Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Travelling Travails

Spent the past week in NY to celebrate my dad's 80th birthday
(I was born on his birthday . . . no, I'm not 80!).   ;)

On the drive there, it took 13 hours on a weekday morning to reach the border of NJ/NY,
with about an hour's worth of pit stops (never needed to do that, before!)
and speeds averaging about 60 mph
(and, of course, no matter how fast I drove, 
some idiot was going at least 10mph faster!),
then spent 3 hours between the border and my folks home in the middle of LI,
inching along at 5 mph!

The way back on a Sunday morning was much faster:
just 1-1/2 hrs to reach NJ,
and another 12 to reach Cincinnati,
where construction at 10:30pm brought traffic to a near standstill
(they shut down 2 of 3 lanes to repave a side road;
I might have understood 1 lane, but 2???).
That took a 1/2 hour out of my life,
but the rest of the trip (1-1/2 hrs was uneventful and clear).

Many of my Virginia friends wanted me to come by for Thanksgiving,
but this turkey is done travelling for a while!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Breakfast at Wimbledon - - Hold the Chatter

This was probably the worst reported Wimbledon in the 30 years I've watched it. Not only were the early matches split between three networks: ESPN-2, ESPN-U(niversity) (WHAAAAT?!?!?), and NBC, but approximately 20% of it was pointless blather, useless statistics, and, far worse, we weren't told of any matches except those deemed the most important in the eyes of the ESPN/NBC directors. Did you know that the likes of Martina Navaratilova, Martina Hingis, Anna Kournikova - - okay, so I'm slanted toward the women! - - among others were playing? Okay, so it's doubles. So what? Most club and USTA players are doubles players! Tell us something we can relate to, such as the fact that our favorite past champions or the eye-candy are still playing! Aren't either of those newsworthy?

I recorded 95% of the matches on DVD, just so I could fast-forward through the inane chatter, predictions, personal viewpoints, etc. I estimate that I "really" watched a total of about 8 hours for the two-week event!!!

I avoided the women's final as being moot (not to mention that I didn't have my ear plugs with me, and didn't want to see Serena take her racquet and stuff it down her opponent's - - or anyone else's - - throat), and hope that the Nadal-Berdych match is worth my having to wake at 9am on a Sunday morning!

However, I can't believe that within 30 minutes of the men's final, the commentators (hate McEnroe's holier-than-thou attitude; I want Dick Enberg and Bud Collins, damn it!) left two big questions unanswered. First, who was the girl who flipped the coin for the men's final? Aren't reporters supposed to tell us these things? And, second, McEnroe "treated" us to a blatant advertisement of one of the players' racquets, telling us it was strung at some kilogram measure, then going on to say that having it otherwise was "bad". His USA audience doesn't know a kilogram from a calorie! And are the "bad" strings at a lower tension or higher? I'm willing to bet most viewers don't know the answer (for the record: higher string tension (more control, less power) is worse for some people; however, that depends on the person's physical condition(ing), the racquet, etc). However, I can't fault McEnroe, alone, for this. Though he may be knowledgeable about the game (he's an egomaniacal, mouth-that-bored), the broadcast director should have whispered into the commentators' headsets, "Hey! You're not giving the viewers any real information!" But, that's what television has become, so, I suppose, I should be used to it by now, sad to say.

In the end, I did what I usually do with bad commentators:
Since they turned me off, I returned the favor by turning off the volume.

And, FWIW, the only worthwhile parts about this Wimbledon, IMnsHO*? The Isner-Mahut marathon match, of which we were "treated" to only about an hour's worth on TV (sans clip repeats), and Berdych's ousting of the first and third seeds, Federer and Djokovich, respectively.


* (In My not so Humble Opinion)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lousy, no good, rotten, friend

This past Sunday, a childhood friend came to visit me (we live in two different States, both far away from our childhood State), and he wanted to play tennis with me. I knew it wouldn't be a contest, because I play 2-3 times a week, am a 4.0 NTRP player, and have played for nearly 30 years, pretty much non-stop! (someday, I hope to become good at the game!) On the other hand, he hadn't played since the last time we got together, 20 years ago!!! Worse, he was playing right after a long and delayed flight, and he was a little dehydrated (he wouldn't even take the cup of ice water I gave him), plus his racquet had no grip! All it had was a nearly completely deteriorated overgrip! (he thought that an overgrip was a "grip", so he did it himself, when his grip had become ragged)

Fortunately, we played indoors, with air conditioning, at my club. Needless to say, I was beating him 5-0, when he decided he had had enough. I was hoping to gloat or at least hear him say, "Gosh, Steve, you're WAY better than I!" Instead, he took me to dinner, and presented me with a gift: a "giant" size Hershey chocolate bar with almonds, which had melted in the 90 degree heat, but, I knew I could make do once I got it in my 'fridge! (hey, I have no problem with melted chocolate, especially Hershey's!)

What kind of friend not only goes out of his way to be so nice, but also doesn't give his friend a chance to rub the victory in his face???? I mean, seriously! Some people!  ;)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Memories in a vacuum

A social network friend showed a photo of her grandfather's 1918 military commission. It doesn't have the then-President's, Woodrow Wilson's, signature, but it does have a relative of current Senator John McCain's signature. She also has a collection of other war/military memorabilia, including leave cards, dance cards (with the decorative rope and pencil still attached!), etc. Though none of it is probably worth much, but I was very impressed that her family held onto it for over 90 years!

And then there's the tale of the vacuum cleaner! Finishing up my Memorial Day weekend, I went to my apartment complex's communal trash bin to dump my weekly worth of garbage. I noticed what seemed to be a relatively new upright vacuum cleaner lying on its side next to the dumpster. It seemed to be in pretty good shape, except that it was caked, in and out, with drywall dust, and the floor brush drive belt was obviously broken. I guessed that the landlord's maintenance crew had finished renovating an apartment, and was cleaning up when the belt broke (probably from the stress of sucking up such fine material). Having nothing better to do (I had already done the laundry, worked on the car and bicycle a bit, and other sundry stuff), I brought it back to my apartment, cleaned it thoroughly (15 minutes), and switched it on. It worked! Now all it needs is a $4 belt, and it's good to go! The only thing missing was one of the attachments, which I would probably never use, anyway. The only problem is that I already have an upright vacuum cleaner (though the found one is bagless, but, personally, I find that annoying, as I wouldn't want to breathe or touch the stuff as I dump it) and a canister vac (for corners, ceilings, car, etc), so what the heck do I do with the "new" one??? Should I return it to the landlord for a small fee, and risk being accused of stealing it? Should I sell it locally? Give it to a local charity? Must be a "guy" thing! ;)

Monday, May 31, 2010

Penny for your Quarters

I am not naive, but I tend to look at people with an open mind,
believing in the best rather than the worst of them.

Frankfort, KY, is not exactly known for crime, either big or small.
As a matter of fact, the cop who recommended the apartment complex
where I've been living for the past 3 years,
matter-of-factly said that the #1 crime
in Frankfort is "drunk and disorderly";
second is "domestic problems/spousal abuse".

Never mind that, a few weeks ago, my neighbors' cars
were broken into, with only minor things taken:
money, jewelry, phones, etc.
Many of the items were recovered within a 1/4 mile of the complex,
so police think it was a prank,
but I've heard locals say that other areas have been similarly hit.
I don't know why my vehicle wasn't broken into,
except that there was nothing visible worthwhile to take,
and, possibly, because I happened to have a video camera
aimed at the vehicle, as a deterrent to thieves
(it isn't set to record, but the crooks don't know that;
n.b., curious that none of the cars' alarms went off;
I mean, most of the time, they go off if a leaf touches them,
but not a single one went off during the burglaries???).

I've also seen people leave their cars running and open,
while they ran into the supermarket or post office, etc.
I've seen able-bodied people park in the handicapped spots
with and without handicapped placards or plates.
I've seen people leave their dogs and kids, unattended,
with the doors wide open; most kids weren't in safety seats;
most dogs were left without even a slight crack in a window.
I've seen people drive in their pick-up trucks
with their terrified pets struggling to keep their balance
as their "loving" owner caroms through corners at 30 mph or more.
I've seen people drive without seat belts,
and motorcyclists without helmets.

Despite that, Frankfort is relatively safe,
and the people are decent and law abiding.

However, while doing my laundry at 10am on a Sunday morning
at a local coin laundromat,
where I have been doing business on-and-off for the past 3 years
(there's a choice of 4 laundromats in the area,
though one closed a year ago),
I admit that I, as a New Yorker, did something
I haven't done since I was 12 years old (now 53):
I let my guard down.

There were 10 people in the laundromat:
eight Hispanics and two Caucasians (me and the staff member,
who was tending to customers' laundry).
I had a larger-than-usual load in the dryers,
with 10 minutes to go in the current cycle,
and only 8 quarters left, if I needed more.
I left the quarters in a plastic tub I use to hold coins
just for laundry day, and placed it under a plastic bag,
which would, eventually, hold the dry laundry
(usually, I have 2 loads worth,
but, with a sore back and arm,
I decided to take the finished load to the car,
so I'd have less to carry when the second load,
divided between 2 dryers for faster drying, completed).
The tub and bag were shoved into a nook between the dryers
and the soap vending machine.

