Saturday, October 21, 2017

Procrastination

Me at Pat's countertop in his fabulous new condo in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


Folks!  

I'm here!

I really am!

Oh my, so much going on in my "retired" world. 

Just this morning I finished updating and mailing the minutes of our homeowners' association board committee meeting.  Yes, I HAVE been roped into the position as (acting) secretary. I hardly have enough time to do all my other activities and yet here I am, SECRETARY to our homeowners' association. A subject worthy of several blog posts, which you know I WILL do.

"Marie", one of my faithful blog followers left a comment about seeing enough of that Harvey Weinstein photo I left for you all to see for days on my last blog post.  For that I do apologize folks.  That wasn't my intention. With this blog post that offensive image of Harvey the Pig will go away.

Marie and others have asked for more blog posts about my Canadian vacation of which I fully intend to oblige. I have many photos and videos to share.  What's holding me back though besides procrastination is that I was going to use You Tube's Video Editor, but they discontinued it!  Now I have to use iMovie on my iMac and that's another whole time consuming activity what I have been procrastinating getting into.  But, I will.

Last Sunday Bill and I made the two and a half hour drive to Pennsylvania to attend my 58th high school class reunion.  More photos and videos taken there too folks of which I intend to share, hopefully after I make some cool video collages in iMovie.  By the way, this was my first class reunion that Bill attended with me.  For about forty years I've been asking him to go with me to my high school class reunions and he finally does when he's 89 years old.  My classmates think I took up with an OLD MAN.  Thanks Bill (smile).

Bill (center) at my class reunion with two of my classmates.

So folks, that's where I am now. Still trying to get my act together and wondering where all the hours go in a day.  And to think I used to work full-time and do so much in addition to my work and commute time.  How did I ever do that? Maybe because I didn't take daily two hour afternoon naps like I just did today.  

Have a great day!!!

Note: the header photo on this blog I took of the lobby of the Royal Connaught Hotel in downtown Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. That is Pat in the green T-shirt soaking in the luxuriousness of the lobby. Some lobby Pat!


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Harvey Weinstein

Harvey Weinstein 

Many years ago I used to always watch the Oscars Awards show. One of the reasons I stopped watching the Oscars because I was tired of hearing almost every Oscar winner thanking Harvey Weinstein. 

After multiple thanks to Harvey Weinstein, I thought "Who is this Harvey Weinstein?"  "Is he some god?"  Then I heard Meryl Streep thank Harvey Weinstein and yes, she called him a god.

Being the inquiring person that I am, I did some research on this "god."  I did a Google search and came upon an image of Harvey Weinstein. I thought to myself "Now there is a stereotypical Hollywood mogul who probably requires a casting couch approach to casting his films."  But being the thoughtful and reasonable person that I am (no laughing), I didn't want to be unfair and make a rash judgement.

Over the years the accolades continued for Harvey Weinstein. WTF?  Ron Howard is a great director and I didn't hear near the amount of accolades his way.  Why all this adulation to Harvey Weinstein?

After a while I wasn't the only on who noticed the excessive "thank you Harvey Weinstein" accolades. In even posted to my Twitter account several times about all the "thank you Harvey Weinstein"as a joke.

Now it has been revealed that Harvey Weinstein is a sexual predator. He used his position of power and influence to take advantage of women who had much less power than him. Harvey Weinstein was who I thought he was, a pig.  

Of course I am disgusted by Harvey Weinstein and his actions but I am even more disgusted by those in the entertainment industry who know about his behavior and not doing anything about it. And I'm not talking about the women he assaulted and harassed. I understand why they didn't and couldn't come forward when they were harassed and assaulted. They didn't have the power. But there are those in the entertainment industry who are in power who knowingly looked the other way. 

You can't tell me that many didn't know of Weinstein's behavior. Especially those in the Weinstein company who enabled him by settling with at least eight women who Weinstein harassed and assaulted. 

I commend the courage of the actresses Rose McGowan and Ashley Judd who were courageous and went public with their experience with Weinstein. Now that they have broken the dam, many more women went public with their encounters with Weinstein.  What is disappointing is the silence of males in the movie industry. Have you noticed that too?  

Here is my suggestion for these movie types. At the next Academy Awards ceremony, leave all those ribbons de jour that you wear on your lapel home.  Leave all that phony baloney hypocritical displays of concern home.  When you are up at the podium accepting your Academy award, congratulating yourselves, apologize to the world for enabling this pig called Harvey Weinstein.  You should all be ashamed of yourselves for permitting this behavior to continue for so many years.  Show the same outrage at Weinstein's behavior that you should towards those other pigs Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly.  

And thank God we won't ever have to hear another 
"I want to thank Harvey Weinstein without this award would not have been possible." 

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Canadian Holiday 2017 Part One






Me at Pat take our seats early at the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra 

Okay folks, I'm going to share some of the events I participated in during my recent Canadian holiday.  One of my blog followers reminded me that I haven't said much about my Canadian holiday. Here goes!

This is the third year I've visited my friend Pat F. in Canada. The past two years I visited Pat at his home in Toronto. However, this year I visited Pat in his new home in Hamilton. 

Pat sold his home in Toronto and purchased a sparkling, brand new condo at the renovated Royal Connaught Hotel in downtown Hamilton, Ontario. A former steel town of 500,000 or so souls that fell on hard times but is now undergoing a rebirth as a millennial destination of Canadians fed up with the congestion and expense of Toronto. 

I've already mentioned in previous blog posts of my difficulty in going through customs at the Toronto airport.  I won't belabor that extreme frustration other than to say I'll never put my body at the Toronto airport again in my lifetime.

And I've already mentioned that Pat's condo was a hotbox, with air conditioning that wasn't working properly.  I couldn't stand the heat so I got a hotel room instead at the Sheraton hotel a few blocks away from Pat's residence. That's another whole store that I haven't delved into all the way either but I might in future blog posts when I feel like venting.

