Saturday, August 27, 2022

I don’t know what I did, but I’ve made it on someone’s ship-list

Can I share something quick here?  We’ve all gotten our share of catalogs in the mail—rather, we used to.  (Do you still get many?  It just occurred to me I haven’t seen one in ages.) 

But there was a time when I used to keep a wicker basket in my place just to store catalogs to look at later.  “Hmm… this Harry & David catalog sure is making me hungry for pears…”

In fact, I still have a pair of tan & red suede pot-holders (that I never used but paid a small fortune for, twenty years ago) from Robert Redford’s Sundance catalog.  Damn you, Redford!

Anyway, the reason I bring it up is because this past Thursday I got a rather ominous looking catalog in the mail. 

It was a black book that came sealed on 3 sides.  Rock River Arms.  They are situated in Illinois, and I’ve never heard of them.  Have you?

It didn’t look like the type of catalog one would just get randomly.  Rock River sells firearms, including all makes & models of pistols.  But their specialty is built-to-order, customized AR-15s.

Someone must’ve given them my name and address.  These books are too specialized to be sent out to just anyone, and this didn’t come with a bulk shipping rate.  It cost them $2.64 to send this obscenity to me via First Class mail. 

My big question is… why?   Is someone trying to put the fear of guns in me?  Trust me, it’s already there!  Or maybe someone’s trying to convert me from my liberal mindset?   “These guns…. they’re badass!  Screw this liberal crap, I want an AR-15 of my own!”

Can I be super-honest here?  I claim to be a liberal, but I’m far from a saint.  Do you remember a couple weeks ago, when that young thug broke into a convenience store (wielding an AR-15 of all things) and the shopkeeper hauled out a rifle and shot him?  

The punk ran out of there hollering “Uggh!!  He shot my arm off!!”  before jumping into a pretty nice looking SUV, where he & his two cohorts sped off.

I sat here thinking “I hope he did, you piece of slime.  I hope that older man DID shoot your arm off, you’re lucky it wasn’t your head.”

Is that how liberals are supposed to think?  Eye rolling smile

I also felt that store owner was justified owning a firearm, I’m sure he’s been robbed before.  But a built-to-order customized AR-15 from this catalog?  No!  No one else should, either!

Ah, I’m back to feeling like a liberal again.  Even if it does make me sound un-American.

Rock River, I’m sorry you wasted your $2.64 on me.  Along with expensive pears, suede potholders & other useless, pricey doodads, custom AR-15s have been added to my DO NOT BUY list.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

An old girlfriend, long lost treasure & some meaningless trivia: what more can I say

Have you ever lost something, but didn’t know you’d lost it until you found it again? 

This past rainy Sunday, I got the urge to clear out some junk in my storage locker (down the hall from my apartment).  I had a couple of old boxes in there labeled “DON’T UNPACK, KEEP IN STORAGE” that weren’t from my last move, or the move before that—but when I moved out of my first apartment in the city 30 years ago.

Opened one box full of paperbacks and various Star Trek books, digging thru it’s musty contents—and at the bottom was a flat, taped brown paper bag.  Inside was this manila envelope with 40 Star Trek enamel pins.  I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I hadn’t seen these since 1994, when I moved across town to Bellevue.

Unlike today where you can probably buy the whole kit n’ kaboodle on Ebay, back in those pre-internet days I got these colorful pins one at a time—from ads in Trekker fanzines or sci-fi shows at the convention center.  Each pin always felt like a little victory.

I think I know what happened to them—at the time, I’d been seeing a lovely girl named Renee who was helping me pack up my place.  (She was a very organizational person.)  I’m guessing she put these in that box with the Trek books.

Here’s Renee bringing boxes to my place for moving, I lived on the second floor above.  (A nosy neighbor across the way took this photo, to remind me the parking lot was for tenants only.) 

This was Sept 22 1994, the same night the tv show Friends premiered on NBC. 

I wanted to take a break to watch the new show, NBC had been running promos for it all summer; but Renee said no, let’s keep working.  I don’t like watching tv shows out of order, and wound up putting off Friends until it premiered on Netflix—in 2016!

