The puzzle is not yet complete

Not enough progress
Not enough progress

I haven’t finished puzzle yet. I wanted to make more progress, but I ended up spending more time than I had planned on, when I went to the grocery store, spent frustrating time on the phone trying to schedule a service call with Sears, and a short amount of time lying on the floor.

Shall I elaborate? Well, then I shall.

My trip to the grocery store took a little longer than planned due to a) a twenty-something looking feller who was dressed like a banker trying to rush me through the produce section so he could get his hands on the romaine lettuce and cucumbers before I could make a proper selection; and b) crates of stock scattered haphazardly in the aisles which caused a one lane traffic flow. You may be asking yourself why a person who was rushing me actually slowed me down. It is simple. When I encounter a person such as he, my natural instinct is to instruct that person on the virtue of patience, and I believe in teaching by example. Yes, I slowed down.

I called Sears to have a technician come out to work on our hot water heater. I’ve had to restart it three times in the past two weeks. So, I calls them up and get an automated system that can’t understand me when I clearly enunciate “hot water heater,” or the second time when I say “h-o-t w-a-t-e-r h-e-a-t-e-r,” or even the third time when I calmly said, “HOT WATER HEATER.” The automated system decided to switch me over to a human being. I told the woman who I was and what I needed. She then asked me for my telephone number so she could look me up in the computer system to see who I was. She found me in the system, told me who I was and where I lived, and asked how she could help me. I told her what I needed. She looked at her computer screen and asked me if I was talking about the hot water heater that we had purchased in 1996. I explained that, no, we were living in a different house then, had not brought the heater with us when we moved, and that we had purchased this heater in the past 3 or 4 years. Gosh, she couldn’t find that purchase in her computer system. Had I used a different telephone number? I doubted it, because we had given up our land line before the purchase had been made. She checked Cindy’s phone number, without me telling the rep what her name and number was, but did not find the hot water heater there either. Was I sure I didn’t use the number of the land line we used to have? What was it? First I was surprised she didn’t already have the number in her system, but I just said, “I don’t remember what it was, but if you can wait a couple of minutes I’ll climb two stories to our office and get the number there.” She told me that, actually, she couldn’t wait, and that it wasn’t a big deal because the technician could look it up from the serial number when he came to the house in four days. Then, despite the fact that she couldn’t wait for me to climb the stairs, I spent the next 10 minutes fending off her efforts to sell me repair plans that I had no desire to buy.

As to laying on the floor…I was sitting on the edge of a metal chair while working on the jigsaw puzzle when my telephone rang. The phone was in a front pocket of my jeans, and rather than rise up and pull it from my pocket, I sat there trying to fish the phone out of my pocket. That was a bad idea. I felt the back legs give way, and I ended up lying on my back as the chair collapsed. I decided to just lie there and talk to my mother, for it was she who had called for the second time yesterday, rather than try to get to my feet and explain what had happened. It was just as well because it was a short conversation. She wanted to know what I knew about the shooting at Purdue. I told her I knew nothing because the television and the radio had been off since around 9 a.m. that’s all she wanted to know, so she said goodbye and hung up.

So what were my lessons learned? They were old lessons that I became reacquainted with yesterday. Patience will get you through just about anything. Also politeness makes you feel good. I felt better after my talk with the Sears Rep because I thanked her for her help, despite wanting to snarl vituperous phrases at her. And finally, with my mother, some things are better left unsaid despite discomfort.

Tomorrow I’ll get back to the autobiography thread of my posts.

Am I wrong in thinking?

What are they talking about?

It’s obvious that I snapped this picture from far off, then later I manipulated it to zoom further in, brightened it, and removed some of the noise. When I see the police conversing this way, and I see it often, I always wonder what they are talking about. Are they deciding where to set up the speed trap? Where are they going to meet for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner? Where can they go out with their teen-aged girlfriends so that there wives don’t hear about it? I always wonder.

