Friday, June 26, 2009

Dave: So, Farah Fawcett died. She was the sex symbol from my youth.

Jim: It's funny. I was just thinking that exact same thought a few minutes ago before I read your email.

Dave: We're the same age.

Jim: Yeah. OLD.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Did you happen to see President Obama last night on ABC, answering questions and talking about health care reform? I was very impressed with him. Not only does he seem to have an excellent grasp on the problems facing the health care situation in this country, but he is calm and cool, very articulate, and obviously very intelligent. And best of all, from his first day in office, his approach to the issues facing this country has been pro-active. There hasn't been a president who is this pro-active in my lifetime. Rather than waiting for problems to arise and having to react to them, he is trying to tackle them before they become crises. It's a smart approach to virtually anything, and it saves money in the long run. If the American auto companies had been pro-active in their business strategies, they might not have found themselves in the trouble they're in. I believe in President Obama. I think he knows what he's doing, and I agree with virtually everything he does. And that never happens. I can always find something wrong. But he's the real deal. He made promises to the American people while he was campaigning, and so far, he has lived up to those promises. One thing is for sure, he is really trying. Instead of sitting back and spending his summer in someplace like Crawford, Texas, he's out there everyday, working, pushing forward, talking to people, trying to make this country better than it is, and trying to make the future better than the path that it's currently on. Did I mention that I am really impressed with this man?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Jim: I just had to go through all my clothes a couple weeks ago and throw out a bunch of old t-shirts. I tried to tell my wife that when I go places, I don't buy souvenirs or take a lot of photos and that my t-shirts are my souvenirs and that they don't take up nearly as much space as her boxes and photo albums of old pictures. That didn't fly.

Dave: I don't buy souvenirs or take photos, either. I don't even own a camera. Not even on my phone. I depend on others for my small collection of photos. I am eventually going to have to tackle my vast collection of baseball cards that is stored in my parents' attic. Going through them will be a nightmare, but I suppose I will try to sell them somehow. There are only a few of them that I want anymore. I don't even begin to know how to sell them. EBay? A dealer?

Jim: You are asking the wrong person. But if you figure it out, please let me know.

And if you see my t-shirt from the opening of Camden Yards at your local Goodwill, grab it and save it for me until I see you again and can get if from you.

Dave: Do you have a bunch of baseball cards stored somewhere, too? I remember when I was growing up, my father told me to save my cards because they would be worth something someday. But he never told me what I was supposed to do when that day came.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Post number 400 . . .

I reluctantly watched the movie "Marley and Me" last night with my parents. I had very low expectations, but it turned out to be an okay film. The thing that struck me was that the filmmakers were able to show how the life of a dog can be so intertwined with the life of a young couple that grows over the years into a family, with all of the highs and lows that come with that growth. Of course, Marley grew older as the movie progressed, inevitably becoming sick and having to be put down. The film did a good job, I thought, of showing how a family reacts when one of its pivotal members gets sick and dies, even if that member is the family pet. By the end of the movie, both my father and my mother were reaching for tissues to wipe their eyes. I myself felt my eyes grow heavy with tears, but I managed to keep it together. But I must admit that I was very moved by the ending. I couldn't help but be reminded of the dogs that have been in my family over the years and how emotionally heart-wrenching it can be to say good-bye to a good friend while the life of a family continues. So, if you have a dog, make sure to pet it everyday and talk to it and tell it what a good dog it is. You will glad that you did when it comes time to say good-bye.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I am not good at throwing certain things away. I keep some things because I think that I might need them at some point in the future. I used to be a high school English teacher, and I have tons of stuff from those years, and I can't seem to bring myself to even go through it all, let alone dispose of it. I have boxes of stuff in the storage locker in the basement of my building. And there are more boxes of stuff still stored at my parents' house, which my mother has been nagging me to go through for years. The recent severe storm that blew through Pittsburgh on Wednesday night caused some flooding in my parents' basement. Some of my boxes got wet, so my mother really pushed me to go through them. Reluctantly, I decided to tackle the two boxes that had gotten wet. In one, I found papers and notebooks from my high school years. Just looking at the stuff brought back a flood of memories from those years. It was a little overwhelming. My high school years, like they are for most people, were full of varying emotions, from teenage insecurities to outright joy from time spent with good friends. My high school memories have always been difficult for me to think about. My memories are so vivid that they scare me sometimes. I still have lots of dreams where I am back in high school surrounded by people from more than twenty years ago. Anyway, I went through that box and threw out a bunch of stuff, but I also saved some piles of papers and notebooks that I wanted to go through more carefully at a later date. The other box contained a variety of things, including my collection of Pirate yearbooks from the 1970s and a little box of knickknacks that contained little trinkets that dated all the way back to elementary school. I found two little pins that said "Band" on them that I received in fourth and fifth grade when I played the clarinet (and not very well) in the school band. They took me right back to those years, and I found myself reminiscing over events from decades ago. It was difficult for me to see these things and throw most of them away. As my mother said, what was I going to do with these little things that I had already managed to live without for over thirty years. So, with some regret, I did throw them away. But by the end of the evening, I felt emotionally drained. It was a difficult process for me. I don't know whether these things are harder for me than other people, but I do know that I struggle with going through items from my past. And now even as I feel a sense of accomplishment because I finally went through two boxes, there are still a bunch of additional boxes waiting for me to tackle them. And I'm really not looking forward to it. I think some people genuinely enjoy going through things from their past and the memories that accompany them. I don't. But I guess it has to be done.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

