Archive for March 2015

03-31-2015 Journal – Miracle Drugs?   Leave a comment

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I’m beginning to believe that my doctor is plotting against me.  During my last visit he convinced me to take a new vaccine that would assist my immune system in fending off a fairly large number of viruses.  He claimed that in conjunction with my previous Pneumonia vaccination and my flu shot I’d be protected from almost everything.  That was two weeks ago.

First of all as I was receiving the shot the nurse told me there might be a little muscle pain in the area where the shot was placed.  What she didn’t tell me was I’d be unable to move my arm and shoulder for a week without major pain. I let it go figuring any shot in the arm will have some pain involved and finally a week later the pain subsided and movement of my arm and shoulder returned to normal.  I felt better about myself and went on about my life, smiling all the way.

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Why can’t we hold these medical experts responsible when everything they say seems to be just so much BS and guesswork. Get a flu shot and then immediately get the freaking flu. Get a magic vaccination to prevent illnesses and immediately get an freaking illness.  For the last week or so I watched my family members and even my better-half struggling with some weird virus that caused a tremendous amount of congestion in the chest and head and caused terrible headaches.  I was sympathetic and did what I could to make things better but at the same time thanking some god or another for my magical vaccination.  I walked through my germ ridden house with the confidence of a really healthy and well maintained individual.  My trust in my doctor was as high as it’s ever been until two days ago.

I’m lying in bed this morning wondering what the hell happened. I woke up two days ago with a minor cough and a slight fever.  Then my throat started the infamous burn which always leads to something awful.  My mouth was as dry as the Sahara and I needed help prying my lips apart to drink a little water.  I peeled enough crust from my eyelids to fill a coffee cup and did that disgusting task between trips to the facilities that Mother Nature demanded. So far the projectile vomiting has yet to show up and I pray it stays away forever.

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Two days of very little sleep, a better-half who hacked, coughed, and snored like a 400 pound truck driver, a fever to keep me warm, and a total loss of taste.  Even if I wanted to eat I wouldn’t be able to taste a thing.  Coffee and tea tasted like hot water and eating just about any food was like chewing and swallowing cardboard.

I can already hear my doctor, "I guess this virus wasn’t one of the ones included in the miracle vaccine."  I may just be forced to kick his ass. I figure if I’m forced to pay hundreds of dollars for these shots there should be some sort of guarantee based on performance.  I can be sure of only one thing it seems, there will be any effing refunds from the medical community or the drug company who’s reaping all of the monetary rewards.

Thanks for nothing doc.

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03-29-2015 Journal–The Baby Has Arrived!   1 comment

The waiting is finally over and we welcomed a new family member yesterday. A 10.4 pound little boy with mother and son doing fine.  I think now my better-half and I can finally get our lives  back to something close to normal again.

Between babysitting grandson #1, trips to care for their cats and dogs, and then visits to the hospital,  we’re both exhausted. We managed a decent nights sleep last night and are feeling much better today as is the mother. Since the birth required a C-section our little mother won’t be released until sometime Monday and I see another visit to the hospital in our immediate future today. We’ll try to keep her company for a few hours and to spend more time with grandson #2.

The better-half as always is already preparing for her numerous shopping forays to insure the little guy has everything he may possibly need and then some. That should keep her busy for a few years.  My only contribution to the little mother was the can of Guinness I managed to smuggle into the hospital.  After nine months of no beer I had a feeling it was high on her list of priorities. 

We should all have an interesting summer with the new addition to the family group and we’ll need all of our remaining energy to keep up with grandson #1 who’s  growing like a weed. The sibling rivalry took no more than two minutes to arrive when he was taken to visit his new little brother.  It’s going to get more interesting as time goes on and they’re in for many years of fun competition with each other.

I normally don’t have photographs of family members on this blog but in this case I’ll make an exception.  He ‘s too young to tell me not to and I’m too old to care anyway.  This one picture is worth a thousand words.

