Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Buffman & Squeaky, Collegiate Nationals, Movie Review

Dogs are funny creatures, and provide some great companionship. President Truman said one time that if you wanted a friend in Washington you should buy a dog. Of course his meaning was twofold in that Washington was not a very friendly place and you couldn't trust anyone, so get a dog. Dogs are very trustworthy and no matter what they will be your friend. When it comes to Buffman & Squeaky they are always happy to see me come home, no matter if I just leave for a hour or so they always run to the door barking and jumping up and down to greet me like it has been days. If they had a tail they would surely be wagging it, but Boston's have this little twist of a tail that just doesn't have any waggle in it. The same holds true when I open the door from their room early in the morning. While Squeaky is not really excited about getting up early, Buffman is ready and eager to get the day going. Now that we are getting close to the infamous Buffman & Squeaky triathlon Buffman is getting that look in his eye that something special is close to happening. On the other hand Squeaky has a tendency to have a "I couldn't care less attitude." Must be the female in her or something. On race morning they always like to be there to greet the athletes and give them a big lick or sniff. One year Buffman even took the liberty to heist his leg on the USAT race official, wow, what an attitude man's best friend has sometimes. The athletes like having their picture made with these two characters and they like being petted.
One thing I do know is that they will be well rested since they sleep a lot, fact is all dogs that I know of sleep a lot. I wonder at times just how they do this and why they need to sleep so much, but on the other hand what else would they do. They can't hold down jobs(even though some do as security or seeing eye dogs), they can't go to school, they can't do yard work or even swim, bike and run, so why not sleep. Now I get it, resting up for the return of their worthy owners. Buffman has many different positions that he can really cut the zzzz's in, but the classic is the on his back with his legs in a half fold, his mouth open and his eyes shut and his head hanging over to the left or right. Wish I could sleep that sound!! Hope to see everyone at the race, May 17, 2009.

The USAT National Collegiate Triathlon was held this weekend in Lubbock and it was a real busy time, and a challenge to all concerned. The weather played April tricks on us and presented us with a real storm on Wednesday before the race. Huge rain fall, hail, wind and everything that goes with these storm gems. But on race day the weather was clear with a crisp temperature of 38 degrees, and 53.1 degree water temp. Over 100 schools were present and competing from across the USA and it was a great day for Lubbock and the athletes. We thank all of those who helped and for the hard work and support USA Triathlon provided to the event. One of my fellow board members, Eric Averill from New England, was here to volunteer for the event and do some USAT business. Also, many of our local friends, both triathlete friends and people outside the sport were volunteering. We appreciate all of the support that Lubbock gave to this event and look forward to 2010.

Movie Review: "Observe and Report," *, How could we be so lucky as to have two mall cop movies in the same year, or better still in the same century? Seth Rogen, a very funny guy and good actor, plays the head mall cop that is obsessed with the jewelry counter blonde and wanting to be a real police officer. The story is typical, the language is worse than ever, and the story generally sucks. Not worth seeing for the Senior rate or matinee price. I went because this was the only movie starting at the time I had for a movie, and to be in a movie house after a very long weekend. Rated R for pervasive language(understatement), graphic nudity(you mean two sex scenes, one in the back seat of an auto and one in bed and a male streaker running through the mall with a complete frontal nudity), drug use(you mean pot, cocaine, and whatever else is possible), sexual content(see graphic nudity), and violence(again understated).


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Eggs, USAT Collegiate Nationals, Movie Review