Usually on our trips we don't plan anything special other than to dine at new restaurants, visit furniture stores, see some movies and play some Scrabble. However, this trip Pat planned two special events. One was to take me to a professional football game. That he did and it was fabulous!  I will post about that experience in a future post. 

The other event was a listening to a symphony orchestra in person. Something which I have never done in my 75 years of occupying space on this planet.  Pat took care of that omission by getting two tickets for us to attend the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra. 

I've always loved symphonies. Not opera but symphonies. I especially love Russian composers. And what luck that the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra was celebrating Russian composers the week I was visiting Pat. 

Rimsky-Korsakov
Stravinsky
Borodin
Tchaikovsky.  

Wow. Music just doesn't get any better than this.

So how did I like hearing this music in person?  I LOVE IT!  In fact I loved it so much I have brought two tickets for the Philadelphia Orchestra for me and Pat when he visits me next month in Philadelphia. I'm going to do it again!  

I've included a few videos of our attendance at the concert.  I didn't take any videos of the actual music playing because I wasn't sure of the protocol of videotaping the actual concert, even if it was a few seconds.  The only videos I took was of us taking out seats, the tune up and the end, when the encores took place.  I didn't want to be rude and actually take videos of the thrilling music itself. Now I wish I had.  Can't help myself.  

Thanks Pat for this new experience. 

Pat dressed for the concert - still got those sandals!

I'm so happy we found each other and can enjoy these experiences.  I've always said it's never to late to experience new joys.  


Saturday, October 07, 2017

Thoughts On A Warm Autumn Day



Another unseasonalbly warm day here in southern Delaware. 

I have bulbs to plant, debris to clean and fresh air to breath. But I cannot do it with these 80 to 90 degree temperatures. 

Fall is probably my favorite time of year. Probably because that's when my birthday falls (no pun intended).  Yes folks, I will be 76 years old in just a few short weeks.  And I ask myself, why am I still alive?

Thursday night at work I was talking to one of our regular guests about life, and death.  This is one of the many things I like about my hotel job. I meet a lot of people, some of which I have made lasting friendships. They are the guests who return year after year. And since I've been at the hotel going on eleven years now, I've made quite a few friends. 

This guest, his wife died a few years ago. I asked him how he was doing. He's a few years older than I. He said he sold his home and moved into a retirement community. I discuss these things with others who are my age and in similar circumstances. Bill just turned 89 years old. Odds are that I will survive him. What will I do?

Will I continue to live in this 5,268 square foot home with four bedrooms and four bathrooms and an acre of lawn to maintain?  Do I want to rattle around in this house . . . . alone? Yet I can't imagine living with anyone other than Bill. God, it took me so long to train him and I'm still working on it.  

While visiting Pat in Hamilton (Canada) a few weeks ago, I took in his new living arrangements.  He now lives in downtown Hamilton in a condo of a renovated luxury hotel.  His condo is small but has everything one (a single older man) could ask. I could see myself living like that.  Of course I would have to get rid of a massive amount of THINGS I have accumulated over my past seventy-five years. Hard to do but not impossible. Yes, I could see myself living that downsized lifestyle.  But could I afford the monthly maintenance charge?  That's the catch folks, when you get older there's always a catch.  I doubt if I could afford those monthly maintenance charges.

I'm used to a lifestyle now that I can afford by working part-time to supplement my income and Bill's retirement income. Once both of those sources of income are gone, my lifestyle would probably have to undergo some radical changes. 

For most of my life I've been poor. No exaggeration, I've been poor. There have been two short periods that I enjoyed a comfortable standard of living but never anything luxurious by any means. One period was when I left one bank where I worked and was collecting severance pay while working at another bank. Another period has been the past few years in which I inherited a small amount of money from my Mother's estate in which I was able to pay off our mortgage. During these periods I have often thought "So this is how the other Half lives?"  Nice!

But no complaints here, no recriminations or "what ifs?"  I've had a good life.  I've been luckier than most. I'm way past my sell by date. However, I do have to think of the next (final) chapter of this life adventure than began at 9:30 AM on a November Sunday morning in West Chester, Pennsylvania. As I discussed with the guest at our hotel, I'm not afraid of dying, just concerned (as was he) of how I'm going to get there. 

In the past few years I've seen the long, protracted and humiliating deaths of two of my very close friends.  Friends who I have discussed this very subject with.  They didn't want to go "that way" and yet they did. 

I don't know how I'm going to depart this earth but one thing I know for sure. I have another trip coming up at the end of next month. A trip to my old home town of Philadelphia.  I will be reunited with my friend Pat.  Pat has also fallen in love with Philadelphia. I've already secured the tickets to attend our first Philadelphia Orchestra Symphony. Prime seats folks. At this time of my life, it's all prime seats.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Yet Another Mass Shooting



The past week I've been resting up, recovering from my stressful ten days in Canada. From my nightmarish Toronto airport ordeal to trying to avoid the heat and humidity of late summer Canada, I'm trying to gather my good memories to post to my blog.  But first I had to return to work at the hotel which further delayed my sharing of my Canadian vacation experience. Not only did I work my regular shift on Thursday evening but I had to fill in for my co-worker on Saturday during the day shift. And just my luck, this Saturday the hotel was the site of a major wedding. And you know how I LOVE weddings at the hotel.  This was a same sex wedding (two guys), thus not as stressful as the straight weddings where the mothers of the groom and/or bride drive everyone up the wall with their demands and changes.

Just when I was getting settled down comes across the news of another mass murder shooting.  This one in Los Vegas, Nevada where a lone gunman kills 59 people and injures 527 people who innocently attending a county music event in the street outside the shooter's hotel room at the Mandalay Bay hotel. The murderer used a machine gun to kill and maim all those people. I thought machine guns were against the law. 

