Friday, September 27, 2013

Potpourri

It's Friday, my friends, and I'm as happy about that as you probably are!  Lots going on for me personally and elsewhere, so let's get right into some stuff, shall we?

Starting with baseball (naturally), as my Cincinnati Reds cannot win their division (the St. Louis Cardinals have eliminated the Reds mathematically) but they can at least host the single-game wild-card playoff they'll most certainly have with the Pittsburgh Pirates by winning two of three games this weekend from those same Pirates.  The games are in Cincinnati, so my son and I are trekking north to lend our support tomorrow.

While we're in town we plan to visit the world-famous, legendary Montgomery Inn.  Haven't heard of this?  Then I'd guess you aren't from the midwest.  This place is so well known that Bob Hope actually did their radio and television commercials years ago.  The ribs are baked, not smoked, but slathered with a unique sauce that contributes heavily to many other items on their massive menu.  They have multiple locations, including a very scenic one on the banks of the Ohio River, but we're going to my favorite, the original in Montgomery, Ohio, a township northeast of the main part of Cincinnati.  Filled with endless sports souvenirs, jerseys and photos.  Sort of like eating in a sports museum!

I love a good customer service story, since they're kind of rare.  And if you visit here periodically, you've read my impressions of Colonel Littleton, Ltd. of Lynnville, TN.  I have many of their products, most of them personal leather goods.  A while back I added their brass luggage tags to my collection and one has "lived" on my Saddlebag Briefcase since it arrived.  I was in an airport Tuesday evening and discovered that my tag had separated from its hardware and was nowhere to be seen!  I was NOT happy, mostly because I liked that tag and it was beginning to show some age and gain some patina.

I sent an e-mail to one of the nice folks at the Colonel's operation and she told me that someone from the returns department would be in touch.  Instead, I received an e-mail from a parcel company with a tracking number....they already have a replacement on its way to me!  How's THAT for service?

If you've been living in a cave without media available, you don't know what the rest of us do, that the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, takes effect on Tuesday.  Confusing for some, depending on circumstances, but if you'll visit healthcare.gov, you can probably get most of your questions answered.  And Texas Senator Ted Cruz will not be the one answering them, most likely.

Have you sampled any of the new TV shows?  I had lunch with a friend yesterday and we compared notes about a few.  He saw a couple of sitcoms which he said weren't good, and he's watched one show that my wife and I have yet to watch from the DVR, "Hostages."  He said it was pretty good.  What we have watched are "Marvel's Agents of Shield," which was not bad, but should get better as we get better acquainted with the numerous characters.  And we also watched "The Blacklist," which was VERY good indeed.  I won't spoil it for you if you haven't watched, but it's well written, well acted, and contained a most unpredictable plot.

My new company requires that we travel using the lowest available fare, which makes a lot of sense.  But when I traveled to Chicago earlier this week, that meant that I didn't take one of the two airlines that offer direct flights to Chicago from Lexington.  No, I used a different airline, albeit my preferred one, to get there and back.  One hour trips turned into five hour processes with changes and layovers.  But it's their money, so that's how it is.

I saw a few of the new iPhones on this trip, including a gold one being used by a young woman at a restaurant in downtown Chicago.  I updated my devices to the new iOS7, and I like it for the most part, although the differing appearance is a little jarring at first. A friend is trying to migrate from an iPhone 4 to the new 5s and he's not having a good time of it, unfortunately.  But he's an IT professional, so I'm confident that he'll get it whipped into shape.

OK, back to work.  Have a good weekend, go Reds, and we'll see you next time.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

New and not

Greetings, one and all.  I have the usual mixture of comments and observations.  Nothing to rant about, but, hey, it's early.

If you have an iPhone or an iPad, as I do, you can now download the NEW iOS 7 from Apple.  It's been pretty well publicized, so if you hadn't heard, you're probably smarter than the rest of us!  Anyway, the idea behind this was to give your Apple devices a totally new look and feel.  I downloaded the software for both devices last night, and, even though I had only a couple of hours to play with it, I have to say that Apple appears to have pulled off something that I didn't know would be possible.....improving their existing user interface.  New backgrounds, ring tones, etc., but the old standbys are all still available, too, in case you're really attached to the former "default" Marimba ring tone (I hear that one ALL THE TIME).  I'll let you be the judge if you have a device that can and will accept this update, but I think you'll like it!

Unfortunately, something that's not new is news this week of another mass shooting, this time at the Washington, D.C. Navy Yard.  It's completely beyond me how in the world a man who had the problems the suspect appears to have had was able to:

Have a U.S. military contracting position
Have a U.S. government security clearance
Buy a gun on Sunday and use it on Monday
Not have been brought to justice for past acts of gun violence

I won't presume to lecture about this, but something clearly needs to happen in this area.

OK, on to something a little less weighty.....I've expressed my amusement at some of what I see in everyday traffic, but what I saw yesterday really takes the cake.  I was on the circle freeway around Lexington and noticed in the left lane an older pickup truck was kind of drifting over into my lane.  I slowed up, he proceeded to drift right in front of me.  No problem, since I saw him well in advance.

