.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Three score and ten or more

Monday, June 27, 2011

Going Home

Tomorrow at 6:46 A.M. (and I won’t be late for the plane again) we leave Washington to go back to Georgia.  I am on a little break from packing.

I just picked up a June 1957 copy of TV Guide from the detritus of a yard sale in which some of my family participated.  I was interested to find a major article about media manipulation by politicians and discovered that one of the early and most successful of media-manipulators was the estimable Bill Moyers, working, at that time as  press  secretary for Lyndon Johnson (yes, that Bill Moyers whom we are told is so objective and fair that his fecal matter fails to stink even if it falls on the ground)

The article went on to point out media manipulation by all presidents since that time (and implies that it existed before that time as well.)

A second article in the same issues calls Jimmy Carter on the same charge and says that he had no identifiable political phylsosphy except to manage his message (or massage as it says) to match the polls of that time. 

It was interesting to see  the identification of these things fifty-plus years ago years ago,  In politics, the more things change, the more they stay the same. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011


This evening we invited our grandson and his parent to dinner in celebration of his high school graduation. We had planned to go to Ringside in Portland because we go some wonderful steaks there time we went. Unfortunately we couldn’t get reservations this evening so we asked my son to suggest another place. He played with his magic telephone for a minute or two and said that he had heard good things about a Brazilian Steak House called El Gaucho. We called for reservations, got them and off we went.

What a wonderful choice. We had an appetizer called Wicked Shrimp, and got great shrimp in what they called “El Diablo sauce” and followed up with a variety of dishes. My grandson and I had a sirloin steak with lobster medallions called the El Gaucho steak with asparagus etc. My daughter in law had a chicken dish with lobster medallions, my son had a rib eye steak that probably was as good as it looked (and it looked wonderful), and my wife ordered something called “Flaming Swords” with tenderloin medallions. We ordered sides to share, and Janet and I shared a baked potato that was totally decadent, and the man came with the Flaming Sword and set it ablaze at our tableside.

Everything was absolutely top notch including the fiery tenderloin. The service was out of this world with an ambiance that was also first rate with lighting that was just barely light enough to read the menu and very good Latin (I presume Brazilian) music . To top it off, because it was our first time in the restaurant and in honor of grandson’s graduation the manager provided a complementary desert of “Bananas Foster” another flaming dish prepared at tableside.

All in all, it was the best restaurant experience we have had in several years, and if any of you pass through Portland Oregon, I heartily suggest that you seek out El Gaucho. What a wonderful place.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wonderful visit

We have had a wonderful time here in Washington.  We went to my grandson’s graduation, visited with family, we went to some yard sales, and ate too much.  Today we took some time off for a visit to Janet’s ninety year old uncle in The Dalles, Oregon.  It is a little less than two hours from Camas, where we have been staying.  I borrowed a car from my son, and off we went.

When we arrived at his home I was impressed with the wonderful roses that grew against the fence.   They were really outstanding.  He point to some other flowers that were growing against the house. and I had to admit that I had never seen flowers like them.  They had long stems and were about three feet tall with enormous round purple flowers six to eight inches in diameter.  He they revealed that they were ONIONs.  They bloom all summer long and turn brown after frost.  I can hardly wait to see if I can get some like them to grow in Georgia.

Ken is a wonderful guy.  The last time we had a chance to visit with him was about a year before his wife of 67 years passed away.  He has been working on   a taped oral history that we plan to type up and print for the family.  About two weeks ago his family, who have been urging him to move our of his house, came over and held a yard sale and sold a lot of, what he a called, clutter.  Among the things they sold were the tape recorder and tapes he has been using for the oral history, but he was quick to let us know that he had copies of most of it, and hopes to finish it very soon. 

We chatted about our respective ages  and Janet asked him how old Vera ( his wife) was when they were married.  He smiled and said 19, going on 17.  We kindly pointed out that this was the reverse of common counting, and he laughed aloud.   He told us that when he was in the Army in WWII, he met her and began to date.  He asked her her age and she answered “19”.

After they had dated for some time he asked her to marry him and she answered in the affirmative, and like most young ladies she rushed him over to her sister’s home where she told her sister that they were engaged.  Her sister replied that she couldn’t get married without her father’s signed permission.  Ken asked why and was told that she was not “of age” she was only 17.  Thus, he said, “she was 19, going on 17.  I asked him if they had any trouble getting the father’s signature, and he told us that he had no idea; the she and the sister handled that, and he never met her father till after the wedding.

I made some comment about saying “i do” without seeing the father and he replied “I did”.

