Tuesday, September 27, 2011

To DC with love

We constantly read about the divisiveness in the political world in our nations capital. I as well have rambled about it previously on these pages. Gripe and complain. Gripe and complain. How can we get anything done? How can we as a people and a nation move forward? Well, I'm here to tell ya, it doesn't start or stop there.

Part of my three martini lunch happens to be walking next door to the grocery store and grabbing a steaming hot pocket or something similar. I trek back to the store, pony up my lunch bucket and on occasion, grab the community newspaper. There you will find everything from the local high school sports to job opportunities to puppies for sale and everything in between. You know what else I read? Every week there is a column or report about the local area commission. And guess what, its filled with constant infighting and arguing.

Apparently what happens in Washington starts in the local community chambers and committees. No one sees the greater good of the community they serve, they only see partisan viewpoints and justifying their own positions. Article after article is rife with complaining about one elected member or another. And it's not just the community that is complaining its the elected or previously elected representatives.

The more I read these news reports or the letters to the editor the more I wonder if any of these people ever graduated from high school. Its one big Suzy loves Johnny hates Johnny gripe-fest. I say, lets send them all to Washington and then cut it off and let it float into the ocean. Perhaps it will be hit by a hurricane and we can find someone else to do the job. It couldn't get any worse, although with all the bitching I can see why talented people don't want anything to do with it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My favorite month

Living in the midwest one is used to the constant progression of the seasons. At the moment we are on the verge of the autumnal equinox. Often, those in the far south or the southwest do not understand the connection we midwesterners have with the seasons. Specifically, many I have spoken with in Florida want no part of the winter months. Sometimes I can't blame them.

What most fail to realize is the winter months just don't happen all at once. Most only remember the coldest, rainiest days but we aren't just plopped down right in the middle of it all. There is a gentle transition into the cold that helps us adapt. It's called fall (or autumn if you prefer). Even though summer is still underway, late August begins the adaptation. The days are still hot but the nights begin to cool slightly. And then, it's my favorite month of the year.

September is my favorite time of year as several things come together and blend the summer with the early fall. My favorite sport begins as college football comes alive, hockey is just around the corner and baseball is almost ready for playoffs. If that weren't enough, the weather is as perfect on a regular basis as one could hope for. Now, I love being on the beach and sunning near the water but as a mid-west boy, my soul belongs to fallen leaves, crisp nights with baked goods coming out of the oven and warm, sunny days with bright blue skies and vibrantly lit cumulus clouds.

There are no holidays in September (except for football Saturdays) and as September passes into October, at least I know the fun of Halloween is just around the corner. But if I had to live only in one month, it would be September, even though Christmas would never get here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Follow us on Twitter!

Yesterday I heard a radio advert for a sinus medication that included the tag line, "Follow us on Twitter!"

I have never been to Twitter and never plan to go there, but what kind of sad individual signs up to "follow" a sinus medication of Twitter? Seriously, what do you get when you "follow" a sinus medication?

"Hey gang! Methusulah Persnicketty of Lower Eastgoatsbelly Mississippi just sprayed our product into her nose! Way to go!"

As the late, great Paul Harvey was wont to say, "Not all that we call progress is progress."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

And the winner is

Well, it's the day you've waited for all your life. YOU'VE JUST WON BIG BROTHER AND A HALF-MILLION DOLLARS! And if that aint all, Obama just declared a one day no tax day on the day you won! HooRah!

Now, you get to keep it all, what'cha gonna do with it?

Now we all get to play some. First, about half goes into a retirement fund; well because I'm creeping up there and I need something to fall back on when my $500 per month social security checks start coming in. Second, do I pay off the house or not? Hmmm, I'll get back to you on that. Lets call the next one 2b because I'm still thinking about the house. Now, I like my little Isuzu Amigo but it is twelve years old and getting some miles on it. Looks like a new car is next in line. Not sure what kind even though I've been thinking about it lately. Why? Did I mention mine is twelve years old? Perhaps a sports car like a mustang or a sporty two door coupe. I don't live vicariously through my wheels and I'm a cheapskate, perhaps a small pickup.

Okay, so far pretty boring but you have to take care of the basics first. Third; quit my job? Not likely on only 500K. Maybe I just won't work as hard. Fourth; a nice long trip to someplace exotic. Hawaii is a possibility or perhaps New Zealand. Tahiti isn't out of the question. A nice place to scuba with a massive reef. Fifth; still thinking about if I should pay off the house or not. Sixth; my main television just went kaplooey and it needs replace. This time I won't skimp and will get a nice rig with all the latest gadgets, except 3D because that's just stupid.

I'm moving right along now. Seventh; since I have the new TV rig I'll have to spring for HD. I'm too cheap to pay for it now. Eighth; I think another big trip is on the horizon. I'll ask My Beloved this time where she would like to go. Ninth; I may do a small place on the coast as a vacation get-away, did I mention I may or may not pay off the house? And last but not least; hmmm, I'll have to give that last one some thought.

