Friday, December 19, 2014

Mom and Dealing With Scammers

Stumpy is again on my lap as I try to type. He gets so relaxed he will drool resulting in my sweats getting wet!
The 17th was the 20th anniversary of my mom’s death. We had such a strong bond. There is so much research now on how the early maternal bonding and body contact can shape personality. In hindsight 60+ years later it all falls into place.
In the 1950’s most babies were fed a milk formula. It was pretty much a given. The particular formula I was on changed its manufacturing process which resulted in a severe vitamin b deficiency for me. Old time neighbors told me growing up how they remembered my mother holding me in the old rocking chair trying to get me take the formula that was making me sick, crying and fussing for hours on end. Things were eventually worked out health wise and an unbreakable bond was formed between mother and son.
Looking back to the night mom died it is ironic how the tables were turned. Mom had bone cancer. There was no hope for remission. She wanted no heroic or life saving measures taken to prolong her life. In the afternoon she drifted out of the morphine sleep in great pain well before it was time for her next dose. Her doctor gave the nurse on duty the order for the final dose of morphine.
A few hours later mom’s breathing grew ragged as her lungs filled with fluid. I held her hand as the life passed from her body and the pain left her face. I’m so grateful I was able to repay the debt to the woman who brought me into the world, by easing her into death peacefully with dignity and grace.
I miss mom, but I don’t mourn her death. She lived life on her terms and she was prepared for her death. It is a journey each of us will make. I’ll never forget Joe telling me how one of mom’s physicians told him my mother was one of the bravest people he had ever met in how she faced her eminent dying.
Mom and me:
I don’t want to get morbid and sad. Mom would not want that!
I’m laughing at myself from the last entry in how I blasted conspicuous consumption and then finished off the entry bragging over my new $40.00 computer sound system!! LOL!! I guess it was a Freudian slip!
I was writing out the last of my Christmas cards in the early evening. Stumpy decided to come in and join me. I was at the dining room table with Pandora playing in the background on the laptop. Stumpy was on my lap for a while and then went to the table top. He curled up in the shipping box I use to store my cards and went to sleep.
Stumpy at Peace:
It turned into one of those “magic nights” when that peaceful feeling of pure joy occurs. It is not something you can plan. It just happens. I was writing to long time friends, the house was toasty and warm as the sun set. Stumpy was contented, and garlic shrimp & pasta was on the menu for supper.
I took the laptop to the kitchen for a break from having to listen to the radio news. I like to have some background noise going when I cook. I was thrilled to find a new You tube on messing with scammers. The guys who post these are brilliant. I use their material all the time.
As a matter of fact, I just began typing this entry out and got a scam call from the “medic alert” people. They read on and on from these scripts for minutes on end. I just say “Uh-hu” every now and then when I can tell there is a silence from the phone I’ve laid on the desk.
When it sounds like they are going in for the kill I’ll pick up the phone and say:
Jamie: O.K just mail me my free electronic equipment.
Scammer: I can’t send it out until you authorize starting up the monitoring service at $29.95 a month.
Jamie: I don’t want any of that monitoring stuff; I just want that free equipment you promised. I’m into electronics and I can use those components in my projects. 
Scammer: That equipment is not free, it is of no charge to you.
Jamie: If it is no charge to me, then it is free right? Just send me my stuff.
This reasoning drives these people crazy!! At this point I can really stretch it out going around in circles, or they will hang up on me. I love it when I can hear the exasperation in their voices and audible gasps. Just typing this out has me laughing!!
Playing on the telemarketers is my way of making lemonade out of lemons I guess.
A bonus!! I was uploading pictures for the entry to my Photobucket account when the phone rang again. It was the home security people.
HSP:  Are you interested in upgrading your home security system?
Jamie: No, you were so nice to call me. Nobody ever calls me. I’m so lonely….
HSP:  silence…..
Jamie: It’s Christmas and I’m so lonely… will you call me again tomorrow????
Click….Dial tone……

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Letter from the Past

It sounds like ancient history now to speak of AOL Chat rooms. I have not been on AOL since losing the cheap $3.00 a month dial up connection which was a company benefit. That was about 10 years ago.
Morning Kawfee was a favourite AOL room of mine to visit. It was not a pick up sex room as most of those old AOL rooms were. Instead, it was older guys dishing and communicating in the pre-facebook/twitter era. The chats that transpired back in the day.
It was in the late 1990’s; Jon from the room sent me this hysterical XMAS vanity letter. I’ve sent this to more friends over the years. I had to change a date or two, but it really is timeless.

