Archive for May 2017

Mary

May 27, 2017

2017-05-26 17.55.40Time for an update. Well Mary survived during our trip to Boston. It sure was nice to get away for a few days. We arrived Monday evening.

We spent Tuesday morning cleaning out the refrigerator. Care givers didn’t use much of the food that we left. Not quite sure why. Then we went out to do our grocery shopping.

Mary complained that the care givers wouldn’t let her have a second glass of wine. Of course, they were following our instructions. One glass of wine.

So her routine is pretty much the same these days. Up at about 0900 to eat her oatmeal and blueberries, then back to bed. We get her up in the evening for dinner. She doesn’t want to watch the news anymore. Too depressing she says.

Our son Mike and his family were over for dinner Friday night. That always perks Mary up. She loves to see the little ones.

Paula took Mary out to get her hair done on Friday. That is about the only thing that we can get her to do willingly. While she is under the dryer, Paula and I do a quick shopping trip.

Nothing planned for Memorial Day weekend. Just chill.

Advertisements

Home

May 25, 2017

I’m just beginning to unwind from our whirl wind trip to Massachusetts. We visited many friends and family over a six day trip. Weather was very nice. We had a great trip. I even saw a thunder and lightning storm. Luckily I didn’t have to go out and drive in the storm. Don’t see that very much out west here.

Many of our friends said to us “Welcome Home”. But here’s the thing. I have spent most of my life living in Mass., including 36 years in Billerica. We have been living in San Pedro now for almost 5 years. Mass. doesn’t feel like home anymore. San Pedro is our home now and it feels like home to me.

Will we ever move back? Don’t know. Probably not. I don’t like moving. We’ll be back again next May.

Ford Expedition

May 23, 2017

Last week during our trip to Boston, Paula and I rented a car. Generally, when I rent a car I like to get a model that I might be interested in buying.  This gives me a better feel for the vehicle than a 10 minute test drive. This trip I had reserved a Ford Escape through Avis Rent-a-Car. I tend to like the small SUV’s. Currently, I own a 2007 Jeep Liberty with 115K miles on the odometer, so it’s getting to be the time that I need to be looking at new cars.

Ford ExplorerSo we get to the rental counter last Tuesday night and hand over my driver’s license and credit card. The woman at the counter types in the info on her computer and proceeds to tell me that they don’t have any Ford Escapes available. She then tells me that she can rent me a Ford Expedition for the same price. Thank you very little, I say.

A Ford Expedition is not what one would call a small SUV. I argued for a few minutes to no avail. Either I took the Ford Expedition or we were walking to Boxboro.

The Expedition is HUGE. It’s about the same size as a GMC Suburban. It seats 7 without getting crowded. One needs to step up on the running board to get on board. It is very roomy and comfortable. Backseats are probably comfortable too, but I didn’t try them. Gas consumption is huge. When I filled it up on Monday before I turned it, the fuel gauge was pointing to 1/2 and it took 20 gallons to fill. Luckily gas prices in MA are a good deal less than LA. There is no way in this world that I would ever consider buying one of these. I don’t know how many miles per gallon it does (or maybe gallons per mile?).

One of the other issues that I had the other night. You are in a dark garage and you get into new (new to you) car. You want to get going so that you can get to the hotel and hit the sack.  It takes a long time to get oneself familiarized with all of the controls and systems. New cars these days have much more complicated controls that take a bit of getting used to,

Explorer interior

As you can see, there are a lot of buttons and switches to push and turn. This isn’t just a problem with the Expedition. All of the new cars have this sort of problem.

How do you turn on the lights, windshield wipers, adjust seat, etc. The model I was driving had the Apple Car Play system. This allows one to connect your phone to the car’s entertainment system. You can use it to play music that is on your phone or to make phone calls, etc. It’s kind of neat, but I didn’t have near enough time to get it all figured out. I plug my phone into the USB port and instantly the phone’s apps appear on the screen.

All in all, I would have been a lot happier if Avis had given to me what I had asked for and not a huge tank to drive for a week. Next time, I will try a different car rental company.

 

LAX Sucks

May 23, 2017

LAX is one huge airport. We arrived home last night after a long non stop flight from Boston. The service was great on Delta and the flight was pretty much on time. Smooth sailing all the way until we got to LAX. That’s when thing went south. 

Our Boeing 737 pulls up to the gate. Seat belt sign goes off and everyone rises to gather their belongings. And then we wait. There was no gate agent to operate the jetway. So finally after 5-10 minutes, the jetway is moved into place and everyone proceeds to exit the aircraft. So were at gate 21 in terminal 2. So I think to myself, this is pretty good, not a long walk to baggage claim. 

