General Information

Beware of “LIKE” Spammers….

Sorry about having to delete the “Likes” from my previous post. Mike Goad had left a “like” but at some point a troll or spammer, whatever you want to call them also left a “like” and not the kind of like graphic you like to see on your computer. Since there is apparently no way to delete individual “likes” I had to remove my entire “like” entry for that post.

The Perk of all Perks…..

I can’t think of a more appropriate time than today when the Atlanta Falcons take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI to republish a post I published back in November of 2009 discussing perhaps one of the best jobs one could have ever had in one’s lifetime. And even though I was only with the company a very short time, it was quite the experience to remember and some may even say I need some sort of mental examination given the fact I quit the job….

Originally Published November 16, 2009

Atlanta Fulton County Stadium(Click on image to enlarge)

In late October of 1968 I was stationed at Warner-Robbins Air Force Base which is located near Macon, Georgia. After being honorably discharged from the United States Air Force on November 1st of that year I decided I would travel to Atlanta and see if I could get a job there.

I fortunately found a job quite quickly and ended up working briefly for a company named Baker Audio which was located in Atlanta, Georgia proper. The company, although small, was quite well known for its expertise in the realm of audio and among other things, had put in the sound system in Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. This fact was soon to become a blessing in disquise as it turns out.

Not but a week or so after starting to work there my boss asked if I would mind working on an upcoming Sunday for a few hours. He noted that since it was Sunday I would be getting paid double-time. Well, I jumped at the opportunity. Especially given the fact I was only making like $90 a week to begin with. But the best news was yet to come

My boss then began to explain the essence of the job I had just accepted. The company, Baker Audio, had the maintenance and operating contract for the sound system with the Atlanta Stadium and anytime there was an event at the stadium requiring the sound system being used, that a Baker Audio sound system person had to be at the stadium to turn on the system and oversee any problems that might occur. My boss went on to say there was almost never a problem and if there was, they had backup available, normally equated to by simply flipping a switch.

He went on to say that the stadium had two heated and/or air-conditioned glassed-in booths. One was for the “rich and famous” and adjacent to it was the other booth which was for the operator of the electronic scoreboards and for the employees of the sound system company who were maintaining and running the sound system. The main sound system consoles were also located in this booth which is obviously why the employees were allowed in that booth.

On two different Sundays I accompanied my boss to the stadium to fulfill those responsibilities and learn how to turn on and run the system. Those two occasions involved football games being played by the Atlanta Falcon’s football team and their opponent for that week.

What this all meant in layman’s terms was that on the upcoming Sunday I was going to get paid double time for flipping a switch and sitting in a heated, glassed-in booth and watching a football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Rams or in case number two, watching them play the Detroit Lions a few weeks later. Does life suck sometimes or what?

That first Sunday I also found out that I was also allowed in the press area along with being able to partake in the food buffet set up for the press core and attending celebrities. I remember my boss and I getting a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon but everything was pretty much a blur to me. I was just completely mesmerized by the whole thing. Talk about a great job.

Below are a couple of gate passes I kept from the two games where I attended and worked so very, very hard. Some jobs have perks, but I have to say this was the perk of all perks! Being paid double time to watch a football game….at the stadium no less!

Atlanta Falcon Gate Pass 01a(Click on image to enlarge)

Atlanta Falcon Gate Pass 02a(Click on image to enlarge)

Believe it or not, I made one of those ‘life decisions’ only two months after taking this job to quit the company and return home to Arkansas. I think in the long run that was a good decision but it goes without saying how often I have thought back about that job and the fact that I could have been paid good money just to sit in a booth, flip a switch, and watch either the Atlanta Falcons or Atlanta Braves play their games season after season.

How ’bout some “Drop-Dead” shower caddies….

I can’t recall that I have ever purchased a ‘shower caddy’ before but was certainly familiar with what they were and the purpose they served. And given the fact that a shower caddy is such a very common bathroom accessory and available product, well past that I never gave them much thought. That was until yesterday morning when I decided I needed one to hang on the shower door of my home’s half-bath.