I sat down a distance away from the dryers to read the book I brought,
figuring I could get through a few pages in 10 minutes
(there was no convenient place to sit near my dryers).

One of the Hispanic women started folding her dry bed linens,
taking great pains to keep it as high as possible,
presumably to avoid having them touch the ground,
which was difficult, seeing that she was only 5 feet tall, if that.
I wondered where her husband was (they arrived at the laundromat
at the same time as I, with their kids); surely he would help her.
I also noticed that she was folding the linens directly
between me and my dryers, so I couldn't see the dryers,
even though the folding table was directly behind and to her right.
Still, I didn't think anything of it.
Then, I see the husband walk out from behind her,
sneezing in a very phony way.
Yet again, I didn't think anything of it.
He then went back behind her, sneezing - - always fake - -
then walked out, sneezing.
He repeated this two more times.
Naively, I thought it was weird, but mentally shrugged it off.
When I heard my machines stop,
I checked, and, sure enough, the clothes were still wet.
So, I reached for my tub of coins, but it was gone.
The bag was there, but not the tub.
I thought the tub had fallen behind the vending machine,
so I looked, and, sure enough, it had.
But, as soon as I picked it up,
it was obvious that the quarters were gone.

A lightning bolt of realization hit me
(as it probably hit you, while reading the above paragraph),
along with that cold, horrifying, feeling of being violated.
The brujo and the bastard's wife stole my quarters
(oddly, the plastic tub was still closed; what a thoughtful thief!).

After calming down and thinking about it for about 15 seconds,
I decided it wasn't worth getting into a hassle,
much less to complain to the worker or call the cops.
The thieves weren't going to admit stealing, and I had no proof.
I even thought to ask, innocently, if anyone happened to take
the quarters thinking they were abandoned,
but, if that were the case,
he wouldn't have tossed the tub behind the machines
(I'm still wondering why he bothered to do that).

I could have taken some cash out of my wallet
and changed them for coins to finish my laundry,
but decided I didn't want to show anyone where my wallet was
(my front pocket; New York style, to prevent pickpockets;
pretty ironic, huh?).

There are multiple ironies to this:

1) I normally don't do laundry on Sundays.
2) I normally finish the load in one shot.
3) The laundromat usually isn't so crowded.
4) I could have put the remaining quarters into the dryers,
which would have completely dried the clothes.

Despite all this, I actually want to THANK the brujo and bruja
for the wake-up call. I never thought someone would steal
from inside a laundromat, and certainly not while I was only
a few feet away, and certainly not in Frankfort.
Now, thanks to a $2 lesson, I'm doubling my guard,
and, as far as the laundromat is concerned,
I'll always keep my coins on my person or in plain sight.
And, for certain, I'm not going to do my laundry
at 10am on Sunday, anymore;
I've been unemployed since Feb 2009,
so it's no big deal to go at some other time.
And, finally, I thank them for reinforcing
the stereotypical notion that all Hispanics are crooks.
I have no doubt that all blacks are violent gang members, too.

My new motto: Trust no one and be more secure.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Last tennis until Fall :,(

Due to growing injuries, my last tennis for the spring/summer will be this Saturday. Other than watching it live and on TV, and being "forced" to play with a friend coming in from out-of-State on a June weekend, I'll be sitting at home, doing very little to exacerbate all that ails me. Without a job, it should be easy, though I have an interview this coming week for a temporary, part-time (i.e., one day a week and as needed), rural delivery job for the post office ($13/hr; no benefits), and, perhaps, lifting 70 pound sacks of mail won't be easy. On the other hand, maybe it'll build muscle, if not character (I've heard from friends at other postal facilities that temps are treated like personna non grata, since they are non-union; no wonder they "go postal"!).  ;)

I've also done some research into my condition. My arm injury might actually have been exacerbated by my  having increased my racquet's string tension to a very high degree (for me), in order to get more control and spin on the ball (the control part hasn't been that great, but the spin has picked up, slightly). It may be best to go down to the mfr's "middle" ("default") setting, when I resume play in the Fall.

Can't afford to eat

Went to Kroger's supermarket to pick-up some stuff for a nice weekend meal.

    * 1-1/2 lb angus steak @ $3.99/lb: $6.50 (had a "Mary Tyler Moore" moment with that)
    * 1 canteloupe: $2
    * 2 lbs cherries @ 4.99/lb: $9.95 (reduced from $8.99/lb (!!!) with shopper loyalty card)
    * 2 lbs mixed salad @ 2.99/lb: $5.95

Total for the trip: $24.40

That's for ONE person, though, granted, I'll eat it all over three days,
which comes out to about $8 dinner, which, I suppose, isn't so bad,
but . . . SERIOUSLY???
$8.99/lb for cherries????
CHERRIES?!?!?!?
Were they mined at De Beers?!?!?!?!?!?

And, yes, I returned them as soon as I saw the self-checkout screen display
(gotta admit, there are some things about technology that I love!).
Heck, I considered the $2 canteloupe to be a "luxury"!


[FOLLOW-UP]
On June 2010, the same supermarket had the same cherries on sale for $2.50/lb
(I wonder if they read this original blog!) ;)
Much better . . . but I'm still not buying them!
(how do poor people eat at these prices??? Oh . . . )

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A friend's woes with a great little car

My friend drives a secondhand, 1995 vehicle (the make and model aren't important).

During a casual conversation about cars, she mentioned she had lots of rain come into the car. When I inspected it, I found that the weather stripping on both sides of the vehicle were disconnected from the frame. I offered to fix it at no charge (she has a low-paying job and does a lot of volunteer work, so I considered my help to be a "reward").

The rubber was pretty much intact, so I removed the old glue and caulk, cleaned the frame where the strip made contact, and caulked the strips back in (I didn't glue it because I wasn't sure if there was a different problem; i.e., if the caulk worked, great; if not, then I would remove it and get new stripping or find another source of the leak). I then did a basic car inspection. The tires were very good; the muffler was new; the interior was a bit shoddy, but otherwise okay. All four doors were nearly impossible to move, so I greased them (incredible difference!).

Then, I made the mistake of openning the hood!

There was NO oil on the dipstick. Not "low". NO! NONE! NADA! ZIP!!! She claimed that it just "vanishes" without a trace. However, that's no excuse for not having ANY oil, or at least going to a mechanic to find the problem. Then I discovered NO fluid in either the radiator or the windshield wiper fluid reservoir! I put two-and-two together, and asked if she frequently drives over a gravel or dirt surface. Surprise-surprise, she does! At her aunt's home: a dirt and gravel road with 30 degree incline did her in. Due to a bad back, I can't go under cars, anymore, but I told her that it would probably cost under $1,000 to repair or replace the radiator, oil pan, and wiper reservoir, but she said she couldn't afford it, and, besides, it would just happen, again! And there was virtually no water in her car battery, which, as it turned out, is nearly ten years old (I refilled the water: each cell took 8-12 ounces!). Her brake and power steering fluid were "okay".

Given the oil and radiator problems, I declined to run the engine at all, much less to check the transmission fluid! And, last, but not least, the air filter appeared new, but there was debris in the bottom of its housing, which, due to poor construction, could not be removed by hand, so I told her to get a canister vacuum to suck the junk out. I couldn't find the PCV valve, but the exhaust manifold appeared to have a gap where the exhaust pipe met the engine block. Unfortunately, I don't have tools to tighten the bolts, and, even if I did, I wouldn't have done it, because the bolts were badly rusted, and I'd be afraid of stripping or breaking them, leading to an even bigger repair job.

I have never seen a vehicle that was able to drive with little or no fluids! That particular model is no longer available (of course!). She loves the car, but doesn't want to do even basic maintenance on it, anymore, relying on the kindness of strangers and her father, I suppose! I told her that her car is living on borrowed time, and if she doesn't attend to everything, as soon as possible, she could find herself with an even bigger expense, vis-a-vis, towing, repairs or replacement.


The irony of all this?
I take excellent care of my car!
But, this morning, the battery was dead. =sigh!=

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Back off!!!

During a heated tennis match, I ran, backwards, to get a lob, and tripped, landing squarely on my back! I thought I was going to be in severe pain, but, oddly, it felt pretty good! More embarrassed than hurt!

Went home. That is all.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

100 Grand!!!

My car just passed the 100,000 mile mark!!!
See the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVOUMEj-iTU 
(make sure your computer speakers are on).

FWIW, I was driving 60mph on a 70mph, mostly deserted, Bluegrass Parkway at 10pm
(believe it or not, when I hit 99,980,
I actually planned that route and timing around my tennis schedule,
so I could video tape without risking life or limb to myself and others!).

