Just Call Me Al

While on vacation in Cape May, N.J., my family and I visited an alpaca farm. We signed up for the “full contact” tour;  picture “swimming with the dolphins” in the Bahamas, minus dolphins and water. We got down and dirty with these curious creatures and I took some photographs. I have to say, they were very cooperative subjects. Thankfully, we were spared being spat upon, as this is one of their nastier habits.

 

Technology Out of Control

 

I read today that a self driving automobile killed a pedestrian in Arizona. This was bound to happen. The question is, why do we need driverless automobiles? Is actually driving a car that much of a burden? The whole concept is madness. Picture a highway jammed with self driving cars. Now picture a glitch with GPS or a malevolent virus rendering the cars uncontrollable. What happens? I don’t even care to ponder the mayhem that ensues. I am flummoxed as to why this idea is even being considered. Back in the sixties, we envisioned flying automobiles by the year 2020. Imagine cars crashing into buildings and falling from the sky. This was also a bad idea.

Another asinine idea is drones delivering packages? Why would we need this? How does a drone deliver a package to me if I live on the third floor of an apartment building? Does it shoot the package through my closed window? I hope not!

This goes hand and hand with what is called ” The Internet of Things.” You know, internet enabled appliances, thermostats, door locks etc. Why are these devices available? Why does my refrigerator need to be internet enabled? Why can’t I manually adjust my thermostat or unlock my door? These don’t seem to be exhausting or difficult tasks.

Recent intrusions ( hacking) into our power grid and water supply should teach us a lesson. Stop the madness! Luddites unite and use common sense! Get off your behinds and drive your own car, stop being so reliant on technology! Be in control and don’t be controlled.

I Now Pronounce You…

So, a while back, my daughter asked me if I would marry her. I told her she was too late, I was already spoken for. All kidding aside, what she really meant was if I would agree to be the officiant at the ceremony. This request seemed a bit odd since my theological knowledge is severely lacking and I am not a “man of the cloth,” although I do like the feel and cut of a fine suit. I learned that I could become an ordained minister online and that would allow me to perform the service. Needless to say, I was a bit skeptical that this was on the up and up. With my curiosity peaked, I started to research the viability and legality of becoming an ordained minister by merely registering online. As it turns out, it’s true!

Did you know that real, live, actual personalities such as Conan O’Brian, Stephen Colbert and Paul McCartney have been ordained online just like me. Still not convinced, I called the Probate Court clerk to get the real story. She was very accommodating and patient as I peppered her with questions. Bottom line, it is all legal and becoming more and more popular. Couples are seeking the familiarity of family and friends as officiants at their weddings. This is cutting edge stuff and I was all in!

Armed with the imprimatur of the court, I filled out the online form and presto, I was an ordained minister. I purchased a wedding kit and used a script generator to write the ceremony. Within a month, I officiated at my daughter’s wedding. It was a once in a lifetime experience for me and hopefully for her too… no returns!

Eligible Receiver

 

The Groaning Board

Super Bowl Sunday is right around the corner. The New England Patriots versus the Philadelphia Eagles at US Bank Stadium, home of The Minnesota Vikings. Truth be told, I had no idea who was playing or where it was being held. I just Googled it. Clearly, I’m not a fan.

It’s all about the food…

However, I’ve been invited to a Super Bowl party and I can’t wait! It’s time to loosen my belt and gorge on a groaning board of food. The lineup: chili, dips, chips, hot dogs, sandwiches, cheese, crackers, wings and demon alcohol. Competitive eating at its best! I’m training right now to become an eating machine. The playbook is quite clear on this matter, eat until you pass out! Stand aside and watch your fingers, lest they be mistaken for sausage links. Forward pass me that bowl of chips, blitz me a beer, am I an eligible receiver for some of that chili? It’s kickoff time!

It will be a grand day indeed, except, as previously stated, I’m not a football fan. Never have been, never will be. I don’t know the rules nor do I care to learn them. To save face, I’ll pretend to know what’s happening on the field. “Did you see that play?” “Sure did, was that a field goal or a touchdown? Beats the pig skin out of me! Testosterone will fill the air as I fist pump and hoot and holler with my compadres. It will be an Oscar worthy performance! I’ll zig and zag, just like the players on the field. “Was that a third down?” Uh oh, I don’t know, pass me the chicken wings.

