Thursday, October 28, 2010

The view from the road

I've been on the road quite a bit lately, and about to embark on two more trips, but more on that later.  Suffice it to say that I still believe that whatever doesn't kill us indeed makes us stronger, so I'm rapidly gaining strength in that model.  I had a very interesting day of travel two Mondays ago, starting with a call around 4:00 AM from Delta Airlines' computer.  I was being informed that my flight, scheduled to leave at 7:15, would now leave at 8:52.  Nice to know, but the auto-message didn't detail my newly changed itinerary.  The repeat call at 5:45 told me that, so I decided to give up and get up after all.  That flight was diverted from to Knoxville en route to Atlanta (from my home base in Lexington, KY) due to a mechanical issue, and I waited there until late in the afternoon to get to Atlanta and connect to my final destination.  Despite these inconveniences, the Delta staffers with whom I dealt all were uniformly pleasant, friendly, and as helpful as circumstances allowed. 

While on that trip I had the chance to play golf with an old friend whom I don't see much.  We used to work together and we now work for competing companies in the same industry.  He's a great guy and played pretty well, despite the obvious handicap of rented clubs.

This week was a car trip to Nashville for some sales calls and quality time with two of my sales reps.  Next Tuesday more of the same on a day trip to Charlotte.

But the best thing is that tomorrow my wife and I will be flying to Denver to spend the weekend with our daughter and her family!  Our grandson celebrates birthday number one on Saturday, and we plan to be there to mark the occasion, as well as to trick-or-treat with both of our Colorado grandkids!

Should be fun, if all goes well and we don't have any flight issues.  But who knows?  Sometimes, that's what makes traveling a REAL adventure!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Seen and heard, just not believed

Commenting on a few unrelated things noticed over the past week or two.....

Did you hear about the flap over the Gap's proposed logo that was suddenly ditched in favor of keeping the current, navy blue box with "GAP" in thin white letters?  Apparently the image of the new logo (you'll have to find a news item somewhere to find an image) popped up somewhere online and people actually debated this via Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere, and public opinion was so heavily against the new logo that the Gap announced they're withdrawing the new logo and retaining the current one.

Honestly, people, do we not have anything better to do than spend online time arguing about the validity of a retailer's corporate logo?  And what does this say about a company the size of the Gap, which also operates Old Navy (and thus are responsible for those absolutely stupid television commercials) and Banana Republic, that they would be cowed by what I suspect is limited public reaction to a graphic design?  Not the clothing they sell.  The logo on the outside of the store and all of their advertising.  Come on.

Speaking of Twitter, I noticed a blurb on one of the online news sites that says that Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore like to tweet each other.....while they're sitting face to face.  There are commercials that make fun of people who elect to communicate via such methods rather than actually talking, and the commercials are funny.  This isn't.

My beloved Cincinnati Reds were undone in their first playoff appearance in fifteen years by the defending National League champions, the Philadelphia Phillies, who displayed all of the qualities a good baseball team must have....excellent starting pitching, timely hitting and solid defense.  Sadly, the Reds did not, but gave a good effort against a very good team.  Great American Ball Park was sold out, naturally (record crowd for that building!), Sunday night, but there just wasn't much to cheer for the home crowd.

But I saw on one of the Reds-centric websites that I visit that at least one Philadelphia writer wrote a column making fun of the city of Cincinnati (the city of my birth, I should point out in the interests of full disclosure) and essentially putting it down in favor of Philadelphia.  Now, I know a few people from the Philadelphia area, and think of it much as I do the city of Boston.....I don't get it.  Yes, it's old.  Yes, there's history there.  But what I've seen in my limited time in each place is that the cities are decaying, dirty, and populated by folks who are generally rude (which is not uncommon in larger cities anywhere, actually).  Perhaps if I spent more time in one city or the other I'd understand better.  But I like Cincinnati.  So now they can write about me.

I like how the Tea Party candidates were initially avoiding any media outlets that appeared to be part of the "traditional liberal mainstream media," but now are appearing and arguing with hosts on many programs and failing to answer even the most basic of questions.  Stick to those talking points, candidates, so that no one can "trick" you into espousing your true opinions, as I'm sure New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino felt happened to him over the weekend in making comments about a gay lifestyle being an untenable choice.

In my home state of Kentucky, Tea Partier Rand Paul, son of Texas Congressman Ron Paul, is the Republican candidate for a Senate seat, and is opposed by the state's Attorney General, Jack Conway.  Yesterday I was driving home from a business meeting in Louisville and passed the Kentucky Democratic Party's headquarters.  The marquee on their sign read "This sign has been in Kentucky longer than Rand Paul" and I found that truly amusing.

Finally, the miners who have been trapped underground in Chile for all of these weeks are going to be brought out starting sometime tonight.  And what's the offshoot?  They're arguing about who'll be the LAST to be rescued, as that person will apparently be recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records.

Please.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Eastbound, down the highway

For the first time in almost nine years, I made a trek into the southeastern part of Kentucky for business purposes.  And I'm always struck by the natural beauty of Kentucky's "mountain" region (trust me, these aren't really mountains, but for local purposes they'll do nicely), particularly in the early fall when leaves are just starting to turn.  Yesterday was no exception, and here's a sampling of what I saw:

The Mountain Parkway is still a two-lane road for a bit less than half of its length, so windy is its path that an added passing lane is all that could be built to resemble a modern, four lane highway.

There are passages (in some cases several miles long) where the highway rests literally at the bottom of the hollow ("holler" if you're from eastern Kentucky), and still winds significantly.  One has to look upward quite a bit to even see the sky!

Despite some of the natural beauty, there is still quite a lot of evidence of poverty and disadvantage among that region's residents.  Not at all uncommon to see a nice, even contemporary family home and directly next door sits a vacant, rusted-out mobile home.  I even saw one trailer which had been covered by a carport-like structure, presumably because the original trailer roof had begun to leak.  An interesting solution to what I would imagine is a common problem.

Because cable TV still doesn't exist outside of the towns in the eastern part of the state, satellite dishes sprung up all over when they first came into consumer existence.  And I don't mean the modern, two-foot-wide grey ones that dot rooftops all over suburbia.  I'm talking about the eight-foot-wide babies that would pick up almost anything, before it was all decoded and sold directly through subscription.  Still a good number of those, but no way to know if they're functional.

Trucks.  Everywhere.  Not just pickup trucks, which are very common in such a rural area.  No, I'm talking tractor-trailers, hauling everything you'd normally see, plus coal trucks, log trucks, metal salvage trucks, you name it.  Thank goodness for the passing lanes.

Lots of burning of trash, cleared brush and even material collected from flooding that hit that part of the state.  The oddest instance was within about 100 yards of a Wal-Mart store, making me wonder (from a distance) if the store was on fire!

But I have to close with this observation:  the people from this area are among the nicest and most genuine you'll meet.  They may be a little suspicious of people from outside of their immediate area, but I think we're all a bit that way.

Hopefully it won't be nine years before I go back.

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