Sunday, October 30, 2016

2016/10/30 - Justified

For almost a year now I've been wanting a new bike, and for three days now I've been trying to write a justification to post here on my blog. 

Unfortunately each time I read my justification, I realize I can't even convince myself of my need for a new bike.

But the key word here is "new". I have 4 bikes that are well maintained by most cyclist's standards, but I really only like to ride two of them. 

Both are over 6 years old and have very high mileage by anybody's standards, and I feel like each is just one ride away from something else breaking. 

Just click on the link to my 2016 cycling stats on the right hand side of this page, and you'll see that I ride a lot. 

So having a new bike that I can ride for a year or so without having to replace anything but chains and break pads sounds wonderful. 

Humm... that sounds like my latest justification.

Screw it, I don't care what you think, I just bought a new Specialized carbon 29er. 

They say the key to happiness is to always have something to look forward to. My bike comes in in two weeks!


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

2016/10/25 - Oh Carol, my favorite new blogger

Every time I think of you, this song comes to mind:

PS: One minute into the video I caught myself dancing on the kitchen floor.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

2016/10/18 - Final Facebook Bashing?

As many of you know, I've had a problem with Facebook for a long while. Just a quick scan through my postings here on my blog will confirm that.

But I think I've finally decided to remove my Facebook ID forever.

I've stayed away from Facebook for a while now, trying to avoid the election propaganda, and to avoid knowing which of my "friends" are Trump supporters, as it upsets me almost to the point of unfriending them.

But after a while away from FB, I've kicked the habit, and any short visit back confirms my actual dislike for the application.

Connecting with old "friends" is fun, especially seeing what they look like nowadays, but most of these people weren't actually a friend, they were more like an acquaintance, and the ones who were actually a friend of mine, stopped being my friend for a reason. Aside from family most all of my FB friends fit into either of these two categories.

People come in and out of your life, that's normal.

So why do I want to connect or reconnect with these people? Why do I want to look at their family pictures?

Once my initial curiosity as to what they look like nowadays fades, I'm done. And I'm sure that these old "friends" are done with me too as soon as they see what I look like nowadays. 

I'll ask these friends to come to my blog to read a story and NOBODY COMES (except for my few real friends that come here anyway without prompting). So I don't feel so guilty leaving my FB friends. Sorry....

And 99% of these "friends" never actually say anything. They just show family pictures, or vacation pictures (without identifying the people in the pictures), or they pass along the words of other people, or news propaganda that suits their ideology.

I'm not going to lose any of my real friends by quitting FB, they know how to get in touch with me and I know how to reach them.

Truth be told, I'm already saddened by the way "friendship" seems to be disintegrating in real life in our society. Most of us don't have time for real friends anymore. We are too busy and we substitute face-to-face interaction and real connection with shallow shit like Facebook and Twitter.

So goodby, adios, sayonara Facebook!

BTW... Did you know that you can download your FB information to your computer? The download is in the form of a local web with links to all your pictures, posts, friends names, etc. Very cool.


PS: My good friend George from Long Island NY is in the air right now, on his way to DIA. He'll be spending a week with me and the fam. I'm totally psyched! We have been "real" friends for over 50 years. We will be bike riding every day and I'll post pictures here.

Monday, October 17, 2016

2016/10/17 - A dick or a pussy

Many years ago, early in my career in a major oil company, I was an administrative clerk and one of my duties was ordering supplies for the patent department which mostly consisted of attorneys and engineers with overinflated egos.

One of the items that I was in charge of ordering for them was briefcases.

Now there was only TWO company supplied briefcases. One was a cheap tan fake leather coated case that was available for all employees up to a specific grade level. The other was a fancy Samsonite case available to employees at and over that specific grade level.

Of course all the lawyers and engineers wanted the good case and when I told those not entitled that they couldn't have it, they would try and push their weight on me, just a lowly serf.

I got so tired of this, that I finally went to the head of the Office Services Department and pleaded my case for another briefcase option, one better than the cheap one, but not as costly as the Samsonite case.

Now the head of a department in the headquarters of a major oil company in the 1970's was a big wheel, and a good-old-boy, and I was humbled as I passed by his secretary and entered his lavishly decorated Chrysler Building office with fine old fashion wooden furniture, soft lamp lighting, and a Persian rug, the standard decor for an executive at his high level. There was even a polished brass spittoon next to his desk, in case he chewed.

