Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Can you hear me now?

If you've visited here at all during baseball season, you know that I am an avid (some might say rabid, even) Cincinnati Reds baseball fan.  By virtue of that and some related factors, I am NOT a fan of manager Tony LaRussa and the St. Louis Cardinals.  The exception is Albert Pujols, who is simply one of the best baseball players I've had the chance to see in person.  Like him?  Not really, but I certainly respect and appreciate the way he plays the game.

So you can imagine my grin this morning after LaRussa outmanaged himself last night, costing his team a win and giving the Texas Rangers a 3-2 lead in the World Series.

With LaRussa, when something goes wrong it appears there's always a story, an explanation, a reason, but, of course, never an EXCUSE.  Remember, LaRussa is a lawyer by training, should there be any questions about his ability to explain things to the media and by extension the public.

So, in last night's game, after I had to turn it off to go to sleep (they're STILL not starting these World Series games early enough!), LaRussa called for a hit-and-run with a runner on first and Albert Pujols, the afore-mentioned all-universe slugger, at the plate.  Never mind that he is absolutely a clutch performer in such situations.  Pujols swung through the pitch and the runner, breaking after getting the sign, was out at second.  LaRussa indicated in his postgame remarks that Albert put that play on himself.  Huh?

Then we come to the eighth inning, and the short version (ESPN.com can provide greater details than I, since I was asleep when this occurred) is that LaRussa claims to have called his bullpen to ask twice for a certain pitcher, only to get others in each case.  Wrong guy pitching, Texas puts men on base and ultimately pushes two across to claim the win.

After the game, Counselor Tony suggested that it's awfully noisy in that part of the Texas stadium, the bullpen phone is in a bad place, etc., etc.  Said he asked for the pitchers he wanted to warm up and instead got a guy who was supposed to sit (he had pitched a good amount in a previous game), and only discovered this when he arrived at the mound.  "What are you doing here?" was what LaRussa claims to have said to the wrong pitcher.

I'm sorry, but the LaRussa mystique has always escaped me.  And now that obvious mistakes were made by LaRussa and his coaching staff, he isn't adult enough to accept responsibility.

 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Kitty boy

We lost a family member yesterday.

No, my wife, our kids, their spouses and our four grandchildren are all fine.

I'm referring to our cat, Forbin, whom we had to let go due to what our vet described as a ruptured mammary gland that had become cancerous.

Forbin's story is a very interesting one.  Our son had just moved into an apartment, first time living on his own (except for student-specific housing) and in a quest for companionship, rescued Forbin from the local animal shelter.  He had been told that Forbin was due to be euthanized the following day, so luck was certainly on Forbin's side that day.

We didn't see this cat very much for the first year or better that our son had him, as he wasn't living with us.  But we heard stories of how he would walk around our son's head while he was asleep in bed, or beg for cold cuts when our son was making a sandwich, or just generally act a little weird.

Then our son got a dog, Rigby, who has previously been noted in this blog, and Forbin was still around but was much more in the background.  At some point later our son moved back in with us, along with Rigby and Forbin, and we already had a golden retriever named Maggie at that point, so we had a pretty full house!

Forbin stayed largely in the background here, too, as the dogs dominated the house pretty thoroughly.  One of the more amusing things we observed him doing is that he would climb onto Rigby's back and start licking and biting him at the nape of his neck, making an odd whining sound while doing so.  We used to laugh that Forbin thought of Rigby as his little brother, as they were less than a year apart in age.  His primary reaction to Maggie, whom he had not been raised with, was to smack at her from under a table as she passed.  The look on her face when this would happen was "what did I do to deserve that?"

Then we lost Maggie to lymphoma, our son moved out and took Rigby with him, and suddenly Forbin was our only pet.  Always found it interesting that he just sort of stayed with us, that there wasn't really any discussion of him accompanying our son to his new home.  It was then that Forbin began to assert himself, being more vocal, more demanding, walking around my wife's head (and mine, though less frequently) during the night, hoping to get her to wake up and come to watch him eat (no, I'm not kidding).  He begged for food worse than most dogs, fattened up considerably from lots of treats and table food, and loved patrolling our backyard (safe because it was fenced).  The old boy really had a pretty good life.  Despite it, I often referred to him as "you little shit" or "you little bastard," which really set my wife off but amused us both.

