New Shoes in the Rain

Friday, August 25, 2017

Travels and tales

It's me again, friends.  Just have a little more to say!

I was on the road in Louisville for work yesterday, in the process of returning to Lexington and decided to jump off the interstate to get something to drink, as I had spent the better part of my work day talking (but I'm in sales, so that happens)!

As I reached the top of the ramp, my car kind of bucked and sputtered and then THREE warning lights illuminated on the instrument panel!  I chugged into a gas station lot, the nearest place I could go.  Pulled out the manual, and by this time I was down to just one light, the engine symbol.  Remember, this car is ten years old with almost 160,000 miles.  Manual says it could mean MANY things and that I would risk serious damage by driving it while the light was illuminated.

I called the dealership in Frankfort, where we bought the car (new owners now, though, but they had provided service on it a little less than a year ago).  Roughly halfway to my house, they said I could drive it there safely as long as that light wasn't blinking.  And they'd provide me a loaner vehicle.  So that was my target destination.

When I arrived and explained what happened to my service guy, he was amazed.  "This just happened?"  I nodded and he kind of grinned.  "Good timing," he said.  I countered by saying that I was on a car trip to Alabama (more on that below) last week and decided at the last minute to rent a car.  "Good choice" was his only comment.

The initial diagnosis, based on the terminal they connect to cars, was that the throttle position sensor was malfunctioning.  I suppose that means that the car could not tell when I was depressing the accelerator.  Anyway, it should be ready today, with a nice dealer bill to pay!

This was the conclusion of a whirlwind trip to Louisville in which I met a total of six of my new company's affiliates.  In keeping with my tradition of not talking specifically about my work, I'll stop with that information, but let's just say that each was a pretty different personality.

My trip to Alabama was interesting, to say the least.  I talked with my boss about that before heading there.  From where I begin, there isn't an expedient way to get there by air, as I'd have to drive to another city to take a direct flight, or connect through a hub airport.  I'm new enough in my job not to have a lot of time pressures, so I decided to drive and to rent a car.

Our company has a national relationship with a rental company, and they charge the same for a mid-size car as for a full-size.  So I was pretty certain of a decent car, but wound up with a Ford Expedition, massive SUV.  My experience with the UK Radio Network had me driving similar vehicles all over the southeast, including to Birmingham, so this was something of a homecoming for me!

I did made a side trip along my path south down I-65, into Lynnville, Tennessee, home of Colonel Littleton, maker of excellent leather goods and other interesting items.  I had decided to commemorate my new position with a piece I could use in my work, so went there to see some of the choices in person.

As always, everyone there was just wonderful to visit and work with, offering choices and on-the-spot personalization of my final choice, a No. 30 Composition Journal that I highly recommend!  And I finally got to meet someone from the organization with whom I've had a lot of contact over the past several years, too, so that was indeed a very nice bonus!

The trip involved shadowing my counterpart in Alabama for a couple of days and served its purpose, and was pretty uneventful overall.  My only complaint is that I stayed in the same hotel where I suffered through a kidney stone attack about five years ago!

This is a little unrelated, but let me share a couple of things that have happened online.  I'm an active Twitter user, more reading other people's tweets than posting my own.  Two things occurred recently that are worth noting.

The first was a blatant and unnecessary attack by someone who writes humorously about Kentucky sports.  He wrote something downright mean about a famous woman with Kentucky roots who commented online about her treatment as she passed through security at a major airport.  She didn't name names, indicated that she spoke with management and that was that, but this sports tweeter called her an idiot and such, and it just struck me the wrong way.  I commented to him that perhaps her opinion in all of this counted for more than his, since it happened to her.  I received numerous positive comments, but none from this boor.  That's disappointing.

The other was a person I formerly followed, who is a self-proclaimed expert on a certain subject pertaining, again, to sports.  Not life and death, right?  Anyway, he posted something and I asked him a question, thinking he had inside knowledge, which he routinely implies on Twitter and elsewhere.  Instead of an answer to my question, I got a three part lecture about being too lazy to look thinks up and so forth.  Again, others commented that he could have just answered my question, and he responded to them about "give a man a fish or teach a man to fish."  Must have been having a bad day, but I certainly won't waste my time on his waste-of-time subject matter anymore.

More indications of the death of civility, I guess.

Anyway, that's the news from here.  Wish me luck with that car problem!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Dog days

Here we are, friends, panting our way into the Labor Day weekend a couple of weekends from now.  August finally arrived here, from a weather standpoint, in central Kentucky, with all of the heat and humidity and discomfort that we normally expect.

It always feels this way, yet I marvel at how things seem this time of year.  My Cincinnati Reds are in "rebuilding" mode (hopefully there's an almost completed structure by now, but I kinda doubt we're there yet), so they're not competitive.  So my interest in baseball wanes.

College and professional football will be here soon.  My teams (college: Kentucky, professional: Denver Broncos) have some uncertainty surrounding them.

The bigger movies have come and gone (not that I went to see any of them) and the fall will bring some bigger releases, but most are the variety that is designed to build critical acclaim, at least until Christmas, when it's presumed that people go to the movies and the more popular fare comes out.

Congress isn't in session, thankfully, but our news is filled with what our President said or did (or didn't say or didn't do), both in real time and in the past.

School is back in session in our part of the country.  My law school student son has returned to his evening classes for his second year.  My wife is back to helping out by picking up our grandchildren from school on some days.

