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Three score and ten or more

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I don't have any idea why television commercials have been running around in my mind lately, but they have.  Some commercials are just fun.  Others are so agonizing that I get cranky just running across them on the tube.  I'm sure that some that irritate me are commercials loved by others, so I won't make unbreakable judgements, I can only express my own opinion.

For instance, I have enjoyed the Geico commercials with the little Gekko ever since they began, and they have gone through so many variations that it is hard to keep track of how they began. On the other hand, the Geico Cave Man commercials drive me nuts.  It isn't so much the premise, though I don't like that very much either.  It is mostly the writing that begins one way but contains little bits of negative flow.  There is one where the Cave man is sitting in a shrink's office and being put down and his cell phone rings.  "It's my mother,"he says" I'll put her on speaker."     Why on speaker, to prove that she can speak?  The ability to speak was out of the bag a long time ago.  Why not texting, or doing something unusual that proves the Cave man's family intellect.  I just get irritated.  There are other examples but I don't want to spend all my space on Cave men.

Of all the commercials that make me want to shoot the tv.  Those by Billy Mays are close to the top of the list.  He SCREAMS about magic putty, about health insurance, about a number of other products, some of which I used, until I heard the commercials.  Just being publicized by Billy Mays enough to earn my black ball.  (I think this is partially affected by the fact that 40's and 50's bandleader Billy Mays was one of my favorites, and his name always stood for smoothness and rhythm while this new Billy Mays stands for a headache)  About the only worse commercial (to me) is the one for SHAM WOW. It appears to be a decent product but it will never cross my door.

I was never much of a fan of the little Verizon man that used to wander the commercial streets whining "Can you hear me now", but I have begun to really look forward to the Verizon "dead zone" commercials.  The play off of horror movie cliches is just too precious.  The first one, a cadaverous woman who comes to the newcomers to the neighborhood to warn them of the "Dead Zone" in their home where calls are lost forever and upon being informed that they have the people of Verizon who have elimated the dead zone, stunned for a moment she looks back with "Well, you have crab grass."   The actress' timing is marvelous and I giggle every time .  There is a whole series growing, each funnier than the one before.  It would tempt me to change my cell phone to Verizon from Altel except that Verizon bought Altel about a year ago.

Speaking of acquizitions, do any of you remember the absolutely awful commercials for Wendys that had guys in red wigs screaming incomprehensible things to audiences made up of fifty Abe Lincolns,  or some other equally weird group.  Now Wendy;s has been purchased by Arby's and the commercial are changed to little red headed girls describing a sandwich as "way better than fast food."  Did you notice that this change occurred just after the Arby's purchase.   A conspiracy nut would be tempted to go back and analyze the personal wealth of the guys in the advertising agency that did the Abe Lincoln adds to see if they were paid off to make those terrible commercials in order to lower the price of Wendy's stock in order to get Arby's a better deal 

I have about six other commercials on my list but this is too darn long already.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

We have made another trip to Washington State. About three weeks ago, after some frustrating heath events, Janet looked at me and said"Well, while waiting to hear from Doctors, we have canceled our cruise given up two time share weeks, and missed about everyone's birthday but those who can come see us for a birthday. I am tired of it, why don't you get on travelocity and see if you can get reservations to go out to Alex's. Aubrey (our grand daughter) is going to play the lead in Oliver, at the New Blue Parrot Children's Theatre and Kurt (a grandson) is going to play one of his first (eighth grade) football games and I want to go see them"

I checked with Travelocity and found a couple of reasonable tickets, and away we have come. I was pretty dubious about the traveling. Janet has really suffered during relatively short automobile trips, and this was going to entail a three hour auto trip backed up with about eight hours of airplane, airport, and airplane again.

The trip turned out all right. Although Travelocity had shown a very limited number of discount seats (OURS, always), and a crowded plane, it turned out that we had a lot of space and Janet was able to stretch out and nap for much of the journey. It was still difficult, but we made it, (thank heavens for wheel chairs in terminals).

