Friday, April 21, 2017

Robo-calls

“Don’t answer the phone,” I exclaim. “If it’s that important, they can leave a voicemail.”
My iPhone has caller-ID. If I don’t recognize the caller, I don’t answer.
What happens when scammers take over caller-ID?
The national TV-news notes the increasing number of robo-calls by charities, scammers, etc.
I get maybe three-to-four per day. I never answer. Only legitimate phonecalls get answered; that is, people in my iPhone contact-list.
I got one the other day. On my voicemail “This is an emergency call from Microsoft. Yer ‘key’ is about to expire. After it does yer Microsoft applications will no longer work.”
Really?
WE SHALL SEE!

I got one of these calls some time ago. Hellfire and damnation if I didn’t immediately call back.
One of my computer apps was supposedly expired.
Funny, I could still use it. Weeks passed, and it still worked.
Despite prediction of ‘pyooter-Armageddon.
Beyond that, if my Microsoft “key” were to actually expire — and I don’t think it ever does; at least not the software license — I bet Microsoft, the dreaded “dark-side” of computing, so I’m told — would be plying my e-mail wanting me to re-up.
So just in case my Word© and Excel© stop working, I’ll keep the voicemail.
But the apps keep working.

• Some users of Apple computers consider Microsoft, etc to be “the dark-side.” I use an Apple myself; this rig a MacBook Pro.

Monday, April 17, 2017

RE: “BobbaLew”

”JohnaLouie” on the Sandy-Hill pool high-dive. (Photo by BobbaLew.)
“Bobba-LOOOO!”
After almost 12 years, and 2,241 published posts (this makes 2,242), I figger it’s time to explain “BobbaLew.”
“BobbaLew” is of course ME, Bob Hughes (“hyooz”), author of this here blog.
It’s the nickname given me in 1961 by John Lawrence (”JohnaLouie”) at Sandy Hill, a religious summer boys camp in northeastern MD on the upper reaches of Chesapeake Bay.
How I, an agnostic, got on the staff of a hyper-zealous religious camp is of course debatable.
I always say it was because I could sling a pretty good story — what I been doing all my life, and am doing now.
I started at Sandy Hill as a camper in 1954, terrified and homesick — I was 10 — but got so I could do it. 1958 was my final season as a camper; I did four weeks — pervious stays were two weeks.
In 1958 I got involved in horseback riding. I wanted to get on camp staff as a stablehand (macho dreams).
“Horsemanship” was also questionable, since I could hardly ride at all.
But the stable-staff discovered -a) I would muck stalls, and -b) I could teach the camper horsemanship classes, allowing them to pursue dreams of macho manliness pretending to be cowboys.
Horsemanship class was three days per session: class instruction the first day (parts of the horse, saddle and bridle), then two days of ring-riding, trail-riding if feasible.
Trail-riding depended on proficiency of the campers. We hardly ever got to trail-riding.
A camp rule was at play: any camper should be able to some time ride a horse. Most were terrified. (“Don’t hold the horn, Johnny!”)
In 1959 I did the first five weeks; in 1960 I did the final five weeks. For 1961 I did the full 10 weeks, although camp was only nine weeks. The first week was preparation and religious contemplation.
I remember the acrimony when we took communion from a common chalice — no communion-set. The camp nurse had a fit. —And of course it wasn’t wine spody-ody. Welch’s baby!
I was a Counselor-in-Training (“CIT”). I’d substitute on the regular counselor’s day off.
This meant I was supposed to give evening devotions. I had Bible-verses lined up, but I wasn’t good at it.
Lawrence was a CIT too; I think he was 16, his first season. I was 17; third season for me.
Lawrence and I became friends. He renamed me “BobbaLouie,” a take-off on “Baba Looey.”
Anyone on camp staff was automatically called “Chief,” so I became “Chief BobbaLouie.”
1961 was my best year on camp staff.
I was so experienced the cabin I was in was pretty much presided by me — the cabin had a counselor, but I ran things.
I did so as bleeding-heart dictator. Campers wanted in my cabin because it ran so well — no madness or intimidation. If I made deals, I kept ‘em. —Fair was fair.
And the sanctimonious judgmental zealots were no longer around.
The higher-ups would put the slum-kids in my cabin as a challenge. I usually succeeded, but not always.
I also got so I could ride pretty well, so I was promoted to “Assistant Horsemanship Director.”
It allowed me to avoid daily chapel services. I’d bring in the horses and feed instead.
The Horsemanship Director was also a cabin-counselor, so couldn’t be very involved.
Horsemanship was pretty much me.
Pay at the camp was a pittance, so my father intervened. No way was camp gonna help pay for college.
Camp lined me up to be Horsemanship Director, but my God-fearing father got me a better-paying job.
So much for faith!
Money was what always mattered. If that meant cutting corners with one of his contractors, Jesus would approve.
Never mind! I always liked the name “BobbaLouie.” It reflected my penchant for observing things with jaundiced eye.
So when my good friend Marcy at the Messenger newspaper suggested I blog, I decided to name it “BobbaLew.”

