10 Places I Will Miss in Southern IN/Louisville   Leave a comment

Only six more days until I move north.  Before I go, I would like to mention ten places that my family and I will miss about this area (aside from this really awesome house that’s for sale).  Some are local, others are chains that just aren’t in the Chicago area as of now.  I was having a hard time ranking them, so I took the easy way out and listed them alphabetically.

Buckhead Mountain Grill – Very good menu variety and quality with prices comparable to an Applebee’s or Friday’s without the chain feel.  The Jeffersonville location has a great view of the river and of Downtown Louisville.

Bubba’s 33 – A fairly new chain that has a location in Clarksville.  If you like bacon on your burgers, you’ll love Bubba’s because they not only put bacon on the burger, they put bacon in the burger.  My only complaint is that the beer selection tilts too heavily towards lagers and IPAs.  Still, I’m hoping this chain one day makes its way to NWI (Northwest Indiana).

Churchill Downs – I was never into horse racing at all before moving to Southern Indiana, but I love it now.  We’ve never actually made it to the Oaks or Derby because seats are expensive and the infield just isn’t my thing, but we’ve been to the Downs to see (and bet on) races on other days and we’ve loved it.  The movie in the museum is fantastic as well.

Floyd County Brewing Company – This is a fairly new place in downtown New Albany that quickly became a favorite.  Excellent beer, excellent atmosphere and good food.  Not an easy-to-find combination.

Graeter’s – Really, really, really good ice cream.  You know it’s really, really, really good because it’s expensive and people still buy it.  I’ll probably lose weight faster by not living within a mile of a Greater’s.

Huber’s Orchard and Winery – I will admit that our trips to Huber’s became less frequent when they got rid of the animals that the kids loved to visit, but the winery and farm market are still worth a few trips each year.  Heritage is still my favorite dry red I’ve ever had.

Pizza King – If you have kids who like pizza and like trains, the “the place where the train brings your drinks” is probably someplace you frequent.  I was surprised to learn that their footprint does not include NWI.

Rite Aid – What? A drugstore?  What’s special about Rite Aid that you can’t get at Walgreen’s or CVS.  Well, when you spend $1000 or more per year at Rite Aid you get a 20% discount on everything (except alcohol, tobacco, lottery and prescriptions) all year long.  Plus, Norman, who manages the Rite Aid at 10th and Holmans in Jeffersonville is the best store manager I’ve ever met.  If everybody had the same enthusiasm for their job that he has for his, the world would be a much better place.

Turtle Run Winery – It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that Huber’s has, but they have a large selection of really good wines made and sold by a family that’s very knowledgeable and passionate about wine.  Well worth the trip to eastern Harrison County.

World of Beer – On my first trip back to the area after moving away, this is the very first place I will want to go for food and drink.  It’s a fantastic place, and thanks to the new East End Bridge it’s now in a fantastic location for those coming from Indiana.  They have tablets at the tables where you can browse beers by type or country.

Any local places that you think should be included on this list?

 

 

 

Posted August 11, 2017 by Andrew Cabiness in Uncategorized

92nd of 92   Leave a comment

Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, was a French aristocrat and military officer who fought on the side of the colonies in the American Revolutionary War.  In recognition of his accomplishments, there are many cities, towns and counties throughout the United States named Lafayette, LaFayette, La Fayette and Fayette.  Among the most notable of such places are Lafayette, Louisiana, and Lafayette, Indiana.  Among the least notable of such places is Fayette County, Indiana.

 Fayette County has an official population of 24,277, with the county seat of Connersville containing over half the population of the county.  Until yesterday, Fayette County was the only county in Indiana that I had never visited.  Mostly as a result of having lived in six different counties in various parts of the state, I had visited nearly all of Indiana’s 92 counties though the normal course of travel.  The vast majority of counties either contained places or were on the way to/from places I would go as I lived in different parts of the state.  After moving to Jeffersonville in 2006, the number of counties that I hadn’t visited started to shrink very rapidly.  Once the number got below ten, it became a goal of mine to visit the remaining counties so that I could claim to have visited every county in Indiana.  Over the past few years, those handful of counties that weren’t on the way to/from somewhere but not too far out of the way became slight detours from the normal travel routes until only one county remained unvisited:  Fayette County.

 I have nothing against Fayette County.  It just happens to not be on the way to/from wherever I have been going, nor has it even been close to on the way given the places that I have lived.  I figured I’d eventually take a trip from somewhere to somewhere that went close enough to Fayette County that I could detour there and finally cross #92 off my list.  However, when I recently decided to accept a job transfer to the Chicago area, I figured my chances of ever being near Fayette county would diminish significantly.  So, with a day off yesterday and the kids in school, I decided to make a five-hour round trip, just for the purpose of visiting Fayette County and finally being able to claim that I have visited every county in Indiana.

