Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Packing For The Trip To Canada

Unpacked luggage on my bed


Well folks, the time is almost here.  My annual trip to Toronto, Canada to visit my good buddy Pat.  Every year at the end of summer I spend Labor Day in Canada.  I love Canada!  I like Pat too!

Thus begins the packing for the trip.  I think I have this down by now.  In the past I've always taken way too much with me.  Cloths that I never wear.  

I tell myself each trip, "Pack less Ron, you can always buy want you need at your destination".  But you know what folks?  I still pack an extra shirt of two (or three) "just in case."  Well, I'm here to tell you this trip this is what I'm packing:

  1. Five sets of underwear
  2. Five pairs of white socks
  3. One pair of long pants
  4. One shirt
  5. One pullover
  6. My pharmaceuticals (prescriptions)
  7. Eyedrops
  8. Macbook Air laptop computer
  9. Chargers for my computer and iPhones 
  10. Passport
And that's it folks!  Pat has my shaving equipment and toothbrush already in his bathroom.  Also my fiber blend mixture I take daily and the glass to mix it in.  

I already have a Canadian bank account (with a very nice exchange rate, thank you).

I will wear my shorts; my favorite seersucker shirt (I'll try not to duplicate shirts I've worn on my previous two visits - don't want the same shirt showing up in photos taken during different years). 

My friend Larry is picking me up next Tuesday here at Casa Tipton-Kelly next Tuesday at around 8:30 and driving me to the Philadelphia International airport for my 12:10 PM flight to Buffalo, New York. Pat will pick me up in Buffalo (shuffle off to Buffalo) and we will spend the night in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.  The next night we will stay the night at a hotel in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  Pat brought a hamster's nest condo in Hamilton in which he will move next year.  He's going to show me the converted hotel where his new condo will be constructed (it's not finished yet).  Then we're off to Pat's home in Toronto for the rest of the week.  

Pat and I last year at the "beach" in Toronto, Canada (Lake Ontario)

While in Toronto we'll spend a day at the Canadian Expo and try not to lose our hats this time when we take the roller coaster ride.  

We'll sample a couple of different vegan restaurants.  Pat is a vegan so I go vegan when we're together.  We'll visit other parts of Toronto.  Pat is a wonderful host and tour director.  Such a good driver managing that heavy Toronto traffic.  

This is a trip I eagerly look forward to every year folks.  I had always planned to travel when I retired and I have to tell you, since meeting Pat, my dream of traveling with a good friend and enjoying life has come true way beyond my wildest expectations. 


Next trip is when Pat comes down to Philly on my birthday in November, the day after the U.S. election.  Hopefully I will be able to celebrate the election of Hillary Clinton as president.  If Trump is elected, I just may go back to Canada with Pat.










Sunday, August 21, 2016

Ryan Lochte Apologizes for His 'Behavior,' Says He Learned 'Lessons'



Ryan Lochte - UGLY AMERICAN

Two images from last week have been haunting me.  One is of Olympian swimmer Ryan Locate. A 32 year old "kid" who epitomizes the arrogance and hubris of some of our professional American Olympian athletes.  The other is the image of a five year old Syrian boy who was pulled bloodied and covered in dust from the rubble in his home that was bombed in Aleppo, Syria. 

Oman Daqneesh

The one kid has known nothing his whole life other than deprivation and war. The other "kid" (32 years old) has lived a life of privilege and adulation. 


Both "kids" were in trouble last week.  Oman lost his home, and his brother.  He is homeless.

The other "kid" was caught in a massive LIE.  Ryan Lochte said he and his fellow swim teammates were robbed at gunpoint after a night of partying on the town at the Rio Olympics. 

Turns out Lochte and his teammates weren't robbed at all.  The full story still isn't out but what we know so far that has slowly dribbled out the past week is that the gray haired dyed Ryan and his fellow Olympic swimming teammates Jack Conger, Gunnar Bentz and Jimmy Feigen, after a booze filled night of partying, approached a local Rio Brazilian gas station and vandalized it by urinating on the wall and tearing down a sign.  


The dyed haired Lochte with the other "kid",  31 year old Michael Phleps


Lochte said he had a gun "put to his head" and was robbed.  Turns out what happened was that the security guards at the Shell gas station confronted Lochte and his frat boy pals about the vandalization.  The security guards do admit a gun was drawn, apparently to show them they were serious about holding "the boys" responsible for tearing down the door to the gas station rest room.

After the initial "robbery" incident, their story started to show inconsistencies.  When confronted with these inconsistencies, Lochte said:

"It's how you want to make it look like, whether you call it a robbery, whether you call it extortion or us paying just for the damages, we don't know.  All we know is there was a gun pointed in our direction and we were demanded to give money."

This morning Lochte issued a more contrite apology after he realized that his million dollar money making ability of endorsing products may be affected ("may"?) by creating an international incident where is now epitomizes and reinforces the Ugly American images that is so prevalent to our South American neighbors.  He said he apologized "110%" and produced fake tears to prove his "sincerity."  

Ryan, here's my message for you:  you f-cked up BIG TIME.  It's OVER.  And no thanks to you for ruining the Olympics for those true athletes who have sacrificed to much to go to and compete in the Olympics. Not only the American athletes (by the way, I'm an American that thinks the Olympics for all countries, not just the "USA! USA!" crowd to be covered disproportionally in the American media) but for those thousands of international athletes who did not have the privileged life that some of our American athletes have.  

When the Olympics started I vowed not to write anything about the Olympics because, frankly I can't stand the Olympics now.  The American coverage is one sided, packed with commercials, time delayed and too many soft feature focus stories about how the Olympic athletes faced such "hardships" to get where they are now, representing out country at these international games. At one time in the distant past I used to look forward to watching the Olympics on TV.  That was when most the events were televised in real time and all the countries were covered more or less equally.  At time when the commentators didn't pig up the airwaves by talking incessantly, giving "background" while the athletes competed.  And also while the athletes were amateurs.

Then came a decision some years ago to have professional athletes take over our participation in the Olympics, probably as a rest of the knowledge that the then Soviet Union and East European countries like East Germany had government subsidized athletes competing who regularly beat our American athletes.  Nothing was more distressing to me than to see our giant professional basketball players like Charles Barkley, Scotty Pippen and Magic Johnson take to the Olympic courts to represent the best of our country. 

The "Dream Team" 
Sure, they're excellent basketball players, they're professional.  Guess what? They won the Olympic gold medals at the 1992 Olympics that were held in Barcelona, Spain. Big surprise that they beat they opponents by an average of 44 points. This year's American "Dream Team" were so special that they didn't even deign to stay in the Olympic village, instead opting to stay on a luxury ocean liner berthed in the Rio harbor. 


Well folks, I'm going on longer here than I intended but I had to get this off my chest.  

I'll be truthful with you when I tell you that I despise Michael Phelps and his like.  Arrogant and clueless, not appreciating the good fortune that this country has afforded them. Oh don't worry about Phelps and Lochte, they already have their millions from past endorsements.  They both still live at home with their mommies, even though they're both in their early thirties.  They will still have their adoring girlie fans (and probably even a few gay guys but not this one, that's for sure).  Their privileged life goes one, albeit Locate's future earning potential probably has been affected "a bit" by his Big Lie.  I shed no tears for him.

This is who I shed tears for:


Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I Used To Think



Me with my Mom 1946


My fellow bloggers Tony and Spo recently posted blogs with the subject "I used to think." 

I think this is a great idea! Often these days I reflect on my life and how and why I have lived it.  I think of my successes, failures, missed opportunities and fantastic good fortune.  I often wonder if I would do anything different if I had a chance for a do over.  Of course I would.  Who wouldn't?

But that's not going to happen unless I die and I am reincarnated.  I've often thought about reincarnation (a subject for another blog for sure) but fear that I would come back as a young girl in a hot and dirty Calcutta slum and be forced into a life of prostitution at a young age.


