Monday, September 28, 2015

New and not

Good Monday to all.  Hope everyone had a great weekend.

I want to start by addressing Pope Francis' visit to Washington, New York and Philadelphia in the last week.  I believe I have mentioned here that my wife is a devout Catholic, and while I often attend services with her, I am not.  With that said, I have to say that I was most impressed by everything that I saw and read of the Pope's time in the U.S.  From the mutual public outpouring of love and respect to the reverence of his visit to Ground Zero in New York to his meeting with victims (and their families) of past sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy, Francis seems to have struck the right note right along.  And I found his addresses in English to be all that much more endearing, since that is not his native language.  He is most likely back at the Vatican now, and enjoying some well deserved rest.  But given everything we hear of him, he's probably not resting at all.

So we now move from that visit, filled with grace and mercy, to baseball players confronting and choking one another in the dugout yesterday.  You're reading correctly, Washington Nationals pitcher Jonathan Papelbon apparently took exception to the way that star outfielder Bryce Harper handled a certain play.  Words were exchanged and there was a physical altercation between the players.  This morning I saw a photograph of at least one hand (not his own) on the throat of Harper.  Nats manager Matt Williams, who is already under scrutiny for "losing" his team along the way this year and allowing them to relinquish a lead in the division to the New York Mets, said he was in the other end of the dugout and didn't see what happened.  This is most certainly not over.

My Kentucky Wildcats certainly came up big Saturday night, defeating the nationally-ranked Missouri Tigers at home.  Missouri had won 11 straight road games coming into the contest, but Kentucky outplayed them when it counted.  The Cats are now 3-1 on the season, with two SEC wins already.  It seems that they are indeed poised to turn that corner that the 'experts' keep referencing.

New television shows and new seasons of existing ones began last week.  I'd say the entire lot is kind of uneven.  My wife and I systematically discuss the new shows and try to divine which ones might be of interest.  One, called "Blindspot," proved very interesting indeed last week.  We also tried out "Heroes Reborn" and "Minority Report," based on the Steven Spielberg film of the same name.  The former was a retread of the series from five years ago, and no better, and the latter blended a few elements of the movie into a reasonably good but predictable plot.

It's getting so bad that my wife asked me over the weekend if I might be willing to try Netflix again.  At this point we may have to.  Bruce Springsteen was right about everything but the quantity when he sang "Fifty-seven channels and nothing on..."

Had to buy a new Blu-Ray (high-definition DVD, if you're unfamiliar) player over the weekend.  The old one decided to make an annoying screeching sound while playing a disc, which is not exactly how one wants to enjoy a movie.  The original machine was six years old, we paid several hundred dollars for it.  The replacement, which is the same brand (helpful when considering our universal remote control), cost about $75.  That's progress, I suppose.

While at the electronics store we looked at new televisions.  4K is the coming thing, folks.  Several times the resolution of our "old" 1080P flat panel TVs.  Even more real looking than before.  Nice, sharp, clear, but not a must-have at this point.

That's good for now and hopefully a good start to the week.  Have a good one!




Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Early Tuesday thoughts

Good morning to all.  It's Tuesday, for a change, as I normally seem to post on Mondays.

We celebrated my wife's birthday over the weekend.  She's not excited to have birthdays, but did admit that she always has a good day on or around her birthday, and I and the rest of the family were all pleased that she enjoyed our celebrations as much as we did!

A good friend is ailing right now....you know who you are, so here's hoping that things make a substantial turn for the better.  And soon!

Did you hear that Scott Walker dropped out of the Republican presidential race?  I'd say a lot more people heard that that much of anything else he said while a candidate.  The field is gradually dwindling, and I suspect that will continue as time and money becomes short for many of these candidates.

I'm still fascinated by the fact that blustering billionaire Donald Trump is still leading the pack in this race.  And that two others who have never held office at any level, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and retired pediatric neurosurgeon Ben Carson, are in the second and third polling positions.  You have to keep going down the list to find people who are or have been officeholders.

Let's talk sports for just a minute...Kentucky lost for what seems the 90th consecutive time to Florida in football over the weekend.  It's not really that many, but I was a much younger man the last time the Cats beat the Gators.  Close game, 14-9, but a loss is still a loss.

And speaking of losses, but the Reds assured recently that this dreadful season will not end with 100 losses or more, which is kind of the benchmark for futility in baseball terms.  The kid pitchers continue to perform like, well, kids, although there are glimmers of optimism from many of them here and there.  John Lamb is one; he pitched six-plus innings of shutout baseball last night, only to see his 1-0 lead evaporate into a 2-1 loss against the hated St. Louis Cardinals.

