Monday, August 26, 2013

Never waste a beautiful day.

What can I say, we've had some absolutely perfect weather and Sunday Aug. 25, was about as perfect as you could ask for. The older I get the more I realize that, if possible, you have to enjoy yourself as much as possible. Most of the time living is devoted to doing something that will help you keep living also known as work.
Work takes up so much of our lives. The last 7 years I have taken up photography as a hobby and that has led me to taking local trips and really discovering my own home area. There are times when I get a day off that I just don't want to do anything or go anywhere. Essentially I just want to get away from people. I see and deal with enough of them during the course of the week. I don't want to be beholding to anyone for anything. On the other hand, when you have a strikingly beautiful day, as Sunday was, you should take advantage of it.

The weatherman had be touting how beautiful Saturday and Sunday were going to be.  I had to work Saturday, and the less said about that the better, but Sunday looked picture perfect. I asked Arlene if she would like to take a second Sunday cruise as we did last Sunday, except this time instead of just cruising up one side of the Charles River and down the other this one would take 90 minutes and go out into the harbor. There's only one of these cruises on Sundays and it's at 9:30 in the morning. Arlene had to work till 9 p.m. on Saturday and she was kind of hemming and hawing about committing to going. I fully understood. We both work for the same company. doing pretty much the same thing only in different stores. Maybe someday I'll tell how we first met. Ok she decides to go. The cruise starts from the same spot as the one we took last week. It's only a few blocks up the street from where I work. The dock is on the back end of a 3 story mall located in a very urban area. It's a confusing area as many places around here are. Boston was decaying 19th century city until around 1960. Overall Boston has done quite well since then. All the big building you will see from the waterfront shots weren't there 40 years ago. And they're still building. One problem is building these buildings on streets that were laid out in the 17 or 1800's. The only area that's laid out in a grid pattern is the back bay because that's all landfill, making the inner harbor or bay the river bank. That area is on the right as you head out towards the harbor. And though I've lived in this area all my life, it struck me for the first time how many bridges there are. Of course there have to be bridges as the river is the natural boundary between Boston and Cambridge and any other city to the north. In the short ride to the harbor we went under about 7 bridges, including the large Zakim Bridge to a small drawbridge. Then there's a canal at a dam with locks, (the bagels were extra)  that gets you into the inner harbor. This not a full tour of the harbor. They kind of hang a right from the river,go by some of the waterfront ,go left and head back towards  the river. That wasn't a complaint. The tour itself is billed as an "Architecture Tour" which it was. Our tour guide was knowledgeable, amusing, and was good at working the crowd. She asked who was from the farthest away. There was a  family from China and a family from India, some Europeans, and people from various states. She then asked if there were any locals aboard. We were the only locals. Some people chuckled when we told them we only lived about 4 miles away.

Some of the pictures you will see will be similar to the ones from last Sunday as we were in the same area for a while, but it was earlier in the day than last week and there wasn't a cloud in the sky.
How could I resist. You will see architecture but I am not as knowledgeable as our guide was so I won't be pointing out significant buildings and locales except for a few obvious ones.
Some people believe that the Vikings were here before the English and the is a Viking carving on the Longfellow Bridge. I didn't notice it the last time.

Here are a few of my favorite shots.
The Bunker Hill Monument, Charlestown.


Our first really tall building, completed, I think, in 1965. The 52 story Prudential Building. I always thought it was a bit goofy looking with its little , flat head. Still all the sail boats positioned themselves symmetrically against the park across the river to frame a nice shot. That whole area is landfill.

After the cruise ended we had the problem of finding out how to go from this 3 story mall down into the 3 level parking garage.
Arlene can't do elevators so we had to search for stairs or escalators. We found plenty of emergency exits with stairs and got hopelessly lost in the behind the scenes corridors. we found several exits but they all led to the street. We had to go back inside because you couldn't enter the garage  without a car from the outside. We had to laugh at our  bumbling around as there are more important things to get upset about.

So Sunday was a wonderful gift. We went out to eat. My meal was particularly lackluster but I didn't care. Arlene had an errand to run at 5p.m. After that we drove down to the lakes in the western part of our city to watch the sunset. It was underwhelming but that didn't matter. It was a day well spent.
I'm outta here.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

Random thoughts, quite possibly a rant or two, I'm in a mood.

