Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Staying Alive


Well, we didn't fall into the financial abyss.......yet. The Dow Jones Average finished up 485.21 today. The Nasdaq finished up at 98.60. I took a peek at my stock holdings (I couldn't bear to yesterday) and I saw where some of the loss was made up from yesterday. The financial crises isn't over yet. McCain is more erratic than ever (is he proving just how dangerous he is or what?) Bush appeared before the cameras again this morning. Were you reassured? One commentator on MSNBC said he looked like a beaten dog. That was an appropriate metaphor. What a mess we are in this country. Just yesterday, Wachovia Bank "merged" with Citibank. Wachovia is where one of my pension checks come from. This is hitting close to home now. I can see all too clearly how a recession would affect me. My part time job is important to help me pay my bills. Bills that I didn't anticipate when I retired to Delaware. The biggest bill is a 30 year mortgage that I have on my home here in Delaware. Yes, I got caught up in the real estate bust. I couldn't sell my Pennsylvania house and I had this new Delaware house. I finally had to lower my price on my Pennsylvania house in order to sell it. Unfortunately, my selling price wasn't enough to cover the cost of my new Delaware home, thus I had to get a mortgage. A mortgage that will be paid off when I'm 95 years old! That's why I need my part time job, to help pay that mortgage. If the economy goes down the tubes and a recession happens, it is quite possible that I could lose my job at the hotel because of less people traveling and enjoying the charms of Lewes, Delaware (where I work.) If I lose my job, that results in less income but it doesn't result in less bills. My monthly bills would remain the same. Mortgage, electric, heating, telephone, gas, TV, DSL, water, insurance. The only thing I can cut back on is eating out. One of my few pleasures. I don't eat out at fancy expensive restaurants but I do eat out with friends. I wonder if they serve cat food at the Purple Parrot?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Financial Armageddon?




The Dow Jones Average dropped 777.68 today. The largest point drop in U S history. The NASDAQ dropped 199.61. Is this our financial Armageddon? Probably. Shortly after the great Dot Com bust of 2001 I put away some cash just for this financial meltdown. Over the years since then I've thought a few times that perhaps I should have put that money in a CD. At least I would have earned some interest. After what happened today with the stock market, I'm glad I set aside some cash. We're in a terrible place in this country now. The hubris and greed of Wall Street unregulated got us here. This is the result of the deregulation of the financial institutions and markets that were put in place over the last seven years of Republican rule. The chickens are coming home to roost. Now John McCain is blaming Barack Obama for the whole mess. The ignorance and arrogance of John McCain defies belief. God help us if this man is elected president.

Friday, September 26, 2008

One More Week




Just one more week! The past five weeks I have been working full time at the Inn, filling in for a co-worker who is on maternity leave. She is schedule to be out six weeks. That means next week is my last week of working full time. I'm glad I had the opportunity to work full time. First, it enabled me to sharped my skills at the front desk. Only working twice a week, during the night shift, doesn't expose me to all the different situations that a front desk clerk encounters. Also, working one day after another full time, enables me to pick up my speed. I've also learn how to lay out the breakfast. This morning was my first big test in that category. I passed! Tasha, the regular breakfast hostess came in and pronounced, somewhat surprised, "You did well." You know what? That compliment from her meant just as much if not more than my boss complimenting me on a job well done. Working full time has put more money in my bank account too. That money enabled me to pay my annual school/real estate taxes with a check right out of my checking account. Something that wasn't possible when I lived in Pennsylvania. Back in those day I had to sell stock and cash in CD's to pay my Pennsylvania taxes. After paying my Delaware school taxes, I had enough money left over to buy real wooden blinds for the many windows in my house. Now didn't they change the character of my home? It looks like a real home now. I think we'll stay here. By the way, today is my partner's 80th birthday. Who would have ever thought I would be living with an 80 year old man? In about a month I'll be 67 years old. Who would have ever thought this young mind would reside in a 67 year old body? Well, one more week to go and I can get back to my regular schedule. And what would that be? Watching "Morning Joe" in the morning, catching up on my e-mails and posting to my blogs until noon time. Lunch, a nap, then a bit of gardening or shopping. Then my cable political shows in the late afternoon into the evening. That's basically my schedule, punctuated twice a week by working at the Inn Monday and Thursday nights. Works for me.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Clean Bill Of Health




