New Shoes in the Rain

Monday, December 28, 2015

Ready or not, 2016 is coming

Merry post-Christmas, and Happy almost-New Year, everyone!

This is one of the oddest times of year for me, when we're in that time period between two holidays that are close together.  That said, I hope that you and yours have a lovely Christmas!

I'm fortunately on vacation until NEXT Monday, so I'm enjoying some down time with my family.  But the treadmill will begin again in about a week.

Do you make New Year's resolutions?  I try not to, as I don't like to set a course that I either won't hold to, or set myself up for failure and disappointment.  But I'm certainly thinking of things I'd like to do in the coming year.

One is to eat better.  That's a personal choice, and a particular weakness of mine, as I so often will take the path of convenience instead of the better, healthier alternative.  I've been through long periods of vigilance where diet is concerned, but, unfortunately, have been on a more lax regimen for some time.  Need to change that, for all of the right reasons.  And it all relates to what I eat outside of my home, so that's clearly a poor set of choices on my part.  Resolution or not, that's what I'll do.

Until this recent period, I had also increased my exercise frequency somewhat, and I want to continue that trend as well.  That's also a matter of personal discipline and scheduling, but I am committed to this, again, for good reasons.

I feel that I do a pretty good job staying in touch with my geographically scattered group of friends and close associates, but I would like to see them more frequently.  Many are former professional colleagues, so if I don't have a business need to be in their part of the country, or they in mine, it's hard to engineer an opportunity to meet.  I managed to visit with one good friend in particular when she came to a wedding about three hours from here last year, and while we only spent a day together (and she finally got the chance to meet my wife, which was wonderful in itself), it has buoyed me considerably since.  I'd like to replicate that same feeling if I could!

I'd also like to read more, and by that I mean read BOOKS.  I find myself reading a lot but it's almost all online content, where I go from item to item, site to site, and am not reading much with any coherence.  Subject matter is usually the challenge, as I prefer non-fiction, but am also a bit picky with which authors I like to read.

I could go on about how I'd like to see the Kentucky basketball team win the national championship, or the Cincinnati Reds make it through the 2016 season without losing 100 games, but that's a fan's interest, and not really something that I can personally aspire to accomplish.  Doesn't mean I wouldn't delight in either happening, though!

With that, I'll leave you to ponder how you would like for 2016 to transpire for you.  Happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2015

'Tis the season!

Greetings, friends!  This will likely be my last post before Christmas, so let me first say that I appreciate your visits to my blog page.  I hope that you find this as enjoyable and interesting to read as I do to write!  I also hope, for you and yours, that you have a safe and happy holiday season, without travel difficulties, family illnesses or other things that can limit our enjoyment of such a special time of year!

That said, I want to share a quick "naughty or nice" list, in keeping with the Christmas season!

NAUGHTY:  The Democratic National Committee, for grossly overreacting to an apparent data breach that allowed members of Bernie Sanders' Presidential campaign to see voter information from the campaign of Hillary Clinton.  The DNC chair was Secretary Clinton's national chairperson in 2008, so this strikes me as a conflict of interest.  So she's naughty.

NICE:  Jeb Bush, for finally referring to Republican front-runner Donald Trump as a "jerk" during a campaign event.  Saying what we all think here, I believe.

NAUGHTY:  Pete Rose, who was again denied reinstatement into baseball.  Sorry, Pete, but you signed an agreement acknowledging things that you have since said were not accurate or didn't apply to you.  You knew what you were agreeing to, so you have no complaint coming.

NICE:  Todd Frazier, the former third baseman of the Cincinnati Reds.  Frazier said only positive things about the Reds after they traded him to the Chicago White Sox, and he's a new dad, too, so there's that!

NAUGHTY:  The maker of those hoverboard things that are apparently catching fire due to cheap, defective batteries.  SHAME ON YOU!!

NICE:  Anyone who contributes to a worthy cause during this time of year.  My wife and I found a local organization wherein all donations stay in our home community.  Nice!

NAUGHTY:  Anyone who robs (or attempts to do likewise) a Salvation Army kettle.  I know times are difficult for many, but this is really too much.

NICE:  The volunteers who ring the bell at those kettles.  Apparently there are fewer than ever this year.

NAUGHTY:  People who allowed themselves to be caught on camera fighting over merchandise during Black Friday sales.  Again.

NICE:  The lady who let me in when I was trying to enter the mall parking lot not long ago.  She could have ignored me like the previous five or six motorists, but she didn't.

NAUGHTY:  Any store clerk who is less than cheerful, regardless of how many hours they've worked recently.

NICE:  The same group who are friendly in spite of their current stress and exhaustion levels!

I wish you a very Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 14, 2015

The discovery process

Monday again, folks.  Hope you had a good weekend!

My wife and I did, and accomplished a few things.  Our Christmas shopping is done, thank you very much, and everything is either wrapped and under our Christmas tree or on its way to family in Colorado.  The need to ship always accelerates our process, and this year is no exception.

But that leads me into my stated subject--discovery.  For instance, I didn't realize until Saturday, when I shipped our box to our daughter and her family, that the U.S. Postal Service prices parcel shipping in such a way that you almost have to use Priority Mail.  Oh, the old standby "parcel post" still exists, but when they project six to nine days of delivery time, the sender gets a little uncomfortable with the idea of waiting and hoping that the item will make it to its destination on time.  Besides, if you add insurance or other components, you may as well pony up for the slightly higher price of Priority Mail.  I did, influenced or not.

I've also discovered gradually that the state of officiating in nearly every team sport is so poor right now that we might as well let players call their own fouls, balls and strikes and penalties.  I don't think I've ever seen so many goofs by football officials at all levels as I have this season, with teams getting the benefit of phantom penalties, extra time outs, bad placements of the football, etc.  I think I had already expressed this during baseball season, but it appears to have moved into other sports.  It's also prevalent in college basketball, though I cannot speak for the pro game, since I don't follow it.

Here's another one--a decent cast and a reasonably creative director will NOT guarantee the success of a movie.  Example:  we rented the recent "The Man from UNCLE" recently.  Mildly entertaining, the European scenery was pretty and there were a couple of good car chases.  But the rest was pretty dull, despite current Superman Henry Cavill and brilliant character actor Jared Harris among the cast.

Peter Jackson, who won many, MANY awards for "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, admitted recently that when he was directing "The Hobbit" movies that he often wasn't sure what he was doing.  Quite an admission from a real auteur who appears to control everything, and a little jarring to a fan of these movies, which I am.  But the project was originally to be directed by someone else, and it was delayed extensively in court and otherwise.  Original director quit, Jackson stepped in quickly and off they went.  I liked these movies, personally, but Jackson is right to say that he didn't put the same extensive preparation into them as he did "The Lord of the Rings," for which he and his team prepped for a full three years!

I'd also like to say a word or two on the subject of holiday decorations.  I like things simple but I also know that some like to really go overboard this time of year.  You know what?  We're both right.  However you like to do it is the "right" way.  I do business with someone who said very matter of factly that she and her family have five indoor Christmas trees at their home every year, and outdoor decorations to go with them.  She mentioned something about the large windows of her home and how they just need something this time of year.  That's normal for her, so I'm not about to say that doing more or less is good.  Or not!

Finally, back to movies for a moment.  I have discovered, regrettably, that I am a little tired of hearing about "Star Wars--The Force Awakens."  I know, we waited for a long time for this movie to come out, and to make us forget about George Lucas' strange and sometimes uninteresting prequel trilogy.  But now that Disney owns the Star Wars franchise it's so completely overexposed that I am just ready for the hype to stop.  And for the debating to begin.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Current conditions

Happy Monday, everyone.  Here's hoping that you had a good weekend.

I want to start by indirectly mentioning a good friend who got some great news last week.  He and I were colleagues (I was his manager) a few years back and formed a friendship through common interests.  Anyway, he was displaced from a long-term employment situation some months ago.  He dutifully trolled the marketplace for new opportunities, cultivated one such possibility but courageously declined it because it just didn't feel right, but ended up getting the job he's wanted for a long time last week.  He starts that job soon, and I know that I speak for many friends in common when I say how happy I am for him!

As regular visitors know, I don't talk much about my own work here.  And it's a good thing, too, as that would probably be the dominant theme of this and many posts.  Let's just say that it's good to have a job and leave it at that.

My wife and I have apparently finished our holiday shopping.  We found the last items online over the weekend (hard to find, these were) and that finished off the list.  But we've overshot our budget, such as it is, by quite a bit.  Not a ruinous overage, mind you, but our planning didn't really help us here.  But it IS good to be finished!

We were out and about briefly Friday and Saturday and while there were lots of people also out, it wasn't as chaotic as it will be soon enough.  Traffic was a little worse than usual, and parking at more of a premium.

The main thing I feel right now is that the weather doesn't really feel like Christmastime.  Here in Kentucky we have a temperate climate, so not a lot of cold weather this time of year.  So it often doesn't FEEL much like Christmas here.  Rainy today but it's supposed to be clearer with temperatures in the 60s later in the week.  My friends in California will feel at home with that, but those in colder areas would not.

And with the house already decorated, thanks to our efforts of the previous week, we can enjoy the holidays.  For us, that will include some pre-kindergarten or preschool events, which are always a lot of fun.

So it's all good, at least for now.  Be well, be careful, and be patient as you shop for that perfect gift for a special family member or friend!