Its All About Me…or, I’m More Important!

Okay, be honest. Please tell me I am not the only one who runs into those “self important, oblivious to their surroundings or those around them” folks in the course of daily living. You know, the ones I mean. The “I have to go there even if you’re in my way,” the “I don’t care what the door says, I’m going in here,” or the “So what if you want to get by me in the grocery store…I’m stopping right in the middle of the aisle to find the right mayonnaise,” and the hundreds of variations of those folks that we run into daily!

Here are some of my favorites!

You are driving along a busy road, and suddenly with no warning, somebody throws open their door, or even worse pulls away from the curb. Yes, they do have a side view mirror they could use to check traffic, but let’s face it, they’re too important to do that! A corollary to that is the person who opens a car door, and leaves it open while they walk to the trunk, or just sits in the car!! Yep, it’s all about me!

Ever been in a crowded parking lot, driving around looking for a spot, finally see somebody get in the their car, they start the car, some even put it in reverse, and then sit there, and sit there, and sit there! An even bigger parking lot nightmare is as you are waiting for someone to pull out of a space, before you can pull in, somebody comes from the other direction and pulls in! Oh, you were waiting? But I have to go to the store! Yep, it’s all about me! Or how about the folks who either walk or drive right down the center of the aisle, without regard for other people or cars? All About ME!

When I used to travel on the Long Island Rail Road to work in Manhattan everyday from Mineola, I’d often do the trip with my good friend Steve. The people on the train always amazed us, especially those folks who, when we got to Penn Station, couldn’t wait their turn on the platform to go up the stairs like the rest of us. I’d turn to Steve and say, “No problem…just push your way ahead of us…I mean, you have to go to work! We just took the train into Manhattan to have breakfast!” Self important ass wipes who were, of course, too important to wait with the rest of us peasants! About me!

How about the ones at the courtesy desk in a store. You are one of 3 or 4 people, who are patiently waiting in line, when suddenly somebody comes out of left field, walks right up to the desk, turns to the folks on the line and says, “I just have a question to ask.” Really??? What the hell do you think we’re doing on this line, waiting for our health?? Yep, it’s all about me!

One “Bagel Sunday,” pre-Covid and social distancing, I’m over at Hot Bagels and More in Somers Point waiting to place my order. In those days, you’d come in, stand on line, wait for one of the counter persons to be free, and then step up and place your order. Once your order was placed, you’d step to the side and wait to get called. So on this one Sunday, I’m like #2 on this line, when this guy comes in behind me. He says to no one in particular, “How do you order here?” I turn to him and say, “You wait behind us on this line, and when you get to the front and a counter person calls NEXT, you go up and place your order.” I guess he was too important to stand with the rest of us, so when the guy in front of me got called, this guy just walked up to the counter. My Hot Bagel friend Sue saw exactly what he’d done, looked directly at me, and said, “What can I get for your today Frank?” Sometimes even the All About Me folks get put in their place!!! Thanks Sue!

One of my favorite happens when you’re driving and somebody blows through a stop sign, or does some other traffic infraction that could affect you. There you are, driving along the perpendicular road, with no stop sign, they power right through their stop sign, you blow your horn, and they give YOU a dirty look, as if to say, “How dare you…don’t you know I’m more important than you?”

If anything, going through the Covid pandemic has only made it worse! New Covid variations are, “I know I’m supposed to wear a mask, but I left mine in the car;” “I know there’s a socially distanced line of folks waiting to pay, but I’m in a hurry;” or my favorite, “I don’t care that this door is marked as exit only, I’m not walking around to the other door!” Tell me you haven’t seen all these and many more, and you are either not being honest, or you really don’t get out much!

Take our local Shoprite in Somers Point. It’s been very organized since we went back to shopping in person back in June. Go in one door and out the other, hand sanitizing stations all over the store, socially distancing marks on the floor, and many other changes as answers to where the world is right now. When we go, we park closer to the door that is now the exit, and walk back to the other door that’s now designated as the entrance, but twice in the last week, we’ve had to fight our way through folks who are more important than us! One day, I’d dropped Susie off to pick up a couple of things we needed, and as she was trying to get out the “OUT DOOR,” here comes a woman in a Crossing Guard vest pushing a cart in the “OUT DOOR!” When Susie told her that she was coming in the “OUT DOOR,” she laughed and sad, “Oh Well.” Then last Sunday, when we both went to go shopping, here we are going in the “IN DOOR,” and out comes a guy pushing a cart with a “Yeah, but I’m parked over here” attitude! Dear God, please save us!

Last week, Susie went into the local UPS store to drop something off. This particular one is in a local hardware store. As she went in the door, there was a man standing smack in the middle of everything, on his phone! She went around him, and got on the line for UPS, when she realized he was behind her. She said, “Sorry…didn’t realize you were on the line (sarcasm), go in front of me,” which he did. When he was done, Susie was standing to the right of an island, he could have easily passed on the left side, but instead, he walked right up to her, gestured for her to move, and she had to get out of his way! When she came out and told me, I said she should have just looked at the self important, situationally unaware jerk and give him the finger!

All the actions I’ve mentioned, and even more, are one of the main reasons Susie will sometimes, under her breath mumble, “I hate people!” I guess as long as there are more than two people in any given situation, someone will always feel they are more important than the rest of us. To those folks, it’s always All About Them and it always will be. So just count to ten, laugh a little, and realize that these people spend their whole lives in this self important vacuum, and honestly, there is karma in this world! As the T-shirt says, “My Karma just ran over your Dogma”!

A Good Friend

For the second time, in way too short a period, I’m writing a blog about the death of a friend. This friend has been in our lives for close to 33 years. A little more than a year ago, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer, and as he has said, from that point on, his life had an expiration date! Sadly, that date came on Wednesday, February 17, 2021.

