Posted tagged ‘OES’

It’s Flying Time Again…

May 14, 2018

It’s time for our annual trip to Boston for MA Grand Chapter OES.

I did a few last minute errands this morning. Picked up shirts at the cleaners. Picked up Rx for Mary and went to the USPO to hold the mail.

So the main USPO in San Pedro is this beautiful old Art Deco building. So I took a picture of the lobby. It’s worth a look.

All of my computer gear is packed. My function at GC is to do the recording of the session. To do this I have an interface that patches into the sound system and connects to my laptop via USB interface.

Of course, I am bringing iPad, iPhone x2, iPad mini (for Paula). Plus all of the applicable chargers and cables.

I checked in at noon with Delta. Boarding passes loaded on phones. Got note from Delta that I have to check bags at LAX Term 2, then off to Term 3 due to construction. What a PITA.

I would have liked to do non stop both ways, but to do that on LAX-BOS would mean flight leaves to 0800. To early for us, so flight leaves at noon and change planes in Detroit. Arrive in BOS at about 10 pm EDT. We will be at our hotel by about midnight give or take.

So we expect to see many friends and relatives. Fly back on next Monday.

TTFN,

Joe

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

HP Access

July 19, 2015

It has been a challenging weekend to say the least. On Saturday, we were scheduled to go up to Rob Morris Chapter in Santa Monica. We strongly encouraged Mary to come along. We didn’t feel comfortable leaving her alone for about eight hours. Our plans were to leave at 2pm. Paula had been asked to do Ruth at an initiation ceremony. So we were committed on going.

We figured it would take us at least an hour to get from San Pedro to Santa Monica. It seemed that everyone in LA was on the 405. Where are all these people going we thought? Certainly not to work on a rainy Saturday afternoon. We were supposed to be there at 3pm for a rehearsal. As it turned out, we were late leaving. It takes a great effort to get Mary ready and loaded in the Jeep. So we arrived at the Masonic Center at about 3:30pm. By the way, we do have an HP placard for Mary.

Here’s where my discussion turns to HP access. We had never been to the Santa Monica Masonic Center before. We were told that there was an elevator and HP parking. So far so good. What we weren’t told was the HP parking was in the back of the building and the elevator was in the front of the building.

There is a back door, but only steep stairs to the 2nd floor where the lodge room is located. So Paula goes on ahead up the stairs while I take Mary around to the front. The walk for her was totally exhausting. If I wasn’t there with her I think she would have just laid down and died. So the lesson learned when checking our HP access. Ask detailed lessons about HP parking and location of elevators and the like.

So I got Mary up to the Lodge room and got her settled so she could recover. We got through the initiation. Normally at one of these affairs there would be a collation or meal at the Masonic center. This time the plan was to go out to a nearby Mexican restaurant. Okay by us, but we neglected to check on HP access. Our bad.

The restaurant was about 5 minutes from the Masonic center. No HP parking but they did have valet parking which is a good substitute. Here’s where the trouble started. Our group had a reservation and our tables were upstairs. NOT GOOD. No elevator. So slowly, very slowly Paula helps Mary climb the stairs. It might as well have been Mt Everest.

We had a nice dinner and good company, but truth be told the food was mediocre. Finished up at 8 pm and headed home. Pulled into the garage at about 9 and put Mary to bed.

Lessons learned: Be specific in asking questions about HP access. It can make a big difference.

Mary got up this morning and had breakfast but she decided not to go to church. Just as well. She needed time to recover from Saturday’s ordeals.

It also gave Paula and I time to talk over the recent events. The subject of a putting Mary in a nursing home came up. We’re not quite there yet. But we are approaching the point where caring for Mary could become more than we can handle. We are going to need to start some contingency planning to identify suitable facilities. We are hoping that Mary recovers somewhat from her pain and her ability to get into and out of bed.

Now we’re off to LA Harbor Lodge Chili Cookoff. We will probably do take-out for Mary.

Travels with Mary

October 20, 2014

On Saturday Paula, Mary and I drove up to Visalia to attend the OES Grand Chapter Installation of our good friend Roger Nieder as Worthy Grand Patron. Visalia is about 200 miles north of San Pedro in California’s central valley. We usually do a rest stop about half way. This time we stopped for lunch in Gorman which is just about at the north end of the Grapevine.
 
 Normally we would have gone for the entire grand chapter session but that would have been too much for Mary to do. (Us too.) We have to be constantly watching her to keep her from falling. She has graduated from the walker to using a cane.
 
 So she moves oh so slowly. We try to have someone on her arm with the cane on the other arm. All it would take would be one bump from someone to knock her over. She has this idea in her head that she eventually will be able to ditch the cane. We tell her your PT person told you that you will always need a cane. She of course doesn’t remember any of this. She also thinks that someday she will be driving again. I don’t think so, Tim. Our constant answer is “We’ll see about that.”
 
 So we were staying in one room at a Holiday Inn (more on the hotel later) in Visalia. We would have loved to have the privacy of one room for us and one room for Mary, but we learned the lesson back in June that she needs to be closely supervised.
 
 It has been incredibly stressful for Paula and I to be constantly on guard with her especially in an unfamiliar environment and in crowds. The risk of a fall is ever present.
 
 So the installation started at about 7:30 PM. We had plenty of time to rest up for the event.


(l-r) Mary, Shawn Donahue (Sr Grand Deacon), and Paula
 
 


Roger Nieder, Worthy Grand Patron
 
 So we had a great time with no visits to any ER’s along the way. We arrived home on Sunday at about 3:00 PM after about a four hour ride.
 
 Now about the hotel. We stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. Room was comfortable but there were so many little faults that made to stay less than acceptable.
 
