Monday, March 14, 2005

Greetings from high above the good old U.S. of A. as I wing my way to Memphis, TN, having survived our 915th snowstorm of the winter of 2004-’05 (OK, maybe it just feels that way).

My flight got going late today for the most amazing reason. Not mechanical trouble or weather or anything mundane like that. It seems that one of the passengers had decided that appropriate airplane wear was a T-shirt that said “No Bombs for Freedom.” A few passengers noticed this and pointed it out to airport security, who apparently have very little sense of humor when it comes to people wearing T-shirts referencing bombs flying on one of their airplanes.

Apparently there was a conference out in the terminal with three Massachusetts State Police officers, airport security and the captain of our airplane. The captain, in what I thought was a very cool move, decided to let the guy fly after his bags had been thoroughly searched by the police, sniffed by dogs and probably scanned with a tricorder for all I know. The captain explained all of this to us and said that the guy was just expressing his free speech rights (the shirt is a protest against bombing people to bring them freedom, a sentiment with which I generally agree, by the way). He also mentioned that the gentleman was of Middle Eastern decent, which probably didn’t help him much. He also said that the guy was really embarrassed and would abide by whatever decision the captain made. The captain also offered to let anyone who was uncomfortable with his decision get off the airplane.

In the end, the state police overruled the captain and had the guy stay behind, where he is no doubt rethinking his wardrobe. So what lessons can we learn from this?

- Don’t wear stuff that talks about bombs to airports.
- That goes double if you’re from the Middle East
- People who do are probably too dumb to fly, drive or operate heavy machinery.

I’m really unhappy to be going to Memphis. When I agreed to be the executor of my late great-aunt’s estate about 15 years ago, I wasn’t married and had no kids so life was pretty much on my own schedule. Once I started getting all that stuff, I should have told her that she would have to get someone else to do all this. Of course, now that she’s gone I feel like she was counting on me to take care of things and that I would be breaking a promise to her if I didn’t follow through with this.

So here I am in an airplane when I’d really like to be home with my family. I am going to court with my aunt’s lawyer tomorrow morning to be appointed executor, then I’m going to meet with a realtor to look into selling her house once we get all the stuff out of it (which I’m hoping to accomplish by the end of April). After that, I’m going over to the house to look things over and try to sell her car. My aunt has a ’99 Buick Century, no doubt with practically no miles on it. My plan is to take it to the Buick dealer she bought it from to see if they’ll take it from me for something vaguely resembling the Kelley Blue Book value. This is all dependent on me finding the title and being able to get everything done by the time I leave Memphis on Tuesday afternoon.

My other task is to stop by her bank to get myself put on her checking account and have the statements mailed to my house instead of hers. I’m also planning to open an account at my bank when I get home for the estate so I don’t have to deal with the Tennessee bank any longer than I have to. I’m really hoping not to have to go back to Memphis (other than on vacation) if I don’t have to.

I’m not even going to have any time on this trip for any sightseeing. I’d love to see Elvis’ home, Graceland and I’d also like to see the National Civil Rights Museum. The museum is actually housed in the hotel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and I can just imagine the impact of visiting that spot. The Shiloh Civil War Battlefield isn’t too far from Memphis either.

I am going to get some good Memphis barbeque, though. The national sales manager at my company, who is located in Tennessee, recommended a couple of places and one of them, a restaurant called Corky’s, is only 10 minutes from my hotel. I’ll report on the place later.

Only three weeks until Opening Night. Curt Schilling has been pessimistic about his ability to pitch the opener against Randy Johnson. He’s been slowed by the flu, plus his upcoming testimony to Congress on the steroids issue. We’ll see, but I won’t be surprised if Boomer Wells starts on April 3 instead of Schilling.

Other than the steroid issue, Spring Training this year has been pretty quiet. I’m really looking forward to the beginning of the season when the games start to count. One of the players I’m going to be following closely is Nomar. He’s got a second chance at a contract year after signing a 1-year deal with the Cubs. If he can approach something resembling his old form he should command a hefty salary, but if he continues to be injured or doesn’t play well he will have permanently damaged his market value. Guess that four-year, $15 million deal the Sox offered is looking pretty good right now, isn’t it Nomar?


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