Friday, February 27, 2015

What a mess!

Writing a brief post this morning, as the flooring crew is in day two of installing hardwoods in our main living space.  We managed to get through the vinyl installation on Tuesday and are very happy with the outcome!

But that job was not without incident.  In their efforts to wrap things up after a long day, the installation crew that handled our vinyl did not replace the drain hose for our washer, and when my wife went to wash a load of clothes (having to first tell me that they must not have turned the water on) we had a bit of a flood on our hands!  Nothing that a shop vac and some towels could not handle, but it was still a mess.  And then we determined that the hoses were connected backwards, hot connected to cold, and vice versa.  So that's the only downside so far, and since the flooring that was affected by the excess water was being replaced anyway, no problem for us.

But it's been interesting these last couple of days.  I spent some time moving the smaller stuff and relocating our internet equipment Wednesday night, and set up my computer and other items in the kitchen.  I took off work yesterday and today, as I wasn't confident that I would be productive while working in a makeshift way.

And my wife and I agreed that it would be good for her to head out of town for the duration.  This kind of mess and upheaval isn't easy to take, so I think she's much happier this way.

The crew arrived mid-morning yesterday, and moved what was left aside and started ripping and removing carpet and pad.  Quite a sight to see the floor down to bare stud.  Once they got the first few rows of the hardwood in place, they really gained momentum, and finished the living room before departing yesterday afternoon.   I felt the sorriest for them when they had to move my desk yesterday (full, but the top was empty) and my credenza and hutch today (also full).  But these guys do this all the time, and placed both large pieces on some carpet scraps.  They will be able to slide the items back into place when all is done.  Huge advantage gained from experience.

For my part, I went last night and bought felt pads for the feet of our sectional sofa and my office furniture.  Also bought rubber pads for the wrought iron tables we have in our living room.  Somewhere in there I forgot about a lamp that has a rather rough metal base and also our television stand, which is on small wheels that will likely scuff our new floor.  So that will need to be addressed, but that's not a big deal.

Once we get the main spaces back together, we have to go through the same process Monday, as we're having the carpet in our bedroom and master closet replaced.  So there'll be MORE fun!

The crew is hard at work on our project now.  So I will update in this space when it's all done!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Still in the deep freeze

Greetings from Lexington, where the air temperature this morning is a balmy 5 degrees.  We've had a reprieve recently, but back into the freezer Sunday night.  The forecast says that it will warm up a little bit over the next few days.

But we all know that weather forecasts can be incorrect, as weather systems move in different directions and a different speed than might have been originally anticipated.  And all of the computer models in the world don't replace looking out the window to see what's coming a bit later.

Case in point--my home area was in the path of weather that on Saturday was predicted to deliver seven to twelve more inches of snow, preceded by a wintry mix of snow, sleet and rain.  Instead, and most thankfully, we only got about an inch of snow, but more rain.  I assume this occurred because temperatures were warmer here than predicted.  No matter, we certainly didn't need more snow, after ten-plus inches last Monday and then a couple more on Wednesday.

Lexington is like many cities throughout the Southeast, in that if we receive more than a little snow, it cripples the city, closing schools, churches and businesses.  But by the latter part of last week, most everything, except for schools, were back in operation, if things were a little sloppy.

But we're not scheduled to get any snow or bad weather until sometime next week, perhaps.  I hope it doesn't get too bad, as I am scheduled to travel quite extensively next week.

This week, though, our focus is on a pretty major home renovation project.  My wife and I had a positive outcome to our income tax returns, and elected to invest in our home in the form of new flooring for the main living areas, the downstairs and master bathrooms and our bedroom.  We last carpeted the entire house in 2003, so it's time.  We're installing engineered hardwoods in my office and the living room (plus the adjoining hallways), new vinyl in the bathrooms and the laundry room, and new carpet in the master bedroom and closet.

The fun starts today, when the crew will deliver the wood product (presumably so that it can acclimate to our home environment before installation is attempted) and remove and replace the vinyl today and tomorrow, then install hardwood on Thursday and Friday (and possibly Saturday), and finally carpet our bedroom and closet on Monday.  I've taken the day off Thursday and Friday, as that's when the house will be turned upside down, and it would be virtually impossible to work in that environment.  Plus I'd be freed up to move breakable things, reposition our internet modem and router and other fun stuff.

I think my wife is going to take the opportunity to head out of town to visit her mother, which might be best.  This kind of upheaval is never easy for anyone, but I know that she will be much happier when it's over!

Cross your fingers.....


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Digging out

Good morning from central Kentucky, where we just got another couple of inches of snow, on top of the 10 1/2 inches that fell on Monday.  I shouldn't complain, because we're not in the same position as our friends in Boston, for example, who are closing in on 100 inches for the season.  Honestly, if that happened here, I'm not sure there'd be many folks left here who could stand it, given how poorly our region handles even a little snow.

