New Shoes in the Rain

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Business travel made stylish, courtesy of The Colonel

Greetings, one and all.....checking in today from windy Richmond, Virginia.  I had loads of fun getting here yesterday, as my home area in central Kentucky was afflicted with heavy wind and rain early yesterday morning, and my flight connection in Atlanta was delayed 90 minutes by the same.  But I'm here, and arrived safely, so that's what counts.

As promised, today's entry concerns a new item in my business travel arsenal.

You no doubt recall my past mentions of Colonel Littleton, the unique "purveyor of fine accouterments in the Americana tradition."  My gateway drug happened to be the No. 48 Phone Holster, which led to the No. 5 iPad Pocket, then the Front Pocket Wallet, then the No. 3 Mousepad and finally the No. 3 Key Ring.  I'm looking around the hotel room to see if I failed to mention anything!

Anyway, all through this period of becoming more familiar with and fascinated by the Colonel's operations and products, I had very much wanted one of their superb briefcases.  I wasn't entirely sure of which one would be best for me, but I felt confident that all would be well made of quality materials.  Having visited their store in Lynnville, Tennessee last summer and seeing these items firsthand didn't help, either.  So I was torn, and wasn't sure I could justify the expense of buying one of these exquisite cases.

I believe I had mentioned my issues with my now-former briefcase, as the leather trim had split in multiple places.  This didn't add character, it just looked shabby, so I felt a replacement was a "when" and not an "if" item.

Over the holidays my wife and I began to discuss this, and we came to the joint conclusion that I should view this process as an investment, and not an expense.  Something I could pass along to my grandson, one of these days!

I also had the good fortune to have received cash from a couple of folks over Christmas, so I had that money and some other bucks stashed to apply to the purchase.

Came down to this...which one to buy?  I looked at the options and had my wife (who had no dog in this fight) do the same, and I finally decided on this:

Sorry, I don't have a good digital camera, but click this and you'll get the idea.  Unique appearance, plenty of capacity, OUTSTANDING leather quality, and, well, there's that certain something you get from an item like this.  Like the looks you get from other fellows in the airport, as you can tell they've noticed the case, even if they say nothing.  Or the shuttle driver from my hotel, who asked me "Is this handmade?" and "Where did you get this?"  I love telling people the story!

Now, I've made three car trips and one flying trip (which I'll conclude tomorrow, so that counts) using my new Saddlebag Briefcase, so here are my overall impressions:

The bag holds a LOT of stuff.  More than you might think if you see it empty.  Three large compartments, one of which has an organizer panel sewn into it (the dividers are canvas, which I expect will last forever AND saves a bit of weight).  On my trips I've brought my Macbook Air, plus power brick, my iPad (in its No. 5 Pocket, of course), compact earphones, pens, keys, legal pads, my travel itinerary and a few other things.  And I am sure it would hold more if I needed or wanted it to!

It's not as heavy as I thought it might be.  That's a good thing when you're hiking through airports.  And the buckles are actually snaps (if you visit the link click on the video and watch and listen to the Colonel describe this, you'll love it!), so that makes it very easy to produce the computer for the nice folks of the TSA and airport security.

The handle looks like it might be a bit uncomfortable, but is actually fine, despite the load I have piled into this case.  The top of the case is flat, as you can see from the photos you'll find at the above link, but the handle has a leather sleeve surrounding the cut-out, thus providing some cushioning.

I detest shoulder straps ordinarily, but this one is pretty good.  Looks good on the bag, even though it's removable.  I'm leaving it in place.  I've used it every time I've carried the bag, with no issues and little discomfort.  My only other comment about this is that I'd like it if the strap pad was a little longer, but as a big man with very broad shoulders, that's more my problem than an issue with the bag.

About the only other minor adjustment is that this bag does not attach to a rolling suitcase, but if I lower the pull handle one notch, I can put my hand through the handle and grasp the suitcase handle simultaneously.  I may try to identify another solution.

Can you tell what a happy guy I am?  My wife dropped me off at the airport yesterday and I pointed to the bag with a big goofy grin.  She grinned back and nodded.  SHE KNOWS ME TOO WELL!

