Thursday, December 28, 2017

Happy Birthday to Me

I want to thank everybody for the birthday wishes yesterday. As much as I dislike my birthday (two days after Jesus' birthday kind of takes away some of the glamour), I do appreciate all the attention. What I have never liked about my birthday, along with sharing with Jesus, is that it is always damn cold. Every year it's the same thing, bitter cold, snow on the ground, and everybody exhausted from the holidays. I did try to make it better by moving to Florida for twenty seven years, but with all the retirees down there it only reminded me that I was hurtling towards old age. So yes, I have ticked off another year from my life. When I look back to that time I moved to Florida, it seems like only yesterday. I remember it all. The move out of my apartment in Chicago, driving down there with Garrett, the house I moved into. It all seems so fresh in my memory. It was nearly twenty nine years ago. Those years have just flown by. I'm not stupid, I can do rudimentary math. Twenty nine years from now, if I'm still alive, I'll be ninety seven damn years old. It wouldn't be so bad if you could maintain your looks, health, and stamina right up to the moment of your demise. But no, you end up living like a slug. Barely able to move. You can't go to the bathroom without fearing that you'll fall in. Personal hygiene suffers. I'm sure that even Hugh Hefner was a smelly old fart during his last years. The difference is that he was rich. I don't have the money to pay young people to hang around and pretend that I don't smell bad. Oh well, today I'll go out and visit Mom. She's ninety six and she's pissed off about growing old too.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

We Had An Über Christmas

Can you see me now?
What is an Uber driver, other than some schmuck with a car and a smart phone that has GPS on it.

Christmas Day, my sister Lisa was to visit and stay for dinner. At around six in the evening she called to tell me that she was in an Uber car, on her way.
"Where are you right now?" I asked.
"We're on the expressway."
Wrong answer. My sister lives downtown, near the Loop, and the best way to get to our house is on Lake Shore Drive, all the way to the end and then head west. The expressway is prone to traffic jams and requires two extra miles of surface street driving. At a quarter to seven Lisa called again.
"What's your address?"
Okay, I'd think she would have given the driver the address before leaving for our house, but I repeated it to her.
"I think I'm standing in front of your house. At least that's the address on the building."
I looked out the front window. Nobody was out there.
"I don't see you. Are you sure you're on the right street? Tell the driver he is on the wrong street."
"I'm not in the Uber car anymore. He left."
So the Uber guy dropped my sister off on the wrong street and left her there, in the dark, on the coldest day of the season.
"Lisa, walk over to Peterson and look at the street sign. What street are you on?"
No answer. Lisa had hung up, so I called her back and repeated those instructions.
"Okay... it's so fucking cold out here...." And then she hung up again. I called her back. I was worried about her out there, all alone in the dark.
"What street are you on?"
"Talman..." And then she hung up again.
By this time I had my big coat on and was walking down towards Peterson in my slippers. Did I mention how goddamned cold it was? I called Lisa again.
"Are you on Peterson? Are you out on the sidewalk, on the south side of the street?"
"I don't know fucking south from fucking north...."
I was now standing at the end of our block, at Peterson, looking up and down the sidewalk. Way off in the distance I could see the figure of somebody.
"Is that you way down there? I'm waving my arms. Can you see me?"
She had hung up on me again. So I called her back and asked her again if she could see me waving my arms like a used car lot, blow up man.
"I don't see a fucking thing. It's so damn cold out here.... fuck!"
"You don't see me? Everybody else on the street sees me. They think I'm nuts." I told her as I continued to wave at the distant figure. She had hung up again. I called back.
"Lisa, walk west towards me."
"I don't know which fucking way is fucking west."
"Look across the street. You see the park? Go to your left, that's west."
Slowly the distant figure kept getting closer. As she moved down the frozen street towards me I noticed a random man stalking her, so I called again. Lisa did not answer, but did continue walking towards me. I continued with the crazed arm waving. I started walking towards her and when she was a block away we met. Lisa had a giant basket laden with heavy Christmas presents.
"Geez, I thought that was a shopping bag you were carrying, not a basket."
I grabbed one handle of the basket, Lisa held the other one, and we scurried on down the street towards my house. All Lisa could say at that point was, "Cold, fucking cold.... cold.... fuck... "   She's the only person I know who swears more than I do. At least, since my dad died.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Doggy Christmas

When we got Scout I depended upon Chandler to help show her some good behavior examples. She did catch on fast that the backyard was the place to do her toilet duties. Chandler also taught her that when the lights go out, it's time for bed. No midnight barking allowed. One thing that Chandler taught Scout was that if you look up into the sky, there are big noisy birds up there that you are supposed to bark at. Airplanes, Chandler loves to bark at the airplanes and we are under the landing approach for one of the runways at O'Hare. Lots of barking. What I didn't count on was Scout teaching my old dog, Chandler, new tricks. When Scout wants something, she sits in front of me and talks. If I ignore her, she starts barking at me. Most of the time this will get my attention and I will ask her, "What do you want?" Easy to figure out, either she wants to go out, or she wants a chewy stick. Sometimes she is telling me that Mark has left a plate of half finished food on the counter in the kitchen and I need to give that to her. This is something that Chandler has never done, until now. He watched and learned and now will sit in front of me and give me a soft bark. If I ignore, he goes loud. He wants that half finished plate of food. What I can't get them to communicate on is posing for their Christmas photo. "Chandler, sit! Stay... Okay, Scout, sit!...  no, no, Chandler you stay.. Scout come back here.." And so it went. I managed to get some quick shots off of the two of them. In all of the photos though, one or the other was blurry because neither one would sit long enough to get the other posed. The above photo is of two different pictures blended together. It's the best I could do.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

More Assholery

Yesterday I mentioned to Mark that somebody had vandalized the Christmas display that the lady down the street had on her front porch. He found that to be quite distressing. Then later in the day I was out in the back yard with the dogs when I heard some young male voices in the alley. Just as I peeked over the fence, I saw two teenage boys toss a bottle of cologne, then something else. So I hooked Chandler up to the leash and went out to investigate. What I found was a black canvas bag with two energy bars and some other inconsequential things in it. On the ground was the bottle of cologne. Down at the end of the alley I saw the two boys tossing the rest of their booty into the alley. From the looks of the canvas bag it didn't seem like they got much for their efforts. Once again I mentioned what happened to Mark. This time he was more than distressed and went off about how horrible it is to live in the city. After the theft of his Echo on Saturday added to these two incidents, He was quite upset. I understand his weariness with bad people cropping up all around us, but it isn't all that bad. First off the theft of his Echo. Thieves have taken advantage of Christmas for decades. It's nothing new. Second, the vandalism of our neighbor's beautiful Christmas display. Teenage boys have been vandals forever. I saw it in the suburbs, and back in Florida. It's what little asshole, teenage boys do. Finally the theft of that black canvas bag. Those 'little asshole, teenage boys' saw that somebody had left their mini-van unlocked out in the alley, with the tailgate open. It was a crime of opportunity. Anybody who has lived in the city for even a few days, learns not to leave anything unlocked. The guy with the mini-van might as well put a sign on his car, "Please steal something."

One thing I have to agree on with Mark, we both despise thieves. I don't like them in my house, near my house, or in my life. Nothing is worse than taking something that somebody else has worked for. I of course, would never steal something from somebody else. Except for those four pair of large rubber gloves I took from the doctor's office the other day while nobody was in the examination room. I felt I was owed those for having to wait nearly an hour past the appointment time.

Monday, December 18, 2017

If I Haven't Said it Yet, Merry F**king Christmas

I am seriously disappointed with my two watch dogs. On Saturday Mark was expecting a delivery from Amazon. It was one of those new Echo devices. Which by the way, why the hell does anybody need one of those? We already have one in the kitchen that I can't get to work. I say, "Alexa, WXRT radio." and after a few seconds my radio station comes on. Then about thirty seconds later, it disappears. So I start to tell Alexa to turn it back on and before I can say anything, it comes back on. As I turn my back on the piece of crap, it turns my radio station off again. That leads to me screaming obscenities at the little white cylinder, who then flashes a blue light and begins playing music again, but not my music. 

So anyway, Mark had checked with the Amazon tracker and saw that his Echo was out for delivery along with two other things he had purchased. All day long he sat in the window waiting, until I told him I was going to the Jewel.
"Wait, I'll come with you." Mark called out.
I cringed because I really wanted to go alone. You know, run in, grab what I need, and run out. We were gone for about forty five minutes, which is a miracle by Mark's shopping standards. As I schlepped all the bags of groceries up into the kitchen I could hear Mark out front, in the living room.
"What is that? What the hell is that? Alan.... "
Mark was looking out the window at the front porch. I took a look. At first I did not see anything out of the ordinary. Then I spotted it.
"Umm.. I'll go get that."
I walked out on the front porch and picked up the package from Amazon. It had been opened. I quickly jammed my hand in there and felt around all the packing. Nothing, not a thing in that box. I looked up at the window and mouthed the word, 'Empty' while tipping the box towards Mark.

On the first Tuesday of every month, the City of Chicago tests it's warning sirens. We live very close to one and it can be quite loud. However, it is no match for the wailing that came from the other side of that front window. Mark went nuts.
"What kind of horrible place did you move me to? Waaaaaaaaa...  I never, ever had anything stolen off the front porch in Florida. Waaaaaaaaa... I hate this place, I hate you, I hate... Waaaaaaaaa...  I need a gun... Waaaaaaa" (He's not getting a gun.)

Interesting fact, Amazon does not have a way to contact them anywhere on their web site. No chat line, no phone number, no email, nothing. If you follow their instructions for a problem with receiving a package, you end up going in circles right back to the web page where you started. Also, nowhere on that empty box was a label indicating what delivery service had delivered the  package, and nowhere on the Amazon web site did it say who they had used to deliver it. You take a lot of chances when you order from Amazon. From the moment you hit that 'Complete the Order' button, you are on your own.

Now about those dogs. Those two, nosy, loud, territorial beasts that won't let anybody pass our house without scaring the shit out of them. They let somebody come up onto our porch, open the door to the vestibule, and steal Mark's stuff.