Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Catcher in the Rye


Below is a response to my lifelong friend (from grade school days to our old age dotage now) Larry (aka "Nitewrite") blog posting on the effect that J. D. Salinger and his book "The Catcher in the Rye" had on his love for writing:

My thoughts after reading your blog posting on J. D. Salinger and how he handled the fame that came from his very successful first novel, "The Catcher in the Rye."







Like you I write because I enjoy writing. I make no claims to being a great or even good writer. I write purely for my own pleasure. However, unlike you I would like to gain fame from my writing. Is that fame likely to happen? No. I am a realist after all. But that isn't what drives me to write. I write because I feel a need to write. If I didn't write I would feel like I am suppressing a part of myself that needs to break free.






I am thankful that we live in a time that we can write freely through blog postings. We don't need permission from some anonymous self appointed know-it-all in New York City to make public our writings. It's all about freedom. And what greater treasure in life is there except loving and being loved?






Will I ever have a large audience? I doubt it. The reason is not because I have or don't have talent. It's not because I haven't been formally trained as a writer (which I don't believe in anyway.) It is because there are millions and millions of writers who post blogs on the Internet, some talented and some not. We are but a grain of sand on the beach, no matter how much our particular grain of sand sparkles.






Do I have regrets? No. I am very happy that finally, in my lifetime, I can express my thoughts freely and not have someone try to silence me. Perhaps that why I got so upset a few months ago when the husband of a Facebook friend of mine criticized me for a FB posting I placed. There are always those who see the world through their own narrow prism and are unwilling or incapable of anyone else having the freedom to do the same.






There are too many people in this world who try to silence others with whom they don't agree or who are not in the same tribe as they are.






I think why we all identified with "The Catcher in the Rye" was because Holden Caulfield represented the rebel in all of us who yearn for freedom and are willing to tell it like it is, consequences be damned. Holden Caulfield represents the spirit in all of us that yearn to be free to the imposed restraints that society places on us.  His novel dealt with the complex issues of identity, belonging, connection, and alienation.  I believe this is why we Lar, in our formative adolescent years identified so much with this novel.








If I couldn't write, I would feel as if part of me had died. Writing and taking pictures is how I express my individualism. It is me saying "I am, he said."






I have read many books since reading “The Catcher in the Rye.” But I have never read a book since then that I identified so completely. This book enriched my life and I will be forever grateful to J. D. Salinger. Salinger may have died but his book and his message will last forever.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

White Out

We were warned. They said it was going to snow today. It's snowing. Sideways.




It wasn't supposed to be like this when we moved to southern Delaware. We were told it rarely if ever snowed down here. And when it did snow it only stayed for a day.



Well, this is the THIRD snow this year. This is getting old.



Oh sure, it's pretty and everything. Maybe if I was a kid with a sled and there were some hills down here I would go sledding. But I'm an old man who can't be bothered by this impediment to my normal activity.



Wouldn't you know it? I bought tickets over the phone yesterday to the first Camp Chorus in Rehoboth Beach tomorrow night. Reminds me of last year when I bought tickets ahead of time for the Lewes Garden Tour only to have the skies open in a monsoon downpour the day of the tour. Of course the tickets were non-refundable.



I have to admit all the white stuff is pretty. Sort of reminds me of our days in Pennsylvania. The change of seasons is nice. But I did just wash my car from the salt and gunk from the last snow storm.




Oh spring, where are you?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Avatar Take Two

One thing I got from the movie “Avatar” was a reminder that we are all inhabiting bodies which are “avatars” for our true selves.




From my earliest memory I have always had the feeling that I was on the inside looking out of my body.



Some years ago I saw a movie called “Being John Malkovich” which explored this very theory of transporting ones soul into another’s body and looking out through that body.



This is a view I haven’t expressed very often because I a personal basis. When contrary views are expressed they feel threatened and feel compelled to “save” me from myself by kicking into their evangelical mode to pray for forgiveness of my “sin.” They default to the obedience factor of their religion.



My time in this body shell which I have inhabited for the past 68 years is coming to an end. The old body isn’t what it used to be. Like an old car, it’s starting to show its rust spots. Different parts are showing weakness and starting to fail.



What happens now? Our culture has taught us to hang on until we run out of steam completely and stop. Hopefully this process isn’t too painful and we’re not a burden on others. That is a bridge that is yet to be crossed.



Looking back over the past 68 years I have to see I have been very happy with the “avatar” that was supplied for me. Early on I was somewhat disappointed by my bodily image but as I grew older I realized that attitude was caused more by others towards me (read “father”) than reality. Once I got away from the smothering, negative influences of my home life and out on the world stage I discovered that I wasn’t as bad and I was constantly told by my father.



Would I have made changes if I were to repeat the past 68 years again? I probably would. But that isn’t the way life works. We’re given this one body (avatar) to use during the learning process that is our earthly existence. What we do with it is our own free will.



We can choose a path that is dictated by others either through their manipulation by book (Bible) or force of character. That is our choice. We can choose to do good or evil. It is my belief that most of us are hard wired not to do evil but rather provide a balance to those forces of evil that do exist in the world.



