Monday, November 19, 2012

Unblocked at Last!!

I haven't posted any blogs since September, neither here on JD's Blahs nor on My Search Goes On. Not that I've broken any hearts or lost a bunch of followers because I don't have many followers to begin with. The truth is I write for myself because I enjoy it and I enjoy the feeling I get from writing that makes it seem as if I'm being creative. At the same time when it comes to posting I'm fully aware that others may see my words but that's not the first thing on my mind. No offense to whoever reads my blog in the near future but my primary thought when I'm posting is I hope my words will be read by family or friends somewhere in the future who might develop an interest in me in a genealogy sense. I have a set of diaries written by my great great grandfather that are like gold to me. If a great great grandchild of mine can access my blogs, regardless of how boring my writing and life may be, I'm betting they will be thrilled to have a picture of my thoughts.  But my recent reluctance to post is not for fear of disappointing anyone now or in the future. I just haven't put together anything that seemed worthwhile.  Perhaps this lapse took place due to plain old procrastination.  Add to that my weakness to succumb to the allure of distractions and I feel I have run up against the wall known as writer's block.  I have a few half finished works in draft form floating on my Blogger work page but nothing that felt right to go ahead and complete. And looking back on them now I still feel they were not worthy of posting. So if today's attempt results in a posting then maybe I can claim victory over my writer's block. We'll just have to see how it goes.

I don't see my writer's block as evidence that I went brain dead. I don't think so anyway (how would I know)?  I'm thinking it's just more like falling asleep at the switch. I know there are still a few episodes of brain cell activity inside my head from time to time. Maybe not a lot but some conscious thoughts seem to be still banging around in my cranial cavity most days and surely they coexist along with unconscious ones too. I don't become aware of what the unconscious thoughts are up to until I arrive at  some destination and then can't remember why I went there. (Destinations like another room in the house or at the pantry type destinations, not Orlando or San Francisco).  So conscious or unconscious, whatever, I'm still able to put together a few rational thoughts and conclusions now and then. Right, wrong, smart, dumb, inspired or generated by the boredom of my exciting life, it doesn't matter. Every thought is in the mix. They just haven't all formulated into a coherent dissertation I feel worthy of posting.  Time will tell how this one works out or maybe it'll just join its cousins in unposted Blogger drafts.

So perhaps the real culprit is those distractions I mentioned above.  There was the presidential election, of course.  I confess I got addicted to morning and evening news programs just to get the latest scoop on the campaigns.  If I was unable to view them for whatever reason I usually recorded them on my DVR but the bad part about that was the evening time slot conflicted with Seinfeld reruns. When sacrifice was called for it was Jerry and friends that bit the dust. Didn't want to miss any gaffes committed by any candidate and immediately following that the incredulous and outraged indignation of the opponent.  What a show!  Neither the President nor the Governor let us down in that regard. I found it fascinating to watch. Sunday morning talk shows on the three major networks were my evening news on steroids.  ABC  (live) at 9 am, NBC (live) at 10am, and I recorded CBS running in the 10:30 to 11:30 am slot so's not to miss a beat.  Although truth be told, the first half hour of each of these hour long programs was usually taken up by the candidates' staff or supporters and I quickly grew tired of the ritual stump speeches. For a while it was interesting to see how they sidestepped the questions or bent their answers to promote their agendas. But for me even that got tiring after awhile and it afforded me a good opportunity to read the Sunday newspaper. After some fine tuning in time management I settled into a fairly consistent routine on Sunday morning that made me feel I was keeping up with the issues and the polls from both televised and printed sources.

