Wednesday, March 25, 2015

INCREDIBLE!!! FANTASTIC!!!...

...aren't words I would use to describe this post. It's been a  busy time 'round these here parts. I have become close with the couple who live upstairs. It's almost like family. Well Joe was going into Boston to see a doctor and while he was waiting for his appointment he began suffering chest pains. To make a long story short, that was last Monday the 16th. He was admitted right away and shortly afterwards had quadruple bypass surgery. As of this writing he is still in the hospital. At this point I am unclear as to how he is doing. I have spoken to his wife but she is quite shaken and that was two days ago. Joe's a good guy, in fact they are both very nice people. I hope all works out well for Joe and Joanna. 

Now on to the annoyance part of our program. Last year I had a little mix up with the car dealership where I bought my car. I won't go into detail except to say what annoyed me most wasn't the fact that there was one repair they couldn't get right, it was the phone messages I would find on three consecutive days. "Hello Mr. (fill in the blank) this is (fill in the blank) dealership. Would you please call us back. It concerns your car."

Now I am not a genius but I figured out right away that when the dealership where I had left my car, calls me, it concerns my car. I don't have to be told that. Just tell me what the concern is like, "I'm sorry sir, the hood mounted machine guns you requested are still out of stock."

Now flash forward to the present. I have been having a problem with one of the wheels on my car. One tire is leaking air and it's not the tire but the wheel it's on. It's not like the old days, you would have a steel wheel then they slapped a hub cap on it. Unless they are damaged in a collision with a curb they can last forever. They aren't pretty but they're pretty durable. Now if you have a chrome plated alloy or aluminum wheels as most cars come equipped with these days, guess what? Not only are they less rugged but they can deteriorate. My wheels were falling apart right in front of my eyes at least visually. A couple of years ago my mechanic had my car up on the lift for a routine oil change and he looked at my wheels and said, "What crappy wheels! The chrome plating is coming off."
And underneath the departed chrome, it was black and ugly.

They were getting very ugly and one of them wouldn't seal properly. The car itself is in very good shape and hasn't given me any problems at all. It has been rock solid for 5 years. So the decision was made. I had to buy 4 new wheels plus two tires. I poked around the internet and found a rather large chain of tire/wheel dealers who also do routine maintenance. I'll try to make this as brief as possible. I went in to the shop two Saturdays ago to shop for the wheels and tires. I buy the wheels and tires and make an appointment for the upcoming Monday at 8 a.m. 8a.m. Monday I show up and they tell me their truck hasn't arrived it will be there at 9:30. I go home, go back. I tell them specifically put the new tires on the front. Then save the wheel from the drivers side rear as it is only a year old, and save the tire, the better of the two old tires, from the right front passenger side so I can have a full sized spare. I don't want the other 3 wheels. This is all typed into the computer and I am given a copy. I wait 2 and a half hours  They tell me my car is all set. Now everybody else's car has been driven back to the front when their done. I can't find it on the lot. Just on an inkling I walk around the building to where the repair bays are, and there it is. I'm not thrilled that they didn't drive it around like the others. I decide to check the trunk for the full sized spare. I see two full sized spares. They are each wrapped with a plastic cover with the company logo on it. I tear into both of them...wait that makes me sound like a maniac. I tore the plastic cover to see if at least they had the right wheel mounted with the right tire.. They didn't. Where are the other wheels then? They were in the back seat. One of which was the only one I wanted to keep in the first place. Then I look at the tires. They were on the back instead of the front.

I'll skip all my grumbling to the management. And the, "We promise to make it right sir!" speech. After that I still had to return in 25 miles to, and I quote, "Have my lug nuts re-torqued." 
They're quite torqued enough, thank you.
I shoulda gone to Sears.

I know, this was kind of a long, drawn out, rambling babble. It's been that kind of week.
That's it. I'm done.

I'm outta here.   



    

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

This, that and the other.

I could really be all over the map with this one. For some reason there is one post I wrote in 2012 that seems to get continuous hits. No comments just hits. I don't know what's so appealing about it or how people find it. I'm not talking any huge numbers considering the number of people are on the internet. And while my the other stats are quite underwhelming in the 2 to 7 range of hits, this particular one gets 100 to 300 hits a day. It's just curious.

I also went through some of the bloggers I have as "friends" only to find these blogs don't even exist anymore. When I weed them out I will have a pathetically small list of friends. Still here you get to say whatever you want. Putting in a little thought to what you say. You aren't just trading one inane sentence after another while walking down the street staring at your little screen with something blasting in your ears as you listen to who knows what and almost walking into live traffic. There are a lot of distracted people out there.

I was looking at my second camera. My favorite one and one that I knocked the shutter button off and further ruined by trying to fix it. It was 8 megapixel camera probably below average by todays standards but I truly know nothing about cameras. So inside the cameras case was a small plastic case with 4 memory cards. I started looking through them. They were vacation pictures from May/June of 2012. You know where. Some of them I had seen and actually posted back then. Others I forgot about. That was the last time I used that camera. The last one I got cost a bit more but it's like carrying a small suitcase and swapping lens for different shots is an annoying pain. I'm a point and shoot guy.

So went through all the pictures again. The ones I never posted aren't all that different from the ones I have. Still I stuck them together in a slideshow including some others from then that I have posted. It always calms me down when I look at those pictures. The advantages of going early or late in the season. It's like you can pretend you live on this island and it's always peaceful with light traffic. Nothing at all like living near or in the city, for a few days anyway. There were also a few video clips. They were taken the same morning of the sunrise. All pictures and videos are of Oak Bluffs.


     The wind has been howling the last 2 days. It's cold. It was cold this morning going to work. We may even get a bit more snow on Saturday morning. Yippee! 

Along the lines of the fly incident last week, Arlene reminded me that a couple of years ago there was another bug incident. It was a warm night and I was over Arlene's house...well I wasn't actually over it, I was in it. It was early evening and Arlene's daughter was going out and she suddenly came running up the stairs. She seemed a bit upset. There was a bug on the screen. I was sent to investigate. There was a moth on the outside of the screen. A flick of the index finger and the moth was sent on it's way. Thus the threat was ended.

Well the dryer is calling me.
I'm outta here.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Friend list on Blogger

I was looking at my friends list. The majority were carryovers from Spaces and a few newer ones since I have been on Blogger. Alas most of my Spaces friends blogged for a bit then just stopped. I'm sure there around on the internet in some way, shape or form but I just blog here and that's it. I have thought about thinning out the herd because for most of these people they haven't been around for over 4 years. It's a shame because I really liked them and had contact with them besides just comments on a blog. I have spoken to many of them.
I don't have a very large list of friends here to begin with and if I delete some of the people my friends list would really look pathetic compared to what I see on other folks blogs. I mean 100, 200, 400 "friends" and I have a pathetic 32. At least it looks pathetic compared to other lists. Then again if everybody on these long lists blogged frequently, perusing blogger would become a full time job. And though I am semi retired and have more time on my hands, I can't see me sitting in front of a computer screen for long stretches of time just reading and commenting. Still I miss some of those people. I had a lot of fun back in the days of Spaces. There was one particular group who seemed to know one another though they were living in Pennsylvania, California, and I think Arizona and Hong Kong. I weaseled my way into that group and I shared many a laugh with them. I spoke to them on the phone and I have to say I really liked them all. And things were much looser then. The language and subject matter was a bit cruder and that was right up my alley. Heather, Angie, Sophie and Raven were great fun and I miss them. This is not to say that the people who do show up on my blog nowadays aren't fun, it was just a different group. Believe me though I don't get 15 or 20 comments like I used to I do appreciate those who do show up here and I certainly don't want to put these folks off.

So here I sit on a rather nice Monday afternoon, though I know I won't finish this blog until tonight or tomorrow or next week, I was just thinking about those people that I got to know back 5 to 7 years ago and wondering what's going on with them now. As I said it's a nice afternoon and there is snow melting going on but we have a long way to go to eliminate a total of 8 feet of snow. Side streets are still narrow but I think the worst of it is the pot holes. These are not holes filled with pot, (marijuana for you who didn't come of age in the late 60's and early 70's. That certainly would make it easier to deal with all this crap. Ah the fun of my youth!) but filled with water. You have no idea how deep they are and in some situations they are deep. I know first hand as I ruined a wheel and a tire on my car, and replacing them was not cheap. Around $600.00.
Still the weather is improving and as of today our trip to Martha's Vineyard has been booked. I informed Arlene a bit earlier and her spirits lifted. Not that she was down in the dumps, but her recent injury really bothered her. Still she is progressing and she is very happy that all is set in stone. I don't know how many more times we will go there. This will be the 10th time since 2010 and we have not tired of this place yet and we are so fortunate to have this available to us not all that far away. Last time was the best. We pulled out of my driveway at 6 A.M. arriving at the pier in Woods Hole Ma. in an hour and 10 minutes. The ferry wasn't booked solid and they asked us if we would like to get on the ferry a bit earlier than our scheduled time. Well DUH! By 9 A.M. we were on the island. How can you beat that? We showed up at the hotel and they said our room wasn't ready yet. 11 A.M. is check in time. We said, "Not a problem!" We  just walked downtown (about a 5 to 10 minute walk depending on how fast we walk) and go for our now traditional breakfast at Linda Jeans! I'd post a picture of the place except that despite the hundreds of pictures I've taken down there I never took one of Linda Jeans. All I  know is  Arlene was quite happy when I told her that we were ready to rock 'n roll. That all reservations were set. I am quite happy as well.

