Saturday, July 13, 2019

Why Do They Do It That Way?

     Apparently I've got my curmudgeon on today. But it's not my fault. The blame goes to the new switch on the kitchen fan.

     I turned off the ceiling fan in the kitchen yesterday afternoon. But it came on again. I turned it off again. Then last night, as I was upstairs getting ready for bed, I heard this strange whirring noise. Was it the dishwasher down in the kitchen? I had turned it on. But it's supposed to be quiet. It wouldn't be making that much noise.
     Maybe the noise was coming from something outside?. We live in town and so we occasionally get street noise, or strange sounds coming from the neighbors. I opened the window. But, no, it wasn't coming from outside.

     So, reluctantly, instead of dropping into bed, I turned on the hall light and trundled downstairs. The first floor was dark. But the noise seemed to be coming from the kitchen, and when I turned on the light, the fan was running on high, . . .  whirring like an airplane propeller!

What ... you can't see?!?
From top to bottom: Hi, Med, Low, Off.
Bottom switch: the real Off switch.
 Green button for light. Why do they make it so complicated?

     I tried to look at the little buttons to see what was going on. But I couldn't read the fine print. And I'd left my glasses upstairs. So I looked around, found a pair of B's reader's, which were on the kitchen counter, and slid the switch to off.

     So why do they make it so damn hard to turn the fan on and off!?!

     And by the way, the regular Off button seems to turn it off only temporarily. The fan comes back on again. So you have to slide the bottom switch to the side to really turn it off.

     But of course it's not the only problem we have. Do you know what half the dials and switches on the dashboard of your car do . . . if you  can even read them?

     We have another switch to turn on our ceiling fan in the bedroom. You need some incredibly good fine motor skills to turn the fan on and off, or adjust up and down.

See the little things next to the two switches?
That's how you turn the fan and light up or down ...
If you can get to them.

     And then there are light bulbs. Let's face it, the only thing you want to know about a light bulb is how bright it is. How many watts. Is it 40 or 60 or 100? But I challenge you to find a light bulb, any light bulb, and then ascertain how bright it is. Can't be done!

     I found yet another issue the other morning, when I was waking up early for golf. I actually woke up a few minutes before the alarm went off. And so I thought I'd be nice to B and switch off the alarm so it wouldn't wake her up as well.

Can you tell what to push to turn it off?

     I look at the clock radio for the on/off switch. I can't see a thing. Eventually, I got my reading glasses, and used the flashlight on my iPhone to figure it out . . . it's the top left.

     So now I have a birthday coming up. B asked me if I'd like an apple watch for my birthday. But what good would that do me? I couldn't see what the damn thing was saying!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

What Is Vacation For?

     It's the week of July 4, and so it shouldn't surprise anyone that what's on people's minds is . . .  vacation!

     Meryl Baer reports that the weekend brought a record number of visitors to the New Jersey shore town where she resides year-round. With the weather reliably hot and sunny, the beach beckoned, and retail stores eagerly greeted shoobies (out-of-towners). Baer says that in honor of the 4th she fulfilled her patriotic duty and spent money she doesn't have on a  . . . well, zoom over to Celebrating Independence Day to find out what she bought.

     Rebecca Olkowski of Babyboomster had a slightly different July 4th experience. In Earthquake: Rollling and Shaking in Los Angeles she explains how she swayed and shook in LA for two days, first with a 6.4 tremor, then a 7.1 quake. She survived, just fine, but the effect on her dogs was a little different. One of them was passed out; the other freaked out.

     If you need some advice about how to deal with summer issues (my dog freaks out from fireworks) then swim, skate or surf over to consumer journalist Rita Robison's post Think Safety This Summer. She offers some reminders about staying safe while hanging out at the pool,.cooking on the grill, mowing the lawn, even putting up your beach umbrella.

Have fun ... but be safe!
     And Jennifer of Unfold and Begin serves up another helping of tips with How to Save on Your Meals on Vacation. It includes a helpful checklist for your vacation cottage.

     On a more metaphysical level, Laura Lee Carter, says that no matter how disturbing the world seems, she finds she is Seeking Solace in Nature. And now at the age of 64 she finally knows "the peace that only nature can offer."

      Laurie Stone of Musings, Rants & Scribbles suggests that we all have a special place -- a place we return to that sustains us, restores us and comforts us. She shares the magic and memory of her spot, just across a bridge in the mythical land of . . . find out where in her post Where Is Your Place?