So we get on the escalator down to baggage claim. Sign says our luggage will be on carousel 5. There is no carousel 5 in terminal 2. There are carousels 1-4. Carousel 5 we learned is a way down the road in terminal 3. Not good. My legs and feet are killing me. About half way there, we meet some of the people that were on our flight heading back towards terminal 2. So we do an about face and head back to the carousels in terminal 2. They tell us our luggage will not be on carousel 5 but on one of the carousels in terminal 2. So eventually we find our luggage coming down the chute on carousel 2. No notice, no signage.

So with luggage in hand we head out to the street to look for where our shuttle to our parking lot would be. There were signs for rental cars, hotels, etc. but nothing about parking shuttles. We see one of our shuttles fly by, but we were to far away to flag him down, That happened one more time. Feet and legs are getting worse.So eventually we find a small sign that states that parking shuttles are up stairs on the departure concourse. So up the escalator we go. Finally we got on a bus for “Wally Park” only to find out that “Wally Park” and “Wally Park Express” are two different parking lots and shuttles. “Wally Park Express” (which we were looking for) picks up down stairs. ARGGGGG!!!! Nice driver agreed to take us to WPE. I think maybe he was fearing for his life if he didn’t take us. So he took us to our car and he helped us load our luggage into the Jeep.

So we got into the Jeep and settled up with the cashier. Then off we went heading for the 405. We stopped at an In-n-Out burger joint to pick up a hamburger for Paula and a double-double for me. Man it was good to get into my old Jeep. It’s well broken in and comfortable. I was much relieved to turn in the rental Ford Expedition. More about that later. It’s good to be home.

Wheels Up

May 17, 2017

Well we arrived safe and sound in Boston last night. It was a long day. We were up at 0500 to get ready. We had a light breakfast, showered and got dressed. We got Mary up at about 0630 and got he breakfast ready. By 0700, our care giver had arrived. I gave her the nickle tour. We explained once again to Mary where we were going and when we would be back. She looked like such a lost soul. But for our sanity, we have to do it.

For these trips we hire home care people from a company called CarenetLA to take care of Mary. They do a great job. When we first started to use them a few years ago, we only had them during the day. Now, we need them to be there 24/7.

By 0715, we were out the door and heading to LAX. Our flight was at 1115. We were concerned about traffic and SNAFU’s related to Delta’s gate move from gate 5 to gate7. Local news people were saying allow extra time, so we did. So that means with normal traffic, we were through security with 3 hours to wait. Groan. But it sure feels good to be out on the road.

I am getting to really detest air travel. I mean really, really detest it. Air planes are more crowded. When was the last time you saw an airplane half full? So Paula and I went to the bathroom and looked for a place to sit and wait. Departure lounge was packed. People sitting on the ground. So we headed to the Starbuck’s and got some coffee and a blueberry scone to share. Managed to find two seats.

Okay here’s the deal. Normally, I would prefer to book a non-stop flight. For hour outbound flight from LAX to BOS, that would mean either a flight that leaves very early like 0700 or 0800, gets into BOS at about 5 pm, just in time for rush hour. Or we could take the red-eye leave at 10 or 11 pm and get into BOS at 0600. So we were stuck with the in between option. Booked a flight that left at about 11 am with stop at Minneapolis-St Paul change planes for the final leg to BOS. Taking the 0800 nonstop means getting up at 4 am to get to LAX by 0600.

The other choice is the red-eye. Leave LAX at 10 pm and arrive in BOS at 06:30. No good choices

So. the last couple of three years we have decided to splurge and book first class. If one is careful, you can get a reasonable price. It eases the pain a bit but the flight was still packed. Airlines generally have about 3 levels of coach. Each level up gives you a little more leg room, United calls it “Comfort Plus”, NOT! So with first class, I don’t have to pay for baggage, don’t have to pay for food or drink on the flight. And you get a little bit more attention from the stewardess.

Actually the food on both legs was pretty decent. As soon as I sat down on the LAX-MSP leg, stewardess gets me a gin and tonic. Excellent.

So I made the reservations back in February, well before the recent dust ups on United and American. I picked Delta for no other reason that we had used them before and they weren’t bad. I think that any of the few major airlines are capable of doing bad things to there customers. You pick one and you take your chances. You just hope that noone had a melt down on your flight.

So we arrived in MSP on time. I get off the flight and look at the departure screen to see where our gate would be for the MSP-BOS leg would be. Arrival gate was G21, our departure gate was D4. Oh FxxK, I say. MSP is a huge Delta hub. It would be hard to imagine a longer hike between gates. So we get on the moving walkway and head for D4. Halfway there, an airport shuttle driver took pity on us and asked if we would like a lift. Oh yes, please we answer. So off we went. Got to the gate. Delta had just started to board.

