Thursday, December 29, 2016

It's almost over

Good morning to all.  I hope that your holiday celebrations were joyous and safe!

2016 is almost over, thank goodness.  I don't know of another year that I have found so punishing in so many ways.  But let me start this discourse by expressing my sincere gratitude that no one in my family has experienced any major health issues in this tumultuous year.

I don't think I need to replay my own professional challenges in 2016.  After being unexpectedly laid off from my former employer, I was in the career market for more than six frustrating months, but am now working full-time.  So I suppose there is some recompense.

In my last post I mentioned how few Christmas cards we had received this year.  Sadly, a couple of those cards contained news of the death of 1/2 of the couple with whom we correspond.  Both of those who departed this world had experienced health challenges in the months leading up to their deaths, but that does not make it any less jarring.

And we've received endless reporting in the national media about more prominent people who have passed on during 2016, culminating in the deaths of actress and writer Carrie Fisher and, one day later, her mother, actress/singer/dancer Debbie Reynolds.  These were the latest in what seems to be an endless recitation of public figures who are no longer with us.

Since Carrie Fisher suffered a heart attack while traveling last week, I've been mentally hearing the 1970 Neil Diamond tune "Done Too Soon."  In that song, Diamond details a long list of people who died at a relatively young age, mentioning Jesus Christ, Genghis Khan and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, among others.  Makes you think a bit.

I was particularly saddened at the passing of former astronaut and Senator John Glenn, and although it's agreed universally that he lived a long and extraordinary life, we don't consider that he wouldn't always be among us.  Much like when John Wayne died in the late 70s, Glenn was an icon, a fixture in the social consciousness of people of a certain age.

I wasn't a huge fan of singer George Michael, but he died far too young at 53.  Same with Prince, passing at the age of 57.  David Bowie managed to complete an album of new music before his death from cancer early this year.  A friend of mine and I were discussing this, and it's when the figures that were important to us in our formative years begin to leave this world that we take notice.  At the ripe old age of 56, that's now starting to happen to me.

I'm saddened when I hear that a former teacher dies, though I don't always hear about it right away.  Same with parents of my friends and classmates.  It's a piece of my past that will now be missing, or at least less connected.

On the flipside, I saw a recent interview with the Dalai Lama over the weekend.  Despite being the leader of a government in exile for nearly his entire life, persecuted for his religious standing, he handles everything with grace and humor and an awareness of the world that would benefit us all.

I don't even want to go near the political landscape of this country and what 2016 brought us in that regard, except to say that the media now takes on a greater importance than ever, that we as citizens have to know and understand what's happening in Washington and at more local levels, and that we have an obligation to be as informed as possible.

Because anything can happen.

Happy new year.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

A wet Christmas

Happy Christmas Eve to everyone.  Hope that you'll have the opportunity to be with people you love over the next few days!

We're expecting several days of off-and-on rain here in central Kentucky.  Granted, our climate here is usually rather temperate, but a lot of folks, namely my wife and grandchildren, really like to see a white Christmas.  Maybe next year!

I think at this time last year that I noted that we're receiving fewer and fewer Christmas cards.  The trend has continued this year, as it appears we've received eleven thus far.  I was telling a friend not long ago how our mailing list swelled to something close to 60 households a few years ago, after first one and then the other of our children were married, so we gained more extended family.

My theory remains that people rely much more heavily on social media than traditional holiday greetings to say hello, wish others a happy holiday season, and stay in touch.  We're old-fashioned enough that we send out a holiday letter in lieu of actual cards, have done so for the past couple of years.  The letter details mostly what the kids, and now THEIR kids, have been up to in the past year.

I started that over twenty years ago, and somewhere along the line we didn't include such a letter in our cards, and roughly a dozen people responded asking why there was no letter!  So we still do the letter for the purists, for those who rely on that letter and card to know what's happening with our family.  And for what it's worth, we receive quite a few such letters, too.

Sadly, though, more than one of our cards received has carried news about a death, as so many of those on our list are mature or older.  As with other aspects of life, this will become more and more commonplace as we go on.

Sorry to see that actress and author Carrie Fisher suffered what appears to be a severe heart attack on a flight from London to Los Angeles yesterday.  There has not been much news since the initial reports, so here's hoping that she recovers from this.  She is only 60 years old, which is hard to believe, given how long she's been a part of our popular culture.

Here's one for you:  what if you were elected President, and decided to throw a party and no one wanted to come?  Our President-Elect is facing something pretty similar, but mostly in the area of entertainment for the series of inaugural balls that routinely take place on the night of the inauguration of the new President.  Most notable is that the Radio City Rockettes (still impressive, despite their act being very, very traditional) have apparently been booked to appear at one or another of these events, but many of the women who perform with them don't want to do it.  But don't worry, Kid Rock and Ted Nugent are enthusiastically planning to appear.

As I write this fairly early on Christmas Eve morning, I think we're finished shopping.  I certainly hope so, as the main thoroughfares to and from the more concentrated shopping areas have been challenging over the past few days.  I still have friends who shop late, some out of necessity and others out of habit and preference.  I wish them well today, if they still have shopping to do!

I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas (or a happy Hanukkah or a happy Kwanzaa, depending on what you personally celebrate) and the blessings that come with it!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Do not adjust your set

Good Friday morning to all of you.  Hope it's not too cold where you are!

Let's start there.  At the ripe old age of 56, I can confirm how much I HATE being cold.  I dislike being hot, have for virtually my whole life, but the hating to be cold is a more recent phenomenon.  After experiencing heart issues some years ago, I noticed how much more affected I was by cold temperatures, indoors or out.  Continues to this day.

Our grandson (the local little guy, not the one in Colorado) is following in his dad's footsteps, or should we say skate tracks, and has been involved in classes designed to teach kids how to play hockey.  He really likes it, too, and we went to the first couple of classes way back to encourage him, but now he routinely asks my wife or me if we are "coming to see me play hockey."  So we do.  Not so bad normally, but this stretch of classes has been held in a rink where there is no spectator area, so we stand at ice level watching.  And freezing.  Takes a good couple of hours for my hands and feet to feel normal again.