I first met him in the late spring of 1988, when he was assigned a desk in the hall of the 8th floor of the ABC Building, right outside my studio. He had just moved to New York from California for a new radio gig, and sadly, within weeks of the move, his wife left him. I really liked him and knew he was a real radio guy, and Susie and I tried to involve him in lots of things we had going on in our life. The first fall that he was at WABC we started a bar hopping Saturday around Long Island, and included him. For that first bar hopping experience, we made him take the Long Island Rail Road to Mineola, and then traveled around from bar to bar in our Ford van…in subsequent years, he rented a limo to drive us around in style!

He took us out to dinner at his favorite Italian Restaurant, Patsy’s, on West 56th Street in NYC. We took him to dinner at our favorite Italian Restaurant, Piccolos, on Jericho Turnpike in Mineola. He was a mainstay at our annual Post Holiday Parties in early January, where we crammed 70 or 80 people into our house. He good naturedly complained about the fact the house was crowded and our AC wasn’t on, and about the size of our small bathroom off the kitchen! We had him over to our house for dinner and we were guests for dinner at his apartment in NYC overlooking Central Park. We were guests on two luxury dinner cruises around Manhattan for the staff of WABC, including the first one when we were an hour and a half late, because of NY Marathon traffic, and he said the boat wasn’t leaving till we got there, because we were the main reason for the cruise!

Then there was the weekend when Susie and I were his guests on a trip to Chicago to see Mannheim Steamroller’s Christmas Concert at the Chicago theater! We flew out of LaGuardia, stayed in a fancy hotel, had a great pre-show dinner, and then partied with Mannheim Steamroller after the show. It was also on that trip that we got to meet his Mom and his brother, and it was an incredible weekend! We’ve been to multiple parties at the 21 Club, the River Club, and some other incredible venues we would have never been to without his friendship!

Of course, if you talk about incredible experiences with him, I cannot leave out being invited to his fabulous wedding to Kathryn 10+ years ago. What an incredible weekend at the Breakers in Palm Beach, and I cannot talk about that wedding without mentioning being 50 feet away from Elton John in a post-reception concert! Speaking of that wedding, let me tell you a story from that weekend that I’ve used many times when people ask me what he was like. The Rehearsal Dinner was supposed to be outside, but a rain storm forced it to move inside. At one point, Susie and I are standing at a tall table, eating some appetizers, when this other couple we didn’t know came up and asked if they could share the table with us. Talk got around to who we were a guest of, and I said we were friends of the groom, having worked with him when he started his radio show and was unknown in New York. When we asked them, they said they too were from the grooms side, and when I asked how they knew him, the man said, “I used to cut his grass.” This is the kind of man our friend was…he didn’t forget people!

I remember going to meetings before he arrived in New York, talking about his show, but strangely, have absolutely no memory of the first time we met. It’s almost like we had always been friends, and even though he was from the mid-west, and I was born in a borough of New York City, we seemed to have so much in common. We were both Capricorns, having been born in January, ten days, and one year apart (1950 for me, 1951 for him). He grew up with a brother and I grew up as an only child, but we were both children of the 50s, teenagers in the 60s, and became adults in the early 70s. We had a lot of common memories growing up, and talked about our shared Baby Boomer history a lot…and talk we did!

Every morning at the ABC Building, I’d stop by his desk, and we’d chat. When WABC and WPLJ moved to 2 Penn Plaza, above Penn Station, his desk was in a small bullpen area about halfway around the floor, and I was disappointed that he was no longer right outside my studio! I’d still stop by his desk early in the day, before the station started getting populated, and when he moved into an office, our morning chats continued. Although we had differing political views, politics was a subject that was never brought up anytime we ever spoke! It was not the basis of our friendship. One of my favorite memories, concerns the day I stuck my head in his office, and he said, “Come on in!” As I sat down, he told me, “I’m always happy to see your face at my office door, because I know that unlike most of the other people that come into my office, you don’t want anything from me.” I replied, “Just your friendship,” to which he replied, “You know you’ve got that!”

I remember one morning when they were re-building the plaza around 2 Penn, and he told me the following story. Construction had been going on for several weeks, and everyday there was a different way into the building. He’d gotten dropped off on the 7th Avenue side of the building, but couldn’t figure out how to gain entrance to the building. He approached a construction worker and asked, “How the hell do I get in today?” In typical NY Construction Worker fashion, his answer was, “Around the corner fatso!” I couldn’t help myself, and laughed at the story, even though he was kind of put off by the encounter. I encouraged him to tell the story on the air, and he did, pointing out to his listeners that he suffered through the same BS that the rest of us did in our lives!

For many years, I played the character Moe Thacker on his show. Moe was the head of the United Screeners of America, and he described Moe as “Union Thug Moe Thacker.” Usually I’d get a call to come around to Studio 17B when he wanted to talk on the air about something his call screener (the first person you talk to when you want to get on a radio show) had done wrong, and we’d go back and forth while I defended Mr. Snerdly (his made-up name for his screener, James Golden) against his charges. It was always fun and I know he got a kick out of my portrayal!

The last time we saw him, was when we went to dinner at a local Italian restaurant in Palm Beach, Florida in February of 2019. It was a great night, and even though we hadn’t seen him in the flesh in a couple of years, we fell right back into the casual easy relationship we’d always enjoyed. We were honored when he told Susie and I that we were the first people in New York who had opened our home to him, and we told him he was always welcome to our new home in Ocean City.

We knew him before he was anybody. We suffered along with his growing pains, we tried to help with his loneliness in New York City, but then we also celebrated along with him when ultimately, success came his way. He was a good friend, who loved sharing his success with those around him, and one who really got more of a kick out of giving, then receiving! He was one of a kind, and Susie and I count ourselves among the very lucky to have the kind of relationship with him we did!

Frankly, I think I was more shocked on February 3rd of last year, when his wife texted us the news of his Stage 4 cancer diagnosis, then when I found out that the inevitable had happened. Back in a text to me in the middle of March last year, he said, “Frank, it’s Stage 4 Lung Cancer. It’s months – a year if the treatment works.” He knew his time was limited, and that nothing he was going to do was going to change that. He knew his expiration date!

Yes, Rush Hudson Limbaugh III was a good friend of ours, and Susie and my lives were better for having him in it. We have always loved you Rush, and will continue to, and we will cherish the memories we made over the years!