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03-27-2015 Journal – Workout Oldies and a New Baby!   Leave a comment

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One of my first tasks today was to get in a vigorous workout to start the day. Most days I turn on the TV or a movie and crank up the treadmill to a quick speed with a steep incline.  I’m averaging forty-two minutes a session and watching TV for that long has started getting really old.  On a good day there’s precious little on the tube that can hold my interest for forty-two minutes.

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Today I decided to plug into ITunes and spend my time listening to my newly updated Favorites List. I have quite the collection of music and it was a tough job picking out fifty songs from over seven thousand. It took some time but it was worth it. I ended up with forty-five songs that met my stringent qualifications.  It had to be a song that no matter when I heard it I’d stop what I was doing to listen.

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It took twelve songs to complete my workout and the time seemed to fly by. Listening to good music is like having your own time machine.  As soon as I hear a song it takes me straight back to a specific point in time and a specific person as well.  So here’s my list of today’s twelve workout songs:

  1. Love Letter -  Clairy Browne & the Bangin’ Rackettes
  2. Up on Cripple Creek – The Band
  3. Kokomo – The Beach Boys
  4. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club – Beatles
  5. Nights on Broadway – Bee Gees
  6. Uptown Girl – Billy Joel
  7. The Guitar Man – Bread
  8. Gypsy Woman – Brian Highland
  9. I’m Your Angel (Duet w/R. Kelly) – Celine Dion
  10. How ‘Bout Us – Champaign
  11. Down in Mexico – The Coasters
  12. Run Through the Jungle – Creedence Clearwater Revival

If those songs don’t get your heart started then you’d better call for help. Say what you want these so-called Oldies more than hold their own against today’s Hip Hop generation.

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I spent some time today preparing for the arrival of the grandson who’ll be staying with us until after the birth of his soon to arrive new sibling.  The doctors intend to induce labor today so we’re hopefully looking at an early morning arrival by the baby. 

This waiting has been murder for both of us almost as much as for the mother and father. She’s two weeks late and it’s been making everyone absolutely crazy.   Hurry up and wait until the baby decides to get here.

03-25-2015 Journal – A Little Useless Info!   Leave a comment

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I just finished allowing the federal government and the IRS to peek into my business as they so love to do.  The only people worse than them is Google.  I figure in just a few years Google will take over the entire earth and make information slaves of us all.  But that’s a topic for another day.

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Each and every time I file a tax return I become moody, disrespectful, and rebellious and today is no different.  I’m not motivated to do do much else so you will be inundated with a truckload of useless crap.  I haven’t done this for some time so all complaints will be trash-canned.

Here goes nothing . . . .

  • The first name of of TV detective Lieutenant Columbo was Phillip.
  • The Flintstones lawyer who never lost a case was called Perry Masonry.
  • Rita Hayworth’s real name was Margarita Cansino.
  • Spencer Tracy said he would only take the part of the Penquin in the Batman TV series if he were allowed to kill Batman.
  • Sylvester Stallone used to sweep the lion cages in New York’s Central Park Zoo to pay his way while trying to break into acting.
  • Sean Connery once worked as a coffin polisher.

Are you captivated yet with this stream of meaningless nonsense. Don’t get up and walk away because I have a few more tidbits.

  • After Harrison Ford’s brief 1966 appearance as a bell-boy in Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round he was told, “Kid, you aint got it.”
  • Johnny Mathis dubbed Miss Piggy’s singing voice in The Muppet Movie.
  • Liquid Paper was invented by the mother of Mike Nesmith of Monkee fame.
  • Don McLean’s song “American Pie” is not named after the plane in which Buddy Holly died – the plane had no name, only a registration number: N3794N.
  • Popeye’s girlfriend, Olive Oyl, wore a size 14A shoe.
  • The Muppet Show was banned from TV in Saudi Arabia because one of it’s stars was Miss Piggy. Pigs are forbidden to Muslims.

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And in keeping with the upcoming tax day . . .

