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Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Don't let the New Year hit you on the way out


Okay, 2019 wasn't the worst year ever or the best year. But it was a year. I did manage to post more blog posts than I have since 2008 (just six shy of topping my 2008 number of posts). And despite my prolific number of blog posts and a record number of hits on my blog (thanks to the bots and whatever other software that keeps pinging my blog) I managed to have fewer actual readers than ever before.

Let's face it, I'll never be Tik-Tok famous.

I'm not a New Year's resolution kind of a person, so I won't make any pronouncements about 2020. I do hope it will be the last year Trump is in office. Though I just read on Twitter that he tied with Barack Obama for Time Magazine's most admired man. So I don't have much hope for humanity.

I won't say I'll post even more in 2020. Though a lack of new things to write about didn't stop me in 2019. I've slipped into blogging more and more as a release for myself since my fan base has dwindled significantly over the last 16 years.

I did learn some tough lessons in 2019 about how nasty the Internet can be. I've had to stave off hackers who tried hijacking several of my accounts due to password breeches on several sites. Apparently my old go to password was available on the dark web. I learned to develop complicated and difficult to remember unique passwords for my many accounts.

I also learned to beware deals on the Web through sites I'm not familiar with. It took several weeks going around with Paypal to finally get a refund from a fraudulent Web site called jerseyeasy.com.

I also took to social media to get a warranty on a faulty garbage disposal honored by the Moen company. They were reluctant to take blame for it leaking and said that that wasn't one of the things covered in the limited lifetime warranty. I finally called them out on Twitter and Facebook. They responded and had me send them a video of the leak. They finally gave in. My replacement garbage disposal arrived yesterday. I just have to fork out another $150 to have someone install it.

Of course there is the whole heart thing and my broken nose. I am having trouble wrapping my brain around it all because I feel fine and still spend an hour and a half a day working out on the treadmill and elliptical machines. But the new year and a new cardiologist should sort it all out.

Anyway, here's to 2020, may it bring us all hope and happiness.

Or at least not suck.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Have a nice trip...


...see you next fall.

I started the week of Christmas with a trip to the emergency room.  I woke up the Monday before Christmas and went to use the bathroom. I was half awake. Suddenly I felt light headed and fainted. Next thing I knew I had face planted the floor in the bathroom and blood was spurting out of my nose and a gash above my eye.

Needless to say it freaked my wife out. She helped me clean up and called my doctor's office. They weren't able to get me in until the day after Christmas but they told my wife to take me to the emergency room.

Maybe it is because I was raised a Christian Scientist and didn't go to doctor's until I was in my 20s.  But I hate going to medical facilities. And the ER is probably the worst place to go. For whatever reason, I felt guilty for having fainted and more guilty for bleeding all over the place.

I got checked in and asked all of the questions about how it happened. I didn't really know. One minute I was headed to the bathroom and the next I was slamming into the floor. I just wanted them to stitch me up and let me go home.

But they did a CT scan and then hooked me up for an EKG. The PA then told me they had figured out why I had fainted. The EKG showed that my heart beats were irregular. It was something called A-fib. One of the chambers of my heart wasn't playing along with the others.

Eventually I was stitched up (nine to be exact) and sent home with a broken nose and a face that looked like I'd been in a bar brawl. I was also told to see a cardiologist.

Okay, the last thing you want to hear when you are my age is that something is wrong with your heart. And although they tell me that my condition is pretty common it still kind of freaks me out. I have been working out daily for years. I assumed that my heart should be pretty strong by now. So to find out it isn't beating right is troubling to say the least.

Ironically it could be a month before a cardiologist can see me and let me know what the next steps are. My faith in medical science has not been restored.


Friday, December 20, 2019

Home for the holidays


I tried an experiment and posted this photo on Facebook. I thought it was hilarious. Apparently very few of my Facebook friends agree. Only three people liked it.

This is why I generally keep my blog life and my real life separate. I used to think people would be impressed when they knew me in real life and then read my blog.

Not true at all. I've learned that for most of the mainstream world I'm just weird.

