Monday, December 03, 2012

Teased by "Anonymous"

In a very old blog post (May, 2008) I wrote of offering an item for sale on eBay that was rejected as unsuitable, according to that online auction site's standards.  You can read about it all here:

Frankly I'd nearly forgotten the post and the item in question, until Blogger sent me an email a couple of weeks ago that a new comment had been written.  You can see it on the link above -- it's the next-to-last comment and it's from "anonymous."

He (maybe she?) asks if I still have the inappropriate item, as he collects such things and would love to have it.  Gee, sure!  Sounds great.  Let's talk.

But wait.  How do I communicate with Anonymous?  I have no identity, no email address, no number to send a text to, NOTHING.  I did the only thing I could think of to do, and that was to place another comment below his saying yes, I had the item, and please contact me here's my email.  That was two weeks ago, and do you think I've received an email?  Nope.

My conclusion is that Anonymous either: A) is an idiot, B) was drunk when he wrote the comment and has forgotten about it, C) either/both A and B (a drunk idiot) who doesn't realize that Blogger does not send me his contact information when he posts a comment and is disappointed that I've ignored him.  Another possibility is that he's a tease, knows that I'll want to contact him but can't, and enjoys creating frustration in others.

I expect that everyone who reads this (if anyone does) will leave an anonymous comment begging me to sell them the item for BIG $$ if I'll just contact them ASAP.  Go for it, if that floats your boat.  But be careful; Blogger just MIGHT keep track of your IP address and send it to me -- you never know!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

New Computer!

This will probably resonate with everyone who reads it.  Why?  Because you're probably reading it on a computer.  Okay, I know, you can read blogs on a "mobile device" as well as a computer, but still. . .  You remember the last time you bought a new computer, right?  Exciting?  For some it's just a tool or an appliance and thus no big deal.  For me, a closet geek, it's cool!

Why am I getting a new computer?  Best reason ever:  The old one died.  It was 5 years old (almost 6), and had been close to state of the art when I bought it (dual-core processor, 4GB of ram, and a 250GB hard drive -- and it boasted the brand new operating system, Windows Vista!  Wow!)  And frankly, even last week (before its untimely demise) it was fast and powerful enough for most of what I used it for.  Some software seemed to take a long time to load; Photoshop was the worst, and it had started to freeze on me occasionally.  But I had no plans to upgrade in the near future.

How did it die?  I don't know exactly.  I left the house with the computer on, everything normal.  I returned about an hour later and found it powered down.  That was unusual.  I pressed the power button.  The fan started and ran for maybe one second, then stopped.  I tried again; same result.

Without boring you with the details of my diagnostic efforts, nothing I tried helped.  I took it to a local repair shop, waited 4 days, and learned that the motherboard was shot (some bulging, leaking capacitors and other failed electronics, the power supply was suspect, and my video card had problems.  All of this could be fixed (parts replaced), but then I'd still have a 6-year-old machine.  The technician suggested my money would be better spent toward a replacement.

So . . .  I have now ordered a Dell machine with an Intel core i7 processor, 12GB of ram, Windows 8 OS, and lots more.  I figure it's 3-5 times more powerful than my old box, and it cost 1/3 less!  Ah, progress!

It is supposed to ship from Dell in about a week, and should be here a few days later.  Meanwhile I'm subsisting with an iPad and smart phone -- life is tough, right?

I'm looking forward to Christmas coming early this year!

(OH!  I wanted to be sure to include this . . .  Last time I ordered from Dell I learned that if you ask for some price help (a discount), they'll give you one!  But if you don't ask, they won't offer!  When I told the telephone sales rep I would buy if I could get the price down about $200, she put me on hold while she "spoke to her supervisor," then came back and offered me interest-free financing instead.  I declined that offer, and again asked for a price reduction.  Without even going through the act of  asking anyone, she agreed!  Remember this -- it works!)

Saturday, December 01, 2012

My increasing cynicism

I am an optimist by nature.  My glass is usually at least 3/4 full.  Frankly, I dislike negativity and negative people.  I try to see the good side of things, and point it out when others around are gripy.  Is "gripy" a word?

Anyway, I'm disturbed to find that with increasing frequency I am disappointed by people, both individuals and groups or organizations.  The stridency, hype, and blatant lies of the recent political campaign is one example, but more and more I see people circumventing laws and rules, twisting the truth until it's no longer recognizable as such, to further their own agenda.

But I wonder: what, if anything, has changed?

Maybe it's me.  Maybe I've finally grown up enough to lose the innocence of youth and see things as they really are.  There has always been a percentage of the population with little or no moral compass or much of a conscience.  This is the group who will play the suckers, work the angles, con the unsuspecting and take, take, take.  But was the percentage always this large?