This morning I got up early to catch the American Legion van (Post 28, the largest American Legion Post in the United States) to the Wilmington Veterans Administration Medical Center. I had a 9 AM appointment with the dermatologist. I didn't get much sleep last night because I worked at the Inn until 11 PM. I had to get up this morning around 4 AM to put myself together. One of the downsides of my retiring to Delaware is that I am quite a distance away from the nearest VA medical center. When I lived in Downingtown, I was 10 minutes away from the Coatesville VAMC. Fortunately for me though, the local American Legion Post 28 provides a van four times a week to transport us veterans to the Wilmington VAMC. Although I now have full insurance coverage through Medicare Part A and B and AARP supplemental insurance, I still use the VA for my medical care. Why? Because they take great care of me. Their focus is different. Unlike private medical care, the VA doesn't operate by how many patients they get in and out of their offices just to generate more income. Also, and this is a special pleasure I take, I don't have to wait in a waiting room with a bunch of squalling kids. Nothing against kids and family practices, but I've always felt that we old folk didn't get the same care a the youngest patients. Selfishly, I feel more comfortable with a bunch of old men (of which I am a charter member) than I do the moms and kids of family practices. The good news this morning was that I had my annual examination for skin cancer. Twenty years ago I had my first case of keratosis, which is a precancerous skin condition. On that fall day in 1988 I paid a visit to the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia to check why my left cheek hurt every time I shaved in an upward direction. The doctor looked at my face and said immediately that I had a precancerous skin condition called keratosis. Of course when I heard the dreaded "C" word. I thought I would fall off of the doctor's paper covered table. Cancer. I thought my life was over. However, Dr. Uy soon explained to me that I had a precancerous condition that is probably the result of prolonged exposure to sun. Yep! That was me. A sun bather from way back. Now was the time to pay the price for all those years laying in the sun baking. To make a long story short, I had to undergo a painful topical chemotherapy treatment which removed the upper layer of skin from my face. Since then I've had to visit a dermatologists at least once a year to make sure the keratosis skin lesions have not return. Over the years I've had several instances of keratosis. The different dermatologists I've visited have removed these lesions by burning them off with dry ice. Painful? Yes (not as painful as that kidney stone I passed though.) All around me I have friends, including my Mother and brother, who have had more serious forms of skin cancer. So, you better believe that I see my dermatologist once a year at least. The problem when I moved down to Slower Lower Delaware (aka Sussex County, Delaware) was the lack of dermatologists. Surprising, since I live in a sea side resort community. But, that is the state of health care in this country. I even had trouble finding a general practitioner. I did find one but had to make an appointment many months in advance. So, this morning me and seven other veterans rolled up Route 1
to the Wilmington VAMC. Entering the main lobby, I headed towards the elevator and got off at the sixth floor of the building. I scanned my Veterans ID card in the machine in the dermatology unit. The Veterans Administration is very efficient in this manner. I went to the waiting room to await my 9 o'clock appointment. It wasn't too long until I was talking to my fellow veterans who were also waiting in the waiting room. Gentle banter was passed back and forth. I've always found at whatever VA waiting room I'm in, I easily make friends with the other veterans waiting for their appointments. Not so in a general practitioner's office. There, I'm just trying to stay out of the way of the screaming kids and demanding moms. It wasn't too long before the doctor appeared and asked me into their office. The doctor examined me and pronounced me clean. Big whoop! I made another year without a dangerous skin cancer problem. My next appointment is next September. Interesting fact, the dermatologist team that now services us veterans at the Wilmington VAMC are from the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. What goes round, comes round. Again, I am indeed fortunate. Another good day for Retired In Delaware.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Coming Down The Stretch




Only two more weeks left on my current temporary gig at full time work schedule. While I don't mind working full time, it doesn't leave me much time for what I really like to do - working in my garden and posting to my blog. While I appreciate that opportunity to work full time I'll be glad when I go back to part time work. At this time of my life, my routine and lifestyle is more suited to working part time. Working part time gives me the opportunity to have the best of both worlds. I have the freedom of retirement and yet still have the discipline of the workplace. I realize this doesn't work for everyone but it is what works for me. I guess I'll always work. At least as long as I can get up in the morning and put on my pants and shoes. However, it is getting tougher putting those shoes on.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Wild Ride