That is what I got from the movie “Avatar”, the forces of good against evil. That is the genius of this movie. Not only did it show how humans can slip into another body but how they can triumph over evil. Yes, the movie “Avatar” to me was more than special effects, it was about Life.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Avatar



Yesterday I finally succumbed to all the hype and saw the most popular movie of all time, Avatar.



I was not disappointed. Avatar was perhaps the best movie I have ever seen in my life.



Avatar contains all the qualities I like in a great movie:



• Great production values – the special effects are spectacular

• Riveting story line

• Good character development

• Excellent direction, all the scenes flow together smoothly

• Super pacing – even though the movie is long, it moves fast

• Superior casting and acting - everyone was perfect for their role



I could go on about many of the wonderful aspects of this movie but suffice it for me to say that this is one great movie.



This is the first 3-D movie I’ve ever seen and I’m ruined now. It’s going to be hard to go back to two dimensional movies. There were times when I almost had to bat away the floating mayfly type insects that almost touched my nose. And a couple of times I almost ducked when a weapon was pointed at me!




This is a movie I have to see and will see again. And again.  I want to go back into that world.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A Day to be Retired


The wind is howling.




The rain is horizontal.



I'm retired.



This is one of those lovely days when I cherish being retired. No venturing outside my warm and cozy domicile today.



I'll catch up on a few e-mails. Check Frank Rich and some other Sunday columnists.



I'll have a little lunch (Doritos and my special homemade chicken salad on high grain and fiber bread) while I check the noontime cable talking heads on MSNBC.





Then it's time for my nap.



When I awake it will be time to check my e-mail and Facebook messages again.



Then my evening lineup of liberal talk shows begins at 4 o'clock on MSNBC with the Dylan Rattigan show followed by Chris Matthews, Ed Schultz, Chris Matthews (again, sometimes I watch it twice), Keith Olbermann and then Rachel.





Sometime in between Keith and Rachel I'll have my dinner of Caesar salad followed my a slice (or two) of the Quiche Lorraine that I made on Saturday will dollops of raspberry jam (on top of the quiche, that's the way I like it.)



After my evening lineup of shows on MSNBC, I'll take in one of my Netflix movies (one is expected to arrive today, I'm on the three put at a time DVD plan, thinking about going on the four out at a time DVD plan.)



Then it's time for my daily journal entry.



After my daily journal entry I treat myself to a dessert before I go to bed (heedless of all the warnings about eating before you go to bed. My weight has stayed constant (155-165) for my entire adult life.) Tonight my dessert will be a slice (or two) of my homemade (from scratch) apple pie that I made last night.



Oh, lest I forget. Somewhere in between my early evening talk shows on MSNBC, I take my daily shower (usually before I eat which is before Keith Olbermann comes on at 8 o'clock.)



After my late evening snack, I brush my teeth and get ready for bed. I always have a book or two that I am currently reading.



The two locations of my books are one in the bathroom (i.e. “Reading Room”) and the other is located in the bookcase headboard of my bed. The book in my bed bookcase headboard is the Barbara Walters autobiography "Audition" that my neighbor Barbara (no relation) loaned to me. Surprisingly it is very good for an autobiography.



My book in the bathroom is "Ever After", a biography written by Anne Edwards of Princess Diana. This is I think the fourth Princess Diana biography I've read but they never get old. This one is so good that sometimes I bring it to my bed bookcase headboard and read it until I go to sleep.



Thus, this is one of my typical days retired when the weather is furious outside.



Now wouldn't you know it?



The sun just came out.



This may cause a change in my plans. I may go out after all.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I Gotta Get Out of Here



It’s been almost a month now since I’ve been out work. I still haven’t reset my daily schedule to cope with this unexpected development.




I needed work not only for the extra money that it brought into the household (and paid the mortgage) but for my mental well being.



I am hard wired to work. I’ve had some kind of job since I was 5 years old (used to run errands to the local grocery store for my neighbors) to paper boy, office cleaner, dishwasher, store clerk, bank operations manager, and now hotel front desk clerk. It’s been quite a ride but I’m not ready to quit working yet.



I don’t want to work full time but I do want and need the discipline of a job to go to. As a co-worker of mine explained (he also worked part-time like I did), “My job gives me something to plan my week around.” That explains my needs also.



It’s not as if I don’t have enough to do around the house, I do. However, I do need to go out and when I go out I like to get paid. If I don’t get paid, then when I go out I’m spending money. Or at least that’s what I used to do. I’m at a time of my life that I don’t need much of anything any more. I’m in the maintenance stage. Plus, I don’t have the disposable income to indulge in buying things I don’t need.



So it’s time for reset in my life. I need to reset my daily routine where it doesn’t include getting dressed up and going to work and dealing with the public.



That’s where I am at now. I can’t do what I did today. I let my sour mood bring out the worst in my personality and I posted a very negative blog. There are more than enough blogs that complain about everything, mine certainly isn’t going to make a difference. Besides, the things I complain about are like pissing in the wind. It all comes back on me.



Thus tomorrow I will get out, even if it is for a ride to visit my friend who lives in the woods on the outskirts of Georgetown. Maybe I’ll just take a ride to the end of Long Neck Road and sit in my car and look at the bay. I have to do something to get out of the house and not let my negative feelings overtake me. I am better than that.

