New Shoes in the Rain

Friday, July 29, 2011

Going for the bronze

Greetings from steamy Richmond, Virginia, where the high temperature today will reach 101 degrees. No escape from the heat and humidity throughout the Southeast, so it would seem.

On my trip here I took special note of what seemed to be a higher than usual percentage of folks who had submitted themselves to artificial tanning. How do I know this? They're a different shade of "tan" than the farmer's tan adorning my forearms and neck these days (from golf, not farming), a little more orange. Why do people, and not just women, do this to themselves? I suppose my own level of vanity is manageable enough that this would nevr occur to me.

Speaking to tanning, let me now turn squarely to someone who was humorously referred to as "the world's saddest tangerine," House Speaker John Boehner. This man apparently circled August 2 as the target date for his moment in the sun, so to speak, and, instead, we have been subjected to the worst display of political brinksmanship that I can recall in my lifetime. Politics and governing are two different things, of course, but both spaces are occupied by most of the same people. The flaws in the process are not solely Boehner's fault, but he appears to be a big part of the problem.

And for those who don't think they need to care, I heard yesterday that a couple of financial analysts say that if the U.S. government defaults on its loans, there will be worldwide financial chaos not seen since the Great Depression. And even if this gets resolved at the last minute, it could downgrade the US' debt rating, which alone could cause the stock market to fall by as much as 35 percent.

Don't know about you, but my 401k doesn't need another hit.

Enough gloom and doom.

In a classic case of my own inability to plan and anticipate, i flew out of and will fly back into the Cincinnati airport on this trip (ironically, this facility is in Kentucky). And will drive right back up the same road tomorrow with my son to take in a game between my fast-fading Cincinnnati Reds and the defending World Series champ San Francisco Giants (who are no long a team I hate, now that Barry Bonds has faded out of the picture). At least the road construction between Lexington and Cincinnati is largely completed.

Hope your weekend is as good as the one I'm planning.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A pirate looks at 51

Sorry, borrowed the title from an old Jimmy Buffett song I always liked, though he referred to a different point in life than I'm facing.

I turn 51 on Wednesday, and, no, I'm not looking for an avalanche of birthday greetings and such.  Last year I turned 50 kind of quietly, spending the day traveling for business and the evening with a pizza in a hotel room in a suburb of Charlotte, North Carolina.  We'd already had a celebration of the family birthdays while our daughter and her family were in for a visit, and my wife and I enjoyed a getaway the weekend just before, so the bigger celebrations had already occurred.

And I did what I was supposed to do, as I recently completed the two things I really didn't want to do...I had a physical, which included a prostate examination, and a colonoscopy.  In my mind, as long as I completed these before my 50th year was up, I wasn't untimely in doing so.  And both tests turned out normal, which is exactly what I wanted.  Probably one of the first times in my life where I wanted to be normal.

I'll be at home, not traveling for business, for my 51st birthday, and, unlike last year when it was known I would be away for the big day, my wife is particularly interested in what I'd like to do to celebrate, what I'd like for dinner, etc.  Should be fun, regardless!

In other news.....

Honestly, I don't know which is worse, the ongoing public fascination with Casey Anthony and her recently concluded trial for the murder of her daughter, or the threats and other threatening comments that have surfaced since she was acquitted of the more serious charges she faced.  The best online comment I read was something along the lines of "if most people would pay as much attention to what's happening with their government as they do with a sensationalized murder trial, this would be a lot different country."  Amen.

Speaking of that, I played golf with a friend yesterday and toward the end of our rain-delayed round we began discussing the NFL lockout and how it parallels the stalemate in Washington over the debt ceiling.  Funny that they're both going to get settled at the last minute, most likely at terms that could and should have been agreed upon far earlier.

I was awfully glad to see veteran golfer Darren Clarke win the Open Championship (also known as the British Open to most) yesterday.  Man's been though a lot, having lost a wife to cancer about five years ago.  My favorite quote of his was that his manager said that he "played better fat, so I've decided to adhere to that advice."  Good for you, Darren.

We haven't yet managed to see the final installment in the Harry Potter film series.  That may be on this week's agenda.

Hope your week is a good one, and that you manage to stay out of the heat.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Post vacation ramblings

Good morning, one and all.  Back from a little more than a week's vacation and have a few items to share.

