Taking stock on the 140th day of 2017

Today I am driving to Charlottsville, Virginia to see my brother graduate from the University of Virginia Medical School. (No, I’m not writing this while driving, although I could technically have dictated it to Siri. I actually wrote this yesterday, the 139th day of 2017, and scheduled it to post today.) After we get back home Monday, the 142nd day of 2017, we have no further travel plans. And I’m quite looking forward to not going anywhere this summer. Here’s what I’m up to these days:

Running: This is 5K season, so I’m running mostly 5K’s from now until autumn. I’m not training for any races, so this is the fun part of running. I am planning on finally running in the St. Jude Marathon (just the half-marathon, though) in Memphis on December 2. I’ve been wanting to do this ever since the 2013 race was canceled because of winter weather. (That was supposed to be my first half-marathon.) But I won’t start training for this until October.

Reading: Master & Commander by Patrick O’Brian, Mom & Me & Mom by Maya Angelou and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce.

Writing: I try to make a blog post every day. It’s purely a hobby. If I don’t write something regularly, I’m afraid I’ll burst.

Watching: I watch very little TV anymore. I’ve watched some of the NBA playoffs, but not much. I’ve watched some of the Predators playoff games. I do enjoy watching Nashville on CMT with Mrs. Lefty. Overall, I might average an hour a day. Some days I watch nothing. If it were up to me, there would not be a TV, or maybe we’d keep one just for watching movies.

Listening: I have a large collection of music that I digitized several years ago (and then got rid of all my CD’s). I know my music very well, so in the last few months I’ve branched out. I started listening to lots of Apple Radio and also subscribed to Sirius XM, since there’s a satellite radio built into my car. Mostly, I listen to Real Jazz (channel 67). On Apple Radio, I listen to several stations. I sometimes listen to current music because there are some really good new artists out there and occasionally I’ll find a gold nugget that’s worth digging into.

Avoiding: Busyness, at all cost.

Enjoying: Summer is almost here. Last summer was probably the best summer of my adult life, or at least in a very long while, and I intend for this summer to be at least as memorable. I used to dread the summer heat and humidity, but now it’s the winter cold that I dread.

Volunteering: I operate a video camera at church. We livestream all of our services, so I find myself working all 5 weekly services if my work schedule permits. I very much enjoy doing this. It’s important to volunteer at church. There are many tasks that require attention, and the paid staff cannot possibly do everything. From experience, I’ve learned to volunteer for exactly one job that you enjoy doing, and then do that job well.

Buying: Nothing. Or almost nothing. Despite all the purging we’ve accomplished these last couple of years (or three), I still look for things to get rid of. This sometimes aggravates my wife, because I’m more extreme than her. I find myself rarely buying anything anymore. When I do, it’s usually to replace something that’s broken or worn out. Really, I don’t need anything else. If you asked me right now to make out a personal wish list, I could list a few ebooks, and that would be all.

Self-aggrandizing: I wish to someday be that person who makes wise statements others talk about, such as “so-and-so said this to me one time years ago and I’ve never forgotten it.” As of now, the most potent philosophical statement I am capable of making is, “It is what it is.”

#realnews

I’m tired of reacting to all the #fakenews stories coming from the media/Democrats, primarily because it distracts from the real news of all the winning that’s going on that does not get reported by the #fakenews media.

So I’ll do the job myself.

The stock market is up considerably since Trump’s election. This doesn’t just benefit “Wall Street fat cats,” but anyone, like me, with a 401k that is invested in the stock market. And I’m not a Wall Street fat cat you routinely hear maligned by Bernie Sanders. I’m just some guy from Tennessee.

Illegal immigration is down considerably since Trump’s election. Just the threat of carrying out the law has decreased border crossing dramatically.

House Republicans have passed the AHCA, the unraveling of ObamaCare.

James Comey has been fired as FBI director.

The Democrats keep losing elections.

President Trump has proposed a slate of tax cuts that would benefit every single American who pays income taxes, as well as American businesses.

We bombed the (expletive) out of ISIS.

Domestic oil production is up. We are not at the mercy of OPEC like we used to be.

Unemployment is plummeting. American companies are hiring. Some that had planned to move jobs overseas are staying home instead. This is huge but it routinely gets ignored by #fakenews & Democrats.

We have a clean administration in place at the White House that loves America. The adults are back in charge.

President Trump has exposed his predecessor for tapping his phones at Trump Tower.

