Monday, December 21, 2009

Only ___ online shopping hours until Christmas (fill in the blank)

Do you shop online? Do you do this routinely, or just at Christmas?

I ask because a big part of the news coverage this holiday season, as it was last year, was how our retail economy is faring in a generally bad economy. And while I don't know anyone personally who's forcibly unemployed, I'm sure that people I know DO know such folks, as you might. So, with all of that going on, the media has been highlighting every trend in retail sales since Thanksgiving, trying to divine some meaning that will tell us where the economy is headed.

And today's morning news coverage spoke volumes about how fragile this economy has become as retailers all along the east coast suffered because of the wintry blast that dumped feet or at least many inches of snow on major cities. But what I didn't see is any mention of a corresponding jump in retail sales by homebound shoppers looking to check off their shopping list.

I actually had a customer once who ran a family-owned business and surrendered the child-rearing and housekeeping duties to her husband. When the seasonal subject of Christmas shopping arose she sighed and said, "My children don't get anything for Christmas that cannot be bought online." And she meant it, as well as her own emotions, as that meant that there would never be anything that could not be shipped, so no ponies or anything absurdly large. And that also meant that there would be nothing unique that she would simply encounter by chance in a store on a side street where she was forced to park.

Kinda takes the fun out of it, don't you think?

For my part, we do some shopping online every year, although the amount varies from year to year. And in some years we have to shop online for the Colorado branch of our family, as there are retail establishments, restaurants and such that we simply don't have in Kentucky, so if you want to buy from them, that's the only way. But for the most part it works, stuff is in stock, they'll gift-wrap your items and the shipping is often free. But most importantly for me the lines are a hell of a lot shorter than at the traditional bricks-and-mortar store locations.

So I don't think I'll be following the lead of my former customer, but if you're already there, good for you, as you've injected a little more efficiency into the process. Unless you simply can't stop shopping, which means you now have about eighty hours until Christmas.....


Monday, December 7, 2009

The Christmas-yard dash

My wife and I did our Christmas shopping over the weekend.

You read that correctly. We didn't start the process, nor did we "get a leg up" on the entire shopping list. We completed ALL of our holiday shopping. And did so in a foreign location called Cincinnati, Ohio.

Allow me to explain....

Two or maybe three times a year, we make a trip to Cincinnati, largely because it's the biggest and best city that's less than two hours away by car. Because my job requires me to travel extensively, I accumulate a large quantity of hotel points, so we use those points for a room at a better hotel chain. And because the hotels are really hurting for leisure business, we don't have to pay out as many points as before, and sometimes get free stuff along with our stay. This particular time we were granted a room on the concierge level, so there were fewer people up there, and were comped our breakfast both days. So our primary cost--lodging--is no longer an issue, and on this occasion, free meals were part of the experience, too! Plus the visits allow us to dine in some restaurants that we don't have here in our hometown of Lexington, KY, so that's fun and interesting, too.

The other thing worth mentioning is that with our daughter and her family living in Colorado, it's necessary to have the process completed somewhere by mid-December so that we can ship their gifts to them in time for Christmas. With her family growing again this year and with the unpredictability of weather and flight schedules over the holidays, we accept that we won't see each other during that period in exchange for the knowledge that no one is stranded somewhere and forced to sleep in an airport terminal.....

But the shopping part is primarily why we go in November or December every year, but even though this is something close to an annual pilgrimage, I don't remember a time in the past when we were this efficient with our time and effort, as we systematically checked off a fairly lengthy list for family and friends. In two instances we saw items that inspired us to place Internet orders due to size and color selection issues, but in the end we visited two malls plus a number of other shopping centers in order to complete the process. We were tired but VERY satisfied with our effort, and now we have eighteen days until Christmas.

The secret? Well, there really isn't one, except it's good to be organized, and you must have a budget, or else the entire process can get away from you in a real hurry!

So I'll accept your congratulations and even your accolades, at least until we realize we forgot someone.....

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Observations on the sporting life

I'm no sports expert, nor am I a journalist of any ilk, but what I am is a very interested observer in many aspects of the sports world. And a few things caught my attention since my last posting, which was about my Kentucky Wildcats of various sports. To wit:

KENTUCKY FOOTBALL LOSES 25TH CONSECUTIVE GAME TO TENNESSEE: What is it about trying to beat their border rivals that causes so much heartache for Kentucky's up-and-coming football program? Around Lexington there was a lot of talk that "this could be the year" and I even encountered a member of Kentucky's athletic administration who gave me a couple of "Beat Tennessee" bumper stickers, which popped up all over town. Yet, once again, the Cats fell short and disappointed fans question coaching decisions, etc. Truth be told, Tennessee's skill players appear to be better, for the most part, than Kentucky's, and in greater supply. Until that changes we can expect this quarter-century streak to continue.

TIGER WOODS INJURED IN UNUSUAL AUTO ACCIDENT: My, the waters filled with sharks awfully quickly after this story broke. That this occurred within days of a tabloid's revelation that Tiger was allegedly enjoying an extracurricular affair with a restaurant hostess is potentially not a coincidence, but I side with the few in the media who say that it's really his business, not the public's. What this might do to sully Tiger's reputation is the public's business, I suppose. Regardless, there's probably a logical explanation, but only those close to the situation know what that explanation is.

SAINTS 11-0: Need I say more? Has a city ever needed this kind of feel-good story more than New Orleans? I've only visited there once, well before Katrina took the wind out of this city's sails, but it's great to see the citizens of that area have something that can give them justifiable pride. Well done, Sean Payton, Drew Brees (my son's favorite fantasy quarterback) and the rest of the Saints. Anyone remember when they were scornfully called the Aints? I do....

HOCKEY PLAYER INJURES TEAMMATE WITH OWN STICK: Say what you will about other "major" sports, but there's no less strange combination of stunning athletic ability and brute force than professional hockey, especially in the National Hockey League. Just last night a Florida Panthers player swung his stick wildly in frustration at allowing an opposing player to score. In doing so he hit his own goalie in the head. The goalie appears to be well on the way to a full recovery, but that just shows that it's very easy to get hurt in this rough-and-tumble sport. Now, let's be careful out there....

THANKSGIVING NFL GAMES TURKEYS THIS YEAR: Other than the unexpected beatdown that the Broncos put on the Giants Thanksgiving night, the NFL could see from miles away that the two earlier games, Green Bay at Detroit and Oakland at Dallas, were going to be one-sided, boring affairs. My wife and I were thankful that the DVR was full and we had some time to play catch-up, as we invested little time in either of the day's games, waiting for that evening to see the Broncos whup the Giants.