I have to tell you folks, I am just deflated. What kind of society do we live in? Why are we the only major industrial country that lets so many of its citizens accumulate such an arsenal of weapons? Sure, I can see hunters having weapons. I can understand individuals owning guns to protect themselves in their homes. But why in God's name (and I'm not religious) does this country not outlaw semi-automatic and automatic weapons whose only purpose is to kill people?  Are those who accumulate all these weapons in their homes really afraid that someday the government forces are going to come for them?  Where are our politicians who have their pockets stuffed with political donations from the NRA who are silent every time there is a mass murder like happen in Los Vegas with semi-automatic and automatic weapons?  Is their office worth more than all those lives that are lost and those who are wounded and have their lives changed forever?

I heard on the news last night that some of those young concert goers who were wounded are permanently paralyzed. One girl survived a bullet through her eye that is now lodged in her brain. She survived. But did she?

I am disheartened folks. I'm tired. I'm exhausted. Exhausted by the ignorant and cruel man who poses as our president. Our fake president.  

"Thoughts and prayers" are offered by many including the politicians who will do NOTHING. "Thoughts and prayers" aren't going to bring back those who died or make those who were wounded better. The time for thoughts and prayers are over. The time is to finally do something, ANYTHING, which will make the ownership of semi-automatic weapons illegal for everyone except the police and military.  

The time is NOW.


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Back Home From Canadian Holiday


Miss me? 

Monday I arrived back home from my ten-day annual holiday in Canada. 

You're probably wondering why I haven't written.  I have a very good reason, I was EXHAUSTED.

I have so much to tell about my time in Canada but on this blog I'm going to vent about the Pearson Airport in Toronto.



In years past I have taken a flight to Buffalo, which is right over the border from Canada.  I took the flight to Buffalo because the rate was significantly less expensive than flying directly into Toronto and Pearson Airport. Pat would then pick me up at the Buffalo airport and drive me back to his then home in Toronto, a two hour drive.  I've always felt a guilty about having Pat make that two hour drive each way. So this year when I checked the flights, I found that the price for a flight to Toronto (Pearson) was significantly less than in years past. 

I made my flight reservations to go directly into Pearson Airpot in Toronto. Little did I know I made a HUGE mistake.  

First, Pat no longer lives in Toronto but now lives in his fabulous brand new condo in downtown Hamilton. Hamilton is forty miles closer to Buffalo. Toronto is almost as far the other way.  So that "advantage" was no longer applicable. I didn't shorten Pat's trip to pick me up.  

Another big problem, I would now have to go through customs in Toronto. In the past when Pat picked me up in Buffalo, all I had to do was show my passport at the border crossing guard. However, when one flies directly into Toronto, you have to fill out a customs disclosure form in Philadelphia. Then when you arrived in Toronto you have to go through the maze (three times) that is customs. And all VERY CONFUSING.  Did I say confusing?  CONFUSING!

 


Plus there was the problem of Pat getting to Pearson Airport. Buffalo is easy. Pearson is a nightmare of spaghetti roads.  CONFUSING!

Now that was just coming into Toronto. Going out on Monday was even worse if that was possible. 

Pat and I decided to take a bus to the airport. We left Hamilton in plenty of time but were still delayed because there was a motorcycle accident (which included a fatality) on the road leading to the airport. 

When we finally arrived at the airport we couldn't find the terminal where I was to get my plane. Pat asked another fellow passenger on the elevator where our terminal was.  He directed us to a terminal.  We were so appreciative until we realized it was the WRONG 
!




We asked on of those Visitor Attendants where our terminal was.  Yes, I was going to America.  He walked us for what seemed like two miles to another terminal.  Up escalators, down escalators until Pat and I were separated by security. I again had to go through the maze of security, THREE TIMES!  This time I had to take off my shoes and belt, something which I didn't have to do in Philly because I'm and Old Man (75 and over).  




I load up the bins to go through the conveyor belt and step into the X-ray machines which visually strips me naked.  

I asked to empty everything in my pockets. I thought I did. Oh, I forgot that used tissue. 




I stepped into the stripper X-ray machine again, trying to keep my shorts from falling sans belt. 

Again I was asked to empty my pockets.  Oops! I had disposable gloves from my time with Pat from our daily litter patrol in Gore Park. 

I step into the stripper X-ray machine again. 

"Step out and empty your pockets!"  

I step out and am asked if I would mind being patted down.  Why not?  They've already seen me naked.  Lower the lights and put on the soft background music and pat me down. 

I get patted down and pass . . . . finally! Of course they found nothing in my pockets. It's at this time I wonder what they do when someone is wearing a cock ring. 

Now it was time to put my passport in the automated machine to pass the next phase of security. Of course I put it in upside down. Then before I knew it my picture was already taken.  I needed this voucher with my photo on it to pass the next phase of security. 




Did I mention that going through Security at Pearson was a NIGHTMARE?  

I finally get through security, belt on, shoes on and ask where the American Airlines terminal is.  I am directed to a stairwell that descends to the ground level.  What? Americans don't get to wait in the Big Room to see the airplanes coming in and going out?  Apparently not.

As I descend the stairs I hear a man over the loudspeaker paging "Mr. Tipton and Mr. Kahn, report to the front desk."  

Oh My God!  Am I not done yet?  And what's with  this "Mr. Kahn?"  That's sounds like a terrorist to me.

I "report" to the front desk and apparently I am LATE.  The plane has already loaded and they were waiting for me!  

I rush out onto the hot tarmac.  Oh, did I mentioned the WHOLE time I was in Canada I experienced a heat wave EVERY DAY. My departure day was no different.

Picture me hobbling across the sun baked tarmac to the stairwell to the plane.  

I get on and of course my overhead bin is full.  Of course.  I load my luggage three seats down the aisle and I squeeze in my tiny window seat.  Just my luck I have a big guy on the aisle sharing my space. Not his fault but at least he didn't stink like my last time I was on this plane back to Philly.

