Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Conspicuous consuming

Greetings, one and all, from the frontiers of semi-big-ticket shopping.  Busy few days for my wife and me.  Let me explain....

Have I mentioned that I have a bad back?  Damaged by years of unloading trucks and stocking shelves at a long-defunct grocery in my boyhood town of Paris, Kentucky.  I experience stiffness and pain periodically, and a lot of golf (a tear rolls down most everyone's cheek, I know) or yard work can really cause problems.

My problems are nothing compared to my wife, who has some disc issues.  Bottom line, we need a good bed.  And we've been thinking about upgrading with our next replacement.  Turns out, that time is here.

Our existing bed is a Stearns and Foster, which was one of those old ironclad American brandnames like Florsheim shoes and Caterpillar.  But, like those other brands, it just isn't what it used to be.

We bought this bedding (king mattress and box springs) in 2001, so we're overdue for replacement.  We prolonged the life of this with a memory foam pad that lasted for a couple of years, but that finally gave up the ghost and we went bed shopping.  Actually, my wife went while I was on a business trip last week and did some research.

We ultimately decided that we needed one of those full-memory-foam mattresses, with the moving platform that adjusts twenty five ways, and provides massage, etc.  So we ordered that bad boy, and should receive it in the next ten days.

That wasn't enough.  We also began discussing a television for our bedroom and the conversation led, naturally, to the seven-year-old LCD set in our living room, and how it was taking longer to start up, etc.  So we bought a TV last night.

While we were doing that, my wife asked me about our sound system, and would we need to replace it.  "Nah," I responded, "there's not a thing wrong with that."  So we didn't buy one, but then found out that the sound output on the TV wasn't compatible with our years-old sound system.  Off I went in search of adapters, and found the missing piece at lunchtime today.  Functionality restored.  Nice picture, too.  And we thought our old TV had a good picture.  Always the case, you don't know what's not doing so well until you see the replacement right next to it.

In case you were wondering if I won the lottery or had a rich unknown relative leave me a pile of cash, neither happened.  It's the miracle of ___ months, 0% interest.  Using someone else's money to finance intrinsic improvements in one's circumstances is a beautiful thing.

We may not be finished, either.  I received a call from a mortgage loan officer with our bank.  Turns out that they supposedly sent us a letter (they didn't, if it matters) informing us that we are eligible for the federal government's homeowner assistance program.  The loan officer said that we could shorten our term by four or five years and pay only a little more per month than we are now.  I then asked about a couple of wrinkles and it looks like they might be possible, too.

Hope so.  After all, I have to find a way to finance this bed and TV.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A week no one wants to repeat

Greetings from yet another airport waiting for yet another flight, blah, blah, blah.  Hell, I'm as tired of writing that as you are of reading it, no doubt.

But more importantly, I know that most everyone's thoughts are with those affected by the horrific events in Boston and West, Texas last week.  I am fortunate that no one I know even indirectly was involved with either calamity, and I hope that it's the same for you.  But everyone who was affected knows someone, is related to someone, and I suppose you just have to hope that everyone's coping as well as possible.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled inanity....

I'm still somewhat on the fence about Netflix.  We're paying for it now, so I'm into this for at least one monthly fee.  And we've found some stuff to watch, but I think I'm finding more than my wife is, at least so far.  Doesn't do her much good, but we'll keep it in place for now.

We're also debating the wisdom of putting a TV back in our bedroom where there has not been one for some time.  Sold the last one (a real piece of junk) on Craigslist, and hadn't missed it, but when I'm home and the Reds are playing a long game (rain delay, extra innings, etc.) it's nice to be able to finish the game while lying in bed.  Complicating matters is that we would also need either a mount or furniture for a television, so it looks like we still have some thinking to do.  Suggestions welcome.

One thing I do love when I travel is to find free wi-fi.  The airport where I'm waiting has it, but they really want you to opt for their deluxe service, which, of course, is accompanied by a fee.  No thanks.  So I'm connected on some unnamed signal.   Not going to do any shopping or banking this way, of course, but it works for most of the stuff I'll do while I'm cooling my heels.

That's actually a pet peeve....the busiest airports (Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit) seem to be the ones who refuse to offer any kind of free service.  A tip:  locate near an airline club room, there's usually a good signal to be had from just outside!

I could go on (anyone who knows me is fully aware of that), but I think I'll close now.  Gotta catch (another) plane....




Friday, April 12, 2013

Master of the house

Sorry, my wife and I have become real fans of "Les Miserables" in the past few months, and that song (the only real comic relief in the play/film) has been rolling around in my head for a while.....

Appreciate the increase in page views recently.  I hope that means that folks are finding this space to be amusing and possibly even informative at times, though that's not the main purpose of this blog.  I welcome comments at all times, so if you have a suggestion, don't be bashful.

I also want to thank those who provided some direct reaction to my most recent post, which was largely a series of rants about this and that.  I try not to "go off" here very often, but sometimes it helps and I'm glad to hear that folks were supportive!

I didn't travel this week, thankfully, had a family issue to attend to.  Things are getting back to normal now, which means I hit the road once again next Tuesday for a series of three weeks of business travel. Oh, boy, cannot wait.  And the funny thing is that my wife and I watched "United 93" last night.  If you're not familar, this concerns the plane which was hijacked on 9/11 but was overtaken by a group of passengers before it could reach its destination.  Interesting movie, but not one that a frequent traveler should watch just before a trip.  It was my second time seeing it, as I had rented it (and watched it on a plane, so go figure) not long after it came out a few years ago.

Speaking of movies, it will be time pretty soon for the summer movie season.  I can only think of a handful that I feel that I must see, and they include "Iron Man 3" and "Man of Steel."  The latter is yet another reboot of the Superman franchise.  And I understand that it deals realistically with the idea of what we as a society would do if an alien with enormous powers suddenly appeared in our midst and said, "I'm here to help."  Interesting take on a very old and traditional story.  Not much else appears to be a must-see, at least not that I can think of.

My Reds were clicking along in the first week of the season, having won four of six, then they went to St. Louis to face the hated Cardinals.  The Reds have a long history of futility in that city, and earlier this week managed to win the first game, then lose the next two by lopsided scores.  Still, I like how the team is playing to this point, they have "the look of eagles," as old John McGraw once said of his New York Giants team.

I'm glad folks in Washington appear to be less interested in partisan politics and more in actually doing something for a change, but I hope I haven't spoken too soon.  It looks like there will be actual debate and a vote on some new gun controls and, sometime later, immigration reform, and whichever side of these issues you're on, you have to agree with me that the purpose of our Congress is to propose, discuss and vote on laws, and not simply hide behind procedural tricks to maintain the status quo.

I'll close with a quick comment on North Korea.  Why is it that dictators from seemingly small and less powerful countries so often are the ones who cause the most problems for the rest of the world?  The young "leader" of that country is the latest in a long line of these.  Hopefully nothing adverse comes of his efforts to legitimize his country on the world stage.

And with that, I bid you a good day and a better weekend.





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