Wednesday, February 28, 2007


We all have issues with something, some are important, some are trivial. Most are hard to explain to someone else, but there are some which we all seem to share, and which we all seem to react to in the same way.

I speak of course about issues with authority. It starts when we are very young and our parents, guardians, sitters, etc, called is on the carpet, so to speak, for something we may or may not have done, or for seemingly no reason at all.

As we enter school, our issues with authority arise, in part,with our teachers and school administrators. After school the issues transfer to our managers, supervisors, bosses, etc.

We react the same when they call us with "that voice" to come to the kitchen, principal/dean's office, bosses office. The "voice" is almost always, stern, somewhat formal, somewhat menacing. Regardless of what we have been doing, or how, the summons brings butterflies to the stomach, a knot in the neck, a lump in the throat, and unbelievable tension until we find out the reason for the summons, or the result of the conversation. When they ask us to close the door, it is almost always bad, and it can cause instant ulcers.

Well my butterflies, etc. have been working overtime because the ultimate authority figure, the IRS has called me for a meeting - tomorrow to discuss my 2004 and 2005 tax returns.

I have probably talked about this before, and while I am not really worried about the audit, I can't rid myself of the tension, butterflies, and general high level apprehension.

I will make it through tomorrow, probably unscathed, that is if I make it to tomorrow

Sunday, February 25, 2007

bullets and snow balls

This weekend again, the weather folk predicted dire stuff. Rain, snow, sleet, ice, etc. Well we dodged the ice bullet and instead got pelted by snow balls, lots and lots of snow has fallen already and in fact as I write this, it is still falling.

Yesterday I went to the Home Depot for an ice chipper (yeah, I did listen to, and believe the weather folks). I was greeted by a sign on the front door, "we have no snow shovels and no ice melt chemicals." Not to be deterred, and since I already had a snow shovel and two bags of ice melt, I asked one of the sales folk if they had any ice chippers. He took me to the tool section (garden variety) and while there were no ice chippers there, there was an edger, It has the same shape head as a chipper but instead of having a long wooden handle, it had a shorter metal shaft with a 'T' shaped handle on it. All in all, ideal for --- chipping ice --- Chippers aren't made for pusing, they are made for banging down on th ice in the hopes of shattering it. The heavier the tool, the more likely it is to --- chip ice.

As I look out my window I see my neighbors valiantly shoveling snow off their cars, or some even shoveling their driveways. It is a losing battle, since it is still coming down fast and furious. All in all a great day to be inside where it is warm, watching a good movie on the TV.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Prestige

Every once in a while you run into a movie that you just have to pass on to others - the Prestige is one of those films. It has been advertised heavily on the TV and usually, when that happens the movie is a bomb and they are just trying to create word of mouth.

Th film just came out on DVD and as usual Netflix had it immediately.

The film stars Michael Caine, Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johannson and Piper Parebo.

The film is about two illusionists who are constantly trying to one-up each other and steal the others illusions. It is a bit disjointed in that it switches back and forth between time frames a bit, but it is so well done and the acting is just superb, that it far out shines the odd down bits. This should be a must see on any one's list.

Speaking of TV two items struck me recently. There were several advertisements recently for a detective show on LMN (Lifetime Movie Network) called Inspector Mom starring Danica McKeller. But they were not talking about a TV show, they were pushing something called a webisode on which I gather is webcast twice a week. The show on TV seems to be broadcast only irregularly.

The other items is a technical one. I have an HDTV plasma in the living room and a small 13 inch tube type (really old tube type) in the kitchen. Sometimes when am cooking something that takes a while I will turn on the TV in the living room and watch there and only return to the kitchen to stir, or turn, or some such. I noticed that when I am watching the same show on both TV one on an HD channel (ABCHD) and one on the non-HD or regular channel (ABC) there is a delay, maybe a second or two but noticeable when you are watching the same show on both sets. Very interesting - I wonder why that happens?

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Time sense

Some days everything seems normal and other days everything seems to have gone to hell in a hand basket.

My son and daughter-in-law's anniversary is the 27th of this month, and my daughter-in-law's Birthday is? Well technically since she was born on the 29th her birthday is several years off, but in reality she will celebrate on the 28th. So... looking at my calendar I fired off birthday and anniversary gifts to them late Monday night so the gifts would get there on time.

I am also scheduled for a federal tax audit on the first of March, so I was distracted by that as well, rushing to get all my records together for that as well.

So here I am finally getting to sleep, withing all the records in a box and the gifts on their way, and as I was listening to the radio the announcer was talking about some even happening "tomorrow, February 20th." That woke me up fast.