Dear Friends:

What a wonderful year we have had!  Bob was named Vice President of the bank, so we celebrated by buying a MERCEDES and taking a trip to the ORIENT.  In addition to his Boy Scout work, Bob served as Chairman of the United Fund Drive. He is still on the hospital board and President of Kiwanis.  Just for kicks, he played the lead in the Little Theater production last June, and everyone said he was better than the star that did it on Broadway.  His first love however is still conservation, and he continues to work hard as Chairman of the committee to Fight Dutch Elm Disease.

After completing my term as Junior League President, I swore I would take life easy, but it seems I am more involved than ever.  I accepted the Vice Presidency of the Garden Club and am still very active in the DAR.  Our church organist became ill and they asked me to substitute, so I accepted.  I ran the rummage sale again this year and managed to take a course in flower arranging and cake decorating.

Little Latwanda was elected class president and won letters in volleyball and basketball.  She is on the all-state debate team and placed second in the National Oratory contest last May.  She has already been accepted by Harvard.  She has sure grown the last few years and has turned out to be a gorgeous young lady.  We are very proud of her and her dedication for work with the Homeless Shelter at the same time tutoring young people and attending finishing school.  Of course for Christmas she has asked for a new Corvette but we are hesitant to give her everything she wants so we bought her a 2012.

In early October we lost Bob's mother.  For the last 5 days of her life I set with her never leaving her side and controlling her visitors and working closely getting her affairs in order.  Being appointed her Power of Attorney is sure a Godsend and makes things so much easier.  Well after 5 days she passed away and boy did Bob get a surprise when her will was read.  We got EVERYTHING but I did give my sister in law a real nice cabinet that sits above the toilet and that nice set of Melmac which did include the sugar and creamer.  I thought that was fair enough.  You know me; I like to keep harmony in the family.  I had to laugh, Bob said we should just invest all the money we inherited and just live on the interest.

Well I hope you all have a wonderful Holiday and a great 2015.  We leave in January for a 6 week well earned vacation in Europe.


PS  - Crazy me. I forgot to ask how your year went.  Keep in touch but don't call until we return from Europe because I am sure I will have lots of stories to relate to you since you have never traveled abroad.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Postcard From the Past

It will pretty much take a journal entry to explain this picture. This photo was taken at my Lockport house Christmas Eve 1995.
The “postcards” we are all holding have a picture of a man and woman dressed in harlequin outfits.
This picture was taken at the 1995 annual meeting of the Musical Box Society. The meeting favor that year was a musical photo album. Pictures were taken as you entered the banquet. They were quickly developed to be available after the banquet and entertainment.
As fate would have it, my good friend Leroy was seated behind this couple when the entertainment commenced after the banquet. Leroy kindly asked this lady to remove her headpiece so he and the people behind would view the stage. This woman got very irate and told Leroy that she thought it would be best if he moved!
I have never seen Leroy so mad. Billy had to use the restroom. He had a grin as he returned. The pictures had been arranged on a table to be picked up as you exited the banquet room. He took one of the two photos of the offending couple to sneak into Leroy’s photo album, which we were able to do.
I admit that when it was time to get the pictures I slid the other picture of this couple between the table and wall so it was out of sight. When no one was looking, it left with me.
Now a bit of background on Leroy: Leroy’s family ran the most prestigious clothing store and was a respected businessman in his town. Over the years he had been the recipient of many postcards from billy and I when we would be on road trips to phonograph shows.
It is a known fact postcards are widely read in the post offices. My good friend Karen had an aunt who worked in the post office. She would relate with glee how much the sorting staff enjoyed the cards I used to send her!! One year for XMAS Karen’s mother gave me a box of envelopes!
Now I have to Segway to Judy. He was the first of my friends to be on the cutting edge of computers. Judy had one of the first scanners. It is hard to imagine only some 20 years ago something as mundane as a computer scanner could be considered exotic.
Judy scanned this picture so it could be printed on heavy card stock with the picture on the front and Leroy’s store address printed on the back.
I would stamp these cards and pass them out to friends so they could drop Leroy a note!
If you look closely at the picture, you can just barely make out printing…. This is advertising for Leroy’s clothing store!
We had more fun writing notes to Leroy. Poor Leroy would run to intercept the mail before his brother at the store could find these! The mailman told Leroy, “You sure have interesting friends!”
We all sent Leroy postcards that XMAS Eve.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

