Saturday, June 28, 2008

Kindergarten Memories

Written on the back of this snapshot, in my Mother's handwriting, is "1st Day of School Kindergarten - 1963."

That's me in my first day finery standing by the front door of our house on Dale Drive. It must have been a cool September morning, as I have on a sweater. I also have my activity bag, which no doubt contained my sneakers, a piece of oil cloth and my nap time rug.

I was on my way to the newly-built Heritage Elementary School on Heritage Road in Tonanwada, NY. It was so brand-spanking new that I remember the sidewalk cement hadn't fully set, so we had to walk on planks that first day.

My teacher was Miss Sanderson.


I wish every child could've had Miss Sanderson as their Kindergarten teacher. She was young and pretty. Very much like Shari Lewis was at the time, but without the hand puppets.

I remember I once brought in a children's book based on Walt Disney's "Song of The South." Basically, it was Uncle Remus stories with the Disney characters used as illustrations. She read it aloud to the class at story time and she even did the southern dialects!

I was in Heaven.

Our sprawling class room contained an upright piano for music time. One day while we were all sitting in a circle, "Indian style" a strange man came in the room and started tinkering with the piano while Miss Sanderson was giving her lessons.

Of course, we students were distracted by the man reaching inside the piano, so Miss Sanderson stopped her lessons and introduced him as the man who was here to tune the piano.

Mr. tuner saw he had an audience, so he asked us if we knew who Captain Kangaroo was.

Naturally, we all cheered in recognition.

"Then maybe," he continued, "you'll recognize this song!"

On this cue, he launched into a note-perfect rendition of "Puff'n Billy" which was the good Captain's theme song.

The entire class room sat, entranced and elated. For those few minutes, it was as if we had been transported to the Treasure House.

The song ended with a flourish and Mr. Piano Tuner received a thunderous ovation from thirty tiny pairs of clapping hands.

Miss Sanderson smiled as she thanked the nice man for the impromptu concert.

His job done, the piano tuner excused himself and Miss Sanderson, sweet Miss Sanderson, continued her lesson.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thwarted Economic Stimulus Plan Thwarted

I received my "Economic Stimulus" check a couple weeks back.

My plan for the check was to bury it in my (meagre) savings account and the heck with spending it. How is blowing my money on a Korean-made flat screen TV helping the USA economy? Plus, a big, big chunk of my savings went to the evil health care industry so I could maintain my medical insurance during the three month COBRA transition period when I changed jobs. Thank you, HIPPA!

My plan came a cropper when our van's electrical system went ka-put.

"Oh, and by the way, Mr. Davison, the reason the air conditioner wasn't working so good is because it was leaking oil. Shall we fix that while we have the van in the shop?"


I shall switch to "silver lining mode" to consider the following:

1. The van is once again shifting gears. Good.

2. The A/C is once again functional. Very Good.

3. The money was in-hand, thanks to the stimulus plan check. Good.

4. The money went to a locally-owned repair shop, so the money actually did help stimulate our economy. Good.

5. There is still some dough left over for our proposed family trip to Buffalo, NY at the end of July. Good.

Speaking of good...

Congrats to my brother, Scott, who has scored a new job!.

Better pay and a benefits package.

Woo hoo!

All the more impressive, given the country's current economic malaise, don't you think?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Guess What I Just Bought For $1

That's right - a quart of gasoline!

(I just happened upon this cool viewmaster image HERE and wanted to do something with it.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Ghost Of Expensive Repairs Yet To Come!

AAMCO checked over the transmission in the van today.

Their diagnosis?

The transmission is OK, it's the "instrument panel cluster," or something like that, which is malfunctioning. That the word "cluster" is part of the description is very apt. (Read: Not covered by AAMCO's warranty!)

Their suggestion? Take it to "Bill's Automotive Repair" over on Horseshoe Road and pay them fix it.

That this place is located on "Horseshoe Road" is also very apt. As in, "...and the Horseshoe Road in on!"

(A tip of the hat to NPR's Cartalk!)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Ghost of Expensive Repairs Past!

Yep, not only has last year's multi-thousand dollar bathroom remodeling come back to haunt me, but I also found out that last year's multi-thousand dollar transmission repair has now un-repaired itself!

Now all I have to do is find out that my wife's surgery has somehow reversed itself and we'll have the hat trick!


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Weekend Warrior

FRIDAY. The crummy, slipshod job our contractor did when he remodeled our bathroom last year continues to pay dividends. Specifically, water was pooling up on the floor next to the front of the tub whenever the shower was used. We decided the fault lay in the caulking at the front of the tub where the new surround was installed.

Michelle used a razor knife to dig out the caulk along the front seam. Using a flashlight, we saw that the dirty knave of a contractor had left nothing behind the right front corner of the tub and just threw in a bead of caulk behind which water could collect and eventually run onto the floor. It is hard to describe and I don't have a digital camera, so you'll have to take my word that it was a very unsound thing for him to have done.