NOTRE DAME FIRES CHARLIE WEIS, PAYING RUMORED $18 MILLION TO SAY GOODBYE: Need I say more? That may be why the "elite" college football coaches in the country are not exactly clamoring for the chance to coach at Notre Dame.

Now, be a good sport, will you?

Monday, November 23, 2009

On, on, U of K!!

How about those Cats?

To the uninitiated, I'm referring to the University of Kentucky Wildcats, who are putting together a memorable football season AND are off to a most entertaining start to their new basketball coach's tenure!

Let's first address the basketball Cats, as most folks around the country know Kentucky for basketball first and foremost. New coach John Calipari has done everything right to restore the confidence and enthusiasm of their massive worldwide fan base since being hired last spring, and now that all of the public relations are in place it's time to play basketball! Coach Cal has assembled a great group of recruits, including uber-recruit John Wall and blue-chippers Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton and DeMarcus Cousins and they join returning stars Patrick Patterson and Darius Miller. They've played several games, won them all (although one or two were closer than expected) and have displayed brilliance balanced with the need for development thus far. It's a great time to be a Kentucky basketball fan, I assure you!

That said, let's turn to FOOTBALL! My joke with people over the last couple of years, when Kentucky's basketball team was not as successful, was that Kentucky's now a football school! And each time I said that, I felt it to be more and more true....but now, it actually IS true! Kentucky's football Wildcats pulled off a double feat Saturday that hadn't been done since 1977....winning a football game against the University of Georgia in Athens AND winning three road football games against Southeastern Conference opponents in a single year! Coach Rich Brooks has done a phenomenal job reshaping the football fortunes of my alma mater, and the results this year are seven wins, four losses (two of them VERY close and winnable games), and bowl eligibility for the fourth consecutive year.

Can you tell that I have a bit of emotional attachment to the football Cats?

One more thing I should mention is that on my trip to and from the Georgia game last weekend I and a friend played a round of golf at the Harrison Bay state park just outside of Chattanooga, TN. It's a Jack Nicklaus Signature course and well worth the effort if you're passing through that area. We played with a local fellow named Bob who was a delight to spend a few hours with. He handed me and my traveling companion business cards identifying him as "No Job Bob." Could not have found a more worthwhile ambassador of that area!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Returning to my part of civilization

Since I travel quite frequently for my work, trips are pretty much old hat for me. But I'm on the way home from one of the more interesting trips I've taken in a while.

Before I elaborate, note that I'm writing this entry while using a free sample signin for Delta's onboard GoGo Wi-Fi service. Cool, yes?

Anyway, the primary thing that made this trip different is that my wife was already at our destination for a week before me. This was due to the arrival of our handsome new grandson, and my wife had been helping care for the little guy and his mom AND his big sister for the week before I joined the fun last Sunday.

As anyone who travels will attest, the time zone difference always presents some challenges. Making it worse is my stubborn habit of NOT changing my watch when visiting far-off lands such as Colorado or Arizona. This is largely because I need to stay abreast of what time it is when I call home, and because my sleep pattern and my stomach don't recognize the time change, I suppose I feel it's appropriate for my watch not to, either.

So then....as I mentioned, I attended the Monday Night Football game last Monday evening between the host Denver Broncos and the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. It was a pretty good game for about two-and-a-half quarters, but the home team faltered down the stretch and Pittsburgh was there to seize momentum and win the game. My son-in-law is a Steelers fan but opted to wear Broncos gear; I did my best not to chide him for not revealing his true passions (when I am a visiting fan for ANYTHING I ALWAYS wear my team's colors!), but it's my belief he did so for safety's sake. We were sandwiched into an upper deck section in a corner of the stadium among many Steeler fans, but had a great view of the field. The evening was lots of fun, but was spoiled a little by a ruckus in the men's room after the game. I'm still not clear what happened, but a Steeler fan of advancing years was being held back from a much younger Bronco partisan, who was also being restrained. No idea what caused it, but that certainly got the old adrenaline pumping.

The rest of the week was mixed; Tuesday and Wednesday I conducted some business in the field, blended with E-mails, phone calls and the like. Thursday was less so, and then Friday I had a heavy schedule of calls followed by a wonderful meeting with a woman with whom I had done some business some years ago. She lives in the eastern half of Colorado and we were able to find the time and place to meet for a catch-up lunch.

But the highlight of the trip, undoubtedly, was to spend time with our grandchildren, both our four-and-a-half year old granddaughter ("um, Poppy....?") and our spanking new grandson. The little guy appears to be still trying to figure it all out, I can tell, but slowly he and mom are moving into something approaching a routine. Hopefully for my daughter that routine will soon involve sustained sleep.

We're on the flight back; since my wife is flying on a ticket purchased with frequent flier miles and I bought mine the old-fashioned way, I'm sitting in first class (thanks to my over 120,000 accumulated miles this year) and she's in the coach section. What burns me up, though, is that there are four empty first class seats in front of me, one next to me, and several behind me, but the flight crew declined to bring my wife up to sit with me. Delta, if you're reading this, I'd like to talk with you.

And one more blurb to add....my beloved Kentucky Wildcats achieved yet another milestone on the football field today....to my knowledge, this is the first Kentucky squad to achieve bowl eligibility in four consecutive years EVER. Congrats to all of the players, coaches, trainers, support staff and especially the fans!



Monday, November 9, 2009

Stray thoughts

This is going to be one of those catch-all posts where it's not really about anything in specific (is it ever, though?).

I just traveled yesterday to the Denver area to meet my new grandson, and he's exactly as advertised! A very healthy, happy baby, doesn't make a lot of fuss and is very cute indeed. Can't decide which of his parents he most closely resembles, but in my limited experience with grandchildren, that perception continues to change over time.

OK, then.....

As I went to the security line of my local airport yesterday, I noted that there were five foreign women ahead of me and all apparently finding some difficulty with the language barrier. Along with that, all of them had more carry-on luggage than is customarily allowed, and to my utter astonishment, all of them had two laptop computers per person. Frankly, I cannot imagine why one would need two separate computers, but I'm sure it all made sense to them. All made it through the security checkpoint without incident, so I hope that all of them reached their destinations.

The other thing I found interesting about yesterday's travel experience was that two men speaking an Arabic language boarded my outbound flight not long after I did. What I found interesting was that everyone on the plane absolutely stopped all conversations while they were making their way to their seats, and then conversations resumed in a much quieter manner. Honestly, aren't we beyond that kind of suspicion?

If you take note of such things you've undoubtedly noticed that I follow a particular blog entitled "The Queen's Ramblings." I had the pleasure of seeing that blog's author on Saturday at a social occasion, and we had a good laugh about how her recent posts about sweater dresses were probably of great interest to me! If you haven't already done so, check out her blog!

I'm feeling pretty good today because my son-in-law and I will be attending tonight's Monday Night Football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos. It will be my first visit to Invesco Field at Mile High, but since our son-in-law and daughter are "locals" we should get some good intelligence on how best to get there, etc. I doubt I'll be seen on TV, as I'm not taking any signs and will be fully clothed throughout the game, and, heck, most of you wouldn't know me if you saw me anyway!

Have a good week.


Friday, October 30, 2009

A truly growing family!

Just wanted to provide those who pay attention with a quick update....we welcomed another family member overnight on Tuesday, as our daughter delivered a handsome baby boy! Mother and son are doing very well and were already home as of yesterday afternoon.

That, coupled with our now-two-week-and-one-day-old granddaughter, has made these last two weeks very special and VERY memorable! Gram heads out for field support in our daughter's locale and I'll follow about a week later (couldn't get out of a mandatory work meeting). Planning to continue spoiling all of them ABSOLUTELY ROTTEN!

Twizzlers and Mountain Dew can't be far behind..........just kidding. But I love what I've heard from other dedicated grandparents...the best part is giving the kids anything they want, then handing them back over to the actual parents. Very liberating, I think. We're already well into "spoil" mode with our granddaughter, who is so excited to see my wife (and eventually me) that she's been using a paper chain to mark how many days she'll have to wait!

Have yourself a safe and happy Halloween. I'm already in costume, as I'm dressed like a middle-aged guy. Pretty easy costume to put together, too.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Smitty's bargain barn--now open!

In my adult years I've been fortunate to have some pretty good success with garage sales. I'm not a buyer; I'm a seller, and not a bad one, either! I'm so good, in fact, that a pal of mine always refers to my sales as "Smitty's Bargain Barn."

My wife has always marveled at how well we usually do with these sales, wherein one gathers up unused or unnecessary items, making them available for sale. We've had probably a half dozen over the years, and exception we sell most everything that we intend to sell. The trick we've found is to determine what you're willing to get rid of, attempt to sell it, then take what's left to a charitable organization (like Goodwill, the Salvation Army or the like). That way, once you've made the conscious determination to part with an item, it goes away, so you're more ready to sell!

Here's a great example: last time out, I went though our books and DVDs, culling those titles that either didn't interest us anymore or that we simply didn't like (and that happens, believe me). Put those out for the sale, despite my wife's comment that no one was going to buy them, and wound up selling them all. Certainly, we didn't get top dollar for them, but they went away, and I had enough cash in the exchange to buy lunch.

And the funniest thing is that you cannot tell who's going to buy what. When I prepped for my last sale, I had accumulated a number of the giveaway bobblehead dolls from my beloved Cincinnati Reds. They're cheaply made, rarely look anything like the actual player, and take up space and are hard to clean around. So out they went. Can you believe that I sold them all to a seventy-something granny, buying them in hopes of surprising a grandson?

I like it when flea marketers come to call. Once I sold a twenty-year-old ladder, spattered with paint and rusting at the hinges, when a flea market dealer came and literally cleaned me out the first hour I was open. It was a throw-in, but I got ten extra bucks I didn't expect.

The garage sale concept can be extended to Craigslist. I know, one must be careful using that venue for buying and selling, but as long as you deal only in merchandise and accept cash only, all should be well. So far I've used Craigslist to sell old exercise equipment, an old cellphone (yes, it's possible), and most notably my old pipe collection. Since I hadn't used it since suffering a heart attack in 1993, and since doctors are never going to say that smoking in any form is harmless, it was time. And I had three different collectors vying for the opportunity to buy my collection.

Right now I'm in the midst of selling a couple more items on Craigslist. It astounds me that people are apparently shopping regularly and actively on that site, as I had an inquiry about an electronics item within an hour of posting it. At 9:00 this morning!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Gram and Poppy ride again

Our second grandchild arrived yesterday afternoon via Caesarean section. The little doll's gorgeous. She's also enormous, clocking in at ten pounds, one ounce, and the baby girl next crib down in the nursery weighed in at a slightly less impressive nine pounds, fifteen ounces. No boys born yesterday that I saw....they would probably have been afraid of these new, capable women.

But she's absolutely precious. I had the opportunity to hold her earlier today, and, just as with our first granddaugther, the feeling is indescribable. As a card-carrying stepfather I didn't have that opportunity with my kids, but you had better believe I don't miss an opportunity with my grandchildren.

I'm "Poppy," by the way, and my wife has the nom de grandparent of "Gram." She wasn't going anywhere near any name that involved the word "grand," so that's what our daughter came up with when she had her first a bit more than four years ago.

And I love the sound of our granddaughter addressing me as "Poppy." Except with her it's almost always said this way:

"Um, Poppy, _____?"

Well, you'd have to hear it to get it, but I just love it when I hear it.

I'd post a picture here, but since we're doing that "names have been changed to protect the innocent" thing, I'd better not. Suffice it to say that she looks nothing like me, thank God, but is already showing a strong resemblance to a nice combination of both of her parents' physical traits.

And we're expecting a baby boy via our daughter's Denver-based clan in about three weeks!

In short, it's a great time to be Gram and Poppy!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It pays (someone) to be healthy!

My wife and I both work in jobs that are in or related to the healthcare industry. As such, we're a a little better-informed than the average Joe but not experts by any means.

For several years she's carried our medical benefits, largely because we agreed that the carrier whose coverage is offered by her employer is better than mine, or at least it was eight years ago. So we've continued with her coverage for that long, and for the most part, it's been fine. We pay only modest co-payments for office visits and prescriptions, but as with so many of us, the co-payments have increased somewhat in the past couple or three years. We also formerly paid very little in the way of "out-of-pocket" expenses, and were never in a position to have to pay any percentage a hospital stay. And we've been lucky enough to only need a couple of ER visits for a kidney stone for me (what you've heard is true, the worst pain I have ever experienced), so the hospital stay aspect of this has been irrelevant for us.

I mention all of this because the plan that her employer now provides has a mix of HMO-style coverage (co-pays for MD office visits and prescriptions) and the dreaded deductible and maximum out-of-pocket mix that causes us to dip into our own funds more frequently than before. The obvious reason for this is so that my wife's employer can offer "coverage" at rates comparable to the previous year. And the employee's option is to accept is and pay his/her share of the premium, or decline it and go without. Not much of a choice, I'd say.

