Sitting by the Pool


So, it’s been a while since I’ve actually wanted to post anything.  Politics is such pain.  The president passes a healthcare plan that’s basically Republican in its origins; but the Republicans are in such a “get him” mode, they’re willing to scorch earth to cal it rampant socialism.  Even after a conservative Supreme Court upholds most of it.  I just can’t understand why so many people think the world is going to end because the government is requiring people to pay for health care.  The Affordable Healthcare Act doesn’t require the purchase of insurance – so if you don’t want to buy it, don’t.  This just makes you pay a penalty to cover the cost of caring for you if you get sick or hurt.  The way it was, the rest of us had to pay for your not-having-insurance tail by paying higher premiums.  So if my premiums drop; isn’t that a good thing?

Anyway, to the reason for this post.  The girlfriend had to travel for work and asked if I wanted to come along.  I’m busy at work and had recently paid off all my credit cards, so I wasn’t head-over-heels, but I understand the value of going with the flow.  And this flow was heading to Honolulu.  I’m not going to go into this international delivery company’s purpose for being here, but it’s got to do with a long-lost aviatrix (keep your eyes on the news).

Leaving the mainland

Anyway, if you’ve ever had the opportunity to come here, the first thing you have to suffer through is the trip itself.  We flew United, which changes in Chicago.  And just so you know; it’s 9 hours from Chicago to Honolulu.  We were on a Boeing 777, which is an incredibly large plane.  we changed seats pre-flight, otherwise. I’d have been in the middle seat of a 5-seat row.  So, two hour delay at O’Hare.  First, there was a door on the plane that wouldn’t close.  Then a summer thunderstorm shut down everything.  Did I mention this was a 6:30am (or, damn that’s early) flight?

We finally got off the ground.  Skipped the in-flight movie, which was The Rock in “Journey 2.”  Sorry, Dwayne, no desire to see that one.  I had “Sherlock Holmes 2; Game of Shadows” on the laptop.  Okay, but not as rollicking as the first one.  I think the Sherlock series on PBS’s Masterpiece Mystery has spoiled me for Holmes movies right now.  We were close to the lavatories in the middle of the plane; good for convenience, bad for ventilation.  I hope you’re listening Boeing; that’s a design flaw.

On the ground in Honolulu

Instead of landing at 2pm, we landed at 4.  After getting the bags and the rental car, we didn’t hit the interstate until the height of rush hour.  And, as I knew from the last time I was here, it’s a slow go on I-25.  It took 2 and a half hours to get from airport to hotel to check-in to room change (construction) to bags in the room to car in the garage to back in the room.  By this time, we’d been up and moving since 5am Friday in Memphis.  It was 6:30pm in Honolulu, or 11:30pm back home – and we still had to meet the team for dinner – and I’m not even a part of the team!!  Although, if you’re in Honolulu, stop by Town, the food is excellent.

Diamond Head in the distance

After Pam headed off to work, I took a jaunt up the beach toward Diamond Head.  Sand made it a slow-go, but there’s nothing like cooling your feet off in the Pacific Ocean.  I have a couple of observations after watching the people enjoying the beach.  Kids love the beach.  Running, splashing, jumping, squealing – kids do, while adults are more content to sit, watch, read and limit movements.

After a few miles, I got the laptop and headed to the pool to work on this.  Got a gin & tonic and wrote until the other half showed up.  No luaus, boat trips, tours or much else besides eating too much, but this is only the first day.


Effective Uses of Time

It’s been so long since I’ve posted something on the blog (May 9th to be exact), that WordPress has redesigned the entire posting area!  Okay, maybe they did it earlier today, but I’d have no idea of that. I’d like to say that I’ve been using that time ultra-effectively, but then again, I don’t want to lie to the entire blogosphere (anyway, my Mom reads the blog, and I wouldn’t want her thinking I’m fibbing about stuff).

I’ve done variations on the “getting old sucks” thing, but I’ve been noticing it a lot lately. After I crashed the bike last year, it took several months before I was willing to get back in the saddle. Even so, I don’t ride with the abandon I used to. That’s because I just wrapped up two months of physical therapy, several months after the fact. Seems I was developing adhesive capsulitis in my right shoulder. I had the same problem a few years ago in my left shoulder, so I knew how bad it could get.  Back in the day, though, I probably could have ridden the bike into a wall and just needed to brush myself off.