Every year Cindy and I have a holiday party between Thanksgiving and Christmas. We invite family, friends, people we work with, and some acquaintances. So that the number of people attending doesn’t get out of hand, we stop inviting people who don’t attend for three years in a row (the old three strike rule) and try to invite a few new people who have come into our lives. I think the largest gathering we’ve had was around 85 people. We didn’t count, but there were probably around 70 people this year.

One of the surprises we had this year was that some guests took it on themselves to invite people we hadn’t planned on seeing, and those surprise “guests” showed up. Am I wrong in thinking that one should not invite people to a party that one is not hosting? I wouldn’t be upset if the “inviters” had cleared it with Cindy or me first, but that didn’t happen.

While the party is in progress I always have Christmas music playing in the living room. I burn CDs of the holiday music. The songs are a mixture of sacred and secular, old and new, as well as vocal and instrumental. I’ve also included a song or two that celebrates Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. In past years I’ve noticed that someone had lowered the volume on the stereo. That’s OK. This year, however, someone had the audacity to turn the stereo off altogether. Am I wrong in thinking that the person who did that went beyond the bounds of making themselves feel at home?

Meanwhile in the family room, people were eating, talking, and playing cards. Evidently someone was bored with the party though, and decided to find the TV remote and turn on a football game. Am I wrong in thinking that guests to a party shouldn’t inflict their boredom and proclivities towards sports viewing on other guests? If you would rather watch the game, stay home…or at least turn on the IU basketball game that I chose to give up watching that evening.

In the last paragraph I told you that people were playing cards. At our party people play Euchre, other card  games, BINGO, and board games. If they win the appropriate number of times they are welcome to choose a wrapped prize from under our tree. The prizes are inexpensive; we never pay more than $5 for a prize, and usually pay less. When the party was over I saw that there were a few prizes left under the tree. When I took a closer look I saw that a couple of them had been opened but replaced under the tree. Someone evidently wanted to make sure that they picked a prize that they liked and wanted, rather than taking the luck of the draw. Am I wrong in thinking that there is something fundamentally wrong with being so invested in getting rather than giving?

No, I’m probably just being a crotchety old geezer. Am I wrong in thinking that “old geezer” is redundant?


Another great looking house
Another great looking house

This town and the surrounding area are full of beautiful old houses. Between the houses and the barns I could fill a book with photos.


I haven’t posted anything in a while. My mind has been on other things. Mainly I’ve been thinking about a local political jerk (boy, that narrows it down), and my thought shouldn’t be seen in a blog that is supposed to be family friendly. Perhaps someday I’ll find the proper words, or at least the proper state of mind.

Instead let me expand to national politicians; the term “jerk” still applies to all and sundry. What did the shut down of most of the government achieve? Inconvenience to many citizens and outright hurt to some (I’m thinking of the WIC program). It did allow the politicians to spout off for the cameras, so they didn’t feel any pain. It allowed most of the political pundits to focus on the wrong thing; i.e. the political ramifications rather than the human ramifications.

I have probably mentioned in the past that I believe Gerrymandering is a great political evil in this country. It allows a 90% reelection percentage for Congressional House incumbents. As Charlie Cool stated, it allows the people in Congress to pick their voters, not the voters picking their representatives. That’s true of both Democrats and Republicans. I haven’t thought this through completely, but I believe it has also made the primary elections more important than the general elections.

I haven’t heard any pundit state that proposition explicitly (I must admit that I don’t watch the Fox network for fear of dying either from laughing too hard or from an apoplectic fit) but they all seem to imply it. I can’t believe that all of the founding fathers had that outcome in mind. Of course, I could be wrong…it is politics.

Things that bother me

It felt like spring
Junk in their yard

It isn’t the most awe-inspiring picture I’ve ever taken. I took a short ride on Tuesday, and while it was cold, the sun was shining and it felt like spring to me. I was going to post this picture, and relate the whole background to that day, but something came up and I never got around to it. Now that day doesn’t seem so special and I won’t be giving you the background. I will say that in order to try to put down feelings into words I need to make that attempt while I’m still having the feelings. If I don’t do it then, it’s like groping around in the dark; you seldom find what you want and occasionally have an unpleasant surprise.