Americans Use Sixteen Thousand Tons of Aspirin Each Year.

03-23-2015 Journal – Nerdy Woes!   Leave a comment

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I spent a good part of my day yesterday trying to get a fourteen year old computer to once again work properly.  I’ve been a computer gamer for a very long time and started when the games were just text-only.  I finally settled in permanently with the X-Box because of my life long loyalty to Microsoft.  Don’t sit there and shake your head, all those years were a great deal of fun and taught me a great deal about computers and software.

As the games became more sophisticated the older games fell by the wayside.  Having spent my hard earned money for these games I refused to just discard them.  I saved the floppy disk games, games on CD’s, console games, and any other that I sincerely enjoyed playing.  All these years later most of them remain unplayable but alive and well in my files.  

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I’ve became interested in reviving some of  these old games after receiving from my nephew an Atari 2400 Anniversary console  that contained dozens of the ordinal Atari games such as Pong, Asteroids, and Centipede. My nephew is a computer nerd like me and after a telephone discussion a year ago he shipped me one of his older computers dating from the late nineties.  It’s one of the few I’ve been able to find with a working floppy disk drive and I also wanted to use it to convert many of my older games on floppies  to CD’s. It would give me a much better chance at playing them once again.

I love computers but they are extremely frustrating to work with.  The computer companies in their attempts to protect their software have made them extremely difficult to copy and to reuse.  It seems to me that most of their technological advances with game consoles and computer games are purposely made incompatible with previous generations.  It forces consumers to constantly spend their hard earned money on upgrades of both software and hardware.  My best recent example for that was X-Box One which will not play any of the hundreds of X-Box games made for previous X-Box versions. That sucks and has only convinced me never to buy one.

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Yesterday was like giving CPR to someone who is on his last leg. During shipment cables for that old computer were knocked loose and it took a while to get them all replugged into their proper places.  I finally was able to get it to reboot with Windows 2000 but that’s when the real fun began.  Using parts from a number of my past computers I finally found a mouse that would work with the unit.  The monitor worked fine and I thought I was home free.  I still had no sound and no working keyboard and I don’t know why.  The keyboard I have was from a newer model and there was no way it would ever work with this old machine.

One of my chores for this summer will now be to visit as many yard sales as possible to find a keyboard and mouse from that same era.  It should be an easy find since almost every yard sale has computers and parts for sale. With any luck at all I should have this machine working this summer and I can pull out my old Doom and Quake games and relive those earlier days that I enjoyed so much.

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I find myself extremely frustrated but having many years of computer experience it wasn’t unexpected.  I’ll just walk away for a while, turn on my X-Box 360, and return to the world of Halo to kill a few thousand aliens.  It always makes me fell better.

Nerds rule !

03-21-2015 Journal–Medi(I Don’t Really)care!   Leave a comment

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Well I guess the world can continue to rotate around the sun and all of you can continue living your exciting lives once again.  I received a clean bill of health from my doctor during my recent checkup so everyone can relax again for another year just knowing I’ll still be around.

Have I ever mentioned just how much I hate doctors and hospitals? I’m positive you have no idea just how much. I spent a lot of my youth visiting uncounted  hospitals throughout the Pittsburgh area while visiting my mother who was afflicted with every disease known to man during her life.  I became almost phobic about it.  I was terrified of entering hospitals and getting stuck with needles. For years every time I needed a blood test or a shot it usually caused me to become violently ill or to pass out completely.  That phobia was finally dealt with when it became time for me to leave the Army.  A blood test was required before I could be released from the service and I certainly wasn’t going to stick around any longer than necessary.  I sat quietly while they took six tubes of blood and suffered no ill effects whatsoever.  It’s amazing what proper motivation can do to help you get through the tough times.

