Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday

Not sure how the week went by without an addition here.  On the road in Minnesota can account for the first half of my hiatus, but only poor planning can explain these last few days.  I'm sharpest in the AM, but its hard to allocate time to a leisure activity when I have so much to do at the office.  At night, I've just been so tired.  What's an old guy to do?

4 noted on Twitter this AM that today is the two-year anniversary of Super Storm Sandy.  I know that she, 3 and 3.1 put up with a lot of inconvenience at that time.  And she's right, its hard to believe that it has been two years since then.  Lots of water under the bridge since she had to detour around the L train.

The World Series ends tonight.  Playing the 7th game in the last week of October seems a bit late.  Those two rounds played at the league level before the winners meet in the WS extends the season an extra two weeks.  And the regular season is a week longer with the 162 game-schedule compared to the 154 game slate from way-back-when.  They can talk about creating excitement and all, but trust me, its about the money.

1.1 pointed out to me last week that all of the high school football teams in Minnesota participate in the play-offs, just like in basketball.  Iowa has expanded the football classes such that the big-school division now only has 50-60 teams, total.  32 teams qualify in each class (several with losing records), so if they were to add just one more round, everybody would be in.  Why not?  We have an institutional thought process in the classroom where participation is to be rewarded, maybe more so than actual success.  Why not extend that to the gridiron as well? 

My book-on-tape for the Harvest Path trip was another spy-thriller that I had randomly selected at the library on my way out of town.  I think I've read/listened-to other books by this author.  I actually have the substantial doubt that I have been through this same book before, but either my Sometimer's is getting worse, or I quit the book midway through any prior experience.  In any event, it was another case of a reasonable storyline cluttered with extraneous, disconnected sub-plots that never went anywhere.  And the Epilogue went on for 15 minutes to explain the final action sequence.  Don't good writers write books without the need for a full-chapter epilogue?

I'm giving the Total Wine store in Roseville, Minnesota (just North of Minneapolis) a two-star rating on the LtPC FWS (Fine Wine Scale).  For starters, the store is not the most convenient place to get to, even with the assist from Google Maps.  And I'd rate their selection of Cabernet's as good, not great.  Finally, I made the mistake of being there on a Friday afternoon...along with a good share of the other wine-drinkers of Minneapolis.  I did survive though, and 1 and I enjoyed a couple very nice selections over the weekend, one from Napa and another from Tuscany.  (The good news is that a new Total Wine will be opening soon near Woodbury.  Bonus!)

And to give credit to 4...You Guys!  Can't we be done with this political stuff?  Please!

Here's a little Glad Game Top Ten list for the positives of Hump Day:

1.  Still no hard frost on Maplecrest.  The ficus trees do come in this weekend.
2.  Its RCL day on Maplecrest.
3.  Half-price wine night at Crust.
4.  Gas under $2.90 with my latest gas card discount.
5.  3 gets home from her Left Coast business trip.
6.  Margret out twice this week.
7.  Doing some W walks without W.  Interesting.
8.  Having absolutely no trouble not watching the tube in the evenings.
9.  Won a pretty dicey IRS argument this week.  Suite.
10. No tax deadline this week.

All for now.  Its a start, yes?

Thanks for reading.

BCOT

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday

Really a nice day Tuesday in the QCA.  I had morning meetings in Muscatine and the drive was a pleasant diversion.  So after lunch, I invented an excuse (like I need one?) to get back to Maplecrest and pull Margret out for the afternoon.  Her days in 2014 are numbered.  Looks like today could be a carbon copy.

I had an errand to run out of the office late yesterday and ended up passing the Bettendorf library which had an "Early Voting" sign on the parking.  So I detoured into the lot and went in to the building to do the deed.  I've done early voting in the past, and I'm a believer.  Easy, convenient and un-crowded.  I'm a bit surprised that it is no more technology updated than it is.  No "hanging chads" ballots, but paper and pencil with the completed ballot placed in a sealed envelope which the voter just places in a conventional mail-box style box on a table.