But getting back to what I said at the beginning of this thing, I could easily get rid of a good number of friends as they have not blogged in several years but then I would hate to cut ties with these people who I truly liked. Then again in the grand scheme of things these are truly tiny, superficial things. I am grateful for the folks who do show up here.

At this point I have to say It's been almost a week since I started this entry. It's now Sunday March 15. It's almost like a diary. Dear diary today I remembered that I had started a blog almost a week ago. In the meantime I have worked for three days and have four days off. Not bad. Today is St. Patrick's Day. My sister is making corned beef and cabbage and she invited Arlene and I for dinner. My brother in law is Irish, my sisters and myself are Italian and Arlene is half and half. Later on I will go out for a few pops with my friend Dave who is full Irish. Last night I was at Arlene's She told me she had some photos on her camera but didn't know how to get them off. There were some pictures of her daughter and some pictures from the Vineyard that we both took and some of Boston from a harbor tour we took three years ago.


Sunset at Oak Bluffs




This is sunset about a ten minute walk around the corner from the above beach. This was our view as we went to dinner.

 


 Well that wraps up this long winded, long time coming blog. I'm off to be Irish for a day.

I'm outta here.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

We're having a heat wave...

So it's finally warming up. Of course "warming up" is a relative term. As I write this on a Saturday morning it 22 degrees and it will rise to the low to mid 30's. Not yet time to break out the sunscreen though. We only needed 2 inches of snow to break our all time winter season record. Personally I was rooting for it to happen. What's 2 more inches when you already have 8 feet on the ground? What made this winter exceptional was that December and January were warmer than average. Once again the term "warmer" is a relative term. From December 2014 to January 15, 2015 we had about 30 inches of snow. No big deal really, maybe average. I'm no weather person but it was the winter and we do get snow in the winter. It was February that was crunch time. About 6 feet of snow in 3 weeks. The street surfaces themselves are clear of snow but parking is still at a premium. If you can park in a driveway, like I am, you are lucky. If you park on the street you shoveled out your space, many times, and you guard it fiercely. I certainly understand this. I have done this in the past. You have to. If you don't save it someone will take it and you're left to search out a place to leave your car. People leave all kinds of space savers in their space. Lawn chairs, cheap plastic chairs, little tables. There's a person on my street who has a small wooden table with 3 legs. The thinking is that if it gets nicked it's no big deal. It's the space itself that is important. For me the worst part of this is coming to the end of a street and having to make a turn. During the day it's worse. At least at night you can see headlights coming. You get to the end of a street and there are 10 foot piles of snow on each corner. You have inch out slowly and pray there isn't a maniac coming. We have our fair share of maniacs. That for me is the worst part of this whole winter. Arlene has had it much harder than I. She slipped on some ice, and though she caught herself on her car door and didn't hit the ground, she pulled muscles in her leg right up to her butt. She said she's had it with this winter. I can't blame her. This has been a tough one. I have been trying to placate her with thoughts of vacation in about 2 months, with scenes of beautiful sunsets like the one in my header picture and below.
I was at Arlene's house (conveniently next door) on Saturday  evening and her spirits were brightening. I had to chuckle when one of her daughters freaked out when a fly, a common house fly, appeared in her bedroom. She is such a girly girl, not that there's anything wrong with that, and she started getting all upset. Arlene and I started chuckling and I tried to calm her and said, "Relax it's just a fly! It's a sign of the changing weather. The first fly of Spring!" I grant you not the most pleasant sign, but a sign. Arlene laughed, Allison didn't.
"Oooo! Get it out of there! How did it get in?"
"Perhaps it had a copy of the house key made." I offered. She didn't find it funny but Arlene chuckled.
We didn't have a fly swatter or a rolled up newspaper handy. My weapon? Hair spray. After a few shots of hair spray, the fly's hair set with the drying setting in, it tried to land on the wall and slid to the floor behind the bed. I moved the bed from the wall, not knowing that Bruno, their dog, was sleeping under the bed. He let us know he was there by growling. I had apparently disturbed his slumber. One of his main jobs as their pet. Nice work if you can get it.
"Flush it down the toilet!" she ordered. She didn't want some mad scientist to come along and bring it back to life. Frankenfly!
Anyway, apart from huge piles of snow and no snow for at least a week. We do have warming temperatures coming our way in the upcoming week. Arlene's ready to move, at least in fantasy land, but in reality that's not going to happen. When you're a kid snow is a fantastic thing. No school, sledding, snowball fights, snow forts and generally just a lot of fun. When your an adult, not so much though I wouldn't mind going sledding even at my age. I will never completely grow up. Where's the fun in that? I suppose if I were rich I would have a winter home someplace warmer but I could never leave here for good. This is my home. Born and raised here. It's a small, crowded area and despite the problems, I love it. We have some much available to us in a relatively small area. I would consider moving north to New Hampshire. The snow wouldn't go away but they deal with it much better up there because there are more people in downtown Boston during the day then there are in the entire state of New Hampshire. Plus it is a beautiful place.
Alrighty then it's time to get my act together. We will be going out in a few hours, maybe some lunch and to do a little shopping for some odds and ends. It's sunny today and the temperature is a toasty 38 in the back yard. I'm not sure what it is out front. Arlene is feeling better and that makes me feel good. And the fly episode still makes us chuckle. That's it for this installment of nonsense...
I'm outta here.




Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Nostalgia. Emotions. The 60's and The Beatles

I came across this on YouTube. It's from a 2002 concert. It's from one of the giants in music from my generation. Paul McCartney. Perhaps THE GIANT from my generation. I am just speaking personally here. If you are from my generation (baby boomers) you and I were privileged to see and hear the flowering of popular music. Our parents didn't get it or us because we were lucky to grow up during a time when this country was flourishing and just zoomed past everybody else in  almost every respect. Now don't get me wrong not everything was peace and love, in fact not much really was. We were the first generation that was enjoying post World War II prosperity and there were a lot of us and we had some money to spend. Yeah we must have seemed really strange to our parents in many respect and we were also na├»ve. On the other hand it was heady times. We still have the same problems now as we had then. Only the names have changed. There was the war in Viet Nam, race riots, shady politicians, greedy business men, well you know what I mean. The Beatles happened and we all went nuts over them and they sparked a great reawakening in popular music. Of course there was plenty of crap music as well but the Beatles were special and you know what? They still are. Nobody will ever touch them for the song output. From 1964 (here in the States) until 1970 they just cranked out one great song after another. They were quite foreign to our parents generation, especially with their long hair. This now is quite laughable. Hair is just hair nothing more nothing less. I wish I had as much hair now as I did then. Yeah some of the clothes and ideas were pretty wild and a departure from the previous generation. They also got me interested in the guitar which at first could be seen as a trendy thing but I was and still am musically inclined. I had taken piano lessons and was mildly interested in it. Then a couple of years later when I heard Eric Clapton with my other favorite band Cream (Which meant cream of the crop and musician wise they were.), I was truly smitten with six strings. 

I, by no means, am making fun of the previous generation. They were called the greatest generation for a reason, they were! All you have to do is watch films of the D-Day beach landings and watch some of those brave men who were cut down before the even made it to the shore! All the training they went through to fight in the war and their lives ended in the first few minutes. I have the ultimate respect for them. Still as Bob Dylan said back then, "The times they are a changin'." For good and bad. We in my generation saw some spectacular things and some horrifying things.

When the Beatles were first seen on American Television was  the Jack Parr Show, but things really got rolling when they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9 1964. None of us will ever forget the impact that they had on an entire generation. They were different and quite refreshing and a real mystery to our parents. Mr. Sullivan knew that there was something special about them. Thanks Ed! And lets not forget that this was just a couple of months after President Kennedy was assassinated. The country was still trying to recover from this senseless act. We got to watch on live television as his alleged killer was shot and killed as he was being transported from the Dallas jail. A few years later we had Martin Luther King assassinated, then Robert Kennedy. The Sixties were very turbulent times. If you are old enough, who could forget The Cuban Missile Crisis? Talk about scary! Russia trying to put nuclear missiles 90 miles from our shores and Kennedy sending the Navy to blockade them. A major international game of chicken. Who knows how close we came to Nuclear war. Of course we had missiles in West Germany pointed at them. We also got to watch the moon walk on live television. That's pretty incredible! But back to the music. I remember Ed Sullivan telling them on their 3rd and final appearance (I think) in 1964 that Richard Rogers of Rodgers and Hammerstein had sent a wire saying he was a big fan of their music. Even though it was still boy/girl teenage stuff he recognized their innate ability for melody. He knew there was something special about them. The quickly matured lyrically as well. 