I'm not sure how long this blog entry will be. I am in a surly mood. As I write this it is late Friday afternoon. I won't necessarily finish it today or tomorrow for that matter. Just so you know, everything in my personal life is just fine. I am happy to report that all is well with me, my family, my car, my dryer, friends, Arlene and her family and friends. My surliness stems from my job. I know I know I'm lucky to have a job, and I've had this job for 42 years. Well my company is struggling. It has been a slow, miserable slide since 1999. The original company I started with was called Star Market. It was a wonderful company that took good care of us and the customer. I know it sounds like bragging but they were very innovative. Here's a bit from an article in a local paper from 1999 when everything changed. They were giving a history of the company up until it went defunct. The name is still around but that's only because they suddenly realized a few years back how stupid it was to change the name of a store and company that had been around locally since 1918. This is from the local Watertown Ma. newspaper in 1999.

 " When Sarkis died in 1922, the victim of an automobile accident, Stephen was a
young boy, but he immediately assumed responsibility for supporting his mother
and three sisters and took over the management of his father's store. Like all
his family, he was a hard worker, getting up before dawn to go to the Boston
produce market for fruits and vegetables for the store. In 1931, when his
cousin John, Martin's son, graduated from high school, he joined Stephen, and
the two developed their motto, "Take extra good care of the customer, and the
customer will take care of you!"
Over the years, Steve and John Mugar (they had shortened the family name) kept
service in mind, developing, in cooperation with DuPont and the Union Paper
Bag Company, a number of useful innovations in the grocery business. It was
the Star that pioneered cellophane packaging for meat, stronger paper grocery
bags, unit pricing, employee benefit systems including profit sharing and time
off for school, and the use of the "radar range," as the first microwave oven
was then called, in the store's luncheonette in 1948. In 1963 the Star Market
was the first business to build a store using air rights over the
Massachusetts Turnpike, in Newtonville. Remembering the customer's interest,
Star introduced conveyors to take their orders outside where they could be
picked up. The Star developed a reputation for selling superior grades of

Me again. If you worked in the supermarket business around here and you worked for Star then you worked for the Cadillac of supermarkets.
I remember being a little kid in the '50s and going shopping at Star, with my parents of course. I was so fascinated with the bundle pick up. You would pay for your groceries and the bagger would put all your bags in a numbered tub and put it on a conveyer belt where it would disappear into the bowels of the store. You were given a numbered tile to correspond with the tub. Go to your car, drive around to the side of the store where your groceries would magically appear. Then someone would load them in your car, whether in the back seat area or in the trunk.
They were doing the "Whole Foods" thing before there was a "Whole Foods" at least around here.

Anyway to sum it up, we have been bought and sold several times since 1999 and things have been going south ever since. It has driven customers away and driven the employees to distraction. It has been tough.

Then there are the loony's that come through the door. Now it's not everyone, it's just every once in a while one of then escapes from the home. Yesterday a woman enters the store with a suitcase. Of course she makes a bee line towards me and asks, "Do you have scales in this store?"

I wanted to say, "What are you from, weights and measures lady?" I was mildly suspicious of where this was going. I asked her, "How can I help you ma'am?"

"I want to see how much this suitcase weighs."

"Ma'am, this is a food store." She gets a little worked up and says, "Do you know how much they charge you at the airport?!"

"I'm sorry ma'am all our scales are used to weigh food. We don't have facility to weigh a suitcase." She looked flustered, turned and headed off towards the other end of the store. I never heard any more about it but I'm sure she annoyed at least one more person. 
Then again, the buy your groceries, check your luggage and get your boarding pass angle hasn't been tried yet. It could be our key to success.

Twenty two days to vacation. It would be an understatement to say I can't wait, but of course I have to wait. Still it's soon. There aren't many places around here where you can see the sun setting over the ocean. I won't say the name of the place. You know.

Ok it's now Saturday afternoon. Today was a first for me in all my years. For the first time I worked straight through from 7a.m. to 3p.m. Straight through with nary a meal nor a trajectory chamber visit to be had. I went from mad to bladder bursting mad. To tell the complete truth the one time I did see any management, because every time the store is short staffed they can't be found, he told me I had to leave 18 minutes early.  I had accumulated  an extra 18 minutes through the course of 4 days. And if I stayed till  3  that would be 18 minutes of crippling overtime. And you know me I would be living it up. I'd go to Vegas. Pick some show girls. That's right, I'd become a playboy.

Any way, I see I have digressed. Besides the bladder issues, I was mad because of the 3 people, me included, working three separate counters, when there should be a total of 7, couldn't take our state law required 30 meal break never mind a "coffee break". So you see today there were 3 pretty grumpy, squirming guys who were not having a good day. When I went to clock out, which is done by swiping a card or entering a number then placing your index finger on a little scanner, when it pinged me out, I was so agitated, I gave the time clock "the finger".

