Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Caller ID…for You and for Me

Caller ID is a somewhat recent innovation.

Recent as in the last 20 years or so recent.

I guess it depends on if you’re one of those early adopter people who run out and buy or sign up for any sort of brand new technology or service the minute it comes out.

Or if you’re one of those let’s sit back and see if this newfangled gizmo gadget is really going to take off, while slicing off a hunk of bread and toasting it in your frying pan, on your wood stove people.

If you’re taking a call, Caller ID is great.  You never have to speak to your cousin Shirley again.

If you’re making a call, maybe not so great, because for some reason that cute blond in your “Pilates for Pirates” class never seems to be at home when you call.

So it’s a tradeoff.

Oh, come on…please…don’t sit there so high and mighty and pretend you never looked at the Caller ID screen, grunted then tossed the phone aside.

Or, conversely, saw a call coming in from someone you’ve been dying to hear from; your heart racing, pulse pounding…but you pick up the phone and put on your most casual, ho hum, “Oh, hi…I wasn’t expecting to hear from you…” tone.


I’m not allowed to get excited?

I look forward to hearing from those chimney guys, this time of year.

Who doesn’t?

And don’t think you’re fooling anyone by pushing "Decline" or worse..."Ignore”...and just sending your calls directly into Voice Mail.

You’re not fooling anybody.

At least not the people who count rings.

Four rings…Voice Mail…possibly legit.

One ring…two…Voice Mail...not so legit.

I mean the phone companies don’t even try to dress it up by calling it something nice…like, Postpone or Busy.

Nope…you’ve been IGNORED.

How’s that feel?

Instead of going into Voice Mail you might as well go into Belittled Mail where you get a recording telling you how unimportant and unworthy you are.

Of course, later, when you ask the person—could be anyone…I’m not saying who, “Hey Mom, why didn’t you take my call?” they of course go immediately to the…”Oh, I’ve been having a lot of trouble with my phone…my battery was dead…bad reception…I didn’t hear it ring…and of course the ever popular “I didn’t have my phone with me” even though they’ve had Velcro surgically applied to their hip, just so they can attach their phone to it.

And what about the 45 minute message you left…they never heard that either?

And by the way…when you record your outgoing Voice Mail message, I really don’t need to listen to 2 minutes of your possibly adorable offspring prattling on about how important my call is…especially if you’re my plumber and my toilet just exploded.

And if I do somehow manage to get ahold of you, like the time you pressed the wrong button, would you please do me the courtesy of just quietly listening to what I have to say, rather than interrupting my witty, entertaining monologue with one of your tedious dissertation about your MRI results.

You’re having all your organs removed…we get it…move on…you think that’s more important that the woman who dissed me at the chiropodist office?

And if you’re going to have Call Waiting…use it…don’t keep me waiting!

I’m not hanging up, so you might as well get use to those boops.

Hold on…phone’s ringing.

Oh look…Z’s calling again.

How many messages can one person leave in a day?

I don’t know…I guess it’s just the way of the world.

People are just rude.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Sunday Archive of Retort - 10/31/12

The Zombies came to their senses—or what passes for senses— and realized that their window of opportunity was closing.  So they told me it would be okay if I dug up one more old Zombie tale.

Or maybe they said one more old Zombie....

Not sure.

In any case, before I get clarification...which, as you know, can take forever with Zombies....here's another from 10/31/12....

Halloween Ghoul Trouble

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Halloween Candy Cover-up

I just broke into the Halloween Snickers bag.

Shhhhhhhhhh…don’t tell anybody…especially Z.

And to be honest it wasn’t really a Halloween Snickers bag, per se.

It was more of a combo bag of all kinds of candy…3 Musketeers, Baby Ruth, Twix and multiple others, too many to mention.

But I only copped 2 Snickers…maybe 4.

So that’s really not that bad at all.

Besides, they were right out there in plain sight—in the basement, in the back of the laundry room…under the dryer,

So how was I not supposed to be tempted?


Especially since I was in a little bit of a sugar deficit, due to not eating all that much during the day, due to trying to lose the ten pounds or so—maybe 15—that I put on over the summer.

You know, the same ones I took off in the spring.

So it’s not entirely my fault; Z might as well just dangle them in front of me on a stick; like that time she tricked me out the door and locked me out of the house…for 8 years.

It’s just a hard season?

Our natural primal instinct is to fatten up for the long cold winter ahead.

I mean, who knows; what if the conditions get real bad and we have to live off of our own stored body sustenance…at least until we can shovel out and get up to McDonalds?

I might just be looking for those 10 or 15 pounds of Big Mac reserves come January.

You never know….

You never know…..

And it’s not like it’s the only bag of Halloween candy sitting down there.