Random Thoughts on a Sunday

This morning I was trying to think of something unique and interesting to post to my blog but I kept coming back to my backlog of Random Thoughts. So here I go without trying to sound too negative. I’ll try and balance……




1) Mariah Carey – what is it with this woman anyway? Who buys her records? Who likes her? She is such a self centered, selfish, boring diva it is beyond me who supports this fat pig.





2) Jo Lo – same as above. I do not understand their “talent” or who buys their records? My mind is boggled every time I see her fat ass and all the “oohs and ahhhs.” This is attractive? No, this is a fat assed, no talent, selfish woman.




3) Computer viruses – who are these people who get their pleasure from disrupting and destroying computer user’s hard drives? What drives these people? And why do they all end up as “security specialists” working for big bucks for companies to prevent further virus spreads. These people should be used for target practice.





4) Political parties – when is the American public going to recognize that both political parties are bought and paid for by corporate and special interests and don’t have an interest or incentive to work for the good of the average voter?



5) Litterers – what kind of person throws trash out the window of their vehicle with no thought as to what will happen to that trash? What goes through their head when they toss that beer can out the window? Why don’t local governments enact a return policy on beer and soda cans? That would stop the litter. Oh, I forgot. All government, including local, are bought and owned by corporate and special interests.



6) Litter pickup volunteer teams – these are the true unsung heroes of our local communities. They take time out of their personal time to pick up the roadside litter that the thoughtless individuals I mentioned in No. 5 leave behind. Two kinds of people in the world. Those who litter and those who care enough to pick up the litter.




7) Turn signals – oh I could go on with many, many rants here but one I will highlight. Why most vehicle drivers don’t use their turn signal when driving or, when they do, they turn the signal on just as they turn? Are they really that lazy that they don’t want to take two separate motions of their hands?





8) Spaying and neutering dogs and cats more true unsung heroes of our local communities. These people often spend their own money to insure that more unwanted cats and dogs are not born just to be put to sleep because no one wants them.




9) Commercials on cable TV – did I get it wrong but wasn’t pay TV supposed to be commercial free? I don’t even have commercial TV now (I have satellite TV which doesn’t offer local and network commercial channels) but I might as well with all the commercials I have to endure on CNN and MSNBC as well as all the other cable channels. This was another classic bait and switch pulled on the American public.



10) Bank and credit card charges – when did it happen that banks went from making money by loaning money out to people and small businesses to now where they make money by usury interest rates on credit cards, tricks and traps to generate fees on your bank and credit cards accounts, and gambling on hedge funds and other to complicated to understand market money mechanizations? Oh, I forget. Banks and credit card companies own our politicians.



These are just a few of my thoughts today. I have many more which I will post in the future. I just had to get some of them off of my chest this morning.



Again, I always have to put my complaints into perspective. I could be trapped under a slab of concrete after an earthquake. Everything is relative



P.S.



How did David Gregory end up with his own show on MSNBC? A more vacuous transparent person I have yet to see. Is this the best they could do to replace Tim Russert on “Meet the Press?” Howdy Doody time indeed.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Adult Plus+



This morning I passed another milestone. I am now officially and Old Person.




A short time ago I hung up the phone after giving my information (and charge card) to join a local “adult” program. In other words, I joined a program of “active adults.” This could be considered euphemism for “something for the old folk to do.”



While I am 68 years old, I have never considered myself “old” (in spite of what I saw in my bathroom mirror every morning when I shaved.) In my mind I am perpetually a 37 year old, handsome, vibrant (if shallow) gay man. Sure, I’ve seen these buses loaded with old people passing me by but I never considered myself “one of them.”



A couple of years ago a friend invited me to accompany him to the Philadelphia Flower Show. I used to live in Philadelphia for many years and still had a friend there. So I jumped at the opportunity to return to my old stomping grounds (where I used to live when I was in my vibrant 30’s.)



The bus left early in the morning from the local community college. As I expected most of the people on the bus were women but they weren’t that old. There was another gay couple who I knew. I didn’t see one walker among the bunch. In fact everyone seemed to be just as “young” as me and just as vibrant and friendly.



The trip to Philadelphia was delightful. I had a super time at the flower show. My friend and I had lunch with my friend who lives in Philadelphia. It was a wonderful day. Hey, I thought. This “old stuff” might not be so bad after all.



However, I was still reluctant to actually join. That would be confirming that I was old. I wasn’t ready to go there yet. At least not until this morning.



A couple of weeks ago my partner (who is 81 years old) received the Adult Plus+ booklet. I took a look through it and saw some classes that I found of interest. I’ve always wanted to learn how to design a web site. They offer that class. There are other classes that I find of interest. I’ve always wanted to learn rudimentary Spanish. They offer that class too.



Then there are the trips. More interest on my part. I could even make these trips myself if I couldn’t get a friend to go with me. I’m not getting any younger so I might as well make some trips before I am either too old or too bewildered to make trips.



Yesterday my friend asked me if I wanted to accompany him to the Philadelphia Flower Show for this year. I thought “why not?” And I thought to myself “Why not join?” Indeed, why not? So I joined this morning.



There was no pain. It didn’t hurt. And I don’t feel any older than I did yesterday. Maybe this isn’t such a bad thing after all. Yes folks, I have yet again crossed another threshold.

