New Shoes in the Rain

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I've been wondering.....

....about a number of different, unrelated things.  Here's a sampling:

I've been wondering why we're all asked to help the homeless and the needy during the holidays.  Don't those people need help all year?

I've been wondering why University of Kentucky sports fans are so frequently among the most loyal yet the most fickle known to the sporting world?  A new football coach takes a team with a talented offense, yet a largely inexperienced defense, makes changes in several key coaching positions, and still comes out with a record equal to last year's, and he's considered a failure by many?  Or a basketball coach, in only his second year leading the program, and finding it necessary to replace just about all of the all-universe talent he recruited before last season, is now being roundly criticized for having lost ONE November?

C'mon, people, please.  Give these guys a chance.

I've been wondering how the Republican party leaders and prominent members can continue to ignore the elephant in their room....Sarah Palin is very popular, so the party establishment (including talk radio) is unwilling (or unable) to criticize her appropriately, which only makes her next set of remarks all the more inflammatory.  And damaging to their 2012 presidential aspirations.

I've been wondering who's watching "The Event" on NBC.  My wife and I gave up after one episode and the first five minutes of the next installment.  I suppose the American television way is now to be spoonfed a complex and wholly unbelievable plotline, so that the masses can understand it, a la "Lost," which we also discarded after a short time.  But the damned thing just didn't make a lot of sense to me.

I've been wondering why we should care....AT ALL....about the Kardashian sisters.  They seem to be everywhere right now.  Why?

I've been wondering how the Wikileaks leader can sleep at night, knowing he's endangering people and nations by persisting in exposing classified documents.

I've been wondering how anyone can stay on a diet anywhere between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

I've been wondering how NFL players are fined and suspended now for helmet-to-helmet hits, whether intentional or not, but how two players from the Houston Texans and Tennessee Titans, respectively, both took off each other's helmets and started slugging each other during Sunday's game....but neither was suspended for deliberate acts of violence.

I've been wondering how an airline (we won't name names here) can cause numerous delays and furnish me with a nice bunch of extra miles for my trouble, yet jack up the miles-needed price of a couple of free tickets because we waited an extra two weeks to purchase the tickets.  But I still appreciate the ability to use miles to buy tickets for myself or loved ones anyway.

If you happen to know the answers to any of these questions, please contact me ASAP!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sick of being sick....

I know, it's just the start of the "cold and flu" season, but I am already tired of not feeling 100 percent.  Permit me to vent for a moment (they say it's good for your health, you know) on the reasons.....

Ongoing business travel....I spend six to twelve nights away from home each month for my job, and that doesn't even begin to account for how many days I'm out of the confines of our humble abode.

Lots of contact with the public.....honestly, I don't know where you've been, or if you've EVER washed your hands, yet, here I am, with my hand extended to shake yours.  And vice versa.

Eating strange things at strange, there's a recipe for disaster just waiting to happen.

Oh, and I travel a lot by plane.  Yessir, nothing worse than an airplane cabin full of others who are in various stages of distress of one kind or another.

What I have right now are the last vestiges of your garden-variety cold.  Started with some back-of-throat discomfort last week, as I was prepping for an important meeting with my superiors (a kind of 'defending your life' exercise, or so I suspected).  Exacerbated by cooling my heels for three or four extra hours while flying to Tampa last week, blossoming into full cold by Thursday night and spent the weekend with a number of medications to treat my symptoms.

And, despite my wife's protestations, I'm not one to go to the doctor unless the thing hangs on for days and days and days.  If I'm still puny by the end of the second week, it's not just a cold, and I freely acknowledge and address it accordingly.  But I'm just about at the one week stage, and am ejecting a lot of material right now (and that's as much detail as I should give in my "PG" blog).

But I feel like it's been ages, not a little less than a week.  And I'm ready to feel better.  I mean, come on, there's turkey and stuff to eat in just a couple of days!  And football games to attend this weekend!  And then more business travel after that!