We have about 10 of them.

Yeah, over a thousand pieces of candy, which will be gone by 8 PM, come Halloween.

I’ve written in the past  how overrun our neighborhood gets on Halloween. Once word got out that there were actual ghouls in residence, you couldn’t keep the kids away, which I always found odd since you would think it should have the opposite effect.

It just goes to show how things are changing. Everyone is more tolerant with everything, these days…even the un-dead.

I guess that’s how it should be.

I mean the un-dead are people too…or were.

And while over a thousand pieces of candy may sound like a lot, it’s really not, considering the circumstances.

I start out by giving each kid that rings the bell 3 or 4 pieces and take 5 or 6 for myself.

If we have a rush, I cut back to 2 pieces for the Trick or Treaters and only take 6 or 7 for myself.

So you can see how it can all go pretty fast.

How could I not grab a few little treats for myself, now, less than a week before the big day?

Who would begrudge me that?


Besides I’m pretty sure Z will never even find out about it.

It’s not like I haven’t had that weird orange ink from those anti-theft exploding dye packs all over myself before.

In fact I still have some on me from last Halloween.

I wonder how the Twix are this year?


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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Nice October…so far

As Octobers go, this has been a nice one…so far.

We’ve had some bad ones the last couple of years.

But this one is nice….so far.

Warmish temperatures, dry sunny days and temperate nights.

No need to turn the heat on yet.

So maybe—just maybe—we’ll be able to have one of those nice transitional seasons that slides us right by Halloween, eases us into Thanksgiving and gently nudges us into the Holiday sink hole, where by the time we dig ourselves out and wash ourselves off…there’s only about 10 more weeks of winter left.

Yeah….I know.


I can practically smell the spring.

But first things first.

October is really quite a nice time of year…like I said, minus the big storms, flooding, weeks without power, nights without heat and let’s not forget the traditional Halloween tree toppling snow.

But generally, for the most part, it’s nice.

Of course the Zombies across the street say it’s still their favorite month…even though they muttered something, last year, that all the confusion over Halloween being canceled and then rescheduled left a bad taste in their mouths.

I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the bad taste was probably more from accelerated decomp rather than from disappointment.

However, they did have the heart, several of them, actually—none their own—to put that all behind them and dig up all their old friends and relatives for a giant pre-Halloween bash at their place this weekend. 

So there’s that to look forward to…even though I heard that weird Uncle with the wandering hands is coming…with or without the hands, depending on where they wandered off to.

I think even the werewolves are supposed to make an appearance, moon cycle dependent, of course.

I’m happy to say, socially, the Werewolves have made great strides in the neighborhood, despite this past summer's 4th of July fiasco.

Don’t ask.

Besides…potato salad is potato salad…no matter what you add to it…or whom.

My feeling is, if the Vampires up the street, and the various other nocturnal children of the night in attendance could bite into it—which they did—then that was a huge statement as to where the Werewolves now stand on the block…which is preferably under a street light, because you don’t want to stumble over a Werewolf in the dark, especially if it’s close to dinner time.

So if we can just get through the next 10 days without incident—man made, ghoul made or beyond—we should be able to put this October in the books as one of the top Octobers of this still toddling Century..

So far….

You know, I think I’m gonna go check the weather channel, anyway, just in case….

No sense picking up that semi-fresh fingers and toes set for the Zombies if they end up having to cancel again.

I’m not even gonna tell you how much money I wasted on last year’s hostess gift…let alone the disposal problems afterwards when I got stuck with it.

Luckily the Werewolves—

You know…never mind.

No sense going there….

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Sunday Archive of Retort - 1/30/12




The Zombies refused to be resurrected three Sundays in a row for another archive piece, but said they would show up for something original later in the week. 

How could I argue with them...they're Zombies.

So in keeping with the Halloween countdown theme of recent weeks here's one with a haunted house slant....

From 1/30/12

"The House That Still Haunts"

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Fool on Facebook

It’s been a tough couple of weeks for me.

I’m sure you could tell.

What with trying to get up to speed with the new smartass phone and then trying to make sense out of seeing a bunch of old classmates, then struggling with my moral center over whether or not I should return those old baseball cards, which I still say I won fair and square, despite the milk carton that spilled on the floor—don’t’ ask—it’s been difficult.

And then I went ahead and opened up a Facebook account after years of telling myself and anyone else who would listen—because, truth be told, I never do—that I would never, ever, never do that.

Does the most unsocial person in the world really want to be involved with anything tagged social, unless there’s a check involved.

I mean I did do the whole Twit on Twitter thing a year or so ago, but that seemed a little less intrusive and was more about promoting these Retorts.

