New Shoes in the Rain

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Interesting filmed entertainment

On another business trip, this time to Tucson, Arizona for organizational meetings through Friday morning.  So, last night, I had the opportunity to see an in-flight movie for the first time in a while.

I had a number of choices but settled on "Larry Crowne," the Tom Hanks written/produced/directed story of a man who is laid off from his second career in mid-life (his first career having been the Navy).  Hanks almost always plays a nice guy, and this is no exception.  The film features a varied cast of supporting players who were well chosen, but the most obvious good choice was Julia Roberts as a frustrated junior-college teacher (a close second was George Takei, of Star Trek Mr. Sulu fame).  Just a little over an hour and a half, a mostly light entertainment with a pleasant message about the possibilities presented by a major event like being laid off from a job.

Then, in the ultimate irony, I arose early this morning (two hours earlier here in Arizona than at home) and found "Up in the Air" on HBO.  That was a movie that features George Clooney (nominated for an Oscar for this role) as an ever-traveling corporate layoff specialist and what he encounters in his life on the road.  Or, in the air, as he flies from city to city, and espouses his preferences about travel and such.  I heard myself a couple of times in some of what Clooney's character espouses, but since he has no family with whom to share the benefits of his ceaseless travels, I think I have a better idea of the value of elite status on airlines and in hotels (why, I was upgraded on my flight to Tucson last night and hope that I will be equally rewarded on my return flight Friday morning).

What I found especially amusing is that in my company, this time of year used to be routinely the time when we would be reorganizing.  We don't do that much anymore, but you can imagine what I was thinking, after watching two movies where corporate "rightsizing" was such a prominent topic, as I walked into my meetings this morning.

Bonus---it was about 40 degrees warmer here in Arizona than it was back home in Kentucky!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Off and running

I simply cannot believe that next Thursday is Thanksgiving.....can you?

I suppose it's a byproduct of age, but I now marvel at how quickly time seems to pass, compared to, say, thirty years ago.  Simply amazing.

But, despite that, we're off and running with our preparations for the Christmas season.  I have all of my time off requests in for work, and we've already done about 60% of our Christmas shopping.  However, before you start throwing things at your computer screen, note that we started a tradition in our family several years ago of buying a variety of gift cards.  This began because our daughter and her family live in Colorado, and since we're not with them frequently, we had less of an idea of what to get them, so the gift card idea became a pretty practical solution to the gift-giving dilemma.  Plus they're easier to ship than larger presents, and we normally ship their holiday gifts to them.

In fact, I bought about half of what we're giving for Christmas this the grocery store.  You know, the big display with all of the gift cards on it!  What I particularly like about that is that the grocery store also operates a gas station, and your purchases all give you discount points on gas purchases.  Purchases of gift cards pay DOUBLE, so how about that?

I noticed a couple of years ago a lot of restaurants would give the purchaser an extra $5 or $10 off when buying $50 worth of gift cards.  That's always a pretty good deal, too.  Don't do that as much as we once did, as our kids eat out (except for fast food) much less frequently than they used to....

My next move is to write our traditional Christmas letter that we include in the Christmas cards which we send out. And, yes, we have the cards already, too.

My wife and I normally make a trip to Cincinnati over a weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas to do our holiday shopping and enjoy a weekend out of town, but it looks like that little tradition may be put aside this year, between my frequent business travel and a trip to Colorado we'll make the weekend before Christmas to see our granddaughter perform in a local production of the Nutcracker.

Regardless, I always look forward to the holidays, and hope that you do, too.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The cut-off point

Had a conversation with my son-in-law a couple days ago regarding his interest in discontinuing cable TV service.  His argument is pretty sound....they can get network TV over-the-air, and most everything else they watch is available either through a streaming service or via DVD.

In my totally unbiased and non-expert opinion, this is an admirable and worthwhile objective.  Unfortunately, though, there are a lot of reasons why I question whether it will work.

Easy to look at your cable bill and then need to reattach your eyebrows to your forehead.  I don't know anyone who doesn't pay what appears to be an obscene amount in order to receive what Bruce Springsteen called "57 Channels and Nothing On."  Why, even my mother-in-law, who lives in a very small town in western Kentucky and has no pay channels, no DVR box, no high-definition service or anything "extra" pays a ridiculous sum each month for so-so channel reception.

So, you have to ask yourself, what's important about MY cable TV package?  For me, the quick and easy answer is live sporting events.  I LOVE the Cincinnati Reds, and LOVE the Kentucky Wildcats, at least their basketball team (football, not so much this year).  Without cable, I wouldn't be able to see most of Kentucky's basketball games, as they'll appear a LOT on ESPN this season, and would not be able to see the Reds but for a couple of times without either having access to Fox Sports Ohio via cable or buying the Major League Baseball TV package for $130 per season (and that ALSO requires you to buy hardware to receive that transmission).

Oh, and did you know that you have to have a broadband internet connection to do most of this streaming that may replace some of your lost cable programming?  If you have DSL or another slower internet service, I understand it won't work.

