Thursday, September 29, 2011

Catching up

What a life...yes, we are in the new home and it really is a home now and not just a house. Dear wife is a hero as she unpacks what she just spent weeks packing. I'm limited to occasional chores and very little heavy lifting. We're also discovering that the 800 square feet LESS that this home has when compared to the last one were vital footage's. We seem to have an excess of everything! And that is after having removed and ridding ourselves of excess before the move. We have to do it again.
Part of the problem is the fact that no artwork has gone on the walls yet. Since it is our intention to stay here for a very long time, we want to be sure of where painting are hung...certain that the view pleases us. Oddly enough, I can't find a spot on any of the walls where art was displayed by the former owner. Of course he had 4 TV's and that might have made any display of art superfluous.
We also have television for the first time in 5 years...DISH network to be exact and with far too many channels.    With a DVR, we might learn to enjoy this. I already love the fact that I can pause 'live' TV.
We finally got our DSL connection up and running. Let me say that ten years ago I used to set up networks at our various branch offices. That was just one of the things I was entrusted with and I can tell you that in some, most was easier ten years ago. AT&T should be able to deliver a Plug'n'Play modem by now! And now that it is running, I don't think it's all that much faster than my old wireless connection.
Should I call AT&T to complain? No...not yet. I'm not ready for it.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I'm back, sort of...

sitting in a coffee internet at our new home. had 130 emails to delete when I got on-line today. what does that say about me? new home needs new habits! must monitor the emails I subscribe to!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Ma Bell...wherefore art thou?

We're moving. The moving van will be here on Tuesday morning and our lives are defined by boxes right now. So it was time to make the decision to have a land line or not. We had said we were going to be courageous and cut the analog tether and go wireless. the last minute we decided to...what the heck...keep AT&T. I went to the internets to find out how to change our service location. Well, AT&T has to have one of the worst websites around if you're interested in doing business. Slow and never a clue as how to find something. I may be 71 years old but I've been a programmer and I've helped to design web I know whereof I speak. After a few frustrating attempts and getting nowhere, we decided to go to the AT&T store and do our business there. Wrong!
After sitting down with the store manager and telling him what we wanted, a number change and perhaps some internet service if the price was right, we began our misadventure. First, AT&T stores are owned by someone other than AT&T. Who would have guessed? But we were assured that there would be no problem. We looked at the internet prices and decided we would bundle that service with our telephone service. Great! The manager then tried to change our service. Now we had a problem. An error code would show up whenever he tried to do it on his computer. He called their support people and they got the same error. All of this time the clock was ticking away. Finally, after about 45 minutes he decided to call the 'Mother ship'...AT&T itself.
Now that we were talking to an official representative and that meant that I had to talk to them. The service was in my name and no one would do. This was a mistake. I was loaded to the gills with Norco and Percocet. (I was having a BAD pain day) I was asked for my Social Security number. Oh, no! A trick question! After some silence and a lot of mental gyrations, I came up with the right number and we then proceeded at at full speed. I mean 'full speed' as she was obviously under the age of 50 and spoke at 70 mph while I could only listen at 55 mph. It's an age thing but it makes you feel stupid...Anyway, after assigning me a number and promising to email the number to me, she mentioned internet and I said that we already had that under control at the store. Oh, oh! She said that couldn't be and asked to talk to the manager. A cat and dog fight ensued. The manager asked her what number had she given me (I had missed 3 of the numbers during her rapid fire delivery) She wouldn't give it to him. He asked to talk to her manager. Now it was a polite dog fight where both parties agreed to work it out and call later. One call was supposed to be for me. We left after 90 minutes in the AT&T store. The phone call? Never happened. The email with my number? It never happened either.
The next day I decided to try the website again and was somewhat successful. I changed the service and then was asked if I wanted to keep our old number? Sure! So I checked the appropriate box and was rewarded with a confirmation that all was well...until I received an email about ten minutes later confirming our transaction and giving us an entirely different phone number. Which is which? I'm not worried . I'm sure they will come up with a third one...the one I almost had at the AT&T store.