We checked in at the curb in Jacksonville (our departure city) and I was struck by how the new rules on baggage created suffering for the people who work in travel. The guy who checked our two bags (all we could afford) had literally no customers but us and I asked him how things were going. He was clear that his job had gone from being a really good job to the kind of job that urges one to keep looking for another.

Well, anyway we went from Jacksonville to Dallas, and after some food and a lot of CNN news we went from Dallas to Portland where we had a very nice trip through the terminal compliments of a very nice guy pushing the wheelchair, and we were met by family

Right after we arrived we were able to see the last half of a football game and went from that to a play rehearsal (Janet skipped that and went to bed early)

The next morning we received calls from our local cardiologist informing us that the surgeon in Houston had looked at Janet's new CT scan and didn't think surgery was necessary at this time so she should have another CT scan in six months and they would re-evaluate. (Which "somebody" in our cardiogists office suggested that the Houston guy was scared of it too) It is such a frustration. Her first surgeon at the Medical College of Georgia had said that is was crucial that she have surgery in four to six weeks, then we didn't hear from him for almost three months, at which time he stated that he was reluctant to do the surgery because it was beyond his skill and practice so he had referred her to a surgeon in Houston. Now the one in Houston says, in essence, "It isn't bad enough to warrant surgery now, lets postpone it for awhile. " At any rate we have another appointment with a surgeon at Emory University in three weeks to get a second (I guess that this is really third) opinion and Janet has an appointment with another doctor in two weeks to examine the lesions that the CT scan showed on her liver. Wow.

IN the mean time, Janet gets weaker an weaker. She has occasional breathing problems and a lot of trouble eating, (If she eats more than a few bites at a time, she has spasms (she calls it "burping".) The local doctors think that these are both problems caused by the size of her aorta. (According to the CT's her aorta is between three and five centimeters in diameter which is about the size of some folks hearts)

We're here, and we're gonna have a happy time . I will post periodically do let you know the kind of fun we're having. I am using Windows Live Writer to do the posts, and the links on the side bar inform me that this provides easy inserts of hyperlinks, pictures, tables, maps, tags, videos and Plug ins, so I will experiment with these things as I go along. As early readers know, I have had almost no success with them before.

It seems strange but Janet and I have laughed more since her surgery in Helsinki in 2006 than in the entirety of our marriage. We giggle and make fun of things to the degree that one of our children took her aside awhile ago and said, "Mom, when this surgery is over and you are all better, you are going to have to become 'responsible' again". We'll fool her/him. We are going to have fun. On October 11, our church is having a party for the three couples who live here that are celebrating Golden Wedding this year, soon thereafter we willl do all the doctor's appointments and on November thirteenth (Jan used to refer to it as the year Friday the Thirteenth came on Thursday) WE are going to do something else (don't know yet, but it will be fun) to celebrate the actual day (Maybe you will all be invited--If both of my readers show up it will be like doubling the population of the city). Then, if we aren't locked in a hospital we will go our an use the multiple weeks of timeshares that remain to us.

I was going to mention that I have now created a Facebook page. It has been three weeks, and I don't have a clue what to do with it. Oh well, we live and learn. If anyone has suggestions, let me know.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Today was one of those hospital trips I have discussed before. It was not one that concerned us, in fact the results were so predictable that Jan suggested the we just skip it. It was the once a year examination of her knee replacement surgery which went very well back in 2004, removed a lot of long term pain, and enabled her to walk without pain for the first time in years. I convinced her that she ought to go, so we packed up to drive the eighty miles to Augusta, GA, home of the Medical College of Georgia.