The digital still/movie camera did a great job!
I rarely had to look down,
checking only that the camera was running,
and that the odometer was in frame and focused!
One of the few minor problems with the car
is that the upper and left dashboard lights stopped working, years ago,
so the video is a little "dark", but you can just make out the odometer.
Considering that the only major problem
my '99 Ford Crown Victoria has ever given me
was the "idle air control valve"
(for the pre-fuel injection folks, that's equivalent to the vacuum advance/retard)
which cost all of $200 to replace, I think I can live with that!
Of course, in the pre-fuel injection era, that same repair would have consisted
of snipping off the end of a cracked vacuum advance/retard hose line!
How can they get the hard things right, and the easy things wrong?
Ah, the wonders of modern technology!
Still, with only basic maintenance, two new batteries
(about to get a third; hard cranking is the first sign of a needed replacement!),
and two sets of new tires, and not even having to replace the muffler,
I am VERY happy with this car.
Of course, Ford no longer produces it for non-fleet use,
though I'm told you can still get it if you ask nicely
or if a fleet car is available at year end;
however, its "sister" car, the Mercury Grand Marquis is still available and close enough!*

Can't wait for the next 100,000 miles!!!

___________________________

* [ADDENDUM] The Mercury brand has been jettisoned,
joining Pontiac, Hummer, and a host of others to the automotive junkyard.
Figures! The best car I've ever owned
(second only to the '77 Pontiac Bonneville,
which had lots of problems, but lasted nearly 15 years,
and I could fix virtually anything other than transmission issues)
cannot be replaced! I dread to think what my next car will be!  :,(

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It hurts when I do this . . .

My recent bad back trauma seems to have affected the entire right side of my body. As I was "listing" 45 degrees forward and the right (sort of like mechanical crane that snaps in two while lifting an excessively heavy burden), undoubtedly, I must have done some damage to my shoulder, groin, thigh, and knee, because - - BOY! - - do they hurt!!! Neither heat nor cold makes them feel any better; I'm convinced a run through my tennis club's hot whirlpool would help, but, of course, it's out of order!

Nothing new on the job front; I don't even get rejection letters or cold calls, anymore! Is this what retirement looks like?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Unemployment benefits run out May 3

I went into the unemployment office (given the PC moniker of "Office of Employment and Training"; c'mon! call a spade a spade, huh?) for my 6-week "check-up", where, essentially, they ask us to prove why we can't get a job (don't be upset at Kentucky; with a population about the same size of Little Rhody, they have to do SOMEthing to justify keeping the unemployment personnel employed!), and discovered that my benefits will run out on May 3, unless Congress passes another unemployments benefit extension (this would be my third). BTW, it probably isn't a good sign that I'm on a first-name basis with the entire OET staff, is it?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Fat Tuesday

I got a lot on my plate to chew through on Tuesday:

1) Volunteer stint at Central Kentuky Radio Eye
2) Dentist to fix my broken tooth
3) Playing tennis after a 3-week layoff due to a bad back

If I survive that, there's more tennis on Wednesday!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Deadly dull day

Friday, I went to sleep at around 2:30am (don't know why),
woke up at 6am (don't know why),
and stayed up doing practically nothing (don't know why).
Actually, I spent 2 hours scouring the web for a job (don't know why*)
(a headhunter contacted me very late Friday,
about a job that I'm about 50% qualified for,
but could probably do, regardless;
I responded with a show of interest,
but I probably won't hear from her until Monday),
did some minor apartment cleaning (don't know why);
baked a cake (don't know why);
read my e-mail and scanned my Facebook buddies (don't know why) . . .



=======

(*) It has been pointless for the last 14 months,
so, although the number of jobs and "cold" contacts seem to have increased, slightly,
I'm not hopeful about the future,
and, quite frankly, I'm at a complete loss as to what to do.
A new degree would be prohibitively expensive;
a master's would probably be beyond my reach, at this point
(and, what, exactly, would be the point?
the last few job contacts I've received or made
all wanted me to move out-of-state with no guarantee of long-term employment,
AND pay me LESS than what I made over a decade ago;
one wanted to hire me as a senior computer programmer (30 years of experience),
but at only 1.5 times minimum wage AND without benefits!!! Good deal, huh?);
I'm at a complete loss (I said that already, but, I'm repeating it to emphasize
that I'm at a complete loss!)).  ;)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wash and watch

I did the wash at the local laundromat.
When someone comes by, overburdened by their load,
I usually open the door for them,
and, most of the time, get little more than a smile.
This time, I didn't notice that the young woman (collegian?) I was helping
was so rapt in her cell phone conversation,
that I was sure she didn't even realize I was there!
Much to my surprise, when she put her stuff down,
she looked to where I had sat down, and mouthed "thank you!"



Later, I watched PBS' "The Buddha" (was very disappointed in it).

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Accomplished nothing; reporting same

I got an e-mail response to a job I applied to via the 'net.
It was posted THREE days ago (or, perhaps, re-posted/renewed 3 days ago).
The gentleman said it was already filled.

However, his letter was extremely well written;
one of the best I've seen in years.
Here's to hoping he  knows a good prospect when he sees one!

My back is about 75% better, with minor twinges, now,
though I'm very careful about what I do, especially bending and lifting.
I have to do a laundry today or tomorrow,
which will involve heavy lifting.
I also have to return something I bought on Sunday
(a window film; turns out I didn't need it),
dump the garbage,
and a few odds and ends.
Maybe I'll save it all for Wednesday (which I normally do on Wed & Sat or Sun),
and add picking up the mail to the list.

Finally finished finalizing my taxes;
I owe about $1200 each to Uncles Sam and Kentucky.
=sigh=

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Digital shades

No, it's not some new eyewear product to enhance your surfing experience!

Due to some burglaries of items in cars in my apartment townhome complex's parking lot
(my car wasn't victimized),
I went to a local home and hardware chain and bought shade "film",
which, when applied to the interior, ground-level, windows,
makes it difficult for would-be thieves to see
(I have lots of electronics, tools, etc, all for anyone to see).
It took about an hour to cut and apply to the two windows;
I wish I had done it years ago!

I went to my post office box and picked-up the mail (I do so only on Wed & Sun),
and saw that my cable company had sent me the three digital-to-audio converters I had requested.
Frankfort, KY, being one of the last areas in the USA to convert completely to digital cable,
because it is a lower-middle income town with only one utility company
(excluding satellite cable/internet), had received permission from the FCC to delay
the mandatory conversion as long as possible.
They work okay, but I hate them, not just because I have to pay an extra $1/month for each unit
for each of my 3 VHS/DVD recorders,
but, also, because the 3 recorders do not have digital tuners*,
I can only get whatever channel the converter is set to,
which, because I have 3 units, isn't so terrible,
but it is annoying to lose perfectly good functionality.
One town I lived in went all digital, but didn't force us to buy a converter,
unless we wanted high-definition or pay-per-view channels.
What's up with that? Something shady, I'm sure!

*(I'm pretty sure one of the recorders isn't digital; not sure about the other two,
but the only way I'll know is when the utility company "drops" the analog signal,
and I try the two without the converter box).

Saturday, April 3, 2010

MIA

I hurt my back over the past week,
and was in a great deal of pain,
so I was unable to fill-in anything into my diary blog.

On the other hand, I didn't do anything during the week,
so there was nothing worthwhile to write!

I'm still in pain, but am much better,
though I had to cancel last week's tennis, dental appt (another broken tooth),
and volunteer stints, and, most likely, will have to cancel them this upcoming week, as well.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A gift of $5,000?

Another friend asked,
"If you were given $5,000 to live and study abroad, would you go?",
to which I responded as follows:

Sorry, but I'll have to use the $5,000* to pay for my mandatory annual health care,
thanks to the new health deform - - er, REform - - law!

* (the estimated amount the average taxpayer without health care will have to pay, whether he/she likes it or not, unless he/she opts to pay the legally questionnable 2.5% "penalty" of gross income in subsequent years' taxes)

Of Philosophy and Logic

A friend asked a question about life, the universe, and everything.
I responded as follows:

Define "evil"?
"Live" backwards, of course,
which, by association, implies that all life is evil,
and nothing is good,
except for dogs,
because we all know what "dog" is backwards.

This bit of philosophic sophistry has been brought to you by the same people who promised you better living with a health deform - - er, REform - - bill that helps 30 million people at the expense of 150 million, while adding $1 trillion to the national debt of $12 trillion (and growing), yet magically saves $450 billion in ten years. Logical? You bet your taxes!

Got another reference

My boss' boss kindly consented to be my second reference (the guy hired me, and, after over 2 years since we last saw each other, he remembered me!).

