California Dream’n

Liz and I just completed a lengthy family visit in Southern California.  We both hail from the Golden State and it was time to catchup up with siblings, nephews, nieces, and of course our children and spouses, who ran away from Texas years ago.

Although we are about to begin our fourth decade in the Lone Star State, California roots run deep – but not to the point where there is serious thought of going back to enjoy the weather, beaches, sunshine, and mountains.  The earthquakes don’t even bother us.  It’s the TRAFFIC!

I spent the first thirty years of my life in Southern California navigating the valleys, freeways, and congestion.  It was just part of life.  Yet, in the past 10 years there has been a real change.  Freeways and toll roads with eight or more lanes criss-cross the Southern California landscape – from San Diego to Ventura. But with nearly 18 Million living in the area, traffic has become ridiculous.  At any given time of the day, or week, what might “normally” take 40 minutes could take 90 minutes or more.  On one of our treks, what used to take 70 or 90 minutes, morphed into a 3-hour trip, which is not considered out of the norm when traveling from West Los Angeles to San Bernardino.

So, while we are still California dreaming about the beaches and mountains, it’s probably just a day dream, because the traffic is really a nightmare!

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The Big Nowitzki

The “Dude” was in full force last night in Dallas.  For you non-sports fans, I’m talking about Dirk Nowitzki who is in his 19th year with the Dallas Mavericks reached a milestone that only five other NBA players had accomplished.  Those other players are legendary – Kareem, Wilt, Kobe, Karl, and Michael.

Growing up as a Laker fan, I watched Wilt, Jerry West, Elgin Baylor, Gail Goodrich, Magic, and of course Kareem.  I was always comparing this tall gangly kid to those folks – and found him wanting.  I expected him to be a shot-blocker, or playing power-forward the way Karl Malone or Havlicek played.  But he played it differently.  Yes, he’s a bit goofy looking and awkward, and he played from the perimeter where the air was rare for 7’ white boys.  But you don’t score 30,000 points in the NBA by being mediocre.

What made me a Dirk fan was his work ethic and his willingness to re-invent and improve himself.  In this era of “look-at-me” stars, Dirk was coming to work every day and willing to sacrifice the big contracts to stay in Dallas and build his legacy. As a fan of basketball, I hope to see Dirk return next year so he can celebrate 20 years in the NBA. All of those years with one team.  He is truly the “Dude.”

Right Hook

OK, now that the suspensions were handed out, it’s time to weigh into the Odor/Batista “incident.”  As much as I don’t believe the right hook (as good as it was) was probably the “answer” to the Joey Bats issue for the Rangers, it reminds us how much emotions make up what many consider a boring game.

The whole incident was reminiscent of some of the “old-school” baseball that I grew up watching.  You crowded the plate – and you got a 90 mph missile at your head.  Slides into second base which precluded the “incident” were the norm – they didn’t end up in fines and suspensions.  With today’s “investments” in players and the dollars involved with careers, MLB is much more concerned about safety than in the past.

Yet, we can’t forget that as in the past, many players play for the love and excitement of the game.  This is where I give Roogie (Odor) a pass.  He’s an excitable, passionate, young man – and that’s all right by me.  He has talent and if he’s able to steer that passion in the right way, he could very well be a real gem for the Rangers.  He has a pretty good mentor sitting at third base (Beltre), who could be very good for him. So, I give him a pass on this “incident,” and look forward to the next time the Rangers play Toronto (playoffs?).  It could be interesting.

 

Crying

I hate losing, and yesterday’s Texas Ranger game doesn’t sit well.  If you’ve played enough competitive sports (and isn’t business a competitive sport?), you’re going to lose.  Heck, a baseball team that wins a 100 games in a season, which is considered exceptional, is only winning 61% of the time.  So, not winning everything is part of life.  I get it.

But three errors in one inning, which then created an opportunity for Joey Bats to clear the bases, is pitiful.  Losing to a team (a competitor) who plays better than you — I’m good with it.  But shooting yourself (hmmm not a bad idea for a certain shortstop) in the foot, that just leaves a bad taste.

So, I’m going to go cry in my beer.  A nice Ballast Point Sculpin IPA.  That should make me feel better – at least until tonight’s game with the Dodgers and Mets.  Did I mention that I hate anything New York?

Golf Is A Four Letter Word

If you have played, excuse me, tried to play the game of golf, you have heard that phrase countless times.  As a baseball player in a previous life, the idea of hitting a small ball that was not moving with a stick, made perfect sense and sounded relatively easy.  Yup, and pigs will fly in formation.

Although my skills are lacking, I remain fascinated with the game and the passion which it creates.  It was very apparent at the PIA MidAmerica Kansas City Golf Tournament yesterday.  There were nearly 200 folks, including volunteers, in attendance.  Many of them drove over an hour to get there since Smithville, Missouri is a bit off the beaten path.  As I’ve realized over the years, the game is very social for many, and it was apparent yesterday with the smiles and excited voices heard prior, during and after the round.  More important, it was seeing our graphic arts community coming together to enjoy the day and get away from the daily grind which made the day very rewarding for me and the PIA staff.

I’m going to miss these events, but the game of golf will still be there.  Maybe with a bit of free time and a bit of focus, my game will improve.  Now, what did I do with my niblick?

