Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Introduced to "The Boss"

I heard on TV that today is the 40th anniversary of the release of Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run" album. 

August 25, 1975 was about 2 weeks before I started my sophomore year of high school, in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. 

I had never heard of Bruce Springsteen or his music prior to 1975. But by the time the school year was over I would. Here's how I was introduced to "The Boss." 

By the time Thanksgiving break came around in the fall of 75, I had decided that my 2nd year high school wasn't all that different from the first. There wasn't much school had to offer that interested me. 

But then, one morning in homeroom, it was announced that one of the teachers was forming a "radio club." The detail in the announcement that got my attention was "anyone interested in becoming a DJ report to the meeting after school."

At that point in my life my goal was to become the next Casey Kasem. I was interested like they wouldn't believe.  

I went to the meeting and became part of the group of a dozen or so students who would go on to help create the very small radio studio in a converted storage closet in the vestibule of the school auditorium. 

There was a small soundboard and a pair of turntables (vinyl records was still the popular music format in those days. Yes, I'm old) which connected to an amplifier hooked up to the school's PA system. So in reality it was more of an "intercom" station and not "real" radio.  

When it came time for station to go "on the air," the club's faculty adviser, Mr. Tomaino (an English teacher and the boys tennis team coach) made a decision I wasn't all that thrilled with. It was the Seniors that would get to be the DJs and the underclassmen would be their assistants. 

So in January 1976, I became the studio assistant to a Senior DJ. Essentially what that meant is that 3 of my study hall periods each week were spent pulling albums from the station's collection and then putting them away after they were played. 

Like the faculty adviser, I don't remember the DJ's name but I there were a couple of significant things I do remember about him. He started each of his "radio shows" with "Hello It's Me" by Todd Rudgren as his theme song. He was also a very very big fan of Bruce Springsteen. He played at least 2 songs from the "Born To Run" album every time he was "on the air." 

Initially I wasn't a fan of Springsteen's music; but I grew to like it. My favorite BTR cut was "Tenth Avenue Freeze Out." and it still is. 

The school "radio station" only lasted for a few months. I don't remember exactly why but my best guess was that as the school year progressed, the seniors got interested in things more "important" than being a study hall DJ. I also think it got some opposition from the school administration as well.  
It's hard to believe that been so long since those afternoons in WPHS studios. But its thanks to that Senior DJ I worked with, and the longevity of the career of Bruce Springsteen, I have a musical reminder about some of my favorite times in the hallowed halls of Phillipsburg High School. 
Ahh memories. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

"Free Groceries" Time

This past Thursday when I opened my mail I found something that makes me happy 4 times a year. It's not a surprise but makes me smile nonetheless. 
We get these checks every 3 months for using our Kroger Visa card. 

They are the results of the rewards program. The other significant benefit is getting a discount "per gallon" at Kroger gas stations. 

This time we got a total of $120 in reward checks. They can be used just like cash at any area Kroger store. So basically it's a week's worth of free groceries. 

The way the program works is that you get a "point" for each dollar you charge to the card. You get 2 points for each dollar you spend at Kroger and 3 for every dollar you spend on Kroger brand products. 

We take advantage of the program by charging all our fixed bills and a lot of other things on the card. 

Gas, groceries, household utilities, car repairs, and just about anything else we can charge, we do. The result is a rather significant accumulation of points during each rewards period. 

But here's the key to making the whole program benefit work. I pay off the balance each month; no "ifs, ands or buts" about it. 

This requires some single-minded determination. We don't want to get back into credit card debt. As anyone who has a credit card knows, it's easy to fall into the " I'll just pay the minimum payment" trap. Especially when you have several rather large expenses during a particular month.

But if you can do it and keep yourself accountable, you will really benefit from the rewards program. 

I have a "Toys R Us" credit card I maintain the same way. That helps me keep my monthly spending on Legos in check (I don't buy any more than I can afford to pay off in that month) and gets me some "free money" to spend at the store every once in a while.  

However, only you know yourself and your spending habits well enough to decide if you have the discipline to make this work for you. Some people can't or don't feel right doing it

Now I know not everyone who reads this blog lives in an area with Kroger stores. But I'm sure you can find something similar at a grocery store in your area. Everyone knows how costly it is to feed a family. Every little bit helps. 

So there you have one of our little money saving secrets. It is really fun when you can fill your grocery card with stuff you need and then pay "nothing". 

Do you have anything you do that helps make ends meet? Are you part of any rewards program with a credit card? Do you clip coupons? I'd be interested in hearing about your financial secrets. Send me a message on Facebook or Twitter. I look forward to reading them.     

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Aria Adventures

Time to update y'all on what my favorite 3 year old is up to these days. 

Over the last couple of months Paula and I have become a big part of Aria's world. She is asking to come to our house to visit more and more often. When she can't come to us, she asks us to come see her at her house. Of course we do our best to honor her request. 

By spending more time with her, we get to see how much she is growing and learning. I have a whole lot of new memories just from the last several weeks. I just want to share a few of them with you. 

Let me start with something that happened during one of her visits back in July. 

Paula's exercise tension bands were sitting out in our living room and Aria discovered them. Once she found out what they were she had to use them. 

She was counting her "reps" and Paula was recording it on her I-phone. I started to count along with her but Aria wanted me to do something a little more "important". She was definitely ready for her "close up." Check out this video. Listen carefully, the audio is very important, but not the best.  

My fascination and interest in Lego has become a common interest for Aria and me. 

A necessary part of every visit to our house is our investigation of the shelves of the bookcase in the corner of our living room. They are populated with my latest Lego creations and displays. This includes the cars, animals, and other models. But her favorite things are the mini-figures.

She must take each of them out of the display case, repeat their name, and place them on a table next to her, in an order of her choosing. 