I went grocery shopping at 8pm Wednesday. I rarely go so late, but I was out of eggs and milk, and it's much quieter than going during the day. I loathe the muzak Kroger plays, which is, apparently, at the (acting) store manager's discretion, which, in Frankfort's (KY) West Side Kroger, is usually light rap (if there is such a thing!) or hip-hop with weird clapping or clicking techno noises in the background (the East Side Kroger usually plays much lighter fare, though, occasionally, it's country and western, which I loathe as much as rap!). Whatever happened to Percy Faith, Herb Alpert, Burt Bacharach, et al.? Anyway, tonight, I was pleasantly surprised (nay, shocked!) to hear classic rock and roll, which started with Billy Joel's "Miami 2017 (I've seen the lights go out on Broadway)", which brought a smile to this New Yorker's, and, just so I'd hear the whole song, I bought about 20 items (most of which I don't need - - cakes, cookies, etc) instead of the two I wanted! Studies have proven that pleasant muzak encourages people to buy. Why hasn't Kroger (or any retailer) learned from this? I've even seen blacks cringe at the rap and hip-hop being played (which is always too loud, IMHO; one time, I asked the info desk clerk to lower it, and she did; three people at the cashiers applauded, including one black! I sent an e-mail to Kroger about it, and never heard that loudness since, and the rap/hip-hop has been toned down (no techno noises in the past year!). Bravo, Kroger!)!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Monday: did nothing, with scattered boredom heading into Tuesday

I can't find an auto parts retailer who has the exact match (or even a close one) for the EGR vacuum hose that is slightly cracked. Ford wants $15 for the 8" tube. A local company sells all kinds of hoses and tubes to the general public, so I'm hoping they have a more reasonable match.  If not, I have 2 options: (1) shrink wrap the cracked tube, or (2) cut off the bad end and, using a "tee" connector, attach slices of the hose that didn't work to the very end of the connector, which would probably work (i.e., the bad end wouldn't be exposed to the vacuum, so there wouldn't be a "collapse" issue.

Nothing of note happened at my volunteer stint at CKRE.

Called a headhunter who found me on LinkedIn.com (a social network site for business people, and those seeking jobs or having jobs to fill). She claims to have contract work as a C developer in Pittsburgh, but, based on the qualifications list she e-mailed, it appears to be only a 70% match. However, I've never had a job that was a 100% match going in, so that's neither here nor there. We had a pleasant half-hour conversation, and she told me the company name and the pay rate, both of which are fine, but I'm not holding my breath. We'll see!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Combined Saturday & Sunday post

Saturday: nothing of consequence; didn't play tennis, as it is my rotation out for the next two Saturdays, which is good, because it may give my shoulder time to heal. I sit out this Tuesday's tennis, as well, and I'll volunteer to sit out of this Wednesday's tennis, as well.

Sunday: Went to my apartment mailbox and PO box for the mail (I only go twice a week, since I get little of consequence; I'm notified of most of my bills via e-mail).

Went to the car parts retailer to replace my EGR vacuum hose which is slightly cracked around the EGR conduit's flange (a common problem), but, is not of major importance, because it hasn't gone through to the inside of the hose. Unfortunately, the one they selected (under $2) wasn't wide enough to fit properly, nor was it strong enough to withstand the vacuum (i.e., it collapsed as soon as the vacuum started), so I'll try a different auto parts store; if that doesn't help, then I'll go to Ford (the non-fitting hose is pretty much worthless for anything else, so it's money down the drain, but, fortunately, it's only a little money (guess I won't be buying those lottery tickets, this week!)).

Changed my monitor from the old, huge, CRT to a super-trim LCD, which I bought from my library's "Friends" sale (of which I'm their webmaster: http://psplfriends.org/). It uses about 1/3 the power of the old one (from 250 watts to 70!!!). The display looks different than the older unit; I tried different settings, but, none were any better. I'm sure I'll get used to it, eventually.

Other than that, it was a pretty boring weekend, especially since Fox Sports Network in my area didn't broadcast the Indian Wells semi- and finals.


[ADDENDUM]
Ford wanted $15 for the 12" hose which has special reinforcement, so I just said, "no"!
If it becomes an issue, I'll just buy some shrink wrap to go around the hose,
or just wrap it with plastic wrap and electrical tape. $15. Seriously?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Broken server, broken tooth

It may sound like a book or movie title, but it isn't either. Here's the scoop:

The radio station for the blind where I'm a volunteer reader needs a computer to hook-up to their server to enable people to hear the broadcast using their computers. After a few tries over a few days, I was able to make the computer work on a standard ethernet connection, but not with the server. I managed to get another computer up and running for one of the interns, but couldn't get a brand new Windows 7 computer to acknowledge the presence of an old computer. One out of three ain't bad, I suppose!

After doing my Friday reading, I went home.

I made myself a bean and cheese tortilla, and, after a couple of calm, soft, bites, I heard a sound I'm becoming more used to as the years go on: The crack of a newly broken tooth. I've already spent $700 in two days on 4 teeth (one broken + three replacement fillings; two of those four need a root canal and crown), so what's another $100 or so? My next appt is on March 30 (I have at least 5 more teeth to be worked on, mostly to replace old fillings); I think I can wait until then, but I'll call my dentist to let her know, just in case she wants me to come in, sooner. =sigh=

I tried to upload a new page for my friend's website, http://TheGumptionCommunity.com, but I couldn't connect to the FTP site. So, I tried the host site, but found that they upgraded their security, requiring a new password, even though the existing one is over 10 characters long and is a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters. Unfortunately, the only person who can make the change is the account's designated primary owner, who is a friend of my friend, so I can't do anything until he deigns to check his e-mail and do whatever's necessary to fix the "problem", including telling me what the new password is.

Not a good day!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sore shoulder that no St Patty's beer can numb!

Did the laundry (2-1/2 loads), then had lunch at Subway ($7 for a 6" meal?!?! (sub, 2 cookies, 21 oz drink) for 50 cents more, I could have had a footlong, that I could have finished for dinner! what a ripoff! Never again, boy!!! I sent a polite comment via their website; maybe they'll be nice enough to give me a free 6" sub, which would make up for it), then watched the Indian Wells tennis at the Lexington Tennis Club (Nadal beat Isner in 3 sets (Isner had huge problems with the strings of his first two racquets; some stringer is out of a job!!!); Djokovic is out; Roddick is about to win), then played two hours of tennis (first time I've won a set with this group, albeit in a tie-breaker!!!), but my shoulder hurt so badly, I couldn't serve overhand for my last time prior to the tie-breaker (served one underhand for a service winner!), and did a half-effort overhand for my 2 tie-break serves. Fortunately, I have 2 weeks of being out of most of my groups' rotations, so, hopefully, it'll be enough to heal, if only somewhat.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dentist or tennis? Open your mouth and say "lob".

My new dentist - - a lovely woman with a great sense of humor and 3 dogs - - removed old fillings from three teeth (she only had time for 2, but she thought I could handle one more, which I thought was nice, especially since I was late coming from my volunteer stint at CKRE (radioeye.org), where I failed to make their "new" computer work with their server after THREE hours of non-stop work!). I left the office feeling as if everything on the right side of my nose to my lower jaw was drooping down to my chest (when I looked in the mirror, I found I was right!).  ;)

With just an hour to go before my last-minute fill-in for a tennis group, and unable to eat, thanks to the above work, I had barely enough energy to play in that group, much less my regular group, just a few minutes later! Fortunately, the first group got tired after just one hour (10 minutes of warm-up left 20 minutes of the 1-1/2 hour court time, which I gratefully used to relax and wash before the subsequent group).

Got home, hoping to see some of the Indian Wells tennis on Fox Sports Network, but there was a hockey game instead (what's the old joke? "I went to the fights, and a hockey game broke out?"). However, I was actually glad, because, between my now-not-numb very sore mouth and my tennis-induced very painful shoulder pain (possibly a rotator cuff, but the pain has migrated to the top of my shoulder . . . odd), I was in some serious pain and very, very, tired, so I took a couple of Tylenol and went to bed.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Check the check

Just went to the unemployment office to find out why I haven't been able to get my checks. It seems that about 10% of Kentuckians are in some bizarre black hole of a glitch, where we are ALLOWED to receive benefits, but UNable toactually get checks!!! Fortunately, Frankfort is a small town, and my case worker has taken care of it, but warned me that it will probably continue for a while. =sigh=

I also dropped of some books at the Friends' book store at my local library.

My Facebook friends are getting a little tired of groaning at my bad jokes. I try explaining to them my situation of unemployment and sheer boredom, not to mention that my true, long-time, friends have LONG abandoned me, thanks to my puns and jokes!  ;)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Big yawn

Cleaned the inside of the car windows.

Picked-up the mail, which I do on a twice-weekly basis, primarily because I get nothing of import.
Didn't this time, either!

Went home, watched some tube, and that was that.

As I said: Big yawn!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Good tennis match (finally!)

Ran a few errands, then played tennis and FINALLY won a couple of sets, 1-6, 6-1, 6-2!
I'm looking forward to next week's Indian Wells tennis event, broadcast on the Tennis Channel
and Fox Sports Network (I don't get TC on my cable station, so I'm hoping my local FSN will carry it).

Other than that, I fixed the computer that I had bought from my local library a few weeks ago; it's a nifty system that I spent all of $85 on, but, for some reason, it wouldn't connect to the 'net via my broadband connection. After days, if not weeks of scouring the net on my own system, I finally discovered that certain installations of Windows XP have problems with LAN connections, that was fixed by a subsequent download from Microsoft. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it! My original intent was to give it to the radio station where I volunteer (radioeye.org), but they just refurbished a number of their computers, so it isn't necessary. I suppose I could swap my old CRT for the much thinner and more energy efficient LCD monitor, but, if I do give the computer away, the recipient may need a small footprint monitor. Nice to have options, eh?