I'll take suggestions.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Baseball is saved

A milestone in sports was reached the other night when Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera completed his 600th save opportunity. It is a significant record that has been attained only by one other pitcher, Trevor Hoffman. Hoffman retired with 601 career saves, so unless something tragic happens, Mariano Rivera will become the all time saves leader within the week. My congratulations to him, even though I'm not a Yankee fan as is North of 50.

That got me to thinking; what are the proper rules for earning a save? I know the basics as a long time baseball guy, but I couldn't quote you the rule. For most of baseball history, saves were not even calculated. It wasn't until recent decades that this became an official stat.

To qualify as a save, a pitcher must do the following: Enter the game with the tying run either on base or at the plate and preserve the lead; pitch three or three-plus innings and preserve the lead, (something that never happens anymore as 'closers' rarely if ever pitch more than one inning), or enter the game with no more than a three run lead and preserve the lead.

So lets analyse each situation. It does happen but this is not the typical situation. Usually the starter has been left in too long and now needs help. The closer in the last twenty years generally enters the game with a lead and only pitches the ninth inning. That means situation number two never happens. Situation three likely happens eighty percent of the time. Closers always then enter the game with a lead. No manager worth his salt sends in his ace closer when the game is tied.

Here then are the results. A pitcher typically becomes a star closer by entering the baseball game in the ninth inning, holding a lead of at least one or possibly more runs. You are fully rested because you only pitch two or three innings a week. You therefore are awarded a mutli-million dollar contract simply because you don't completely suck at what you are paid to do.

Congratulations Mariano, I wish I had your talent.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dancing embers

I sat peacefully in front of my fire the other night as I let its warmth and crackling sound wash away the last of the busy day. It was my first weekend off in about five or six weeks. It has been a busy time at work.

Fire is a stress reliever, specifically on a cool fall night as one wraps themselves in front of a camp fire or in my case, my fire pit. The clouds in the sky above looked like puffed marshmallows, some burnt and dark all across their faces, while others were singed just perfectly as they swallowed up the moon's light behind them. Here and there the puffy marshmallow clouds separated just enough to let a sliver of light pass through.

Now, I'm not much of a fire starter. I poke and prod and finally get the spark to take. My wood is usually too wet, or I don't have enough kindling or a proper starter. However I always get it going somehow. As I sat back with a glass of wine in hand ignoring the prime rule of 'no glass by the pool', I was captivated by the orange, glowing sprites flickering above the blaze. The wood was popping and the sparks were dancing merrily.

It reminded me of a time long ago when my daughter brought home a nice young man who was from Colorado. To my surprise, he had never seen lightning bugs. Apparently they are not common west of the Mississippi. Odd, I thought how something I had always thought so common was a rarity to others. I remember leaving my Uncle Tubby's (yet that was his name) many years ago as a child. He lived in the country and when you turned out of his driveway you would come to the end of a road that looked out over a farm field. At night in the summer it was filled with lightning bugs, millions of them flashing in the otherwise utter blackness. That is something I will never forget.

Then, as I watched the sparklers dancing above the crackling fire, a word I never use was revealed in my solitude. Wow, fireflies!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Do they get it?

If you, like me, watched the President's speech on his jobs bill tonight, it almost gave one hope. For him, it was a fiery message aimed directly at members of Congress with the electorate looking on. For once, it seemed as if at least he, "got it". He put the message of the American people first, at least it seemed. It's time the politicians get the job done and leave the bickering to the first graders.

There will always be hard-liners that will oppose those in power at all costs. That's not the way they would do it. It is time for that thinking to be put aside and the needs of the country put first. The government can't fix this all by itself but it should be tasked with getting the ball rolling.

Do they get it? Only time will tell.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hand in hand?

I work a lot of hours at my type of position. Due to the nature of retail and the back to school season my recent hours have been about seventy or so. Hey, it's a living (until it kills me). As I was pacing about at the store today I happened to notice two young men leaving the checkout, and they gave me pause to think.

How much work gets done outside of my environment? My duties and those of my staff call for fast-paced work. There's a lot to do and never enough time to do it. We work in a structured environment with a specific dress code. I went to a restaurant this evening with the Mrs and friends. The staff around was busy with tasks and they as well were dressed for their collaborative tasks.

Well, what does that have to do with the two young men I saw earlier in the day? Both were using one hand to hold up their britches. Their hands were so low that I'd bet in the fifties they would be pulled off to the side and arrested for inappropriate behavior. It may be the 'style', but how tiring must it be to have to continually hold onto your pants to keep them from falling to the floor? That sure is a tremendous amount of work 24/7 just to walk around. I always get more done using both of my hands.

I have a new solution that will give them the style they like and give them back the use of both hands. Design a pair of jeans that have a normal waist but the crotch is so long it simply hangs down to around the knees. No one would ever know these were cheater pants because the shirts always hang over the waist down to around the knees as well.

Oh, wait. They have those, they're called maternity pants. That's stylin' for ya!