Our sympathies to his wife Kathryn, his brother David and his family, and all that loved him. I’m so sad today that he’s no longer a text away! God speed my friend…

Rush talks about our Pub Crawl on the air one year

Rush and Moe Thacker

Game Hour

Back in late August, I wrote a blog entitled D’Elia Family Sunday Traditions (https://rnewadventures.com/2020/08/27/delia-family-sunday-traditions/). Since then, we have added a new tradition, but unlike those that I mentioned in that August post, this tradition takes place 7 days a week. Let’s call it Game Hour.

At 4 PM, every afternoon (or close to 4PM), we stop what we are doing, and head to our two assigned seats at the dining room table, where we start playing whatever that week’s game is. We usually play for 45 minutes to an hour, and doing it 7 days a week, we think it’s probably a good thing to do to stimulate our brain waves, as we continue to spend most of every day in the house. It also gives our days an anchor, and is a bridge from the afternoon to the evening. It’s something we’ve continued to enjoy doing since we started back in the early fall.

We first started with an easy two handed game we’ve played since son Kenny taught it to us a number of years ago, called 5000. 5000 is a rummy style card game, where the object of the game is to be the first player to get to a score of, yes, you guessed it… 5,000. Its a relatively simple game to play in limited space, using one deck of cards, and because of that we’ve played it in hotels all across the United States, on airplanes, and even on the Amtrak Southwest Chief as we traveled across the country in a sleeper compartment several years ago on the way to Kenny and Chris’ wedding in Lake Tahoe. If you’d like to know how to play 5000, here’s a link to some online rules. https://gamerules.com/rules/5000-rummy/

For Christmas, I got Susie Hoyle’s Encyclopedia of Card Games, and we have broadened our two-handed card game repertoire. While we really can’t play popular games like Uno, which we played for years and years with the kids, we can play the game that Uno was derived from, Crazy Eights! Unlike Uno, Crazy Eights has much of the standard play of Uno, but without the Skip or Reverse cards, which are really hard to do with only 2 players!

Another blast from the past for us, that we had to learn again, but are enjoying is Cribbage. As I said, we’d played this game years ago, but over time, less and less, to the point we had to start from zero knowledge, and relearn how the game play goes. One thing that we did remember, and still had in the closest, was the Cribbage Score Board. This is the only one of the various card games we play that Susie doesn’t have to keep an official score on her pad. One oddity is that as we were putting the game away recently, one of the blue scoring pegs decided to jump off the table….we’ve yet to find it, so I fear I’m going to have to transition from blue to green for scoring! (an update since I wrote the last sentence…Susie found the missing blue peg on the edge of the inside of the clothes dryer door! Go figure)

The one game that we’ve played during recent Game Hours that is not a card game, is a game that has been a part of our life since there first was a Susie and Frank, and that game is Yahtzee! According to Wikipedia, “The present-day commercial Yahtzee began when toy and game entrepreneur Edwin S. Lowe filed Yahtzee as a trademark with the U.S. Patent Office on April 19, 1956.” I guess you could say that like us, Yahtzee is a Baby Boomer, and has been around for most of our lifetimes! My earliest memory of playing with Susie, was back on a car trip we took in October of 1980 and of sitting at a bar table at the Club House of Mountain Manor Golf Resort in Marshall’s Creek, Pennsylvania, playing and drinking beer! Over the years we have had travel versions, electronic versions, and we even remember playing a Yahtzee Slot Machine, where the dice had faces and little legs, and ran back into the cup after each roll! We’ve bought pad upon pad of score cards, and even went so far as to make our own a number of years ago (please keep our secret). I imagine Yahtzee will be with us for all time!

Our horizons will broaden as we delve further into Susie’s card encyclopedia, but for now, it’s those 4 games that we are rotating on a weekly basis!

One constant during our daily game hour, is a cup of something hot, to go along with our play (you can see our cups in the picture above). With the help of our Keurig, it could be anything from low calorie Hot Chocolate, to regular tea, or to any one of several different flavored tea K-cups we have on hand! Susie even bought a sugar free Hot Spiced Apple Cider mix!

We’ve also recently bought these No Sugar/Zero Calorie Syrups with a wide variety of flavor profiles! We can have hot chocolate with raspberry flavor (tastes like one of those chocolate candies from an expensive box), or a Chai tea with caramel flavor enhancement! So good, and no calories??? A really win/win!

So that’s our 4 PM Game Hour….

Exercise

The Mayo Clinic says, “Exercise boosts energy. Regular physical activity can improve your muscle strength and boost your endurance. Exercise delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently. And when your heart and lung health improve, you have more energy to tackle daily chores.” Sounds like exercise is a good thing, and something we all should participate in, during the course of our lives. Spending 11 months locked down during a pandemic, only amplifies the need for most of us to exercise, but do we?

Back in April, in a blog post called Quarantine I wrote the following about our son Kenny and our son-in-law Chris, who were living with us in Ocean City, and started exercising along with Chris’ sister Michelle.(https://rnewadventures.com/2020/04/03/quarintini/)
“Speaking about the boys, they have gotten involved with Chris’ sister Michelle and her on line fitness classes! She lives out in Reno, and conducts a class at 9:15 Reno time on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday! No way the boys could handle that, but at the 12:15 Eastern time her class starts in Ocean City, they are in it all the way! After the half hour or so of the class, they come out of the den everyday dying, but every morning of her class, they are back in it, using their cans of tomatoes or jars of pickles as weights, and enjoying the work out! They’ve even gotten our neighbors Patti and Meade involved! Michelle’s class is every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday at 9:15 AM Pacific Time, and the link is https://zoom.us/j/428504901

That was early on, but they eventually got real weights and even moved the exercise classes down to the garage, so they no longer shook the whole house! The past 6 months that they’ve been in Florida, they have continued with her classes, three days a week!

