Monthly Archives: October 2007

Out Of Touch

You all know that I write when I’m inspired and I can’t write when I’m not. When I send these out, my Outlook Express “Group” is Sunday E-Mails, but I’m not always inspired on Sunday and today isn’t Sunday, so maybe I’ll have to change the group name. That sounds really easy, but I’ve had trouble keeping up with technology lately, so I’m not sure I can.

A couple of weeks ago, Robin from Pierce Cedar Creek Institute called me and said she had sent a couple of e-mails telling me the investment reports were there and I could come out anytime to do the monthly spreadsheets. I told her I hadn’t received the e-mails but I’d be happy to come out the next day, which I did. After finishing, I asked her to send me another e-mail and I would check it when I got home. No e-mail! I seemed to be getting most of my usual ones and Robin had sent me e-mails each month in the past with no problem. I had her send one to Jean and that didn’t come through either, so I thought the problem was on her end.

I was at a meeting the other morning, and the CEO of the hospital said she had sent me some important updates by e-mail. I had checked my e-mail late in the evening the night before and I hadn’t received them. I checked again when I got home and still no e-mails. I worked with Vickie, Sheryl’s administrative assistant for an hour and still no e-mails from either of them.

Here’s where I lose touch! I’ve always used Outlook Express to manage my e-mails and I’ve never had any problems. I checked every setting I could think of and couldn’t find how they were getting blocked. I had still been getting what I considered my normal e-mails but I haven’t gotten much in the way of spam since I switched from voyager to sbcglobal. So I went to the sbcglobal website to see if there was anything there I could check. To my amazement, my “bulk folder” had 17 messages being held. Once a message has been in there for 30 days, it is purged unless I do something with it first.

In the group of messages were 6 from Robin at Pierce, 7 from Sheryl and Vickie at Pennock, 1 from my friend Ruth in Mississippi, 1 from my son Matt in San Francisco and 2 from Road Runner Sports. I spent half a day yesterday responding to what was there if I needed to, trying to let people know I hadn’t ignored them. I’ve been getting weekly e-mails from a company that I bought a hard drive from a few weeks back, weekly e-mails from Northern Brewer telling me what beer supplies are on special, periodic e-mails from Ernie and Barb passing on cute jokes they get from who knows where, and my weekly updates from Congressman Vern Ehlers on what isn’t happening in politics. So why would sbcglobal put the ones in “bulk” that they did?

I’m so frustrated with our federal government sending billions of dollars to a country (Iraq) that doesn’t want us there but can’t find enough money to cover kids with health insurance, taunting another oil rich country (Iran) so the price of oil goes through the roof again, our state government for, again, not being able to agree on a budget for purely political reasons, and on and on, that I’ve become cynical about most everything “big brother” is doing to HELP us. So I believe that sbcglobal has done this so that I’ll get away from using Outlook Express and start using AT&T Yahoo to manage my e-mails. That way I can spend more of my time trying to close the advertising banners that keep popping up since I’m retired and don’t have anything else to do anyway. It’s a good thing my doctor isn’t here checking my blood pressure ‘cuz he’d have me on meds faster than the blink of an eye.

If that isn’t enough, Jean ran out of ink in her printer some months back so she hasn’t been able to print anything. She has a Dell printer that I got “free” when I bought the computer. You can only get the cartridges from Dell and they’re expensive so, naturally, Jean wouldn’t spend the money. She was finally going to order some the other day when I told her to wait. I figured all I had to do was buy a network cable, hook our two computers together, and she could share my printer. Easy, right? Wrong!! I bought the cable, hooked the two printers together, ran the set-up program on each of our computers, clicked on the toggle to share my printer, and then tried to print something on my printer from Jean’s computer. Nothing!!

I’ve done everything I can think of and I’ve done what the programs have told me to do. I can print something from my computer to Jean’s printer, but that one doesn’t have any ink so that’s useless. I can search from my computer and find Jean’s printer, but when I search from her’s to find my printer, it can’t recognize it as a printer. Frustrating!! I’d say something like “I must have been born fifty years too late”, but that would mean I’d be dead by now and I’d have whined fifty years ago about not being able to get used to those new fangled radios with moving pictures they call televisions.

Just (Still Getting Dumber By The Day) Jack 

Locker Room

Some of you remember the story about my experience in a YMCA locker room in Florida a couple of years ago. For those of you that missed it, you can read it on the website under the heading “reader favorites” with the title “dilemma”. I should warn you that the story may keep you awake at night and, when you do sleep, you will have nightmares. This isn’t a repeat of what happened back then, but strange things are happening that may just be coincidences.   This past Monday I went to the fitness center to work out. After I finished I went into the locker room to get my gym bag and change into street shoes. The only other guy in the locker room came out of the shower, naked as a jaybird, and didn’t bother to cover himself with a towel. Of course, his locker was right next to mine and, of course, he stood facing me drying his hair while I was bent over tying my shoes, way too close to his nether regions. Other than being a little uncomfortable and definitely grossed out, I didn’t think anything about it.

