Time on the telephone

telephone-1822040_640People occasionally ask me what I do with my time, now that I’m retired. The more correct question is how did I get through the week when I was working?

I spend a lot of time on the telephone because I’m “free”. So if my daughter is getting a vaccine for school, but we don’t remember the time of the appointment, I call her doctor. The initial message says there are 24 people in the queue. It also says I’ll get to speak to a human being in “three minutes, and fifty-four minutes.” So the countdown begins every 30 seconds: 22 minutes in the line, 21, 19, 17, et al. Do I want to press 1 and have them call back? I did that with Amtrak, but I knew the wait would be over an hour. I stayed for 16 minutes, as it turned out.

The cable box from Spectrum is not working properly. Before I call, I always reboot the system. Then the auto-voice character does the same thing. When I call back, I eventually get a human. I’m told that I have a “known problem.” So I can set shows to record, they do record, but they don’t show on the menu is a “known problem”? The only solution is to switch out the box.

Overpriced Rx

I received an amazingly mangled folded-over postcard. It was regarding a “$345 million dollar epinephrine (Epipen) class action settlement with Pzifer.” To file a “consumer claim,” I did not “need to provide any documentation at this time. However, the Settlement Administrator may ask for additional proof supporting your claim.” BTW, the lawsuit is regarding the price of the Epi-Pen, not its efficacy. 

So if we could have come up with a reasonable guesstimate, I would have submitted it. But I thought it was about 25 packets, but my wife thought it was at least twice that.

I contacted my local CVS, where most, if not all of the prescriptions were filled. But they only had the records for the past two years. I needed to call 800-SHOP-CVS. After being on hold forever, I got someone who didn’t really understand my ask initially.

Eventually, I was transferred to someone who knew what I wanted. I needed the records department, and they’re on;ly open between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Eastern Time, and by then it was 4:45.

A few days later, I called earlier. Still a lengthy wait, but when I got to the records department, the person I spoke to knew I needed purchases between August 24, 2011, and November 1, 2020. She was trouble finding my daughter’s records, but we figured out that the records were under MY name as the insurance holder.

The records took less than a week to arrive by mail.

The year 2020: “This hand is a foot”

Where’s my damn mask?

hand is a footUsually, I do this wrapup of the previous year. But the previous year was 2020. Like my grandfather, McKinley Green would say when we played gin rummy together, “This hand is a foot.” Meaning, “What the heck?” Or possibly something more graphic. So this going to take a while.

Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

1/1/2020 was way too long ago. I don’t remember.

And after 2020, I sure don’t intend to make plans for 2021, because do you know what plans do? They LAUGH! They mock! Then they say, “You have no control over these things!”

That said, I will finish the Raoul Vezina Wikipedia page. Unless I’m attacked by wild bears. Or oxen. Which I do not dismiss happening out of hand.

Did anyone close to you give birth?

I don’t believe so.

Did you attend any weddings?

I didn’t attend much of ANYTHING after mid-March, so no.

Did anyone close to you die?

My good friend from church Keith Barber. He beat cancer, only to succumb to some sort of respiratory infection. Since it was January, no one was looking for COVID in upstate New York. So I wonder…

My father-in-law Richard Powell, who died from lymphoma – NOT COVID – on Earth Day. I finally started watching some baseball in late October. There were some plays I knew we would have talked about, such as when the Atlanta Braves ran themselves out of Game 7 of the NLCS. And I missed sharing this with him.

Incidentally, while he was cremated, there still hasn’t been either a proper obituary or a service. Maybe in May 2021, on what would have been his birthday? Who knows?

What countries did you visit?

I might have visited Canada if they would have let us in. Heck, every time I went to a doctor’s office, they ask me if I’ve left the state. NYS was requiring people from many states to quarantine for a fortnight.

My passport expired in August 2020, which probably wouldn’t have happened in a NORMAL year. I do have the enhanced DMV thing, which is good for a few more years.

What would you like to have in 2021 that you lacked in 2020?

[Respondent laughs uncontrollably.] I would like to be able to leave the house without thinking about whether I have a mask with me. I’d like to be able to go to church, and especially go to choir rehearsal. Going to the movies, concerts, and out to eat. Generally speaking, going to REAL events rather than ZOOM/YouTube/Facebook events.

Not seeing the body count of COVID victims anymore. Knowing the rules at the grocery store regarding the use of bags, which changed a half dozen times this year.

