Bash Free Zone

As I was growing up, it seemed you had to choose between two things, supporting one while bashing the other at every opportunity.

It started with the “Beatles vs. Stones” (I was Beatles), and then migrated to “Star Trek vs. Star Wars” (I was a Trekkie) and, once I became interested in photography, we had the eternal “Nikon vs. Canon” battle for the best.

I had a friend at work named Ric, who brought in and showed me his Nikon F2AS, and I was transfixed. As solid as a steel block, yet containing the internal mechanics as precise as the finest Swiss timepiece. While an F2 was way out of my price league, I did eventually get myself an original FM.

The FM was a completely manual camera, the only thing the coin sized battery powered was the light meter within, so it was my training ground to learn the rudiments of photography, the interaction between the aperture and shutter speed, and why you’d want to prioritize one over the other, depending on what you were shooting.

Those were invaluable lessons, and I keep those hard learned practices with me today, despite the advances in digital photography where every camera now has the ability to be a PHD (Push Here, Dummy) and yield amazing images.

As I moved through the world of film, I eventually obtained an F4, which was the most amazing camera I’ve ever used, even to this day. I got some amazing images with that camera, many of which are found on this site today.

It broke my heart to part with this beloved workhorse, but the writing was on the wall. Digital had taken over the world, and the value of these best of breed cameras was dropping like stones. I sadly parted with mine and entered the digital world, where I went through a number of bodies over the years, searching in vain to find something I could bond with as I’d done with my F4.

And then it happened.

Turns out the lead engineer at Nikon who pioneered the F4 worked on one last project before he retired, and his touch is all over this interesting hybrid.

Meet the Df (Digital Fusion)

As I call it, the heart of a digital, but the soul of film. This is the last camera I plan on getting, and so I have two of them in order to have immediate backup in case one needs to go to the shop for anything.

My fleet

This model was met with derision and sarcasm by much of the industry, which didn’t surprise me. “That expensive and it doesn’t do video???” Nope, it’s a camera, not a camcorder. “What’s up with all those confusing dials and controls on top???” You’d think you’d taken away their beloved cell phones and pointed to a rotary phone mounted on the kitchen wall. No, it’s not for that crowd, but for those of us who came up through the film era, this was a breathtaking entry to the Nikon lineup!

Now, despite my obvious loyalty to the Nikon brand for half a century, I don’t bash Canon. Or Fuji, Sony, Olympus, Pentax or any other camera brands. They’re all good quality instruments, and they all have their own loyal following.

I just prefer my Nikons. This old dog isn’t interested in learning any new tricks, thank you very much.

Inevitable…

We’ve dodged the bullet for nearly two and a half years now, but Anita felt so bad the other day that she called out of work, something she almost never does.

As she’d learned her manager just tested positive for COVID, she took tests Wednesday morning, evening, and then again yesterday, all of which came back negative.

Just before she left for work today, she got texts from two other co-workers, one who’d tested positive and the other who was feeling sick and was going to take a test. Based on that, I asked her to take a test again today just before she left. I told her I’d call if it was positive, and just text if it was negative.

And the dreaded pink line came up bright and clear. We went to a state testing site this morning and we both had rapid and PCR test swabs done. I was negative on the rapid, but I think the PCR will likely be positive when the results come back. We’ve been by each other’s side all week, so I doubt it’ll just skip over me.

She reached out to her doctor and was prescribed the meds that are most effective in fighting this thing, and has begun taking them. Her work actually had to close her location as five of the seven people working there all tested positive by today!

At least this variant, while highly transmissible, is not nearly as virulent as the original one was, so rest, isolation and the prescribed meds should get her through this in a few days.

If you’re reading this and you’re not feeling 100%, do yourself a favor and take a test, whether home based or at a facility. You’ll be far better off catching it early, as the meds are only going to be available within five days of the onset of symptoms, according to her doctor.

Oh, and if you’re an old fart on Medicare like me? Medicare provides 8 rapid tests per month for free. Just visit your pharmacy and get yours, so they’re at hand if needed!

Stay safe out there!!!

FINALLY!

Spring!

After endless days of cold temps and winds high enough to ground the ferry for the past 4 days, we finally have Spring weather today!

As the usual group of critters gathered to enjoy the nice weather, I set to work on the grill. Every two years, I gut the grill, scrub out the tank with a wire brush, and then rebuild it with new parts. This makes the grill not only last, but also works like new! This year, I added a set of LED “Stadium Lights” that mount to the handle, so when the late urge for a burger hits, we are ready!

The secret to enjoying great cooking is very simple. First, you must maintain the cooking equipment in good condition so it’s always ready to go and works flawlessly. Second, and even more important, is you have to marinate.

No, not the food… you have to marinate the CHEF!

Chef Marinade

Where’d that come from?

Having been a voracious reader for all my life, there are two things I’ve always tried to bring along every time I open a book.

