Thursday, January 28, 2016

February 7th. the Toilet Bowl...

If I were tasked with coming up with a list of the all-time worst opening sentences for a blog, this would surely be at or near the top:

".......Today I had an appointment with a Gastorintestinal Specialist."

So, I apologize in advance for what follows. Yes, it's true, I did have an appointment with a Gastrointestinal Specialist, a Dr. William Brand, or GI Bill, for short. Nice guy. Knowledgable and pleasant, in a Dr. Rodgers sort of way. I found that he spent a lot of time finishing my sentences for me, as if he knew that the subject at hand was difficult to talk about, so part of his job was helping me talk through the gross parts...and all of it are the gross parts. But GI Bill got me through it with my dignity intact. 

GI Bill stressed the importance of scheduling a colonoscopy as soon as possible. I agreed and promised to sit down with his scheduler on my way out. Before I knew what was happening, I had a 6:30 AM appointment penciled in for Monday the 8th of February, compete with explicit instructions of what I needed to do in the 24 hours prior to my big day. From daybreak on Sunday morning, the 7th, I am to have an all-liquid diet consisting of water, coffee, jello, Popsicles, chicken broth and the like. At 5 pm on Sunday, I am to start drinking one 8oz. glass of PEG 3350 every 15 minutes until half of the gallon jug is gone. I was assured by GI Bill that the lemon flavoring that comes with the concoction makes the experience, "not nearly as horrible as it used to be." I thought of the great line from Julius Caesar, " damning with faint praise..."

Then the instructions take a sudden, darker turn with this beauty..."at 10pm, resume drinking one 8oz. glass every 15 minutes until the gallon container is empty...if you experience nausea, slow your intake! No way! If I start experiencing nausea, I'm gonna pound the rest of the jug all at once!! Morons...

As disconcerting as all of this was, I had made my peace with the inevitable when I got back to the office and called Pam to fill her in on the plan. It was then when she reminded me that my appointment was Monday, Feb. 8th. The day after the Super Bowl!! That's right, sports fans, my 24 hours of all liquid hell will be taking place on one of the most delicious days of the year. While the rest of you will be throwing back nachos, pizza, Italian sandwiches, meatballs, bacon, cheese, bratwurst, hot sausages,  and washing it all down with beer, I'll be chowing down on six different flavors of jello. About the time all of you will be enjoying the Super Bowl...Ill be getting intimately acquainted with the Toilet Bowl!

But, GI Bill assures me that this procedure can't wait until the Spring. No no...it must be done right away. So, looks like I'll be having an all liquid diet Super Bowl experience.

That's just how I roll.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Falwell Endorses Trump?

Alright kids, the 2016 Presidential election has now entered the Twilight Zone. I mean, it's been weird for quite a while already, but today the weirdness quotient went through the roof. The President of Liberty University, Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsed Donald Trump for President of the United States of America.

That's the rough equivalent of saying something like, "Billy Graham announced today from his deathbed that back in 1955 he had an inappropriate relationship with Fidel Castro," or "Famous leftist actor Sean Penn today gave his enthusiastic endorsement to Mike Huckabee's candidacy."

Ok, Liberty University is the largest Christian University in the Cosmos. It's core mission is to provide quality education to young skulls full of mush with a biblical worldview. That particular perspective takes a dim view of stuff like divorce, and abortion, vices like gambling and pornography, and encourages it's students to askew the lure of money and materialism as the be all and end all of life. So...the school's President comes out with a full-throated endorsement of a man who is on his third wife, has been pro-choice all of his natural life, has made his living building casinos, and has carefully crafted for himself an unparalleled reputation as the very definition of materialistic excess. Wait...what?

Now listen, I understand that Christians can disagree when it comes to politics. Heck, I disagree with my own kids about politics all the time, so I get it. And I also know, that when we as citizens enter the voting booth, we are not electing a Sunday School teacher. We often have to make a pragmatic choice between two flawed candidates, neither of whom we would want anywhere near a Sunday School class. Many times it comes down to...who will do the least harm?

But, as a Christian, a man's character has to enter into the calculus, does it not? The things that this man has said over the past six months of this campaign have been staggering. How can someone who claims to live by Christian principles fail to hear the thinly veiled racism in his remarks about Mexicans? Shouldn't any self-respecting Christian cringe when they hear a candidate for the Presidency mocking the disabled? What should go through the mind of a Christian father and husband when they hear Mr. Trump talking about how smoking hot his daughter is and how if he were a little younger and, you know, NOT HER DAD, maybe he would date her? More importantly, how should someone like Jerry Falwell Jr. feel when he hears a man who has been a party to two failed marriages and four bankruptcies say that he can't ever remember asking God for forgiveness for anything since he doesn't think he's ever done anything that required it?

One more thing that bothers me about not only the Falwell endorsement, but the many other evangelical leaders who have warmed to Trump...since when did "Making America Great Again" become a project of Christianity? Don't misunderstand me, I love my country, and like any other American, I want it to be better. But the primary focus of the Christian faith is not to make America better, it's to make people better, by introducing them to the person and teachings of Jesus Christ. Hopefully, properly discipled Christians will become better people, more caring, more courageous and  better citizens. But if Making America Great involves chasing after some nationalistic renewal built upon hatred, envy and ego, then count me out.

Sure, when I vote, I try to elect people who share my spiritual ethics. Sometimes it's easier than others. But generally speaking, I don't go out of my way to vote for someone who's entire life has been a living, breathing rebuke to biblical Christianity. Especially when there are still so many other alternatives from which to pick.

So, when I see someone as influential as Jerry Falwell Jr. endorsing Donald Trump, I wonder...how much money did the Trumpster promise Liberty University?

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Fridge of Fame

First day back at the office aft the big snow weekend was super busy. By 3:00 I was tight as a drum so I went to the gym for a workout. When I got home, I noticed that my wife had spent part of the day updating and organizing the Fridge of Fame. What am I talking about? It's an entire side of our refrigerator that's full of pictures in little magnetized clear frames. It looks like this...

It's a long story. Many years ago, I was involved in the youth group at my church. I taught boys Sunday School, and other coed bible studies for the better part of ten years. Along the way, Pam and I got close to quite a few of those kids. Somewhere along the way, I started collecting senior pictures from some of my favorites whenever they graduated. I set up a little competition among them to see which ones could earn a spot on the coveted Fridge of Fame. When large, unruly mobs of them would descend upon our house on summer nights, they would fight with each other about where they were in the lineup. There's almost 70 senior pictures up there now, along with pictures of their children now. It's an amazing sight. Every so often Pam reorganizes it, because it gets messy. But we've never considered taking it down. 