So I am writing this before trudging out to shovel the latest of our bumper crop of snowfall.  The piles of shoveled snow are rather comical up and down our driveway and such.  For instance, today is allegedly trash day, so our cans are at the bottom of the driveway.  Not by the curb NEXT TO the driveway, because I simply could not get them up onto the snowpiles there.

And it's supposed to be COLD here for the next several days.  Low temps below zero will be common during that period.  But, again, we're more fortunate than other parts of the country.  And I have good friends in northern California who would be delighted to have this much snowfall, as it would help fill the lakes and rivers and make a small dent in the hundred-year drought that area is feeling.

The Kentucky basketball team managed to win at Tennessee last night, in spite of themselves.  I read that the team went to Knoxville on Sunday to beat the weather that struck both here and throughout most of Tennessee.  And they played like they had been sitting around somewhere, but regained their composure in time to post a tidy victory.  If you're not watching closely, Kentucky is undefeated this year, and it's been quite a while since a major-college team made it through the regular season without a loss.

To quote a sportswriter whose blog I read avidly, "TV is my life."  Well, not really, but sometimes my wife and I commit to shows, keep watching them after we've become acquainted with the characters and basic plot, only to wonder after eight or ten episodes why we bothered.  I know a lot of folks liked "Lost," but I felt so manipulated after the first season that I insisted we stop watching.

There was another show that kind of fits that category on recently, "State of Affairs."  I have read that it played a bit like the smash hit drama "Homeland" that airs on the Showtime channel, but with a lesser plot and acting.  I have never seen "Homeland," but frankly, it's bound to have been better historically than "State of Affairs," starring former "Grey's Anatomy" star Katherine "I'm quitting to have a career in motion pictures" Heigl.

Never watched her former show, which is still on the air, suffered through a couple of her numerous romantic comedies (none of which were funny, by the way), and now watched however many episodes of this new show she starred in (and was an executive producer of, incidentally).  Plot was all over the place, characters changed drastically during the run of the show, and all the while I kept thinking that it was sort of like watching Espionage Barbie.  The "season finale" aired Monday night, and now I can free up that hour to watch something else, I guess.

On the plus side, "Marvel's Agent Carter" has been fun, and it was only scheduled to have a limited run, which I suspect is nearly over.  It's a spin-off from the first "Captain America" movie, with a real spitfire star in Hayley Atwell.  The show is set just after World War II, and the period clothing, cars and societal conditions are all pretty interesting.

But I pine for baseball most of all this time of year.  Football is over, college basketball is in that period of lull just before March Madness begins (sorry, NCAA, I can't put the "copyright" mark on this blog), and TV is, well, the vast wasteland that it's always been, perhaps moreso.  I continue to watch the Ken Burns "Baseball" miniseries each year at this time, and I'm moving through it presently.  It's chronological, so I'm now seeing and hearing about the great but troubled Ty Cobb and others from the early part of the last century.  Great stuff!

And there's other good news....the Cincinnati Reds are opening their spring training camp in Goodyear, Arizona today, as pitchers and catchers are reporting this morning.  And invariably, a number of other players will be arriving in the next few days.  Pretty soon we'll have ourselves enough guys to have some games, and then we can play other teams, and then they can start playing for REAL.  But not until April.  Oh, well, it's that much, anyway.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Old Guy watches the Grammys

Good Monday morning from central Kentucky, where it's raining here.  Suppose it would be worse if it were snow....

It's award season, you know, and since we're all in the mood to recognize people for their creative accomplishments during this time of year, the Recording Academy gave out the majority of its annual awards last night, and my wife and I decided to tune in.

A recent phenomenon has been the sometimes unexpectedly delightful but often unnecessary pairing of a "traditional" artist with a contemporary one.  Such was the case last night, wherein Paul McCartney performed with Rihanna and Kanye West, and Tom Jones sang "You've Lost that Lovin' Feeling" with Jessie J.  The latter pairing was interesting, but that's a difficult song for a man/woman duet anyway, although Jones was in fine voice.  The ads promising some of these pairings were enough to intrigue us into watching.

The performer I was most interested to see with a younger counterpart was Jeff Lynne, the mastermind/singer/songwriter/guitarist of the Electric Light Orchestra, or ELO, as they're more commonly titled.  Lynne was paired with the contemporary singer Ed Sheeran, whom I feel is enormously talented.  He proved that in a solo performance accompanied by an odd mishmash of performers ranging from Herbie Hancock on keyboards to John Mayer (playing guitar rather elegantly, but only singing backup) and the Roots' drummer Questlove.  Sheeran then joined Lynne and ELO for a nice rendition of the uptempo "Mr. Blue Sky."  I had read recently that Lynne had reformed ELO (there's some sort of splinter group of former members who are performing as ELO II and not doing the brand any favors, by all accounts) and will soon release a new recording and tour.  I recall having noted in this space some months ago that he had redone many of ELO's traditional hits in a more-or-less solo recording, and had also released an solo album of old songs.  Still one of the great voices around, and he still sounds great.

