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Freedom (but only for a week)

Good post-Christmas Monday to all.  Hope you had a great holiday, and that, like me, the giving was more enjoyable than ever!

I titled today's epic diatribe thusly because I decided to take a well-deserved break from my current job that began at 2:00 PM local time on Christmas Eve and will have me returning to work, eventually, a week from today.  So I am free for the week!

So far the thing I've noticed is that I am sleeping better and longer.  I cannot recall if I've mentioned it in this space previously, but for about a year and a half I've had difficulties getting back to sleep during the night, on those nights when I wake for a trip to the bathroom.  And unlike my mindset in my former job, I am not lying awake agitated by the job or my responsibilities.  So this is likely some physical change that I have not yet fully identified.  Therefore, I keep my iPad close by and read a few articles until I feel a little drowsy.  Far better than staring at the ceiling or the …

Nearly there

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat.....and so on!

Hope you're ready for Christmas, because it will be here on Thursday, whether we're ready, or not!  I think we're ready, but I've experienced a couple of instances this holiday season when I thought my wife and I had completed our shopping and preparation, only to find that we have more to finish!

Have you noticed some of this year's holiday advertising varies greatly from charming and fun to downright puzzling?  For instance, the Lexus commercials, showing their various models wrapped in a large bow have been around for a while, as have the Mercedes spots with Santa driving a team of red cars in lieu of reindeer.  I particularly like the Apple commercial that's running right now, showing an older woman enjoying and becoming emotional over a long-forgotten piece of music.  There was also a TV ad for a regional healthcare provider in my area that conveys a simple message of peace for the season.  Barne…

Ever closer

Friends, we are FAST approaching Christmas and that means that everyone is really rushing around, getting things done, crossing items off their Christmas shopping lists, going to parties, and so on.  Let's all make a pact that we'll be patient and tolerant of others.  Makes things so much nicer, don't you think?

My wife and I visited a handful of retail establishments over the weekend, and while many were crowded, the patrons were still well-behaved, and there was no apparently fighting over limited quantity items or close parking spaces.  Yet.

I want to pause for a moment and thank those who contacted me with such positive comments about my most recent post.  Always nice to hear from those who read and enjoy this blog!  If you have comments, whether positive or negative, don't be bashful about sharing!

I made it through a particularly trying week last week.  Lots of travel and a lot of events scheduled, but here I am, safe and sound.  This week stands to be busy, too,…

Thinking about what I've done

Good Tuesday morning, one and all.  I come to you today suffering from a cold or something, so bear with me!

Today's title was a kind of nod to what our parents used to tell us when we would be sent to our rooms (before "time out" was a thing, of course).  "Go in there and think about what you've done!"  Whatever that was.  I have two brothers and growing up, we brawled constantly, so what I had "done" was often what I was involved in, along with one or both of them.

But I've been traveling a lot by car lately, so when you're on the endless road, the mind wanders far and wide, and that phrase came back to me for some reason.

I was talking with my wife the other night about something and said that I should document all of the silly things I did when our kids were growing up that we all found so funny.  But since they both visit this space sometimes, I won't torture them further than I already have!

But invariably, we DO start thinking a…

Time between the holidays

Good Monday afternoon to one and all.  As good as a Monday can be, anyway!

I hope that you had the chance to spend Thanksgiving and the day or two afterward with people you care about, as I did.  Managed not to do much shopping but did pick up something on Saturday morning that I had "pre-purchased at Black Friday prices," whatever the heck that meant.  All I know is that I saved some money on it, and went in to pick it up before the crowds descended on this poor defenseless retailer.

Did you know that last Saturday was designated as "Small Business Saturday?"  On that day small businesses ask that you not forget to patronize them.  We did, and normally do.  I like dealing with locally owned operations, as you pretty much know the money you spend will largely stay in your home community.  One of my primary outfitters these days is Colonel Littleton, Ltd., in the small town of Lynnville, Tennessee.  I don't live there, but buying from the Colonel always makes me…

One-liners

Happy Thanksgiving week, friends.  Hope your plans this week include some quality time with folks you love.

Sometimes I want to comment on a lot of things but they're kind of disjointed, and today is one of those days.  So here are some one (or more)-sentence random thoughts about, well, random subjects:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, we hardly knew ye.  Tough to jump onto a train that's already moving, I suppose.