Believe me, I don't like the idea of paying through the nose to watch television, but when you consider the alternatives (satellite or the method I described above), you'll still pay a fair amount to watch stuff on TV.

Unless you want to just stop watching.  Anyone in favor of that?  Show of hands?

I didn't think so.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Andy Rooney would be proud

When I heard that just-retired CBS and "60 Minutes" commentator Andrew Rooney died last week, I was certainly saddened, but also glad that I got to hear some of his commentaries over the years that he appeared on and I watched "60 Minutes."

On Monday I host a conference call of my direct reports and one of my folks made a venting comment and then apologized for being such a "curmudgeon" today.  Well, I couldn't help but take that ball and run with it, and then the rest of the call became a complaint forum, as I asked each of my team members what was bothering them that day.  Mostly about work, of course, but some other extraneous comments were heard about sports, household things and the like.  And then I shared a couple of my favorite Rooneyisms.

One concerned the worth of the cotton that used to always come stuffed in the top of any kind of medication bottle.  I saw a clip of Andy with that commentary, saying, "So do they expect us to put it back once we get a pill out of the bottle?"  Good question.  I also read that he was against the Iraq War, the first one, and said that he used to think that he was against all war, but he thought back to when he arrived in Europe in World War II (he was a Stars and Stripes correspondent), and said that when he got a look at the Germans that he realized that we were right to enter the war.

I could go on, but it's easier and certainly better to simply Google him, as there are scores of Rooney clips making the rounds on YouTube and elsewhere.  Writing about the man doesn't do him justice.

Not long after I started writing this blog, a commenter, whom I know pretty well, asked something along the lines of whether that was Andy Rooney she was hearing.  Of course it wasn't, as there was and will be only one of those.

If Andy had come along fifty years later, he'd be blogging right alongside me, I'm sure.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Up to here

Tomorrow is election day in Kentucky, and I, for one, will be most glad when the current campaign is over.  Not because it's been a contentious race.  Not because there has been lots of mudslining.  Both are true, but I actually enjoy some political news here and there and Kentucky's down-and-dirty brand of politics is entertaining, to say the least.  And all of Kentucky's statewide offices, governor on down, are at stake in this election.

No, it's the robocalls that I will be happy to have gone.  This phenomenon hit Kentucky a few years ago, and now it seems that candidates from all parties for all offices are resorting to these calls.  They're annoying, not informative and disruptive to normal life, particularly if you work at home as I do.

What I don't get is how these are permitted, even if you're on the statewide telemarketing no-call list, as we are.  This warrants some investigation......

I have a good friend who makes a point of collecting signs that are illegally placed along the right of way (you know the ones, advertising going out of business sales, pizza places and the like), and I expect I'll see him later this week.  When I do I know he's going to regale me with tales of the political signs he's removed since the current campaign began.

Kentucky football fans are breathing again, as a new quarterback led the home team to victory on Saturday.  This came on the heels of news that our former football coach has decided to leave the area.  Guess he's had enough of the second-guessing that has plagued the team since his retirement.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

So much to say

Not really, but at least I thought of a catchy title this time around.....

Greetings from Birmingham, Alabama this evening where a very pleasant fall evening is settling onto what I believe is pretty much the centerpoint of the state of Alabama.  Nice folks here, and I always enjoy my visits here.  I'm here on business until sometime Thursday.

Had a very memorable barbecue meal at a local restaurant chain called Full Moon Bar-B-Q.  Outstanding.  Pulled pork and sliced beef brisket, with baked beans and vinegar coleslaw and a toasted bun.  AND two "Half-Moon" cookies.  Wow.  Check it out if you like tasty barbecue and find yourself in the area!

Speaking of food, my wife and I visited a Wendy's in our home area on Saturday, in order to try the new "Dave's Hot and Juicy Cheeseburgers" (sans cheese for me, thanks).  Don't bother.  Wendy's has taken an above average hamburger and apparently diminished the quality and perhaps the size of the beef patties, and the "buttered bun" is actually toasted with "real butter flavor."  All in all, a disappointment, and one that will probably keep me from visiting Dave's place for a while.  I'm a Five Guys man these days, so when a burger craving hits me and I don't have time to make my own, Five Guys is where it's at for me.

Are you as astounded as I am that Herman Cain and Rick Perry are imploding right before our eyes, and the first primary is still about two and a half months away?  Since the average news cycle is about twenty minutes now, these guys need to pull themselves together quickly if they want to be part of the Republican process.

Kentucky's football team wore black uniforms Saturday night, something the previous head coach would not permit.  Didn't matter, as the new look didn't result in a different result.  The Cats lost again, and they're now 3-5 on the season.

And, finally, let us pause to reflect on the failed 77-day marriage of Kim Kardashian and her NBA basketball player hubby Kris Humphries.  Lots of lists floating around about things that have lasted longer than their marriage.  This blog, for example!