During all of this he was most cantankerous, did not like most shows of affection from us, abhorred going to the vet (the result of a botched declawing when our son first claimed him from the pound), hissed at EVERYONE but us (and at us, sometimes) who would come to the house, terrorized our older granddaughter, who wasn't and isn't used to cats at all, and, again, generally ran the house.

An aside--I saw a rug or something once that said something along the lines of "In ancient Sumaria, cats were worshipped as gods.  They have not forgotten this."  How true.

In the past few years Forbin lost a considerable amount of the weight we'd packed on him, somewhat due to our decision to try to lengthen his life by not feeding him so much table food, but, as it turns out, also due to hyperthyroidism.  He also lost some of his hair (he was a Norwegian, best we can tell, with long grey and white hair) and began to slow down considerably.

He could still catch a bird or a chipmunk once in a while, even still.

I won't go into the details of what finally ended things for him, but right to the end, he was still as cantankerous and demanding as ever, following us into the kitchen to get a treat each time we went there.   But we loved him anyway.  So long, you little shit.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mental floss


Things that have been working to escape my brain recently….

Can someone explain to me the fascination and devotion that many women have to boots?  I was seated on a plane recently next to a woman wearing what looked like well-worn cowboy (or cowgirl, in her case, I suppose) boots that were a suedelike texture.  Woman across the aisle commented, and my seatmate (to whom I had not spoken a word) went on about how they were her favorite, and that she just lived in these boots, and wouldn’t even think of wearing another pair.

Separate example:  I just hired someone in another state, and she appeared for both days of our training wearing boots.  Compared to my seatmate above, though, this gal was wearing dress boots.  I didn’t think much of it until she mentioned how she so much preferred wearing boots to heels because it was easier on her knees (past injury, from what she mentioned).  How?  These appeared to have heels that were comparable in height to a pair of high-heeled women’s shoes.

On a similar note, we’ve been watching “Pan Am,” the new dramedy series on ABC, which features a group of stewardesses and a couple of pilots for the now-defunct airline back in the early ‘60’s.  Most recent episode threaded JFK and the Berlin Wall into the plot line.  But what intrigues me about this program is the accuracy of the costuming, and how everyone who flies, even kids, are well dressed and well groomed.  On my most recent business trip I had the misfortune of again sitting next to a person who looked as though they hadn’t bathed in some time, and smelled that way, too.  Very disappointing that in 2011 we still have people who don’t understand that it isn’t hard not to be offensive.

My company issues BlackBerry smartphones to its managers and folks at levels above mine, too.  My phone didn’t appear too smart yesterday when I received virtually no e-mail messages, nor could I access the Internet for anything.  This was a continuation of a problem that began in Europe and Asia and then struck North America yesterday.  If I were in a stationary location that wouldn’t matter much, but since I was traveling, it was awful!  I saw a note on  Twitter yesterday that Apple should give a $50 break to anyone trading in a BlackBerry on an iPhone, taking advantage of the situation.  Truth is, they don’t have to.  I don’t imagine my company will ever start issuing iPhones to its managers and above, as the BlackBerry security is apparently superior to anything you can do at the enterprise level on an iPhone (or an Android phone as well).  It’s working now, so I’d say the executives at Research in Motion (the parent of BlackBerry) can breathe.

I love and hate baseball this time of year, particularly when the Reds are out of it (which is so often the case).  I root for teams I don’t normally like or care about, and then am a turncoat in the next round, rooting against someone I was just pulling for.  Right now I’m interested in having the Detroit Tigers and the Milwaukee Brewers in the World Series, but both are behind their opponents.  The Tigers face elimination at the hands of the Texas Rangers today.

Finally, for the first week in the last several, we know that the University of Kentucky football Wildcats will not lose this weekend!  They're not playing.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The good with the bad

Well, friends, I've made some progress on the honey-do list that I mentioned a few posts ago.  I have now painted my office, our downstairs hallways and, as of yesterday, our master bedroom.  What's left on that painting list?  The kitchen and our living room, which are adjoined by a vaulted ceiling.  That will require some help, so it may be a little while before we get around to that.  But my wife and I are both pleased with the results so far, considering we moved into a slightly different color palette than before (more tan than beige this time) and are using a lower-gloss ("matte" is what the Sherwin-Williams can says) finish and a different, more durable paint product.