Regardless, I am taking the week of Christmas off from work and I will be home alone with my family. And the kids are past the point of being overly excited by Christmas. So it should be interesting.

I am kind of past that point as well. I have always enjoyed the build up to Christmas more than the actual day. And not having a religious bone in my Atheist body keeps me from associating anything with the various rituals other than they are relics from my childhood.

I also no longer have the thrill of anticipating what Santa will bring me. There isn't much I want anymore. I'm moving into that phase where I just don't want to accumulate any more stuff.

I can't even look forward to all the Christmas foods that are floating around this time of year. I'm forcing myself to be aware of the calories and that takes most of the fun out of eating.

You know what? I now understand why my parents didn't share my enthusiasm around the holidays when I was a kid.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Ze complaint! Ze complaint!

Ze plane! Ze plane! 
Fantasy Island, Tattoo (played by Hervé Villechaize)
We live in a world of complaints. I get them at work. I get them at home. And most of the time I sit quietly and stare into space. But sometimes I complain back, just not generally out loud. I used to write letters, then e-mails.  Lately I use social media.

Case in point. Our garbage disposal broke a year ago in April. You don't know how much you miss a garbage disposal until you don't have one. I tried buying a composting bucket, but my wife complained about the smell and the fruit flies it attracted. So I ordered a new garbage disposal on Amazon.

Now not being an expert on garbage disposals, I ordered one by Waste King that seemed highly rated on Amazon. It was also on sale. Still it cost me around $100 which still seems like a lot to me for something that grinds up food scraps. And since my handyman skills stop at changing light bulbs I also ordered professional installation through Amazon that set me back another $147. 

The garbage disposal arrived. A few days later the installer came and installed it. And for almost a year, all was right with the world of garbage disposal. But then a few months ago my wife noticed there was a leak under the sink. She traced it to the bottom of the garbage disposal.

A search online told us that when a disposal is leaking internally, it is time to get a new garbage disposal. It also said a garbage disposal was supposed to last at least ten years. So I go on Amazon and find my garbage disposal order and find a product support link for the disposal. Turns out the Waste King is a Moen product. I found the limited warranty for the disposal on their Webpage. Reading through the legal mumbo jumbo, I determined that the disposal should still be under warranty. It has a support number to call. I send it to me wife because she does all the verbal complaining to companies for the household.

She calls and a very assertive customer service person says the warranty doesn't cover leaks (although it does specify what leaks it doesn't cover...flange ring leaks, dishwasher connection leaks and elbow joint leaks...it said nothing about internal leaks that the Internet world claims mean the disposal is toast). The customer service person promises to send us an email explaining how to trace the leak. She does and it is of no help whatsoever.


Monday, December 16, 2019

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

I can be so dense

I usually am pretty savvy when it comes to shopping online. I usually just use Amazon and eBay because I can trust that, even if something goes wrong with what I ordered, they'll stand behind it. But I also try to get the best price. Sometimes, however, finding the best price isn't the best deal.

So last night I get ready to order a second controller for my son's XBox for one of his Christmas gifts. I find it on Amazon for $45 and I have free shipping. But I decide to search Google to see if there are any better prices. And Google has this thing pop up that compares prices for you. Most of the prices are more than Amazon's $45. But this one site pops up that offers if for $36 and no tax and a relatively low shipping cost.

I go to the site -- jerseyeasy.com -- and it seems legit. They have all the bells and whistles. They indeed have the controller and it is cheaper. And they have the option of checking out with Paypal so I think it is safe. So I put the thing in my shopping cart and start to check out. And although Google had said there would be no tax, tax does pop up on the order form. But it is still cheaper than Amazon.

So I complete the transaction. And I get a confirmation e-mail, but it is pretty vague. And my confirmation from Paypal shows payment is made to someone with an Asian name. That sets off red flags because I've ended up buying things that come from China before and they take forever to arrive and there have been many cases of counterfeit items being sold from China. The confirmation e-mail just says standard shipping in five to seven days. 

I start to feel uneasy about the order this morning and do a Google search for jerseyeasy.com (something I should have done before ordering from them). Sure enough I start seeing multiple complaints of ordering items that don't arrive and Paypal being notified but not issuing refunds because the seller shows proof an item was delivered. The people complaining say that they receive tracking notices, but find out something was delivered to another address, not theirs. This screams of fraud.

Turns out all of the contact numbers and e-mail addresses on  jerseyeasy.com are fake. Even the storefront photo they show of an address in New York is actually a Google maps photos of a different city and state.

I did contact Paypal and opening a complaint to try and cancel the transaction. But from what I've read from other people who have filed complaints, Paypal hasn't been very sympathetic. It could take up to a month to resolve. Meanwhile me trying to save a few bucks cost me $42. And now I'll have to order it from Amazon anyway.

It just comes down to acknowledging that if something seems to good to be true, it isn't.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Just one, wafer thin impeach-mint


I would be remiss not to acknowledge that Trump is finally being impeached. And despite almost incontrovertible evidence that he is guilty, there is a snowballs chance in hell that a super majority of the Senate will vote to convict him. And his "deplorable" supporters are more rabid than ever in the their belief that he is the best thing since sliced Wonder bread.

So I kind of wonder, what is the point in spending all of this time, money and energy trying to pop this pimple out of the White House? The morons who support him just claim that it's all made up and the Senate not convicting him will be their proof that the constant verbal flatulence he spews doesn't stink.

The sociopath doesn't even have the decency to resign. He just keeps up his deluded blather that he is the victim of a witch hunt. Truth is, there is a turd in the White House punch bowl and the country keeps drinking out of it no matter how many times it is pointed out.

What truly depresses me is that none of the so called checks and balances of power that the founding father's tried to put in place seem to work when you place a morally corrupt mad man in office.

And I say that with the utmost respect for the office, not the mad man.

Monday, December 09, 2019

It's beginning to look a lot like Monday


It is a gray Monday in Seattle. That in itself is nothing new. Most days are gray this time of year (and much of the rest of the year as well). The holiday lights help. I kind of wish they would stay up all year round.

I was walking with my son yesterday evening. He and I take the dog on a walk a few times a week more to get him away from video games for a few minutes than to exercise the dog. She is a nervous little thing and probably burns off enough energy bullying the cats without having to be drug around the neighborhood.

Anyway, we were walking and I was enjoying all of the various approaches to decorating with lights that people attempt this time of year. My son, a budding young curmudgeon, was less impressed. He was especially repulsed by a larger than life inflatable Santa wearing pajamas and bunny slippers in one person's yard. The dog seemed startled by the thing, too.

I admit, I'm not a big fan of the inflatable things, either. My wife purchased a couple of inflatable snowmen a few years ago that I reluctantly staked to our front yard. One was Olaf from Frozen. I just think the things are tacky. One of them lost it's inner glow last year so we finally tossed it. I'm not sure what happened to Olaf. I couldn't find him anywhere in the garage. I am a bit relieved.

I used to go to great lengths decorating with lights. I spent hours on the roof clipping icicle lights to the gutters. At one point they ran the entire length of both the front and back of our house. It was quite a feat. But I just can't do it anymore so I confine the light show to the bushes and trees and around the garage door and on the fence. It looks just fine.

Again, I wouldn't mind having lights all year round. I put them up for Halloween already. What would be cool is lights you could hang that would change color according to the season, orange for Halloween; red, green, white and blue for Christmas; red for Valentines; green for St. Patrick's Day; purple for Easter; multi-colored for spring; red, white and blue for the 4th; then orange and brown for fall and then back to Halloween.

I should Google it. I imagine someone makes all season lights.

Friday, December 06, 2019

Nothing pressing


It is difficult not to get caught up in the flurry of activity to prepare for the holidays. Halloween had barely passed when Christmas merchandise and decorations hit the stores. Thanksgiving was a blip on the radar. People had Christmas trees and lights up before the turkey was even digested.

I put the Elvis tree up the day after Thanksgiving.


I started putting lights on the outside of the house on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I will finish putting them up this weekend. I have given up going onto my roof to hang lights on the gutters. It is hard work and inevitably you put up a string of lights and a patch goes out. I'm sticking to lights in the bushes, trellis and trees in front of the house.