On Friday, I went to the fitness center again to work out and went into the locker room when I was finished. I opened my locker and started taking off my workout clothes to change into my winter weather gear. Just then two guys came out of the showers, again naked as jaybirds and, again, didn’t bother to cover themselves with towels. One guy’s locker was the next one to my right and the other guy’s locker was the next one to my left. As I sat there  in between them tying my shoes, they both spent what I considered way too much time getting dressed. I don’t think I send out any “subliminal signals” so I’m not sure where these guys are coming from and why this keeps happening to me. Case closed! No salty comments are necessary!

The marina picked up the pontoon boat this past Wednesday. I asked Jean if she could follow me down to the lake, pick me up from the landing, and drive me over to the cottage. That way, when I took the pontoon over to be picked up, I’d have my car there and I wouldn’t have to walk back to the cottage to get it. Jean was way too busy meeting her friends for breakfast and, afterwards, having her hair done. It was cold, spitting rain, and the wind was strong from the West Northwest so the 2.3 mile walk from the landing to the cottage was not very pleasant, but Jean had a wonderful time back in Hastings. When I got to the cottage I had a little trouble starting the motor due to the cold air, and had some trouble keeping it running at idle throttle. I took the front rope off the dock cleat and the boat swung out away from the dock. I jumped on before it got too far away and restarted the motor after it stalled. I was too far from the dock to go back out the gate, so I climbed over the stern and stepped down to the dock, almost falling in the lake. I untied the back rope from the other dock cleat and just about lost the boat when the wind caught it and pushed it toward the shore. I struggled to pull the boat to the end of the dock and turn it parallel with the shoreline. The wind had it pinned tight against the end of the dock, so I didn’t want to put the motor in gear and drive away for fear of scraping the boat or dragging the dock with me across the lake.

I walked around the console to the gate and was just about to push off the dock when the engine stalled again. I walked back around the console, restarted it and waited until it idled smoothly. I got up, walked around the console to the gate, and it stalled again. Again I started the motor, stepped around the console and pushed the boat away from the dock. I ran around the console, trying to hurry so the boat didn’t crash back into the dock, and put it in gear. I went about three feet before the motor stalled again and the wind started quickly taking me toward the beach. I restarted it again, trimmed the motor up so it didn’t hit bottom, and turned out into the lake. The “shallow water alarm” was beeping at me non-stop but I finally made it through the weeds and on my way to the landing. Of course, I had only unbuttoned the mooring cover on one side because I thought I would be late getting to the landing by 10 AM as I had promised. As soon as I turned into the wind, the cover started billowing up so high I couldn’t see where I was going. I had to steer with my right hand while holding down the mooring cover with my left. That whole experience must have been quite a sight. I could just see the neighbors telling their friends the whole sordid affair at cocktail hour and having quite a laugh at my expense. So what’s new?

I’ll have my cortisone shot on Tuesday at noon and will not run on it for three or four days. By Saturday I’ll have the left hip of a twenty year old. Watch out Tom and Brian. I’ll be hot on your heels on the Sunday runs.

Just (I’ll Run So Fast I’ll Be A Blur) Jack

Burnt Eggs

When Jean and I first met, I was making that initial awkward small talk and I told her I had offered to make an apple pie to take to my parents’ house for a holiday get together. I was complaining that I had lost the rolling pin in my divorce and probably should go out and buy one. She said that I could use a water glass dusted with flour to roll out the crust. I found out later that the glass leaves lots of telltale lines in the crust and I found out much later that she baked very few pies in her life. She showed up with pies at family outings, but didn’t let on that her mother made them and she always made really good ones. So maybe we all overstate a few of our talents during the courtship period of our relationships, but it’s not the end of the world.

When it comes to food, Jean has her likes and dislikes, and I have mine and they aren’t the same. Jean puts cottage cheese (which I dislike) on almost anything; pizza; spaghetti; chili; and on and on. Her favorite vegetable is canned spinach (which I also dislike) which she eats several times a week, often slathered in cottage cheese. So when you look at me, you probably ask yourself how I could get this big (not portly, just “big”) when she makes things that I don’t like to eat. It’s because we often eat at the same time, but we each make what we want and I, apparently, like food that isn’t on any of the healthy eating list of foods.