Back to the pins, I can’t believe I used to collect these things, let alone wear them in public.  I often pinned one to my coat, even one to my trenchcoat in my early professional working days. 

That’s all I got—but now that I’m older, silver on top and less inhibited, I’m thinking of getting a denim jacket and pinning the front with ALL of them.  What do you think?

Thursday, August 18, 2022

A couple thoughts and a couple legs, on an early Thursday morning

Here I am, Thursday morning.  It’s 7:22am and I’m sitting on my ‘stretching blanket’ in front of my sofa, looking if there’s anything good to watch on Hulu after I finish this blog and before I make some breakfast.

I’m already on my second cup of coffee, I’ve been up for 90 minutes or so. The last couple weeks I’ve been going to bed early and getting up around 5:30am. 

Is that a sign of aging, I wonder?  Going to bed earlier?  I was pooped last night by 9:30, in bed asleep at 10pm. 

The reason you’re looking at my legs here is because this time tomorrow, I’ll be on a bus headed downtown so someone else can look at them too.

I have an appointment tomorrow morning at Mercy Hospital with my Egyptian PCP Dr. Nefrititi, to do a 6-8 month re-evaluation of my heart & hypertension drugs.  (I take two doses of Carvedilol during the day to regulate my heartbeat, Amlodipine in the PM for blood pressure.)

The last time I saw my doctor in December, I was dealing with some pretty severe fluid retention.  My legs and feet were swollen so bad they ‘wept’ at night, it was difficult to get around sometimes too.  I wondered if the amlodipine was worsening things and asked to be switched to another drug, but she said my BP numbers were in stroke territory, and felt this med was best for the time being.

Still, they took a LOT of pictures of my legs from every angle with an iphone to add to my patient record.

She told me to commit to a daily exercise regimen, and in 6 months we’d re-evaluate the meds.  Since then, my legs have shrunk considerably and I’ve lost 25 pounds.  I use a treadmill 5 times a week, Sunday nights and Monday thru Thursday afternoons.  I set the incline to 2 and the speed to 2.3, a pretty brisk pace. 

I do 4 laps (with a 2 minute breather between laps) which takes around 30 minutes.

Here’s some proof of my daily regimen, the fitness Center’s sign-in sheet for May

Anyway, I’d like to lose another 30-35 lbs (and plan to), I just want to continue doing it without fad dieting.  As for tomorrow, I’m hoping she takes a look at my lower BP numbers and skinny legs, and reduces these meds.

To be honest, the past several days haven’t been great.  Last week, Pennie (my state’s health insurance marketplace) notified me my account was flagged and I could lose my insurance in 15 days due to income discrepancies.  Saturday morning my laptop went black (my charger died).  On Sunday I was peeing blood (sorry), and on Monday morning I walked into my bathroom and the floor was flooded!  They wound up taking out my toilet and asked if I had some place I could stay for a day or two—nope!

Since then, things have turned around.  I spoke to my urologist (who allayed my fears about the blood in my urine), got things with Pennie resolved and a new toilet installed yesterday.  And then last night, a FedEx person buzzed me downstairs; he had the replacement charger & battery for my 5 day dead laptop. 

I was more than ready to crank out a nice long boring blog post!  Nerd smile

Now I can go back to worrying about finding a new chair… hopefully an update on that soon.

On an unrelated note, can I share some heartache here?  This past Sunday morning, I was watching a tribute video to Olivia Newton-John on Youtube.   

After the video I was reading the comments, and one person wrote “And RIP Judith Durham”.  What? 

I did a quick google search and sure enough, Judith Durham died at age 79 on August 5.  I am heartbroken.  Two of my favorite female voices of the 1960s were Lulu’s “To Sir With Love” and Judith Durham (and the Seekers) “Georgy Girl”.  

Olivia deserves all the fanfare, but how is it I’m just now learning about Judith?  (And for the record, unlike many singers, Judith never lost her voice as she got older.  She sounded as youthful at 75 as she did at 25.) 

I thought I’d end this post with one of my favorite Seekers videos.  The title couldn’t be more fitting.  RIP Judith, you will be loved and missed. 