 1. They tried to put us in a room that hadn’t been cleaned. That meant that Mary stayed with Paula while I went back to the front desk to get our room changed.
 
 2. Coffee maker didn’t work.
 
 3. WiFi credentials didn’t work. Not that it matters much. Usually my cell phone data is faster than hotel WiFi. Never seen hotel Wifi much faster than 1 Mbps.
 
 4. Desk chair was broken.
 
 On the plus side, they had a decent restaurant with a decent breakfast buffet. We ate there on Sunday morning before we left.
 
 The list goes on and on. I expect hotels (even budget hotels) to take care of the little things. There are plenty of other budget hotels to choose from that do take care of them. We won’t be staying there again.
 
 We are trying to get back to doing “Date Night” again. Next Thursday, we have tickets to see the play “The Trip to Bountiful” with Blair Underwood and Cicely Tyson up in Downtown LA. Just the two of us. Sometimes just going shopping together seems like a date together.
 
 – Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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

Peppermill Resort & Casino

October 3, 2013

In my last post, I talked about the routes from So Cal to the north. It was pointed out by my wife (a native Californian) that there is a fourth route that exists. That would be the inestimable Rt 101. Rte 101 follows the coast from LA to San Francisco. This is the ultimate in scenic routes. You go through Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Carmel and a host of other photo ops along the way. One of these days we will do the 101,

So we arrived at the Peppermill last Saturday for the Nevada Grand Chapter of OES. OES is the Order of Eastern Star which is a fraternal organization for men and women. More about Grand Chapter later.

The Peppermill is a huge facility. Large Casino operation plus meeting and banquet facilities, Checkin went pretty smoothly. There was a short line, but it went pretty quick. The parking was valet parking though you could self park if you insisted. The bellman unloaded all of our stuff and got it up to room real quick.

So far so good. The room was good size. It had king size bed, couch, desk and chairs. Included coffee pot, wifi and all of the normal amenities. Wifi was fast when you could get a signal. It was intermittent at best. One strike for crappy wifi.

The decor was a sort a Queen Anne motif along with paintings of Tuscan motif. Even a painting in the bath room. It seemed a bit odd to me.


We attend four banquet meals during our stay. All of the meals were absolutely fantastic. Feeding a large crowd all at the same time can be a real challenge. The Peppermill wait staff were absolutely fantastic. I can’t say enough good things about them.

Okay now lets talk about the casino. Nevada is the only state in the USA that stills allows cigarette smoking in public spaces. I don’t really blame the Peppermill for this but the place stunk of cigarette smoke. They did have a small non-smoking gaming area. This was the first time in over 25 years that I saw a cigarette machine. $9 for a pack of cigarettes.

Casinos are designed to be a disorienting space and the Peppermill is no different. It takes a good long while to figure out your way around. I don’t gamble so I just had to make my way through the casino section. The noise is deafening.

We are looking forward to a trip in November to Las Vegas to a non-smoking, non-casino resort. Betcha didn’t know that such an thing existed in Vegas.

Overall, it was a decent experience. All of the events were in one place. We didn’t have to go anywhere else during our stay. If you don’t care about OES, then stop here.

Nevada OES is certainly much smaller then either CA OES or MA OES. About 20 chapters spread out around the state. Several chapters around Reno and the same around Las Vegas. Getting from the chapters in the north to the ones in Vegas is not so easy. There is I80 running from Reno to Wendover in the East for about 400 miles. There is no interstate between Reno and Las Vegas. So going from Reno to Vegas is a challenge.

That’s pretty much it for the hotel part of this post. The rest is about OES in general and Nevada OES in specific.

The folks that we met at NV GC were very friendly. They made our stay very enjoyable.

The registration process was oh so very easy. They had a single spreadsheet on their web site where you could select our hotel accommodations and the banquets that you planned to attend. Fill out the spread sheet and send it in with one check for the banquets. One stop shopping, so to speak. In CA and MA, one has to download flyers for each banquet. Write a check for each banquet and send it to the chairperson.

Elections were an interesting process. There were five women running for the office of Assoc Grand Conductress. None of the candidates were allowed to give a campaign speech or to campaign during the months leading up to Grand Chapter. The process took four votes before one candidate finally got a majority.
Candidates were asked if they wanted to withdraw, but were not required to do so. In MA the bottom vote getters would be required to withdraw.

Also Grand Sentinel is an elected office like in MA but not in CA. We think the GS goes up the line as in MA. Grand Sentinel in CA is an appointed office and does not go up the line. We met people from CA, AZ, ID and WA. Our thanks to Linda (Grand Representative to MA in NV) for being very gracious host.

So now we are in Utah to visit Neil. We are going to visit the Utah Museum of Science and Industry to see the Leonardo exhibit.

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Location:Reno NV

OES Recording Committee

May 18, 2012

They say that when you retire, you don’t stop working. You just stop getting paid for it.

Such is the case here. A couple of years ago, I was asked by the Worthy Grand Matron if I would do the session recording at Grand Chapter. I said sure why not.

So I am the recording committee chairman. Chairman of a committee of one, me. They also call it taping. But we haven’t used audio tape in many years.

So what is it that I do? I sit in the back of the auditorium next to the sound board and lighting panel. I have just enough room to set up laptop and my interface box.

I run an application called ‘Cubase’, which does the actual recording. Here’s a screen shot.


The interface box takes a patch cord from the sound board and connects to my laptop by USB cable. Here’s a picture.


By Saturday night I will have collected about 30Gb of .WAV files. I then process and organize. Finally converting to MP3 files and writing to a DVD disk for the Grand Secretary.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad