Before the current technology of highly reflective tape, and other 21st century materials, were used to make the road signs along the nation’s highways, we had letters called “Button Copy”. These are metal or ceramic letters with reflectors embedded in the letter, approximating the shape of the letter when illuminated by vehicle headlights.

Lots of folks will say the technology is outdated because new nEW NEW is always better (a 21st century attitude if I ever heard one), but in actuality, button copy signs had a shelf life measured in decades, while today’s signs are expected to last one decade. Original signs did not use reflective backgrounds, only the message legend was illuminated, but back in the 80s some in the U.S. government decided the color of the sign needed to be reflective as well, and that’s when button copy began to struggle a little bit. Signs were actually a little too bright when designed to be completely reflective, and the button copy was washed out by the rest of the sign panel.

ADOT can’t decide whether they’re going to get rid of the metric signs along Interstate 19 and convert the whole road to the inferior English Units. The roadway was built when the United States was strongly considering moving the metric to come up to speed with the rest of the world, but then Reagan was elected to office and we began the whole “‘Merica!!!” movement and for some reason the metric system became associated with the devil and conspiracy theories.

ADOT did replace all the metric signs with new metric signs in the late 1990s, some of the last “button copy” signs to be installed in the United States. Many of these signs stand today and aren’t doing too bad in the reflectivity department for being over 20 years old.

The sign on the left lost its Interstate 10 route marker years ago. I don’t know why it wasn’t ever replaced, probably because the sign was going to be replaced and then they couldn’t decide if they were going to keep the metric system on the roadway or not so it just stays there missing.

Freeze Frame.

I’ve been watching “Bewitched” for as long as I can remember. It’s probably still my favorite show of all time and if I had to choose a favorite era from the show, it’s the first season when Samantha and Darrin were still in the honeymoon phase.

Samantha’s cousin Serena, also played by Elizabeth Montgomery but billed as “Pandora Spocks” in the later years, was introduced in season two. When we first met Serena she was quite sultry; as the series went on she got a bit more kooky. I never count the episode where she was a hippie and wearing long blonde hair, as that never made sense.

Since Lizzie played both roles, 1960s and ’70s technology was used to make this happen. Most often a shot would feature Lizzie’s stand-in, Melody McCord, with her back to the camera. In the standard definition days you would occasionally get a quick glimpse of Melody as either Sam or Serena with her face towards the camera, usually in a very quick shot.

With “Bewitched” episodes restored to quality far surpassing what was available in the 1960s and through the magic of computers, it’s easy to see Melody front and center in either role. In the photo above we can see Melody coming through the front door as Serena.

Melody McCord had a recurring role on “Falcon Crest” and Melody the maid. She was also the stand-in for Goldie Hawn in “Death Becomes Her”. She passed in December 2004. She was more than a decade younger than Elizabeth Montgomery.


I was recently reading a sci-fi story about the U.S.’s first adventure to an extraterrestrial planet. The expedition took a group of Americans to a nearby star, where they interacted with the native population in an effort to learn about them. The natives to the planet had an average estimated IQ of around 165. Life was much different than anything here on Earth. There was a uniformity amongst the population. Daily life was highly organized for everyone. All homes had the same design and floor plan. The civilization was successful because of the people’s dedication to productivity; everyone contributed to the well being of everyone else.

At the end of the story the Americans were shocked at what they perceived as a “lack of liberty” and were subsequently determined to teach this civilization how much better things are for Americans on Earth.

I couldn’t help but think of the Americans’ shortsightedness.

There’s a belief among many that the American way is the right way and any other way, regardless of how successful it is, is the wrong way. Happiness is measured in American societal ideals. We have other cultures right here on this planet that seem so very foreign, yet you can’t help but see happiness and fulfillment in their National Geographic captured images.

I’m reminded of an article I read years ago in a local paper of how a group of well intended folks wanted to liberate children from their Amish schools because they couldn’t possibly be happy without football and band practice and the PTA sanctioned practice of going door to door selling candy bars to pay for all this frivolity. Their happiness and contentment didn’t meet the measure of our standards of happiness and contentment, and therefore it must bad and/or wrong. It must be abuse.

But it’s not. It’s just a different way of doing things.

There is no doubt that our neighbors find happiness in ways that are unfamiliar to us. I have no right to tell them that whatever they’re happily doing in their home is wrong because I would find the same activity agonizingly tedious. So if we take that to the next step, why would I travel to another country or planet and judge the natives on their attainment of happiness?

I don’t know where I’m going with this rambling. Respect one another? Of course. Live and let live? Of course. Someday we’re going to be in the position of meeting beings from another world. It will be a glorious moment for mankind.

Let’s hope no one tries to tell them they need to soup up their spaceships with political stickers or something.


Looking serious at work today. The new glasses are really, really improving my computer experience.


Preparations for the move at the beginning of next month continue around our lovely home. Painting is in progress. Rooms are being emptied and rearranged in a decorative manner. This is to entice those that pass through our house to actually buy our house. Earl has told me that I’m not gay enough to decorate these rooms. He’s handling it.