Alrighty then. I think I'll end this dirge. It's still Saturday afternoon and I've calmed down. As of now Arlene and I have plans to take what is called an "architecture tour" of Boston Harbor. It will leave from the same place as the tour we took last week,  head out at 9:30 only, to the inner harbor. It looks to be a picture book day. Sunny high 70's, low 80's. No humidity. Of course I'll take pictures some might be similar to some I took last week but different times of day produce different lighting situations. And I have never gone under the Zakim Bridge to enter the harbor. The sun should be behind the bridge.
That's it. Over and out.
I'm outta here.


Monday, August 19, 2013

One hour in a Sunday afternoon

The weather has been pretty wonderful around here lately. August has been a comfortable reversal of a sweltering July. Sunday the temperature hovered around 77. It was a bit more cloudy than the last few days but nothing to complain about. In about four months I could be shoveling a couple of feet of snow.

As I have found myself over the last several years I was a tourist in my own home town. Well close enough to be my hometown. I was wandering around the web one day I came upon a website of a boat tour of the Charles River. The river runs along the border of Cambridge and Boston. It wasn't a huge amount of money, $15.00. It also turns out that you caught the boat at the rear of a local Cambridge mall which had access to the river. This mall was about a mile up the road from where I work. So it wasn't far at all. Long story short. We found the mall parking garage, found our way to the other end of the mall, bought our tickets and waited for the boat to return. There were obvious foreign tourists and out of stator's and locals mixed in the group taking the tour.

It was a one hour tour and though it wasn't overcast, there was  a filtered sunlight, but of course I took pictures. I stung them together and they are viewable below.

As the tour began we went up the river close to the Cambridge side. A tour guide pointed out various places from behind a little bar where you could purchase a beer or soft drink. After a short  cruise we turned around and headed towards Boston. We never got as far as the harbor. We turned around again and headed back up the Cambridge side and eventually the mall. It was a nice day. We ended up eating a late lunch/early supper at a Cheesecake Factory in the mall. It was quite good, not all bad for a chain restaurant.

Well that's it. One hour in a Sunday afternoon.
I'm outta here, 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Welcome back Beth! Things I remember in my lifetime.

I was thinking of all the  events, both in my life, and in the world  that have occurred during the course of my lifetime. Milestones, scientific/medical  breakthroughs, assassination's, U.S./Soviet tensions, the space race, wars, gas embargo's, and on and on. 

I have been lucky to have been to Italy and Sicily twice. The first time was just before first grade back in 1956. I think we stayed two months. How my parents could afford this I haven't a clue. We went with my Uncle Sam and Aunt Lucy. We couldn't fly out of Boston because of a snowstorm so we took a sleeper train to New York City. Not a speck of snow there.

Left to right, Aunt Lucy, my mother and father and me in New York at one of the airports.

Aunt Lucy and my mom on the tarmac getting ready to board the T.W.A. Constellation. I fell in love with this plane so my parents bought me a model of it and I played with it on the flight over the Atlantic. Wish I had it now.
Me on my grandfathers (Moms dad) donkey on his farm. Grandpa is on the left. That's Uncle Sam behind me.

