Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday

The new Home Page pic is the one I took while golfing in Texas last Saturday.  The course that I was on was located along the Brazos river in Central Texas.  I'm guessing that when the surroundings are green, it's a real eye-catching landscape.  In the middle of Winter, meh.

This has been a very odd week for me.  Obviously, that extra day in Texas because of the ice got me off to a disconcerting start.  Then that unplanned boys' bus trip over to Carver-Hawkeye on Wednesday evening-night put a hitch in the giddy-up, particularly with that post-midnight return.  I'm never up that late!  Snow on Wednesday night-Thursday morning added to the para-normal routine.  And the Augie game last night was a fitting extra activity, ripple in the force de jour of life on Maplecrest.


I'm making 2 Daughter of the Day.  She came in last night for some craft class that she had signed-up for today.  We enjoyed the popcorn and hot dogs at the game...and an Augie win!  Of course, we left with eight minutes to go when the game was still in the balance.  Why wouldn't we?  Not to worry.  My pal Pete provided text-updates through the end of the game.  And we had 2nd Coffee this AM.  Fun to have her back in my zip code.

Here's a nice article on Father Hesburgh.  He was known around campus in my day as "Ted the Head", in recognition of his position as president of the university.  At that point in his career, he was focused on the development and growth of the university.  I never heard much negative talk about him, neither while I was in school there, nor in all these years since my graduation.  Since he trended toward the liberal end of the equation, he received fairly favorable coverage in the national media.  http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-theodore-hesburgh-dead-20150227-story.html  He definitely had his critics, but I wouldn't call him controversial.  He was in reality, a Notre Dame treasure. 

One of the take-away's from the business side of my trip last week to Waco was the security measures taken by the data processing firm that I visited.  Not only was a swipe-key required by my escort for entry in to the reception area from the elevator vestibule, but once I was at the interior reception desk, the gal took my picture and provided me with a "Guest" photo-ID card for use during my visit.  I'm used to general registration for entry to offices, particularly in the big cities that I visit (NYC, C-town), but this attention to detail was a bit surprising in a decidedly small business setting.  In Waco.  But that particular business possesses a lot of personal data on its servers, so caution is the word.

At coffee this AM, my pal Cal offered up that there were three separate stories in the Surgeon's Lounge at the hospital of hacking of personal computers within the last week or two.  Hackers coming onto machines saying that they were tracking breaches of security to that computer, and that the owner needed to give up user names/passwords so that the virus/hacking could be fixed.  The whole business of hacking has to be hugely successful or you wouldn't have all these stories coming out.  Whether they are Eastern European, Chinese or Nigerian, there are some bad dudes out there!  The LtPC wants off the grid!!  Period.

OK.  I'll get another entry up here over the weekend.  Live long and prosper.

BCOT

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tuesday

So I'm back in the air, finally, for the return to the QCA. That ice storm in Dallas was a bit inconvenient, but ultimately, not the worst event in my travel history. I was delayed 24 hours. In the over all scheme of things, I can live with that.

I will say though, any future February trips with golf on the itinerary will be to Scottsdale or further South. Even with warm weather, the visuals of golf in central Texas in February are far from inspiring. Everything is brown except for the tee boxes and greens.

I'm going to list a few take-always from this trip just to record some unrelated observations. Sorry for the travelogue, but these have all had some recurring appearances over the weekend:



1. Every retail counter person came at me with lots of "yes, sir" greetings and responses. Either I've got that elderly appearance going for me, or these people are very polite.
2. My driving sense of direction isn't what it was in the past. How far it was in the past when I actually did have a sense of direction might even be debatable.
3. Having to eat out all of the time is awful. No wonder our population is obese. A steady diet of fast food has to be the worst.
4. Repeat of 3 above. For emphasis.
5. Not sure if it is the same feel throughout the country, but the endless supply of Walmart's, Shell station's, Subway's, and every you-name-it franchise on this trip made me wonder about where we are as the consuming public. Kinda like a never-ending blob of urban sprawl.
6. Every third vehicle in Texas is a heavy-duty, extended-cab pick-up with dual rear wheels and a front grill 10 feet wide.
7. There may be multiple zip codes for DFW. Small it ain't.
8. No smoking in restaurants and bars is a really good thing.
9. Traveling alone is ok, but I think that having a companion along adds to the experience...mostly. I think I deal with the delays better alone, as I can work, write and puzzle to make that extra time more palatable.
10. I have come to appreciate 2's counsel on packing each time I'm out on the road. Less is more is a great rule.