Spent the day watching TV, marvelling at my barometer which is measuring 29.5 inches ("changeable") during a very light, misty rain. Oddly, it's slightly lower than when we had a hurricane and recent heavy snows (2" of snow on two separate days within a week of each other). Go figure!

Friday, March 12, 2010

A lot going on at CKRE

Due to a, literally, last-minute (and superbly timed!) cancellation from a volunteer, I had to record an additional half-hour newspaper reading, just before I walked out the CKRE offices, after finishing my scheduled hour.  They also have a desperate need to fix their free online streaming of the station's radio broadcast for the blind. They got a computer, but it doesn't have up-to-date software, so I volunteered to supply that (I'm a computer programmer with over 30 years of experience, but nothing to do with networking or servers, so somebody else is going to assist with that). I also got word from my local library, where I volunteer, that they are going to donate badly needed library-style magazine file holders, which hold a months' worth of magazine, newspapers, etc.


After that, I went shopping, mostly to rent the animated film "Ponyo" from "Redbox", which I absolutely love ("Netflix" is now trying desperately to catch up with the innovative and inexpensive system, which is, allegedly, responsible for shutting down many mom-and-pop video stores, and, my guess is, eventually, high-end video store chains). I went to a supermarket that had "Redbox" in an area I've never been, before. Of course, I wound-up waiting with four other people, thanks to a clearly indigent woman (?; might have been a guy; truly not sure!) whose, allegedly, gov't-issued credit card (welfare???) didn't work, and, of course, she had bought everything but the kitchen sink (not suspicious at all, right?). Fortunately, the rest of us on line had an excellent sense of humor (2 older men, 2 younger women); if it had been a more social occasion, we probably would have all gone out to lunch, and laughed about the incident! The cashier and bagger were forced to take the indigent woman to the service desk.

Got home, and enjoyed a huge lunch while watching "Ponyo". IMHO, "Ponyo" is overrated, though I liked it. However, I think it's too high above kids' heads, as are most of animation creator's, Hayao Miyazaki's, productions, including such well-known flicks as "Princess Mononoke" and, my personal favorite of his, "Spirited Away". Visually stunning works, but almost indecipherable to children, much less adults! Fortunately, such works of art are wonderful launching pads of the imagination, especially in this era of vapid cartoon dreck, so I can't find too much fault with them.

Worst tennis EVER!!!

I was invited to play tennis with a group of guys I've played with before and see all the time at the club. Unfortunately, I - - for lack of a better word - - sucked rocks! I held only 1 of 6 serves (double-faulted more times in the three sets we played than I had in my entire life!), and had nearly 75% unforced errors. The guys were gracious, but I think that's only because I brought a new can of balls!  ;)

I tested my windshield wiper/washer at 50 mph, and it worked perfectly, thanks to the newly installed wiper arm (not blade), but forgot to test it at the 70 mph highway speeds (which is almost suicidal, due to the outrageously huge potholes! I see that the Federal gov't saw fit to send a notice to everyone saying that the Census forms are on their way; I wonder whose money was spent on *that* bit of fluff! "Change we need!").

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Windshield wiper fix failed; tennis not much better

Per yesterday's diary, bending the wiper arm didn't help, so I replaced it with a new one that I had on hand. It "feels" better and snapped on better and worked while in park, but only highway movement will tell the true story, so it'll have to wait until Thursday's tennis trip to Lexington.

I keep losing in my Wednesday tennis; although two of my service games were lost due to overzealous partners (who, I'm pretty sure, ramped up their play - - to our detriment - - only because I haven't been playing well). I have yet to win a set with my Wed group, and my other groups aren't faring much better. I'm sure my sore arm (feels like a rotator cuff injury or, possibly, bursitis; the pain keeps "moving" from right to left of my right shoulder, and from the top of my right shoulder to the edge of my wrist, which has a long, on-going carpal tunnel syndrome problem. But, I'd rather play, than not. When my fall/winter tennis groups end, I think I'll sit out the summer, except for occasional games with friends, just to see if things heal on their own (yes, I know rotator cuff injuries require surgery, but, without health insurance, I'm not going to go to a doctor (especially not one in Kentucky!), unless the pain becomes unbearable, or I can't lift anything, which does happen on occasion).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Volunteering and tennis

Did my volunteer stint at CKRE this morning, then some window shopping (why doesn't anybody sell men's pajamas anymore?!?!), sat around the tennis club for 5 hours doing nothing waiting for my scheduled hour (actually, I was supposed to play only once this week, but was asked to fill-in for three groups, so I'll be playing four times!), and then went home in a light rain, in which, naturally, my driver's side wiper decided not to make any contact with the windshield! Nothing I could do at 9pm at night, so I drove home a little slower and more cautiously. Fortunately, the rain ended when I got to my home town, and most of it dried or blew off (gotta do something about this chronic problem; I can't find a decent wiper blade; it could be the arm, so I'm going to replace that, too (happen to have a spare, but I'm not sure if it's a universal fit or only for one particular side, which, of course, will be the wrong side!)).

My white trash neighbors decided to move their broken down pick-up truck at 11:30pm; I suspect that they sold it to someone, who could only take it at night. Good riddance! Now, if only someone would buy these used and rotten neighbors!

Dealt with obnoxious neighbors

My white trash neighbor (complete with unregistered/untagged pick-up truck with flat tire in parking lot, being used as his storage shed) had his son (?) and friend do something with his pick-up, though I couldn't figure out what. That wouldn't have bothered me, but, for a solid hour, the "kids" blasted their stereo of rap. I kept thinking, the old man (probably in his early 40's) will get tired of it, and ask them to lower it, but, no. So, I put on my OSHA 30db headset and managed to tolerate it, though the painful throbbing went right through the doors and windows, even though the vehicle was about 20 yards away, and gave me a mild headache.  I truly don't understand how kids can enjoy something like that (one thing I *do* know for certain: most will need Obama's health plan to pay for their damaged eardrums!). I also don't understand why he stays here: he has a wife, three-four cars (haven't figured out which is which or whose), and either one or two young sons or grandkids or adopted . . . it must be costing him more to stay in the little townhouse, which is barely enough for me! Why doesn't he find a nice trailer park, set up a pink flamingo or two, and buy a shotgun so he or a family member can . . . oh, I don't want to go "there", do I? (gotta love these kids' street slang, lingo, and expressions!)

I got e-mails from my tennis buddies asking if I would take their places during the week, so I went from playing no times - - as it would, otherwise, have been my rotational "off" days - - to playing three times (the normal amount, but, still, I was actually looking forward to not playing! However, if the aforementioned trash keeps up with the ear shattering rap crap, then I'm probably best off away from home, at least during the daylight hours; I may have to move, soon, as I don't think I'll be able to stand unending summer days of that).

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sunday shopping

Last Monday was 30 degrees; Saturday, it reached 50; now, it's down to 40!
Mother Nature: Just like a woman who can't make up her mind!
(ooooh, I'll bet I'm going to "heck" for that little joke!)  ;)

I spent early Sunday morning shopping. My grocer (Kroger) had a phenomenal number of "manager's specials" (i.e., half-price for out-of-date goods), which I scarfed up. After that, I did a few household chores, took a nap, did some stuff on the computer, watched some tube (not even one second of the Oscars! I didn't watch the Olympics, either! I must be a Communist or something!), then called it a night (see, I'm actually sleep-typing this!).  ;)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Nothing much

I played a terrible set of tennis, followed by a slightly less worse one.
The details have been mercifully erased from my mind,
so I won't bore you with them.

I got home, took a nap, watched some tube . . . another fascinating day ends.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Volunteer then nothing

I volunteered at Central Kentucky Radio Eye, then went home and vegged.

Oh, what an exciting life I lead!

[addendum] Got hit with the av.exe virus, again! This time, through Facebook: a friend's message displayed, AVG anti-virus said it caught something, then, BOOM, my computer was under the virus' spell. Fortunately, as this was the second time it has happened (refer to my 02/14/2010 post), it was much easier to find and remove the virus, and restore things to normal. This is at least the second time that Facebook has caused a virus. If it happens, again, I'll stop using it.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pleasant surprise from an old friend

A friend I haven't seen in years, but communicate with via e-mail, occasionally, sent me an e-mail saying he'd be landing at the airport near me on business, but he'd only be there for a short time (two days). I read the e-mail at 12:15pm, but his plane was supposed to land at 1pm, and he didn't say which airline or flight #. I wanted to surprise him, so I rushed over, and there he was (it's a small airport, so I had no trouble figuring out the airline, etc). I couldn't believe that, when I saw him, he had barely changed from all those years ago! He looked great! He was in a hurry, so we got to his hotel, checked-in, then went to a local college pizza/pub (recommended by the hotel) for a sandwich (the food and service was great, though a little pricey). He had to run to the job, and without knowing what his schedule would be today or the next day, and with a 5pm departure, we left assuming that we wouldn't be able to see each other again, so I wished him well, thanked him for lunch, and told him to say "hi" to his wife and his pet pig (18 years old!). It was a very nice change of pace, and very nice to see him.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tennis cancelled, but clothes clean

I can't believe that I ran out of just about anything to wear! How lazy am I that I actually forgot to do the wash this weekend? Granted, I have to go to a laundromat (my apartment doesn't have a w/d), but that's no excuse!