When I go downstairs to get something to eat late at night, I often stop and look at this kids. I say a quick prayer for some of them who are struggling, I thank God for their successes. But mostly, I just feel grateful that I was given the opportunity to share life with them when they were all just kids trying to figure things out. I hope I was able to help some of them.

I know that they helped me.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Snowmageddon...Part Six

Sunday, January 24, 8:24am. 

Officially tired of posting this picture. As soon as I'm done with breakfast, Pam and Lucy and I will venture out to walk and play and measure the stuff. Then it will be time to shovel for the second time. Around 11:00 yesterday I cleared the front steps and sidewalk. Last night at 10:00 it looked like this when I opened the front door:


No church today. Got the email last night. 


I posted this photograph on my Facebook wall this morning. It moved me more than I can express. Here we all are making snow angels and sipping hot cocoa while at the tomb of the unknown soldier, this is happening. This soldier, with a thin pair of wool gloves and nothing covering his ears from the brutal wind and snow, keeps watch. In this age of celebrity worship, reality television presidential candidates, and abject national silliness, there are still men and women like this. Duty, honor, respect still have the capacity to inspire, don't they?

The greatest thing about this storm has been the fact that every meal I've eaten since lunch on Friday has contained sausage. My wife is amazing. She knows that one of the few tools she has in the battle against my antsiness and cabin fever is...food. Wise woman, she is. However, delicious sausage not withstanding, I have informed her that I will be driving out of here today. She sighed heavily and smiled. 




Saturday, January 23, 2016

Snowmageddon...Part Five

Saturday afternoon, January 23, 4:09 pm.

Around 5 hours ago I shoveled a lane from my back door to the patio so Lucy wouldn't have to trudge through a foot of snow on her way to do her business. Now all that work is covered by a foot of freshly fallen snow and the drifting of a thousand winds. Although I haven't ventured out with a tape measure, my eyes tell me that there is over a foot on the ground.

Many of you know me quite well, and for those who do, I'm sure you're wondering how I am managing my well-known cabin fever attacks. An excellent question. The truth is that it hasn't been too bad so far. I can, however, feel it coming on. At some point I will insist on taking Pam's car out to Martins for something that I will convince myself we desperately need. Why Pam's car? Well, I may be antsy, but I'm no idiot!

Up to this point I have fought off my cabin fever with stuff like this: 



Yes, I think I may have had just a bit too much fun with this one!

I took a nap earlier and while I was asleep my wife embarked on another one of her tidying up campaigns. She completely reorganized the cookware cabinets to accommodate her new cast iron skillets. Then she had time left over to set a "snow table" overlooking our front yard: 


Rumor has it that she is planning some sort of afternoon dessert consisting of the left over waffles from breakfast and vanilla ice cream. 

So, yeah, everything is positively idyllic around here. But all of this lovely vibe will vanish into thin air the very second we lose power, so I guess I better relax and enjoy it while I can!



Snowmageddon...Part Four

Saturday morning, January 23, 8:04am.

Looks like about 9 inches out there. Overnight the snow became sleet...lots of sleet. There's a 20 inch deep pile of it at my front door where it gathers after it slides down the roof. The Donald Trump of weather forecasting, DT Tolleris of Wxrisk.com, has been forced to issue a mea culpa this morning. Apparently, all of the local TV weather guys who had been warning of the sleet transition all week...the very same guys who DT was calling "losers and idiots"(sound familiar?) ended up being right. So, we will not be getting two feet of snow after all. 

We learned something new about Lucy last night. To the long and tortured list of things which she is deathly afraid of can be added...sleet tingling against windows.

So, last night she's laying at our feet on the bed like normal when all of a sudden a gust of wind blew a sheet of sleet against the windows of our bedroom. Immediately she jumped off the bed and ran into the closet. Eventually she made her way back on the bed during the night, when in the midst of a rather loud hail of sleet, we were awakened by a shivering puppy trying to burry her head under our pillows! 

This morning, the sleet has stopped and the old girl has had a romp in the backyard and all is well. Waffles and sausage links are cooking for breakfast, and at some point I'm going to have to venture outside to dig us out.

Be safe everyone.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Snowmageddon....Part Three.

 4:17 pm. 

There has been a flurry of activity over the past five hours, if you get my drift. Thanks, Snowbama!


Pam has made cookies.


The fixins for sausage and lentil soup are being prepared.

The wind is starting to blow. When you look outside its hard to tell how much of what is coming down is snow and how much is just snow blowing off of the roof. Either way, the stuff is starting to pile up. At some point Lucy is going to need to venture out into it for her first pee trip since 6:30 this morning. So far she has shown zero interest. I guess we'll soon discover just how strong her bladder actually is.

Speaking of politics...I wonder which Presidential candidate would be most likely to volunteer to shovel my driveway?

Bernie Sanders.....too old, might throw out his back.
Hillary Clinton....not a chance, although she might ask Huma to take a shot at it.
Martin O'Malley...would jump at the chance! Only he would insist on stripping to the waist and asking me to get a shot of his rock hard abs and post it on his Facebook page.
Jeb Bush....wouldn't know how.
Chris Christie...would collapse of a heart attack
Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz would fight each other over who gets to shovel my driveway.
Rand Paul wouldn't want to insult my intelligence by stooping to such pandering.
Donald Trump would promise to shovel my driveway, but would end up sending over a couple of Honduran day laborers to do it.

Snowmageddon...Part Two

10:54am. 

After a mere 30 minutes of snow, the creeping white death begins to pile up.


Ever notice how no matter how often we remember to take care of our bird friends during bad weather, they never reciprocate? When was the last time a few yellow breasted finches dropped a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread on your front steps? What we have here is a one sided relationship. With the birds it's always, take, take, take. It reminds me of the problems we are having with our welfare state. These birds have grown quite accustomed to their largesse. They expect it now. Whenever I let the feeder go empty for a couple of days, they line up on the deck rail out there, all facing towards the house squawking up a storm...."To heck with this early-bird crap, we want our sunflower seeds...NOW!" Then, a few minutes later a couple of crows fly up and get the rest of them even more riled up. They are probably the union agitators of the bird world. Before you know it, little wrens and swallows and such are flitting around the windows dropping twigs all over the deck, and now the protests start sounding more organized.."What do we want??....FREE SEED!!...When do we want it??...NOW!!!" It becomes apparent how things are going to work. I mean, I saw that Hitchcock movie. I cave and give them what they want. I don't want any trouble. Especially today.