The music from the movie "Interstellar" is easy to overlook when considering the film as a whole, but it's extremely important to the movie.  Same can be said of many other movies, too.

Movies in a series present some difficulties, as the middle ones often are designed to keep the plot moving and by design don't conclude much.  This is true of the latest installment of the "Hunger Games" series, which is called "Mockingjay Part 1."  Good movie, but it starts and ends in the middle of a larger plot.

On that same line of thought, &…

Upgrades

Good morning, gang.  It's snowing here in central Kentucky.  The weather forecasters are calling for anywhere between a dusting and a couple of inches of the white stuff.  And it's the middle of November. So I suppose in that respect, this morning's title is a bit of a misnomer, as I would definitely NOT classify today's weather as anything remotely resembling an upgrade!

One thing that certainly is an upgrade is this year's Kentucky basketball squad.  So loaded with talent is his team that Coach John Calipari has divided the ten best players into two "platoons," and thus far he has substituted these groups as a unit (five players at a time).  The team hasn't really played anyone but that will change when they meet Kansas this week.  So I suppose we'll see how well this works out long-term.

The same cannot be said for Kentucky's fading football team.  After getting off to a fast start at 5-1, the team has now lost five straight games, with eac…

Uniformity

Friends, I come to you today with some remarks about a number of things, but I want to start with some thoughts about sports team uniforms.

Yes, that's right.  Uniforms.

This has interested me for some time.  I read a blog periodically called Uni-Watch, about, guess what?  Sports uniforms.  So here are some things that I want to throw out there:

Every university or fan or sportscaster who made fun of the University of Oregon for their ever-changing uniform combinations and possibilities, take note.  On Saturday, the University of Kentucky (famous for "Go Big Blue") wore grey uniforms for at least the second time this year.  On Senior Day.  I like them, don't get me wrong, but it's just a different thing, that's all.  On the same day, Oklahoma, whose uniforms had changed little in many, MANY years, wore white helmets.  Probably not the first time, either.  Arizona State University wore "anthracite" (dark grey to most of us) with copper accents.  Last…

The ballot box

Good morning from the Bluegrass State!

I used the above title because today, of course, is Election Day in many parts of the country, my home state of Kentucky included.  And Kentucky takes its politics seriously.  There's a little Catholic church in western Kentucky in a place called Fancy Farm that apparently invited a political candidate or two to speak some years ago, and now that event, which is simply referred to as "Fancy Farm," is heavily attended by just about anyone running in a statewide race.

This year was no exception, as veteran Republican U.S. Senator (and Senate "important guy") Mitch McConnell is running for another term.  His primary opponent (there is at least one "minor" party candidate in the race) is the current Secretary of State, Alison Lundergan Grimes.  The maiden name is important, as her father, Jerry Lundergan, has been a major player in Kentucky Democratic politics since I was a kid.  He and his family operate a major cat…

Up on the roof

Good Monday morning, campers!  It was a beautiful weekend here in central Kentucky. The great weather began around Thursday and was spectacular all the way through to today.  Fall is indeed here, with just a little cool in the air.  Gonna be cooler still later in the week, they tell me.

Today's post is so titled because I spent a couple of hours on my roof yesterday.  No, I haven't gone completely around the bend, I just needed to finish a project I started last weekend.  I don't like to paint, which I think I have adequately documented here previously, but I can do it and do a decent job of it.  Home ownership these past 25+ years has made me develop at least tolerable skills in this area (and others, of course), and I'm not about to spent $1000 for someone to do what I can do passably myself.

So this painting project was the exterior trim.  Didn't need to paint the garage or entry doors, I had done those in the last couple of years.  No, we're talking about t…

Bad guys

Good morning, all.  A slight detour from my normal slice-of-life diatribes.  This morning my treatise concerns villains from movies and books.

Why are we fascinated with villains?  Is it because we secretly wish that we could act that way, with no real consequences?  Or is it because we know that most, if not all, of the time, the good guys win out in the end of a movie or book?

I don't know, but I find many "bad guys" from movies to be most interesting, possibly the MOST interesting character in a given work.  Without further introduction, and in no particular order, here are some of the villains I've found compelling in various movies and other sources:

Sir Laurence Olivier enjoyed a long and distinguished career in acting on stage and screen, but may be known best to people in my demographic for playing the Nazi war criminal Christian Szell in the '70's thriller "Marathon Man."  The plot is somewhat difficult to explain quickly, but in it Dustin …

Changes of scenery

It's a rainy Tuesday afternoon here in central Kentucky today.  Hope the weather is a little more agreeable wherever you're reading this.

