New Shoes in the Rain

Monday, January 31, 2011

There and back again (twice)

I've been on the road again, as the song goes, but neither of my most recent trips left me feeling much like singing, between what happened to and from my destinations and what occurred while I was on the ground.  I travel frequently for my work, as I've noted here previously, so I expect some bumps and bruises (literally and figuratively) along the way.  But the last two weeks have been a little moreso than usual, even.  Here's a sampling of what's given me pause recently.....

Weather.  I know, I don't live in Philadelphia or Boston or New York or another very hard-hit city in the Northeast.  I live and travel primarily through the Southeastern US.  But make no mistake...if Atlanta is part of your travel plans during this time of year, you MUST expect delays, hiccups and other problems.  Two weeks ago I had a two day trip....two flight legs to my destination, two to return home.  All four experienced delays of some sort.  And while weather was not the announced culprit, it stands to reason that planes and/or crew members coming from or going to delay-prone areas are going to cause problems downstream, and I'd bet that 's what happened to my flights.  But the airline folks were nice throughout, as it wasn't exactly within their control....

Conduct of other travelers.  I know that it's very frustrating to have flights delayed or cancelled, believe me.  But there's no reason to act like a moron and yell at gate agents, etc.  Saw a lot of that over the past two weeks, and there's just no call for it.

Hotels.  Was lucky enough to have meetings at a resort hotel in North Carolina during week one of my recent travels.  Great, plenty of nice facilities to make the imposition of being away from home a little more bearable.  Not quite.....for example, this hotel had a very nice indoor swimming pool and spa area, but it didn't open until 8:00 AM.  Which does one no good if they have a meeting at 9:00.  And they offered a nice buffet for breakfast, except that because the hotel was not even close to filled, there was only continental breakfast choices available. Somewhat understandable, but how about lowering that price from $12.95 per person?  The topper was the allegedly heated pool in Tampa which the front desk told me they could ask to be turned on "if you really feel strongly about it."  No thanks, I don't want to inconvenience anyone, I'm just paying for this.

But all of this pales in comparison to the unusual light switch in the bathrooms at the hotel in Tampa.  This thing had a night light built-in, which is fine if annoying.  And by design one should be able to press the thumb-sized button and turn on the lights over the sink.  I was in this hotel three nights, and each passing day the thing became more and more difficult to turn on, to the point that on my last morning there I wasn't able to turn it on at all.  I shaved using the mirror over the desk and somehow illuminated the bathroom with the magnifying mirror and the hall light, well enough to shower, anyway. When I mentioned it upon checkout I was told that, well, those switches sure are temperamental, aren't they?  Yes.

But I'm home now, for this week, anyway.  Back on the treadmill next week.  Maybe I'll see you along the way.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Nothing in particular today....

A very good friend wrote to tell me that "the rat guy" has now visited her home FOUR times to remove dead rats from her premises.  Honestly, can you imagine how you'd feel if you learned that rats were dying in your basement/attic/crawlspace?  Hmmmm.....

OK, now that I've repulsed you, that's my last gross-out reference....for this post, anyway.

After a pretty nasty respiratory infection AND the afore-mentioned kidney stone (see my last post if you dare), finally feeling good enough to function normally.  Realized this morning that it had been almost a month(!) since I mounted my treadmill for a workout.  Shame, shame!

I was very, VERY happy that the New York Jets took care of business and defeated the odious New England Patriots last weekend.  Not a big fan of Bill Belichick, or, for that matter, anyone who so clearly feels he is completely superior to, well, everyone else.  Our gang is already talking about Super Bowl menus....we make a huge deal of the game every year, regardless of who's playing.  It's loads of fun and spurs a lot of creativity, too.

And I am delighted that my Cincinnati Reds have signed both Joey Votto and Jay Bruce to longterm contracts.  Great moves to ensure that two foundation pieces of this still-developing team will be in place for the next several years.

This morning I saw it reported on a television news show that most of the major airlines are raising their fares, and are virtually simultaneously reporting record profits for 2010.  Since I'm a frequent flier of several years, I see this a little differently than those who might travel by air once or twice a year.  This is really inexcusable, as the airlines keep finding ways to gouge their passengers.....because they know if you stop flying, there are others who want your seat.