One indication of the mostly foul weather on this trip is that I never took the Oakley sun-glasses out of the case. And the lack of sun also discouraged use of the new Canon. Bummer.



Alamo made another's day rental as a result of my delay. (Ford Fusion this time. Not a bad ride.). I'm glad I kept the car rather than try to save a buck by turning it in yesterday. While my hotel was close enough to offer transportation to-from DFW, the shuttle wasn't running this AM due to the poor road conditions. I would have had to call a cab. And I had an extra night's lodging cost to add to my expense report. (I'm guessing that buried in the small print of my airline ticket purchase is their exemption from liability for any meal, lodging or transportation costs due to an Act of God. Whatever.)


Pitchers and catchers are reporting this week for MLB's start of Spring training. A-Rod is getting a lot of ink for his return from the season-long ban for use of PED's. The guy is 39 years old. He couldn't hit when he was 37. But the Yankees are on the hook for a big salary number, so he'll play. If he hits .250 and drives in 60 runs it will be a good season. Looks to me like, with their roster, the Yanks will be sitting home again come October.

Speaking of baseball, there was an interesting story in this morning's Dallas paper about a college coach who wanted to get the college season moved to start in April rather than February. (The season is in full swing in Texas.). I mean, really, with some history of playing in March in Indiana, such a move makes a lot of sense on the diamond. But with the MLB draft and the signings that always happen right after the CWS, this idea has like no chance of adoption. Too bad.

I remember playing in snow squalls at ND, even in April. You almost preferred striking out as opposed to putting the bat on a pitched ball. Your hands could sting for the rest of the day even if you hit the ball square, let alone if you got jammed and fouled something off the handle. It still makes me wince.

I see in this morning's paper that ND has exactly zero players named in projections for the top 25 in the up-coming NFL draft following the scouting combine that was held last week. Not terribly surprising given their won-loss record last year. But it does speak volumes as to why they are only fringely competitive on a national level.



I have no explanation as to why I couldn't get on here during my trip. I think all that may be of interest to anyone made its way to Twitter. The weather and travel logistics were a bit exhausting. Trying to plan for the best choices to deal with the weather-imposed schedule changes was work. Not necessarily overly stressful, but kinda always there. I'm looking forward to getting back to Maplecrest. I'm sure the ideas will re-appear.

Hope it is a Good Tuesday in your neighborhood.

BCOT

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thursday

This is another effort from "de plane, de plane." I'm on the hop down to DFW. Meetings in the AM in Waco (Waco? Waco? Yes, Waco), and then hope to spend a couple of days on the golf course. Temps Friday and Saturday are looking to be in the high 60's or low 70's, but Sunday doesn't look so good. We may be talking about hotel lobbies. The flight back is Monday AM.

This may have been one of my Bottom Ten experiences at MLI in the last 2-3 years. The flight was delayed. OK, no biggie. It's delayed, not cancelled, so I'm going to get to DFW tonight. I'm already checked in. But the online check-in had not queried me for a baggage fee, so I had to do that at the airport. There was a line, of course. But the self-check-in machine was available...except that the credit-card reader was broken. Of course. Get in line. And those lines just don't move when each person has a connection problem. Yada, Yada, Yada. One service rep. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

Then I wasn't designated TSA pre-approved. But when I get to the security line...there is no line. Not a person. OK. This'll be easy, right. Wrong-O, Bucko!! The TSA guards are so bored, they take me to task at every turn, even pulling the corkscrew that has been through the same line a dozen times previously...and then, literally closely examining it, saying, "Lots of these have blades, you know." I did tell that guy that this was not my first rodeo.

Maybe the hat woulda helped, attesting to my character.

My original February plan had been a return visit to Scottsdale, but this Waco trip had to get done, so I elected to take my chances with Dallas weather. It will be fine, regardless. A few days away in February is good for the LtPC's mental and spiritual health.

I brought along the new camera, so I'm going to try to do some experimentation with that new toy. I did listen to/watch one YouTube video about operating this specific camera. It was pretty elementary and I didn't learn much, but I did notice several other videos relating to the same device, so I still hope to shorten the learning curve by way of this type of instruction. Stay tuned.

Hellcat Alert. Roy's new Dodger Charger Hellcat with the 700+ horsepower engine has arrived. He had it at coffee this AM. He offered to let me "take it for a spin", but I declined. Eight below zero, morning rush hour, and a Hellcat didn't sound like a good equation to me. Roy said it even kept him on alert just driving to coffee. Punch that sucker and the rear wheels spin...kinda NASCAR-ish. But soon.

Speaking of NASCAR, the twin dual races are tonight. This is how they set the grid for the 500. Heck, the first one will be over by the time I land. Danica is in the second race. If she doesn't finish high enough in this qualifying sprint, she could be out of Sunday's Big One. She wrecked her primary car in practice yesterday, so we'll see if she can keep the fenders on the back-up car and stay with the lead pack. I want her to do well.

We had a quick visit from 2 yesterday. Dentist and a swap-out of her own car that finally had been tuned-up. HOOPDRM is back on Century Heights. We'll give her some airtime as Daughter of the Day. This pic was on the gondola ride up to the mid-mountain area on Mt. Etna in Sicily. A great memory day for us. #BarcelonaBordeaux2015 is the next big chapter!




Looks like we are on our final approach to the Big D.

I'll be adding here over the weekend. I feel a bit of an obligation to do more than a blah-blah travelogue. This is the weekend of the annual writing contest...which I have not signed-up for given this trip. So maybe the sea's will part while I am out here on the road and a creative idea will appear. It could happen.




Make it a Good Friday in your neighborhood.

BCOT



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Wednesday

Here's a look at the little fff that took place last night in The Big Apple.  Phil and Margaret would be pleased that these four made the effort to meet up when the opportunity was presented.

The Deep Freeze is here for a couple of days.  It was cold all day and is going to 8 below tonight.  Glass half full: it'll be March in less than two weeks.

The cold was so bad the last couple of days that I've taken the Buick to work for the benefit of the heated seats.  WWI?  Anyway, the Buick is Blue Tooth equipped and I have my cell phone paired with the car.  Yesterday, the car kept random dialing my own number. Musta been the cold.  I had to disable the Blue Tooth on the phone to stop the cycle.

It got me to thinkin'.  If you were a car mechanic today, you'd have to know a lot about technology to be able to fully service newer cars.  I mean, Blue Tooth on the radio is a little different than replacing brake shoes.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sunday





So today's confession is that I jumped the shark and gave into the primal urge to get the new "big" digital camera.  Another Canon.  The EOS D60. These are the first pictures.  Literally.  I had the idea that I would get out and catch some shots of the eagles at the lock/dam by LeClaire.  But it was cold as heck out there, and the eagles were too far away.  This is what you get.

My logic, weak as it may be, is that I want to have a really good camera for #BarcelonaBordeau2015, and the price for this model has come down a couple hundred bucks since Canon brought out an upgrade for this target market a year or so ago. My goal is to get proficient with this thing before the end of Summer.  It is also consistent with my personal goal to get back into photography rather than the point and shoot iPhone or mini-digi.  This thing has so many whistles and bells that I need to find an on-line course to help me wade through the instructions.

This time of year in this geography, colors are not out there in nature.  Maybe there will be some more eye-appealing subjects next weekend in Texas.

Expect more random pics here in the future.

In other unrelated news, I will take a small bow for completing the Saturday NYT crossword yesterday.  I usually don't get that one fully done, let alone on the publishing date.  The moon and stars had to have been aligned.  Several full horizontal and full vertical solutions to clues.  The mind must have been in the groove.  Some days you get the bear.

Props to the 24 for grabbing the pole today for next Sunday's Daytona 500.  Qualifying is now a crap-shoot and the drivers don't like it.  One big wreck took out 3-4 cars who will now have to go to back-up cars for the Thursday qualifying races and next Sunday's real deal.  NASCAR came up with the new qualifying format to get away from the paint-drying boring single-car runs that had been the prior seasons' protocol.  This new way needs work.  Why have them wreck their cars before the actual race?

Just checked the scores.  I see that the Hawks made another statement today to reserve their spot in the NIT.  Unbelievable.

Like, no.  I'm not watching the NBA All-Star game. (I did watch Snedeker win at Pebble Beach today. Impressive scenery.  But I don't think worth the $500+ it takes to play 18.  Great that we didn't have to watch Bill Murray on the telecast...he didn't make the cut in the Pro-Am for Sunday.)

That's it from Maplecrest.  Had to present the news on the camera.  Hope it is a good week in your neighborhood.

BCOT


Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday

The convenience of satellite radio has drawn me into the flames.  A 90-day trial subscription to SiriusXM came with the new Buick in December.  It has been nice to have the many channels for music, news and sports on these trips to Minnesota (or locally to Muscatine or Iowa City).  I had kinda decided that if their "deal" was for no more than $10 a month, I'd consider signing-up.  Well, I got the paperwork in the mail yesterday, and a pre-paid annual subscription is $113, all in.  That's for a year after the first three months which were at no cost.  I called up and did the subscription.

My concern is the second year.  Its auto-renewal, of course.  But you can cancel the renewal before the renewal date.  How reliable will Outlook be for this purpose?

Subsequent to the subscription confirmation, I also received an email from Sirius encouraging me to get their "app" for my smart phone which allows the user to lock or unlock the car from the phone.  There was a list of other services that were available through the app...which immediately raised my concerns about what I had just bought into.  Really.  Below radar I ain't.

(Relatedly, the Buick also came with a trial subscription to OnStar.  I definitely will not be taking that service when the trial period expires.  There's way too much tracking going on for the LtPC.)

I'm not really afraid of Friday the 13th, but I don't like tempting the Fates either.  No bad stories on the 13th from my past, but one should always be careful.

I gotta admit that I have enjoyed a bit the recent calling-out of the now disgraced news-reader, Brian Williams.  There was a time up through about the time of 2008 Presidential campaign where I actually watched NBC evening news with some regularity.  He even had expressed some interest in NASCAR.  But his shtick got to me at that time (as all of the broadcast news people did to some extent), and I have avoided him like the plague now for years.  He has now brought to the current lexicon the term "fabulist"...one who relates fables.

He is also representative of the people in the reporting business who have promoted themselves to being part of the news, or into being news makers themselves.  Almost an off-shoot of reality TV.  Dan Patrick in sports comes to mind.  He came up as an anchor on SportsCenter.  Now he's a sports "personality".  Who thinks his opinions matter.  There's not much that separates these people from Geraldo or the Kardashian's.

OK.  Enough for a Friday afternoon.  It's Wine o'clock.

Have a great weekend.

BCOT



Thursday, February 12, 2015

Thursday

This has been another of those weeks that just got away from me.  The return from Minny, a night with The Winniferous, and then an evening meeting with 2 mid-way to Iowa City for the W hand-off, and its Wednesday already.  Whatever.


Happy Birthday to Abe.  I didn't even see an article noting this day in the Illinois-side paper this AM.  I must have missed it.  Illinois is pretty good about recognizing him.

I had some trepidation about the re-appearance of the real RCL this week.  The house had been serviced by the SRCL since Christmas.  That gal had left a note last week that her last day was the 3rd.  When the towels that I had put in the washer Tuesday morning in anticipation of the RCL were still there when I got home Tuesday night, I was concerned.  Fortunately, there was a Wednesday visit, which must have been her regular day anyway.  So all's right with the world.

The PGA tour is at Pebble Beach this week for the AT&T National Pro-Am.  Back in the day, the tournament was known as "The Crosby", with Bing Crosby as the celebrity host.  I may have commented here in year's past that amateurs can fork over several thousand dollars to play alongside the pros for a few days.  I had it on the TV in the office this afternoon.  I thought that it was notable that there weren't that many of the world's top players in the field.  I get it.  I mean, who wants to dink around the course with a couple of 20-handicappers in your group dumping balls into the Pacific Ocean?  They're probably 6-hour rounds that just don't end.  (If they show Bill Murray doing his stupid shtick with the gallery twice, they show it at least 20 times!  It has to suck.)


Our snow from a couple weeks back is gradually receding.  Sublimation, not melting.  Gotta give credit to my pal Doc Doug from DSM for enlightening me about the sublimation term.  We are forecasted to have below zero temps this weekend, so the snow isn't going anywhere soon.  But it is interesting to see the piles shrink in the sun and dry weather.

Let's make 3 Daughter of the Day.  She pulled the old coast-to-coast gig Tuesday-Wednesday for client meetings in San Diego.  She said she was in California for 23 hours.  Don't they make Go-to-Meeting for that stuff?  You're a star, Kiddo.

All for now.

Make it a Good Friday in your neighborhood.

BCOT


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tuesday










1.02 is Grandson of the Day. My new favorite pic.

BCOT

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