Five years


This is the person I always perceived (she’s about 25). (Photo by BobbaLew.)

“A punch in the gut. Takes the wind outta your sails.”
So says my neighbor up-the-street, who also lost his wife to cancer.
Today’s the day.
On April 17th, 2012, my beloved wife of 44+ years died of cancer.
I’ve said it hundreds of times: she was the best friend I ever had; she actually liked me.
I had a difficult childhood. My parents, and others, convinced me I was rebellious and stupid. I suppose mainly because I couldn’t worship my hyper-religious father as worthy of the right hand of Jesus.
When I finally went to college, it was a revelation. Adult authority-figures valued and solicited my opinions.
Even my sister noticed. In college I “flowered.”
I met my wife in college. She had been “chasing” me over three years. —Although I never knew; she was very shy.
My wife also had a difficult childhood. But mainly it was her mother. She’d raised my wife to be a frump.
No one invited her to her high-school’s prom, despite her being class salutatorian. Her lot was the sidelines.
Not long ago I told her only brother I think I convinced her she wasn’t a frump.
This provoked anger from her mother. She declared we wouldn’t last a year.
44 years; I think I changed her mother’s mind.
I’m not easy to live with.
I often think my wife’s difficult childhood played in my favor. That she thought she couldn’t do any better.
So here I am at five years.
No longer sorely grief-stricken, but I still miss her immensely.
“Don’t start me crying,” I often say. All I hafta do is start thinking about her, and I tear up.
Fifty years ago I was confused and clueless, but knew enough to walk away from those I knew would never work.
Partly because of that I inadvertently ended with a really good one.
She liked me, especially the way I could make her laugh.
She liked the way I thought, or so she said. The crazy observations I came up with — always looking at things through jaundiced eyes.
This is why she “chased” me.
I often feel bad we never had any children; I knew she wanted ‘em.
But I was afraid I’d be like my father: abusive at times, but mainly distant.
I look around our house, which we both designed, and I notice little has changed. Bedspreads are still piled in the laundry-room, and bedding for her mother is still on the floor in a spare room.
Even attending my wife’s mother’s 100th birthday in FL was an act of incredible derring-do.
“Takes the wind outta yer sails.”
I’ve pretty much stayed put the last five years.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Pants-wearer brought to tears

