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).

Monday morning musings

The year 1987 was 30 years ago. That was the year before I graduated high school.

A friend on Twitter poses this question: “Since feminists would have us believe the US is such an oppressive country, shouldn’t they warn immigrants not to come here?”

Bernie Sanders two days ago on Twitter: “We are living in a nation which worships wealth rather than caring for the poor. I don’t think that is the nation we should be living in.” Yet no one worships wealth more than the socialists who aim to re-distribute it.

knavish (adj.) — dishonest or unscrupulous; Does this not perfectly describe the Democrats and #fakenews media? (i.e., knavish Democrats, knavish media)

drone (n.) — a male bee in a colony of social bees, which does no work but can fertilize a queen; What percentage of beta males does this apply to?

A prayer room for Muslim students has been set aside in at least one Texas high school. I wonder if the ACLU’s obsession with “separation of church and state” will apply here? Nah. Those drones are just too knavish.

The lastest presidential approval poll I saw has Trump at 37%. But when I apply my own “+20” formula to this #fakepoll, I come up with a 57% approval rating for President Trump. Good job, Mr. President.

Today is the first day of spring. Thank God!

I have kept up with the NCAA tournament, but I have yet to watch an actual game. My entire East Region is destroyed, although I did somehow get 9 of the Sweet Sixteen correct and still have 3 of my Final Four teams in, including my national champion (Arizona). What does it all mean in the end? Nothing, really.

South Carolina beat Duke. Memphis beat South Carolina. So…

Sunday musings with nary a discouraging word

Brett Baier’s new book Three Days in January offers a fabulous insight into the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower, who was a very underrated president. I’m not quite halfway through the book and find myself engrossed in this bit of history.

Yesterday, my wife and I dined at Olive Garden to take advantage of the “buy one take one,” where you take a second pasta dish home with you. (And they do not short you on the portions.) We will literally end up spending the entire weekend dining on this indulgence.

My church, the Global Vision Bible Church on Old Lebanon Dirt Rd. (not actually a dirt road) in Mount Juliet, TN is in its 2nd weekend since expanding to 4 services. There is a Saturday night service and three Sunday morning services. This was done to accommodate a burgeoning membership. We seat about 165 at any one time, but will likely welcome in excess of 500 worshippers this weekend. Literally thousands will watch us online. We offer no gimmicks. The attraction is simply our gospel preaching. People are starved for truth anymore, and will flock to wherever they can find it.

Yesterday morning, we received 1.2″ of snow, which was our largest of the winter so far, even though we enjoyed a prolonged warm spell in February and early March that brought out the blooms and buttercups prematurely. The snow was enjoyed by most, but amazingly short-lived. It was completely gone by early afternoon.

In 47 years on this earth, I have never seen any President in person. Lord willing, that will change on Wednesday when President Trump comes to Nashville for a rally. Trump will also visit the Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson, which I find to be a nice touch to his visit.

A week ago yesterday, I began running 5K’s for the first time since suffering a torn right calf muscle in late January. Recovery was deliberate and gradual, and I am grateful to be running again. So far I have felt no effects from the injury. I wear a compression sleeve every time I walk or run. I have run four 5K’s now (every other day). My times aren’t great, but my pace is slow on purpose. I can tell I’m somewhat out of shape after not running for so many weeks. My goal is to remaster the 5K (literally make the 5K great again) before extending my miles. I am determined to participate in a half-marathon in Nashville on April 29 (my fourth in as many years). I don’t know that I can get fully trained in time since I’m behind my usual training schedule. But I’m going to run it anyway and do the best I can.

I am thoroughly enjoying my Apple Watch. I went running carrying an iPhone for so long I suddenly don’t know what to do with two empty hands.

When you have an introvert and an extrovert together with no one else present, the extrovert can be contained if the introvert avoids engaging the extrovert, or at least engages minimally. It’s when you add a second extrovert to the equation that the introvert begins to experience troubles (what I call “the tyranny of the extrovert”).

Tuesday musings

We like to joke about people from some other part of the country as being especially dumb. People from Tennessee often pick on people from Alabama. We say, “Wow, that’s really dumb. You must be from Alabama.” In reality, though, stupid has no boundaries.

I was listening to Sirius 67 (Real Jazz) recently when they played a rather long piece from John Coltrane from 1966 entitled Ascension. It is an example of “free jazz.” Let me preface this by saying I think highly of John Coltrane. He made some of the best jazz ever made. Ascension doesn’t do it for me, however. It sounds like an orchestra perpetually warming up, just a collection of instruments playing random notes. They never actually play a melody. It’s just a cacophony. Some people consider this art. Some people consider throwing a bucket of paint against a wall to be art. I’m not willing to call just anything art.

