Saturday, December 18, 2010
Yesterday the BW had a flat tire and left her car over by Sweetbay. Her cell phone had a dead battery, and the guy who ran the Pack & Ship store gave her a ride home. The AAA didn’t do any good because she didn’t call them, so I took her with me to put the spare on. Then she took my car home, and I went down to Sam’s Club for two new tires. I got this car almost two years ago, and it came with new tires on the front but half worn out tires on the back. One of them went flat, and had a crack in the compound on the sidewall. It was about 18 inches long and very ragged. She said she was watching it go down after she got out of the car.
Looking at the date codes, the rear tire left was made in 2003, pretty early, and the other one I didn’t bother to look at. It was at least as old, so the “dry rot” that is a problem in the warm states had done its thing. The body doesn’t rust out because there is no salt on the roads, but the tires don’t last so long. Someone probably bought new tires when the old ones were five years old, and the rear ones were sold as used.
When I got to Sam’s club it was going to cost me $200 for two tires, but they still had the special on Michelins, and I could get four for $300. The tires in front were nearly four years old, so I took the bait. Now we have two old cars with new 80,000 mile tires, good for five years for sure.
The other big thing that happened yesterday was that I finished setting up the router and Roku, and signed up for my free month of Netflix. Then I stumbled through way too much choice, and found some good stuff. The BW likes a show called “Doc Martin” that ran on one of the PBS channels, and I found season four of Doc Martin. She watched two of the 45 minute shows, which is about like watching a movie. I found season three today, so she should be happy. She’s watching “A Room With a View” as I write this, so maybe it will be something she does like. The only disadvantage is that some of the movies have people talking so fast that neither of us can understand everything. There are no closed captions, so I guess we need to learn to read lips.
Today we have been getting ready to pick up Annie and Jerzy tonight - cleaning, moving, and cooking. I made two trips to the grocery store to get everything for the reception.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
We had a big party at the TOPS meeting tonight. First a game with prizes, and then a bunch of treats that two ladies had made. We also got gifts from the Christmas party the people had made and brought along, even though I wasn't there, and some that were brand new made for everyone. I also got my wireless modem which I haven't had a chance to look at yet. With luck I will be on line with a secure hot spot throughout the house. This is something with the latest protocols and high power, so I hope it works when I download the software and try to set it up. I'm a little awed by the stuff that comes with no paperwork nowadays - it either comes over the internet or you're out of luck. At least they used to give you a floppy with the operating system, then a CD, then a few, and then a chance to write it on a couple of DVD's after you had the computer for a while. Now there's nothing but a website address.
I miss the good old days when I had some paper to look at.
Wish me luck.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Last Thursday I went back to my dermatologists for a check-up, and he didn't do Mohs surgery this time - but he did find a scaly pre-cancerous patch, an actinic keratosis. He just froze the big scaly patch that showed up on my cheek lately. He offered to wait until after the holidays, but I didn't see any reason to put it off. I didn't think too much about it, and it only hurt a little, but by now I have a big dark area on the cheek and look like I have something that you definitely wouldn't want. Then I look at the picture on the blog, and realize that I've had two operations and a freeze-off in just a few months.
It worried me a little at the time, so I commented that it looked as if he had a reliable customer now, and he commented that that was true. When you have had enough ultra-violet that the skin cancers start to show up, they tend to just keep coming. That made me think if my brother-in-law, who commented at Thanksgiving that he had just had 22 skin cancers removed in one sitting. That brings his total up to 33, but I still think 22 at once is raising quite a crop.
The end result was that he offered me either four months or six months for another inspection, and I took the six months. I'll know in six months if this is going to be the story of my life from now on.
Other than that, I have just been doing a bunch of clean-up and chores to get ready for Annie and Jerzy, who we will pick up at the Tampa airport Saturday night. We have a freeze warning, but it is supposed to warm up by Friday, so maybe it won't be a disaster like last year, when we had a record cold winter.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
We have two PBS stations here, channels 3 and 16. We like to watch Mystery or Masterpiece Theater Sunday evenings on channel 3, and the BW likes some shows on channel 16. She talked about not being able to get channel 16 in back, but I didn't pay too much attention to her until I finally tried myself. After straightening out the VCR/DVD player and TV so I could get to the outside world reliably, I found that she was right. All the other channels were there, but not channel 16. We get channel 16 just fine in front, through a converter, but not in back on the analog channels without a converter.
That was about a week ago, and tonight I got around to calling Brighthouse. I started out with program services, and went through two people there. The answer they kept giving me was that channel 16 changed its transition to digital. Of course I argued that all the other channels changed to digital too, and they were still there. After about three times around that loop, the second guy mentioned that Brighthouse were required to carry one PBS station, and channel 16 wanted to carry a lot of programs that channel 16 chose. He said that at least three times, which still didn't explain the problem to me.
Eventually I suggested a couple of times that they could carry 16 as an analog channel but didn't want to do it, but no one would admit that that was the case. Finally he offered me technical support, so I said sure, transfer mo over. He did say one time that they were required to carry one PBS channel.
The lady in technical support gave me the same run-around a couple of times, and finally said that channel 16 was a converter channel. You could get all the old channels up to 99 without a converter, but not channel 16. They did the same thing with the public access channel, moved it up into the hundreds so you needed a converter, but I hadn't seen anything about channel 16 in the paper.
When I asked if I had to rent a converter for $8/month to see the channel she told me that they had a PEG converter for $1/month. No one would ever say that they moved it so they could collect more money, but the brush-off they all had memorized was enough to make you give up in frustration. There is a built-in illogic that they hope you won't notice, I guess. I notice and get irritated, and I suspect that everyone else would too.
Brighthouse has the highest customer satisfaction rating of any carriers in this area, but I think it would be even higher if they just would tell it like it is.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
We used to drive along East 10th Street, past the fancy houses, at Christmastime back in the early 1960's because we wanted to be awed by the light displays. There would be a string of cars as far as anyone could see, moving very slowly because one or two people didn't want to hurry. The show was fantastic. In later years other areas of Indianapolis took the lead, but there was always an excellent show somewhere.
Down here there are a lot of fancy areas, but this immediate neighborhood isn't one of them. We always used to drive over to Safety Harbor to see the house decorated by the two artists who live in it. They would make the St. Pete Times, and I still have pictures that I took there, but nothing is like seeing it in the flesh. We have sort of fallen out of the habit anymore. We have been in this area during the winter intermittently since 1992, and every winter since 1999, but we didn't start looking at the Safety Harbor show until about 2002, and after a few years the crowds and difficulty parking took the pleasure away. The BW was having trouble walking very far, and it just slid away.
Up around 18th and Pennsylvania there are some fancy places, with wire reindeer forms covered with lights, and multiple inflated lighted figures as well as light displays that knock you socks off. On the way home from the grocery store the BW made me drive by them, and they were a great show at dusk. It was still light out, but the lights showed brightly, and I wished I had a camera with me to try to get a reasonable available light shot. Instead, by the time I had carried everything in and we put everything away it was dark, and I didn't feel like driving up there. Instead I took another shot of Kenny's house from across the street, bracing the camera on someone's mail box. One of the consequences of being in the unincorporated Pinellas County is that everyone has a mailbox on the street, not on the house, and they're at a convenient height to satisfy the USPS.
This is another picture of Kenny's house. Ours isn't worth showing.
It's a little better than yesterday's. I changed the batteries in the camera and forgot to set the date and time - it was taken this evening.
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