                           Uncle Sam and I on the donkey.
                                                 Still on the farm. Mom and me on the left. I don't know who the first woman seated is but the woman standing next to my mother is her mother, my grandmother (duh!). Then there's my fathers sister, Aunt Mary and my Aunt Lucy.
                                                  My other Grandfather and my aunt in the background.
                                                  My other grandfather holding me, my grandmother to his left and my mother to his right. I  don't know who everybody else is.
I found a few pictures of Sicily and though I have been to Rome and I know there are pictures, I don't have them. I think one of my sisters has them.
I have memories of my (dads fathers) grandfather taking me to his farm on the donkey cart. They tell me I spoke fluent Italian when I got home after two months and sometimes would respond in Italian as I was starting first grade. Very nice memories.
After the United States launched it's first satellite, Echo1, into space in 1958 (the Russians beat us by a year) we would go into the street at night and watch it pass overhead. At least that's what we thought we were looking at.
We would get to watch all the space launches in school for which I am grateful. I also remember being in English class in seventh grade when my teacher, Miss Lendorf's intercom buzzed. She went to answer it with her back to us. Suddenly her shoulders slumped. She turned to us with tears in her eyes. President Kennedy had been shot and killed. Any of us who were around back then will remember the next several days and weeks. It was a solemn and sad time. That's all that was on television and I don't think businesses were open for a few days as well. It was an awful memory for anyone who lived through it.
A little more than a month later those of my generation witnessed the emergence of the Beatles. They had an immense effect on those of my generation and all the groups that emerged in their wake. Two years later there was the band Cream. The first super group from which Eric Clapton emerged as a superstar. The man who got me involved with the guitar. Both he and Paul McCartney are still top draws these days. McCartney just played Fenway Park a couple of months ago. He can still draw 40 to 50 thousand people. Not bad for a 70 year old guy.
I remember the Viet Nam War. I sweated out the draft like everyone else my age. George Wallace, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were shot. King and Kennedy were killed.
I graduated high School in 1969 and immediately grew my hair long which wasn't easy when your father was a barber. After about a month I got to watch man walk on the moon right in my own living room.
Then there are the memories of spending time during many summers at my Uncle Sam's cottage on Cape Cod. We could walk to the ocean in about a minute. What wonderful times those were. Sometimes my cousins and I would go to the beach with shopping bags and collect crabs from the rocks. There were so many of them. We'd bring them back and Aunt Lucy would boil them and we had a ball eating them in the back yard.

The 70's were a lot of fun, at least what I can remember of them if you know what I mean. Many concerts during this time though I thought popular music during my generation was at it's peak during the '60s. Some of those groups got me to appreciate a wide range of music from folk, rock, jazz and classical. I also attended the Berklee School of Music. That didn't work out as a career path but I did enjoy my year and a half there. It was my kind of environment.

I remember the oil embargo's of the early and mid 70's. Gas suddenly doubled in price from about 30 cents to 60 cents. The outrage! The long lines at the pumps. Depending on what number your plate number ended with, you could only by gas on odd or even days and you could only buy $2.00 worth.

Then there were the concerts that I attended. I saw some big name acts at the time. Groups like Mountain, Yes, Jethro Tull, The Who, Eric Clapton, The Grateful Dead, ( boring!), a whole bunch of jazz artists who may not be household names and jazz/fusion groups (jazz fused with rock elements). I didn't go to many concerts in the '80s and '90s but I did get lucky in 2005. I got to see Cream when they reunited after 37 years in New York at Madison Square Garden. They had first played in London at The Royal Albert Hall in  London in May. They were so successful that they scheduled 3 more shows in New York City. I got to see my hero's finally after 37 years. They were just as awesome, or as we say around here "wicked awesome". I got to see Eric Clapton again.

And in recent years I discovered the gem of a place in my own back yard, Martha's Vineyard. There's a reason the Obama's and the Clinton's go and or went there. I am heading back on September 16th for a week. I know I've gone on and on about this place but the only word I can come up with to describe this place is maybe, magical. It's just a wonderful place.

Well thanks for slogging through this disjointed blog. I just wrote things as I thought of them. I had no idea what to write as is pretty much always the case. It was fun looking at all the old pictures and I am surprised that I have many memories of the first trip back in 1956. We went back in 1965. There is a photo album of that trip but I'm not sure who has it. I do remember seeing one American car in that little town in Sicily. It was and early '60s Chrysler New Yorker. It was enormous, maybe 18 or 20 feet long, especially when compared to the little Fiats buzzing around the streets. It took up half the little narrow street it was parked on. It looked so out of place but it was neat to see.

Welcome back Beth. You have been missed.

Well I guess I've taken up enough of your time.
I'm outta here.          


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I've got nothing to write about, but I have plenty of it.

Yup. I really have nothing to write about. There's nothing particularly interest going on. There's nothing particularly bad going on. That part is just fine with me. Oh there's my dryer. It's still not repaired. I have finally received a phone call telling me the part that was ordered is in and I have to call back to schedule an appointment. That can only happen on a Monday. This is going to cost over $300.00. I debated just buying a new one. It wouldn't cost all that much more, yet my dyer was brand new in 2007. I guess they really don't build 'em like they used to. My sister is still using my mothers old dryer. It's over 30 years old. Well I guess it's better than having to buy another car.

