Thursday, October 31, 2013

Red Sox give us a great ending to a great season

We slept a little later this Thursday morning.  There was a baseball game on the television last night that sort of kept us up a few minutes later than our normal bedtime.  It was worth it.

The Boston Red Sox won the 2013 World Series.

Because my wife has to go to work early on her work days and because I've gotten into the habit of going to my senior fitness days at the early hour on her non-work days, I've got to bed nights of Sox Series games close to my normal hour.

I did see all the fun plays, like the obstruction call on the Red Sox, and the pick-off play to end one of the games, on the highlight films the next morning. 

But last night was different.  It had the chance to do exactly what it did:  The Sox won their fourth game and thus the World Series Championship.  And it wasn't even close.  On the home front, the pieces also came together to let me do it.  Thursday is one of the days my wife doesn't have to go to work and my visits to the senior fitness center are optional.  So I stayed up those few extra minutes.

Even our dog Mariah, who honestly believes it is her sole duty around here to be sure her 'mommy" is up in time in the morning, understood today was different.  We slept late, for us, this morning.  I have taken a day off my senior fitness session.  And Mariah never moved to wake up my wife.

Thank you, Boston Red Sox, for making this a memorable season.  After all, last year they were the worst team in Major League Baseball.  They had a manager that no one liked and a few players that thought they were above the team.  Three of those players were dumped during last season and others departed during the winter.  The manager was shown the door.

A whole lot of team players joined the remaining ones and the season was dedicated to once again become an adhesive, winning team.  The also wanted to give Boston something to be proud of after the terror bombing shortly after the baseball season began.  That goal was another success.

So, congratulations to the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox and thank you for giving us an exciting season.


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Heading into a busy season

We're heading for the end of another month as October draws to a close this week.  October in the GiM swamp has been rather uneventful.  We're looking forward now to the beginning of the exciting season. 
The last two months of the year include among other things the creation of our seasonal village, Christmas Village 2013, my wife's and my 52nd wedding anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve.
That last one is probably the one that just passes here as we have reached an age where just staying home marks our yearly changeover.  I probably should include this Thursday's Halloween in the list, but, like The Eve, we don't do anything exciting except pass out some treats to the one or two kiddies that visit our house.
We did have visitors over weekend.  Our daughter and her puppy Brandy came over to visit us and help with a couple of chores we needed help with.  I had thought we finished our year's vegetable garden activities two or three weeks ago, but I had forgotten the potatoes.  Our potato beds were dug up Sunday.  It was a poor crop.  In fact, this may have been one of the least exciting vegetable garden years we've had.
A couple pieces of furniture were also swapped around as we brought my stationary bicycle into our TV room.   I might get more use of it this winter as I will be able to watch TV while riding it.  We'll see if it gets more use or not.
I won't go into my feelings for my camera again, but the 25 or 30 pictures I took remain a mystery.  This one

is alone in worth sharing with you.  I realize how confusing two dogs can be so I'll tell you that Daughter's puppy Brandy is one the left while our Golden Mariah is on the right.  Hope that helped.  The dogs were asking to come in and join us on our breezeway.  They had worked very hard helping us with the potatoes.

I hope you have a great week.  One good thing about the last week of the month is the last Wednesday of the month, the day a bunch of us retirees, all of whom "graduated" from our jobs from the same place in the 1990s.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Still wanting a new camera. . .or do I?

One of the problems of posting periodically rather than regularly is including dated information.  Thus my problems this day.  I had planned to use the space to simply share the doings of a pair of great Golden Retrievers, one 10 years old and the other heading into her fourth month.  They are cute together even though the older one tries mostly to be tolerant while the puppy just wants to play with that big dog.

Unfortunately for me, my camera is about the worst one I've ever had and it doesn't have a view finder.  The screen one must use to find a picture is all but totally useless if there's any level of sun.  The auto focus camera also doesn't seem to take very crisp, sharp pictures.  I don't have any new ones for today.

Every time I break out the camera, I'm reminded of a Minolta reflex camera I use to have.  In fairness to the current one, one of the lenses alone on the old Minolta was more expensive than the simple camera I now have.  I lost the Minolta out in Oregon several years ago.  I had done a stupid thing that I knew better than doing.  I left the system in the trunk of my car while our son's wife drove us to where he was working.

When we got back to the motel, something didn't look quite right on my car.  Something wasn't.  A person or persons unknown was looking for easy pickings and discovered my car parked in the motel parking lot.  I guess people who have tendencies to do such things can easily get into a locked car.  I no longer have my camera and several lenses.