We're experiencing some of this as my wife and I have both found it necessary to have some diagnostic testing. Nothing serious, mind you, but the kind of thing where the doctors are either trying to confirm a problem or rule out a problem.

Well, I just got today's mail and received an explanation of benefits from our insurer. Looks like we'll have to go "out-of-pocket" a little more to pay for some testing that already took place, and I'm having some tests later this week. Gee, I can hardly wait to see what that costs, as I would be absolutely shocked if it's determined that we don't have a substantial portion of that to pay, too.

I keep telling myself to remember that there are others who don't have ANY insurance or ANY means of paying for their treatment.....so they don't have it. Small comfort, but until something changes and health insurance is more inclusive and more competitively priced, this is how it's going to be.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Say "cheese," or not.....

Sorry, but I couldn't help the pun with this entry's title....

I don't like cheese. Never have, never will. With the notable exception of pizza (which I believe is an exception because of the way it's packaged, cheese + tomato sauce + toppings + crust), I detest cheese in all forms. So you can imagine that in some cases it's a little challenging to eat out, when restaurateurs are geared to offer so many dishes, particularly sandwiches, that are loaded with cheese.

Recently my wife and I visited a national sandwich chain and I ordered two sandwiches, one for each of us, and asked that they both be prepared without cheese. There was something of a mixup at the counter and the sandwich maker handed responsibility off to the cashier, who verified that we didn't want cheese.....and added it anyway. I still don't know what she was thinking, but after discovering this and removing the offensive material from my sandwich (thank God it was a cold sandwich), I enjoyed it anyway.

This led to a strange dream in which I ordered sandwiches for my wife and me from a national chain known for their roast beef. Now, remember that this chain has a few sandwiches with cheese, but not all, and those that do come cheese-equipped are named accordingly. So, in my dream, imagine my unhappiness to arrive home with my food only to find that these sandwiches had cheese added and melted onto them! My dream continued with me storming back to the store with the food, making a scene, threats of the police being called, etc.

Thankfully it was only a dream, and I've not had occasion to visit there since awakening.

Well, enough of that.....on to other things.

I must say I was amused that some conservative pundits felt the need to pile onto President Obama and squarely blame him for the International Olympic Committee's selection of Rio de Janeiro, not the Obama hometown of Chicago, as the host city for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. These folks are blaming him for everything but the weather, and I don't think anyone can accuse him of not working, not trying, or not caring. But my opinion doesn't matter as much as those with the bully pulpit of a daily radio or television broadcast.

As the President character states in the movie "The American President," "These are serious times and they require serious people." Hmm....who should we say is serious here, and who's just throwing rocks?

I also read something a couple days ago that reminded me of a loss our literary culture suffered just in the last couple of years. Kurt Vonnegut left us in April 2007 and while he hadn't written a really meaningful work in a long time, I still miss him. To be sure, there are other writers I like and respect (more on them below) but Vonnegut was always my favorite. And so few of my friends and family "got" him, so it was a little like being part of a club when I'd find someone who did "get" his work.

I don't read as much as I used to, despite incessant business travel, as I've found it easier and lighter in weight to carry a small video/audio player than two books for every trip. But when I do read I have what I would consider to be eclectic tastes. For instance, I raced through the latest work by Dan Brown on a recent trip, and simply could not put that book down. That's my favorite form of reading--the "I can't stop" scenario. I also have read virtually every word that historian David McCullough has written, and still like John Grisham's lawyer novels very much (and read those at the same breakneck pace as Dan Brown's).

My other favorite writer is a business writer and observer, Tom Peters, who's currently hard at work on a new book due out during the winter. Something to look forward to!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Nothing in particular

A friend whom I told about this blog asked me what it's about. "Nothing," I responded. That's a bit how I look at this blog....no ongoing, consistent subject matter, just whatever strikes me as noteworthy or, in this case, blogworthy (that's not really a word, I don't think.....). So here are some stray observations about things since my last post:

I was in the Atlanta airport on my way home from a business trip and I saw an African-American man in my gate area who looked very familiar. He was wearing a suit and sunglasses indoors, which is always a little unusual, but not as much as it used to be. At this stage of my life I won't intrude by marching up to this fellow or anyone else and starting the "don't I know you" scenario, so I continued to glance in his direction to see if he might do or say something that might ring a bell. No bells. He passed me as he boarded the plane after me, and, again, I drew a blank on how or from where I might know him.

The answer came this morning, as he appeared on NBC's "Today" show reporting about something from my home state of Kentucky. The minute his face appeared on screen, I smiled and nodded. Another mystery solved!

Not far different from that was something that I experienced in New York a couple of years ago. I was in town to visit a client in early December, and had some time before my outbound flight. My client suggested I go to Rockefeller Center, as the traditional Christmas tree had been erected there and there was enough of a nip in the air to make it really feel like the holiday season. Sounded like a good idea, so upon leaving his office I got a cab and made my way there to see the sights.

I was walking outside just taking in the scenery and in the crush of people a man and I gently bumped shoulders. He apologized, and so did I, and then I realized that I recognized him from, again, television (I swear, I do more than watch TV, though this entry isn't making my case for me). I simply said, "You're ____, aren't you. I like your work." He was at the same time surprised to have been recognized (wearing a stocking cap doesn't exactly make you recognizable) and appreciated my having done so. We talked for about ninety seconds, shook hands and wished each other a nice holiday season. This man isn't exactly famous, but his face is seen regularly, so it was still kind of interesting.

Happens on airplanes and in airports more than anywhere else. I chatted with a college basketball coach on a plane leaving New York once, as I happened to be sitting next to the restroom and he was in line. Our eyes met, I said "You're ___," he smiled, he asked where I was from, and we shook hands and then he talked more about MY alma mater than the school he coached!

On a single trip where I connected through Chicago's O'Hare Airport I saw the actor Kevin Spacey riding one of those courtesy carts (you know, the big golf carts with the annoying "beep beep beep" that there primarily to help elderly or disabled people navigate the maze that is a large airport) and smiling and waving to everyone, and then on my return trip through the same airport I saw comic actor Bill Murray with some family and friends, having come to town for a Cubs playoff game. He posed for pictures with countless people and did NOT use the courtesy cart, so he gets extra points from me.

