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.