If you haven't seen photos already, the Stanley Cup recently went swimming during a party at Mario Lemieux's house. Just as it did 17 years ago when Mario and the Penguins last got to play around with the Cup for the summer.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Did you know that in Pennsylvania an annual income of $32,000 or less is considered low income? I can't tell you how many jobs I have applied for that were in that neighborhood. And there was fierce competition for some of those jobs. And I have a Master's degree. Yikes.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Did you happen to see on the news tonight how much profit the cell phone companies are making on text messages? Apparently, it costs the companies about 1/30 of a cent to transmit a text message over their networks. And they charge 20 cents or 25 cents to send and to receive each text message. That's a pretty nice mark-up.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Last year during the Stanley Cup Finals, I didn't really watch the games because I was in the midst of a pretty bad depressive episode. This year, fortunately, I was feeling well enough to watch all of the games and really get into the series. I was a college student in 1991 and 1992 when the Penguins last won the Stanley Cup, and I watched the games with friends of mine, eventually ending up joining in the revelry in Oakland in 1991 as a pretty wild celebration took place. Now, seventeen years later, I watched Game 7 in a much more subdued atmosphere, but I think I enjoyed it just as much. It would have been considered a great series, regardless of which team had won. But it sure is nice when your team wins.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

As I had previously promised my vast readership, here is a photo of me holding my niece Evelyn that was taken during my sister's visit over Memorial Day weekend.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A topic other than depression . . .

Sidney has turned out to be a truly wonderful dog. I knew from the first day that he came to live with me that he was a good dog. But even I could never have imagined how great he would become. Granted, he has had the opportunity to truly flourish while living with my parents over the last year. They have been able to provide him with an environment better suited to his needs than I was able to do. Mostly, he needed more space and a fenced-in backyard, and I do not have either. My mother has done a great job of caring for him, and he has become very attached to her, following her around all over the house, and sleeping with her every night. Sometimes it upsets me to see how attached he is to her, after the time that he and I spent together. He and I still get along famously, and we have a lot of fun playing together. But I still envy that she gets to spend so much time with him. It's hard to let go, I guess. Despite my tear-filled request that she not spoil him when she came and took him away last summer, she has gone ahead and spoiled him rotten. It's nice that she buys him all sorts of toys. He loves to play, and having a vast selection of toys seems to make him happy. But she also gives him too many treats. I am of the school of thought that you should provide dogs with two healthy meals a day, with limited treats during the day. But she takes it too far, something that she did with previous dogs and which I believe led to their healths deteriorating prematurely, ultimately ending with their deaths. I beg her not to give him people food with lots of salt in it; chips, nuts, and the like. But she doesn't listen to me. That's her way with just about everything. My father and I have even talked about how "You can't tell your mother anything. She always thinks she knows what's best." And it's important with dogs to control their diet. They really should not eat people food, except on very rare occasions. Dog food is specially formulated for their nutritional needs. And both my sister and I think that Sidney has gained weight since he went to live with my parents. He's not fat, by any means. When I got him, he was downright skinny, and I adjusted his diet so that he put on a little much-needed weight. It's not good for any dog to be overweight, but it's particularly true for dachshunds because of their long backs. They need to be kept slim and trim for their prolonged health. But my mother shows little to no restraint in offering him both treats for dogs and treats for humans. It drives me crazy. I try to say little things here and there when I see her doing it, but it does no good whatsoever. She eats too many snacks herself and has gained weight in recent years, despite requests from her PCP to lose some weight. And she seems to reward Sidney for being such a good dog with treats, much like she seems to reward herself. Both behaviors upset me, and I feel absolutely helpless to change them. She just doesn't listen to anybody.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I feel like it's been an eternity since I had anything to say that was positive. So, even though it's not that big of a deal, I did want to report that today was an okay day for me. I was late getting out of bed, as I have been lately. But one has to consider that I went to bed around three in the morning, after doing a little reading. I didn't feel as anxious today as I have recently. I didn't seem to have that "edge" that I frequently complain to my doctor about, that keeps me from ever feeling "comfortable" during the course of the day. I was not nearly as miserable as I usually am, so for that, I am thankful.