Somewhere along the line my mental calendar cursor slipped a week. All that rushing around for naught

Now you ask, how could I have missed all the date references in the news and in the numerous TV ads? But with my mind focused on the audit I guess I missed it all.

Now I have a week to relax before the audit, and my son's gifts are already there.

On a lighter note, and warmer note, three days ago it was below freezing and we seemed headed to a new ice age. Today it is fifty degrees and all that ice that I couldn't chip through to save my life is melting faster and faster

Monday, February 19, 2007

warm spell

I guess the cold weather couldn't last forever. Saturday it was 16 degrees, yesterday it warmed up to 28 and today it was a balmy 35 degrees - almost tropical. Of course the ice mound at the end of my driveway is still there, but hey you can't have everything.

Maybe I will venture out tomorrow

Tomorrow is my Son Mica and Daughter-in-law Misun's first anniversary. Being one to plan ahead I tried to send a gift certificate to them. Naturally it wouldn't go through, no explanation, no way to ask questions, just a terse message saying can't do that now, try again later. Modern technology - ain't it wonderful.

The world is getting a bit bigger and smaller at the same time, the business world that is, entertainment section. Seems that Cingular, which gobbled up AT&T a year or so ago has started calling themselves the new AT&T. No explanation, just new advertising. I wonder if that is a ploy to get former AT&T customers back?

I saw on the news this morning that XM radio and Sirius radio are merging putting Howard Stern and Oprah Winfrey under the same corporate umbrella. Talk about strange bedfellows. My daughter Hillary and her husband Bruce have one or the other of those services - I wonder how it will affect them?

Friday, February 16, 2007


Normally when the sun is shining brightly it is warm outside. Today the air is crisp and clear, the sky is blue, and the sun is shining brightly, and it is 16 degrees outside, yes sixteen degrees. And that is the high so far. I finally finished shoveling my driveway. Well shoveling is not really the proper terminology.

Actually I spent three hours yesterday and another three today chopping through the six inch layer of ice on my driveway, and lifting the blocks of ice up and tossing them on the sides of the drive.

It takes a lot of effort to chop through, fortunately when you succeed you have these big chunks which make removing it easier, just bend down, grab it and throw it.

Of course there is an eight inch pile of ice at the foot of my driveway where the curb is, that is too thick to tackle. I dumped a half a bag of Calcium Chloride on it and will hope for the best. Between the sun and rising temps (into the high 20's and low 30's) maybe it will melt, as it is it is so hard that I can hopefully drive over it with little problem.

The mailman is complaining like hell. Seems the snowplow did the side of the street away from where the mailboxes are and left a 5-6 foot swath of ice in front of the boxes. That is where he has to pull up to to put the mail in the boxes. It is either that or he parks in the street and walks over the ice to the boxes, either way he is pissed.

Apparently the anonymous post I ranted about was placed by my youngest daughter Jessica. I just assumed that since my ex posted to my oldest daughter Hillary's Blog as anonymous that she did so to mine as well. My daughter corrected me and I apologized to her by phone, but just in case, Mea Culpa, Jessie. I am sorry I ranted at you, it really was aimed at what I though was your mother.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy St. Valentine's Day

For those of you out there who are still deeply and romantically in love, for I wish you luck and success. To all the card shops, Jewelry stores and candy and pastry makers out there I hope you did well.

Those who are working on finding deep romantic love they tell me works pretty well, as does Then of course there are Churches, community centers, and the local bars, taverns, pubs, and other singles hangouts.

Whatever floats your boat, as the saying goes.

The weather people, for the first time in a long time were right!! Late last night and into this morning a combination of rain, sleet, snow, and hail, fell. There is a blanket of white stuff in my driveway that nothing seems to want to break through. It is hard as a rock. I spread de-icing salt all over it and so far nothing much has happened.

My home is situated on the street in such a way that doesn't allow much sun on the front part of the house, and thus on the driveway. My house and my immediate neighbors are always the last to have snow piles on the lawns.

This stuff is heavy, and hard. I weigh over 240 pounds (yeah I know, "weigh" too much) and I could walk on top of the white stuff without breaking through the crust. I tried shoveling with my regular snow shovel, and couldn't break through. I even tried a square-nosed garden spade and even that wouldn't break the ice layers

A young man (it could have also been a young woman) asked if he/she could shovel my driveway for $5. I told him/her thank you, but no thank you. I didn't want him/her to get hurt trying to lift all that very heavy stuff, even though $5 was a very reasonable price.