“Dare I ask?” I rolled down the window of my car as I was leaving nearby Boughton (“BOW-tin;” as in “wow”) Park yesterday after walking my dog.
A mother was loading her minivan with kids, dogs, and a wood-sided Radio Flyer wagon.
The mother had been hauling a child and a dog around the park.
Suppose I’m guessing wrong? Embarrassing as Hell.
“Looks like one of your kids is Down Syndrome,” I said.
“That would be Hope,” she said smiling.
“I had a kid brother with Down Syndrome; born in ’54.
Classiest thing my parents ever did, was to NOT institutionalize him. and that was back in the ‘50s.”
“When they used to put Down Syndrome kids in institutions,” she said.
“They brought him home,” I said, starting to tear up.
“Oh, look at you,” she exclaimed.
Skirts love it.
A pants-wearer brought to tears.
“Yeah, but what you’re also seeing is a slight stroke-effect,” I thought. “It’s called lability; poor emotional control. It’s manifested by increased tendency to laugh or cry, in my case crying.”
It was much worse after my stroke, but I now more-or-less have it under control.
I considered mentioning it, but didn’t because it usually crashes in flames.
Just recently I tried to explain lability to my doggy-daycare ladies, and they were utterly buffaloed.
Weepiness was more appealing.
My guess is most overly labile stroke-survivors end up in nursing-homes — I didn’t — so lability is unknown.
This wasn’t the first time.
Years ago my wife was in a Rochester hospital recovering from a cancerous encounter with death. —She died eventually.
I went to visit, and there she was in bed, legs still ballooned from constricted circulation.
She was extremely depressing to encounter. I started crying.
A young nurse walked in, so I said “I’m sorry.”
“Oh that’s okay,” she cooed. As if to say “Boy-oh-boy, I sure wish my husband cared about me as much as this guy cares about his wife.”
Yeah, I care about my wife — best friend I ever had — but weepiness is also a stroke-effect.
So here I am tearing up about my Down Syndrome brother, who used to look people in the eye and say “I’m retarded; nyuk-nyuk-nyuk!”
I’m very emotional about him, but weepiness is also a stroke-effect.

• I had a stroke October 26th, 1993, from which I pretty much recovered. Just tiny detriments; I can pass for never having had a stroke.
• My wife of over 44 years died of cancer April 17th, 2012. I miss her immensely. Best friend I ever had, and after my childhood I sure needed one. She actually liked me.

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Friday, April 14, 2017

Victor Famblee Practice


(Compliments of Google.)

“Fat lotta help this thing was,” I said regarding my iPhone’s GPS.
The other day Yrs Trly had a medical appointment at Victor Family Practice in Victor, NY; about 11 miles north of where I live.
Victor is an old farm town taken over by hot-shot developers happy to rape taxpayers in the name of jobs-jobs-jobs.
Victor is now more-or-less a Rochester suburb.
Glitzy abandoned startups clutter the surrounding landscape. Some succeeded.
The first railroad into Rochester from the east skirts Victor to the south. It was built in the 1830s, and is long abandoned.
Lehigh Valley Railroad’s Buffalo Extension went right through Victor. It was an attempt by Lehigh Valley to become a bridge-line after the market for anthracite coal began faltering.
Lehigh Valley’s Black Diamond Express, Buffalo to New York City, went through Victor. LV’s Buffalo Extension was one of the best engineered railroads through its terrain, which was somewhat challenging.
The Buffalo Extension is now abandoned, and only a short segment remains: trackage into Victor operated by Finger-Lakes Railway.
Victor also had an electrified interurban line, Rochester to Syracuse or Canandaigua, I never knew which.
Victor has one major industry, Victor Insulators. It had railroad service on that first line to Rochester.
Now a connector has been built to get from what remained of LV’s Buffalo Extension up to the railroad past Victor Insulators. It was built by tiny Ontario Central. OC had originally owned the remainder of LV’s Buffalo Extension into Victor, but was taken over by Finger Lakes in 2007.
So now Victor is a jumble of development heaped here-and-there.
Victor Family Practice is located in downtown Victor amidst the jumble.
I knew how to drive to Victor, but had no idea how to find Victor Family Practice.
I decided to use my iPhone’s GoogleMaps GPS app.
Leaving my house I fired it up.
WHOA! It’s still mired in south FL showing me how to get from Fort Lauderdale Airport to my niece’s house.
It of course wasn’t doing what I expected, from “my location” to “Victor Family Practice.”
After a lotta stabbing around, and trial-and-error, while I’m trying to drive, I gave up.
I could get to Victor; after that was finding Victor Family Practice. I had earlier previewed the location in satellite-views.
But as I entered Victor, streets weren’t as earlier previewed — or so it seemed.
The old Lehigh Valley, which I hadn’t seen in satellite-views, was almost right next to State Route 96, the main east-west drag through Victor. My earlier preview indicated an east-west street just south of 96, parallel to the railroad.
It was named “Adams Street.” Next to the railroad was “Railroad Street.
Around the block I went. I pulled off next to Victor’s post-office, no longer downtown, to call Victor Family Practice.
To do that I hafta turn off Bluetooth, since my car’s Microsoft Sync likes to muck up.
Undo seatbelt, unholster iPhone from back pocket; fiddle off Bluetooth = at least a minute, while angry geezers shake their fists and blow their horns.
I’m way off the pavement with my four-ways flashing.
(Not made up, readers.)
It was about 1:15; Victor Family Practice is closed from 12:30 to 1:30 for lunch. My appointment was at 1:30.
Finally I drove up to 96, still looking for “Adams.”
I turned east, but noticed a tiny sign for Victor Family Practice.
I turned toward it, into a jumble of buildings plunked willy-nilly. One was signed “Victor Family Practice,” attached to a pharmacy, part of “Mead Square Development” (the drug-store was “Mead”).
I parked and went inside the building: tax-services, investment advisors, real-estate, and Victor Family Practice off to the side.
Don’t know as GPS woulda done me any good, but it mighta got me to elusive “Adams Street,” which I found on the way out.
Engage iPhone settings later at home. Permit GoogleMaps to access “my location” so it can crank that into the app.
I’m supposed to do all this without driving into the weeds?
Quite often I get unfathomable surprises from my iPhone.
If it weren’t for the fact I already know my way to Victor, I woulda had to pull over.
GPS is wondrous technology, but always seems to require human input.
How many times have I told the GPS-lady to shaddup? Or, “What you been smokin’, girl?”
And why does GoogleMaps have my house 500 feet south of where it actually is?
Every time someone is coming to my house via GoogleMaps, I hafta inform them.

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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

More stroke-addled

“You mean to tell me,” I snapped; “I gotta jump through all these hoops just to get a $60 rebate?”
About two months ago I purchased a complete set of tires from Goodyear. They said I was entitled to a $60 rebate.
Instead of a check, they sent a debit-card containing $60. I blogged it, because it seemed like an attempt to sign me up for a debit-card.
Relatives, among others, weighed in. It was just a card with a $60 balance. I’d use it until empty, then shred it.
So I decided to activate the card.
“Welcome to card-services; please enter your 16-digit card-number.
Now your zip-code.
“NYET! Not what’s associated with your card.”
I was giving them the wrong zip-code.
Referred to an Indonesian service-rep, I repeated my erroneous zip-code.
“Not what’s associated with your card.”
“That zip-code has been on this house since it was built — that was 27 years ago.”
A number of factors are at play here:
—1) My mailing-address is not the town I actually live in. It’s the post-office of the town adjacent. I don’t know the zip-code of the town I live in, only my mailing zip-code.
My town has a tiny post-office, but my mail comes from the adjacent town.
—2) Even though the zip-code on my mail may be incorrect — often it’s the town I actually live in — I get my mail anyway. The post-office apparently disregards an incorrect zip-code.
So, any number of things could have gone wrong.
—The zip-code on my rebate was incorrectly entered, and/or
—The post-office delivered my rebate despite an incorrect zip-code.
Plus I was declaring the wrong zip-code.
“The zip-code you guys have is WRONG!”
“You’ll hafta call Goodyear and have them correct the zip-code.”
Phonecall alert!
It ain’t easy for me to make phonecalls. 24 years ago I had a stroke due to an undiagnosed heart-defect. It has since been repaired, and i recovered fairly well.
One tiny remaining detriment is slight aphasia, manifested in difficulty making phonecalls.
Calling Goodyear would lead to a 1-to-3 hour wrastling-match.
Half the reason I use e-mail is doing that still works. Phonecalls don’t.
“Ya mean I gotta jump through all these hoops for $60? My time is more valuable than that!”
(My card is activated. I later discovered I was rendering the wrong zip-code. Stroke-addled, probably.)

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

There they are again......


There they are again...... (iPhone photo by BobbaLew.)

.......just like every year, about the time Linda died. (She planted ‘em.)

• My beloved wife (Linda) of over 44 years died of cancer April 17th, 2012. I miss her immensely. Best friend I ever had, and after my childhood I sure needed one. She actually liked me.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Stroke addled?