I would love to hear from anybody else who has managed to visit all 92 counties.

fayette

Posted August 9, 2017 by Andrew Cabiness in Geography, Indiana

Major Announcement   3 comments

Ever since my parents took me to my first White Sox game when I was 9, I’ve loved Chicago.  I always imagined I would end up living there someday.  I considered going to college at DePaul before choosing Notre Dame.  I almost went to graduate school at UIC before settling on Michigan State.  I did eventually end up in Chicago for 5½ years when I began my Census Bureau career.  When I left by accepting a transfer to Maryland, and then to here in Southern Indiana, I thought I would be back.  Twelve years and two kids later, the idea of returning to Chicago began to seem less and less likely.

However, and opportunity has presented itself, and after some very serious and careful consideration, I have decided to accept a transfer back to the Census Bureau’s Chicago Regional Office, located in Oak Brook.  Nearly all of the details are yet to be worked out, but my first day there is tentatively scheduled for Monday, August 21.  My eleven years of working for the Bureau’s Jeffersonville (NPC) office have been both rewarding and challenging, and I feel that I am at a point in my career where I need a change of scenery.

We have just barely begun the process of looking for a new home, so I can’t yet tell you where we will be living, but we are focused on the western portions of Lake County, Indiana.  As a native Hoosier, I am partial to my home state and living in Illinois doesn’t seem terribly appealing right now.  Still, I want the commute to not be any lengthier than necessary, thus western Lake County.  I will provide more details once they are determined.

Even though I’ve lived in Southern Indiana for 11 years now, I’ve always favored the northern part of the state over the southern.  There are people and things about this area that I will miss, but the opportunity to take full advantage of everything Chicago far outweighs that for me.  More/better cultural opportunities, closer to White Sox games, closer to Notre Dame football games (which only becomes relevant after they wake up and ditch their coach) and closer to a beach.  Also, you may find this weird, but I’m very excited to be moving back to the Central Time Zone, which is what all of Indiana should be on anyway.

My wife and children have developed strong bonds that will have to be severed, and I am very appreciative that they are supporting this move as one that will be best for the family even though not their personal preference.  My wife will have to leave a job and co-workers that she absolutely loves.  The kids will both have to change schools again, leave behind friends, and find new Cub and Girl Scout packs/troops.  I want to especially thank the babysitters, preschool teachers, elementary school teachers, Sunday school teachers and scout leaders who have all been a very important influence on the first 9 and 7½ years of our children’s lives.  Perhaps the most important challenge that my wife and I face in this move is finding and selecting the right people to fill these new roles for our children.

While there are still a lot of uncertainties that are the source of anxiety right now, I am very excited to start the next chapter of my career and life.  I have updated and will continue to update my About page as we sort out exactly where we are going to live.

Lake_County,_Indiana_map.svg

 

Posted July 13, 2017 by Andrew Cabiness in Family, Indiana

Line, Line, Everywhere a Line   Leave a comment

Today, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear a case on the constitutionality of gerrymandering.

For those of you not familiar with the concept, for states with more than one seat in the US House of Representatives, state legislatures get to draw the lines for districts.  In many states, the lines get drawn in very bizarre ways with the intention of favoring the political party that controls that state’s legislature.  This is how the Republican Party was able to win 24.2% more seats than the Democratic Party despite only winning 1.1% more actual votes nationwide.  Republican states certainly aren’t the only ones doing the gerrymandering, though.  The Democratic-dominated Illinois legislature drew up this district:

illinois

Here’s an outside the box that would eliminate the difficult question of when the ‘creativity’ of drawing lines has gone too far: eliminate districts entirely.  For any state with more than one seat in the US House, the candidates are voted for statewide, rather than individually by district.  Take my home state of Indiana and its nine seats for example.  Instead of splitting the state’s voters into nine separate groups, each choosing among candidates ‘living’ in their district (more on that word ‘living’ later), all voters in the state would select one of a party’s slate of nine candidates: the Democratic slate, Republican slate, Libertarian slate, or any other party that wanted to field a slate.  The number of seats allotted to each party would be determined by the percentage of votes each slate won nationwide.

Again using Indiana as an example, in 2016 the combined vote of the nine Congressional districts was 54.28% Republican, 39.61% Democrat and 6.12% Libertarian.  Due to the way the districts were drawn, the Republicans actually won 7 seats and the Democrats only 2.  The statewide method would have given the Republicans 5 seats and the Democrats 4 seats. The Libertarians would have very narrowly missed winning one of the seats that went to the Democrats.  With nine candidates on the ballot together instead of separated by district, each party would have to have a priority order to their candidates, meaning that the top five of nine Republican candidates and top four of nine Democratic candidates get seats.  Presumably the candidates would be ranked based on their vote totals from the primary elections.