Fortunately, my tennis was cancelled, so I don't have to make the 25 mile, one-way trip (saved some gas, but spent it on unneeded groceries; hey! I deserve some treats every once in a while!).

Sold some two-fer vitamins/minerals on eBay that I decided weren't doing me any good (i.e., I tried the ones that "cost" me, then decided to forgo the "free" ones). Unfortunately, with the cost of mailing through the post office, I broke even on the deal! But, that's okay; I'd rather it go to someone else who got a great bargain, then just throw the stuff out (nobody I knew wanted them!). eBay has not been very good to me. Although I have sold unbelieveable junk (a dead (!) battery, old technology, etc), I couldn't even give away some decent stuff (sheet music, LP's, framed art, etc)! Between low or no bids, postage, and eBay fees (which, pretty much, forces people to use their Paypal system, at additional cost to the seller), my spreadsheet says I've lost nearly $100 over the past decade. And, yes, I've tried selling locally for free and on Craigslist, etc, but I'm even more afraid of getting weirdos at my door or bounced checks! I guess tossing stuff or giving it to charity is the only way to make money on it! =sigh=

Volunteering, movie, lunch, and tennis

After doing my weekly volunteer stint at Central Kentucky Radio Eye (radioeye.org), I saw "Planet 51", a banal but harmless, imitative but fast-paced, movie, then had lunch at a Thai restaurant that I "infrequent", then played tennis (twice, one right after the other, thanks to a group needing a sub), then went home.

It's the little things that keep the unemployed going!  ;)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hygiene! How are ya?

My new dentists' hygienist is 30 years old, looks 20; married, of course (not that it matters, as I am too old for either age!). She really dug out some dirt, which 12 hours later, I can still feel the probes and scrapes. She says that two teeth are "bad"; the one that was temporarily filled, and the one above it, which will need a crown, as the dentist (who is on vacation) had said. Otherwise, she preferred to leave the remaining diagnoses to the dentist, although she said I would need "some work". Nearly all the problems are on my right (dominant) side, which is "normal", as most people brush better on the side that offers an easier reach (i.e., the side opposite their dominant hand); having said that, it is somewhat coincidental, because much of my ancient silver fillings have cracked (as if the rest of me hasn't!). This office is probably the best dental team I've found in nearly 5 years, so, I'm very happy (and relieved!), even though I'm going to wind-up poorer and in a great deal of pain when all is said and done! On the other hand, my teeth will be much whiter, as this office doesn't use silver.

I normally don't advertise websites, but I just discovered that Hulu.com carries free films from all around the world, so I'm getting to see some fare that I wouldn't find in Kentucky during their first run, even if they were shown, here! I now have something to pass a bit of layoff time (actually, I have tons of VHS and DVD films I could watch; about 10% of which I've never seen before, and nearly 89% of which I haven't seen in ages!).

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Unemployment glitch

Thanks to the Fed stalling on extending unemployment benefits, wary of passing the expensive health deform - - I mean, REform - - bill, which, hopefully, will never pass, my local online unemployment benefits were delayed when I tried to logon this morning. When I finally was able to logon, a message warned me that if I didn't make a claim for my second (or is it third?) extension in TWO DAYS, that I'd have to start all over again. Gee, thanks for the warning! Fortunately, that extension was automatically accepted based on the answers I gave (no, I haven't found employment of any kind; yes, I'm not lying), so I'll get one check for the second-to-previous-last week, and then I'll continue my benefits starting in mid-March.

I was going to get the mail, today (I don't get much mail, so I usually go to my post office and apartment boxes only on Wednesdays and Saturdays), but, I'm not expecting anything of import (rarely get such!). That and, to be honest, I'm just in a lazy mood, sore from this past week's FIVE tennis matches, which is three more than I usually play in a week! I suddenly realize that I'm not as young as I think I am!

Saturday: Played tennis, read a book

That's about as exciting as my day got!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Unneighborly boors

I came home from my Friday volunteer work at CKRE, and found that my white trash neighbor (not the one who has trash strewn all over his patio) parked his over-resonated pick-up truck in front of my apartment, rather than in the spots near his apartment. Since it was more difficult to park in my spot, which has a traffic-calming "island" next to it, it is obvious that he did so to annoy me. There has never been any "love" between us, but neither has there been any animosity (except for one winter evening a year or so ago, when I took pictures of the ice that had formed on the trees; a few minutes after I went back into my apartment, he pounded on the door. When I opened it, he demanded to know why I had taken pictures of his truck (not the one he now has); I told him what I had taken pictures of, and, chagrined, he apologized. What difference did it make? What a jerk!), but, I assure you, animosity there now is. I don't know what I can do about it. I parked next to him, closer to his apartment (the apt between us is vacant; again, giving him plenty of space to park anywhere but in front of my apt), in hopes of making it clear, both, that I was not pleased about the situation, and, hopefully, it inconveniences him, when he or his passenger has to climb into the behemoth.

My strewn-trash neighbor (he and his pregnant girlfriend are black; does that make them "black trash"?) may not realize what has occurred with his garbage; on the other hand, it's hard to believe that they haven't noticed the stench.

And so the once-nice neighborhood devolves into a trailer park.

[update] I am man enough to admit when I'm wrong . . . and embarrassed.  It turns out that the pick-up truck that had parked in my spot belonged to a woman who, with a couple of other people, clean-up vacated apartments in my complex. So, it had nothing to do with my neighbors. Hey, her pick-up is EXACTLY the same as my white trash neighbor's vehicle (color, make, model, dual, absurdly loud, resonators), so it's easy to make that mistake (to tell you the truth, I really didn't think that my white trash neighbor was THAT much of a jerk, but, I've lived next to worse, so pardon me for my paranoia!).

Is there such a thing as too much tennis?

This morning, as I left to pick-up the mail at my post office box, one of my neighbors (a man in his 30's or 40's) tailgated me (he wasn't anywhere near his car when I left, so he must have been racing pretty fast). We all recognize each others' cars, so I was very surprised when he zoomed around me, only to be stopped at a light. As I rolled-up, slowly and calmly behind him, I noticed that he did everything in his power to not look in his rear view window. As soon as the light turned green, he zoomed off. He was trapped at the next light, and I would have loved to have come up behind him again, but I made a left turn, there, so, gloating opportunity missed.

I played tennis for the 4th time this week, subbing for someone in a different group. I played horribly. I think I have to realize that I'm no longer 30 years old, and can't play so much in one week, much less 3 days and 4 times in a row.

My weight has been yo-yo'ing radically between 175 and 180 lbs in the past two weeks.
I can't figure out why.

A letter from my local utility company - - which includes everything except heating gas - - said I was late on a recent payment. I checked, and discovered that I had mistakenly put March 12 as my online payment date, instead of February 12. I have to go into their office to ask for clemency on the $7 late fee; on the phone, they said that I had an excellent credit history with them, and, if I bring proof of the mistake, they'll probably waive it; I'll even offer to pay the current bill, right there and then, as well. No big deal if they decide not to do so, but it annoys me that I was that careless. I could set up automatic payments, but I've experienced problems with forgetting to add funds to my checking account for them, or having to deal with their errors (e.g., one time, I got a bill for $700+ when it was supposed to be $100+!). Life goes on.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My neighbors suck and my toof hurts

One of my newest neighbors put a large garbage bin on his backyard, enclosed, patio; the bin is a violation of the lease which prohibits any accumulations of trash in or outside the apartment. That trash is now overflowing and, thanks to rodents, cats, birds, and even the wind, is now strewn all over the place. They also have a dog, which is also a violation of the lease (when they first moved in and I introduced myself, I "asked" them if the lease had changed to allow pets; that's usually enough to give most people a hint; in their case, it didn't).

My other new neighbors have a pick-up truck with ear-shattering muffler resonators (a violation of town anti-noise laws, much less that of the lease), which probably has a diesel engine, because it sits in idle for 15-30 minutes; either that, or they're filthy rich and don't care about the cost of fuel (which brings up an interesting point: If I were a criminal, scoping out a gas station for easy pickin's, who would I rob? The mom in the SUV with five screaming kids? The businessman in the Cadillac who "tsk-tsks" as he fills-up? Or the guy in the Hummer idling his 13 mpg engine at the side of the station while chatting away on his cell phone? If you guessed the Hummer guy, you're right!). Another new neighbor also has a dog, which he walks past my apartment, always trying not to look as if he's staring into it, while his dog piddles on my walkway. And yet another new neighbor uses the parking lot as his own personal raceway, driving maniacally at excessive speeds, and, when there's snow and ice on the ground, he purposely spins out on it (the cops are helpless to act unless they see it; I even showed them video tape, but they said it could have been doctored; it wasn't, but how do the innocent prove it?).

When simple laws and leases are broken by scofflaws and jerks, and the off-site landlord and cops couldn't give a damn, it is easy to see how even the nicest areas become slums and homes to illegal drug makers and other ne'er-do-wells.

I'm starting to look for a new home.


Anyway . . .