     And Carol Cassara of A Healing Spirit comes around to the topic of vacation, in a certain way as well. In her post What Does Your Life Path Look Like? she acknowledges that many of us sometimes think that everyone else enjoys smooth sailing in life, while we always seem to be facing gale force winds. So she tells us to take a vacation from constantly comparing our life to other people's ... because no matter what their Facebook page says, they are facing challenges as well.

     And finally, as if to remind us all about what vacation is really all about, Kathy Gottberg of SmartLiving 365 offers the post Could Contentment Be the Treasure We All Seek? For what's the purpose of vacation if not to achieve a state of peace, harmony and gratitude . . . and appreciating the luxury of just being alive.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Summer Heat

     Summer is finally here, after a rainy spring and only the occasional warm day to tease us with false hope.

     But now the heat is here in full force -- in both the weather and in politics. It's been hitting 90 degrees almost every day for the past week. I know that doesn't seem like much to friends and family in Phoenix (where it's getting up to 110 degrees today). But remember, that's a dry heat, and we have humidity here in Pennsylvania.

     And we saw the other day, it was hotter in Philadelphia (at 89) than it was in Charleston, SC (at 86). That's weird, isn't it?

     So we've slowed down and we are doing summer things. Fortunately, since our credit card bills are starting to come from our trip out west, a lot of summer activities for us retirees are free or inexpensive.

     We went for a swim. For free. We dined on the "outside patio" at our local pizza place (actually three tables sitting in front of the storefront, next to the handicapped parking places.) Total bill: $28 plus tip ... but only because B had a beer in addition to her usual glass of water.

     The next day we drove over to Dilly's, a hot-dog and ice-cream stand on the Delaware River. I don't eat hot dogs. So I had a fried cod sandwich, which B assured me was absolutely no better for me than a hot dog with all the fixin's. Cost us $17.50.

     After dinner we took a walk across the foot bridge to New Jersey. Another free activity. This particular bridge was originally built by John Roebling, the man who later designed the Brooklyn Bridge. However, there's nothing left of the original Roebling structure -- the bridge has been rebuilt twice since the 1860s.

Summer scene, or political metaphor?
     But it was a nice walk, 30-some feet above the rushing water. The river was high, swollen with the spring rains. And it was cool on the bridge, with a breeze coming down the valley from the wooded north.

     For two nights we also watched the Democratic presidential debates. That was free, too. B likes Elizabeth Warren. And she allowed as how she liked "that other lady" too (referring, I believe, to Amy Klobuchar.) She was also impressed with the performance by Kamala Harris.

     I like  . . . well, I'll keep you guessing since this is a nonpolitical blog. It was kind of a shout-fest, though, wasn't it? And there was no discussion of issues directly affecting seniors, like how to secure the future of Social Security (remember the Lock Box?) or how to protect our IRAs or other retirement funds. And, considering the current hot weather, there was little discussion of global warming.

     They did talk about Medicare -- not how to save it, but how to expand it. I'm generally in favor of some kind of Medicare for all. Not because I believe that the government should run things. But because the medical system has become too big, too expensive, too complex and too arcane for the individual person to negotiate. There's no free market in medical care or in health insurance.

     However . . . it does drive me crazy (and it makes me feel like they're trying to sell us snake oil) when they bandy about terms like Medicare for all, universal health coverage, free medical care, as though they are all the same thing. They are not the same thing. I know, because I have Medicare -- and Medicare plus my supplemental insurance cost me $$400-something a month, and it costs B another $400-something a month as well. It's still a good deal . . . but it's not free. And it doesn't cover everything. So, ladies and gents, please be honest with us.

     Anyway, enough about that. We're going to the matinee movie this weekend. Senior rate: $7.50. B wants to see "The Late Show." And so it will be done. Afterward, we're coming home for salmon and zucchini. Total cost for two: $12.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

I Try to Exercise, I Really Do

     Last September B and I joined our local YMCA. We had to sign a one-year contract, which made me nervous because I was afraid I'd start out with a burst of enthusiasm, exercising two or three times a week through the fall, but then by spring I'd never darken the door of the Y again.

     B joined a yoga class. At 7 in the morning, no less. And she has been faithful about going, twice a week.

This is B ... well, almost
     As for me, I did go to the gym more often in the beginning. I even joined a spin class. But I must admit, as predicted, my enthusiasm waned. I didn't like the spin class, so I quit. And the twice a week eventually became once a week. And then I started to skip a week.

     But when the weather got warmer I started to go over there for a swim. Plus, there's also a hot tub, which feels good on my sometimes-aching back, and just feels good all over. And that got me to rededicate myself to going again on a more regular basis, to take a spin on the bicycle and grunt and groan on the weight machines.

