts about the movie that portrays dating in the new century. 1. There are a lot of strange ideas about relationships out in the big world. 2. I thank God I'm not out there in that scene! Being 60 and settled works fine with me.

Yes, I guess it is a Chick Flick, but it is the week for that. After all I started the week with Celine Dion! But I have to say it is a little strange when guys think that its too much talk, and not enough sex , violence, and car chases. I guess some think that it is romantic to take a date to slasher movies, and sex comedy (Seth Rogen) gross outs.

Any who. For adults, the movie portrays several different stories and circumstances that are entertaining and have food for thought. (If you want to think!)
**1/2 stars (note: no nudity, no bad sex talk, pg13 profanity)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Did you know?

I have added a video bar to the blog. Not sure yet about sound interference from my music. For this first one just turn down the sound and READ. It is powerful food for thought.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Celine Dion Concert

We went to see Celine Dion in concert last night. It was a cross between a Broadway Musical, Concert and TV special. After the Brad Paisley show last week I realize that concerts are making a giant production change. The In-the-round stage was fully hydraulic and segment could rise up to 15 feet or lower out of site. To sides of the stage had moving walks so that she or the 8 dancers could glide, run in place or whatever. there were two sets of four giant screens above the stage. The lower set sometimes lowered and became transparent with her inside and then gave effects like she was in a snow storm. It was very architectural. The photos are from google but all are from the concert tour. She was as good as expected. I really enjoyed the show and I am not Gay. (That is a comment that about 25% of the males present could not truthfully say!)

Of Course not everyone likes Celine!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Techno World

A few months ago everything was seemed so quiet. I had a cell phone but I'm not a phone person. I had email and Internet, but they were just there to assist me during the day. Suddenly, I realize that without much thought, I fell into a techno world hole! iphones, blogs, and facebook, oh my! I got an iphone because it is cool. Now on a typical night after 9pm, Carol and I are setting in our chairs watching a TV show that we have recorded (We watch very little live TV anymore.) and playing games that we have downloaded to our phones. Friday night we got to the movies early so we set in the theater playing games. I feel guilty when I don't blog everyday. Why? I don't know. For a lark, I signed up for Facebook just see what the fuss was. I was not ready for that. I am setting at my computer at the office and as I am typing this, I received two more friends! My computer is going crazy with chatter back and forth. There is fresh blood in the water and every one's computers have sensed that I am around and asking me like Mr. Rogers: "Won't you be my friend?" I guess I will buy Facebook for Dummies to see what the next step is.