Our time together in that corner is mostly about Lego but sometimes ends with a quick game of "this little piggy". 
 On her July 19 afternoon visit I decided it was time that we take the next step in our Lego time together. 

While she does enjoy playing with her Little Mermaid Duplo block set...
I felt it was time she be allowed to play with her Papa's Lego brick collection. 
As you can see she really likes them. We had a great time playing with them together for the first time. 

A couple of weeks later, on August 5, this cool looking Lego table came into my life. 
Now this is probably not too exciting to you. But it's really special to me. It allowed me to be Aria's hero; at least for a little while.  

You see, the table was given to Brandi. But there was no place for it at their house. When Aria found out that she was not going to be able to keep it, she became rather upset. 

When it comes to Lego she knows that I am her "go to" guy. So I was the one she thought of in her quest to possess  the table. 

She grabbed at one last straw with a final plea. "Call My Papa", she appealed to her mom.

To make a long story short, the three of them (Brandi, Aria, & the table) came to my house that night. After a big hug and a heart-felt appeal to me by my grand daughter, the table is now residing at my house. 

On Tuesday, July 28, on a warm and humid evening at the Southern Kentucky Fair Aria put on a beautiful dress, and with curled hair...

...she made her first appearance ever in, what I'll call, a "cutie" pageant. She was part of the 3-4 year old division. She didn't make it past the initial judging but, in my humble yet accurate opinion, she was the cutest. 

Here's a video of her debut. I am telling her "not to smile" because when I do, she usually does the opposite.  

In the 2nd week of August Aria experienced a couple of more "firsts" and met someone she's been waiting see for quite a while. 

On August 9th she spent the night away from her mommy & daddy for the first time ever. The next night, she stayed at our house for the first time as well.  

Paula & Aria shared our bed and I slept on the couch. A small price to pay for the joy of having Aria around for a few extra hours.  

We spent a lot of the time playing with Legos on our new table in the living room. 

The reason she spent the night with us was because Brandi was at the hospital waiting for her cousin, Jackie, to give birth. 

Aria & Jackie have a close relationship and Aria has been excited about the new baby since the day she found out she was on her way. 

On August 11, Miss Elliette Peyton Pullium was born. She is Aria's 2nd cousin. My grand daughter met her for the first time the day she was born and really adores her. She loves helping "Jack" (as Aria calls her) with baby Ellie. 

As I sit here finishing up this post on August 22, Paula & I have just spent another day with Aria.

We started off by going to breakfast with her, Brandi, and James at Theresa's Restaurant. It was the first time we'd ever been there. 

Aria came with us afterwards and we went to the local farmer's market. That's where she found her first pumpkin of the year. 

The remainder of our day was spent at our house playing together. Tonight she is, once again, spending the night. This time it was her choice. Yet another chapter in our further adventures with Aria. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sunday August 16

It's been a while since I've written a post. I figured now would be a good time since haven't published on this blog in over a month. 

I know in my last post I promised some details about my search for a new car. While I intended to share the process with you, now that it's over I won't "bore" you with the details. Let me just state that my search ended on Monday, June 29 when I purchased a 2015 Kia Soul. 

I have added a video to my You Tube channel giving the "5 cent tour" of the vehicle when it was brand new. Here's the link:
Introducing My New Kia Soul

In the weeks since I brought it home I have put about 1900 miles on the car. But it wasn't until today (Sunday, August 16) that I took it on what could be considered a "road trip". Let me fill you in on how I spent this particular Sunday. 

After working outside on some of the things on my "to do" list on Saturday; I started this day with a bit of a backache. That painful condition changed my plans for the day. Instead of working outside again I decided to take it easy and do something relaxing. 

I was feeling better after some "hot water" therapy and my wife's massage of my lower back muscles with some essential oils. I showed her my gratitude by taking her car into "the grove" to put air in the tires and run it through the automatic car wash. 

 After that, I decided to head to Nashville to do something I haven't done in a while. 

It was a solo trip because Paula wanted to just stay home, relax, and binge watch "Being Human" on Netflix.

On the way down I-65, I initiated the Kia's cruise control and turned on the Yankees- Blue Jays baseball game on my XM radio. 

Because the game was at Roger's Field in Toronto, I listened to the Blue Jay's broadcasters describe the game. The feed from the local Toronto sports station included the local commercials. 

One of them was for a business called "Two Men & A Van". I thought it was a rather unique concept for a moving company. 

I'd never heard of them before that commercial aired. I only mention it now because I will be writing about it later. 

After about an hour, I finally reached my destination. I can't remember the last time I was there. 

I was anxious to get some new sets to add to my collection. The one I was especially looking for was sold out but I got a special code that will allow me to order it from the Lego website. I'll share exactly what that set is with you when I get it.  

What I find was a couple of cool things. 

I also got some pink & purple blocks for Aria to play with when she comes to visit. 

I picked up some lunch from the Opry Mills food court before heading home on I-65.

Just after I crossed the state line back into Kentucky I couldn't believe what passed me on the left. Here's what I saw. 

I had never ever heard of the company until just a couple of hours earlier. Now I see one of their vans on the highway beside me. I know it's hardly worth mentioning but it did seem very coincidental to me. 

I picked up a couple of dinners "to go" from a restaurant in Bowling Green and headed home.

We spent the rest of the night relaxing in our living room and watching the last 3 episodes of season 1 of Daredevil on Netflix. I like the show a lot. Marvel did a good job on it. 

It may not have been that exciting a day but I really enjoyed my road trip. It also gave me something to write about as a way of getting back to posting. How did you spend your Sunday? Weekend? Send me a comment on Facebook or Twitter. 

That's it for this time. Probably not all that interesting a post but at least I'm back. TTYL