Mysteries

The Mail

Curmudgeon

I have a beef with the USPS. Not specifically at them, but rather what they have to deal with on a daily basis. I have this large box near my front door. There is also a small table and a lamp. When I get the mail I scan through it and if it is strictly advertising, it goes in the box. Anything of value goes on the table.

This box fills completely up every few months and then I throw it into a burn barrel and the process is complete. It’s actually amazing to me that so much goes into direct mail advertising. Someone spends a huge amount of time reviewing proofs and trying to pin down exactly the right slogan to try and get me to make a purchase, then they print my name and address on it and sometimes personalize everything so it looks really good. Then they pay to get it delivered and the postman lugs around a huge bag of this stuff and takes it to each house. Then I throw it in the trash and burn it.

Admittedly, I’m probably losing out a little since I did open something from the Nielsen Ratings company and it had a $10 bill in it. I was so intrigued I did try to call them and sign up to be a rating person, but when I called I could never get connected and that pretty much is the limit of my patience.

It’s hard to believe the USPS is having such financial difficulty and I can’t imagine what would happen if I got my way and direct mail advertising went by the wayside, since it’s probably the only thing keeping the USPS afloat. Sad, really, because it would be great if all of your mail was super fun and useful (letters from friends, cards, and bills (not as exciting, but necessary)).

I might even consider sending a few cards.

Thursday Tidbits

The 8-Track

Day Dreaming

In the early 80’s, I went with my dad to one of those junk car lots where you take parts off of vehicles and they sell them to you. This is a great place to get a replacement light or even a transmission if you are so inclined. While my dad was looking around, I found an old black 8-track with no labels or anything. Having an 8 track in my truck and also in my room, I was pretty excited to possibly get something new to listen to.

Later that day I had a chance to listen to it and it was some of the most amazing music I’ve heard, but I didn’t know who it was. I led what you can only describe as a sheltered radio childhood. I never listened to the radio except for old radio shows, which at the time were still new in some cases, like the Sears Radio Theater. Anyway, I really liked the songs on this tape and eventually, I learned that it was a little group called ELO.

The album is called “A New World Record” and had great songs like Telephone Line and So Fine. I think my friend actually identified this right off and also introduced me to the soundtrack from Xanadu which had ELO on it also. I’ve since picked up several of their albums and certainly enjoyed the opening to Guardians of the Galaxy 2 which sported their Mr. Blue Sky single.

That’s really all I have to report. The only other two 8-track’s I actually still recall are [1] I recorded a tribute to Guy Lombardo right after he died and I had an 8-track with lots of his music and also information about his doctor and him dying. I think something to do with his heart. [2] was an 8-track that a friend recorded for me of singles, some of which were from Xanadu, but at least one was Lunatic Fringe from Red Rider – which was incomplete because the tape ran out and I never really liked Red Rider or Lunatic Fringe anyway so whenever it started I’d hit the fast forward to next track button.

The Tele

The Picking and Flipping

Perplexed

After I couldn’t take watching one more Hoarder trying to keep track of their mounds of garbage, I decided to venture out to see if there were similar shows that I might actually enjoy. The two I found were “Picking” which is where two guys go out to various collectors (aka – Hoarders) and try to buy stuff from them. They use words like “rusty” and “old” and then once they get their hands on it, they immediately take it somewhere else and sell it. They bought two old gas pumps from some guy for maybe $900 and then immediately went to a gas pump collector/refinisher who paid them maybe $1700. I wonder what the collector thought when he was watching that show. I mean, the pumps were located nearby which is why they went right to his shop. He could have gone there himself and saved a chunk of money. Ah, but he didn’t. Don’t quote me on either of those two figures, but it was.. well, not fulfilling. I’m not a fan of people rummaging through people’s stuff, picking out items and selling them. What I think I’d like to see is them say “Hey, we found a guy who will buy these from you for $x” – but then you wouldn’t have a show. Also, I suppose they ARE doing a bit of the footwork. It’s a little like going to a rummage or estate sale, buying something and then selling it. Which I don’t think I have a problem with. It’s the unsolicited “showing up” of these two that I might question. So Picking isn’t really for me.