I was rather pleased to go to Augusta if we had to go somewhere because usually the cost of gas in Augusta is from five to twenty cents cheaper than in Statesboro. I know that everyone has faced some strange effects of the "Ike Spike" in gasoline prices but it was a shock to me. I filled up the tank in one car on Friday for $3.56 per gallon. Saturday morning I heard something on the radio that implied that there might be some price increases over the weekend so I took the other car to the Wally World station (which gives a three cent discount) and found that gas was now $3.89. I then completed an errand in town, and as I left for home the GATE discount station was posting a gas price of $4.39. The Standard oil station down the street was posting a price of $4.69. I turned around to see if I had misread the price at the GATE, and they were already posting a price rise. I continued toward home an saw another station that had posted a gas price of $4.99. things were really going bananas. By this morning the prices had leveled out to an average of about $4.29, but the thought of Augusta gas was tempting. Boy was I fooled. Most of the stations in August had a posted price of $4.99, and all of the discount stations had taken down their price lists and had no gasoline left. I found one Circle K minute mart that had posted prices of $4.49, but there were at least fifty cars lined up and a Dairy company eighteen wheeler was parked on one side of the island filling up all the tanks and the auxiliary tanks and taking up so much space that no on else could approach from that side. It was a little insane, and I decided (wisely it turned out) to wait till I got home to buy gas.

The second interesting thing was that as I was driving to Augusta I turned on the Neil Boortz show. I find Boortz enormously entertaining, but to my surprise, Boortz was on vacation and taking his place was Mike Huckaby-- yes, that Mike Huckaby. His enthusiasm for the McCain -Palin ticket was refreshing as were his comments about the media He pointed out that when there had already been eight "Republican" debates, there had been NO questions from the media monitors on Education, and only one on economics or the budget. He said that before one debate the candidates had talked with each other, and tried to suggest that since all of the questions up to that time had been on Iraq, Afghanistan, or Iran, and that since all of the candidates but Ron Paul pretty much agreed with each other on those topics, that they should give Ron five or ten minutes to express his opinion then shift the "debate" to other topics. The suggestion went nowhere, of course. Anyway, if Huckaby gets out of politics I would predict a really successful career as a talk show host on the radio. (Just what the Democrats need, another conservative talk show.)

The hospital appointment was refreshing because some of her medical care had been successful, and was still good, so we went away from the hospital somewhat happy for a change.

Since I last posted about Janet's health, the doctor in Houston called and requested a new CT scan so we got that done, and actally have a copy. It is a bit wild because it is set up so that we can see the entire scan the push a button and remove the exterior bones and go right in to the heart and aorta and even turn the heart and aorta around and look at it from all sides. Of course we can't understand what we see except that in the written commentary they discovered a lesion on Jan's liver which they find troubling. As if we didn't have enough "troubling stuff". It is fascinating to look at the scan, however. Jan says I ought to sculpt a model of it and decorate it with Christmas lights. Of course, the way things are going in Houston we aren't expecting any rapid decisions for a while, at least until they replace some windows in the hospital.

Oh well. Jan said yesterday that she is tired to postponing or canceling everything that we have planned in our lives, so I ordered tickets and we are flying next week to Vancouver Washington where we will see our Grand-daughter play the leading role in the New Blue Parrot Children's theatre production of Oliver. If that trip goes well, we will attend the party that our church has organized for the "over the hill gang" (My name for the three couples in our congregation that are celebrating Golden Wedding Anniveraries this year) on October 11, and then try to get to Ocala,Florida by Oct 18 for the birthday of one of my great grandchildren. (Of course this all depends upon the way the bodies hold up for the first trip and upon the decision of some doctor or another to decide that it is time for surgery.)

Saturday, September 06, 2008


Today was to have been the departure date of our cruise.  Almost a year ago we made reservations through RCI the time share people to take a cruise from Boston to the Maritime Provinces of Canada, Nova Scotia, etc., then back to Boston, and then, from there we had planned to go to a time share in Vermont where my wife could spend a week pursuing her genealogy.


