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Showing posts from 2012

And so this is Christmas

Merry Christmas, albeit belatedly, to all.  I hope that you were able to enjoy some special time with family and friends during this most festive of seasons.

I love Christmas, always have, but I believe I love it more now that I'm older.  It's especially rewarding with grandchildren in the family, as the wonder and amazement that the Christmas season holds for little ones is unmatched.

I think I gained a greater appreciation for Christmas once I became a parent, or, more correctly, stepparent, which happened virtually simultaneously with my marriage almost 27 years ago.  Once you have others for whom you'll be the primary giver of gifts, it all changes.  And so much for the better!

So we had a wonderful Christmas in our family.  We traveled to Colorado to see our daughter and her family (our granddaughter there is approaching celebrity status, having performed for the second consecutive year in the local production of "The Nutcracker" AND played in a mini piano r…

In the (St.) Nick of time

Greetings, friends.....just back from a brief trip to Colorado to visit our daughter and her family.  And apparently we got out just in time, as there was a blizzard warning for the Denver area Tuesday night.  Sometimes, advance planning works out just fine!

Our granddaughter (our daughter's oldest) appeared in a local production of "The Nutcracker" again this year, which was the centerpiece of our visit.  And she also played a song from the same ballet as part of a piano recital, so you'll forgive me if THAT SONG is coming through this post and you're hearing it, as I am.

Colorado weather is pretty amazing.  It's very cold there this morning, I'm sure because of the snow that came overnight.  But tomorrow it should be back in the upper 40s.  And with their characteristic low humidity, snow doesn't last very long, at least not like it does when it becomes cold enough to snow here in Kentucky.

But we had a good visit, albeit dampened a bit by Friday…

Back among the normal

Good morning, one and all....pleased to be here with the strength to write a little something, as I am just about out from under a very nasty infection that has laid me low in recent days....

I returned from what was for me a quick one night business trip the week after Thanksgiving.  Not far, no time changes, only two flights in each direction.  Simple trip.  Returned to Lexington on that Wednesday night.  By Thursday night I was coughing pretty steadily, and by Friday I felt that I had a full-blown case of the flu.  Know that feeling you get when you feel kind of dizzy, kind of woozy, can't sit upright without feeling sick?  I had that.  Lack of energy?  Check.  Loss of appetite?  Uh-huh.

Suffered through three days of this, and finally began to feel a little better last Sunday night, only to relapse further on Monday night and Tuesday.  During this time my wife also began to feel bad, and I became concerned that I had used her toothbrush in my fog of disease and had made her si…

This and that

Greetings, one and all....thanks for stopping by.  Just a few stray thoughts to capture before getting into the work day.

Just back from a quick-turnaround trip to the northern Virginia area, where I saw an airport, a hotel, and a shuttle van.  When I say "quick," I really mean it!  Actually, my sole purpose for traveling there was to interview a candidate for a position on my sales team, so the trip was useful for that purpose.  With a little luck that was my last overnight business trip of 2012.  Cross your fingers.

During my travels, as so often happens, I noticed one or two things of interest.  First, in the Atlanta airport the PA system is playing very traditional Christmas music.   I have to confess to being a bit of a stick in the mud when it comes to holiday tunes.  Not that contemporary singers don't have something to say by reinterpreting "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" but there are older versions, most likely those  that I grew up hearing, that I li…

They sure don't make them like they used to

Happy (almost) Thanksgiving, one and all.  Hope you'll have the opportunity to enjoy the holiday with family and friends.

The recent news that Hostess is probably going to liquidate its operations, meaning no more Twinkies, HoHos and Ding Dongs (and, no, I was NEVER willing to call them "King Dons") made me start thinking about things that endure versus things that don't.  Let's start with luggage and briefcases, in a generalized way.  When I was a kid I remember my dad used to travel overnight once in while and would use a medium-brown faux-leather suitcase.  You remember these, semi-hard sides, double clasps, the stiff cloth dividers with the turnbuckle closures.  I happened into a shop recently that sells antiques and vintage items (hard to tell the difference, frankly) and saw a couple of suitcases that looked eerily similar.  And he used an attorney-style brief bag, which he always called his "grip," for work papers and such.  Both appearsed to be …

The usual

Morning, all....hope the week is breezing by for you.