Neil Gorsuch is on the Supreme Court. Senate Republicans, acting on a precedent established by “Dingy” Harry Reid, removed the 60-vote requirement for SCOTUS nominees. (The three previous Republican presidents, including the great Ronald Reagan, struck out with their initial Supreme Court nominees. President Trump hit a home run with his.)

President Trump has rolled back many of his predecessor’s onerous executive orders.

Hillary Clinton is not president.

The #fakenews media have fully unmasked themselves. We know exactly who they are and their relationship to the Democrat Party.

Monday morning meanderings

French voters yesterday had a choice between willfully submitting to the tyranny of militant Islam or restoring some semblance of law and order. They chose the former. So long, Francestan. When you import the Third World, you become the Third World.

In the French presidential election, a man defeated a woman. (Madame Le Pen would have been France’s first female president, too!) When a conservative man defeats a liberal women over here, it’s blamed on misogyny. But when a liberal man defeats a conservative woman, it’s not misogyny. Also, I’m convinced that had Le Pen beaten Macro or Micro or Marconi or whatever his name is, it would have immediately been blamed on Russian interference. But the globalist in this election won, so there’s no talk of Russia.

During the last thousand years or so, few nations have been trampled on and tyrannized more than Poland. Today, Poland is one of the safest nations in Europe because they have refused to import the Third World.

After 18 years on the ice and ten playoff appearances, the Nashville Predators have advanced to the Western Conference finals for the first time ever. This is a great thing for the city. I’ve never been a hockey fan, and I’m still not a hockey fan, but I’ve found myself watching the Predators because of all the excitement they’ve generated locally. No, I’m not going to start wearing bandwagon Predators’ gear, because after the playoffs are over, I still won’t be a hockey fan.

When I participated in the Rock-and-Roll Marathon in Nashville on April 29, the city tied its all-time record high temperature for April (91 degrees). Six days later, the city broke its record “cool high” temperature for May 5 (54 degrees, which was 19 degrees cooler than the low temperature on April 29). This is Murphy’s Law at its cruelest.

The very ones who said, “When they go low, we go high” and “Love trumps hate” have shown themselves to be the meanest, most hateful, callous, vulgar, vile and vehement people this side of militant Islam. They call themselves “progressives.” I call them “intolerant,” “soulless” and “godless.”

Even though “progressives” attempt to portray Donald Trump as a heartless, cruel SOB, I have so far observed him to be one of the warmest, most considerate, selfless and generous presidents we’ve been blessed with during my lifetime.

Have you noticed there’s not a single person in the Democrat Party today who inspires anyone to self-improvement? Out of all their rhetoric aimed at the current administration, there’s not a word about individual betterment or self-confidence. Contrast this with conservatives during the Obama presidency who said, “Screw that guy, I’ll get it done myself.” This is because Democrats don’t inspire anything except class envy, helplessness and victimhood.

If you are willing to forego a tax cut just to keep a rich guy from getting his, you might be a Democrat.

Jesus saves. Government doesn’t save. So if you’re a Democrat voter looking to government to make your life better, God help you.

Friday’s foibles

The 19-year-old came home for the summer Wednesday evening. One year of college down, three to go. (I hope it’s only three. Please let it be three.) He’ll be home for three-and-a-half months. This is going to be a great summer. Last year was my favorite summer in recent memory, and that was with Obama still president. Imagine how awesome summers are going to be during the Era of Trump.

Being a shift-worker, I often forget what day of the week it is. My Thursday could be your Monday, or my Monday could be your Friday. Sometimes there are two Thursday’s, two Tuesday’s, and no weekend. Or my weekend could be your Tuesday and Wednesday.

I’ve never been able to wear polo shirts made of cotton because cotton shrinks and I’ve never been able to wear them well. But polyester polo shirts are a different thing. I’m quickly trending toward these and doing away with the traditional button-up dress shirts.

If the Memphis Tigers are going to be successful at basketball next season, it’s going to be with a bunch of junior college transfers on the roster. Let’s hope this works.

I’ve had my Apple Watch for about three months and am still learning new things about it. And the more I learn, the more useful it becomes. Running without carrying an iPhone, but still being able to listen to music and track my run is quite a luxury. Of course, it has other uses, too.

What is the official pronunciation of “gyro?”

Every time I hear about someone’s Facebook drama, it reminds me why I’m not on Facebook.

My brother graduates from medical school in 16 days.

I regret not visiting the Shakespeare & Company bookstore when I was in Paris 27 years ago. It’s an English bookstore where Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce used to “hang out,” among others. I wasn’t into literature back then. (I was only 20.) So I wasn’t even aware there was such a place, and probably wouldn’t have cared if I had known. I was so close to it, too. Passed within a few blocks.

I have not flown on an airplane in 12 years.

Monday morning May 1 musings

We just witnessed the most wildly successful first 100 days of any presidency during my lifetime.

The “Team Tennessee” commercial that aired on Fox Sports South where the Predators players wished the Memphis Grizzlies luck and the Grizzlies players wished the Nashville Predators luck was awesome. It is so rare to see Memphis and Nashville give each other props. (Leave it to sports to bring people together.) I wish this would happen more often.

In the 21 hours following Saturday morning’s half-marathon, I slept about 12 hours.

As an introvert, I perceive that I have built-in mannerisms that are naturally off-putting. I don’t mean to be this way. (Well, sometimes I do.) My only evidence for this is my observation that extroverts at work will often pass me over and seek out other extroverts for their endless chatter. Believe me, I’m totally fine with this.

At last year’s annual physical, my doctor suggested it might be a good idea to cut down on red meat. So I’ve cut down on red meat, and I really haven’t missed it. I don’t even crave it much, except the occasional desire for a hamburger.

I often wish I could have one catch-all password for everything.

I’ve used a couple of Trump tax cut calculators on the web, and it looks like the tax cut, if enacted as is, would save my family somewhere around $1,500 a year. It never occurs to me to turn down a tax cut because some rich guy will save a great deal more than me. But Democrats would keep me from getting a tax cut just so a rich guy won’t get his. I simply cannot rationalize this sort of thinking.

By the way, Trump’s tax cut isn’t really a tax cut, per se. Rush Limbaugh explained this last week and it makes sense. The tax cut will simply be a cut in the tax rates. The federal government will likely see its revenue increase after the tax rates are reduced, so overall taxes will be going up as a result of economic growth resulting from the lower tax rates. Liberals do not understand this. Don’t bother trying to explain it to them, either.

In 1981, the year President Reagan assumed office, federal receipts were 500-and-something billion dollars. While in office, the top tax rate was slashed from 70% to 28%. In 1989, the year President Reagan left office, federal receipts were 900-and-something billion dollars. In other words, tax revenue nearly doubled during the Reagan presidency. Don’t let politicians fool you into thinking that tax cuts have to be “paid for.” The are “paid for” with economic growth.

Twice in the last few months, a realtor has called our home asking if we are planning on selling soon. Property values are booming in Mt. Juliet and I guess there’s money to be made. I’ve never had a realtor call me before asking if I’m selling. We’ve lived here for 18 years and are not selling. We enjoy our home and I honestly don’t think we could improve upon our current situation. Sometimes the grass is greenest right where you’re standing.

Monday morning musings

All this rain has me missing my hammock. Hammock season has started early for me this year.

I seriously wonder if there will ever be a time in my life when I don’t have to deal with stupid people.

Playoff basketball in Memphis is always either one of two things: deflating or heart-stopping exhilaration.

For what it’s worth, an early ESPN preseason football ranking has the Memphis Tigers at #43, which happens to be the highest ranking of any team outside the Power 5. UCLA is 23rd. We play them in Memphis on September 16.

Next week the 19-year-old comes home for the summer. This is going to take some adjustment by everyone, including the dog.

In 5 services over Easter weekend, more than 1,200 people crowded into my church. We seat around 165.

I used to make my own pasta, but it has been more than a decade. You can buy a box of pasta for $1. Pasta isn’t easy to make, and it’s not very economical. But here lately I’ve had the itch to make a batch of homemade pasta.

I have this internal battle going on about which has the better chicken: Gus’s World Famous Friend Chicken in Memphis or Hattie B’s in Nashville. It typically depends on where I ate last. We had Gus’s last Thursday evening, so right now that’s on top.

I didn’t participate in Saturday’s March for Science because I was busy doing actual science. But if there’s ever a March for Geography, I might be interested.

My wife and I went to Gatlinburg the first week of this month. That’s probably going to do it for us in 2017. We don’t have a vacation planned for the summer, at least not a vacation where we drive somewhere. I’m really just looking forward to a quiet summer at home.

Random thoughts

Today is my brother’s 38th birthday. Next month he will graduate from the University of Virginia Medical School (nod to Thomas Jefferson).

People are starved for truth and truth is becoming increasingly difficult to find. We live in an age of deception and people will flock to wherever they can find truth. That’s why a tiny church on Old Lebanon Dirt Rd. in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee is consistently packed to overflowing. God’s word is proclaimed accurately & unapologetically. It’s really a simple formula.