And our outside temps have been a lot like that the past couple of days, with daytime high temperatures in the low 20s.  Very cold for Kentucky.  It's 15 degrees right now, but today's high is predicted to be around 40, so that will seem like a veritable heatwave.

Crazy weather all over, it seems.  One of my dearest friends and I exchanged texts yesterday (belated happy birthday to you, kiddo!) and she reported from northern California that it was raining torrentially there.  That's a pretty rare occurrence in that locality, from what she's told me.

One thing that the cold helped with was that we just received a new refrigerator yesterday.  I may have mentioned this, but our ten-to-eleven-year-old model started developing some problems that appeared to relate back to the control board, the computer "brain" that controls everything.  I researched this a bit and when I saw that it was going to be several hundred dollars to replace, we decided to replace it.

Yesterday the guys from the selling dealer called to say they would arrive by a certain time, and we emptied out most of the stuff that would break or get damaged in moving the old fridge to the garage (and that's a story I'll tell below) so it went into a cooler and onto the back patio.  These guys came, measured, removed the front door, and CARRIED the old fridge to the garage, using a system that involved body harnesses and large straps that go underneath the item to be carried.  Looked like very little effort on their part, compared to what my son and I experience when we move furniture.  Same scenario when they brought the new item into the house and into the kitchen.  Neither touched the floor from about a foot from where the original item sat.  Simply amazing!

So after they left (they discovered a scratch on one of the door handles, so they will replace that) I ran water through the dispenser as directed to remove impurities in the filter and allowed the new item to make ice, which I just pitched this morning.

The old fridge is in our garage, and to my surprise, one of the technicians noted that old refrigerators tolerated that kind of usage very well, but newer ones do not, owing to the way that compressors now operate.  He advised that we keep an eye on it to make sure it was still working properly.

And we're also trying to figure out the best way to place it, as this is by far the largest, deepest item we've placed in our garage, aside from our cars, of course.  Right now it's out in front of my car, so I can open the right side refrigerator door, and partially open the freezer drawer.  Can't open the other side at all.  So I think we'll end up shifting it to the right just a bit, so that we can access everything all the time.  But that will create a chain-reaction of where to place the other items that were already along that back wall.  I'm sure we'll figure it out.

Not my time for devices lately, it seems.  I bought a monitor to go with my Macbook not long ago, liked the whole setup until the headphone jack, which I used to connect the entire setup to my speakers, worked and then didn't, and and over again.  So that went back.  I may get another monitor later, but I haven't quite decided yet.  And it's kind of messy with this particular Macbook as it's the newer one with a single USB-C port, so I have to use adapters to connect it to most anything.  Rather unsightly!

And over the past six weeks, I renewed our subscription to satellite radio for the cars (call me a sucker, but it's built-in to both cars, which are eleven and nine years old, respectively, so easier than paying to install USBs to connect our phones and listen to music that way) and shortly thereafter began to experience repeated signal drop-outs, but just in my car.  Tried refreshing the signal, that didn't help, so yesterday I did an online chat with a customer service rep and she gave me a number to their technical support line.  I refreshed it again while I was out (can't do the refresh in a garage, which may be why it didn't work before) and it seemed better, but I still lost my signal a handful of times.

Everything else seems to be working, for now.

With that I'll leave you and wish you a good last-weekend-before-Christmas

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The spirit is willing, but....

Greetings on a rainy Tuesday morning, friends.  We're due to have a day of rain here, and then a couple of days hence, it's gonna be COLD here!

There's an old saying that a gentleman never discusses his ailments, but let me begin by mentioning that I have had a stubborn upper respiratory disorder for more than a couple of weeks.  I feel bad, then improve, then I decline again.  Right now I feel pretty good, but in twelve hours, who knows?  My wife is in what we hope are the final stages, too.

Important to note because here we are, December 6, and we've done very little regarding Christmas.  Oh, we've decorated our smallish house, with my wife and I finding the final touch over the weekend, replacing a lighted wreath for the front door wherein the old one gave out when we plugged it in.  Actually, SHE found the final touch yesterday, as she came in with a bow for the new model.

And we've planned a bit of our shopping, just about all of it for immediate family.  But we aren't IN the Christmas spirit, you know?  Neither of us has felt 100%, I'm still not fully in a routine after being in my new job for only about six weeks, and I suppose the post-election malaise is also somewhat to blame.

Here's another area of concern, if you will....I think I've spoken up here in the past about online shopping, particularly with Amazon, which sells, well, just about everything.  Our daughter, who lives in Colorado, is good about suggestions for her kids' Christmas presents, as we've only been with them once on Christmas morning, so she knows, as we do, how much better it is to give something we know they'll enjoy AND to have the ability to ship it gift-wrapped.  We ship them another box, but to have at least some of it taken care of is, well, great!

So we got a couple of initial suggestions from her, and the item she suggested for her son was available on Amazon, but available less expensively elsewhere, so I opted for another seller.  That worked fine, the item arrived, but the problem is that now another online retailer is bombarding me with e-mails.  And not just a few.  I mean three or four a day since I purchased this item!

The other suggestion our daughter offered, this one for her daughter, was NOT available on Amazon. This is an item that comes in several colors, and only one color had a promised date of availability.  Not again!  So last night I had to return some items to a big-box retailer in the area, and, amazingly, they had the item in all of the colors, especially the one recommended.  Problem solved!

Our Christmas card list has dwindled over the past few years, as we've lost touch with some recipients and other have passed on, which is generally what happens.  I also think a lot of folks just don't send Christmas cards anymore, since they stay in touch via Facebook (and I've expressed my thoughts previously in that area).  Those with whom we annually exchange cards always like the fact that we started including a Christmas letter MANY years ago, and really heard about it the year we omitted it.  We get a couple that are very self-centered, but ours talks mostly about our kids and THEIR kids, which is what our target audience really wants to read anyway!