Without offering me to sit down, he stood up and said "I'm going to make this quick and simple for you Steve", at which point he held out both hands to make his point. 

Holding up one hand after the other, he said "You either have a dick or a pussy, right?" I nodded yes, and then he added "Nothing in between, right?" Once again I nodded yes. Then he said "Same thing with the briefcases" and asked "You got it?" 

To this clear and concise explanation, I replied "Yes Sir!", and was excused to leave his office.

You have no idea how much I enjoyed passing on these words of wisdom (always prefaced with: "According to the head of Office Services") to all the fancy pants lawyers and engineers.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

2016/10/16 - Horace, Alex, & Lucille continued, Political advice

Luckily Alex liked to keep busy, because busy he became.

His weekdays started with sneaking into the kitchen to make a cup of coffee. Chances were that mom was already awake, so the slightest noise, a clearing of the throat, a sneeze, even the "finished" tone on the coffee maker would alert his mom that he was awake and he would have to go upstairs to start her daily routine. But if he was lucky and his stealth successful, he could go downstairs to the office and work on the computer until 5:00 AM.

5:00 AM was mom's normal start time. Alex would go into her room and she would be laying silent in the dark and would quickly say "Good Morning". He'd help her out of bed, and walk her to one of her "stations".

She had two stations in the house, one in a leather recliner upstairs, and one in a soft leather sofa on the main floor. Each station was equipped with all her necessities: donut seat cushion, dental floss, Vaseline, heating pad, flyswatter, walker, water, a bottle of Ensure, blankets, a 12.9" iPad Pro, Bose QuietComfort bluetooth headphones, and a button she could press to wirelessly page Alex.

Alex would help her to her morning station, cover her with blankets, turn on her heating pad, turn on "Murder She Wrote" on the iPad, put on her headphones, and leave her for a while before making her breakfast.

Alex was "on call" at the house until 6:00 AM when the rest of the family woke, and was free until 7:25 AM when they left for the day. Alex took advantage of the free time by either going for his daily bike ride or doing grocery shopping. In either case, he would get home in time to say goodby to the family and "I'm home mom" to Lucille since she was afraid to be left alone for ever one minute without panicking.

After taking a shower himself, Alex would go upstairs to help Lucille with her shower. He would show her to the bathroom, turn on the shower water, put the wooden chair in the shower stall, get her a fresh towel, and lay out her clean clothes on the bed. He would tell her "Take your time mom enjoy the shower, get dressed, brush your teeth, and call me when you are ready to go downstairs". Alex would then give her privacy and wait in the next room for what seemed like forever.

Lucille came to Alex's home with an income (social security and a pension), and Alex had no qualms about spending it on her care. He arranged to have a professional caretaker come to the house for three hours each weekday to relieve Alex to go for bike ride or run errands.

Those three hours became precious to Alex, and he didn't waste a minute.

The remainder of the day consisted of making her meals, fixing her iPad problems, offering snacks, administering medication, playing word games with her, and eventually taking her upstairs to bed at 7:30 PM.

Now it's not as if Alex sat around the house drinking beer and watching TV all day before Lucille came to live with him. He was actually already very busy with weekly household chores.

Alex's wife grew up in a culture where household help was inexpensive and trustworthy, and even middle class families had the luxury of help with grocery shopping, laundry, house cleaning, child care, elder care, etc. Alex was shocked when his wife's family came to visit them in NY and had never before seen what they called the "dish machine".

With Alex's wife working long hours as an architect, needless to say he did the lion's share of the kitchen chores, along with lawn care, trash, yard work, car care, laundry, cooking, shopping, house cleaning, caring for a dog, two cats, a turtle, three very large fish tanks, and of course, his share of parenting for a 12 year old teenage girl.

And now he was care taking for Lucille, handling her mail, paying her bills, and managing her affairs.

It was a huge contrast from the responsibility-free lifestyle he had been living only a half-dozen years earlier, but Alex liked change and knew that this wasn't going to last forever, and when his best friend eventually passed there would be no regrets.

And like I said before, Alex liked being busy and after a while settled into the hecktic routine, and this free time became so special that his life actually seemed better. 

He had all his loved ones and pets around him and it felt good.