Don’t believe the #fakenews stories that President Trump’s inner circle is plagued by infighting and intrigue. I guarantee you the Trump machine is humming along beautifully. All you have to do is look at the results.

In 13 days, Lord willing, I will run my 4th half-marathon.

Note that the Democrat Party and their for-hire rioters consistently side with America’s enemies. They have sidled up to communists and Islamic jihadists and declared war on President Trump and us Trump supporters.

The Tennessee legislature has passed a bill that would provide two years of college free for those 24 and older (an extension of an existing program for younger students). Whatever your views on this legislation, it amazes me what we have been able to do in Tennessee without a state income tax while simultaneously consistently running a budget surplus. Remember what progressives told us 15 years ago, that we had to have a state income tax or Tennessee would literally fall apart. I’m still rubbing their noses in it.

I wonder what would happen if there were an Easter egg hunt for dogs.

Students at Duquesne U. are trying to stop an on-campus Chick-fil-a from opening because they fear it will put their safe space at risk. I honestly don’t know how to respond to this.

I’ve never been much of a hockey fan, and I’m not suddenly jumping on the bandwagon now, but the Nashville Predators are up 2-0 in the opening round of the playoffs. The city is teeming with excitement.

President Trump isn’t “flip-flopping” on the issues as his haters would have us believe. People still don’t understand The Donald, and some never will. It’s the “art of the deal,” you dunderheads. He’s making chess moves and the Democrats, #fakenews and cuckservatives are clueless. They think they’re one-upping Donaldus Magnus, but they’re really just showing their ignorance.

Random thoughts on Syria bombing, recent Gatlinburg trip, etc.

President Trump bombed the crap out Syrian military targets yesterday. We hit them with 59 tomahawk missiles in 60 seconds. (I’d love to see video of that. It had to be better than any fireworks show.) There is some grumbling among Trump supporters that he’s going to get us into another Middle Eastern war. I don’t want another Middle Eastern war, either. Let’s put America first and let them sort out their own problems. The thing is, Bashar al Assad used chemical agents against his own people, or at least we believe he did. Several years ago, President Obama put down his famous red line, which Assad has violated repeatedly, for which Obama did nothing. We launched missiles from Navy ships. We haven’t sent in troops, nor have we committed to send in troops. We haven’t gone to war. We bombed Syria’s military targets. That’s it. I don’t have a problem with this. What are the long-term implications of President Trump’s attack? I have no idea. I doubt anyone does.

I’ve heard it said one should never go grocery shopping on an empty stomach. I don’t necessarily agree with this, although I understand the logic. The trick is to make a grocery list at home (preferably not on an empty stomach), and then stick to your list while shopping, whether you’re hungry or not.

Thoughts on my recent Gatlinburg trip:

  • There are a lot of obese people.
  • There are a lot of poorly-dressed people.
  • People who probably have no affiliation with the Universities of Kentucky, Alabama and North Carolina nonetheless wear their gear. Whatever. I saw a young lady wearing an IUPUI shirt, another gentleman wearing Gardner-Webb. Those are probably legitimate fans.
  • Regarding amusement parks, my wife and I have officially made the transition from tourists who ride rides to tourists who attend shows.
  • The things people spend money on I can’t understand. There are free attractions that are far more worthwhile than mindless entertainment that costs money. All it requires is a short drive into the mountains.
  • If you ever have the opportunity, taking Gnatty Branch Road as an alternate method for driving from Gatlinburg to Dollywood is better than most roller coasters.
  • Those who insist on eating healthy are in for real challenge, unless you want to bring your own food from home. (Is there anything to eat that isn’t fried?)
  • If you’re going running in Gatlinburg, do so very early, or don’t bother. (I didn’t go running while I was there.)
  • Universally, hotel WiFi is useless. Plan on using your own data.
  • Knoxville goes on forever. Traffic there is almost as congested as Nashville’s. (This is a complement.)
  • You look at the world differently when your child(ren) is/are grown.
  • There is an attaction called “Ober Gatlinburg.” I wonder if anyone has ever taken an Uber to Ober?

Five for Friday

1. John Calipari makes his return to the FedEx Forum this weekend as Kentucky plays its regional semifinal game in Memphis, forcing Memphians — once again — to figure out if we’re “over” Calipari. Stop it, please. It’s been 8 years. I’m over it, already. I don’t hate him. I don’t like him, either. That leaves me ambivalent.  (Really, the only people who “love” Calipari are those where he happens to be currrently coaching.) It was great when he was at Memphis, especially those last 4 years when we were a top 10 (top 5?) program. Even though Memphis had a solid basketball pedigree before he ever arrived, we accomplished things during 2005-09 that we’d never accomplished before, and might never accomplish again. Oh well.

To look at this properly, as was pointed out in Geoff Calkins’ Commercial Appeal column, Memphis as a city is greatly improved since 2009. One man’s arrival didn’t build the city, and his departure certainly didn’t tear it down. Aside from the improvements realized around the city and across the University of Memphis campus, you have to remember that when he left, the Memphis Tigers’ basketball team was all we had. The Grizzlies were horrible. And the Tigers’ football team was even worse. Even though the Tigers’ basketball team has been knocked off its pedestal, the Grizzlies are about to make their 7th straight playoff appearance, and the football team has made 3 straight bowl appearances, won 27 games during that stretch, and beaten a ranked opponent each of the last two seasons. So if you want to go back to the Calipari years, then we’ll have to take all the rest away. No thanks.

2. There are places I visited in Europe as a young man that would not be safe to visit anymore (Paris and Munich, for example). This is a shame, because there are still places I’d like to visit. I never did go to England, but it’s not safe to do so now, and I don’t know if it will ever be.

3. To see things as they really are, without the shroud of predisposition.

4. I still have yet to play the Tennessee Lottery. I’ve always viewed the lottery as a voluntary tax on those who cannot do math. But if that’s what you want to do with your money, then don’t let me stop you. Plus — and I’m not trying to sound sanctimonious — the idea of a Powerball jackpot of $10M or $100M, or whatever those things are, does not appeal to me at all. I know there are certain freedoms that wealthy people enjoy that the rest of us don’t, but that kind of wealth seems as much a burden as anything. As it is, I’ll keep my middle class life in which I lack for nothing and enjoy a quiet contentment.

5. Not only does obscene wealth seem to be its own burden, but so does fame. Can you imagine being so famous that you can’t go out in public without risking being mobbed by fans or harassed by paparazzi? Honestly, who would want that? Let me instead enjoy my quiet anonymity along with my quiet contentment.

Taking stock on the first day of spring

Today is the first day of Spring, 2017. Honestly, it has felt like spring since January, with just a smattering of winter worked in here and there. But today is the equinox. And it definitely feels like spring today.

Reading: I just started Erik Larson’s most recent novel, Dead Wake, which is about the sinking of the Lusitania during World War I. Larson writes some of the best non-fiction I’ve ever read. He gives you a first-class history lesson and entertains you all at the same time. I’m looking forward to this one.

Running: I’m doing reasonably well, but not as well as I had hoped to be. Of course, I’m grateful to be running at all, even though I’ve been doing mostly 5K’s. Recovering from injury is a bear. I’m running a half-marathon in less than six weeks. It will be my 4th one, but I’m resigned to the reality that I will be the least prepared I’ve ever been. I’m going to train as best I can. My goal is to get in at least one 11+ mile run before the event. I’ll be mostly prepared, but not fully prepared. Regardless, I’m showing up the morning of April 29th and running a half-marathon. Period.

Eating: This evening we’re having stuffed pork tenderloin.

Traveling: Other than the occasional trip to Memphis, we haven’t been much of anywhere since Hilton Head Island one year ago. The week after next, Mrs. Lefty and I are planning on driving to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge for the first time in, I believe, 7 years. This time, it will just be the two of us.

Mowing: Not yet, but it will likely take place next week. I am not looking forward to it. But I am looking forward to the warm season. And you can’t have one without the other. Meh. It still beats winter.

Worshipping: As many as 5 times a week. I used to teach Sunday School, but nowadays I operate a video camera. Jesus doesn’t need a teacher where we go to church. But He does need a camera operator. So I do this joyfully. We recently added a third Sunday morning service in addition to our Wednesday and Saturday evening services, so I get an earful during the course of a week.

Listening: Apple Radio a lot when I’m at home or at work, and to Sirius 67 “Real Jazz” when I’m in the car.

Wanting: Nothing. My wish list is empty. I have literally everything a person could want.

Anticipating: Baseball season (for me, anyway) starts on April 3 when the Phillies visit Cincinnati. However, the Memphis Tigers are 12-7 so far this season. I haven’t watched much sports lately. In fact, I have yet to watch a single NCAA tournament game. But I am looking forward to watching some baseball this year (sports WITHOUT politics, please).