The office was closed yesterday, and today, and probably tomorrow. They are not predicting any more precipitation, but they are predicting extreme cold which means everything already down will freeze solid. Fortunately all our utility lines are buried so we have no problems in that area.

I don't invite comments on this BLOG but anyone is welcome to submitted them. I received one a few days ago from "anonymous" Anyone who is too ashamed or embarrassed to attach their name to a comment doesn't deserve to be published or even acknowledged other than to say next time sign it with your name.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Cabin Fever

Starting on Sunday, the weather people started to predict dire things for our weather future. - early this morning (4 AM or so) it started to materialize. First there was a light dusting of snow, which stopped before it could lay down much in the way of white stuff. Then it started with the off and on ran/sleet/Ice combination which makes commuting a bear and even staying at home no picnic. Granted it is warmer indoors than it is out doors, but it is damp outside, an that dampness seeps inside and regardless how high the thermostat setting is set, it still feels uncomfortable.

It was real tough to get out of bed this morning. I was all toasty warm and snug, but I somehow just couldn't justify staying under the covers with the daylight streaming through the window. I have to say however that today's technology makes keeping warm easier than ever. I have a set of flannel sheets and pillowcases on the bed. Over that there are two very light-weight microfiber blankets which are really good at keeping me warm (holding in the heat)

The only problem with them is that I am used to sleeping with something heavier on me, like a down comforter, and these are way lighter. I assume I will get used to their light weight over time.

With my new HDTV service I find so many more stations to watch that I cut down my Netflix subscription from three at a time to one at a time. If things keep up they way they have, I may eliminate it all together. It was great while I had it, but as the saying goes, things change. If they change again I can always resubscribe

Monday, February 12, 2007


I may have written about this before but then again maybe not - as I get older memory tends to dim, at least some of them do.

One of the strongest memories I have is that of my very good friend Dave. Dave and I met when we were both freshmen in the same college. He and I struck it off and with three other young men we formed a clique of sorts. Four of us were from the New York area and one was from Western Massachusetts. Of the five of us, three were like-minded to a striking degree. We liked many of the same things. As our time in school progressed our attention to classes diminished somewhat, hell, quite a lot.

I began as a math major, Dave started as a Poli.Sci. major, Dirk was a pre-med. My days as a math major ended quickly when I found that freshman calculus and I did not get along at all. Looking around for something to major in I took several different courses, but one of them, a beginning Poli.Sci. course taught by a very dynamic, almost evangelistic instructor hooked me on Poli.Sci.

In any case the five of us would spend more time at the movies than in classes. In the early 60's the theaters along 42nd street between 5th and 8th avenues were all running third showings of b-movies, the action adventures that show up today on channels like TNT and TBS, and sometimes SciFi. Our last year in college we must have watched every movie available.

After we graduated Dirk went to medical school in Belgium (he is now a respected psychiatrist,) Dave went to Albany law and I went to St. Johns Law for want of anything better to do.

Dave graduated and eventually took over his father's practice after he (the father) was elected/appointed to a judgeship.

Dave and I got together regularly after college, and remained best friends. He was best man at my wedding. After the WWON (wicked witch of the north) and I split Dave remained my friend until he passed away at a very early age (he was in his middle 40's). We used to meet for lunch in mid-town once a month for long lunches. I remember our time together very fondly. He was someone I could talk to very easily. I asked him to handle my divorce but that wasn't his area of expertise but he was was able to recommend an excellent attorney.

My ex had served me with papers accusing me of all sorts of things but I am pretty sure wanted the divorce because she had someone on the side, I am just not sure if it was a man or a woman.

I commuted from Smithtown, LI to NYC every day, leaving at 5:45 AM and usually not returning until 7:30 PM. That left her lots of time for fooling around. She certainly wasn't interested in having relations with me, not that she was much good at it, but something was usually better than nothing. Most of the time however, it was nothing. Sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally.

It has been almost 20 years since Dave passed away and I still remember him fondly, any memories I have of my ex bring a bitter taste to my mouth and a churning in my stomach. Even today, after ten years I get nauseated when we meet at family events. My kids have been pretty good, they rarely invited both of us at the same time, unless, it is something that can't be avoided, like a birthday

Sunday, February 11, 2007

good news, bad news

I have rambled in past posts about the now, direct route between my house and my office. I clocked it, it is ten minutes and just under 6 miles, a far cry from the twenty-forty-five minutes and twenty miles it used to take.