Not sure how you feel, but those of us in the northern part of the southeastern US are pretty damned tired of winter....already.  We've already had more measurable snowfall events in Kentucky than any recent winter on record, and it's only mid-January.  Yikes!

Monday, January 10, 2011

84 hours

Not a long period of time, but there was an 84 hour period that I just experienced that seemed like an eternity.  Let me explain....

I left Wednesday morning at 10:30 AM for Birmingham, Alabama for a mixed trip.  Business Wednesday night and Thursday, leisure Friday and Kentucky football Saturday.  I was fighting a pretty bad cold (or upper respiratory infection, possibly) but was coping.  Trip went well, and I had a nice visit over dinner with the sales rep who handles Alabama for my company.  So far, so good.

In the middle of the night I was awakened by searing pain in the upper right side of my back.  After waking completely up, I knew the cause.....a kidney stone.  I had one about three and a half years ago, and it's pretty hard to forget.  Took some over-the-counter pain reliever, but that didn't even touch the pain.  So I dressed and went the front desk of the hotel to ask where the nearest hospital was.  Thankfully it wasn't far and wasn't hard to find, and when I arrived, it wasn't busy, either.

At this point I'll not provide a lot of details about my time at the hospital except to thank Dr. Joseph Hudson and the ER staff at Brookwood Medical Center for their care and compassion.  They made the process as easy as possible and treated me and sent me on my way with prescriptions and some aftercare instructions.

During my stay I called my wife (waiting until her normal time to wake) and e-mailed my associate, explaining to the latter that my next move was to take some pain medication and sleep for a while.  Remarkably, I felt pretty good when I awoke later on Thursday morning, and showered, shaved and dressed for lunch and some sales calls, which was my original plan.

But if you've ever had a kidney stone, one thing that they won't let you do is ignore them, and this one reannounced its presence sometime Thursday afternoon.  So we finished our business, and I again went to my hotel room for pain medication and sleep.  This was largely my routine through Saturday morning, so I didn't really enjoy my day off so much.

On Saturday I vowed not to take any of the prescription pain medication I had been provided, since it's a narcotic and it's obviously not safe to drive while under its influence.   I attending Kentucky's lackluster appearance in the BBVA Compass Bowl and proceeded to head for home.  Made it about halfway before I began to encounter problems with pain and discomfort, but made it all the way home nonetheless......exactly 84 hours after my departure.

With my wife's help I got into the house, took medication and fell into bed.  Didn't sleep all that well, understandably, and had a semi-restful night.  But the next morning the pain was all but gone, a sign that my kidney stone had done what Dr. Hudson promised it would....moved into my bladder and waited to be expelled.

As I write this I've not seen evidence of the culprit firsthand but I have to believe that much, if not all, of it dissolved in my bladder.  At least it's there and now where it was, so it can't hurt me any further.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Well, now, that was fun!

Just back to the daily grind after being off from work since December 23.  This is a slow time of year in my industry, but I still had a bit of catching up to do when I gritted my teeth and downloaded my E-mail this morning.

And my wife and I have been fighting colds or something like them for about the last week.  What fun!  And this was while our daughter and her two kids (a very active five-year-old girl and a boy who's fourteen months old) were visiting over the holidays!  Fortunately, no one contracted major diseases during this period, although my wife and I were both left to contemplate never, EVER feeling better!

About the biggest problem with my infirmity was that it prevented me from helping our son gut his kitchen over the weekend.  Mind you, I have virtually no construction skills, but, dammit, I can tear stuff up with the best of them!  And because he started on the day we took his sister and her kids to Cincinnati to the airport to fly back to Colorado, I knew I'd miss day one of the project.

I awoke on day two to some of the worst body aches I've ever experienced.  Fitful sleep and the inability to regulate my own temperature didn't help.  Our hero assured me that he had some help and would soldier on without me, and that I should put my efforts into recovery.  Good advice.

Called him yesterday and found that he was in the home stretch, again with a friend (a fine fellow whom I know a bit) assisting.  So I wasn't able to help rip, tear, dismantle and otherwise punish his kitchen.

Sitting at my desk just now, I feel just the slightest bit light-headed, owing to the sinus congestion I'm still fighting.  Hoping it will be a good day!