We decided the best thing to do would be to retrofit a "back splash" into this area before we re-caulked it.

SATURDAY. I ran to the Home Depot at 8:00 AM to find the proper "back splash" material. Eureka! There was some nice, self-adhesive molding, specially made for tub use hanging there in a blister pack. I grabbed it and drove home.

"Whew!" I thought. "It is getting hot out and it's not yet 9:00!"

The weather forecast was for 100 degrees and the van's air conditioning unit was already straining to keep it together.

Back at the house, I cut a trial strip of the molding and determined the best way to slide it into the space to be caulked. I made some more measurements, cut a second strip and with the skill of a drunken micro-surgeon fit it into place. Yesssss! It fit and now the new caulk would have a back wall.

I caulked as I have never caulked before and by 10:00 AM the job was completed. The only thing left to do was let the silicone cure.

I checked my shelf in the laundry room and discovered I had a can of 134a refrigerant. I also had a gauge, so I popped open the hood on the van and hooked it up to the compressor while it was running. Sure enough, the borderline reading indicated a charge was in order.

The only rub was that I had no way to get the 134a from the pressurized can into the compressor. A quick trip to the auto parts store and $18.45 later, I was emptying the can into the a/c unit. By 11:00 AM the gauge was reading in the "good" zone and cool air was coming out of the vents.

But, boy, was it getting hot outside! The plan was to spend as much time in the air conditioned house as possible.

After a few more hours of alternating between household chores and watching Mariel we decided to order out for some dinner. Ultimately, I went to the Hunan Garden to pick up some yummy Chinese cuisine: Kung Po Chicken, Steamed Dumplings and Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps.

By this time, it was so danged hot (103 degrees!) that the a/c in the van couldn't put a dent in the heat. After picking up the grub I high-tailed it back into the comfort of the house as fast as I could.

Yes, I was a disgusting, sweat-soaked rag doll.

Yes, I couldn't take a shower because we were waiting for the silicone caulk to fully cure.

I ate, took a sponge bath and by 8:30 PM I hit the sack.


Weekend Warrior = Weakened, Wearier

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Budget Bin Revisted

In between trips to the doctor last week I received two CDs in the mail from my pal, Paul Urbahns. (See illustration, at left.)

Paul has devoted much time and effort in researching one of my favorite budget sound-alike labels from the 'sixties, HIT RECORDS. He was involved with assembling these two compilations for the German YELLOW LABEL records imprint.

Each disc contains two dozen tracks recorded by Nashville session musicians and singers. There is a pleasing mix of sound-alike covers (Sally Go Round The Roses, It's My Party, Surf City, Twistin' USA, etc.) and B-Side originals (Tiger In My Tank, I'm So Lonely, You Can't Trust A Friend, etc.)

Forty years after the fact we can now listen to these budget bombs on our CD players in all their glory. Kudos to Paul and company!


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Jeepers Creepers

Well, the word from the ophthalmologist is there doesn't appear to be anything wrong with my eyeballs.

The migraine theory was floated, but that would not have been an all-day episode.

I do have the very beginnings of some cataracts, but that's "normal" for a fifty-year-old. It should be years and years before they might become an issue.

My vision has been as good as ever since Tuesday, so all I can do is just wait and see if the blurring, halos and ghosts return.

In the mean time, this forced me to get a physical and follow-up on my blood work. I'll also have to have some protein levels checked due to my MGUS that was diagnosed back in 2001. What is MGUS? Some other time, folks...


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Quick Report

I woke up this morning to find that the halos and ghosting were no longer a problem in my left eye.


I still kept my 8:00 AM doctor appointment. I hadn't been to my "regular doctor" since early 2005. This was a function of not having adequate health insurance coverage.

Seeing a fifty year old waltz into his office was like a hungry lion being thrown a raw steak.

In between his prostate exam and insistence that I get a colonoscopy (STAT!) I managed to get him to check my left eyeball.

He didn't see anything. He supplied a referral to an ophthalmologist, who I will be seeing Thursday afternoon.

But for the time being, there appears not to have been a stroke, a cataract or the like. We'll see what, if anything, the eye guy can tell me.

Thanks for everyone's concern and well-wishes!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Hope I Can See The Doctor

I was driving in to work this morning and my left eye was giving me fits. You see, it was early enough (6:00 AM) that street lights, head lights, and the like were still lit. Any source of light had a "halo" around it.

At first, I thought it was a case of my glasses being dirty. Predictably, removing my glasses made everything blurry. The halos remained, though.

Rubbing my eye didn't help, either.

Fortunately, the sun came up and the halos became less of an issue.

Once at work, I noticed my computer screen was fuzzy. Yep, the old left eye again.

I removed my glasses once again, and discovered a NEW problem: ghosting!


"This is not good," I thought to myself.

I called my family doctor and will be in to see him Tuesday morning at 8:00 AM. We'll see if he has anything to say about it.

As much as I like the fact that LenseCrafters will replace nose pads for free, I think I need to see a "real" eye doctor. Don't you think?