Thank goodness the flight back to Philly was only an hour in length. Airline travel on these little planes is not comfortable folks, even though I pay extra for "extra leg room" which really isn't.

This time back to Philly my flight wasn't delayed like it was the last two times.  In fact I got back before my ride.  

What a relief to get back to a decent airport, Philadelphia International.  

As in all my trips I learn.  I learned a lot from this trip but the main thing I learned is that NEVER AGAIN will I fly directly into Toronto and Pearson.  The absolute worst nightmare I have ever had in an airport. THE WORST.  

Other than the Pearson Airport Nightmare, how was your Canadian holiday?  Fabulous, just fabulous!  It was a shame that my experience at Pearson had to happen. 

Here's a message to Toronto, if you want to establish yourself as a world class city, straighten out that airport. It is a disaster.  

Speaking of which, notice how my video sequence it confusing?  That was Pearson Airport at Toronto. Never again folks, never again.



Wednesday, September 13, 2017

On TV Again

"Josh" from the News Journal video taping me this morning on our back deck (it was raining)

Well folks, after two tries I didn't make it upstage on "The Price is Right" but for the second time in four years I've been interviewed by a TV reporter. That happened this morning at my home.  

Last week I was contacted by a reporter for the New Journal (Wilmington, DE) re neighborhood opposition to the Highway One Concerts.  

Bill and I live in a development directly across from a venue called Hudson Fields. We have lived her eleven years now.  Occasionally, mostly during the summer events are held in Hudson Fields.  Mostly soccer matches accompanied by an announcer shouting over the microphone, revving up the crowd. That never bothered me. To me that was summertime activity.  Sure, there was noise but people were enjoying themselves and it wasn't really that loud.  Hudson Fields also sponsored at times food trucks accompanied by music. Again, never bothered me.  Sure, there was music, sometimes loud but never really THAT loud. At it only lasted during a few hours in the afternoon.

Then came this summer.  The owner of Hudson Fields decided, without consultation from any of the folks living in the nearby neighborhoods, to throw a couple of rock concerts.  That's right folks, ROCK CONCERTS.  Yep, with the gigantic stage, flood lights and BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! speakers.

Highway One Concerts Hudson Fields Milton DE
(want one of these in your backyard?)

At first I thought when I heard the band start their sound checks at 2 in the afternoon "Oh, now that's different."  Again, just more activity at the venue across the street that didn't unduly concern me. However when the band started to play about four in the afternoon and continue through 10 pm at night, I thought "Well, that's a little much."  Again, I didn't do anything about it. 

Then a week or so later there was another concert. Again, the sound checks for a couple hours in the afternoon then the concert itself which continued into the summertime darkness.  And yes, traffic was tied up outside our little development because the police restricted everything to one lane for the concert goers ingress and egress.  

Then about a week later, ANOTHER concert.  Now by this time I was getting tired of hours of "BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!"  Uh, I thought I moved to southern Delaware in this nice new neighborhood for peace and quiet. Apparently the owner of Hudson Fields has decided to put his business first before the interests of the surrounding neighborhoods and book concerts. Oh for sure, some of my neighbors like the concerts, especially the ones who lived farther away from the actual concert but here in my development, we're right in the line of fire.

Others were concern and wrote about in  our local NextDoor app.  Some wrote letters to the editor of the local newspaper.  Believe it or not they stopped the concerts.  I don't know if it was the result of some of our neighbors complaining or they just didn't have enough ticket sales (as was claimed for the Christian rock concert that was cancelled).  




Two weeks ago the owner the Hudson Fields was quoted in the newspaper that he was "confused" as to why his Highway One Concerts were disturbing anyone.  He said that back in the Eighties he had a Beach Boys concert that thousands attended and no one complained.  Also that the original Punkin Chunkin was held in his venue and no one complained.  I wrote a letter to the editor to clear up his confusion. Back in the Eighties there was a horse meadow where our development is now.  


THERE WERE NO DEVELOPMENTS HERE IN THE EIGHTIES


This morning I was told there were originally TEN concerts scheduled for this summer.  I was aghast. I said "Could you imagine if I hired a band and had TEN events in my backyard during the summer? Do you think the neighbors would complain?"  Of course they would. I wouldn't get away with it.  It seems that the owner of Hudson Fields feels he is entitled to do whatever he wants for his business.  He claims he is "contributing to the local economy."  How's that? By collecting a fee from the concert goers and paying the bands and keeping the difference as a business profit for yourself and your family?  What?  At my expense of not living in a peaceful and quiet neighborhood?  Oh sure, perhaps he pays a few locals minimum wage to pass out hot dogs and may a few food vendors.  Give me a break.  He's doing this for his bottom line with a total disregard for the neighbors he is bothering.




I also heard another quote this morning from the owner of that venue.  He said "Why should a few complainers have an impact on my business?" Talk about myopic vision. Some businessman. Total disregard for his fellow citizens, it's all about him. No wonder he was always putting up those right wing signs on the billboard in front of his office that assaulted everyone with his "message."  

At the interview this morning I made the point as well as my neighbor Howard made the same point, we both like music and don't mind some events being held in that field across from us but not for nine hours straight with the "BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!"  

I have to tell you folks, I am a bit surprised that my complaints had an effect, however temporary.  I know the owner of the Hudson fields (his name is "Hudson" by the way, Christian Hudson) has was more political clout that I do but this is a free country and I can express my opinion, positive or negative.  

Tomorrow I'm off to Canada for a ten day sojourn to visit my friend Pat in his new digs in Hamilton. Guess what we're going to do almost every day, listen to street bands.  Yep, Pat plays in a band. 


Yep, that's Pat and his band back in the Eighties - Pat is in the middle with his hand to his chin (what? You didn't recognize him?)