I’ve decided to unfriend another contact on Facebook. Once again it’s because I so want to respond to their pre-packaged posts, but know the futility of doing so. Today it was something along the lines of Cain slew Abel with a rock and since rocks and guns are both inanimate objects don’t try to take away my gun. I don’t know how many people have been killed with rocks in the U.S. in the past three months, but there have been, on average, 15 deaths by gun per day in that time. Of course people do the killing, not the rock or the gun, but killing with a gun is easier; you don’t have to get as up close and personal as you do with a rock.


I received another catalog from a book seller in the mail a few days ago. It divided the types of books into sections and I was looking in the few sections that interested me. I went to the U.S. History section and started looking at the titles. In the first twenty entries of books on U.S. History, seven were conspiracy theory books. Since when is conspiracy speculation history?

Lord, I shudder.

Day 328

The batting cage is closed
The batting cage is closed

It is a cold, sunny day in Lafayette. Most of the snow has disappeared, but then we didn’t have much to begin with. The predictions are that we will get some After Christmas. I hope it comes a day early.


I’m giving serious consideration to getting off of Facebook, or at least limiting, even further, the time I spend on it. The reason is simple, and it is the same reason I don’t read comments on the online version of the newspaper; too many of the posts infuriate me. I must be getting crankier, to go along with getting older. It seems that so many people are reposting intolerant and/or sentiments that seem, to me, to be little more than self-righteous claptrap. What is worse is I find myself wanting to do the same thing, only with a different spin on the issues. What I usually end up doing is posting a link to something from The Daily Show or The Colbert Report, because I would rather see an idea skewered with humor, rather than vitriol. But let’s face it, not everybody finds Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert funny.

Why am I on Facebook to begin with? There are two reasons. 1) Trina posts a lot of pictures of the grandkids, and I love seeing them. 2) None of my friends write letters anymore, if they ever did, and I saw Facebook as a way to keep in touch. I’m not sure either of those reasons is valid. If Trina posts a picture she often also sends it to me via a text message, or Cindy sees it and can forward it to me. Very few of my friends post anything on Facebook that is more than something they have seen and decide to share, often asking me to “like” it if I agree. I seldom agree, and besides, what good does that do in the world? There is no real individual thought behind those posts.

Yep, I’m definitely getting crankier.

Day 327

Our first real snowfall of the season
Our first real snowfall of the season

When I saw this scene this morning, the phrase, “the cold comfort of death” popped into my mind. I know I’ve hard the phrase before, but I don’t know where it was. I googled the phrase, but none of the entries were familiar. A number of the entries seemed to have something to do with a video game, and another few dealt with poetry. No. I’ve heard the phrase somewhere else.


Forgive me in advance if I ruffle your feathers today. I have a feeling that I may get on my soapbox and preach, rather than just relate what I see around me. First, let me give you a link to a video and story about an event that I watched this morning: As I do most mornings, I watched Morning Joe on MSNBC. While most of MSNBC’s programming is pitched to the liberal population, the host of Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough was to the right of Newt Gingrich when they were both serving in the House of Representatives. This show is probably the closest MSNBC comes to balanced coverage.

 Anyway, Representative Huelskamp, on the issue of the “fiscal crisis” expressed the same point of view that all of the Republican candidates for president had expressed during their debates, and I’m paraphrasing here, no tax cuts at all…only spending cuts. No compromise. He is representing the people who elected him.

On the issue of a possible assault rifle ban, no. People kill people, weapons don’t. No compromise. He is representing the people who elected him.

It makes me wonder if our representatives truly do represent us. In other words, are they really a reflection of the people the represent? 47% of the members of congress are millionaires. 43% are lawyers. 85% are white. 83% are men. Congress had a full 109 days of work planned for 2012, but I don’t know how many they actually put in.

