Thursday, October 23, 2014

Throwback Thursday December 24, 1974

Me, December 24, 1974

Hey folks, this week's Throwback Thursday is forty long years ago when I was young and pretty. It's December 24th, 1974 at our town house in center city Philly.  I'm posing in front of my stash of Christmas cards.  I've been a big Christmas card sender since I was about twelve years old.  Still doing it folks but I'm thinking of drastically cutting back my card sending this year.

Me, forty years later  this morning at the Atlantic Cellular Phone store in Rehoboth Beach getting my new iPhone 6 set up. Lot of living in these past forty years!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Digital Communication

Communication by FaceTime

These days it's fashionable in some quarters to denigrate the new digital way of communication with friends.  The hairs on the back of my neck always bristle when I hear someone suggest "We should put away all the smart phones and go back to the way we USED to communicate with friends."  

I get it, that criticism assumes that using smart phones to check our various forms of communications in this Digital Age (e-mail,social media, et al) is replacing the old fashion face to face communication.  WRONG.  Not so.  

I will never apologize for using my iPhone in public. Whether I'm checking my e-mail (so I can keep up on my communications with my friends, neighbors, co-workers and others) or I'm checking the latest stock market activity or the latest news bulletin.  Leave me alone.  If you want to ditch your hand held electronic device that keeps you up with the world then go for it . . . . for yourself.  As for me, I'm taking advantage of this new Digital Age and the communication revolution.  Just as I get in my car to drive to the local supermarket instead of my horse and buggy, I'm taking advantage of the evolution of our civilization. Excuse me while I live in the modern age.

I have a couple of dear friends that I talk to on FaceTime almost every day. One lives in the north of this state but we only see each other in person usually only once a year.  That's when he comes down for his birthday in June and we get an old time photo taken. My other good friend, as regular followers of this blog know, lives in Toronto Canada.  We of course do not see each other in person but maybe twice a year (if we're lucky).  All the other times we communicate and share our friendship on FaceTime.  What would our friendship be like if we didn't have FaceTime? If I bowed to the retro shaming of those he eschew using modern hand held electronic devices to communicate with friends? Telephone calls, that's what.  And I probably wouldn't do telephone calls anyway because I hate talking on the telephone.  Always have, always will.  So impersonal.

The famous "Lar" of Claymont, Delaware
a HUGE Joe Biden fan

For me, the new "personal" is my electronic communication.  So if you see me walking down the street with my face glued to my iPhone or see me in a restaurant checking my e-mail on my iPhone (more likely you'll see me in a medical waiting room checking my e-mail on my iPhone but I digress), you'll have to excuse me for not joining into the Greek Chorus demonizing our new form of communication. 

Greek Chorus chanting "Oh don't use your iPhone!  Whatever happened to face to face communication?"
Answer: Miles - when you live miles apart from friends you talk FaceTime - just like being there

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What a Day!

All right folks, this is one of those posts with no perceivable subject other than me venting.

The day started with me and Bill (proper English?) getting up early and making the trek to the Georgetown VA clinic to have our blood taken.  I thought "How nice, the VA scheduled me and my hubby for the same time, same day."  But . . . . I knew it had to be too good to be true.  It was.  Even though the VA had called us to remind us of our appointment at 7:30 AM, when we got there . . . no appointment in the records.  Thus we had to wait for our doctors to come in and place the order.  Doctors come in at 9:00 AM.  We waited, I played with my iPhone, and we waited.  Our doctors came in, orders were placed and we had our blood taken.  Actually quite brutally in fact.  I had joked (as is my wont) with the Guy with the Needle "Ready for take-off?"  He didn't see the humor and he jabbed the needle in my vein. Uh . . . okay.  Someone is having a bad start to a bad day, just like me and Bill. Maybe he figured out we were gay and was taking out his hostility on us.  Bill has a nice bruise on his arm from where the blood was taken.

So we're out of there and down to B.J.'s in Milford since we were half way there and had already fought the morning commuter and school bus traffic.  We get to BJ's.  Closed.  Uh . . . okay.  Back home and wait for the truck that is going to come and pick up my friend Pat's 400 lb. coffee table that he had delivered to our garage last February when he was planning on building a house in Delaware.  Plans changed and coffee table is to return to Toronto.  I was supposed to be given a two hour window.  Uh . . . huh.  You know how that works.

So we wait all day.  At 5 o'clock I call the dispatcher inquiring as to where the pickup truck is.  She said "He's in Lewes."  Well, Lewes is just down the road, should be here in a few minutes, right?  WRONG.  