A few weeks ago I wrote about the over abundance of just about everything in the United States, and now I am at it again. Now the thing that still bugs me is the over abundance of Holidays. Seems as though not a Friday or Monday goes by that we don't have some kind of Holiday. To put it in world perspective the USA now has 39 official Holidays, Germany has 18 and Australia is winning my heart with 9. Seems as though any time some one dies or gets elected to something we create any other holiday. I am sure that before long we will have a Big O Holiday for the first Black American(even though he is also half-white, but never mentioned, so then we can have another holiday for our first elected half white president) to be elected as the President of the United States, or better than that we can have a day set aside for the wearing of sleeveless dresses by the First Lady or then maybe when they name their First dog it will become some kind of "be kind to first dogs" holiday, or maybe we will want to commensurate the day that the new socialist President of the USA decided to fire a CEO of a private company, and on and on. But, now I guess what really brought my attention to this stupidity in the USA would be the way Easter(supposedly set aside to celebrate the resurrection of Christ--defined in Webster as a, "Christian day of festival) is now used as an excuse to have a massive Easter egg hunt. The custom now in Lubbock is to hire a very expensive helicopter, load it up with 50,000 plastic eggs and then drop them off into a city park and then let 15,000 kids create a near riot to see how many they can pick up for their little cute baskets. This year the big hunt became actual chaos since many of the little sweeties got so fired up to find the most eggs that they got lost from their parents. So, then the mothers of these little darlings got up tight because little Suzy or Johnny got separated from them and it became a very stressful event. So, where did this brilliant idea come from to take a totally sacred Christian celebration into a near riot, just to hunt some useless pieces of plastic that you can't eat, can't cook, can't peel, or anything really useful with? Beats the hell out of me. At least if you are hunting real eggs you can eat them, or throw them at someone. If they are boiled they can be peeled and eaten right on the spot, or if not they can be fried over an open fire right before your eyes in the park(after you find the lost kids). My best guess is that one year there was an over abundance of chicken, turkey, pheasant, quail, dove, ostrich, and similar eggs so to keep the little darlings of the household busy someone inspired mother started hiding them for the kids to search out. Then this same mothers saw this little white bunny running around the yard and then they exclaimed, "oh the Easter bunny is in our back yard, let's have a Easter egg hunt along with the resurrection celebration of Christ. Wow, what a deal, this makes all the sense in the world. So, now you have it folks, how the Easter bunny came into existence and how this became part of one of the 39 holidays in the USA Disclaimer: My guess is as good as yours!!

On April 18th the USA Triathlon National Collegiate National Championship will be held in Lubbock, Texas at Buffalo Springs Lake. Right now there are 104 colleges coming to compete in this team event. Last year the U of California-San Diego women's team won, and for the men, the U of California--Berkeley won. They will be in Lubbock to defend their crown. We are glad they are all coming and we will be cheering for our own Texas Tech Red Raider Triathlon Team to take home some bacon. The three military academies will also be here to try and un-seat the California dudes, look like it is going to be quite a battle. Also represented by the nerds of the East will be MIT, wonder if they have invented some kind of super aero dynamic swim suit, bike and running shorts to speed them through the event. Let's all be there to see for ourselves. It will be a great weekend.

Movie Review: "Fast & Furious", *, Vin Diesel should be ashamed of himself for this very bad movie. Beyond bad is really a modest description. It got one star because there is nothing really lower. No narrative can really tell you how bad this movie is, and the story is totally stupid. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual content, language and drug references.


Sunday, April 05, 2009

Trade Show, Old Men, Snuff, Body Language, No Movie Reviews

This past week I attended a cotton industry trade show that I have been attending since 1976. Originally this show was in Dallas, Texas and was one big show with lots of new and exciting things happening within the cotton industry. Then when the industry manufacturers started closing their doors in Dallas and moving to Lubbock, plus the fact that the Lubbock area produces more cotton than anywhere else in the world, the industry leaders decided to move it to the Hub of the Plains, Lubbock, Texas. The past exhibits were large and informative with almost a complete cotton gin being installed in the huge expo booths. It was something to see and the attendance was very good. Now it has dwindled in dynamics and interest so much that it reminds me of the local high school reunion, and the dynamics are about as exciting as screwing an Allen head screw with a Phillips screw driver or maybe watching paint dry. It just isn’t working any more and needs a huge enema. First of all the exhibits are the same every year with very little new stuff going on, then they are set up in the same place every year, then the people have not changed except to grow a little older, and the idea of a real business discussion is a forgotten subject. The funny thing is that the one company that showed real initiative and some innovative product presentation is one of the oldest companies to service the cotton industry in West Texas, being Lubbock Electric Company. LEC is now 64 years old and the founder of the company, Paul Bush, now 92 was in attendance and goes into his office daily. Kudos goes out to Steve Moffett, General Manager, for his innovation product presentation, he even had a young, pretty girl in the booth and great popcorn. What I did notice was a lot of old men that just seemed to come to the show to see each other or to see who had died since last years show. I was even challenged by one old gray haired buzzard because my hair hadn’t turned gray yet. I told him he should read my mature fitness blog site and he would see why it wasn’t gray. Regardless, the show needs some new life, a major transfusion and more than likely they will move it back to Big D hoping to get that transfusion. That seems to be the thing to do now days, since Texas Tech will be playing one game in the Metro-Plex next year (another subject not worthy of discussion today). But the weird thing about this is it will be the same old geezers coming back for their annual look see at the new gray hairs, the larger belly, or the hitch in the walk because of the new knees or hips and still no real business will take place. So, what do we do about it? Well I am not going to do anything about it and I will let the industry do that. Over the past 30 years I was involved in introducing 4 major products to the cotton industry that made changes to the way they had been doing things for over 160 years, from moduling the cotton in the field, to hauling the module to the gin, to packaging the bale in the press and finally to moving the cotton bale out of the gin press area for loading and storage. So, let this ole geezer go on to other glories, in other industries and move the dullest show in industry history to DFW.

