Dec 312014

Jeb Bush has gotten an annoying amount of traction—that would be any traction whatsoever, really—in discussions of the 2016 field of GOP presidential candidates. It needs to stop now.

All examinations of Jeb Bush’s position on this and that, plans, vision, and whatever else ignore the political reality that his last name alone will cost the Republicans the election.

You can’t yahbut that away. What Jeb Bush will say or do has nearly nothing to do with his chances. A contrary view supposes that some significant number of non-Republican-base voters would be motivated to examine him, instead of say “another Bush? Really? I think not.”

Or do you think we have an electorate that’s more measured and thoughtful than that right now? If so, what is your evidence for such?

 Posted by at 10:31 am
Dec 302014

Problem: Ave Maria Grotto doesn’t have souvenir shot glasses for sale.

Solution: Purchase a vial of holy water!


I think Lea found this an inappropriate solution. I thought it was perfect.

I start letting my study go as Christmas approaches. It becomes a gift repository, a place to keep boxes for repurposing, and so forth. Consequently right after Christmas is over I’m disgusted with its condition. I reclaimed it yesterday and made it a place I enjoy being again. Still have some things to do, but it doesn’t look like a bear lives in it anymore.

(And there’s a lot less dust in this photograph than there would have been yesterday morning.)

There are several good bowl games today, and I’m making chili for the boys and their spend-the-night company. I’ll take it, even with a gimpy knee.

 Posted by at 12:56 pm
Dec 282014

I stay in hotels from time to time, but I’m hardly a frequent traveler. I haven’t had to professionally in a decade, and my personal travel only includes a stay or two a year.

So I don’t have much loyalty to this chain or that. I have a vague affection for Holiday Inn, mostly because of Great Sign nostalgia and having that awesome toy Holiday Inn when I was a child. Beyond that minor tug: meh. In the low-middle range in which I generally consume hotel rooms, there just isn’t much difference.

hotelroomGiven that I don’t much care where I stay, I’ve taken to using online travel sites to book. I used for my recent stay in Oxford. It landed me in the Hampton Inn & Suites at exit 188 on I-20. Okeydoke. Whatever. I stayed in the adjacent Holiday Inn Express last time, but like I said, I’m a hotel whore.

When I went to check in, there was a woman in front of me. She was headed to Atlanta but didn’t want to drive straight into the rain, so she stopped for the night. She had no reservation. Fine, we’re delighted to have you, Jessica said. We have plenty of rooms on each floor, and do you have a preference? Oh, we’ll put you on the fourth floor. You won’t have anyone above you then. Off she went.

My turn. I gave Jessica my name, she took my license and credit card, and everything proceeded apace in a courteous and professional manner. But she never asked me if I had a floor preference. I took my key and went to my second-floor room, which was two doors from the elevator and directly overlooked the lobby.


There was nothing objectively wrong with the experience. She told me to let her know if she could do anything for me. My room was clean and comfortable. I got what I paid for. Had there been no one immediately in front of me to provide inadvertent contrast, I’d have never questioned it.

But if you were ranking rooms on the property from first to worst, this would have unambiguously been in the bottom quartile. And there were a lot of vacancies. And I wasn’t offered a choice, like the customer immediately in front of me was.

So did I get a subtle second-class treatment because I used a travel site instead of booking directly with the chain? I’d never considered such before, but it is the most obvious difference between my experience and that of the customer ahead of me. Casual net research seems to confirm that such suspicions not only exist, but are widespread.

I paid $78 plus taxes and fees, while the going rate for my room on the Hampton site seems to be $89 plus taxes and fees. Could I have been offered my choice of room location had I spent eleven more dollars?

Any experiences in this vein, readers?

 Posted by at 10:52 pm
Dec 282014

Back from an Oxford-Anniston trip pretty early today. Couldn’t ever generate a breakfast/brunch plan, and unsuitable weather ruled out the trip to Cheaha Mountain I thought I might take.

Last night Tina, her friend Shea, a slew of Abernathys, Karin, and I enjoyed dinner at Mellow Mushroom before Tina, Shea, Karin and I went to Cheaha Brewing Company, built inside the old L&N train station at 12th and Walnut in Anniston. It’s a pretty cool place. I’m proud of Anniston for sustaining it (and there was a sizable crowd). I enjoyed a few IPAs against a backdrop of The Gypsy Begonias, who were quite good.


cbcbokarinI’m told (not by Karin) that calling her “my oldest friend” sounds unbecoming, even though I know what I mean and she does too. I mean I’ve had a continual friendship with her longer than any other person in my life. She’s awesome. We have similar affections and peeves, as well as comparable intelligence levels and disregard for excessive conversational niceties, so it can be pretty rough-and-tumble with us. Wouldn’t have it any other way. Karin is one of the only people in my life who can and will slam it back over the net to me, over and over.

cbctinasheaSo it’s always a good trip when I see Karin. And Shea seems very good for Tina, who was fun and mischievous as always. I was considering on the drive back, however, that I may have infused the trip with excessive expectations. Several more people sounded promising to come out and never did, which was disappointing. I stayed in Oxford last night specifically to eliminate my same-night drive back and extend the evening. If I’d known how it was going to go, I wouldn’t have bothered with a room. I could have been home by 1 last night and not missed Megan singing in church this morning.

Part of it is folks have Christmas plans already. Part of it was the weather. I get all that. The larger thing I really reflected on for the first time, though, is that I’ve been away long enough to assign significant novelty to any return trip. That’s not something I necessarily share with the crowd at large, you know? You and I can enjoy seeing each other, even as one of us makes too much of it to himself. That’s on me.

That was irritation last night. It’s personal growth today.

 Posted by at 2:24 pm
Dec 262014

Went to the bank. Went to the beer store. That’ll about do it for the day, I think.

I am epically lazy immediately after Christmas. I mean, I’m lazy even for a lazy guy. I think of it as a deep discharge, such as you do for an aging rechargeable battery to restore its capacity. (That’s a good example of what my longtime friend Dave calls an UCRA: U Can Rationalize Anything. Glossary updated.)

A nice bonus is that, while I’ve still given a little progress away that I have to get back, I’m actually managing my weight well in the face of many temptations. (Sheesh, are there always this many nuts around at Christmastime? I mean food, not people?)

destinyI got the Xbox One updated and deployed before the DDOS shenanigans ensued (and good thing, because it downloaded most of a gigabyte before I ever even saw the Home screen). So the boys have been playing Destiny. I still queued several large downloads that seem like they’ve taken longer than they should, but I imagine part of that is Christmas load and couldn’t be reasonably avoided. They’ll finish this afternoon.

(And I’m on deck for a Destiny turn. Looks awesome. I’m looking forward to it.)

bloodwakeThere are obviously a lot of things I still want the Xbox 360 for, so that’s still installed. There are even a few things I want the original Xbox for (mostly Blood Wake, which I still love), so that is too. All three Microsoft console generations are ready to go! I think about that 14-year-old hard drive inside the original Xbox and realize its days are limited, but it’ll be enjoyed all the way out.

(And hey, somebody reboot Blood Wake already, will ya?)

Hope this December 26 finds you similarly, pleasantly disengaged.

 Posted by at 12:44 pm