Walmart, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond and of course Amazon, I just knew they would be available from all types of outlets. So as always the first thing I did was consulted the Google search to see who had what and exactly what style might catch my eye. Given the fact that these are but mere shower caddies probably selling from between $10 to $30, it shouldn’t be hard to find one I liked.

Search engines are a bit like roulette wheels given you never know who is going to show up in the number one position of Google. But coming up first yesterday morning was the big box hardware store Lowe’s. Now at that moment I thought that was great, after all I only live about a mile or so from a local Lowe’s store. So I did a search on the Lowe’s website for shower caddies and the first of those drop-dead caddies showed up. Now trust me, before you look at the Lowe’s ad shown below you need to have taken all your heart medication because I guarantee you’re about to see a drop-dead shower caddy….

OK…. now if you’re still with me I hope you noted that the caddy is even made of plastic and it looks like a 3-tier soap dish to me. And that price does definitely say $399, I know cause I stared at it for almost five minutes, mouth open thinking I was hallucinating. Then I thought that perhaps the shower caddy was somehow permanently attached to the shower so the shower itself came with it. Now that would make sense but alas, the price was just for the shower caddy it turns out.

After regaining my composure I concluded that surely that was simply a typo in the ad with regard to the price. So I dropped down to the next shower caddy and there it was, the generic shower caddy that one would think they could get just about anywhere for $15 to $20 but not this one, this was another one of those drop-dead Lowe’s shower caddies….

Well, that was the last straw for me. Time to leave ‘la-la land’ or OZ or where ever the hell I was, regain my composure and go find one of the surely millions of shower caddies priced accordingly. I decided to go to Amazon next and within a matter of minutes had found the caddy I wanted.

As you may have readily noted the Amazon caddy which is quite similar to the Lowe’s caddy just above, it is only $19.99, made of steel and is available in two different styles and three different finishes. So not only is it $295 dollars cheaper but it is actually more versatile. Now I don’t pretend to know what is going on with the Lowe’s shower caddies shown above nor do I intend to pursue an answer. Fact of the matter is I was simply so taken back and shocked at the Lowe’s prices that I just had to share the experience and of course, the “drop-dead” shower caddies! 🙁

Remembering those Social Security deductions….

This morning for some reason right out of the clear blue something I hadn’t thought of in years popped into my mind. I remembered that increase in pay you hopefully use to get at some point each year, dependent of course on your salary, after you had paid in the maximum amount of Social Security established by the Social Security Administration for that particular year.

The first year I reached and exceeded that maximum Social Security deduction was 1970 when the maximum deduction number was $7800 and I made $8600 that year. I remember first seeing that extra amount in my net pay on my pay check and simply thought I must have gotten a raise. What was odd is that I had not been informed of any such raise. Hearing of my curiosity about the pay increase, one of my coworkers clued me in as to what the increase was all about. Up until that point I was really a bit clueless about how all those deductions like Social Security and Medicare worked.

Having said that, shown below is an interesting chart of the yearly Social Security deductions beginning in the year 1937 and going thru the year 2016. For this year as a matter of information, 2017, the maximum is set at $127,000.

And so it was that from that first year that I received that increase forward, through my career as the latter part of the year approached with each pay check I anticipated that perhaps it was this week that I had reached that Social Security payoff threshold. And after looking at your pay check and another week was going to pass you by there was certainly at least a brief moment of disappointment if you did not see that increase.

The last year of my working career that I had met the Social Security deductible maximum was before the end of the year, 1989, when it had reached $48,000. I went into semi-retirement in 1990 so I had a substantial decrease in income from that point on and that Social Security deductible became but a fleeting memory of the past.

In looking at that chart today I am amazed at how high the Social Security deduction has gone. I did check however and according to the Pew Research Center Institute the income spread for a middle class family of three is anywhere from $42,000 to $125,000, dependent of course on many factors, the least not being where you are living and the associated cost of living. In other words, if you live in Vicksburg, MS you are far less likely to come close to that threshold than if you were living in New York City.