One more, and then I'll stop. The Greater Cincinnati Northern Kentucky airport used to operate a freestanding terminal that required a bus to take passengers from the main terminal building to and from it. This building was the terminal for regional jets, which are smaller and don't go quite as far as larger, more traditional airliners, but they're a necessary evil when you live in an area with a somewhat smaller airport (I ALWAYS fly a smaller plane to a bigger airport, then connect to my final destination on a larger plane).

Anyway, I was walking from my plane into this smaller subterminal and a little girl of seven or eight years of age walked right into my path and we bumped slightly. She politely and profusely apologized, I smiled and asked if she was OK. She said she was, and apologized again, and then told me to have a good trip. I smiled and wished her the same. Five minutes later, standing on the shuttle to the main terminal, the little girl again appeared, and I teasingly asked her if she was going to bump into me again. We both laughed, and then I looked up next to her and her father was standing there. He is a fairly well-known actor who's appeared in movies and television for some years, garnering Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. He could see that I recognized him by my facial expression, but I decided to simply compliment him on how polite his daughter was, whcih clearly delighted him.

For the remainder of the eight-to-ten-minute bus ride was exchanged small talk about travel, airports (he expressed surprise at the shuttle bus, saying he'd only seen that at an airport in Italy), and I then asked where they were heading. "Home," he replied, adding that home was Park City, Utah. He asked my destination, and while I can't recall where I was heading, it was for business, so that probably meant a far less exotic locale. As the bus stopped both he and his daughter wished me a good trip, and I returned the farewell. Nice people, I thought.

Most people are, as it turns out. In situations like that, we all have a reason to be coming or going, so why not be polite and decent while you're at it?


Friday, September 18, 2009

In a job search? Help is available!

I know that there are thousands upon thousands of people in this country who are looking for gainful employment and cannot find anything worthwhile. Some of the problem, unfortunately, may be that they aren't sure how to go about it. To be sure, there's lots of information online and from friends/relatives/coworkers, but the best way to conduct a career search is to determine the process and follow it to its logical conclusion!

I spent over ten years in the human resources and staffing field and would like to humbly suggest this:

http://www.ebookmall.com/ebooks/job-hunting---the-right-way-smith-ebooks.htm


Small investment that could pay big dividends! Good luck to all job seekers!

Gone but not forgottten

In my profile I joke that I like a great many different styles and performers of music, but no performers who are younger than I. The problem inherent with that preference is that, unfortunately, all of my favored artists will eventually pass away, leaving behind their recordings to be enjoyed in their absence.

One such performer who's already gone was Dan Fogelberg, who first scored a hit back in the '70's with a folk-rock song called "Part of the Plan" and continued to record and sell records successfully into the early 90's. If you were near a radio anytime during the 80's you probably remember his songs "Longer," "Leader of the Band" and "Run for the Roses," and, if you were a real fan, you know as I do that there were many, many more great songs and great concepts in his albums.

At some point, though, it seems that he was no longer a good fit for mainstream record companies (again, probably because he and his fan base were both getting on in years and because he had never sold zillions of records to start with) and he began to put out records independently, and less frequently.

Just a few years ago it became known publicly that Mr. Fogelberg was suffering from advanced prostate cancer and ultimately passed away from that disease in late 2007. His widow has since his death done some very worthwhile things to honor his legacy and to promote awareness of the disease that claimed his life.

Why do I mention all of this now? Because the late Dan Fogelberg just released a new album. It's called "Love in Time" and contains many songs that are just as enjoyable and poignant as his earlier work. How great is that?

It's my understanding that he wrote and recorded these songs (actually, a couple are not his compositions, but are no less worthwhile) after he knew that his end was coming, and left instructions that these songs be released after his death.

Would you want the opportunity to leave something behind that's indelibly yours, that would be so closely identified with you that it would have to have come from you? Quite a legacy, in my estimation.

Fortunately for me and my diverse musical tastes, many of my other favorites are still actively recording and touring, though I haven't been to a concert in a while (as someone who's not quite 50 I simply can't muster up the enthusiasm to pay over $100 to see a concert). Elton John is 62 and just won a Tony for "Billy Elliott," Bruce Springsteen will be 60 this year and continues to tour in support of his latest album, and John Fogerty (you know, the guy who was the leader and voice of Creedence Clearwater Revival--remember them?) is enjoying quite a renaissance and just released an album of country-tinged covers that's great fun.

Way back in the 60's, The Who (yes, they're still around, sort of, as two of the original members still perform periodically) gave us a song called "My Generation," in which the singer utters the words "hope I die before I get old." Selfishly I'm glad that they didn't, and that some of my other "old" favorites haven't, either.

I'll leave you with this thought.....if you're even close to my age, and you look at the Top 10 from the popular music charts, do YOU recognize any of the names? Me, neither......


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A civil discourse

It's been a tough week or two for good old-fashioned manners.

From my perspective this started with the University of Oregon football player who, after being part of a loss against Boise State, took offense to something an opposing player said at the close of their game and punched that player. The Oregon player was suspended for the remainder of the season.

Then Congressman Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, yelled "you lie" at President Obama in response to a statement Mr. Obama made during his speech on healthcare reform to a joint session of Congress. Rep. Wilson apologized to the White House shortly thereafter but has since refused to apologize also to his colleagues in the House of Representatives and was officially reprimanded yesterday.

Then tennis star Serena Williams completely lost her cool after being called for a foot fault (that's when you cross the back line of a tennis court while serving, if I remember correctly) during a critical point of her U.S. Open semifinal match. She apparently told the linesman (a woman) that she felt like shoving a tennis ball down her &%$ throat, or something similar. She also subsequently apologized via her own blog, via Twitter and other means.

The final act in this set of indiscretions was at the MTV Video Music Awards, an awards show that is somewhat less relevant now than it might have been fifteen or twenty years ago. Young Taylor Swift had just taken the stage to accept an award when Kanye West also mounted the stage, took the microphone from Swift and essentially proclaimed that the wrong person--Swift--won the award when another performer's video---Beyonce--had been so much better in the same category. I didn't see this, but it's my understanding that Beyonce exhibited some class by later ensuring that Swift had ample opportunity to thank her fans, etc. for this great honor.

Uhh....

Ever heard of the "social contract?" The basic premise is that we ask each other how we are, when we often don't care or don't want to know. I know people who are very disengenuous about this ("What about you? Everything good?") and don't care at all about the other person, but they ask because that's what society expects. That's how adults are supposed to behave, isn't it?