Now I have to turn into Old Guy for a minute....I'm sorry that I'm woefully out of touch as regards most pop music, although I know who some of these folks are from seeing them on the Today Show or some such.  But who is Beck?  He looks like the president of the high school chess club, and his album won for best album and best rock album, I believe. Yet he performed a song with Chris Martin of Coldplay that was subdued and pleasant, but not what I would define as "rock."

And why does Kanye West persist in implying that Beyonce should win, you know, everything?  This happened years ago at the MTV Video Music Awards, where he took the microphone from a then-teenaged Taylor Swift to proclaim that Beyonce had been robbed.  And while West feigned interrupting Beck in accepting the best album award last night, he apparently went off in a backstage media gathering about how the Grammys don't respect artists and how they were all tired of it.  But I'm sure he and most other artists would agree that, win or lose, the exposure gained from these awards shows benefits winners and nominees who did not win.  So something tells me that we'll see him (and his reality TV star wife) in future such settings.

I'll just add that I didn't understand the song by someone named Sia that was transformed into performance art, featuring comic actress Kristen Wiig.  And if anyone tries to tell me how great Madonna sounded last night, I'll respond with a count of the number of singers onstage with her.

Did I learn anything I didn't know?  Well, I had never heard multiple winner Sam Smith sing in a live setting, and he's also pretty good (I told my wife I wanted to pair him up with Adele to see what they could come up with singing together).  I also now know that most of the members of AC/DC are still alive and kicking, and that Angus Young is still wearing that smart schoolboy outfit he was sporting when I was in college.  And that Sir Paul McCartney's hair is longer than his current wife's.

Next year, maybe I'll know who more of the nominees are.  Or not.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Super? Matter of opinion

Good Monday morning, all.  I write from eastern Kentucky, where I have just landed for a pit stop on my way to meetings further into the region.  It's cold, getting colder, and starting to snow here.  If I post again later it will be because I have been somehow stranded here!

Despite not having a dog in the fight last night (more about dogs in a bit), my wife and I watched the Super Bowl last night.  You read right....no party this year, as our son and his brood have been circulating a respiratory ailment among the four of them.  So they stayed in, and so did we.  Not nearly as much fun as it often is.  We made chili, which was fitting for a cold, wet day and evening, and watched the game broadcast in hopes of seeing the dreaded New England Patriots get theirs and lose.

No such luck.  Inexplicably, the Seattle Seahawks had the game in their grasp, called a different, riskier offensive play as the game was winding down, and committed a turnover to lose.  Bet that wasn't a fun plane ride home last night or whenever.

The best football moments were provided by former Kentucky wide receiver and sometime Seattle pass-catcher Chris Matthews, not to be confused with the bombastic cable news host.  A couple of great catches in the field and one for a touchdown late in the first half buoyed the Seahawks into a tie with the Patriots, but his heroics were for naught.

Anyway, we committed ourselves to watching the commercials and the halftime show, and accidentally watched some football while we were at it.  The commercials were decidedly gentler in tone, perhaps in response to NFL standards of content to be met.  Some were baffling, like the Nationwide Insurance spot about accidental deaths of children.  Worthwhile message, but an odd place to convey it.  Nationwide did have a couple of other ads that were OK, but that one was a head-shaker.

In my opinion, Budweiser was the winner last night---great commercial featuring the puppy who has a deep connection to one or more of the vaunted Clydesdales (somewhere my late mother is smiling at that) and their other effort talked about Budweiser the beer, its tradition of quality and very unapologetically called it beer for people who like to drink beer.  I agreed with that sentiment.

Lots of car ads, none terribly memorable.  There was one commercial featuring Liam Neeson talking about some video game, which was amusing, but I couldn't tell you what the name of that game happened to be.  Saw a commercial for a movie coming out next summer called "Tomorrowland," which looks intriguing.

And McDonald's promises that random customers will be able to pay for their order with "lovin',", which means to call your mom or tell your significant other what they mean to me.  I'm in a McDonald's as I write this, but I had to pay for my coffee!

Now to the halftime show, featuring Katy Perry, with oddly positioned appearances by Lenny Kravitz and rapper Missy Elliott (to whom my wife and I asked each other who she and her large entourage were--Wikipedia was helpful in that regard).  Katy has several things going for her to assure success in such an environment....she's pretty popular among younger folks; despite her costuming she's pretty wholesome; and she can actually sing without massive amounts of studio embellishment.  And she has enough semi-recognizable songs to weave into a 13 minute performance that it and the staging were an overall success, which is not always what you can say about the halftime performer.

Idina Menzel did a bang-up "Star Spangled Banner" (what a voice!) and John Legend did well with "America the Beautiful," too.

So, with that, football season is over.  I'm told that the Cincinnati Reds will open spring training to pitchers and catchers in 16 days.  Can't get here too soon......




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