Archive for November 2013

Why I Blog

November 28, 2013

So, why do I blog? I thought it would be a story worth telling. This is my 173rd blog entry for calherewecome. I started this blog in May of 2012. I was two weeks away from my retirement from IBM/Sykes and a month away from closing on the sale of our house in Billerica.

I was already an active participant on Facebook, but somehow Facebook didn’t quite make it for me. The posts were generally too short and ephemeral. And many of our friends and family just didn’t do Facebook. I needed a way to reach those folks who I thought would be interested in what was going on in our lives but I knew avoided Facebook like the plague.

We were in the midst of planning retirement, selling a house, doing a trip to Ireland, and finally moving to California. We had decided to move to California to live with Paula’s aging mother who is 89. So we had the summer of 2012 to make all of this happen. The blog gave me a way to write down the events as they happened along with the pictures.

We like to travel. I kind of wish that I had blogged back in the day when I was doing a lot of business travel. Blogging gives me the opportunity to share in our adventures.

So at first, I knew most of the people that were reading my blog. Then something strange happened. I don’t know exactly when, but all of a sudden I was seeing comments from people that I didn’t know. Not a clue. It felt a little scary at first. But I got to liking it after a while. Some folks were actually interested in what I had to say.

I blog from my laptop, my iPad, and on occasion from my iPhone. A lot of the blog posts from Ireland started on my iPhone and then were edited and polished on my iPad later at the hotel before publishing.

I always try to add pictures. I also add links that give my readers an opportunity to read more in depth on a particular subject.

Here are a couple of blogs that I particularly like. These are pretty much written by one or two people:

  • Margaret and Helen – A blog written by two eighty something ladies in Texas. Usually left wing political discussion.
  • LA to Z – Blog written by Natasha. Photo blog on out of the way treasures to be found in Los Angeles.
  • Richardbowker.com Blog written by my younger brother, the writer. For and about writing

That’s enough for now. One of these days I will update the blogroll listing.

So there that’s done. Enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday. We will be joining family later today (5 PM West Coast time.)

Later,

Joe

Advertisements

Happy Thanksgiving

November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our friends, family and readers. So it’s not Thanksgiving if you’ve not listened to Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant”.

So without further ado.

Las Vegas

November 27, 2013

We just got back from a quick trip to Las Vegas. Our son and his wife had invited us a few weeks ago to join them for a quick trip to Las Vegas. Hotel rooms are a commodity that obeys laws of supply and demand. When the supply goes up the price goes down. So we found a relative bargain for Sunday to Tuesday before Thanksgiving.

So we booked a room for about $125 per night at a hotel that normally runs for $250 per night. We were in a large room at the Hotel Vdara with a king size bed, kitchenette, a view of the Las Vegas strip.

2013-11-25 10.44.10 HDR

Here’s the view from our room on the 26th floor. One of the things that is unusual about the Hotel Vdara is that it doesn’t have a casino. Casinos are not far away though. Short walk to the Belagio or a little bit longer to Caesar’s Palace.

On Monday, we decided to take a ride out to see the Hoover Dam. Unfortunately, a lot of people had the same idea. Weather was sunny and clear. Visibility greater than 100 miles. We couldn’t find a place to park. We got a few pictures though from a couple of scenic pullouts.

2013-11-25 12.43.12

2013-11-25 12.43.44

2013-11-25 12.58.24

We are not much into gambling but there is lots to do. There are so many good places to eat. We ate at the Wicked Spoon at the Cosmopolitan Casino on Sunday night. just about anything you might want to try. Asian, Italian, American, seafood, you name it, they have it.

Monday we dined at Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill at Caesar’s Palace. We had reservations for 8:30 PM for the four of us plus Jonathan our 2 year old grandson. Not cheap, but everything was outstanding. I had a Sea Scallop dish and Paula had Rabbit. (I know, the poor bunny rabbit) Good service and excellent food. Jonathan was oh so well behaved. He had some apple juice, but what he really wanted was the ice to chew on. Here are some pictures.

2013-11-25 20.47.24

2013-11-25 20.47.55

After dinner, we all walked back to the Vdara by way of the Belagio. Half of the fun is watching the people and the art that is on display. The Belagio still has their fall displays up. I am sure that will change quickly starting next week. First here is the entrance to Caesar’s then the displays at the Belagio.

2013-11-25 20.02.18

2013-11-25 19.49.37

2013-11-25 19.48.21

2013-11-25 19.48.16

And finally for you chocolate lovers out there, here is the chocolate fountain at the Belagio Patisserie.

