Sunday, April 27, 2008

Travel, Senior News, Motorcycle expo-Renegade Football, Movie Review

Travelling in some form or fashion has been away of life for me ever since my college days. Then it was to travel back to West Texas, either from Houston or Arlington and always by automobile, not like the air travel college students of today. Then I travelled while on active duty in the military by all means possible to include; airplanes, automobiles, trains, military vehicles, bus, etc. One trip took me from California to Kansas on a military convoy, in a military jeep. After the military I started my professional career as a territorial salesman for a steel company out of Chicago. My territory was the 92 counties surrounding Lubbock County and was larger than the state of Tennessee. During the course of my business, athletics, and military career I have traveled to all of the 50 states except 3, and 15 foreign countries. While Hawaii seems like a foreign country it really isn’t but I have been there 13 straight years and will return again in 2008. Needless to say travel has been a big deal during my life time and looks like it will remain in my lifestyle until the all knowing travel agent in the sky (I assume that is where he/she is) sends my ticket and itinerary to join him/her for that ultimate trip. But to not get all mushy here and get back to my point, whatever that is going to be, I just completed an interesting trip that motivated me to write about it this morning. For the most part most people do not want to read some very boring travel log about some family vacation to Wally World. In an effort not to do this I will get to the point and make it relate some way to our busy life styles. A few months ago I loaned my Explorer to my son to use while he was on temporary duty at the language school in Washington, D.C. The plan was for him to use it until he shipped out to Korea in July, but I would need it back before the June Buffalo Springs triathlon date. Due to a current need for the vehicle and within our understanding I needed the vehicle a few months earlier than I thought I would. So, since I was going to Birmingham (Tuscaloosa), Alabama for the National Collegiate Triathlon Championships and the Olympic triathlon trials, I figured I was half way to D.C., so why not take the flight from Birmingham to Baltimore and then drive the Explorer back. Mike picked me up at the airport in the late afternoon on Tuesday, we all had dinner together, then off to bed for plenty of rest for the trip ahead of me. I was up by 4:00 a.m. and ready to roll an hour later for the 1700 mile trip back to Ransom Canyon. My calculations said it should take me some where in the 27-31 hours total driving time and I needed to be back by Friday. The first day I spent 15 hours on the road, hit the sack for about 4 hours than headed out at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday. The next day I spent 16 hours on the road (I had to take an hour and a half in Dallas to pick up some triathlon stuff) and my net driving time was 29.5 hours. While I have been accused of not taking the time to stop and smell the roses I must confess that even I agree, what was the sense of passing by some great things to see in these beautiful states(Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, etc.) and rush on home? My answer is simple; I was on a mission to return to West Texas asap since I had many things to do with the triathlon events and new motorcycle rally coming up within the next 5 months. I actually kept my speed within the legal limit and still was able to make very good time. Now for some of my observations during this little odyssey: The United States Interstate road system, comprised of nearly 50,000 total miles, is the best road system in the world. I traveled this entire trip by the Interstate and it was safe and relatively easy. The only real challenge is dodging the large 18 wheelers and staying out of their way. I love it when they pass you going 80 miles and hour and they have a sign on the back that says, we deserve the right to be on the road since we paid over $4,000.00 in road use taxes. Well they should pay more taxes for road use, simply because they use the roads more than the ordinary citizen. Once I was trapped behind two in front of me in both lanes, then I had three attacking me from the rear. As I said this was the only real negative and challenge of the trip. The weather was ideal. One thing I did notice were the conditions of the rest rooms in the road side rest areas (I also noticed that if it said “rest” area there would be rest rooms, but if it said “picnic” area there would not be any rest rooms (please note that for your next trip by auto) as being very clean and functional (you know plenty of toilet paper, towels, hand driers, hot water, cleanliness, etc.). I even started a rating system for the six states I went through (including Texas) and found that Virginia and Tennessee won hands down, with Texas coming in third, Alabama and Tennessee next while Mississippi and Louisiana bringing up the rear. The other thing that I marveled out and wondered is how they built these road systems without disrupting the entire travel by automobile process. It is like they built these road systems over the past 40 years and puff!!!, there they are. I don’t seem to remember seeing them being built, was I in some form of trance over the years or what? I do remember traveling to Augusta, GA for 5 straight summers to attend military summer camp at Ft. Gordon, GA and we drove on Highway 80 all the way to Augusta. There was not Interstate then and we even had to go through downtown Dallas (Commerce St.) when passing through Dallas. But, somewhere along the way the Interstate gods were building the Interstate road system while we were fighting two lane traffic for 1500 miles to Augusta. The next time you travel on the Interstate give it some thought of what it was like without them. Now that my trip is done I have vowed to never push myself like that again, until of course the next trip comes up!!