Working my first all-office day for some time.  Somehow I thought this would be more common when I moved into yet another work-from-home position, but given staffing changes, ever-changing client expectations and, well, an endless pile of things to be done, it has not happened much.  Hopefully this is the beginning of a trend!

Yesterday I was in the hills of eastern Kentucky for a meeting in Martin.  This is a small community in Floyd County, for those keeping score, but I have client locations based there.  It's a pretty drive from Lexington to Martin and yesterday was no exception, as there are many wooded areas along the hills en route to that part of the state and many of the trees have begun to blaze into fall colors

Ironically, my wife and I spent most of three days in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains in eastern Tennessee…

A big week

Greetings, all.  Rainy Tuesday morning here in central Kentucky, but we appear to have escaped the more severe weather that has struck areas south of here thus far.  But we're under a significant chance of rain for the next several days, so not out of the woods yet.

The cavalry has arrived in my job, as I now have three new folks who have received their initial training and are somewhat prepared to go out and do their new jobs.  This is great news for me, as I've been wearing a lot of hats over the past couple of months, just to keep things moving in a positive direction.

Playoff baseball continues to be fascinating.  In the American League this year, we have no Yankees or Red Sox or Rangers, none of the usual players.  The Baltimore Orioles, who have not played in a World Series since 1983, will face off against the Kansas City Royals, who've not done so since 1985 (if you're interested, both of them won the last times they went to the Series) for the right to go to t…

Ending well

Good Monday morning, everyone...hope you all had a great weekend!

A few things rattling around pertaining to things ending, and I suppose I should start with my beloved Cincinnati Reds, who ended their baseball season yesterday.  162 games filled with injuries and uneven performance, ending with a record well below .500 that did not qualify the team to play in the postseason, as they had three of the past four years.

But just in case you think that the last few games were downers, it's worth noting that on their way to wrapping up the season the Reds won Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers, ending that team's postseason aspirations, and over the weekend won in come-from-behind fashion on Saturday with an extra-innings grand slam, no less, and then yesterday their wonderful pitcher Johnny Cueto drove in what would be the winning run to assure himself of a 20-win season, the first by a Reds pitcher since 1988.  As I am fond of saying, baseball is the greatest game of them al…

Falling

It's fall, campers, as of around 10:30 last night.  It's felt more like fall in these parts for some time, so appropriate it's now official.

And with that, I have my traditional fall cold.  I have been fighting allergies for some weeks, which is also characteristic of this time of year, but what I have suffered has morphed into a full-blown cold.  Congestion, some coughing (though thankfully not so much that I can't sleep) and general aches are its hallmarks.  How nice.  Using some over-the-counter stuff to fight back, but, as we all know, it generally just has to run its course.

We had our twice-a-year neighborhood garage sale Saturday.  I put out a few things, plus a couple of pieces of furniture that we no longer wanted.  Made less than $50, but that's better than the last time I did it, when I made about $15.  Sold a blender we haven't used in years, a weed trimmer that does not run, and a soap dispenser that clogs at the drop of a hat.  Plus a few other thin…

Monday, Monday

Good Monday morning to all.  Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!

Later today I'm going to be helping to orient a new employee (note that I did not use the non-word "orientate."  One of these days I'll do an entire blog entry on the fingernails-on-a-blackboard feeling I get from numerous very common grammatical errors.).  I'll be doing this each of the next three weeks.  I've done this many, MANY times, but I cannot say that I've done it when I myself have been this "new," having only started my current job in May.  But it will be good to fill out our team completely!  The only hiccup thus far is new hire #1 had difficulty finding our offices elsewhere for the HR portion of her orientation, but I was just advised that she arrived.

Had a couple of pretty awful customer service experiences recently, and while I could provide endless details of each, let's just say they were totally different from one another and involved completely different …

Transition time

Good Tuesday afternoon to you all.

Fall has not fallen in most parts of the country.  In fact, given how wet our weather in central Kentucky has been up to this point of the year, we may not see the evidence of fall in the form of brightly colored leaves for a while yet.