2013-11-25 22.16.39

 

And one more thing, we have discovered there is now a Dunkin Donuts in Barstow (for our East Coast friends, Barstow is out in the middle of the Mojave desert, about 125 miles east of LA. For a while, the only Dunkie’s was at Camp Pendleton on the way down to San Diego. Slowly but surely, Dunking Donuts will come to the west coast. There is help.

Dunkies Barstow

 

BTW, all pictures were taken with my trusty iPhone 5S.

I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. Stay safe. Don’t overeat or over drink. We will be joining our daughter-in-laws extended family in Rancho Palos Verdes. Lots of family, lots of kids. Paula will be baking pies tomorrow. We have some good wines to taste. After Thanksgiving, I have to continue work on the 15th edition of my Christmas letter. We will not be doing black Friday. You couldn’t get me to the mall on black Friday, let alone any Friday.

Be good,

Joe

 

 

 

 

About me

November 22, 2013

There has been a FB meme going around lately where one is given a number and the receiver of said number is instructed to write n things about themselves. No one has bothered to send me a number, but I have decided to write about myself anyhow. I’ll let you know the number that I have given myself when I am done.

  1. I play the piano. It seems that I have always played the piano. I first started when I was about 7 years old. I took lessons until I was about 18. I am certainly no Artur Rubinstein, but I can read music and belt out a tune. One of the first things that we bought when we moved to Cal last year was a Piano. When one of our lodge members found out that I played the piano, he asked me how long I had played. I told him that I had picked up a book at Barnes & Noble titled “Piano playing for dummies”. He believed me. There is no such book. Musical instruments are best learned as children. My two brothers and I all took piano lessons as children. I am the only one who still owns a piano and plays.
  2.  Seeing that today is the 50th anniversary of John F Kennedy’s assassination. I was 15 at the time and I learned of the event while I was in religion class at BC High. I remember seeing the afternoon newspapers on the newsstands on the way home from school. Back in the day there were such things as afternoon newspapers.
  3.  And while we are talking about 50 year anniversaries, next year will be my 50th reunion for BC High (Boston College High School). I have no use for high school reunions and have no intention of attending. I have little or no use for the Roman Catholic church, though I like the new Pope. I’ve told a few of my RC friends that I would return to the RC Church when the Pope ordains women and allows priests to marry. Oh yeah, add LGBT weddings too. I doubt that I will see that in my lifetime.
  4. I am active in Masons. I am a member of LA Harbor Lodge F&AM #332 in San Pedro and Thomas Talbot Lodge AF&AM in Billerica, MA. So I am a bi-coastal Mason.
  5.  My wife and I are members of OES (Order of Eastern Star) which is a fraternal organization for men and women. I play the piano for both Lodge and OES.
  6.  I was born in Brighton, MA at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and spent my early years living in Brighton and West Roxbury (parts of Greater Boston).
  7. I taught math for a couple of years at the Junior and Senior high school level in the early 70’sin Boston. I wasn’t very good at it. I have great respect for good teachers, especially good math & science teachers. I was good at math, just not good at teaching it.
  8. I worked for Digital Equipment Corp (DEC), Compaq, and HP before getting laid off in 2008. To this day, the layoff still bugs me. People were being discarded like used junk. Ken Olsen would never have done that. When people asked me what I did at DEC, I tell them that I fixed stuff. The “stuff” that I fixed were complex computer systems.I also worked as a contractor for IBM for a couple of years, once again fixing stuff. I left in 2012 to retire and moved west.
  9. I live in San Pedro with my wife of 35 years along with my mother-in-law. We moved out here to take care of her mother who is 89. I have found that I can make one woman happy. Making two women happy is an extraordinary challenge. So I try to bite my tongue and STFU. Lodge (for a couple of nights a month) gives me a chance to get out without the ladies in my life. I truly don’t understand how the Mormons (and other polygamous cultures) could possibly live with more than one wife. The same goes for a wife and a mistress.
  10. I attend the Ocean View Baptist Church in San Pedro. I would prefer going to a UCC (Congregational) church, but this is the church that our extended family goes to. So I am okay with that. I have started to push back a little bit on LGBT issues. The pastor is good guy and listens to my point of view.
  11. My wife and I are registered Democrats. My Mother-in-law is a Republican. We rarely discuss politics. Explaining why Obamacare is a good thing to my mother-in-law is like explaining algebra to Boomba (Boomba is a chocolate lab retriever). Also, for the same reason we don’t watch Fox News (or MSNBC or CNN) EVER. I would sooner have root canal surgery without anesthesia.
  12. People often ask my wife and I whether or not we met on the San Pedro or Boston. Here’s the story that has been told and retold. We met in Boston at a MIT folk dance. One of Paula’s roommates was dating one of my roommates. That was November of 1976. We were married in October 1978. We lived in Billerica for the next thirty odd years. Paula can embellish the story a bit. She would be happy to do that.
  13. I keep in touch with all of our east and west coast friends by way of Facebook. The move would have been a lot more painful to me without it.