What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Working the Census, I expect. Figuring out how to be a Zoom host.

Actually, it was probably calling people on the telephone. Two people per day, every day, from the spring equinox to the summer solstice, then one/day until mid-August when I started working the Census.

What was your biggest failure?

No doubt falling behind on a volunteer project. Then when I got Mr. Dithered, and I was Dagwood Bumstead, I just shut down altogether.

What was the best thing you bought?

Medical supplies. A thermometer, which my wife ended up needing to use every day. I’m oddly fond of taking my blood pressure because it requires me to sit quietly for five minutes every day. Oh, and a Delxo 3 Step Ladder, which we use a lot.

Whose behavior merited celebration?

Of course, a whole bunch of doctors, nurses, technicians, janitors, grocery store clerks, et al. working through a pandemic
People protesting, demanding justice. That would include my daughter.
The artists, writers who have documented this time.

Anthony Fauci
Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris
Alexander S. Vindman, Marie Yovanovitch, Fiona Hill
John Oliver, Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers
Randy Rainbow, The Vlogbrothers
Kelly Sedinger, Arthur Schenck
Stacey Abrams, Greta Thunberg, Jane Fonda
Rebecca Jade, Alexandria Green

John Lewis (RIP), Katie Porter, AOC, Paul Tonko, Pramila Jayapal, Lucy McBath

Ruth Bader Ginsberg (RIP)

The Lincoln Project
Amy Roeder 

Those groups of people who figured out how to take food to restaurants, feed hungry people, and keep some businesses afloat
Firefighters, especially those battling the infernos in the western US
Isabel Wilkerson, Ibram Kendi, Bryan Stevenson, Alicia Garza, The Anti-Racism Task Force at my church
The National Basketball Association – the “bubble” worked!

I’m sure there are others

Enough of this. Well, until tomorrow.

Going on an information diet

John Green (no relation), one of the vlog brothers, recently noted that he wanted to go on an information diet. Specifically, he would spend far less time on Twitter. He noted this because it was this platform that helped him and his brother Hank to be more visible.

He said he was pulling away from it because it made him less pleasant as a human being. I certainly understand that feeling.

Quite often I read on Facebook about people quitting Facebook. I’m fine with that, although I wish people would do it more frequently, and announce it less often. I get the sense that the social media platform is so addictive to some, then they get annoyed by some response, or non-response, but then get sucked back in.

One guy in particular was complaining that “everybody” was talking about Lord Dampnut instead of talking about art, or the like. Maybe it was because the federal budget was going to zero out the budget for the arts?

Another fellow objected to me referring to Donnie as Orange, suggesting that I was judging him by the color of his skin rather than the content of his character. Having MLK Jr quoted to me is kind of funny. But, of course, this guy was just sealioning me.

And I felt compelled to correct a number of people who followed some meme that said it was Barack Obama’s birthday in March, which is actually August 4.

One fellow I know personally who actually gave up Facebook seems much happier. Another seemed satiated writing his observations to a select audience, instead of dealing with a lot of bs.
***
On a podcast, someone mentioned musical groups with two people with the same first name, preferably founding or significant members. So Mick Jagger ad Mick Taylor of the Rolling Stones I wouldn’t necessarily count.

John Flansburgh and John Linnell of They Might Be Giants, for sure. The 2 Melanies in Spice Girls, Ronnie Lane and Ronnie Wood in the Faces. Also, Wings had a couple guys named Denny, Seiwell and Laine. Who else?
***
I decided to record this new TV legal drama called Doubt, starring Katherine Heigl and Laverne Cox. But it took me a while to get to watch it. As it turned out, it was cancelled after only two episodes. I thought it had potential, but obviously CBS did not.
***
Someone asked me, “Biweekly – Did you know this word means once every two weeks AND twice a week? How confusing!” Yes, I did. I noted that I used to sell comic books, and I needed to know which meaning the publishers were using; fortunately, it was the former.
***
There was a gender-neutral pronoun in 1934, thon, and there were people pushing for it but it failed. Still, it’s the second definition of thon in the Urban Dictionary.

Delaware Avenue: Recalling the Early Days slideshow originally produced in the 1980s by Louise Krasniewicz for Albany Public Library and digitized in 2014 for APL’s digital collection on New York Heritage (nyheritage.org).