Two benefits to this method:

The first is that state delegations would better reflect each state.  54 percent of the vote would no longer get you 78 percent of the seats.  Also, Libertarians and other third parties would start getting seats.  No individual Libertarian got close to enough votes to win a seat in any district anywhere in the US, but the party did get 1.3% nationwide and enough votes to win a seat or two in a few states by the statewide method.  Also, knowing that the statewide method would provide a lower threshold for winning seats might encourage more voters to vote for third parties, which in turn (hopefully) would make the two major parties more accountable to the voters.

The second is that the statewide method would reduce, if not eliminate, the process of carpetbagging.  Carpetbagging is when a person moves to a place that (s)he has never lived in previously, purely for the purpose of establishing residency in order to run for office in that location.  As a purely hypothetical example, in 2016 the US House member for my district, Todd Young, decided to give up his House seat to run for Senate.  This created a rare open seat in a Republican leaning district.  A Republican who wanted to run for Congress but lived in a district with a popular incumbent Republican Congressman, such as the 3rd district in Tennessee, might have to wait a while for a seat to open up.  Instead, (s)he could simply move to Indiana’s 9th district a few months before the primary election to establish residency, and then run to represent that district in Congress.  With the statewide method, such a person is much less likely to get elected and possibly deterred from even trying.

So, what do you think of my idea?  What are the downsides to such a method?

 

Posted June 19, 2017 by Andrew Cabiness in Uncategorized

What a Fool Believes (on His Anniversary)   Leave a comment

“She had a place in his life.
He never made her think twice.”
-Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins

 Aside from being from a double Grammy-winning song for the Doobie Brothers, the line above perfectly describes the first 28½ years of my life.  I was the absolute king of the Friend Zone long before the term was ever invented.  I lost count of the number of times that I fell very hard for a woman who was never, ever going to see me as more than a friend.

 Then, after returning from a work trip to Colorado in July 2002, I sent an introductory e-mail over an internet dating website not unlike many others I’d sent.  This one changed my life forever, entirely for the better.  Less than ten months later, I was married, and it didn’t at all seem too fast.

 Now, back to the opening quote.  I picked it not only because of its relevance to my life, but because while I love Michael McDonald’s music, my wife absolutely hates it, and that is one of those things that helps me realize that there really are no true soulmates in this world.  You are married to or are going to be married to someone who has at least one aspect of life that doesn’t click with you.

 I strongly believe that only a very small percentage of marriages fail because of “marrying the wrong person” or because “one/both partners changed from who they were when they married.”  Certainly there are people who are in relationships where they suffer physical, emotional or financial abuse and they really do need to get out, but I truly feel that loving someone enough to make marriage work is not something that just happens but is something you have to consciously choose to do and to make a priority over everything else.  I could really go on for several pages on that thought alone but instead I will say that if that statement intrigues you, I urge you to check out either one of several books with that theme or a professional counselor

 I believe that there are far too many of us who are giving up on marriages that shouldn’t be ending, and there are consequences for making that decision, and if you have children those consequences can last their entire lives.  I don’t want to sound judgmental, but in the majority of cases, divorce is the easy and selfish choice. I realize that for many, their spouse has made the decision to end the marriage and they are left with no choice, but for those who still have that choice I urge you think about it a lot (and pray about it a lot if that’s something you do) before deciding to end things.  Regardless of what the government, your church and your own personal beliefs say about divorce, I think we can all agree that a high divorce rate is a major contributor to societal problems.  I want to encourage you to exhaust all other options before making this decision.

 I want to conclude by saying that by having this view on marriage, or by having managed to stay married for 14 years, I’m not any more righteous than those who have had marriages end in divorce.  I think because I had such a hard time getting to the relationship stage early in life, I developed an appreciation for how hard it is to accomplish and that has highly motivated me to do whatever necessary to avoid having to do it again.

 If this post has engaged your thoughts, I encourage you to comment on it. If this post has engaged your emotions, I encourage you to share it.

Posted May 17, 2017 by Andrew Cabiness in Uncategorized

Oxmoor Mazda Complaint   4 comments

You’ve heard all the old stereotypes about used car salesmen–pushy, annoying, manipulative, dishonest, etc.  However, I thought in this day and age that this was more or less a thing of the past.  I had made three used car purchases, from three different dealerships, over the past seven years and all three had been really pleasant experiences to which I would attribute none of the aforementioned negative stereotypes.

Then I had the massive displeasure of making a used car purchase at Oxmoor Mazda in Louisville this past Friday.  My goal in writing this blog post is to hope that you will do at least one of these two things: 1) find somewhere other than Oxmoor Mazda to make your next car purchase and 2) regardless of where you make your next car purchase, read about and learn from my experience.

The price on the car I was purchasing was fair enough but I felt that I was lowballed quite a bit on their offer on my trade-in.  I did manage to negotiate back up a bit on the trade-in value but it was still a few hundred dollars what I felt it was worth.

Still, after finally agreeing to a deal, I had in hand an amount to be financed, a finance rate and length of loan.  Now, I happen to hold two math degrees, but you really don’t need to have a math degree, or even a college degree to calculate what your monthly payments should be.  Just Google “loan payment calculator” and pick any one of several websites that will do the same calculation for you.  Just put in the amount financed, the rate and length of loan to get your monthly payment.  I urge you as strongly as I possibly can to do this as soon as you have agreed to terms with the salesperson but BEFORE meeting with the finance person.

So here’s where things fell apart.  Before signing any papers, the finance person tries to sell you one or both of two things, gap insurance and an extended warranty.  Maybe there are specific circumstances where these things make sense but I’ve never found them to be worth any value.  I get him to give up on the gap insurance pretty quickly, but he insists on quoting me what my monthly payments would be with the extended warranty.  This figure is nearly $50/month more that what I know my payment would be without it.  Now I ask him a question that, unbeknownst to him, I already know the answer to: “What is my monthly payment without the extended warranty?”  He now flat-out lies to me and quotes me a monthly payment that is still about $20 above what it is supposed to be.  Once I point out to him that I know what the payment should be and it’s not what he quoted me, he digs his hole deeper.  He claims that he’s just reading a number of a computer screen and doesn’t know why my number doesn’t match his.  He offers a way to discount the extended warranty so that my payment will match the figure he just quoted me a minute ago as being the payment without the extended warranty.  I persist in wanting to know why the monthly payment without the warranty was so high and he responded, “My job is to make sure that you leave here satisfied, so if you want that to be your monthly payment I’ll make it that and [sales staff] will have to eat the difference.”  That was flat-out lie #2.  Nobody was taking any kind of a loss due to me getting the monthly payment that it was supposed to be in the first place.  Perhaps somebody was not receiving a gain that he thought he was going to be able to get, but nobody lost anything.

The paperwork finally got printed out with the correct dollar figures in all places, and I did end up signing and leaving with my purchase.  However, on Saturday I became increasingly angry about how I was treated and called the manager to complain.  He wouldn’t admit that I had been lied to, but apologized that “I felt lied to.”  He stated over and over that he wanted me to feel like I had a satisfactory experience, but really didn’t offer anything that overcame the experience that their finance guy put me through.  The only thing really that is going to make me feel like I had a satisfactory experience is to share it in a blog post in hopes that others will either not go there at all or at least be ready for what they are going to experience if they do.

If you had a very negative experience at a car dealership, please share in the comments.

The Worst Play Call in the History of Football   Leave a comment

On October 31, 2010, when Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly had his backup quarterback throw a fade route while trailing Tulsa by one point at their 19-yard line with 45 seconds left and an excellent kicker waiting to kick the game-winning field goal, I thought I had seen the worst play call in the history of football.  The risk far, far outweighed the reward to the point that the call seemed incomprehensible.

In Super Bowl XLIX, Seattle’s Pete Carroll called for a pass play while trailing 28-24, facing 2nd and goal from the New England 1 with 26 seconds left and one timeout remaining.  From a purely risk/reward standpoint, this was not a worse play call than Brian Kelly’s, but given the context that this was a Super Bowl and not just a regular season college game, it was arguably a worse play call.

Last night, the Atlanta Falcons managed to top them both.  With 3:56 left, facing 2nd and 11 at the New England 23 yard line, holding a 28-20 lead, all Atlanta had to do was run the ball two more times, even if for no gain, force New England to burn two of their three timeouts, and then attempt a 40-yard field goal that their kicker is going to make about 90 percent of the time to give Atlanta a 31-20 lead, leaving New England needing two scores in roughly 3:45 and only one timeout.

Of course what Atlanta did was call a pass play, which resulted in a sack, followed by another pass play which resulted in a holding penalty which knocked Atlanta entirely out of field goal range.  You can say it’s easy to second-guess given the results, but it was pretty clear at the time that making sure to get at least 3 points on the board was the best option.

Any other horrible play calls I’m missing?

Posted February 6, 2017 by Andrew Cabiness in College Football, NFL, Sports

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