Enlightenment

Who would have thought that buying a lightbulb would be difficult? A recessed floodlight in my kitchen burned out, so off I went to Home Depot to replace it. I may not be a handyman, but changing a light bulb should be a piece of cake, or so I thought.

When I arrived at the store, I was met with a wall of bulbs in varying sizes, shapes and capabilities. I had the burned out bulb with me. Nothing seemed to match. Wattages and sizes differed from my recently departed bulb. After staring at the wall for a while, I realized I was in over my head and sought expert assistance. My education was about to begin.

It seems my bulb was of an endangered species known as incandescent and sadly, they are no longer manufactured. The choices are now LED, compact fluorescent or halogen. They can be dimmable or not, enclosable or not, for indoor or outdoor use. Oh, by the way, lumens have replaced watts. A sixty watt bulb equals 800 lumens. My head was spinning. Watt? All I want is a lightbulb!

Good news, these technological wonders last for up to fifteen years and can save energy. Monetary savings will accrue over time. Hopefully, I’ll still be of mortal coil to enjoy them.

Bad news, the initial cost is significantly more than their incandescent counterparts and they tend to use a light spectrum that can be a bit harsh on the eyes. A warm, comforting glow is a thing of the past. Plus, the frustration factor is quite high as you navigate the puzzle that is light bulb replacement.

My advice, learn and embrace the technology or stock up on incandescent bulbs, if you can find them. Consider yourself enlightened!

God Bless You

 

Why do we utter this phrase when someone sneezes? Let’s go back in time to February 600 AD. The bubonic plague is running rampant throughout Europe. The first symptom of the disease is sneezing. So, Pope Gregory I decreed that God’s blessing be offered to anyone who sneezed. And so it was, until I came along.

I never subscribed to this practice. Chances are pretty good that a friend, relative or acquaintance who sneezes is not coming down with the plague. At worst, they are succumbing to a bad cold. At best, they inhaled a random irritant and their body is merely cleaning house. My “God bless you” is totally unnecessary for maintaining wellness. As a pleasantry, it may be fine if the recipient believes in a supreme being. But, what if if this isn’t the case? Now you have committed a faux pas and could possibly be labeled as being politically incorrect. Nobody wants to be politically incorrect, especially in these times of hypersensitivity to almost anything and everything.

So, I go about my business and remain silent when someone sneezes. I’d rather be labeled an asshole than politically incorrect.

The Demise of Pocket Change

 

I’ve noticed that parking meters are going high tech. They accept credit cards and an app. called Parkmobile. Just enter a meter number and your credit card will be charged for parking plus a “small” service charge. So, four hours of metered parking at twenty five cents would cost me a whole dollar in coin but if I pay with Parkmobile it will cost me a dollar and a quarter. This seems ridiculous. I can only assume that carrying pocket change is becoming a thing of the past. Why haul change in your pocket when a credit card or app will do? I’ve seen vending machines that take credit cards too. This is wrong! Small purchases demand the use of pocket change, not plastic or silicone chips.

I like the sound of pocket change. Give me pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and the occasional fifty cent piece! Their jingling makes me feel flush. Bills and credit cards are silent…and boring. A dollar’s worth of change is substantial, bills and credit cards are merely numbers. Give me four shiny quarters over a dirty dollar bill any day. I even like the sound of coins dropping into a parking meter or a vending machine. The metallic clanking tells me the transaction is real. Clank and I have time on the meter or a candy bar in my hand. In years past, the clank of a few coins brought forth the latest music from the mighty Wurlitzer juke box.

Don’t get me wrong, credit cards and apps have their place in the world of commerce, just not at a parking meter or a vending machine.

Christmas Lights

Christmas is my favorite holiday. Festive and joyous is she. I love the lights and all the trappings of this time of year. Good cheer abounds and I take it all in without reservation. I took this photograph last night and the effort involved in decorating this home is best described as herculean. Every tree and bush is lighted and the reflection in the pond is glorious. Kudos to the homeowner on a job well done and thank you for making the holiday a little brighter.