Watching the news shows on TV during the campaign was fascinating but offset by the  negative political commercials. I mentioned in a September blog that we had developed a means of ignoring the ads with liberal use of our mute button.  You can't catch them all, of course.  Let your mind wander for a minute and the next thing you know some doofus is explaining why the opposition would be a disaster for the country. If we could find the remote it was mute button time. If the remote was misplaced we stuck our fingers in our ears and sang Beethoven's famous unfinished symphony entitled La La La La La, (and the chorus La La La). Until we got coordinated there was a lot of singing in our house.  By the beginning of November we pretty much had it down to a science. And we did our best to be neutral of which parties' ads were muted. Even our favored candidates ads were distasteful and nauseating after a while so whether we liked the candidate or not, mute, mute, double mute, and sing when necessary. We eventually reached the ultimate stage of ad avoidance by employing PIP, picture in picture, wherein we could monitor another station and switch the channel to view a program without the monotonous repetition of negative political ads.  But towards the end this became more difficult as we were being bombarded with ads issued simultaneously in a shock and awe pace on all the networks.

There were other distractions besides monitoring the presidential campaign, all of much lesser consequence to be sure but, nevertheless drew my attention away from blogging. We replaced the second floor of our town home with new carpet, including the stairs. We did this right after filing a claim on our home owner's insurance for some old water damage in one of the upstairs closets. I used the closet repair and new carpet installation as rationale for redecorating my office (which also serves as a guest bedroom) and I spent a lot of time and thought (and too much money) putting together my new man cave. My old desk top is on its last legs after seven years of mostly dependable service so I've replaced it with a laptop. I'm writing this on my second new laptop because the first refurbished laptop had technical problems and I wasted many hours on the phone with southeast Asian technicians with unpronounceable names, each of whom promised that they were going to solve my problem but kept referring me to different departments where I had to explain my problems all over again.  After each of these strained and largely unintelligible conversations I just didn't feel motivated to jump back onto my old slow desk top to do any writing. And as much as I love the Sorento I've been leasing for two and a half years I've been day dreaming about turning it in next February and leasing or buying something new. I may just buy the thing but we are planning to reduce our household to just one car and I think we could get better value for my wife's Spyder by trading it in on a new vehicle as opposed to selling it outright. Besides, new car looks, smells, sounds, and open road fantasies have a way of singing sweet siren songs in my ear.  And the last but not the least of distractions are lifestyle adjustments necessary to live with a 90 year old mother in law. This is not nearly the burden on me that it is for my wife but without going into details let's just say our empty nest requires adapting and tweaking on occasion to ensure the comfort (and sanity) of all three of us in our household. We love her and want to keep her happy and comfortable for as long as we can.  But it ain't easy. We are blessed to have a daughter who volunteers to "babysit" her grandmother from time to time and enables my wife and I to get some couple time by ourselves.

So ready or not, Blogger world, here's my latest blah blog!  If you don't like it that's ok. Just remember, I didn't write this for you.  This is dedicated to my unborn great great grandchildren. Hope you like it, kids.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

That's A BAD Thing?

Our campaign to mute out all political ads on TV is progressing nicely. But some unscrupulous ad exec has undoubtedly caught the strong points are being highlighted by script!  Obviously, they're on to us and our muting campaign. They must have known that if we're going to squelch the audio, we're still going to be looking at the screen so's we know when regular programming resumes and then turn the sound back on. The ad that caught my eye, in an attack on one candidate's alleged plans for Medicare declares both in sound and in big bold script, the twelve person evaluation board consisting of  UNELECTED BUREAUCRATS!  (Although they didn't say it directly, I presume such a board would be the equivalent of Sarah Palin's Death Squad).

So now we've had to master turning our heads away from the TV screen so we can just catch a glimpse of the images but can't read them. Audiovisual muting so to speak. It's not too hard once you get the hang of it. But the unelected bureaucrats phrase has been turning over in my head. On the one hand I'm trying to imagine a twelve person board consisting of elected bureaucrats and then on the other hand I'm trying to visualize a board of twelve unelected bureaucrats.  And with these images in my head I just have to pause and ask, "Unelected, huh? Is that a bad thing?"

Friday, September 21, 2012

Non-Punditically Correct Non-Political Commentary

With the upcoming elections we hear more and more about political pundits. They are supposed to be experts and authorities on political matters. I am anything but a political pundit. As a matter of fact I'm pretty much an authority on nothing. Nothing that matters much anyway. But I do like to make comments now and then and my desire to do so is what motivated me to create JD's Blahs. So what follows is my two cents worth, so to speak, on things that have been on my mind lately.