Now that the election is over and most people have moved on (save for those pesky yard signs that won't seem to go away), I suppose things are getting back to normal.


Can you believe that Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK?  Me, either.  That one slipped up on me rather unobtrusively.


My wife and I had a very nice weekend trip last weekend, with one of the highlights being our viewing of the newest James Bond picture, "Skyfall."  I won't spoil it for any of you who might be planning to see it, but suffice it to say that we liked this movie VERY much.

Our primary purpose with our trip was to kickstart our Christmas shopping.  We've relied on this technique numerous times in the past, finding that if we were out of town we could focus better on the task at hand, and we've had success with this approach.  This trip was no different, as we made a significant impact on our basic lists.

There was one disappointment in ou…

Moving on

Good afternoon.....hope that you were able to take the time to vote yesterday, regardless of who you supported.  As I get older I feel it's extremely important to exercise our rights as citizens, plus there's the old adage that "you can't really complain if you don't vote."  So there's that, too.

I have to say that I was very invested in the outcome of the election, but now it's over and the folks who were chosen by our cities, counties, districts, states and country can get ready to get to work.  So the rest of us should move forward with, well, whatever.

Thanksgiving is TWO WEEKS from tomorrow.  Boy, talk about something sneaking up on you!  I don't think we yet know where we'll celebrate or with whom, but I'm looking forward to a few days off.

And, of course, following Thanksgiving is the invevitable rush to Christmas and New Year's.  I can say with sincerity and honesty that we're NOT READY.  My wife and I were debating whether…

Near the end

Happy Monday, one and all.  Lots to mention this morning....

Let's start with Halloween, one of the odder holidays we celebrate.  And so many safety concerns have robbed kids of the fun I remember having going trick-or-treating when I was a kid.  My most vivid memory was of making a "run" on my home street, coming back to the house to drop off my loot for the night, then embarking on a more ambitious route through a neighboring (and larger) subdivision, going alone (my older brother was a killjoy on these kinds of things) and returning home with such a large load of candy and other goodies that I could hardly carry it!

And what I also remember was my dad used to say, "Let me put all of that into a big bowl so that we can check it to make sure it's OK."  And he would then systematically put aside those items he knew that he liked that we did not.  Only time of year I ever saw him eat candy!

So if you have a little one in your household, make sure they get to…

The long run

Top of the morning, friends....still stinging from the Reds' recent playoff collapse, but we march on, because we must!

I'm in week six of seven consecutive travel weeks.  A rarity for me these days, as I am normally able to control my schedule a little better than that.  But this week is a one-night affair, so I'm heartened by that and the light at the end of next week's travel tunnel as well!

I mentioned the Reds above, and I must add to that comment that I really get a bang out of watching anyone beat up on the St. Louis Cardinals, the Reds' mortal enemies.  Extra gratifying that they're now forced to a game 7 in their championship series by the very team who stole Reds' fans World Series dreams....ladies and gentlemen, the San Francisco Giants!

In much the same manner as when they won the whole thing two years ago, the Giants collected some key players down the stretch to strengthen their team and surge ahead in their division.  Good group of players, w…

The thrill of victory, and, well, you know

Good morning, friends.  Sorry I haven't stopped by in a while, but, well, I've been kinda busy.

A little of it, like yesterday, is the self-inflicted variety, but most of it has been work related, where I've been traveling pretty frequently these last several weeks, and it looks like a week of respite that I had looked forward to is now gone.  So I've been gone at least a night for the past four weeks, and still have three more consecutive weeks of two-nights-or-more-per-week to go before I can back off a bit.

Let me first address the utter collapse of my Cincinnati Reds in the recently completed National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants.  In a one-time scheduling quirk the Reds, who had the second best record in all of major league baseball this year, began their best-of-five series with the San Francisco Giants in the Giants' home park for two games....and won both.  This occurred despite the time difference, the opposition's home field…

Contemplation

Greetings, all.  Back from yet another business trip, albeit a brief one this week, after being gone for four days last week.  Nothing in particular on my mind today, just a few random observations (what else?) to share.

