Friday, June 10, 2016

"Driving" Mr. Alex

  It is fairly safe to say that Alex has never been in a car when he wasn't in a car seat. Further, he has never been in the front seat of a car. And certainly, he's never been in the driver's seat.
  His fascination with trucks has grown into one for cars as well. to the point where he has told me that one of the cars he wants to have is a red convertible. He is well aware that I still have my Sebring but, until today, he has never been in it.
  This morning we decided to go for a pretend ride. We got in the car, put down the top, and then went for a "ride" around town. We also drove to Jersey City and back, because he knows the route. "We go in the Holland Tunnel, then on the Manhattan Bridge, then on the Kosciuszko Bridge, and the Long Island Expressway." (It is always entertaining to see the looks on people's faces when they hear him say "Kosciuszko Bridge.")

  I let him sit on my lap in the driver's seat. and after a few minutes he said, "Papa, let's change seats." So I moved over to the passenger side and the future driver took over. He asked about the dials, the buttons and everything else on the dashboard and steering wheel and then said, "Okay, let's go to the store."
  During the course of his "driving lesson," I taught him the hand signals for a right turn, a left turn, and slow/stop. So, every time I gave him directions to make a turn, he stuck his hand out the window and signaled. (Do they even teach the hand signals in driver's ed any more?)

  He enjoyed it so much that after dinner he wanted to go for another pretend ride. This time, we went to the barber shop, McDonalds (to the drive-thru, of course), the library, and the ice cream shop. But then we had to drive home because it was time for his bath.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Monkee Business

  As my 65th birthday present, Chuck and Rebecca got me tickets to see the Monkees in concert. Well, half of the Monkees, since only Mickey Dolenz and Peter Tork are featured in the promotions.

  It was an entertaining evening, as Mickey and Peter performed lots of old favorites along with a couple of songs from their newly-released album. The onstage performance was backed by a giant video screen that included clips from the old TV show, concerts, home movies, and other performances. These continued through the intermission and even included some commercials for Kellogg's Rice Krispies that appeared on the show.
  Fellow Monkees Davy Jones and Michael Nesmith were represented as well. Tracks from the 1960s of Davy, who died in 2012, singing "Shades of Gray" and "Daydream Believer" were combined with the live performance. The latter became a singalong for the audience as well.
  To bring Michael in as a part of the show, they had quite a clever gimmick. They called him on Skype! From the comfort of his home, Michael joined his fellow Monkees for a song.
  It is hard to believe that I first heard many of these songs fifty years ago. Peter, commenting on the fact that they debuted in 1966, said that the equivalent to this concert back then would have been people going to see an act that was popular in 1916. Enrico Caruso, anyone?

Hey, hey, they're still the Monkees...

Monday, May 30, 2016

On the High Seas with Alex

  We went on a cruise to Bermuda with Chuck, Rebecca and Alex along. Though Laurie and I have been there before, it was a first for the kids.
  It's an easy cruise -- leave Sunday afternoon, sail on Monday and Tuesday, spend Wednesday, Thursday and most of Friday in Bermuda, then set sail and arrive home Sunday morning. With Papa and Grandma along to handle some of the babysitting, Chuck and Rebecca got time for some fancy dinners, horseback riding, and general relaxing.
  Alex spent an hour or so a day at the kiddy care center, but the rest of the time was spent with his favorite people. And he kept us all busy.
  His bed was a foldout, which was fine, but he also liked the large sill in front of the window. He decided it could double as a second bed.
Alex watches as we sail away...

...and decides this is a great place to nap.
    Alex also discovered that the phone in their stateroom could be used to call Grandma and Papa. One evening he called us and said, "I need you guys to come down here because Mommy and Daddy are going out."
  One morning he called and said, "I'm going to breakfast and wanted invite you to join me."
  Sometimes, it is hard to believe that he is only three years old.

  Among the onshore adventures, we all spent a few hours at the nearby beach -- Alex made friends with a boy from the other ship that was docked. There was a playground area that he also liked. But, every time he was asked what his favorite part of the cruise was, he said, "Riding the train."
  Said train being the little tram -- dressed up like an old train -- that takes people from the ships around the shopping area of King's Wharf. Every time we started moving, the engineer would shout "Choo choo!" to Alex's great delight.
"Choo choo!"

Friday, May 20, 2016

At Last-- First Dunk

  It was a long time coming this year, especially since the pool has been open for weeks, but the weather and water temperature finally aligned to bring about the First Dunk.

  Joining Swannee and Moby the Whale on the Temperature Team this year is Froggy. (To those of you who just thought, "Plunk your magic twanger, Froggy!" from the TV show Andy's Gang, wow, you're as old as I am! If you thought of Smilin' Ed, you're even older than that!)
  All three concurred that the water was 72 degrees when I took my dunk.

 Now if we can just keep moving towards June weather rather than bouncing back to leftover April temperatures...

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Lost at the Social Security Administration

  I had a 9:45 appointment at the local Social Security office this morning.

  This appointment was made in March, after I spent a couple of hours on the phone with the Social Security Administration and the Medicare office, trying to get clarification about what I was going to be charged for Medicare. The calls were the result of getting three letters with three different amounts listed as my monthly payment... plus a bill for an amount that did not match any of the letters.  
  One of the people I spoke to then, a woman who I would swear said her name was Candy Crush, said of the most recent letter I'd received, "Sir, that amount isn't even one that shows up on our charts!" She is the person who scheduled my visit for "the next available appointment" seven weeks hence.

  So, I showed up about ten minutes early for my appointment, with all my letters in a folder, and, because I was expecting a wait, a book to read. When you walk in, a security guard points you towards the "sign-in machine." You enter your social security number, indicate whether you have an appointment, and a ticket with a code number is generated; my number was A73. There were different numbers posted on the video screen -- A's, B's, C's, etc. -- and A72 was currently being handled, so I figured I did not have long to wait. 
  Indeed, about ten minutes later, I was called to window #1 (one of the four windows in the room), where a woman asked me if I had an appointment. This struck me as rather odd, since I'd answered that question and presumably code the A-code number because I did have one. "Well, I'm officially logging you in now. Someone will call your name." What was the purpose of signing in if I wasn't really signed in?
  So I sat. And I read. And I waited. And no one called my name. At about 10:30, a woman came in and she got #A74, something I determined when she was called to window #4 and got the same line about being logged in.
  Other people had their names called and went through a door to the back. Some people just got called to windows and, their questions answered or forms processed, went on their way. And I sat. And I read. And I waited.
  From where I was sitting, I could hear the man in window #4. He was quite knowledgeable as he dealt with a variety of people and their questions.

  At 11:45, I went back to window #1 and asked the woman just how long I had to wait to be called for my 9:45 appointment.
  She:"Is this your first time coming to the window?"
  Me: "No, you checked me in two hours ago."
  She: (typing on her computer) "What's your name?"
  Me: "Rozakis."
  She: (more typing) "I'm not seeing you here."
  She asks me to write down my social security number, which she then enters three or four times. "Maybe your name was called and you didn't hear it."
  Me: "I've been sitting here for two hours! I would have heard my name called."
  She: "Well, I will put you back on the board, so have a seat and someone will get to you soon."
  I went back and sat down, but I could tell she was still trying to figure out how she had wiped me out of the system, as she kept looking at the slip of paper I'd written my SS# on and kept typing it in. She then consulted the man at window #2, but he could not help. Nor could the man at window #3.
  However, the man at window #4, said. "I'll handle it."
  He called my name and when I came up, said, "I'm going to help you right now."

  And he took care of the entire problem in less than five minutes!