Friday, March 23, 2012

Before I go....

My wife and I are heading out to Colorado on vacation, leaving later today.  We're driving, so that's always quite an adventure.  And I've had another hectic week leading up to our departure.

I was out of town Monday through Wednesday for business, but that was a successful trip, punctuated only by a flight delay on my last flight Wednesday and then a luggage claim delay (so much for Sky PRIORITY, Delta).  Since then we've been doing what anyone does before leaving for vacation, but, along with that, we aerated, seeded and fertilized our backyard, which I had done to the front yard before leaving for my business trip.

Our days in Colorado will be spent with our six-year-old granddaughter, who'll be on spring break next week.  We'll be taking her out to do some fun things with Gram and Poppy, and she'll decide a lot of it.  But that hasn't stopped us from asking for input from her mom about where she likes to go, eat, stuff to do, etc.

Also asked a good friend and well-traveled golf sage for course selection advice, and he mentioned one course in particular that's positioned between two prisons and near a brewery.  But he added that it's a great course, so there's that.  Not sure how much time I'll have to play more than once, but the clubs are going with us, just in case.....

The other thing is to try to disconnect completely from work while we're away.  That's kind of difficult, since my work cellphone is actually my ONLY cellphone.  It's a BlackBerry, so that means that the flashing red light portends news of various kinds, and I have to try to discipline myself not to peek, at least not too often.  Last time we visited with our daughter and her family was right before Christmas, and something broke on the Friday we were there and I was trying to resolve something that should never have involved me.  Didn't go as well as it would have if I'd been working, of course, but I also think it would have worked itself out without my help.  So that's my mantra until April 3.

I've already deactivated the work e-mail account on my iPad for the same reason.

Speaking of that, I bought the new iPad.  Impressive, and, no, I haven't burned my hands using it yet.  What I keep reading is that people are doing intense 3-D gaming for hours on end, and that's the overheating cause.  That, and the inability to simply put the thing down for a while.  I've also been amused that so many people are using it on cell networks that they're burning through their data limits in short order.  Mine is wi-fi only, thanks, so no problems there.  But the new device is a nice step forward from my first generation model, thinner, lighter, MUCH brighter and more vivid display.  When this thing came out, I'd say that the folks at other companies who make tablets probably just sighed.

Kentucky plays tonight at 9:45 PM EDT, so I know we'll stop for the night in time for that.  Wish us luck in our travels.....

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wants vs. needs

This is a phrase that I use with my wife a lot, mostly when we're discussing things like houses and cars and other LARGE purchases.  And given that we live what I would consider to be an above-average upper-middle-class lifestyle, the line between what we want and what we need blurs considerably.

If you visit here even infrequently you are likely aware that I love gadgets, particularly those of the Apple variety.  I'm on my second Mac computer (current model is a Macbook Air, the ultra-light-and-thin portable), have owned more than one iPod (right now I have an iPod Nano, which about the size of a postage stamp and not much thicker).  And at my insistence, when my wife was due for a cellphone upgrade, we got her an iPhone, and she's extremely happy with this.

I also have an iPad.  Original version, bought it two Christmases ago.  64 GB storage memory, no cellular connection, just Wi-Fi.  I tried to use it as my travel computer for work, even, although I found there were a handful of things that I couldn't do easily with it, so the Macbook Air comes in very handy for business travel.

But I love the thing.  It resides mostly on the shelf of the table next to my favorite living room chair.  I have it in hand off-and-on for several hours each evening, surfing the web, looking up something my wife and I were wondering about, etc.  I'm a pretty good example of how folks are using this, whether it's as a part of another activity (like watching TV) or otherwise.

Unless you've been living in a cave, Apple is due to bring out a new iPad tomorrow.  The new guy promises to have a ridiculously sharp and vivid display screen (and let's face it, the entire device is screen, since it's touch-based) that will reproduce text, video and photos in crisp detail while maintaining an already astounding 10 hours of battery life between charges.

So, of course, I have to have this.

I didn't run out and buy an iPad 2.  Had only had my original model for about four months when it came out, and, since I wasn't all that interested in a camera, that was about all mine was missing.  Sure, the new model was thinner and lighter, but it's not as though the original was inches thicker or pounds heavier!

So I've been weighing the options.  Thought about not getting it, selling my iPad and getting another iPod Touch (I sold mine for about 65% of original purchase price when I bought the iPad) and using that to entertain me when I travel.

But my wife astutely pointed out, "You love that thing.  You use it ALL THE TIME.  You have to get the new one."

Boy, if that's not an invitation to disaster.....

So I've listed my current item on Craigslist (my exploits successfully selling various items there have been documented previously) for roughly half of what I paid, and I may have an interested party.  That would make this whole thing a bit easier.  So we'll see.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Strange days

Morning, all.  No particular theme today, but that's often the case around here.  Raining today, but the sun's going to shine tomorrow, they say.

I was horrified to hear of an American soldier going door to door firing an automatic weapon on innocent civilians in Afghanistan over the weekend.  In my view, that's proof that our forces have been there too long and that it's time to leave nation-building to those whose nation it is--the Afghan people.