Fri, Aug.19 - I met with Dr. Nefrititi this morning at 8:30, both she and her nursing staff couldn’t have been nicer or more encouraging.  Dr.Nef gave me a new goal to lose 15 lbs before my next visit in 3 months, but “no more than a pound a week”.  Um, the math doesn’t work out there! 

Anyway, she told me to accept the fact I would most likely be on these meds for the rest of my life.  By re-evaluation and possibly dropping them, she only meant if the current drugs weren’t working as intended. 

Thanks for all of your awesome & encouraging comments, everyone.  Nerd smile

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Bachelor on the verge of a nervous breakdown, shopping for a new chair

These past couple weeks have not been good.  I’ve had trouble sleeping, bouts of anxiety, some real depression.  All over this 36” x 36” spot in my living room, where a chair used to be.

If you follow my blog, I recently bought and returned a $1,000 leather chair from Wayfair, to replace an old brown chair from Target that was in my living room 4 years too long.

The new leather chair was stylish & well made, but didn’t have enough back support and was too orange.  For a thousand dollars, I expected (and deserved) a lot more from that chair.

My friend Danielle suggested I visit La-Z-Boy’s online site and shop there for something more traditional—plus they’d send me free swatches.

They have a wide selection of fabrics, but YOU CAN ONLY REQUEST 3 SWATCHES TOTAL and must allow 3 weeks for them to be mailed to you.  To be honest, I didn’t like their chairs anyway.  Either too feminine with their long chair legs, or too stuffy.  I wanted something a little more minimal, a little more modern.

I have it down to three chairs that range in price from $227.00 to $1200.00.  I’m pretty partial to one, but I’d be interested in a second opinion.

1.  Marin Chair from West Elm – $999.00 (plus 200.00 more for taxes & shipping)

PROS:  At 32” high, 31” wide & 38” deep it’s just the right size for that space.  I like it’s boxy style, no “flourishes”.  West Elm sent me a generous supply of swatches (16 total) and I selected two, “Camel Twill” & “Camel Performance Twill”.

CONS:  It’s very… conventional, like it belongs to a 3 piece set.  It’s also very high priced.  And since it’s made to order, I was told it’d be 8 weeks minimum. 

Also, you’re warned before placing the order: “Are you absolutely sure?  This custom order cannot be canceled, and the item may not be returned.”  And finally… my place already has a lot of tans & browns.  Do I want to add more?

2.  Deeann Chair from Wayfair – $229.99 (plus free shipping)

PROS:  It’s the cheapest of the three, it has a ‘guy look’ I’m drawn to and looks easy enough to take care of.  It will fill in that empty space in here.

CONS:  It’s very “bachelory” and it feels bachelor enough in here already.  Also, I have a black leather ottoman in storage I’m planning to use as a coffee table, and I don’t want more than one leather piece in here (even if this is faux leather).  

3.  McRae Chair from Joss & Main – $720.00 (plus free shipping)

PROS:  These pillow-top chairs have been VERY popular for a couple years now.  This has 80 reviews, each one praising it’s comfort and style.  I like the minimalist black iron frame that suspends the cushion; it has a relaxed, artsy look. 

The ‘washed white’ canvas would allow me to add colors to it I wanted.  Here’s 2 lumbar pillows I’d purchase with it to “earthify” or jazz it up some.

CONS:  It’s so white (ivory)!  Would it work in here?  Would it be masculine enough?  Would it be too much a contrast to everything else? 

My couch is dark blue, but has an ivory throw on it.  There’s a lot of ivory trim in the apartment as well.

Well, that’s it.  I’m partial to the last one, it’s different and I like that.  But I’m at the point where I’d settle for this.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

How one woman did so much with so little is beyond me… Happy Birthday, Mom

On this date, August 7, 1940 my mom was born.  Her full name was Linda Beryl Morris and she died in 2004, a few months after turning 64. 

Happy Birthday Mom, you would’ve and should’ve been 82 today.

This is her sometime around 1973, on her way to work at Fisher’s Big Wheel.  It was our small town’s first “real department store” that opened just a year prior.  Mom worked at Fisher’s full-time from 1972 to 1997, while raising 6 kids. 

I can still remember the week this store opened, Mom going in and asking for an application.  That night at dinner, Dad made a joke about “no woman of his was gonna work outside the home if he could help it”.  But when it came to lean times and coal miners strikes, birthdays & Christmases and us kids needing new shoes and school clothes and a hundred other things, that was all her. 

Mom spent so little on herself, she was the most unselfish person I’ve ever known.

I really don’t have a lot to say here that hasn’t been said before.  Last night while looking through my meager collection of Mom photos (she hated having her picture taken) I did a “Mom” search on my blog to see what pictures of her I’d already used, and was surprised at all the posts written about her over the years.  I hope one more is okay.

I thought I’d share this small example of who my mom was.  In November 2002, not quite two years after Dad passed, I went down to stay with her a few days for Thanksgiving.  (My sister Shawn was hosting our holiday dinner at her house.) 

Mom was showing me some of the recent home improvements she’d made, and I noticed a copper-metal sun hanging on her kitchen wall.  When I asked where she’d gotten it, she said at a yard sale, it had been almost black with grease. 

When I said it looked cool, she told me to take it home with me.  I laughed and said “Of course not!  Mom you don’t have to give something away just because someone likes it!”   She asked me if I was sure I didn’t want it and I said yes, positively.  It looked perfect where it was.

When I returned to Pittsburgh 2-3 days later and was unpacking my things, the copper metal sun was hidden down in one of my bags, wrapped in newspaper—with toilet tissue taped around each of the sun’s spires.

It’s hung on three kitchen walls of mine since—and always will.  I love you, Mom.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Magazine subscriptions in 2022: The good, the bad and the ugly

Look what I got in the mail yesterday.  I was coming into my apt building, Jim the Mailman was in the lobby, said here y’go Doug and handed me a yellow manila envelope. 

When I opened it and looked inside, I did a little tippy-toe dance right there.

It’s a new Star Trek magazine, the first one in several years.  When I heard about it six months ago, the first two issues had already come out and the publisher said there was only a 50/50 chance the magazine would continue. 

I ordered a 6 issue subscription anyway and completely forgot about it.   

Anyway, this is the only magazine I now subscribe to.  Back in the 1980s-1990s, in my “playboy bachelor” days, I subscribed to several and always had a spread of magazines on my coffee table—Playboy, GQ, Omni, Esquire.  My sister used to visit on the weekends, she once told me I had the best “waiting room” because of all the reading material available.

This magazine makes me feel like I’m 15 years old in 1977 again, getting my first issue in the mail of Starlog Magazine.  The lead story then was “Star Trek Plans Big Comeback” and it’s pretty much the same one 45 years later!

And now a word about the bad…


A couple weeks ago I got this postcard in the mail from Reader’s Digest.  They wanted to thank me for my order, and since they didn’t quite get my payment information, no worries!  They’d send an invoice out after the first issue.

I never placed a subscription order with Reader’s Digest.

I called RD and politely told them I made no such order.  Juanita (very friendly, very outgoing) said these kind of things didn’t just happen on their own, could it have been my wife or partner?  I told her I was unmarried and single.  She asked if anyone else lived in the house.  For real, Juanita?  That’s none of your beeswax!

I told Juanita I’ve lived on my own since the ‘80s.  She said she was just trying to solve the mystery and in the meantime, enjoy the magazine.  I said thanks, but if I got an invoice I was throwing it away. 

And now a word about the ugly…

Last October I wrote a blog about how desperate TV Guide had gotten—I had a one year subscription with them which ended in 2021 and I didn’t renew.  Seeing how I got rid of my cable months earlier and watch ZERO prime-time television, it wasn’t needed.  

(Along with the fact they were trying to get me to pay $60 for another year, not the $15 I paid before.)

Anyway, TV Guide wouldn’t stop—they sent me a 4th request to renew, a 5th, 6th, 7th… I stopped counting after a dozen.

It took 6 months, but eventually I stopped hearing from them.  And then last week I got this “free” TV Guide in the mail.