How about that stock market this week? Talk about a wild ride! Hopefully the free fall of the stock market is at an end with the promise of the emergency infusion of funds from the Federal government to save some companies that are too big to fail. My fear is that the worst is not over. I would like to think that we have hit the bottom but I think that is wishful thinking. I watched what few shares of stock that I have sink almost 50% in two days. So here in my lifetime I have seen my IRA value drop by over 90% during the bursting of the Internet Bubble of 2001. Then two years ago I got caught in the beginning of the Housing Market Bubble and was trapped into paying two mortgages for almost a year. I finally sold my house for a lot less than I had planned and as a result I now have a mortgage that will be paid off when I'm 95 years old. That's one reason I'm still working, to earn enough money to pay my monthly mortgage. That's not the only reason I'm working during my retirement. I enjoy my job working at a local small boutique hotel. My coworkers are interesting and fun to work with, and I enjoy meeting new people. But the wild ride of the market this week brought back to me how tenuous my security is. The terrorists have tried to bring this country down by ramming airplanes in the twin towers of the World Trade Center. However, the deregulation of Wall Street may have achieved what the terrorists couldn't achieve, bringing this country down. Can there still be any question about privatising Social Security and putting those funds in Wall Street?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Like a Lead Balloon


Well folks, in spite of what presidential candidate John McSame said yesterday ("The economy is fundamentally strong), the stock market sank like a lead balloon yesterday on the news that Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. Of course the one stock holding I have left also dropped drastically in value yesterday. Thus the great Ripoff continues under this Republican administration. And yet we hear "Extend the Bush tax cuts! The economy is fundamentally strong! I'm the change agent! Barack Obama is a Muslin! Sarah Palin is our saviour!" Do you get the feeling that the world is closing in around you? Shortly after George Bush took office I took money out of my bank account (cash) and placed it in a safe place just in case the whole banking system collapsed. At the time some friends of mine thought I was taking extreme measures for something that was unlikely to happen. My "extreme measures" are seeming less and less extreme every day. Fact: I sold all the stock in my IRA account a couple of years ago when the housing market started to collapse. I put those funds in various certificates of deposit. The last CD I had was with a large well known banking institution called Lehman Brothers. The same Lehman Brothers that declared bankruptcy yesterday. Thus, I missed my one cycle of having all my life savings in a failed institution. That was too close of a call for me. I don't want to panic but I keep getting this sickening feeling that the bottom is going to drop out of life as we know it. I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but look around you. We're in a never ending war. The stock market is collapsing. Forty seven million people in this country have no health insurance; and those that do have trouble finding a doctor who will accept new patients. Global warming is fact in spite of what George Bush and his Kool-Aid drinking followers claim to the contrary. And yet the discourse we get from the little man who the Republicans nominated for president is lies, lies and more lies about the Democratic nominee. And the sad fact is, that too many people who vote in this country will buy into those lies. The Republicans know how to use the fear card ("Bar the door Katie! The gays are getting married!") I don't know where this country is going but it doesn't look good now. At least I have a few dollars stashed away for when McBush and McSame totally destroy this country with their selfish and short sighted policies. This blog was not intended to be political but sometimes it's hard to stay away from this subject when one sees that this country is headed towards disaster if John McCain and his moose field dressing vice presidential candidate is elected to serve out another four years of the Bush/Cheney regime. God help us.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Three Down, Three To Go


Ah, I've completed half of my temporary full time job obligation. For the next two days I plan to luxuriate and just do nothing. Actually, I won't do "nothing." I will do whatever hits me fancy at the moment. What's hitting my fancy right now is to update this blog. Somehow I don't feel that my day is complete until I make my daily blog entry. In the past three weeks, there are some days that I am just too exhausted to think straight. Did I say "straight?" Me saying "straight" is like McCain saying he's a "straight talker." McCain is anything but a straight talker these days in which he will say anything, lies included, just to get elected president. But, I don't want to get into my political views on this blog (that's for my "Ron Sees The Light" blog.) Sometimes I just can't help myself since following politics is and has been one of my passions. Back to my full time work schedule. I am finding that I enjoy working full time. Sure, I'm sometimes exhausted at the end of the day from answering questions from the hotel front desk such as "How far are you from the beach? Do you have a pool? How close are you from the water? Does my room have a good view of the water?" (see a theme here?) Of course I get "Do you have oatmeal?" questions (like last night.) Another downside to working full time is that I don't have enough time to do my chores like shopping, cleaning the house, and yard work. And that reminds me, as much as I like yard work, I'm ready for fall time. That's what I like about the change of seasons, I can take a break from the constant yard work. Another one of my passions is my family genealogical research. Since the warm weather I've had to abandon my four hour a day updates to my Family Tree Maker computer data base. I have enough data to enter until the end of my days. When I first retired to Delaware, I did very little. I had to unwind after the trauma of selling my house and moving all my worldly possessions to my new home in Delaware. Then I had all the problems associated with getting everything hooked up in this new house (TV, computer, phones - nothing was easy - problems all.) However, after three months I felt like I had to do something. I had to have something to structure my week around. Plus, I needed extra money to now help pay for the mortgage on my new home which I did not plan for when I first made the decision to move. I decided to look for a part time job. My previous part time job was working the front desk of a hotel (The Hampton Inn in Exton, PA.) I liked that job for many reasons. I got to meet people, the commute was good, and I didn't take the job home with me. There are many other reasons why I like working in the hospitality industry, perhaps the main being that my personality is one that is service driven. I like to provide the customer service that I, myself, find so lacking in today's business world. Perhaps, I get no greater satisfaction that seeing the smile on a guest's face after they have experienced a pleasant stay at the boutique hotel where I work in Lewes, Delaware. So, while I may be a little stressed out from the last three weeks of working full time, I am glad that I had the opportunity to work full time and sharpen my skills at the front desk. But, at the same time I am looking forward to the next two days of doing JUST NOTHING!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Voting




