York Barbell Breakdown

yorkpicThe Doobie Brothers are jamming in the background. Listen To The Music – man what a great tune.
Bandit didn’t feel like going with me today to the York Barbell Co. in York Pa., but my wife said she would go – I was glad she did. She reads maps way better than Bandit does.
I have been lifting York Barbell plates in one form or another for years. I remember buying my first 50-pound plates at Kelly’s Sporting Goods in Garden City shopping center in Cranston.
I have been lifting pretty steady for the past five years to build muscle after Lymphoma and I am getting to the point where I need a few 25-pounders. One night a few weeks ago I was web surfing and ended up at http://www.yorkbarbell.com and realized there was an outlet store.
I envisioned muscle bound guys and gals picking things up and putting them down impressing rubes like me. I was hoping there would be a guy so strong he would lift me onto his shoulders and flex his biceps while I smiled like an idiot. I figured they’d at least have a giant inflatable He-Man strangling a giant inflatable Godzilla on the front lawn. I was hoping to see road signs and promotions along the highway.
The retail outlet was nondescript — a small two room store with a small assortment of weights; too small lifting belts, dumbbells, and an unimpressive assortment of exercise falderal. I was soooooo disappointed. Nothing! Nobody tearing phonebooks in half; nobody inflating red rubber water bottles until they explode. Nothing. I
I mean gosh darn it! This is York Barbell; home to body builders weightlifting giants; and Olympic heroes. Now it is an empty shell.
I was so disappointed.
I bought two 25 pounders threw them in my car and drove home quietly. I didn’t even turn on my radio



Temporary Stereo Setback

speakersIn the words of that cinema giant Bill Murray from the great socially important film Stripes, “And then depression set in.”

Bandit (my double dapple Dachshund sidekick) and I have been scouring yard sales for months piecing together a vintage stereo system on which to play our vintage records. He likes novelty records such as St. Bernards barking Jingle Bells; I like more traditional classic rock and soul. (BTW you’d surprised how many dogs barking tune recordings there are, he has them all.

We have traveled far and wide in our quest. In northern Delaware, abutting rural Pennsylvania (where pencil go on vacation — get it?) is Hockessin, a small town with big city aspirations. Bandit and I were driving down a secondary road leading out of town on a cold drizzly Saturday when we passed a yard sale with stereo equipment.

“You wanna go back?” I asked.” He was indifferent.

I pulled a U-turn and pulled up. We got out the car and bandit went over to some speakers, sniffed them and gave his tail a wag. I felt safe buying them. I went over to a receiver sniffed it, and shrugged my shoulders.

“Does this receiver work?” I asked the soaked bedraggled guy on an old Army field jacket.

“I don’t know, man,” he said. “It’s been downstairs forever.”

“How much?”

“Five for the radio thing and three for the speakers.”

I whipped out my wallet, bandit arfed, and we loaded two honking Sanyo Speakers in the car and an old Technics receiver.

The speakers work great.

The $3 receiver worked great for about two weeks until I tried to hook up a yardsale Yamaha turntable to it.

From sound cutting out to a loud hum more likely to come from invading out of space aliens, and a weird smell I still can’t identify, it all went wrong. I guess that’s what happens when you buy stereo equipment in the rain.

I’m going to up my game and buy my next receiver at a pawn shop.

Bandit is skeptical.


My Dog and I Save Thanksgiving


 What are the two words capable of turning any Thanksgiving or holiday weekend into a devastating mess. Hint –it’s not Donald Trump; Hillary Clinton; Russia Investigation or even food poisoning.
It’s — plumbing problem.
Last night when my dog Bandit and I we were putting our pots, pans, roasting pans into the sink for a good cleaning, he noticed the pressure for the hot water was low.
He sniffed at the doors under the sink, stood up on his hind legs with his front legs on the left door grabbed the knob for the right door and open the sink.
“Jezz Bandit. Do we have to fix it now?” I asked.
“Now, now, now,” he barked.
Looking under the sink, he showed me where the hot water line running from spigot under the sink to the faucet, had a kink.
I fiddled with it and realized I should undo the at the spigot, unkink it, and retighten.
Bandit took off for the laundry room, grabbed some camouflage duct tape, and dropped it at my feet.
“Not every problem can be solved with duct tape,” I said.
He barked a retort.
I turned the spigot off, but when I did, I realized it probably hadn’t been turned off in 15 years. It made a God awful metal-on-metal screeching sound.
Bandit and I shook our heads.
Anyway. I took the line off the spigot unkinked it and put it back, but when I tightened the line it kinked; Bandit swiped at the duct tape. He was right so, I pulled off about a six-inch piece and anchored the line to the cold water line. Now the kink should be fixed.
“There you go pal,” I said to my dog. “Looks like a Thanksgiving miracle.
He was unimpressed.
When I turned the spigot back on, water gushed and dripped everywhere. My wife who had been looking over my shoulder got a face-full of hot water. Bandit took off like there was a squirrel in the back-yard needing tending too.
There I was with a wet wife, feckless dog, and hot water spraying everywhere.
I ran to the hot water heater, turned the house water off, and went back under sink.
The water had stopped so I took the shut off handle of the spigot and disassembled the whole thing. It turned out the metal spigot had plastic innards and a teeny tiny black washer had fall off the end. Unlike spigots with metal innards, there was no screw to set the rubber washer. It turns out all you can do is find a washer and wiggle it on a stem, which has a bulbous end.
By this time Bandit had come back. Ashamed of his chickenhearted cowardice, I put the black washer on his tongue and told him to find me a new one. He ran to the garage and dragged my red, 50-pound plumbing toolbox into the house.
He knows where I keep my washers.
I found the right washer reassembled everything and voila it all worked — I think. There seems to still be some moisture I can’t account for and my dog keeps staring at it. Who know.
I guess there are two points – always trust you dog and always make duct tape your first solution

Starting With The Man In The Mirror (An incoherent ramble)

I watched with dismay yesterday as president Trump chose to put votes in the senate over decency with his half-throated endorsement of Roy Moore. I was mortified as I considered whether this is indicates a new level of picking sides with no regard for right or wrong.