Now at age 75 I find myself on the other end of this discourse, benefiting in my old age from all those years of playing that waiting game, more thankful for what I paid in than for those token raises I was enjoying along the way…. 🙂

The VCR Movie Recycling Project….

I am not by any stretch of the imagination a recycling fanatic but I do try my best at keeping our environment vitality in a manner fitting for future generations. With that in mind, I suppose one has to have an exceptional amount of time on their hands when they approach some of their brainstorm projects. Certainly one of my most recent would fall into that category. And one cannot deny that retirement often breeds extended moments of complete boredom.

Perhaps like me many of you have a stockpile of no longer wanted VCR movies and recordings. I never have been a prolific movie buyer and remain so yet today however over the years when VCR tapes were the norm in spite of my restrained movie purchase habit I still managed to accumulate some eighty or ninety tapes.

After making an exerted effort to educate myself regarding the disposal and discarding to VCR tapes so as to not be guilty and complicit in contributing to the demise of my home planet’s environment, I found myself in pursuit of a prescribed method for the disposal of such items. One tantalizing recommendation was just to take all your VCR tapes to Goodwill or the Salvation Army. But it was strongly noted that those organizations would only be interested in the commercial movie tapes in their appropriate boxes and further went on to state that even then, they might end up in a land fill somewhere.

The only other option seemed to me was to disassemble each tape into its various parts and dispose of the various parts accordingly, which I found to be comprised of three parts. A few metal parts to include normally five screws and a few metal clips, several plastic parts to include the covers, the plastic tape reels, and finally the VCR tape itself. The plastic and the metal can be recycled but unfortunately the tape/film can not be so it has to go to a landfill.

On the morning that I began the project I cleaned of a large table and began the disassembly. From start to finish it took me a few hours spread over a couple of days to complete breaking all the tapes down into their various components. I have included a couple of photos below showing the disassembly in progress. Be sure to click of the photos to enlarge….

With regard to the time required to break down the VCR tapes into their degradable parts it was noted on one of my referenced websites that this was the price we pay for manufacturing products with no forethought to their end of life. Certainly it would have been so much easier to just pass these items off to a charitable organization but my gut feeling is that in the end, regardless of any further legitimate use, they would have not been disposed of properly.

In the end I am not sure what the most honest response is in regard to why I embarked upon such a project. I’ve never been to a “save the  planet” rally or anything like that. In fact, I’ve not even crafted a “save the planet” poster. Given that, it seems my efforts to reach environmental Sainthood were nothing more than a way to keep boredom at bay…. 🙂

Gotta’ love the “Clicklist”….

There has been a lot of talk about this new Walmart convenience feature they call “Walmart Pickup Grocery” that allows customers to shop on-line for their groceries and then go to Walmart at an appointed time and pick them up. You apparently just go to a designated pick-up location, stay in your car and a Walmart employee brings your ordered groceries out and puts them in your car and you pay the employee for the groceries. Not being a Walmart grocery shopper I didn’t give the whole idea a whole lot of thought. Then a short time back I heard that Kroger, the grocery franchise I use, was starting to offer a similar service at some of its locations. The information again registered but still I gave it little thought at the time.

But here recently, given my COPD condition and the fact that I do live alone, I began feeling a more urgent concern about how I was going to get my groceries when it became much harder for me to get around. I have pretty much always assumed I would probably have to hire someone to come in at least weekly and do my shopping for me. And of course nothing is free so I was wondering what I would have to pay for a service like that. It’s disconcerting and frustrating to think that they’ll surely come a time when you can’t even do your own grocery shopping.

Then more recently one of my sisters mentioned in casual conversation that one of her daughter’s had begun using the grocery pickup service at her local Kroger store in the town where they lived. My sister also noted to me that even though they are offering the service, it’s only at certain stores. So I told her I would have to check it out and see if any store close to me was offering it. Turns out the local store I used wasn’t offering the service but another Kroger only a little over a mile away was so that was good to know.

Now I already had an on-line account with Kroger because the pharmacy I use for all my medication needs is the Kroger pharmacy located at the store where I do all my grocery shopping. And while on the subject I can’t say enough good things about them. I really like the pharmacy and their friendly staff. Anyway, as is quite normal these days you can go on-line and set up an an account with Kroger and then you are able to track all your medication needs and transactions on-line for your pharmacy.

So… a few days ago I thought I would take a look on the Internet and see if I could learn more about Kroger’s grocery shopping service which they call “Clicklist”. I signed on to my Kroger account and noticed a tab at the top of the page that read “Order On Line” so I clicked on the tab and was immediately taken to the Kroger store closest to me which offered the service. Well, as I looked over their website I was a bit taken back after clicking on one of the site’s menu items titled “My Recent Purchases” because it appeared to contain every item I had purchased at least over the past 6 months. The “screen capture” below (click to enlarge for a much better resolution) shows a portion of the webpage I am referring to along with several of the items I typically purchase….

Then I realized they were getting and tracking my shopping habits through my Kroger Savers Card which they scan each time I shop to apply any current savings on the specific item I have purchased that day. That gave me a bit of a eerie feeling to know they knew that much about me. Since virtually every item I normally purchased was listed in the “My Recent Purchases” section, that mean’t if I were shopping I could finish selecting my weekly grocery items in a few short minutes, submit my order and be done. So, that’s exactly what I did. I had to see if this service could satisfy my needs due to my health issues and facilitate my future mobility issues.

I made an appointment for the next morning to pick up my order between 9 and 10 AM and then submitted my order. Shortly thereafter I got a confirming email. Then the following morning I drove to the store and went to the designated pick-up area and parked. There was a sign posted there giving you a specific phone number to call. When you called that number you let them know you were there and give them the number of the parking slot you were parked in which was also posted on the sign along with the phone number. In a short time they came out with your groceries on a cart, you paid by credit card, in my case they then put the groceries in my trunk as requested (no tipping by the way) and that was it…. I headed back to the house.

Should note at this point that this service is not free. At the store I am using, for your first three orders there is no charge for the service. After that, each time you use the “Clicklist” service there is a $4.95 charge and as previously noted, there is no tipping the grocery clerk who brings out the groceries and loads your car.

After arriving back home I unloaded the car and checked out my groceries. I was completely pleased. It was as though I had done the shopping myself. Had even ordered ¾ lb. of shaved smoked turkey from the Deli and it was perfectly cut and packaged.

Finally I should note with regard to purchasing of fresh beef, I am quite particular and for this type of service the purchasing of beef was my biggest concern. Having someone one else pick my beef selections was a bit unnerving. I noticed while doing the on-line shopping that their sirloin tip roasts were on sale and since it’s pretty hard to screw up on a roast I ordered one. The one they chose for me is shown in the adjacent photo (click on image to enlarge). The choice wasn’t all that bad although I’m not sure it is the one I would have chosen but obviously without the selections in front of me it is hard to say. At any rate I cooked the roast yesterday and it was really good.

I suppose this is a rather lengthy post but I just thought that someone in the same boat as I am with regard to lack of future mobility that had never considered this new service being offered by so grocers might like a bit of a review from an old person who had actually tried it. I did like the service and there is no doubt that I will use it a number of times in the future. The only roadblock I foresee is if something were to happen to my ability to drive a car. 🙁

Bucket List Item…. Clean out the old man’s attic!

attic-composite-02

Okay, it is definitely a given that cleaning out one’s attic is not an activity you might find on a great many ‘bucket lists’ but it did find its way on to mine. You see dining in Paris, kayaking down the Amazon River or climbing driving to the top of Pike’s Peak may be more common ‘bucket list’ items but for me, well it would be the preparing and packing for those trips and not the trip itself where the pleasure would be extracted.

All this is predicated on the fact that I am suffering from a self-diagnosed case of OCD. No, it’s not the more familiar kind of OCD known as ‘Obsessive Compulsive Disorder’. In my case it is an off-shoot disease known as ‘Organizational Compulsive Disorder’. Any sign of disarray sends one into a fit of organizational rage. And if you are planning on moving to Cemeteryville in the not so distant future, how in good conscience can you leave such clutter and mayhem to your beneficiaries.