The other day I picked up this little newspaper that is titled Senior News, so I wondered what the difference between “The News” and “Senior News”? Well after reading it I found that it is the same news, i.e. the cost of the war in Iraq, what a bad president the W man has been, memory loss is becoming less of a problem and affects everyone, little things mean a lot to savvy 2007 tax filers, poverty persists among older women, etc., etc. So, the news is the same for all of us and what I really enjoy is hearing the 40 year old say how old they are feeling and how their muscles and joints ache. Hey dude, join the crowd and keep up the talking and you will age much quicker and will even catch me if you don’t watch out. Some will say that aging is all in your mind, I say “bull….”, aging is a real thing to be embraced with some positive self talk and understanding that things do change when the aging process begins. But, really the aging process begins in the beginning of life, and then progresses depending on how long we live. Does that make sense? As I approach that 70 mark I know what feels good and what doesn’t feel good and I have also decided that even when I was 21 playing college football at times I felt much worse than I do now after a 50 mile bicycle ride or 29.5 hour automobile trip. So, it is all in our head at times. Just forget your age and move on, but don’t depend on the Senior News to tell you anything you don’t get in the “other” news.

Yesterday had a couple of firsts for the year, my first motorcycle rally expo presentation of the Giant Side Rally and the first viewing of the Lubbock Renegades Arena2 football team. The expo went great and the public relations we achieved were excellent. We got more information on Lubbock music and potential vendors for the rally. In the case of the undefeated Renegades they did not come out the winners, but did lose to the defending Arena2 Champions from 2007. While they didn’t seem to play very well they were up against a strong team and sometime strong teams can make you look real silly. There were a few moments of glory but the game was really never in doubt. They should be in the playoffs this year, but just barely.

Movie Review: “Leatherheads”, ***, Sometimes I find myself sitting on the edge of urgency to see a new movie that has some of my favorite actors in it, go see it and then come away a little disappointed. This was the case for Leatherheads. It had George Clooney (also directed it); Rene Zellweger, and they were good. But the story about the early days of professional football just never gets it going. Even though the matching wits of Zellweger and Clooney was great the movie as a whole was even boring at times. The football part of it was not so much about football as it was slap stick. But, really I don’t think it was really supposed to be the truth birth of the NFL story, but just a fictional rendition about the early goons who played this silly game as professionals. It has the potential I think to be better and I will probably see it again just to give it a second chance. I suggest seeing it at the matinee price, and having an open mind.

Disclaimer: The other day a friend of mine read one of my reviews (a bad one concerning “Vantage Point”) but he went any way and really enjoyed the movie. So, being the responsible one that I am I want to express that my reviews are based on how I feel about them and or what I expect from the director/producer/story/actors, etc., and how that synergism reflects to me when I see it. Since this is supposed to be entertainment that is what I expect. In the case of Vantage Point I did not like their approach to the re-run of the same scene 8 times as a way to present their story. So, it was not entertainment to me but actually a nuisance and boring. The low rating resulted from that feeling about the movie. But, another person might look at it differently and I admit that when I read the reviews of our local professional critic, I don’t use his review as my determination on whether or not I go to the movie. I always encourage my readers to do the same, sometimes even go see the movie first then see how I reviewed it. With the summer months and more daylight for training and motorcycle riding I will be limited on my movie reviews, but will get in all I can. Happy viewing!!