Edicraft Waffle Baker, Facebook, Erging

Wednesday was “Waffle Day”. It has been a while since I’ve indulged in this treat. The batter was made up and left to rest for ½ hour to rise. Then the 1930 Edicraft waffle baker was turned on. This appliance was sheer luxury in the depths of the depression. This sold for some $30.00 back then. I believe this line went out of production in 1933. Because of this, they rarely turn up. This waffle baker was a lucky E-Bay purchase foe me when I lived in Bowling Green. This is so well built and engineered; it will still be in use long after I’m gone. When the silver dot is centered you are ready to pour the batter.
Centered silver dot:

Finished “Art Deco” waffle:

I ate two of these glorious waffles slathered in real butter and drown in real warmed up maple syrup. What a way to start the day!
You have to be able to laugh at yourself. Wednesday I posted a plea to my Facebook friends for a source of a “Charlie Brown XMAS Tree” in Tuscaloosa County. I need such a scraggly tree to allow me to use my candles to light the tree, a practice I’ve done since my first tree in 1976. For the first time in a decade I’m contemplating putting a tree up.
That simple posting went crazy! The comments left were hysterical and still have me laughing!
First my good friend David from Watchmaking school posted:
Fine, just don’t use real candles unless you check your fire extinguisher and make it your best friend. Careful Brew.
To which Ray posted:
Don’t worry… it’s not his first time at the 1890 rodeo
I posted back:
Ray… I’ve been laughing since scanning that old picture. There is a tape loop of Ron’s voice playing in my head, “That damn Jimmy, he has those god damn gas lights going and now he’s lighting the candles on the tree… his house is going to burn down and the insurance will not pay it off and all he does is laugh!!”
My old partner from work, Mel does not hold back. He posted:
Ron was right put those Fucking candles back in the box in the back of your thought less mind. Not for your safety but for Stumpies safety. If there’s a fire smoke alarms go off stumpy will run under the bed. Stumpy gets hurt you know Ron will wait and then you will pay
My great friend Karen came to my assistance with:
He’s been doing his tree light this for over 30 years!!! I think he knows what he is doing, it’s not like he leaves the tree lit unattended or for hours. You go Lash
Mel came back with the classic comment on the thread which has had me giggling since reading it:
Yes but thirty years ago he was younger. Now he collects SS belongs to AARP falls asleep in his chair forgets what he’s making for supper and stands by the bus sign in his yard waiting for the bus to buffalo and can’t understand way the train does not blow its whistle when it goes through his back yard pass the whistle sign.
This is the type interaction I’m so thankful for on the internets. Being able to instantly interact with my friends and family all over the globe is still such a miracle to me.
I sent my sister friend Ray a copy of my last journal entry in which I contemplated transcribing my paper journals from the 80’s and 90’s. He replied with the most beautiful note: As you create this public journal, you will relive the happy times, but also, unfortunately, the most painful. Just like your love of rowing….. It’s an exercise, looking backwards, facing your friends. Painful in the process, but with the rewards of both accomplishment and a stronger heart….. I love you too
It is these friends who helped to get me out of my depression from World AIDS Day.
We have been enjoying a string of warm days which has allowed me to pretty much finish up the outside painting on the eastern side of the house. The inside of the house has been a disaster as I’ve been concentrating my energies to the much needed outside work. Hopefully I’ll have the open projects wrapped up in a few days.
Stumpy has been the biggest help. Don’t report my scaffolding to OSHA!!!!