That said, I don't know anyone in my vicinity who's pleased with the results posted by Kentucky's woeful football team so far.  They are 2-4 so far, having barely won the two games over foes who normally would be easy to beat, and only one of the four losses was a competitive game.  Lots of things that could be argued here, but the bottom line is that Kentucky once again does not have the personnel to be competitive against powerhouse programs like Florida, LSU and South Carolina.  A shame, but I suppose all good things come to an end, and Kentucky's five year string of bowl game appearances will most likely end with this season.

I've been interested to see the reaction paid to the Occupy Wall Street protests (they made it to Lexington on a small scale on Saturday, I saw while out and about) and the self-proclaimed "99ers" (those who are not in the 1% of the richest Americans, myself included).  The right wing is trying to ignore them, President Obama acknowledged them in a news conference last week but you can tell that he's not sure whether to embrace them or wait and see if their movement has any staying power.

I thought it kind of poignant that Sarah Palin announced she's not running for President but will no doubt hold grimly to her fleeting fifteen minutes of fame, and that it was totally overshadowed by news of Apple cofounder and CEO Steve Jobs' death just a few hours later.  As someone said, it feels strange to mourn someone that you don't know, but I certainly did.  It also feels strange to know that someone changed your life in specific and measurable ways yet you never knew him.

We're beginning to experience the onslaught of falling leaves that always accompany cooler temperatures.  No doubt we'll be mowing/vacuuming/blowing/raking/bagging leaves for the next couple of months.  The neighbor's locust tree is the most annoying, as it's not even ours and still manages to clog our gutters and make it appear that a yellow snowfall landed on our backyard.

I'm about to embark on a fourth consecutive week of overnight business travel.  I get a one week reprieve for some days off next week, then it's back on the road again.

Try to get through today in one piece!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

He's out

Did you see where New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced yesterday that he will NOT run for the Republican nomination for President?  This guy has been saying this for quite a while, but no one seemed to believe him.  Hope they will now.

One related aspect of this story was that several political commentators noted that they felt Christie, who is a large man, was unfit to be President because he has a weight issue.  As a larger-than-average person that offended me somewhat, but I suppose that it's the job of these commentators to find something to mention, point out, identify or otherwise flog to make their point.  Like Governor Christie, my size has never prevented me from accomplishing anything I set out to do, personally or professionally, and the statements some made that being overweight is a signal of a lack of discipline is actually a not-so-subtle form of bigotry.  And we have enough of that already directed at our sitting President.

So Christie will not be running.  Funny that the majority of Republicans appear to want someone other than the current 46 candidates to be their nominee.  There was an initial rush to Texas Governor Rick Perry when he announced his candidacy, but a few things have come to light since then that have dulled some people's enthusiasm for his chances.  And we know that Sarah Palin is still playing possum with the media about whether or not she'll run.

Someone else who's "out" as of today is former Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona (for whom I have a soft spot, as he once played first base for my Cincinnati Reds).  Francona wanted out, apparently, as he felt he had lost the team and they weren't responding to his leadership.  This guy only won two World Series for the Sawx (2004 and again in 2007) after the franchise hadn't won one since 1918 (the year they sold Babe Ruth's contract to the New York Yankees).  So someone will hire him, if he wants to manage again.  And after their spectacular collapse in September, blowing a massive lead in the American League wild card race, whomever follows Francona will have their work cut out for them.

Hank Williams, Jr. didn't sing his trademark theme song before this past week's Monday Night Football game, having said some things that ESPN felt were inappropriate.  No word yet on whether this was a one-time thing or a permanent removal from the broadcasts.  Honestly, does it matter if Hank has political opinions and also sings the theme song for a GAME?

And, finally, I should revise my title to mention that "she's out," referring to Amanda Knox, newly free after winning an overturn of her murder conviction in Italy.  I really don't have any thoughts on whether she was guilty or not, but I think the Italian authorities may have a point that they felt the pressure of the American media in this case.

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