Meanwhile, did HGTV make a deal with every medical facility in the country so that whenever you go to any doctor, you’ll see HGTV in the waiting room? And has anyone noticed that the majority of shows on HGTV are “Flip this house” (aka, take a crappy house, dump $50k into it and sell it for $100k more than you paid). I don’t agree with flipping houses. Call me a curmudgeon, but buying a house for a cost that fits the area, dumping money into it and then selling it for a ridiculous profit just doesn’t fit my idea of how money should be made. It “feels” like manufactured inflation. Case in point – our next door neighbor rented for maybe 25 years then the owner died and the kids didn’t want to rent it anymore, so the neighbors moved out. Then the kids dumped about $50k into the house and sold it for $240k which is about $120k over the other houses on our street. I spoke to the new neighbor and they love the house with the new floors and new appliances, BUT there are weird plumbing issues and I’ve seen the A/C guy there maybe three times already. It’s like when someone buys an old beater car and then put some sawdust in the oil so it doesn’t leak and sells it for twice what they paid. I can’t quite get behind that. Is it just me?

BetterLivingTips

The Hoarders

Puzzled

While recouperating, I’ve been trying to find something to watch on TV. When I got my first hip replaced, it was easy – I watched ALL of the Marvel movies I’d never seen and I also watched the new Super Friends (aka Justice League – 4 HOURS – Geeze, but not horrible. btw, SuperMan is a LOT stronger than he was when I was little and he was only in Black and White)

My wife was watching Hoarders and I decided to give it a go. That’s a tough show to watch. You always think your house is dirty or trashy until you watch and episode of Hoarders and you realize that your house is mearly lived in. These people are EXTREME.

If you’ve never seen an episode, what usually happens is they identify someone who is a hoarder. Then they show up with a physchiatrist type guy/lady and a guy who specializes in removing TONS of junk/trash. Then they enter the house and you see someone living in a cubby off to the side – sort of like a nest. You have climb up and over ungodly tall mounds of stuff to get to this cubby and you can only imagine it smells like dead rats and cat poop. They usually have a cat and or cats. I haven’t seen many dogs. I suspect a dog would just run away and avoid being on TV.

They Psych person talks to the man/lady living at the house and they agree that it’s terrible, and YES, they would LOVE you to clean up. Then the cleanup crew shows up and they say things like “Let’s start with these old clothes” and then the man/lady living there says “OH! I want to keep those! Those are my favorites.” Okay, how about these books? “OH! I want to keep those books. I’ve been meaning to read them.” Then two days later, the person holds up some old rotted, coffee stained papers and they here “OH! I need those papers.”

It’s kind of like that “Suprise Gardner” show they used to have where the professional groundskeeper shows up and fixes up someones’ yard and you know that in about 12 days, it’s all going to be dead. Just like when they revisit these hoarders and find they’ve completely re-filled the house. It’s at this point, I want to have a new show. It’s very easy. You show up, but you don’t bring a Psych person. Instead, you bring a cleaning team and a guy from the local Zoo with a dart gun. You shoot the owner in the ass and then when they wake up in a few days, the house is completely empty and clean. I think I’d watch every episode of that over and over again.

Honestly, if you are thinking about cleaning up your house, watch a few episodes of Hoarders and you will clean like nobody’s business

Caturday, Tuesday Tidbits

The Oliver

Happy

About three years ago, my wife decided I needed a kitten. This was after one of her friends at work had some unexpected kittens.

So, this is Oliver.

Oliver / Stairs

Oliver was just a cute ball of fur when we brought him home and it only took about three or four days to realize that Oliver was a girl… Nothing wrong with that, it might even be preferred. But we’d already stuck with the name, so we kept it. Oliver is pretty vocal, though, and really wants to have her way, so she is also a Karen. So Oliver/Karen. What’s funny about that is I set up a rabies shot at the vet and my son took him/her over and the vet called to make sure they had the right cat. They had put down “Oliver/Male” and my son took over Karen (he used Karen) and Karen was obviously a girl. I explained and they were okay with it. While they had her, they put in a MicroChip and if you do a search on it, it actually pops up as “Oliver/Karen”. So take that!

Oliver has incredibly sharp teeth and will use them in a heartbeat. While it looks like she wants a tummy rub, that is absolutely NOT the case. She will slice and dice you like nobody’s business. I have the scars to prove it. I think the worse was one time when I was petting her on the couch during lunch and everything seemed fine and then BAM! There was a crunch as her teeth went right into my knuckle. That was the last time she bit me and I’m super careful since. She likes you to pet her on the head and that’s about it. She actually loves that.