If Michelle’s class kicked the ass of two 30 somethings, there was no way one 60 something and her 70 something husband were going to get involved! In a burst of realization that we should probably be doing some kind of exercise too, Susie purchased a DVD at the end of March called, Grow Young Fitness Starter Pack. This was a series of exercises by a young man named Deron Buboltz that were aimed at older folks and their abilities or lack of them. So we got going with them as soon as the DVD was delivered, right? Ah…not exactly. I’m embarrassed to say, that the DVD sat on the shelf in it’s shrink wrap till we did our first session with it on October 7th! Wow!!!

So, we started with a couple of the exercise routines on this intro DVD. They were each about 30 minutes long and some of it was done while seated and some on your feet. You moved your shoulders, your arms, your legs and feet, and his purpose was to get your heart rate up. Once you got to the end of the routine, he taught you how to stretch and then took you into a relaxation period. If you’d like to see what I’m talking about, here’s a link to an example on their YouTube Channel. https://youtu.be/P-g7TAjjAE8

We may have started late, but I’m proud to tell you that every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning since we started, (we did miss a couple of days Christmas and New Year’s week) we have religiously spent 30-40 minutes with Deron, and his exercises! Having spent 2 months with the samples on the Starter Pack DVD, under the Christmas Tree, Santa gave Susie the next DVD, Cardio Weight Loss Chapter One.

We’ve now moved into the routines on that DVD, and even have added dumbbells to our workouts.

I should also say that occasionally (like every time we do them), we do tend to yell at the screen, and what we yell is not always complimentary to Deron and/or his exercises!

Is it even close to what Michelle does during her workouts? Absolutely not, but then we are not in our 30s, and let’s face it, the most exercise we’ve gotten before this was walking in the sand on the beach! An alarm goes off on my phone at 9:30 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, signaling us that iPad time is over, and it’s time to get ready for our session with Deron. Do we always want to do it? Absolutely not, and honestly, some days are harder than others, but I will tell you that we always feel better and a sense of accomplishment after we’ve done that day’s routine…especially on those days when we really didn’t want to do it, and were just a hair’s breath away from skipping our session!

Hey, as the phrase goes, Better Late Than Never!

Remembering our friend Paula

Susie and I were very sad to learn late last Tuesday evening, that our friend Paula had died of a massive heart attack. We learned the sad news, when I read a post from another friend on Facebook just before heading to bed.

Paula was a gambler, with Video Poker being her game of choice, and that was how we met her. About 10 or 12 years ago, I asked a question at an online message board about Video Poker. Paula answered that question for me, and then we started to go back and forth as Susie and I asked other questions, and she graciously answered. She was very good at Video Poker, and anytime she made a weekend trip to Atlantic City, or a trip to Vegas, she always left with multiple “Hand Pays”. (When a single win on a slot machine or a video poker machine is $1,200 or over, it has to be reported to the IRS, so a “hand pay” involves a casino employee actually giving you your money, after they’ve filled out forms for the IRS and given you a W-2G slip.) She was very knowledgeable, and happy to share her understanding of the game.

So, for several months, we were “Internet Friends,” until we discovered that on one particular weekend, she would be at Harrahs in AC the same weekend Susie and I were planning on being there. At that point, she was a Seven Stars player (the highest level on Harrahs gambling rewards), and invited us to meet her and her friend Judy in the Seven Stars Lounge! The Seven Stars Lounge at Harrahs, was in the back of the High Roller slot area, and as you walked up to the door, it opened automatically. This was the pinnacle of rewards clubs, and Susie and I were like kids in a candy store, as we were ushered in and escorted to Paula’s table. Even though we’d never met, and had only exchanged messages on the internet, it was almost like we were old friends who’d not seen each other in some time. We got along wonderfully with Paula and her friend Judy. We talked, and drank (and ate shrimp the size of your fist), and gambled that night. We were no longer internet friends, but were now real friends!

We learned that Paula and her husband Jim were lawyers in Northern Jersey, and although Paula loved gambling, Jim was not a big fan. He came with her occasionally, but mostly she came with girlfriends like Judy. She loved traveling to New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Atlantic City, and enjoyed several “Girl Trips” a year. We also discovered that she and Jim had a beach house down in Cape May at the bottom of our county, so we were kind of neighbors too!

Over the years, we’d meet up with her if we were all in AC for a weekend, and on one occasion even met Jim, but our favorite Paula Story happened 7 or 8 years ago. We told her we were going to be at Harrahs in AC with our kids, and she was going to be staying at Harrahs and meeting Judy and some other friends who were staying at the Borgota. We agreed that we’d meet up if our schedules coincided. On Saturday night, our family was at the Sapphire Bar in the Eden Lounge, having a pre-dinner drink, and I texted Paula. She said she’d stop by on her way to the Borgota. When she did, we introduced her to the kids, and to our favorite AC Bartender, Ralph. Perhaps, because I was having one, Paula had Ralph make her a Grey Goose Martini. It was cold, and it was good, and it was large (Harrahs martini glasses were very big back then), and went down way too easily, so she ordered a second. About halfway through the drink, she realized that she had to get to the Borgota, where she and her girlfriends had a dinner reservation at the Old Homestead.

Later on, we heard that after her time with us at the bar, she had a hell of a night. She bounced off the wall going down the hall to get the Jitney to Borgota, didn’t remember much of dinner, and had no idea how she got back to Harrahs. Sunday morning, she woke up in her bed, still dressed as she was when we saw her before dinner, and sleeping with her Old Homestead leftovers!

Sadly, we always talked about getting together either at their house in Cape May, or ours in Ocean City. Sometimes things just never get done because you have all the time in the world…sadly, we did not.

We’re thinking about her husband Jim, and all the family and friends she leaves behind, and know that she’s up in heaven with her beloved son Ryan, making up for lost time with him. Paula, you were one of a kind, and Susie and I will always fondly remember our times with you! Hope there’s nothing but hand pays up in God’s Casino!

