Archive for the ‘Retirement’ category

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

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Labor Day 2013

August 30, 2013

Well, Labor Day weekend is almost upon us once again. Somehow, it doesn’t feel like Labor Day. So I was thinking, why not?

First thing different is that Paula and I are retired. Have been now for a little over a year. So holidays don’t matter so much. I don’t have to go back to work on Tuesday. We have been out here in the LA area now for a little bit over a year. For Paula, this was coming home sort of. She still runs into people around Pedro that she went to high school with me, the only people I know out here are the folks at blue lodge and OES. Even when we were living in Billerica, there was no chance that I would ever run into high school or even college friends. The community is way too diverse.

Another difference is that back east I would be putting the boat away for the season. Summer’s over. It starts getting chilly fast. Certainly too chilly for being out on the boat. I no longer have a boat. I didn’t have the urge to get a new boat either. No place nearby to use it. Besides, the kids are all grown up and don’t have the time.

Now, let me tell you about the weather here in LA. September is hot. Heat will continue probably through mid October. Even here close to the ocean, the daily high temp is in low 90’s. Monsoon season is also starting. It doesn’t rain much, but when it does, it comes down in buckets. Riverside (East of LA) had major flooding yesterday. Click here for a local story on the flooding. Of course with the flooding comes mud. Lots of it. Sometimes the thunder storms don’t bring much rain. They bring forest fires. Luckily for us, we are not anywhere near the big fires this year.

So Paula was looking for something to do over the holiday weekend. One thing she found that looked interesting was a bus tour of Art Deco architecture around Long Beach done by the Long Beach Historical Society and the Queen Mary. Here’s a link to the Art Deco Society of LA.  Lots of interesting examples of Art Deco around LA. Unfortunately, the tour was sold out. I put a reminder in my calendar to check next year. There is also a big affair going on at the Battleship USS Iowa. I suggested that we wait and go on Tuesday or Wednesday when all the kids have gone back to school.

I received a flyer from the Long Beach Symphony Orchestra. Someone figured out that I like classical  music. I told Paula that a concert would be a good birthday present next March. There will be an all Brahms program with Piano Concerto No 2 in B Flat and Symphony No 1.  in C minor. I will be getting tickets ASAP.

That’s it for now. Have a great Labor Day weekend.

Joe

HearUSA/HEARx

June 12, 2013

Yesterday, I had my appointment with HearUSA in Torrance. It is a small store front that was easy to miss. There was a receptionist that had a several forms for me to fill out. Waited for about ten minutes to get to see the audiologist. (I think that’s the right term. Her card says she is “Doctor of Audiology”)

We got right down to business. She looked at my hearing test results and recommended a couple of behind the ear (BTE) models of hearing aids made by Siemens. The hearing aids are very small. Certainly smaller than I had envisioned. So I got to try one on. Hardly knew it was there. In fact, I would be afraid that it might fall off and get lost. That thought scares the hell out of me. ie. losing a device worth a couple of thousand dollars. Unfortunately, the demo units were just that demo units and didn’t actually work.

So here is a picture I took with my iPhone. It is really hard to get a feel from the picture how really small they are.

The audiologist was very pleasant. No hard sell. Just told me the prices. Both were in the range of $3600-$4600 for the pair. The price included the 20% discount for being a Kaiser member. Price included three year warranty and free batteries for three years. We were told that batteries last about a week with average usage. Package of 60 batteries runs about $25 on Amazon.com. I figure that package would last 6 months. So free battery offer is worth $300 over the three years. They also offer 12 month/0% financing. I suppose that eases the pain of forking over $5000 in one swipe of my Visa card.

The price didn’t include optional gadgets. Siemens sells a device that they call a “MiniTEK”. This is the device used to do Bluetooth and other various magic. Add $550, if you want Bluetooth. MiniTEK is device about the size of a garage door opener.