However it happened they were married sixty seven years, had five successful children and bunch of grandchildren and now some great grandchildren

It was a lovely time.   We also had a chance to have dinner with his daughter, her husband, his daughter’s children, her daughter in law, and a few of the grandchildren (or great grandchildren)  It was a really good spaghetti dinner with a salad made of watermellon chunks, strawberries, apple sliced and mandarin oranges in a wonderful sauce, and it concluded with a rhubarb cobbler that was outstanding.  Rhubarb is one of my favorite fruits, and my efforts to grow it in Georgia have been dismal failures.

All in all it was a wonderful day, a little spoiled when Janet got carsick on the way home.

Her sickness and the fact that we both forgot to take our cameras were the only blots on the evening. 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

You know you’re getting old when:

You know you’re getting old when:

1. Your fingernails are so desiccated that you have to use the edge of a dime to get your pocket knife open.

2. It takes so long to get your pocket knife open that when you get it open you can’t remember what you were going to do with it.

3. The length of time between the time your body informs you that it is time to excrete fluids from your body and the time when your body begins to excrete is measured in milliseconds.

4. Deciding that you have not been adequately embarrassed by the excretion differential noted above, your doctor prescribes a diuretic (usually furosimide- the name sounds almost as wicked as the product) in order to make the flow of fluid from your body even less predictable and more forceful than it already is.

5. Walking is painful, but less painful than standing, or sitting with the knees bent. (three cheers for supine).

6. Your feet are so subject to pain that pre-medicating and inspecting the feet for damage makes the process of putting on shoes and stockings take more time than the other members of the family use to shower, get dressed and be ready for the day.

7. The bows that with which you have tied your shoes successfully for many years seem to loosen an untie constantly unless they are now double tied or otherwise “glued” in place.  Even then, at least twice a day someone informs you that your shoes are untied.

8. The zipper on your pants-fly seems to have been affected by gravity, causing your children and grandchildren to whisper, often, with only a slight smirk, “Zip up your fly.”

9. When you are rushing through the Atlanta airport, get to the train that takes you from area to area, and, upon entering the train, a mature woman with grey hair gets up and offers you her seat.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

We made it!

Well we got to Washington in time to go to grandson Brett’s graduation.  The trip out was, in some ways, almost as irritation as was the procurement of the tickets, but in this case, there was no question who was to blame for the problems, it was little me all the way.

We had tickets for a flight that was to leave from Savannah at 6:30 A.M.  Savannah is about an hour away, so we made plans to leave home at 4:30, arrive in Savannah at 5:30 and  fly away at 6:30.  (That is pretty safe in Savannah because the early morning lines are not too long in Security)  We were pushing it a little bit because we made arrangements for son Stuart to ride with us and bring the car home to avoid expensive parking, and I foolishly agreed to pick him up at his house which added fifteen minutes to the trip.  I checked in for the flight in the evening and printed up our boarding passes and tried to do stuff in the organized way.

The problem came when I arose just before four and Old Phart (me) just couldn’t get his  neuropathic feet functioning, the bags out to the car etc. in the half hour allotted. (I should have planned to get up an hour sooner). By the time we got Stuart picked up we were way behind schedule, and in spite of breaking numerous traffic laws we didn’t get to the baggage counter until after six.  The plane was already loading (and of course I had mislaid my boarding passes). We could probably have made it if we had limited ourselves to carry on luggage, but we had bags to check and the lady at the counter pointed out that they couldn’t possibly get X rayed and on the plane in time. 

We ended up paying the penalty (fifty bucks a ticket) and getting our tickets transferred to a 1:00 o’clock P.M. flight.  All we had to do was to kill 12 hours waiting for departure.  I will have to say that the people from Delta were very helpful and shepherded this situation in a way that gave us a lot of reassurance.  They were exceptionally helpful.

Stuart had “dropped us” and departed, but I called him (cell phones are very helpful) back and we went to breakfast at a Cracker Barrel and killed time with company.   

I thought our troubles were over until we got in the security line and were held up because Janet had a “snow globe” in her carry on that was a present for one of our grandchildren.  The man told me I could take it down to the Post Office in the basement and mail it Priority mail, so I rushed away to do that, and at his suggestion took my baggage claims over to the lost baggage counter and they managed to get her suitcase down before it was loaded and I inserted the snow globe, so that it could travel legally to Washington.

The flight itself was Okay.  We had a short jaunt to Atlanta, a transfer in Atlanta and a through flight to Portland (our destination).  The planes were crowded and we didn’t get as good seats as were on my lost boarding passes, but we arrived, only about seven hours later than we had expected.    With all the complaining I did about the ticket acquisition, I have to say that the flight process was made as pleasant as possible by really helpful airport personnel both in Savannah and Atlanta.  The problems we had were strictly my doing.  (As Janet has kindly reminded me several times.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Somebody’s doing something stupid

I travel quite a lot to see my children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, and occasionally just go for a trip to be with Janet and away from the house.  Tuesday morning, June 7, we leave for Camas, Washington to see my grandson’s High School Graduation.  We procrastinated getting tickets for awhile, hoping airlines would get desperate for clientele (they didn’t).  About the middle of May I decided to get our tickets.