But now, in our modern age, when we're all so enlightened, it's looking more and more like there's really no need to edit oneself, or to hold our tongues when we really want to say or do something in response to a given situation. And the fascinating part is that there's always someone there to notice, and if you're even the least bit famous, there are also cameras and some enterprising soul who's ready to post this stuff on YouTube or sell it to TMZ.com.

A good friend of mine often says he was born too late, that he would have been much more comfortable in the 50s. To this end he likes Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin recordings, loves the television show "Mad Men" and has rather arcane views of a lot of social mores. Much more arcane than one would expect from someone who hasn't yet hit forty.

But he is right in one respect....that era might have been better because if people felt something they often did a good job keeping it to themselves. Or if they didn't hold it in successfully, the entire planet didn't know it, via the Internet.

If we can't all just get along, as the saying goes, can't we at least keep our animosity to ourselves?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The 2009 Valhalla Adventure

As I mentioned in Friday's post, I had the rare opportunity of playing golf at the Valhalla Golf Club outside of Louisville, KY yesterday. For those who aren't familiar with this course, it opened in 1986 and was designed by legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus. It has hosted the 1996 and 2000 PGA Championships (the latter won by Tiger Woods), the 2004 Senior PGA Championship, and the Ryder Cup Matches just last year. In short, it's a special place to play golf, despite its relatively young age.

I always consider it both a treat and a privilege to play at a course such as Valhalla. Golf is about the only sport where that's possible; you don't get to throw a pitch at Yankee Stadium or shoot a foul shot at Madison Square Garden unless you're playing for those venues' professional teams, but if you are invited to and are willing to pay the greens fees, you, too, can play golf at a place that's hosted major championships!

Let me add here that the weather was picture-perfect, with relatively low (for Kentucky) humidity and temperature that probably didn't exceed 80 degrees. There was enough breeze to keep things comfortable but not so much to cause golfers any real problems.

My playing partners were a couple of good friends and a fellow whom I had not met previously, but he also was a terrific partner. We rode golf carts and had two forecaddies. If you've never had a forecaddie, these folks don't carry your golf bag but do about everything else a traditional caddie would do. It's still a lot of work and there are generally two forecaddies per group of four golfers, so these fellows were busy following after the four of us, providing us the exact distance to the hole from all sorts of exotic locations on (and off) the fairways, raking sandtraps, cleaning our golf balls and clubs, and assisting in reading putts.

When you're a weekend golfer like myself, you really don't hold a lot of hope of scoring well on a challenging course like Valhalla, and yesterday was no exception. You just want to keep things, well, respectable, so that you don't completely embarrass yourself. I'd say that my final score yesterday fell into that category, and I had a blast! Despite the obvious challenges, I managed to score a par on four different holes, and narrowly missed par on a few others. I put up a big number on several holes, and managed to lose a couple of balls along the way. But, really, who cares, as long as it was fun?

All in all, a special day, from the moment we drove onto the property and were greeted by the golf bag attendants, through the pro shop and the grill where we enjoyed a nice lunch, to our forecaddies Barry (thanks for the great read on 16!!) and Mike and the moment we left the club, it was just fantastic!

Lest I forget here's a tip of the cap to my friend Bill Straus, who coordinated yesterday's adventure!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Observations and an anniversary

Before I launch into comments on other subjects, permit me to share my view of the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01. This date holds particular significance for me because it was my daughter's second wedding anniversary (Can you even imagine having 9/11 as your anniversary or birthday? Talk about mixed emotions....). Anyway, I remember very well where I was when word of the terrorist attacks first leaked out....I was in front of our television watching "The Today Show" and the announcers spoke of a small plane having "accidentally" crashed into the World Trade Center. Then they cut to a live shot and we saw the second plane strike the second tower.....and then the Pentagon.....and then we heard about United 93 having crashed in Pennsylvania. My most vivid general memory was sitting in front of the television, hour after hour, astounded that this could have happened. As it happened, I was not working at that point in time, having been laid off by my former employer about a month earlier. Still can't believe that it really happened.

That said, I also cannot believe the "9-12 initiative" that's being touted by some conservative pundits. The purported reason is to return our national attitude to one of how we all felt right after the attacks of 9/11/01. Remember, at that time patriotism ran very high, we all united behind our government and particularly our president. Somehow I don't think that the purpose of this "initiative" is to unite behind our current president....

I was just on the road for a couple of days and saw a great many things in airports and on airplanes that, as usual, amazed or at least surprised me. There was the fellow I saw on my return flight home yesterday with a startling amount of intricate tattoos on his arm (his left arm had what I believe is called a tattoo "sleeve," covering his entire left arm), neck and face. All I could think was how painful that must have been, and how dedicated to the concept of body art one would have to be to undergo so much time and effort.

Because I travel so frequently in my work I continue to be intrigued by some of what I see from flight attendants. I've noticed that longer flights are most often staffed by more mature and experienced personnel, and I'd speculate that this is because they like working with fewer turnarounds (boarding and deplaning is the most demanding aspect of being a flight attendant, I'd bet) and seniority allows them to get the routes they prefer. But what I find interesting is their attire. Most every airline has uniforms for female attendants that can be dresses, tops and skirts or tops and slacks, but there are not specific shoes to be worn with these outfits. Despite it all, many of these folks wear some of the highest heels that I regularly see.....yet change into lower heels or even flats once they begin their work serving passengers. Why even wear the heels?

The male flight attendants never change their shoes. Neither do the pilots. Hmm.....

I attended a baseball game with my son-in-law in Denver while visiting the area. The Colorado Rockies were hosting my Cincinnati Reds at Coors Field, one of my favorite baseball venues. Great sightlines, with not a bad seat in the house. All of the staff we encountered were polite and friendly, which is certainly nice to see. The Reds lost that game, and lost all four they played against the Rockies on this trip. In fact, they only beat the Rockies once this year. I believe the Rockies appear to be the proverbial "team of destiny," as they seem to often find ways to win. Good for them and good luck to them in the postseason, as the Reds certainly aren't going anywhere....

Another sports item worth noting is that former Kentucky basketball coach Billy Gillispie has entered an alcohol rehabilitation program. This comes about two weeks after he was arrested for and charged with driving under the influence. There were many rumors about Gillispie and alcohol use while he coached at Kentucky and before. It takes a good amount of courage to admit a problem and seek help, so I applaud him if he is genuinely interested in addressing a problem.

Tomorrow stands to be a good day, as a couple of friends and I are traveling to Louisville, Kentucky to play golf at the Valhalla Golf Club. If you're not a golfer or golf fan, this won't mean much, but if you are familar with professional golf you understand the significance. I'm so looking forward to it, and the weather promises to be perfect. Wish me luck!