I remember my friends grandson saying that we (my generation) were lucky. We had the Beatles. Yes we were! I never have stopped listening to them. They are special.
Here's the first song we got to hear in 1964.
And here is the video I mentioned at the beginning.  While watching this I could feel a swell of emotion inside which is what prompted this post. Check out the man at the 1:17 point. He is overcome with emotion. In a later interview he stated that this was he and his wife's song. She had recently passed away from cancer.
And look at the spread of ages of the people enjoying and singing the song. Kids of 10 or 11 to people in their 50's. Their music is timeless and universal. Here's my personal favorite. It speaks of the past and present. It is beautiful in melody and lyric.
    Well it's quite late or very early depending how you look at it. I just wasn't very sleepy tonight or maybe that should be last night. In any event, it's time to go back to bed.

I'm outta here.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sad times for two of my blogging friends.

There have been two very recent passing's in the families of two of my blogging friends. This does not include the passing of Nancy's husband not too long ago. As I mentioned in my previous post I too have been reflecting upon the past and those in my family that have gone before. Then there was the Boston Marathon bombings a couple of years ago. Little did I know what happened as I drove home from work that day. Little did I know that one of the people killed lived around the corner from me. As I entered my neighborhood I saw television vans parked all along the street about a two minute walk to my house. 





Then as I arrived home and eventually spoke to Arlene I come to find out that Krystle Campbell was a contemporary of Arlene's twin daughters. They went to school together. They played together at each others homes. They grew up together. They were friends. It affected Arlene and her family greatly and by extension it affected me. And as the marathon approaches we all think about it again.

Krystle's funeral.




City hall that day.

What brings this all up again? Today Arlene told me that the city is planning a memorial park to Krystle. She get's all her information through her daughter who runs the city's website along with her own website with local news. She is one very capable young lady having graduated from Tufts University and is in the process of finishing up graduate school at Harvard. No too shabby.

Well you'll never guess what's happening as I write this. Or maybe you will... it's snowing. Then it will snow again in a couple of days. Then it will turn to rain and the temperature will in the 40's on Thursday. Sure some of the snow will disappear but then we will have mucho water to deal with. Still I think it will alleviate the driving and parking problems we have been all dealing with. I know this winter has affected Arlene more than it has affected me. However at this point she has good reason to feel that way. A couple of days ago she slipped on some ice in the driveway and though she manage not to hit the ground by grabbing the door of her car. However she strained muscles in her upper leg and, well, her left butt cheek. This morning she called and asked if I would take her to have it looked at. Though she knew it was not a real serious injury it's still very painful. I took her to the local hospital which has a prompt care facility. The initial incident did not brighten her spirits concerning this less than fun winter she felt better after being seen. Her prescription? Frozen peas. Yup sit on a bag of frozen peas. Still she was in a better mood afterwards and we went to the local Whole Foods because it's close and my company closed the local location a year ago. It was quite convenient, location wise for us and it was the store we met in 20 years ago. Convenience is not what my company does well. It used to 20 years ago when we were the top dog in the Boston area but a series of greedy stupid owners ruined our reputation and nearly killed the company. It likes to complicate the food buying process by using online coupons and other various schemes to complicate the food buying process while trying to sell it as "making it easier". Yeah right. Anyway I was impressed with Whole Foods. They offered a no frills shopping trip with none of the nonsense of going online to take a survey tell the company "How are we doing?" Some 20 or 30 something might be willing to do this but somebody at my age or older will tell them how they're doing by either shopping there or going someplace else. Whole food does it right. No hoops to jump through. The item costs this much you bring it to the register. No loyalty card, no asking you to take a survey. You pay, they bag your groceries and you're done. But enough of my little rant. 

Arlene being in a better mood suggested we go somewhere and maybe have some coffee. I in turn suggested we go to our favorite local restaurant and get something to eat as it was now around lunch time. I had wanted to go for the last couple of weeks but she was down in the dumps. Feeling better she agreed and we had a very simple lunch consisting of an appetizer for two with grilled asparagus, spinach and some other greens, marinated eggplant, caponata, fresh mozzarella, kalamata olives and prosciutto. Then a white pizza with again prosciutto, roasted peppers and more fresh mozzarella. Simple but delicious. Later on I called Arlene to see how she was doing and to ask if she had any peas for a dish I was preparing. She chuckled. She's feeling better. She also has the next 4 days off. Doctors orders. She has been overworked. She retired from full time work for that reason and they are taking advantage of her working for far less money. She finally stood up for herself.

Hey have you heard about the local Massachusetts guy who started a business online selling snow? 6 pounds for $89. Such a deal! He obviously has plenty of stock and he's doing well. Oh yeah a sucker IS born every minute.
 Ok it's time to play some guitar.

I'm outta here.