 
Why is it that I always think of the worst if I am reincarnated?  Oh well, here are some of my "I used to think" items just off the top of my head:


  1. I used to think crime didn't pay. That all criminals received justice at the end of the movie.  However, life has taught me that too many criminals get away with their crimes.
  2. I used to think that officials in our government looked out for our best interests. Now I know that most of them only look after their own interests. Granted there are a few exceptions but those honest officials get found out and are dispensed with.
  3. I used to think if I was nice person and eager to please others, that my goodwill would be returned in kind. All too often I have found out that "being nice" is looked upon as a weakness to be taken advantage of but too many people.  There are exceptions but not as many as I had assumed in my Foolish Youth.
  4. I used to think that being older was a purgatory and I would be miserable. I don't know why, but my "senior years" are literally the best years of my life because I have a few good friends who like and respect me.  I have a comfortable home and enough money to pay the bills (for now) and enough to eat the foods that I love.
  5. I used to think I was destined for a hugely successful working career where I would make boatloads of money and be successful financially beyond my wildest dreams.

  6.  
  7. Never happened.  Every time I was on the threshold of financial success, it was snatched away from me like the proverbial ring on the merry-go-round. I attribute my failure at financial and career success to the fact that I have always lived my adult life (after the Army) as an openly gay man. For that I was punished.
  8. I used to think once I moved to the Rehoboth Beach area of Delaware with its large gay population I would be welcome in a friendly circle of friends. Sadly, after ten years I have found that most gay men and women are just as socially conscious and exclusionary as any heterosexual grouping of people according to income status. 
  9. I used to think I was unattractive and "not as good as" others because of my family background and income earning ability and my spontaneous and exuberant personality.  Over the years I have discovered that one's attractiveness is how you feel about yourself and not how others see you.  If you go into this world with an inferiority complex most people will see you that way and read you accordingly.  However, if you are comfortable with yourself and care not what other judgmental people think of you,


  10. you life will be a much happier life.  My only regret is that I didn't arrive at this wisdom earlier in my life and I would have lived a happier life.
  11. I used to think I was afraid of death. I am not afraid of death. However, I am concerned how I get there.  I do not want a long, prolonged and painful illness where I am dependent on others to keep me in a vegetative state.  That will not happen.
  12. I used to think I would be dead by the time I was sixty years old.  This year I will be seventy-five years old.  I am way past my "sell by" date.
  13. I used to think those in authority, whether in government or the workplace were smarter than me and knew what they were doing.  Sadly I have discovered that most of them are no smarter than I am and more than a few don't know what they're doing.  Too many of them only got to where they are through either family or social connections and not because of skill and their goodwill.
  14. I used to think workplace personnel departments in workplaces was there for the good of the employee but now know they are only there to protect the liability exposure of the business.  They do not have the employees' interest, only the interest of the company. I learned this lesson the hard way.
  15. I used to think workplace friends stood by you in hard times.  Another lesson that I learned that is in real life, when their jobs may be affected by testifying to the truth of my situation, they will not because by doing so they think their career path would be damaged (which was probably true). Another lesson that I learned the hard way. Real life is not like the movies.
  16. I used to think when I brought into cable television there would be no commercials like there was/is on "free TV" because I would be paying for TV. Another sad realization that over the years the cable TV has just as many commercials now as "free TV."  The only difference now is that you're paying for the commercials.
  17. I used think that the Republican party (of which I was a member for many years) stood for individual rights, equality and self-determination for the average citizen. Now I know they are bought and paid for by their corporate masters whose only goal is to destroy the social safety net (Social Security and Medicare) and lower taxes on the rich so they can have more and more and more money.  Their greed knows no bounds.

  18. I used to think that those in charge, whether it be business or government, operated in the best interest of the Great Unwashed Mass. Now I know they do not, most of them only are in it for power and greed.
So there you are folks.  I sound pretty pessimistic don't I?  Well, that's the way I feel. When I was young I used to believe all the happy endings in the movies.  Growing up in the Forties and Fifties, movies always had happy endings and the Bad Guys always got their due.  Over the years I have come to realize that Life is a game of survival, staying ahead of those who seek to take everything you have.  But, along The Way, there are this few who are genuine and who care about you. If you're lucky enough along your Path of Life to meet those people and have them for your friends, don't let them go, whatever their imperfections.  Because it is those people who will get you through Life.  Don't worry about people who will judge you by your actions, the way you look or your beliefs as some who are reading this blog post will do with me.  They will dismiss me as immature and ignorant thus proving my point that there is a lot of negativity in this world that seeks to tear you down. 