The Concept 2 Holiday Challenge is on again. Between Thanksgiving and XMAS the meters you erg count for charity and a pin! My poor butt. I’ve erged every day since Friday and have accumulated 60,000+ meters. Once I break the 100,000 mark I earn money for my chosen charity to the tune of .02¢ per kilometer!
I “crew out” with a virtual team which keeps track of my meters. I drive them crazy with the different numbers I end up with. Now I’m up to my 4’s meaning I will erg 11,444 meters today. Tomorrow it will be 5’s, and so on. After I get to 9’s I will do a ½ marathon row which is 21,075 meters. It is madness, but I enjoy it!!!
Once I break the 200,000 mark the amount per kilometer doubles and I qualify for a pin! I’m going for pin #6 this season!
Last night was one of those magic nights. The moon was almost full, way high in the sky. It was warm enough to be comfortable outside in just sweats. I lit the torches in the back yard, brought out the laptop which was playing my favourite Pandora station, and settled in the deck chair with a glass of wine. It did not take long for my Stumpy to join me.
In the past it was Dagney claimed my lap while Stumpy was actively on the prowl for bugs and shadows. Now Stump has discovered the comfort of curling up with me.
The deep sleep of a cat is such magic. Stumpy’s purring faded out as he was transported into his deep sleep. Then the twitches started as he chased birds and mice in his dreams. It has been a long time since I’ve felt such happiness and contentment as last evening on the back patio.
Once I post this I’ll head to the “Y” for my erging so to not break up the afternoon. The other day I read a great comment on line where by a doctor told a rower he only had five minutes to left to live. The rower replied, “Great, I’ll just go on the Concept 2 …. That machine stretches out the minutes into days!”