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Medical Bills



Last night when I came in from work at the hotel, I always dread seeing what came in the mail.  Bill's medical emergency was last November. Ever since then we've been bombarded (an exaggeration but that's what it feels like) with medical bills for literally thousands of dollars. Seriously, the cost of his emergency (hemorrhaged ulcers) are now approaching $25,000.  

Bill receives his care from the VA (Veterans' Administration.)  We've been lucky because Bill has been very healthy for his eighty-nine years on this earth.  Healthier than I have been for sure. But last year his luck started to run out when I found him almost unconscious at the bottom of the stairs to the basement, vomiting blood. When I saw Bill on the floor, moaning in pain I knew our luck had run out.  Thus we triggered the medical billing nightmare that all of us fear in our old age.

Through a lot of phone calls and research I was able to get Bill into the VA's new Choice program which provides medical coverage for veterans who are too far away from the nearest VA medical facility (we're 90 miles from the Wilmington VA). And when I say a lot of phone calls I mean a LOT.  What a maze one has to go through but I will say one thing, just like the VA medical care once you get in everything works fine.  It's just getting in that is the problem.  A lot of bureaucracy. Part of the problem is the Choice program is run by an outside company.  

Not to bore my readers with all the details, I thought I had all the billing straightened out.  From Bill's emergency room care, to his hospital stay to his visit and procedure with his gastroenterologist. Even the ambulance service, I straightened it all out.  And while I'm doing that I wonder what do veterans who live by themselves handle all these intricacies?  I'm glad I'm here to navigate these treacherous waters for Bill.  I hope someone will do the same for me when I'm 89 years old.

So I make my phone calls this morning about this $3,363.50 bill I received from the hospital yesterday for Bill's endoscopy procedure on July 17th.  Yes, $3,363.50.  That's a chunk out of the Tipton-Kelly household budget.  

First I called the Choice program. I got someone one the first ring. That's one good thing about the Choice program. I don't have to go through a whole menu of options then put on hold only to get someone back on the phone with a foreign accent reading from a script and not actually listening to what I'm saying. I got a real person who listened, and cared and researched.  The phone call took about five minutes, mostly due to there fully researching on her computer rather than taking my name and calling me back later. She told me the bill was paid August 28th for the Medicare approved amount of $719.37. That's another thing that gets me, the hospital bills you for a huge amount and settles for the Medicare approved amount. What do people do who don't have Medicare or insurance?  No wonder we have one of the worst medical systems in the industrialized world. But I digress.

I then called the hospital billing center. They checked and said his account now had a "zero balance."  She said the "check crossed in the mail."  Whatever.  Thank goodness that we dodged this bullet. We may seem rich here what with all my trips (I leave Thursday for Canada) and all my Apple toys, but we're not. Far from it folks. I work at the hotel for $12.00 an hour (a good job for sure) just so I can indulge in some things that I find make life worth living.

Now that I know this bill has been paid I can relax now and get ready for my latest adventure with my Travel Buddy Pat at his new condo in downtown Hamilton. Last night while working at the hotel I went on the Internet and checked Trip Advisor for the ten best restaurants in Hamilton. We'll check them all out as well as enjoy some of the other local pleasures of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, a former steel town undergoing a transformation into an urban delight for the 21st century folks.

Life is good folks. A few speed bumps here and there but overall, we're very lucky, Bill and I.  Unlike many of those poor folks who were in the path of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. 


Saturday, September 09, 2017

Death and Destruction

Now there is a blog title to get attention. 

This morning I am thinking and very concerned will all those in Florida who are going too be impacted by Hurricane Irma. 
Hurricane Irma headed towards Florida


The evacuation of Florida inhabitants is said to be the largest in U.S. history.  This is one record we don't need to set. 

I'm hoping that this monster hurricane veers off to the ocean or gulf. However, watching the wall to wall news coverage this morning, that doesn't seem to be the path of the storm.  

Several years ago, when Hurricane Sandy blew through here, I was very worried. Here in southern Delaware we also live on a peninsula and only have one way out, Route One to the north. I didn't even want to think about being in the midst of that nightmarish traffic jam out.  And where would I go?  My brother in Pennsylvania who I am estranged from?  Yeah, right.  I would figure something out.

We decided to ride out the storm.  I wasn't sure whether to get my important documents out of the basement for fear of flooding or take them with me, and try to hold on to them through the hurricane winds.  Thankfully, Hurricane Sandy took a slight turn and just missed us by fifty miles. Lucky, lucky, lucky. 

Here's hoping our country gets through this latest weather threat with minimal damage. 


Hurricane Irma



Friday, September 08, 2017

Photo Memories Captured From Old VHS Tapes



Me - 1965 Pennsauken, New Jersey


Hey folks, I found a whole new treasure trove of photo memories!  Yeah, I know that just what I need.  Seriously though, I'm thrilled that I can now copy images from my old VHS tapes that I have had transferred to a digital format.

These images of yours truly were taken in the spring of 1965. I was dressed for my new job at the Girard Bank in Philadelphia. The previous month I had moved in with Bill (Kelly), my partner/spouse of now 53 years.  

The images were taken from one of those huge original video cameras that blinded you when the flood lights were turned on,  thus the squinting by yours truly. 

Man oh man, was I ever that young?  Talk about Wasted Youth.  I could've been a movie star!  




Thursday, September 07, 2017

Hurricanes

Hurricane Hazel October 15, 1954

Hurricane Hazel was the first hurricane I experience first hand. 

Hurricane Hazel blew through Downingtown, Pennsylvania October 15, 1974, where I lived at that time as an 11 year dumb kid. I remember my Mother telling me not to go outside because the hurricane was too dangerous. Of course I went out. I was almost blown away. Scary!  And at that time the wind gusts were only up to 67 mph but that was enough to make it very difficult for me to even get back into the second floor apartment where we lived at that time.  That was enough thrill for me.