First, a suspension of disbelief. If you’re planning to be entertained and taken for an exciting ride, don’t bring along arguments of logic and physics to dispute the events taking place on the page.

Second, and more importantly, my imagination. As I read, I enjoy the “mind movie” that plays in my head, bringing the words on the page to a more vivid life.

For reasons I can’t explain, I found myself focused on those ideas yesterday, and how a writer can make something even more threatening, scarier by not showing it clearly. Each of us will imagine this thing based on our own experience, and on what scares us, so the ambiguity of the threat makes it all the more dangerous in the minds of each reader.

As I was considering these things, I found myself writing… writing fiction, for the first time in a couple years now! The bike was wobbly, and in dire need of a good tune-up, but it still worked, amazingly enough.

When I finished what became a Flash piece, I decided immediately that I wasn’t going to fall down the old rabbit hole and play the submission game with it. Nope, I think I’d rather put it here, so anyone who’s interested can have a quick read and see if their imagination makes things worse than the words on the screen imply.

For better or worse, here it is – Blackout

The Daily Con Job

When you retire, you discover what a train wreck daytime TV truly is. You’re inundated by commercials touting Medicare supplement insurance featuring spokesmen like Joe Namath, George Foreman, Jimmy “JJ” Walker, and now, William Shatner has beamed aboard the gravy train too.

Why them? Because you’ll recognize them.

Because you’re old!

And if that doesn’t make you feel old enough, let’s follow those up with all those commercials for final expense insurance, because you’ve got one foot in the grave already, now don’t ya?

But here’s the con.

All the Medicare supplement insurance commercials implore you to “Check your Zip Code!” for the benefit that adds money back to your Social Security check every month! They don’t, however, mention that the parameter that determines your eligibility for this benefit is your annual income, not your Zip Code. It doesn’t actually add anything back, it simply lowers your payments for Medicare itself. I call that a Con Job.

Final expense insurance – “No medical questions, no exam, and only $9.95 a month!” True, but that $9.95 only purchases you UNITS of a plan, and at that amount, nets you $700 and change when your time comes. I can only imagine what a plan that provides $20-30K payouts must cost per month. Once again, it’s a friggin’ Con Job.

Tell me these crooks aren’t preying on those who are most likely to fall for the false promises without doing any due diligence to check behind the headlines.

If it seems too good to be true… yeah, it is too good to be true!

For anyone reading this, I ask you… if you have relatives who are getting up there in age, especially if their reasoning is becoming impaired, please look out for them and don’t let them fall into these traps!

Don’t even get me started on the yuppie con – “Plant Based Meat!” Dude, meat comes from animals and plants grow in the ground. My idea of plant-based meat is the grazing that cows do before they become prime cuts of sirloin, sizzling on my plate!

FUHGEDDABOUDIT!!!

Rescheduled Reading

Every couple years or so, I tend to re-read “Salem’s Lot” around Halloween. This was the book that first introduced me to Stephen King back in 1976 when it first came out in paperback. and enrolled me into the ranks of his Constant Readers.

How well I remember that day… I’d walked into the lobby newsstand at 345 Park Ave., as I often did, in search of a new book to read during my commute back and forth to work on the subway. As I scanned the covers, the one that caught my eye was completely black… except for one small spot of red.

Upon examining the cover, I saw that there was a face of a young girl embossed into the cover, and that single red spot was a drop of blood on her lip.

That battered old paperback is long gone now… if a book can be read to death, that’s the fate that befell that copy. These days, I enjoy the hardback illustrated edition, which offers extras like the two short stories based on the Lot, as well as the material that Doubleday insisted be revised from the original manuscript. Poor Jimmy Cody! The fate that befell him was far worse than the revision that Doubleday approved.

I wished then, and still do now, that Uncle Steve would decide to write a sequel to Salem’s Lot. He did wonder whatever became of Danny Torrance, which gave us Doctor Sleep, so why not wonder whatever became of Mark Petrie?

With the new film adaptation scheduled to release on September 9th, I’ll need to push my re-read forward to August… just before the film’s debut.

I’m hoping the impending arrival of that film based on the book might inspire him to do just that.

From the meager scraps of info currently available, this looks like it’s going to be far better than Tobe Hooper’s original 1979 miniseries or the later remake with Rob Lowe as Ben Mears. It has the powerhouse combination of James Wan and Gary Dauberman behind it, so my expectations are high.

If it’s as much a success as I hope it will be, might that convince Uncle Steve that a revisit to Salem’s Lot is due and pending?

One can only hope…

Will we ever see Spring?

As I write this on April 28th, the air temp outside is 48 degrees, but with the insane wind we constantly have here, the “feel like” temp is 38 degrees.

The end of April.

In New England.

Pawtucket is a Native American word. I believe it translates to, “Yes, it is ALWAYS this damned windy here!”

WTF? At this rate, I’m ready to schedule our first annual August Snowball Fight!

If the weather ever regulates to what I’d consider normal, we’re planning to have some get togethers over the summer in the yard. Anita is going to invite her co-workers over for a cookout, and I’d like to get the guys together for another.