I've been writing my blog for eleven years now.  I write from my heart, unfiltered.  I know I offend many because of my style of writing.  My total honesty. My lack of social sophistication.


Martha Stewart - ultimate social sophistication - I fall woefully short and I'm sure Miss Martha would not approve of moi

But this is me and I am at long last comfortable with who I am.  I make no excuses for being me.

This I know.  All my life I have been a productive member of this society.  I've been a good friend to those who have known me. I have never cheated or lied to anyone.  Thus, if someone dislikes me because I haven't given to their favorite charity, subscribed to their chosen religion, or acted the way they thought I should act; then that is THEIR problem. 

So I thank those who read through this whole blog posting.  You've shown enough interest to know me better.  This posting was a good catharsis for me this morning. These feelings are always just beneath the surface of my personality.  In that way I am much like my Mother.  

I had the best Mother in the world. 
 
My Mom - 1942


Oh I know many others say that and I understand that they believe the same of their mothers. But for me I really did have the best Mother. However, towards the last year or so of my Mother's life she became very bitter towards the world. She had a tough life growing up.  Her mother died before my Mother was two years old. My Mother lived in a dysfunctional household until she eloped and got married at sixteen years of age.  Even though she loved my father, he was an "alley cat" just like her father.  But my Mother kept our family together and she was the proudest of her three sons.  Her "boys" as she called us. 

My Mother with her "boys" at our Father's funeral August 2000


Thus it was so sad to see her become so paranoid and bitter towards us at the end of her life.  I hope to God I don't end up that way.  Expressing my feelings the way I did this morning, this "catharsis", has helped. 

One day I will be no more on this earth. Someone will come into my house and empty it of all my personal possessions. I will soon become a memory.  However, one thing will remain, my blog postings spread all out over the Internet.  These postings will show a simple yet complicated human being that I am. One who endeavored to get along in this world and eager to please so I would be liked in return. Sometimes that hasn't always happened because the price to pay was too high. But through it all I have maintained my dignity and integrity. No one can take that away from me.

Have a great day!


Me, young and dumb and naive - 1952 (10 years old)










Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Pat



Three years ago, while I was updating my blog I received a comment during my posting.  I don't ever remember before receiving a comment while posting my blog before or since.  I answered the comment.

The comments answered my comment immediately. So I answered him again. 

We went back and forth for a few more comments then I asked him if he had an Apple computer.  He said he did.  I asked him if he used FaceTime.  He said he didn't.  He didn't know how to use it.

I suggested that we continue our conversation via FaceTime.  I told him how to use FaceTime and we connected.

Who was this person who connected with me?  He was (is) from Toronto Canada.  He had never read my blog before.  He found my blog after seeing a photo of me on the Internet in connection with me testifying before the Delaware State legislature for marriage equality.

The picture Pat saw of me on the Internet at the Delaware State Legislature testifying for Marriage Equality
 

He said he wanted to know more about me.  He did an Internet search and found my blog.

After that first connection I casually suggested that if he ever visited Delaware we should have an old time photo taken.


Me and Pat at Old Time Photo


  This suggestion is one I have made often to friends who visit me in Delaware. I didn't give much thought that he would take me up on my offer.  But much to my surprise he said he would "love" to visit me in Delaware. He said he was just retiring from his job and wanted to take a long delayed vacation.  


Pat at his retirement party

He made plans to visit me the following week.  I was surprised but ever the gracious host I made reservations for him at a local hotel (not the one where I work) in Lewes.


Pat in his Fiat leaving Casa-Tipton Kelly

The Friday that he drove down from his home in Toronto, he called me and told me that they didn't have a reservation for him at the hotel!  What?  I didn't know him so I didn't feel comfortable asking him to stay at Casa-Tipton Kelly.  I told him I would drive down to the hotel parking lot so we could figure something out.  