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Motel 6 Bait and Switch

It has been a nearly a week since I headed on the road and had no internet access. Well, I could have accessed the Web at the Hampton Inn, but I changed so many of my passwords I had no idea which sites and passwords matched up anymore.
Before I do much of writing I need to document and fact check what occurred Sunday night. I vividly remember the few episodes I viewed of “Pee Wee’s Playhouse” from too many years ago. Pee Wee had pissed off “Miss Yvonne” who came storming up to him exclaiming, “I’ve got a bone to pick with you, PEE WEE HERMAN!!!”
This is Jamie saying, “I’ve got a bone to pick with you… MOTEL SIX!!”
I’ve been doing road trips since the 1970’s and know how things work. If there has been one constant over the years it is: when you stay at Motel 6, the price emblazoned on the outside sign is the room rate for one person with an add on for each additional person.
Many motel chains will have teaser rates with asterisks on their billboards along the highway or add “and up” after the low teaser rates so they don’t have to honor the low advertised price. I believe the proper term for this is “Bait and switch”. In all the years I’ve travelled and stayed at Motel Six, the price on the outside sign is the price I’ve paid for the room. That is until this past Sunday night.
Billy and I packed up and left the phonograph show at just about 3:00 p.m. Sunday afternoon. The construction and traffic on the I-90 west of Chicago was horrible. Last year we took I-90 through Chicago to see if that would be any easier from all the toll pull-offs etc on the by-pass. Let me just say it was a disaster. Never again! This year we by-passed Chicago by taking our usual route of: 290 to 294 to 80 to 65 south.
We lost an hour going back to the Eastern time zone.
Our stop for the night is usually the Motel Six in Lafayette, IN. This location is perfect for us timewise. It is some 500 miles to Tuscaloosa from here. We have stayed here for many years without incident…that is until now.
When Billy and I checked in Billy put the charge on his American Express, and showed his AARP card for the senior discount. We were both numb from the drive. On top of the horrendous Chicago traffic, there were a couple downpours and accidents to contend with. Every year my road trips to and from Chicago get to be more draining!
Anyway… the desk clerk at the Motel Six was not that competent. There were shady characters in and out of the lobby the entire time we checked in. We were given a room with two beds located in the back of the building. Bill left his vehicle packed with valuable show merchandise parked in front. We drove to the room in my truck. My stomach knotted up. It was like being “in the hood”. All these room doors were open, trash was everywhere, beer coolers, questionable people strolling around-hanging out and smoking. They always say to go with your gut instinct. Billy went to change rooms before we headed to the Outback for supper. This one guy was sprawled out on one of the Lobby chairs chatting up the desk clerk while another lady was crying and weeping with her drama. Bill said he needed to change rooms and would check back after we ate.
At the Outback we went over the bill. The final total was some $62.00. That seemed kind of high with a base rate of $39.99. On the bill we were charged $55.99 for two adults, and the AARP discount was never applied!
We returned to the Motel Six to change rooms. We had not used anything in the old “ghetto room”. I made sure all was in order and moved out my bags back to my truck. I parked in front next to Billy and waited for the outcome.
We were changed to front second story room. Billy was given a number of reasons as to why the $39.99 posted price was not honored:
  1. The motel was booked solid. This was hard to believe as the parking lot was pretty empty. The number of available rooms signaled by half open curtains was pretty high.
  2. Only the “old style” rooms with carpets were at that price. We were paying extra to stay in a “Euro Vision” room.
A new key was made up for the different room. Billy went up and it would not work. Returning to the office this clerk cut another key and went with Billy to check things out. She had the old key and said, “You have to shake these things to get them to work.” The old door key would not work for her. The new one did. This poor clerk was upset when Billy said we were going to contact corporate headquarters. I felt sorry for her as she was only trying to do her job as best she could in a miserable place.
Monday morning we were awakened at 5:30 by construction work going on in the next room. What a nightmare this ordeal turned out to be.
I did a quick survey of the grounds to get pictures for document of the signage, and empty parking lot. Two “questionable guys” were hovering in the stairwells doing God knows what.
We go to check out. The stench of incense was overpowering in the lobby. I’m assuming the Motel manager is now on duty. This woman was not very friendly. I’m guessing she got an earful from the night clerk.
She questioned about what was wrong with our first room. Billy replied, “We did not want to stay in the ghetto.” The look on this woman’s face was priceless. I don’t think she was accustomed to such bluntness. I’m assuming the state might be paying Motel Six to house homeless people here. There is an attitude I’ve witnessed in major cities of the homeless and what we witnessed the night before fit the stereotype perfectly. When asked about the bill she pointed to the sign on the wall showing the base rate was $49.99 for one person, $55.99 for two. I took a photograph of this sign to compare and contrast to the outside sign. 
I questioned her as to why the outside sign had $39.99 posted as the room rate. She replied, “That is only for walk-in’s.” When I said, “That is what we were…we were “walk-in’s.” She then pointed to the sign and said, “$55.99 is the rate for two people.” It was evident there was no reasoning. This woman said she was a franchisee of Motel Six so she was pretty much in charge. That might be true, but to pull people in with a fraudulent posted rate is crooked in my book. If the sign was $49.99 I would have no gripe.
It is not the money; it is the “bait and switch” practice. Motel Six Corporate will be hearing from me, as will the attorney generals office of Indiana.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Second Floor Do-Over / Spring Brick Swap

