A TIMELY AND ESSENTIAL DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

Time, Bluetooth, and an Essential Day

(As opposed to an “inessential day” without time?)

If there’s such thing as an “inessential day,” I’d like to know what that is. These days, if I wake up and manage to struggle out of bed and find something to wear, that is an essential day. Time is a definite part of the essentialness of any day because not a whole lot gets done if one is lacking time.

If after that, I do a few things that seem worth the effort, I’ve moved beyond essential into “productive.” If somehow I do something of which I am proud, I am approaching “unforgettable.” I think it’s possible I’ve hit unforgettable today, although mostly, I got there by making other things disappear.

Last night, I realized the ringing in Garry’s ears was audible. To me. If it was regular old tinnitus, I couldn’t hear it. But this was loud and my hearing is far from perfect. In fact, it was very loud. Annoying loud.

The thing is, real tinnitus can’t be heard by anyone but the person who has it stuck in his or her head. If I could hear it sitting next to him, it meant he had something called “objective tinnitus.” In other words, it isn’t tinnitus. Something is triggering the noise. Something real. Sort of like hardware versus software.

Now, all I needed to do was figure out what that thing might be.

Garry, still pretty loopy from anesthesia, seemed to be mad at me for not nailing the problem and immediately fixing it. I was not exactly in my comfort zone, technically or medically. But since he wasn’t behaving rationally, I decided to breathe deeply and try to work it out.

The first thing I checked was his hearing aid.

No more of these!

It was chiming. And really loud. It sounded like melodious chimes on an old grandfather clock. Garry had said it did sound like chimes and sometimes, like a lot of small car horns beeping at the same time (he referenced a particularly funny scene in “A Shot In The Dark” (Peter Sellers).

I was pretty sure the hearing aid wasn’t supposed to be doing that.

Since all of this started when my Bluetooth speaker decided to connect with his brain the previous evening, I decided to start by reducing the amount of Bluetooth in the house. This turned out to be a lot more complicated than I imagined possible.

Sometimes I forget how many wireless things live in our house. We aren’t nearly as connected as other people’s houses are, but it was still a lot of stuff.  All of which are emitting Bluetooth signals. Just in the living room, there were four computers — including Garry’s iPad and Kindle — as well as the DVD player which has its own Bluetooth setting.

The speaker is the long box in front of the television — and it is definitely Bluetooth.

The television speakers have a Bluetooth signal. We don’t use it. We simply plug it into the TV, so it works like a standard pre-wireless speaker, but the signal is still there whether we use it or not. There were also three small devices plugged in (two in the living room and one in the kitchen) supposedly designed to scare mice out of the walls of the house. Obviously ineffective since we had a house full of mouses.

On any Apple product, you turn off Bluetooth by finding the settings, locating the Bluetooth setting, and turning it off. If you change your mind, you can turn it back on. I turned it off on Garry’s iPad, then on the Kindle (almost as easy) and later on my Macbook.

I pulled the three little anti-mouse emitters out of the wall. Short of unplugging the DVD player, I couldn’t find an answer for that, so I moved into the bedroom where I turned of the Bluetooth on my Kindle and computer and removed another anti-mouse thing from the bathroom.

Somewhere in there, I also went and turned off the wireless Canon printer.

PCs used to have a Bluetooth setting like on the Mac. A simple on/off clicker. Now, you have to find the device manager then individually disable each Bluetooth device.

I’ve got two devices on my computer and I use neither of them. Belay that. I cannot be sure of that until the next time I try to use the printer, which is at the other end of the house. Is that a Bluetooth signal or just plain WiFi? Right now it doesn’t matter because I turned off the printer. I don’t print much anyway, so when I need it, I can just turn it back on. I might also have to turn on the signals on my computer, too, but I will make that discovery when I need to. Suffice to say I yearned for the simple “on-off” switch it once had.

Windows keeps getting more confusing without its functionality improving. To turn off the Bluetooth devices, I had to go into properties and “disable” each. What’s wrong with an “on/off” switch? Wouldn’t that be less stressful?