The numbers don’t mean that our representatives can’t do a good job representing us, but I believe the numbers make it harder for them to understand us. Political parties at the state and federal levels have so rigged the game that it is almost impossible to vote a person out of office, or to vote for a third-party candidate. Incumbents in the US House of representatives are routinely reelected at a rate exceeding 80% and Senators are reelected, on average, over 70% of the time. While I have never before believed that term limits were a good idea, I now think it is time that they were mandatory. Of course, that would take a constitutional amendment, but I would now support such an amendment. Let’s face it, we can’t do much worse than we already are.

Hey, I may get back up on my high horse again tomorrow.

Day 254 – updated

It’s another pretty morning

Taking a picture today was easy, but sitting down to compose was beyond me, so there are no words today, just a photo. Check back on Wednesday afternoon and I will have updated today, Day 254, with text. I promise.


So, the first thing I want to complain about today is the number of times people on television or on the radio start a sentence with the word so. I may have commented on this before, but it reached the tipping point for me again today. You usually hear political and/or economic “pundits” do it, but I’ve even heard contestants on Jeopardy do it. It’s something like inbreeding, one “pundit” hears another do it and thinks that it is cool, so they begin to lard their comments in the same way. I’m sure that this irritant will pass in another month or two. We have almost run the course of hearing “sea change,” which was the last fad speech pattern. I wonder what is coming next?


When I went for my follow-up appointment after the laser surgery yesterday I was pleasantly surprised that no one tried to tell me that I had come at the wrong time. Everyone was nice. The doctor you checked me did surprise me by stating that my vision was much better before she even checked anything. Darn, she was good. I will admit that she was right. Everything seems much clearer now, and brighter as well. I don’t have to lean toward the lamp in order to read. Also, I can make out the digits on the clock without straining. Despite my reservations about the sincerity of some of the doctors and staff, I will admit that they do excellent work.


On my way home yesterday I noticed that one person in Lafayette had put his “Lugar for Senate” sign back in his yard. It had been taken out of the grass shortly after Senator Lugar lost in the primary election to Richard Mourdock back in May. I’m sure that is some sort of statement, but since I’m not a Republican nor a “pundit,” I have no idea what it means.


As promised, I added text to this post from notes I had made yesterday. Now I have to go out and find a picture for today. I’ll get on that after I eat lunch.

Day 206

At Bellagio

This is a photo from the Bellagio fountain show. The tune that was playing was Hey, Big Spender. We walked there from Excalibur, just under a mile as the crow flies. There are crows in Las Vegas; I saw one u\yesterday. If you’ve been to Vegas, you know that there is no straight line walking route on the strip.

We went to a show at Excalibur last night. We saw The Australian Bee Gees. They are a tribute band (surprise!) who perform Bee Gees tunes, try to look like the Bee Gees, call themselves by Bee Gees names, and try to sound like the Bee Gees. It’s hard for me to say how good they are because I’m not a big Bee Gees fan. Who do I think I’m kidding? Of course I’ll tell you how good they are…they are OK.

The show started with the instruments, mainly the percussion, overpowering the vocals. I’m pretty sure that was purposeful in order to keep the audience (more about the audience later) from noticing how dissimilar the groups voices were from the original’s. As the show went on, the music was toned down on the percussion and up on the voices. You gradually get used to the voices that way.


Let me digress for a couple of sentences. The idea of watching a tribute band made me think of the Dylan Schaffer mysteries Misdemeanor Man and I Right The Wrongs . The protagonist is a small time lawyer who fronts a Barry Manilow tribute band. I recommend these books, and hope Mr. Shaffer continues the series.


Back to the show. I mentioned that I am not a Bee Gees fan, but I will admit to liking their ballads. However, I will never forgive them for contributing to disco (the music that tried to kill all other legitimate music).