“Three hours shot to Hell, but the Arrowhead Mills puffed-corn cereal is ordered from Walmart*.”
So I said to my sister-in-law in FL on her landline voicemail.
I call my sister-in-law “Amazon Lady.” Not the “Amazon-Lady” at the Canandaigua YMCA, musclebound and striding about like Arnold Schwarzenegger — although she’s a nice lady.
My sister-in-law is expert at fiddling the Amazon website, a surfeit of contorted machination.
“Here I am calling you again,” I said. “Last time was also because of Amazon.”
We have deduced I have various problems with Amazon.
It appears I have two accounts, one under an e-mail I still use, and a second under an e-mail I left long ago.
If I hit my Amazon bookmark, and enter the password I normally use, it logs me into my ancient account.
So it’s fairly active. I ordered corn-puffs through it recently.
But my “Subscribe-and-Save” dog-food is via the more recent account.
Subscribe-and-Save is Amazon’s thingy where you sign up for something every month or two, like dog-food or Huggies.
It took an act of Congress to deduce I had two accounts. Like why is there not a Subscribe-and-Save on the ancient account, the only one that logs me in, so I (we) thought it was the only one I had.
My more recent account doesn’t like the password from my ancient account, so won’t log in.
So, what to do?
Set a corrected password for my recent account, set up a new Subscribe-and-Save on that account, than vaporize the ancient account and discontinue the Subscribe-and-Save on that.
Easier said than done!
Resetting a password is usually easy. Request a password reset, and Amazon gives you a code that proves it’s actually you.
Really? Suppose some ne’er-do-well has hacked my e-mail?
Moving ahead, Amazon e-mailed me a code.
It bombed!
Call Amazon Lady.

A while ago I had Amazon Subscribe-and-Saves for puffed-corn cereal and puffed-rice.
Amazon ran out-of-stock for puffed rice — I had to buy it at Lori’s Natural Foods. (That’s their jingle, readers; via YouTube.)
I decided to try online elsewhere. Mighty Walmart* had it.
They also had puffed corn, so cueing our Prez to Amazon: “You’re fired!”
Last February I needed corn-puffs, but Walmart* would no longer log me in. All-of-a-sudden my usual password was invalid.
Switch back to Amazon, but it’s my ancient account because my valid password logs into that.
But I (we = Amazon Lady) don’t see my dog-food Subscribe-and-Save. It’s on the other account.
“I don’t really wanna Subscribe-and-Save the corn-puffs,” I said.
Plus Amazon is always sending me into the ozone. Their site is so packed I can’t crunch it.
This is the bane of a stroke-survivor: encounter Amazon’s 89 bazilyun buttons, and lock up.
“So call Walmart* and reset your password for them.”
Not that simple. Telephone calls for me are difficult. It’s called aphasia, a common stroke-effect.
I hafta serenade each person I call asking for patience during my stony silences while I try to get words out. And if I ask for a repeat.
I’ve found I usually get understanding, but if I don’t ask I often get anger (I have).
So I called Mighty Walmart*.
They e-mailed a reset code.
“Nothing yet. This is what happened before. Lemme look in my junk.
Nothing from Walmart*.”
We tried again and again; at least four more times.
“Nothing from Walmart*,” each time.
Then I happened to notice five “Customer-Service@Walmart” e-mails in my junk.
“Whoa!” I exclaimed. “Here I am looking for ‘Walmart’ instead of ‘Customer-Service@Walmart.’”
SLAM; password reset, corn-puffs ordered from Walmart*; Amazon fix delayed.
“You did good,” I told the girl. “Parrying a 73-year-old stroke-survivor with slight aphasia. Make sure your husband knows.”
Looking back at all this, three hours of precious time lost, I wonder if my long-ago stroke affects my ability to parry stuff like this.
I seem to make better sense of things writing out this blog. Not confronting a screen, or a service-rep counting seconds.

• I had a stroke October 26th, 1993, from which I pretty much recovered. Just tiny detriments; I can pass for never having had a stroke. It slightly compromised my speech. (Difficulty finding and putting words together.)

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