Friday, September 4, 2009

Signs of the times

I picked up a variety of items from various news sources since my last post that I thought were worth mentioning:

1. President Obama plans to speak to the nation's public school students, and there's outrage? Excuse me, but he's the PRESIDENT, isn't he? This is particularly strange since his message is going to be one of "do your best, work hard, stay in school," and not an effort to sway students on healthcare reform, Afghanistan, Iraq, the bailout or anything else. It's a little hard to oppose that message, but people are managing to do so nonetheless.

2. Somewhere in this country an enterprising group has opened an outpatient center to cure Internet addiction. And this isn't to break people of something like viewing pornography. This is to help people from something called "pathological Internet usage" and obsessive use of video games, texting, social networking sites, etc. It's a private concern, but you just know that somewhere down the road someone's going to attempt to get this paid for by either their private health insurance or by a government funded program, and that's when the fun will begin!

3. Kentucky's new basketball coach, John Calipari, has not coached one second of an actual game for the Big Blue, but he's managed to be everywhere and into everything since accepting the job back in the spring. He wrote a motivational book and is criss-crossing the state to promote it and sign it for fans, which is a good thing because it benefits his charitable foundation. He also arranged to send a Kentucky basketball jersey to the White House for the President, and some are now objecting on political grounds. Those of us who reside here in Kentucky aren't all that surprised by the gesture, for which Calipari is now apologizing as a non-political move. Give me a break....the guy came into the job knowing the importance of being a good ambassador for the Kentucky basketball program (his predecessor was most decidedly NOT such a representative), so he's doing what he should to promote this program. Those of us who work in a sales or customer-facing position already know the importance of such promotion....

4. The NCAA had just asked college football teams and players to show a greater amount of sportsmanship before and during game. First night of the new season and what happens? An unhappy Oregon player slugs a player from Boise State after Oregon loses. Bad enough that it even happened, but worse that it's captured by television cameras. No idea what the Boise State player said or did to provoke the Oregon kid, but it must have been something, because his reaction was IMMEDIATE. Anger management classes, anyone?

5. Here's something good: did you know that the 2013 Super Bowl will be played in New Orleans? And if you're like me, did you ever think that this event would return to that city after the devastation by Hurricane Katrina? That's very good news, so congratulations to the folks in the Crescent City!

6. Someone in Florida opened a can of diet soda recently and found a frog! They reported this to a couple of governmental bodies but the soda company essentially denied that this could have happened as reported. The "victims" are contemplating legal action.

Enough already. Looking forward to a great three day weekend, and I hope you are, too!


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Happy birthday!

Today's my son's 33rd birthday. In some ways I thought we'd never get here.

Because I was sure I was going to kill him, at least when he was younger.

Let me explain a bit. He's my stepson, the product of my wife and her deceased first husband. When I met my wife and her (now our) daughter and son, they were about a year into getting over the loss of her husband and their father. I never knew this man, but from what I've always heard from my wife, the kids and others, he was a fine man with no obvious character flaws. He was quiet, considerate, exceptionally intelligent and skilled in his work (he was an engineer). In other words, he and I could not have been less alike.

Anyway, when I met my wife and the kids nearly twenty-five years ago, our son was eight, our daughter eleven. As I tell people, I married a family, complete with a dog and a station wagon. We all got along well and developed good family relations. I helped our daughter with her homework (particularly English papers, which she hated) and helped our son, too, but he didn't act as though he needed all that much help.

As he got older the same thing that so typically happens between fathers (even stepfathers) and sons happened to us: he decided he knew best for himself, and essentially stopped listening. Not just to me, but to anyone outside of his immediate circle of friends. And he got into a bit of trouble. And that's when I was most ready to kill him.

Of course, I didn't. He went off to college, lived with us for some of that time, but with roommates most of the time. He even went off to West Virginia the summer after his graduation, ostensibly to be a rafting guide on the New River (good work if you can get it), living in a tent (!) with others in the same line of work. Then he decided to move to Colorado (where our daughter and her husband already lived), as he had a friend at a ski resort who promised employment.

All through this I questioned his logic, but make no effort to prevent him from carrying out any of his plans. "It's his life," I told my wife. "He has to do this for himself." At certain points when he was in Colorado, far away from his support system (except for his sister, who looked in on him every couple of weeks), my wife even suggested we send him money (he had some very bad luck in working on a construction job that failed to pay him regularly and then he discovered they had not paid into the unemployment system on his behalf), but, again, I suggested that we not do that, as he needed to shoulder this responsibility for himself.

Well, he called on Saturday about seven years ago and asked if he could come home and live with us. "Of course," I assured him. Plans were made and he arrived back at our house, with his dog and what few belongings he elected to bring home with his clothes. I had him sign a set of "house rules" to assure that his living with us wouldn't be disruptive; he agreed without complaint, despite my wife's enormous objections!

He was home for a few days and I reminded him that he would need to get a job ASAP, so he did. He then reconnected with the young woman to whom he's now been married for about five years, learned of a job within the local court system, and he's developed a decent career path since that time.

Most importantly for me, though, is that not only did I not kill him, but we both subconsciously agreed that we had missed each other, and began spending time together. Much of our time revolved around baseball, but that was an early common interest for the two of us starting when he was a kid and I was appalled to learn that he knew nothing about baseball.

He's written me a lot of birthday and Father's Day cards over the years since which indicate without question that he appreciates me as much as his mother, and the relationship we've forged. He's probably my best friend, except for my wife.

Happy birthday, son. I love you!



Monday, August 31, 2009

Addition to the last posting

Well, I was able to locate the name of someone at our local newspaper, something that the customer service unit was not willing or able to provide. I sent him a polite e-mail describing what had occurred, and copied his boss. He called back within fifteen minutes of my note, talked rationally with me (speaking negatively about their customer service vendor, which amused me somewhat) and I agreed to continue my subscription after he offered to have someone come to the house with the missing material from yesterday's paper.

He even agreed to contact my wife about the problems that her office has been having with the same organization. Not bad.

So, in the end, if we can complain about bad service, we should take equal effort to celebrate good service. I hope I've done that successfully here!

Modern American customer service

I hate to rant about anything, but I had an experience with which I'm sure many will identify.

We have a single local newspaper in my home area, and for the past few months have been receiving this publication via subscription on a Friday-through-Monday basis. We had gone without a subscription for some months due to my travel schedule and a general lack of interest, but resumed on the basis above. The only day where we really look forward to the paper's delivery is Sunday, understandably, as there's more content, plus we rely on the weekly retail fliers to determine what products might be on sale and we appreciate the coupons that are generally contained therein.