But it's transition time for other reasons, too.  For example, in the past couple of weeks, both college and professional football began their 2014 seasons.  Always an exciting time for fans, since every team is in first place at the start of a new season!  And don't look now, but Kentucky won their first two games of the new season, and have already equalled their win total for the previous two seasons. A much tougher test is ahead Saturday, as the Cats travel to Florida to take on the Gators, but who knows?  Anything can happen.

My beloved Cincinnati Reds are also in transition, as they will most likely not play in the postseason this year, something they've managed to accomplish three of the last four s…

Another long, strange trip

Good day, one and all.  I write to you from the heart of southeastern Kentucky, London, to be exact.  I am here in this locale today to conduct some meetings for my company and am writing this on my well-deserved lunch break.

The London area is only about an hour from my home base of Lexington, but I elected to come down here last night, just in case.  My plans were justified to an extent as I encountered some road-construction-related delays last night during my trip to the area.  I would not have wanted to have begun my workday this morning by sitting in traffic, wondering if I would make it to my first appointment on time!

Things are a little strange with work right now.  We started out in May with a team of three people to handle a given amount of work.  Through various circumstances, my two associates have left the company, leaving only me for the moment.  Replacement staff is on the way, as is an additional team member, but it may be a while before they're in a position to b…

Fast food

Happy Friday to all.  Hard to believe that summer is almost unofficially over, but it's true.  They'll be playing football very soon, and that's always the surest sign to me that summer is nearing an end.  I also think that way in reference to the baseball season---when football starts, baseball is winding down, at least for the regular season.

This morning I have food on my mind, and not just because my breakfast today consisted only of a banana.  Full disclosure--when we buy bananas at our house, they become my "property" when the peels achieve that speckled, darker appearance.  My wife won't touch a banana in that state, except if she plans to make banana bread.  Likewise, I don't like them when the peel still has a greenish cast to it, too firm and not sweet enough.

Anyway, I was about to prepare dinner a couple of nights ago, with boneless/skinless chicken breast on the menu.  I looked at the weather forecast earlier in the day, weather appeared to b…

Business as (un)usual

Happy Friday, campers...looks like we've almost made it to the weekend.  Barring unforeseen issue, of course!

Those of you who are not baseball fans would have missed this, but for the first time in about twenty years, the team owners of major league baseball yesterday elected a new commissioner, to start work in January.  His name is Rob Manfred, and he's been the deputy commissioner and primary labor negotiator for some time.  He will be replacing Bud Selig, who used to own a team but has been in charge of baseball for many years.

I had used this space to promote my own candidacy for this august position, in jest, of course, but that's one of the things about these professional sports leagues that drives me bonkers.  You'd think they'd want or recognize the need for some clear perspective, from someone who's NOT been a part of the "business as usual" mentality.  Not so, and in the other major professional leagues, when the torch is passed, it passes…

Genius

Good morning to all.

The title isn't a word I would use very often, and certainly tire of folks in the media throwing it around endlessly to describe people who coach football teams or write books.  But I found it to be the only appropriate word this morning when considering the very untimely passing of actor and comic Robin Williams.

Remember the first time we all saw him?  He played a far-out alien on the old sitcom "Happy Days," designed probably to be a one-off appearance.  This turned into "Mork and Mindy," then a contract dispute and then his entry into movies.  And many of those movies were pretty bad, if you recall.  "Popeye," "The World According to Garp," and many more that were largely forgettable.

But then something happened wherein it looked like Hollywood had figured out how to harness the immense comedic horsepower that Williams brought to a scene.  He was in several successful films, garnered Oscar nominations for "Good …

Quick turnaround

Good morning, all.  Hope your weekend was exceptional!

A little behind the curve this morning, folks.  Late yesterday afternoon, my son and I ventured down the road to Louisville, KY to Louisville Slugger Field.  We went there to see the Louisville Bats take on the Rochester Red Wings in a minor league baseball game.  Slugger Field is an exceptionally nice minor league park, always very clean at the start of any game and staffed with friendly and helpful folks.  Last night was no exception.

One of my minor gripes in the past was the fact that the park did not accept credit cards for anything except souvenir and ticket purchases, but that is no longer the case, as most major concession stands now also accept plastic.  That's handy, particularly for someone like me who got out of the habit of having cash available for, well, most every occasion.