Since 1966 I have been attending industry trade shows and one of the things I have always watched is the weird body language that is exhibited by the industry vendors. First of all they all have on their company dress, meaning a starched white(or other color) shirts with the company logo on them, and in West Texas the cowboy boots are most appropriate, then they have their name badges pinned on these freshly starched shirts(forgot to mention, all of this is color coordinated). While some will wear hats, most don’t. I noticed one company where they had on dark blazers with black cowboy hats. Kind of a John Wayne look, certainly not a Clint Eastwood look. Then I watch the way they handle themselves when someone walks up. In this show prospects were so few and far between it was almost like you had to pounce on them, grab them, throw a rope around their massive bellies, and get the order right then. One thing I noticed when a guy came up to talk to me he had a mouthful of snuff and when he would talk the odor would just about knock me to the ground. So, as he talked I just kind of backed up a little to get out of the odor firing line, but then he would just move with me. Like, hey dude take a sniff of my Copenhagen whether you like it or not. Finally we were on the other side of the carpet, off into the vendor booth across from my booth and I was still retreating. Finally I said, “Well thanks for the information but I have to go to the john, will be back soon.” He then wondered on to the next booth to charm someone else with his wad in the cheek.

Speaking of wad in the cheek, I have been trying the Enlyten product that is used in athletics to provide energy, electrolytes, antioxidants, and melatonin (for restful sleep). Whether it works or not is still being determined by my body. The good news is that it is delivered to body by putting a little strip between the cheek and gums(kind of like snuff I think) so it travels through your body faster and doesn’t take hours to start doing some good. While I really have no trouble sleeping and have never taken anything to help me sleep I tried the melatonin since I sometimes do not get the rest I feel I should when I sleep. But, really I could not tell any difference. I will continue to try the energy, and electrolytes in training and racing to see if I can feel any difference. Will report back, and also this will go up on the mature fitness blog site.

Yesterday we competed in the first ever Plainview sprint triathlon and man is it refreshing to see new events and new race directors. This guy really is in to it and will really build an excellent race for the future. This was only a mini-sprint so that he could get his feet wet, but it has all the ingredients for a very successful event in the future. We had 80 go out of the starting gate, which is very good for a first time event. The YMCA and city are really behind it and I feel it will really grow.

No movie reviews today since there not any good movies on, hoping that something breaks next week.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