The next hurricane of significance I can remember was Hurricane Floyd hit the Northeast in September of 1999. At that time I was working two jobs. During the day I worked at a bank in Downingtown. At the end of my day job at the bank I left for my nighttime job at the Hampton Inn for my shift from 4 pm to 11 pm. I knew Hurricane Floyd was blowing through Downingtown but I figured I could get to work. Oh how foolish I was.

I left work in the driving rain and high powered wind. The bank where I worked in downtown Downingtown was next to the intersection of Route 282 and 30. Low point in Downingtown which was beginning to flood. I got out just in time. As I reached the next intersection of Route 30 and Route 113, low land again and road flooded.  I went through some back roads, having to back up twice for low lying intersections. 

What to do?  I decided to take another road which looped around Downingtown to get on the bypass. I thought I was all right until I hit the intersection at Exton. Another low lying intersection which was flooded. Hundreds of cars were backed up, not moving. Cars and tractor trailer trucks. No one was telling us anything to do. I saw some vehicles take a U-turn over the cement medial strip. 

I weight my options. Sit there and wait for the flood waters to reach me or take a chance of scraping the underside of my Subaru Forester and make that U-turn over the cement medial strip?  I made the U-turn. As I was racing back on the bypass I saw water rushing towards the highway from the adjoining filed. All of a sudden I thought "Am I going to make it?"  "Am I going to be one of those images on the nightly news of a flooded car bobbing in the water?"  Whenever I saw those flooded cars I thought "How did that person ever let themselves get into that position?"  Now I know, IT HAPPENS.  Folks, I was seriously afraid that I WASN'T GOING TO MAKE IT.  I was about to become a statistic.

Hurricane Floyd flooding of roads - much like the roads I tried to get to work at the hotel

I speed up and managed to outrace the rushing water. I was back in Downingtown, where I started.  I couldn't go home, my path there was blocked by a flooded intersection. Then I decided to go up a back way, through the Northwood neighborhood. Not the most efficient way to go to work but the Northwood development was on the side of a hill.  I knew if I could get through that neighborhood I could get back to Rt. 113, also called "Cemetery Hill".  Not because it was dangerous but because the Northwood Cemetery is located on the side of that hill, overlooking Downingtown which is in the valley below. As a matter of fact, I have two cemetery plots in Northwood, that's where Bill and I will be buried one day.  

Downingtown in the valley below Northwood Cemetery - I took this picture from our plots - we'll have a nice view for our Final Resting Place

As I approached the back entrance to Northwood I saw telephone poles toppled, some leaning on trees and telephone lines, live power sparking as those lines danced on the rain swept road.  WOW!  Now I took a chance of being electrocuted. 

Folks, for one of the rare times in my life I thought "Am I going to make it?  Will I survive this?"  Again, I weighed my options and knew I couldn't go home so I took my chances and weaved my car through those snaking downed electrical line doing their pretty sparky dance on the rain glisten roads covered with wet green leaves.

I made it through the Northwood neighborhood and came out to a deserted Route 113. There were no other cars around. Just me, a lot of rain and wind and an open road to the Hampton in three miles down Rt. 113 to the intersection of Rt. 113 and Rt. 100.  A clear shot.

Hampton Inn, Lionville, PA - where I was working when hurricane Floyd hit Pennsylvania in 1999


I arrived at the Hampton Inn. Just as I went in the back door the power went out at the Inn. Oh great. 

The hotel lobby was full of travelers who exited the near by Pennsylvania Turnpike exit for shelter in our hotel. 

I was the most senior person at the hotel. The other front desk agents didn't know what to do because the computers were down. They looked to me, The Old Guy, what to do.  I said "Well, what did hotels do before computers? They checked in guest manually."  

Some of my co-workers at the Hampton Inn 1999

My co-workers didn't understand. I took the printed lists of guests who were due in the hotel. I told my fellow workers as the guests checked in, cross off their name from the list and write in the room number. We had regular keys we handed out in place of those credit card keys.

I stayed overnight at the hotel. We got through the night, including many "guests" who didn't have rooms (we were full).  Those guests slept in the lobby free of charge from the hotel.

We got through the hurricane without any casualties.  A lot of inconvenience but no casualties although I experienced some very close calls.

Fast forward to the spring and I was thanked for my "extraordinary service" by being selected "Best Guest Service Representative" for the quarter. I was embarrassed because I was only doing what I considered my job. But I was thankful because it's always nice to be recognized and thanked. Being "thanked" in today's society is something I have rarely experienced. I've come to accept not being thanked over the years but the fact is it is rare to hear a "thank you."  My "thank you" was an all expense paid trip to Disney World ("I'm going to Disney World!") for two.  A check for $500 for "incidentals".  A plaque that was presented to me by the Vice President of the Hilton Hotels at the Expo Center in Disney World. 

Me with Mickey Mouse and my Aunt Mabel at Disney World 2001
So there you go folks, these are my Hurricane Memories. Again, I'm very lucky.  I got a "prize" for my hurricane experience. For thousands, they lose everything including lives. My heart is with them today as three hurricanes threaten Florida. 

Satellite image of Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean



Monday, September 04, 2017

Memory Lane - 1989


Here we go folks, another trip down Memory Lane. My memory lane to be exact.

For sometime now I have wanted to transfer all my old VHS tapes to a format that was more secure (not fade away with time) and easier to access. I have copied a few to CD's but that was very time consuming and dangerous. I've accidentally erased parts of my some of my old VHS tapes trying to figure out how to transfer them. I'll never get that recipe back again as Richard Harris said in "MacArthur Park."

I had considered paying a service to transfer my precious VHS tape memories but at $25 a pop, that was just more than I could afford.  Plus, I didn't want to send my tapes to India (and that's where they go folks) and take a chance on losing my original tapes, which I read happens.  No thank you sahib.

A few weeks ago I was searching Amazon.com for equipment that could more efficiently process my video tape transfers I came across a place called Lotus Media.  All their reviews were excellent and they only charged $10 a tape. Viola! I took a chance and send forty-three of my old VHS tapes in that large cassette format out to "Kirk" (the owner of the company) in a large box via UPS, sealed tightly. 

Last week I received those tapes back with a tiny flash drive containing all my VHS tapes.  I plugged the flash drive into my computer and viola!  (yes, another "viola!")  This is what I found, looking at myself on sometimes too long tapes but none the less interesting.  

I'll be the first to admit the tapes are boring because they are too long.  However I plan to cut and paste those tapes in my account at You Tube and make a lot of small vignette videos. I'm just not sure how to do that yet, I don't want to lose any more of my original tapes.  I hope I can take a portion of the taped recording out and create a new video with all the bells and whistles like a beginning and an end.  I want to send them to my relatives and friends.  Unfortunately the friend you hear on this tape died a couple of years ago.  He would have loved to seen this video.

Looking at these videos I am again reminded at how fast life goes by.  This video was taken in November of 1989, twenty-eight years ago!  Wow, where DID the time go?  One thing is for sure, I won't be here twenty-eight years from now. But another thing for sure, my memory of my life will be here for all to see in You Tube, if they're interested.

Enjoy!

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Thankful On A Rainy Saturday



As I sit here this late Saturday afternoon, listening to the rain falling gently outside, listening to my Pandora Internet radio station, counting my blessings. 

Yesterday a good friend of ours (me and Bill) had open heart surgery. We both are wishing him a speedy recovery.  Get well soon Bob!


Bob (far left) with our late friend Bob McCamley at Rigby's in Rehoboth Beach December 7, 2007 celebrating Bob Mc's birthday 

This morning I was busy arranging and packing up my remaining sixty-seven VHS tapes for shipment to Lotus Media for transfer to my 128 GB flash drive. I received back my previous shipment of forty-three VHS tapes and flash drive yesterday.  I am over the moon with happiness that all those old tapes are now in a digital format on a tiny, convenient flash drive. I can die now and know that my legacy lives on (smile).  Seriously though, I look forward to cutting and editing those video tapes on You Tube and creating some really fabulous videos. I have always been a frustrated movie maker. 


Forty-three ancient videos now preserved for posterity on a tiny flash drive - look for fabulous You Tube movies in the future!

My friend Larry's GoFundMe account is going well. We've raised almost $600 so far towards our goal of $45,000.  Larry is already $25,000 in debt so anything helps. My heart is warmed over the generosity of those who have contributed. I also appreciate those who have given suggestions for other avenues of help for Larry. I have passed that information on to him.  But I'm pretty sure he's pretty well checked out all those sources. I will continue to update his GoFundMe account. 


Larry continues to walk even though his muscles are wasting away

Pat is now in his new condo in Hamilton, Ontario. Looking good Pat! I envy Pat and his minimalist way of living. He has a small condo but what a view of Hamilton. Plus his living quarters look so livable. I'll know firsthand when I visit him for ten days on the 14th of this month. 


Artwork in Pat's new condo in Hamilton, Ontario - I'll be there September 14th!
Like many of you I've been watching the television coverage of the devastation in Houston Texas and surrounding areas caused by flooding of Hurricane Harvey. My heart goes out to those people who have lost so much. Recovery will take a long time and for some, never happen. Yes, today I feel especially fortunate. We are all just one natural disaster away from losing everyone. 

Count your blessings. I count mine every day.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

ALS GoFundMe Account for Larry Meredith - Day One



This is Day One of the GoFundMe account I created for my friend Larry Meredith. 

I was curious how effective that would work.  I've had this blog for twelve years now never posted one ad or asked for money for a good cause. However, I am doing that now. 

Larry's medical bills are piling up since he was diagnosed with ALS last December. 

Larry does have Medicare and supplemental insurance but they don't cover all the bills that have now been generated since he was diagnosed with ALS.

I talk to Larry almost every day on FaceTime. He lives in upstate Delaware and I live in lower state Delaware. 

Larry and I have known each other since 1951 when he outed me on a book report in our third grade class with Miss Ezrah. I had stood in front of the class and given my "book report" which was actually a synopsis of a Scrooge McDuck comic book.  At ten years old I didn't realize I was plagiarizing.  After I gave my book report Larry raised his hand and told Miss Ezrah and the whole class "I know that story! It's from a Scrooge McDuck comic book!" Gee, thanks Larry.  After he said that he feared going to recess because he thought I would beat him up.  As we emptied out of the East Ward Elementary school for recess, I did seek Larry out.  Much to Larry's surprise I approached him and said "You have Scrooge McDuck comic books?"  I had comic book I wanted to trade. Larry did too. Thus began a (now) sixty-six year friendship. 

You know it's funny but I don't remember this instance but it is something I would do.  I am that kind of opportunist, at least when it came to my treasure trove of comic books.  I had a Mary Worth comic books I wanted to get rid of. 

Since Larry was diagnosed with ALS last December, I have watched him slowly lose his ability to get around. Like me, Larry likes to walk. He still walks but needs the help of a cane now. Eventually he will not be able to walk. 

I have never once heard Larry complain about his diagnosis. He has accepted his condition as part of his life's journey. I admire him for that. I'm not sure how I would react if I was given the same diagnosis.

Larry and his family never were rich. Actually, who is? Most folks in our social class, beginning when we grew up on Washington Avenue in Downingtown, have always lived pretty close on the edge.  There was a period in both of our lives when we had some surplus funds. Coincidentally we both worked for banks, different banks. We didn't plan our careers that way but that's the direction our career took when we couldn't afford college. Neither one of us had parents who could afford to pay for our college educations. Nor did either of us have enough confidence to work our way through college, having both having fathers who didn't encourage us that we could. Not to put all the blame on our fathers but a little encouragement would have helped with our self-esteem.