Five Years Ago

Continuing the blog trend from yesterday, 5 years ago today, on Friday, January 29th, 2016, I worked my last day at WABC Radio. My first paying job was at the age of about 11, when I was a “Super” in Giuseppe Verdi’s opera Macbeth, at the Cincinnati Summer Opera in the early 60s. According to a blog post I wrote in January, 2016, that was the first of seven jobs I’ve had during my life The last Non-Radio job I had, was way back in 1972, which I left to start working at WHN in NYC. (https://fdthird.wordpress.com/2016/01/19/seven-jobs/).

After 44 years working in radio, a question I was asked a lot back in 2016 was, “So what are you going to do when you retire??”. My flippant answer was, “Whatever I want to do!,” which worked for most folks, but there was the occasional hard ass who pushed it. “No, what are you really going to do? Won’t you get bored?” My answer to that was that no, I won’t get bored. I’ll be able to spend every day with my best friend, we’ll travel, I’ll read a lot, I’ll do some writing, enjoy life, and definitely try to not get up most days until after the 7:24 from Mineola to Penn Station has left the station!!!

In the last five years, Susie and I have enjoyed life in many ways, the most important being that we’ve spent the majority of every single day together! See, we’re a little weird. A long time ago we discovered, we really like being together. Be it a trip to Shoprite or Costco, a ride in the car, cooking, eating out, or whatever, if my best friend and wife is by my side, we’re happy! So, that’s the first thing the past five years have given us…the ability to be together!

On January 30th, 2016 (my first day as a retired person), I joined Susie, who had retired after the 2013 school year, from her job at Hampton Street School in Mineola. Now, truly, time was ours, to do with as we pleased, and we did! But what else you ask? Okay, let’s make a list!

First on the list, had to be something that just doesn’t get done while you are still regularly employed…Our Big Trip! For 9 weeks, from August to October, and traveling 9,773 miles, we covered our country in our Hyundai Sonata. Visiting places like Mt. Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, and so many other places that we’d always wanted to see.

Seeking the Sun…For every one of the five years since I joined Susie in retirement, we have traveled to Florida to seek a bit of a preview of the coming summer. On three of those years, we included a stay at Walt Disney World where we took advantage of my Disney Retiree free admission and discounts. The last two years, the trip included a multi- week stay in a condo we rented in what we consider our Florida home, Indian Rocks Beach. Sadly, due to the current Covid crisis we find ourselves in, there will be no Florida trip this year. No sunsets on the beach of Indian Rocks Beach, no trips to see Mickey Mouse, no visits with my cousins Jeanne and Walt in Barefoot Bay, and no preview of the Summer of 2021 for Susie and me.

We also cruised, a total of 6 weeks during the last 5 years! So many wonderful pictures, memories, and experiences.

Twin Weddings….In the past 5 years, our twins, Krissi and Kenny, joined their older brother Billy in the institution of marriage. Kenny and his husband Chris joined their lives in October of 2018 in Lake Tahoe, which included for Susie and I, a trip across the country on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief sleeper train. In June of 2019, our daughter Krissi and her husband Mike became one on the roof of their apartment building in Astoria. With the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline, I gave away our daughter, and Mike joined our family!

Of course, 2019 was also the year we added a third Grandchild, as Annabelle Lorraine D’Elia joined her sister Layla and brother Henry on April 17th! Here she is with Grandpa at Aunt Krissi’s wedding!

We also, along the way, cleaned out our house in Mineola, that had been the D’Elia Family Home since August of 1986. 31 years of life is a lot to pack up, but that we did, as we sold the house, and turned our Ocean City home into our full time residence. We were luckier than many in making the transition, as we knew exactly what we were getting into in Ocean City, having had a life here for 12 years at that point! To make it official, it was a change of driver’s licenses and car registrations to the state of New Jersey, and registering to vote!

Our Mineola house with a very young Bill D’Elia on the day we found it in early 1986

Along the way, I also had my left knee replaced! Right knee was supposed to be done by now too, but Covid has delayed that schedule!

Of course, living at the beach, there were hours spent on the sand of Pennlyn Place Beach. There were enjoyable times on our front porch, or the backyards or decks of our neighbors.

If I had to pick the most important thing that I’ve enjoyed the last 5 years, it’s having the ability to make our own schedule. We no longer are limited by the school calendar, by how much vacation I got at WABC (a lot), by the schedule of others, and by our need to be at certain places at certain times. Prior to Covid, if we wanted to get in the car on a Thursday, and drive down to visit our family in North Carolina and watch our oldest Granddaughter’s dance recital, we did. If we wanted to drive down to Maryland for the weekend and visit with our son-in-law Mike’s family, we did. If we’d had enough time without our dear friends Pat and Steve back on Long Island, a car trip up to see them was what we did. That’s one of the real reasons we are so interested in getting our Covid vaccines, because we’d love to be able to put the spontaneity back in our travel schedules once again!

So there you have it, it’s all about living the life we have chosen, that we love, and doing it whenever we want! Like I said…doing whatever we want, whenever we want! That’s our take on retirement!

Sixteen Years

16 Years ago today, on January 28th, 2005, Susie and I closed on our house at 854 Pennlyn Place, just 500 feet down the street from the beach, in Ocean City, NJ! We’d first seen the house on December 28, 2004, made an offer, and one month later, we were sitting in a title company office on West Avenue in Ocean City signing our life away!

A couple of years ago, I wrote a series of 11 blogs about our relationship with Ocean City. It started with the first time I came here with my folks in 1955, continued to the years our family was young and we spent time in Ocean City, told the whole story of how purchasing a house in Las Vegas led to our dream of owning in Ocean City coming true, talked about what we call our “Ocean City Family”, of all the fun we’ve had over the years with Pennlyn neighbors, and ended with the sale of our Mineola house, and Susie and I becoming full time Ocean City residents. If you missed those blogs, here’s a link to the beginning of the series…. https://rnewadventures.com/2018/08/28/ocean-city-nj-part-1/

It’s really incredible when your dreams come true, and ours definitely have! Hard to believe it’s been 16 years on one hand, and on the other, hard to believe it’s only been 16! For the first 12 years, owning this house was about going to our happy place, and for the last 4, it’s been about home, and frankly, we couldn’t be happier!