So here’s where we stand. Appointment with Costco next Tuesday. Then we get to decide. Told the woman at we’d get back to her once we decide. She didn’t try to persuade us to decide before we left. If it weren’t for the price, I would probably go with HEARx.

One more link. Here is the Facebook link.

Later…

Can you hear me now?

June 9, 2013

Over the past few months, it has become clear that I have been experiencing hearing loss. It kind of has been sneaking up on me. It started with fights over the TV remote volume control. I kept turning the volume up. Paula kept wanting it turned down.

I tried turning on closed captioning, but on broadcast TV the captioning lag the speech by about 3-5 seconds which is really annoying. Captioning on DVD’s tends to sync rather well with the spoken word.

I also was trouble understanding speech at lodge and chapter meetings. Bad audio system didn’t help.

Listening to a person speak in a crowded room with a lot of background noise has become impossible.

So I finally made an appointment at Kaiser for audio test. It seems that the hearing test is just about the only thing that is free. I quickly found out that hearing aids are very expensive. (we are talking about thousands of dollars).

So the test revealed normal hearing for low frequencies and moderate to severe hearing loss for higher frequencies (2Khz and above). This explains why I could hear men speak and not women.

So I have made appointments for hearing aids at a place called “HEARx” which is a subsidiary of HEARusa. (Partly owned by Kaiser). I also found out the Costco is in the hearing aid business and costs significantly less than all the rest. So appointment made with Costco.

Here’s an article that I found in the NY Times on the issue. Interesting stuff. Hearing aid technology has come a long way. Most hearing aids now support Bluetooth. So you can directly connect to iPhones and the like.

More later after I meet with Hearx and Costco

 

David Eno 1952-2013

May 22, 2013

I just out yesterday that my friend Dave Eno died of cancer. Strangely enough (or maybe not) I found out by reading about his death on Facebook. Will Facebook begin to replace the newspaper obits? I think so. I look at the death notices in the Boston Globe, but Dave’s obit wasn’t in the Globe,it was in the Lowell Sun. If it were not for FB, I wouldn’t have heard.

So what happens to Dave’s FB account after his death? I hope that his family have access so that they can read what has been said by Dave’s many online friends.

Dave and I go way back. We worked for 15 years (give or take) doing OpenVMS support for HP, Compaq and DEC. When your cubicles are next to each other there aren’t many secrets.

Dave struggled through a nasty divorce back in the late 90’s. His son Daniel was the joy of his life. His ex-wife less so.

I was laid off from HP in 2008. At the time, I thought that Dave would get the axe before me. The need for OpenVMS engineers was declining. Dave got the axe in 2009.

It seems that these days that corporations try hard to get rid of older employees especially those with health issues. HP was no exception.

At any rate, Dave soldiered on with his cancer treatments. In March, he was healthy enough to get down to Florida to visit with his mother.

I am sorry that I won’t be able to make the memorial service in June. Rest easy Dave. The pain is gone. Rest in peace, my friend.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

One Month Done

September 25, 2012

Hard to believe that it’s been a month since we arrived in sunny California. Most of the unpacking has been done and we are pretty much getting into a routine of daily life.

So here’s the latest update. Typically Mike and his family come over for dinner one evening a week. Though right now they are in Taiwan visiting with Theresa’s family. Mike will return on Saturday and Theresa and Jonathan come back a couple of weeks later.

Our new piano has been bought and delivered. I try to play every day. Once I have pounded on it sufficiently I will get the folks at Steinway to come and tune it. I hate it when a piano is out of tune. I played the piano at Lodge last Wednesday for a Third Degree. They don’t have an organ, just the piano. Told the Master, it needs tuning.
We also went to our first OES meeting. Convinced Mary K to come along. She was glad that she did.


Sunday’s we usually go to church at the Ocean View Baptist Church. (see ovbcchurch.org) They hold two services on Sundays. First service is the modern one with the Christian Rock band and second service is more traditional. Typically, we go to the first service. Each service seems to be well attended. Also, we usually go to bible study on Wednesdays. I really miss First Congregational in Billerica. I know none of the songs that they sing. (Not that I sing much anyways.) Here’s the view.