Having now cast my vote, I have a "you're wasting your money" attitude to all of those awful TV and radio commercials that dominate the airwaves. The media advisors who come up with these character assaults must really have desensitized psyches on the concept of acceptable criticisms.  Sound-bite gotcha-ism.  No wonder the general populace has such a low regard for the political class.

Shifting gears, the 2015 TdF route was unveiled in Paris yesterday.  Lots of climbing.  They go over the Tourmalet and the Aspin on Stage 11, both hills that 4 and I biked back in 2011.  That same day, they pass through Lourdes (where we visited) and Bagneres de Bigorre, the town we stayed in for four nights.  Always a bit personal when the Tour goes on roads that we have also traveled. 

My pal Cal and I stopped last night at the latest "in" place for after-work drinks in Davenport, the J Bar in the new Holiday Inn at Elmore.  We probably won't be regulars.  Loud.  So-so wine list that was/is a bit pricey.  $15 for a not-so-friendly pour of a very meh cabernet.  Kinda corporate.  I sensed that there were a number of tables occupied by hotel guests perhaps in town for Deere or Alcoa meetings.  (The owner of the place, Heart of America group, works the corporate business pretty hard.)  They do have a patio with a fire pit that might be a little better, but the wine list doesn't change for that area, so my interest is low.

I've got to admit that my appreciation of Erin Andrews has faded as she has progressed up the food chain in broadcasting.  I thought she was at her best at the College World Series, what, 8-10 years ago?  I don't watch DWTS, but her contribution to the FOX coverage of the current baseball play-offs is awkward at best.  I'm not a believer in any sideline/dugout reporting in baseball.  It doesn't add to the viewer's experience in any way.

And speaking of Blondes on the Sidelines (new TV reality series...kidding), NBC has replaced Alex Flanagan this season with Kathryn Tappen.  I only know this because one of the sidebars on the ND Football page at NBC wanted to introduce me to Kathryn.  OK.  And this is necessary because?  Whatever.


All for today.  Make it a good one in your neighborhood.

BCOT




Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday II

Yeah, that effort to get the DC sister's pic from Twitter using the Blogspot app was a failure.  Here's that pic plus one from Woodbury.
 
 
And this is the pic I wanted to post of 3 for her birthday recognition.  An old fav.
 
 
More here tomorrow.
 
BCOT

Sunday

Well, that was pretty much a lost
Saturday for all the teams that the fam follows. Hawks, 'Clones, Sooners, Irish all lose. None by much, but all on the short side. Is it a victory if ND covered? Meh.

There's a decent article in last week's SI about retiring baseball Commissioner Bud Selig. It is a largely complimentary piece about a guy whom I've never considered that great of a chief executive. He's overseen the steroid era, that notorious tie in the All-Star game, and a seemingly diminished position of baseball as "America's pass time". On the other hand, as the SI story points out, the economics of the game are very strong, and both the players and owners are making big money. Even though you have people always be saying that the game is too slow to watch, the later games in the regular season, and the play-off games are great theater.

Baseball terminology continues to thrive in business. Commentators are always being asked what inning it may be in terms of Fed policy easing (most go with the 8th these days), or the stage of the bull market (7th seems popular now), or the growth left in the China economy (few takers on this one). Government litigators of Wall Street bankers may throw a fastball in one situation, or a curve in another, but may also issue a pass in a less-clear case.

Even the football games yesterday had their share of baseball-coined words and phrases. I heard several times of an offensive lineman who "whiffed" on a block, a quarterback who threw a fastball to a receiver, or that same quarterback who swung for the fences by throwing the home run ball. Passes can be picked-off by the defense, an offensive or defensive coordinator can change-up their schemes, or the head coach can go to the bullpen and change quarterbacks.

(As I write this, I am reminded of 3's recitation of the poem comparing baseball played in a park to football played on the gridiron. Still makes me smile, Kiddo!)