Sunday, April 06, 2008

Mathematics, Lubbock AJ, Movie Reviews

Math or mathematics is defined as the science of numbers. No wonder I have never been very good at it since I have never considered myself a scientist; however, over the years I have grown fond of math in its’ simplest forms. For example, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry leave me totally speechless after trying to go to the nearest tenth and then trying to go on further with it. It is amazing to me how these formulas lead to anything important. I had a close friend who was an absolute genius at math and actually made the statement that everything in life revolves around it and if you don’t know math or can use it to the highest degree you are actually quite stupid. Obviously he went on to become a scientist and nuclear physics engineer so I guess he proved his point. What I have learned about math is that he is right, it is a very important aspect of our lives but I would argue with him that you are not totally stupid if you cannot work all of the magical and mystical aspects of this science. The main formula I have learned over the years is how to figure my sales commission after selling something, i.e. sell a piece of equipment for $100,000.00 at a 5% commission I have just made $5,000.00, etc. So, in my many years of selling products I have found that figuring commissions has been very enjoyable math. One year my commissions went to over $400,000.00 so I really enjoyed this science that particular year. What I have always heard when it comes to numbers is that numbers don’t lie but people doing the numbers do lie. So, what that means is that some accountant can put a twist on the actual numbers that make them come out looking like something else. A good example is the Enron fabrication of multi-billions a few years ago that swindled employees out of their pensions and jobs. They had bad numbers but manipulated them to look good, while management got rich and the working class was robbed of their earnings, etc. As I watch the current political campaigns for president I stand all amazed as the population of the United States is 303,792,259(and growing as this is being written) and we only have the 3 choices to elect as our next president. While I will admit it is a diversified group, one black-American, one female and one senior citizen, I think our choices really suck considering there is over 300 million to choose from. But what it really boils down to now in politics is that the person who can raise the most money for the election and has the “connections” is the one who will have the opportunity to run for president. Even Mitt Romney (my favorite) who put his own money in the campaign (imagine that) dropped out fairly early because he didn’t have the right connection and was way over qualified for the job. So, God forbid that he would get the nomination. I could also say the same for Edwards, a good man with limited money and the same for connections. So, we see that numbers and math have a lot of influence on everything that we do. When you take a physical exam the first rattle out of the box relates to numbers, i.e. date of birth, height, weight, phone number, address, etc., etc. Recently I saw a movie and the title was “21” (to be covered in more detail in the movie review section) and it had to do with counting numbers on the blackjack table to take away astronomical winnings. My conclusion here is not really earth shattering or mind bending or even relevant to anything important I would assume, but remember, numbers are a science and you can do with them whatever you please. Go figure!!

Our local newspaper has some of the stupidest statements in its’ reporting that I just start my day off with lots of laughs. Recently there was an article about a guy that was convicted of killing a girl friend. After he knocked her silly he stuffed her in a suitcase and threw the suitcase in a dumpster, where she died. While this is not a funny story the article had the following statement, the forensic examiner made the statement, “that the girl wouldn’t have died if she hadn’t been put in the suitcase and thrown in the dumpster.” Well tell me, how many people can get stuffed in a suitcase, un-conscious, then thrown in a dumpster and still survive?

In the same newspaper there was an article concerning the minister of a very large Baptist Church in Lubbock who announced he was resigning and moving on to greener pastures(not really what he said, I just kind of threw that in because that is what he is doing). While it didn’t say much about his spiritual side of the ministry it did say that he had reduced their debt by $2million, and increased their bank account from $25m to $500,000.00. Oh well so much for preaching the gospel and saving the souls. Again, numbers seem to mean everything.

Movie Reviews: “Drillbit Taylor”, **, Owen Wilson (in between time in the re-hab centers) stars in this movie as a useless bum who is a soldier of fortune wanna be. He is hired by 3 high school seniors to protect them from the class bully. Not much real story here, but fairly harmless. Not prime time viewing, see it on DVD, or $1.00 movie house if you have nothing else to do. Rated PG-13 for crude sexual references throughout, strong bullying, language, drug references and partial nudity (the rating description was better than the movie!)

“21”, ****, This was a very good gambling movie based on the story of a MIT professor(played by Kevin Spacey) who puts together his smartest students(headed up by Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth, Laurence Fisher, Aaron Yoo, Lisa Lapira and Jacob Pitts) as a gambling team to win thousands in the Las Vegas Casinos. It is my understanding that this was based on a true story, even though the movie does not mention it. I did read a book a few years ago about this actually happening, so I assume it is based on that. At any rate, it is a very good movie worth a prime time ticket.