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Lately I have been having fun promoting our library support group's fundraiser book sale. We have this every three months and so now I am thinking ahead on how I might promote it next. I am going to go with knock knock jokes for the one in March and am thinking I will go with Tom Swift said. These are those things like, "No, Eve, we should not eat that apple," Tom said adamantly. I think these will be kind of fun. I keep hoping if we find some sort of daily approach to use on Facebook more will read.
This weekend Nebraska plays Oklahoma for the Big 12 championship. This will be Nebraska's last year in the Big 12 and Oklahoma is the perfect way to go out. For decades in the old Big Eight, every year would come down to the Nebraska - Oklahoma game so to end our association with the league this way is what most or all Nebraska fans wanted. We are going into the game as the underdog, but even if we lose, this would be the team we would want to beat us. We will grab a bite tonight and stay home to watch.
These days I am constantly looking out for signs of age, and always finding them too late. It is not just the myriad of aches and pains, but attitudes and expectations. It seems like I am always thinking the worse, expecting the collapse of this or that and then I catch myself and wonder if it is not just again my age showing up. Maybe I am wrong, but it sure seems to me the older I get the less I find it surprising how pessimistic people can be. I will never get younger, I have to come to terms.
Christmas shopping today, tonight, the malls were reasonably crowded. I don't know that people were buying boatloads of stuff, but they were out there. The most forecast I have read is that Christmas sales will be up three percent from last year. My own opinion is that net sales might be less than a three percent increase, but I think profits will surpass that number because people are not shopping for only the deepest discounts this year. Early reports support this as the higher end retailers are doing well, and the low end guys are mostly coming in fairly flat.
I had a conversation today with somebody about the long term outlook for the economy. He said he had read of trouble coming and so I shared my ten year outlook. He thinks I am kind of a downer. Maybe he is right. I always think of that business about how a farmer 125 years ago would have wished for a bigger, stronger horse, not being able to conceive of a tractor. I think it may well be the case here now where there will be solutions everywhere you turn with the only problem being that I lack sufficient imagination.
The husband of one of the board members of this charity board I sit on passed away over the weekend. His obituary was in the paper this morning. Someone at lunch pointed it out to me and by the time I returned to the office a different board member had sent out a e-mail. I knew he was ill, but it never occurs to me to read the obituaries. He has been ill for some time and spent the past month under hospice care. I ordered flowers on behalf of our board. I don't about going to the funeral.
Pearl Harbor Day, I think this is the day I moved to this firm in 1996, or 95. By and large it has been a very good move for me. Being a broker, it is not uncommon to change firms once or twice over your career. The one thing I found here that I never found before was a business owner that I absolutely completely trusted to be fair. It has been the only brokerage firm I have been at where I never have to worry about things being decided or defined to his benefit. It is like a partnership.
At the library sale we have been anxious to unload all of our old VHS tapes. At the last sale, we sold them for $2 for a full grocery bag, and this time around they were priced between a quarter each and two for a quarter. I think most went for two for a quarter. I have always liked the VHS format, and have a ton of credit from my volunteer hours so I loaded up. At these prices and using what is otherwise free money why not. I find the key here is to eject a bad movie immediately.
Tonight we played cards with my son and his girlfriend. We do this often enough that we have an ultimate championship series running. It is kind of fun, we play four games, ten times each, and keep a running total. It takes a couple of months to complete the series because we only play once or twice a month. It is mostly just a good opportunity to visit and that is always fun. One of these days they will get bored with us, but probably not until spring when there will be so much more to do out and about.
We have found here now having high definition television for the first time that it seems to make the greatest difference in nature shows. These include "Planet Earth" and the like. Accordingly, it appears that in the high definition line-up that our cable provider offers there are several additional channels devoted to this kind of programming. So not only it is more interesting to watch than it has ever been, but there is simply more to view. I told her tonight that ever since we got this new TV we have seen a lot of animals eating other animals.
This morning I went by church and with another dozen guys or so, put together the stable and set up everything else for the living nativity event we have planned for tonight and tomorrow night. A lot of churches do this, but as a family we have never gone to any. We might go tonight. It was pleasant this morning, not too much work. I went ahead and signed up to come back Sunday night after everything closes to take it all down and put it away. That will be a little more work, but still it won't be bad.
Shopped on and off all day today. First I ran out for updated computer security software but did not buy anything. Later, I looked at a few places for a new shelf for the television but did not find anything. Then, I wandered around Wal-Mart for almost two hours while they changed the oil in the car, but did not find anything I wanted to buy. Lastly, L. and I went out to a couple of different places to again shop for a new shelf for the computer, but we could not find anything that she liked any better.
My friend Jerry is edging closer to the end now. He has cancer and has fought the good fight, but is running out of time. They have called his sons home now, here in the middle of Finals week (the boys are both away in college.) Not staying for the completion of Finals has to be a sign that they think it could be any day now. He had a hospice nurse there last night. His son told me today that he is no longer able to talk at all and appears to be increasingly confused now all the time.
I cannot believe how little we have purchased for Christmas yet this year. I am so ready to let the holiday slip by without any manner of gift exchange at all. My son's girlfriend and her family are not into gifts at all. He says when they have to exchange gifts, they tend to tell each other exactly what to buy and where to get it. I could see how that would lead to nobody having much of an interest in exchanging gifts. It is like exchanging gift cards, there just is not much a point to that at all.
I think by late today, both of the kids will be through with all their finals. Lauren has moved a semester ahead now of her four year schedule. This comes from adding in a summer class or two and taking a few additional hours each semester. I do not believe she is all that interested in graduating early, but more just likes keeping busy and getting things out of the way. Her mother is like that as well. Had she and I not been married and working when we were in school, she would have taken this approach as well.
I just came back from seeing my friend Jerry. The hospice nurse tells the family now it is down to the next day or so. No matter how prepared you think you, it is still frightening to see him as he looks right now. I told him how I loved him like a brother, how enriched my life has been with him as my friend, how he has always been a trusted and true friend, how I will always miss him, how I held him up as an example of how one should live their life. Its so very sad.
I learned last night then, that Jerry passed away within an hour of when we left yesterday afternoon. I was glad to have been able to see him one last time, but that does little to diminish the sadness of this. He had just turned fifty last June and is leaving behind his wife and three sons. Two of the boys are in college and the third is a junior in high school. I feel so bad for them to have lost their father and, of course, for his wife. It is tragic for him to have died so young.
The obituary was in this morning's paper. It included a nice picture of him from, I suppose, perhaps as much as ten years ago. There was a misprint, one line was repeated, which again was one of those things that would have annoyed Jerry. I had a dream last night where I was helping someone I knew home from work. He was a character from television, but in my dream I called him Jerry. I left him alone at the top of some cement steps and suddenly he fell backwards. Not my fault, but I was not there to help.
Did I mention everybody is back home at our house? My wife is taking the full week off and that will make things easier all the way around. It is not as if we have all that much on the agenda, but we have some things and also if she does not use up a little more vacation time before year end, she will lose it. They are so busy where she works, a lot of her fellow employees find themselves bumping up against the maximum vacation carry forward. Now they find too many people all being gone at once.
I think 2010 has been, at best, a mediocre year in terms of reading. There were a small number of standout books, although I would have to search to find exact titles, but more often than not most of what I read this year was not that memorable. Much of what I read this year was not awful, but little of it was all that original. It seems more and more that I have turned to the tried and true and find, not surprisingly that I have read all of this before. I need to venture out to something new.
The funeral and the wake the night before all went well. It was not one of those funerals where the whole room is in tears. He wanted a very traditional funeral with all the ritual associated with an old time Catholic funeral. It was a very nice service and although I prefer a funeral that reaches into your heart a little more, that is clearly not for everybody. I saw a lot of old friends and although everybody would have enjoyed seeing each other in better circumstances, it was still good to catch up and renew these long term friendships.