The washer and dryer, which have been stacked in the laundry room for the past six years, had to be moved to make way for the painters and the guy that replaced the tile floor. The end result was lovely, but when we moved the washing machine back into place and ran a load of clothes (I AM gay enough to require at least one outfit a day), we ended up with water on the new tile floor. The water was coming from underneath the washing machine. The last time this happened we were told that these new washers aren’t designed to have parts replaced and that we should buy a new washing machine, which we did. Earl and I agreed that we were not spending $1000 on a new washing machine for a house that we would be vacating in a month. Worse yet, we’d also have to buy a new dryer because of course GE can’t be making the same washing machine six years later, and the dimensions of the new washers are slightly different so we wouldn’t have a place to stack the existing dryer.

So we disassembled the washing machine to find out where the water was coming from. It turns out that a valve right near the top of the cabinet had cracked during the move. A quick look online revealed that the replacement part was $75. One screw held it in place. The next part arrived, I installed it and voila, no leaks. From the valve.

The hoses started leaking after being jostled around with each move of the washing machine. One of the inspection points of our new condo was that the washing machine hoses needed to be replaced with steel braided hoses, so I told Earl that we were going to be proactive and do the same for the house. A quick trip to Lowe’s, a little bit of haggling with our budget department about why we should get steel braided hoses versus rubber hoses and voila, $25 later, new hoses and no leaks from the washing machine.

It sure beats spending $2000 for a new washer/dryer stack.

Moral of the story, if someone tells you it’s easier to buy a new washing machine don’t believe them. Take the time to see what’s wrong and try to fix it yourself. Worse case scenario is that you can’t put the washing machine back together and you have to buy a new one anyway.

You’ll love the sense of accomplishment when you fix it yourself.

Bionics Upgrade v4.0.

Some may find this post to be TMI, as it talks about my health and some of areas of the body that some find inappropriate for conversation. I write about this in case others may have the same issue and are searching the Internet for similar experiences. If you don’t want to read about “my junk”, please feel free to go to Google and search for something more pleasant to read. I won’t be offended.

There are a couple of opinions as to why I’m about to talk about what I’m going to talk about. Some say that I was born with a birth defect. Others have told me that somehow inflicted some sort of trauma to this particular spot, maybe as the result of hitting the handlebars as a kid or something. Personally I wonder if aliens were involved and they got carried away with one of their experiments or something.

Whatever the case, the scar tissue has returned after a decade of behaving itself.

Curious as to what I’m talking about? Well, I discuss the last ‘bionics upgrade’ here, so I won’t get into the nitty gritty. The short version of the story is, scar tissue grows in my urethra and because of this, I find myself unable to urinate in a normal manner. All has been well until earlier this year, when my “stream” slowed down. A visit to the urologist confirmed that the scar tissue was returning. That occasion marked a first as it was the first time someone took an X-ray of my junk.

The difficulties have continued, so I had a follow up with the urologist today. After going the bathroom, some poking, prodding and measuring determined that I still had 850ml of urine left in my bladder.

That’s almost one liter!

So tomorrow morning, bright and early at 6:00 AM, I’m undergoing a repeat surgery of the procedures I had in 1982, 1986 and 2005. I’m hopeful that this will correct the issue for another decade. The urologist cautioned that if he can’t do what he did before that they’ll have to put in a catheter outside of my junk until they can do a different procedure. However, things are still working better than they did back in ’05, so I’m hopeful that it won’t come to that measure.

When he told me that he could do the surgery tomorrow I have to admit that I was relieved (no pun intended). I really want to get this taken care of so I can get on with my summer.

I’m happy that I only have to obsess about this for just 24 hours before the actual procedure.

I Love The Illusion.

I was perusing through the Amazon store the other day and noticed that a book I’ve been wanting to read for a while was available for the Kindle. The price wasn’t bad, so I bought it and started reading it that night. It appealed to my rabid “Bewitched” fascination, as it is a biography of Agnes Moorehead, who played Endora on the popular series. The book is “I Love The Illusion” by Charles Tranberg.

Agnes Moorehead was a pretty private person when it came to her personal life, so I can imagine that this book was a bit of a challenge to write. Mr. Tranberg obtained his information from letters in a Wisconsin library, interviews with friends of Ms. Moorehead and others that were close to her.

I’m only into the second chapter, but I have to say that it is a lovely read and rather fascinating. There is a particular passage where Agnes’ mother would ask her, “Who are you today, Agnes?”, as she loved to act out the characters and scenes from the literature she read. From the non-Bewitched appearances I have seen (including “Password” and “I’ve Got A Secret”), the flamboyancy exhibited by Endora seemed to be an exaggeration of one of Agnes’ many personality traits.

The words come to life with the style of Mr. Tranberg’s writing and I’m finding the read to be effortless. I recommend the read for those curious about this wonderful actress and fascinating person.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Quickshot 2011-05-07 at

It was back in January that I mentioned that I was contemplating buying a new vehicle, after sliding off the road in my beloved Acura RSX Type S. I decided that it was time to be sensible and to invest in a vehicle that I could drive year ’round.

How silly of me.

I don’t need to buy a new vehicle at all, but rather, I just need to make a small investment into the vehicle I have so that it can be driven year ’round.