I drove to Lewes, crossed over the canal bridge and took the left turn into the hotel parking lot.  I see this guy approaching my car.  I'm thinking he's the parking lot attendant going to give me grief about parking there.  I moved my car.  He follows me.  Again, he approaches my car.  I give him a "look" and I'm ready to do battle.  I'm thinking of all the people who park in the hotel parking lot where I work and I don't give them grief, and this guy is going to give me grief?  Well, you guessed it.  The "parking lot attendant" was Pat, my Internet friend. 


Pat in the parking lot Beacon Motel parking lot August 16th, 2013

Thus began, on that late afternoon of Friday, August 16th, 2013, a friendship that I have been looking for all my life.


Pat in front of Half Full in Lewes the day I met him August 16th, 2013

Turns out the hotel where we originally made the reservation made a mistake, his reservation was for the following night.  We got him a room for the night at another hotel in Lewes. At least Pat would have to sleep on a park bench. 

I've been very lucky in my life with friends.  I have several long time friends since my elementary school days with whom I am still in touch.  I have longtime friends from my previous workplaces.  And of course I am in a long term relationship with Bill, my partner/spouse of fifty-two years. But all my life I have searched to that person who was a lot like me.  Someone with whom I have a lot in common.  And, of course, someone who I found good-looking.  Hey, I like good-looking guys. That's the way I am folks.


Pat in front of his hotel in Lewes, DE August 2013

After I met Pat in that Lewes hotel parking lot three years ago, I knew he was someone special. Someone with whom I could share the remaining years of my life.  Someone who would not be judgmental of me.  Someone who could put up with me.  I'm not the easiest person to get along with folks.  Believe it or not.

So folks, today I wish my Best Friend Forever, Pat a very happy anniversary. I hope we have many more happy days Pat!


Me and Pat at the Marathon Grill, Philadelphia, PA

Monday, August 15, 2016

My Stress Reliever



How do I relieve stress?  

Some exercise.

Some take drugs.

Some drink.

Some eat.

Some kayak.

Some play in a rock band.

Well, you get the idea.

I relieve my stress by sitting in front of my big screen iMac computer and playing online Scrabble while listening to "Antiques Beat" radio on my Bose radio. 

Occasionally I interrupt my online Scrabble games blog and check some of my favorite blogs.

Gone are the days where I ventured out to local cemeteries taking photos of headstones fulfilling Find a Grave requests.

Gone are the days where I organize family reunions and update my family tree on Ancestry.com.  

No more.  No mas. 

Ah, retirement is so wonderful.  I can do what I want to do. And these days folks, these brutally hot summer days I prefer to sooth my inner soul thus.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

My Visit to the Dermatologist

The Medical Arts Building off of Rt. 24, yesterday where my dermatologist practices

Folks, with the temperatures hovering around 97 degrees and oppressive humidity, Bill and I are housebound in our air conditioned ten year old ranch style Ryan home.  Ah, what did we do before air conditioning?  They say we became "acclimated" but I don't know about that.  Seems awfully hot these days to me.  

Yesterday we braved the Friday traffic on Route One and wheeled on down to the Medical Arts Building on Route 24 for my semi annual full body skin check by my dermatologist.  I hate driving on Route One, especially on a Friday afternoon in the summertime.  Just a lava flow of hot vehicles destined for the Atlantic Ocean waves of the Rehoboth Beach sands.  Oh the parking meter income in the summertime for Rehoboth.

I've been going to a dermatologist every year since 1990 when precancerous growths were discovered all over my face.  About half the time I've had those precancerous growths removed, sometimes by dry ice and sometimes surgically.  So far no skin cancer.  

So yesterday was a routine visit.  They know me well.  After a half an hour crawling in traffic for a trip that should have taken ten minutes I arrived at my dermatologist's office.  I was greeted with "Time to update our paperwork!"  I was given a clip board with eight sheets of paper to record ALL my past surgeries, medications, and check off any health issues I have.  God, how many times have I filled those forms out?  And I also had to fill out the releases for my medical records and photos (liability protection for my doctor) and the privacy forms.  When I was done I felt like I took my college SAT's again.  I always forget how many milligrams of my medications I take and you know I can't spell those medications which all seem to end in "stan."  