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I have no phobias now but I still hate hospitals and doctors.  I’m good to go until sometime in August when my new doctor will put me through my paces once again.  Blood tests, poking and prodding of body parts best left alone, and more of those miracle vaccines and shots that may or may not even work. Getting old requires more and more maintenance of the body and mind just to maintain the status quo. Regardless we eventually all lose that battle.  More exercise, less alcohol, no smoking, healthy foods, and an endless supply of drugs, drugs, drugs. 

When I turned fifty the medical community found out about me and the process began in earnest. I needed a shingles shot, a pneumonia shot, a tetanus booster which probably cost the insurance carriers at least $500.00. Increased visits, regular colonoscopies, and future eye surgery to fix those pesky cataract problems we all have to deal with at some point. 

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I’m one of millions of Boomers whose current responsibility is to stay alive as long as possible to help keep the health care community in business.  What will happen to the system once we’ve all passed on.  That will be the new healthcare crisis with lots of layoffs, hospital closures, and a serious overpopulation of doctors, nurses, and home care specialists.  I guess we Baby Boomers could be called a massive health care asset until we all finally die.

03-19-2015 Journal – A “Twilight Zone” Day!   Leave a comment

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I had a feeling when I woke up this morning that this day would be more than a little strange.  It was another late night of reading for me and I was awakened at 6:00 am for no apparent reason.  The better-half was gone off to work, the cat was missing in action, and the bed looked like twenty people had been in it.  Blankets thrown around on the bed and on the floor with pillows everywhere.  Don’t even ask!  I’ve got a thing for pillows and I love having a lot of them on the bed.  Not for decoration but to crawl into and curl up with.

I felt like I had hangover but I hadn’t had anything to drink for days.  I had things to do but I couldn’t seem to get my ass off that bed and get moving.  A coffee helped but not all that much.  One of my main tasks for the day was to do a little food shopping because dinner was on me tonight and I wanted it to be just perfect.   It took forever for me to get dressed but I managed, then I set the house alarm, jumped in my car, and pulled out of the driveway.

I live approximately five miles from the closest supermarket and it requires that I drive through a few neighborhoods and across two main roads to get there. Easy enough right?  I drove for a mile and noticed something strange happening.  I hadn’t seen a single car, person, animal, or another human being since leaving the house. The further I drove the more bizarre it became and I was starting to have flashbacks of the the movie “Legend” with Will Smith.  Another mile and still nothing. I stopped at an intersection with a main road that normally requires me to wait for an opening in traffic before pulling out.  I didn’t see a single vehicle in either direction.  The only living things I saw as I made the turn onto that highway were two large black crows sitting in a tree nearby and they seemed to be watching me.

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I’m not a believer in the occult or any of that nonsense but this entire drive really creeped me out.  The first living person I finally saw was in the parking lot of the supermarket and it was a rather obese man eating a donut as he walked to his car.   The entire drive felt like a really weird dream. I kept thinking to myself that all of a sudden I’d awaken and still be at home in my bed.  But I wasn’t.

I finished my shopping and returned home and observed a normal amount of traffic and a few folks walking around. As I pulled into my driveway I looked up and there were two  large black crows sitting in a tree right next to my house. I sure hope it was just a weird coincidence and that there aren’t any more strange occurrences today. I want my surprise meal for the better-half tonight to go as planned. 

It’s the Twilight Zone all over again or at least it felt that way.  If she arrives home from work tonight eating a big fat donut then I may have to rethink my somewhat shaky belief system.

03-17-2015 Journal–Spring is Now Officially Here!   Leave a comment

More light snow through the night last night but we’re expecting warmer temperatures today.  As we drove through the surrounding towns this morning it became fairly obvious that Spring has officially sprung.  It seems as if every maple tree in Maine is in the process of being tapped for their sap.  It’s one of the best indicators that Winter is on it’s way out finally.  These first two photos are examples of the old time way of tapping.

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‘Old School – Low Tech’

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Many of the local farming families have been doing this since just after the Pilgrims landed and like doing it the tried and true way of their predecessors.  Others have succumbed to the more modern ways and now use multiple plastic tubes from multiple trees that flow into a central container.  Take a look.