When my 12 year old step-daughter asks me "How can anybody vote for Trump?", I tell her this:

"You don't know Hillary, and the only reason you like her is that your parents like her."  

"Unfortunately your parents don't know Hillary either, and the only reason they like her is because of what they read, watch, and listen to."

"But unfortunately what the read, watch, and listen to may be biased, and even if it's honest, it doesn't tell the whole story.

"And to make maters worse, people are free to choose whatever media they want, and often choose only the media that supports their candidate."

"And if that isn't confusing enough, we live in a post-truth era in the US, where the politicians and media aren't accountable for lying."

"So basically it's really hard to make an intelligent choice."

"I try and hear both sides, but finally go with my gut, hoping I can smell a rat when I see one."

"But don't listen to me, I'm a cynic."


Monday, October 10, 2016

2016/10/10 - Horace, Alex, & Lucille continued

Alex wasn't always the model son. In fact, starting with an argument with his mom, he left home, moved into his friend Jdog's cold unfinished basement, quit college and didn't speak to either parent for almost a year.

His parents reacted by remodeling his room into an office and purchasing a dachshund which they called "Alex". Alex always used this as proof they were insane.

But Alex was no prize. The argument with his mom started with Alex coming home very late one weeknight totally drunk. At the time he was a senior in college and had recently fallen out of a tree during a college party, and was wearing a cast on his right leg and walking with crutches.

His parents must have been waiting up for him, because mom was wide awake as she came out of her bedroom to  begin her yelling spree. Alex had gone to the refrigerator, poured himself a glass of milk, and left the dirty glass in the sink.

"Who do you think you are leaving this dish for?", his mom asked in a yelling tone. Alex was too drunk and too tired to argue, so he quietly washed the dish while his mom continued yelling. And she continued, and continued, and continued until finally Alex yelled back "SHUT UP!"

She continued yelling louder and Alex continued replying "JUST SHUT UP!"

Alex's dad got into the picture now. He came running out of the bedroom screaming "DON'T TALK TO YOUR MOTHER LIKE THAT!", to which Alex replied in a lower voice as he walked past him and into his room "You shut up too!"

This infuriated his dad, which scared Alex, but for the first time in his life he stood up to his dad's anger and shouted "FU ", to which he replied in kind.

Finally, after a few exchanges of the F-Bomb, his dad said "As soon as you get that cast off your leg, I want you out of this house."

Now although he was being cast out (pun intended) of his home penniless, he wasn't devastated, instead he was relieved. This was the psychological permission Alex needed and even though his dad's words were said in anger, and would most likely be retracted upon an apology, in his mind Alex was released, free to go, and he moved out the next morning.

This inappropriate exit was to repeat itself again and again later in life. He wished he wasn't such a coward, needing permission to get out of a bad situation.

Alex started out his freedom sleeping on a cot, in a NY winter, in a unfinished, unheated basement, drinking himself to sleep at night in best friend Jdog's house.

Life was good and some of his best memories were from those days.

Alex's family was poor, but Jdog's was poorer. His dad had recently died of a heart attack at 48 and left the family with some debt, some serious debt. It was the kind of debt that you can get your legs broken for. You know what I mean?

To be continued.


Sunday, October 9, 2016

2016/10/09 - Horace, Alex, & Lucille continued

Remember the note that Alex felt would come in handy someday? You know, the one that Horace wrote to the bank teller telling her to throw everything away that was inside the box?

It was time to cash in. Since Horace didn't know that the bank sent the note to Alex, Alex planned to set a trap to catch Horace in a lie.

The opportunity came.

Alex woke to a phone message from Horace sounding desperate, asking if Lucille had received the letter he sent regarding the CDs. Alex, not wanting to talk to Horace, replied by email saying "No, I haven't seen anything in the mail from you all week." And he added "By the way, do you know what has become of my mom's birth certificate, marriage license, and other important documents that were in your joint safe deposit box?"

The trap was set, and it worked like a charm.

Horace replied that he had no idea about anything of hers that was in their safe deposit box, and offered Alex what he called, a "deal".

He said that he had two CD's worth $21,000, of which Lucille is the beneficiary, and that he would keep her as such if Alex let him talk with her on the phone every Sunday.

In Alex's mind, this sounded more like a threat or a bribe, than a deal, and he felt that Horace had now reached a new level of cheapness.