What Now?

That’s a question I’m getting frequently since I announced my retirement.  That’s a great question.

Like so many who have been involved in a career which was enjoyable, challenging, and rewarding, thoughts of riding off into the sunset weren’t ever in view. All of a sudden, here I am at a precipice. And I’m beginning to realize that it’s a view that thousands of Baby Boomers are facing every day.

The monetary questions begin.  The health issues become more of concern.  And for many of us the question which is of utmost importance – what are you going to do with your spare time?

Yes, I’ve spoken to all my retired siblings and friends, and they say don’t worry, you’re going to enjoy the time and you’ll be busier than ever.  Yet, the question for me is — doing what?

I’m not a gardener; nor woodworker; golf is OK, but not a regular diet of it; no grandkids (no regrets – our kids are happy); and I’m still physically active (biking, martial arts, and yoga!), but the body doesn’t respond like a 40-year-old anymore.  Or for that matter a 50-year-old!

Yet, the fog is beginning to lift.  As one friend said, now’s the time to make time for the things you wanted to do when you were working – but couldn’t.  More time with Liz; travel a bit more – nothing exotic – but take time to enjoy rather than rushing back to work; spend more time with family members who are scattered throughout the West; and oh yeah, there’s still going to be some “work” involved. Like a druggie, I’m too hooked to leave cold turkey, but it’s going to be at my pace and choosing.

So what am I going to do? Same ‘ol stuff; just at a different pace.

Mad Dogs, Englishman AND Texans

It’s about 10:00 a.m on Sunday morning, and I’m cooling off after a bike ride. I recall the days of joining my brothers on jaunts to the beach following the San Gabriel river-bed (OK, the concrete river bed – it’s SoCal), but that was a LONG time ago.  I’m no longer interested in pounding out the miles of a twenty-something (or is that a fifty-something?) but 60-70 minutes of a steady-pace does it for me.

Another observation strikes me as I drink my cup-a-joe.  Those morning rides in SoCal started in sun and frequently ended at the beach while the Southern California “purple” was lifting.  And it was 68 degrees.  I haven’t seen 68 degrees for the past three months.  It was rapidly approaching 92 when I was storing my bike.

I am frequently asked by family members (Left Coast) and friends (East Coast) do we Texans bike (or play golf) during the summer.  What a silly question.  We’re Texans.  We don’t hibernate during the summer.  We embrace it.  Bring it! Bark, bark, bark!

First Post of Summer

I have been remiss in posting regularly. Whatever.

I have broken the #1 rule of a blogger — you need to post regularly.  So have me flogged.  BUT, I’m also a believer that I’m not going to post, just to post.  I thought about posting when the Supreme Court was reviewing the Gay Marriage issue – but most folks really don’t care what I think about that topic.  I considered writing when the Cowboys (Dallas football team for you un-washed) signed Greg Hardy and drafted Randy Gregory, but the ESPN folks have plenty to say in that area.  I had more thoughts about the recent shooting in Garland at the “cartoonist” event, while I applaud the officer (nice shooting), the concept of holding that type of event leaves me wondering about some folks, but again, I’ll leave the pundits on Fox and CNN to kick that one around.  Weather has been an issue in North Texas, but when hasn’t it been one?

So what got me to post?

The Rangers have a winning record!!!! Yipee!!!

The Thrill Is Gone

Although we lost BB King last week, his iconic song “The Thrill Is Gone” continues to resonate in my head. For any contemporary music lover, the impact B.B. had over the past 40 years is probably as impactful as Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong had on jazz.

I remember first hearing Mr. King live in 1970 in San Luis Obispo. In those days, Cal Poly had about 9,500 students, but it was a good stopping spot for many groups making the trek from L.A. to S.F.  I was able to see legendary musicians such as B.B. King, Jim Morrison (Doors), Four Tops, Temptations, Steve Miller, Janis Joplin, Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane), and many more during my time in that sleepy Central California town.

Yet, it was King who I probably remember the best.  He had been around for a few years and acid rock was in the midst of it’s hey-day.  Many of us were familiar with the name, but really weren’t knowledgeable of his music.  He opened for Steve Miller (a Dallas legend) and between both of them it was a heck of a show.  Miller was an up and coming act, but it was the old man, as I thought of him, who really strutted his stuff.  With the legendary Lucille strapped to his back, he showcased his style of electric blues that made many of us highly appreciative — if not lovers — of that form of music.

B.B. King may be gone — but the thrill of his music will be with me forever.

Just Around The Corner

Spring training is now in full swing, which means that the Boys of Summer will soon be playing in earnest.  Yet, I feel like Punxsutawney Phil, who just saw his shadow. Is spring ever going to show up?

I’m looking out my window at about 4″ of snow overlaying ice.  Granted this is not unusual for North Texas, but for the last three weeks we’ve had more freezing weather than we deserve.  Send it to Buffalo.  Send it to Chicago. They’re used to it and they’re lacking baseball teams.  Although in fairness to Cub fans, there actually may be glimmers of hope in ’15.

So, let’s get the season started.  It’s the time of year when everyone is excited about their team and there are dreams of a season lasting until October.  Play ball!