Snowmageddon...Part One

What follows is my record of events on this, the 22nd of January in the year of our Lord 2016, the day when the world went white. Snowmageddon. Snowopolis...many clever names have been carelessly thrown about by heartless scolds on the Internet. But I am here to bear witness that...the horror is real. In this blog, I will attempt to record for posterity what it was like to experience, and hopefully survive the monster storm. To all of you fighting the elements along with me...Godspeed!

7:30am. 

Ok, it hasn't started snowing yet, but a "before" picture seemed prudent. Notice that I have filled the bird feeder. My bird-loving son-in-law will be impressed. Also notice that my neighbor has left his car outside facing the wrong way in his driveway. Very poor storm preparation. Also notice that the umbrella at my deck table is still in the fully upright position. Geeze. That's embarrassing.

7:30am. 


Pam has wisely stocked the pantry and fridge with all the essentials. The really good stuff is in the fridge out in the garage.

8:26am. Made it into the office.

Still not snowing.


Despite pending arrival of deadliest snowstorm of this century, greedy Wall Street money-changers still chasing mammon! "Inside the cloud" headline darkly ironic.

                                                ...To Be Continued....

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Five Years of Opinions

This month marks the beginning of my sixth year writing this blog. Five years is a long time. I've written an awful lot about a lot of things. Although I can't say that I've learned something, I can say that I'm in the process of learning something about myself...and that is that not every idea that pops into my head deserves an audience. Not every argument that is born in the fever swamps of my imagination needs to be aired, not every thought that bubbles up in the tar pits of my mind comes to me fully formed, not every opinion holds up to the glare of public scrutiny. Self-censorship is a learned skill which requires lots of practice.

My wife probably wishes that I was better at it. Sometimes I write about things that cause her no small degree of discomfort. She will say, "Are you sure you should say that about that when you know that so and so reads your blog?" To which, I usually reply either, "Actually, I never thought about it," or more often..."So?? If so and so doesn't like it, they can start their own blog."

But I am getting better at this whole self-censorship thing. Just yesterday I saw something on the internet that some self-loathing white liberal academic had written trying to assuage her industrial strength guilt, maligning white people for having the gall to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. Maybe two, three years ago I would have taken the bait. But this time I just let it go. The much hyped national conversation on race doesn't need my take on the matter. 

Of course, sometimes I can't resist. I hear nonsense coming out of the mouth of some politician, and before I know what hit me I've just published a thousand word takedown chocked full of sarcasm and vitriol. Or, even worse, some alleged Christian pastor somewhere tries to raise money from the widows in his church so he can purchase a private jet, and within minutes my iPad is smoking hot. Interestingly enough, the blogs that are born out of white hot anger are by far the most satisfying to write. It's insanely fun to obliterate an idiot.

Of course, over the past five years I have benefited greatly from two unpaid editors, the sainted Denise Roy and my long suffering wife. Between the two of them, I get lots of texts and emails that go something like this:

"Ok, remember...it's either/or, neither/nor!!" 
" Pretty sure you meant to say you're instead of your"
" You wrote, take your shorts. Did you mean to say, take your shots?"

Five years has flown by. Here's hoping that five years from now President Trump hasn't outlawed blogging.



Ps. Click those ads people!!!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Diva Dog

Regular readers are aware that my dog Lucy is...special. Over this past year and a half I have regaled you with stories of her bizarre psychosis, strange obsessions and general quirkiness. Now this...

The past few nights have brought very cold temperatures, this morning it is 14. Our backyard has consequently frozen over to the point where walking on the grass produces a crunching sound. Lucy's designated peeing-ground having been so befouled, she now refuses to leave the deck...without escort...regardless of how badly she needs to go. So, this morning there I was at 6:30, in pajamas, slippers and my winter coat, coaxing her off the deck out into the frozen tundra of her yard. She took a few tentative steps on the patio, then cautiously made her way into the grass. When she heard the crunching sounds beneath her paws, she began tip-toeing along like she was walking on glass. It reminded me of those videos of dogs trying to walk with shoes on. After several hilarious hops and leaps we finally made it to the four foot wide border of mulch at the back fence...her go-to urinal. Being a girl, she made several attempts at squatting, but each time she thought better of it, withdrew the offer and began searching anew for a more amenable location to relieve herself. Meanwhile, I realize that wearing pajamas in 14 degree weather might not have been my best decision.

Me: Lucy, for crying out loud. Go already!

Lucy: But Dad...the ground is frozen.

Me: Yeah? That's kinda what happens in winter. Deal with it!

Lucy: But the crunching sound scares me.

Me: Everything scares you.

Lucy: Not everything.

Me: Name one thing that doesn't scare you!!

Lucy: Peanut butter. I'm not afraid of peanut butter.

Me: True.

Well, OK, we didn't actually have this conversation because Lucy can't talk. But if she could this is exactly the type of conversation we would have! Me trying to shame her into doing her business, and her making ridiculously lame excuses. Instead, I stood there freezing while she methodically sniffed out the ideal square inch of pee-worthy real estate. Once she finally finished, she hopped, skipped and jumped back across the yard toward the deck. At the top of the deck steps there is a mat which is still covered in unmelted snow from Sunday. Lucy hesitated, would not step on the mat...preferring to tip-toe around it.

There is a word for this sort of behavior....Diva.

Monday, January 18, 2016

*** WOOF !!!

Today is Monday. Richmond's meteorologists great and small are already salivating over what they are calling an historic snowstorm bearing down on us...this weekend. Why, something called the European model is predicting 22 inches of the stuff. My favorite wolf crier is the dude on the internet who runs the aptly named website...Wxrisk.com. His latest forecast starts in all ALL CAPS thusly:

***ALERT!!!** WOOF  !! MAJOR SNOWSTORM---possibly HISTORIC SNOWSTORM JAN. 22-23

Upon further inquiry I discover that the term WOOF is one of six such designations used to breathlessly describe potential snowfall. It's all a part of an elaborate system whereby Wxrisk.com hypes winter weather. Six different alerts are used, color coded with lots of asterisks and exclamation points. Specifically, WOOF means: significant snowstorm likely which may reach major snowstorm criteria. In case you're wondering what constitutes a major snowstorm, wonder no longer: belly high to a tall dog.

It's exactly this sort of precise scientific language that attracts me to Wxrisk.com. If cool detachment, detailed model maps, and a "just the facts, ma'am" presentation is what you're looking for in your weather forecasts, well then, Andrew Freiden will do. But if you long for meteorological trash talking, hyped headlines and spittle-flying invective, look no further than Wxrisk.com.

Maybe this time they will all be right, maybe there will be historic amounts of the white stuff. If so, at least we got a five day head start on stocking up on bread, eggs and milk. But if, as I expect, we end up with a dusting because the El NiƱo track inexplicably veered south at the last minute, or the vortex of high level winds were not nearly strong enough to produce enough moisture to sustain the solar flex movement required...or some other ass-covering language that Wxrisk.com will employ to explain his busted forecast,...I won't be surprised.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Stylish Connoisseur

Pam and I bought furniture yesterday. We were about to buy the exact same furniture back in June when our AC unit stopped working. We decided that air conditioning, over the summer, in Short Pump, was a greater priority. We caught everything on sale and actually saved some money over what we would have paid last year.

I have always wanted a library in my house...and now I have one. We have a seldom used living room which has now been transformed into a beautiful, old money looking library, complete with two new chairs, gorgeous, richly detailed bookcases complete with one of those sliding ladders, and a wonderful writing desk. When it all gets delivered, I'll share pictures.

I was telling one of my nieces who has two little ones how it never really stops...these money-spending demands that life makes of us. Back when we had kids in the house, we couldn't have nice things. Turns out our mothers were right. First of all, with two kids we couldn't afford nice things, but even if we could have, what would have been the point? It would have taken all of two days before one of them would have thrown up all over that beautiful Persian rug. And I'm sorry, all of the overpriced Scottsguard treatments in the world would have been useless against one of my kids' Spaghettios-fueled projectile vomit performances!!

But now the kids are all grown. Their incessant demands for every spare dime of my capital have ended. So now, all that money I thought I would be banking is now flying out of my wallet even faster than it was back when they had crooked teeth. I have a new Downton Abbey-esk library!

About the time we were about to pay for it all I noticed for the first time the marketing slogan for the particular line of furniture we were buying. I have no idea why I never noticed it before because it
was in plain view on all of their signs and whatnot:

Van Buren...for the stylish connoisseur.

I almost called the whole thing off. What a horrible, elitist slogan. I am neither a connoisseur of fine furniture nor very stylish, for that matter....and Martin Van Buren was a terrible President! Oh well.

Of course now buyers' remorse has set in. From now on, The Tempest will be written at my stylish new writing desk, surrounded by richly carved bookcases and handsomely detailed chairs. Will the influence of such finery affect my writing? Will I find myself writing sentences filled with French words like...connoisseur? Good Lord, I hope not. If you, the reader, start detecting excessive high browery, too much reliance on flowery metaphors, and a preoccupation with inheritance taxes...feel free to complain!

Oh...and to help me replenish my newly depleted savings account, please click on one of these ads!!

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Debate

There was a debate last night. I watched it sparingly, in fits and starts. I would hang in for five or ten minutes then go back to reading. It's always this way for me with debates. They are hard to watch. They agitate me, rile me up in a counter-productive way. With everything else going on in my life right now, I don't need to be riled. At this point, I would settle for a couple three days without malfunctioning intestines...but that's another story that will never be told on this or any other blog!

A few observations about last night...

John Kasich's hands look like they are being controlled by a deranged puppeteer on uppers.

Marco Rubio seems to think that he will win if he speaks faster. It's as if he believes that he's being paid by the word. He says smart things, for the most part, even eloquent things...but he spits his sentences out like bullets from an AK47. Slow down buddy. Take a breath!

Ted Cruz annihilated Donald Trump on the issue of his eligibility to run for President. Come to think of it, Cruz did a lot of annihilating last night. I don't particularly care for the strident tone he often takes, but clearly this guy has the chops to be President. He has a lazer sharp mind, thinks fast on his feet. His biggest problem is he's the smartest guy in practically every room he enters...and he knows it, often an off-putting combination. 

Chris Christie is the tough love Dad of this group. It's hard to find fault with much of what he says, and he handles himself well in this format. But there isn't enough oxygen left in the room after Trump and Cruz enter. Not his time.

Jeb Bush. Poor, nervous, pleading, nerdy Jeb Bush, he of the record breaking money raising operation and the Presidential pedigree. He can't seem to get past the impression that he's a low energy, entitled, government technician who desperately wants to be liked by the cool kids, but somehow can't break through. The way he always tilts his head upward when he speaks seems so hopelessly patrician. He has all the charisma of a throw pillow. Thing is, he would probably make a decent President. Painful to watch him flounder.

Ben Carson looks like the last man on the Titantic. At one point he spoke right after a five minute explosion of words and energy from Marco Rubio and the contrast was devastating. Good man. Horrible candidate.

Donald Trump was Donald Trump. His facial expressions when not speaking are petulant and childish. His answers are largely fact-free screeds, sentences that the brightest English majors in the country couldn't diagram if their lives depended on it. But he has two things going for him with our disaffected population...he's a funny, entertaining dude and he's the only one on the stage that doesn't look over-coached. He simply opens his big mouth and says what he thinks, all of it...unvarnished, un-poll tested, the world according to Donald. For more and more people, instead of appearing ill-prepared and unserious, it feels authentic and honest. Debate prep? That's only for "losers" who need pollsters to tell them what they believe. Here's what he believes...straight from the gut. If you don't like it, vote for the other guy.

So technically, Cruz won the debate in every measurable way except one....what voters think, which is...another win for The Donald.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Something Has Ended

I wish I could figure out what is going on. Do you ever look around and ask yourself how we have arrived at this point in our history? Is it just me? Nothing makes sense anymore. It feels like I am witnessing the end of something...and the beginning of something else, dark and menacing.

I have friends who are buying guns, scrambling to get concealed carry permits. It's like they are expecting some awful thing to happen, or maybe they think it's the cool thing to do. 

One of the leading Presidential candidates of my country has his name plastered on casinos all over the country, his own line of cologne, and has never held an elective office. Another is an avowed Socialist, 74 years old, and looks like a cross between Statler and Waldorf of the Muppets. 

I can now fill up my 16 gallon gas tank for the same amount of money it would cost to buy an entire barrel of crude oil. I pay twice as much for a gallon of milk as I do for a gallon of gas. I wonder why some democratic senator hasn't launched an investigation into big oil to get to the bottom of these dramatic price declines...since they do so every single time prices rise.

Large swaths of our population want millions of illegal immigrants literally swept up and deported, and a ginormous, impenetrable wall built to keep them out on our 1900 mile southern border. Another large swath of our population wants to pretend that millions of new immigrants pose absolutely zero security risk in this age of terrorism and even to suggest that it might proves that you're a racist.

A country who is about to have 150 billion dollars transferred to their national checking account from the United States this very week has the stones to fire a missile within a nautical mile of one of our destroyers, and commandeer and humiliate the crew of two of our patrol boats, the Geneva Convention violating photos and videos released to the world days before the transfer is scheduled to take place. Can anyone imagine the Iranians trying this crap with Russian sailors? Our State Department practically breaks it's arm patting the Iranians on the back for being so gracious about the whole thing. Someone my age watches all of this and shakes his head in fascination at our diminished statue.

A group of militia ranchers have taken over a Federal building in Oregon and been there for over a week now because a couple of their buddies got sent to prison for starting fires on some federal land. After fourteen days...they are still there.

Something has ended, and something else has begun.







Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Lucy and the State of the Union

I have taken my first sip of coffee. I have turned on the gas fireplace and settled on the sofa. I begin to read the news from overnight. I hear Lucy jump off the bed upstairs, then the harried, frantic sound she makes bounding down the stairs. In a graceful flash she leaps up to within a foot of my face, presenting me with this...

If she could speak, what is it that she is asking me...for this is assuredly a questioning face. Those eyes can burn holes through you. She is unrelenting in her staring powers. 

1. "Why so glum Dad? How about we go outside and wrestle?"
2. "You feel bad, don't you? You should eat something...how about a sock?"

Instead, I tell her she's a very good girl, then I scratch her belly. Soon, she leaps down and disappears back upstairs, having completed her mission. It's the same thing every single morning. She is dependable, true as the North Star. She simply must check on me and gauge my welfare each morning. Maybe it worries her how serious I become when I read the news. She probably wonders why I do it. She doesn't understand responsibility, she doesn't even know what I do for a living. All she knows is that every morning I look into my iPad screen and turn glum. Lucy doesn't do glum. She's a dog and therefore...glum-free.

This morning I read the President's SOTU speech. Yeah, I know...I could have watched it on TV last night. But, I haven't watched one since Bill Clinton vowed that the "Era of big government is over!" Don't think I've ever recovered from that bold-faced lie. Besides, the optics of the SOTU are infuriating to me, the grandstanding, the phony stagecraft, the blank faces of the Vice-President and the Speaker to either side of the President, the props that Presidents increasingly now bring with them and set in the gallery to illustrate some point. All of it is nauseating in a very bi-partisan way. I much prefer Thomas Jefferson's decision to send the SOTU to Congress in writing, which every President after him did until Woodrow Wilson started all of this anti-republican pagentry.  So, I read the speech. I have no comment on the thing other than the observation that it sounded odd to me that this President would bemoan the lack of civility in our politics one minute and then a minute later suggest that his political opponents are controlled by "hidden forces." So, apparently, for this President civility is defined as agreeing with him. Thanks for clearing that up!

Anyway, this was his last SOTU, and it sounded like it. All of the angst that Americans are feeling is the result of things that happened before he took office, in his telling, and every good thing that has happened over the last seven year, both actual good things and things that perhaps only he thinks are good, are due to his brilliant mind and pure heart. Fair enough. If I were the President and I was giving my last SOTU speech, I would have pitched it the same way. 

Still, had it been up to Lucy, I wouldn't even have read it. I would have been outside wrestling in the mud with her!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Angry Old Man?

For the past couple of days I have been savoring a new book, a collection of Peggy Noonan columns called The Time of our Lives. She and I have had a weekly appointment for the past twenty years or so. She publishes her syndicated column in the Wall Street Journal, and I read it. I never miss one. Ever. Ours is not a sycophantic relationship. We sometimes disagree. But her writing is so glorious, so wise, I simply cannot stay mad at her for long. If you were to ask me who I wish I could write like, my answer would be...Peggy.

But this blog is not about Peggy Noonan, but something she wrote, that when placed beside Mr. Ricky Gervais' performance last night at the Golden Globes demands comment.

Writing about the death of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, Noonan said this:

"She had manners, the kind that remind us that manners spring from a certain moral view--that you do tribute to the world and the people in it by being kind and showing respect, by sending the note and the flowers, by being loyal and cheering a friend. She was a living reminder in the age of Oprah that personal dignity is always, still, an option, a choice that is open to you. She was, really, the last aristocrat. Few people get to symbolize a world, but she did, and that world is receding, and we know it and mourn that, too."

Ricky Gervais is certainly not the first person in show business to trade in the put down. I grew up watching Don Rickles skewering Hollywood types on the Johnnie Carson show. But, Don Rickles was constrained by the times he lived in. If he descended into foul mouthed F-Bomb throwing, he would have been finished. Not so Mr. Gervais.

I will not here catalogue the carnage from last night. You can Google it yourself. And honestly, part of me always enjoys any opportunity I get to watch the Hollywood elite get cut down to size, so for that I suppose I should thank him. But, as I watched his act and thought of Peggy Noonan's words, I became overcome with sadness.

Watching him playing for laughs the suggestion that an old man might come out on stage and perform a sexual favor on him...or yucking it up about what he uses his Golden Globe statuette for back home-- it is on his bedside table, after all-- is to be reminded anew that I live in a very different country than Jackie Kennedy did. While personal dignity might still be an option for us in 2016, fewer and fewer of us are taking it.

I find myself longing for grace and a touch of class now and then. I see a publically drunk Cameron Diaz and long for Grace Kelly. I see Kim Kardashian and dream of Audrey Hepburn. Was she even real? 

I suppose that this post makes me sound like the old guy yelling at the neighborhood kids to "get off my lawn!!" Fair enough. Not everything in 2016 American entertainment is bad, just as not everything about an older America is worthy of nostalgia. But, there is a coarseness today, a creeping meanness, where rudeness is mistaken for charisma. We see it in Hollywood and on the campaign trail. If manners and civility have somehow become bourgeois, and if they have been replaced by the ugly and garish...well, we are the worse for it. Sorry, not every hip new trend is worthy of celebration. Gervais, and those like him should shame us. And they would if we could remember what shame was.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Conviction Without Courage Is Cowardice

Conviction without courage is cowardice.

These words came to me last night as I was sitting in a Starbucks in Occoquan, Va. waiting for the traffic on 95 to die down. I was reading the Washington Post and then the New York Times, then my cellphone news feed...you have to wait a very long time for the traffic to die down in Occoquan.

There were stories of good people doing nothing while innocent people were victimized. There were stories of decent people being railroaded by a tiny contingent of malcontents demanding their way or the highway, dressed up bullying. Other stories spoke of learned men and women who should know better, giving in to the shrill, unhinged demands of pampered children whose combined life experiences could be shoehorned into a thimble. Everywhere, it seemed, loud and angry people were demanding this and that while beleaguered adults looked on helplessly unable or unwilling to push back. 

Some will say that the problem in our day is that we have lost our moral compass, having rejected absolute truth, having no longer a North Star, we have been set adrift in a sea of moral ambiguity. To which I say...bull****. Sure, maybe a few cloistered academics have fallen for the everything is relative claptrap, but the average Joe knows evil when he sees it. The problem is not that we have no convictions, the problem is that we have lost our confidence in them. Without the moral courage that convictions demand, we have become moral cowards, passive bystanders watching a small pack of losers taking over the world.

Then I read a story about the Trump campaign. He has opened his mouth at a campaign event and some fresh absurdity has proceeded out of it. But it hits me at a Starbucks in Occoquan that Donald Trump has captured lightning in a bottle. His seemingly fearless attack on political correctness, his willingness to say whatever he thinks, consequences be damned, resonates with a people who have grown accustomed to standing on the sidelines passively taking whatever the elites have dished out. Trump has given voice to the morally timid, the bystanders of modern life. They hear him saying harsh things, even rude, dehumanizing things...and it pulses with something that has slipped away from them over the last fifty years...power.

But if conviction without courage is cowardice, what is courage without conviction? Donald Trump may indeed have courage, but to what end? What exactly are his convictions? It's terribly hard to tell at this point. How would the man govern? Would he be conservative? Fiscally prudent? To his supporters does it even matter? For me, nothing could possibly matter more. For, although it is a good thing for a man to have courage, if not enlisted in the service of moral conviction yields terrible results. 

Two famous motivational speakers, Jim Rohn and Zig Ziglar used to debate what was more important, education or motivation? Zig would say, "You've got to motivate people first, Jim. You can always educate then later!" Jim would reply, "No Zig, if you motivate an idiot, all you will have is a motivated idiot who will arrive at disaster quicker!"

While conviction without courage is cowardice...courage without conviction is chaos.




Thursday, January 7, 2016

My Trip Into Hell

Today, I have three appointments north of Fredericksburg. That's right, I will be spending roughly six hours of my day in what everyone else in the Old Dominion refers to as Northern Virginia. For those of you not familiar with the idiosyncratic nature of Virginia rivalries, let me attempt to enlighten.

Virginia is a very proud State. We are quite proud of the preeminent role that our State played in the founding of this nation, we are the Mother of Presidents, after all. We are,oddly, even proud of the roll we played as the most powerful and influential State of the Confederacy, for what that's worth. Virginia is full of proud people...proud and aristocratic. There's a lot of old money here. We fancy ourselves as the most genteel of states, that embodiment of our most beloved son, Thomas Jefferson's agrarian ideal. But somehow along the way, something went terribly wrong. That something is Northern Virginia.

Sometime around the 1940's with the arrival of FDR and his New Deal, the power and reach of Washington began to mutate. To accommodate this growing monolith, suburbs began to explode in size and garishness. This army of technocrats, functionaries, hangers-on, and sundry bureaucrats had to live somewhere, and who in their right mind wants to live in DC? So, suburbs like Alexandria, Arlington, Burke, Lorton, Centreville and Reston were transformed from sleepy little hamlets to buzzing centers of activity inhabited by people most assuredly not form Virginia!! To accommodate their commute, construction began on a bee-hive of beltways, bridges, off ramps, loops and towering six lane highways that literally has never stopped. 

So, here's how things are going to go for me today. I will take the Short Pump ramp onto interstate 95 around 11:30. It will take me about 50 minutes or so to make it to Fredericksburg, a 53 mile drive. Then, just north of this, last truly Virginia city on 95, I will begin to notice a sea of red tail lights ahead. That means it has begun. The 46 mile drive from Fredericksburg to the Occoquan exit will take about an hour and a half. But that's the easy part of my trip. Once my last appointment is over, it will be around 5:30 in the afternoon. The roughly 100 mile drive back home will take anywhere from 3 hours to a day and half.

My brother has lived just over the border in Gaithersburg, Md. for the past twenty years or so and has had to fight this insanity on a daily basis. The fact that he has not killed one of his fellow commuters is a miracle. No wonder people who work in Washington are always in such an angry  mood! Maybe if our nation's capital was in Key West, there wouldn't be so much partisan hostility...and we Virginians could have the top third of our State back!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Yes...There Are Ads on My Blog.

Ok, so regular readers of this space will notice something different about the Tempest since January 1. Yes, although I've been writing here for five years now, I finally decided to allow the fine folks at Google Adsense to run ads on my blog. You've probably noticed them on the top right and bottom of each post. The main reason I haven't done it before now is the fact that I have no control over what kind of ads are run. So, I was worried that suddenly some giant flashing neon ad for an erectile dysfunction drug would wind up emblazoned across the top of my blog!! But I was assured that nothing like that would happen, so I've decided to give it a try. If after a month I find that it isn't A. Worth it, or B. Just too annoying, I'll stop doing it.

Here's the thing though...although I'm a fairly competent businessman, I have no clue how this Adsense business works...at all! I have been bombarded with charts and graphs and introduced to an entirely new vocabulary, from page views to impressions, to clicks, and an entire host of abbreviations like rpm and avv, none of which anyone has bothered to define and explain. The thing I can't figure out is how these people decide which ads run on which post? For example, the other day I wrote a blog about the mess in Oregon with the ranchers who took over a bird sanctuary, and a Michelan tire ad popped up....??

Apparently the blog earns money based on the number of times readers click an ad...I think. Whether or not anyone actually buys anything seems to be inconsequential...I think. So far, after five days, I've made 67 cents...I think.

So, if you run across an ad that isn't particularly obnoxious, click on it. It will be a good thing for me if you do...I think. If The Tempest starts making actual money, maybe I'll let the readers pick a charity for me to donate to, or even better, maybe I'll make a political contribution to whichever candidate will tax me least!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

When Good Things Happen to Good People

I have a friend who lives in another state. We don't see each other a lot and seldom get a chance to talk, but it doesn't seem to matter. He's still a good and dear friend. He has been a tremendous influence on my son over the years, one of those wonderful people who arrive on the scene in the lives of your children at a crucial time and make all the difference. Every parent knows what I'm talking about. The fact is, I can never repay him for the devotion and the wisdom he has poured into my son.

