Wednesday, November 19, 2014



I've selected these three pic's from the files Carrie graciously shared from the Strine photo library.  Lots of good photo's on the download.
(Not sure if the George Strait hat was a hit with all wearer's.)

That marathon had 35,000 participants.  That has to include all the races and all of the members of teams that ran portions of the route.  Still, big numbers for that kind of event.  The Kenyan's stayed home as the winner's time was a bit on the slow side.  I would never have thought of Vegas as a marathon destination.

Special props to all of the second and third generation attendees for the event.  Cousin Matt gets the award for max effort on a short clock.  Molly and Kate were not far behind.  Family is always worth the effort.  Good for all you guys.  The Elders notice.

I see where the POTUS heard we had such a good time in LV that he has decided to make a visit.  They'll be shutting down LV Boulevard again, eh?  Can you imagine trying to catch a flight near the time that he arrives?  (Is the honeymoon over when the Big Three broadcast networks decide not to air his speech live?  Or is that just the reality that the election is over and they're reading sweeps-week tea leaves?)

I went to The Big Golf Sale at the local events center down the street yesterday.  Twice.  Once with my pal Roy (in the AM), and again with my pal Ron (in the PM).  This after having stopped there on Monday night after work.  All of the pro-shops at the area clubs combine to have a single garage-sale like event to get rid of slow-moving inventory at the end of the season.  I bought a couple of gloves and a black pull-over shirt.  $30 total. 

Roy hasn't played since Scottsdale in January.  And he bought the least amount of stuff that I have ever seen him walk away with from that sale.  Ron resisted big numbers too.  As we left the building last night, I was thinking that there was a whole lotta inventory that was going to be going to a re-sellers market on E-Bay.

Speaking of my pal Roy, he's on a quick-hitter over to France for business.  Taking the chunnel from England.  Just a 4-day trip.  My body would have no clue by the time I was back from that kind of trip.

Enough for now.  Thanks for reading.



Monday, November 17, 2014


So this is coming from our flight back to Moline on Walmart Airlines (aka Allegiant). I do have to admit that this was a better experience for me when compared to my only previous experience on Allegiant last year going to Arizona. Since 2 handled the reservation procedures, I more or less only had to show up and do the normal check-in and security clearance.

(I would also point out that Allegiant uses McCarran Airport in Vegas just like the other airlines. This in contrast to Arizona where they fly into Mesa. The Mesa experience is much more Walmarty for some reason. Whatever.)

Vegas will never be a favorite destination for me. Too many people. Too much noise. Everything so over the top. Not sure if Sunday was any more congested because of the marathon (or if the marathon contributed to the long lines at check-in today), but I'm betting that it's something every week/weekend. With 40 million visitors in a year's time, it's gotta always be busy.

But this was a good weekend for the family. Saying a formal good-bye to Martha was a healthy experience. It was great to see all of the family. Saturday was well done, well attended and I think would have been well liked by Martha (given that doing nothing was not an option for her!)

A special thanks to Tahoe Phil for hosting the post-service social gathering.

I'll try to complete a Martha entry for the blog later this week.

Some random thoughts from the weekend:

1. The Strip has changed quite a bit from the '80's when I met Wally there a couple times a year. Bigger hotels. So many big places off The Strip too.
2. I don't remember previously renting a car in Vegas. The car rental facility reminds me of PHX. Hertz rates were reasonable. The email receipt was in my Yahoo in-box before I got to the gate.
3. 2 and a half days, three nights in Vegas is an eternity.
4. Vegas beer is cheap, coffee not so much so. Not saying it's double, but the Starbuck's tab for three, with a couple of pastries was always $20+.
5. The publicly piped-in music never stops. Never country.
6. Didn't see a clock outside the room. The 24-hour Starbuck's didn't stock the NYT.
7. The marathon completely shut down LV Boulevard beginning at 1400 local for the rest of the day. Bet that doesn't happen often. It was a marathon in the Rock 'n Roll series of marathons, so they had bands playing at various spots along the route. Loud bands. Other than getting to run on a shut-down LV Boulevard, and finish in the neon lights, the route didn't seem that great too me.
8. The Flamingo Hotel goes back a long time. Far from luxurious, but adequate. Excellent location. The math on tearing it down and replacing it with a newer model must just not work for now. A crowd not much different than what you would see at one of the Iowa casinos.
9. Sidewalk hawkers everywhere. Tickets to shows, tickets to dinners, invites to strip clubs, yada, yada, yada.
10. Buffets. Good grief.