I’m thinking about getting one of those chainmale glove things that cats can’t bite through just so I can rough her up a bit one day.

Other than that, she’s a fairly good cat who lets you know when her dish is empty (aka, bottom is showing).

She likes to sleep, mostly, when she isn’t out mousing in the yard. She’s an excellent mouser and we have little or no rodents in the garden thanks to her dilligence.

Sleeping on Piano Stool
Sleeping on Floor
Sleeping on the arm of the sofa
About to sleep in the dog bed
Mysteries

The Computers

Surprised

[When I used to blog on Vox, I had all of these photos like the ones on the left and each one had a caption. WordPress doesn’t seem to hold on to the caption, so I have to remember them each time and hopefully keep them the same from post to post. (update – I just learned how to put the caption on the photos in the media library, so should be better now)]

I went to the hospital this morning for a pre-surgery Covid test. I arrived right at 8am thinking I would get in and back out and I did get in and back out, just not with the desired results. What I walked into was mass hysteria. The computers were all down. ALL of them. The entire hospital and even the next door center where they do all of their outpatient procedures.

There were more people in the lobby than I have ever seen and the attendants working in the area were flustered to say the least. There were clipboards everywhere and forms being filled out that would normally be printed on a printer. They were certainly working hard to move people through, though. Surgery patients first – getting them upstairs to surgery so they didn’t hold up that process. Then outpatient and finally they got to testing and said basically that they can’t do ANY testing, including pre-surgery testing, until the systems came back up. No big deal for me, I can go back later today. She said as long as I get there by 3:15, I should be alright. She apologized. The guy next to me lived about 60 miles away, so he was definitely more put off. I’m only 5 minutes away. He opted to come back later also. Don’t know what he’s going to do all day.

Meanwhile, it’s a beautiful day and I’m working from home since I had the doctor visit this morning. No point in wasting time driving to/from work after that and especially now that I have to go back.

Thursday Tidbits

The Interstate

Ghastly

I’ve been taking the Interstate to work lately. It’s about 8 miles more, but a lot less mentally challenging. Coming home, I take a different route which has a lot of traffic lights and avoids the 80mph drivers. It ‘seems’ faster, but I think it’s only because it’s shorter. Plus, in the evening, the Interstate gets really bogged down.

I have this thing that keeps happening where I’m in the middle lane going about 65mph. I always go about 5mph over the speed limit. It’s faster than some and not as fast as others. Anyway, what I keep doing is I’ll come up behind someone in the center lane who is going 60 or worse yet, 50 and I start slowing down. I try to go around, but here is someone coming up on the left lane going, oh, 80. Sometimes this is a large truck – bonus. So now I have to hit my brakes and turn off cruise control, wait for the car to catch up and pass us and then I can go around. I usually either see someone talking on their phone or, worse, white-knuckling it. What’s he doing? Why is he going 50mph in a 60mph area? Ugh. So then I get passed them and back in the center lane and then about 15 minutes later, it happens again. Is it me? I’d hate to just start going 70 or 75, but it’s sometimes frustrating to find myself in that position.

The other issue I contend with each day is that to get to and from work, I have to go over a fairly substantial bridge/tunnel system. It’s 7 miles of bridge+tunnel under the Chesapeake bay. This should have a huge sign on each side that says “Please pay attention. For the next 7 miles, don’t play with your phone or your radio. Don’t cook a roast or look for something in your purse or wallet. Don’t try to get into your glovebox or reach into the back seat for something. Just put your hands on the steering wheel and drive and everything should be okay.”

What actually happens is every morning some lunatic runs into someone else. SEVEN miles. Is it really that difficult?

Two and Ten!
Wacky Wednesday

The Lunch

Day Dreaming

Ah – Wednesday. Almost through the week. Since we’ve been back to work, I’ve been bringing my lunch every day. At first it was sandwiches and then left overs and then I bought a couple of frozen dinners and now – I decided to just go grab something today. Since there isn’t really anything near here that isn’t non-fast food, I opted for McDonalds.