And last night's tilt, which the Bats ultimately lost 6-5, was also exceptional, in that it was the longest game in the history of Slug…

Rainy Sunday morning musings

Good Sunday morning, all....not going to complain about rain in late July.  Rare occurrence here in central Kentucky.

I have a good friend in northern California who reminded me that the "water police" are out in force there, citing those who ignore regulations about watering lawns, washing cars and such during a severe drought there.  We don't have that here, and probably won't this year, so that's a blessing.

I love quiet Sunday mornings.  My wife is still sleeping, I'm here at my computer with a cup of coffee, perusing the Internet and writing this.  Listening to some music on headphones to keep the house quiet.  We'll enjoy a leisurely breakfast in a while, watch a little television, then decide how to spend the day.  Nice.

Was fortunate enough to play golf with two separate groups of friends the last two Saturdays.  Yesterday's game was an annual treat---a man who's old enough to be my dad annually joins me and a couple of other mutual acquai…

But what I really wanted was....

Good Friday to all....hope everyone has a great weekend planned.

Thought I'd share some things I found funny and/or interesting this week.  Traveled a bit (just one night) and have been out and about quite a bit otherwise, so here goes!

Boo!  and Hiss!  to American Airlines, who have apparently "redesigned" their full-size airline cabins to the extent that a "normal" coach seat affords a passenger about half of the forward-and-back space as before.  I was treated to a round trip earlier this week in a larger plane (couldn't tell you what make or model, I'm not THAT much of a geek) and found that I had about two to three handwidths between my chest and the seat in front of me.  Luckily, they're also featuring reduced size flip down trays, so that you can still have a place to put your drink....oh, wait, even that's too small for me now!  To compound matters, the gentleman (and I use that term loosely) who occupied the middle seat next to me on my…

A few updates

Happy Monday, if there is such a thing.  I hope everyone had a nice, restful, enjoyable weekend.

Wanted to start with a handful of updates on items I've mentioned in this space in recent posts.

First, in the post entitled "Musical chairs" I noted my renewed effort to capture more music that is traditionally of interest to me.  I appear to have now completed my latest mission, as I now have 2452 individual songs in my iTunes library (and that's after deleting a lot of duplicates of the same recording, from "greatest hits" or "essential" collections).

I also neglected to mention one of my favorite streaming music services, Songza, which I mentioned in a direct communication to a good friend who read this particular post.  Songza was in the news recently because it was just announced that Google is acquiring the company.  It works on a context-oriented scenario.  The system will ask users what they're doing (relaxing, working, concentrating on …

Writing it down

Good morning, friends...hope you had the chance to enjoy some time off from your job and have a long weekend.

Here's a little secret...my wife and I were married on July 4, 1986.  What a stroke of luck for me--a date I can easily remember, a day off from work each year to celebrate, and fireworks!  My wife and I enjoyed our anniversary this year, as we always do!

Among our anniversary activities was a movie--my wife particularly enjoys Tom Cruise's movies, so we took in a showing of "Edge of Tomorrow."  Imagine "Groundhog Day" crossed with "Independence Day," and add some well-done action sequences.  Intriguing and entertaining; I like to think at least a little during a movie, and this one had me scratching my head here and there.  It's based on a graphic novel called "All You Need is Kill."  Rather glad they changed the title.

I'm rolling a bit early today.  I have two conference calls to lead this morning, and because we have…

Musical chairs

Happy Monday, one and all!

Recently something prompted me to take a good look at my music collection, just to see what I'm missing.  Several years ago (and I want to say that this process was recorded within this blog somehow for posterity), I moved away from using physical recordings of music and into those of the digital persuasion, if you will.  That meant that I said goodbye to some stereo equipment that I had had since high school (I know) and some vinyl records that I had had for longer than that!  I also divested all of my cassette tapes and the accompanying tape player, since neither of our cars have tape players in them.

At that time I mounted a pretty serious effort to reacquire most of that music in digital form, whether through the purchase of music through iTunes or CD (I still have a few CDs, since the cars will play them).  And I think I did a good job of recapturing some of this stuff, but there were invariably a few gaps.

Now, if you're like me and you troll s…

Tweet tweet

Friends, I've been wondering how many of my loyal readers are also active on Twitter.  I don't "tweet" that often, but sometimes do, just because I see, hear or experience something worth mentioning.  And I can tell you that I don't have that many Twitter followers, but a few that are active and take note of some of the stuff I post.  Here's a sampling: