Thursday, August 30, 2012


So its still August so I guess highs in the upper 90's are not shocking, but I am getting a little tired of 'em.  Bring on Isaac!

My pal Bill has run into the classic bad bureaucracy of a financial report from hell.  He had a funny charge on an out-of-common-use credit card that he ignored for several months, that ended up at a collection agency.  An $80 original charge that grew to around $175 with penalties.  When he finally figured out that it was legitimate, the train had already left the station.

His regular personal banker at the bank he's been at for 30 years had to reject a draw on his home-equity line of credit because of a report from a credit agency.  He's going to have to go clear up the ladder to clear this thing up.  Lesson to be learned:  if you have an inactive credit card out there, cancel it.  Who knows what anomaly could happen.  Ugh!

I spent the day writing and re-writing a one and a half page letter to the IRS.  At that level of production, I could never be a writer!  With no administrative assistant, I've been doing my own letters, which is ok, it just means that I beat them to death.  This was one where the essence of the argument was pretty basic, but one that required bringing in some complicated, diverse facts to get an agent to at least come close to my side. Its stressful.

Hello college football.  Kick-off tonight with South Carolina squeaking by Vanderbilt in Nashville.  Only caught a few glimpses.  The Ol' Ball Coach didn't have a team that will scare the SEC biggies. In the FWIW Department, the new Erin ain't much of an Erin.  Just sayin'.

2 and The W and I have started, albeit in baby steps, the Turkey Trot training.  Just walking two miles or so most nights.  In the heat tonight, that inward mile was a slow one for W.  Just too hot. Do dogs sweat with their tongues?  W's was streaming! 

The Fit Club exercises need to get back into the program.  I slept hard last night, but woke with back and necks issues...the first time since before FC.  That's gotta change.

No big plans for the weekend.  W and I are on our own.  Golf if Isaac cooperates.  Will advise here as the days permit.

Here's a rough pic of the moon from just a bit ago on Maplecrest.  They say that the official "blue moon" is tomorrow morning and evening.  Whatever.

The Home Page pic is one that's been here before.  It's from the road that I biked in Italy on the shores of Lake Garda, near Verona.  Beautiful country.

Make it a Good Friday.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Here's a lay-up.  3 and 3.1 are the Couple of the Day.  Happy one-month anniversary!!!

More later.


Sunday, August 26, 2012


Hard to believe, but we've had rain most of the day here today.  My pal Ron and I drove down to Geneva after coffee to test the validity of the shower-y forecast, and got drenched a couple of time for our trouble.  We initially tried a regular effort in a cart with a steady drizzle coming down, only to be chased back to the clubhouse by a steady downpour before we completed two holes.

We went back out after an hour when the precipitation was back to sprinkles, but we had to walk because the course was too wet for carts.  I just carried four clubs while He-man Ron toted his whole bag.  We did none holes, but it wasn't pretty.  I couldn't see with my glasses because of the refracted vision from rain drops on the lenses, and I couldn't see without them, because I can't see without them.  Ron won four bucks.  His psyche needed it.  Whatever.

I just heard my sump pump crank on for the first time in months.  Does that mean that the drought is over?  Pretty sure that I'll have to mow my yard this week as soon as things dry from this storm.  I haven't pulled a cord on the mower since June.

I've determined that my Year of Golf officially ends September 15th.  Handicaps are updated on the last day of the month and on the 15th of the month.  I should be able to get in 5-6 rounds in three weeks time.  We'll see if I get to a 12 by then.  Smart money is betting the Under (that I won't get there).

Hardly news, but I want to recognize Neil Armstrong here today.  The collection of intellects and brave souls who comprised our manned-space program merit all of the accolades that have been expressed this weekend.  I would definitely have walked across the street to meet this guy.

I had a call last week from a high school classmate to advise me that our class will gather for a 45-year reunion next month on a Saturday night in Ottumwa.  I think that I may go.  I don't see these folks much, and I don't think that I have much currently in common with many of them, but if they want to have a little get together, I'll play team-ball and go.  We can at least compare medical histories.

Kudo's to 3 and 3.1 for getting their thank-you's out to the wedding guests.  I've received several compliments from My Rowdy Friends for the personal touch shown on these cards.  Well done, Kiddo!

The NASCAR race last night at Bristol (short-track racin'), produced some video to embellish the NASCAR image in the general public.  Tony Stewart got into Matt Kenseth late in the race while both were tryinging for the lead, putting both of them into the wall and out of contention.  Stewart's car was disabled, and when Kenseth came back around, Tony executed a high-quality, two-handed helmet-toss, nailing Kenseth's car...and scoring perfect 10's with the judges!

In the For What Its Worth department, the night race at Bristol, last night's, is the one NASCAR race venue that I might actually attend one day.  It won't likely be happening in the next year or two, but its out there as a possible excursion.  Not a bucket list item.

One of the guys at coffee this AM noticed me paging through the Best Buy circular that had been in the paper and said, "If you're looking for something there, you'd better hurry."  This was in reference to the rough patch that Best Buy is encountering these days, and the difficulty that this "big box" retailer faces going forward.  Realistically, Best Buy's best days are behind it.  Swimming upstream against Internet rivals will last only so long.

Another guy commented that, when he was looking for an electronic item, he would go to look at that product at Best Buy, and then would go home and order it from another provider on the Internet.  For a better price and no tax.  I have no problem with that program.

But that reality flows to my belief that we should be looking at a fully-revised tax code that would largely go to a National consumption (sales) tax system that would also bring Internet purchases into the equation.  Get rid of all the deductions and special-interest provisions, lower the rate, broaden the base, and have everyone participate.  If Chief Justice Roberts can logic his way to the legality of Obamacare, we ought to be able to tip-toe a technical way to authorize an on-line tax protocol. 

It is apparently not politically correct with the collective Left to have everyone take a shift to pull the village wagon.  I disagree. We have too many folks on for the ride.  If you want that great 48" plasma-screen HDTV on sale this week, go for it.  But add in 5% for Uncle Sam. The same goes for that tank of gas, and that bargain spree with the 30% off coupon at Kohl's.

The bone to the Left to get there?  Maybe a continuation of a corporate tax on some simply-quantified level of income.  But something that doesn't require a squad of MBA's to define "is".  That's how we got to where we are today.  (And that's not ALL Bush's fault.)

I'll give a go at spending another time.  The spending side is beyond out-of-control.

So, enough for today.  Hope everyone has a good week.


Thursday, August 23, 2012


The heat is back on in the QCA.  94 or thereabouts today.  Same on tap for tomorrow.  The humidity isn't so bad, but it still looks like an A/C night on Maplecrest.  I just don't sleep that well when the low stays in the 70 degree range until early AM.

This entry is coming to you from the deck in my back yard.  I don't have the picture thing mastered on this iPad, but I'll jump on the laptop before I go to bed and populate my text with some appropriate scenery/shots.  We all like pictures, eh?  And the little keyboard on the iPad is better (or at least less-frustrating) than the the keyboard on the laptop.  When I sit on my couch with the laptop, I use a full keyboard that I plug into a USB port.  This iPad keyboard is wireless/Bluetooth.

I'm making 2 Daughter of the Day.  She's got some challenges ahead of her at the museum.  The set-up there is going through some transition with the new Director, and 2 ends up with the typical political issues that arise when an administration goes through a major change.  I think that it may even be worse in the not-for-profit world than in regular politics or on the corporate ladder.  You need to watch your six, Kiddo.  There are frenemies out there!  (A favorite pic from the coliseum in Verona!)

We had a much-delayed debriefing with our IT company today on the system conversion that we labored through last Winter.  At this point, the issues have diminished to a reasonable level, but both sides acknowledge that any future major IT project will be handled with an entirely different protocol.  The IT company has hired more people and changed their model some to address things, but it is an evolving process.  Kinda like the social media business: whatever is a hit today, will be toast in the non-too-distant future. Technology companies must constantly address the "next" iteration.

When I started my own business in 1982, I didn't own a single computer.  I did client work on accountant's columnar paper.  Tax returns were out-sourced (just like Bain!).  Then when I did buy my first computer, it cost about $8,000 and had the processing power of maybe 10% of my iPhone!!!!  I'm guessing that our next step will be toward the cloud, where we keep very little paper files in our office, and utilize the servers at an unknown, secure location.

(So I had to head inside when darkness came in and the bugs started to flock to the screen on the iPad.  Technology can only do so much!)

The local high school football season started tonight with a game at Brady Stadium.  August 23rd.  Hmmm.  Cool crisp Fall evenings.  Uh, not so much.  (Those nights from 20-25 years ago when we would go over to Brady games remain a great memory for me.)

Cousin Peter T is quoted in the current story on the Mars rover's first test drive.  Impressive.  We have good genes in the fam.

Really not a lot to add here.  Nothing like a little Prince Henry frolic going on here on Maplecrest.

Make it a Good Friday.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Just a few lines this morning to keep the information pipeline flowing.  Its another great looking day here in the QCA.

The Vuelta a Espana is underway.  It is the year's third major, three-week stage race in Europe.  As you can see from the map, the route is hardly a "tour" of Spain.  Maybe of Northern Spain.  They did have a stage earlier this week in the Basque country where 4 and I visited last year, but now in the same towns where we stayed.

The Vuelta suffers from a little of "cycling fatigue" in the sense that the Italian and French Tours have sucked a lot of energy out of the viewing public, not to mention that we had the Olympics this year.  While the Spanish stars always show up at the starting line, many of the other big names have already begun to shut down for the year.

(For the Americans in the professional peloton, there is a fairly big stage race going on this week in Colorado.  At least these guys don't call it a Tour of Colorado.  Obviously, the map shows that the race visits only popular destinations in the central part of the state.  Still, I'm sure that Colorado sees this as a major economic event for the state.  Kind of like a Presidential primary.)

This Republican Senate candidate from Missouri is an example of why politicians rank lower than used-car-salesmen in admiration polls.  Adding to the mess is the media's obsession with every related (or not) detail to the story.  Who said what.  When.  And how can those statements be interpreted.  Actually, the media hacks may rank lower than the politicians.  But its a tight race to the bottom.

I'm giving 1.01 the nod as Granddaughter of the Day for this pic from last night's din-din.  In days of old, @srh4 and I would just take a mess like this outside and break out the garden hose!

All for now.  Lots of stuff going on today.  I doubt if I make it back here before tomorrow. 


Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I finally feel like I may be getting back to some stability in my daily routines.  Each of the last couple of days I've awakened before 0530 feeling reasonably rested and ready to get going.  Cooler nights help. I'm sure.  But I think that the vestiges of the Tahoe sleeping habits/time difference have finally diminished, and my Old Normal has come to the surface.  I'm not waking up and thinking that I need to do an early ride, but just being ready to face the day is a welcome progression.

A year ago today, 4 and I were just back from Europe.  She and I have traded a few texts about the passage of the last year, and all that she has gone through since that trip.  Lots of water under her bridge.  And some great personal successes.  Truly a case of two steps forward for each step back to adjust to new challenges.

One of the celebrity birthday's listed in the paper this AM was singer Kenny Rogers.  He's now 74.  Back in the late 70's and early 80's, Kenny Rogers was about as hot as anyone can get in any music genre.  Hie song, The Gambler, remains a classic that is aired regularly on country radio stations today.  His music history is interesting, as he had some significant success before his solo career.  I knew that he was the lead of The First Edition group, but I hadn't recalled that he was in The New Christy Minstrels, a group that I think played ND, way back when. But I digress.

The thought that I had when I saw this birthday in the paper was that this was another case of a career that has spanned my own professional career.  In the entertainment business, music, movies, TV, etc., 30 years of success is rare.  I'm sure that the life-span of new acts today is shortened by the new media outlets/devices where what is new becomes old quickly.  But Kenny Rogers had some vocal and instrumental talents that made him more than just another voice.  And he played the game well.

More later.


Monday, August 20, 2012


Just noticed the Remington in the background of a news story online with this pic.  I think that its been in the office since the Carter administration.  (I'm guessing that the current resident wouldn't have kept it in such a prominent location if it had a Reagan connection.)

Wikipedia says that the Oval Office version is an "original cast".  Whatever that means.  I'm sure that mine is a close replica.  How 'bout that!!

Hope 4 has a productive "weekend" in The Big Apple.

More later.


Sunday, August 19, 2012


Not a lot new on Maplecrest today.  Golf this AM in Muskie was successful to the extent that I extracted another dollar from my pal Ron, but neither of us met much of a standard.  My short game is not delivering the goods.  And I'm running out of time.

It looks like the latest fitness fad is "cross-fit".  Two new places have opened in the last few months in Bettendorf, one just accross the parking lot from Dunn's.  And that place is busy when I stop by for 1st Coffee before 0700.  Another, unrelated spot is over in Cumberland Square, across from the Middle School soccer field.  It looks like rowing machines and kettle bells are parts of these cross-fit programs.  What's old is new again.

Gold's had conducted similar "Boot Camp" sessions at different points in the year, usually with early morning classes that I would notice when I was there for oh-dark-hundred spin work.  I think that you need a strong goal to make the cross-fit or boot-camp commitment.  Just like I was not able to take the bit to really train for Mt. Rose this year, cross-fit looks like the Maplecrest Fit Club on steroids.  I'm sticking with the lower stress program for now.  2 and I will do our exercises when we start our TT training in the next couple of weeks.

One of the major stories in the weekend sports pages was MLB's new poster boy for drugs.  Some dude named Melky Cabrera from the Giants tested positive last week and was given a 50-game suspension.  The guy's stats this year were way above his averages and surely brought the eyes of the league's drug enforcement office.  It sounds like he tried to cover his tracks with a fake web-site.  Smart guy.  Does the team bear responsibility? 

Speaking of druggies, the indications are that Lance will be in an arbitration dog-fight with the US Ant-Doping Agency this Fall.  If ever there was a time when a judge should bury a case, this is it.

Finally, I see where NBC has pulled in the reins on The Tonight Show.  The story says that about 20 staffers were let go, and Leno took a pay cut to ease further pain.  Personally, I have little regard for the NBC family of networks.  I haven't watched Leno in years.  Same for their other daily shows.  As much as all of their networks pander to anything Left of Left, I wonder if there might be some new-found stimulus money out there to come to the rescue.  (Sorry, that just slipped out!)

All for today.  Have a good week.  Thanks for reading.


Saturday, August 18, 2012


My pal Ron and I made it up to DeWitt today, but it wasn't for a bike ride to the Sunrise Cafe.  Still working on my golf handicap, we had to find an alternative venue this AM as Geneva had a corporate outing that closed the course to members until after lunch.  Springbrook is a decent little place on the outskirts of DeWitt.

Neither of us played very well, which is common for me on a course that I don't know very well.  But I did take $2 from my playing partner, which is never a bad result.  (A key rule in our golfing groups is that, its not about how much money you win, only that you win the money.) 

I seem to have finally got Hertz straightened out on my #1 Club membership.  It wasn't easy.  There was a call into the cue that Monday after we got back from Tahoe (which I gave up on after 10 minutes).  Then there were the two emails that I sent to their Customer Service address.  (Very sincere, automated responses were quickly received each time expressing how important I was to the company.)  Responses from a living person, of course, were not received.

On Friday, I decided that I needed to look into a car for a trip to Texas this Fall, so I gave the #1 Club phone number another shot.  I actually got through to a warm body (Asian/Indian accent) in a relatively short period of time, but her strengths did not include addressing non-reservation questions.  When I asked her to pass me on to someone who might be able to resolve my issue, she was very gracious...and put me in another cue whose automated monitor didn't even come on to tell me that my call was very important.

I made a command decision give up my spot on the endless loop and tried the call again, and when an operator (had to be sub-Continent) finally came on, I was pretty specific that their systems had entirely failed to respond to my concerns.  I do think that these types of service companies have agents trained to react to customers with obvious points.  And this gal did.  Which was to do nothing more than charge my credit card on file with the annual fee.

I have several corporate service things that have annual fees that are on auto-renewal.  Some notify you in advance that the annual charge will be made to your card, others don't.  I was really surprised that Hertz allowed this membership to expire without follow-up.  And the "My Account" screens on the Hertz website when I logged on gave no indication that a fee was due.  Very odd.  Whatever. 

The test will be whether my name will be on the Hertz #1 Club display board when I go to pick up my car in SAT in November.

(Hmmm.  That story was a little long, but I gotta say, Hertz has fumbled the ball at every juncture since my fully-successful, one-day rental in San Diego in May.  You pay a little more for Hertz, and I expect a little more in return.)

Rule #1 of Cycling has struck my pal Pete again!  He rode to work on Friday morning, stopping by Maplecrest at 0645 to compare schedules for the day.  We met briefly, and then both headed our separate ways, me in Margret to 1st Coffee.  The next thing I hear about Pete is a mid-morning text from a friend asking about a Facebook posting from Pete's Office Manager suggesting that he was at the hospital!

He subsequently told me that he had had  trouble getting out of his clips as he was slowing down for a turn on the bike path on Credit Island in West Davenport, and the next thing he knows, he's on the deck.  Ouch.  He was able to get to the office, but then figured out that his hand wasn't working right, so he called our orthopod friend, Doc Charlie C, and the rest is now history.  This pic must have come from @bcbison's phone while at the Emergency Room.  Local anesthesia.  Manual manipulation to straighten the finger.  Not cast, and no pins, but a splint on the middle finger of his left hand.  I need to get that boy to dial it back to a low roar.

Props to 1 for completing her 16-mile training run this AM.  You are Daughter of the Day. (I wanted a current photo and this cropped one was the easiest to get tonight.  Apologies to 1.01 for the editing exclusion!)  Once 2 and I start working on our TT training, we might get in 16 miles each week!

Lame night here in the 52722.  Thinking of 4 editing the overnight news in The Big Apple.  Be a star, Kiddo.

More here tomorrow after golf at Geneva.


Friday, August 17, 2012


Another Friday in August.  I think that August Friday's are some of the best days of the year (as long as the temps are manageable).

My great plan to slip away from work a little early yesterday and get a round of golf in at Geneva was all good except for the fact that there was a corporate outing in full swing on the course. #planningfailure.  But my pal Roy and I played a pieced-together 9 holes and then hung out in the bar with a variety of folks while we did hors d'ouevres and dinner.  Not the original plan, but a fine result anyway.

The markets have been grinding upwards over the last month.  I really have no explanation for that result since the geo-political news has been mixed at best.  European troubles may be in a lull since they're all on "Holiday" in August.  US large caps have a lot of cash.

Then there's Facebook.  Since the firm went public a few months back at $38 per share, the price has fallen to now below $20.  And there will continue to be selling pressure as more shares become tradeable in the months ahead.  (Insiders are restricted from selling all of their shares out-of-the-chute to try to manage an orderly assimilation of the IPO into the markets.)

The business model of these social-networking sites is very much subject to debate.  How reliable is the income stream?  What new technology will challenge the concept?  Security issues for user data.  The fickle-ness of the user-group?  I think that all of these uncertainties come into play.  And when you mix in a number of operational issues that surrounded the IPO, this stock is destined to find a further low.

Margret is on the loose today.

A local team of predominantly high school juniors and seniors from Moline is opening play today in the American Legion baseball World Series in North Carolina.  This team won their regional in Michigan last week from the losers bracket after losing their opening game in the double-elimination tournament.  That meant that they had to win 5 straight games in a three day period.  Props to them for doing so. 

I played American Legion ball in Ottumwa.  That was the only organized Summer baseball for post-15 year old's at that time as high school baseball in Iowa was a Spring and Fall sport back then.  (The Fall season was only there so that schools like Walsh that didn't play football would have an athletic activity for September and October.)  The Ottumwa team would play teams from Cedar Rapids, Moline, Galesburg and a few other bigger towns in the region.  We did a week-long trip a couple of Summer's over through Nebraska as well.

Like this Moline team, the players on the Ottumwa team came from both local high schools.  Come the Winter, during basketball season, you would then be playing against your baseball teammates.  Kinda like the Olympic basketball teams.  Emphasis on kinda.  There was always a lot of chat going on during those games.

Hope the Peanut Gallery has a good Friday.  Thanks for reading.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I'm dropping a few lines here before heading home for the evening. 

Tonight is our last Fit Club with instructor Jessi.  She starts moving her stuff to Milwaukee tomorrow, with additional trips to follow over the next week or so.  Last night was our Awards Night, with all participants receiving at least one recognition.  Fine wine on Maplecrest was shared by all.  Even a couple of passers-by out for an evening's walk.

The Big O is concluding his three-days-on-a-bus in Iowa this evening with a rally in the Village of East Davenport.  That location is just a couple of miles down the street from our office.  I'm sure that traffic will be a mess.  Too bad I have to rearrange my sock drawer before Fit Club, or I would have been a sure-attendee.  (Then again, knowing the propensities of the re-election campaign staff, my credentials would have carried a link to this blog, which would have most-certainly black-balled me from the permission list.)  (Follow-up point: is black-balled now a racist term?)

If they require ticket applications to Big O events, how is that different than voter-ID requirements?

I need to stop on the way home to claim my Powerball ticket.  I always get one when it goes to $300 million.  I could use the cash after #07282012.

