When I take the time to write my columns, I often try to separate myself from the day-to-day office routine; I find writing on the weekends gives me peace of mind. Most often when I write or catch up on reading, I get to listen to music and, fortunate or not for my wife, I like to listen to country music. I attribute this to growing up in Texas and having memories of my parents going to honky tonks like Mickey Gilley’s, of the famed movieUrban Cowboy, with my brother and me in tow. Yes, we rode the mechanical bull — but I don’t think either of us had dreams of cowboy glory after each getting thrown off in no more than a couple of seconds.

Listening to music helps me relax, and perhaps now more than ever in these tough times, I wonder if we are all drawn to crank it up a little. One song in particular by Waylon Jennings seems to be a favorite — “Luckenbach, Texas / Back to the Basics of Love.” It draws me to think about what I value most and the things of real importance.

Perhaps I need more reminding of these things as I think about how recently, both as a consumer and with our company, skirmishes seem to be popping up more frequently.In this challenging economic environment, I think it’s hard not to be cynical sometimes and want to take it out on the next company perceived not living up to their end of a deal. However, what lies within this growing resentment and dissolution, I believe, is great opportunity.

This issue allows us to return to feature our annual Manny Awards — which celebrate all the positive things local Tristate manufacturing companies are doing and underscore what an impact they have on our community’s well being. Now going into the third year of the Manny program, I am consistently reminded after I read companies’ stories that even in the face of rapid changes in their industries, the adherence to the basic principals like ethical business practice, customer-focused service, and innovation shine forth. Truth be told, we are all now under duress and having our core values tested, and companies like these give us examples to reward and emulate.

I sense from these difficult times that we can further develop our awareness of what positive things that are all around us. This issue has a whole lot about our region to be proud of. If after you read the inaugural Summer Fun Guide, if you don’t think Cincy has a lot of fun things to do throughout the season to take your mind off your troubles, please get with me and I will volunteer to help you drum up some ideas.

The staff ofCincy wishes you a summer to remember. It is a time to get back to the basics both at home and work, and maybe save the “feuding like the Hatfield and McCoys” as Waylon would decree. Heck, maybe this idea will give me the legitimacy to wear my cowboy boots north of the Ohio River. Cowboy or not, I think they are cool, regardless of what my wife says.