LAX Sucks

Posted May 23, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Los Angeles, Travel

Tags: ,

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

Posted May 17, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: OES, Travel

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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…

Posted May 11, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Reviews

Tags: , ,

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

Posted May 5, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Internet, Technology

Tags: ,

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.

My Funeral Music

Posted April 23, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Dying, Music

Tags: , , , , , , ,

2000px-GClef.svgSo, my post the other day about funerals got me thinking. Joe, what about your funeral. Mind you, I’m not planning on checking out any time soon, but you never know. So I had a chat with Paula about what music I would like played at my funeral. A while back, I had created a playlist on my iPhone titled “My Funeral Music”. So here’s my list. You might not be able to play it all inside of 60 minutes. If you are reading this (and have some time), hook up your ear buds and spend some time listening to the pieces.

  1. The intermezzo from the opera Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni. This is the music that is heard between the two acts of the opera. One of the most beautiful, relaxing piece of music I have ever heard.”
  2. Take Five by the Dave Brubeck Quartet. I first heard this piece at a music appreciation class when I was in college. The professor was talking about 5/4 time signature which is a tad unusual. 5/4 time is five beats to the measure and 1/4 note gets one beat. He was comparing “Tchaikovsky – Sixth Symphony – Second Movement” to “Take Five” (both in 5/4 time)
  3.  A Hymn to New England by John Williams. This version is played by the Boston Pops with pictures of New England Scenery.
  4. The Entertainer by Scott Joplin. This rag time piece was made famous in recent years by reason of its use in the film “The Sting” starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. There was a time when I could play this but I don’t have the hand strength to play the octaves anymore.
  5. Heigh Ho from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”. This is probably one the most recognized (and loved) Disney tunes. When I first started playing the organ for my lodge back in Mass.I would play this tune at the beginning of every meeting. I don’t play it as much anymore. Maybe, I will push it up the stack for our next meeting.  Here’s another version done by Dave Brubeck in the album “Dave Digs Disney” done in 1957. Dave Brubeck is one of my all time favorite Jazz artists. Paula and I saw him in concert about a dozen years ago. Still touring into his 80’s. Amazing. And it that’s not enough heigh ho’ing for you, here is Louis Armstrong doing Heigh Ho.
  6. Next up would be the second movement from Mozart’s 21st Piano Concerto. This piece was made popular by the movie “Elvira Madigan” back in 1967.
  7. Now let’s get into some actual hymns. First on my list would be How Great Thou Art, followed closely by Amazing Grace.  And one more for my friend at OVBC, Daryl “What a Friend We Have in Jesus“.

Funerals

Posted April 23, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Family, Mary, Obituaries

Tags: , ,

Today Paula went to the funeral for the former organist/pianist from Ocean View Baptist Church. We asked Mary if she would like to go. We explained who she was and that Mary probably knew her at one time. But of course, the name didn’t ring a bell. Showed her a picture of her. Nothing.

Here’s the thing. Right now at this time in her life Mary does not like going to funerals. Doesn’t matter who the person was. She doesn’t want to go. She won’t go. Period. End of discussion.

Normally I would have gone with Paula, but I decided to stay with Mary.

So what is it about funerals with Mary? We have tried on many occasions to have a discussion with her on what she would like for her own funeral. We get nothing. We get stonewalled.

We ask cremation or not? Where would you like to be buried? The only guidance we got was that she wants Harold’s ashes buried with her. (Harold died in 2009 and was cremated.) That we can handle. So many questions.

So Paula and I are the ones stuck with the decisions. Paula is an only child. So there’s no sibling to talk to. Somehow, we will come up with a plan. That’s both a blessing and a curse. No one to argue with but at the same no one to share the load.

I found a blog a few years ago that I thought gave me some thoughts and insight. The blog is called “The Inspired Funeral“. Take a look.

Southpaw

Posted April 20, 2017 by joebowker
Categories: Family, Mary

Tags: , , , ,

Today was supposed to be an easy day. I had a dentist appointment at 11:10 for X-Rays and a filling. So my dentist is Dr Tulley. Dr Tulley is left handed. When I first met him I followed his assistant into his treatment room. I told her, Hey this room is set up backwards. I asked her, Is Dr Tulley left-handed? She says, yes he is.

So I meet Dr Tulley. I ask him how did a South Paw get to be a dentist? Well, somehow he did. Dr Tulley went to Tufts Dental School in Massachusetts. So, Dr Tulley is a Red Sox fan. This is getting better. Every visit, we get to talk a little baseball before we get started. Another MA expatriate in San Pedro. He’s teaching his kids to be Red Sox fans. Way to go, Dr T.

So there’s cavity is on one of my bridges near the gum line. This is not good. He was only able to patch it. That means he will have to replace the bridge. He took more X-rays to submit to the insurance company for pre-authorization. Even with insurance, it will still cost me a few $K’s. We’ll start the work after our trip to Boston in May. Time to take out some mega bucks from my IRA.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Mary was up early and complaining of something in her eye. So Paula makes an appointment with her eye doctor in Long Beach. Schedule is tight. I have dentist appointment and Paula is working at Asst League. Eye doc doesn’t find anything. Paula stops at MacD’s and gets Mary a chocolate shake.  Mary’s happy.

Mary has trouble identifying foods that we are serving her. ” What’s this?”, she says. Pizza I tell her. What are you putting on it? Hot pepper, but you probably don’t want it on your pizza. (Mary is not much for spicy.) Another time we made pork chops. Same question. Oh, and Mary loves watermelon. She loves the stuff. She would rather eat watermelon than say ice cream,

A couple of weeks ago, Mary said that she would sure love to have a “puppy dog” (her words, not mine). We both told her not going to happen. Told her a pet is a 15 year commitment. And who do think would be in charge of walking said “puppy dog” and picking up dog-poop? Anyways, not going to happen. No way, no how, not on my watch.

Mary gets her hair done on Friday. While she is sitting under the hair dryer, Paula and I will do the grocery shopping. I can get an iced coffee at the Starbucks at the grocery store. Venti iced coffee, no sweetener, leave room. They know what I want. They have a cup holder for your beverage on the grocery cart. This is one of the few times that we can get away from her without leaving her alone.

To my friends back east in the land of Dunkin’ Donuts, this is wrong. I tell them that when Dunky’s is on every corner and in many a supermarket, I might consider going back to Dunky’s. But for now, Starbucks it is. Closest Dunky’s is in Santa Monica, a 45 minute drive without traffic.

It’s getting hot here in San Pedro. Forecast in the 80’s all next week. Break out the shorts. Had the AC serviced last week. Just in time.

TTFN

Joe