It seems logical that if someone is suffering from OCD (Organizational Compulsive Disorder) as I apparently am, it therefore follows that one would certainly take great pains in preparing for their own death. And over the past year or so I have gone to some length doing just that. It all began pretty much with my attic which has been the recipient of who knows what all since 1959. Yep, it’s been the family home for that long and I decided to clean out the attic come hell or high water. A patched together composite of my attic can be seen above and clicking on the photograph will give one a much larger view of its sad condition before cleaning out.

Now, as to the cleaning out itself, well that actually fell to my sister and brother-in-law for the most part (bet their wishing about now I had retired in some rural area in northern Alaska). Well, I was just physically unable to offer much help and they were gracious enough to offer their services. Needing and having to have help to do certain things when you have been independent and living on your own for as long as I have creates yet another issue when your growing old but that we’ll leave for another post.

As the attic refuse began to accumulate in one room or another it was evident that I was becoming eligible to qualify for one of those “hoarder” reality television programs. I may end up with a trashed living area but by golly I was going to have a clean attic, fitting for someone who is meticulous about their death preparation.

attic-cleanout-01
attic-cleanout-02

attic-cleanout-03
attic-cleanout-04

A day or so later I got the brainstorm that I should photograph all this stuff. Why? Well, then I would have photographs of it to post on the Internet should it decide to sell it or give it away. So that is exactly what I did. I have already given away a lot of old picture frames, tons of old mat boards for framing photos and a number of those old cake and cookie storage tins.

And as for the attic itself, well there were a few remnants of life still lying around but for the most part she had been gutted of all her trash and treasure as is reflected in the composite photo below….

cleaned-out-attic-composite-01

I guess that is pretty much it at the moment. Other posts will certainly follow regarding this OCD project. I am still slowly but surely getting my house back in some as-semblance of order. Taking on this project has been quite taxing for someone with organizational issues. In order to clean out the attic I have to trash my home’s living area. Perhaps this whole thing was not as well thought out as it should have been?

The Aesthetics of Urban Living….

To a great extent after one retires they have going in their favor the fact that they can now choose where they would like to live. At least that is initially how it might appear on the surface. Turns out, that’s not quite the way it is in reality. I suppose the two major factors that have impact on where we might choose to live are one’s health and their financial means.

I live in the city, an urban environment, for which there are as many advantages as there are disadvantages for me. I have always wanted to live in a rural area, away from all the noise and irritating people and neighbors one constantly must deal with it seems. But let me stop myself right here on that subject before I get bogged down in all the pros and cons of urban verses rural living.

The moment of origin for this journal entry was given birth early one morning recently as I was sitting on my backyard patio drinking my morning coffee. As the sun began rising and playing peek-a-boo with the tree branches I noticed some of the nearby power lines starting to gleam in the early morning sun. And then I noticed there were more, and then there were yet more and soon it was starting to appear that I was living in the middle of an electrical switch-yard somewhere. The two photographs below reflect the stark reality of the power lines intrusion into the aesthetics of the neighborhood. I highly recommend clicking on each of the images to get a better sense of what I am trying to impart….

visual-pollution-01

visual-pollution-02

I have lived in this house off and on since 1959 and never noticed all those power lines before and their intrusiveness into what little aesthetics are available in an urban environment to begin with. But it then did occur to me that over the last few years since the area suffered through a fairly devastating ice storm back in the year 2000, the power company has been coming in and cutting back all these old trees back quite a distance from those power lines in an effort to eliminate the kind of damaged suffered in 2000 by all the falling limbs. Many of those offending trees actually got totally removed, all of which contributed to the opening up of the canopy over my home and the homes of my neighbors. And in that process, all those power lines which were hidden from view are now out there and exposed.

They actually have a term for such ugliness? You have light pollution, there’s noise pollution and believe it or not, there is “visual pollution” which is based on the aesthetics of an area. And as it turns out those old power lines are often major contributors to the issue of visual pollution.

Not much else can be said about this I suppose. It is what it is and neither I nor the city can address the issue. Too much water under the bridge at this late date. Fortunately the power companies have learned that in-ground power grids are much more reliable and aesthetic and several of our more recent municipalities have been recipients of the in-ground grids.

The Demise of the Plains Buffalo

The Bison Trail - 1908 - 2

Certainly most all of us have either read or heard tales of the demise of the huge herds of Bison that were so predominate and plentiful in the early 1800’s. I recently realized that I was certainly educated with regard to the referenced demise but possessed little to no perspective on its magnitude. That all changed when by happenstance I ran across the photograph shown below.

The Bison Demise - 02

The Bison Demise - 03I found that photo personally to be a stark kick in the behind, a reality check if you will. I had seen numerous drawings and paintings in the past such as the one just to the left depicting in some manner the demise of the numerous buffalo herds but apparently none of them had any real sobering effect at the time. I suspect, at least for me, that many drawings and paintings depicting such events border on entertainment rather than journalistic documentation such as the above photo with a mountain of buffalo skulls and horns.

As history informs us, as the 19th century was nearing its end the Bison population had been all but decimated. With a growing population of upwards of some 30 – 60 million at the beginning of the 19th century, by the late 1880\’s there were as few as 1000 left and the Great Plains buffalo was at the edge of extinction. William Hornaday, a noted conservationist of the times, estimated the total population of Bison in 1889 to be 85 free ranging, 200 in the Yellowstone National Park federal herd, 550 at Great Slave Lake in Canada and 200 in zoos and private herds. By 1902 there were only 23 buffalo estimated to be in the Yellowstone National Park herd and 700 in private herds.

I ran across a couple of other additional journalistic photographs that further added to the stark realization of the human inflicted tragedy that befell our subject animal. One can only ponder at what our forefathers were thinking as they plundered these herds. On the other had, history has certainly taught us that when there is a great bounty, there is likewise an accompanying of great waste.

The Bison Demise - 01

The second of the two photographs is noted as being taken in Dodge City, Kansas in 1878 at the Rath & Wright Buffalo Hide Yard showing an estimated 40,000 buffalo hides stacked in one location in their hide yard. And let me note that a larger view of the subject photos can be seen by clicking on them…

Rath & Wright\'s Buffalo Hide Yard in 1878 showing 40,000 buffalo hides - Dodge City, Kansas

It would have probably under normal circumstances never even crossed my mind as to the history and demise of the Great Plains buffalo. After all, I had seen the film “Dances with the Wolves” where there was one traumatic scene showing the waste left by white hunters in their quest for hides. But in reality that scene did not even scratch the surface of that crime against nature when viewed in these few photographs.

In closing I should note that the current North America estimated Bison population including Canada herds, the Yellowstone National Park herd, zoos and private herds is inclusive of approximately 500,000 buffalo. It took less than 100 years to decimate a population of between 30 – 60 million buffalo and over 100 years to bring that population back to only a half-million. 🙁

Yep, I’ve redecorated the blog….

Recently, with the help of my little sister and brother-in-law we cleaned out my attic. Actually I prefer to think we rescued many of my treasures that had been exiled from my living quarters for a very, very long time. But now they’re all back with me and cluttering up my life yet once again. But then let’s face it, who wants to die alone?

But enough about the attic and dying. In the process of doing all that I also got the urge to, what I call, repaint my blog. Just like painting your house, it’s the same old house in the same old neighborhood, it just has a fresh coat of paint on the walls. Otherwise, yep, it’s just the same old blog.

My favorite colors have always been a combination of browns, oranges and yellows including their various shades. That can easily be confirmed if you walk inside my home. If you don’t like browns, oranges and yellows you ain’t going to like it there as is reflected in the photos below of my living room (left) and computer room (right)….

Living Room - 2006
Computer Room - 2007

And so based on that it should come as no big surprise that if I get the urge to repaint the old blog it’s going to incorporate my living colors. Presently I have chosen to feature an overall burnt orange feel to the old blog with, as you can note, brown highlights. That’s about all I can say other than I plan on cleaning out my storage room next, probably in the spring, so I am not sure what ramifications my blog may endure from that endeavor… 🙂