Monday, October 29, 2012

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 dress up and have some good, safe Halloween fun!

Now, on with today's rant....

This is week seven of my seven-consecutive-weeks-of-overnight-business-travel that I've been raging about for a while.  So I'm happy about that, and will be visiting familiar terrain where I know what's available for dining and other options, and I like that, too.  But I had to pass up two local lunch invites, so hopefully I can postpone for next week.

And next week is Election Day, and I don't know what it's been like in your home area, but with all of the hyper-negative advertising that has almost nothing to do with what voters care about, I'll be very glad when all of this is over.  I have even seen attack ads associated with a local city council race, if you can believe it.  Never thought it would come to that.  I suppose we don't need to wonder anymore why the "good" people decline to run for office.

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants, world champions of baseball for the second time in three seasons.  They finished off the Detroit Tigers (congrats to them, too) in four consecutive games last night in cold Detroit.  Worth noting that they won three straight to beat my Cincinnati Reds in the divisional playoff round, then came off the mat against the St. Louis Cardinals to win the last three of their league championship series and THEN four in a row against the Tigers in the Fall Classic.  Pretty good going to win seven straight postseason games!

Not so for the Kentucky football Wildcats, who are now 1-8 on the season due to youth, injury, ineffectiveness on both sides of the ball, you name it.  They traveled to Columbia, Missouri for a beatdown Saturday by the Missouri Tigers (I know, how can the University of MISSOURI be in the Southeastern Conference?).  Season cannot end quickly enough, and we can then get on with defending our national basketball championship.

Speaking of that, check out "All Access: Kentucky" on one of the seventeen ESPN channels (it runs on various outlets of the Worldwide Leader in Sports throughout each week).  It's a rather interesting inside look at Kentucky's basketball team and coaches, particularly head coach John Calipari.  I don't know how much of it's contrived, but it's good viewing if you even remotely care about college athletics.

I'll close by being serious.  If you live along the eastern seaboard, or have family or friends who do, I sincerely hope that they do not suffer ill effects from Hurricane Sandy, which is bearing down on New Jersey as I write this.  Be safe, everyone.


Monday, October 22, 2012

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, with unlikely heroes in most of their wins.  And lots of pitching, the sure cure for any problems in today's baseball.

Pitchers, or, more correctly, quarterbacks, would surely help Kentucky football.  They cannot seem to keep a quarterback on the field, as their latest starter had to sit for a time Saturday night with "migraine-like symptoms."  OK, I'm no doctor, but you either have a migraine headache or not.  I work with and for nurses, and have for years, and am still amazed by how many people will talk about their migraine headaches as though they're commonplace and over in an hour.  I've known migraine sufferers, and it's a very debilitating condition for those so afflicted.

I was flipping around the television dial yesterday morning and happened upon a show on a music channel (not MTV) and they were featuring Jeff Lynne, the creative force behind the Electric Light Orchestra.  If you don't remember them, I'd bet that you would recognize ten or more of their songs if they were played for you, and if you're over forty.  The guy is a veritable renaissance man, not only for his ELO work, but also for having produced albums by the Beatles (he did the "new" tracks on their Anthology albums), George Harrison, Roy Orbison, Tom Petty and a number of others, and was a member of the Traveling Wilburys group.  I knew this, but it's funny how artists of all types can drop out of our field of vision for a time.  Anyway, he's gone back and remastered and recrafted all of the great ELO hit songs (I'm listening to it now), as well as to record another solo record (and I believe this means a TRUE solo record, where he plays and sings everything) of old standards.  He did this once before (the previous release was called "Armchair Theatre," I think) and he mentioned in the liner notes that they were "songs me mum loved."  Check it out if so inclined on your favorite online music source.

Wow, it's almost Halloween.  Since I'll be traveling next week during the occasion, I believe my costume will be "weary business traveler."  You can pick up the outfit at any major airport.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

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 advantage, and the loss of their ace pitcher, Johnny Cueto, to injury one batter into the first game of the series.

So the Reds and Giants moved the action to Cincinnati for game 3, with the Reds holding a 2-0 lead, and then the Reds did something they've not done all year.  They lost three consecutive home games.

Each game was different, the Reds had chances to win all of them.  But they didn't, and after a season where the team had found a way to come back from deficits and win so frequently, this was the real shock to me.  There were other factors, in addition to Cueto's injury that I referenced above, but none of those matter.  The mighty (well, this year, anyway) Reds were eliminated from postseason play on Thursday.

Well, there's always next year, as I told my son.  That's the beauty of baseball.  We can always look ahead to next year.  Or, as the late commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti once wrote, "Baseball is designed to break your heart."

Color me heartbroken.

But I do have a great and funny baseball story to share from my trip last week.  On my way to a conference in North Carolina, I flew out of Lexington and connected in (surprise!) Atlanta to get to my destination.  So I decided to have lunch in the Atlanta airport in the concourse from which my second flight would depart.  I'm standing at a food stand, waiting for my order to be filled, when a man wearing a Washington Nationals baseball jacket walks over, smiles, and in very heavily accented English asks if I'm the father of a man whose photograph he shows me on his phone.  The man who approached me was Latino and so was the man whose photo was shown to me, so I chuckled and simply replied, "Not that I know of."  He grinned, patted me on the shoulder and thanked me.  I glanced to my left and he, the photo subject and two women were sitting together all laughing and kind of pointing in my direction.

Then the two men walked over toward me together (good thing it took a while for my food to be prepared) and the first man explained that the second, who was in the photo, wanted to meet me because we looked so much alike.  I didn't see so much resemblance, but they both did, and the other fellow was wearing a Nationals jacket, too.  So the first man asked if I would pose for a picture, and I readily agreed.  He asked me once more if I were the younger man's father or uncle, and I laughed, saying that maybe we're cousins.  Then the first man produced a business card, and I then saw why he and his associate were wearing Washington Nationals jackets--he's the director of baseball scouting for the Nationals for Venezuela.  Both shook my hand and because I was wearing a Reds shirt we wished each other good luck.

Ironically, the Nationals lost their series in rather disappointing fashion, too, but I sent this fellow an e-mail and he responded last night.

Funny.



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

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 used to officiate various sports used to tell me---the worst thing for an official is to be noticed.  Right on the money.

Baseball is drawing to a close, at least for the regular season.  My Reds are playing for a top seed tonight, which will give them home field advantage in the first two rounds of the National League playoffs.  That is, if they survive the first round.  It's baseball, after all, and anything can and will happen.  Old salts like Reds manager Dusty Baker (who is back on the job after a bout with an irregular  heartbeat and subsequent mini-stroke, so here's hoping he's feeling good) often say that players perform as the backs of their baseball cards (their career statistics) say, but that's over a long season, not a best-of-five or best-of-seven series.

Speaking of this, I gained the opportunity to buy tickets to the Championship Series, so I'm all set if the Reds get through round one.  Bought tickets to several games, with the intent of selling those that I cannot attend.  After all, this doesn't happen very often!

Read somewhere that recently the compact disc celebrated its thirtieth anniversary, and, in the article, people were talking about when are where they were when they bought their first, and what it was.  For my part, that's an idiotic subject, because I was so backward I didn't start buying CDs until 2003, when I bought my first car with a CD player installed.  And if you recall an earlier discussion on this, I still had records until just a few years ago.

That said, I honestly don't know how one finds out about new albums from their old favorites these days, if they're not consistent buyers of new stuff.  Could not tell you the last time I perused the music aisles at Best Buy, for example.  Satellite radio helps, but if my favorites aren't played much there, how would I know?

Suppose there are bigger and better things to worry about, so I'll get busy now.



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