I'll get back here later today. Now MLI.


Just a little later...

I'm giving the nod to 2 as Daughter of the Day for her patience in being my roommate in LV.  It was another successful trip where we accomplished our travel goals while simultaneously not driving the other party over the edge.  Thanks, Kiddo!!

That Home Page pic taken with the Canon mini-digi yesterday won't stay here long, but it is a good remembrance of the weekend with the fam.  It was obviously a lower-case fff.  We missed the NY'ers and the rest of the Dornies.  Maybe a March Madness venture to C-town?

Then there was the fact that I had two Hertz cars waiting for me at McCarran.  My name was on the Gold Card sign twice as we hit the Hertz garage for car pick-up.  I consciously looked in my email on Friday morning before leaving my office for my reservation and couldn't find I made the second one (as it turned out).  The counter agent who then assisted me to remove one of the cars was amused.  Sometimer's strikes again.

Cold here upon our return.  But the BEATER fired and we all made it to our respective homes.  Hello work!


Friday, November 14, 2014


This pic out of the Dornies' hotel room in SF is such a postcard, eh?

This is go-away day for Vegas.  Departure a little after lunch on Walmart Airlines (Allegiant).

I'll do a entry from the flight and then post once we hit Vegas.

The reason to jump on here now is that today is the nine-year anniversary for 4000 Days.  Think of all the water under the bridge since that first entry!  Why not celebrate in Vegas?

Hope it is a good day in your neighborhood..


Tuesday, November 11, 2014


We'll make this a little Veteran's Day addition to the blog.  Some random thoughts from my days of active duty.

2 used an old photo of me in my USAF ROTC dress blues on Twitter today that would have been taken at Notre Dame in May 1971.  In a separate on-campus ceremony before graduation, I received my 2nd Lieutenant commission into the AF.  Not sure if I have previously shared this photo which would have been taken minutes later when I turned the camera on Mother and Daddy and my St. Mary's friend.  Mother would have been 63 then, and Daddy just 61.  They looked pretty damn good, eh?

My active duty began around July1st when I reported to my first duty station, Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas.  They had me in a 12-week training school to be a Vehicle Transportation Officer.  It was all classroom training with lots of familiarization with manuals on policies and procedures.  We never so much as lifted the hood on a jeep.  It was hot and smelly in Wichita Falls.  I made one trip back to Iowa for a wedding near Iowa City...driving all night after Friday class to get there...and all day Sunday to get back after a long night Saturday.

Following that class, I drove to Dover, Delaware for my first permanent assignment.  For the first year there, I ran a shift on the flightline, loading and unloading cargo jets.   That first year was tough duty as it was six days on, two days off, and rotate shifts each week...days, then swings, then graves.  Your body never got used to the time.  Viet Nam was winding down, but there were still casualties...all of which came through Dover.

I made at least two driving trips back to ND that first year for games.   And I drove home at Thanksgiving to pick up that Datsun 240-Z which was my first new car.  $3,900.  I wrecked it before leaving Iowa.  Never told Phil and Margaret about that one.  I lived in the base BOQ (Bachelor Officer's Quarters) for the first few weeks, then to an apartment with another Lieutenant on a different shift.  Almost never saw him.  My junior and senior year college roommate was working for the FDIC in Washington, DC, and I made several trips in to see him as well.

My second year at Dover was in the role of Motor Pool Officer.  It was great duty.  8-5 Monday-Friday.  There was a civilian working as my "assistant", but he had been doing it for years, and my position was largely unnecessary.  I spent lots of time in DC, took a few other trips, switched roommates with another guy who also had regular hours, and life was pretty suite.  I also had my first trip to Europe...two weeks of temporary duty at a base in Germany.  Not much travel, but I did get in for a few beers.  There was another accident with the 240-Z, this one on base when a guy just pulled out and slammed me on the passenger side.  It took 2-3 months to fix the damage. 

Orders for Korea came at the end of my second year in Delaware.  I really don't remember much about the time frame, but I think I drove to Iowa in July/August, and then flew to SF for a few days of R&R before the USAF charter to Korea from Travis AFB outside of SF. I spent time that week with Uncle Phil and Aunt Margaret, but I think I stayed with another college buddy from ND who was working for Phil at B of A.  We did some partying, including with one of Aunt Margaret's divorcee friends (which didn't sit so well with my sister), and I think I had to get some emergency dental repairs for a front tooth that popped off a retainer...bad timing as I recall.

The flight to Korea was a 24-hour exercise.  I read Winds of War. The final leg of the journey was a bus trip from Seoul to Kunsan AFB, a remote outpost on the Yellow Sea.  I was the Base Vehicle Maintenance Officer.  I couldn't change a spark plug.  But if it didn't fly, I had a shop that had to fix it.  I had 30-40 Korean Nationals working for me in addition to at least that same number of enlisted guys.  It wasn't the worst duty, but it was remote Korea.

A Top Ten list of the Korea assignment:

1.  Bought my first decent stereo equipment.  It all came back to the USA with me.  The speakers at srh4's are part of the original package.
2.  Bought my first bike, a Bridgestone, I think.  Never rode it there.
3.  Lived in the BOQ with 35-40 other young officers.  Had daily maid service.  Suite.
4.  Owned a motorcycle for about a week.  Went down once and immediately sold it.
5.  Wrote a daily newsletter for my troops.  Called it the Pink Sheet.  I was blogging even then.
6.  Drank a lot of beer.  Played a lot of cards.  Blackjack (kinda like).
7.  It was an F-4 fighter base that had two planes on alert 24-7, loaded with nukes.  The runways, which were serviced by my maintenance plows and heavy equipment, were not allowed to go down.
8.  Couldn't wait to get back to the US of A.
9.  Had orders to Bolling AFB outside DC for my next assignment.  It was where I had chosen to go, but I asked for, and received, my "early out" papers before leaving.  I was discharged at Travis when I returned to the States.
10.  I'm leaving out a few things.

Pretty sure that there is no new news here.  But I enjoyed the exercise of remembering some of these things.

Hope it is a good day in your neighborhood.  Thanks for the good wishes.


Saturday, November 08, 2014


Looks like a pretty good Fall Saturday in the QCA.  In the Scott Street days of the 1980's, this would have been the time for caulking the brick and casing points on the window openings, and maybe for swapping out the screens and storms.  So glad that that part of my life is history.

I actually toyed with the idea of a quick trip to either the Twin Cities or Phoenix this weekend to see one of the football games...Iowa-Minnesota or ND-Arizona State.  But really, that wasn't going to happen.  Both teams could lose, and who wants to spend gratuitous time on the road for those possible outcomes?  (Good choice...Minny up by 4 touchdowns at half...and the game not that close.) ASU in particular, has a lot invested in this game.  They are favored by 2.5 and ND will be lucky to find a way to win in the Valley of the Sun.

Special recognition needs to go out to the Augustana men's basketball team.  They won that "exhibition" game the other night against D-I Bradley.  Really a big accomplishment.  That said, I had the feeling that they could be competitive given their experience last year against the Hawkeyes.  My pal Pete was giving me live reports from the game.  Good for those guys!

My pals Pete and Cal and I had post-work wine at Biaggi's last night to process the accomplishments (or lack thereof) of our respective weeks.  Cal was the instigator, setting the plan as he went into his hot yoga session in a gym(?) near Biaggi's.  He's kinda hooked on hot yoga.  Whatever.

The highlight of the evening occurred as we left.  Walking out, I caught a glimpse of a guy at the first high-top table in the bar area who somehow registered in my long-term memory.  I went up and spoke to him and confirmed the connection, calling out to Pete to come over to the table.  The guy (John) was the host of an impromptu RAGBRAI party on the patio of a hotel in Decorah, Iowa some 10-15  years ago or so.  I don't think I have seen or spoken to him since.

The story has lots of sub-plots, but I know that it was a Thursday night at the end of a tough day.  And the day before the Friday that Pete and I frequently recall as the Worst Day of Cycling, Ever! John concurred on that fact.  Pete and I were scheduled to tent outside the Decorah hotel where the guy who had a Suburban that carried our over-night stuff was registered.  But we didn't know where the hotel was (pre-Smart phones), and so we just guessed a direction...that was wrong.  We end up at John's hotel, where there's plenty of beer and we stay for a couple of hours to partake.  (I had known John through some other people with Village of East Davenport drinking credentials.)

The evening didn't end when we eventually made our way to the other hotel, as RAGBRAI nights tend to not end early.  Then the next morning, we were sweating profusely immediately.  We never passed a water stop all day, and never had to use a corn field or Porta-Potty. Hills, heat, head-winds.  Ugly day.

So not much else to relate.  Enjoy your Saturday.


Wednesday, November 05, 2014


You Guys!  So glad the election is over!  I think the only people who might be sad are the media companies who will now have to go out and actually sell advertising spots for the first time in 60 days.  (I pity the people in Louisiana who will have to put up with the barrage of negative ads for another month for the run-off election.  Ugh!)

The Augustana Vikings tip off their men's basketball season tomorrow (Thursday) night with a visit to Bradley in Peoria.  It says something for the esteem carried by the Augie coach and the program that they get this games.  Last year, at Carver Hawkeye.  The year before at Gonzaga.  Those D-1 programs are granted one of these "no count" games each year, and for a D-III school like Augie, its a big deal.  The D-1 places know that Augie will come to play, unafraid, and the game will be a good stepping stone into their season.  Win-win.  (My Pal Pete is going, but I'm taking a pass this year.)

We have been suffering from Internet and LAN issues for much of the last few weeks.  We also had a telephone system problem that was determined to be unrelated to the other technology kerfuffle's.  Our IT vendor has spent most of the last year "explaining" why these things happen without really doing much in the way of corrective (or preventative) action.  I've declined to attend any more meetings with them, letting my pal Bill handle that action.  Their shtick sounds to me like Southern Democrats scrambling away from the WH policies on coal or the ACA.  Not many answers.  Lots of excuses.

I see in the Yahoo news today that CBS has let out the leak that actress Jeri Ryan will be a guest on NCIS after the first of the year as another one of Gibbs' ex-wives.  Whatever.  I've had a bit of a crush on Jeri Ryan from her early days on one of the Star Trek TV series' where she played a space creature/character called "7 of 9".  BLBH, I never watch much of any of the shows, but I did click on her image a few times.

This is really an example of the intersection in time of random facts, this being the day that elections dominate the news.  She was first married in the '90's to a Chicago investment banker named Jack Ryan.  (No relation to The Hunt for Red October's Jack Ryan.)  They had a child in 1994, then divorced in 1999.  In 2004, Jack Ryan was the winner of the Republican primary for the open US Senate seat in Illinois.  The opposing candidate was Democratic State Senator Barack Obama. 

Jack and Jeri Ryan had agreed to seal the court files on their divorce.  After his primary win, pressure mounted from various sources (media? opposition?) to release those files, which was done except for the custody documents.  Some is never enough.  Long story short...all of the divorce papers, as well as the child custody documents, were released after the LA Times managed to get involved and got a California judge to so rule.  There were some salacious elements in there about Jack Ryan's sexual predilections which, of course, became headlines immediately.  He shortly withdrew from the general election, leaving the Republicans without a candidate.  They subsequently came up with a weak candidate who presented little challenge to the Democrat in November.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Chicago politics at its finest.

The Country Music Association awards show is tonight.  Yeah, I won't be watching.  They properly gave the EOY award to George Strait last year, but it is unlikely that he repeats.  I'm okay with that.  The younger acts need to be recognized.  I guess.  Although didn't they give TS a big award last year...right before she turned tail (drink for sexist comment, Tom Harken) and headed fully over to pop as her music interests expanded?  And is Florida Georgia Line actually country?  Keith Urban?  Rascal Flatts?  Dan + Shay? 

As I recall, country music has an awards show each month beginning with this show.  I didn't watch any of them last year.  Its a little like reality TV...content is just too hard to produce.  Let's just put some singers in front of the camera and sell some ads.  Whatever.

Let's make 3 Daughter of the Day.  On my basement calendars, I am reminded that she and I were in Incline Village at this time in 2011 as we toured various locations for her 07282012 wedding.  It was a cold day that we met with the club house staff.  You are still a beautiful bride, Kiddo!

All for today.  Thanks for reading.


Sunday, November 02, 2014


This first day of the time switch is always a bit of a challenge.  On the one hand, I like the ease that I have in getting up earlier without having to set an alarm.  On the other hand (sounds like a country song!), eating at the right times and getting the evening organized so that bedtime hits the right number take a few days to handle.  The march from now to the Winter solstice is, if you like daylight, one of the downsides of the "holiday" season.  Maybe that's why they decided to have Winter holidays.

(Just witnessed a real brawl at the end of the NASCAR race!  The 24 was in the middle of it.  One of the idiot young drivers banged into him at the end of the race and ruined what looked to be a good day (even if he couldn't win it).)

Big day in the Big Apple.  Not sure if I have the determination to fight that crowd if 1 were to go there.  A friend from Chicago did just that to watch his daughter today.  My biggest concern would be my lack of local knowledge...and the mass of runners.  I'll worry about that when the day comes.  I'm focusing on January in Phoenix for now. The lay of that land doesn't scare me.

The local bike club had their annual dinner last night which I elected to attend at kind of the last minute.  In the more recent past, they have brought in some notable cycling personalities for these dinners, advertised the event with emails and fliers, and attracted 250 people or so.  I had received zero information about last night's dinner, and the program was a young sales gal from Trek Cycling Tours.  There might have been 100 people in the room.  Curious.

Like everyone else, I've had it up to my eyeballs with the politics.  Interesting that everyone says the same thing.  The candidates, the lobbying organizations, the media, and the public.  What seems most amazing to me is that all sides seems to think that if their respective positions are not agreed to, the opponents not agreeing with them are extreme thinkers not good for that state.  Really?

I know that I have said it in the space previously, but the Thursday afternoon CPE (continuing professional education) seminar hosted locally by the Iowa CPA Society reinforced the position that, if I were a 30-year-old just beginning my career, I'd be making a career change.  The future of enforcement for the Affordable(!) Care Act falling to the tax preparers is a prospect that I wouldn't be able to reconcile.  Its going to get messy.  And expensive.  Maybe I would have made the complete switch over to the securities business...which might have been a good choice.  Whatever.  I feel a little sorry for new CPA's who will spend years figuring out and then complying with the labyrinths of the health care laws/regulations.

Crust last Wednesday was a Jordan night.  Not only is the 2010 vintage a very nice bottle (and affordable at half-price night!), but it gives me good vibrations from our 2013 visit to Sonoma...and the Jordan Winery. (I'm thinking 1 deserves a little recognition here since I think we drank at Jordan on her dime.)
2 has come up with the idea that the second half of the proposed Europe trip next September be in Bordeaux, France.  It could work.  4-5 days in Barcelona.  A train ride to Bordeaux.  Then 4-5 days in wine country.  It has an appeal, eh?  At least a small fff possible, yes?  There's not much TdF cycling in the Bordeaux big hills...but they visit there every couple of years for the sprinters.

All right.  All for today.  Hope the Peanut Gallery has a good week.  Thanks for reading.