There, that’s enough. 13 it is. That’s a good number.

Location:San Pedro, California

Sock and a Sock, Shoe and a Shoe

November 20, 2013

This morning while I was waiting for my darling wife Paula to get ready for the day I observed her putting on her socks and shoes. So she put on one sock and then one shoe, then repeat the process for the other foot. Now told her in no uncertain terms that this was so wrong. Any enlightened individual knows that one should put one sock, then the other sock, then the shoes.

So that brought back the memory of the routine done on the TV show “All in the Family” back in the 70’s where Meathead (played by Rob Reiner) and Archie (played by Carroll O’Connor) have a heated discussion on which is the correct way to put on one’s socks and shoes.

So (with thanks to Youtube) here is the clip from All in the Family

So dear readers, what do you think is the right way to put on your socks and shoes? Here is a poll to answer once and for all time this important question. I will update everyone in a week or two with the results of the poll.

Father Bill’s Place

November 16, 2013

Okay, Joe, two posts in one day? How can that be? This is for all of my friendly followers.
 
 If you are anything like me at this time of year, you might be looking where to spend charitable dollars. We are constantly bombarded with US Mail from many charitable outfits.
 
 I try to find out how much of our donation goes to the actual charity’s operations. High percentage is good, low is bad. Nothing irritates me more than seeing as low as 20% going to operations and the rest to fill the pockets of the CEO.
 
 One of our favorites is Father Bill’s Place in Quincy, MA. Father Bill provides housing for the homeless. Father Bill is committed to ending and preventing homelessness in the South Shore (Mass) area.
 
 Click here for the web site.
 
 Or send a check to:
 
 Father Bill’s Place
 430 Belmont Street
 Brockton, MA 02301
 
 
 – Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Quincy, MA

SS Lane Victory

November 16, 2013

This afternoon Paula, Mary and I attended the annual meeting for the San Pedro Historical Society (See http://sanpedrobayhistoricalsociety.com/)
 The meeting was held at the Limani Taverna (previously known as Papadakis Taverna).
 
 After lunch and brief business meeting we got to hear from Capt. Greg Williams, US Merchant Marine (ret). The subject was the US Merchant Marine in WW2 in general and the SS Lane Victory.
 
 During WW2, the merchant marine was called upon to transport most of the supplies needed to run the war. Sometimes, new Liberty ships would not get far out of harbor before being sunk either by mines or German Uboats.
 
 Capt Williams told us the during the war, the press was prohibited from writing about the loss of Merchant Marine ships at sea. Indeed, the loss was great. The fatality rate in the Merchant Marine far exceeded that of the other services. Over 700 merchant ships were sunk during WW2.
 
 Click here for the wikipedia article on the Merchant Marine.
 
 The SS Lane Victory is the last operational Victory ship in existance. The Lane Victory saw service in WW2, Korea, and Vietnam providing the delivery of much needed supplies to our armed services. It is moored at pier 49 in San Pedro.
 

 The Victory ships were much like their predecessors the Liberty shops. They were mass produced in shipyards around the country. The Victory ships were faster than the Liberty ships (making 15-17 knots) and had a longer range. This made them less vulnerable to Uboat attacks. Click here for the Wiki.
 

 The Lane Victory is open for tours six days a week (closed on Thursday). Admission is $5 for and adult and $2 for children. The Lane Victory runs several day cruises around LA Harbor each year. Donations and volunteers are much appreciated. It costs a lot of money to keep the ship operational.
 
 Every five years, the ship goes into dry dock for inspection, bottom cleaning and painting. The Lane Victory is scheduled for dry dock in 2014 and they have a ways to go to raise the $900K for the overhaul and inspection.
 
 For additional info, click here for the Lane Victory web site.
 
 
 – Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:San Pedro