Last year we ditched the cards altogether and bought Christmas letter stationery and coordinating envelopes.  Saved quite a bit over the cost of actual cards, and they take regular postage (more than once we picked out pretty cards that required extra postage, which didn't make me all that happy, and one year all of them came back as lacking sufficient postage, which REALLY didn't make me happy).  We have 40 sheets left from last year, but we have not managed to go out and either pick out new stationery or get envelopes that go with what we have.  So that's still sitting.

I guess we'll get going soon.  Pretty much have to.  Maybe this really cold snap will help!

In other news, Kentucky basketball played, well, like a bunch of freshmen, and lost their first game over the weekend.  The football team accepted a bid to play New Year's Eve in Jacksonville, Florida in the TaxSlayer Bowl, which for most of my lifetime was called the Gator Bowl.  Side note--I imagine that tracing the heritages of most of these now corporately-named bowl games is kind of interesting.

And it appears our president-elect is considering everyone but me for the position of Secretary of State.  There is even one corporate CEO supposedly on the "short list."  Frankly, I'm stumped as to what will happen once this man takes office.  In Europe a movement similar to the one that drove our election results was turned back in Austria this week.  So there's that.

Not much else to add, except to wish everyone a good week.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Holiday to holiday

Good morning to all.  I hope that Thanksgiving was joyous, safe and relaxing for everyone.

I suppose that I'm just sort of non-compliant.  I did not go out and shop on Black Friday (though I did stop by the grocery, but that really doesn't count), I did not visit a small business on Shop Small Saturday, and I did not order any merchandise online during Cyber Monday yesterday.

Shame on me.  I'm usually dependable with respect to propping up our economy.  I wasn't a complete laggard, though, as my wife and I put up our holiday decorations Sunday and we began organizing our Christmas shopping, and actually did a little of it already.  But ONLY a little.

Did you know that President Franklin Roosevelt moved the observance of Thanksgiving during his time in the White House?  If I have the story right, retailers pressured him to decree that Thanksgiving be celebrated early, as the year this was contemplated, Thanksgiving came late in the month of November.  So in 1939-41, Thanksgiving arrived a little early, so that the Christmas shopping season could last just a little longer.  Of course, that was in the days when the Christmas shopping season didn't START until Thanksgiving!

Now, on with my usual assortment of random thoughts...

Kentucky won its annual football game with in-state rival and formerly 11th ranked Louisville on Saturday, despite being 27 point underdogs.  Hard to describe quickly how they did it, but most of it was with heart and determination, as the skill and talent level of many of Louisville's players surpasses that of many of UK's team.  But it was quite a sight to see, and for the first time in six seasons, the Governor's Cup came back to Lexington!

UK's basketball team continues destroying their opponents without much effort.  This team is extremely talented but they'll face better competition over the next few games, if the experts are right.  They need to be pushed and tested, so that when they visit the smaller arenas of some of the SEC schools and are confronted with fans who are out of control and teams who are playing their biggest game of the year "because it's against Kentucky," they'll be ready.

The Cincinnati Reds are having their annual off-season fan event, Redsfest, this Friday and Saturday. My son and I have attended once or twice in the past, but probably won't go this year.  The Reds, meanwhile, continue to tweak their rebuilding efforts, exchanging some of their known-quantity minor leaguers for what may be better prospects from elsewhere.  I still think that in a couple of years the Reds will contend for post-season play once again.  Hope I'm right.

I don't follow hockey that closely, but read that the Florida Panthers of the NHL fired their coach, and did so in such humiliating fashion that it got noticed.  They actually fired this man, kicked him off the team bus that was leaving an opposing team's arena, removed his luggage from the bus and left him standing by the side of the building.  Gotta admit, I've been dismissed from employment more than once in my career, but never experienced that.

Speaking of humiliation, it occurs to me that our President-Elect is running a bit of a reality show as he meets with various prospective cabinet members.  Will he choose Candidate A to be Secretary of State?  Or will he surprise everyone with Candidate B?  And don't look now, Candidate C has just entered the picture.  Tune in tomorrow to find out who gets hired!

The public squabbling among the President-Elect's inner circle is fascinating, amusing and terrifying all at once.  It's not hard to imagine the same thing happening once he takes office and something significant occurs, and there's massive conflict about how to respond.

Seriously, though, we can only hope that at least some of these people are up to the jobs that they're agreeing to take.  Our country depends on it.  And I really don't have an opinion on the whole recount issue, nor do I have a worthwhile comment about whether or not some three million votes were cast by illegal immigrants.

I read somewhere that during President Obama's transition into office, he posted but one tweet, and that was to thank his supporters.  Wow, those were the days, right?

Have a good week.



Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving thanks

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

I am sure that if you're reading this, you have a lot to be thankful for this year.  I know that I do.  And while I won't bore you with a long recitation of the people and circumstances for which I'm grateful, I'll just comment that I am most appreciative of my family and close friends on this day every year, but more than usual during what has been a challenging year for me personally and professionally.  Without them I would most definitely be a poorer man indeed.

So what are you having for Thanksgiving dinner?  Traditional turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes and gravy and sweet potatoes and bread and pie and so much other stuff?  Or are you one of those heathens who uses this occasion every year to rebel, and to make things like turkey croquettes or baked mashed potatoes (I know, a lot of this will happen AFTER Thanksgiving in a lot of households)?

One of my closest friends mentioned to me that she and her gang are not really fans of the traditional meal, so they opted for an early Thanksgiving dinner of quality carryout Italian food!  And I believe I'm correct in mentioning that today is generally the biggest day for pizza delivery in the United States.

We're pretty traditional at our house, when we have the opportunity to have the feast here at home.  For many years it was a given that we would be at my in-laws' house, but after my father-in-law passed and my mother-in-law became less comfortable hosting large groups of folks, we began to be home more frequently.

Some of that desire for traditional Thanksgiving fare is my fault, too.  Growing up my parents preferred to have ham, not turkey, and liked to simply splurge on what they considered "good" ham and have it sliced for sandwiches, eschewing the entire idea of a sit-down Thanksgiving dinner.  Once in a while we'd have the conventional meal, but only if my grandparents were joining us, they being more traditionalists than my folks!

Our daughter gifted us a number of spice-oriented items a while back and we are using the brining kit that she included.  Mixture of salt, sugar, some citrus notes, coriander seed and lots of other good stuff.  I have always believed that soaking any sort of poultry in cold salty water for a time before cooking gives it better flavor and moisture, but this will be my our first attempt at anything with a greater variety of flavorings.  Can't wait to see how it turns out!

Another must that we happened into a few years ago is a product from Williams-Sonoma, the cooking and gourmet food store.  It's their turkey gravy base, comes in a jar.  You add milk and some other ingredients, and the finished product is something close to perfection.  It's always the little tricks, isn't it?  Like Stove Top brand stuffing.  We like it all year, but on Thanksgiving, when you're counting on everything to be great, why risk trying an uncertain recipe for dressing?  Get the stuff you know you like, even if it's a complimentary dish life stuffing!  One of several starches we'll be having today, of course.

Can't leave without discussing pie.  Sorry to say, but I don't like pumpkin OR pecan pie, and they're the ones most folks have to have on this day.  So we're having cherry pie.  So there.

I'll close by thanking all of you who visit this space regularly, whomever and wherever you are.  It's gratifying that you stop by to read my regular expressions of, well, anything and everything.  Have a safe and happy holiday, hopefully with people you love!




Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Seven days later....

....and we're all still here.

Of course, President-Elect Trump won't take office for several more weeks, but now we've seen a few telling things that indicate how things will be.

The first word that one could use, that HAS been used, is "unconventional."  This guy has no interest in how things have traditionally been done, and based on the recent purge from his "transition team," won't be pigeon-holed into making blah cabinet appointments and the like.

But the sheer lack of understanding of how this has to happen is pretty astounding.  There were reports that his son-in-law and chief adviser blurted out a question about "how many of these staffers will be staying once we take over" while visiting the White House last week.  I have ready unconfirmed items that no one from the Trump team has contacted several major arms of the government, including Justice.  And as one pundit so eloquently put it, Trump is prepared to hand out these positions like so many lollipops, but only to those who have been good.

But, as I noted at the outset, western civilization has not collapsed.  Yet.

Media guy Keith Olbermann will apparently continue his insurgency online.  He posted a video for the last 40 weekdays of the campaign for GQ.com called "The Closer."  This morning he's set to start a new series of online commentaries called "The Resistance."

Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore is also staying active, and will apparently continue to be so.

I think there's enough points of obstruction in Congress, particularly in the Senate, where blocking legislation has become an art form in the past ten years, that we can't get into too much trouble too quickly.  And if our new President-to-be attempts too many actions via executive order, some of those may be challenged, too.

And I think at this point we can all agree that the Electoral College is an antiquated and unnecessary element of national politics, since this is the second election in 16 years where there were different winners of the popular and electoral vote totals.

But in this country, we've always demonstrated an uncanny ability to go forward, not to be shackled to our past, whether we thought it was good or bad.  And I think we will this time.

Not much else to say on this.  Not yet, anyway.


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Now what?

Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States.

To the utter surprise of many.  I think that, deep down, Trump himself is surprised by this outcome.  Do I think that he believes himself to be the right person to lead?  Yes.  But did he think he would win?  I doubt it.

I'm no expert, but it seems to me that political convention has been turned on its head completely in the last couple of years.  Traditional political thinking had us believe that Hillary Clinton would face Jeb Bush in this presidential election, so "inevitable" were both candidates.  Easy to forget that Barack Obama upset similar logic in Democratic circles in the 2008 campaign, and it's forgotten largely because traditional Democratic power bases seemed to have aligned themselves with him as their best chance to retake and hold the White House.  Hillary Clinton got a very nice consolation prize, becoming Obama's Secretary of State and furthering her resume and qualifications to run.

And if you believed most of the media, the Republicans had little chance to win back the presidency this time, because, after all, a Republican-controlled Congress had pushed its obstructionist agenda so far that anyone with that "R" by their name in a national election was bound to go down in flames.

Trump changed all of that.

He was nowhere near anything that had happened politically, so it wasn't difficult for those who don't absorb media-based political thought to identify with him as a change agent.  His public statements that most of us found so disagreeable struck a chord with many who felt the political process had stopped caring about the issues they felt were important.  And his ongoing, open questioning of the legitimacy of Barack Obama's Presidency also resonated with many of his supporters and built him an air of credibility that fell so far outside of the political establishment that it could not have been expected or estimated or countered.

And no one in the polling business had this right, at least not that I know, and not in advance of last night.  Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams had said nearly a year ago that Trump had a legitimate shot at winning, and that was long before he dispatched so many primary challengers.  But none of the "experts" identified this as a likelihood, as the CONVENTIONAL thinking was that most people would compare Trump and Clinton and see a stark difference in experience and temperament and on and on and make the rational choice.

It turns out that, in that comparison, they saw was someone who apparently wasn't beholden to a power structure other than their own.  Someone who was not constrained by political tradition to limit their criticism of others and existing institutions.  Someone who seemed successful and who would bring others along on the road to more success.

This is all fine and good, but soon it will be time to move forward with the Trump Administration taking office and a new but still Republican-controlled Congress.  These are uncharted waters we're entering now, but there is something of a precedent for this.  Think back to 2008, when the Democratic Party controlled the White House and both houses of Congress.  If you'll recall, there were many things put into motion during the first two years of President Obama's first term, but there was also obstruction and challenge, mostly from then-Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of my home state of Kentucky.

I think we can safely expect something similar from whomever is the new Senate Minority Leader, most likely Chuck Schumer of New York.  I also think that our country's economic situation was so dire that large-scale initiative were necessary at that time, and those are not our current circumstances.

As I'm reminded by different cultural references, the sun came up tomorrow, despite the outcome of yesterday's election.  We all go on with our lives, though it's likely that those lives will be changed in some way by this outcome.

The holidays are coming, and that's a time when many are a little nicer, and a little more generous and and a little more forgiving.  Perhaps it's easier said than done but I sincerely feel that we need this more than anything else right now.

It sounds trite to say "good night, and good luck," but I'll close by simply saying "good luck to us all."


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Closer to normal

Greetings, friends.  I have not posted for a bit, because I began a new job not all that long ago.  And with that has come some, well, changes.

For one thing, I have a schedule now.  It's not a terribly rigid schedule, but after almost seven months of not having a specific calendar to follow, it's an adjustment.  The good news is that what I do and how I spend my time is still largely my decision and I am also again working from my home, which I have done for nearly twenty years.

To be fair, there are recurring events to attend for networking purposes.  The industry I'm now working in has geographic associations of service providers, and I have event for five or six of these geographic areas.  So that provides a little structure.  But unlike my previous position, where there were probably ten to fifteen meetings per month that I had no role in scheduling, this is much more manageable locally.

After just a short time in this role I must say that I'm enjoying the change of pace.  Nearly everyone I've met has been unfailingly welcoming and open, and those who are the exceptions are less unpleasant and more noncommittal.  Again, different.

Enough about me.

A week from now, we'll know who our next President will be.  I don't know about you, but every time I think I've seen it all, something else comes along in this particular campaign.  The television networks have been accused of being "in the tank" for Hillary Clinton (well, all but Fox News) but I think it's in their best interests for the race to appear close and undecided until the last minute.

I won't rehash everything the FBI director and agents have or have not done that may influence the election's outcome.  Plenty of material on those subjects already exists.

The grumbling from Democrats is a little funny to me.  David Plouffe, who managed President Obama's campaign in 2012, reminded people that a similar thing happened to his candidate's apparent support four years ago.  Following Mitt Romney's infamous "47 percent comment," the Obama camp was riding high, but their poll numbers began to decline as the election drew closer.  And we know what happened there.

Last night the Vice-Presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, went on a cable news show largely to "vouch" for Hillary Clinton, saying it was high time that someone other than a known Democrat did so.  That party's Presidential candidate, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, apparently was quoted yesterday as saying that Clinton would likely face impeachment if elected, owing to her ongoing e-mail scandals.

It's a world gone mad, isn't it?

And tonight, either the Cleveland Indians or the Chicago Cubs will break a long drought and win the World Series.  I am a huge baseball fan, as all visitors here know, but have not watched continually.  My son and I were discussing it over the weekend and we're both appalled at the quantity of poor play and lack of hustle shown by both clubs.  Not running out ground balls.  Standing at home plate admiring a long drive, only to be held to a single after the ball didn't escape the park.  Failing multiple times, as last night, to call for a fly ball, extending innings for their opponents.

I have a preferred winner but will keep that to myself for now.

One more thing--it's early November and the high temperature here in central Kentucky is again going to exceed 80 degrees today.  Wow!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

To whom it may concern

Good Thursday morning to all.

Today I begin a new job, after a long, long, LONG period of exploration, research, application, interviewing, etc., etc., etc.  Very glad to return to full-time activity, and with a quality company as well!

But before I leave the realm of the job-seekers, I'd just like to share some thoughts with those with whom I came into contact during this journey:

To all of the prospective employers who made commitments of varying degrees without upholding any of them:  thank you for keeping me motivated.  The more this happened (and it seemed to have happened a lot over these past months), the more determined I became not to take anything except at face value.  To be fair, some of you wanted to hire me for your critical opening, but were overruled by your boss, or someone else in the organization who had a friend who also needed a job, and so on. But after a few instances of hearing that "the job is pretty much yours" and equally promising statements, I kept my head down and kept pushing forward with my search.

To all of the employers who had an available job for which I was or am grossly overqualified, and in which you still didn't take my interest seriously:  it's a real shame that we didn't have the chance to work together.  Mature people with useful experience are plentiful in today's economy, yet the common thinking is to pass on us, since you just know that we'll up and quit the first sign of a better job.  And we might, but think of the benefits to your company while we're with you.  And that doesn't even address the possibility that you already know that your company isn't worthy of our talents and experience, so I suppose we should all thank you for that favor after all.

To those employers who had difficulty understanding the sum total of my experience, and its relevance to their particular needs:  my apologies.  Apparently my resume did not do a good job in identifying my professional background, at least not good enough for you to see that I was more than a good fit for your opening.  And to those who decided to pass on me, even after your subordinates promoted me to you as a great candidate, it sounds like you and your team may have a communication issue.  Fix that before you attempt any further revisions to how your company operates.

To all of those network contacts who insisted I provide them with a resume copy so that they could circulate it to their contacts:  thank you for getting the word out.  I mean that, but mostly to those who actually shared my resume.  To those who made empty promises of assistance that they had no intention of keeping, as they most likely do on a routine basis, I feel worse for you than for myself and my predicament.  And to those who DID follow through in getting my information to the right people, I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart.  While many of those efforts did not lead to anything more than an introductory contact, your efforts were very much appreciated.

To those friends and close associates who kept me "up" with encouragement and serving as a sounding board, you have my most sincere gratitude.  Glad to return the favor, but sincerely hope you never need it!  I especially want to thank those of my friends who helped as much as they could but apologized that they were not able to do more.  That's when you know that you have the RIGHT friends!

And, finally, to my family, the greatest source of strength I could have, thank you a million times over.  You never lost faith or hope or confidence, and while I may not have always expressed it, I always appreciated all of that and more.

So off we go, into the great wide open, as Tom Petty once sang.  Remembering along the way that the journey is the reward.






Saturday, October 15, 2016

The little boy's game

I don't doubt that regular visitors to this space are well aware of my love for the game of baseball.  I am passionate about the game and its traditions and like to think of myself as a student of the game, too.

These interests were magnified substantially when my son entered my life many years ago, as I met his mother and sister.  And as I've explained to my son over time, baseball is dynastic in nature, passed along from one generation to the next and the next.  And now that HE has a son, he sees that, too.  So it's been with a great deal of interest and pride that I have watched my now five-year-old grandson come to love and appreciate the game of baseball as well.

As I believe I have also noted here, my son began night classes in law school some 80 miles away, commuting there three nights per week.  As it happens, he started these classes about the time that my grandson's fall T-ball season began, and those games were usually played on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evenings.  With our law student away at class on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and not available to help coach the team, as he had in seasons past, I've stepped in as needed and helped out.

My duties have usually involved being the first base coach when my grandson's team is at bat, and then staying on the field when the team is in the field, trying to keep these four to six year olds engaged and focused for safety as well as for good play.

Since my son didn't play as a younger kid, I missed seeing the chaos that often is T-ball.  Kids don't always know where to run, when to run, or what to do with that ball if it rolls in their direction!  So adult assistance is always essential to success, which is often judged quite loosely.

In any case, the final game of the fall season was Wednesday evening.  It was something of a special occasion, too, as our daughter and her family were visiting from Colorado.  And since it wasn't a class night, I assumed that our son would be coaching as he usually does when he's available.  But on that day he had a dental appointment, so it was understood he'd be there when he could.  My wife generally picks up our "local" grandchildren from school while both mom and dad finish the workday, and Wednesday was no different.

So we arrive at the field, and to add to the intricacies of the situation, the official coach of the team had injured his knee the previous weekend.  And the wife of one of the other parents who often helps to coach caught me as I arrived with our grandson and told me that her hubby wasn't going to be able to make it, and I'd be needed.  I nodded and helped get the players onto the field to do a little throwing and catching (which they hate, since all kids prefer batting to fielding).

Our son arrived from the dentist, but as the game started he didn't take a position on the field, instead taking photos of the team in action.  So I stepped back onto the field to help get our players positioned defensively, which is a loose description of what goes on.  Mainly, my job was to keep them looking toward home plate so that a well-struck ball didn't strike them, and also to keep them from playing in the dirt instead of watching for the ball!

Our defensive inning concluded and by default I wound up working at the plate with each of our players.  Customarily the coach from each team does that, to help the kids position themselves to hit, getting the height of the tee just right and so on.  I had never done that, so this would be something new.

Since the kids all know me as my grandson's grandfather (a couple even know that I'm "Poppy" to him and his sister and cousins) they weren't intimidated by a new face at home plate.  I made a point of asking each if the tee position felt right to them, made sure to place them at the proper distance from the plate so that they could make good contact, and offer encouragement as needed.  I'm pleased to say that virtually every player seemed to hit just a little better that game than usual, including my grandson.

The score is seldom the issue in T-ball.  Every player bats every inning, and even if outs are made they're not recorded and hitters remain on base.  But several of our players logged extra-base hits that night and I was glad I could help, at least a little.

So if anyone from the majors is reading this, there's a coach in waiting available for next season!


Monday, October 10, 2016

Turning points

Good Monday morning to all.  Trying to get back to my former habit of posting on Mondays.  I'm honestly not sure when that changed, but, anyway....

First and foremost, my career search has concluded successfully.  Since I don't routinely speak of work in this blog, I won't add a lot of specifics, except to say that I will be joining a well-respected regional company in a field pretty similar to my last twenty years of experience.  We have not established a start date, pending completion of a drug screening and criminal background check, but I would think I'll begin my new duties in the next couple of weeks.

Hard to top that, but here goes....

Did you watch the presidential debate last night?  I watched with my wife and some other family members, and we all had this feeling that Donald Trump was going to walk up behind Hillary Clinton and slug her or something, given how close he got several times.  The "town hall" format is not my favorite, but at least in the past the candidates have pretty much stayed put.  I think I remember former Vice-President Al Gore and former President George W. Bush getting pretty close to one another, but not much else stands out.

Once again, Clinton seemed the more authoritative and informed of the two, while Trump seemed content to continue to stir the pot on existing controversies and less-than-mainstream opinions.  And I saw some rumors online that Trump's running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, was on the verge of leaving the ticket as the result of the release of that damning video of Trump and a television personality talking about how Trump is around women.

Trump dismissed the contents of that tape as "locker-room talk" but now a movement is gaining steam online in which women are coming forward to describe their own experiences in being abused. Horrifying that there are so many.

I watched a PBS documentary over the last week called "The Choice" that details how both Clinton and Trump got here.  Interesting viewing.  Both have quite a story to tell, and to their credit, the producers of this program did not show any partiality.

I'm really afraid this campaign will continue to degrade over the next month to the point where election day will be a relief and not a climax.

Kentucky managed to eke out another win in football over the weekend, as their game was not interrupted by the hurricane-induced weather up and down the Atlantic seaboard.  In fact, we've had beautiful weather here in Lexington recently.

Anyway, UK football has won two of its last three games, not pretty, but a win is a win.  The struggle continues next week.

UK basketball kicks off with its Big Blue Madness practice on Friday.  For those not from here, people camp out for the free tickets to this opening practice of the season, as it is often the only chance some fans have of entering Rupp Arena for a Kentucky basketball event of any kind.  And it's again being televised not locally, but on the SEC/ESPN network.  Last year's event was completely unwatchable due to the network incursion, and I'd bet this year's edition will be the same.

Have yourself a good week!




Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Passages

Happy Tuesday to all, if there is such a "thing."  Notice how people say "I didn't know it was a thing" or "don't make it a thing?"  I credit Aaron Sorkin and the writing staff of "The West Wing" for making "thing" a thing.

Ahem.

There have been a lot of transitions since my last post, so here's my take on several of them.

As most everyone knows, the legendary golfer Arnold Palmer passed away a little more than a week ago at the age of 87.  I was very sad that he was gone, but he left us with so many vivid and positive memories.  He was Everyman on the golf course, hitching up his pants to attempt an impossible shot that often worked during his prime years.  He was definitely a man of the people, and his management company (which was an innovation in its day) did an effective job of marketing him to the masses, endorsing all kinds of products.

He had a line of clothing that, for a time, was sold by Sears.  He endorsed Pennzoil and Jiffy Lube and Cooper Tires.  He had his own brand of golf equipment, and my first "good" golf clubs were Palmers.  He was among the first athletes to recognize the value of chartered air travel and eventually became a pilot himself, a habit he continued until just a few years ago.  He never appeared to view himself as important, but understood the responsibility that came with fame and recognition.

I had the chance to meet Arnold Palmer at a media event for a senior golf tournament here in Lexington many years ago.  I spotted him when my coworker and I first arrived, waited for him to finish a conversation with some other visitors and I made my way over to him.  He was wearing a pale yellow sport coat, his signature pink golf shirt, and was the color of mahogany, from years outdoors.  I introduced myself, and he wrapped his massive right hand around mine in a firm grip that he didn't release until we finished our brief conversation.   Since I was obviously just out of college he asked me where I had gone to school, I told him that I had attended UK.  He responded that he went to Wake Forest but quickly added that "I didn't finish."  I offered that I think things will work out for him, and he laughed heartily, and wished me well and thanked me for coming.  Wow.

As his playing career wound down, but his popularity did not waver in the least, Arnold began to devote more and more time to charitable work, donating large sums to hospitals for women and children in the Orlando area, where he lived as an adult.  A wonderful man and a fine ambassador for the game of golf, Arnold's 1975 Ryder Cup golf bag was on display at last week's Ryder Cup matches and just about everyone I saw during the event was wearing a pin signifying Arnold's umbrella logo.  May he rest in peace.

Speaking of the Ryder Cup, it again belongs to the United States, thanks to some very good play and a raucous environment in Chaska, Minnesota last week.  In recent years the U.S. team won in 1999, 2008 and this year.  Here's hoping the next win doesn't take as long.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that Vin Scully, who broadcast for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers for 67 years, did his final game on Sunday.  I didn't care for Vin for a long time, having grown up a Reds-loving Dodger-hater and being unable to distinguish between the team and its voice.  But in later years I gained an appreciation and admiration for him and his talent.  On many occasions if I happened to be traveling by car late at night, I would often find a Dodger game on satellite radio, just to hear him work.  He always viewed the broadcasting of baseball games as a conversation with the fan listening, and spoke in that manner.  There are a lot of people who'll miss those conversations starting next season.

I also want to express my sadness at the sudden death of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez just over a week ago.  Much has been said and written about this young man, who escaped Cuba with his mother to become a dominant major league pitcher.  He is already missed.

My last posting predated the first presidential debate, but let me just add to the chorus by saying that the debate and outcome were about what I would have expected.  The VP candidates go at it tonight so that may prove interesting.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

For reasons passing understanding

Good morning to all.  We're almost finished with summer, at least from a calendar standpoint.  In reality, summer ended on Labor Day weekend for most everyone, though here in central Kentucky, we still feel the typical heat and humidity much of the time for a while yet.

I come before you today with more and more things that I simply do not understand.  In the past couple of days the news detailed the shootings of not one but two unarmed black men, one in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the other in the Charlotte, North Carolina area.  When we learned of the first shooting I mentioned to my wife that I found it unbelievable that with police having dashboard cameras in their cruisers and in many cases cameras actually on their bodies, there are still cops who will call in to their dispatch with details that are not accurately portrayed.

I applaud people who are brave enough to put themselves in harm's way in order to protect the public, but that courage does not entitle any police or other peace officer to open fire on suspects randomly.  Easy to say that I wasn't there, of course, but I know what I saw and those images and the circumstances radioed to headquarters don't match up.

All I know is that this has to stop.

Along these same lines I read this morning that the city of Chicago now intends to employ up to 1000 more police officers, in an attempt to curb the ongoing street violence that continues to plague that great city.  I hope that it helps, but by the time the new recruits are all hired and sworn in, things may have worsened considerably.

Let's talk about politics now.  Donald Trump now says that Hillary Clinton, not he, began the movement to discredit President Barack Obama by saying that he was not born in this country and therefore ineligible to hold office.  He was saying that the President was born elsewhere as early as 2011, and the President made a joke at Trump's expense at that year's White House Correspondent's Dinner.  There are those who say that Trump's decision to run for President grew out of that public humiliation, though I don't see him as being humiliated.  After all, this is a man who repeatedly proclaims that all press is GOOD press.

Clinton needs to stop attacking or counterattacking Trump and start touting herself and her policies.  It's the only way to motivate a large bloc of voters, as there just aren't enough people who take the Trump threat seriously, in my opinion.  It seems to me that so many people are just incredulous that anyone will actually vote for Trump and are therefore apathetic about preventing him from being elected.  I worry continually that they shouldn't place so much faith in the wisdom of the American electorate.  I don't have that kind of faith, of course.

One of the political voices I've missed these last few years has been that of Keith Olbermann, who has moved from news to sports and back again several times.  His career trajectory has been interesting and the media reports that he's frequently fired for being difficult to work with.  That may be true, but he often cuts to the heart of an issue with a sense of humor that also provokes opinions in both agreement and opposition.

Keith is back with us, sort of, doing what are now daily online commentaries for GQ.com.  If you nee to have a good thinking laugh about where we are in this election season, check it out.

Not much laughing going on in the halls of the Cincinnati Reds' management, where the team has ridden a pretty wild rollercoaster throughout September.  Lately they've not been good, but for the first week or better of the month played very solid and entertaining baseball.  There are some good pieces for the future, but there are also players that clearly won't be part of the picture as the rebuilding of the team enters its second season.  But Joey Votto continues to be quite a sight at bat, handling pitchers' out pitches with an ease that's almost otherworldly at times.  Talk about adjustment.

For those wondering, I am continuing to make progress in my search for the right career position, and doing some independent work as I look.  I've had a couple of promising meetings recently and will be making a trip to meet with someone as early as next week.  Fingers crossed.


Monday, September 12, 2016

Being someone else

Today’s one of those days when I’m glad not to be a presidential candidate.

Honestly, is there any other activity where it’s virtually impossible to be right, be appropriate and be honest, all at the same time?

I ask because of what happened to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Bearing in mind that her opponent, Donald Trump, has repeatedly questioned her health, and his surrogates, mostly former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, have scrutinized issues like Clinton’s recent coughing spells and so forth.

In case you misplaced your scorecard, Clinton (and Trump) attended the 9/11 ceremony at Ground Zero yesterday, but left after about 90 minutes due to what her staff called being “overheated.”  Then video surfaced online that showed Clinton very unsteady on her feet and being helped (“carried” might be the more appropriate word) into a van, in which she was taken to daughter Chelsea’s Manhattan apartment.  She then emerged some time later, told the collected media she was feeling better and what a beautiful day it was.

THEN it broke that she had been diagnosed with something much worse than the seasonal allergies that afflict many of us in my part of the country.  She has pneumonia, it was determined on Friday.  Nevertheless, she pushed ahead with a full schedule, but after all of this came to light, she wisely cancelled a campaign/fundraising trip to California.

Now she’s getting it from both sides.  Trump and his seconds are bashing her, but mostly for comments she made about the “deplorables” among Trump’s support base, and media and media critics alike are expressing shock for how poorly a legitimate health issue was handled.

As I said, damned if you do…..

I suppose the only other person I’d rather not be right now is Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops, who has to figure out how his program has absolutely cratered since the middle of LAST season.  His team is 0-2 after a whipping at Florida on Saturday.  Yes, Stoops and his staff have assembled multiple consecutive strong recruiting classes, and now the facilities are being upgraded at UK in a big way.  But none of that will matter if the players don’t execute and win more frequently from here on.  I’ve had brief social contact with Stoops (his children and those of one of his key assistants attend the school that two of my grandkids used to attend) and he seems a genuinely good guy who is trying to do the right thing.  Hope he gets the chance to see things through.


I’m not going to attempt to take a position on the whole kneeling-for-the-National-Anthem issue that appears to be the primary subject of discussion in professional football.  Worthwhile positions on both sides.  And we’re talking about it, but not about the issues that appear to have triggered all of this attention.  I’ll just say this:  if those who have means would do more to help improve the situation, instead of stopping short by simply calling attention to it, we might have a better scenario to discuss.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Six months

Friends, I hope that you had a good weekend, and are looking forward to the Labor Day weekend coming up.  Unofficial end of summer, you know.

Today marks six months that I have been in the job market.  And I remain positive about my prospects, though I work diligently to cultivate additional possibilities on a continual basis.

If you’re a regular visitor here you know that I have a good outlook about most everything, and I don’t have any outward self-esteem issues (at least not that I’m aware).  So this isn’t going to be a woe-is-me hand-wringing rant.  Rather, I thought I’d share what I’ve experienced, not with my former employer who put me into this predicament, but with those potential employers whom I’ve contacted and met with over these months.

When I first launched my search I was pretty straightforward with myself and prospected employers in what I wanted and expected in terms of responsibilities, duties and most particularly compensation.  As time has passed and I have broadened my search and its parameters, I feel certain that I am regularly and quickly passed over for positions for which I am viewed, rightly, as overqualified.  Instead of being grateful that someone skilled and experienced is interested, employers appear to take the approach that it’s better not to pursue a candidate who would simply take a job for now but continue a search for something more appropriate.  I have to confess that, as a hiring manager, I’ve often viewed certain candidates in the same way.  That doesn’t make it any more comfortable when it happens to me as a job-seeker.

I also know that ageism exists in the marketplace.  I went through a workshop with the local employment services office (required) and one of the things that was included was a review of my resume by one of their staff “experts.”  This lady had been in human resources with a couple of companies so she had some inside knowledge.  Her critique of my resume was that I needed to limit my experience to my most recent TEN years of career history, and to leave off the year of my college graduation.  I tried that and found that I actually garnered LESS attention from employers than a more extensive resume and my graduation year listed.

I also have experienced a couple of instances where people met me and appeared a little surprised at our initial meeting.  I always think that’s as much because of my age as anything.  I also recently have been invited to do videos for prospective employers, and while it’s a great opportunity to show a potential company my presentation skills, it’s also a chance for them to gauge my grooming, erudition, and, yes, my age.

I suppose my greatest pet peeve during all of this is the apparent lack of common courtesy by these prospective employers.  Many times during this process I have been led to believe that I was a leading candidate, that I was just perfect for the opening at hand, and that an offer of employment is imminent.  Then all contact from the company stops, without warning or explanation.  My attempts to follow up or learn the current status go unanswered.  Then, finally, I might get the standard automated “do not reply to this message” message stating that “while your credentials are impressive, we are moving forward with other candidates who more closely match our requirements.”  Or something similar.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but it still astounds me, particularly if I have traveled any distance for an interview OR a potential offer was directly referenced.  But these folks do what they think is best, I suppose.

I have almost exhausted my unemployment benefits, so I have a number of independent work possibilities that I have begun to investigate, along with the many, many, MANY full-time opportunities for which I have applied.


So the journey continues. 

Followers

Blog Archive