     The truth is, I really don't like to exercise. Instead, I like to hit things. I like baseball and tennis and golf. The trouble is that these sports -- especially the way they're played by late middle-agers -- do not provide a good workout. And some of them can be dangerous for us aging baby boomers. Think tennis elbow, sprained ankle, torn cartilage. Do I know anyone who hasn't had back or shoulder surgery, or replaced a knee or hip?

     In fact, I retired from the tennis court several years ago, due to a bad knee and touchy ankle, and now limit my racket sports to Ping Pong, once a week at our local senior center. And golf . . . well, golf you can play in your sleep.

     So my doctor has told me more than once that swimming and riding the stationary bike are easier on my brittle knees and ankles than running (not that I did much running) or playing tennis, or even walking. So that's what I do now, when I do get to the Y.

This is definitely not me
     Some people can read while they use the treadmill or bike. I cannot. So I time my trip to the Y to early evening reruns of half-hour comedy shows on TV. I am now more familiar with "Friends," "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "King of Queens" than I'd like to admit.

     Then there's always "people watching." I enjoy the spectacle of the women's Zumba dance class that takes place Mon., Wed. and Fri. at 5 p.m. There are young male bodybuilders in the corner. Girls on the ellipticals with their ponytails bobbing up and down. Some middle age women seriously into the treadmill. And a few of us older guys huffing and puffing on the machines.

     The funny thing is, at first I thought I might feel self-conscious exercising along with a crowd that's younger, better looking, and in better shape than I am. But it turns out that everyone is very supportive at the Y. I never get a condescending comment or dirty look. Just some occasional helpful advice, or a friendly greeting. And when I see a guy even older than me, who's fat and out of shape and shaky on his feet, it doesn't enter my mind that I'm better than him. I think, good for him.

     I don't get to the health club as often as I should. But it's still worth it. We'll definitely be signing up again for next year.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Travel Is a Lot Like Sex

     I just got back from a two-week trip to Las Vegas, Utah and Arizona. Our trip was part vacation, to see the sights of Zion and Bryce, and part family, to see some relatives and a new baby.

     And it occurred to me this morning that travel is a lot like sex (Don't worry, I'll keep it PG rated).

     First, there's deciding whether or not you're going to do it. We were invited out when the baby was born, last January, and we did think about going then. But traveling in January? After all the festivities of Christmas? It seemed too much. We didn't want to say no. We wanted to do it, eventually. So we teased them -- maybe we'll do it; well, not now, maybe later. And then we finally did commit, and did the deed in June. 

     B and I made sure we were traveling together. I mean, you can travel alone, just like you can have sex by yourself. But it's much more fun with another person. (I won't get into the group thing. B and I have no interest in traveling with a group. Like taking a cruise with a  group of friends? Not for us!)

     Actually, sometimes B and I will travel alone. She will make a four-day trip to Charleston to see her grandson. I typically take a little extra vacation by myself in Florida in the winter. But like I said, these are quickies. Whenever we go anywhere for any length of time, we go together.

     Then there's the anticipation. Half the fun of travel is making the plans, deciding on the itinerary, making hotel reservations, scheduling the airplane. Thinking about what you'll be doing, imagining how it will be. 

     There's also the anxiety. You have to pick the right clothes. Go to the right restaurant. Will we be able to perform? I worried about how much hiking I'd have to do at Zion and Bryce, given my bad knee. B worries about the airport and the hotels and all the connections we have to make. As it turned out, we were able to do the required minimums. I walked the flat paths and the walkways around the canyon. I didn't even try to scale the heights of Angel Mountain, or plumb the depths of Bryce's hoodoos. And B was happy that the airport, the car rental, the hotel reservations, all worked out just fine. 

     Afterwards, of course, you wonder if the reality of vacation measured up to the promise. When you're actually there, you're probably not thinking about that. But afterwards, you look back on the vacation with fondness, remembering the good parts and not dwelling on the occasional hardships or uncomfortable moments.

     Of course, there are always certain vacations when you just say -- well, I enjoyed it, but I'm not going back there again. Or you might even say ... well, that was a mistake.

     Travel is an adventure. Sometimes we do it just for fun. Or when we travel with someone, it often brings our relationship closer together. Sometimes there's a purpose. The point of our trip to Arizona was to see the new baby. Sometimes we forget that travel and babies go together.

     And then, the very next day after I got home, I began to wonder. Okay, that's done. I wonder where we should go next? Home life can be so boring. We want the next adventure. You see, travel can be addictive too!