My first comments will be about the visit just concluded by our daughter and her family.  I just want to go on record as saying that our grandchildren are growing up far too fast, and we really see this when our two Colorado-based grandkids come to visit.  It had only been six months since they and their mom last came to Kentucky, but they are both so different in that space of time.  Regardless, we had a great time with them here and enjoyed a lot of wonderful time with them and our son's family (also two kids).

If you're either a NASCAR fan or a Kentucky resident, you have now heard (and perhaps experienced) the mess that occurred in Sparta, Kentucky Saturday evening, in which the Kentucky Speedway, having begged for the opportunity to host a real live NASCAR event, blew it completely by screwing up parking for some 20,000 carloads of race fans.  From all accounts one couldn't see this on television, but I heard on local news that traffic was backed up fifteen miles or more.

I don't follow NASCAR but have been by the location of this racetrack a handful of times.  It's really the only thing in its location, with the exception of a couple of hotels and convenience stores, but it's not in a populated area, and the ramps off of Interstate 71 didn't appear to me to be of sufficient capacity for the sheer volume of cars that would be drawn to that location for such a large event.  Now everyone from the track owner to NASCAR to the governor of Kentucky are promising to rectify this glaring shortcoming.  It may be too little too late, particularly if you're one of the folks who missed some or all of the race.  It reminds me so completely of the mess that occurred at this year's Super Bowl, which was also a first-time venue for that event.

In any case, it's a black eye for my home state and that's a shame, as hard as many worked to make this a great event.

I'm heading off for a business trip today (somehow, this always seems to happen right after a period of vacation), this time to Charleston, South Carolina.  Have not visited there since our daughter and son-in-law lived there for a year and I was there last to help them move away to Colorado.  Will be staying in the downtown area in the historic district, and will be interested to see what's different there.

My Cincinnati Reds limped into the All-Star break yesterday.  Their manager and many of the players continue to act like they're on the verge of greatness, having achieved so much last season.  I hope so.

Last thoughts today are about the fan who, unfortunately, fell to his death in Arlington, Texas last week in an attempt to catch a baseball tossed his way by a player.  What I keep thinking is that while that ballpark may meet local building code standards, perhaps the owners/operators of that facility should think about exceeding those standards.  My most vivid memory of my first visit to new Comiskey Park (now U.S. Cellular Field) in Chicago was that the upper deck was about as steeply banked a seating area as I can remember, and that if I tripped while negotiating the aisle steps to go down that there's be nothing to stop me from bouncing over the railing and down into the lower seating area.  Wonder if we're not talking about the same thing in Texas.  I very frequently visit the ballpark in Cincinnati and have not felt that same sensation, but it's probably because I'm there more often.  I'm sure they'll think of something, but it's certainly a shame for anything like this to happen.

I could prattle on further, but that's probably enough for now!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The week that was...

Happy Independence Day to all. Big milestone in our family, as tomorrow my wonderful wife and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary!

Had a kind of hectic week (or a little more, actually) leading up to today. Our daughter and her family arrived in Lexington for a visit on the 24th, the same day that my wife concluded her full-time employment AND the day of my dreaded colonoscopy (and what you have heard is true....the prep is far worse than the procedure). Fun with them Friday night and when they returned Sunday afternoon (went to another part of Kentucky to see my son-in-law's relatives), continuing through Monday night. Family dinners and some good clean fun in the backyard, which we transformed with a kiddie slide, plastic bowling and golf sets and some other stuff.

Then Tuesday I headed out for a business trip to Little Rock, Arkansas and Memphis, Tennessee. Since I work at home it would have been challenging for everyone had I attempted to work in my office shushing everyone for several days! The trip was productive and enjoyable (would you believe that my Memphis rep and I had some outstanding sushi Wednesday evening?) but I was glad to return home Thursday afternoon.

Then I began a vacation, which will continue through 7/10. Yesterday our son-law, son and our daughter-in-law's nephew went to Cincinnati to the outdoor sauna that was Great American Ball Park to see the Reds fall to the Cleveland Indians. Fun despite the heat and the loss. Postgame we connected with an old friend to enjoy quintessential Cincinnati.....LaRosa's pizza!

Probably be kinda quiet today, as our daughter's gang will be with her husband's family for a get-together. But the fun will resume tomorrow, as we're planning a great anniversary and combined birthday celebration. There are numerous family birthdays in July, so we do this just about every year!

I have to close by saying that times like these make me recognize how incredibly fortunate we are to have a healthy, growing family!