Wednesday, February 25, 2015
For instance, I received this rather frantic notification this past week:
Unfortunately, we've been unable to contact you. Please contact us within the next 72 hours...Or what?
We'll die of dysentery or something else that has infiltrated our water supply that must be immediately attended to?
My wife's reaction was of the what now category? "They put a new meter in last year," she said, assuming this came from our water supplier
Then she flipped the card over.
Indeed it is not. It turns out this was just a ploy by some company that sells water filters. The idea is to hit you with such a feeling of urgency that you snatch up the phone and then once you contact them to rope you in on their product. By the way, a lot of complaints on line about this company regarding both this yellow postcard, the quality of their service and the overpriced product they sell. Perhaps they also hope this falls into the mailbox of some senior citizen, which it did, who either had very poor eyesight or borders on dementia and will make a quick and panicked call to the number provided even sooner than 72 hours.
Besides the fact this was not our water provider, there was another tell-tale clue. It was addressed to me by name, but immediately beneath it said, "Or Current Resident". Obviously they are fishing off of some public listing of residents of this community.
I really dislike these type of things. Over the years I have received many an envelope appearing to be some official government agency, perhaps even the dreaded IRS, which cause my heart to skip a beat in fear of what horror lies within. I rapidly rip said official looking envelope open only to find some lame advertisement. Such disguised come-ons should be forbidden.
Just yesterday a piece landed here addressed to my son. It looked somewhat officious, had 2015 in bold letters up at the top and through the address window you could read "Pay to the order of" and my son's name. I thought perhaps it was his tax return somehow sent here and was relieved when my son stopped by that day and I could hand it to him. It was not a refund. It was a come-on from some car dealer. Bah, humbug!
We recently refinanced our humble abode to get a lower rate and payment. This has brought a flood of disguised mail offering even better deals.
Every week I get a piece identical to this on the right. It is addressed to me and above my name is the name of my mortgage bank. The return address is ambiguous at best. It could easily be an operations department for my bank. It has large red letters saying, "Mortgage Payment Information". It certainly got my attention...the first time. The half dozen I've received since not so much.
Actually, if you go down to the bottom of the offer you will find a statement that it "is not affiliated, connected, or associated with, sponsored or approved by the lender listed above". But I'm sure they hope you don't read that far, that you are dazzled by the savings highlighted and you will jump on the phone and sign up...and then probably be hit with a bunch of fees.
Then there are these insurance deals. One comes, another very officious looking one, that upon
Note all the urgency, "Dated Document Open Immediately and Verify", and rather than a company name and address in the heading it simply says, "Administrative Office", implying the administration office of the FHA.
We've been "identified as eligible" and "it is important" we contact them.
This one is also offering a long term care plan at no additional cost.
Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it.
Well, you know what they say about that.
Now here is another little do-dad that is beginning to irk me. I seem to receive these offers about every third day. They come from a company whose ads are on TV a lot, in which the Chairman of the
Fine and dandy, but one thing bothers me in this. The spiel is that Veterans are entitled to receive home mortgages at 100% of their home's value. This sounds good, perhaps, on the surface, but isn't this where the housing industry got into the situation that burst the bubble a few years back? It can be a risky situation to borrow at 100% of your homes' value.
At any rate, good deal or bad, why is this constantly coming my way? I'm not a veteran. How did I get on their mailing list as such and why in the world do they mail out so many of these solicitations?
Are they trying to burn out my shredder?
I might sound upset by all these junk mail deceptions and schemes, but I really aren't. These things just go from mailbox to shredder. Doesn't take much of my time, but I feel I am doing my patriotic duty because all this junk mail is probably the only thing keeping the U. S. Postal Service afloat.
Friday, February 20, 2015
My first "professional" endeavor was the writing, editing and publication of a newspaper in partnership with my friend, Stuart Meisel. We also stood behind a table in the hallway of our grade school each week and sold copies to the other students at one cent a copy. There is Stuart and I pictured on the right in 1954. The fellow in white is obviously a disgruntled reader demanding his one cent back. I was 11 years old (as was Stuart) and that wasn't even my first success, just the first I got paid for.
It was the following summer, probably just after my twelfth birthday, that I declared the writer's life was for me. My next big encouragement came in 1957 when a song I wrote entitled "My Little White Lamb" was put out on sheet music by a New York music publisher and was soon recorded by a singer named Ben Tate. Yes, I know, you ain't never heard of the singer or the song. But they did exist.
Since then I have written over 125 books, again none of which most people ever heard of, I'm sure. These volumes include novels, essays, poetry, short fiction, plays, art, comic strips, cartoons, photography and business publications. I have also had some of my scribblings pop up in anthologies here and there.
I have reached some people with some stuff, though. I have done live readings and I have received fan letters and I have been published in some international and large circulation magazines. I was a runner up in the 1961 Writers Digest Short Fiction Contest and I have been paid for my articles and stories; although, sadly, not enough to live on.
I have had a few little awards over the decades, such as the one at the top of this spiel, "The Emerging Star Writer Award" of September 15, 2011. I had been emerging at the time of that honor for over 58 years.
But wait, don't dismiss it, for I may truly be emerging.
Wonderful gadget the Internet for it lets you in on things you might never otherwise found out; for
instance, about some of those anthologies. The oldest one I didn't even know about until a few years ago (which tells you nobody ever bothered sending me any royalties for its use). I was just surfing the web one day and suddenly stumbled upon it, published in Spain in 1968. It was called, "Terror! La Chica de Marte y ottos relatos (The Mars Girl and Other Stories).
This is all fine and dandy, except I remain in blatant obscurity. It didn't really help to discover a story of mine included in a collection being hawked on eBay for $1,800. It was billed as the "King Rarities Collection", which is a bit of rare hypo on the seller's part. There were two Stephen King stories within. It should have been the "Meredith Rarer Collection" because I only had one story in it, which is rarer than two.
Riding on the coattails of a famous author does little to enhance my own fame.
However, suddenly, now that I concentrate more on my Blogs and less on sending pieces off to editors; now that I haven't seen print of an original piece since a poem in "Wanderings Magazine" in 2008 and a story in "Burst" about the same time, I discover my name being mentioned in other people books. It is a weird feeling, as if I have become some literary artifact or long buried fossil now on a museum shelf.
Here is what has shown up so far in this century:
In 2014, Mashpedia's Top Video's on 1956 in Poetry, number 27 being a video I made reading my Besotted Ballads a collection of song lyrics I wrote as a teenager.
On January 3, 2015, my Post "There Was a Crooked Man" is published in a magazine out of Germany for the Physical Therapy industry, called "The D Side". My piece is in the leisure Section.
Now we start to get really serious, my name is also popping up in other people tomes.
2004, my short story "Last Letter from Norman Underwood" gets a synoptic review on pages 180-81 in Brian J. Frost's The Essential Guide to Werewolf Literature, University of Wisconsin Press.
2010, my short story "Conjured" gets touched upon on page 292 in Mike Howlett's The Weird World of Eerie Publications.
And most recently, this year, I am given a very complimentary write-up in John E. Wordslinger's Poetry Train America, in which the author tells of a trip across America by train and the poets he discovered in the various states. He mentions two poets in Delaware, of whom I am one.
Excerpt from Poetry Train America:
The tenth poet I found was Larry Eugene Meredith...and his poetry is melodic, peaceful and beautiful. Larry's poems, "Monday in the Park with Eugene," "Riot", "Overwhelming Forces" and "Wind" are kind to read and hear. -- page 356
The way I see it is if this kind of thing keeps up I may just become famous enough to come into demand, oh say, around the year 3000.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
I certainly hope that is not the case. Granted a number of these are to my Physical Therapist, which has more to do with an ancient condition than anything age related. For some reason at this late period of my life my Primary decided to refer me to such therapy due to my curved back, my hump if you wish to be unkind. I saw little reason for this. I've been bent that way as far back (no pun intended) as I can remember, so what hope to stand tall and proud now. Still, it does seem to be helping and I do feel more upright.
Although going where a young lady named Kelly puts me through my paces doing several exercises, plunks my shoulder and neck strings with a deep massage and zaps my muscles with electronic stimulation, only accounts for 12 of those appointments. A goodly number, indeed, but not even half of the total, the rest directed toward newer and more pressing malfunctions of our human machines. We are acquiring a virtual menu of delicacies...I mean, specialties: Rheumatologists, Endocrinologists, Gastroenterologists, Urologists and Orthopedists. There are 7,500 listed body parts and apparently there is some doctor dedicated to each one. There probably exists somewhere an Ossicleologist.
It wasn't always necessary to have a vocabulary of long-winded names. Once upon a time you simply went to the Doctor. The Doctor who birthed me was also the same Doctor who snipped out my appendix and cut out my tonsils. His name was Dr. Thomas Parke. He was a Quaker and his practice was in Downingtown, Pennsylvania for a long time. He was our family sawbones, a general practitioner; no one spoke of primary care physicians in those days.
Dr, Parke was it. He did it all. As noted, this included delivering babies and performing operations and treating you for the sniffles or gout or a splinter in the finger. Generally, if he outlived you, he signed your death certificate as well.
He was who I was taken to as a young boy every time I got a cough or ear ache or rash. In truth, I wasn't always taken to him. He often came to me because in those days Doctors did house calls, imagine that! More than likely if you had a rash he would come to call and determine if it be measles or chicken pox or worse, and if so, he'd be the guy sticking a big yellow sign on your door labeled "Quarantined" at the top in bold, black letters.
Sometime in my youth I switched over to Dr. Martin Neff. He was the new needleslinger in town, young guy. I don't know why the switch, because my family kept going to Dr. Parke at least until my grandfather passed in 1957. I thought maybe it was because Dr. Parke was so old. He seemed old to me, this gray mustached man, but looking at his tombstone I see he died in 1965 at the age of 64. This made him 40 when I was born and only 50 when I turned ten, hardly ancient. Maybe it was just that Dr. Neff loved kids, because he and his wife could not have any, and this made him gentler.
Whatever, these two men performed basically the same duties in the same way. You came and they touched you, thumping you here and there, looked in your ears, down your throat and even your eyes. If you needed a shot, they gave it to you. If you needed a pill, most times, they gave you a little box of those, too. They signed your note that excused you from school or work and when you needed cutting, they got their saw.
None of that happens anymore. No big Buick pulls in your drive bringing a doctor to visit. You go to him and not this afternoon either, but maybe in a week or two or more when he can squeeze you in. And now another big change, you probably don't even see the Doctor; you see his Nurse Practitioner.
Now, I don't want any charges of sexism here, because it is simply a fact that most Doctors are male and most Nurses are female. That may not be true ten, twenty years down the road, but it is the way it is right now. You could, of course, get a male Nurse, it's not an uncommon things anymore. My wife and I happen to have Nurse Practitioners who are both female. This is probably fine with her, but what about me, being of the male persuasion, am I uncomfortible being examined by a woman?
But the Doctor's examine is a different animal now, too. I can't remember the last time a Doctor touched me, beyond maybe with his or her stethoscope. I haven't had a Primary Physician give me a digital prostate exam or tell me to turn my head to the left and cough in decades. I certainly haven't had any ask me to remove my trousers and rarely even remove my shirt. They generally ask me some questions, maybe take my temperature and blood pressure, and then send me to get blood work.
If they see something spooky in the blood work results, they call me in, tell me what they saw and send me off to one of those guys with the long titles. Goodbye, Dr. Welby; hello, Doctors Ologist.
Even these specialists don't do a lot of touchy-feely stuff. They rely on the blood tests and X-rays and those long forms you always have to fill out. (Why isn't most of that stuff in their computers with the rest of your medical records that have been passed along to them?)
The last Doctor to do much of that was the Urologist I went too the other week and he got very up close and personal. What he did was about as touchy-feely as it gets. I did tell him, upon consideration, I would rather be in my position than in his. He seemed to agree with that.
Anyway, despite all these appointments taking up my time, I'm in good health. I do have arthritis, but my Rheumatologists has it under control. Both my Gastroenterologist and my Urologist have cleared me of any problems or cancers. My wife has some knee problems that the Orthopedist is working on. I am learning to accept this new world of Nurse Practitioners and referrals, because what'cha going' do?
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Franko's was (is?) located on West Market Street between 4th and 5th Streets in Wilmington, Delaware.
There was an attempt to make this something of a Bohemian-Artsy block. This was centered around a cafe on the corner that was named The 4W5. As far as I know it is no longer in business.
The Second Saturday Poets held their monthly
There was usually a pretty good turn out of Delaware poets.
Anyway, here below is a video of me reading what I presented that evening.
Sunday, February 15, 2015
I go back a little ways with this auto-computing stuff, at least as far back as 1959, which is 56 years back when life was theoretically simpler, but not the computer world. If such a contraption was ever mentioned during my public school years, it was only in passing, and probably was a brief reference to the Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer. It was never called that, by the way. It was only known as ENIAC. ENIAC came out in 1946 and was hardly a desktop job since it weighted 30 tons. It was kind of big, 30 ton big, news for a while so maybe somewhere in my grade school days it got a blurb in My Weekly Reader. Beyond that, no one used the word computer.
The name Babbage was bantered about in my senior year, but this was Richard Babbage, a stage
Producer of Shakespeare's plays, not Charles Babbage, who is credited as the Father of Computers. He didn't actually make the first modern computer, but he did design it some where back around 1820. His Babbage Machine, or Difference Engine No. 2, was not really built until 2003. It wasn't exactly a desktop model either, weighing 5 tons and being 11 feet long. Charles is pictured to the right with his Difference Engine No. 2, all 8,000 parts of her, in the background.
Well, computers were still giant machines used by the few, mainly large and wealthy corporations, when I trod off to IBM School in the summer of 1959. I didn't actually trod off. I rode a Reading Railroad train to Philadelphia and then walked a couple blocks up Market Street. I guess that short walk would qualify as a "trod", so I trod off to Florence Utz IBM School.
But they didn't have a computer either. What they had was all the galaxy of auxiliary hardware that moved a piece of cardboard from a blank rectangle to a punch card of square holes to a printout reading of the said data manipulated by programming onto control boards. This included keypunches, sorters, interpreters, collators, reproducers, accounting machines right up to a big gray box called the 604 Calculator. Basically you programmed these machines through the use of a whole lot of wire plugged into a series of boards. But it was a start on the way to those handy desktops and iPads and tables of today.
Anyway, I learned all of that, graduated at the top of my class and went on to other things for a number
of years and I did stay on the periphery of technological change, being involved along the way with a Mag-Card system that I guided into fruition and took over operation of for Lincoln Bank, and then in 1976 becoming manager of the computing department of Welded Tube Co. of America, which began with an IBM System 3 and then a Sperry Rand BC/7, both of which used RPG-II programming.
In '78 Welded Tube decided to move all its operations to Chicago and I moved along to the Mercy Catholic Medical Center in Darby as Budget Director. This was a pen to paper shop, but I discovered one of the other departments had a Wang Word Processor and I persuaded them to let me utilize it for the Budget Department as well, thus getting some automation going there.
It was sometime around 1980 I got my first home computer. It was an Atari 401. It was pretty good at games, but labor intense for most anything else. Storage was to cassette tape and you had to write any programs in Basic. It had no screen; it plugged into the TV. It also didn't have a printer. But it could sit on a desktop. And as I noted, it was pretty good with games.
It was also in 1980 that I left MCMC and began a 21 year run at Wilmington Trust. I was hired into Deposit Services for a newly created job that no one there really knew how it would work, Operations, Methods and Project Manager. I got to invent it. After a couple years I began to agitate for our department purchasing a desktop computer, this kind of new geeky just-on-the-market-a-few-years gadget. My boss would list it on our wish list, but his boss always crossed it off. "Gimmick," he called it, "a toy." He didn't see a future for it. He was a mainframe man and so we would remain a mainframe company because "these little boxes would never do what the big box could do".
Tired of being put off, I went out and bought one of these "gimmicks" for myself. It was an Apple IIe. Man,
was it worlds away from that Atari 401. It had a monitor. It still didn't have internal storage, but it didn't use tape cassettes. It used these things called floppy disks. It came with one floppy disk drive, but I bought an extra. This allowed me to save and use data without changing disks because the operating system ran off a floppy, too. I also bought an impact printer. I thought I was in heaven. I could write my stories and correct them if I misspelled a word without having to retype a whole page. There were also no more carbon papers smudging up the house. I could simply printout copies.
Then my bosses' boss, who must have decided maybe these "toys" might have some worth, opened a department called Office Automation as an experiment. It was stocked with four Apples and you could use them on a time share basis; that is, any one of the 1,500 employees in the building could sign up for some time on the machines. I was down first thing grabbing as much time as I could. The new manager of the new department, Gail, swore the business world would be filled with Apples in the years ahead. I said to her, "Let's see what happens when the big boys get in the game." I meant big boys like IBM.
IBM did indeed jump into the market and had initial success, enough so that IBM set the standard for PCs (Personal Computers, and although Apples were also personal computers, the world eventually became a contest between Apple and PCs of any other stripe). But the company that came to dominate the PC world was Compaq, which in more recent times became part of Hewitt-Packard.
Those four Apples soon disappeared at Wilmington trust and were replaced by Compaqs. I didn't care, I was still getting as much time on them as I could. I believe the first programs offered were Word Perfect and VisiCalc. And to cut a long story short, eventually Wilmington Trust had Compaq Computers on almost every desk, although I was one, if not the first, to get one for my own use. I was to be something of the PC Guru there for many years. I was to go on to build database systems for WTC as well.
Meanwhile, as much as I loved my Apple IIe, I left it for a series of Compaqs during my tenure at WTC. Why? because I wanted something compatible with what I had at work so I could also work at home. In those days Apples and PCs did not play well together.
Nine years agoI finally had it with all of Microsoft's nonsense when a fairly new HP PC crashed. I went back to the user-friendly, more reliable world of Apple and bought my first iMac (I'm now on my second). It's been a fine romance, although I worry about its future ever since Steve Jobs had his last blue screen. One of the horrors of Gates and Allen's world-dominate beast is the constant updates and sudden quicks. It didn't seem I could power up my PCs without a tangle of updates and warnings. It gives me shivers now when I get an update notice on the iMac, fear that it may turn down that all to familiar annoying Microsoft path.
I have told you all this history for one purpose, to build my street cred. I am not a neophyte to this stuff. I am not computer illiterate nor particularly afraid of the beast. But I am out of the game for a while now and in the technology world way too much changes in "a while". I am not a guru anymore so cut me some slack on what is to follow.
In recent years there have been a number of OS 10 upgrades. (OS 10 is the Apple operating system.) In the nine years since my first iMac I have been through several big cats. My first was Leopard, then Snow Leopard, then Lion and for the last three years I have been riding on the back of Mountain Lion. I had upgraded every time they introduced another, but the other year they left behind the felines and announced Maverick. I was hearing a lot of negative vibe about Maverick, enough to scare me off upgrading. Then last June they announced another upgrade called Yosemite. Again I was hearing some complaints and I ignored the regular offers for a free upgrade. But here it is the cold of winter and cold reality has set in, and I have upgraded.
I did hold off and then waver back and forth. Perhaps age is catching up to me and making me hesitant to go for new things. I don't know. During my working years I was always pushing others out toward the edge, always wanting to try to go beyond the boundaries of what was known and safe, always trying the thing everyone else said wouldn't work. So, maybe I have aged and become set in my ways on what is comfortable and safe. Thus, you ask, what made me upgrade to Yosemite?
It was a conversation with my friend, Ronald. He, too, had resisted any update to Maverick or Yosemite, but he had recently began having issues with his iMac. After all, it was aging as well and he had it stuffed with photos and videos, even much more than I. He had reached the point where he would buy a new machine. However, he hadn't don't this yet, but it did come up in our talk. What hit me was some info he passed along about others who wanted to upgrade their computers. It seemed they had ignored doing such a thing for quite awhile and now this caused them problems in getting the newest version, because the company had ceased support of what they retained years ago. (I will note, these people were running Microsoft systems.)
It made me wonder. If I linger much longer will the opportunity for a clean upgrade go away? After all, Apple had stopped supporting Snow Leopard a couple years ago and I read that they were no longer offering security updates to Lion. Lion was the generation behind me and using Mountain Lion put me two generations behind Yosemite.
Time to act. I went on the Apple App Store, selected Yosemite (a free upgrade) and with eyes shut clicked the download button.
Nothing seemed to happen. I stared at the screen for a few moments until I saw the tiny rectangle where I selected Download now read Downloading. But that was all it did and all it did for a long time, relatively speaking, because you know a watched pot never boils and a watched Downloading never downloads. There were no turning pinwheels, either in color or black and white, no bars filling with blue; no flashing lights or dinging bells, just nothing.
I was to discover this would be the situation throughout the process. Eventually the screen changed to a box with a circled X in the center and another wait. There were a screen or two asking something, I think, and then a screen with the circled X and a statement that it would complete in 22 minutes. Well, it took much longer than 1 minute to go from 22 minutes to 21 minutes. The blue line in the bar was microscopic. 22 minutes might be 22 hours.
I went into the other room and did my exercises and came back and it said 18 minutes to complete. I did this and that and somewhere during the afternoon that screen did go away.
There may have been one or two other screens after that before it said it was restarting my computer.
The restart started and then another screen with a circled X and a bar with a blue fill that moved like
molasses. This bar filled to halfway and seemed to stop. I stared at it. Was it moving? Don't know. I got my magnifying glass and looked at it. Couldn't tell. I stuck a Stick-um note over the blue line, right to the edge and stared at it to see if anymore blue appeared. It didn't. I listened and heard no hum. I gripped my computer and felt no vibration.
I called Apple, because now I was in a panic. Where of where did my operating system go? The new one wasn't popping up like Old Faithful, but then what did I expect. Old Faithful is in Yellowstone, not Yosemite. Meanwhile the help line is ringing and then one of those recorded voices answered welcoming me to Apple, then telling me "volume was higher than usual", which is the usual statement you get when you call anywhere anymore. In fact, higher than usual is USUAL. Ronald had told me Apple was taking longer to respond anymore. He had to wait 16 minutes last time he called, but 16 minutes is fast in the cyber world when you need a human.
I had to wait 2 minutes.
Ronald must have called on a bad day.
I had a nice lady, who spoke American, which isn't so usual these days. FiOS use to be this way and easy to get, but the last time I called them I got a sub-continent accent so thick I couldn't understand him. But she I could understand and I certainly understood her when she said even though my service contract had expired there would be no charge because I was upgrading. She had me do several things, beginning with turning off the computer. In between while we waited for some action we chit-chatted about our cataract operations. Apple people are like the neighbor next door who stops by to help start your car or something. You gossip about things a bit. She resolved the problem and while I had her on line I tested out various things. Yep, my data was there. Yep, my iTunes was there. Yep, iFilm came up. Yep, my mail worked. I thanked her and said goodbye.
One thing I saw a lot of complaints about was "the flat look". Actually the look is quite nice appearing to me. Things look cleaner, plus I picked up several new features I really like and several things got easier to do.
I was happy, but then I noticed my iPhoto icon was very dim with an x across it. Huh? I clicked it and no iPhoto came up. Oh no, where were my 50,000 photos? Had they become lost in translation? I don't know what I did next, except I did get this message that iPhoto had to be updated in order to work with Yosemite, did I wish to do so now? Yes, I did.
So now I have Yosemite. I like it. The only problem I have experienced is with Photo Booth. It kept cutting off after 27 seconds when I tried doing a video. This is not such a big deal for me, I can live with it. My guess is my computer memory is probably less than ideal, but then again, so is mine.
Sunday, February 8, 2015
We were in a crowded upstair room and I shared the spotlight that evening with a fellow Delaware Poet, Stephen P. Koelsch. He read first and I finished them off, so to speak.
We were different styles so nothing clashed. I believe Steve read several Poems that would appear later in his book, Dancing Bare. His poems were more inward and introspective. Mine tend to bounce about a bit,,jolly to sombre and what I read came from different decades of my life and varied collections.
This is Steve contemplating a poem while seated at a table in Franco's a year later.
I decided to record a rereading of my program that night and preserve it for mankind, assuming man is kind and will accept it.
Here is the film: