2011 – The year of “WTH”?????

I know that as you get older you’re supposed to dread the passing of time, especially since it seems that this thing that we measure as “days” and “years” goes to Turbo-Speed somewhere around your 35th birthday. Also, I’m not a big fan of “New Years” as a holiday other than a huge excuse to get plastered and act like a jackass the first of which I no longer do and the second of which I try to avoid as much as possible. No, really… I do.

The most important thing about New Years Eve for me was that it was on this night way back when that I met the love of my life and the most important person to me, my wife, for the first time. It was at a party and I was getting plastered and acting like a jackass (I said I don’t NOW…don’t judge me by my past, please..) when I first met her and, despite the fact that I and others I was with that night did some particularly stupid and immature (but kinda funny) things she still went out with me. I’d like to think it was God’s plan to send this woman to me to get my life straight rather than just poor mate selection on her part. Happy Anniversary, Claudia! I love you!

Now, back to this past year. It seemed like everytime I turned around I was saying “What the hell?”. My job was incredibly difficult due to the economy cutting into our budget, people stealing like there’s no tomorrow and general chaos. Family illnesses, family crisises, stress, tears and some moments of banging my head on the wall were pretty much the norm. On the week I experienced an earthquake and a hurricane one behind the other I was thinking “You know, this Rapture thing can’t be all that bad…”. Everybody suddenly started saying that the Mayans, Edward Cayce, Nostradamas and the Psychic Hotline are all predicting the world will end in 2012. I think some folks went to the movie “2012” with kinda high hopes that they were right. Personally, I’m going with the biblical answer to that one which is “No man shall know…”. And since no angel’s showed up to tell me otherwise I’m sticking to that one.

There were some personal highlights. I did get to go to Mississippi on a trip where I was actually treated by members of the community and the local city fathers as if I were someone that had a clue what he was doing. That’s a refreshing feeling every now and then. Too bad I have to leave home to get it.

I also got to go to Chicago and hang out with folks from all around the world at a conference. I ate Chicago Deep Dish pizza three times that week. That made up for at least the earthquake and part of the hurricane. It’s like manna with sausage and cheeze.

The “silly season” of elections started up and for the first time in my life there is NOBODY running for ANYTHING that I’d be excited enough to vote for or campaign for. Not a Republican and not a Democrat. Simply put the only Republican candidate with half a brain is Newt Gynrich and other than the fact that I would cringe at the thought of world leaders being introduced to our president “Newt Grinch” is the fact that Gynrich is an egotistical, condecending attention monger that apparenlty can’t deal with personal relationships very well. I have no problem with Mitt Romney being a Mormon but I do have a problem with some of the others being morons. Huntsman would be the only one that I’d think about supporting but I think he’d be better off running for Vice President with Obama on the Democratic ticket.

We got to see the “hippie movement” briefly flare up in some bigger cities with the “Occupy Something…Anything…Just Occupy Space” movement. Which, apparently, shows that if your cause is liberal and you don’t keep good hygene and have people OD in your park-camp then you don’t have to pay for picketing or marching permits like conservative groups do. I actually saw and heard some of the folks from this group in “Occupy Chicago” and despite all my efforts to try to understand I still don’t know what their main point is other than “Rich Folks are too rich”. What I pretty much saw were people that would be pretty comfortable in the socialist and communist movements back in the 60’s. Of course, there’s a reason that it was in the 60’s and not today. Neither of them work and apparently neither do Occupy protesters.

So as man counts time this is the end of something and the beginning of another. As God sits outside of time I have to wonder if he doesn’t shake his head and look at Times Square and marvel that we his creation celebrate a random measurement of time more than we celebrate Him. My prayer is that He continues to love us and offer His Grace through Jesus Christ and that perhaps, just perhaps, more people have to say “WTH” a bit less.

“I hear voices…”

If you haven’t heard the recent Country Music song “I Hear Voices” then you’ve missed a pretty good hook. The singer talks about all the voices in his head of people that he loved giving him good advice that he’s glad he followed over the years. I immediately understood the song because I have a set of voices in my head as well. Some of the things I still hear include:

“You don’t save money by trying to fix something that you have no clue how to work on. You just end up breaking it more and having to spend more to get it fixed.” Daddy

“If you paid cheap, you get cheap. You get what you pay for.” Daddy Frank

“Men get stupid over a woman like she’s the only one the Lord made.” Grandmu

(She also said something else along that same line that’s not really good for a “family friendly” blog but Grandmu wasn’t one to mince words…)

“A wanton waste makes for a woeful want.” Grandma Twisdale

“Don’t ever say what you’d do in a situation. It’ll make a liar out of you.” Mama

“How you do something is just as important as what you do.” Reverend Sam Martin

“Always carry a sermon in your pocket, just in case you get called on.” Reverend Henry Lovelace

“Why buy something new when you have the same thing and it works fine? Just keep what you’ve got working good and you can spend your money on important things.” Oliver Brewer

“You can’t fit a chair in the back of a Mustang!” My wife and my sister.

“I got you another Long Island Iced Tea! Enjoy it!” (Jerry White trying to make me into one of his customers during my batchelor party….)

“I don’t think trying to fight the entire NC State Wrestling team in the bar was a good thing.” Mike Moore, the night I quit drinking.

“Next time you have a thought like that run through your head, let it go on.” Ron White

“I wanted to send my dog to school because I never went.” D.J.

“I have no bucket list.” Kenneth “Skeeter” Clark

And one of my personal favorites that I try to remember every day: “Just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you really know anything.” Daddy

Little Johnny doesn’t smoke Camachos…

I know that there are a lot of folks that don’t agree with ANY kind of tobacco use. If you are one of those people you’re probably not going to agree with this blog but bear with me for a moment.

It seems that for quite some time the folks at the Orange Bowl Committee have had an agreement with Camacho Cigars (which is a company started by a family from Cuba in Tampa) in which the folks at Camacho would be a corporate sponsor for the bowl game and would host some of the VIPS and others that have the bucks to get one of the “suites” at the stadium as well as providing a “cigar lounge” area from which folks that choose to purchase and smoke expensive cigars could herf a “stogie” and watch the game.

Now, by “expensive” I mean that this is a smoke that I might could spring for one cigar from J&R Cigars every once in a blue moon. A box of Comacho Triple Maduro (one of their best selling “full bodied” cigars) sells at the J&R discount rate of $260 for a box of 21 (6×60). A single is about $6.60.

To quote from Frank Seltzer at J&R:

Camacho Cigars signed a three-year deal as a corporate sponsor of the Miami based bowl game. There were plans for there to be on-site Camacho lounges where you could smoke. According to the company’s release,

At the Orange Bowl Game Day Fan Zone, the Orange Bowl’s largest pre-game event, guests can relax before kickoff in a beautifully appointed Camacho Club Lounge. There will also be two cigar lounges located in the designated smoking areas of the stadium on the Club Level for attendees of the Orange Bowl VIP pre-game party.

Dylan Austin—the head of marketing for Camacho—said since Camacho’s roots are in south Florida it was an honor to be partnered with such a class operation. Well maybe the honor ain’t so hot and certainly not a lot of class.

Late last week, a bunch of health groups (including Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and the American Cancer Society) started pressuring the Orange Bowl to drop the sponsorship. (It is for the kids don’t you know.)

On Thursday, three Democratic Senators jumped on the bandwagon (Lautenberg of NJ, Durbin of IL and Blumenthal of CT). They wrote to both the Orange Bowl and the NCAA saying the sponsorship should be dropped. By Friday, the bowl officials and NCAA responded to the congressional pressure and kicked Camacho out. (Wonder who will reimburse Camacho ?)”

These groups said that it would be a “bad influence” on kids to portray cigars as “athletic, masculine and cool”. My first reaction was “What the heck are these people REALLY smoking???”

First off, little Johnny ain’t going to be in the areas where these events would have gone. Second, Camacho’s ain’t the kind of thing that little Johnny can go to the corner convenience store and lie about his age and pick up to go sneak a smoke behind the garage. Third, a group of grown men and women (yes, I know women who smoke a good Montecristo sometime) can’t go to a sponsored cigar lounge but you can paste Beer and other alcohol ads from one end of the stadium to the other and (gasp!) SELL BEER at the concession stand. How about the athletic apparel ads? I don’t know about the rest of ya’ll but in all my time of smoking cigars I’ve never been in a store humidor when suddenly a riot, fight or gunshots rang out because they just got in the new Excaliber “Black Knight”. But put Michael Jordan’s new shoes out and all hell breaks loose (Mike also likes cigars when he’s playing golf or at the casino, by the way).

Let’s see what else. Doritos…I can tell you from personal experience that they will make you FAT if you eat too much. Video games? Please…don’t get me started on that as that’s a rant that would take up an entire blog in itself. Car commercials? Why are you trying to sell me a four-wheel bullet that can do 0 to 100 in a nanosecond when the highest speedlimit in the US is about 70 mph???

So what are my points in this? First, that three senators from states other than Florida should have never interjected themselves into an event that is in another state that they had NOTHING to do with. Second, the NCAA has more things that they should worry about (just check the sports section of your paper for the last year) than if a group of grown people get to sit in a lounge in a DESIGNATED SMOKING AREA and puff on an expensive cigar por gratis. And third, any sporting event in the US that decides that they can give in to each and every special interest group will soon find themseleves hosting the NCAA Badmitton tournament sponsored by Depends and Right Guard.

Meanwhile, a responsible, reputable company that signed a THREE YEAR DEAL now has to go through the trouble to try to recoup the money they spent thus far because someone was scared Little Johnny might see someone smoke a cigar. Now all he has to see are the drunks getting kicked out of the stands and the latest sports scandal on ESPN but at least nobody’s smoking.