I’m so far behind in my journal. In a way this is good as it is evidence that I have so many things to do the time to leisurely write is not there!
I have been going full speed ahead to get the worst of the upstairs done. There is a lot of fine tuning that is in the future, but I think I’m safe to say over 50% of this years redo is complete.
Last week I finished up the window rebuilding, drywall work and painting in the dormer. It was hot which made for uncomfortable working conditions. The space is so cramped I had to wear my kneepads pretty much the entire time. The sweating caused friction between my kneecaps and the gell pads. All I could say was “Ouch!” to the chaffed, raw skin. As I was washing up the floor I tried to remember the last time did up such a cleaning…. My mind was a blank! The one dark board is where I had to rip up a board from the floor to run the gas line across to the dining room!
Early Friday morning I took off for the brick swap in Emory, VA. I remembered it being a lot closer than it actually was. I kept reminding myself, “It’s just the other side of Knoxville, TN” just north of Bristol. Well, it was some 137 miles “north of Knoxville”!! 
Arrived at John’s open house right at 3:00. It was like old home week seeing all my friends from all over. In no time I was blocked in parking wise. There went my plans of getting to the Comfort Inn to get cleaned up before supper.
I’m always amazed when I see how other collectors display their bricks. John’s display collection is done pretty much by states of manufacture shelved under his front porch. This gave me some ideas for the next real brick project when I decide to rebuild the fence at the end of the driveway.
Driving to Macado’s Restaurant for our super I noticed a Norfolk Western Whistle sign on the right of way. This is identical to the sign I acquired last September. I had to run down the Railroad Tracks to get a picture of it in use!
I was able to get a seat on the patio with Alan and Jackie. What great people. Alan’s dad was one of the original founding members of the club who recently passed away. Alan’s dad loved hearing my crazy stories about bricks and fire hydrants. I have him to thank for many rare bricks I treasure.
Alan was saying how at my swap last year he was amazed to be able to find store brand raspberry Kool Aid at Winn-Dixie. That rang a bell and I brought up “Rootin-Tooting Raspberry” from the “Funny Face Drinks” of my childhood. That got us going!!! I have a brick he would like to have. I’m lucky in I have a few left from last years “patio step reconfiguration”. Will get him some special drink mix and get a flat rate box out next week.
It was just a few weeks after my swap last year I acquired a hoard of bricks from a guy in Knoxville. The "fancy circle" bricks were picked up on my last trip. He only had some 30 of these which was just enough for the two steps with a couple left over.
Saturday morning was the actual brick swap. I brought some 45 bricks to the swap and I vowed to return with less than I arrived with. My “toe brick” was a Pyro-Granite brick; I picked up a Big Four block at the same time. I have a boundary marker for the “Big Four Railroad” the Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago, and St Louis. I’m hoping this Big Four street paver might have a similar history! The Terre Haute Bricks I wanted were gone when I passed by that spot. I pretty much slowed down and just did sporadic brick picking up. I honestly have enough bricks for the future projects I have on hand and don’t want to deprive the newer collectors. Well into the swap as things were slowing down I was still able to get some good bricks without depriving anyone of their first choice bricks. There were also bricks added to my hoard from other members who did not want to carry the weight back! It has become a custom to put orphan bricks into my truck!! LOL!!!
There were a lot of great donations to the auction. It is amazing to get two people fighting over a rare/special brick and see the price get into the hundreds of dollars. I’ve got a real soft spot for the old ornamental terra cotta that used to adorn buildings. A great piece was here. It was the white fancy piece on the table behind the auctioneer and runner. It was one of the last things auctioned off. I was standing in the back and just held my bidding paddle up and nodded my head to the auction runner! That was the one piece I really wanted and I did get it!! also got a new crafted brick made by one of our talented members with a banjo engraved into the frog! It goes perfect with the encore Banjo!
Banjo Brick: With the Encore:
A member who gets into lots of scrap iron donated a wonderful cast iron water valve cover and ring. I threw up a bid to get the ball rolling and ended up being the lone bidder! I plan on putting this in my front yard to really annoy people!!! Here is my Toe Brick, Big Four Block and water ring and cover. Stumpy was investigating as I snapped this picture! 
As usual it was a really fun time. I wish I had more time to spend in the area…but I have to be on the road Wednesday for the phonograph show in Union, Illinois. There is a chance to pick up a hundred or so bricks along the way…….


About Me

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Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States
Retired auto worker who can now spend too much time restoring his 1922 Bungalow Home. I'm involved in a number of varied activities from collecting bricks to rowing with a masters rowing group. This blog is to share different aspects of my life on my Facebook page. I've kept an on-line journal for eight years.