 I tend to buy tickets mostly through Travelocity, occasionally through Expedia, less occasionally through Cheap Tickets, Hotwire or directly from the airlines.  I almost always shop all of these places and occasionally call a local travel agent,  but I have a card that says I am a preferred Travelocity Customer, so you know where I end up a lot of the time.

This time, it was a mess.  After a lot of sifting through the offerings, I  decided that I would book on US Air through Travelocity.  I went through the process, picked our seats and planned the trip.  Just as I started to conclude the process, Travelocity  gave me an encouragement to click something and get some special benefit, and like an idiot, I clicked it.  This took me to another page asked me some questions and, disgusted with my self  I tried to get back in and conclude my purchase.  I couldn’t find any of it.  I checked my itineraries, my account, everything else I could think of and none of the fruits of my computer labor seemed to be available.   I had no confirmation on my email, no trip on my itineraries, NOTHING. 

It was getting late, so I decided to go to bed and finish up the next day.  The next morning I went back trying to find the reservations I had started and there was nothing, so I started from scratch, and voila, I found seats  on Delta, leaving the following day (The first reservations were for Monday the sixth, these were for Tuesday the seventh leaving at almost the same time, but getting into Portland a couple if hours earlier) and these tickets were almost fifty bucks apiece cheaper.  I ordered them struggled because I had mislaid my Delta frequent flyers card and they were giving me a poorer choice of seats, but—Oh well, I ordered the tickets.

We have a family reunion coming up the last week in July.  We had toyed with going to Washington for graduation on the tenth of June and just hanging around until July, but I have so many things to do on our house (I am healthier now, and more able to do work, than I have been in about five years)  that we decided to come back home in June, and make another trip at the end of July.  This decision was boosted along because, for some purchase she had made, Bank of America, for a particular credit card, sent her a “Buy one get one free, two passengers for the price of one certificate, so we made reservations to go west to Utah and Idaho for the family reunion at the end of August.  In honor of the offer, we put both trips on that credit card.

I printed up the confirmation letter for the flight to Portland , sent copied to my family out there and considered our fate inexpensively filled.

Three days later Janet had a call from her credit card company asking if we were sure we wanted to charge both trips at that time, and Janet answered that “Yes we have a trip in June and one in July, and put them both on the card”

I never thought another thing about it till Jan received her credit card bill at the beginning of this month.  It had charges for the trip on Delta, AND for the trip on US air the day before.   Obviously the man from Bank of America was talking about the two trips in June rather than one in June and one in July.  Our bill was about eleven hundred bucks more than we were expecting.

I went back on the computer to Travelocity and still had no trace of the US Air trip in my itineraries. 

If you have used Travelocity you may have noticed a little box on the lower right of the second or third page that says, in effect, Travelocity guarantee.  If your reservations get messed up we will get together with our partners and straighten them out.

I immediately called customer service, and after twenty four minutes of music and speakers telling me how important my call is, someone answered the phone and speaking in heavily accented  English began to try to straighten out the mess.  I have seventy seven year old ears, so he had to repeat everything at lest three times.  When he asked for my trip number, I clarified that I had never received it, nor completed the order (US AIR on Monday).  He told me that he had a copy of the Email that was sent to me on May 17, (never received it) and finally said that he could cancel the tickets, but I would not receive a refund (Actually I have never had to buy refundable tickets before, and I didn't this time, but as far as I had been able to find out I had never completed the order)  I would receive a credit for the eleven hundred bucks Plus, but I would have to fly on US Air wherever I used the tickets (I have one year) and will have to pay a fee of $180.00 per ticket.  I shouted at the poor man a couple of times and he cancelled the flight (and told me what my trip number was- --  wasn’t that exciting?).

My brain took over for a moment and I looked at my “preferred customer card” and it had another number to call so I called it and with a very short wait time got a reply from another accented voice who promised that if , when I used the credit to travel, I would do it through that office they would lower the fee to $150.00.  Because I was not sure I understood everything he said I asked him if he would email me the information and he promised that he would ( The email never came, but I did get an e mail verifying the cancellation of the one set of tickets.  I still have to pay for them, but I have a cancellation number.  I am not sure whether to swear at Travelocity because they couldn’t straighten out the mess, and the computer would never bive me  information on the first flight, and they told me about emails that never came.  Or should I swear at Richard who stupidly clicked on the possible extra reward, and ended up thinking that his first flights were cancelled or should I just (I really have no choice in this one) pay the bill and weep. (And hope that sometime in the next year US Air will have a flight to somewhere that I want to travel, and that I will have the $150.00 or $180.00 per ticket that I have to pay in addition to every thing else.  I am sure I screwed up, but Travelocity did so as well.  PSSTHSSIIIS#%#%.