So, I’m a bit gunshy on the bike. At least I can jog. After switching to the Vibram 5-finger shoes, my nagging knee pain went away. So of course, I developed plantar fasciitis in my right foot!  At the same time, I found that I was having trouble staying upright. A couple of weeks ago, I was heading south on Main Street when I caught a toe on the sidewalk (not in a crack or on uneven pavement – just on the sidewalk) and took a tumble, scrapping a knee, an elbow and both hands. I’ve switched to a lightweight Nike shoe, the Free 3.0 v.2 to see if I can manage to put one foot in front of the other without any more damage.

Here’s my beef about running downtown. For the most part, it’s either sidewalk or street. Now, as I understand it (and please correct me if I’m wrong), keeping the sidewalks in some state of repair is the responsibility of the corresponding property owner. That means every property owner on Tennessee, Front, Linden, Main and Patterson needs to get cracking on fixing their cracked sidewalks. Every single one. Okay, so why don’t you run in the street Doug? Thanks for asking. Because the city does an even worse job of making sure the streets are passable. Most of Front in the South Main district is in some level of repaving, but that project is running on C.T. (City Time), which means the old asphalt is up and the streets have been regrooved, but it’ll be a few more weeks before new pavement is put down. I know, budget problems.

And even when there’s a stretch of sidewalk where there is some grass to fall on in case of emergency, it’s the length of Tennessee Street between Georgia and G.E. Patterson, which means all the dog owners who live in the condos along Tennessee use that grass as a dog crap holder. Apparently, picking up behind your dog is just not something downtown residents can be bothered with. And dear readers, not to gross you out any more than I’ve been, it may be that a couple of those people own small horses, based on the piles left in the grass.  Running down that street when it’s hot outside is like being locked in a Port-a-Potty. Not one of the upsides of downtown living.

On an up note, I hit the two-year mark at my current job. In a couple of months, I will have worked there as long as I was at FedEx, where it seems like there are more people in the Communications Department than when I was let go because of the economy. I guess things are better over there. I’m heading up to Ohio soon, where several family members work for the state. The governor up there is one of those mad GOP union-busting budget cutters. I’m hoping they’re all still working by the time I get up there.

Good Lord Willin’…

The creek, in this case, the Mississippi and its tributaries, is rising. A lot of people who live in lower-lying areas of the city have already been forced out of their homes by the rising water. I read a few minutes ago that the Mississippi is swollen to 3 miles across at one point downtown. It’s usually only a half-mile across there. We’ve had a lot of disaster action lately. Just a few days ago, I was hunkered down in my living room, watching wind shear, tornadic rotations and watch boxes on the TV, poised to run to my “safe place” if the major storm blew up Carolina Avenue.

Photo by: Dan Price

The push of the river over its banks is nothing short of amazing. I jogged by Beale Street the other day, when water was just starting to back out of the storm drain. The southern half of Mud Island was submerged, as were big chunks of Tom Lee Park (thank goodness he’s got that row boat!)

I caught a little of Mayor Wharton’s appearance on the CBS Morning Show, assuring the national audience that the city is prepared for worst. I think that measured calm that Wharton exudes will be particularly helpful during this time. Not to slag the former mayor, I’m sure he could have struck the right notes as well – but I don’t think I would have had a lot of confidence in his people to help the population get through all this (I’d hate us to end up with one of those “you’re doing a great job Brownie” situations).

Fortunately, my house is about 20 feet higher than the part of downtown that’s getting wet, so I’ve put off plans to lug my downstairs valuables upstairs. The interest thing about the water downtown is how is attracting the looky-Lous. May is the busiest time in my part of Memphis, due to the Memphis in May festival. A couple of Fridays ago, I went to watch the Grizzlies eliminate the Spurs. The Forum was packed, there was a baseball game across the street in AutoZone Park, Music Fest was going on and the monthly Main Street Trolley Tour brought a few more people out. Naturally, we were all ignoring the storm warnings.

Honestly, do these slacks make my butt look big?

It could be my imagination, but it seems like nearly as many people are wandering to the heart of the city to see the flood water. I saw that Diane Sawyer will anchor ABC’s World News from Memphis tonight. I also see that the Corps of Engineers is already looking at action to try and protect New Orleans (considering the Corp’s track record with NOLA [see Katrina], they might want to consider other options).

I will keep checking the flood maps for zip code 38103 at the website of the Shelby County Office of Preparedness. Looks like the potential for water extends to the point where Riverside Drive starts climbing the hill toward South Bluffs. It could potentially get to Georgia Avenue, which would surprise me – but that’s still a block away. Worst comes to worst, I’ll be heading to Cordova till the levels drop.

Keeping Up Appearances

I would have written sooner, but I’m trying to help Tennessee maintain its place as the laziest state in the nation. At least, that’s the word from the folks at The Volunteer State won the top spot in the list of lazy states listed by the online site, which is an off-shoot of the investment website “The Street.”

Here’s the nice little nugget highlighting the page on Tennessee: Taking the top spot as the laziest state in the union is Tennessee, where just more than half – 51.8% – of the adult population report at least two and a half hours of physical activity per week. And because the only way to make a point is to over make it, they included a nice little photo of an Elvis impersonator (in Los Angeles, not in Tennessee).

The actual work was done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in another sign of your tax dollars hard at work. You can read their report here.

To me, the upshot of this is that we don’t exercise quite enough. Granted. Exercise can be a drag, and I think that even people who exercise regularly would admit or agree to that. We eat too much and most of the stuff we eat too much of is bad for us. I’m reminded of that every time I bike or jog past the Gus’s Fried Chicken on Front Street. Of course, bad food (food that is bad for us) tastes incredibly good, because it’s got so much of the stuff that makes us enjoy food. It is tough to ignore the treadmill I put in my bedroom recently, especially since Spring is playing coy with bringing the heat – or at least enough to make outside exercise a regular thing. Although she has brought the pollen.

Good night and God Bless

We’re saddened at the passing of Elizabeth Taylor and Geraldine Ferraro. Taylor’s beauty, personality and acting ability was outsized, much bigger than the petite girl with the oddly-colored eyes (they never seemed violet to me; but then, I never saw them in person. Color correction in film and video tape often misses reality). Seems like she liked being married; but wasn’t very good at making them work. Incredibly beautiful, this picture was taken when she was a teenager!

I did get a chance to see the also petite Ferraro in person. The year she ran for vice president was when I had my first job as a reporter, for 610 WTVN radio in Columbus, Ohio. I covered a campaign stop of hers. It was my first time going through the whole Secret Service screening. She was quite personable, but between Vice President Mondale telling voters that he would raise their taxes and Ronald Reagan telling people it was morning again in America, the New York Congresswoman never got the chance to show her skills on a national and international stage.

Speaking of loss, several friends of mine have lost loved ones recently. Facebook has created a unique way for people to share their feelings of love and loss. And for the people who care about them having a way to support those feelings. Always remember those you love. Tell them when you can.

By the Numbers

Just a quick post about TV news. When you spend a bunch of years doing something, you retain some mild interest, even after you’ve moved on.

Here now the news!

Nielsen, the ratings people, have released their annual market rankings. Of the 210 markets ranked, New York remains the largest, Glendive, Montana the smallest.

Memphis, which was in the top 30 when I worked at the big 3 on the river, is now the 48th largest market, with 694,000 TV homes.  Some cities grow, others contract. If there’s any good news in the numbers for Memphis, its that it has moved up from being number 50 last year. Market size plays a role in how much stations can charge for commercial time. TV spots cost more in bigger markets. Doesn’t mean it’s better TV, just makes more money. Of course, it usually means the news people are paid a little better too. I’ve been out of local news long enough to not have a clue as to what people earn in this town. But there are still a boatload of people in Memphis TV who were working here when I got here in 1990 (so maybe somebody’s making some money here).

And no, consolidation won’t change Memphis’ market ranking, unless they turn the job situation around immediately and a bunch of folks move into town.

One CNN Center

Slip Slidin' Away?

Speaking of TV news, I’m starting to think that I got out of CNN when the getting was good. The August rating numbers for the network are out, and it seems they’re the lowest in ten years. That’s a little scary. Again, while Fox News is the clear leader in cable news ratings, it’s probably not a situation of people changing the channel from one to the other. CNN firmly staked out the middle ground for so long, I think it lost out on viewers attracted by point-of-view television. Fox and MSNBC, and even Headline News (sorry, HLN) have developed prime time line ups that have some kind of perspective. It’s interesting that Campbell Brown left the 8pm slot because she had no audience and Rick Sanchez has lost 41% of the few viewers she had. Maybe CNN should switch to NCIS reruns or try to grab the “Real Housewives” franchises from Bravo.