On my walk today I observed three ducks standing on a concrete pipe that extended from the shore into a lake. One male, obviously a mallard with his greenish/bluish neck and head and the other two feathered with the speckled brown and gray coloring of females. The male and one female had bright orange webbed feet. The other female had brown webbed feet. So does that mean one was a different species? Or was she a mudder? I don't know. Just curious. 

Who thinks Romney stepped in it with his "47 percent" comments? Who doesn't? Now he says he did not speak "elegantly" in his response to a question. I think I know what he was doing. It's easy to picture any politician making his remarks to a $50,000 a plate group of supporters just a little juicier than the banquet mystery meat they were chewing on. People who fork over that much for the chance to rub elbows with a presidential candidate deserve more than a few token stump speeches. Unfortunately for Mitt, it just came out sounding like he was an elitist. Probably got a lot of affirmative nods from the wealthy crowd, too. And speaking of affirmative nods, do you think there were any plate-paying guests in attendance that had not made up their minds who they were going to vote for? (Possible exception being whoever recorded the video). Haven't we all made up our minds already? Who could possibly be on the fence? I don't mean the choice is obvious. We've all got our favorite and yours may not be the same as mine. That's democracy and that's a good thing! But it just seems to me that anybody who is really still on the fence by this time is decision-challenged.  

TV Ads
My wife and I have solved the problem of negative political ads. We just make extensive use of the mute button on the remote. At first we tried switching channels but more often than not we'd end up catching similar ads on the other channels. Now we just mute them out. Either party, makes no difference. Now we're including the lawyer ads too. We don't want to hear who we should call if we're "wrongfully injured" and not really sure but don't care what the difference is between that and "rightfully injured."

Fond Memories
Easter afternoon 1960. Two phrases stand out. Policeman # 1: "Oh really, you're the minister's son? Well, just hop in the back of our squad car and we'll take a little ride to the Reverend's house, OK?"  Older brother upon my squad car arrival at the Reverend's house with the blue and red roof lights flashing: "Oh, brother, you've really gone and done it this time, haven't you?"  This rhetorical question issued with a big xxxx-eating grin. 

Inanimate Objects
Am I the only one that talks to inanimate objects? Like cursing at my glasses when I misplace them?  Blaming the salt shaker if the salt comes out faster than I expected? Kicking the step that obviously jumped out and tripped me? I wonder if they have inanimate object anger management classes? Even if there is such a thing it probably wouldn't cure me of commending the throw away razor for doing a good job as I toss it into the trash. I could go on but I think I'm embarrassing my keyboard.

Trashy Business
We have a community dumpster. We put our neatly bagged trash into the community dumpster. The device serves the dual purpose of not only a dumpster but also as a compactor. So when you open the 4' x 4' sliding metal door to put your trash bags inside, you slide it closed and the compactor does it's thing with grinding and squealing sounds ending with a thud that signals it has completed the cycle of swallowing the trash and scrunching it all up together in a much smaller (ie. compacted) blob from the individual deposits of you and your neighbors. It's really an amazing technological wonder! So why don't all of our neighbors put their freakin' trash INSIDE this wondrous machine? And who are the lazy dopes that stack mattresses and furniture outside the dumpster instead of taking them to the dump? Every time I see these offenses to our posted community guidelines I ask myself, "Ok, I wonder who this jerk is voting for? Can't be the same one I'm voting for!!"

We did not renew our season tickets for the Bucs this year. We were season ticket holders for twenty years with seats in the North end zone, both at the old "Sombrero" and at Raymond James stadium. It took some getting used to but after a while we really enjoyed the end zone perspective. And we liked being close to the field, about 15 rows up. Admittedly, the Bucs have been pretty stingy with their success over most of those twenty years but they gave us one Super Bowl and a few playoffs ten years ago. But the biggest disappointment is the change in the crowd demeanor. I like standing in order to see an exciting play. But I don't like having to stand after every play because the nimrod in front of me thinks it's cool to stand up for every down. I enjoy a beer or two, especially on a hot sunny game day but I don't much care for keeping company with sloppy drunks. And it was always fun to swap polite barbs with opposing fans sitting in the vicinity but always with courtesy and a smile. The last few years that's changed to scathing and hateful taunts and threats.I'm talking about the Bucs fans, not the visitors. I bet these morons don't put their trash inside the dumpster either.

Great invention. Chap stick, lip balm, Chap aid, whatever you want to call it. Like a tube of lipstick with the little twisty nob at the bottom to push the balm gunk or whatever you call it out of the tube. Not as sophisticated as the dumpster/compactor, but a pretty neat little device just the same. I use it more for my nostrils than my lips. Maybe because I like the camphor aroma. Smells clean. And keeps my nostrils from chapping. I'm just saying. 

Politics II
And another thing. I don't like it when politicians say, "the American people want... or...the American people don't want...or...the American people need..."  I don't like statements that begin this way because I am an American people. I never told xyz politician what I did or didn't want and I certainly never told him or her what I needed.  What I want and don't want and what I need these presumptive blockheads to do is just do their job and represent their constituents the best they can with their own decisions. They can't please every last one of us with whatever they legislate so just do the damn job and stop hiding behind the blanket claim that they are doing what the American people want them to do. If they guess right, we American people will vote for them. Guess wrong and hop on the bus, Gus. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

1957 As I Recall

"Now, quit that chirping" was a frequent and urgent demand issued by one of my junior high school teachers. I don't remember for sure what class it was. It could have been any one of them, perhaps even a homeroom class. I've just got a vague recollection of the class itself but the words are clear as a bell in my memory. The teacher was female and my mind pictures her as a heavy set older lady. But, of course, to a junior high school student, most teachers were perceived as "older" and maybe heavy set too. Nevertheless, the command to stop "chirping" was issued on more than one occasion and it's purpose was clear and to the was a command to shut up. It was directed more or less to a group of students as opposed to just one. And as I recall this demand for action, or to be accurate, cessation of action, was always aimed at a group of chatting students behind me and towards the back of the classroom.  (Geez!. If that's right it would mean I was at the front of the class so what's that make me, a brown nose)? No, that can't be right because I don't remember being a brown nose with any teacher unless you count Miss Magoon for whom I would have had to jockey for position amongst the other boys in her class trying to situate themselves to the best vantage point from which to observe her bending over and giving any male pubescent observer an exhilarating look at her 44-D's swaying behind her low cut sweaters. All of us competing for her attention just meant we always had a lot of questions and maybe even a few silent bird whistles but I don't think there was any chirping coming out of us.  But back to the point it definitely wasn't Miss Magoon issuing the demand to stop chirping, I'm positive of that. And I don't recall any instances where I would have felt that I was being targeted to shut up. Maybe, maybe not. For the most part I was a quiet and well behaved kid except for the incident a few years prior in grade school where me and a kid named Danny got kicked off the safety patrol for conduct unbecoming our positions as co-captains of the patrol. But for this recollection of a junior high memory I just recall the command to "quit that chirping!" I also recall it as being a rather effective tool for controlling the class. I've no idea how today's junior high kids (oh, excuse me, now they are middle school, not junior high) would react to such a command. They'd probably think the volume on their smart phones was too loud. But back then, and we're talking mucho years ago,long before middle schools and smart phones appeared,  it seemed to work quite nicely in getting the chirping offenders to shut their beaks.  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Two Bashes For Flo

My mother in law, Flo, will tell you (without your even asking) to "don't ever grow old."   This sage advice usually comes accompanied by panting like a dog ("Whooo! It sure is hot out there!") and/or a wince and a hand to her bent over back. Despite her warnings we try to point out to her that we would just as soon delay following her suggestion on cutting short longevity as we are not ready for the alternative. Not an original thought by any means but heartfelt to be sure. As difficult as it can be at times for her to get around she is still getting up and down a flight of stairs a few times a day in our town home despite replacement of both knees and osteoporosis which increasingly forces her to stoop over. And she loves to eat.  Don't even think of getting between her and her targeted ear of corn on the cob or the last shrimp on the platter!  Not if you value leaving both of your hands and arms attached and in working order.  So even though she moans and groans from time to time, most often for legitimate aches and pains but sometimes just for seeking attention and sympathy, she is doing remarkably well for a lady who will turn NINETY years old in another week or so!  NINE-OH!!  Sandi's mother, Flo, was born in August, 1922.

To help her celebrate this milestone and to remind her of how much we love and respect her, we held two birthday bashes for her in the past few weeks. Since our extended family is spread between New England and Florida the first party was held in Massachusetts toward the end of our Cape Cod vacation in July. "90th Party - North" was planned and coordinated by Sandi's sister, Linda and her husband Paul. There were quite a few friends and relatives in attendance, mostly relatives because when you get to the 90th year in life there usually aren't too many friends left to par-tay so to speak. This observation notwithstanding, Flo's 94 year old sister, Elsa was in attendance to make sure the festivities were done up right for her baby sister.


Flo with granddaughter Lisa

Wow!  What a cake!!!

Mingling with the guests

Party girl with six great grandchildren

The guest of honor with granddaughters Lisa and Katy

Posing with nephew Bobby's family    

Sisters Elsa & Flo with Flo's daughters Linda (seated) and Sandi (standing)

Elsa has her arm around her baby sister's shoulders

Friends from Florida (standing) and Connecticut

Friends from Massachusetts

Paul (seated left) with brothers and sister in law

Flo looks hesitant to cut into a "work of art" cake!

Divvying up the cake

Sons in law standing, Jim (me) on left behind Linda and Paul  on right behind Sandi.

Shortly after we returned home to Florida, Sandi started preparations for "90th Party - South." We couldn't wait for the actual birth date because some great grandchildren would be away at school and unable to attend. With fewer attendees than the North party, the South version was held in the home of our son Rob and his wife Amanda. You might think two surprise parties within a couple of weeks of each other might be too much for someone forging ahead into their ninth decade but Flo accepted the elements of surprise with grace and gratefulness and was ready and willing to party at both functions. In all honesty, keeping the surprise parties a secret until the last minute wasn't a problem. The hard work was done by Flo's two daughters, Linda and Sandi, both of whom did a wonderful job.

Greeted by granddaughter Amy & her daughter Alyssa.

Kitchen birthday party deco

Granddaughter Cathie & her two girls celebrate with party-girl.

Three great granddaughters and Ron's son, Cade

Coco wanted to party too 

Alyssa just guarding great grandma's beer, right? Right?

Great grandson Ryan congratulates b-day girl

All the usual suspects previously mentioned

Sandi and Lexi sandwich the party girl

Flo samples the shrimp while Ron and Cierra fight over the camera

Guest of honor digs in...note shrimp platter safely within her reach. Watch your fingers!!

Grand son Austin joined b-day girl

Marathon lady, Amy, actually licking frosting off a wrapper!! She worked off her sugar high later  with Karaoke.

Slide show presentation on the big screen showing Flo in pictures over the years

Slide show; 1993 Flo competing for the bouquet at a wedding

Party girl conga line member in 1993

Memory review of photo album put together by Amy

Let us entertain you grandma!  Left to Right: Cathie, Amy, Amanda

Amy and Amanda harmonize

Amanda and Cathie rock out

Cierra sneaking a a beverage from the cooler...better not be  a malt beverage!

                                               HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FLO!!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Lucy  2001 - 2012
 I'm saddened to report that Lucy, our American Bulldog that shared our home with us for the last six months passed away on Monday, January 9th.  As Flo used to tell her, "she was the bestest doggy in the whole world."  And she was.