What Is A Good Funeral? Big O War, Alpine Triathlon, Movie Reviews

Sad is only a three letter word; however when sadness enters your life it packs a big bang. It seems to come in many different ways and the tone of one sadness does not always fit with the tone of another sadness. Let me clarify that statement: when my neighbor from across the street was struck down by lightening and died immediately at the age of 63 that has been one form of sadness. On the other hand when the Big O decides to have his own(of course he says that war belongs to the .w man) war in Afghanistan, while winding down .w’s war in Iraq I find that sad, but a totally different type of sad. So, I use these two examples of sadness to illustrate my point of how one little three letter word can be so powerful and effective. While I will mention the Big O war in more detail later, what I really want to do now is mention some of the sad but humorous things that have resulted from my neighbor being zapped from this earth so very swiftly and how it has created a sad feeling within me. Stan and I had what I call a curb side friendship, meaning we really didn’t do anything social together or even take the time to sit down and talk about any of the activities that were going on in our lives. While he had a great passion for working in his yard, I had a great passion for having someone else do my yard work, while I trained for triathlon or rode the motorcycle. As I would come around the curve after a long bicycle ride or motorcycle ride, I could depend on Stan being out in the yard blowing leaves, dust, dirt, bugs, and whatever out of his yard to whatever direction the wind was blowing at the time. With the gusto of a Southwest wind and his blower he could easily fill up my curb side and yard with all of his yard trash or if the wind was from the East he could fill up the yard of his neighbors to the West, and vice versa for all of the other directions, except winds from the North would take his stuff directly into the lake. The funny and good thing about all of this is that it never made any of the neighbors mad and I knew when I rounded that bend he would be there and it gave me kind of a reassuring feeling that he was a good neighbor and a good man. When we would take the time to talk I would harass him about doing too much yard work (making all the rest of us look bad) and he would harass me about training all the time and not doing any yard work. We would then trade a few opinions about the current state of the world, really never solving anything, but at least rendering our sacred opinion on everything that was currently going on in the world. Now these curb side visits were not every day and sometimes not every week, but when they did happen they were great for both of us. Sometimes we would just keep the conversation on a local subject trying to figure out what our city government was smoking when they contracted to fix our roads and completely screwed them up, then on to vast subjects as to the amount of hot cakes the volunteer fire department cooked in their last fund raiser, or what the current water temperature was in the lake. The reality now is that when I turn the corner Stan is not in the yard, mowing, blowing, pulling weeds, putting down fertilizer, or anything. I have seen a hired gun (yardman) go in and mow it down to the proper length, but not with the same loving tender care that Stan gave it. I know that when time marches on Marty, Stan’s wife of 38 years, will make sure that all of the yard work is done properly and Stan will be proud. Another thing that he used to do was celebrate the 4th of July with a great parade of flags around the yard. He also had flags for Texas Tech and when they had a big game the Red Raider flags would be out. See what I mean about the word “sad?” While there was not a traditional funeral for Stan, since he dedicated his body to science, there was a great celebration of his life that was conducted in the town hall of Ransom Canyon. The building was filled to capacity and lasted two and a half hours. While it was conducted by a friend of the family Catholic Priest, it was really cool with members of the community who had known Stan for many years speaking, and of course the family spoke, including the grand children. At the same time a slide show featuring Stan in his youth, and up to the modern day. What a great tribute to a great guy and a leaf blowing fanatic. It almost inspires me to do my own yard work, notice I said “almost.”

Later on in the week I attended a traditional funeral for a friend of mine’s grandfather. He was 91, a CPA by profession, a military war veteran and a really neat guy. By traditional I mean the casket was in place at the front of the chapel, “Amazing Grace” was the feature hymn, and there was no slide show, just the facts as spoken by the Baptist minister that conducted the service. Last year I went to a funeral that had two screens, one on each side of the pulpit, fashionable rock music and it was like a Hollywood production. Over the years I have taken note to evaluate funerals and give them a rating, kind of like the movie ratings, one star to five stars. One of the things that I have noticed is that no matter what kind of person the deceased was, there is never anything bad said about them. Kind of like they are laying there dead, or laying some where dead, or maybe in an urn in gray ashes, so let’s be kind to them, after all they have now paid the price to enter into heaven. Reminds me of the song, “Everyone Wants to Go to Heaven, but No one Wants to Die to Get There.” So, I evaluate the over all setting of the service, what was said from the pulpit, if it is an open casket or not, how the family dynamics appear to be, and how long it takes. While I always take in to consideration the circumstances of the death and consider that when the service lasts over 20 minutes. In the case of Stan the Man his two and a half hours was time well spent, he went way before his time (but wait that actually was his time) and his family and friends needed this time with his spirit to bid him farewell. Only I have to live with his passing on a daily basis as I turn that blasted corner. In the case of the 91 year old dude his service lasted 20 minutes and we were out of there. But, the minister handled it very well, he was given a great farewell, and his USA flag draped the casket and was very representative of his service to his country and his loved ones. I attended a funeral in Arkansas one time that was for the God Father of Arkansas agriculture or maybe the John Wayne of Arkansas agriculture. I had met him through my own company that sold him his cotton module hauling equipment. He would only deal with me, so I had a great opportunity to know a really dynamic guy. Funny thing is that he was so dynamic that they had 3 Baptist ministers conducting his service and his daughter sang a country version of “Amazing Grace.” The ministers represented three different influential times in his life, one was for his childhood and early teens, while the other one was for his young adult wild swinging days, and the concluding preacher was his minister after he quit his wild ways, repented, found Jesus and became the God Father of God, in addition to the God Father of Agriculture. One great dude and I am glad I knew him. There were over 75 family members present, and I got the distance travel award to the funeral(not really official, I just made that up even though I would have won it if it had been real, since I didn’t see any one else from Texas). Now you ask, well what were these funerals rated? Glad you ask, these funerals were rated with five stars, even though they were all very different in nature and the deceased parties were all very different. I have attended a one star funeral before and it was really gross. The preacher decided to hold us all to repentance since he had a captive audience and we had no choice. It is the only funeral I have attended that I started to get up and walk out.

It seems as though every president has to have some kind of war to attach themselves to, except of course James Buchanan (always the coward and worst rated president of all time). After all the campaign promises of getting the USA out of Iraq, by the Big O, we are now learning that the reason for this is not to end the war but to fuel the new war in Afghanistan with more troops and more money. Now today the Big O is saying that is not his war but left over from the .w man. While I have rated the .w very low in the ratings I am getting tired of him being blamed for everything by the Big O. Without a doubt he goes down in history and the only president who continually criticizes the past president. I plea, let it go and do the job you were elected to do. Of course with the media exposure the Big O gets he has to have something to talk about. Now we are told that the Taliban has fled Iraq and now has established their summer homes in the beautiful mountains of Afghanistan while commuting back and forth to Iraq and Pakistan. So we trade tic for tack, just doesn’t figure. While I know it would be too much to ask the Big O to consult with the good book and read about this war in the Middle East that has been going on since the beginning of time, i.e. the two man original war between Cain and Able (which didn’t make any sense either). History is supposed to teach us two things: what the story is all about, plus DO NOT REPEAT THE SAME MISTAKES!! But, I do realize we have to feed egos, and give our president his war. But, wait a minute, what about Mexico??? That would be an original matter, the cost of travel much less, but the only down side would be that it might cut down on the flow of the weed to the USA and that would be bad for the drug Lords economic base and then we would have to bail them out. Damn, we can’t win for losing!!

The first triathlon of the season, a sprint in Alpine, Texas (the Gateway to the Big Bend Country), and one tough course, was held last weekend and it was great seeing our friends from the Republic of El Paso. Balls, Marianna, Christa, were a positive sight for sore eyes. We all had great races, took away some hardware, ate some good, and had a friendly beer. Then on the road to home. In checking my finishing time from last year I noticed that I had done the event 3 seconds slower than in 08, must be the change in diet from Wheaties to Corn Flakes. So, got to get to work and shave those 3 seconds off.

Movie Reviews: “Juno”, ***, While I didn’t get to see this movie on the big screen I watched it on satellite. A very good movie about a teenager who gets pregnant while still in high school. Very good acting, good story, and happy ending. Rated: PG—Some graphic detail, but actually the movie was done in very good taste.

“Duplicity”, **, The only thing four star about this movie is the two stars, Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. Some times during the movie it appears that they are both star struck with each other, but not really part of the movie. Regardless, their characters are two former spies who team up together to make millions from two feuding corporate giants. The dialogue is good, but the time sequences are kind of stupid and the suspense that could have been there is just drowned out with stupid, childish, love sick dialogue between Owen and Roberts. The ending was not worth waiting for, but I did anyway. Go see at your own risk, you might find something out of it that I didn’t. Rated: PG-13 for language and some sexual content (you mean when they were naked in bed together?)

“Knowing”, **** (My local critic gave it *****, but I don’t agree). Starring Nicolas Cage as a MIT professor, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne, Lara Robinson, and D.G. Maloney(these last four actors were new to me) who discovers a strange sequence of numbers that, with the proper interpretation, will predict future disaster dates and how many will lose their lives. Cage had lost his wife a few years ago in an accident and was raising his young son alone, so there are two dramas going on here, but no love life drama. These sequences of numbers were buried in a time capsule 50 years prior to the current time (2009) and when he discovered what the numbers meant he embarked on warning the disinterested public. Then the final sequence happens that is surprising but really didn’t make much since to me. It almost personified a replay of Adam and Eve (yea, that A & E from the good book). This mission of the space aliens was hard to figure out and I wonder if I missed something with my faulty hearing. Go see!! I would like to have another opinion. Rated PG-13 for disaster sequences, disturbing images (you mean people running around in flames after the aircraft crash? Duh!) and brief strong language (this was not a “golly gee” type movie).

“Race to Witch Mountain”, **, Dwayne Johnson(no longer the Rock) is the star playing a displaced cab driver who picks up some aliens(they look like mature teenagers in disguise) and is enlisted to drive them to their lost space ship. A little action, but really not worth the time and money. Since it was a Disney movie it was quite calm. Rated PG for sequences of action and violence, frightening and dangerous situations, and some thematic elements (what the hell is that?)