Remember the 80s?  Jerry Falwell popularized the term "moral majority."  The concept was that most people in the US were moral, honest and upright (and in Jerry's realm, this meant "Christian").  It sounded good, and I accepted the theory that most people were moral, honest and upright.  It was the vocal minority who were trying to ruin things for the rest of us.

Well now, 30 years later, I get the feeling that majority has slid over into the other camp.  There are few people, or statements made by people, that I trust anymore.  I tend to analyze actions and comments in a way I never used to.  "Why did he do/say that?  Did he meant it?  Has he got something to gain, or is he trying to pull something on me?  What's his real motive?"

Of course, there are lots of possible reasons for the apparent spinning of the moral compass needle.  My inclination is to list as chief among them the decline in religious faith I believe has occurred.  And not just Christian faith.  Most major faiths honor honesty, fair dealing, and compassion.

I dunno.  Maybe I'm just in a funk.  Whatever it is, my glass seems to be slowly leaking.

Anybody else feeling this?

Saturday, November 10, 2012


A little over a year ago, in anticipation of the major lifestyle change of retirement, I posted on my blog a piece titled, “Pre-retirement musings.” 

Here’s an excerpt:

When I’m retired no one is going to ask my opinion. And if I offer one, unsolicited, I’ll either be patronized or ignored. I mean, once you retire, you’re no longer “in the game.” Who cares what the retired guy thinks? He’s no longer got a vested interest.

I understood that point from observation over the years.  When someone retired from my place of employment, typically he (or she) would call or email periodically to update their work colleagues on whatever they were doing.  The attitude of the work colleagues was, again typically, a collective shrug of dismissal.
I determined that I would be different.  I would not show up at the office and expect my working friends to drop what they were doing, welcome me in, and chat for 30 minutes.  I would not phone them, and if I emailed them the focus would be on their lives and jobs, not mine.  And I wouldn’t expect a reply.  (Good thing!  I rarely send any of them an email (usually a copy of a comic strip that satirizes the working environment there – especially some Dilbert strips!), and never get a reply.)

But I’ve recently been seeing not-so-subtle indications of how broad-based the stereotype of “old retired guy = irrelevant” really is.  How?  Well, as anyone who has followed my blog knows, I enjoy expressing my opinion.  As an outworking of that enjoyment I participate in a number of online forums and opinion polling sites.  I mean, why not?  I have the time, and some of those sites offer rewards (like gift cards!) that I really use.  

So, what’s the trouble?  Well, many/most of the polls I complete ask “qualifying” questions at the beginning to identify the demographic of the respondent.  Often they’ll ask for zip code, annual income range, marital status, home ownership vs. rental, and so on.  But just about every poll also asks for age/birth year.  And many ask about employment status.

 If I am honest – indicate my real age and that I’m retired – I’m almost always re-directed to a “no thanks” screen and told to “try again another time.”

But if I then go back, take ten years off my real age and check the “employed full time” box, bingo!  I’m in.  My opinion is then considered valid.  I’m relevant!

I know – that’s cheating!  But the opinions I express are the same as the ones I had 10 years ago!  So am I really cheating?  Do most people’s opinions change in 10 years, once they pass 45 or so?

I'm guessing that most of the groups who write and sell these polls are people in their 20s and 30s.  To them, anyone over 50 is a dinosaur.  When I was 30 I probably felt the same way.  Okay, I DID feel the same way.

Add to that the fear of many younger workers that we baby boomers will suck dry all of their Social Security as we dodder off into oblivion.  No wonder they consider us irrelevant.  Most probably wish they could put us out on the ice floe and let us drift off to . . . wherever.

 Maybe I should dye my gray hair a darker color and lie about my age.  At least then I’d be considered relevant again! 

 That, or be considered even more senile than now. 

 What a choice.  No wonder many old people seniors act bitter!