Last night Michael drove back to Lincoln as he had to work at midnight and then will work again tonight late. He will back home for Christmas and ideally for a week or so after. But last night then, he got down to Lincoln (which is less than an hour away) and discovered he had forgotten his apartment keys back here. It was kind of funny because his sister did the exact same thing within the past month or so. In both cases, I drove the keys down. Michael is happy now he did not give her a bad time.
I don't understand how these five players from Ohio State are suspended for the first five games of next year, but not for their bowl game this year. It clearly sends a message from the NCAA that they want to enforce the rules, but only to the extent that they do not interfere with television revenue. A decision that is so clearly self-serving like this mocks the whole process. They would be better served just ignoring how these players broke their rules. On the other hand, pretending college sports are not a business makes no sense, so who cares.
As a family I think we only went to midnight Christmas Eve services once or twice. But after everybody else lost interest, Lauren and I would go just the two of us. We probably did that for at least ten years, not ending the tradition until she was sixteen or seventeen. During the early years of this, we would get home late and she would go off to bed. I, on the other hand, would then set about to put together all the toys and whatnot that had to be up and working Christmas morning. There were some late nights.
When I was a kid, we always had the Christmas program at church on Christmas Eve. We would leave early evening, my Dad always forgot something back in the house, and then like a miracle the gifts would all be under the tree when we got back home. At the Christmas program itself, the tradition was that when it was over all of us kids would rush downstairs. At the bottom of the stairs, people would be waiting with grocery bags of candy and fruit for each of us. Back home, snacks and presents, and up all night. Good times.
Out to dinner with my side of the family. Normally everybody gets along great, but today was stepping on toes all over. Not so much me, but others. My sister-in-law snapped at my boys for their becoming impatient with her ability to catch on to whatever game they were playing. Then, later, my wife and daughter were offended by her, my sister-in-law again, contention that all gays are going straight to hell. There was no yelling, but things may be different going forward. We don't see them often, so it will not matter in the end.
I was a bartender once at my wife's sister's wedding. We had only two choices and we had mixed everything prior. You could have, I believe, whiskey and Seven-Up or whiskey and Squirt (or maybe whiskey and Coke.) It was easy enough, but most of the night was telling people, "no, we don't have that." I suppose we had beer too. We had not been dating too long, but I offered the right combination between my willingness to work for free and that I could serve liquor without her folks getting arrested. It ended up being a fun night.
Lunch today is one of those things that only ever happen at the end of the year. A bunch of people who have not seen each other forever are getting together. Everybody sees somebody but none of us see all of us on a regular basis. It will be fun and we will speak of getting together more often, but next December will roll on up and everybody will realize it has been another year and there we go again. Not that I am complaining, it is always fun to see old friends, even when it doesn't happen often enough.
I have a cold and have lost my voice. Next Monday evening will be our annual meeting for the Friends group and if I cannot talk, it will be brief. That might be just as well. Normally we seldom get more that one or two non-board members that come to these anyway, so it is not likely to be a big deal no matter what. I do have a lot to go over, but with all that has gone on in the past couple of weeks, I have not followed through very well. I'm sure it will be fine.
I finished this book, "The Lay of the Land - A View from the Prairie" by Brent Olson. He writes a column about farming in northern Minn. that, I suppose, is published in some small town papers. It was enjoyable, he does not take himself too seriously, he is not trying to make some deep point with every paragraph. Far too many writers in this vein get caught up in being 'a voice from the wilderness.' This guy does a good job of describing his life without patting himself on the back all day or being overwhelmingly whiny about it all.
So often the years just roll by with no events to mark them in any way. This was one of those, I suppose. Everybody got a little older, Michael has graduated, the house got painted, I don't know was there more. Last year for Michael's birthday he thought it would be fun if everyone created a time line listing one event for every year of their life. It was fun, but to be honest it was tough on some of those years to come up with anything meaningful. I should ask him again to let me read those all again.
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