So we landed in BOS on time at about 9:30 PM and headed to the rental car bus. At Logan, the rental car companies share a common facility. Got up to the Avis desk and gave my credit card and driver’s license. I had requested a Ford Escape SUV.  They didn’t have any Ford Escapes. So they give me a Ford Expedition for the same price. Are you kidding me? That car is like a tank. It is huge. The major problem is that I will have to return it with a full tank of gas. I shudder to think what that’s going to cost me. Avis is officially on my shit list. There are other rental car companies in this world.

And one more thing. Every time I rent a new car it takes me a day or so to figure out how everything works. I get into the car and it takes me 10-15 minutes to figure out how to turn on the headlights. I can’t find out all the switches because the garage is dark.

And another thing. Man it gets dark out here. As we headed out Rte 2 into the Exurbs the ambient light god darker and darker. It’s not like that in LA. You have to get out into the desert to get that kind of darkness.

And finally, we are now back in the land of Dunkin Donuts. Though, the first Dunkie’s that we saw in the airport was closed. Not that I needed a coffee at 10 pm. Time to dust off the Dunkie’s App. Time to make the donuts.

2017-05-16 21.32.14

Staying Alive…

May 11, 2017

Last night was date night. So we saw an ad for “Saturday Night Fever” appearing on one night at several local theaters in LA. A show at 2pm and 7pm. So Paula calls up one of our baby sitters for Mom and we head out to  see the film that we last saw forty years ago. There weren’t many people in our theater. Probably not more than 10 people. No senior discount for this film. We had to pay full price. Here’s the link to the trailer.

This director’s cut of the movie was staged by a company called Fathom Events. The presentation at the beginning of the film alluded to other films that would be presented in the coming months. Typically the presentations would be on a Wednesday at 2pm and 7pm. Not sure how this is going to succeed with so few folks in the seats.

Here is a list of other classic movies coming to the big screen in the coming weeks. 

  • Smokey and the Bandit
  • Godfather
  • Some Like it Hot
  • Fast Times at Ridgemont High
  • Bonnie and Clyde
  • The Fifth Element

What a joy to watch. We had forgotten so much about this film. The film starts with John Travolta’s character Tony walking down the street in Brooklyn wearing a pair of red shoes and carrying a can of paint. Strutting  to the Bee Gee’s great sound track. So good to see it on the big screen with the sound of a full movie house audio system.

There were parts of the movie that we had completely forgotten, like the 1963 Chevy Impala. The boys took turns using the back seat to have sex with whomever they managed to hook up with. They were each allotted 20 minutes after which the boys would come banging on the windows. Hurry up, they say. IMDB says that this was the first time that the phrase “Blow Job” was used in a motion picture.

We begin to see Tony’s bleak life with his hope of escaping by way of the disco dancing contests. Nice Italian family with a picture of the elder son (Father Frank) on the mantle. Then Father Frank comes home to tell everyone that he is leaving the priesthood. Oh no, not that. So then Frank goes out with boys sans roman collar. One of Tony’s pals asks Father Frank if he can ask the Pope for a dispensation so that his girlfriend could get an abortion. Father Frank says not gonna happen.

Oh and the fashions. Loved the white disco suit and the red shoes.

This was John Travolta’s third film, but it was certainly his breakout role.

Two Factor Authorization

May 5, 2017

I thought that today I would write a post about protecting our online data. Many online providers have adopted a security protocol called “Two Factor Authorization”. This is how it works. Up until recently, all one needed would be your username and your password to gain access to your account. You account could mean access to your email provider or perhaps your bank or maybe an E-Tail provider like Amazon.

Here’s how it works. When you attempt to login to your bank, the bank will ask for your username and password. So far so good. Then it will send a text message to your mobile phone. The text message will contain a 6 digit cypher that you will need to plug into your login screen. The cypher is good for only 10 minutes. So the reasoning goes that you need to have two pieces of information to gain access your account, a password and the code. Thus making unauthorized access less likely.

Recently Gmail (run by Google) adopted 2 factor authorization. I don’t know about other email providers. Protecting your email access is particularly important because if a hacker can get access to your email, he/she would be able to reset passwords to your other accounts. When you request a password reset, the provider just sends a “reset password” link to your email.

For this reason, protecting your primary email account is of utmost concern. So at this point in time, I know that Bank of America and Wells Fargo have implemented two factor authorization.

Click here for a Wikipedia article on the subject.