Anita has really outdone herself with her yard work so far, easily on a par with what I’d expect from a professional landscaper, so that’s truly a reflection of her and her hard work.

I tend to stay out of the way and just watch her create the space, but I think there’s one minor addition I’ll be adding before we have anyone over, just a slight touch to add my mark to the place…

And I have just the right spot to put it up!

Update, May 7th 2022

And now, here we are on the day before Mother’s Day in early May. It’s 8:43, and the air temp is again 48, with a “feel like” of 41, courtesy of the wind.

It’s like Deja Vu all over again.

The trend of late is that each week brings us a new 7-day forecast, in which we are allocated ONE decent day, blue skies, bright sun and moderate temps, but the remaining 6 will look like something from Lovecraft’s work… dark, foreboding clouds harboring unspeakable horrors lurking above.

Well, fine… maybe not that ominous, but you get the idea!

Missed Opportunity

The usual Saturday night… sit back in the comfy recliner to watch Svengoolie, and wake up in the chair long after the movie is done.

Oh well, last night’s feature was “Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman”, so let’s feed it into the Roku from the attached USB and watch it this morning.

This could have been a classic in the Universal Horror collection, but for one glaring casting error. While Bela Lugosi made a good Dracula and a great Ygor, he was the worst actor ever to wear the neck bolts as the Monster. Between his facial expressions and his physicality as he moved around, it was just wrong. Karloff was king, Chaney Jr. wasn’t bad, and Glenn Strange did a fine job, but Bela? Not a good fit at all.

Let’s be thankful that Bela felt he was above the role when it was offered to him after Dracula’s success, and it eventually went to Karloff. If it had gone the other way, I believe the film would have been a flop, heralding the end of the Universal horror era before it had a chance to get underway, thus changing the course of horror films for the worse.

That’s all for now… I’m heading back into my coffin.

Nostalgia…

I’ve been re-watching Mike Flanagan’s “Midnight Mass” on Netflix (just because it’s so damn good!), and in a scene in the Flynn house, there’s a wall mounted rotary phone in their kitchen!

A lot like the one that was in my childhood kitchen! Holy nostalgia, Batman!

I do find myself smiling as I wait for Bev Keene’s eventual demise… she’s far more of a sanctimonious bitch than even Stephen King’s Mrs. Carmody was in his novella, “The Mist”, and after seeing her poison Joe Collie’s dog, watching her die will be particularly enjoyable. Not quite as enjoyable as waking to a headline that a current war criminal, guilty of numerous atrocities had been assassinated, but close.

When Midnight Mass debuted, I was blown away by Flanagan’s unique spin on the Catholic Church, and agreed with much of what he presented, based on my own experience, but the way he paralleled Catholicism and vampirism really knocked me over. I’d never seen that done before, and he did so with such a deft touch.

If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor and set aside time to watch all episodes of “Midnight Mass” on Netflix.

You can thank me later.

Sympathy for Boris

I’ve watched the classic Universal monster movies more times than I can count, so the image of Boris Karloff klomping through a graveyard with his massive boots on is well etched in my mind.

One thing you don’t consider as a viewer is how difficult it must have been for him to keep his balance with those things on… until you find yourself in a similar situation, that is.

The Boot

Back in January, I joined up with Weight Watchers and got a Fitbit to wear. No, this wasn’t a useless NY Resolution, this was about dropping weight to better control blood pressure and A1C sugar, and I dropped 34 pounds before seeing my doctor in March, where the labs and his exam showed very positive results in both my targets.

Buoyed by my success, I started walking more, to keep the momentum going, and developed a stabbing pain in my left foot. The podiatrist I saw told me it was plantar fasciitis and treated me with a shot of cortisone and advised rest, ice and some stretching.

All went pretty well, some days a little pain, but many pain free… until this past Monday. I was walking through a parking lot at a big box store and halfway to the car, I felt and heard a snap in my foot.

My first reaction was confusion… it sounded and felt like breaking one of the wound strings on a guitar, but under my foot? WTF?

And that’s when the pain hit, and hit hard. I could barely hobble to the car, where I was grateful it was my left foot, so I could drive.

Back to the podiatrist, who confirmed I’d torn the plantar fascia, the thick ligament that runs from the heel to the base of the toes. So, I start the first session of ultrasound therapy this morning, which will occur twice a week for the next month, at which point I follow up with the doctor and see if it seems to be working.

If not, the next steps are to have an MRI to better assess the damage and go from there. I’m hoping it won’t require surgery!

Getting back to Boris, when my wife got home from work yesterday, I did my best Boris in Bride bit… “Friend?”

Of course, once she poured herself a glass of wine and handed me a cold beer, it became “Drink! GOOD!

And now that I’ll be klomping around in this boot for the next month, I can certainly appreciate why Boris was so happy about his drink!

Drink! GOOD!

April 25, 2022 – Update

My boot is now personalized!