I don't often supply links to anything but a former colleague sent this to me, and if you are now or have ever been part of a sales organization, you'll find this amusing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVLAvix-dX0&feature=endscreen&NR=1

I've also found it a little amusing to see, hear and read all of the advance analysis of the first Presidential debate between President Obama and Governor Romney tonight.  Why, you would think it's the Super Bowl or something!

I think the NFL is glad to have its "professional" on-field officials back on the job, particularly after having replacement officials make a mess of countless games and directly influence (albeit unintentionally) the outcome of several of them.  Goes to show what a friend who u…

What's the good word?

I come before you today as someone who enjoys full and (hopefully) appropriate use of the English language.  I enjoy a well-written book, article, or, given that I work in corporate America, even a well-written e-mail.  I catch myself thinking or occasionally even saying "good word use" in response to something that I might see in print or hear on television or among folks I encounter in my travels.

That said, something I don't especially enjoy is how certain words or phrases appear to be overused in our current cultural lexicon, whether by celebrities, reporters and commentators, sports broadcasters, or the general public.   I'm sure that I fall in love with a "new" catch word or phrase regularly, and substitute something new for that "new" word or phrase just as frequently.  Here, then, are some of my current pet peeves in the area of linguistics:

AMAZING

There must be something about a certain age range utilizing that word all too often, as it see…

Duly noted

Here's a roundup of what's been floating through my brain for the last few hours/days/weeks.....

The Cincinnati Reds are 30 (THIRTY) games over .500 at this point in the season.  They enjoy their biggest lead in their division since 1995, and their "magic number" is eight.  This means that any combination of Reds wins and losses by the St. Louis Cardinals (their nearest competitor in the standings) will result in the Reds winnning the National League Central Division championship.  They may well have a Cy Young award winner among their pitching staff (Johnny Cueto) and the Rookie of the Year in the National League (Todd Frazier).  Good times, baby.

I recently considered adding a monitor to my home computer setup (I use a Macbook Air with a wireless external keyboard and mouse here at home and the Air alone when traveling), having played around with the same arrangement by temporarily setting up a small television as a monitor a while back.  I sold the TV but the moni…

A whole bunch of nothing

Once again, no particular subject that I'm writing of today, just a variety of topics that have interested me lately.

I'm not watching every minute of the Republican and Democratic conventions, as I have a life and there's other stuff to do and watch and so forth.  But I have to say that the enthusiasm level appears to be higher at the Democratic function than at the Republican one, at least based on what I've seen.  I'm reminded of something John Lennon said at a Beatles performance for a royal charity many years ago (and I'm going to have to paraphrase this):  "For this next number, we ask for your help.  The folks in the cheaper seats, clap your hands.  And the rest of you, just rattle your jewelry."  Perhaps that's an apt analogy.

Kentucky's football season is off to a....well, it started on Sunday with a loss to in-state archrival Louisville.  I don't know that Louisville's team is that good or Kentucky's is that bad, but that…

The Colonel....a true original

Recently I detailed my recent discovery of Colonel Littleton, Ltd., a specialty company based in rural Tennessee that creates and sells some of the finest and most unique leather goods and other products that I've encountered.

Last week my endless business travels took me to the Nashville area, and I built in some time for a detour south to Lynnville, the home of Colonel Littleton's operations. I arrived there just after lunchtime and was disappointed to learn that the two people there with whom I'd corresponded, the retail store manager (who sent me a very nice e-mail that was not a form letter after my last order) and the company's director of sales and marketing (who wrote to tell me that they'd seen my last blog entry on Colonel Littleton and had shared with the staff) were both absent on the day of my visit.

A very nice woman named Charlene was holding down the fort in the retail store, which appears to be the hub of the Colonel Littleton operations in Lynnvi…

It's all relative

Good or bad, stuff happens that makes us shake our heads, doesn't it?  I have a little cross-section of these types of things to share.
For instance, I was on a flight for home from Charlotte this time last Thursday, and while we were taxiing, the plane jerked to a stop and the flight attendant announced that our flight had been CANCELLED.  Not delayed, CANCELLED.  This was due to inclement weather in Lexington, we were told.  I called my wife, who indicated that the weather was clear at that moment and rain was due in the early evening, but that was several hours after my flight was due to land.  
Then when I went to be rebooked (that's the airline terminology for "get me the hell out of here") I was advised that I would have to wait for the same flight on Friday.  So I called our corporate travel agency, who booked me on the first flight out the following morning on a different airline.  But that left me in Charlotte on a day trip without a change of clothes, medic…

Citius, Altius, Fortius

Have you been watching the Summer Olympics in the past couple of weeks?  We have at our house, at least some of the time.  Here are some impressions I've gained....
NBC is being vilified for doing what networks covering the Olympics have done for 50 years....that is, craft the day's highlights into a packaged television show designed to satisfy the largest audience possible.  There are a lot of people complaining in a lot of venues (most of them online) that in this age of instant information and social media and so forth that NBC has an obligation to show everything live, and then still repackage various events for prime time consumption.  Of course, those doing the complaining are the ones who probably have the opportunity to watch, say, track and field live, as it's happening.  Most everyone else whom NBC and its advertisers hope to reach are working during the core hours of the afternoon, so their strategy is still designed for people who can't watch events live.
And…

The Colonel

A while back (a month, or more) I happened upon a product that I found surprising and impressive in many unexpected ways.  Allow me to explain....

Some years ago, I bought a BlackBerry Storm smartphone and purchased a holster that was designed for it.  Since that time I have been issued a couple of BlackBerry phones by my employer, and each was accompanied by a holster that I didn't much care for, so I had continued to use my old one for these last two phones.  But the belt clip began to stretch out and not remain secured, and I just got tired of it.

So on a Saturday morning my wife and I were out running errands and I told her that I wanted to visit Lexington's Orvis dealer, a very nice store called The Lexington Angler.  If you're not familiar, Orvis is a purveyor of various men's and women's clothing, luggage and other accessories, and their core products involve fishing and other outdoor living items.  Anyway, I suggested this store because I knew Orvis sells h…

Stories of achievement in the face of overwhelming adversity

Maybe a little TOO dramatic with the subject line today.....

In the spirit of the now-underway summer Olympics, thought you might like to know that others are accomplishing some things.  The Cincinnati Reds have now won ten consecutive games for the first time in thirteen years.  And this weekend my son and I painted the living room of our home, for the first time in nine years.

That doesn't sound like much to a lot of folks, I know, but consider these factors:


*  Neither of us enjoys painting

*  My son is a very busy dad to two kids, both under the age of three

*  I travel very frequently for my demanding job (in fact, I'm leaving today for three nights)

*  Oh, and did I mention that this room has a fourteen foot vaulted ceiling?


Therein was the problem.  Last time around, we used a variety of tools to complete the job, and by our own admissions, we weren't very good at painting.  Using an extension pole to put paint into odd places with rollers, edging tools and even a b…

The Batman

As was reported here recently, my wife and I were in Cincinnati over the weekend and saw "The Dark Knight Rises" on an IMAX screen.  Before I comment on the movie itself, let me offer a brief endorsement of the IMAX concept.  This was a motion picture format that used to be confined to museums and other similar attractions (the first one I saw was at the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida some years ago) but in the past few years there have been more and more commercial cinemas with IMAX auditoriums.  The screen is several stories tall and proportionally wide, and the sound is better than any I've heard in a movie theater.

Anyway, without revealing any major plot items, let me say that "The Dark Knight Rises" is a worthy conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy.  "Batman Begins" and its two sequels show its audience what it would be like for a man to decide to become Batman in the REAL world, not a world filled with cartoonish villains w…

52 pickup

Good morning, all....and happy birthday to me.  52.  Gotta remember to change my Blogger profile.

I write this having just learned of the horrific mass shooting in a movie theater outside of Denver, Colorado last night at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises."  This is a movie that I have anticipated as much as anyone, and my wife and I will be seeing it this weekend (more on that later).  I truly hope that the gunman, whom initial news reports indicate acted alone, was not somehow motivated to these acts of violence by this film.  Certainly will make one think.