Yesterday during a leisurely breakfast my wife and I were perusing the paper and I could not help but notice that the comics were from LAST SUNDAY. I remembered because I am a Dilbert fan and remembered the previous Sunday's strip. I then noticed that the Parade magazine insert was also from the previous Sunday. Now I was curious, so I began to check all of the retail fliers and, sure enough, all of them were dates for the week of August 23-29.

I went to the phone and called the newspaper, as there's a number to call if you didn't get your paper, it was damaged or wet, etc. After navigating the maze of options in their automated system I reached a live person. She was apologetic but stated flatly that redelivery would not be possible, as I had waited too long to report my problem. I asked for the name of the circulation manager, and was told that this information was "not available at this time." After a few more questions she finally stated that she was "offshore" and unable to assist. I prodded and she noted that she and her entire service unit is in the Phillipines.

Now, be advised that my own company uses an organization in India for certain function, but none of them have direct interaction with customers. Nevertheless, I asked for my subscription to be cancelled and this polite woman assured me that it would be. She apologized for the tenth time and wished me a good day.

This morning, a Monday edition of the paper awaited me on my doorstep. I attempted to call the paper to again cancel the subscription but found no option to allow this. Nor did I find one on the paper's website, so I sent a customer service inquiry labeled "other" about an hour ago with a plea for someone to call me to discuss.

I'm still waiting.

Isn't it embarrassing that we have come to this level of indifference toward those who spend their money on our products and services? Similar experience recently with a national pizza chain....big mixup on when my carryout order would be ready, waited over 30 minutes, only to find that the pizza was there all along. I demanded my money back (they always have you pay BEFORE you wait) AND the pizza and got it, but posted something on the company's website requesting the opportunity to discuss with the franchise owner. That was three weeks ago, and I've heard nothing.

Given these experiences, I always take note of businesses that seem glad you're a customer, and act accordingly. I don't mind paying for good service, but I detest paying for bad service, especially when there's no discussion of the bad experience that accompanies the payment.

So my list keeps growing. You probably have one of these lists, too, whether it's an actual or a virtual list: a list of places with which I don't do business. I'd like very much to stop adding to it, but....

Friday, August 28, 2009

Test message

This is a test post.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Time spent on the road

I just returned from a business trip to Las Vegas and observed a few things that I felt warranted comment:

The last three times I've visited Las Vegas I am immediately assailed by cab drivers telling me how bad things are there. I can tell that the volume of visitors is down just by looking around the airport, but I'm still not quite sure what a cabbie would like for me to do about the situation! It's just me back here, pal, and I'd like to help you out, but....

I remain astounded at what folks will wear in a place like Vegas. No one I saw on the streets, in a handful of restaurants, in my hotel or in the airport was dressed in an objectionable way, but here's an example. I was passing through the airport on my way to my departure gate yesterday morning when I saw two men sitting side-by-side at a couple of slot machines (first thing to remember about Las Vegas is that gambling opportunities can be found in MANY places!). As I got closer I noticed that they were both wearing replica soccer jerseys and speaking with a Scottish accent, and likened that to me wearing a University of Kentucky football jersey. Then as I passed, I noted that they were both wearing kilts that coordinated (nicely at that) with their jerseys. Later when they boarded their flight I saw that they both were wearing the tradtional belted leather pouch in the front, ostensibly to keep that kilt from blowing up in the breeze.

I've often thought of buying knickers and long argyle socks for the golf course, a la the late Payne Stewart, but I don't have the build to pull off that look.

The other prevailing sentiment that I want to convey this morning regarding my travels this week is that someone, ANYONE, needs to do something about the absurd amount and size of baggage people are bringing onto airliners these days. When fuel prices spiked and the airlines all struggled for ways to increase revenue, the layup for most of them was to begin charging for checked baggage, with fees increasing for the second bag and beyond. Now, let's be clear...I'm as frugal as the next guy, and don't want to squander money needlessly. But at some point there needs to be something done about what's brought onto planes and the endless delays it causes while people search for a place to stow their oversized, overstuffed, expandable "rollaboard" that's large enough to house a litter of puppies. I'm fortunate that I have frequent flyer status on a couple of airlines (about the only real benefit to traveling extensively as I do) and I board early and can always stow my luggage without a struggle OR have the option of checking bags without charge. But I know everyone does not enjoy that benefit, so it looks like someone will have to do something about this before luggage compartments begin falling from the ceilings of airliners nationwide from the sheer weight of all of these bags.

Enough complaining, as I arrived home safe and sound with nothing lost or broken. And I don't have to do this again for a couple of weeks, so that's even better!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lost lions

Politics aside, one has to privately thank the late Senator Edward Kennedy for his many, many years of dedicated public service.

Lots of things have been said and written about him over the years, but, like him or not, he has left an unmistakable record of achievement in issues that affect all of us every day. He was well respected by his own party and the opposition, a rare feat in American politics. I hope that when I reach the age of 77 that I have put together a similarly extensive and impressive body of work.

Speaking of great Americans, I'm in the midst of reading Douglas Brinkley's wonderful book about Theodore Roosevelt, "The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America." TR was a fascinating figure in American history and his legacy transcends politics, as this book illustrates so completely. If you like history it's (so far) a great read!

Where's Harry Truman when we need him so?


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The risks of blogging

Did you see the news item about the blogger who was sued by someone about whom she commented on her blog? Now the blogger is apparently suing Google (the owner of this hosting portal) for "outing" her. I suppose I'll have to be a little more careful with my opinions than I thought!


Monday, August 24, 2009

Well, here we go

I've read a lot of blogs over the years since they first came into existence. Some are/were good, some not so much, but they've all had at least something that first caught my interest.

I hope that's the case for you with this blog. I'm not famous, I don't have advanced degrees in anything, but I do have 49 years of life experience and I am what I would consider to be a pretty normal person. Hopefully we'll find some common ground.

Oh, and if you're wondering about the blog's name, that phrase has rolled around in my head for a long time. To me, it typifies "real life" in that in "real life" we take the good with the bad. Good: I got new shoes! Bad: I got caught in a heavy downpour IN MY NEW SHOES!

I'll be posting stuff here that I find interesting, amusing or at least worth a comment. I welcome, encourage and even beg for your feedback to anything you read here!

Thanks for visiting. Less about me next time--I promise!

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