Now if I can just keep those ladies away from me. I’m still not a bad looking guy.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Buyer's Remorse


To all my friends who said "I told you so." Okay, I admit it. Obama isn't all that. In fact, he's not much of anything except just another politician who doesn't get it.




I voted for him because I believed in his campaign motto "Change you can believe it." So where is the change? Looks like more of the same to me.



The only tangible change I see is that Obama did lessen the tension between us and the rest of the world. Gone is the Cowboy, in your face diplomacy of the George W. Bush regime. No more that arrogant dumb ass Donald Rumsfeld calling our European allies "Old Europe" just because they didn't buy into our unnecessary war against Iraq. The rest of the world doesn't hate us now. No more Darth Vader Dick Cheney emerging from his Undisclosed Location to threaten to bomb yet another Arab country.



But how about at home? Are we any better here? I don't see it. Obama is continuing the Bush policy of eavesdropping on domestic phone conversation. Obama has done nothing to stop the terrible wasteful practice of discharging gay members of the armed forces. At least he could put a hold on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" until Congress gets around to repealing that stupid law. And forget DOMA. Obama still believes that marriages should only be between “a man and a woman.” So what does that make me and my partner of the last forty six years? Chopped liver? I don’t have to have the word “marriage” but we’ll take the same legal and tax benefits that are accorded automatically to heterosexual couples when they get married.



Obama and his administration are trying to pass a health bill that doesn't include a public option thus preventing any competition in the health insurance and pharma industry. However, the bill does include mandatory insurance for those who don't have insurance, thus guaranteeing 30 to 40 million new customers to the health and insurance industry crooks who continue to be exempt from anti-trust laws. Obama is willing to pass the current version of the health bill just to say he did something, even though it will probably be worse for all of us.



Obama is kowtowing not only to the Chinese prime minister (that was a deep bow wasn't it?) but also to the Wall Street banks so they can continue to rob the American public blind. Did you all see that kiss ass congressional hearing of the big bankers last week? Obama talks tough but doesn’t do anything to make the bankers hurt, and they know it.



I hate to say it but I’m afraid that everyone who opposes Obama knows that he can be rolled. And they’re doing it.



Where is the "change we can believe in?" All I know is that I don't have a job now. It doesn't matter that Obama didn't keep his promise to exempt senior citizens (of which I am one) from payroll taxes. In my case it doesn't matter anyway because I'm not working now due to the slow economy. I'm "on call" from work. When we get guests start staying at the hotel, then I guess I go back to work but I'm not holding my breath.



I for one am tired of seeing Obama (or any other president for that matter) sitting in a children's classroom reading a Dick and Jane (or "My Pet Goat") book to them. Since when does a president have time to do that kind of useless activity? Is the presidency all about photo ops?



By the way, here is a message to the Republicans who are already licking their chops at the prospect of Obama failing and them getting back into power. . Just because Obama is failing doesn't mean that the majority of the American public is going to buy into their philosophy of cutting taxes for the rich and eliminating government services just so they can line their pockets. With their actions of the past year they have shown that all they care about is bringing the president down and getting back into power themselves for their own selfish reasons. Don't kid yourselves, the Republicans care nothing about the average American either. Put them back in power and they will pick up screwing the average American like they did the past eight years.



Obama this past year by his actions (or more appropriately non action) has proved that he is just another politician who makes empty promises during the campaign then gets into office he continues business as usual. Where is the “change we can believe in?”



What a disappointment.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Massachusetts Election



Scott Brown, the Republican candidate, won the senatorial election last night to replace Senator Ted Kennedy.




A Republican winning this election is a major upset in the heavily Democratic state of Massachusetts.



Now all the talking heads in media and the know-it-alls inside the Washington Beltway are saying Obama’s agenda is threatened. My question is what agenda?



President Obama was elected a year ago with the promise of “change we can believe in.” Where is that change?



All I see is the same old, same old. I see a president and a Congress of both political parties that are still dancing to the tune of their corporate masters.



The only thing positive that I can say about the presidency of Barack Obama is that he has improved our moral standing in the world by his less bellicose attitude towards the rest of the world. With that one exception I can see no change between Obama’s administration and the previous, disastrous Bush administration.



Bill Clinton was right on his assessment of Obama’s during the presidential campaign: “This is all a fairy tale.”



It is folks. Don’t believe anything any of them have to say. It’s all a lie.



That said, God help us if the Republicans get back in power.



The Democrats have no backbone but at least they’re not working on trashing the system and leaving us all to our own devices.



Every day I thank my lucky stars (I don’t believe in God) that I’m not just starting out in this life.



It won’t be too long now before I’m eating dirt pies. In the meantime I’ll try to hang on to what I have before the Republicans get back in power. Because make no mistake about it, as bad as the Democrats are at least they’re not out to screw the middle and lower class in this country like the Republicans.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Copy to DVD


Well folks, I finally mastered copying some of my old VHS tapes to a DVD!




It wasn't easy. I think the instruction booklet must have been written in Chinese first then translated. Either that or someone from Mr. Softee's (Bill Gates) organization (Microsoft) wrote the instructions. They are that hard to follow. Not intuitive at all.



But I got through and didn't waste too many DVD's in the process. Is it perfect? Of course not. But I did manage to copy the whole VHS video tape to a DVD. Then I took that DVD to my computer and made multiple copies.