Half an hour later I call again.  "Amy" checks and says "He's only five minutes away."  Uh . . . . okay.

This time she's right.  I see the truck coming down our road.  He passes our driveway and is going to back in.  Oh no!  Stop!  He doesn't like this.  Well, I'm not going to have him ride over my flowers at the driveway entrance just to save him a few feet from using his dolly. Also, he doesn't like me taking a video.  He says "What's up with the video?"  I tell him "It's not against the law to take a video.  I'm just taking this for my friend to prove to him you actually came to pick up his coffee table."  This guy isn't happy.  I sense a problem.  He says "You should have asked."  Well, maybe he has a point but . . . . WTF?  I'm not the NSA even though I used to work there in a previous life.  He says "You know PhotoShop?"  Well actually I do but what is he getting at?  Man, get over yourself.  I'm not going to PhotoShop you into a porn picture.  Either this guy is a former cop who thinks taking videos in public is against the law (it isn't) or he has a arrest warrant out for him and he doesn't want to be identified.  All I know he that he was one sour truck driver.

Me and the very unhappy pickup deliver truck driver

He takes his dolly out and makes the two trips to our garage to pick up the base and the glass top of the coffee table.  I ask him "Is this going to take a circuitous route to Ohio then Toronto?"  He says "I don't know."  Of course, what other answer would I expect?  

He finishes loading the coffee table on his truck.  I ask for a receipt.  He says he has none. Excuse me?  I ask again and he says "I have nothing."  I call the dispatcher.  She says he has "the papers."  I tell him he "has the papers".  He says "No I don't".  I then get out the original shipment sheet for him to sign.  By now he's on the phone with the dispatcher.  He saying "But I can't give HIM that, it's my only copy."  I see that he has the papers.  I tell him "I can make a copy."  He gives me a shitty baleful look and says "I'm in a hurry."  I say "I'll only be a minute."  He says "I don't have the time."  I take the paper and say "I'll be right back."  He's not a happy camper.  Just WHAT is his problem?  Was he planning on stealing this $3,400 coffee table (yes, Virginia, it is one EXPENSIVE coffee table, an Original art design).  Maybe he's pissed off because I was taking a video of him driving up.  Maybe he's pissed off because I called the dispatcher inquiring as to his whereabouts.  I don't know but I'm the one who should be pissed off.  I waited around all day for that TWO HOUR WINDOW that he was SUPPOSED TO CALL ME WITH AND NEVER DID.  

Life in the Big City folks.  Or shall I say Life in Slower Lower.  Whatever.  Every day is an adventure in Ron's World.  

So this guy drives away today and I have yet another person in the world who DOESN'T LIKE ME.  He folks, what can I say?  I guess I am one unlikeable bastard.  You know what folks?  Each day that goes by I care even less.  I'm just going about my routine, trying not to step on any toes but still get things done.  Still trying to protect myself and not be taken advantage of.  Days like this used to bother me, not anymore.  Just another day In the Life.  Now I think I'll take in a couple of "Judge Judy" episodes to neutralize my negativity. 

Apple Upgrade To Yosemite - No Thanks

Apple's latest suck upgrade - Steve Jobs, where are you that we now need you?

The new dock and toolbar feature a flatter look, which is more in keeping with the design language Apple began to embrace in iOS 7. The new look isn’t so dramatic that users will be confused as to the function and purpose of interface elements, however; the change to the toolbars frees up space to give more usable area to the app upon which it appears, and the new look for Apple’s system apps in the redesigned dock make for easier legibility and recognition.


Apple has come out with their latest "upgrade."  It's called "Yosemite". It sucks.  

I didn't do the last "upgrade" to Maverick because I heard too many complaints about it, mainly how it hogged up all the memory.  Just what I need on my computer, more memory hogging by applications that I would never use in my lifetime.  

I knew there was a problem immediately when I saw the former very user friendly Dock was replaced by a flat, cartoonish, uninspired Dock.  Gone is Apple's commitment to design.  I suspected this would happen when Steve Jobs left the scene.  Who is designing for Apple now?  Former Microsoft nerdies?

Gone is the nice three dimensional Dock.  

To be replaced with a flat, inspired, "you don't need this" Dock.  

I'm venting folks.  

Why is it that when a company comes up with a fabulous design they always "upgrade" it to the point where it sucks!  Remember the original Thunderbird?  

1955 Ford Thunderbird
A cool looking car, right?  

Now look at the last time Ford made a Thunderbird model in 2005:

2005 Ford Thunderbird

It sucks, right?  And they pay people thousands of dollars for these "upgrades."

Hey Apple, go back to your roots and stop complicating things with these so called upgrades, especially when you're going backwards.  Not everyone is a tech guru.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Thoughts on Dying and Dementia

If you had an option of knowing how and when you were going to die, would you want to know?  

We're all going to die.  No one wants to die, at least no one who feels they have a life worth living. But that is the one certainty in life, we are all going to die.

Some of are lucky in that we know approximately when we're going to die.  Of course some would say "Lucky?"  Yes, I say lucky because at least they can get their life in order and plan an orderly and, hopefully dignified exit.  

In a few weeks I'll be 73 years old.  I may live another thirty years.  And then I may die next week. 

I often kid my friends that I don't have long to live.  But to tell you how I really feel, I have no idea.  I would like to live several more decade.  However with one very important caveat, I want to live those years pain free and with dignity.

Bill, my 86 year old spouse, recently sent me link to an article titled "The Heartbreaking and Beautiful Faces of People Living With Alzheimer's Disease." In that article were a half a dozen black and white photos of men and women suffering from Alzheimer's.

The article stated "Alzheimer's disease is a far-reaching condition, one that rips through not only the lives of those who have personally suffered through the diagnosis bu the lives of family members, friends and caretakers who brush up against the illness as well.  It can transform a loved one into a stranger, tunneling through relationships,, memories and routines until he familiar slips bleakly into the unknown. A brother, grandmother or husband's descent into dementia becomes an identity in itself. They are no longer themselves; they are captive to disease."

This morning I prepared our usual Monday morning laundry.  Every Monday we was our whites.  I gather up my underwear and socks and kitchen towels.  Bill brings up his underwear and puts it on top of the trash hamper for me to add to mine when I do the wash.  I put all the dirty clothes in and start the washer.  Then I have breakfast.  When the laundry is done, Bill puts it in the dryer and folds the laundry when it is done.  

This morning as I was finishing my bowl of cereal Bill said "Why didn't you put my laundry in?"  I looked and saw his dirty under still on top of the trash bin.  I remember thinking when I put my laundry in that there wasn't much laundry.  Now why didn't I think to put his laundry in?

Folks, it's these seemingly innocuous missteps like this that cause me to think "Is this the beginning of my slip into dementia and Alzheimer's?"  And it's not just this one instance.  There are times that I completely forget names of people that I know, that I see every day.  I forget them.  And I find myself trying to hide these lapses of memory much as my recently departed best friend Bob McC. did when I realized something was wrong with him back in 2001 when I just couldn't get it through his head how to retrieve his mail from his computer.  I remember at that time saying to him "What's the matter with you Bob?  You have Alzheimer's?"  Of course I was joking but as it turned out he was showing the beginning stages of Parkinson's disease.  For the next twelve years I watch him slowly descend into someone I didn't know.  

Me and Bob before his descent

Bob and I used to ride around and sometimes joke about getting older and losing our minds.  We asked ourselves "What would we do if we felt we started losing our minds?" I'm telling you folks, the way Bob went was not the way he would have chosen.  It just snuck up on him.  

My biggest fear is not that I would die, we're all going to die.  My fear is HOW I'm going to die.  Of course I don't want the pain.  But perhaps even more so, when I die I hope it is with a degree of dignity.  I don't know exactly why I feel this way, Bill says that people with dementia or Alzheimer's probably aren't even aware of their condition, they're in such a haze.  I don't know about that.  But the one thing I do know, that every time I miss something so obvious like not adding Bill's dirty laundry to the wash, like I do every Monday, causes me to worry "Am I going down that path to losing my mind?"

Last night I went to bed.  I fell into a deep sleep as I often do when I sleep at night.  I take an afternoon nap almost every day.  Some days I have a solid two hour sleep.  When I go into those deep sleeps it's like I died.  That's what I imagine happens when you die, you just go into an unconscious state.  No brain activity.  That's not bad folks, that rest.  An eternal rest for sure but rest.  

We struggle all our lives to have a happy, loving and comfortable life.

 I've been very lucky in that I have attained a comfort level that I am very happy with.  I have some people who care for me and who I care for.  Of course there are others who couldn't care less about me and even some who actively dislike me because I exercise my free will and life my life as I please and not according to they have decided in their hubris that I should live my life according to their rules.  But for those few people who know the real me, the good and the bad, respect and care for me just the same; their love and understanding of me cancels out all their negativity. 

I don't know what the tipping point for me will be if I find those "lapses" of my memory more frequent.  I have a couple of tentative plans to short circuit any descent into the Hell of dementia.  As the article and the photos said:

"The disintegration of the inner life hits the heart of human existence.  Our whole life and heart is devoted to developing our personality. A confrontation with people who suffer from dementia can be frightening because their existence raises questions about our own lives."