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‘New School – High Tech’

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The results are the same but there’s something really comforting about seeing it done the old way.  You can almost picture the pilgrims and their ancestors tapping trees in these same areas in the mid 1600’s.  History is just too cool.

As we made our way home I snapped this final picture of what looks to be a very lonely horse.  He’s just hanging around and watching the world go by. I think he’ll be just as happy as the rest of us to see Spring arrive.

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03-15-2015 Journal – A Slow News Day!   Leave a comment

During all of my working life I prayed for a slow news day. A day where I could sit on my butt and do absolutely northing except relax.  I’ve finally reached a point in my life where I have days like that and I just don’t appreciate them like I once did.  Shame on me I guess.

Two days ago my better-half surprised me when she arrived home from work at 11 am, four hours early.  It was a good surprise and definitely not what you first thought when you read that.  We had half a day to just kick back and do whatever we wanted.  Since it was a sunny and freezing cold day we decided a quiet drive with our cameras would be perfect.  We made our way to the coast but taking pictures there in the winter is a major yawn.  Dirty snow and ice just isn’t anything I need more pictures of.

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‘Snore’

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‘Yawn’

After a half-hour passed we decided to just drive straight north to Portland  for a visit to a few of our favorite pubs.  Our first stop was a tavern along the waterfront called Three Dollar Dewey’s. This is a regular watering hole for us where the better-half can have her Shipyard beer and a side of fries and I can have an ice cold vodka-tonic with onion rings.  The drinks were grand and the food was even better. 

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This is the official T-shirt logo for Dewey’s which explains where and how the name of the bar was created.  Maybe next trip I’ll try for a $2 Feelie. Then we walked a quarter mile down the street to our second favorite place, The Dry Dock Tavern.

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The Dry Dock is a warm and cozy place to spend an hour or so in the cold Maine winter but it’s even better in the summer.  They have a large second floor deck which offers an unbelievable view of Portland harbor where you can relax and sip a cool margarita or two and catch a few rays.

We had a great day even though it was as cold as hell. The snow melt continues and in just a few weeks  Spring will actually arrive. 

I hope to make this summer one to remember.

03-13-2015 Journal – Spring Repairs!   Leave a comment

The Spring melt continues between bouts of annoying snow that keep showing up almost every morning. Fortunately it’s usually just a dusting that melts away as soon as the sun comes up.  What’s been the most surprising is the speed in which the snow has been disappearing. Having four feet of snow on the ground for most of 2015 and piles more than fifteen feet high found in certain parking lots, it’s melting away much quicker than expected. 

I’ve been mentioning for the longest time about the amount of ice and snow that has built up on the roof of our home.  The rear of the house gets very little sunshine and the accumulation there is always an issue.  Each year we look forward to the "ice fall" and this year was no different.  I was working on my computer when the whole house shook much like a small earthquake.  I knew immediately that the ice had dropped and OMG it was amazing.  A sheet of ice between ten and twelve inches thick, four foot wide, and thirty feet long, smashed to the ground with a tremendous roar. 

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‘Be glad you weren’t standing here when it came down.’

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After last Winter I was forced to rebuild the hand railing on the steps for the third time. When the ice drops it usually crushes the railings and they must be rebuilt.  I attempted to build a replacement rail that would survive the ice drop and I was successful.  This huge ice sheet hit the railing and bounced down off and landed in the yard. That’s one project eliminated from my Spring repair list.
I began today by heading to Lowe’s to purchase the materials I’ll need to rebuild my mailbox.  I’ve come up with a new design that will hopefully keep those damned snowplow drivers from costing me more money next year.  Here are the results:

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‘Before’

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‘After”

Later this week my plans for rebuilding the frames for a portion of my garden will begin.  Then we’ll decide what we’ll be planting and where.  I’m looking forward to the warmer weather and getting outside to dig in the dirt a little.  Winter can’t disappear soon enough as far as I’m concerned.