A couple of weeks ago, I broke a tooth. I had tried three local dentists in the past year or so, but they were either unfriendly or did a lousy job or both. So, I got a friend in another town to recommend her dentist to me, and that's where I'm going, if the new snowfall doesn't stop me! ("toof" is how a child says "tooth" . . . well, *I* thought it was cute! And, no, the broken tooth actually doesn't hurt at all).

[update] The new dentist was wonderful! She and her assistant were very warm and pleasant (her office is tuned to the same radio station I listen to in the car!), and, despite the severity of my problem, they fixed it up - - temporarily - - 1,2,3; more has to be done, but she needs the hygienist to clean all my neglected teeth and gums, and then they can decide how to proceed from there. Unfortunately, it looks as if I need a lot more work, so I can kiss about $5,000 goodbye!

I played tennis twice: once as a substitute for a group of men who can hardly walk, but, they gave me hell with spins and slices and - - intentionally or not - - drop shots. I played for the next two hours with my regular group of 4.0 men; I was visibly exhausted, and one of the guys said we should quit 15 minutes early, concerned about my labored breathing (he also had a sore back, so, I wasn't the only one who had problems).

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

New shelves

 I donated a bookcase to the radio station for the blind where I volunteer. They got somebody to put it together (I have carpal tunnel syndrome in my wrist, what I think is rotator cuff, and a bad back, and bad knees, and a bad toe . . . don't get me started!), but then the ladies need a big, strong man, to move everything off one office's shelves, and then switch the new and old bookcases; they settled for me.  ;)
I also helped put up the displaced paintings.
Needless to say, I won't need to warm-up for tonight's tennis!

For my late lunch, I went into one of those whole food grocery store and tried a couple of things I normally wouldn't: half a carrot souffle, half a corn souffle, and a sun-dried tomatoes/pasta dish; it's a little frou-frou for my taste, but my taste buds didn't complain! Considering it cost $6, where a fast/junk food meal would have cost $5, I think I did pretty well!

Sunday & Monday

I didn't do anything worth mentioning on either day,
so this is the Tuesday post to say I didn't do anything Sun & Mon.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

No tennis . . . no life

I didn't play tennis this past Wed or today, as it was not my turn (i.e., 5-6 players rotate in, depending on the day with two different "social" groups (I put "social" in quotes because, although we have fun, we are all quite competitive!)). However, next week, I more than make up for it by playing FOUR times on four different days: 3 are my usual days, and I'm a sub for the fourth time.

So, I did virtually nothing today. I figure I must be saving a lot of money, that way!  ;)

Friday, February 19, 2010

CKRE then home

I did my volunteer stint at the radio station. Before leaving, I chatted with a guy at the control board I hadn't seen, before. It turns out that he's a DJ/controller at a local radio station. During the conversation, I mentioned that I was a semi-professional actor, and he asked me to do a radio recording of a one-act play for his theater group (I'm not sure who they are, yet). I gave a tenative "yes" (he's not sure if/when his troupe will perform it).

After that, I went home, and did pretty much nothing except work and play on the computer.

Yes, I'm really, really, really, really, really, really, bored!

A woman in San Diego, CA, contacted me earlier in the week about a potential computer programming job in Seattle, WA. She asked for some basic info (nothing personal) by e-mail and promised to call. Guess who never did. That's the second time in the past 30 month. And, yes, I perform due diligence in searching for these people on the web, to make sure they're legit. And, yes, I e-mail and/or call them, but my messages are never returned. =sigh= I started my second extension for unemployment benefits this week (four more to go?); honestly, I'd rather be working, but I can't even buy a job! (not that I would do so, mind you! I'm just saying!)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Daredevil jerk

One of my new neighbors - - who, I suspect, is the teenage son of the trailer trash living two doors from me - - decided to race his brand new compact car in the narrow, but long, parking lot, having fun skidding on the ice. I'll admit that he had incredible control of the vehicle, but, there are quite a few kids in the area, not to mention lots of cars in the lot. Knowing that talking to him or his alleged parents will do little good, except to promote violence and vandalism against me (hey, that's the only thing "tattling" has done for me; way back when, in a previous apartment, I asked two kids who had just moved into my apartment building, and, of course, next door to me, to lower their stereo which was blasting (and I mean BLASTING) at 2:00 in the morning; they gave me the finger, shoved me out their doorway, and the next day, I found my tires slashed; the cops were useless; two YEARS later (they blasted their stereo only three times after that; all times, I called the cops to no avail; my guess is that they had a "lookout" for the cops; one of them had a one-year prisoner tatoo on his arm, which doesn't surprise me at all) they were evicted for - - are you ready for this? - - swimming in the complex's pool after posted hours! The landlord told me afterward that, although they had numerous police and tenant complaints against them, Virginia law prohibits evictions in many circumstances; also, the cops said that one of the boys was on parole, but swimming/trespassing wouldn't be enough to incarcerate him - - bad boys, bad boys . . . whatcha gonna do?), I'm going to video his comings and goings, and give the incriminating evidence to the landlord and cops. I know they won't do anything; as an example, three of my neighbors have pets, which is a violation of the lease, and nothing has been done about that, even though the landlord admits that he knows about them, so I doubt that anything will be done about the reckless kid. His roommate drives a pick-up truck with one of those excessively loud resonators attached (couldn't they just outgrow the baseball-card-in-bicycle-spoke phase?), but nothing will be done about that, either. I'd move, but, without a job, and seeing that this is the best apartment complex in the area, I am both loathe and unable to leave.

I ran some personal errands, including vacuuming the apartment, fumed about the above, and called it a day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Friend's interview

An unemployed friend, who is seeking her doctorate, had an interview, today, but kept all her Facebook friends in suspense by not telling us until hours later that she thought she did well! This is the fourth friend who has been out of work a LONG time and just got an interview. I have two such in the works, but I can't seem to get the Human Resource people to call me (THEY sent an e-mail asking for dates and times I can be reached, but I never hear from them; when I call them, all I get is a recording, and nothing happens if I leave a message; it doesn't say much about a company when their, arguably, primary contact for most non-employees can't be reached (have they ever heard of delegating???)).

I just checked my '99 Crown Vic's oil and tire pressure on the first day of no snow since Sunday. Other than some salt and dirt all over the engine, everything is amazingly fine! I haven't even passed the 100,000 mile mark, and the car has had only one "major" repair in all that time (the "idle air control valve" cost $200; the equivalent fix on a carburated vehicle would have cost only the time and effort to snip off the broken end of the vacuum advance/retard rubber tube! Ah, technology!)

Fortunately for my myriad aches and pains (mostly my should rotator cuff), I have "off" from tonight's and Saturday's tennis. I would have had next Tuesday off, as well, but one of the players is on vacation, and I was the only sub available (the club allows us to cancel and "make-up" the time when the regular season ends, but, as long I can lift the racquet above my shoulders to serve, I'm playing, come hell, high-water, or Ninevah and Tyre!).

Usual busy Tuesday

CKRE announced Monday evening that it would open late Tuesday,
which was fine, as it gave me an extra hour's sleep, if you can call it that
(I haven't had a full, non-drug induced, sleep since 1977; 
no one knows why, but, somehow, I manage on 3 hours of real sleep a day;
thank g-d for computer games and the internet!).
When I got there (25 miles east of my home),
the main entrance had been inadvertently partially blocked by city snow plows.
My Crown Victoria had no problem getting through the muck,
but, to help others, I shoveled the partially melted, gloppy, stuff.
Unbeknownst to me, the janitor had been watching,
and, when I was done, opened the door for me
(she doesn't do that for just anyone, ya know!).
Because of the previous day's bad weather,
CKRE had cancelled its morning live recording session,
and asked me to do two non-live recordings, rather than my usual one
(they know I travel a long way for this volunteer stint,
so they probably feel obligated to give me a little extra to do,
which, I enjoy, so I'm grateful!).

I then drove to the tennis club, and whiled away the next 5 hours
by surfing the net on my laptop (free wi-fi in the club),
reading the local newspaper, and a book, "The Girl with No Shadow"
by the woman who brought us "Chocolat" (liked the book; not so much the movie,
of which, I surmise, Hallmark's, "The Good Witch" series, is a blatant rip-off,
but, not a bad one!)). Then, finally, 7pm rolled around and I played tennis.

Monday, Monday

Did a little shoveling for the additional 2" of snow dumped on the area.

Otherwise, had little to do.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I got a rock for Val's Day! And a virus! (it isn't what you're thinking!)

Well, Valentine's Day came and went, and there was nothing in this Charlie Brown's mailbox.  :,(
Of course, it was Sunday and a 3-day weekend (Presidents' Day on Monday),
so, naturally, I'm expecting tons of heart-shaped letters on Tuesday,
when the postal service resumes!  ;)

Early this morning, my computer suffered a major spyware infection,
calling itself "Vista Antispyware 2010".
It took me (a knowledgeable computer programmer and repairman)
nearly 3 hours to figure out the problem,
then search and destroy the malware,
then another 8 hours to run various system checks and updates.