The first VHS video tape I copied was of the Tipton Family Reunion that took place October 4, 1997. I wanted to make copies so I could send them to some of my Tipton cousins. So many of the Tiptons who were at that reunion and appeared on my tape are now gone....forever.



My only regret is that I didn't spend more time interviewing those individuals. I'm planning another Tipton Family reunion this year. If I'm not stuck cooking hamburgers (like I was at the first Tipton Family reunion in 1994), I'll take the videos myself and make sure I get everyone on record.



Besides, it won't be too long now before I check out. Make hay while the sun shines.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Moon



Last night I saw “Moon.” This was my latest Netflix movie rental.




The first few scenes of this movie reminded me of “2001 – A Space Odyssey.” A few of the reminders:



1) the space station with its long, pristine, light and shadow corridors

2) the cool talking robot (Hal in “2001”, Gerty in this movie (which is the voice of Kevin Spacey

3) the slightly off balance astronaut

4) the endless star studded black skies of space



But there the similarities ended. Without giving away too much about the story line to spoil the movie for those of you who haven’t seen it yet, I want to say that his was one of the most thought provoking movies I have seen in years.



After watching this movie I felt like I had an “experience.” Remember the movies of old when we left the movie theater with that feeling? Too many movies these days are predictable and not very entertaining. Either they’re movies with excesses of violence and blood or silly romantic comedies in which the principal characters have no chemistry at all.



Not so this movie. Directed by the son of David Bowie (remember “Major Tom?”), this is a movie you won’t forget for a long time after you see it.



I like a movie that I cannot predict and make me think. This is one of those rare movies.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

One Story of the Haitian Earthquake

Today my posting is not about me. I don't have an interest in telling my stories today. Whatever I have to say is so insignificant when viewed from this perspective. This is the true tragedy of the earthquake in Haiti. This just breaks your heart. It will be a long time before I can forget this story.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Almost Too Much To Comprehend


As more becomes known of the devastating earthquake that hit Haiti, it is almost too much to comprehend.


This poor country and its people, which had little before the earthquake now has nothing but death and destruction.

Two things:


1) It makes you wonder why bad things seem to happen to poorest and most defenseless.

2) It makes you realize how fortunate we are to live the lives we live.

Sometimes I get caught up in my minor “problems.” Recently I had an Internet speed problem (which has now been resolved.) After something like this I am reminded that I live in one of the best countries on the face of this planet. Whatever my little “problems” they pale in comparison to the hell on earth that exists this day for too many of our fellow human beings.

Ironically, the other Big Story of the day is the billions of dollars of bonuses that will be distributed to many of the big banks which almost brought financial ruin to our country by their reckless behavior. This money is coming from the TARP funds the American taxpayer gave to the banks to prevent them from failing thus taking down our financial system.

Here is a suggestion: Why don’t those greedy, selfish, reckless banks do the right thing and donate their bonuses (which they didn’t earn) to the citizens of Haiti? Again, as is usual the case in massive disasters like this, the first call to help goes out to the average person. While that help is needed and appreciated, let’s put the focus on those who have much and don’t need any more. It’s about time they started to be responsible citizens of this world instead of stealing money from the rest of us by gaming the system. Help someone for once instead of taking.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Here We Go Again





For the last several months I have notice that I cannot watch a You Tube video without it pausing. I’ve also noticed that the past several months that my Internet downloads take a long time to download. Here we go again. I’m about to do battle with my Internet service provider, Verizon.



Sunday I did a speed test. As I suspected my Internet speed wasn’t up to 3 MB as I was promised and what I’m paying Verizon for monthly. Instead my Internet speed varies between 200 and 500 kbps. This isn’t the high speed Internet service I’m paying for.



Here we go again. Sunday I started the series of phone calls that is necessary to resolve this problem. I don’t to bore the readers of this blog with all the hoops I had to jump through until I got a real person. The “real person” was Sanjay in India. Someone who I could hardly understand his English. That torturous phone conversation ended with Sanjay telling me I had too much on my Startup and that was affecting my Internet speed. I’m not a techie but I knew this was a ridiculous explanation.



Yesterday I took the plunge again and called Verizon. Again, I jump through all the hoops until I finally got a real person. This time it was a man from Canada. At least I could understand him. Again, I answered all the questions on his script. We did another speed test which confirmed that my Internet speed is SLOW.



This time he’s going to write up a ticket. Then he transfers me to a real technician. This guy is Mr. Smooth. At the end of the conversation, after I answer all the same questions and go through another speed test, he says “Someone will contract me if it is NECESSARY to do so.” What? I DON’T HAVE THE INTERET SPEED THAT I AM PAYING FOR!



After almost three hours on the phone yesterday morning, I am no further along than I was when I made my first phone call on Sunday.



So now I await the call from Verizon.



I’ve been here before. When I first moved here in November of 2006 I went through the nightmare of Comcast. I dumped Comcast and got Verizon. That is my only choice in the area, Comcast or Verizon. That is some choice isn’t it? That’s competition.



Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Feeding the Seagulls



Yesterday when I was at the Walmart in Rehoboth Beach I noticed a gaggle of seagulls hunched down by the fast food restaurants trying to stay warm. That reminded me that I had some food to get rid of. I had two different types of cinnamon flavored cereals and a weird flavored bag of Doritos chips that didn’t agree with my taste buds. Fortunately seagulls aren’t as touchy as I am about food. So, first thing this morning I was off down Route 1, fighting the sun glare to sprinkle my unwanted food to the freezing sea gulls. As the pictures attests, they were most appreciative.





This is Day Ten of the New Year and I am making great progress in unpacking, sorting, organizing and tossing out what remained of my packed items from my move down here in November of 2006.  I still have a long way to go. I must admit I do feel better having finally broken the logjam and my inertia. A box I unpacked yesterday was one I had packed from my previous move from Philadelphia to Downingtown in 1980. Wow. Now you know I didn’t need those items. But I’m keeping them anyway. Two of the items were Disneyworld figurines. One was Goofy (my favorite) and the other “Lady” of Lady and the Tramp. I placed them, along with my other kotchkees, in my bookcase. I do not depart with my knick knacks. This is a trait in inherited from my Mother. When I’m dead and gone someone can come in here and have a fabulous estate sale like my great aunt Grace had when she died. I still have some of her stuff. But for now I'm keeping all these dust collectors.



Last night I wanted to relax to a good movie. Lately I’ve went through a string of God awful movies from Netflix.



Friday night I watched “The Woodsman” with Kevin Bacon. I couldn’t watch the whole thing. It’s about a child predator. Really? Is this entertainment? And Kevin Bacon? A wannabe Sean Penn. Kevin has a certain charm but I have yet to find it. And to top it off his real life wife Kyra Sedgwick played his love interest. While Kyra is a fine and interesting actress, did I really want to watch Kev and Kyra sucking on each other’s face and wriggling and moaning naked in bed? This is entertainment? And it was downright creepy watching Kevin’s character ogling the young schoolgirls on the bus he took to work. I bailed out when he followed one into the park where she was bird watching? This is entertainment?



Last night I tried to watch something called “The Frozen River.” It was supposedly the recipient of all kinds of “independent” award. Just what is an “independent” award anyway? This was another dreary, depressing movie about a Mom trying to support her two young sons near the Canadian border. She accidently stumbles into smuggling Chinese across the border. Sounds like an interesting premise but man oh man. The acting was atrocious, especially the Mohawk Indian woman who introduced the Mom into smuggling. Somebody was kidding themselves into thinking this was avant-garde. Something else I don’t understand. What’s with all the smoking? I don’t know, maybe I was in a bad mood. One thing was for sure, I wasn’t in the mood for either one of these movies.



The next Netflix movie on my agenda is “The Proposal” with Sandra Bullock. I need to see a movie that makes me laugh and not get me depressed.



I find that since renting movies from Netflix my tastes seem to go from a good murder mystery, historical dramas, suburbia slice of life situations, and romantic comedies (as long as they aren’t too ridiculous.) What I don’t like are slasher movies with buckets of blood and gore (that’s entertainment?), depressing documentaries (I can look all around my real life for drama and depression if I feel the need to get depressed) and animated cartoons. Sorry, I’m not a cartoon person, three D or not.



I have several projects I’ve been putting off that I probably should get to since I now am in full time retirement. One I converting my VHS tapes to a DVD format. That should be very interesting. The other is to figure out how to transfer my Palm data base from my old computer with a Windows XP to my new computer (the one I’m on now) with Windows Vista. As luck would have it I was one of those fools who bought a new computer with Windows Vista, which I’ve had nothing but frustration and problems with ever since I got it. I was also one of the “fortunate” few who bought a new computer with Windows Me. Remember that baby? I had to finally give the computer away because I couldn’t get it to work no how, no way. Even though I had “premium support” with Dell, it was all for naught. So why would I go and buy a new Dell computer with Windows Vista? Oh I don’t know, maybe I’m a glutton for punishment or maybe I didn’t believe that Mr. Softee (Bill Gates himself) could fool me twice. What was it that our former president Double You said?



“ Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again.” George W. Bush



I probably shouldn’t admit it, but I do miss that clown.



By the way, I know I’m not following the rule of writing a good blog. Keep it on subject and be concise. As you notice, I write whatever comes into my mind. Hopefully it is of some interest to the reader. I know it makes me feel better writing about it. Right now I’m in a down mood. Maybe it’s the weather. These cold, short days of winter aren’t my favorite time of year. I like the long, warm, days of summer. I know those days are coming. That’s what keeps me going.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Thoughts on a Cold January Morning



The sun is out, the snow is almost gone and the cold winds still blow.  I'm debating whether of not to go out to the cemetery next door to take a couple of Find a Grave.com photo requests.  Do I want that cold wind cutting through me this morning?


Bill and I didn’t go out for breakfast this morning. We’re both feeling a little bit down.

It’s the same problem. Bill doesn’t think I pay enough attention to him so he goes into a deep funk. He gets depressed. This is his usual cycle. He will come out of it.

Basically I’m a solitary person. The oldest of three boys, I was always a loner. My two younger brothers hung around together. I was always a step or two off the side. It is interesting to look at old pictures of us together. Almost always the body language says it all. They’re a pair. I’m the odd man (boy) out.