Anyway, I generally get off this road at a certain point, and travel a couple of blocks to another by-pass type of road, and then through a residential area, etc.  The same truck was in the same position, left lane, and I'm in the right.  I see him again drifting into my lane, so, again, I let him in.  He turns where I plan to turn, just ahead of me.  A car is preparing to turn left, so the pickup driver DRIVES UP OVER THE CURB to get around the turning car.  Then, up ahead, there's a backup of a couple of cars ahead of him.  The thru lane traffic light is still red, but the turn light is green.  Mr. Pickup again mounts the curb, drives around three cars and runs the red light.

The funniest thing about this was that he wasn't going very fast at all.  Fortunately for other motorists who didn't see him coming (or going).

And, for those who keep mentioning it, I like the GEICO commercial with the camel asking, "Know what day it is?"

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remember

I know that most of what I write here is pretty light-hearted, and it should be, given what this blog is.  But I want to begin with a somber note of recollection of the events of this day in 2001.  I don't think I'll ever forget, and you probably won't, either.  A writer whom I like and read regularly (he writes for a newspaper in another city) cited the Bruce Springsteen song "Nothing Man" as a fitting summation of today and what it means.  That song's lyrics say it better than I can.

I was fortunate in that I knew no one who was lost, met someone who was at Ground Zero that morning but escaped unharmed but forever changed.  But we all lost quite a bit that day.  And in our family, today's date has a different meaning, as I think I've mentioned here before.  Our daughter and son-in-law were married on this date in 1999, so it's definitely a day of mixed emotions for all of us.

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Think I mentioned that I changed jobs recently and am now a commuter most workdays (I have the opportunity to work from home a little bit of the time, but not continually as with my last position).  And I am continually amazed at what I see and experience with traffic on a daily basis.  Today, for example, there was a huge backup in the left-turn lane onto a street I pass, but don't use, on my way to the office.  In the six weeks I've been making this commute via this route, I had not seen this.

And I've also noticed that if I leave my home five minutes later than usual, it will cost me about ten to twelve minutes of additional delays, but if I leave ten minutes later, I would get there in about the same amount of time.  This appears to be some sort of Jedi mind trick, I think, and, since I'm still getting readjusted to the whole idea of commuting, I can't tell if this is normal or not.

I'm also having to get used to office neighbors.  The walls where I work (and I have an office, not a cubicle, which is a big plus) are not thin, but they're also not soundproof.  I inherited a fan and keep it running most of the time for white noise.  My original office was in an odd spot, with a corridor on three sides and an empty office that's used as a supply room on the other side.  Now, I'm in a bigger office, nicer furniture, etc., but I have neighbors on both sides and a conference room in back.  Way different.

And that's really it.  Things are ALWAYS different.  We say "same ___, different day," but each day is different in its own way.  Maybe not always in the best way, but still different.  That's what keeps things interesting, whether we know it or not!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

It's what's happening now

Got a little of this and that today, friends....

I'm a little bleary-eyed today, as I attempted to watch my Cincinnati Reds play the St. Louis Cardinals last night, but the game ran to 16 innings and I had to give it up after 14.  Reds lost 5-4 after winning the first two over the hated Cardinals.  One more try tonight, and the home crowd in Cincy will be fueled by $1 hot dogs.  It's been a frustrating season this year, as there have been numerous injuries and other issues, and while Reds management will have you believe that their best baseball is ahead, time is running out for that to happen!  As it stands now, the Reds will qualify for the one-game wild-card playoff, so I suppose that's better than the alternative of no postseason play.

In case you missed it, Keith Olbermann has returned to television, hosting a late night sports commentary and interview program on ESPN2.  It's been kind of a mess finding that show each night (I DVR it) because of ESPN's coverage of the U.S. Open tennis championship and the scheduling challenges presented by live sporting events.  The show is in its second week and already Olbermann has touched on a number of subjects in a thought-provoking way, whether through his own observations or with interview segments with numerous sports journalists and others.  Worth a watch if you like sports but also appreciate some criticism of same.

Earlier this afternoon I was having lunch with my wife, my granddaughter and my daughter-in-law and a woman walked into the restaurant who looked a lot like the redhead on the current spate of Wendy's restaurant commercials.  Halfway expected her to say, "Now, that's better!"

Speaking of restaurants, the fast food kind, Burger King is acting as though it has reinvented the category by bringing out the French Fry Burger.  Yes, friends, you can pay them to place fries on top of your hamburger patty.  Imagine the R & D that went into this!  And, if that's not innovative enough, McDonald's is bringing out a seasonal item, chicken wings, but not called McWings.  No, they'll be called "Mighty Wings."  From mighty chickens who died in the creation of Chicken McNuggets, no doubt.

Next Tuesday Apple will announce what most "experts" already know....a new, improved iPhone (or two, depending on what you might read).  They may announce other new or revamped products, but one would think they'll hold some of this back until closer to the holiday shopping season, as it's easier to create demand then!

One more thing....a friend who peruses this space periodically noted that I am very good at not naming names, at least non-famous names, in this blog.  Those of you who've been here from the beginning (and all three of you know who you are) will recall that I had said that I wouldn't use any real names, more or less to protect the innocent!  That still stands, so my friend will have to continue wondering who the heck I'm writing about much of the time!

So long for now!

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