That camera would be virtually useless today as it required film.  In this digital age, finding film might be a task.  Getting it developed might be even more of a problem.  I've thought many times that those potential problems might be easier than the frustration of a really inexpensive digital point-and-shoot camera.  Of course, point-and-shoot cameras might work better if one could see at what it was being pointed.

At my age and with other "toys" being more important now, I haven't been able to bring myself to buy a good digital camera.  But I get closer every time I try to take a good picture with my current one.

I had dated my last posting by pointing out the World Series started Wednesday.  It started with a bang.  There were two plays in that game that really caught my attention.  Since I'm a former umpire, I pay special attention to the calls.  I don't usually say unkind things about umpires less I open myself up to hypocrisy charges but a bad call at second base wasn't even close.  Even I couldn't have missed the call.  It was in the first inning and set a tone.  On the front end of a probable double play, the umpire ruled a dropped ball was during the transfer from catch to throw.  Later discussions, and the replay, ruled it correctly that the fielder never even caught the ball and the out was reversed.  The Sox went on to score three runs.

The other one wasn't an ump's call, but rather a fielding lapse one just "never" sees in a pro game.  A very high pop up near the pitcher's mound had the pitcher calling off the other fielders to catch it.  The catcher ran out to catch it.  The catcher saw the pitcher's signal and the pitcher saw the approaching catcher.  Generally, pitchers in the majors don't catch pop ups so the pitcher apparently thought the catcher would get it.  Well, the ball was so high the two players came together and stood their a few feet in front of the rubber about a foot apart.  Both watched the ball coming down.  A viewer could see the men's eyes following the ball all the way down...right to the ground.  Neither made a move to catch it.  The Sox scored two more runs that inning.

And the World Series continues.

See?  Nothing to write about today.  We'll try again this weekend.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

It's Planning Time

Our daughter's growing puppy did visit us recently, but there were no real new picture opportunities involving our dog and the pup.  That simply means another week without pictures.

It's hard to believe the countdown to our annual winter Village, which we call the Christmas Village, has begun.  We had our first planning discussion over the weekend and generally decided to keep it pretty much the same as it has been for the last couple of years.  We'll have village construction behind the two wings of our couch, on the shelf in front of the picture window, and a main larger display in one corner of the room.

Of course we will arrange the pieces a little differently.  One area of discussion is incorporating some larger pieces this year, possibly in an area of their own.  The room's corner where we usually have our signature was Kensington Palace last year...might be made into the large piece section being discussed.

Why planning now?  Well, our anniversary is now just about three weeks away as is Veteran's Day, the day we traditionally start our project.  We try, and do succeed, each year of completing the display and lighting it Thanksgiving weekend.  It remains a prominent part of our season until shortly after Labor Day.  Since Veteran's Day, Nov. 11th, is on a Monday this year, we probably will begin the preceding Saturday.

We'll keep you posted, probably with pictures, once we get underway.

It was quite a time for the Red Sox over the weekend as they won the outright championship of the American League by beating Detroit four games to two last week.  The St. Louis Cardinals won the National League title and the two teams begin the 2013 World Series Wednesday night in Boston.  Boston got the home field advantage because the American League All-Stars beat the National League Stars last summer.

It's probably more common than an oddity, but this is the first year I've followed the standings as closely as I did this year.  Nevertheless, I can't remember when the two best teams in baseball by way of their league championships go into the World Series, where both belong, with their respective league's best won lost records that were identical.  On paper that should give us a fantastic World Series.

I'm not too excited this year about the Patriots.  Bill Bellichick allowed too many of his stars to get away, probably by design, over the spring and summer and now the team is paying for it.  They really aren't fun to watch this year.

There's one other team I usually follow very closely this time of year; but, like the Patriots, they aren't very exciting this year, either.  A different reason has led my college team, the Gators, naturally, to mediocrity.  They've been without a quality coaching staff for three years and now recently dropped out of the elite of college football.  Their present coach simply needs to find a new job somewhere else.

Perhaps The Kid will bring her puppy over one day this weekend as she likes to use our big yard to run the dog and I can find some new picture opportunities for another time. 


Thursday, October 17, 2013

A New T-Shirt

I have a new T-Shirt.  It is marked with the logo and company information of Saco Bay Physical Therapy and M.O.G. (medically orientated gym).  I earned it by completing six strenuous weeks of physical therapy on my shoulder.  I'm hoping the work will allow me to avoid a potential shoulder transplant.