Both Larry and I have worked for everything we have in life. Coincidentally, even though both of our fathers were truck drivers who were indifferent to us and we grew very low middle class, one step from white trash (I would like to think), Larry is straight whereas I am gay.  But they my regular followers already knew that about me but I've said and written about it often enough (ad infinitum for gosh sakes).

Larry and I are both of an age that we know our time on this earth is coming to an end sooner rather than later. We have often talked about how we're going to go. We both agree that we're not afraid of death but we are rather concerned how we get there.  Neither of us wants a long and protracted and painful death, dependent on others. Sad to say this is what it looks like it going to happen to Larry.  

As I said before, Larry doesn't complain about his situation but I know Larry well enough to sense that his ever increasing medical bills are starting to cause him some real concern. It's a shame that someone who has ALS facing them in the future has the extra stress of worrying how to meet his family's bills. 

I suggested to Larry yesterday to start one of those Go Fund Me accounts. I've heard about them but didn't know too much about them.  Larry seemed reluctant to start one for himself, it's asking for money which doesn't come naturally to our upbringing. Even though Larry's family and mine were very poor, we never collected state aid (welfare) or any other kind of assistance. We always worked for whatever we had. In fact I continue to work albeit part-time so I can stay a little ahead of my bills and have my four times a year holidays with my friend Pat.  A little luxury that I allow myself in my senior years before I am stricken down with some fatal illness, which will surely be my fate. I only hope that my illness will be quick and painless. Something Larry and I often talked about. My friend Bob McCamley and I also talked about how we would die.  Bob said he would "never die that way."  But die he did, a long and protracted and humiliating illness of Parkinson's Disease. Fortunately for Bob he had enough money saved and full medical coverage to cover his final decline.

So how is the Go Fund Me account going?  We already have eight contributors for $225.  Pat and I have contributed $50 each. Some other kind ladies have contributed as well as one of my blog followers Andy.  Thank you folks.  

We have a goal of $45,000. Just an arbitrary figure that should help substantially with Larry's debt during this time of his life.  You know how those medical bills are, they just keep coming in. I had a taste of that during Bill's medical emergency last year.  Bill only has Medicare Part A. The rest of his coverage is from the VA.  The VA paid most of his bills but believe me, I had to jump through a LOT of hoops to get that done and yet we still had bills of thousands of dollars. 

I've always avoided putting ads on my blog and I have never solicited for funds on my blog. But this time I am making an exception for my friend Larry. Larry is a good soul. He has raised a find family of two daughters and one son after losing his first seven children to miscarriage and medical conditions.  Yes, seven children who he and his wife have named. 

For the sixty-six years I have known Larry he has always been a gentle and peaceful person. Larry is one of the Good Guys. He deserves some help at this time of his life. And if I can help in any little way, even if I have to do some as uncomfortable for me as asking for monetary help for him, I will. It is the right thing to do. 

Now if he can get about 4,500 hundred people to donate $10 or more we can quickly reach our goal of $45,000 and thus put Larry's mind at ease so at least he doesn't have to worry about where he is going to get the money to pay for the latest bills that arrive in his mailbox every day.

Thank you for indulging me on my stream of consciousness here. And bless you all.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Asking For Donations for Friend With ALS

Larry, Pat and me - May 24, 2017 - Larry's down for his annual birthday Old Time Photo shot - notice he's using a cane now


This morning I was talking to my longtime friend Larry on FaceTime.  Larry was diagnosed with ALS last December. 

I've known Larry since third grade. That for you folks who haven't regularly followed by blog is a LONG TIME ago, sixty-six years to be exact.


Our annual Old Time Cowboy photo shoot - May 27, 2017

Like me, Larry is retired and living on a fixed income of Social Security and a modest pension from the bank where he toiled away for so many years. Like I said, like me. Perhaps the only difference is that I work part-time at a local hotel to try and keep up with my bills and go on the occasional holiday with my good friend Pat from Toronto.

Larry has always lived on a tight budget but now with increasing medical bills due to his ALS health care, he is losing ground. The bills are starting to pile up.  I suggested to him to start one of those Go Fund accounts. I could tell by his reaction he wasn't real keen on asking for help.  And I have to say, I don't blame him. I don't like asking for help either. But sometimes one doesn't have much of a choice.


Me and Larry with our third grade school teacher Miss Ezra in 2005 - Larry and I met in her class in 1951

I remember a few periods of my life when I was flying low, I asked my Mother for help and she provided it, thus keeping me from crashing to the ground. Of course I always paid her back as I paid back my brother Isaac when I had no money to move to Pittsburgh when I got out of the Army in 1963.  I paid him back that $250 also.  



Miss Ezrah's third grade class - 1951 - Larry is standing in front of Miss Ezra one in next to the blonde girl. I am standing to the far right next to the girl with the pigtails. I still remember her name, Peggy West!

I don't know if Larry has ever asked anyone to help him out with money.  It's not in his nature just as it isn't for most of us.  

After my conversation with Larry this morning I got to thinking if I could, as a friend, set up a Go Fund Me account for him.  I checked and viola! I can.  So I did.  Click HERE to go to the link. 

Now I realize most of my blog followers don't know Larry except maybe you have read some of his occasional comments on my blog. And over the years I have written about our friendship.  However, I do ask that if any of you are so inclined to help Larry, you can click on his Go Fund Me link and leave a small donation. Even if the donation is $10.00, that helps if there are many who donate $10.00 

Yes, I am soliciting for funds.  I still don't feel totally comfortable using my blog to solicit funds but this time it is for a good cause. Larry will pass on as we all will.  Unfortunately for Larry, his passing will be slow and agonizing. If there is anyway I can ease that passing for my longtime friend, I will. 



Larry now August 12 2017 on FaceTime

Thank you all.