New Shoes in the Rain

Monday, November 23, 2009

On, on, U of K!!

How about those Cats?

To the uninitiated, I'm referring to the University of Kentucky Wildcats, who are putting together a memorable football season AND are off to a most entertaining start to their new basketball coach's tenure!

Let's first address the basketball Cats, as most folks around the country know Kentucky for basketball first and foremost. New coach John Calipari has done everything right to restore the confidence and enthusiasm of their massive worldwide fan base since being hired last spring, and now that all of the public relations are in place it's time to play basketball! Coach Cal has assembled a great group of recruits, including uber-recruit John Wall and blue-chippers Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton and DeMarcus Cousins and they join returning stars Patrick Patterson and Darius Miller. They've played several games, won them all (although one or two were closer than expected) and have displayed brilliance balanced with the need for development thus far. It's a great time to be a Kentucky basketball fan, I assure you!

That said, let's turn to FOOTBALL! My joke with people over the last couple of years, when Kentucky's basketball team was not as successful, was that Kentucky's now a football school! And each time I said that, I felt it to be more and more true....but now, it actually IS true! Kentucky's football Wildcats pulled off a double feat Saturday that hadn't been done since 1977....winning a football game against the University of Georgia in Athens AND winning three road football games against Southeastern Conference opponents in a single year! Coach Rich Brooks has done a phenomenal job reshaping the football fortunes of my alma mater, and the results this year are seven wins, four losses (two of them VERY close and winnable games), and bowl eligibility for the fourth consecutive year.

Can you tell that I have a bit of emotional attachment to the football Cats?

One more thing I should mention is that on my trip to and from the Georgia game last weekend I and a friend played a round of golf at the Harrison Bay state park just outside of Chattanooga, TN. It's a Jack Nicklaus Signature course and well worth the effort if you're passing through that area. We played with a local fellow named Bob who was a delight to spend a few hours with. He handed me and my traveling companion business cards identifying him as "No Job Bob." Could not have found a more worthwhile ambassador of that area!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Returning to my part of civilization

Since I travel quite frequently for my work, trips are pretty much old hat for me. But I'm on the way home from one of the more interesting trips I've taken in a while.

Before I elaborate, note that I'm writing this entry while using a free sample signin for Delta's onboard GoGo Wi-Fi service. Cool, yes?

Anyway, the primary thing that made this trip different is that my wife was already at our destination for a week before me. This was due to the arrival of our handsome new grandson, and my wife had been helping care for the little guy and his mom AND his big sister for the week before I joined the fun last Sunday.

As anyone who travels will attest, the time zone difference always presents some challenges. Making it worse is my stubborn habit of NOT changing my watch when visiting far-off lands such as Colorado or Arizona. This is largely because I need to stay abreast of what time it is when I call home, and because my sleep pattern and my stomach don't recognize the time change, I suppose I feel it's appropriate for my watch not to, either.

So I mentioned, I attended the Monday Night Football game last Monday evening between the host Denver Broncos and the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. It was a pretty good game for about two-and-a-half quarters, but the home team faltered down the stretch and Pittsburgh was there to seize momentum and win the game. My son-in-law is a Steelers fan but opted to wear Broncos gear; I did my best not to chide him for not revealing his true passions (when I am a visiting fan for ANYTHING I ALWAYS wear my team's colors!), but it's my belief he did so for safety's sake. We were sandwiched into an upper deck section in a corner of the stadium among many Steeler fans, but had a great view of the field. The evening was lots of fun, but was spoiled a little by a ruckus in the men's room after the game. I'm still not clear what happened, but a Steeler fan of advancing years was being held back from a much younger Bronco partisan, who was also being restrained. No idea what caused it, but that certainly got the old adrenaline pumping.

The rest of the week was mixed; Tuesday and Wednesday I conducted some business in the field, blended with E-mails, phone calls and the like. Thursday was less so, and then Friday I had a heavy schedule of calls followed by a wonderful meeting with a woman with whom I had done some business some years ago. She lives in the eastern half of Colorado and we were able to find the time and place to meet for a catch-up lunch.

But the highlight of the trip, undoubtedly, was to spend time with our grandchildren, both our four-and-a-half year old granddaughter ("um, Poppy....?") and our spanking new grandson. The little guy appears to be still trying to figure it all out, I can tell, but slowly he and mom are moving into something approaching a routine. Hopefully for my daughter that routine will soon involve sustained sleep.

We're on the flight back; since my wife is flying on a ticket purchased with frequent flier miles and I bought mine the old-fashioned way, I'm sitting in first class (thanks to my over 120,000 accumulated miles this year) and she's in the coach section. What burns me up, though, is that there are four empty first class seats in front of me, one next to me, and several behind me, but the flight crew declined to bring my wife up to sit with me. Delta, if you're reading this, I'd like to talk with you.

And one more blurb to beloved Kentucky Wildcats achieved yet another milestone on the football field my knowledge, this is the first Kentucky squad to achieve bowl eligibility in four consecutive years EVER. Congrats to all of the players, coaches, trainers, support staff and especially the fans!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Stray thoughts

This is going to be one of those catch-all posts where it's not really about anything in specific (is it ever, though?).

I just traveled yesterday to the Denver area to meet my new grandson, and he's exactly as advertised! A very healthy, happy baby, doesn't make a lot of fuss and is very cute indeed. Can't decide which of his parents he most closely resembles, but in my limited experience with grandchildren, that perception continues to change over time.

OK, then.....

As I went to the security line of my local airport yesterday, I noted that there were five foreign women ahead of me and all apparently finding some difficulty with the language barrier. Along with that, all of them had more carry-on luggage than is customarily allowed, and to my utter astonishment, all of them had two laptop computers per person. Frankly, I cannot imagine why one would need two separate computers, but I'm sure it all made sense to them. All made it through the security checkpoint without incident, so I hope that all of them reached their destinations.

The other thing I found interesting about yesterday's travel experience was that two men speaking an Arabic language boarded my outbound flight not long after I did. What I found interesting was that everyone on the plane absolutely stopped all conversations while they were making their way to their seats, and then conversations resumed in a much quieter manner. Honestly, aren't we beyond that kind of suspicion?

If you take note of such things you've undoubtedly noticed that I follow a particular blog entitled "The Queen's Ramblings." I had the pleasure of seeing that blog's author on Saturday at a social occasion, and we had a good laugh about how her recent posts about sweater dresses were probably of great interest to me! If you haven't already done so, check out her blog!

I'm feeling pretty good today because my son-in-law and I will be attending tonight's Monday Night Football game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Denver Broncos. It will be my first visit to Invesco Field at Mile High, but since our son-in-law and daughter are "locals" we should get some good intelligence on how best to get there, etc. I doubt I'll be seen on TV, as I'm not taking any signs and will be fully clothed throughout the game, and, heck, most of you wouldn't know me if you saw me anyway!

Have a good week.