I noticed that Pep Boys was having a sale on tires; buy three tires and get the fourth tire free. Since the car I have has four tires it only makes sense that I would leap at such a deal, and since the Acura’s current tires were way beyond their prime, perhaps we needed to make the investment to find the enjoyment of exploring the roads again.

The Acura was grinning wildly as we left the Pep Boys parking lot this morning. My smile was even bigger. The tires feel sticky and make my baby feel like he’s a brand new car again. He’s boasting a brand new NYSDMV inspection sticker, didn’t need any anticipated brake work (yay!) and doesn’t sound like he’s running with bad wheel bearings, because it was the old tires that were so loud.

We kept it under the speed limit, barely, but we handled the curves like the way an orchestra handles the sweetest of symphonies. One of my favorite driving tunes, “Hello Piano” by Inkfish and David West, could be played at an aggressive, yet not overpowering level because I didn’t need to drown out the noise of the bad tires. My Acura and I reconnected again and after a well needed bath, we are ready for summer again.

And I’m ready to live out the dream of driving him across the salt flats of Utah. Why investment money in something I don’t need, when I already have motoring perfection.

Quickshot 2011-05-07 at

Cat Cam.

Tom is pleased with the decision to return to the older comforter. At around 16 years old, he prefers the well established traditions, eats at 4:30 in the afternoon and mourns the lost opportunity to get an Ames senior discount card.

Future plans include the intention to outlive the current titleholder of “oldest cat on record”.


When I got up on Wednesday morning I noticed that we had about six inches of snow in the driveway. I had not planned for this contingency, so I figured I would just to barrel my way through the snow and then everything would be fine once I got to the road. This is something that was taught to me by both my mother and father; point your car in the right direction, make sure nothing is coming and floor it, causing you to get through anything like a bat out of hell. This has worked well for most of my adult life.

I would usually take the Jeep to work under these circumstances but scott and dave were at the house and scott was going to use the Jeep to take dave to the airport so he could get back to work as a flight attendant. I trust my driving ability in the snow more than I trust scott’s, so I figured he could use the Jeep and have the 4×4 and I’d make due with the Acura.

As per my plan, I got out of the driveway just fine with one caveat. When I got to the road, I discovered that the county hadn’t done much in the way of plowing. “Hadn’t done much” actually meant that they hadn’t done anything and what was even more troubling was that the telltale signs of sand on the road weren’t present. The road was white with tire tracks. This computed in my brain in less than approximately two seconds when I got to the road and the Acura kept going like a bat out of hell: across the road. I got the car whipped around in the right direction but it still wanted to head in the direction we were previously headed. My dad once remarked that you can feel a car smile at times. While he was referring to a ’78 Impala back then, my ’05 Acura was yelling “WHEEEEE!” as it slid sideways into the driveway at the house across the street from ours.


I was parallel parked on the wrong side of the road across the driveway of our neighbors whom I have never spoken to aside from a friendly wave and who didn’t live there at the moment because of the fire they had a few months ago. I tried to get myself out of the driveway by doing the usual back and forth sort of thing. I got the car rockin’ (though it wasn’t really that sexy rockin’ one would hope for in a car) but it wasn’t going anywhere. The Acura continued to grin mischievously.

The neighbor’s house sits below the level of the road a little bit so I figured if I got myself into their driveway the right way, I could barrel myself out of the driveway like I had done at our house, expertly pointing the car back into our driveway and into the garage where I would leave it until spring. dave would have to take a train to get to his airline job.

The car easily slid down to the bottom of the driveway where it kept going off the end of the driveway and thankfully, just to the right of the large shed the neighbors had down there. I was stuck and no spinnin’, rockin’ or rollin’ was going to get the car out of there.

I was still in good spirits. Perhaps it was the “WHEEE” the car had done before, so I got out of the car and woke up dave and scott and told them they had to push me out of the driveway across the street. Now these two guys are experts at keeping you safe on any airline flight that involves their attendance and to their credit they are beefy guys, but there was no way that they were going to be able to push the car up the hill and onto the road, so I didn’t even bother yelling ‘words of encouragement’.

The plowing guy, a friendly chap named Tim, came along and helped with the pushing but to no avail. I was going to have to call a towing company.

The tow truck guy was very friendly and professional. “How did ya get that down there, boss?”, was his only question about the incident.

I explained my strategy and he said the county sucks with plowing and I could only do so much so with his tow truck and $75 per half hour, I was pulled out of the driveway in no time but not before a Toyota truck came flying into the neighbor’s driveway. Someone had passed me while we were down in the driveway and called him to let him know that someone had “flown off the road and into his house”. Now of course this didn’t happen but I am happy to say that 1. he didn’t care about the lawn we had torn up trying to spin the tires, 2. he is working on rebuilding the inside of the house that was burned and 3. I have done more than a friendly wave, we have had friendly conversation, exchanged a few anecdotes about the neighborhood and we have exchanged a handshake.

Surprisingly, my good spirits remained intact as I took three hours of personal time from work to bring this saga to a completion by getting dave to the train station so he could be to LaGuardia on time.

The Acura has been parked in the garage, where it belongs, until spring.