Let me comment on the audience. The people behind me, over my right shoulder, yelled and laughed loud enough to drown out the drummer. I did not like them. Nor did I like the gent behind me who, when we stood up (the band requested that we stand during the last song (which is a cheap way to get  a standing ovation), this guy shoved my chair into the back of my knees so that he would have more room to bust his old man disco moves. He almost knocked me down.

One last thing about the band. Why did the drummer have a plexiglass barrier in front of him. Was he really afraid the crowd would start throwing beer bottles at him?


So we walked from Excalibur to Bellagio to see the water fountain show, and from there to the Mirage, another .6 mile as the proverbial crow flies., to see the dolphin show. After wending our way through the casino to get to the dolphins, we found that the dolphins only work from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. They must be unionized.

From there we took a taxi back to the timeshare where I collapsed for the night.

Day 118

A beautiful morning in the country

What a beautiful morning. I took a short drive through a bucolic countryside. The fact that I was playing the Jefferson Starship album Spitfire with the windows open may seem incongruous to the surroundings, but it seemed right to me. Spitfire did not get the critical praise that it’s predecessor Red Octopus did, but I like it better. Evidently, that’s just me. With Paul Kantner, Grace Slick, and Marty Balin part of the group, this could easily have been a Jefferson Airplane album. Why did they change the group name?

I am not going to take the time to go back through my posts and see if I’ve put down words about this topic before; I know I’ve thought about it; but I’m a cranky geezer, so I’m allowed. I left the house around 8:30 this morning. It was already a warm, sunny day, and as I drove through the streets of Lafayette, on my way to the countryside, I saw no children playing outside. Where were they? I can’t imagine that as a kid I wouldn’t have been outside at that hour getting sweaty and dirty. How can they be having fun, enjoying childhood, if they are inside watching TV, playing video games, or sleeping? I don’t get it. But, like I said, I’m a cranky geezer. Life may be passing me by, but it looks to me like life is passing the youngsters by. Heck, Mason spent the night here and Cindy finally woke him up around 10:30 this morning. OK, that’s my verbal drubbing of today’s youth, and the parents who don’t shoo the kids out of the house.

A quick update on my former toe, or actually the surrounding remaining flesh, all of the redness is gone! It seems that the healing process is continuing apace. That makes me feel much better!

Day 89

In need of a paint job and more

I have to tell you that I am not in a good mood today. I don’t want to throw or smash anything, but I do feel like complaining. Some might describe my mood as bitchy. I would not disagree. Little things are causing me to seethe, and make me want to whine. I don’t like it when other people whine, but I am occasionally self-indulgent. I’m thinking today, “What good is a blog if you can’t whine once in a while?” Where shall I start?

My trip to the grocery store to buy coffee can offer irritations that seldom are allowed rise to the surface. People who push their shopping cart to their car, empty it, and then leave it in a parking spot get my goat. I think it is the height of laziness to just leave the cart sitting, blocking a potential parking spot. Do these people wonder why cart corrals are set up in the parking lot? They obviously don’t care about other people, it is all about them. I know that in a few cases there is probably a good reason they can’t push the cart a few yards to the nearest corral and leave it there…I’m trying to think of an example…perhaps they have trouble walking and need to use the cart like a walker. But then, how did they make it into the store? Did they use a cart that someone else had left in the lot? Did they drive around looking for an abandoned cart? Also, how many people are there like that? I ask because there are many of the carts sitting around the lot.

You may well be wondering why I haven’t gone off on the people who park their cars in the fire lanes. I have no respect for those people. Surprisingly, there were no cars parked there today. They probably were parked in the handicapped spaces.

I am not the only person who is not in a good mood today. While I like the service we get from Comcast, I have one complaint. We receive a lot of email that is not meant for us. I’m not sure why that is true, but it is. Today we received an email, in error, from a woman who is very upset. I won’t identify her, but here is what it says (Oh, if you know Irene, please tell her that her email didn’t get to the intended person…unless you are that person):