There were maybe 15 cars in line and I got there about 12:15. I left there about 12:45, so a good 30 minutes in line. I talked on the phone a bit and also enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine. Finally, a guy came outside with an iPad looking device and started taking orders ala Chick-fil-A. He was very nice, and I wasn’t put off by waiting. They have a new special where you can buy a sandwich and add chicken nuggets for $1. So I bought a Big Mac and some nuggets. No fries, since I have to cut back somewhere. While I continued in line, I heard people ordering all sorts of custom things “no ketchup, extra lettuce, no onions” – etc. That wasn’t all from one car, but it explained a little of why they were so backed up. The three cars in front of me all had special orders. Have it your way. I think that was Burger King.

Came back to work and ate and then later wished I hadn’t bought those nuggets. Oh, they were good but I was ready for a nap. I also think a Big Mac might qualify as the messiest burger you can buy. I’ve never seen a burger have so much trouble staying stacked up. But it was good.

McDowell’s

Tuesday Tidbits

The Notion

Perplexed

Notion. The All-in-One workspace.

Have you even heard of this yet? I’ve been super intrigued for the last week over it. I’m serious. I’ve watched maybe 25 videos and read countless articles about it. And not in a “Wow, this is great! I can’t wait to use it” kind of way but more of a “Why would anyone need this” kind of way.

Check it out here: https://www.notion.so/

If you Google it, you’ll see a LOT of articles about it. People rave about it. A few people dislike it, but most everyone seems to be super happy they “finally found *it*”.

I’m in a third group of, like I said, people who who don’t seem to need this. I’m not a bullet journaler. I only bring that up because a lot of the videos I watched are people who also bullet jornal which suggests to me that it’s a tool that they would like. Oh, I’ve ‘journaled’. By that, I mean a few years ago I was blogging in a notebook instead of online. I stopped that before Covid, and haven’t gotten back into it yet. I may not. I don’t have a “Let’s plan NEXT MONTH!” parties like so many journalers do on YouTube. And I also don’t have a need to make three to-do lists in sub pages which have links to a database all in Notion so I know what books I’ve read and what they were about and an associated wiki about each book. I don’t read all that much. I have two books I’ve been reading for over a year. You know what? If you don’t open them, you don’t achieve a lot of progress. I might be boring. I spend enormous amounts of time working, but I don’t spend a lot of time planning out my work. Don’t get me wrong. I plan, but a plan can just be “here are six things I have to do today” on a 3×5 card. Done! I didn’t have to draw a cute calendar with bees and frogs on it and then use sharpies and colored pencils to bring it to life before writing those six things. I just wrote them. I don’t think I need a web site for this.

Is it just me? Maybe you can change my mind.

Tuesday Tidbits

The Grass

Surprised

My neighbor on the end of the street hasn’t had her grass cut in a while. It’s well over a foot tall now. We aren’t in the country, but not in one of those HMA areas either. Still, the tall grass takes away from the overall curb-appeal of the neighborhood. She has a big yard with two houses. She lives in one house. She’s maybe 65. She has a daughter living in the other house and she’s maybe 40 and then both grandkids in their 20’s live in another part of the daughters’ house. So there aren’t a lack of people there who could actually cut the grass.

I joked my son the other day that maybe I should go down there and cut it. He said “like the last time?” and suddenly I remembered that maybe 8 years ago, he and I went down there and cut the grass. I used a push mower and he used the riding mower. We mowed it all and it was treacherous. She/they never said a word about it. I’d forgotten that.

My son then pointed out that my next door neighbor had also cut it a few years ago and all she said was “when you cut my grass, make sure to not get it on the fence.” That was it. No “thank you for cutting the grass” or well, anything. I don’t really talk to them that much. The daughter works a lot. The kids order a record amount of GrubHub because I see the cars bringing bags of food almost daily. I haven’t seen the mother at all in a while, but she isn’t the friendly type who cohorts with the neighbors.

I’ve learned to curtail my spontaneity a little over time so I don’t get in other peoples business. That includes my wife. I always thought I was helping by doing things here and there that were really her domain, but I’ve found that the help isn’t always accepted. I don’t mean like picking up around the house and vacuuming. I mean those dramatic things like “Hey, I moved your plants for you from the right side of the yard to the left side of the yard. You said you were wondering how they might look over there.” And you can see how that might go over. Sometimes people just “wonder” about something and it doesn’t mean you have to do anything.

I wonder when she’s going to cut that grass?