From my earliest memory I’ve always known I was “different.” “Different” is a term my cousin Lois used to describe me when she had a conversation with me last year about her son Mickey, who she also termed “different.” She was curious to know why we were “different.” By the way, for those readers who don’t understand what is meant by “different”, she mean gay. She just can’t say the word. I told my cousin that I was always “different.” She said her son said exactly the same thing. Bingo!

Yes, I’m “different.” I always have been and always will be until I take my last breath. Trying to explain what “different” is to a straight person is usually very, very difficult. Most of them can’t help but think we “different” people have made a choice somewhere along our life. When I tell them it wasn’t a choice, many of them still can’t but help to think that I really did make a choice.

What I really get annoyed about are those self righteous religious folk who say they “tolerate” my “lifestyle” (whatever that is, please someone explain THAT to me because I’m not swinging from the chandeliers.) Then they offer me an out by suggesting I ask for forgiveness (for what?) and obey and praise Jesus Christ.

I patiently explain to these people that while I respect whatever religion people chose, don’t put their religion on me. If they get comfort from their religion then I’m very happy for them. There are so many unhappy people in the world. If one receives comfort from whatever they chose to believe then I’m all for it. But please, please don’t try to “save” me. I’m doing quite well or as well as one can be at 68 years of age with his longtime partner holed up in his basement bedroom giving me the silent treatment.

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Morning Surprise



This is the scene I awoke to this morning. Yes, that is snow.



While it is not the usual “4 to 6 inches”, it is still enough to cause me pause in taking my daily ride out of my development.


Yesterday I didn’t go out at all. Normally I go out everyday, if only to take a ride. While I love my home I have to get out and about.


When I go out I usually end up shopping. That is a habit I have to control this year since my hours have been cut back at the hotel where I work part time.


This morning I was going to deliver an oil space heater to friends who live right on Delaware Bay. That was my excuse to get out today.


The white stuff has put that plan on hold. I’m not big on driving in the snow and ice. That was one of the main reasons I moved to southern Delaware. Very little snow falls down here unlike where I lived in Pennsylvania where the snow hung around until early spring.


This is the second snowfall within two weeks. That’s enough.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

My Second Favorite Room




This is a picture of my sunroom that I took a few minutes ago. This is my second favorite place in my Delaware home. I’ll post my favorite room tomorrow.



I thrive on light. When I first saw this model house three years ago I was immediately impressed with the wall of windows. This is what sold me on this model, the Springbrook.



The whole backside of my house is windows. I paid extra for all of those windows. It was well worth it. Every day, no matter how down I am, the light that flows through those windows uplifts my spirits.



We have a living room but we rarely sit in it. In fact, I don’t remember the last time we sat in the living room, which is also called the Great Room. Even when we have company we sit in the sun room. I think it is force of habit to have a living room in the house. Just in case we have company. Actually, the living room is just there for decoration.



As big as our house was in Pennsylvania, I didn’t have a favorite room. My bedroom wasn’t even my favorite. Right now I’m in my home office. This room is formally designated as one of the bedrooms but I use it as a home office. This is my third favorite room.



I like all the rooms in this house. There is no room that I don’t like in this house.  This is one happy retiree very comfortable in his dream home.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Love the One You're With


Yesterday a lunch a friend of mine was describing something ( I forget the context) that sounded very much like a song lyric. In fact I told her that it would be a good song. Of course we got a good laugh over that because the lyric is a very famous. It defined our generation. Here is the lyric:




"If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."  

Stephen Sills 1970



After lunch I returned home with my friend. She wanted to see my Hewlett Packard scanner that scans negatives and slides. She was very impressed with the way the scanner scanned negatives into color pictures on my computer. Technology is wonderful!



After she left I pulled out more pictures from my treasure trove to scan into my computer. Ironically I came across a thirty year picture that was taken of me meeting a former love for lunch. The location was in Philadelphia at 8th and Chestnut, in front of the Federal Building. That was a magical summer, one that I will never forget.  I experienced something that few people experience in their life, true love. 
 
The relationship didn't work out for many reasons.  It was perhaps doomed from the start.  But, as I remember that time and that person I am reminded of another song lyric:
 
Don't let it be forgot
 

That once there was a spot,

For one brief, shining moment


That was known as Camelot.

His name was Brad.

Monday, January 04, 2010

My New Job


This is the first working day of the New Year. As I mentioned in previous blog postings, I’m on hiatus from my part time job at the hotel. However, that doesn’t mean I stop working. To the contrary, I have a new job. I’m working for myself.




Today I’m selecting old photographs to scan into my computer. Some of these photographs I’m posting to my Facebook account to share with friends and family. This is a job that I’ve been putting off for a long time. Now is the time.




I feel this need to get everything in order before I check out of this world. At 68 years old, I don’t have that long horizon of time left to me to procrastinate.



The thought has crossed my mind more than a few times that no one would be interested in whatever mementos that I leave behind. But I can’t be concerned about that. I have to do what I have to do.



Through my genealogy research I know how appreciative I am to come across information and photos left behind my ancestors. Sadly, most people leave this earth and their life history goes with them. I’m just that self involved that I don’t want that to be my legacy.



The sun is out today, the winds have died down but the cold is still in the area. Shortly I’m meeting friends for lunch in Rehoboth. I feel good about my situation now and I'm looking forward to a very productive year.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Baby it's Cold Outside!