The item above will, I'm sure, be termed a failure of the Obama administration by the four lesser minds who seek the Republican nomination for President.  They're all in the South arguing about who's had grits in the past or who says "y'all" as a part of his normal speech patterns.  Oh, and it's Mitt Romney's 65th birthday today, so he's one step closer to that much needed government retirement and healthcare.

Peyton Manning's looking for a job.  He appears to have good qualifications, though his physical fitness may be in question.  Interested parties may contact ESPN, as they will be sure to pass the word to Mr. Manning and his representatives.   Goodness knows that they've invested a great deal of themselves in this story (but they have to, since Brett Favre has remained retired).

Tiger Woods may have to consider another line of work after injuring himself yet again while playing competitive golf.  Who said that golfers aren't athletes?  Kidding aside, I feel bad for the man, as his body continues to betray him despite extensive effort to build muscle and prepare physically for the stresses he puts on his physique on the course.

Kentucky's men's basketball team lost but won yesterday....lost the finals of the largely meaningless Southeastern Conference Tournament (which is played for monetary reasons only, in my estimation), but still won the overall #1 seed in the NCAA tournament ("March Madness," for you trademark fans).  And they get to play their first two games (if they win the first, of course) in Louisville, about 75 miles away.  But a lot of Kentucky fans are complaining that our team, once again, has the toughest road to the Final Four.  Whatever.  Gotta play the games, regardless of how the brackets shape up.

Did you see where Raquel Welch decried the heavy emphasis on sex in today's society?  Just a little disingenuous, I think.

What, exactly, is the point of the Ellen DeGeneres J.C. Penney commercials?  I know that Penney is trying to turn over a new leaf in retailing (their CEO used to head retail operations for Apple, which REALLY knows a thing or two about operating retail stores), but I don't get it.

Speaking of Apple, they rolled out their new iPad last week.  I want it, and make no apologies for that being so.  My wife is encouraging me to upgrade if I can sell my original model, so that's what I'm trying to do.  I cannot be accused of not doing my bit to stimulate our economy, you know.

If you even kind of like the music of Bruce Springsteen, pony up the $12.99 or so to buy his latest record, "Wrecking Ball."  Modern populist music with a folk sensibility, done only as the Boss can.  It's a great listen, a little uneven and ragged in spots, but I think that's deliberate.

Mission accomplished, random thoughts committed to the ether, so now it's time to get to work.  Have a good week.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Moving pictures

My wife and I watched "The Wizard of Oz" the other night.

No, we didn't have the grandchildren with us.  We watched it because WE wanted to.  And we enjoyed it. And I got all choked up near the end, just as I had since I was a kid.

We've both always liked that particular movie and when the Blu-Ray disk came out we decided to get it when the price wasn't quite so outrageous.  So we waited, we bought it and we enjoyed it.

But that started me to thinking about other movies that evoke a discernible emotional response, whether through manipulation or genuinely created emotion.  For example....

One of my very favorite movies is "Field of Dreams," and if you're one of the small number who don't know what it is or don't remember, Kevin Costner plays a reluctant Iowa corn farmer who hears a voice that tells him to plow under most of his crop in order to build a baseball field.  Why?  So that Shoeless Joe Jackson, a disgraced former major league baseball player, can return from the dead to play once more.  There's a lot more to that movie than that, and I won't spoil it for you if you've not seen it, but if you're a person with feelings, I defy you not to be affected by the final fifteen minutes of that movie.

I always am, so I have to be selective about when to watch it.

Same goes for another baseball movie, Robert Redford's "The Natural."  Climactic ending ALWAYS brings me to tears.  Can't watch that one very often, either.

The original "Rocky" does that to me.  At the end, Rocky and Adrian say "I love you" to one another, and it absolutely destroys me.  Every single time.

Ironically, Sylvester Stallone's noble effort to close the series the right was, the recent "Rocky Balboa," has a similar effect near the end.

Enough sports movies.  The all-time breakdown movie for me has to be "Schindler's List," Steven Spielberg's study of displaced Jews during World War II and the Czech industrialist who saved over a thousand of them by buying their freedom.  The last scene where we see Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler....well, I'm a little emotional just typing this and thinking about it.  Another movie I don't watch often, simply because of the powerful emotions.  That came out when our son was in high school, and while my wife didn't care to see it, our son did, so he and I went one evening to see it.  That was in 1993, I think.  What I remember afterwards is that a couple of days after seeing it my wife commented to me that I had been very quiet since that movie, and she was right.  It was a lot to think about.

Close second on the emotion scale is the third of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy.  Powerful stuff near the end of "The Return of the King," and I won't elaborate for fear of spoilers here, either.  Suffice it to say that if you had spend nearly ten hours watching these movies, even over three years, you'd have a lot of emotion stored up that would have to emerge sooner or later.

As I write this I find it odd that I can remember movies that bring me to tears more readily than those that made me laugh uncontrollably.  There are plenty, but I suppose the laughter comes from not knowing what will happen, and being taken by surprise.  In the DVD world, there are fewer surprises, I suppose.

So, if you need a good cry, let me know, and I'll recommend a movie or two.  Always works for me.

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