Neither Windows Defender nor Windows Firewall nor Avast anti-virus programs caught this malware.
I'm not even sure what triggered it,
except that the last thing I did before it kicked-in
was click a Google link to YouTube.
Either the link itself was bogus (I'm usually very good about checking the browser's "status" line
to make sure that the target link goes to the proper domain),
or I may have accidentally clicked on one of those bogus "check your PC" links,
which, IMHO, should not be on any legitimate website's pages.

=========

For the record, here's how to remove this spyware:


WARNING:

      DO NOT do the following fix if ANY of the following apply to you!

           - The most complex computer-tech thing you know how to do is turn the machine on and off,
              surf the web, send e-mails, and edit documents.

            - You don't know what a "directory", "registry", "file", or DOS is, or how to access them.


            - You've never heard of or safely used "regedit" or a similar program.

            - You have no idea what "SAFE MODE" is.





HOW TO REMOVE THIS MALWARE: 


      WARNING: If ANY of the following steps looks like gobbledygook to you, then DO NOT do them!!!


         !!!! DO NOT BACKUP/EXPORT YOUR REGISTRY
         !!!! UNTIL THE FOLLOWING STEPS ARE COMPLETED!!!!!


1) Put your computer in "safe" mode.

2) Start, Run, "regedit -v"
(n.b., in many instances of this virus, it may prevent certain programs from being executed,
including "regedit.exe"; if this happens, go to your root directory (usually "C:"),
and search for or manually go to the Windows sub-directory, where you'll find "regedit.exe";
double-click it to start it (Vista users can right-click it then select "start")).

3) Single left-click "Computer" 
     (i.e., scroll to the very top of the directory tree on the left side of the registry window).

4) Search your registry for "av.exe"
(n.b., "av.exe" is the name used by the current version of this virus; 
it will probably change in the future).

5) When regedit finds something containing "/START"  
(read: "forward-slash start" in either upper, lower, or mixed case),
remove everything from the beginning of that value up to and including the word "/start".

  For example:

    In HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\.exe\shell\open\command:

         Default = “%UserProfile%\Local Settings\Application Data\av.exe”  /START  “%1″  %*
                    (the equals sign, colors, and spaces, are for clarity only; your display may differ)

    the red parts should be removed so that "Default" part reads as follows:

         Default =  “%1″  %*

6) Repeat the search (i.e., hit F3),
and repeat the above fix,
until the registry says there are no more instances of "av.exe"
(repeat steps 3 and 4 until there are no more "av.exe"s!).

For the record, there were only 3 such instances in my registry, but your results may differ.


7) Still in "regedit", go back to the top of the left part of the screen, and repeat step 3.
Then, manually locate HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\.exe
(make sure the dot precedes "exe").
If the "Default" value indicates anything other than "exefile", change it
(e.g., mine read "secfile", so I changed it to "exefile")


NOW YOU MAY BACKUP/EXPORT YOUR REGISTRY!!!!

When that's done, close/exit "regedit",
then search your computer (NOT the registry!) for "av.exe" and remove it
(n.b., it's a "system" and "hidden" file, 
so you may need to change your folder options to view "hidden" files,
and/or use DOS "attrib" to find and change that file's settings;
mine was "hidden" in OEMCOMPUTER - AppData - Local).


Reboot, and you should be okay.

Print this, so you're ready the next time the virus strikes (it has hit me twice).

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Class pic

One of my Facebook friends posted a class picture from his 3rd grade, just one year before I arrived at that school. Everyone who is in his "circle" chimed-in with names of kids, and a few reminisces. Unfortunately, the Facebook "tag" mechanism leaves a LOT to be desired, as it is fixed in a single size, which is WAY too big for the crowded, small images in typical, class photos, so I made my own version (hey, I'm a computer programmer; I can do ANYthing!).  ;)  You may view it at http://TennisNut.webng.com/Sag66.htm .

I played tennis and won all three social matches (4 of us alternate partners in the 1-1/2 hour seasonal slot), which is unusual, as I have a low percentage of wins over the years (just 30%; you'd think I'd be upset about losing so much, but, fortunately, I'm very good at it!).  ;)

Other than that, I vacuumed, ate, updated the PSPL Friends' website.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Recorded but not sent

I spent the morning donating/delivering a bookcase to Central Kentucky Radio Eye (http://RadioEye.org), then recorded an hour-long news session.  I gave the two paid staffers a box of chocolates as a token for Valentine's Day, which both women appreciated (I didn't anticipate that the General Manager was there, so I hope I didn't slight her by not bringing her some chocolates).

Sidebar: Despite the fact that most of the 4" of snow over three days has gone, I can't believe that people still have the stuff on their cars! During the second day, I saw people driving with barely a quarter-sized circle for a viewport!

I then went to the laundromat, where a woman left her child in the car, while delivering wet clothes to be dried (I guess her washer works, but not the dryer). The 4 year old managed to slip out of her baby seat, and started to wander into the low-travelled street (few cars, but they all race by at 40 mph in a 25 mph zone). I barked something to the woman, then raced outside and grabbed the kid, who, fortunately, turned around and started heading back to the laundromat. The woman said "thanks" and hit the kid. Well, better than if she had hit me, I suppose.

Got home, took a nap, woke up, watched a little tube, surfed the net, and other boring stuff.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Books for sale!

The Friends of the Paul Sawyier (that's the correct spelling!) Public Library of Frankfort, KY, started their quarterly (or thereabouts) book sale, and asked me to take some photos and video of the chaos (imagine 100 people crushed together in a room measuring about 30' x 30' filled with books, none of which are over $1!). As their webmaster (http://psplfriends.org), I am always happy to oblige.  I did some personal chores, then went to the library at about 3pm, just one hour before the sale started. As it turns out, the library gave the Friends a number of functioning, but out-dated, computers, monitors, hard drives, and other components. I picked-up some books and some of the computer equipment for about $85, all told. I will refurbish the computer (I'm a computer programmer with a sideline job of fixing computers; http://SteveOfAllTrades.webng.com), and donate it to Central Kentucky Radio Eye (http://RadioEye.org), where I volunteer as a reader/broadcaster for the blind and disabled. Having nothing better to do, I stuck around until 6pm, helping people laden with heavy loads of book. The rush for books ended around 5pm, and I left at 6pm, starving.

Bring on the tennis hurt

I played tennis with a group of guys who are slightly above me,
NTRP-wise, but, that's the only way to improve one's game
(e.g., despite having played for nearly 30 years, mostly self-taught,
I only developed my backhand as a weapon 2 years ago;
I wouldn't have if I hadn't played "up" with a group who "took me in" when I moved to Kentucky
(read: I begged for anyone to take me!)).

Unfortunately, my mild rotator cuff injury (at least, that's what I think it is)
is beginning to hamper my serve, which used to be my most dangerous weapon
(85 mph serves; never "marshmallow" the second serve; never double-fault).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

2" of snow and counting

Having been stuck in my apartment since Saturday afternoon (I've been unemployed since Feb 1, 2009, and have nothing to do except scour the web for jobs . . . guess how many I've found fitting to my background or that reject me because I'm too old (yes, I know it's illegal for employers to say that . . . what am I going to do, sue a prospective employer? heck, they're being honest!)), I ventured out to shovel the snow, and found it rather easy, because it was very moist, and pushed aside with the slightest push. The downside: I hurt my shoulder, which was already hurting from what I believe to be a rotator cuff injury, caused by too much tennis and typing silly diary entries into the computer (no surprise that I don't have health insurance, but I also don't want to be forced to have it, per my other blog (http://theunknownrambler.blogspot.com) . . . don't get me started!).

So, even though the plows hadn't come through, I had to cancel both my volunteer stint as a reader for a radio station for the blind and disabled, 30 miles from home, and my indoor tennis; fortunately, both had been cancelled due to the snow. With more snow on the way, I'll probably have to cancel Wednesday's tennis, too (I have been playing with the sore shoulder for a couple of months, now, and will continue to play until they pry the racquet from my cold, dead hands!!! (apologies to the deceased Charlton Heston, acting NRA spokesman and over-the-top actor)).

Sanity runs in the family

Alright, so the "Diary of a Madman" isn't from an institutionalized person, though some may think otherwise after reading this! Deal with it!

Upon a solo trip to Europe, my uncle (now deceased) gave me the best advice: Keep a diary! I wrote down EVERYthing that happened. Nearly 30 years later, I re-read it, and smiled at what I had gone through, both the good and bad! It was then that I wished I had kept a diary for every day of my life, although, it probably would have been boring to write, "I ate, I slept, I pooped", during my infancy (of course, that trio probably would have sounded better in Latin!).

So, in the "better-late-than-never" department, I am going to keep a diary from this point forward. Other than fixing typographical errors, I will not edit anything after the fact, if only to allow my train-of-thought from being disrailed by post-writing regret. Perhaps I will look back on all of it years from now, and realize that either I led an extremely fascinating life, or I tragically wasted it!

All comments are welcome, though I may not respond, and will delete any obnoxious missives (feel free to disagree with me on anything or everything I write, but if you curse, spam, advertise, have an irresponsible or inflammatory user ID, etc, or write anything that indicates that you are a troll or moron, then don't be surprised if you don't find it, later).


The "real" diary starts with the next post in this blog.