Wow, it is COLD outside! What a way to start off the New Year. I remember back when I was living in Philly and we used to go out to see the Mummer’s Parade. Of course in those days we were fortified by alcohol so the cold wasn’t quite as biting as it is today.




Yesterday Bill and I took a little shopping expedition to the new and reconfigured Walmart in Rehoboth Beach. We frequent all the Walmarts in the area. Georgetown and Milford both have Super Walmarts which we shop at often. Then there is Sam’s Club in Dover. We shop at them all in spite of the fact they don’t offer domestic partner benefits and that the employees aren’t unionized. That doesn’t matter to me, period. I shop for quality and price. That I get at Walmart. I make no apologies for shopping at Walmart.



I hope the rest of the day goes better than this morning. First thing I couldn’t open a You Tube video a friend sent to me because my Java script was disabled. Gee, I wonder how that happened. Oh, perhaps it was because my sister-in-law sent me one of her photo presentations that screwed up my software. While I love my sister-in-law, every time she sends me one of these fancy dancy photo presentations (this of my Mother and her birthday party and Christmas celebration), my computer suffers. I had to make a call to my boss at the hotel to walk me through with resetting my Java script. I got it working now thank goodness. He saved me $$ from having to call my regular Computer Guy. Since I’m not working this year I have to watch every $$.



Next thing I check my e-mails. I see where there is a message from my niece. She kindly asked me to remove pictures that I had posted to my Facebook album of her first marriage. That marriage ended badly so I can understand her concern. One thing I do find interesting. Most people I know who have had relationships that have ended badly usually try to rewrite history as if it never happened. Why is that? Control? Oh well, I will honor her request. I have found this a problem when updating my genealogy records as well. Even to the point where one of my cousins didn’t want me to record the name of her first child because she gave her up for adoption. That doesn’t mean the child didn’t exist.



Maybe it’s me. I have also had bad relationships and parts of my life I wouldn’t want to relive but that doesn’t change the fact that it was part of my life. To me, trying to bury an unpleasant part of your past doesn’t work. It keeps bobbing up. It’s sort of like the situation with Tiger Woods hiding out now because he got caught philandering big time. He thinks if he hides long enough, everyone will forget and the record of his selfishness will go away. Hey Tiger ain’t going to happen! You are now officially a liar and a scumbag. 



I’m making great strides in my continuing job of cleaning out my basement storage room. I’m finding all kinds of goodies. That’s where the wedding pictures of my niece came from. I’ll just have to be more careful in the future with what memories I find that I share. Someone seems to always be taking offense to what I post.  Pictures, videos, whatever.  There appears to be a lot of sensitive folk out there in the Internet world.  Who am I going to offend next?

Friday, January 01, 2010

January 1, 2010



Today is the first day of the New Year 2010. Doesn’t that have a nice sound?




Do we pronounce the New Year “twenty ten?” Or do we pronounce it “two oh one oh?” I prefer “twenty ten.” That has a nice ring to it.



Last night I got in from work at the hotel at 11:20 pm. That was enough time to change, shower and have a bedtime snack while I watched the New Year rung in on CNN by that sadly unfunny duo of Kathy Griffin and Anderson Cooper.



I, like many of my fellow citizens will be facing unemployment at the beginning of the new decade. I’m working today but for the rest of the month I’m not on the work schedule at the hotel. I probably won’t be on the work schedule for February either. Maybe even into March. Perhaps the warm weather will bring a change in hotel occupancy.



Several of my friends have also seen their hours of work reduced. I don’t know of anybody who has been untouched by this poor economy. No doubt about it, this is an equal opportunity recession.



Because all of our incomes will be down this year, it will require us to review our priorities and decide what we can do without this year. What we do without will have repercussions throughout the economy. Because I decide to eat out less will mean the restaurants I frequent will earn less money and will require them to cut back on their staff and hours. It is a vicious, cruel cycle.



I for one am going to use this extra time that I will now have and turn it into an opportunity. First thing I’m going to do (I’ve already started) is finish unpacking the remaining boxes from my move to Delaware three years ago (November 2006.)



Then I’m going to go through those boxes and other items and decide what I can live without and either drop those items off at the local thrift store or sell them on EBay (I can use the money.)



Secondly I’m going to cedar line my two walk in closets in my bedroom. They are “his and hers” closets but since there is only me in my bedroom, they’re my “his and his” closets.



Third, I’m going to finish scanning all my old prints of photographs into my computer to share them with friends and family.



Fourth, I’m going to jump in again and update my family genealogy records. I’m 68 years old now. Each year goes by faster and faster and before I know it I will either check out or be too old and infirm to even get those records together. Of course I am concerned what will happen to my records (and photos) when I’m gone but there isn’t much I can do about that now. None of my relatives seem to be interested or have the time or energy to continue my work. It does concern me but I can’t worry about it.



So, all told. I do have a plan that I feel good about. Actually, for the first time in years I feel very optimistic. The past decade was a horrible decade for me and our country. Maybe it was because we didn’t have a good way to pronounce the years. Two zero zero nine doesn’t have the same ring as twenty ten. Yes, I think it will be a very good year.  Hello twenty ten.