Three reasons why I will never own an iPhone. A, T and T.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Just one week remains before we are shed of this house and move into our new one. I am very much conscious of the fact that we are blessed...there are a lot of Americans that are moving, but they are moving out and don't always have a place to go.
What a difference a few years can make. I was born in 1940 and so I missed the Korean War. Then, I joined the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman in 1959; getting out in 1965...just a year before the war in Vietnam exploded and Corpsman began dying daily in the horror of that war. I joined the Carpenters Union after I got out of the Navy, married and we soon had a family of five. Because of the Union, I had a health plan and a pension. I had work. We bought a house. During the first thirteen years I was able to scrape together one week for a family vacation. Other than that, it was almost always continual work. I worked in commercial and high rise construction and was not affected by the sudden 'stop and go' of residential work. I retired in 2004, right at the top of the housing 'bubble' and was able to cash in on all of the years of house buying and moving. My pension exists. Social Security exists...and I paid into it for many years. Medicare exists...something I pay for every month.
But for my children, what future exists for them? And my grandchildren? I have a great-grandson and he's four. What kind of world will he see when he wants to retire?
In a Republican world, he won't know what a pension is and he will have read about Medicare and Social Security in his history books...if the authorities allow them to be mentioned. He will have to take care of his own retirement plans and heaven help him if he makes a mistake and invests in the wrong stock or if the stock market should plunge just as he retires. Too bad. Sorry about that. Healthcare? Once again, that will be up to him to provide for. Remember; in a Republican world it's every man (woman and child) for himself.
Yes, just a year or two can make a big difference in how our lives turn out. It doesn't seem fair, does it? Well, it isn't fair and it is Social Security and Medicare that help to make it less unfair. Through those programs we help each seems like the American thing to do.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


TIME GOES BY | The Elder Vote:

If you are a voter under the age of 65, you need to read this. If you are a young voter, a first time need to read this. Believe it; the Republican Party is determined to reduce or eliminate every single benefit that you have been paying for. They don't care that you have paid into the SSI or Medicare. They are determined to force every middle class citizen into poverty. Believe it. Read it. Then do something about it!

Monday, September 5, 2011

85 Years

We just came back from a long and sad weekend. One of our very best friends had lost his battle with cancer. And it was a battle that lasted twenty years! He was 65 when he was first diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent radiation therapy. That put the cancer into remission for awhile and then, three years later, he lost his wife…a wonderful woman! He moved on, sadly, with his life, though always surrounded by his loving children. Children that we knew and loved when they were toddlers, teenagers and now adults…faced with the death of their father.
  When I first entered the construction trade, he was my first foreman. I learned so much from him! We worked together all around the country, staying for long weeks in motel rooms while we filled our days with hard work. Yes, I certainly knew this man and came to love him. And argue with him! We both loved to argue any point you might want to give us. My wife heard me talking to him on the phone one night and later she asked if I wasn’t afraid I would be fired? Not a chance!
Truth is…it’s hard to find a lot of intellectuals in the construction trades. We valued each other for that because there was very little that we couldn’t discuss…or argue about. Our families would get together on a regular basis and we would sit in his kitchen at the old round table and talk about everything under the sun; our voices rising as the rhetoric became heated. So much fun!
He was of Syrian/Lebanese descent and that same table was always covered with food. Tabbouleh, Kibbeh, Hummus, stuffed grape leaves, olives, cheeses, tomatoes, cucumbers and plenty of flat bread to eat it with. Funny; as soon as you walked in the door, the food would begin to appear, as if by magic.
One thing he taught me early on in our friendship I have valued for ever after and that it was a good thing to hug one another. We didn’t do a lot of that in my family…but in a Middle Eastern family, it was a requirement! And I’ve done it ever since. I remember telling my future son-in-law that he was going to be hugged regularly so he better get used to it! Yes, it really is okay to love another man and to tell him so.
He and his family were longtime members of the Syrian Orthodox church; Saint Nicholas Cathedral in Los Angeles. The Orthodox church is, arguably, the oldest church in the Christian faith. We often accompanied him and family to this church and came to know some of the priests there. (Interesting note; Orthodox priests have to be married if they are to serve a parish. Priests who wish to remain celibate must work in administrative posts) We always found the ancient rituals of the Orthodox faith to be comforting. But…we’re Presbyterians with a love for the Orthodox and we see no problem with that.
Enough…my eyes are tearing up again. I can say that we attended the funeral service and listened to the Litany for the Departed, the priest chanting the old words while shaking the censer, incense and bell sounds softly filling the room. Again, we were comforted. Then it was time for the graveside service and the terrible finality of it all.
Afterwards, we gathered with friends and family for the Mercy Meal at a small Lebanese restaurant where, once again, we ate the same foods we used to enjoy while sitting around that old table, almost fifty years ago.
Almost fifty years ago? I’m afraid I’m feeling a little bit ‘old’ this week. Maybe because there were only four of us at the funeral that were old enough to remember him and his family when we were all young. Even the pall bearers had to be recruited from the generation of his youngest child.
        Okay, I have to snap out of it. I’m only seventy one now and I see years and years ahead of me. 

From Seth's Blog

Back to (the wrong) school:

Well said and oh, so correct...