Saturday, September 24, 2011

So Is This the End of the Line?

Yesterday after a nice afternoon shower, I glanced out my front window and noticed a wire lying across my front driveway and lawn.

Assuming it to be an electrical line, I called Florida Power & Light Company. I told them that I had no way of knowing if it was a power line, cable line or phone line. They were out in minutes and told me it was a phone line.

I called Comcast since they supply my phone service. The disinterest couldn't be greater. I was told that they could send someone out to check it on Monday. Yesterday was Friday.

I told the gal that I needed to mow my lawn (today) and I was not about to touch a downed line to move it from one place to another to mow. She couldn't care less. I hung up.

This morning I decided to call Verizon, arguably the most popular telephone company. I got another runaround. "We can't send a repair person to check unless it's a Verizon line that is down," the gal told me. Then she asked what color the line was. "Black," I replied, adding "I didn't know they came in colors."

She chuckled. "Do you know for certain that it's a Verizon line?" she asked.

"No, how does one go about identifying a Verizon line from any other line?" I asked.

"I have no idea," was her reply.

"Then why did you ask?" I questioned. If you don't know how to identify a Verizon line and you work for the company. You expect me, a person who doesn't work for Verizon, to identify it?"

No reply.

I told her of the major disinterest I encountered in my issue. Anyone who enters my front driveway is sure to pull the line down from the poles with their car. Again, "I'm sorry, but without knowing that it's a Verizon line, I'm not authorized to send a repairman to your home." That was her reply.

My final reply before hanging up (rather rudely): "Tell you what, when I go out to mow the lawn and shred the line to pieces with my tractor mower, I guess someone will complain that they have no phone service, and that'll get a repair person out here, won't it?"

"Yes, I suppose that will," she said.

"Thanks for nothing," I replied and kinda slammed down my phone.

Here in Florida we have numerous suppliers of phone service: AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, etc., to name a few. I have no idea how many companies supply landlines and would have overhead lines. I simply don't have the time to spend on the phone (20 minutes with Verizon, 15 with Comcast, 15 with Florida Power & Light) to find out whose line is TRESPASSING on my property.

End of story, sorry. I have a lawn to mow and a phone line to shred.

Friday, September 9, 2011

So Ain't That Tacky?

It was a beautiful day in Southwest Florida, sunny and bright, but very humid.

I started my bike ride as I normally do, parking my car, getting two 20-ounce bottles of water attached to my bike, one in a water holder, one attached to a crossbar with a bungee cord. Camera (not my cell phone camera) hanging from my handlebar, I started. I hoped to get some better shots of my newfound friend, the alligator, that I spotted yesterday.

I was met with headwinds from the South, but they were worse from the West. So, since my routes require both directions, I took the longer courses South and the shorter courses to the West, thinking at the time how easy it would be returning North and East.

I felt rather secure since I just got a new tire and tube for the front wheel last week, and the tube has a device to inhibit flats ($9.95).

Mile one was nothing remarkable. Mile two, I anticipated where I would be when the odometer hit mile two. Between miles two and three I stopped when I heard "Emmy," a huge German shepherd, barking as she emerged from the garage of her home.

I stopped, put my kickstand down and proceeded  give Emmy her expected pat on the back, butt and head as she sloppily kissed me on the face. She's one of the few friendly dogs that I meet from time to time in the course of my rides. After a few pats for good measure, I pointed to her lawn and told her to "go home now." She complied, stopping for a moment to squat and pee on her way back to the garage.

I finished miles four and five without incident.

As I was about halfway into mile six, in a cul-de-sac that I often ride around, trying to accumulate mileage and avoid headwinds, I suddenly heard a hiss. Looking first to my left, then my right, fully anticipating seeing a snake somewhere in that circle and seeing none, I stopped.

The hissing continued. I looked down at my front tire and saw a rather good-sized "tack" (for lack of a better word) on the outside of my front tire.

Instinctively I pulled it out and the hissing became more pronounced. I quickly shoved it back in to avoid more air loss as I tried to evaluate how far I was from my car. I thought it might be about two miles. 

I took the fastest possible route back in the direction of my car, thankfully having to head only North and East, without headwinds. It was roughly 1.65 miles back to the car, and by the time I got there, I was pushing the bike under a now-baking sun with no sign of the breezes that I encountered while on the bike.

So, between riding and walking, I had to settle for just short of eight miles today.

I know how to ride a bike, stop a bike, park a bike, but I haven't a clue how to change a tube on a bike. So, tomorrow will begin with a trip to the local bike store for a new tube (unless they can patch it). Then I anticipate a long bike ride as I attempt to make up for today's "lost" miles as well as my goal mileage for tomorrow.

Isn't life marvelous? Imagine what it would be without all its diversions. Like maybe heaven!

So Where Were You on 9/11?

On September 11, 2001, I was at a convenience store buying Pennsylvania lottery tickets. The store was located on Mickley Road in Whitehall, PA., just about a five-minute drive from my home at the time.

As I recall, I had just finished paying for my tickets and when I glanced up I spotted a TV showing a plane crashing into a skyscraper.

I said to the clerk, "What are you watching? That looks good!" thinking that I'd tune it in when I came back home. He told me what was happening.

What I'd seen was the first plane that crashed into the North Tower at the World Trade Center. I felt what could be best described as my heart dropping into some vast pit in my stomach. For a few minutes I stood there, not moving, actually unable to move.

At one point it occurred to me what I had said to the clerk, and I felt a sharp twinge of conscience, realizing that hundreds of people had died in a single instant the moment the first plane hit. They hadn't had a second to react.

Customers began to build up in the store, all watching in shock, and as much as I felt I should stay to see what would take place, I forced myself to leave, shaking and talking to myself on the way home. My Foxy Lady was with me. I know that she was aware that something had upset me as she tried to kiss me all the way home, and, I think for the only time in the 10 years we shared together, I gently brushed her away.

I was still working full time for AOL, and honestly, I don't recall working or doing anything but watching TV that day, though I must have. I do know that nothing could tear me away from the TV for the rest of that day, well into the night.

It wasn't fascination … it was disbelief in the fact that this could happen in America. I'd seen dozens of war films over the years, yet nothing compared to what I'd see on TV: people falling and jumping out of the towers to their deaths, looks of disbelief on the faces of ash-laden people running from the site, fire, smoke swirling everywhere. This was real, not a movie, and like it or not, I was a part of a piece of history. I relive that day every time I hear the term "9/11," or see TV clips from that day I find it difficult to watch. Yet I realize that I must … and that I must never forget what happened that day; how many lives were lost and how many more were changed forever.

This video is extremely graphic, but I watched it as a reminder of what once was: two towers reaching skyward; thousands of lives snuffed out, many without a chance to say, "Lord, forgive me for the life I lived, and please welcome me into your kingdom," or "Honey, daddy loves you. Please don't ever forget daddy," and thousands more goodbyes that were never uttered. There simply was no time.

To those who died in New York, D.C. and Shanksville, PA., that day: thank you. You are my heroes. To the survivors of those who are no longer with us, although we haven't met, you have my greatest respect and admiration, and my condolences as the anniversary of 9/11 nears.

We can only hope that something similar will not take place this weekend.

Please feel free to share a memory or two of that fateful day as a reply. This blog might still be around 100 years from today. Let those who come after us know what we felt. Let them know that we cared. We all have a story, don't we?