Category Archives: Friends and Family

MS150 2012: Houston to Austin with Team G&B (and MRE)

This was my ninth year riding the “MS150,” an annual charity bike ride benefitting multiple sclerosis research.   It’s usually 180 miles (in two days) though a route change this year shortened my ride to just about 165 miles.   I’ve ridden each of my nine rides alongside longtime-friend Scott Humphries.  For the last eight MS150s, we’ve led a small “Team G&B” (Gibbs & Bruns) group.  For the past few years, we’ve become honorary members of the MRE Consulting team, too.  Our jerseys even had a half-serious MRE sponsorship logo.  MRE was founded by my two friends Shane Merz and Mike Short.

Thanks to Team G&B riders Jon Worbington, Mike Absmeier, John Neese, Stacy and Scott Humphries, Andrea Young, and Bob Stokes (pictured) for making this another fun  and successful trip.  Congrats to first-timers Jon and Andrea.  HUGE thanks to Maidie Ryan, our support driver, and the Shane and Michele Merz and Mike Short of MRE for riding with us and for letting us join their fun.

Jack Humphries & the River Cats

A few nights back, Jackson Humphries’ team (the River Cats) had an evening ballgame.  Jack is the son of my friends, Stacy and Scott Humphries, I had 30 minutes or so to get some pictures before dark.  Lots of heroics by the River Cats.   A couple of pictures below are of John Stokes, son a Bob and Macy Stokes.  Coincidentally, John’s team (with Bob as a coach) was on the receiving end of the River Cats’ big victory.


Bigtime Ragtime with Olivia Reasoner

Back from Cuba and seeing something much closer to home and heart.  If you’re looking for Olivia’s more-recent performance, as Dorothy in Oz, click here.

I can remember being in a play or two in grade school and high school, but they were NOTHING like this.  Olivia Reasoner, my goddaughter (daughter of my Houston friends, Barrett and Susan Reasoner) is “starring” (at least in my, Barrett and Susan’s eyes) in a production of the musical “Ragtime” at the Miller Outdoor Theatre in Houston.  Though all the actors (except a couple in roles like “Grandfather”) are 20 years old or less, this is not a high school play; it’s Bigtime.

That’s Olivia with the pink bow in her hair (and pink trim on her white dress).  She’s mastered the art of looking good and maintaining a beaming smile while belting out Broadway show tunes.  That’s also her “protesting” in a brown dress (below).  She was great!

The crowd looked like at least 2,000 people.  The staging, costumes, lighting and orchestra were all Broadway quality.  Most of the lead roles were high schoolers, with younger kids like Olivia filling out a lot of the chorus.  The actual attempted 2009 Broadway revival of Ragtime was an unpopular flop (the script is as long as it is preachy), but the Houston kids pulled it off with style — and were actually good enough to make you forget they were “kids” at all.  Congrats to all the Reasoner clan.   Bravo! Olivia!

(PS:  The theatre has an emphatic “No cameras” policy.  So these pictures officially do not exist.  It’s difficult to be inconspicuous in an aisle seat, sporting a foot-long lens.)






Hooray for Hollywood!?!


On my flight to LA recently, I was reading a book which, coincidentally, mentioned some research about living in California. It’s a great book, by the way: Thinking Fast & Slow. I swear it will make you wiser, happier, and richer. The author is a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in economics. I know he’s wise, and I’ll bet he’s also happy and rich.

According to the “California” research, most Americans believe they would be happier if they lived in California.  But the same research found that there is no perceptible difference (on average) between the happiness of Californians and that of other Americans – California’s climatic advantages get lots of attention, but they are not important determinants of actual happiness for most people.  The lessons?  (a) People often forecast poorly the extent to which something will actually make them happy (or unhappy); and (b) “Nothing in life is as important (in terms of making you happy or unhappy) as you think it will be when you are specifically thinking about it.”  The lesson also applies to new cars, lost loves, having kids, amputations, and the outcomes of presidential elections or sports championships.


My friends Roger and Kathy Willard may be an exception to that California study.  They were not at all convinced they’d be happier in Tinseltown when “work” took them there four years ago, but they seem to be thriving.  Roger and Kathy were both friends of mine at Arthur Andersen when I worked there (in OKC) in the 1980s, both were in my wedding in 1992, and then the two of them got married and moved to Houston and lived 2 blocks from me for about 8 years.  They are two of the most hard-working, smart, sensible people I know.  If I had a big business to manage and you told me I had to pick a married couple to run it, they’re my hands-down pick.

Roger was my “boss”, mentor and hero when I was a new CPA in Oklahoma (in a prior life/millenium); he became a partner at Andersen before its post-Enron demise.  Nowadays he travels the earth doing acquisitions for a global engineering firm, then enjoys that sunny SoCal weather by golfing on the weekends year-round.  Kathy’s job is the reason they moved to L.A.  She’s the CFO of LiveNation (they own Ticketmaster and the House of Blues, for example, and run concert tours for people like Madonna, the Eagles and U2).   One dubious claim to fame is that when Charlie Sheen drank “tiger blood” and waved a machete at the paparazzi, he was standing on Kathy’s private office balcony.  A much-more-impressive claim to fame is that Billboard Magazine lists her at #3 in its Women In Music list of the most powerful women in the industry.  Another magazine listed her as one of three global “CFOs to Watch” in 2012.  That’s pretty damn impressive!

Roger and Kathy were nice enough to host me in their home for a few days while I was in LA.  (I threatened to become their own private Kato Kaelin).  Roger took me to Venice Beach one evening – that’s where I took a lot of these pictures (including the not-so-glamorous “sleeping bag” picture).  That’s Roger in the white top and sunglasses (and with Catwoman.  That’s NOT him in the red shorts).  That’s Kathy in front of the Beverly Hills sign.  Did I forget to mention that she’s also a hottie?  I followed her to work one morning and made her pose for me in front of that sign, which is about two blocks from her office (the Hollywood sign on the hillside would have been more fitting, but it wasn’t on her path to work.).


Full-Scale Retreat (Santa Barbara 2012)

I have been with the same law firm – Gibbs & Bruns, LLP — my entire career.  A big tradition of the firm is its annual “retreat,” in which all the lawyers and their spouses/dates go somewhere cool for 3-4 days and just hang out and have fun.  No work; no meetings.  Needless to say:  it’s great for morale.  In 19 years I never missed one.   I was honored that, despite my current mostly-retired “Of Counsel” affiliation these days, I got to join the crowd in Santa Barbara for this year’s retreat.  As always, it was a great experience with friends and colleagues set against the backdrop of a fun destination.  A huge thanks to my now-former partners for still letting me come along!

Apparently, the recent departure of the Firm’s big-tightwad former Managing Partner (yours truly) resulted in an upgrade of the retreat budget.  The Biltmore in Santa Barbara is a paragon of California-style swankiness.  There was a croquet court outside my room, for example, and the hotel’s “beach club” had an Olympic-sized pool.  That Bentley convertible (see picture above) got parked right up front, but the valet parkers (clad in matching argyle sweaters) would put “mere” Mercedes or BMWs discretely behind the hedges.  There’s a part of me that’s never quite comfortable in such places, and another part that finds them hilarious.  Beautiful place,though.

I spent most of my time hanging out with the crowd rather than roaming the area with my camera.  The pictures above are just around the grounds of the resort.  (Maybe I can get hired on as their full-time live-in resort photographer.  They actually have one, and he’s 85 years old.  Not a bad gig.)  A few of the pictures below are on a hike in the hills above town, or at lunch near the marina.  The couple re-enacting the Corona commercial below are Scott and Stacy Humphries.


There’s one still-pending lawsuit for which I have responsibility.  It’s been “on hold” for over two years pending a judge’s ruling.  Coincidentally, that ruling (a good one for us ) came down while we were on the retreat.  Looks like the case will be reactivated for a trial in Arizona some time in the next year or so, so I may have to dust off a couple of my favorite suits and re-enter the ranks of the grown-up real world for a few months.   Yikes!