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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Rant #1,581: New Year, New Beginning

It is New Year’s Eve morning now, and 2015 is down to just a few hours.

I am hoping that 2016 is a great year, as I always do for the new year coming up.

As I mentioned yesterday, 2016 is shaping up to be a great year for my family, and I hope that it is for you and your loved ones, too.

I guess that 2015 was a decent year, not one of the most memorable ones in my life, but I have had worse years.

For 2016, I am simply wishing the best for all of us.

As for New Year’s itself, we were invited by one of my wife’s brother’s friends to spend the time counting down the minutes with them, and we will be there this year.

Last year, my wife was sick throughout the end of the year holidays, so we didn’t do much of anything, so other than having a bad back this year, she is fine, I am happy to say, so we will start off the new year away from our usual environs.

Finally, the time will come, the ball will drop, and we will move on to 2016.

Again, I wish everyone the best year possible.

Have a great beginning to 2016 and I will speak to you again on the first Monday of the new year!

P.S.: And before I go, let me thank you, my loyal blog followers, for keeping this interesting once again in 2015. I know you don't always agree with what I have to say, and that is fine, and thanks for visiting this site.

No, I do not make one thin dime from this site at all. But it is really fun to do, and I know that I am getting lots of people visiting, so it is all worth it.

Thanks again!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Rant #1,580: Looking Back, Looking Forward

As 2015 draws to a close, I am trying to think of the highlights of the year for myself and my family.

And unlike 2014, I cannot really think of anything that really and truly stands out.

In 2014, the highlights all involved my son, who graduated high school and his BOCES program. Those were great graduations, and he worked hard to achieve his certificates from each school.

The lowlight really was a lowlight, as my family and I were involved in a terrible car accident. A kid went through a stop sign on a rainy road and T-boned us, forcing my car to flip over.

We were lucky that we still had our lives after that incident, so yes, that really is one of the all-time lowlights, not just for 2014, but for ever.

How about 2015? What happened this year on the positive side?

It is very hard to think of something specifically that was really good, but I think if I had to pick one thing, it is that my son finally got a job after months and months of looking.

Being a kid with a learning disability is difficult, and looking for a job is next to impossible. Few will give you a chance, and the fact of the matter is that we had to go through a special program in order for him to get this job.

But he has the job, has been doing it for about six months, and while it is not a full-time position, for now, it is good enough.

So that was the highlight—watching my son get his foot in the door, somewhere.

The car crash was an obvious lowlight last year, but as for this year, every time I get the bill for the car I bought to replace the destroyed one is a lowlight for sure.

But something specifically … nothing. My wife and I both have had our aches and pains with growing older, my son and daughter continue to have their own personal growing pains, but really, nothing stands out.

Perhaps the lowlight is another one involving my son, when the government temporarily took away his benefits, and I had to go to the Social Security office and fight like the dickens to have them restored.

That was not fun, but it had to be done.

My car getting scratched just a few days back was another, but compared to last year, well, this one doesn’t even rate.

I can’t think of any specific ones, so I am going to leave it at that.

How about what is in store for myself and my family for 2016?

It is actually a big year for us all.

My wife turns 60 in November, my son turns 21 in August, my parents turn 85--my mom in March and my father in November--I will be at my place of work for 20 years in March, and another major milestone is that my parents will be married 60 years in just a few days, on January 22.

That is a long time, and we are having a party to celebrate—rather, they are having the party, throwing it themselves at a nearby restaurant, and it should be fun.

I expect that I will have something for my wife—who looks about 20 years younger than her actual age—when her turn comes around, and we will definitely have something for our son.

I know I am probably missing something, but that is all I can think about for 2016 for my family and I.

What about your situations? What will 2016 be like for you and yours?

We always have to think that the new year will be better than the previous year, and I am thinking that right now, too.

Whether it will be or not is another thing, and several factors will determine whether it is or it isn’t.

But whatever the case, it is full steam ahead into 2016, and I am hoping for the best year ever, much like I always do.

I really hope it turns out right for myself and my family, and for everyone.

Classic Rant #232 (April 13, 2010): Working Harder Keeps You Employed

A new study put out by MetLife puts into focus what I have been saying for ages: companies are working their employees much harder now, taking out their frustrations on them that have been brought on by this recession that we are in.

According to the study, many companies have increased employees' workloads and put a higher priority on productivity since the recession began.

Also, employers have generally held the line on core benefits, such as life insurance.

Retaining benefits have come at a price for employees: the study found that they have to do more to justify their benefits.

The findings of the study coincide with what I have been saying all along: employers dangle the carrot of benefits in front of you, and you just have to grin and bear the increased workload you are getting.

Nowhere in the study was there evidence that employers were increasing their employees' salaries while extending their workloads; the promise of health insurance has pretty much put that notion to bed.

At my place of work, I know that my workload has increased measurably. I am now writing for two of our trade books, not one like I had been doing for more than a decade.