I disabled both devices. I fondly believe I can go back and able them when and if I need to. This morning, I disabled the Bluetooth in Garry’s big computer.

In the interim, I also realized that Garry had failed to “disable” his right ear hearing aid. There’s no reason for it to be on at all or even have a battery. He will never use it again because the surgery removed the internal parts of his ear that he would need to use it. He has a Borg ear and implanted lenses from his cataract surgery. His eyes are not Bluetooth. Phew.

The Collective is ready to receive us. Personally, I have two implanted heart valves, two fake breast implants, as well as a Bluetooth-enabled pacemaker which I cannot turn off. Also, an implant in my right ankle from when I was 14 and had a huge tumor on that bone.

His ear is nice and quiet now. Not silent. The surgery tends to cause some degree of tinnitus. Any ear surgery, explosion, or another injury, as well as infections,  can produce tinnitus which can’t be fixed. But at least I can’t hear it, which is an improvement.

The entire house is surprisingly quiet. When you turn all this stuff off? It’s amazing how quiet it gets. We are so used to all the little electronic beeps and dings and chimes, it’s startling how different the sound level is when we make those noises vanish.

This is my essential day. How is yours going?

SINGING IN THE RAIN – Rich Paschall

My Top 10 “Rain Songs,” by Rich Paschall

Summer rain may be tapping at your window and that means it is time for some rain music.  Before you can step out of a rainbow or sail into a sunset, we have your songs for a Summer Rain.

Every time I consider a Top 10 list of songs, I think I will never actually come up with ten.  The fact is, I always pass 10 and must consider which ones to toss.  Remember, my rain-soaked friends, this is my top 10.  Some make the list only because I heard them thousands of times as I grew up.  They seem to have been woven into my life, and have been there now for decades.  I do have one of recent vintage to toss on the list. I think you will like it.

I did notice there are a lot songs that are highly regarded for this topic (yes, other people make lists), but I could not bring myself to add them.  One is the horribly overblown version of November Rain by Guns and Roses.  The over-long video with the orchestra and strings is a self-indulgent piece of … (I digress), but it nevertheless makes the top of some rainy lists.  Guitarist Slash said in an interview a few years ago that he has no idea what the 1992 video for the song is about.  Yeah, it makes no sense to him either.

Without further a do, or is it ado, or a dew?  Anyway it is not just dew, it is rain and here they are:

10. I Wish it Would Rain, The Temptations.  This was released as a single in December 1967 and featured on the 1968 album, The Temptations Wish It Would Rain.
9. Fire and Rain, James Taylor. Released in 1970, Taylor has since given various explanations of the lyrics.
8. Here Comes the Rain Again, Eurythmics.  Released in 1984 it climbed to number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
7. Rainy Days and Mondays, The Carpenters. Yes, it is pop fluff. I like it anyway.
6. Rainy Night in Georgia, Brook Benton. There are a lot of versions, Benton’s is the best.

There are a number of fan videos of Hunter Hayes performing Rainy Season, but nothing official.  Since I have not found a good one, I will give you this audio version from the Encore album.

5.  Rainy Season, Hunter Hayes

Neil Sedaka had a string of hits that go well back into the 1960’s.  His early rock songs made him a star.  In 1974 he composed Laughter in the Rain with lyrics by Phil Cody.  It was a come back for Sedaka and the song made number 1 by February of 1975.  Forty years later, at the age of 76, he gave the following performance.  Yes, I can find earlier versions where his singing is a little better, but I just love it when the old guys can still deliver the goods.

4. Laughter in the Rain, Neil Sedaka

There are a LOT of versions of “Come Rain or Come Shine.”  The Ray Charles version is particularly good, and I highly recommend it (click HERE).  My addition to the list may surprise you.  Jerry Lewis was not known as a singer and yet, he had a successful album after the breakup of the comedy duo of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.  Jerry was eager to prove he had more talent than just as a slapstick comedian.  My mother owned the 45, or was it a 78 rpm, recording and we played it ad nauseam.  The A side was Rock a Bye Your Baby and certainly got a lot of radio and juke box play, but the B side was well-regarded also. There is a You Tube video of Lewis performing the song at one of the 1990s telethons.  I decided to just go with the actual recording he made famous.

3. Come Rain or Come Shine, Jerry Lewis (Jerry Lewis Just Sings)

Whenever I hear this hit song, I think of Paul Newman riding a bicycle in the 1969 movie, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The song was written and produced by the song writing team of Burt Bacharach and Hal David.  It was offered to others, but the B.J. Thomas version is the only one that matters.  It was the first number 1 hit song of the 1970s.  On the version recorded for the film, Thomas was recovering from laryngitis.  It is why that version does not sound the same as the hit record.

2. Rain Drops Keep Falling On My Head, B.J. Thomas

Seriously, what do you think of when you think about rain songs? Purple Rain? Have You Ever Seen Rain? Who’ll Stop the Rain? What one song immediately comes to mind? All fans of movie musicals will think of my number one. Is there any other?

The 1952 film, Singing in the Rain, got its title tune from a 1929 (or earlier) song that appeared in 1929’s The Hollywood Music Box Revue.  It was recorded a number of times before it was recycled to great success as the centerpiece of the classic movie.  Gene Kelly directed and starred in the film, recording one of the most famous dance sequences ever shot.  The remarkable part is that Kelly was ill and running a high fever at the time of the performance.

1. Singing in the Rain, Gene Kelly

Click on any title to play the You Tube video. or play the entire list by clicking HERE.

EVERYTHING YOU WEREN’T THINKING ABOUT MATTRESSES – Marilyn Armstrong

Let’s not talk about the news. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to think about it. Instead, let’s talk about mattresses. Because we just got a new one.

I’m a born researcher, so when I’m buying anything, I feel I need to learn everything about whatever it is. I’m still in a mental huddle about possibly buying a new rack for the dishes in the kitchen so you can imagine the intensity of my search for a mattress to fix my spinal problems.

In the course of buying a mattress, I made a bunch of useful discoveries. First, I’m getting out of bed in the morning in less pain than I was. This is probably due to the new mattress, but also to not sleeping on my side. My left hip thanks me hourly.

Mostly though, I had to recognize that nothing was going to make it all better. It’s way past that point now. A good mattress helps, but changing the position in which I sleep counts too.

Money: A Good Mattress Doesn’t Cost $100


If you are spending in the “moderate” range, a decent quality mattress, queen-size, will cost you $1000, give or take a couple of hundred dollars. Smaller mattresses of the same type will cost a bit less and bigger ones will cost a bit more.

Spending more may or may not actually get you a better mattress. Many of the better-known mattress companies no longer make the best mattresses, but they still charge higher prices.

You can save several hundred dollars by buying your mattress online. However, unless you don’t have a bed at all, you will have to figure out how to get rid of your old mattress. You can’t just stick it on the street and hope someone will pick it up. Your trash company will not take it away.

Unless you live in a town that has a dump of its own (and you pay to use it), someone is going to have to take your mattress away. Because they are so big, nobody wants old mattresses.

Here, where there’s no town dump and all nearby dumps are full, it will cost anywhere from $150 – $400 to get rid of a mattress. If you need to hire someone to take it away, as opposed to stuffing it in the back of your truck and driving it to the dump, you’ll have to pay more.

You have a truck, right?

In our case, being older and with arthritis in all the right places, we couldn’t haul an old mattress outside, much less to the truck we don’t own. I finally realized we could solve the problem by buying the mattress at an actual store. We went to Bob’s Discount Furniture.  They advertise on every television station in New England and have a local store. They would take away the old mattress and install a new one.

Regardless, online or not, it’s probably going to wind up costing you about $1000 between the mattress itself, taxes, a cover, and unless you are getting it from Amazon Prime, delivery.

Our delivery was just $70 and included free removal of the old mattress, which was all told less than it would have cost us just to get rid of the old mattress on our own.

$799 for the mattress, $54 taxes, $70 delivery. I also bought a topper for it, bringing the whole thing to $1002.

What’s the Right Style?

If you are arthritic or have other back, hip, shoulder, or leg issues, you’ll be happier on memory foam or gel than on an innerspring mattress. If you have an adjustable bed, you can’t use a hybrid or innerspring mattress. Our last mattress was a 10-inch pure (real, from the tree) latex mattress. We couldn’t afford that today.

We have an adjustable bed, so it was going to be memory foam or gel-infused memory foam.

Most foam mattresses last about seven years. An expensive latex mattress can last twice that. The one we had to get rid of was unbelievably comfortable for 15 years. We had a 20-year warranty, except the company that made the mattress was no longer in business as of five years ago.

It’s one of the problems with long warranties. You need to assume the company will be around as long as your warranty lasts. Often, they aren’t.

Regardless, after 18 years of daily use, it wasn’t hard to figure out we needed a new mattress. Nothing lasts forever. This time, having bought a pretty good foam-gel-infused 12-inch mattress, seven or eight years is pretty much what we can expect from it.

We have a 20-year warranty on the mattress, so if Bob’s Discount Furniture is still in business when we need a new mattress, I’ll be curious to see how that works out.

How Hard? How Soft? Springs? Foam? Latex?


How soft? As soft as possible if you are a side-sleeper. I am, but I am teaching myself to sleep on my back because my hip can’t take the pressure anymore. Medium to medium-plush is about right for the vast majority of people, even those of us with back problems. Harder mattresses are not better for you. Most of us, as we get older, need less hardness.

Sex?


Innerspring and hybrid coil/foam mattresses are better for sex. Everyone says so and I will have to take their word for it. It has been a very long time since I slept on anything that wasn’t latex.

What’s the Scale for Measuring Mattress “Hardness”?

Most places use a gauge of 1 to 10. Almost every mattress will be between 4 (plush) and 8 (medium-hard). Six is the most popular number and when the talk about “the comfort spot,” six is usually “it.”

Bob’s offers several mattresses where you can get firm on one side and plush on the other, but Garry and I wanted plush times two. We have arthritis, bad backs, problem shoulders, and difficult hips. Not to mention sciatica and disc herniation.

I would have like a mattress just like the one we had, but I’m not even sure where to get one like it now. Full genuine natural latex mattresses are expensive. Most people can’t afford them and I just got lucky on the first one.

If you are not short of funds and can “go for the gold,” as it were, a pure real from-the-tree latex mattress is as good as it gets. Theoretically, the imitation foam is identical to the stuff from the trees, but every report indicates people who buy real natural latex are happier with their mattresses.

We believed we had the most comfortable bed in the world. It was, for about 16 years.

I think the new one is going to work out. After five days, it’s softening up and getting comfortable. But we can still trade it for 90 days.

Not bad, right?

A Short Summary


If you have the money, buy a natural latex mattress, the best you can afford. Not only will your bed be your most comfortable place, it will outlast any other mattress you can buy. I wish I could have afforded another one, but we couldn’t come up with the money.

If you are a stomach or side sleeper, consider making an effort to sleep on your back.

Make your bed really comfortable! These are Beegod pillows and I love them. Who knew pillows could make such a difference?

If you don’t have an adjustable bed, consider getting one. If you have back problems or asthma? Raising the bed makes it better. I originally got ours because of asthma, but it turned out to have many other values too.

Also, get a great pillow or two. Yes, they also matter.

ALL FOUR ORCHIDS, STILL BLOOMING – Marilyn Armstrong

Flower of the Day – Orchids


It’s kind of amazing, but the orchids are still blooming. No sign of wilting. They look brand new. So I figured I should take some pictures since I had the camera in my hand.

Orchids!
More orchid … okay, the same orchids. Different shot.