Do you have an iPhone or iPad?  Have you updated your software to iOS 9 yet?  I updated all four of the devices in the house to the new operating system last week, late in the day it became available, and, by all accounts, it's all running smoothly.  I have an iPad Air 2 and on it and one or two other models you can multitask by sliding a second application into view, and then slide it back when you're finished.  Great to be able to check e-mail or a text message without bailing out of whatever you're doing.  There's more to it, of course, but a boatload of new features are built into the new iPhone 6S models, as you'll see on the commercials.

And, of course, it was reported this week after being rumored for some time that Apple is working on an electric car.  Would I buy one?  Would I buy ANY electric car?  Hard to say right now.

Couple of movies coming out soon that I want to mention, and since I've mentioned Apple, I'll identify "Steve Jobs" as one of them.  Directed by Danny Boyle, who did "Slumdog Millionaire" and written by the superb Aaron Sorkin, this appears to be a good slices-of-life portrait of a very complicated man.  I'll probably see it, though it's hard to say if I can convince my wife to go or not.

The other one is a sure bet for her and for me.  "The Martian" stars Matt Damon (a fave of my wife's) as an astronaut accidentally stranded on Mars who fights for survival.  This picture is directed by Ridley Scott, who has a great way with these suspenseful plotlines.  Should be a good one.

The only other movie I'll mention here is "Mad Max: Fury Road," which is a continuation of the uber-action series from the 80s.  Same director, too, George Miller.  Great action-chase movie, with Charlize Theron in an interesting role and Tom Hardy picking up the title role from Mel Gibson and doing well with it.  I have seen that this movie is actually getting Oscar buzz, which is pretty amazing.  But it's a gorgeous film to look at and while the plot is pretty out there, it's edited well enough to make sense throughout.  I say see it, unless car chases in the post-apocalyptic future doesn't agree with you.  By the way, I may be repeating myself in praise of this movie, but I watched it again recently and continue to be impressed!

Time to get ready to head out.  I have meeting about 80 miles away and time's wasting!



Monday, September 14, 2015

Home again

Good Monday to all.  Back in my home base, after a work trip to Dallas the latter part of last week.

I guess I'm just terribly out of practice with air travel, particularly, but is the process of traveling actually getting WORSE?  The patience level of people was notably low when I traveled last Wednesday and Friday.  I was fortunate in Dallas that in my return trip I went through security in a terminal that is not as heavily used as others, so that wasn't a problem.  But, oh, my, the grimaces, the pushing and shoving, the walking into other people while reading their phones.  I hope that at the height of my travel frequency that I never was that bad.

So back to normal and back to "real" work today.

Enough about that---let's talk about football!

The Kentucky Wildcats did something on Saturday that they had not accomplished since 2009.  They won a game while visiting another Southeastern Conference opponent's stadium!  The Cats visited the University of South Carolina in Columbia Saturday night and emerged with a win.  It wasn't pretty, as they mounted a nice lead in the first half, only to have most of that lead gradually slip away until late in the game, when Kentucky intercepted a South Carolina pass to regain possession and seal the victory.

If it interests you, Google "Kentucky locker room celebration" to see some video of some very happy young men, and some older ones, too!

The NF of L began its season Thursday night, and the New England Patriots are at it again, but claiming no wrongdoing, of course.  Early in their game with the Pittsburgh Steelers, it was reported that the Steelers coaching staff could only hear the New England radio broadcast in their headsets, instead of each other.  I'll just say that it winning is SO important that it's necessary to bend or break rules regularly to that end, it's not that important.

Our daughter was present when the Denver Broncos began their season in the Mile High City yesterday, eking out a win against the Baltimore Ravens.  We did not receive the game on our local affiliate, but visited a restaurant where it was on and saw most of the fourth quarter.  It looked like a mostly defensive game, as the score was pretty low.  But a win is a win, as they say.

And lest we forget about my Cincinnati Reds, as they managed three wins in four games against the hated St. Louis Cardinals.  The Cardinals had been on cruise control most of the year, but now are only a couple of games ahead of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the standings.  So join me in wishing the Pirates success from here on.  If the Reds can't win, I prefer that the Cardinals don't.  Sorry, but that's what happens when you're a fan.  The Reds are still as inconsistent as their young pitching, but there's cause for optimism with several of these talented young arms.

I noticed Rick Perry dropped out of the Presidential race late last week.  I doubt many others did.  Strange scenario, as this guy had more money and better organization in 2012, and the same thing happened then.  I suppose despite all of the background things being in place, it's possible that who the candidate is actually matters.   Hmm....

Have a good week!


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