Of course this morning's experience probably meant nothing.  But I am of that age where every headache in the back of my head I think "Do I have a brain tumor?" and every time my chest hurts I think "Am I having a heart attack?"  And then when I forget something so obvious as putting in all the wash I think "Am I losing my mind?"  I guess the real test is when I do the wash but put it in the refrigerator instead of the washing machine.

The fact is that both of my Mother's older sisters ended their lives in a dementia haze (one was 89 and the other 93 years old).  My Mother, the last six months of her live (she died at 86) was starting to slip.  She kept confusing me and my brother's names.  My father and none of his ten brothers had dementia when they died.  So maybe there's hope for me.  Maybe I'll still be writing this blog about my imminent death twenty years from now.  Now wouldn't that be something?

Mom (left) and her two older sisters - all suffered dementia - 2005

Saturday, October 18, 2014


No Halloween for me this year.  Bah humbug.

Seriously, I just can't get into it this year.  Here we go on the roller coaster of holidays.  

Halloween, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas then . . . . the two coldest and dreariest months of the year, January and February.  

I don't know why I'm feeling this way.  Maybe it's because I feel I'm being rushed into "the holidays."  I used to love Halloween.  Maybe if I was invited to a party of two I would feel different.  Maybe not.  I don't travel at night anyway.  To tell you the truth, I would rather watch a few episodes of "The Good Wife" at the Tipton Cinema than venture out onto Route One and take my chances of having one of those aggressive drivers running into me.  Maybe I'm just getting old.

Every day Bill and I go out for a ride, maybe two.  Today we went to Milton and the Veggie Stand That Has No Name.  I love fresh vegetables.  I brought a pumpkin (naturally), green and red pepper, red potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini squash and an onion.  Today is probably the last time I'll be able to get fresh veggies this year.  Then it's off to Food Lion and the two week old shipped across the country tasteless veggies.

I seem to be in a mood today.  Don't know why.  Maybe it's because of the onslaught of shorter days.  It's 6:44 PM now and DARK outside. Each day gets a little shorter, that's always depressing.  

SAD: Seasonal Affectional Disorder

Man oh man, I have to do a more upbeat blog tomorrow.  

Friday, October 17, 2014


My sixth grade class - I'm missing from the picture because I was quarantined - something we apparently don't do today for fear of offending someone

See this picture of innocent kids from the Fities?  That was my sixth grade class.  I wasn't in this picture because one of my brothers had scarlet fever and our apartment was quarantined.  Our doctor, Dr. Neff, nailed a big, orange, rude quarantine sign on our apartment door.

Fast forward to today's scary world.  The world where the latest health threat is ebola fever.  Uh . . . what am I missing here?  Why don't we quarantine all flights into this country from the affected west African countries?

Oh sure, I hear the arguments, particularly from our now feckless leader (President Obama) that those people from those affected countries would just take a circuitous route to our country through Denmark or Belgium.  So here's my rebut to that lame argument, we can track potential terrorist but we can't track someone with a passport that is clearly stamped indicating from which country they traveled?  

In this world of Security Theater at the airports, now we have the president saying "Nothing to worry about here folks, move on" while new ebola cases develop. A hospital that is like the Keystone Cops treating their first ebola patient.  A Center for Disease Control, when an affected nurse who is running a temperature who is being MONITORED asks if she can take a COMMERCIAL flight to visit her family and gets a "YES" - folks . . . we have a problem right here in River City.  

I'm telling you folks, sometimes I just don't know what is going on in this country.  


Maybe it won't stop all those infected with the ebola virus but it could certainly minimize the exposure to that deadly virus in this country.  And oh yes, how about putting someone in charge?  Just saying.  

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Me - Bob White's Motel - Provincetown, Mass - 1974

Busy morning this morning folks.  Slow computer, so this is a quickie Throwback Thursday posting.  I may have already posted this photo before but it's worth posting again.  

This photo was taken at Bob White's Motel on the outskirts of Provincetown, July 1974.  My friend Bob McCamley and I visited Provincetown for the first time (the first of many subsequent visits of me).  

Our original place to stay was a place called "The Ranch" in Provincetown but when we couldn't stay there.  It was just too gay for us (beads around a canopied mirrored ceiling bed called "The Mary Todd Lincoln Room").  Bob and I were just too butch to stay there. So we hightailed it out of P-Town and stayed at the much more masculine Bob White's Motel.  After all, we did have an image to maintain . . . . at least then.