Sunday, September 30, 2012


For years I have toyed with the idea of writing a tongue-in-cheek essay (article?  booklet?) on Living With OCD.  That’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, for those not into acronyms.  No, I don’t suffer from that mental condition.  The essay would be from the point of view of a husband living with a wife whose habits border on, or cross well over the line into, obsessive.  At least, that has been my perspective over the last 44 years or so.  I used to think of her as simply a perfectionist, but then I learned that acronym.
Example?  I subscribe to the philosophy of mind over matter, stated, “If nobody minds, it shouldn’t/doesn't matter.”  So if, say, I allow a single drop of water to fall from the edge of the kitchen sink to the tile kitchen floor, and I fail to blot it up with a paper towel because I know it will dry to invisibility in a few minutes and never be noticed by anybody . . . well, no big deal, right?  I mean, it’s not worth the effort to take any action because it just goes away by itself.  But if my wonderful wife were to notice a drop of water falling to the floor, even if we were on our way out the door – already late – for an important function, she would stop and carefully wipe up the drop and the area for at least a foot all around where it fell to make sure she got all of it up.
My response to that action varied with her mood.  If she were in a good mood, I’d sing, “Oh, See, Dee,” to the three-tone tune of the television network NBC.  If she were not in such a good mood I’d turn away and quietly roll my eyes.  Hey, after 44 years of marriage I KNOW she can hear an eye-roll if it’s not done very discretely.  And even then, sometimes.
Another example:  When I come in from outside and she tells me to take off my shoes because, “I just vacuumed the floor and I don’t want grit tracked across it!”  I’ll point out that I just carefully wiped off the soles of my shoes on both the outside AND the inside door mats, but her response?  “Take them OFF!”
I take them off . . . with another discrete eye roll.
In the last few months, however, I’ve noticed a significant change in my attitude.  I retired!  I stopped going to an office 5 days a week, and it’s a wonderful lifestyle change!  In preparation for that major event I made some commitments.  I would NOT be one of those husbands who retired to vegetate and expected his wife to keep on working as a homemaker.  I would establish a fitness routine to keep in shape and control my weight.  I would make the bed, empty the dishwasher, vacuum the carpet and help with the laundry.  Carol and I would be partners, sharing both the inside work and the yard duties.  And I’m proud to say that for the last 6 months I’ve lived up to all of those promises.
Within the first three weeks of retirement I washed all the windows in the house, inside and out!  I even did those small glass panes in the top of the overhead garage door.  That hadn’t been done for so long, we were both amazed at how much clearer the view was without the spots and streaks.  We then embarked on a long overdue whole-house cleanup, involving going through every room, closet, cabinet and drawer to remove what we no longer want or use and rearrange the rest.  I’ve made numerous trips to Goodwill and a local church to donate clothing and “stuff.”  We deep steam-cleaned the carpet, repainted woodwork, and just got everything in order.  The whole process took months because we didn’t work on it every day, or for whole days at a time.  Hey, in retirement there’s no time pressure!
The results have been very gratifying.  And, I’ve noticed a change in my perspective about things.  A couple of weeks after washing all the windows, while the glow of satisfaction from the noticeable difference was still fresh, I fussed to Carol about some spatter on the pane above the kitchen sink.  I grabbed a paper towel and polished the surface clean. 
Then, a week or so after the last carpet had been scrubbed and steam-cleaned, we both came inside from some yard work.  I slipped out of my shoes and looked critically at Carol as she wiped hers and started to walk into the house with them on.  Noticing my look, she paused, nodded, and said, “Makes a difference when YOU’VE been doing the cleaning, doesn’t it.”
As she turned back to slip her shoes off, I swear I distinctly heard her eyes roll.  Followed by that familiar three-tone tune from the TV network.
Perspective!  I think I'll skip that essay.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A golf rant

I don't rant all that often.  My outlook is generally pretty positive (I always say MY glass is 3/4 full!), or at worst I adopt a "live and let live" attitude.  You know: kinda like, "If that's the way you feel, I respect it but choose to disagree."  And I'll usually state my reasons in a nonconfrontational way.

But not today.

I enjoy golf.  I like it best when I can walk all 18 holes.  No, I don't carry my clubs; that's what those wheeled carts are for -- especially for us retired seniors!  Carol and I will typically walk and play 18 holes in 3 to3 1/2 hours.  On a cool, brisk autumn day we've done it in 2 1/2 with no reall effort to hurry.  The exercise is good for us, and the game is more fun.  But sure, when we're playing a hilly course or it gets much over 90 degrees, we ride.

There is no reason why a round of golf should drag on past 3 1/2 hours!  Even for a foursome walking.  And especially not for a foursome riding in carts, which get you to your ball a lot faster than walking.  So why have our recent rounds taken 4 1/2 hours?

*sigh*  I guess it's because all those foursomes riding in carts are really out on the course to socialize, talk trash, bet on their round and drink beer.  Mostly drink beer.  And that's fine!  Just do all that in 3 1/2 hours, not 4-5!  Or let me and Carol play through!

Why do I care?  Because every minute past 3 1/2 hours is a minute I'm standing and waiting, not sitting on a cushioned cart seat.  Standing and waiting gets tiring, so I'll walk around a bit to find some shade, or take practice swings, or watch the wildlife.  But after a while I begin to focus so much on how much time we're wasting that I lose focus on the golf swing.  I start to play poorly.  I get disgusted and walk in, put our clubs in the car and go home.

That's what happened both yesterday and today.  Yesterday was worse because the starter had joined us up with three other walkers to make us a fivesome.  Soon we were holding up groups behind and Carol and I were chafing to get moving.  We should have been rude, told the three we had someplace we needed to be soon, and left them behind.  We resolved that, rude or not, that's what we'll do if in that situation again.

 I compare slow play to driving on a curvy, hilly two-lane road behind a vehicle going 25 mph under the speed limit, but with no way to pass, and you've got 50 miles to your destination.  Tell me that wouldn't frustrate you!

Hence my rant.  I feel better.  Thanks for listening.