ND opens the season on September 1st with a game against Navy.  In Dublin, Ireland.  I mean, I get it.  Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish.  But Ireland?  And they've done it before a few years back.  I don't have the $$$'s figured out, but there has to be money filtering back to South Bend for the trouble.  One thing to remember:  Purdue visits ND the next Saturday.  I suspect that ND will be favored.  The Irish won't cover.  You heard it here first.

I tweeted earlier today that exactly one year ago, 4 and I were making the journey from Vitoria Gasteiz in Spain  to Bagneres d' Bigorre in the French Pyrenees.  (We also stopped in Bilbao along the way to swap-out the Hertz rental that I had had the small problem with on the rear window.  Stress!!!)  Anyway, we hadn't realized that August 15th was a Holy Day (The Assumption of Mary), and we missed going through Lourdes by a fortuitous accident.  When we went through Lourdes a day later, that town was still a mess!

Props go out to 4 for getting along with another move in The Big Apple.  This time she's moving in with another couple of girls in a place over in Brooklyn.  3 reports that its a nice spot in a good neighborhood.  Maybe a little like her place in Boston, but without the extra three flights of stairs!  So 4 is Daughter of the Day again!  Good luck, Kiddo!  (Just as a refresher, Wednesday night is her Monday morning when it comes to work day comparisons.)

Maybe more later.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I bought  the print edition of The Des Moines Register this AM to read the reviews of the politician's visits yesterday to the Iowa State Fair.  No real insights came across to me from the articles in the paper.  It looked like the events were all pretty well pre-programmed, and the only "news" was the efforts of some protesters to disrupt some of the speeches.  Ho-hum.

My memories of the State Fair are limited.  To my recollection, we never went to Des Moines for the fair as a family, attending the Wapello county fair for several days as the alternative.  Practically, the county fair in Eldon, Iowa was within just a half hour of driving time from the farm, so the regular chores at home could be done and lots of time could be spent at the fair without major planning to get the milking done.  The cost of the county fair was pretty cheap, I'm sure, and Daddy must have received some "passes" at the office to further mitigate our cash out-flow.

One clear memory that I have of the State Fair is driving there with my high school girl friend and losing twenty dollars or so (a huge amount to me at the time!) to a midway scam artist on some roulette game.  That may have been the event that cured me of any gambling interest in my life.  Then, a few years later, grad school time frame, @srh4 and I went to the fair to see Olivia Newton John on the grandstand stage.  She was a hot commodity then, following her Grease role with a number of country hits.

I see where the new Bourne movie did ok at the box office last weekend.  Its extremely unlikely that I will go to the theater to see it.  Heck, I don't have the attention-span to watch a movie on my couch.  There have been several actors do James Bond, Superman, Robin Hood, and Batman over the years.  Does Bourne have the legs to do a franchise without Matt Damon?

My Top Ten Adjustments to make after coming down from the #07282012 mountain top, not necessarily in order of importance:

1.  Still a month of Summer to get through.
2.  That two-hour time change has me waking up at 0600 local, not 0500.
3.  Work is back as the #1 priority.
4.  I have to look up every password for my business software's.
5.  Not going to Raley's twice a day.
6.  Delta not sending daily emails on itinerary changes.
7.  Fewer random nose bleeds from atmospheric dryness.  A big plus!
8.  Creating new excuses/rationalizations to not get on the bike.
9.  Matching receipts with my credit card bills.  Ouch!
10. No Mickey, George, etc DVD's.  Missing 1.01 and 1.02.

Our Fit Club end-of-season awards function is tonight.  Attendance may be spotty do to scheduling conflicts, but it was going to have to be tonight or never. 

Maybe more later.  Make Tuesday a good one.


Sunday, August 12, 2012


We just had a "head-fake" rain shower.  The drive way under the BEATER is still dry.  But maybe its a start.  At least the heat has been elsewhere the last few days.

Here's a shock:  I kinda like Mitt's selection of Paul Ryan as his running mate.  We at least now have one guy among the four Presidential and VP candidates who is not afraid to tell the truth.  I wonder if the Big O's campaign will now actually submit some alternative budgetary ideas, or be content to demonize Ryan as a Mediscare.  Let's face it, the reelection plan to this point has been a simple three-legged stool:  1) It's still Bush's fault; 2) Tax the rich, and 3) Romney's a felon.  All great ideas to get the economy back on track.

(I may have noted here earlier that I shook Ryan's hand in the MLI airport this Spring when I was returning from one of my trips and he was there to connect with Newt for some joint appearance.  I didn't exactly walk across the street to meet him, but I did make it a point to say hello as he was standing there in the gate area with an aide.)

The Olympics are mercifully over.  (They'll be over for NBC in a few hours.)  The current non-Dream Team had to dig a little to escape from the Spain and the Gasol brothers for the gold medal.  I watched zero of their games.  I give recognition to the guys who did show up to play, but I don't watch them much when they play their regular games in the NBA, and I'm certainly not going to watch them on tape-delay.  Who will they get to replace Coach K the next time around?

My golf game still sucks, but there is light in the distance, and I don't think that its another train on my track.  My two rounds this weekend gave me some hope, but I need to putt better.  For a bogey-golfer like me, you need to get "up and down" from around the green for a good score.  That means that you don't quite hit the green in the "regulation" number of shots, and you need a good chip/pitch with a single putt to get a par on a hole.  This skill only comes with practice.  Which means some range work this week for the Lt.

My Perfect Neighbor trapped a ground hog and a raccoon this past week.  He"s had a two-foot-tall chicken-wire fence around their garden each of the ;last several years to keep the rabbits at bay, but the bigger rodents have easily scaled that barrier.  Hence, the trap.  The raccoon was an unexpected capture, and the most raucous.  3 AM squealing on Thursday night/Friday morning.  What ever it takes to protect those tomatoes!

I admit to a visit to Kohl's this week for a couple more of the dry-fit golf shirts.  Only because I got one of the 30% coupons in my mail.  I mean, they have these nice shirts listed for $55.  (Does anyone actually pay list price?)  They discount it 50%, and then you take 30% off of that.  Hmmm.  What do they pay the poor seamstress in Sri Lanka to make it?

May get back here later.


Friday, August 10, 2012


Friday's in August tend to be extra-low-key at the office.  Today is no exception.  At least the heat has abated.  The air is "Off" on Maplecrest.  Still dry, but not baking.

The party on Wednesday night for my pal Roy was a big success.  It was a gathering of long-time friends, many of whom were on those memorable trips to Cabo in the 12-15 years ago range.  There was even talk of reprising those junkets, but fortunately, clearer heads have prevailed since the party, and any trip this Winter will likely be to the more-economically friendly (not to mention safer) environs of Vero Beach in the Sunshine State.  We'll see.

It looks like next week will be the last week for the Maplecrest Fit Club, at least the last with our current instructor.  She heads to her new job in Milwaukee Thursday or Friday.  Bummer.  Maybe 2 can be our new leader, eh?  Awards function is Tuesday.  The only open question is, "Will Cal make it?"

The PGA event this week is at a scenic, ocean-side club on Kiawah Island, just off from downtown Charleston, South Carolina.  Lots of sand and wind.  My pal Cal has played this track several times during what has been almost annual vacations to that island.  The course really looks too hard for the average golfer, regardless of the length that you play it.  The pro's use the back tees, and I'm pretty sure that I couldn't even get a tee shot to the fairway on lots of the holes.

Lots in the sports pages today about the NBA trade of Dwight Howard from Orlando to the Lakers.  It's been an oft-repeated formula: team in smaller market with superstar needs to ship him out to maker him happy, as in Kareem from Milwaukee, and as Shaq from Orlando.  But this guy is a head-case.  He can play, but he has the maturity of an 8th grader.  He can't carry Kareem or Shaq's water bottles.  If they don't win it all within two years, he'll be calling out his coach and/or teammates.

And football season is underway.  Amazing.  Did it actually end?  What do people pay for tickets to those NFL pre-season games?  To watch undrafted free-agents junk around.  And this year, with the games ref'ed by replacements.

I'm giving props to NASA for their latest Mars rover project.  The Curiosity has landed on the Red Planet.  This pic was on their main website.  (Our first cousin Peter was the project manager on the previous Mars rover mission.  He seems to still be involved.  Here's a link to a Q&A with him from last year on this current mission.)

The Hertz folks have not responded to my email inquiry from Monday.  I sent a follow-up.  Their auto-response system says that I'm very important to them...but don't respond to their response because no one checks it.  Hmmm.  Are these guys also campaign advisors?

The BEATER clicked over 140K miles this week.  I had a friend riding with me this week and I was told that the squeaking and creaking that the car makes when coming to a stop sounded like me getting up from the chair.

Hope the Peanut Gallery has a good weekend.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012


Here are a couple of pics from the wedding taken by my pal Bill and/or his better-half.

This one of 3 giving the triumphant fisted-bouquet pump is a great live-action shot.  Notice the contained smile on RevKev.  Priceless.

The Elders are showing their experience at these things.  Check-out who's holding a glass of wine.

And I really like this one with my pals.  Is this a posse of questionable characters or what? Not a bad backdrop for a photo, eh?

(I am now at that spot with Blogger where I really don't have any control on the location of text.  And the way it may appear as I write, is no indication of how it may appear as published.  I think that my choice is to publish this in preliminary form, and then hope to edit after the fact when I've had a chance to view the final product.  Sorry if it comes across as choppy.  Not my choices.)

(Uh, revision after publication not effective.  Flow may suffer, but I'm not going to try to edit format. You get what you get today.)

Did I mention that the RCL did come in last week?  I think that she probably just came by to check if I had left her any dinero, and then did the sheets and some light dusting.  But it was a pleasant surprise to have the bed made when I got home on Saturday night.  She should be back on schedule tomorrow.

The Maplecrest Fit Club resumes tonight.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that our instructor will be gone for good by the end of the month, having taken a new job at a high school in Milwaukee.  Bummer.  My handicap needs to dive pretty fast to take advantage of these last few classes that remain with her.

Today is the one-year anniversary of 4 and I taking off for Bilbao.  That seems hard to believe.  (I remember like it was just a few weeks ago being hopelessly lost in that place a couple of nights.)  She has had a lot of water go under her bridge since then.  And given her fluid living situation in The Big Apple, I'd say that the current remains strong in her glide path.  Let's make her Daughter of the Day!  You've come a long way, baby!

I remember coming home from the European trip with 4 and thinking that I could get along without watching TV.  Over there, the programming selection was so limited that reading became a much more enjoyable activity.  The feeling has been much the same this week since getting home from Tahoe.  I mean, yes, the tube was on a lot there, but I really paid very little attention to the shows/Olympics being televised.  I mean, the Olympics were predominately tape-delayed, and virtually all of the other shows were re-runs.  What's the point?

I had Margret out for a short run to Hy Vee last night.  That was the first outing for probably six weeks or so.  She's not the preferred drive in extremely hot weather as she is not equipped with air conditioning.  Do they even make cars these days without A/C as a standard feature? 

Unlikely to be back on here later.  Enjoy Tuesday night.


Monday, August 06, 2012


I had expectations of getting on here yesterday, but golf got in the way and I just got gassed by the evening.  I wouldn't call it jet-lag, but the body definitely has some adjusting to do from two weeks on the road.  The regular bed is a bonus.

For those of you not on Twitter, here is a pic of the "Bronco Buster" sculpture, currently on display in my office.  Actual size is probably 15" tall, and weight of 25 pounds or so.  Its a beauty!  I'm uncertain if it will remain at the office.  I may engage 2 to evaluate whether it "fits" in my house.  With "Mountain Man" already on Maplecrest, there just may not be enough room there to accommodate both pieces.

The sculpture was delivered to 2 at the museum prior to our departure for Tahoe.  Not a small box.  Lots of industrial-strength bubble-wrap.  I'm guessing that the art shop has had some experience in shipping these types of items.  Mission accomplished.

Just for yucks, I'm tossing out a Top Ten list from the Tahoe trip.  We all recognize that the wedding and reception were items 1 and 1A for any such list, but here;s a few other relevant memories from my perspective, not necessarily in order of importance, of course:

1.  2's bloody nose as she lined up to walk the aisle.
2.  The Total Wine store in Reno.  A must-stop on any future visit to Incline!
3.  The last Thursday night Wally Toast at the Embassy Suites in Stateline.
4.  4 making her 20 minute connection in Dallas to get to Reno on the 23rd.
5.  Flipping burgers at Sand Harbor in front of Iowa Pork Producer, Uncle Jeff.  It took me a while to figure out the math.  And I turned over the flipper immediately!
6.  Riding Mt. Rose from Reno for the last time.  With my pal Pete.
7.  The Costco experience with 3 and Herky (now 3.1).
8.  1.02's smile.  1.01's  walks to the waterfall!
9.  Early coffee at Starbucks with Tahoe Phil (any day when he could make it!).
10. The most real glass wine glasses in any rental house ever!

I'm sure that we could do a new list everyday for a week.  Lots of great memories.

Here's what I saw in my back yard when I headed out for coffee on Sunday morning.  The little pear tree that I planted near my deck a few years back was a casualty of the storm that came through here Saturday afternoon.  It wasn't the healthiest tree, and some rot at the base showed some wear.  My PN cut it up today, and it is now in a few bundled-piles at the curb.  No real property damage.  No insurance.  The cost of life.

In other news, for all you NASCAR fans, the 24 stole a win yesterday in Pennsylvania.  There was a restart with the 24 in about 5th or 6th, the leaders got sideways, the second row let up to avoid the carnage, and Jeff dove to the apron to the lead.  Immediately after this incident, even before all the cars got through the mess, the caution flag came out, fixing the positions, the rain came in a downpour, and they called the race as final.  One could say that the seas parted, and the 24 waltzed through.  A win is a win is a win.

In golf, veteran Jim Furyk lead for 71 holes, then butchered every shot on the 18th on Sunday, and lost by one to a guy who played lights out that day.  Brutal to watch.  Furyk's four-foot bogey putt to salvage a tie and to force a play-off didn't enter the area-code of the cup.  Ugh.  Makes a humble golfer like me take heart.  A wise man said, "Remember, when you say that you just hit the worst shot of your life, it isn't (or won't be)."

Happy Tax Birthday to my pal Roy.  No firm plans for a celebration tomorrow, but we may do something on Wednesday.  Golf may be involved.

All for tonight.  Thanks for reading.


Saturday, August 04, 2012


This will be just a short effort to report in on a long travel day.  @srh4, @susaneleanore and I are waiting in MSP for our flight to MLI.  The flights to SLC and MSP were OK, but I will only feel good about things once we're on the ground in Moline.

The coolest thing about the trip was our chance to see 1 and family in this airport as their plane from Sacramento landed about the same time as our's.  They had had a delay or we would have been passing ships.  It was fun to get another glimpse of 1.01 and 1.02.

I won the Over/Under bet on the number of cycilists that we would see coming up Mt. Rose this AM.  I set the bet at 3, and @susaneleanore took the Under.  I figured that we'd see four, and we actually saw eight.  Even if I set it at 5, which might have been the right number, the Over was the bet.  I didn't see any of these riders going at my speed.  Hmmm.  Think about that.

A small disappointment, at least for me, was that we really didn't have any enthusiasm to stop at the lookout for a family pic as we left Incline this morning.  Let's face it, we've seen the scenery a few times, and it could be argued that the three of us really don't make an fff quorum.  Another time.

The Hertz bill was on the exact number as projected when I placed the order six weeks ago or so.  I still need to call and complain about the counter service at RNO.  Not only was the set-up for Gold Card members non-existent, the clerk tried to up-sell me on at least a couple of items.  But the Chevy Traverse that we had for the trip was a good vehicle and we had no issues during the rental period.  That's always  good result.

And speaking of good results, it looks like I'm getting home with all of my glasses, chargers and
various other personal items that have a tendency to disappear on extended trips.  Then again, I'm not yet on Maplecrest.

OK.  Now boarded for MLI.  Look for more here tomorrow.


