Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Wednesday

I was supposed to be in Chicago this AM.  Actually, the plan had been to be in Wheaton last night and then take the commuter train downtown this morning for a continuing education conference.  But yesterday was a disaster here at the office, and I decided to pass on the seminar today to catch up on what didn't get done yesterday.  If the morning goes as planned, I'll jump on the freeway this afternoon.  There's a dinner scheduled with my pal Lee this evening in Wheaton.

The new car is different.  It is definitely an upgrade from the Lucerne, but it has the feel of a Hertz rental.  Nice.  Low mileage.  But not all that distinguished from others.  The electronics will take some time to fully understand.  I'm sure that an engineering team came up with the "improvements" over the older models.  Old Dog (that's for you, 4!), new tricks, and all that.  But glad to have reliable transportation for future trips to Harvest Path.

Many thanks to the extended family for the Christmas cards.  I do enjoy seeing the growing families.  Phil and Margaret would be proud.


Special thanks to Julie for the follow-up message on Aunt Martha's service in Las Vegas.  We'll republish that pic from Sunday and make her Niece of the Day!

I see in the news where Tiger Woods is finally opening a golf course after a couple of economy-scrapped attempts.  This one is down in Cabo San Lucas at a resort (Diamonte) where there is already an existing track designed by Davis Love III.  Cabo golf is an expensive proposition, and putting Tiger's name on it probably doesn't cheapen the freight.  We've talked about going back to Cabo for the January Boy's Golf Trip, but I doubt if that happens anytime soon.  Too much time to get there.  Too expensive to play.  Local unrest makes partying away from the resort iffy.  Let the jet set take over.  Maybe some of Tiger's old girlfriends are still around there.  Just sayin'.

Interesting how the fallout from the Sony pictures hacking situation has caused quite the dust-up.  I see on the news now that they've decided not to open that Korean dictator spoof for fear of incidents.  And those emails from exec's to others prove again that, once written, electronic communications never go away.  Loose lips sink ships, etc.  Kinda nice to see some of the Hollywood types eat crow.  Even better to know that the exec's have the same opinions of the stars that some of us coffee shop experts profess.

Not sure what this says about a person, but cleaning out the old Buick before leaving the dealership with the new car created another bag of miscellaneous "crap" that will need sorting through.  I actually have a couple of shoe boxes in my extra bedroom (if there's no bed, is it a bedroom?) from previous exchanges.  Typical stuff.  Coins, pens, hotel note pads, trade-in papers on the car, insurance paperwork, CD's and CD cases.  All valuable.  Right.  And there's a couple of other shoe boxes with the contents of the "junk drawer" from my previous residences.  And from the "pile on the kitchen counter" on Maplecrest that the RCL makes me dispose of every few months.

Not proud of that rat-packing.  But fear not.  After the good feeling from last weekend's purge of keepsake-boxes in the back closet, I see the clouds of worthless possessions easing.  You make not have a lot of gratuitous LtPC possessions to kick to the curb when that time comes.

OK.  Gotta go.  Here's to Hump Day to all of us...and TGIF to 4.

BCOT

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Sunday

Going seasonal with the new Home Page pic.  Hope they get some snow at Tahoe this year.

Busy week at this end.  A couple of Christmas functions and your typical end-of-the-year action with clients here at the office.  These next couple of weeks will be more of the same.

1 tweeted and alert yesterday that there was a couple of "flyovers" at the Army-Navy game.  I didn't watch the game, and Youtube hasn't posted anything for the 2014 game.  I'm all for the flyovers, of course.  I'm guessing that the training schedules for the planes/choppers can be adjusted to nominalized the frivolous spending criticisms.  But I'm sure that there will be those who see these displays as government money just thrown to the breeze.  Whatever.

I was doing some math this weekend in anticipation of Monday being the 15th of the month.  My vision of my professional career "glide path" had etched a line in the sand on April 15, 2012 and projecting forward for 60 months.  On that timeline, December 15, 2014 is well past half way...a disturbing thought.  With the months more or less flying by these days, some serious planning needs to be done.

Without changing that 60 month scenario, a more realistic picture might be to consider the extension period for those returns that have a normal due date of April 15, 2017.  Meaning that September 15th and October 15th 2017 come into play.  Going out to October 2017, the number that kind of comes to the fore is 1000 days.

If you consider that each year has 104 weekend days, and that I also schedule myself on the road an estimated 20-25 additional days per year, we're talking in the neighborhood of 650 work days.  That doesn't seem like that many days, eh?

A Thousand Days is a non-fiction book written by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in the mid-60's on the abbreviated presidency of John F. Kennedy.  Anne of a Thousand Days is a historical movie (based on a Broadway production of the same name) released in the late '60's starring Richard Burton as King Henry VIII.  Not sure if A Thousand Days with LtPC will make the best seller's lists.

Today is also the one-month mark before our golf trip to Scottsdale.  I've put my pal Ron in charge of the golf course reservations.  The economy in The Valley of the Sun must be on the upswing.  Rates at Grayhawk Golf Club where we have played their two courses each of the last several years have doubled from five years ago.  We paid like $99 per round back then, and didn't have to shop very hard to get that rate.  The rack rate today for Thursday through Sunday rounds at either Grayhawk course is $255! Yikes!  We'll end up at some lesser-known courses and likely average $150 for the three rounds.

(For historical reference, we paid at least $200 per round 15 years ago when we went to Cabo.  And one course was over $300.  That's why we stopped going to Cabo.  Ron says that he and Jane did not play Pebble Beach in 2012 when they went to California after 3 and 3.1's wedding due to the $499/each charge for one round.  But he does say that it would have been cheaper to play golf than it was for the wine that they ended up buying in Napa Valley!)

Another frightening example of Big Brother is Watching:  I did a Google search on my iPad while at home one night last week regarding the income earned per-episode by Pat and Vanna on WofF.  The next day at work, I was doing a Google search on my desktop, and the query words for whatever I was looking for started with a "wh" word.  The auto finish-the-query function, on my desktop, offered up "What does Vanna Make?"  Electronic tracking is way too much in-play.

The Salvation Army bell-ringing is very annoying.  I get that it is their primary fund-raiser.  But enough already.

Adding some gratuitous pics from home later.

Hope it is a good week in your neighborhood.

BCOT
















Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Tuesday






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Great memories!!
BCOT

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Sunday

I have no excuse for the lack of new material here this week. I started an entry on Wednesday, but had a guy come in for a meeting that never ended (more on that meeting later). And the Road to Good Intentions couldn't get past the idea stage on Friday and Saturday. Whatever.

I'm a little slow with this today. Among other things, the "a" key on my iPad keyboard has lost it's top...and getting an "a" to print requires an extra step each time. I don't often use the keyboard...not sure where the key top went for the "a".

The BEATER lived up to its name on Friday. After couple of early morning coffee stops, the car failed to turn-over in the parking lot at Dunn's. It was a "Car Dead, Call Fred" moment. A new alternator and peripheral parts later, I was good to go. $500. Great start for the weekend.

We have a new wine-bar in Davenport. Wacky, the guy who ran Wacky Waters for my pal Roy, opened a new place in one of those commercial buildings just South of Biaggi's on Utica Ridge Road. Its similar to the place in LeClaire that he had with his now ex-wife. I stopped in Wednesday for the first time with that guy who had come in to review my office procedures for my securities business. Kinda small. Good selection of wine. Not cheap, but not outrageous. Not sure how you make money at a place like that. No food. So no catering. Only 30-35 places for customer seating. Hmmm.




The evening extended further with a stop at 1/2 price night at Crust where I met up with my pal Pete and the owner of the Healthy Habits bike shop. (Generally, half-price wine tasted better than the same bottle at full price. Just sayin'.) The bike guy's girlfriend is a dead-ringer for Ziva David, including the widow's peak. She wasn't aware of who we were talking about, and was taken aback with the resemblance when she pulled up a Google image. I'll get her pic next time and share here. Long story short, I've been in wine-detox since Wednesday.

