Monday, November 24, 2014

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, "The Empire Strikes Back" was the best of the original three "Star Wars" movies.  By far.

It's late November, we've had multiple hard freezes.  Why am I sneezing?

Nice to see that some things never change, as the Boston Red Sox once again make a concerted effort to buy another championship.  They used to hate the New York Yankees for doing the same thing.

On the other hand, the Cincinnati Reds didn't do all that well last year, and they're still making out their shopping list.

Kentucky's basketball team has won by some huge margins in the past week, yet everyone wants to know what's wrong with them.  Only in Kentucky.

Conversely, Kentucky's football team has one more chance to turn a rebuilding year into a bowl season, but they'll have to bring their "A" game against the hated Louisville Cardinals next Saturday.

I read the highlights article about the American Music Awards show that aired last night.  My God, I'm old.  And out of touch with popular music.

Last week I heard someone on one of the satellite channels I frequent express the opinion that the differences between my generation's musical tastes and those of the current "younger" generation were narrower than ever before.  Um, I don't think I agree.

Yesterday my wife and I were able to see our granddaughter perform in a play.  In suburban Denver, Colorado.  As it happened.  From our living room in Kentucky.  Via the Internet.  What times we live in!

Brain purge concluded.  Have a great holiday week!








Monday, November 17, 2014

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 each loss seemingly worse than the last.  Saturday they lost for the umpteenth time in Knoxville to the University of Tennessee by a whopping margin.  The team appears to be trying but they simply don't have enough player depth to remain competitive and from my viewpoint are playing as though they're tired.  Which they most likely are.  Reinforcements are coming but not until next season, so the best news now is that they get a week off before trying to regroup in two Saturdays and compete against in-state rival Louisville (which has its own problems, since they'll be visiting an angry Notre Dame team that lost at home in overtime to an unranked Northwestern squad).

My wife and I are off and running with our Christmas shopping.  For you wet blankets who start in July this is not a big thing, but we have about 1/4 of the shopping completed and it's not even Thanksgiving.  Still in a quandary about Christmas cards this year (yes, we're old-fashioned enough to still do that), as we haven't seen many we like.  Yet.

I bought myself a present last week, purchasing a new Apple iPad Air 2.  I had decided to see about selling my venerable third-generation iPad on Craigslist, but only got a couple of nibbles.  But I noticed that a national electronics retailer (no names, remember) was offering trade-ins and I went to see about it and got what I would consider to be a worthwhile allowance for my old device.

In selecting the new iPad, I opted for 128 gigabytes of storage, as I didn't want to outgrow this device or have to come up with workarounds.  And I got the "space grey" color, which means the frame around the screen is black, just like the original (I'm a creature of habit, certainly).  The new device is decidedly thinner, lighter and faster than its predecessor, and the same was true of that device, too.  I'm enjoying it immensely, and it's usually close at hand when I'm here at home.  I may opt to use it more in my work, but I've tried that in the past with mixed results.

My biggest regret in trading up is that I can no longer use my former iPad's companion, a No. 4 Docker from Colonel Littleton.  That item is a leather play-in case that proved to be very functional and provided good protection, too.  But I have my original No. 5 Pocket to store the new guy in, so it's all good.

And I just got a teeny-tiny flash drive to use with my Macbook Pro, thereby expanding its storage capacity by 50%.  Haven't opened it up yet, but it's supposed to operate using the USB 3.0 technology, which means I should be able to access whatever data I store there quickly and efficiently.

That's about all from command central this morning.  Make your week an upgrade!

Monday, November 10, 2014

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 I heard, their school colors were a deep maroon and gold.  And Notre Dame, the bastion of tradition in college sports, is allowing its football players to wear gold cleats.

In the NFL, there are more ugly color combinations than I can remember.  The Baltimore Ravens chose to wear their purple home jerseys with black pants.  Ugh.  The New Orleans Saints wore all black.  So did the Cincinnati Bengals, against the Cleveland Browns, who were wearing brown pants.  And in the NFL, which some have said must stand for "no fun league," since they used to value uniformity above all else, players are wearing all colors of shoes, colored belt/sash/towel things around their waists, and on and on.  Yikes.

Then there's my preferred sport, major league baseball.  Used to be that the team would determine that the uniform consisted of a certain color, and then the team would be outfitted with white uniforms, trimmed in that color, for home games, and grey unis with that same trim for road games.  Now, most teams wear a colored jersey (or two or three) and do so at home or on the road.  Plus it used to be that a team would designate that their players would all wear the same color shoes, but that hardly ever happens now.  And most every player wears his pants like pajamas, loose and long at the bottom, so completely covering the shoetops that many of the manufacturers of cleats have taken to placing their logos on the front half of the shoe, for greater visibility.  And, of course, that precludes the possibility of most players wearing proper stirrup socks.  Which almost none do, although sometimes players will pull their pants up toward their knee, revealing not a proper stirrup and sock combo, but a single-color sock much like soccer players wear.

This is all OK, because the NBA, pro basketball league, is threatening to start placing ads on their uniforms.  I say that it cannot hurt, given how many teams and sports already look.

                                                          ---------------------------

A couple of other things to note:  my wife and I saw "Interstellar" yesterday.  Awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, emotionally charged, exceptional movie.  I want to go back to see it again, just to see what I didn't fully absorb the first time.  And even if you're not a fan of science fiction, don't write this movie off....lots more to offer than just sci-fi stuff.

Finally, former President George W. Bush is making the rounds right now, having just authored a book about his father, former President George H.W. Bush.  He seems a lot more likable these days, much as he seemed when he was Governor of Texas and before, when he was involved with the Texas Rangers baseball team.  And he clearly has a high opinion of his father, and I admire that.

That's good enough for a Monday.  Try to have a good week.



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

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 catering enterprise, but are also involved in other avenues of business in addition to his considerable political reach.  I'd wager that he has both of the Clintons on speed dial.  Two of his kids went to high school with my kids.  But Alison is the only one of the bunch who's run for office, and she was apparently approached by the Democratic Party to challenge McConnell this time around.  She was briefly leading in the polls, as public dissatisfaction with Congress worked against McConnell, but his campaign has skillfully tied Grimes to President Obama, who's very unpopular here, so it looks as though McConnell will win, but not all that easily.

Funny thing about sentiment against the President.  Kentucky has an overwhelming majority of its voters registered as Democrats, yet have voted for the Republican candidate for President in just about every race since Ronald Reagan's first term.  The exception were Bill Clinton's two campaigns. A "Red" state indeed.  So it's not as though Kentuckians turned on Obama.

And when I say that we're serious about politics, I mean it.  Kentucky is routinely in the bottom 10% of all states in terms of job creation and education spending, but, by golly, we ALWAYS have the most advanced voting machines available.  No hanging chads here!

I think in an overall sense it's interesting that polling just a year ago indicated that fewer than 10% Americans approved of the performance of Congress as a whole, and yet, here we are, a few months later and many incumbents have turned this into dissatisfaction with the President.  This makes him poison to many Democratic candidates and red meat for just about any Republican.  I laugh out loud at races for things like state Senator (our legislature meets for about six weeks every two years), where the Republican candidate will run television ads indicating that his/her Democratic opponent is an "Obama Democrat."

Yikes!

I wouldn't expect a lot of surprises nationally.  Bad incumbents who have enough money almost always win, regardless of public opinion.  Funny how that works.

But regardless, of all of this, please get out and vote.  It's the only way we can change ANYTHING in this country!

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