And even the eclipse is over and done with, although some reports indicate that there are still people stuck in traffic in some places!  Well, not really, but a baseball player who makes his off-season home in Nashville got stuck in traffic leaving town to meet his team in Cincinnati.  The reason?  Exiting eclipse celebrants!

So now we have another holiday coming up, and it seems like a long time ago that we celebrated Independence Day.  Hope you and yours have the chance to do something fun.

Monday, August 14, 2017

America first

Good Monday morning from central Kentucky, where it's been raining.  One of the oddities of life as it stands now, is that we're getting semi-cool weather with ample rain.  In Kentucky.  In August.

I call your attention to the title phrase for today's comments.  This phrase has been coming up again and again, mostly in our political discourse in this country, for a couple of years.  But what does it mean?

Apparently, that depends on your perspective.

As I understand it, those who were protesting in Virginia in the first place believe it's important to preserve certain aspects of American history that others feel are best put aside, at the least.  Others seem to define that term as denoting the importance of keeping people from other countries and other cultures and religions out of our country, keeping our current America as it is, or, better yet, taking it back to how things used to be.

Here's how I define it.

I want an America that tries to live up to the lofty ideals of the founding fathers, who, as it turns out, were visionaries about the content and value of a true democracy.

I want an America that values and protects its citizens, regardless of what their origins are, who they love or how they worship, but I want those citizens to also value and protect MY rights equally.

I want an America where being a member of any political party says nothing about me other than my political preference, and that I am not automatically someone's enemy simply because they belong to a different party.

I want an America that has found a way to build good roads and airports and finds a way to pay good people worthwhile wages to work in key professions, such as teachers, firefighters, police officers and other first responders.

I want an America where my kids won't have to bankrupt themselves to send their kids to college, or for my grandkids not to have thirty years of student loan payments after graduation.

I want an America that recognizes its history of immigration, addresses the current situation effectively and fairly, and applies reasonable controls to the future.

I want an America where people can express themselves in public or online and not be beset by rudeness, bullying or other negative response.

I want an America where people no longer commit heinous crimes against others in the name of their love for this country, because they understand that, in America, we literally are all in this together.

Perhaps I ask too much, but I know there are people who feel as I do.  A lot of them.  And I think that, when you cut through the party-loyalty bluster, a lot of the people in Congress share many of these sentiments, too.

Let's hope so.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Journeys and rewards

Hello, friends.  Spent a good part of last week on the road for my new job.

I'm way out of practice as a regular air traveler, but most of the older habits tend to fall right back into place when you resume a formerly common activity.  For instance, I always managed to get to whatever airport I was departing well over an hour before my flight.  Why?  Well, for one thing, you just never know how long it will take to get through TSA security screening.  Now that people are being asked to separate their tablets as well as laptop computers and liquids from the rest of their carry-on baggage, there's a lot of stopping and starting in the security lines.

Anyway, this trip had me traveling to a location in south Florida, but for reasons I still don't quite understand, my itinerary went from Lexington to Atlanta to Key West, Florida and then to Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood.  First two legs were no problem, both flights departed and arrived on time.  The second plane landed in Key West a few minutes early at that.  But at that small, SMALL airport, passengers deplane onto the tarmac and then walk through a cordoned path.....straight into baggage claim!

That sounds nice if that's your final destination, but in my case, I still was to board one more flight.  So I had to exit the terminal, make my way through the parking garage (which, incidentally, was larger than the terminal), up an elevator and then into security for ANOTHER screening! All of this with about forty minutes between flights, too!

I reached the gate (remember, small airport, there are only seven in the entire place) and saw on the board that they were boarding my flight, so I got into line.  Once I reached the front of the line a very put-upon gate agent informed me that they were not boarding THAT flight and that I needed to sit down and wait!

Well, then!

So I did, after a quick visit to the restroom to towel off.  Forty-five minutes later we boarded, after the gate agent apologized for being so short with me, and said that their entire flight schedule the previous day was cancelled due to a tropical storm.  Understandable.

We arrived at my final destination airport, but, wouldn't you know it, there was a LIGHTNING warning, and the plane could not park and allow passengers to deplane.  We sat on a taxiway for what appeared to have been about an hour.  THEN we parked and deplaned.  By then it was raining again, but they proceeded anyway.

I won't go into detail about my first Uber ride, except to say that in the airport where I landed, Uber and Lyft riders are picked up where commercial vans and buses pick up their passengers.  Took my driver forty minutes to travel six miles as a result and longer for us to locate each other.

On my flights home there were a couple of other but different incidents.  Our plane was taxiing to take off from Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood when an announcement was made on the PA system inquiring about a doctor on board.  We stopped and stayed in place for about twenty minutes, we were thanked for our patience and went on our way, with the pilot even making up the time lost.

Finally, on my flight from Atlanta to Lexington, I was seated next to a large man (bigger than me, and that's saying something).  I said "good evening" and he just scowled.  When all of the passengers were on board the flight attendant came and asked this man multiple times if his name was "Jones" before he finally answered "Yeah, so?"

The guy was in the wrong seat.  He apparently decided to sit somewhere other than his assigned seat and hope they never caught it.  He was instructed to go to his ticketed seat or risk ejection from the plane.  He grudgingly moved, but that was OK with me, as it gave me more space.

Oh, and when that flight landed, the pilot said that the ground crew was confused about which flight we were and stopped us before directing us to the wrong gate.

Once on the ground nothing else happened.

I'm due to travel to another destination in a couple of weeks, so I've elected to drive.  Hope that turns out to be a good decision.