Continuing with the mundane, last evening I was really bored so I decided to watch television. I have more channels that I ever did and watch less and less of the telly. Now it is shark week on the Discovery Channel and I did watch a program on Monday evening. I checked the channel guide to see what shark program would be on and I noticed that at 10 p.m. on the ABC Family Channel, a channel I have never watched, was a program called The Vineyard. The description didn't sound all that interesting. It sounded like a "continuing drama". I decided to watch just to see how authentic it was concerning location shots. In all fairness I did recognize some locations. I was bound to. At it's widest it's only 15 miles. I've been to a good deal of it in six trips. As far as the show went, it was pretty much what you would expect, beautiful 20 something people on Martha's Vineyard during the summer. The jealousies! The drama! The innocent kiss! 
"Stay away from Hal!"
"What's it to you! You're not going out with him any more !"
"I'm just his friend. I care about him and don't want to see him get hurt! After all you're just a "summer girl" !!!" Ooh! She called her a "summer girl"
And so on and so forth. This is why I don't go down in the summer. They also made a goof and a pretty glaring one. These two "just friends" went to the same beach that I went to, to watch the sunset, while having some boiled lobster and a bit of vino. Well wouldn't you know it they both fall asleep on the beach at sunset and sleep through the night till the next morning at sunrise, 5:30 a.m. If sunset was at about 8 p.m., as it is at this time of year, and it was the first airing of this current program, they were out cold for 9 and a half hours. I guess that's what a vat of wine will do for you. However as they are waking up, they stare at the rising sun, which just 9 and a half hours previous, had just set on the same horizon. That was just a dumb ass mistake. There were more flirtations,  confrontations and best friends turning into rivals over an innocent vat of wine on the beach that is the only place in the world were the sun sets and rises in the same place. On and on it went. A very typical, never ending story. It all finished in classic fashion with the preview of next weeks show beginning with the voice over saying, "Will broken trust lead to revenge?!!!"

On the plus side I did see some locations I've been too including The Black Dog Tavern. It's probably the most famous place on the island. It's where a young James Taylor played before he hit the big time. It was a bit pricey because it's a tourist trap, but in fairness the food was excellent. I had a seafood dinner and there was no doubt the fish was fresh and I know my fish, having sold it for about 25 years. North Atlantic fish anyway.

Apart from all the above, The weather has been picture book perfect the last four days. Low humidity and temps hovering around 8o degrees. Well that's it I've run out of nothing. I'll have me a bit of supper then check in on what's going on in blogger world.
I'm outta here.  
p.s. The jury is deliberating in the Whitey Bulger trial.          

Friday, August 2, 2013

Beth Posted! A stitched together, Frankensteinlike blog.

Well things have finally calmed down some around here. I'm talking personally. Nothing really extreme. Just a lot of stuff. I have managed to get 3 days off in a row. The irony here is that I actually, supposedly, earn enough time off every week, to take just about 8 weeks off a year. That's not too shabby. And that's what I would do, at least until two years ago. I've logged 42 years with this job. The last two years I've only managed two weeks off a year. The last few years have been quite difficult. So this three day stretch was most welcome. Then again I'm still working for which I am grateful. Retirement is not all that far away. I can't wait.

And yes I am going back to a certain island in September. I have not had enough of this place as of yet. I have a vacation scheduled in the middle of September and to tell the truth my focus is on that middle September week. My company is scrambling, trying to re-invent itself. Re-modeling stores and "allegedly" lowering prices. So what happens? My very unaware immediate boss hangs all these "new" signs claiming our new lower priced bacon at $7.99 while never bothering to change the old "higher" price of $6.99. And so it goes week in week out. How do we stay in business?

When we do go back to the "Vineyard", boy does that sound pompous, we will try to take a side trip to the other island Nantucket. Of course that all depends on cost. People have asked me why don't I pick some place else to vacation. Why? I do like the mountains up north but I can't explain the feeling of serenity that both Arlene and I get from going there, in the off season of course. Besides it's a relatively inexpensive vacation and who wouldn't want to be on an island in about 3 hours from your front door. We are fortunate to have such a resource close by.

OK back to reality. So after 3 days off from work, going back stunk. We did have some police action today as they caught a woman stealing. Then just up the road a piece we had some more police action. Police were bringing a prisoner into Massachusetts General Hospital for some kind of treatment in the emergency room when the prisoner went for one of his police escorts guns. One officer was  shot in  the leg and the other officer shot the prisoner in the chest. Massachusetts General is only a mile and a half from where I work. There were news helicopters in the air for several hours. All has calmed down at this point and the officer will be OK. The prisoner is in critical condition. Lucky for him  he decided  to go nuts in an emergency room.

OK it's time to get this puppy published. It's been sitting around for a few days and it's the best I can do.

I'm outta here.