Friday, August 03, 2012


This is coming to you from the Incline Starbucks.  At 0800 local, the line is literally out the door.  I keep saying, "If you can't make it as the operator of the Incline Starbuck's, you need to get out of commerce as a career path."

We say "good-bye" today to 1 and her family.  I'll add a photo here later.  They head over to Sacramento to spend the evening in anticipation of a Saturday morning return to Harvest Path.   1.01 and 1.02 may take weeks to figure out what "normal" is for daily living schedules at home.  Then again, 1.02 hasn't been that good with "normal" even before this vacation.

2 and I played 12 and a half holes on the Mountain Course here yesterday afternoon.  I thought that getting a few holes in would be a good re-introduction to golf before my focused efforts to reduce my handicap at Geneva beginning next week.  While it was fun to get out, our play was something less than stellar.  The course is branded as an "executive" layout, which is resort-speak for it being essentially a Par-3 track.  For a golfing purist who wants to use all the big sticks in his/her bag, this ain't the place.

Although you don't use much of your woods/metals on this course, it is far from a putt-putt challenge.  With all the change in elevation coming from it's location on a mountain-side, and the presence of "carry" (lack of an immediate fareway) off of most of the tees, lost balls were common.  My thought was that it was the equivalent of a pretty hard course hit by a shrink-ray.

The regional celebration "Hot August Nights" formally kicks off tonight down in Stateline on the South Shore.  While most of the festivities for this event are down in Reno over the next week, I think that the tourist organizers down in Stateline figured that a weekend of classic car shows would be a crowd pleaser.  Sorry that we'll miss the show this year.  I kinda like sitting in the audience at the  auction down at the civic center in Reno and watch Margret-comparables go through the sale.

And the second-tier PGA event, the Reno-Tahoe Open, is taking place this weekend at a course on the lower slopes of Mt. Rose.  Most of the big names are at the event over in Akron, Ohio, but you had to be high up in the world rankings to qualify for that tournament.  Reno-Tahoe is not unlike the John Deere Classic back home, where you have a decent field, and the community gets behind it, but it definitely is worth only a side-bar in USA Today.

All for now.  More later.

NOW LATER:.... Excellent send-off dinner with Phil and Jan.  With all the family activities and various things going on, I really didn't have much time with Phil on this trip.  Another time.

Packing and going through a house after two weeks of residence is always a laborious process.  When you consider that an overnight trip to C-town ends up with a trashed-out car, the loose-ends in this house should come as no surprise.  Having staggered departures beginning Monday (Sunday for 3!) has made things a little easier.  (Not that we wanted 4 to have to go back that early!)  Glad I'm not picking up after 1.01 and 1.02 everyday.  That's what Mom's and Dad's are tasked with, eh Kiddo?

The program for tomorrow has us departing Incline at 0830 local.  Scheduled departure from RNO is 1030, and ultimate arrival in MLI at 2030 tomorrow night.  That's a long day in our future.  I'll probably do Twitter updates, but not sure if I'll be back here until Sunday.

Thanks for reading.  Enjoy the weekend.


Wednesday, August 01, 2012


Sight seeing at Tahoe.  Including this view upstream of the Truckee River as it passes through the tourist-trap-ish Truckee, California.  We coulda taken I-80 and headed East...for a few days!  And a good one of 2 with the river heading down stream.

The we did a quick trip over to Squaw Valley.  But elected not to walk up the mountain!

Now over to South Shore for a Wally beer.

Definitely more here later.

Now Later...

The trip to South Shore/Stateline was a success.  Its a little further to get there than I remember.  I've ridden my bike past Sand Harbor over to the freeway several times, but it seems to have more turns and segments than I recall.  Whatever. 

Marriott Corporation (or its partners) spent some serious dinero to take down the junky tourist shops that used to line the main drag (at least on one side of the street), and now you have the nuevo chic places selling designer-everything to the fat-walleted gringos.  They had the Heavenly Valley Ski Resort folks drop a 4-6 person gondola lift down to the middle of the outdoor mall, and you have a serious presentation for the 1-percenters.  Again, whatever.

It is worth noting that another ambitious development on the other side of the street remains a hole in the ground inside the security fencing, with unfinished pilings making testimony that economics matter.  I'm sure that there is a story behind that failed endeavor.

We did get nice seating on the patio at the Embassy Suites for recognition to my pal Wally.  The gentleman at the adjoining table graciously agreed to be our photographer.  (He and his wife chatted us up some and gave up that they ran a pizza place in Chicago!  Nice folks.)  Hard to believe that it has been close to twenty years since Wally and I enjoyed that last evening together at the same venue.  (Had to add this pic of me and 1.02 that appeared on Twitter earlier.  Handome guys, eh?)

I unconsciously started doing the math today and my mind has activated the countdown clock to our return to the Central time zone.  Basically, two more days before the Reality Clock chimes midnight.  Bummer!  The weather here has been super.  But I do miss my own bed, and there is a little bit of me that is ready for golf!  And I'm guessing that my Perfect Neighbor's garden is coming in...can you say, "fresh tomatoes?"

Another key question: did my RCL show today to prepare Maplecrest for my return?  Hmmm.  That would be a bonus.

Glad to see Patrick in the Peanut Gallery.  He belongs.  And yes, that is RevKev standing in his beach shelter/tent that sits on Sand Harbor beach in the current Home Page pic.  Does he need a publication release?

Make Thursday a good one.  Thanks for reading.