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, on Thursday, January 23, 2020, Susie and I ate our last inside meal at one of our favorite restaurants, Angelo’s Fairmount Tavern in Atlantic City. We’d been steady Thursday customers for a long time, and we were saying goodbye as we were preparing for what at that point, was planned to be two months in Florida, and were in our last week in the cold of New Jersey. We were making choices of clothes to take with us, getting the car serviced, I was making a last minute trip to the dentist, Susie was getting her last hair and nails done, and we were looking forward to spending the months of February and March in Florida, and previewing the Summer of 2020.

One year ago, we had no idea that there was something called Covid-19 that was making people sick in Wuhan, China, or that there had been a first US confirmed case in Washington State. We had no idea that we’d be dragged into a Pandemic, or that we’d be wearing masks when we went out, or that our life would be impacted by this disease that would ultimately kill hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americans. We had no idea that we wouldn’t see our Kids and Grandkids for a year, or that we’d wave at neighbors and friends, or that friends who are like family would get the disease.

One year ago today we were smug, thinking that something like a Global Pandemic couldn’t affect our lives here in the United States of America. Little did we know that it would end employment for our sons Kenny and Chris (the Entertainers), force our other children (Billy and Lori and Krissi and Mike) to work from home, and change all our lives like nothing had in our lifetimes.

The last time Susie and I ate inside a restaurant, was on March 13, 2020, at a Cracker Barrel someplace in Virginia on our way home from Florida. When Angelo’s opened their great outside dining during the summer, Thursday nights became Angelo’s Thursdays again. We saw all our regular friends, met a couple of new ones, and got to enjoy our weekly dose of the Mancuso Family and the wonderful food they create. It was great to be back at Angelo’s, but it wasn’t the same.

One year ago today, we had our last martini at the bar at Angelo’s with our bartender and friend, Michael, ate our last meal inside at Angelo’s, saw our Angelo’s Thursday friends Theresa, Patti, Rhonda, Christina, Ed, Gina, Christopher, Victor, and Trinidad. We miss the bar, the restaurant, and the people! We survive now with Angelo’s take-out, and we’re waiting for our time to get the vaccine, but we won’t eat inside till we’re protected.

Hope to see you sooner rather than later friends…we miss you!

Plus Networks

If you’re of a certain age (ie…old…like me), you’ll remember TV before Cable. Back in the days when your only option was to receive the signal over the air from a local broadcasting station. If you remember that, you’ll also remember “rabbit ear” antennas, the good that liberal use of tinfoil could have on TV reception, and how standing in a certain place in relation to the TV could also improve reception.

It may be hard to believe, but Cable TV originated in 1948, in an effort to get TV reception in the mountainous areas of Arkansas, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, yet when Susie and I got married in 1979, and moved to 1 Firwood Road in the Manorhaven section of Port Washington, Cablevision had yet to wire the neighborhood. That means that we did our best to get a signal from NYC stations via a Radio Shack powered TV antenna, that resided in the top of our coat closet.

In 1981, when we bought our first house in New Hyde Park, the area had been wired by Cablevision, and we became cable customers for the first time! Nowhere near as sophisticated as what would follow, our cable box was two boxes, tethered together with about 20 feet of cord between. One box lived at the TV, and the other changed channels, though a series of push buttons. That was the beginning of our relationship with Cable TV, a relationship that continues to the present, with our monthly subscription to Comcast’s Xfinity service, here in Ocean City.

Over the years, that cable coming from the pole to your house has brought you more than just TV shows. After years of dial-up internet, and even DSL service via the phone company, the fastest and most dependable Internet service most of us get, is via the local cable provider. As the internet speed and quality delivered to your house improved, we learned about “streaming” movies and TV shows, and the various ways you get to watch movies. One of the earliest options in that regard was a service called Netflix.

Netflix was launched in 1997 as the world’s first online DVD-rental store, and in February 2007, the company delivered its billionth DVD via the mail, but at the same time, it’s business began to change shape. The move was away from delivery of DVDs via the USPS, and to on-demand viewing via the Internet. As the sales of DVDs fell, Netflix’s digital delivery business grew.

Over the years, as many consumers tried to cut back on the costs associated with Cable TV, another term was coined…”Cord Cutting”. Defined as, “The process of cancelling a cable or satellite subscription and getting TV shows and movies by other means. This typically involves switching to video streaming services that are accessed through the internet”. If you were willing to work a little more at your TV viewing, you could save some serious money over your existing cable bill.

One of those streaming services mentioned in the definition was our old friend Netflix. In the beginning, as a “Cord Cutter” it was easy, as so much was included in your monthly Netflix subscription. It was by no means the only option, but in it’s heyday, it had millions of TV titles and movies, and was exactly what the “Cord Cutter” needed. I know that when our daughter Krissi first moved to Astoria, with a line of sight view of the broadcast antenna atop the Empire State Building, a cheap Radio Shack antenna, a cable internet feed, and a Netflix subscription was all she needed to be part of the cord cutter revolution.

But times change, and in recent years, more and more titles have been removed from services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and others. Have you noticed the new trend in cable network’s marketing to cord cutters? I’m calling it Plus Networks, but it goes by many different names. HBO Max, Peacock, Hulu, Crackle, and the pluses…Disney+, Paramount+, Discovery+, ESPN +, etc. As more people abandoned Cable TV and just payed for an Internet connection every month, the cable networks perceived there was money to be made in streaming services. Where once you could pretty much see everything you wanted with a Netflix subscription, now you needed a phone book of subscriptions to see everything!