Anyway, several years ago my friend went through a divorce, later on in life than is common. I felt terribly for him. He never was one to whine about it, but whenever we talked, I could tell he was lonely. Regardless of how he may have been feeling, it never impacted his work. He is a teacher/musician, and what he produces is magical. I marveled at how he could go about his work with the same boundless enthusiasm and passion despite his loss.

Years have passed since then. A year or so ago we were at a party together and he was telling me how terribly awkward it was trying to meet people at his age. He sounded like he was almost ready to give up and move on into the rest of his life single. But, my friend is the kind of man who God had in mind when he said in the book of Genesis, "It is not good that man should be alone." All I could think to say to him was..."You just never know when someone might come along. It usually happens the minute you stop trying to make it happen. God's timing is probably better than yours."

Last fall I was sitting on the sofa checking out the Asian stock markets at 6 am, when my cell phone lit up. Who in the world could possibly be calling me at such an ungodly hour? It was my friend...and he had news that just had to be shared, no matter what the clock said. He had met a woman!

I listened to him tell the story as only he can, with all the hilarity and joy of a school boy. When I hung up the phone I remember thinking that I knew no one on Earth who deserved it more.

Then, just last night he called again, this time to inform me of their engagement and the mythically romantic way it came about. It was a tail that would have made Shakespeare jealous. I put him on speaker phone so Pam could hear it. It is a beautiful thing to hear a man so full trying desperately to express the gratitude of his heart for his good fortune.

I hadn't had a particularly good day. It had been full of conflict and anxiety, the type of worry that overtakes you in the business world at times. But my friend's call changed everything. Suddenly, I had forgotten the cares of the day. All I knew was that something awesome had happened to a very good man.

Scripture tells us that we are to "rejoice with those who rejoice." You know why? Because it's a great feeling when good things happen to good people!

How To Get Yourself Killed

The Chinese economy has slowed to a crawl, prompting a 7% sell off yesterday and a 20 billion dollar cash infusion this morning by the Chinese government. Stock markets around the world took their cue from China yesterday and sold off dramatically. Today, indications are that the sell off will continue. Saudi Arabia has withdrawn diplomatic recognition of Iran as the Sunni-Shia rivalry in the Muslim world escalates, providing an answer to the often asked question...the Middle East couldn't possible get worse, could it? Meanwhile, a group of ranchers are holed up in a federal facility in Oregon, promising violence against anyone who tries to dislodge them. Back in Washington, our government proceeds spending roughly 11 billion dollars every single day, even though they collect only 9.7 billion in revenue per day. Our current national debt is a little over 18 trillion dollars. Nobody, no political party, no Presidential candidate has any earthly idea how to pay that kind of money back. At the current rate of spending and the new trajectory of interest rates, in a few years we are going to have trouble just servicing that much debt. 

The weird thing is that 34 years ago when I got into business, our national debt was a mere 1 trillion, and everyone was freaking out because we had never seen a debt with that many zeros. Back then interest rates were through the roof, CD rates were 10-12%. My first home mortgage was over 13%! I remember some of the older guys in the business wondering whether or not we were about to go into a depression. We didn't. And now our debt is 18 times higher than it was then. So, I guess that when my liberal friends laugh at me for worrying about deficits and debt, they have a point. 

Still, I find it very difficult to think that 18 trillion dollars of debt simply doesn't matter. The interest payments on that debt will continually eat up an ever larger share of our national income over time, money that won't be available to provide a safety net, fight terrorism or maintain our National parks. All the smart people in Washington, when they talk about the debt at all, glibly assure us that we will "grow our way out of it." With an economic growth rate hovering around 2%, and 94 million people out of the workforce, I don't find that argument very persuasive.

But, sometimes I feel like I am the only American left who worries about it anymore. Trump, Cruz and Rubio aren't losing any sleep over it. Hillary and Bernie don't feel in any way constrained in their ambitions for an ever expanding and muscular federal government by the presence of an 18 trillion and growing outstanding obligation. So, we just go along with our collective plans to do nothing...except add to it. 

So, Dunnevant, you might ask, what would you do about it? Well, for starters, I suppose that I would impose an across the board cut in spending. Not a cut in the rate of increase of spending, an actual cut. You know...if your department spent 2 billion last year, this year you will have to get by on 1.8 billion. At least, that's what a spending cut looks like in my house. But Doug, an across the board cut assumes that all spending is of equal priority, when in fact some spending is essential and some isn't. It's the job of our political leaders to prioritize. True. But our political leaders have not demonstrated the required leadership skills to prioritize anything. So, it's just going to have to be across the board...no exceptions. But, what about defense? What about it? It gets cut. Deal with it, generals. Then, after my "draconian and heartless" budget cuts were in place, I would work on the revenue side by cutting...yes, cutting, some tax rates. Twice in my lifetime personal and corporate tax rates have been cut resulting in an increase in revenue to the Treasury (JFK and Reagan). Then I would eliminate all of the corporate welfare that has been caked into the tax code. This would make me public enemy number one on Wall Street, at the banks, down on the farm, and on K street. 

And then...I would be assassinated.


Monday, January 4, 2016

The Bundy Boys are Back

The Bundy boys are back....and this time they mean business. Along with a hundred or so of their gun-toting supporters, they are holed up in a nature preserve owned and operated by the Federal Government, and have declared their intention to stay "as long as it takes."

I will not here wade into the tall grass of their alleged grievances, largely because it really doesn't matter. This sort of macho posturing seems to be a part of the Bundy family DNA. The long and short of it seems to be that the protesters resent the heavy handed presence of the Federal footprint out west. They believe that the Feds own too much land, place too many restrictions on ranchers, etc...

Ok, anyone who reads this blog knows my views on government, the less of it the better. My default position is that, generally speaking, much of what government touches ends up worse off. However...I am not an anarchist. Government has a vital role to play in a free Republic. If government oversteps its bounds avenues exist for us to bring legal challenge. Gathering together a hundred heavily armed malcontents and taking over a federal building isn't one of them.

Yes, I am aware that the building was not occupied and nobody was hurt and that presently nobody is in danger. And yes, I am aware that no property has been destroyed. But ask yourself this question...suppose the Bundy boys were Muslims? Better yet, what would be our collective reaction to events in Oregon if the protesters were part of #blacklivesmatter? I think it's fair to say that in either case, things would sound and look very different than it does this morning.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Tax-payers, Meet John Beale!


Why is this man smiling? 

Tax-payers, meet John Beale. You have been very good to him over the past 15 years. He has been the highest paid employee at the Enviromental Protection Agency, earning a cool $206,000 a year of your hard earned money. He was a climate change expert, who managed to keep his high paying job since 2000 despite seldom actually...showing up for work. For long stretches of time, including one 18 month period beginning in June of 2011, Mr. Beale never once darkened the doors at the EPA. His explanation for all of his absences was that he was working undercover for the CIA, a claim that for nearly 15 years no one at the EPA bothered to confirm. In addition to his chronic absentism, Beale also managed to bill his employer for 33 first class airline trips for $266,000 along with several stays in luxury hotels at twice the normal per diem allowed by the government, all of which were approved. Despite all of this, his "retirement" party in September of 2011, attended by EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, occurred on a Potomac yacht, no doubt also paid for by you. To add insult to injury, Beale continued to collect his six figure income a full 18 months after retiring from a job he never performed in the first place. When finally caught, Beale pleaded guilty to defrauding the US government of $900,000 and added that lying for all of those years was, "kind of a rush!"

When asked by investigators what he did in all of his time, Beale provided this nugget:

" I spent time exercising. I spent a lot of time working on my house, and I used a lot of that time  trying to find ways to fine tune the capitalist system to discourage companies from damaging the environment."

Well, I'm not sure whether of not he found ways to keep companies from damaging the environment, but this guy could write a book about how to "fine tune the capitalist system." Step one: get a six figure government job, get paid without having to show up for work. Step two: send your government employer the bills for all of your paid vacation travel. Step three: after your retirement party, continue to collect your sweet salary for another 18 months!

I wouldn't suggest any of you who work in the private sector to try this. I feel relatively certain that if you didn't show up for a week someone would know and your employment would soon come to an end. I mean, even if you told your boss that you were engaged in secret clandestine work for the CIA, he or she still wouldn't buy it. 

Ladies and gentlemen, the next time you hear a politician ask the Tax-payers for even more of your money, I want all of you to remember this story. I want you to consider the manifold incompetence on display at this one government agency. I want you to imagine how much of your money gets thrown around without oversight or consequence in the insane labyrinth of government. Then I want you to ask yourself whether your government truly needs more than the 3.7 TRILLION it collected this past year. Can any government who throws around six figure salaries to people like John Beale really be trusted with a never ending supply of more of our money?

Sorry Uncle Sam. You've collected almost 4 trillion dollars this year. You're going to have to get by on that!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

2016 Predictions

Making predictions about the future is tricky business. However, it has never stopped me from making them. So once again I offer for your consideration my official stone cold, lead pipe locks for 2016.

1. There will be no peace in the Middle East in 2016.

2. After suffering financial setbacks brought on by Russian bombing of their Oil pipeline business, ISIS will join the family of nations by issuing 30 year bonds, becoming the first debtor terrorist State.

3. The Democratic National Committee, in keeping with their years long effort to protect Hillary Clinton, will schedule her Democratic Party Nomination acceptance speech at this year's convention for 2 am mountain time.

4. The stock market will gyrate up and down in completely arbitrary ways for barely discernible reasons in a fashion that literally no person alive or dead knows how to predict.

5. President Obama, exhausted after seven years of being both a Christian and a Muslim, declares himself the first Buddhist president.

6. Lucy, despite another year on this earth and despite the fact that never once has a trash can lunged at her, will still be mortally afraid of them, to the point of hysteria.

7. My Son and I will spend the entire year arguing back and forth via text message over who will be a bigger disaster...Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

8. In her fourth year of teaching, Kaitlin will add to her trophy case of accolades, the coveted "Educator of the Universe" award given to the teacher best able to overcome obstacles placed in their way by federal, state and local school bureaucrats.

9. After a lengthy investigation by the NCAA, it is discovered that football teams from the Big 12 and the ACC had secretly been unionized, resulting in work rules that allowed defenses to take off every third play. Officials at the NCAA had become concerned watching 2015 bowl games as team after team from the two conferences consistently got shredded by very ordinary offenses from the SEC. Other union work rules had defined job assignments in such a way as to exempt "cover corners" from tackling responsibilities.

10. Apple, stung by analyst's suggestions that they had "run out of ideas," announce their latest product innovation...the digital, programmable toilet paper dispenser.

11. After the retirement of the nation's last remaining competent letter carrier, Don Dunnevant, the Postal Service declares bankruptcy.

12. Lucy will continue to choose the coldest, rainiest days of the year to launch her "sniff-every-square-inch-of-the-back-yard-before-peeing" initiative.

13. After five years of resisting persistent nagging by Google Adsense to "monetize my blog," I give in and allow ads to display, only to discover that the only people who ever click on an ad are from Russia. Cross, "get rich by writing a blog" from my career goals list.


Friday, January 1, 2016

Lucky Me.

For the first time maybe ever, I got to celebrate New Years Eve alone with this woman...

Yes, in all of our time together, we have never done New Years by ourselves, until 2016. The kids are gone. Many of our best friends were out of town, or under the weather, so I had this stunning woman all to myself. Lucky me.

We had a delicious meal at the Boathouse, then walked around looking at the beautiful decorations at Short Pump mall. Before heading home, we stopped into Firebirds to order dessert-to-go...chocolate cake and cheesecake. Once home we watched a little college football,(more about that later), then decided to binge-watch several episodes of Friday Night Lights, a show we somehow missed when it first came out. Pajamas and dessert with a scared dog between us on the sofa,(fireworks), might not sound glamorous or terribly exciting...but for me it was a wonderful night!

Today we plan on starting the New Year with a hike with Lucy, then brunch somewhere. Over the next couple of days we will start taking down the Christmas decorations and I will clean out the garage...my  New Years tradition. As long as I'm with this woman, I'll be ok.

Speaking of college football, so far this bowl season, this is what I have observed:

Auburn beats Memphis by 21 points
LSU beats Texas Tech by 29 points
Miss. State beats NC State by 23 points
Texas A&M loses to Louisville by 6 points
Alabama beats Mich. State by 38 points

So far then, the SEC is 4-1, and have out scored their opponents by a whopping 111 points.

Please, remind me again how the era of SEC college football dominance is over.