This is good news - it makes it that much easier and faster to get to the office. The bad news is that it makes it that much easier and faster for me to get to the office. My manager knows this and so when people don't show up for their desk shift, who does she call - me! Why? because she knows I can get there in a very short time, problems is, she is giving me less and less time to get there, now it is down to twenty minutes. Of course if I was dressed and waiting that wouldn't be a problem, but usually I wander around my home in an old beat up pair of pants and a tee shirt, and sometimes no pants. Try explaining that as a source of delay.

I spoke to my younger brother this week - he is younger than I by about 6 years. He has decided to retire. Now that makes me feel old, very old.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

sitting on the sidelines throwing rotten eggs

For eight years I sat as president of my Condo, and performed all sorts of task in the most conscientious manner I could. I took my job seriously and did my best to look out for the homeowners in my Condo. Last November I resigned and let a new President take over.

This was a very difficult thing to do. Sort of like a manager handing over the reins to a new manager, but more like a parent letting a child go and make its own decisions, or worse watch your child as it rears its own children. It is not easy to do. Matter of fact it is downright difficult. There are times when you want to grab them as say something like "what the hell do you think you're doing, that is not the way to do it, this is" or something like that. But you bite your tongue and hold back, because a) they are adults, and b) it is their child they are raising.

But being a former President of a condo is somewhat different as well. I am still a homeowner, with the same rights and privileges as before, and the board may not like what I have to say but they have to listen. Why, because I can be very loud and abrasive when I get upset.

My ex, the Wicked Witch of the North, did have some things she used to do or say that I did listen to, not many but some. One of them was a version of the old saw that the squeaky wheel gets the oil, or in my case if you want someones attention, wait until you have a large audience and then in the loudest voice you can muster make sure that they, and everyone else knows why you are upset, and what you want them to do.

This doesn't have to be verbal, it can be my email, or even on a website.

The current object of my diatribes are the Boards of both the community and my condo, and the property manager that serves both of them. My complaints have been loud and expressed in a very public forum, where it seems other like minded homeowners are expressing similar objections. It does work

When I moved from Florida to VA I used Beekins Movers, but somewhere along the line between the time they picked up my stuff in Florida and the time they were supposed to drop it off in VA the builder ran into a delay and the mover had to hold on to the stuff. OK, they were very nice, but when it came time to bring my stuff and actually move me in, they were looking for an additional $1500, for storage, unpacking , repacking and delivery. When I asked they said well the original contract ended when they dropped it off at the storage warehouse. And, they wouldn't deliver until I paid, in advance, by check.

I was furious but I paid, because otherwise they wouldn't deliver. I called everyone in the Beekins company and the local storage company. They were adamant - they were within their rights.

The wheel squeaked loudly, I created a series of web pages title I was robbed by Beekins, even used a version of their logo. I published the text of each of their letters and emails, and the names, addresses and phone numbers of each of their corporate officers, and each person I spoke to.

A month later I received a phone call, from the President of Beekins asking what it would take to get the pages off my site. I said I wanted my money back, he asked if there was any way we could compromise. We did, settling on the cost of a few hours of time for three men unloading, loading and unloading my stuff.

I took the site down after I cashed their check. Ah the power of words, and some public embarrassment

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Appearances can be deceiving

When I had my "minor" accident last weekend, it looks as if all they needed to do was straighten and repaint, or repair and repaint the hood and that would be it. I would probably be paying all the cost from my deductible. Oh little did I know that was not to be.

They called yesterday to tell me that the car would probably be ready next Monday, not today - Thursday - as we originally discussed. OK so why is that? Well I was right about the hood, but that was before they opened up the front. Seems that there is a cover over the radiator, which was cracked, some damage to the bumper, the license plate holder was cracked, and so on, and so on, and oh yes, all the little stickers on the underside of the hood, and on all the pieces that needed to be replaced, all had to be replaced - cost for stickers approx $50 - Go figure.

Total estimate, approx $1000, less my deductible of $250, plus whatever GEICO has to pay for the rental car for a week. So much for a "minor" accident.

Yesterday the repairman from Comcast came to fix my service. Seems that when the last fellow was here to install the two new outlets he saw there were already four connected outlets, so he just unhooked one!!! Unfortunately two of the ones they left connected were from the dish I no longer have.

Now I have everything connected properly, and just in time for the big game on Sunday.

When my daughter volunteered me to edit her friend Felicia's Doctoral Thesis. This is something I do for my daughter all the time - no not doctoral theses but articles and the occasional resume or letter.

I didn't think about it, until all 109 pages landed in my inbox. Felecia was pretty good about spelling and grammar, but very weak in providing citations, and making unattributed/unsupported statements. I have completed my review of the first 55 pages so far and hopefully when she gets it all back it will help her toward the next step.