And how much exactly does having multiple subscriptions cost you? When I Googled that question, I found that there were literally hundreds of streaming services around. While there are a lot that seem to be very narrow focused, here’s a listing of the general services I recognized, and their cost:

Netflix ($8.99 to $15.99 per month)
Amazon Prime Video ($119 per year)
Hulu ($5.99 all the way up to $15.99 per month)
Apple TV+ ($4.99 per month)
Disney+ ($6.99 per month)
ESPN+ ($4,99 per month)
Peacock $4.99 per month)
CBS All Access – about to rebrand as Paramount+ ($5.99 per month)
Discovery+ ($4.99 per month)
HBO Max ($14.99 per month)

All of that is fine for the cord cutters among us, but what of us dinosaurs that still have a full Cable TV package?? I currently pay Comcast $286 for my Xfinity service. This includes Internet access, telephone, and cable service. I used to be able to watch HBO and other services that I paid for, via an app on my phone. I also used to be able to use the services on other Smart TVs or via an Amazon Fire or Roku device. At that point, having an Amazon Prime subscription and Netflix were icing on the cake, assuring me that I could watch virtually anything I wanted, anywhere I was. That’s now changing.

The cable channels have obviously found that there is money to be made even from people who do not pay for cable TV. Disney, CBS, NBC, and others, have decided that the profit from their programing belongs in their pockets, rather than Netflix or Amazon Prime’s, so much of the content that was available on these services originally is now available exclusively on their own streaming service. As I see it, two things are happening here. #1 – Those of us who are still paying for traditional cable TV, are now not seeing content that is being produced by the very channels that are part of our service we pay for. #2 – Folks who have already, or will soon join the Cord Cutters of the world, will no longer be able to get by with one or two generic streaming services, but will have to pay for a laundry list of new streaming services if they want to be able to approach the content that cable TV provides. How much money will they really be saving in the end?

In addition, as I guess an incentive to get people to sign up for the service, virtually every one of the new pay services is featuring “Exclusive Content” that is not available elsewhere. The CBS service features many original titles including The Good Wife continuation show, The Good Fight, and their library of Star Trek themed shows. ESPN+ advertises exclusive content including UFC events, MLB and NHL games, Boxing, International Soccer, as well as a number of original series. Over on Disney+ you get to see a virtual roster of Disney movies, behind the scenes shows, and many original series. One of the newest, Discover+, features exclusive content from their many networks including HGTV, Food Network, Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, and even the new Magnolia Network with Chip and Joana Gaines. Lots of things that you’ll only see with a subscription to one of the services.

And what are consumers saying? Here’s a sampling of replies on a recent Facebook post by Food Network Chef Robert Irvine, promoting a new episode of his show Restaurant Impossible that’s only available on Discovery+:

“Well, I can’t watch them because I already pay for Food Network through cable and I’m not going to pay for it again through Discovery+”

“Never missed your show, even watch reruns, but not paying extra for Discovery+”

“It sucks that what used to be part of my cable package has now moved to a new platform. No Thank You. I hope Discovery goes bankrupt.”

“Buh-bye! No Discovery+ here. The value of Food Network, HGTV, DIY and others dropped last year when fewer new shows were produced, and our cable costs still went up. Now with a subscription scheme they want even more money from us.”

“Will miss the show. Not paying extra for Discovery+ just to watch it.”

“Miss being able to watch you. Ridiculous that we have to pay for another streaming service! Not your fault, but this is asking a lot from your fans.”

and finally….

“Sorry not watching. Viewers being played big time here! Food Network or whoever is behind this Discovery+ must think we are all awfully stupid. You will lose viewers over this.”

Hmmm…they don’t sound happy.

You just knew it was a matter of time before the folks behind so many cable channels found a way to make more money off their current subscribers, and to find new customers as well. Welcome to the confusing world of home TV viewing in 2021!

Writing

If you have found this blog, you probably realize that I like writing! Thanks to the help of the world’s best Co-Author/Proof Reader/Copy Editor/Spiritual Advisor/Friend/Wife, Susan Lynn D’Elia, we have been able to turn out some pages that I hope you’ve enjoyed. Since we started this blog together in 2016, we have published 219 posts, as we’ve charted Our New Adventures, but this is by no means my first blog.

My first blog, that started back on July 26th, 2010 and was called “Questions and Some Answers” (http://fd3qa.blogspot.com/2010/07/) . In the About Me description, I wrote, “Always a reader and a sometimes writer in search of an audience.”

On September 1st, 2010, in a blog post entitled “What Am I doing Here?”, I attempted to answer the question, “why have I started this blog?” These are some of the things I said in that piece…

“Ever since I was a kid there has been something that fascinated me about being a writer. Perhaps it was because of books I read by authors like John Steinbeck that moved me, or perhaps it was because putting words on paper seemed somewhat easy for me when it wasn’t for others, or perhaps it was from watching the Dick Van Dyke Show and seeing how much fun Rob, Sally and Buddy had in the Writers’ Room on the Allan Brady Show! For whatever reason, I have been a closet writer for a number of years (no…I don’t write about or in closets) and have even sold a couple of items to magazines. I have come up with some great ideas for articles and even written “pitch letters”, started short stories, written some kid’s stories that got my own kids’ seal of approval when they were young, thought about book plots, and even committed some actual words to paper. I started on a Royal Portable typewriter in the last century, moved on to a huge IBM desk top computer and dot matrix printer, and now am on a small laptop. Through the years, I’ve had bursts of activity and turned out the beginnings of some things that seemed to me to be going in the right direction. So why haven’t I done more? If I had to be honest, I’d say it’s because I’m just not committed enough to turn the idea into reality!”

I think that’s an honest evaluation of a situation that really hasn’t changed for me in the 10+ years since I wrote those words! I know, that like anything worthwhile in life, the only way you get better at it is to work hard. As the saying goes, Practice Makes Perfect!

As a hoped for inspiration, I even saved the following quote in my Kindle from Sue Grafton’s novel, U is for Undertow, “Writing’s hard. It’s a skill you attain by practicing. You don’t just dash off good work in your off-hours. You can’t be halfhearted. It takes time. You want to be a concert pianist, you don’t slog your way through Five Easy Pieces and expect to be booked in Carnegie Hall. You have to sit down and write. As much as you can. Everyday of your life.”

I continued that blog through August 24th, 2011, and in a little over a year, wrote 29 posts, for an average of just over 2 posts a month. Then my blogging went on hiatus, till either boredom or some spark of interest, started me on a new path and a new blog. This one, called, “It’s Better Than Working For A Living” (https://fdthird.wordpress.com), was started almost 3 years after my last post in “Questions and Some Answers”, on August 16th, 2014!