Ever since the end of March when our cardiologist began to suspect that something was wrong with Janet's descending aorta and sent us for pictures of same. then sent us to the surgeon at the Medical College of Georgia, we have been almost as worried about the fate of our cruise as about Janet's health.  We  have never been on a cruise together, and it is one of the things we have talked about for years.  Our first plan was to try to cruise to Alaska at a time nearer our actual anniversary (November 13) and to try to get all of our kids to join us on the cruise.  It became clear early in our planning that this was impractical since cruises to Alaska stop well before Nov. 13 for simple weather reasons.  It became quickly clear that with six children, scattered all across the country, they were not all going to be able to go at one time, no matter what season it might be.


About that time the little man from RCI called us promising terrific prices and a variety of times and destinations, and if we would buy this we would get a certificate entitling us to a "free" week in a time share in the United States.  I called around and compared the prices, and found that anything similar would cost about the same amount (something barely less than three thousand bucks)  We counted our pennies and decided "To heck with it, we are going to go".   With our Finnish adventure only a year or so behind us we did buy trip insurance from a company recommended by the little man at RCI.   For a year and a half Janet has been selecting outfits to wear, planning our Vermont adventure, clearing the time, and it has been somewhat of an adventure in itself.

As the aortal  aneurysm (now, they call it an "aortic dissection") arose we gained a lot of hope when the surgeon in Augusta indicated surgery in May or June with a pretty short recovery time because of the new endovascular approach he was going to take.  We began to worry about the trip as well as the surgery itself when the surgeon began a process of procrastination, and didn't even tell us that he wasn't going to do the surgery and that he had referred us to another surgeon in Houston until the end of June or beginning of July (my dates are beginning to mush up together) but it was in early August when our cardiologist (we were getting what seemed to be procrastination from Houston as well, and he was wondering about sending Janet to Emory University Hospital to another surgeon that he knew) finally said that we   must put aside any thought of a cruise in September.  It was really a depressing couple of days but we were over a month early in canceling the cruise, and we had purchased the trip insurance so we decided to try to make the best of it.

That was when we discovered that the insurance, for which we were paying almost a hundred fifty dollars provided only coverage for 312.00.  This was, apparently what RCI and their cruise component, International Cruise and Excursion Gallery Inc. (along with another wholly owned subsidiary called Solutions at Sea) had paid the cruise line at the time of reservation.  (Can you imagine ANY sane person paying a hundred and a half dollars for 312 dollar benefit?  It was insane.  At least I know that I will NEVER buy, lease, rent, or even accept as a gift something promised by Resort Condominiums International.  For years, I have been a member, and for years it was always the cheapest place to rent a car, and I exchanged times shares a lot, but I say at this time if you ever are offered for sale anything, but the three names listed above (RCI, ICE, and SAS) RUN, DO NOT WALK to the nearest exit.  Hang up the phone, but first, scream insanely into it so that the guy on the phone knows that you know that it is a scam.

I wonder if you could pick up, from the above, that I am no longer a happy camper with RCI?

Today, however, has been a surprisingly difficult day.  Janet and I have been in a depressed funk all day.  She, more than me, she wants to make a reservation in some kind of hotel or resort immediately and go spend some time doing something other than work around the house and worry about our family.  (I didn't mention that our grand daughter in Florida who has been suffering from diabetes and keto-acidosis,  has been referred to hospice care. She is in her early twenties and has a six year old son.)  If I drank, I'd probably drink.  As it is, I will pray, and I will look for somewhere to take Janet for a couple of days.

I mentioned a long time ago that when she was in the hospital in Finland, unconscious, I sat beside her every day and sang to her.  (Lots of songs, but always including Our Love is Here to Stay by George and Ira Gershwin, it was "our song" when we were courting, and I sang it to her at our wedding reception) Now we sit together every night, after we have prayer, and sing "Its very clear, our love is here to stay, Not for a year but ever and a  day".  Now, we sing it together, usually adding some Finnish songs including Hosianna Davidin Poika  (Hosanna to the Son of David).  No matter how lousy the day has been, I feel better after that.

Well its time to go to bed.  I actually sat down here to write (in spite of my resolutions) something about John McCain and Sarah Palin, but I won't, and you probably had better not hold your breath until I change my mind.

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