Fossils

So, my Beloved and I have been doing a bit of closet cleaning/re-organizing around our apartment of late, and one of the items we have decided to say goodbye to is a like-new VCR player. OK, stop laughing – yes, I said a like-new VCR player. In fact, I think I still have the original box somewhere AND the “Owner’s Manual” is in a zip-lock bag in my desk drawer…

Panasonic-VHS-player

This isn’t our exact model (ours is a SONY) but it is very much like this one. The thing is, Martin and I have been together for 6+ years and, in that time, we have NEVER watched one single VHS tape from my “archives” (over fifty titles, mostly gay art films from the 80’s and early 90’s – things like “Farewell My Concubine, The Lost Language of Cranes, Maurice, Edward II” – you know, all the art house stuff, not porn). Since we never watch them, we have decided to “give it all away.”

Sad thing is, no one wants it. Our VCR is SUCH a fossil, we might as well be giving away a flint and a steel – you know, like to build a fire with. A VCR player – while in reality maybe 25 years old is 150 years old in “tech years” (tech years are like dog years, only longer).

flint

And – know what is REALLY sad? At least the flint and steel are “cool” – I mean, they are a cool way to start a fire. But now the cool way to watch movies is to “stream them” off the internet. No one has started a movement to make watching movies or television shows on VHS tapes “cool.” I mean, who says this? “Wanna’ come over later and watch the premiere of American Horror Story after work? I TAPED it last night.” No one does. No.One. 

The last series I “taped” – religiously – was “Dynasty” with Joan Collins and Linda Evans. God, I LOVED that show…

So yeah, I guess we will just be throwing away our old VCR – I hate that (I am of German descent; we are a frugal people. LOL!) But maybe we won’t. Maybe we will start hosting “Retro Movie Night,” inviting friends over for dinner (some sort of casserole, no doubt!) then clustering around the VCR as we watch ambiguously gay/artsy films from 25-30 years ago.

Oh – to start, I have that “Limited Edition, Commemorative 25 Year Anniversary Release” VHS tape of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Maybe we could all do the time warp again in my TV room…

Or you could just stream the entire The Rocky Horror Picture Show by clinking the link above. Sigh…

Down the Drain

clocks

I like this image of clocks – it kinda’ visually expresses how time moves for me: spinning, no-hands-so- you-never-really-know what time it is, or how much time you have spent or how much time you have left to spend. Time always seems to be “running down the drain:” for me – no day is ever long enough, no deadline is ever “far enough out,” no amount of time budgeted for a job is ever adequate. Sigh… I like to think I tackle too many projects at once, but they all seem important and necessary.

I used to wish for an entire day to “do nothing.” Now I wish for days that are 27 hours long…

Deciphering Customer Service Responses

Today I called the alarm company my Sweetie and I use at our apartment. More than a decade ago, the apartment got broken into not once but twice within a year (the police speculated it was the same criminal/s) so, in response to those break-ins – and to feel safer – I signed up for an alarm service. I never wanted to feel “unsafe” again…

Thief-Break-In-RobberyI have to admit, the alarm service did/does give me a feeling of security (I have requested an armed response) and, overall, the service has been good. That said, about every eighteen months or so, my quarterly rate “creeps up” four or five dollars. In fact, the same service that I signed up for a decade or so ago now costs me $112.00/quarter, compared to the $79.00/quarter it cost me when I signed up. That is an increase of 42% over the original contract price – yet I’m in the same apartment, I have the same service, so I have to ask,

Why?

How can a company justify a rate increase of over 40% over a decade? I mean, I do not MAKE 40% more than I did a decade ago (not even close, BTW!) So why the increased cost? I was determined to find out the justification for these additional charges, so I called my “security monitoring provider” and spoke with a lovely CSR (customer service rep) named Viki (I know she spells it that way because I asked her name before the call ended).

calling

CSR: “Thanking you for calling G******* Alarm, this is Viki, do you have an emergency?”

Me: “No, Viki – at least not in the traditional sense. No, I have a question about my bill.”

CSR: “Great! How can I help you with that?”

Me: “I see my bill went up since last quarter – can you tell me why?”

CSR: “We had a rate increase effective July 2014, which is reflected on this billing statement.”

This is when I shifted into what I like to call “Two-Year-Old” mode.

Me: “A rate increase? WHY?”

CSR: “Periodically we have rate increase adjustments and that is what is reflected on your billing statement.”

Me: “OK, I get that you had a rate increase – but WHY?”

CSR: “Why what, Sir?”

Me: “WHY must I pay a rate increase? My apartment is no larger, there has been no change in service or equipment, so WHY the increased cost?”

CSR (obviously a little rattled): “Sir, may I put you on hold for a moment while I check?”

Me: “Of course.”

About two and half minutes pass – I imagine Viki grabbing a quick smoke, running to buy a fresh Mountain Dew, and she’s back…

CSR: “Sir? Thank you for holding while I checked into your billing charges. I did verify that there was a rate increase July 1st, which is reflected on this billing statement.”

Me (now pissy and slightly frustrated): “Yes, Viki, you explained that before you put me on hold. My question is, WHY is there a rate increase? What justifies your company arbitrarily charging me more for what seems to me to be the exact same service. WHY?”

CSR: “Sir? I will have to check into that and get back with you. Is blah-blah-blah the best number to reach you at?”

And with that, the call was terminated. Viki was on to the next customer. She will never call me back.

I spent 3.5 years in high school studying Latin. A HUGE part of my studies involved doing translations – translating Latin into English. Allow me to attempt to translate this for conversation for you…

When a CSR says, “We had a rate increase adjustment,” what that means in English is “We are a big company that can charge whatever we want for the same service. You have few options so suck it up or leave.”

09092009_thumb_nose_1

I co-own a small business. My business partner and I bend over backwards every day, just to SURVIVE, let alone THRIVE. It galls me when companies like this one just raise their rates because “they can.” Jerks.

Where Does It Go?

Today was a pretty spectacular day, for no particular reason at all…

My Sweetie and I slept in a little late, I took an important phone call around 11:15 AM, I did a couple of small projects for work, we watched a little TV, I took a three-hour nap (HEAVEN!), I ran out and bought some lottery tickets (we won $4 last week!), we grilled some burgers/had them over a salad, I called my Dad, we watched two season finales on TV (I know – we watch too much TV) and now I am writing this blog at 11:51PM. My Angel is reading in bed across the hall and I am here wondering where the day went?

Broken Hour GlassI had a beautiful, “chill day” but I am left wanting it not to be over yet. Where does time “go?” It’s a curious thing, time. I have always envied all the folks that flippantly remark they have “too much time on their hands.” I never have enough – on my hands, in my pocket, on the clock, anywhere…

Time is a hateful master. I always feel like I am racing against a clock – I never seem to have all the time I need to do anything. Maybe that’s how life works – we are busy and time just keeps on flowing, like some mighty, rushing river. If we cannot “swim” fast enough, I suppose we drown.

Maybe that is what happens to folks with too much time on their hands – they are drowning…

Anyway, today was awesome. I’d like to consider the whole “time thing” with greater thought and consideration but it is, sadly, time for me to go to bed. Food for another future post I suppose…

White Rabbit Friday

I was “off” today – I kissed my Beloved, told him “Goodbye for now” and left our apartment at 8:56A. I arrived home (on my “day off,” mind you) at 5:25P.

Listen, I get it – sometimes life, work, whatever demands (requires?) that we sacrifice our off days and work/do chores/whatever. I mean, it is a rare – actually non-existent – day that I spend in my jammies doing nothing. Really, I can forgive the loss of free time. I had a really productive day (although I missed my Sweetie a bit).

The thing that drove me BONKERS was that all day, I felt like this guy:

COELHO~1white-rabbit-with-watch-1White Rabbit 1Yup – I felt like The White Rabbit all day: “Oh dear! Oh Dear! I shall be too late!” It’s my own fault, though. Even though I hate being late, when I get to “jabbering,” well, there is often no other outcome than a day behind schedule… Anyway, it all worked out – my biz partner and I had a great day all around and now that my blog is done for the day, I can go veg with my Sweetie and watch some mindless TV. Gypsies or Amish, Bad Girls or Housewives? Decisions, decisions – ‘night!

Mid 70’s Summer Music

Today was the first day it really, REALLY felt like summer to me. The sun and sky were awesome, the temperature perfect and I had a really lovely day with my Beloved. And, weird as it sounds, a number of songs just kept playing over and over in my head…

The group performing my “head songs” was Seals & Crofts, a sort of pop/folk/easy listening duo from the mid/late 1970’s. I love them, and their music always reminds me of summer. I suppose they remind me of summer because at the first job I ever had, at fifteen in the summer of 1973, the jukebox at Paul’s Drive-In in Shelby, Ohio, had a LOT of Seals & Crofts tunes on it. After every shift, as we were closing the restaurant – breaking down the ice cream machines, mopping out the walk-ins, vacuuming the dining room, etc. – Bob, the awesome son-in-law-of-Paul-and-manager of Paul’s Drive-In would put unlimited tunes on the jukebox, turn it up crazy loud and let us have music as we cleaned/set up for the next day. That was when I fell in love with Seals & Crofts. And every time I hear their songs, I think back to two of the happiest summers of my life. I was fifteen/sixteen, working (making $1.05/hour – plus side tips from the car hops!) and I had free music at my fingertips. Take a listen to these three tunes. They are nostalgic, sweet and beautiful. Enjoy! 

album

summer breeze

Procrastinate. Cuss. Repeat.

Well, well, well, here it is – 14 April, “Tax Day Eve.” And for the umpteenth consecutive year in a row, my taxes are NOT done. Universe willing, I should be able to find the piece of paper I need to get to my accountant by tomorrow so he can file all the forms for me electronically before midnight. Ugh. Why, oh why (again)? Every year, it’s the same story…box-of-receipts

I think I know what the receipt is – actually, it is a something-99 form (I clearly see it in my head on the corner of my Beloved’s desk). Sadly, I need to know where it is – it’s NOT there now so I have to figure out where I “put-it-so-I’d-know-where-to-find-it-when-I-needed-it.”

I could punch myself in the face sometimes.

The thing that is particularly troubling to me is that EVERY year, Tax Day is the same day – yet, EVERY year, I am in the “FINAL 24,” trying to get my crap all pulled-together and get it filed. It makes me feel embarrassed, like I am some sort of disorganized knucklehead. I suppose if I am being honest, I always put this task off because I HATE it. I do that with lots of other tasks, too – put them off because I dislike doing them – things like: dusting, electronic bill paying, Comet-ing the bath tubs, you know, all those fun chores that we are required to do as adults but do so only under the greatest protest.

i_hate_days_like_thisAs in years past, it will somehow all come together – it may be 9:49P tomorrow night, but it WILL all come together. It’s just that days and moments like these remind me that, despite being an adult decades into life, inside I am just a little kid, kicking at the dirt and saying “I don’t wanna’.”

I don’t wanna’ be an adult but it seems that is really not an option for me now. Off for more “pile searching.” Wish me luck.

Go Pound

I was off work today – my Beloved and I have had a SUPER day together: we went and saw the new “300: Rise of an Empire” movie (wait till it’s out on DVD), did a quick turn off-price shopping (we got some cute Christmas napkin rings – 4/$1.25!), grabbed an AMAZING late lunch at Koko Bakery on Payne Ave (Vietnamese – delicious!), went and viewed the Orchid Mania exhibit at Cleveland Botanical Garden (now in its final weekend) and – without realizing it – stumbled upon the MIX event at The Cleveland Museum of Art (we took a free manga drawing class – it was AWESOME!)

All-in-all, it was a fantastic day, that is, until we walked out to the car to find this:

photo (1)Oh yeah, that’s right – a FRICKING $25 parking ticket. Know what’s the BEST part about it? I got the ticket at 5:52PM, eight minutes – yes, EIGHT flippin’ minutes – before the meters “don’t count anymore” at 6PM.

It’s OK. I still had an amazing day. And I guess I am happy to know that the City of Cleveland is so keenly aware of parking violators on the ONE Friday night a month that arguably the city’s BIGGEST tourist attraction hosts an event. No need to worry about dampening the party atmosphere, or maybe forgiving someone EIGHT GD minutes. I will say, such diligent and thorough police work makes me feel proud, and safe, and protected…

Hey – Cleveland Parking Violations Bureau? Go pound!

Kim Novak – A Cautionary Tale

Last night, my Beloved MSW and I enjoyed watching The 86th Annual Academy Awards program. Counting the 90 minute Oscar “pre-game show,” we sat through more than FIVE HOURS of visual stimulation, often punctuated by inane chatter. Since we had only seen one of the nine Best Picture nominees, I wasn’t as emotionally invested in the program as I have been in years past. I did think, overall, that it was an enjoyable evening and we had a lot of fun watching the program together.

All other events of the evening aside, I must say that the appearance by Kim Novak shocked me back to consciousness. (I had been getting a little drowsy around that point – the show was LONG and it was getting late). Anyway, when they announced Kim Novak, I guess in my head I expected to see this stunning woman:Hollywood Kim Novakor maybe this beautiful actress – talk about being stop-traffic gorgeous!!!Kim Novak VertigoInstead, the woman that appeared on stage seemed an aged, distorted version of Kim Novak – sort of like someone who had admired a star so much they sought out plastic surgery to help them “look” more like their idol. Please do not think me a cruel or malicious person – far from it. I do believe, however, that Kim Novak’s appearance is a cautionary tale about our culture’s obsession not only with youth but with perfection. A once stunning woman, who should have “aged gracefully,” somehow managed to do this to herself (this image is not by me – a friend posted it on her Facebook wall today – nine “Kim’s” through nine filters):Multiple Kim NovaksWhile Ms. Novak’s charm, charisma and poise still shone brightly on the stage, it was hard to take them all in as I stared at the screen, trying to imagine if it was Botox, surgery or both that had rendered her devoid of expression and almost slurring as she spoke. It actually made my heart heavy to see her like this, probably forced by society – and an industry – to perpetuate her youthful beauty for as long as she could, by any means possible. I was glad to see that the beautiful woman that is at her core still is visible on the stage. Kim Novak will always be beautiful to me.

I hope that society is finally coming to grips with aging. As a man in my mid fifties, I have less and less hair daily, and the hair I do have is turning more gray every day. I can still see my feet but my 32″ waist is a long-distant memory. I think I might have to finally break down and get glasses this year; I wear readers more and more often (but usually when no one is looking). As a man, I know that my gender supposedly gets more handsome and distinguished as we get older. Poor ladies – they just get old. And that makes me sad. And that is wrong. And I wish men and women alike would stop torturing themselves to look younger and just keep a youthful spirit and energy. And Kim Novak? If you happen upon this blog somehow, please know that I am one of your biggest fans and that I will always see you as a beautiful woman, no matter how you look. Please stop trying to look different than you are intended to – we must all believe we are beautiful at every age, right?