Another interesting read in the SI issue was a typically progressively slanted do-gooder article on homeless high school athletes. The article featured several specific cases of individuals for the reader to digest in between providing statistics on the broader societal problem. One of the recurring themes was that sports provide those kids with a safe-haven, an oasis from their other misfortunes. There's oversight, structure, companionship and goal-setting in the sports activities that are largely absent elsewhere in their lives. Makes sense to me.

I am struck with the dichotomy on the far, other side of the sports spectrum where you have coddled athletes who have grown accustomed to the privileges of their stardom. Phony efforts in class, police blotter appearances, and poor displays of citizenship. There is a ripple in the force when the player moves from the dynamic of the game giving to the individual, to that individual taking the benefits and acclaim derived from success on the field. It ain't always pretty.

SI's moralizing continued on the back page column that lamented the lack of honest problem-solving by the country's divergent political interests. The writer heartened back to simpler times (as today's print industry writers like to do...who wants bloggers and TMZ?), when true public servants could go into a room and come out with a decent compromise. (I'm betting those old guys had just as many partisan postures and skeletons in their closets, but I'll give the guy a pass (drink for baseball analogy) on that one.)

But an interesting point he did make was that live sporting events (and live broadcasts of same) do tend to bring people of all persuasions to the game. Fans of any team can come from every walk of life and every political party. While you may have more liberals cheering for Cal Berkley, and more conservatives rooting for Texas, both places have room for all. (I say that with some doubt about Berkley.). Maybe we need to set up the Cotton Bowl for a Red and Blue game ( a la Texas-OU) and lock the politicians inside until they figure a few things out. (We could do it at the Rose Bowl or Yankee Stadium if Dallas was too far to the right. All of those places should be neutral politically.)

Which brings me to my previously expressed belief that I think my liberal/progressive pal Terry O (he doesn't like being categorized...get over it, friend) and I could go into a room and come up with an answer of some sort to a tough question. Of course, we're not trying to get (or keep being) elected to anything.

Too deep of a discussion. Sorry.

Moving on...

With the passing of that last tax filing date, I hope to reestablish some regularity with the blog. I want to get that story done on Daddy, and there are a few other loose ends to close. At times, this thing has become more of an extended Twitter account, and my current life just isn't that interesting. Not that my history and philosophy are all that great either, but the landscape is a bit more diverse.

Thanks for reading. Make it a great week in your neighborhood.

BCOT






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Friday, October 17, 2014

Friday

Thanks to Cousin Carrie. She is Cousin of the Day! Grandpa Horan would be proud of the gathering. Each of you. Thanks to all for honoring the fam.





Enjoying a purchase from Total Wine here in Scottsdale. Not quite up to that Inglenook from Wednesday, but it's a couple of price-points lower on the the scale.



Go Hawks!!!


BCOT.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thursday II

I'm giving this a go while in-flight to Dallas, where I have a brief layover before hopefully making my connection to PHX. My skill set with this Blogger app is suspect. As is Blogger in basic form. My two previous efforts to recognize 3 for her birthday were both hampered by a combination of poor Internet signals at work, and the out-of-datedness of the Blogger platform.

This trip is kinda for business, but I scheduled it several weeks ago when I read the tea leaves and knew that a get-away after 10/15 was going to be needed for a mental health boost. I have some meetings tomorrow for sure. Maybe some tangential stuff on Saturday.

The hat made the trip, of course. I mean, I am passing through Texas, pardner!

My string of pre-approved TSA boarding passes ended this time. Maybe I'm OK just with Delta. Whatever. Minor inconvenience at MLI. I just have a duffle bag for carry-on...and I swear that the hat makes me friends with the TSA minions. But I think I will look into getting the Full Monty TSA clearance for the future. Taking off the shoes, etc. is just a pain in the posterior.

I feel badly that I haven't been able to do a better job recognizing 3 for her birthday this week. Another example of business getting in the way of my LLYWD mantra. And with her on the road herself this week, we'll just have to do something before year end at a time and place where we are both less-scheduled.

Now on the plane to PHX....

Here's a little factoid from my past: I don't think that I went to a high school football game when I was in high school until my senior year. (Keep in mind that my high school didn't play football...we were way too small.) My HS girlfriend was a cheerleader (of course she was!) at the public school and I would go over to their game towards the end of it to be there to pick her up for whatever there was post-game to do.

The public high was a fierce rival and even though I played baseball with many of those guys in the Summer, during the school year, we didn't pal around much. If my gf wouldn't have been at the game, there's no way I would have gone just to watch. My freshman year at ND would have been the first football season that I was actually invested in a team and went to the games.

ND always had a Friday night pep rally before home games. They were pretty well organized and EVERBODY attended. The band would parade around campus and each residence hall would fall in tow behind the band. The destination back then was the Old Fieldhouse, dirt floor and all. There was a raised balcony at one end with a few rows of stadium-seating where the football team and featured guests would sit, facing the standing throng of students on the dirt floor. (I think maybe I passed on the scene senior year, and maybe even as a junior.) It could get pretty wild.

As for the games, the students at ND always sat in the northwest corner of the stadium, with the St. Mary's girls immediately adjacent. (Ergo the chant, "Go back, go back, go back across the road".). I'm not sure when the end-of-game protocol changed to include the team facing the student body from the field, holding hands, swaying and everyone singing the alma mater before heading for the exits. Who actually knew the words to the alma mater? I wonder if NBC came up with that schstick? Back in my day, it was game over? Let's get back to the tailgating or other post-game party.

Present day, whatever the points are with FSU, it won't be enough. Irish won't cover. (If they don't let the FSU quarterback play, ND would have a chance.)

Just to close, Top Five great memories from 3...not a complete list.

1. Wipe-out on the yellow bike near Mercy Park. Circa 1993-4.
2. Organizing the Christmas play at OLOTR. Circa 2000.
3. Wandering away at the Rapid City mall. Circa 1990.
4. Shelly Cotton.
5. All the great visits...C-town, Boston, NYC, IC, Tahoe.

More from the road tomorrow.

BCOT




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Thursday

3 is Daughter of the Day!!!



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Love you, Kiddo.

BCOT

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wednesday

Hectic day here.

I am remiss in not getting a recognition for 3 up here earlier. My apologies, Kiddo.

3 is Daughter of the Day. Happy Tax Birthday!!



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Had to do this from the iPad and had limited pics. Sorry.

You are a star, Dear Daughter. Love.

BCOT




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Monday, October 13, 2014

Monday

Just for the sake of letting my vast readership know that life goes on in the QCA, I'm adding a couple of paragraphs this AM before a big effort here on Columbus Day. 

This is also Birthday Week for 3.  She's had quite the travel schedule lately.  Hope the planes come and go on schedule this week, Kiddo.  For the record, my thirtieth would have been in C-town, riding the train, going to school nights to complete the tax master's, banging out returns at 69 West Washington, and catching a few games at Wrigley.  Interesting times, but for what its worth, the next 10 years were filled with highlights.

I felt a little nostalgic with the Chicago marathon in the news yesterday.  That year that 1 ran it left a strong impression on me.  The Loop was St-Patrick's-Day alive, and weaving through town on my bike was probably the most satisfying of my marathon-following efforts.  Not that we need to do the marathon again, but Chicago has to be an FFF destination one of these times.

Let's give props to 2 for her Home Improvement weekend.  She is Daughter of the Day.  I'm impressed with her expanded skill-sets with the tool-box.

So much I could comment on from the weekend sports scene.  Cards win.  NASCAR fights.  Hawks.  Irish.  'Clones.  But not the time to do so.

All for today.  Will jump back on later this week.

BCOT