Running late here. Working full time is digging into my blog posting time. It is late at night now. I have to get up early tomorrow morning to be at work by 7 AM. However, I did want to post a blog about my voting experience on Tuesday. I wasn't aware that Tuesday was primary voting day. I'm from Pennsylvania where the primary election takes place in the spring. The last several years I worked the polls at a church nearby my home. It was a job I looked forward to every year. I got a chance to meet many of my neighbors plus participate in democracy. From my earliest memory I've been interested in politics. In fact, my earliest memory of a political convention was the 1952 Democratic Convention in which Adlai Stevenson threw his choice of vice president to the open convention. Estes Keufauver was selected. There have been many conventions since. I've watched all of them. Perhaps the most traumatic for me was the 1968 Democratic Convention that was held in Chicago Illinois. I couldn't believe the violence that was meted out to the Vietnam anti war protesters by the Chicago police. Perhaps the second most traumatic convention for me was the 1992 Republican Convention that was held in Houston Texas. At that convention both Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan delivered hate filled homophobic speeches that were heartily cheered by the Republican convention goers. That was when I realized that the Republican Party didn't want me as a member. I am gay and both Pats made it clear that the Republican Party did not welcome gay men and women. I switched my registration to Democrat, not so much because I embraced all of the Democratic Party ideals but because I wanted to continue to vote in the primaries. Both Pennsylvania and Delaware require a vote to be registered to a particular party to vote. Independents do not vote unless it is for an independent candidate. I remember so well how I couldn't wait to vote for the first time. The first time I voted one had to be 21 years old. This was ironic because I joined the Army when I was 18 and didn't get out until I was 21 years old. Thus, even though I was serving my country, I couldn't vote. Thank goodness that inequity has been addressed. I have voted for almost every election since. Even if I didn't know all the local issues or local candidates, I felt it was my responsibility to vote. For the life of me, I cannot understand how anyone can complain about our current state of affairs and not vote. It just boggles my mind. That said, I voted yesterday. This is the second time I've voted in Delaware. I'll say one thing, they don't make it easy to vote in Delaware. First, I didn't even know it was voting day. Secondly, I didn't know where to vote. One has to do some digging. Thank goodness a good friend of mine who I was visiting on Tuesday asked me if I voted. I said "Vote? Is it election day today?" He said "Yes." I live in a different jurisdiction than my friend so after I left him I went on the hunt to where I vote. I live in the Milton district of Sussex County. I stopped at a local fruit and vegetable stand. I asked where to vote. The young man who was selling fresh ears of corn and tomatoes (I bought some), said they moved the polling place again. I asked where it is now. He told me the local school up the road from his stand. I get in my car and weave my way up the road into the school ground at about 10 MPH. School is in session. It's been a long time since I've been in a school building with students. In fact, it has been almost 50 years (the last time I was in school.) I have to say, I didn't like it. After some difficulty, I find the voting area. I approach the table manned (and womaned) by several senior citizens who volunteer their time to work at the polling state (why no young people?) I say my last name "Tipton." The elderly lady says "Lipson?" I say "No, Tipton." She says "Lipson?" again. I say again "TIPTON!" Well, to make a long story short, she didn't have my name. They advised me to go to the other polling station which was another school. Oh goody. This was an elementary school at the other end of the town. Now, the last time I was in an elementary school was maybe 60 years ago! Again, no easy thing finding the registration desk. However, I did find it, announced my name. Someone repeated my name (as we poll workers are supposed to do - that is the same procedure in both states), and then said "DEMOCRAT!" Damn right. DEMOCRAT! I was directed to a curtained voting booth. Upon entering and studying the names on the ballot, I realized I did not know any of them nor where they stood on the issues. That is my fault. I've been too busy with my own day to day life and concentrating too much on the national political scene. Besides, I don't get local TV because I have satellite TV by DirecTV which doesn't provide local channels. I'll blame DirecTV. Still, I voted and again got that feeling of butterflies in my stomach like I always do when I vote. As always, I experienced that indescribable feeling of pride and gratefulness that I always do when I vote. The next time I vote, I will know who I am voting for. That will be the presidential election in November. I will vote to end the great national nightmare of the past eight years.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Bring On The Fall




