Tuesday, December 24, 2013

If you haven't joined Marriott Rewards, join now and get a free night; or two!

    New Year's is just over a week away and it's time to make those resolutions. Most of these can actually be made at any time, but I have one that is best made at the start of the year.
    It's this: If you plan to spend two or more nights in hotels over the next 12 months, you need to join a hotel loyalty program.
    Hotel loyalty programs are a lot like the airline programs were 15 years ago, in that there are some really generous offers to be had out there. For example, Jinny and I both recently got a couple of free nights in Raidisson hotels that would have cost us more than $300 merely by spending a single night apiece in a cheap Radisson. It was as if we had been given a free $600.
    The Radisson deal is long gone, but there are still plenty of very generous offers out there. For casual travelers, I've been touting the Marriott program and its Megabonus for some time. If you aren't already a member of the Marriott Rewards program, pat yourself on the back for refusing to listen to me earlier. Because they are giving a free hotel room to new members.
    That's right, sign up, stay twice over the next 120 days and get a free Cat. 1-5 room night. This offer is stackable on top of Marriott's thrice-yearly Megabonus offer, which for most casual travelers is a stay-two-get-one offer. So for new members, stay twice and get two free room nights.

    In other hotel loyalty club news, Priority Club, now known as IHG Rewards, has a promotion called The Big Win that, like the Marriott Megabonus, gives a custom offer to each member. IHG is punishing its most loyal members by giving them crappy offers, but casual travelers can come out just fine on this.
    Both Jinny and I got Big Win offers that total around 87,000 points. Her offer requires a bare minimum of 11 stays, two of which must include a Saturday night. Mine, on the other hand, can be completed with just four one-night stays.
    Needless to say, I'm going for the points. Jinny will likely devote her business elsewhere.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Ole Miss presented with $25,000 tab for party celebrating victory over LSU

Fans rush the field after Ole Miss' 27-24 win over LSU

    I published the photo above on Oct. 21. I was surprised that the security officials allowed the fans to storm the field, although perhaps there was little they could do to stop it.
    Now Ole Miss is paying the price, with a $25,000 fine being levied against the school by the SEC. The large fine is because Ole Miss is a repeat offender.
    Other schools were fined as well. Mississippi State received a repeat-offender $25,000 fine for excessive ringing of cowbells. Auburn was fined $5,000 as a result of the fans storming the field after the Alabama victory. Missouri also will have to pony up $5,000 following its celebration of its win over Texas A & M.
    I guess the Ole Miss needs to work harder at keeping the fans off the field!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I lost my camcorder, but hottytoddy.com pulled through for me and shot this great video

    Back in my Ole Miss student days I was a real thorn in the side of Ed Meek, who was the head of public relations for the university. Neither of us ever had a cross word with each other, but I'm sure I irritated him no end.
    Time is a salve that heals all wounds. Since moving back to Oxford three years ago I've found that Ed and I are frequently on the same page, and I am proud to call him a friend.
    For the past couple of years I've been recording the Oxford School District orchestra concerts that my daughter has participated in and have posted them on this blog and on Youtube. Unfortunately, I have lost my video camera and wasn't able to film these year's concert. I miss my video camera.
    And it's a shame, too. It was a great concert. It was a big change from year's past. Members of the various orchestras remained in their seats on stage for the entire concert, so there was no 15-minutes of switching and tuning between the beginner, 7th & 8th grade, and high school orchestra. And the choir was invited to participate and contributed several great choral performances.
    I have a short attention span, and the concert just whizzed by. I would honestly recommend to any Oxford resident that they attend future concerts. It was top notch.
    I wish I could say the highlight of the evening was my daughter's cello playing, but it wasn't. It was the performance of a quintet which sang the modern Christmas carol, "Mary Did You Know?" in what I would call a street-singing style. I'm not predisposed to care for this type of music, but I loved it.
    I was truly saddened that I wasn't able to record this and share it on my blog. So I sent Ed Meek an email and told him about the group and asked him to see if he could get someone from his news website, hottytoddy.com to do a story and perhaps get a video of this fine group. Ed Meek and hottytoddy.com came through for me. Thank you Ed! Thank you hottytoddy.com!
    These students arranged this song by themselves. They give us cause to be proud of our local schools and our city. And we're proud of them, too.
    I've already posted the hottytoddy video at the top of this post, but click this link to see the hottytoddy.com story on the quintet.

House snoop yields a small treasure trove of history

    I was snooping through an abandoned house recently and found a book in the basement entitled Great Issues and National Leaders: The Voters Guide for the Campaign of 1908.

    The rather thick book does a pretty good job of describing the various candidates for president. In addition to Republican William Howard Taft and Democrat William Jennings Bryan, the book profiles a number of what we would today call "fringe" candidates, such as socialist Eugene Debs.
    A good portion of the book isn't so much about the current election but the recounting of recent political history. The book also spends a good bit of time explaining how our government works. I found refreshing the passages which explained that the federal government had granted no authority to the states, as it had none to grant; rather, the book explains, the states ceded certain enumerated powers -- and no more -- to the federal government.
    Much of the book is simply the reprinting of speeches and party platforms. For example, under the subhead "Republican Principles Enunciated" is the Republican convention keynote address by Julius C├Žsar Burrows, of Minnisota.
    I could go on, but the point is that history reads very differently when it's written as current events rather than it does from a 100-year-old history book. I certainly discovered some things I didn't know. The book describes Mississippi representative John S. Williams as a "leading" Democratic statesman (see photo below), but I confess I had never heard of him. Williams was minority leader of the House from 1903 to 1908. Have any other Mississippians held this post, or that of majority leader? Why haven't I heard of this guy? I find it interesting that in an era without television or radio much of the electorate was far more informed 1908 than it is today with our modern communication systems.
    The book spent many a year in a damp basement, and it smells absolutely dreadful. But I will brave the smell and continue to browse the book over the next few weeks. And if my high school history teacher, Bobby Mitchell, wants to borrow this little treasure, of course he is welcome.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Parlez-vous Serbo-Croatian?

    I was poking around on my insurance company's website and found a feature that would identify doctors able to deal with patients speaking foreign languages.
    Apparently Oxford has two (or maybe only two within my plan). One doctor can handle French speakers and one can handle those speaking Serbo-Crotian. As for Spanish, nada.