Morale is down in my department, because I am not the only one to be given much more to do, with much more "ranting and raving" by our employer and thus, less job satisfaction.

I am not saying this to be a crabapple, but it is what is happening in my place of business.

And raises are not forthcoming, like they used to be.

We used to not have to ask for a raise; we were usually given something small each year, which basically placated us from ever asking for something more.

But those days are gone. Raises are not given in that way anymore.

Although the prices of just about everything have gone up during the past few years, my paycheck still reads the same number.

So, I did what I had to do for the peace of mind of myself and my family ...

I actually asked for a raise!

I haven't had one in a couple of years, and I thought it was a good time to do so.

People are making money during this recession, although I am not. My expenses have jumped several percentage points, and I really could use some extra money in my paycheck.

So I have taken a chance.

The powers that be have not gotten back to me on this yet, but I will get back to you when I find out if it is a "go" or a "no."

I'm banking on the "go."

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Rant #1,579: Amnesty Larry-National

As the year 2015 comes to a close, I want to do something to show that I am putting the past behind me and looking forward to a rewarding 2016.

And where better to do it than on Facebook, which has become the electronic meeting place for so many of us.

I have decided that, with a few exceptions, I am going to take the blocks off of some of the people that I have stopped from sending messages to me--or me to them--during the past few years.

I have a total of 13 people that I have blocked for one reason or another, and I plan on removing most of the blocks over the next few days leading up to the New Year.

I don't think many of them will care one bit that I can converse with them again on Facebook, but maybe one or two will

We are in a joyous season, and one in which we are supposed to forgive and forget. The page is being turned to a blank one, and what better way to start the new year than starting from scratch.

No, not everybody will get amnesty from me. One person in particular, a nut who threatened me with bodily harm for no reason a few years back, will not get a free pass from me. He is mentally ill, and I really don't want to have anything to do with him.

There are one or two others that for various reasons, I will not unblock, but for the most part, a majority of those 13 people will be able to communicate with me if they like.

I was never one to hold grudges, and I am not going to change my ways now.

Now, there are many, many more people who have blocked me for one reason or another on their end.

Several people from my old neighborhood blocked me, because they could not believe that someone had a different opinion than they did, and did not run with the crowd.

Others from my old neighborhood blocked me because of the Reunion we had a few years back. They could not handle the truth, that one of our own was doing some funny things.

To both of those groups, I can forgive and forget, but they can't.

It's their loss.

Others simply blocked me because they don't agree with my opinions. That is fine, I have no problem with not agreeing with what I have to say, but to block me is to take away my right to free speech. Some of the people who blocked me in this category are clear racists, and you know what, I am sure they don't miss me, and I can tell you that I don't miss them.

One of those who blocked me actually put up a post saying that color photography in the movies was designed to make white people look better than blacks ... you wonder why I don't care about these people?

Anyway, I will set about doing this perhaps today, but certainly by the end of the year. It should be fun to see if I begin to get any communication from these people, and if I do, if they have changed any. Me, I am the same as I was when I blocked them; I am always going to have my opinion, but I do listen to the other side. Maybe they will now, too.

Others will probably be astounded, and yet others will never know because as I blocked them, they blocked me.

So, let's see where this goes. Personally, I don't think it will matter much, but if it impacts one of these people to maybe see the light and forgive and forget as I did, then maybe it is worth it after all.

Classic Rant #231 (April 12, 2010): I Sneeze, You Sneeze, We All Sneeze

I have had problems with allergies since I was a little kid growing up in Queens, New York.

And all of these years later, I still have problems with my allergies.

I suffered as a kid something terrible. Back then, the science of allergies wasn't really there yet. Food allergies could be pinpointed pretty easily, but once you got beyond dust and pollen, the other allergies really weren't targeted yet.

I remember not being able to eat as I was sniffling up a storm. I remember that there was a period that I missed a day a week of school for about a month or six weeks at a time.

Then, in the early 1970s, a test was finally developed to chart allergies beyond the basics. I remember that you had to lay your arm flat, and they would inject solution into your arm, in two rows, with a device that resembled a staple gun. Any one of the patches that these injections developed that puffed up meant that you were allergic to the substance.

Of course, the indentations that this device made to my arm were incredible; the cure appeared to be worse than the disease, and I had to wear long shirts for about a month during one summer because of this procedure.

Anyway, although this test found that I had no food allergies, I was allergic to dust and pollen (no surprise), but also horse hair, something called the Jerome tree or bush (I don't recall which one, or perhaps it was both), and the entire season of fall, when the weather suddenly changes.

At 15 years of age, I began getting allergy shots once per month, and nearly 38 years later, I still get them, never stopping. My arms are pin cushions, but I am so used to it that I don't even flinch.

In today's world, the test is so much simpler. It is simply a blood test, and takes as long as it does to draw a vial of blood out of you. Back then, that staple gun test took an entire afternoon.

But now I read that this year is one of the worst, if not the worst, season ever for those suffering from allergies. The wet weather during the last part of the winter and early spring has made the pollen count extremely high.

And I don't have to tell you, I have been suffering greatly as we enter the middle of April.

I am often stuffy, can't breathe, and I am constantly clearing my throat. I have had a couple of bad allergy attacks, where I think that I won't ever stop wheezing and coughing.

And no, I do not has asthma, thank goodness. This is just plain allergies, nothing more.

I can only imagine what asthma sufferers are going through.

What can one do about it?

Pretty much nothing. I have learned that you have to go with the flow. Some days are better than others.

I am so used to this that I just have learned to grin and bear it.

But I can tell you, it isn't pretty. Having allergies is a curse, and unfortunately, I guess I am cursed for life.

There is pretty much nothing I can do about it, but continue to take my shots. I have to go to the allergist to get my shots in two weeks, and I can't wait.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Rant #1,578: Wonderful Frustration Time

Merry Christmas, and I am glad to be back.

Yes, I could have used another day off, but it's not meant to be.

Today, I trudge onto work, looking forward to a short week and New Year's.

This time off was good, but it was also a very frustrating time for me.

I should have known ...

First off, with all my Rants about relatives sending Christmas cards and "Season's Greetings" cards to my family, yes, we did get one of these sent by close relatives as the time off began.

We saw them at a party on Christmas Eve, and I thanked them for the card, but I also said to them, "Next time, make it a Hanukkah card." They were apologetic, and I said to them that I know their heart was in the right place ... but c'mon, this card was from a relative that is thisclose to us.

I expect a Hanukkah card next year. If you cannot accommodate what my family believes in, don't send anything, and another group that is thisclose to us doesn't send us any cards for the holidays.

So be it.

As you know, my car was sideswiped just before Christmas, sort of an evil holiday gift to my family and I.

Well, I went about fixing it up, myself, by purchasing paint to cover it up.

My intentions were right, and I purchased a paint pen online to do just that.

The pen came in about 24 hours, and I was looking forward to doing the touch-up work once the weather wasn't so damp.

Finally, on Saturday, I decided to do just that.

I proceeded to use the pen, but I noticed that it simply did not have enough "oomph" in it to do the job. You can't paint broad strokes with the pen, just use it to spot, and it simply would not cover a scratch that is about three or four inches in length.

So I went to my local car supply store, and to make a long story short, they did not have the exact color that I needed, and they sent me to a car paint specialist.

I could not even find the place at first--it has an address on a main road by me but is actually situated off the road--and when I found it, I walked up to the store's door, only to see that the store was closed for the entire Christmas weekend and would reopen on Monday.

I got so frustrated that I went to the local burger place and bought myself lunch--after wasting more than two hours on this paint thing.

Then yesterday, I decided to use, for the first time, the Blu-ray player that I bought for my family for the holidays. It is a "smart" player, which means it has the capacity to hook up to the Internet and access various apps.

I clicked on an app, and it said I had no Internet connection ... and for the next two hours, I tried to figure this whole thing out.

I retyped in the code, did other troubleshooting measures, but the thing would not hook up to the Internet.

Finally, I called my Internet provider, and after more than a half hour waiting for someone to speak to me, I explained the problem to the person, and he told me flat out that the router we have is out of date, and that I would need a new router to be able to hook this device up to the Internet.

The device is being sent to me, free of charge, and I am going to have to hook it up later this week, something I am looking forward to like getting a disease.

I was on the phone with him for five minutes tops.

So I wasted all of this time during my time off, leading to nothing on several accounts.

And now I have to go back to work yet.

Life isn't fair, and these things certainly weren't fair to me, but I have to look on the bright side.

Right before the holiday, I had the results of my physical, and I came out with flying colors.

All the indicators were good, and actually, things such as my cholesterol had gone way down from the prior exam.

So I have my health, knock wood, but I guess my frustration level is through the roof.

If only a slight change in habit could change that ... .

Classic Rant #230 (April 9, 2010): Burn Your Bra!

As breast week concludes, I swear that these things find me, I don't look for them myself ...

Remember in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when many women across America were burning their bras, symbolizing, according to them, their liberation from many things, including their generations-old domination by men?

Well, there appear to be many artifacts of this time period that come to the fore every once in a while.

One of the music-oriented blogs that I frequent, WFMU's Beware of the Blog (, has posted two ditties (with a "t") that exemplify a different era in a different time.

One is by Benny Johnson and the other is by Alex Houston and Elmer, certainly not household names, but their songs, "Burn Your Bra Baby," demonstrate that this phenomenon was not lost among the masses.

Women were making a statement, and men were taking notice!

I do not know what to make of these tunes, or the process of burning one's bra, but all I can say is that these are both uplifting experiences.

And there is a story to go with these tunes that has to be read. I won't go into it here, but it involves mind control! Read it all at the WFMU Blog!

I rest my case on breast week, but not too hard so as to crush the subjects of my reflection.