Bring on the Fall! I'm ready. The Praying Mantis is ready. Summer was nice. I really enjoyed those long, hazy summer days. What a pleasure to work in my gardens until 8:30 in the evening with the sounds of summers soothing my soul. A special treat for me were my long pleasant evening walks through my development. The warmth of the summertime sun on my skin was almost erogenous. The smell of freshly cut grass brought back memories of my Fifties childhood when I would mow my neighbor's grass for 50 cents. The noisy cacophony of Purple Martins, bluebirds, and even the determined sparrows building their nests, feeding and raising their young added to the special magic of the summertime season. But, all good things must come to an end. However, I do not meet the end of this summer season with sadness. It is time for a change. I love living where I can experience the change in seasons. While it is true that as I get older I do not like the extremes of the summer and winter season, I do appreciate the change. By moving to the southern most county of Delaware, I can enjoy the changes of season without the discomfort and pain of the extreme cold and heat. Also, while I love yard work, it is starting to get old. Yesterday I was again using the weed whacker to trim the backyard after Bill mowed the lawn. It seems like I just did that three days ago. Actually, I did! The rains that Hurricane Hanna dumped on us last Saturday gave every growing thing a fresh shot of adrenaline. Much like McCain choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate reinvigorated the Republicans (don't even get me started on that subject.) Yesterday Bill and I shot up Route 1 to Dover. I picked up my much needed new eye glasses at Sears and got a membership at Sam's Club. After returning home yesterday and having lunch, I took an afternoon nap. I've been missing my afternoon naps since I began working (temporarily) full time at my job at the hotel. Today I'll travel down to a local nursery to stock up on winter pansies and gas up my Subaru Forester (no, I decided not to get a new vehicle at this time) in preparation for another five days in a row working. Polkamotion, a polka festival, is making an appearance at the Rehoboth Convention Center this week. Bill loves polka (I hear him listening to one of his old tapes even now as I type this blog.) The last time I heard a live polka band was in 1961 when I was stationed at Fort George G. Meade in Maryland. At that time I was flying solo and Bill was in the Air Force stationed in Japan. Unfortunately, that outing ended in a bar room brawl (too much beer by some participants) but we all had a great time in spite of the spilled beer, broken glass and bloodied brows. The early morning sun is high in the sky, there is a gentle breeze and the temperature is a low humidity 71 degrees. It is another perfect day at this wonderful part of the country that I retired to in southern Delaware. I am indeed very fortunate.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hurricane Hanna and the Wedding


Today I'm well into my second week of working full time at my hotel job. This weekend we had a wedding planned for today. All the preparations went on early in the week. The tent in the parking lot. The wedding planner darting back and forth. The bride and groom constantly changing room assignments for guests. Finally, the Big Day arrives. But guess who else arrived? Hanna. Hurricane Hanna. The Mother of the bride fretted and tried to get an assurance from the wedding planner that Hurricane Hanna wouldn't blow through just as the wedding guests were dining and dancing in the tent at the wedding reception.