I’ve gotten to where I only eat donuts from Gibson’s in Memphis. This means I don’t often eat donuts, which is probably best.

I occasionally talk to storm phobics who, quite honestly, need a shrink more than they need a meteorologist.

The jump from high school baseball to Division 1 college baseball is extraordinary. I’ve seen both and there is no comparison.

Does anyone know a source for some really good ghost stories? I love ghost stories.

Don’t believe the #fakenews that Donald Trump’s approval rating has tanked. He’s still the same person we voted for. He’s done everything he said he was going to do. There’s no logical reason why his base would turn against him for being the president we all knew he would be.

Don’t believe the #fakenews that the Trump administration is plagued by scandal. The Trump administration is plagued by #fakenews. His administration is the cleanest we’ve see in at least 8 years, and the most efficient we’ve ever seen.

The Democrat Party is the largest hate group in America. The mainstream media, effectively dubbed “#fakenews,” is the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party. This is how we must view the Democrat Party and #fakenews at all times. If they tell you water is wet, be skeptical. Run your hand underneath a faucet to make sure water is indeed wet.

The Democrat Party and #fakenews are going to oppose President Trump on every single thing he does. Get used to it, support our president, and watch the Democrat Party and #fakenews continue their slide toward irrelevance.

Thursday’s musings

I have a soft place in my heart for old baseball pitchers (4o or older). They aren’t throwing fastballs by anyone, so they have to rely on off-speed pitches, pinpoint control, generous strike zones, guile and deception, cloak and dagger. They are artists. They paint while they pitch. (I’m thinking of Jaime Moyer, Phil Neikro, Greg Maddux, a few others.)

The #DayWithoutLiberalWomen is six days away. I can hardly wait. Participants believe they are going to teach men a lesson about what life would be like without them, but these are the kinds of women who men want to disappear. As far as I’m concerned, it’s just another example of winning.

Spring is more or less here, which means I have survived my 48th winter on this planet. Thank God.

My torn calf muscle is healing nicely. I am now running two miles every other day with zero troubles with the injury. The compression sleeve was a wise investment. I’ll be wearing one long-term.

Culver’s fried shrimp is every bit as good as its hamburgers.

My latest investments are an Apple Watch and Air Pods. I wasn’t going to buy the watch until it could be used untethered from the iPhone. I wanted to be able to run and listen to music with just the watch and Bluetooth earbuds. The Apple Watch Series 2 has made this a reality. I am convinced that iOS devices run on magic instead of electronics. It’s spooky what they can do now.

Some of the dishes I prepare call for fresh basil. We grow basil when it’s warm, but I have to resort to dried basil during winter. It’s not at all the same. Not even close. (Yes, I know you can buy fresh basil at the supermarket, but once it’s picked, it wilts rather quickly.)

Hacksaw Ridge is a fabulous movie. My wife and I rented it last weekend. I recommend it.

Smyrna has the 4th busiest airport in Tennessee, believe it or not. It follows Memphis, Nashville and Knoxville.

We don’t see the universe as it presently exists. We only see celestial bodies where they used to be. A star that’s a thousand light years away is in a different place than where its pinpoint of light shows it to be. We’re seeing it where it existed a thousand years ago.

Random thoughts

Baseball’s career leader in base hits is not in the Hall of Fame. Baseball’s career leader in home runs is also not in the Hall of Fame.

The Cars debut album, entitled The Cars, is #284 on Rolling Stone’s list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (compiled in 2003). It is a well-deserved honor. This is one of my favorite (in the top 10, anyway) non-Rush albums. Released in 1978, The Cars peaked at #18 on Billboard’s album chart, but has also sold more than 6 million copies in the U.S. alone. If you want a straightforward, no-frills rock-and-roll album, this is for you.

The year 1978 was 39 years ago. I remember 1978 quite well. And the math says it was 39 years ago.

Memphis is getting its own Hattie B’s. Given that Memphis already has Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken, this is just too much winning.

So far, the left’s only “victory” over President Trump is getting the 9th Circus to put a stay on his executive order that places a temporary ban on immigrants from 7 nations — identified by President Obama, no less — that harbor terrorists. The 9th Circus completely ignored the Constitution and simply relied on their own liberalism to justify the stay. Not only did they ignore the law, they also aligned the left and the Democrat Party with jihadists. This is the Democrat Party in 2017, placing jihadists ahead of the American people.

Locals who live near the Michigan/Indiana border refer to their region as Michiana.

Two of the last three basketball national champions have come from outside the Power 5. Before UConn in 2014, the last national champion from a non-power conference was UNLV in 1990.

The name Shrimp Scampi is redundant. Scampi is the Italian word for shrimp. So if you ever order Shrimp Scampi in a restaurant, you’re really just ordering Shrimp Shrimp.

Whenever someone says, “It’s not about the money,” it’s about the money. I’d have a great deal more respect for a person who admits, “Of course it’s about the money.”

My brother graduates from medical school in May. When he does, I will be the only male in my family who does not carry the title of “Dr.” My father is a PhD doctor and my brother will be a medical doctor. My only hope is if some university offers me an honorary PhD in something. But I don’t expect that to ever happen. I will therefore always be the dumb one.

Friday ramblings

The 9th Circuit Court ruling suspending President Trump’s temporary and limited ban on immigrants from nations that harbor terrorists is a win for liberalism, a win for the Democrat Party, and a win for jihadists. This is how the Democrat Party has aligned itself. It’s also a reminder that the swamp is inhabited by many creatures and it will take a long time to drain it.

There is one thing on which Democrats & Republicans wholeheartedly agree. We both want Elizabeth Warren to be the Democrat nominee for president in 2020.

The trouble with being a fan of both Rush Limbaugh and Rush the band is that people sometimes get confused about who I’m referring to.

Elizabeth Warren got shut down on the Senate floor on Tuesday. Some conservatives wish she would have been allowed to talk. Like Hillary, she’s far more damaging to herself when speaking than when silent. Instead, she got Mitch-slapped.

Citizens of foreign nations do not have Constitutuional rights. Liberals do not understand this.

Speaking of Rush, I wish Rush would record just one more album.

I also wish I had a magic remote control that could silence people who talk too much and/or too loud.

I don’t envision myself ever buying another iPad. I could be wrong, but the one I am currently using is three years old, does everything I need it to do, but the current iPhone technology makes even the iPad seem antiquated. And that’s not a putdown of the iPad. It’s a testament to the iPhone.

Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in three days.

For the 2nd year in a row, the Memphis Tigers have 7 home football games in 2017, including a visit from UCLA. I did not purchase season tickets last year after purchasing them each of the two previous years. I may be buying season tickets again this time.

Friday musings

Donald Trump has been in office exactly one week and already the U.S. is winning more than I ever thought possible in so short a time. Whereas economic malaise and mediocrity were “the new normal” under Obama, winning is quickly becoming “the new normal” under President Trump.

The left is in complete meltdown and disarray. It’s as though President Trump took a baseball bat to a beehive and now now we have an American left swarming like crazed bees, not knowing what to do nor where they or going nor what has even happened in the first place.

Second Chronicles ends with the idolatrous Jews being carried away from their homeland into exile and bondage. Mosaic law prescribed that the land was to be allowed its rest every seven years, and again once every fiftieth year in the Year of Jubilee. Thus, land was to be worked 42 out of every 50 years, with 8 years set aside for rest. Apparently, the Jews ignored this law for many centuries, because we are told in 2 Chronicles that “…the land enjoyed its Sabbath rest all he days of the desolation until 70 years were fulfilled.”

I’ve been blessed to have avoided ailments from running for quite some time. It’s not something I take for granted. For the first time in a long time, I had to cut Sunday’s run short after developing a cramp in my right calf. That has never happened before. I’ve dealt with various other ailments over the years, but never that one. The only thing to do is take a few days off so as not to aggravate it. Half-marathon training begins in a little over a month, and I can ill-afford any lasting ailments. 

Tennessee truly is an international state. We have several towns and communities named for famous cities all over the world: Moscow, Paris, Belfast, Memphis, Troy, Athens, Dresden, Verona, Milan, and probably a few others.

Wednesday musings

Thank God for the American Opportunity Tax Credit.

I saw a definition of Islamophobe today I’m going to begin using: “a non-Muslim who knows more than he is supposed to know about Islam.”

“Wise men profit from that which fools waste.” This is how I feel about the Hope Scholarship.

Today it was announced that Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Ivan Rodriguez were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. They are all very much deserving of the honor. The baseball writers get it right pretty much every time.

There are many foreign countries and cities I’d still love to visit someday. Most of them I’ll never get to. But there are also places right here in Middle Tennessee that are calling my name that I’ve not yet seen. Also, the Appalachian Trail.

The American left is in full-scale meltdown. I’m enjoying every second of it.

It was announced that last year’s global temperature was the warmest on record for a 3rd straight year. Don’t believe it for a second. Climate change hucksters have already demonstrated a complete willingness to rig the data. Remember, nearly everything we hear from the mainstream media and establishment politicians is #fakenews.

If you want a more honest set of approval ratings, take Obama’s reported approval rating and subtract at least 20 points. Take Trump’s reported approval rating and add at least 20 points.

The most important thing I’ve learned about volunteering at church is to find one thing you enjoy doing and are good at and do that one thing as well as you can. I’ve volunteered for things at church I did not enjoy and that isn’t good for anyone.

The college textbook industry has a bonafide racket going on.