Monday, October 27, 2014

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 the frame around those doors, plus all of the windows.  And, yes, we still have old-style wood windows, the kind that require some maintenance.  Ten years ago I noticed some rot on a couple of the sills and had a handyman locate and install some metal sleeves that fit over those sills.  No more rot.  And he also used PVC to clad a couple of other windows, so they're in good shape as well.

Despite these efforts, these things need to be painted every few years, and I had put it off too long.  So last weekend I did everything within easy reach--ground level.  There was one window, on the front of the house, that required me to use a ladder, but that wasn't difficult.

Yesterday's effort required me to exit one of the upstairs bedroom windows and traverse the top of our roof to get to the other bedroom window.  I stood on the roof painting each window in turn until completed, then leaned out of the exit window to paint the sill and other parts that I needed to leave alone until I reentered the house.  And I successfully tilted in the sash (they all say that's possible, and it is, in theory, as I only had that one try to come loose once) from that window to paint it.

I'm sure the neighbors behind us are relieved, as they're about the only people who ever see these two windows.  I'm just glad it's done.  My next painting project may be to paint our stairwell, and you can just imagine all of the acrobatics that will require!

Couple of pieces of news to mention--all readers here know that I am not fond of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.  They're the nemesis of my Cincinnati Reds.  But I feel badly for them today, as a young outfielder for the club, Oscar Taveras, was killed in an auto accident in his native Dominican Republic over the weekend.  He was only 22 years old.

And Kentucky played football on national television Saturday, faltering only near the end of a good game against the number one team in the country, the Bulldogs of Mississippi State University.  UK was within a touchdown and tried an onside kick that failed and allowed MSU to score another touchdown, icing the game.  But our team showed that they're making strides toward being competitive, and that's all a fan can hope.

Keeping both feet on the ground today.  Shouldn't be a problem!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

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 Hoffman plays a student who is thought to know something significant and incriminating.  Szell and his operative capture Hoffman's character and in an uncomfortably memorable scene Szell, who was a dentist at one time, tortures his prey by drilling his teeth and irritating dental nerves, asking repeatedly "Is it safe?"  I'm shuddering just writing about it!

No discussion of movie villains would be complete without mentioning Hannibal Lecter, the cannibalistic psychiatrist in "The Silence of the Lambs" and its sequels.  Anthony Hopkins absolutely owns this film, winning a Best Actor Academy Award despite only 22 minutes of screen time.  Funny, revolting, terrifying and even sympathetic at times, Lecter is must more formidable than the "real" villain of that movie, the inaccurately named "Buffalo Bill."

Then there's old Mr. Potter in the Frank Capra feel-good classic "It's a Wonderful Life."  Miserly, vindictive, and ever opportunistic, Potter is most definitely a damper on the whole Bailey family, who has famously fought Potter to help the citizens of Bedford Falls.

The villains in all four of the Indiana Jones movies are interesting, for varying reasons.  None play their parts with as much relish as Cate Blanchett as the Soviet officer/scientist in the most recent of these movies, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" (try saying that five times fast).  Although Paul Freeman, the British actor who played ruthless French archaeologist Belloq in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was also memorable for his bad behavior, Blanchett as Irina Spalko was top notch.

The recent Christopher Nolan renditions of Batman also bring to mind two memorable villains, though both were quite different.  Heath Ledger's take on the Joker in "The Dark Knight" was the closest thing to Hannibal Lecter that I think I've seen since.  Even if he's not on camera, his presence permeates that film, as Batman/Bruce Wayne and the Gotham police have to try to figure out what to do in response to each atrocity committed by the Joker.  And in the final installment, we have Tom Hardy bringing life to a totally different villain, Bane, in a way that's faithful to the comics and graphic novels, and yet also most convincing.  Bane isn't insane, he's just completely evil, or, as he tells someone, "I am necessary evil."  Just so.

Final villain in my list---of course, Darth Vader.  Lots and lots and LOTS of great lines, outrageously evil behavior, and, well, the voice of James Earl Jones didn't hurt, either.  My favorite line?  After a foul up an officer says he will go to Lord Vader and personally apologize.  We next see that officer on the floor gasping and as he breezes by, Vader says "Apology accepted, Admiral."  The man (plus machine) we love to hate!  Although I must say that it's a little disconcerting to hate and fear him so much and then see his image all over the place at Walt Disney World, now that Disney owns Lucasfilm!

If you have others in mind that I overlooked in this space(and I do, too), send me a comment!





Tuesday, October 14, 2014

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 last week, with our visit centering on the Sevierville/Pigeon Forge area.  We connected with a very dear friend of mine and her grandson who were already in the area for a wedding, and the four of us spent a day touring the area by car, seeing some wonderful parts of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and some sights along the way.  We even managed an entertaining round of miniature golf and watched my friend's grandson enjoy several turns on a go-kart track.  A great trip, a great day with some wonderful folks.

Somehow I don't imagine that Mitch McConnell and Alison Lundergan Grimes will be exchanging holiday cards this year.  The two are locked in a tight battle for McConnell's U.S. Senate seat and had a contentious debate on statewide television (and C-Span, too, as I understand) last night.  No one's minds were changed, I'd wager, but McConnell's difficulty addressing certain issues shows how out of touch a career politician can become by spending 30 years in Washington and coming home only long enough to get reelected every six years.  He'll probably keep his seat, but it won't be easy for him.

I also saw where Mitt Romney's wife says that he probably won't run for President again.  I didn't even realize that he was considering it, or that anyone in the Republican party wanted him to run.

And if you're keeping count of such things, we have a little less than two months until Christmas.  Wow.

So I suppose I need to get busy!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

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 this year's World Series.  Each swept their first round opponent, and Kansas City had to win a one-game wild card playoff in order to qualify for that.

In the National League it's a little more what we're used to seeing, as the Dodgers, Cardinals and Giants are all still alive, as most have been for the past several years.  The Washington Nationals are back in the postseason after a one year absence, and the two division series are at two games to one so far.  As one might expect.

I find it endlessly interesting how many teams divert from winning strategies that got them to this point (failing to "dance with the one who brung you," in slang terms) at this time of the year.  Managing a baseball team has to be the hardest head coaching job in pro sports, as so many decisions rest solely with the manager, and he has to trust his information as well as his instincts.  And they often disagree with one another!

My wife and I are embarking on a nice little getaway later in the week, traveling to Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  We will sleep in, shop, eat, sightsee and spend some quality time with a very good friend who'll be visiting the area for a wedding.  Even though the weather probably won't be ideal (predicted  chances of thunderstorms during our stay) we should still have a great time!

That's all for now.  Enjoy your week!

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