First off, he wasn't offering to give her anything, he was threatening to take something away. Secondly he was offering him a deal which he could revoke at any time. Thirdly, the deal only benefits Lucille if he dies first. And lastly, it's money that he can't use anyway because he will be dead. What a generous deal!

With a smile and sense of relief, Alex replied "As for your "deal", my answer is definitely NO, and my reason is that I can't trust you Horace, because you are a liar, and here's my proof", to which Alex attached a copy of his note written in his shaky printing.

Finally Alex said that he and Lucille didn't want any of his money, to leave to to his kids and to leave he and Lucille ALONE.

Unfortunately that didn't work.

To be continued.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

2016/10/07 - Horace, Alex, & Lucille continued

Taking care of Lucille became a full time job. She was afraid to be alone, and someone had to be with her 24/7. Alex was starting to lose his mind and the stress was compounded by the guilt he always felt after losing his temper.

She would scream "Help!" at the top of her lungs to get his attention when he was downstairs. Alex would panic and come running up the stairs expecting to see her lying on the floor with a broken hip, only to find she wanted someone to lower the volume on the TV.

Alex would patiently try to explain to her that she needs to make a distinction between the yells she makes for us to turn down the TV volume and screams when someone is cutting her head off with a chainsaw, because there didn't seem to be any difference.

Alex had never seen his mom naked, nor had he ever seen an 86-year old naked woman’s body, and the combination of the two was quite disturbing for him at first. Luckily she was able to shower by herself, but she needed help with the order of putting on her clothes. Many times he would catch her putting her underwear over her pajama bottoms. This reminded Alex of the movie Bananas, where Woody Allen became a Cuban dictator, and gave a speech saying “We will now wear our underpants on the outside!”

Alex made more visits to the doctors with mom in two months than he made for himself in twenty years. It seemed like every day she had a new complaint. Her legs were too hot or they were too cold. She had trouble sleeping through the night. Everything tasted salty.

He was also becoming friendly with the local pharmacist. Lucille was on about a dozen prescription medications, and keeping track of the morning, afternoon, and nighttime doses became a headache for Alex, as well as keeping them filled. And of course every different doctor she saw would tweak her medication cocktail, adding more confusion to the daily routine.

Alex needed some help to cope. Luckily there was recreational relief.


2016/10/06 - Riding in the dark, and in the cold rain

A good friend of mine recently asked me how to get started and keep motivated to exercise. Getting overweight in his mid forties, he was starting to fear that it's too late. 

I'm not an expert in exercise or fitness, but I have managed to maintain a steady regiment of exercise for over 35 years. 

Whenever asked this question, I always ask the same thing: "When was the last time that you went an entire day without finding time to eat?" Most people can't remember such a day. 

Then I tell them that they need to make exercise as high a priority as food, no excuses, no bullshit. 

But that can be the easy part. The hardest part is picking exercises that are sustainable. And in my opinion they have to be FUN once you are in decent shape. 

For me, machines are a great workout, but not sustainable. I don't know anyone who has used an exercise machine consistently for more than six months, and that's because it's WORK not FUN. 

For me, fun is gliding down a hill on skis after climbing to the top. Fun is riding up and down rolling paths on a bicycle. Fun is hiking up a mountain. Fun is running effortsly through the woods. 

It also has to be an exercise that's easy to do, right from the house. 

Nowadays at 66, my daily excercize is cycling, and I try to ride EVERY day, no excuses, no bullshit, and this sometimes involves some creative planning. A lobotomy also helps 😀. 

For example, today's busy schedule only allowed me 90 minutes of free time between 6:00 - 7:30 AM, so I make the best of what I got. I started my ride promptly at 6:00 AM, in the dark, in the rain, in 40 degree temperature. 

I realize that this is probably crazy by most standards, but I've developed such a strong habit of riding every day, that I feel guilty missing a day, and would spend the entire day feeling like something was missing. 

That's my story and I'm sticking to it. 


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

2016/10/05 - Privacy?

I was listening to a speaker who said that there's a good chance that Google knows you better than your best friends.

Google knows your wants, your needs, your interests, and maybe some secrets that your friends don't even know. 

The speaker also said "Show me all your Google searches, and in five minutes I'll find something about you that may be embarrassing, or worse."

Furthermore, he said that in today's world it cheaper to save data than to destroy it, so it will be out there forever.