I even have a handful of real Twitter followers, some of who don’t even require restraining orders.

But getting involved with Facebook?  Well, I might as well walk naked through Times Square…and this time maybe I’ll remember to bring the permit.

I don't know. It just felt kind of needy…and the last thing I needed was to give people any more reason to think I’m needy.

You know what I mean…right…right…you know…right?

And then there’s that whole “Like” thing.

Do I really need to put myself through that?

“How many ‘Likes’ did I get today?  What…no one ‘Likes’ my Broccoli Rabe picture or witty quip about auto-immune disease?”

Maybe if there were a “Disappointed” button I’d feel better?

So I've always said, no Facebook for me….not now…not ever.

But I did….

Don’t know why….

I guess because I got all caught up with that whole back to the past thing…plus, now I had a phone that could actually make FB accessible to me…apparently at all hours of the day or night.

Throw in the fact that those in the blogosphere that know something about these things, or at least blog about these things, have been telling me I had to get on Facebook, just so I could at least shame my “Friends” into reading what I’m writing.

Then, who knows, on the off chance that they “Like” something and “Share” it with two of their friends, who then “Share” it with two of their friends, who might “Like” it and then “Share” it…again…on and on and on…who knows, I might just have a “viral” situation on my hands.

Or at least a bad case of the sniffles.

So that was the idea.

But, unfortunately, it appears—at least from a lot of the pictures I’ve seen—most people on FB don’t really like to read…mostly because—again, judging from the photos—they’re all too busy drinking and partying.

Not that I resent any of that, at all. I just resent that I’m not in any of the pictures, hanging upside down, right beside them, with a beer tap in my mouth.

And when they’re not doing that, they’re posting pictures of just about anything else they can think of: pets, cute kids, socks…even their dinner…and sometimes their lunch…but only if it’s a special.

Which, again, I don’t have a problem with; it’s nice to see a picture of little Sally’s first tooth…even Uncle Ted’s last one.

And where are all the pictures of the ugly kids?

Come on…you know there are some out there….

Want to announce to the world you’re having a Bikini wax…go for it…but Harvey, next time spare me the pictures.

All fun things.

Plus, I get to snoop around on everybody’s pages and see all the stuff they obviously don’t want just anyone to see, because, let’s face it, it’s impossible for anybody to actually slog through and understand all those privacy settings.

It’s all just a crap shoot.

But none of that privacy stuff bothers me.

I have nothing to hide…not since my records were sealed by that judge.

What did worry me, however, was the idea of asking people to be my “Friend”.

I mean talk about needy...how pathetic is that?

I don’t need to ask people to be my friend…I’m like a friend magnet.

I just haven’t turned it on lately…say the last 3 or 4 decades.

And talk about intimidating.  Everyone seems to have at minimum 335 friends.

Some are into the thousands.

I don't think I've even met a thousand people in my life.

I'm not even sure if I've met 335.

So I thought I’d better start off with asking mostly family members to be “Friends”.

I figured since they were family, at least 10% of them might have a vague idea who I am—okay...5—and I might be able to  guilt the rest into “Confirming” me just to avoid another potentially uncomfortable situation come the holidays.

I mean Thanksgiving is awkward enough since I started bringing that Tofu Turkey…you know, just as an alternative.

I also found a few non-family members to pester until they caved, so it worked out; at least to the extent that I now have enough smiley faces in my “Friends” box to avoid looking too terribly pathetic.

And one day I hope to learn all their names.

I’m also terrified that one of these days I’m going to click on the wrong button and end up auto-sending Friend Requests to everyone I’ve left dangling in my Address Book since 1997. 

The last thing I need is for that chiropractor with the wandering hands to think I’ve changed my mind…again.

And with all those random faces popping up of people that know people that know people who know people who know you, or even just know someone who lives or lived in your current town or past town, or perhaps just shops at the Home Depot that you once visited, near Hoboken, but only to use the rest room—with all of those ‘intimate” connections floating around out there the chances are you’re going to have to really re-think how many packages of those little cocktail wieners you’re gonna need at this year’s Christmas party.

But I guess the thing that really bothers me about this whole Facebook thing is…I’m really kind of enjoying it.

Damn it!

And yes…I’m as guilty as everyone else of posting silly pictures of my garden hose, salami sandwich, deck furniture, vacation photos and even myself posing with an adult beverage or two.

And I get to force feed these silly stories to all my “Friends” whether they want them or not.

Maybe in-between posting pictures of their bail bondsman or the unidentifiable red stuff growing in the back of their refrigerators, they might click on one of them by mistake.  And then if they share it with two of their friends who share it with two of theirs….


You think this is undignified.

Hey…I’m on Facebook. 

How much dignity do you think I have left?

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