I’m trying to remain intellectually honest, but it is hard these days. As the columnist Eugene Robinson suggests, we have become tribal in our approaches I often find myself fall into it, “If it is bad for Trump it must be good.”.

Take the tax bill for example. I am convinced it is a dishonest money grab for the rich at the sake of the poor – and that’s without reading it. I need to be careful not to pass judgment on things I haven’t researched, just because a political party to which I don’t belong came up with an idea. That is bad citizenship and I can’t abrogate my responsibilities to join a mob.

And while I think there needs to be some type of national health insurance, the idea that a government can force people to buy a product (ala Obamacare) just doesn’t seem right either. I am loath to admit it because it is conservative hinge pin, but there it is. On the other hand a single payer system makes all the sense in the world to me.

If I have heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times, “What would the Republicans say if Obama did (_______fill in the blank)?” It’s irrelevant. We can’t measure rightness, by the behavior of who did what to whom eight years ago. At some point we have to measure things based on their relative value and not on the political advantage one group achieves.

But it is hard. Nothing operates in isolation. Tit for tat vengeance can be a strong motivating force.

Regardless, I am going to try to be more balanced in my approach to politic stuff and look to what is right without regard to who came up with the idea. To quote the King of Pop

I’m starting with the man in the mirror
I’m asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change

Jason Isbell Review


As I have said in previous blogs; I am an old rocker and over the past 45 or so years have dabbled in a diversity of music ranging from 50’s Golden Oldies, to progressive rock, to rockabilly, to soul and disco. For example, the first albums (on eight track) I ever bought were Orange Blossom Special by Johnny Cash and Tapestry by Carol King. The first vinyl album I ever bought was Brothers and Sister by the Allman Brothers.
While they are not my favorite band nor even a super group, I’ve always used the Doobie Brothers as the standard by which I measured all bands. I’ve always thought they were a complete bland. Their electric music was tempered by acoustic virtuosity.
In recent years I’ve been listening to Jason Isbell and for my money he meets the Doobie Brothers test. His acoustic guitar is as well executed as Toulouse Street. Of particular notice is Isbell’s work on Hudson Commodore off the Something More Than Free album. The electric and acoustic blend  in Tupelo off the album The Nashville Sound from Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit is a moving and sweeping song.
Isbell doesn’t boom any of his songs. They are simply designed, wrought, and delivered. If you are looking for embellished vocal riffs, falsetto done for falsetto’s sake, and over-singing you won’t find it here. Rather you will find great songs, with deep universal meanings, well delivered, and competently sang.
So I guess the point is if you like your music with a bit of lyric virtuosity and superb guitar work, this may be the guy for you.

Finally Some Good Guitar

I have in recent years lamented the passing of quality guitar work for presumed vocal virtuosity (which I contended has much fewer virtuosos than is recognized). Regardless, a rant about the people yelling at me instead of sinning to me is for another day.

Last night I watched the CMA awards and was quite impressed by the handy guitar work of Brothers Osborne. John Osborne seems as comfortable laying rifts, which would make Eric Clapton proud. His ability to use the totality of his fret board was first rate and was his style
And while I’m on it. If you get the chance to listen to Jason Isbell, do it. He too has a deft hand. While not as rock as John Osborne, Isbell blends acoustic guitar and electric with a skill reminiscent of the original Doobie Brothers – pay special attention to Cumberland Gap, with his band the 400 Unit of the album The Nashville Sound.
Though I know this, I was nonetheless struck by Keith Urban’s guitar skills as well. He like Osborne can put together solos that can make many an old rocker (like myself) nod their heads in agreement.
Neither Osborne, nor Urban, nor Isbell overplays their guitar the way many hard Rockers do these days. Each note of these fret boards is a demonstration of individual artistry. It’s all quite thoughtful.



A New Phone System At Work

Well vacation’s over and I have to go back to work. I’m going to be swamped, but that’s not what has me angsty.

It’s the damn new phones!!

That’s right a new phone system. New and improved – as they say; I hardly think so.

This thing is supposed to forward your calls to your cell phone and send messages to your email.

Ugh. I can’t think of much else worse than a workplace with nowhere to hide when a bajillion vendors can hound you trying to sell all manner of puffery. Ugh. Ugh.

Oh God. I could barely manage the phone I had the wall as a kid. Now I have one in my pocket that my car can access, soon my office phone will have my car number. There really is no one I want to talk to so badly it can’t wait ‘til I get to the office (or home).

There will be the obligatory new dial * one something — #2 to get an outside line. I hate it.

One last kvetch. Cell phone reception sucks. I can never hear anybody. I hate talking on the cell phone as much as attending endless meetings where “there are no bad ideas.”