I won't go into all the details of the therapy but one therapist examined my shoulder and gave me some tests to prepare a program of therapy for me.  My shoulder doctor had told him what the problem was and specific areas he wanted improved in the prescription for the service.  This therapist was the main one in a group of four which included one student.  Although each followed the plan directly, each had his/her own way of accomplishing the various tasks so I was introduced to a lot of variety in exercises.  I rotated among the group as one person was responsible each session.

I'm very happy to be able to say they gave me great praise for my work and my final tests results far exceeded the goals established for me.  As a result, I have a new t-shirt.

If you ever need physical therapy, there's not a better place than Saco Bay (  Everyone there from the front office welcomers to the staff performing the work were nothing but super, friendly, encouraging people. 

I didn't plan to return to politics in these ramblings, but events have caused me to just wander a little bit. 

First, the rollout of Affordable Health Care commonly called Obamacare, which certainly isn't affordable and will cause massive increases in the cost of health care, is now open for business.  By next March everyone in America by law must prove they have health insurance or face a fine (called fees) and the government opened a web site where Americans who do not have their own coverage can sign up for one of three plans. 

That web site hasn't made it too easy to sign up, though, as it has crashed several times and has caused many very long waits for users.  I would observe that this beginning doesn't give too much confidence of the greatness of this government health.  Just wait until you need some service!

To show you just one reason why the cost of health care is going to go out of sight, the government paid more than 292 million dollars as of Saturday for the website.  And that's just one example of where we're heading.  Getting service doesn't even start until January.  It'll be interesting to see how much that will cost us over original estimates and how long the waiting periods will be.  What a disaster!

Finally today, does anyone really believe the "deal" to keep government open and bills paid for the next three months has solved the budget/debt problem in Washington?  Did anyone not know a "deal" would be reached on the deadline eve?  Nothing has changed.  The debt will grow to more than 17 trillion dollars.  The cause of the debt, which includes the growing Obamacare costs, has not been resolved.  We're told a Congressional committee will meet to resolve a budget before January 15th.  Do you believe it will be resolved?  Let's see...I have this bridge . . .

I sure do wish I could run my household budget the way the government runs its.  Unfortunately, when I overspend, I have to make cuts elsewhere to make up what I have coming in.  The federal government just borrows more money which we, you and I, must pay back.  Our congress critters, who generally go to Washington as normal, sometimes even poor people leave the Capital as millionaires.  They have no incentive to make any changes.  Once there, it seems almost impossible to get rid of them.

We sit around complaining and moaning about them and then check off their names again at their next election. 

It's not going to change as a result of this deal.

I'll climb back down my soap box.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Just "stuff"

I haven't had an opportunity to take any new pup pictures this week.  Perhaps I'll get some this weekend when our daughter brings her new puppy to visit our Golden Retriever.  So, as of right now no new pictures, or old ones for that matter, are included here.

It also means I don't have a whole lot to discuss as this year continues to be just about as quiet as a year can be.

I'll bet just about everyone today who has private e-mail accounts, or probably business ones, too, get a whole lot of forwarded messages.  Such messages are, of course, sent all around the country and world from just about everyone sending jokes, pictures, political comments, family stuff, etc., to friends and acquaintances.

There's one I've received from a couple of friends and have seen it on at least two of my friend's Facebook pages that intrigue me.  It is a picture of a whole bunch of grazing baboons.  The headline over the picture says something like, "Do you know what a large group of baboons is called?"  It shows the picture and the answer.  "A whole bunch of baboons is called a congress.  Fitting isn't it?"

Four years ago I had a very intelligent assisting device called an ICD implanted in my chest  It is a combination heart pacemaker and defibrillator and continually monitors my heart to make sure it's working properly.  One time last January it actually saved my life when my heart began beating at over 270 beats a minute.  I really like that device.

My Fearless Friend had one implanted last year, but as far as I know, it hasn't yet been a factor in a life threatening situation.  So, why then do I mention these devices? 

The device comes with a monitor that records all the day's heart activities each night while we're sleeping.  We don't have to connect the two parts as that communication is done via radio waves. Once every three months I have to hold a unit over my heart for a final quarterly reading and then by telephone and modem call the company that provides them to send a report of my activity.  That company simply sends the information to my cardiologist who then reports the results to me.