I make myself eggs by breaking two in a small fry pan, break the yolks to swirl them around (but not scramble), put a top on the pan, and let the eggs cook hard. Jean puts two eggs in the same pan, covers it, and goes off and does something else for a while. Most women do “multitasking” better than men (it’s in chapter one of the “How To Get Your Husband To Do What You Want And Think It’s His Idea” manual that all girls get before they get married) but Jean is starting to slip. Four times (that I have witnessed) in the last two weeks I have seen her run through the house muttering “Oh s&*%” only to pull the eggs off the burner just before they burst into flames. I know none of you guys will admit publicly that your wife ever burnt eggs, but you know what I mean when I say it makes the whole house stink for hours. That’s all I better say ‘cuz the couch isn’t all that comfortable.

After months of tolerating and complaining about pain in my left hip after running, I went to an orthopedic surgeon last Friday. He says it has some arthritis, which we all knew, but it wasn’t “all that bad” and I should try a cortisone shot in or near the joint, so that will happen Thursday or Friday. I told him I’m not a great “shot guy” but he’s had it and says it isn’t that bad. He’s used to performing lots of surgeries and makes a living removing old worn out joints with an electric saw, so I guess pain is all relative. I don’t expect to jump up from the table and run ten miles instead of the three I have been running all along, but I hope I can increase the mileage gradually without much residual pain. We’ll see. If it doesn’t work, you can expect more whining.

Last year when I made arrangements to have the boat picked up for the winter, it snowed like crazy and it was a miserable lake crossing. This year, they will pick it up Wednesday. For those of you who don’t live in Michigan, we’ve had a run of unseasonably warm weather, but a cold front will come in tomorrow evening followed by an even colder front on Tuesday. The weather on Wednesday should be, at best, in the forties or fifties with a good chance of rain throughout the day. It should be fun. Anybody want to go for a boat ride?

Just (The Weather Pox Kid) Jack

Not Smart Enough

I’ve always considered myself to be of “passable” intelligence, but I don’t think I’m smart enough to make it in this day and age. Without going into the gruesome details, most of you know of my bout two years ago with ulcerative colitis. The doctor told me that I would probably have to take medication the rest of my life, so I have been. It’s three large capsules three times a day, so it’s not fun, but it is better than the symptoms coming back.

Anyway, a couple of months ago I called into the gastroenterology office to renew my prescription (it’s renewed for a month with 11 refills). They contacted me and said the doctor would only renew it for a month or two and I needed to schedule a recheck colonoscopy. You all probably know that I did that on September 13th and everything went fine. On the discharge instructions it said, among other things, continue the colazal, three capsules three times a day. A week ago last Friday, when my final supply of pills was starting to run out, I called the pharmacy to see if my prescription had been called in. They said it hadn’t, so I called the doctor’s office. When you call, you can’t talk to a human being, so I pushed the “4” button and got the prescription refill recording.

I gave them all the information they asked for but I forgot to give my area code (it’s different than Grand Rapids) and I didn’t have the telephone number of the pharmacy they have called it to for over two years. The recording said to allow them 24 to 48 hours to respond. I worried about that missing information all day long but I didn’t call back. They didn’t call back Friday, Saturday or Sunday. I ran out of pills on Monday and still hadn’t received a call but, to me, that was 24 business hours. Still nothing by Tuesday morning (48 business hours) so I called back and gave them the same information all over again. Someone from their office called me later in the day and said the prescription had been called in to the pharmacy Friday at 5 or 6 PM. I said I had expected them to call and let me know which prompted the response “Oh, we don’t have time for that”. I guess, to them, I should have the time to call the pharmacy several times over that 48 hour period to find out if they got my call, decided to renew the prescription and actually did it.

Our house guest is getting better by the minute, although she had a setback Saturday afternoon with an infection in the incision. When Jean started going through the details of removing the stitches, opening the “outer layer” and squeezing the puss out, I decided it was time for me to go far enough away to not hear anymore. Becky says she still isn’t back to 100% yet (not a realistic expectation) but she’s come a long way from a week ago. She worries about causing us more work, but we’re happy to have her here. It gives Jean someone to talk to who actually listens and I really don’t need to hear the television.

I went to a meeting with the new hospital CEO at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids last Friday. The place is quite elegant and, with the event being sponsored by Spectrum Health, we got complimentary valet parking. Most of the people attending the event were doctors, CEOs of hospitals, and some board members of Spectrum and affiliate hospitals (Rich DeVos, one of the founders of Amway, was there, not to be confused with his son, Dick DeVos who ran for Michigan Governor and lost). Needless to say, they all had money and drove really nice cars. With all the Mercedes, Lexus, Cadillacs and Lincolns in the drive was my 1998 Jeep Cherokee with 182,000 plus miles. When I left in the afternoon, I checked my wallet and, other than a couple of twenties which was way too much for a tip for the kid who brought my car, I had two dollars. At least I didn’t hand him change. I could almost see the wheels turning in his head, thinking “With all these high rollers, I had to get this poor b*#$^%$”.

Just (Going Along With The Flow) Jack