There was a story on Yahoo this AM about the 10 Most Disappointing Destinations for travel. On the list were such places as LA, the Pyramids, and Venice. Reasons for making the list were predominately, 1) dirt and grime, 2) aggressive street vendors, and 3) costs. I get that. But I am struck by the opposite results as I consider my destinations over the last several years. Other than a little bit of the LV Strip going a long way, my stops have been universally good experiences. Then again, except for the trips to Europe, I have mostly chosen to re-visit places that have produced good results previously. NYC. Tahoe. San Antonio. SF. Scottsdale. Total Wine.

And those trips to Europe have mostly stayed away from the big cities. The Palermo experience in Sicily was up the size charts, and Torino was big-city-gritty. But neither of those towns were/are huge tourist destinations. Lourdes in France had the most touristy feel...need any holy water? And the Isle of Capri was probably the biggest tourist trap.

Today is another memorable day in history. The anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. For us of the Boomer Generation, it was a big item in American history. Semper fi.

All for today. I'll be doing better this week.

BCOT

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday

Here we are, the last day of November.  The 2014 vapor trail continues.

The visit from the Dornies was a big hit.  We'll make them Family of the Day.  (This is a shot from their photo session with Noelle last month.)  Nothing overly exciting accomplished during their visit.  Just good 'ol fff.  Missing 3 and 3.1.

Great also to have 4 here for the week.  And 2 for several days. 

I efforted steaks on the grille last night on Century Heights Avenue.  Not the worst results, but there was a grille malfunction with the upper shelf in the BBQ that diminished the results of my mushroom-veggie concoction.  And doing the cooking in darkness is a challenge.  But regardless, outdoor grilling in late November is a bonus...and a fitting finale for the holiday weekend.

As reported on Twitter, Margret went into hibernation today.  That gets a spot in my garage for the BEATER which then keeps the Buick off the street.  (I've been driving the Buick these cold days when the outdoor-sitting BEATER would be frosted over in the mornings.)

And speaking of the Buick, it's days are numbered.  It needs a new set of tires ($1200 or so), some front-end work (another grand), and its now seven years old.  Blue Book value is down to $5-6K, and those repairs noted, if completed, won't increase that value.  I've contacted my car dealer client to find as good of a low-mileage Buick LaCrosse as he can find as my next vehicle.  They don't make the Lucerne anymore...or any 8-cylinder Buicks.  So a 6-cylinder LaCrosse is the best available substitute.  The color won't be black or white, but all others are okay if the car checks out on mileage and options.

(My pal Roy says I can borrow the Caddy anytime I need a dose of testosterone.  He's also ordered one of those new Dodge Chargers...with 700 horsepower!...which may make it up to Harvest Path one weekend after the snow is gone in the Spring.)

2, 1.1 and I went over to the Augie men's game last night...which Augie won in a rout.  They're rated #1 in the D-III poll right now...and they are very good.  They have a 5'9" guard who continues to amaze.  He has range, quickness, and a no-fear mentality.  They've already lost one big man for the year to an ACL (his third!), and they could run into problems with a team with height, but the way they shoot, run and play D, they''ll be hard to beat..  I'll be going to a few more games.

OK.  Enough for tonight.  Hope everyone gets December off to a good start.  Thanks for reading.

BCOT

Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday

Black Friday is always a Chili's day for the fam.  Not sure if I'd call it "comfort food", but you pretty well know what you're going to get without looking at the menu.  The corn-on-the-cob was a big hit for the younger set.  1.01 and 1.02 are Grandkids of the Day!

The Hawks managed to fritter another one away today.  Glad I wasn't there and didn't catch much of the 4th quarter or the OT on the TV.  Those close losses to Iowa State, Wisconsin and the Huskers make for a season to forget.  Woulda, coulda, shoulda.  Not a lot of scoring difference between 10-2 and 7-4.  Bring on the Sun Bowl.  And basketball season.  Although the prospects there are much the same as they were for the football team.  Potential doesn't automatically get wins.

These Ferguson protests across the country remind me of the sympathetic demonstrations that occurred after the original Occupy Wall Street camp-out in NYC's Zuccotti Park.  Friendly types in the media and liberal circles encouraged the unrest as a means to expand the anti-establishment coalition.  For many of the rabble-rousers who pray on these events (i.e., Al and Jesse), stirring the, "we are oppressed" pot is situation normal, regardless of the facts.  Like the POTHUS's former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel would say, never let a serious crisis go to waste.  Whatever.

Black Friday is one of the slowest business days of the year here at the office.  Light trading in the market.  Lots of clients on the road or otherwise away from work.  Not that I was overly efficient with the phones so quiet, but it is a good time to clean off some shelves.  More of the same in the AM.

I've made the conversion to the stability ball as my desk "chair".  I actually brought the ball to the office months ago, but let it sit in a corner away from me and out of the way.  Not sure what the impetus was to make the switch, but it was definitely overdue.  I need the core lots stronger to compete with my pals Ron and Cal in 2015 golf.  (This is one of the balls from the Maplecrest Fit Club action in the Summer of 2012.)

Speaking of fitness, the passing of the Turkey Trot gets me into the traditional transition time for indoor training, both for golf and Spring cycling.  I have the bike on a trainer in the basement, and the rowing machine is there as well.  So now, its just a matter of allocating the time.

Switching gears, Kenny Chesney (not my favorite country star...but I do like a couple of his songs) made some headlines a week or two ago with some quotes in Billboard magazine about the need for country music to quit "objectifying" women.  Political correctness has hit the saloon!  Gimme a break.  This from a guy who has made millions with songs about the beach, the bars, and the girls at both.  (In the FWIW department, Shania may be on the short list of those artists whom I would walk across the street to meet.)

All for today.  Last night for 4 in the 52722.  Great visit.

BCOT
  Here are a couple of my favorite country girls!





Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wednesday

That run over to Iowa City Monday night was a successful venture.  The weather was a bit sketchy for driving 80 on 80, but we made it over to 2's in just a little over the normal trip-time, and the way back was a piece of cake. 

Lots of empty seats at the game.  The students are gone for Thanksgiving.  Lousy weather.  People are busy.  I parked in the public lot down the street toward the Coralville strip, and there wasn't even an attendant there to collect a fee.  We sat midway down at one corner of the court as no one was checking proper seat-taking.  The game was "meh".  The Hawks should win more than half of their Big 10 home games, and maybe steal 3-4 road games.  They have no real go-to guy who can score at crunch time.  If you don't have one of those guys, its tough in tight games against good teams.

(Side bar for 1.1:  One of the referees at the game was Gene Stenatore who also happens to be an NFL referee.  He
definitely had a Sunday football game...and then travelled to Iowa City for that game.  He has a good reputation in football, and the coaches didn't say much about the officiating during or after the Monday game.  Guys like him who keep a full calendar must never know what town they wake up in.)

We left at the 12 minute time-out to go for Airliner pizza.  We found a parking space downtown on the street just a half-block away from the AL.  That never happens.  And the AL was basically deserted.  Literally, maybe one other table occupied.  As reported on Twitter, the pizza was a hit. 

Over wine at 2's, I made a comment about having seen on CNBC's Squawkbox morning business program that Estee Lauder had selected Kendall Jenner as the new face/personality for their glamour products.  If that isn't an illustration of pop culture passing me by, I don't know what is.  I mean, I think of Estee Lauder, and I think of an older target market.  Wiki lists Elizabeth Hurley...who is still very attractive...and Paulina Porizkova from SI swimsuit issue days...as former spokespersons.  I'm dating myself, I know. Still.   Kendall Jenner?

So anybody out there wanna be Secretary of Defense?  The job is open.  The POTHUS served Hagel up as a Thanksgiving appetizer to show how much he is shaking things up after the disappointing election results.  Right.  There's gotta be another progressive political hack inside the Beltway willing to carry some water for BHO.  Can you say, Ebola czar?  Whatever.

So we have 1 and 1.1 delivering the goods from the new Total Wine store in Woodbury today.  Perfect training for my Turkey Trot effort.  (No, I'm not running.  Coffee for Lt. PC.)

Happy Thanksgiving to all in the peanut gallery.  Happy Tax Birthday to @srh4.

BCOT