My friend, though, doesn't do a darn thing as the company calls his monitor in the middle of a scheduled night and simply retrieves the information to send to his doctor.  He doesn't even know it's happening.  Earlier this month I asked my cardiologist's technician why I had to initiate a telephone call, sit there and listen to the squawks and squeals of the telephone modem while the information is being collected and transmitted.

"You don't," he said simply.  Your device will work just like your friend's.  So earlier this week my tech guy had scheduled a reading.  I got a letter telling me of the date but the letter said I didn't have to do anything except be sure the monitor was on and near my bed.  It always is, so that wasn't a problem.

But how, I asked FF, does it work?  He ad libbed some convoluted answer as if he really knew.  My real concern was how he, and now I, slept through all that modem noise.  (If you have been into computing since the early days when the Internet could only be accessed via a telephone, you'll know what I mean about the squawking.)

Well that first night, I didn't sleep through it.  I didn't sleep.  I kept waiting to hear the squawk of Medtronics calling my unit and getting the information.  My friend had told me there was no noise, but I guess I couldn't believe it as surely something connected to a "land line" had to make the noise it has been making ever since 2009. 

FF wasn't putting me on.  All night long, no squawking.  No squealing.  Not even a click.  An orange light on the monitor that always told me it was working during a transmission didn't blink.  When I got up the next morning, I knew it had failed.  I went to the Medtronics' site and into my patient section where a message was awaiting telling me the transmission had been successful. 

The next day I was notified by my doctor's office that all my readings were well within specified limits.

Next time, I'll just go to sleep on the appointed night and trust the thing to do its job.


Friday, October 4, 2013

Leaf Peeping

My wife Sandra and I took our annual leaf peeping trip and, as usual, it was early in October.  We found a reasonably good mix of peak leaf changes and some that had already passed peak.  For the most part, the changes in Western Maine and Northern New Hampshire didn't disappoint us.

For the first time, though, I saw for myself why folk who live in the affected areas complain about the introduction of wind mills to the Maine mountains.  "Oh!  Look!" I said as we drove along one of my favorite leaf peeping routes, Maine 17 between Mexico and Rangeley.  I didn't count them, but there must have been 7 to 10 of them slowly spinning their huge blades.

These are just two of the several wind mills along a ridge on the
nearby mountain.  Many of them were much higher than these.
Nevertheless, the once beautiful sight along the route is now
dominated by the whirling dervishes.
Our first reaction was that they certainly didn't look too bad sitting up there and we couldn't hear any of the noise that local residents complain about.  But they did dominate the view.  Perhaps if we lived on that road, or others with that white spinning picture, we would have felt differently.  As we drove past a beautifully kept home facing the mountains, I began to understand at least one of the objections. 

The hard work the family, and many others along the route, had done to get the magnificent view of the mountains was now diminished by having to constantly look at those towering wind mills.  Of course I don't live there and we didn't stop to talk about them with anyone since this was a just a pleasure trip and not one for research, so there is always the possibility I'm wrong and the the electricity producers were providing money to lower taxes.  From all I've read, I doubt they were lowering the cost of electricity.

I would not want a wind mill farm in my neighborhood.

There was another topic which caused me to do some thinking, too.  I never realized the cost of gasoline was so wide spread in Maine.  We saw gas stations selling gas ranging in price from a three dollars 30.9 cents a gallon to three dollars 99.9 cents.  That makes no sense, thought I.  In one town, South Paris I think, the prices ranged in a two or three block section of Route 26 from the low of $3.309 to $3.959.  That last one was at one of the largest, if not the largest, distributor in Maine.

The highest, though, was just a tenth of a cent below four dollars in or near Canton, a town between Turner and Mexico.

Those prices got me to thinking about the prices just in Greater Portland which vary widely from station to station.  What it all said to me was, "This confirms what we all know and have suspected for years, the price of gasoline is purely artificial."  But then again, what prices aren't?

I'm just a simple consumer and don't give a tinker's whistle about all the excuses.  My only concern is how much I have to pay.  Ask any gas person why the prices are so darn high or why there's so much variation between them, and they'll tell you about the many variables that go into pricing.  They love those variables because they can be set at whatever they want.  In the end, they'd have a hard time convincing me the high prices are necessary except to line some pockets.

And why are the prices so much lower in York and other counties than they are in Cumberland?  One very visible company has different prices at several stations in just a short distance between Portland and Biddeford.  Guess where the highest ones are.

Back to leaf peeping:  It's getting late and the change to dull is already prominent in many places.  If you're a leaf peeper, time is running out for the best colors.