I have much of my Christmas shopping done. It is a challenge because my wife also has a birthday a week before Christmas so I have two celebrations in a row to plan for. So there is birthday cake and balloons to pick up in edition to stocking stuffers.

On top of all this both of my children have indicated they don't buy the whole Santa Claus myth anymore. Part of me is relieved because Santa has gotten credit for gifts I purchased for years.  So I kind of want to feel the love.

Well at least when Christmas is over I don't have to worry about anything until Valentines Day.

Sigh.




Wednesday, December 04, 2019

Mindfulness


I have been practising mindfulness for more than a year now using the Calm meditation app. It guides you through ten-minute meditations on a daily basis. The concept is to teach you how to live in the moment and stop your brain from fixating on negative thoughts or memories.

I think it has helped me a bit. It has forced me to take that 10-minute break everyday and at the very least focus on my breathing instead of what I am supposed to be getting done (like figure out what to get my son for Christmas that doesn't involve a $400 virtual reality headset).

As you know (there's that "you" again), I think a great deal about what the brain is creating all the time for me. I struggle with understanding why, if I create my own reality, I can't come up with a better one that doesn't include Trump.

But I digress.

Looking at the photos above, I am mindful that the hair on my head and my beard are almost white. But my eyebrows are still dark brown. Why is that?

I don't think that is technically what mindfulness is supposed to be about. But it does try and teach you not to be judgmental. So I try not to focus on how big my nose and ears look in the photos. Though I did hear on Tik Tok the other day that the nose and ears are the only part of the body that continues to grow as you age. So it must be true (I also Googled it and Dr. Oz confirms it).


Tuesday, December 03, 2019

A star is dead


If you (and "you" know who I'm talking about) have followed my blog for some length of time, you know that each Christmas I decorate an artificial white tree with Elvis themed ornaments. It is a tradition I have carried on for almost 20 years.  I've even tried to get my children to participate (if not understand) the tradition. When they were younger, they happily did, primarily because many of the ornaments play music.

But this year I was the only one who showed any enthusiasm when, on the day after Thanksgiving, I pulled out the white tree and my ornament bins and declared it was time to put up the Elvis tree. My son, who has become quite the curmudgeon basically refused to help. My daughter played along for awhile but got distracted and began drawing on a green Christmas ball that has been in the Elvis ornament bin for years but never goes on the tree because I only allow blue Christmas balls on the Elvis tree.

So I more or less decorated the Elvis tree by myself which is fine because I like to place the ornaments in a certain order and the kids tend to just toss them willy-nilly on the tree only to be rearranged by me after they have left.

But my children's lack of enthusiasm kills any hope I had of the tradition continuing after I've joined Elvis in the great Graceland in the sky (which we know isn't on the moon). My only hope is that they will at least sell all the ornaments on eBay and not just give them to Good Will to be shoved in a bargain bin.


Monday, December 02, 2019

Footprints in the dust


I've been watching the third season of The Crown on Netflix.  It's a bio of Great Britain's royal family. And since all of my DNA results indicate that 99 percent of my ancestry stems from England I find it interesting if not fascinating.

The episode I watched last night was about Prince Philip having a mid-life crisis around the time Neal Armstrong was walking on the moon. Prince Philip felt as though his life was meaningless compared to someone who had actually reached the moon. He felt as though by actually reaching the moon, the astronauts had been given some cosmic knowledge.

So Prince Philip, being a Royal, arranges to meet the Apollo astronauts and ask them some philosophical questions. He is seated in a room in Buckingham Palace with Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins and asks them what they discovered on the moon. They all stared blankly at him (in between cold induced sneezes) and said they were too busy following their astronaut protocols and check lists to have had time to wax philosophical about what it meant to set foot on the moon. They had simple reached the heavens, took some photos, picked up some rocks and left.

Prince Philip was a bit pissed. He realized the astronauts, although brave, were really not very deep people. They shrugged off his questions and instead wanted to know what it was like being a prince and having umpteen palaces. Then they dashed about Buckingham Palace taking snapshots with more gusto than they had on the moon.