Saturday, February 16, 2019

Cell phones have replaced cigarettes

Back in the day, idle moments at the bar, when you didn't care for the hockey game on the television, could be filled by lighting up a cigarette. Awkward moments, waiting for the train, waiting to be called by the doctor, on long elevator rides, were filled by smoking.

Today you can't smoke at any of these places. Luckily, the cell phone has come along. It occupies your hands, let's you avoid staring into space or at the other idlers, and makes it looks like you have a life.

"See, that man must be texting his girlfriend" people will think.

"He must have important business to attend to at work. Perhaps that is his agent who wants revisions on his novel", people will think.

Little do they know that you have no new mail, and are looking at a cat video on Facebook. Modern times.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

These modern technologies

In days of old when knights were bold and HDMI weren't invented
You could plug the RCA plug into the tv and connect it to your amplifier and lousy tv speaker sound prevented...
I thought I would do that when I got my Samsung smart tv but I found out that was not possible. My amplifier, bought in the early aughts had no usb not to even think of HDMI jacks. It was analog, going back to a day when toilets apparently weren't invented.

Everybody said that's easy. You have to buy a digital sound bar. That's true, but I they're expensive! I guess I inherited my cheapness genes. The past year I learned to live with the flat sounding television speakers. For cable I could plug my RCA plugs into the cable box but for Netflix and Youtube I had to learn to live with the television speakers.

Last week I finally took a chance on what was called a digital to analog converter. It was about twenty bucks on the Internet. I was expecting a usb plug. Instead it came with weird plugs I later found out were HDMI plugs. After getting out my flashlight and magnifiying glass I located a previously unseen HDMI port on the back of the tv. I plugged everthing in. Surprisingly, after some tinkering, I got the thing to work. Now my old speakers can play my Netflix and You Tube feeds. Sound isn't bad. After 60 you can't hear higher frequencies anyway.

Editor's note: Sometimes I wonder if companies really want to improve our listening experiences or they just want to sell us more stuff.

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Britain and America arm in arm

For some reason America and the UK  will always be joined at the hip. Both countries are going through their first crisis of the 21st century together. Soon, Englishmen won't be able to get hands on their prescriptions, there will be traffic jams miles long in Dover and no-one will be able to fly a plane to Europe or even Ireland.

In America, no-one will be able to fly a plane at all. There will be no traffic controllers, luggage snifters, Food stamps, or national parks. In England no-one will be able to go from Belfast to Dublin.
Both countries will face the future alone.

My prediction is that once the W2 forms will have been distributed, they'll find a way for us to pay our taxes. The English will be able to travel anywhere they want, but it will be more expensive. Like the gas lines of 1975 the solution will be reached but it will cost more in the pocketbook.

Editor's note: Looks like the next government shutdown has been diverted. It's exciting now that we are living in a national emergency. Things feels so different.

Friday, January 11, 2019


It happened so quickly, I'm retired. There are rules to being a new retiree that I am learning. Here are some of them:
1) Have spare money. Don't expect all the money you are owed from work will be given to you right away.
2) For men the rules are different than women. Women are expected to immediately go into care giver mode when they retire. "I'm so happy you retired, Mom. Now I can get rid of that baby sitter and take Egon out of day care. Aunt Bertha will be so happy to see you every week and I need you to help with the Valentine's party. Now you have no excuses!"  Men are only expected to visit relatives on holidays and thankfully that does not change with retirement. 
3) Have a story and stick to it. Whether you plan to play golf or fish every day, visit the family, or finally start an organic garden. People will be very insistent on knowing what you are planning to do. Netflix is not an option. For me, I've been telling everybody I plan to write a book. 
4) Don't expect to suddenly be popular. If anything people will avoid you now since they assume you are a malingerer with too much time on your hands. 
5) Retirement is expensive. When you are at work, except for the occasional temptation of the vending machines, you are quarantined from spending serious money. As a retiree, lunch at the diner, the afternoon at Target, the movies,  and the early evening at the bar can get expensive. Ditto the weekly visit to the casinos.

I'm sure there are other things on the happy road to obsolescence. I'll keep you posted. I don't have an excuse now. 

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Facebook and the grim reaper

I guess it has happened to all of us. We wish someone a happy birthday on Facebook then get a message from someone else saying such and such died. We go to our high school reunion site and find out our biology professor died. 

Yesterday I went onto Facebook and saw someone had created a celestial tribute to somebody. She had a whole website with pictures and anecdotes. Apparently she died. 

In some ways it's good. Instead of wondering "what ever happened to... " an old classmate we get a cleaned up version of their lives. Their cute wives, their cute kids, their expensive vacations and at the end of life their passing from this earth. 

My mother said when she got older her main social life consisted of going to wakes and funerals. She said she had become selective about who would and wouldn't get to see her in a black dress. It became hard to go to two funerals in a month when the dress may still be in the cleaners from the last funeral.

Now we can sit at home and mourn the dead on Facebook. It does save on dry cleaning bills. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Predictions for 2019

I'm old enough to remember New Year's Eve as the time Louis Rukeyser and his guests would sit around in tuxedos and predict the stock market for the year. One guest would be lauded as having been right and the others would be scolded for being oh so wrong.

This year I am a bit proud of myself for coming right close to predicting the close on the Dow and S and P indexes. I predicted the Dow would close at 23000 and it closed at 23327. I predicted the S and P would close at 2450 and it closed at 2507. I was overly optimistic on the NASDAQ, predicting 6800 when in fact it closed at 6635. I prontificated Microsoft to be selling at 70 when it is in fact now selling at 101.57. I was also wrong on oil prices, now selling for 45.81 instead of my inflated 80.

The Eagles are going to the playoffs, (I was right) . I predict they will lose before the Superbowl at the end of this month. Next year they will not be "in the hunt". Interest rates will go up, but not by much. My big prediction is that Mike Pence will be our president this time next year. The Donald will announce his resignation on Twitter. Americans will again be selling cherries and soybeans to China. Actually I am mildly bullish on the new year.

    Entity:                Today:               December 31, 2019:

Dow Jones               23327               26000
S and P                      2507                2900
NAS                          6635                7000
Oil                              45.81              70
Unemployed               4.1%               4.5%
Microsoft                  101.57             120

Editor's note: I own stock in Microsoft.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

I still don't have an Echo

Here is a cute article about digital assistants. Got me thinking that it is time I updated my list on things that baby boomers have to have in order to be successful. Truth be told I still don't have an Echo. But as of today I have a Roomba.

For Christmas someone gave me one.  It now meant I was one step away from entering the sphere of successful baby boomers. It was vintage. Apparently it was an early model, at least 12 years old, judging from the Copyright date on the package. It was huge. I plugged it in. Nothing. I left it in for an hour so that the battery would charge.  Nothing.

I figured the battery probably was too old so I bought a new battery pack on the Internet. I plugged in the new battery. I felt so resourceful. I plugged the Roomba into the wall. Nothing. The instructions said the green light may not come on right away. I waited an hour and a half. No green light. I unplugged it. I turned it on. Yes it worked! The lights came on! I started using it. It works!

I am in Roomba Heaven. How much fun it is watching the thing go around in circles and bump into furniture. I put my new D batteries in the Roomba guards. The Roomba learned to stop at the guard lines. They worked! I emptied the trash receptacle. There was stuff inside!

Now instead of taking 15 minutes to vacuum and dust my floor it takes an hour but I get to follow the Roomba around like a proud parent watching his toddler negotiate the living room. I am one step closer to being a successful baby boomer. I'm still waiting for someone to give me an Echo.