I'll live, but may not live very well for the next day or two.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Nothing in particular

Here's an entry that very nearly defies description, as indicated by the riveting title of this post.....

Clint Hurdle will be named manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the next day or two.  Wish him and the team well, but this organization has been mailing it in for so long they have a longer futility streak than my beloved Cincinnati Reds broke this past season.  Hurdle's a good baseball man and I thought he'd get another shot at managing.

Are you as puzzled by the Dallas Cowboys' strong play yesterday under their new interim coach (and former offensive coordinator), Jason Garrett?  Where was all of this wide open offensive creativity when Garrett was working under Phillips?  Why are the players playing better for him?  Will it continue?  Who knows?

And in the "who cares?" department, we have Brett Favre, who threw three interceptions in the Vikings' loss to the Chicago Bears yesterday.  And then told the press he had no regrets in coming back, etc.  He's setting the stage for his exit, whether due to age, infirmity or a league suspension for the misconduct of which he's been accused.

Heard a great story about a bride who was essentially left at the altar.....and then decided to donate the food from the reception to the Salvation Army.  Well done, young lady.  See, fellas, there ARE good women out there!

Had a great conversation with a good friend while I was driving home from a business trip Friday night. This lady used to work for me but we've become pals since our reporting relationship ended and she ultimately changed employers.  As I told her, I would not have believed that I'd have (and so much enjoy) a chat that concerned cars, grandchildren and bodily functions with a woman to whom I'm not related.  All while driving 80 miles an hour.  Is this a great country, or what?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sports stuff!

Busy few days in sports, if you've not been paying attention.

The Dallas Cowboys, who were thought to have at least a shot of being the first professional football team to play the Super Bowl in their home stadium (this season's version will take place in the mega-Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, TX), instead have posted a 1-7 record and yesterday bade farewell to Wade Phillips as their head coach.  Phillips' pedigree indicates that he's a talented football coach, having successfully coordinated defensive units in Denver, San Diego and elsewhere.  But he's never translated that to head coaching success, at least not to the extent that he's one of those coaches who everyone reveres.  One sports pundit observed some time ago that he resembles "the guy who delivers your mail," but being an ordinary-looking and, by all reports, an exceedingly nice guy didn't serve him well trying to form a team of the players acquired by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.  The job now goes to Jason Garrett, who just a couple of years ago was turning down head coaching jobs elsewhere to stay and be an informal "coach-in-waiting" in Dallas.  Good luck, Jason, you're going to need it.

I'm not sure what to make of the sudden attention to all of the helmet-to-helmet hits in the NFL, either.  This isn't exactly new, but I guess that there's more understanding of the nature of concussions and their lingering aftereffects.  Concussions forced Steve Young and Troy Aikman out of football, if I remember right, and they're just two of the more visible victims.  Anyway, I'm glad that there's more being done, but the best thing that could happen is to SUSPEND, not fine, the offending parties, and their forfeited pay being donated to entities that specialize in research on brain injuries. Commission Goodell, I'm available for consultations.

ESPN announced yesterday that they were parting company with Jon Miller and Joe Morgan, who had been the primary announcers for their Sunday Night Baseball franchise for over twenty years.  Miller's a real pro, and wonderful to listen to whether on TV or radio (I hear him occasionally as the voice of the San Francisco Giants via XM Satellite Radio).  Morgan, though, wore thin some time ago, at least for me.  He's an intelligent and informed observer of baseball, no doubt, but he suffers from an apparent excess of ego, feeling the need to explain the simplest things repeatedly until driving a relatively knowledgeable fan elsewhere.  He's become somewhat active with the Reds over the past couple of years, so perhaps he'll find a role that suits him.

And it looks like the bandwagon against Auburn's breakout quarterback star Cameron Newton is gaining size and speed.  On the heels of implications that someone was shopping this young man to various universities in expectation of receiving payment from the successful school, last night the news broke that he was apparently on the verge of expulsion at the University of Florida for academic infractions.  I don't know how true any of this is, but it's kind of unfair.  Newton almost singlehandedly defeated my Kentucky Wildcats and their furious comeback, so I have a fair respect for his athletic prowess, and you just know that none of this would matter if he weren't having such a good season on the field.

Friday, November 5, 2010

So long, Sparky

George "Sparky" Anderson, former manager of the Cincinnati Reds and Detroit Tigers, died yesterday at his home in California at the age of 76.  He was a more important figure in my adolescence than I thought at the time, as he managed the "Big Red Machine" edition of the Reds from 1970 through 1978 and was unceremoniously fired after finishing second to the Los Angeles Dodgers for the second straight year in 1978.

Prior to that, though, he presided over the single best period of any Reds team (and likely any National League team at that) in history, winning two World Series, four National League pennants, and five National League Western Division championships.  But, at the time, "the Main Spark" didn't impress me all that much, as I had no clue about how difficult it often is to manage people (I know now, from professional but non-baseball experience) and thought that the great players on that team would have been equally successful without Sparky.

Boy, was I wrong.

Certainly, the Reds went on to another divisional championship the year after Sparky's departure, but began a slide into the cellar the next couple of years (although they did post baseball's best record in 1981 but got nothing to show for it, as that was the season that was actually two seasons, and the winners in each "half" went to the playoffs.  The Reds finished second in both segments, if memory serves, but were locked out of the postseason).  Sparky, though, became the manager of the Detroit Tigers just after leaving the Reds and within a couple of years had them in contention, ultimately winning the World Series in 1984 and the American League Eastern Division a couple of years later.

Sparky was a true original.  In the latter stages of his career he began to remind a lot of people of Casey Stengel, the successful Yankee manager who concluded his career leading the hapless New York Mets in their early years.  Like Casey, Sparky had a unique way with the English language, but was not afraid to share his opinions on, well, anything.

I always heard what a gentleman he was, and that even if he was arguing ferociously with an umpire over a bad call, Anderson was always careful not to use profanity.  There's a great piece of film of him from the 1970 World Series arguing a call but his first instinct was to get his player out of the argument first.

They just don't make them like that anymore.  Rest in piece, George.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The election's what?

After a weekend trip to visit family out of state and a day trip to Charlotte, I watched the local, state and national election returns with some interest last night.  Changes are coming, whether I/we voted for them or not!

In our home area of Lexington, KY, an openly gay man was elected mayor, ousting a first-term incumbent who had previously not run for anything.  Turns out that your record is your record, good or bad, and the outgoing mayor had some items in his term that must have led voters to choose otherwise.

Our local congressional district will apparently continue to be represented by Ben Chandler, grandson of the late and hyper-popular former Governor A.B. "Happy" Chandler.  The younger Chandler really had problems defeating his opponent, who at this writing was just a few hundred votes behind.  Needless to say, he's not conceded.

And now we know that in Washington, the House of Representatives will be Republican-controlled and a new speaker, John Boehner (he of the frightening perma-tan), will take the reins.  He's already said that he and his fellow party leaders will work with the White House ONLY on their issues, not on what President Obama considers valuable.

But the Senate will remain under Democratic control, albeit a smaller majority, and will continue to be led by Harry Reid, who survived a Tea Party Republican opponent's challenge and retained his seat.

And what of the Tea Party?  Looks like their results were mixed, having won some races handily (such as the hotly contested Senate race here in Kentucky), winning others narrowly, and losing others.  It'll be interesting to see how many of these "smaller government" advocates are able to stick to their principles once they reach Congress.

Finally, this apparently wasn't a good year to try to buy office, as wealthy candidates such as Carly Fiorina (late of Hewlett-Packard), Meg Whitman (eBay) and Linda McMahon (WWE--wrestling?) were all unsuccessful in their bids for the Senate or state houses in their respective home areas.

I'm no political expert, but I firmly believe that the next two years will be more interesting than the last, that's for sure!