Oh well, I was finally ushered into my waiting room and told to disrobe (except for my short).  My now flabby 74 year old body thus would be on display again.  And to add insult to this indignity I was told "We're out of hospital gowns so you'll have to cover yourself in this paper sheet."  

WTF?

She handed me a folded tissue that looked like the under table cloth cover.  Aren't hospital gowns sort of  . . . . . . BASIC?  

I unfolded the sheet, which was very thing by the way, and attempted to cover my gangly, loose flesh, aged marked body as best I could.  I hopped on the paper covered examining table and awaiting my doctor.

He came in and greeted me.  I have to give him credit for not laughing out loud seeing me shivering under that VERY THIN blue tissue paper.  I thought briefly of talking a selfie of myself thus but thought better of it.  Wouldn't want to be the cause of my faithful readers having nightmares tonight. 

My dermatologist is of Chinese descent.  I have a Korean urologist. I don't know what that means but I thought I would mention that fact.  I think it is interesting.

Anyway, he greets me (we're like old friends now) and checks my sad, flabby body out.  He checks my left cheek, where on my last visit he removed a stubborn actinic keratosis lesion that just wouldn't go away.  During a visit last year he burned it off (my cheek was smoking) but it didn't take.  So my last visit he cut it out.  No smoking this time, only blood.  Nice.



Good news, that particular keratosis did not return He checks out the rest of my bod and I pass, albeit I do have a number of small keratosis but I am told that is "normal for my age."  That phrase "normal for your age" is a phrase I'm hearing a lot of since I entered my final "Golden" years. He informs me I don't have to come back for a year now.  Hallelujah!  

So there you go folks, I'm done with my doctors' visits for this year.  Oh wait, I do have one more in September, I'm getting my eyes checked again.  My left eye is weaker.  I think I need a new prescription.  My eye doctor has told me that I have "cataracts in my future".  Oh joy.

I'm clear now for my upcoming visit to Toronto, Canada to visit my "little brother" Pat at the end of this month.  Every year I spend Labor Day week in Toronto with Pat.  What a nice way to end the summer, eh?


Pat and me in downtown Toronto 2014
(sometimes a passerby will offer to take our picture together after seeing us struggle to take a selfie, this was one of those occasions)









Thursday, August 11, 2016

Medical Update and Other Bits of NewsI



Good morning folks!  How is everyone doing on yet another hot, muggy summer day? Here at Casa Tipton-Kelly we're managing to get through this hot, hot summer.  

We don't go out of the house much after ten in the morning in order to avoid the heat and humidity. I would love to do some yard work but hate it when I'm soaked in sweat after only five minutes outside.  Then it's inside to peel off my stinky, wet T-shirt and take a shower. 

Both of us, being the advanced ages that we have arrived at, have to be careful we don't become overcome by the heat. There have been a few times I got woozy while outside working pulling weeds. Same with Bill while he was checking for bag worms.

For the medical update that I teased in my blog banner title, my leg is doing great!  After a year and a half of tearing my quadricep leg muscle, my leg is 98% normal.  I walk every morning the length of our development, which is about a mile. I try to walk in the evening too but sometimes I bike.  It's so good to have my leg back.  Walking was always one of my treasures.  I have always enjoyed walking. And in my opinion walking is the best form of exercise next to swimming.

The VA didn't call me back to let me know if Bill is eligible for cataract surgery.  They were supposed to call me back "24 to 36 hours" but of course they didn't.  They have a program called "Choice" which enables veterans who are more than 40 miles from the nearest VA facility to use a local doctor. I just made a series of calls to get authorization for his cataract surgery. Several phone calls with live people then one that I had to leave a message.  They're going to call me back, I hope.  If not I go through the same routine tomorrow.

Oh it is so hot out today.  The humidity is the killer.  Of course I'm semi-soaked.  Stinking up this shirt I'm wearing.  Nothing like that sweaty smell to put one in the Summertime Mood.

Off to work today folks.  I expect I'll get a lot of calls for availability this weekend at the hotel.  We're full!  And NO, we DON'T have a pool. Try the Delaware Bay.