Taking stock on the 26th day of 2018

Here we are nearing the end of the first month of a new year. The weather has been a roller-coaster, the 20-year-old is back at college, and the beard has taken on an identity of its own. So here are the things I’m immersed in at present…

Wondering: Are the Phillies going to be any good this year? They rattled a few sabers in the off-season, and so I’m wondering if a .500 record in 2018 is realistic. Pitchers and catchers report in less than a month. Also, I want to go see a game at Atlanta’s new ballpark sometime. (If it’s against the Phillies, I will go incognito.)

Winning: All the time in Trump’s America. Our 401(k)’s are soaring, the economy is en fuego, more people are working, our standing in the world is increased, illegal immigration is way down, ISIS is more or less defeated, and a monolithic scandal involving the Obama administration and deep state is brewing.

Wishing: Spring were here. Granted, wishing for the next season doesn’t make it come any faster. But we have had some spring-like days here lately, and the days are already noticeably longer.

Waiting: Lord willing, Mrs. Lefty and I are headed to Memphis the second weekend in February to see the 20-year-old and also go to a basketball game.

Listening: Sometimes I break out the classical recordings when I want it quiet. It makes for good reading. Lately, I have discovered the Chiaroscuro Quartet, a group of European musicians who have already recorded several albums of classical music. When I’m running, I listen almost exclusively to Rush. Sometimes I’ll slip in something different, but most often it’s “the guys.” Right now, I’m listening to Rush in Rio, a live album they recorded in 2002 during their Vapor Trails tour. It’s nearly 3 hours long. And when I’m driving, it’s almost always SiriusXM “Real Jazz” on channel 67.

Reading: I haven’t bought any ebooks in a while. I’ve finished reading a number of them without adding new ones, opting instead to revisit some of the classics. At the moment, I’m reading Love & War, the second book in John Jakes’ Civil War trilogy, Moby Dick, or, the Whale, by Herman Melville, and an Andrew Jackson biography (paper copy).

Watching: Almost nothing. Mrs. Lefty and I watch an occasional movie (most recently The Words on Amazon Prime Video, which now has an app for Apple TV). The only actual TV show I ever watch is Nashville on CMT. Every once-in-a-while I attempt to talk Mrs. Lefty into cutting the cord, but she won’t hear of it. Sometimes I watch Memphis basketball if I’m not working. Also, I’m casually working my way through Ken Burns’ jazz documentary series for the 5th or 6th time. It never gets old.

Running: I went through a running nadir recently for a host of reasons. After running a half-marathon on December 2, I forced myself to take a week off. And then there was an illness which sidelined me, and then a prolonged cold spell which further limited my running days. However, with the warmer weather lately, I was able to log 21 miles during a 7-day stretch from last Thursday through this Wednesday. It’s the busiest week of running (outside of half-marathon training) that I’ve had in a while. So this month I’m going to do my best to meet my monthly goal of running 50 miles. (I did not meet my goal last month, partly by design.)

Grooming: The beard. I’m no longer growing a beard, because it is grown. Now I’m keeping it groomed, experimenting with various lengths. The only negative feedback comes from the 20-year-old, but I suspect his is borne out of jealousy, since he can’t grow facial hair the way I can.

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