In the “About Me” section of this blog’s home page, I wrote, “For over 40 years I’ve made a pretty good living for my family as an audio engineer at various NYC radio stations, but if you asked me what I really wanted to be when I grow up, I’d say “a writer.” I’ve always had a way with words and have been called on many times to help craft a resume, or an application, or even a speech, but this blog is all about me….things I’ve seen, experiences I’ve had, and thoughts on anything and everything. This is about me growing up, and being a writer! Thanks for stopping by….”

Okay, a similar theme from my earlier work…perhaps a little more fleshed out, but the big question how did I handle the blogging this time around? I’m sorry to say that the results were very much the same. I seemed to start out like a house on fire, with multiple stories in the months of August, September, and October! Then in November there was but one post, and then the house burned down! My next active time was 4 months later, in March of 2015, with a single post, and then not again till September when I came up with one new post! My work picked up in December of 2015 when there were 4 posts, but to be honest, some of them may have been reworks of older writings.

Early in January, 2016, I put in my retirement papers at WABC, with the intention of my last day of employment being January 29th, and in that last month at WABC, I wrote and posted 11 blogs about my years at the station. After January, as I moved on to a new life of retirement, the posts dwindled, and although the blog is still “active”, the last post went up in May of 2019, and the reality is that it was just a link to a post in this blog!

Okay, so now I’ve caught you up on my Blogging Career, and taken you back to where you started, at this blog! To complete the circle, when I was setting up this blog, this is what I wrote in the “About” section.

“Welcome to our blog. We are Sue and Frank D’Elia, and we invite you along for the ride as we move into our next chapter, retirement. We have plans for some great new adventures and are excited to be launching both our next chapter and this blog. As the song says, the best is yet to come!! 
 
SLD/FDIII”

If you’re one of the stalwarts that’s been along for the ride with us from the beginning, you’ll know that the blog started with a single post in February, 2016, where we set out our history with Road Trips. Then in March, we left the frozen north and ventured to Florida for the first time for an extended stay as retirees! The month of March saw us publish 13 posts, detailing our trip to Florida’s Walt Disney World, Spring Training Games, and ended with a look ahead at what we’d been calling for a long time, Our Big Trip!

Susie and I had been talking about this trip for many years, and early in 2016 started to actually plan it. We had long called it our “Bucket List” trip, to places we’d always wanted to see, but hadn’t. To me, this was the real high spot of my blogging! Through the summer of 2016, I posted about our preparations and about our time in Ocean City, but the real blogging started on August 22, 2016 with a post called “Our Big Adventure, Day One”! For the next 63 days, Ending on October 22nd, exactly 9 weeks since we’d left, having traveled a grand total of 9,773.0 miles, every night, without fail, I sat down in front of my Apple MacBook Air, and I wrote something about what we’d done that day. In that blog on day 63 of the trip, I wrote the following:

“One thing I have always wanted to be was a writer. I’ve dabbled here and there over the years, and many have told me that I am good at it, but what a writer needs to do is to write! For the past 9 weeks, this blog forced me to sit down in front of the computer every night and write something. If you’ve been with us for the whole ride, you know that some nights it was the last thing I wanted to do, but I did it. For 9 weeks (even on the cruise) grabbing the MacBook Air, and punching away on the keys for a half hour or more every day, has been a way of life for me. It’s become part of my routine, which was very good for me, and it’s something I hope to continue. I may not post every day, but I hope to write something every day. I know that I will be updating this blog on a pretty regular basis, because heck, now that we are both retired, Our New Adventures are just starting out!”

Did I do it? Well, unfortunately if you look back at the archive of this blog, you will see that after I wrote that last Bucket List Trip post on 10/22/16, I wrote one more that month, and then didn’t publish another blog till February of 2017, so the answer is a big NO! As I look through the rest of the archives, I see that pattern repeating over and over again. Have a trip, or holiday, or occasion that almost demands a blog piece be written, and it’s followed up by a month or more of blogging silence! In the entire just ended year of 2020, I wrote a total of 15 posts, obviously not following Sue Grafton’s advice, “You have to sit down and write. As much as you can. Everyday of your life.”

Look, I’m not one for New Year’s Resolutions, and honestly I don’t remember making one that even lasted beyond my January 2nd birthday, but I’m going to try one on for size in 2021. As we work our way through the second week of the new year, I am going to pledge that at the very minimum, I’ll publish one new blog post per week in 2021. That means a minimum of 52 posts during 2021, and hopefully many more! This blog has lasted longer than any of the others that I’ve started, but the only way I’m going to get close to fulfilling my “writing desire,” is to write! I’ve already published 3 blogs in January, so I hope I’m off to a good start! I trust my co-conspirator Susie will hold my feet to the fire, as will you, my faithful readers….all 4 of you!

So there you go. As we go forward in 2021, I hope that I won’t disappoint you and that I live up to my resolution! If I write something that peaks your interest, or perhaps moves you in some way, let me know via the comments section of the blog or on Facebook. As I said back in October, 2016:

“Over the course of the past nine weeks, we have heard from you in various ways, and I know that a number of you have been with us every day, since we started back in August. I heard from some of you when I was not in any mood to write the blog, and said so. It was your encouragement, and just knowing that you were reading the words that I was writing, that made it easier for me to sit down every night, and compile a record of what we’d done that day. It would have been very easy for me to have ended this blog in week three or four, and chalk this up as just another one of the many uncompleted writing projects I’ve done in my life, were it not for knowing that there were people waiting to see what our day on the road had been like. So to those of your who reached out to us, and let us know you were in the back seat of the Sonata, whether from start to finish, or just for a day or two here and there, thank you…..it never would have gotten completed without you. Knowing that people were reading it, were commenting own Facebook or on the WordPress site, and were enjoying our travels, made all the difference.”

I guess the bottom line is exactly the same as how I described myself in that early blog, “a sometimes writer in search of an audience.”