Finally, a decision was made. No tent. The wedding would be held indoors. The reception would be held at the bride's Mother's house nearby. Saturday, the Big Day of the wedding arrives. The morning sun rises on the eastern landscape, causing the early morning fog to evaporate. I arrive early in the morning to unlock the hotel. Outside, propped up against a column is one of the wedding guests. A young man who apparently had too much reveling the night before. Perhaps at a bachelor party. I clock in and head back out towards the lobby to go up the street to get the morning papers. Upon returning with the newspapers I see the young man has now draped his body over one of the lobby chairs. He is out. His pants are off. His boxer shorts are on full display for all to see. Apparently he thinks he is at home. I respectfully poke him in the shoulder and ask him if he is a guest at the hotel otherwise he will have to leave the hotel, taking his pants with him of course. He regains consciousness and murmurs "Wedding......." and gets up and stumbles towards the elevator, shoes in hand. I return to the kitchen to relay this sequence of events to the breakfast hostess. Just another story to add to my every growing list of hotel anecdotes (so many stories, so little time.) As the morning progresses, different small business folk, all representing the tableaux of a perfect wedding begin to appear. The florist, the cameramen, the man with the palms (palms?), the men with the wedding arch (see picture), and on and on. The wedding was scheduled for 5 PM in the Parkview Room, which overlooks the parking lot where the wedding tent was installed but has since been removed. No dancing in the parking lot tonight. Right on cue, the winds and rains of Hurricane Hanna (now officially a tropical storm) arrived almost exactly at 3 PM. The time of my shift departure. Monica, my relief, takes over the reins. Almost immediately she is called outside on some urgent wedding related matter. Tropical Storm Hanna was waiting for her. Monica was soaked when she returned to the front desk. She lamented "Now my hair is flat."
I was about to venture out in that torrential downpour myself. I didn't want to play anymore. Thus I left Monica, the wedding planner, and various and sundry folks who were all scurrying in place to make this a perfect wedding in spite of the ominous weather forecast. Tomorrow, when I go in on the 3 PM shift I will find out how all the participants did. I hope they had a wonderful wedding and that the bride was beautiful. Just another day in the hospitality business. I love it.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Republican National Convention




Here I am, sitting up late listening to Rudi Guilani knock Barack Obama. I'll have to admit, he's getting in some good shots. I should be in bed now so I can be all fresh and ready when I get up at 4:45 AM tomorrow to get ready to go to work. I'm interested in Sarah Palin's speech. Listening to Guilani I'm reminded of Anne Richards and her speech at a Democratic Convention knocking the first George Bush. That speech backfired on her because George Bush was elected president and she lost her job as governor of Texas. Interesting how Guilani feels the need to belittle Obama and build up Palin. While I'm sure she's a very nice lady, but a vice presidential candidate? One beat away from the presidency? I don't think so. Of course all those who are drinking the Right Wing Republican Kool-Aid will find that she is the MOST qualified candidate for vice president. This is going to be an interesting election. It will be close. There are those who will never vote for a black man, no matter how qualified. However, what really concerns me is how could anybody vote for McCain. This man is a hothead. Do we want someone like him with his finger on the nuclear button? This is what scares me to death. Not electing a woman like Sarah Palin as vice president but electing a man like John McCain as president.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Day Off




Ah relaxation. Today was my first day off from work after a five day stretch. That's the good thing about having a job. One does appreciate the days off so much more. When I first moved down here to Delaware after a horrendous experience in selling my previous house, I took about three months off. I did nothing. However, after a time I realized I needed a job. Not only to help with my new mortgage payment (as a result of selling my previous house for a lot less than I had planned), I needed a job to structure my life around. However, the trick was to establish a balance between work and leisure. Working two nights a week and every other weekend, I have established that balance. Recently I was asked to temporarily work full time for the day time front desk clerk who is on maternity leave. I agreed without hesitation. I was anxious to see how I could handle working full time again. It wasn't bad. However, it wouldn't want to be doing it for the next 40 years like when I began my adult working career. But, at the end of my five day stretch I didn't want to "play" anymore. While I love my job; giving restaurant reviews, answering the phone, giving directions to everything from the way to the beach to the best manicurist, taking reservations, and telling the curious guest which side of the Cannon Ball Building the cannon is lodged (I really did get this question last week and when I answered "I don't know", I was informed by the guest "You should know") I was ready for a day off. Today the weather was just about a perfect day for my day off. A friend asked me to join him for dinner at a local gay restaurant. I was reluctant because of several previous bad experiences. In the past friends and I had enjoyed their $5.95 Burger Night. Their hamburgers were delicious as well as their French fries. However, we soon discovered that their once delicious hamburgers had degenerated into grease burgers. My last visit in December was to take a friend to celebrate his birthday. Disaster was averted at that time when the waiter replaced my almost inedible eggplant entree with a generic chicken dish, which was at least edible. I thought I would give them another try during this visit. Alas, they are still serving grease burgers. The French fries were even terrible. Undercooked and tasteless. However, all was not lost. Prior to being seated in the almost empty dining room (always a bad sign, especially at the height of the summer tourist season), I had an Appletini at the bar. It was the best Appletini I've ever had, bar non (no pun intended.) An almost perfect ending to an almost perfect day. One more day off then back to the races.