Monday, November 26, 2012

I know I haven’t been writing, but I’m not hanging up my hat just yet


Before I say another thing—I hope everyone reading this had a nice Thanksgiving.  My sister Shawn & her husband Jim had their usual feast, and I spent the four day holiday weekend immersed in a whole lot of nothing, it was terrific. 

And now it’s Monday night, and I have the volume on my tv up a little louder than necessary because I’m attempting to drown out the assorted going-ons coming from that bothersome gay couple who moved into the apartment next to mine.  (Why does their stereo have such a heavy bass?  And why do they have to be so dramatic about everything?  They’re over there arguing right now over what their favorite Christmas song should be!)  Try as I might, I don’t find them entertaining in the least.  Ironically, I signed the yearly lease for my place only a couple weeks before they moved in, and I don’t think I would’ve been so quick to do that had I known this pair was moving in.  I may be locked in for now, but I’ve still been spending my free time looking at apartment listings in my area; it’s not like I live in Alcatraz (yet).  

Of course, who’s to say I wouldn’t wind up with someone equally annoying at my next place, if not more so.  I sure had things good with my former next door neighbor, I just assumed we lived in a soundproofed building.  Wrong—so wrong.

Oh and for the record, last week I called the company that manages this building to see if they might lean on these two mofos a little—a kind young woman named Stacey informed me there was nothing they could do, “but if it helps Doug, I live in an apartment too and my neighbor is always shouting at his tv!  So I know just how you feel!”   No Stacey, that doesn’t help me in the least.  She said “the best I can do at this point is log your complaint—and if you feel things are that bad, call the police.”   Stacey, what do I tell the cops?   “Donny wants their favorite Christmas song to be ‘Blue Christmas’ and Tommy is having a snit over it, get over here right away!” 

Anyway, I apologize for sharing all of that… it does help to vent.  I just wanted the world out there to know I’m still alive & kicking, and boring as ever!  And as soon as I have something more to write about (and hopefully soon, I’m more anxious than anyone reading this) I’ll be sure to share.   Thanks as always for checking in.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Why fight the future when it has cool gadgets like this-- I’m in love with my new Nook HD+


I honestly wasn’t planning to share this recent acquisition of mine on here, who needs to read about someone’s latest  gizmo?  Everybody has something, be it my 8 year old niece’s new ipod Touch or the college kids on my bus staring zombie-like at their iPhones or the various women on there reading Fifty Shades of Gray on their Kindles. 

(For the record, when I’m on the bus I prefer to stare dumbly out the window & make believe this is my final trip downtown, because it’s 2025 and I’m finally retiring from spreadsheets & office drama, and somehow, I don’t look or feel any older than I do right now.)  But that’s another story.

Anyway—a couple months ago I thought I’d surprise myself with one of those newfangled computer tablets for my birthday.  (I already own a 7” ereader, but I wanted something bigger like the Apple iPad—without shelling out 700.00, let alone buying into the Apple ecosystem.)  I did a lot of reading up on what was out there, and right when I was down to two models (the soon to be released Google Nexus 10, and the 9” Amazon Fire HD), Barnes & Noble announced THEIR entry into things, the Nook HD+.  It took me about 5 minutes to decide this was what I wanted.

I don’t read comic books like I used to, but wow electronic comics are awesome on this device; after 25 years I’m going back to reading monthly issues of Batman!

I’m not going to go into all the boring specs for this device (there’s a hundred different reviews out there that already do, and they all love this thing too).  But let me say this:

The Nook HD+ is both thinner & lighter than the Fire, and has the same screen size and clarity (it’s amazing) of an iPad.  And it’s around half the price.  No it doesn’t have 250,000 apps to choose from like in the Apple iStore, but B&N has all the popular ones, and they even added a “Nook TV & Movie Store” too for streaming hi-def movies.  It also syncs with your Hotmail or Gmail (or Yahoo or even your workmail if you’re a glutton for punishment).  Awesome web browser & music player too.

     books  apps  webs 

    Screens displaying my books, apps & favorite websites (click on any to enlarge)

Besides apps, music, movies, web browsing (and e-books of course), the Nook HD shines with magazines & catalogs.  (If you subscribe to Entertainment Weekly like I do, it’s delivered to your tablet too, free of charge.)  

llbean2LL Bean catalog will now come to my Nook HD instead of my mailbox, it looks just like the printed version & you can even flip or curl the pages

And finally, if all of this isn’t enough the machine can even detect ghosts too.  I recently bought the “Ghost Radar” app (pricier than most, it was $1.99)  which turns your Nook into an EMF detector like the ones on those paranormal investigation shows.  It has a nifty radar screen, and even translates the pulses to words (because ghosts like to talk too, duh).  So the other night I activated it, set it on my counter and went about my business.

A couple hours later I noticed a couple ‘orbs’ on the radar (two yellow, one red) and I cautiously approached it & said “Hello?  Is someone here with me?” and it said “Here”.  I said “Who’s here?”  I waited a minute then said “Do you want to talk to me?”   It said “Richard.  Where.”   I jumped about two feet—my next door neighbor Rich (who lived beside me 12 years) just moved out of here a month ago.  C’mon, that’s too much to be a coincidence!  (I have proof it said this too, the app keeps a time-log of all words spoken.)

I started to say “I’m sorry but he doesn’t live here anymore, he bought a house over in Ben Avon” andt then it hit me—I’d probably be talking to some imaginary person (like crazy people tend to do) and if there really WAS a ghost here, it didn’t want to talk to me anyway!  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

When it comes to birthdays—oh, what I wouldn’t do to be a vampire again


A few days ago (Wednesday, to be exact) I celebrated my birthday.  Well, I’m not sure I’d say celebrate—it was a ‘work from home’ day for me, and I had some leftover chicken for lunch, and a bowl of cereal for dinner.  The day before was much nicer though, some lovely friends took me out to lunch & got me a giant cookie afterwards.  (Thank you Kathy, Dani, Gwen & Jamie!) 

And of course I got a nice assortment of birthday cards in the mail too, a couple of them even came with music & you can never go wrong with the Starship Enterprise.  I especially liked how a couple were devoted to people with Halloween birthdays (like mine, and wait you didn’t know that?  I thought I told everybody) but truth be told, as much as I appreciated the ones I got this year (and every year), I still miss the ones from my dad more than anything.

I’m talking about the hand-drawn cards my Dad made for me on my birthdays, which were far better than anything that Hallmark or American Greetings put out.


Besides his job in coal shaft construction and playing music on the weekends, Dad enjoyed drawing too. While he drew birthday cards for everyone in the family, I got a big kick out of how he always portrayed one of us (guess who) as a vampire. 

That’s my mom holding a newborn Doug with the caption “Look Don… it’s another boy—and he was born with two teeth!” 

(Click on image to enlarge)



Here’s another “Vampire Doug” card, with me going to the Blood Bank to make some withdrawls (naturally). 


Here’s one of my favorites that Dad made for my older brother Duke on his 16th birthday (and boy did he get things right on the money here!)


And here’s one Dad made for my younger brother Steve (again, click on any of these images to enlarge):


Dad captured both of my brothers so well, with Duke on his academic soapbox (when he wasn’t chowing down) and Huckleberry Steve and his love of all those damn critters—both before and after they became road-kill.  And then there was me, always with the fangs!

Well, when you’re wearing a set of pointy teeth and carrying your sister’s Barbie Makeup Head around in the middle of July, what can you expect?

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