Thinking about a portfolio next.  After all, there are many more Colonel Littleton items still available where this came from!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Just saying

Greetings, all.....snow and cold has struck central Kentucky overnight, making a mess of roads and the morning commute.  Not that it affects me, since I work at home.  A number of school systems here in my home area had already cancelled school for today in an effort to be proactive and safe, and it looks as though they were right.

So Kentucky's very young basketball team lost another one, this time on the road at Alabama on Tuesday night.  They're not world-beaters this year, by any stretch of the imagination.  But what I find puzzling and even a little troubling is that there have been comments posted online in various places I visit talking about the "sad state of Kentucky basketball."  Remember, Kentucky's team won the NCAA men's basketball championship LAST YEAR.

Suppose that there are NFL cities where the same thing is happening, as it's going to be the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens clashing in this year's Super Bowl (I have no idea what number it is).  Already sick of Ray Lewis and his histrionics during and after their dramatic victories, and I imagine I'll be sick of both teams and both coaches before the game is even played.  We generally go all-out for the Super Bowl and have a family party, often using the home city of one of the teams as a menu inspiration.  But short of having crab cakes and Rice-a-Roni (you remember, the San Francisco treat?), I don't know what we might have that day.

Speaking of being "already sick," I've picked up another respiratory ailment, having apparently shaken hands with the wrong person or the wrong doorknob on a business trip.  Gave it to my wife before I knew I had it, which is especially bad, since she was an innocent bystander.  This one appears to be a head cold, and we're not quite at a week, so I'm coping.

The U.S. State Department is having its leadership transition play out in front of the cameras this week, as outgoing Secretary Hillary Clinton testified before committees of both houses of Congress this week.  Things got really contentious at times, and ridiculous at others.  The most glaring example of absurdity was when Kentucky's junior Senator Rand Paul (son of perennial presidential candidate and former Congressman Ron Paul) asked Clinton about arms deals with Turkey and said that if he had been President when the attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya occurred that he would have relieved her of her post.  Let's just say that Senator Paul's statement was designed to help him more than hurt her.

I should add that John Kerry, President Obama's nominee to replace Clinton as Secretary of State, is being considered by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a committee that he chaired until VERY recently, so that's not really a big deal and most experts agree that Kerry will be confirmed easily.

Had a day trip this week to Knoxville, Tennessee.  Now, I admit I'm biased as a Kentucky man and a University of Kentucky fan that Knoxville (home of the University of Tennessee Volunteers) would not be a favorite place to visit, but I'm going to allow that I just haven't visited the "good" parts of that city.  Ever.  The inside of the airport is pretty nice, as I was marooned there by a diverted flight a couple of years ago for several hours.  If you know of nice areas of Knoxville, I'm all ears.

One more business trip next week and I plan to write about a recent acquisition that's a big part of my travel equipment.  I know, you're all on pins and needles!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Change is the only constant

Good morning, one and all...I hope that January is unfolding in a positive direction for you.

Lots of changes happening these days.  I can't talk about work in this space, prohibited from doing so by my company's policies, but suffice it to say that I now work for different people (three of them) than I have for the past several years.  Should be interesting going forward.

I can't recall if I'd mentioned this here, but my wife retired from full-time work about eighteen months ago, then spent a little more than a year as a part-time employee at a daycare center.  She stepped away from that job in October, so she and I are still adjusting to her not going off to work each day and leaving me here at the ranch working (if I'm not traveling).  We're doing fine with is, but it's change, so it requires a little adaptation.

With time around the house, my wife is on a tear cleaning out drawers and cabinets.   Nothing catastrophic, but I can tell you that our trash and recycling cans were pretty full this week.  I found several inches of unnecessary papers in my desk, so I got into the spirit with this, too.

And even though we had our Christmas tree and decorations up for just over a month, the house really feels bare now.  Empty.  Blah.  But way more spacious, so there's that.

If I think these changes are a lot to handle, imagine how President Obama feels about now.  He's going to have a largely new cabinet (once he gets everyone confirmed, of course), a new chief of staff, and, of course, some new members of Congress with whom he can work.  Thing is, most of who's in Congress is the same, so there's that aspect to all of this change.

I have a Twitter account and I don't post there much, but rather use it to follow people I find interesting, mostly news and political commentators.  Through one of them I found a feed called "Modern Seinfeld," in which the authors (two men, I think) offer tweets describing the plot line of a Seinfeld episode if the show were still being produced today.  I've always thought of this blog as "the Seinfeld blog" because it's really about nothing, at least nothing in particular.  And I remain a great fan of the original "Seinfeld" sitcom, so this is a great marriage of several concepts.  Check it out, I think you'll like it.

By the way, if you DO have a Twitter account and are looking for others to follow, I highly recommend comedian/actor/musician Steve Martin and filmmaker/actor/comic Albert Brooks among others.

I was lucky enough not to travel this week, but it appears that I'll be on the road for at least some of the next several weeks.  And, as I mentioned, I'll be posting a review of a new item, once I've gotten to use it in real-time conditions.  I know, you're on pins and needles!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

In the year 2013 A.D......

Happy New Year,  everyone!  I hope 2012 was a good year for you and yours, as it was for me and my family, and I also hope that 2013 brings even more positives!

Quick health update:  my sinus infection apparently made a little bit of a comeback in the past ten days. Nothing I couldn't handle, and I was able to function normally, eat, etc., but what a nuisance.  I'm really tired of blowing my nose, although with this much practice, I must say that I have achieved a high level of proficiency.

I suppose the United States Senate feels pretty proficient this morning, having passed a tax relief bill in the wee hours this morning.  NOTE:  I'd like to know who either wasn't present for this vote or abstained!  But our country went over the "fiscal cliff" anyway, which I suppose we all knew would happen anyway.  After all, President Obama jokingly said that this Congress, if given one extra second to do anything, would wait until that second was exhausted to finally do something.  My heavens, if I ran our household in this same way, I'd be homeless right now.

Now it's up to the House of Representatives, led by Speaker John Boehner and his gang who can't shoot straight.  Suppose we'll see what happens.  I think the entire Congress should have paid more attention when they attended a recent screening of Steven Spielberg's masterful film "Lincoln," wherein the title character, played amazingly by the Irish actor Daniel Day-Lewis, manages to overcome overwhelming opposition to do what's right for the country.

Kentucky's very young basketball Wildcats gave Louisville a good, close game last Saturday but ultimately lost.  Turns out that an all-world prospect whom Kentucky signed very early in the recruiting process is so far off his game that coach John Calipari is having this kid (Alex Poythress, if you're interested) go through extra individual coaching sessions in hopes of improving his performance.  If you're a Kentucky fan you have to hope that this young man responds appropriately to the effort to help him achieve his potential.

Don't look now, but thanks to Black Monday yesterday, seven NFL head coaches and a number of front office people (and countless assistant coaches, as well) were given pink slips by their respective organizations.  Years ago, the rogue owner of the Oakland/Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, Al Davis, coined a phrase that kind of fits today:  "Just win, baby!"  Davis meant it to signify that he didn't care about a player's past history, brushes with the law or other problems, he just wanted players to come into his organization and play hard and WIN.  Now, though, that mantra is applicable to coaches and general managers, as it's expected that a new coach and/or front office operative can change a years-long culture of losing and indifference and turn losers into winner.  The NFL owners should ask people in business about that.  Takes time, effort, care and above all, PATIENCE to develop consistency and breed success.

I'll be writing more about this at a later date, but thanks to some encouragement from my wife (didn't take much), I've ordered a unique item from my friend Colonel Littleton of Lynnville, Tennessee.  Should arrive while I'm on my first business trip of 2013 later in the week.  I gifted my son with one of the Colonel's key rings (monogrammed, of course) and went ahead and bought one for myself, too.  Very nice.

Speaking of that, I've been off work for most of the latter half of December, and even though I've responded to a work-related e-mail here or there, it's been great.  So back to the regular flow of things tomorrow.  Short week, then another short week in a couple more weeks to observe Martin Luther King Day.  I suppose we'll get back to normal sooner or later.