Anyway, the day is off to a pretty good start....I just had a nice breakfast, and am watching the Open Championship (British Open to the masses) golf tournament  May be my favorite major champtionship, as it's kind of like four consecutive days of Christmas morning, as a writer recently expressed.  Unpredictable conditions, golf courses that don't look like they've been fertilized and watered in…

Old

I don't know if you noticed it last week, but actor Harrison Ford turned 70 last week.

That's right....Han Solo is 70.  As is Indiana Jones, Jack Ryan, Rick Deckard (you know, from "Blade Runner") and all of his other characters.

70.

I mentioned to someone last week when I read this that Ford so often played characters younger than he, owing to his good physical condition and apparently ageless appearance.  Last movie I saw him in was "Cowboys and Aliens," with Daniel Craig.  This picture opened last summer, and was fun, if not enduring, entertainment.  Ford looked a little closer to his actual age in that movie, but that didn't really bother me.

And knowing that an evergreen favorite actor of mine from adolescence is now 70 years of age is simply an indication of my own advancing age, I suppose.  Think about it....I was in high school when "Star Wars" came out and turned Harrison Ford from a serviceable character actor into a box office megas…

Here and gone

Back to work today after a week-plus staycation.  Nice to be off work.

Writing this morning about things, particularly businesses, that appear to be here one day, and gone the next.  To wit:

I went to a bakery in an adjacent neighborhood on Saturday, hadn't been there in about a month.  On my way out of the shopping center where it's located I noted that a dry cleaner that had been there seemingly forever was now gone, space vacant and a "for rent" sign prominently displayed on the front windows.  Just down the way another business, which was an eclectic mix of gift items, imported decorative things and a small bistro was having some sort of "house auction" and apparently going out of business.

What I already knew was gone from this center was a high-volume discount gas station which has been located there for about twenty years.  This place was always open, and always busy, and because it was situated right on the corner of the intersection where this shop…

Thinking too much

I'm on vacation from my job this week, but since I'm enjoying a "staycation," I have a few things I wanted to send into the ether for everyone to ponder:

I think Tony LaRussa is a slimeball.  To pass over two obviously deserving members of my Cincinnati Reds simply because he CAN is, well, not at all unexpected.  And from what I just read, I think one of the snubs, Reds' pitching ace Johnny Cueto, will file a grievance, as the reason LaRussa stated for not choosing Cueto is a violation of the collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and their players' association.  Worth noting that LaRussa is now an EMPLOYEE of the MLB hierarchy. Hmmm....

I think "Brave" will be Pixar's latest hit film for Disney.  That makes something like 13 in a row.  I took my granddaughter yesterday afternoon and have been muttering in a Scottish burr ever since.  Oh, and I noticed that the movie theater where we saw this is already selling tickets for…

It's quiet now....

It's quiet this morning here at the Smith ranch, but only in anticipation of what's to come.

Our daughter and her family should be arriving here later today.  And, no, they won't be brandishing bullhorns or sirens, but a family of four added to our little empty nest certainly makes a difference.

They'll be here with us until sometime late next week, when they'll start their trek back to Colorado.  They drove east last Thursday, stopping in western Kentucky to see my wife's mother and some other relatives there, then moved eastward past Lexington and on to northeastern Kentucky for two family reunions held on successive days by our son-in-law's family.

So we've been preparing for their arrival, and, ready or not, today's the day!

And because I work at home when I'm not traveling, we have an understanding that I almost always have to travel the first few days they're here.  I'm not comfortable taking two full weeks off from work consecutiv…

Broken record

I just saw something online that was essentially a plea for our music-loving society not to forget its roots and go back to vinyl records.  The teaser read something like this:



The real genius of vinyl recrods is the way that they help us actually feel our favorite music. That connection should not be lost.
Excuse me, but when was the last time that you attempted to play a record somewhere other than at home.  Oh, never?  Why not?
Kidding aside, when I was a young pup and feeling pretty good about the quasi-audiophile turntable (we record snobs would NEVER have referred to this device as a "record player") that I had added to my component system, I remember reading about the over-the-road trucker who loved music so much that he had found a way to suspend a turntable to make it unaffected by bumps in the road and such, allowing him to listen to his favorite records while driving.
Turns out he could have bought an iPod and accomplished the same.
Same line of thought....I noticed th…