Next subject. I finally got around to ordering TV service. Called the folks at DirecTV. Technician is scheduled to install on Thursday afternoon. Getting HD DVR and NFL Sunday Ticket as part of new customer package. We’ll be able to watch the Patriots again, though we watched part of the week 2 game on Sunday night. Not a pleasant result. That will likely mean that Mike will visit on Sunday afternoons.

More stuff gets put away. Before we unpack a box we need to go through one of Mary K’s boxes of receipts from years ago. It’s a full time job to through out all of the junk mail that she has saved over the years.

Last week we did battle with the CA DMV. After three hours, we walked out with CA driver’s licenses and plates for the Jeep. Logged in to MA RMV to cancel MA plates. That was easy. Got confirmation back from MetLife on policy change.

The weather has been nice. (It’s always nice.) I sat out on the balcony this morning. Temp was about 70 and sunny. It really doesn’t rain in Southern California. Got a fresh batch of cigars from Thompson’s and often sit out there evening with a cigar and glass of wine. Nice view of the hot tub.

I still get calls from recruiters pitching jobs for me. My resume seems to be buried in many recruiters’ databases. I tell them not interested. Please remove my resume from your db.

Well, that’s enough for today.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:San Pedro, CA

Presidential Politics

September 1, 2012

Mark Twain once said, “It is easier to fool someone, than to convince someone that they have been fooled.”

In the current presidential election season, this seems quite true. I have yet to find someone that is undecided on who they are going to vote for. Perhaps, this is due to the online context in which we live. The “undecides” aren’t poking around either the political blogs, facebook or twitter.

So, it continues. Two more months until election day. ARGGGH. Why does the election season need to be so long. I am really getting tired of it all. Move the question and get on with other important stuff (like football).

On a related issue, I read that Al Gore is suggesting getting rid of the Electoral College. i think he’s right. It might be better if someone else floated the idea. The Electoral College is an anachronism. The net effect is many states get ignored by the candidates and other states have too much influence on the result. Just saying. It probably won’t happen for a long time.

One more thing that crossed my mind. And that is of the press. Disclosure: I read the NY Times, Boston Globe, LA Times, and occasionally USA Today and lastly the “Daily Breeze” (local San Pedro rag). Back in 2008, then VP candidate Sarah Palin, famously answered Katey Couric’s softball question on Today, “What newspapers do you read?” To which she answered (with a deer in the headlights look), “All of them.”

So when I quote an article in one of these publications about a Republican candidate, my Republican friends discount it with the “just a liberal paper”. They lie. So when Fox News reported on Paul Ryan’s speech the other night. Saying it wasn’t quite the truth. Same friends say it was the house liberal on Fox News. Everyone has an excuse for what they believe. I don’t watch Fox News or MSNBC. As i said in the opening paragraph, changing opinions is really hard.

So fact-checkers are ignored when the report doesn’t fit with one’s view of the truth, thus political campaigns seem to be able to lie with impunity. Very sad.

It’s been over a month, since I last watched any TV news. We haven’t got around to get TV service hooked up. Not sure I miss it. Of course, I do miss sports coverage. But the local news here doesn’t tell me how much the Red Sox suck. Football season starts soon so we need to get going on getting an HDTV and DirecTV set up. The only way I am going to watch the New England Patriots is on DirecTV.

One more thought. I read a piece on Condi Rice. It surprised me that Mitt Romney didn’t pick her for the VP slot. Ms Rice would have won over many centrist undecided voters and many women voters. She has the foreign policy chops that neither Romney or Ryan have. I suspect that her views on abortion (Pro Choice) and other women’s issues were the deciding factor. So Mitt picked Paul Ryan to satisfy the right wing base.
I have a question for my online audience. Who is going to play Paul Ryan on SNL?