Thursday, June 30, 2005

A safe weekend!

This is going to be one of those shorter posts that I said I would start doing from time to time. I had another entry planned, but technical difficulties have caused that one to be delayed.

It has been raining here everyday since Monday. That meant Trenton and I had to stay indoors for our two days this week. Aunt Sandy took him on a short shopping trip Monday, which broke up the day nicely. Tuesday it was movies and cartoons most of the day for both of us. I’m afraid I did a little bit of dozing in the recliner during all this. Trenton thinks it’s a hoot when Grandpa starts sawing Zs.

We are gearing up for a huge 4th of July weekend at work. It’s always interesting to see who comes out on the Fourth of July to use their boats. In many ways it’s the most dangerous boating weekend of the entire year.

There are many people who own boats but, because of busy schedules, do not use them at all during the year. The only day of the year these boats get put in the water is the day of the fireworks display on the Fourth.

I cannot tell you how many frozen steering cables and dead batteries I have to help with on this weekend every year, not to mention dead running lights or old gasoline. Then there’s the out of date or missing safety equipment that is required by the Coast Guard.

This makes for a very dangerous situation: Hundreds of boaters with faulty equipment on the water after dark to see the fireworks. Many of these are boaters that have little experience. Add to this situation the fact that the fireworks don’t start until dark.

The boaters party all day and celebrate with friends and sometimes alcohol, then, when it gets dark they see a little show and try to drive the boat home in the dark with literally thousands of other boaters using the same waterway and in the same condition. The waterways are not like highways; there are no streetlights.

Ok! Enough of this ranting on boating safety. My points is, no matter what you are doing, on the water or off, please be safe this Holiday Weekend.

If you want to find me, I’ll be out on the docks looking out for you all.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Grill

Well, my first day of watching Trenton this past Monday was shared duty. His Aunt Sandy, who lives with us, took Trenton out shopping in the morning. This gave me time to head for Home Depot, where I planned to buy the Barbecue grill I have been saving up for. I had a stainless steel grill set up on the top deck railing of "Halcyon" for all the years we lived on Her. I am a grill nut. I confess!

At the house we just moved from, there was a great grill out on the back deck, which I used almost nightly. It was a permanent installation, though, and ran off of a natural gas line from the Gas Company. It had to stay there when we moved. I insisted that we hold out for an all stainless steel grill when we moved in here, and I am glad I held my ground.

Anyway, there I was in Home Depot, standing in front of the bare spot where the fully assembled grill of my dreams had stood just days earlier. They had two left… in boxes. Just my luck! I tried lifting a similar grill that was on display and realized I would never be able to get it off my truck when I got home. That meant taking one in a box and unloading it off my pickup one piece at a time. This was do-able and required no additional assistance, so that was the route I chose. Two very strong young men loaded the box onto my truck for me and away I went!

I had just gotten all the pieces off the truck and into the garage when Trenton and Aunt Sandy drove up, so the rest of the afternoon Trenton and I played and watched a movie. As soon as he left, Grandpa Sam headed for the garage and the dreaded task of assembling my new grill.


Here is the box the grill came in.

This is the empty packaging.

Paulette arrives. I am half-way through the installation. She wants to go for our daily walk that Jae got us started on. I beg for some time. Time granted.

Now, I am in the last stages of finishing this grill when Paulette comes out and says "Let’s’ go, Buddy!" By this time I have wrenched my back working in some weird angles to get all the little pieces together. I am in pain and I want to finish this grill!

I decline the invitation to walk. My wife starts down the driveway muttering about the route she will take. This is so I can direct the ambulance her way when she collapses alone on her walk. It has only been a week to the day since her trip to the emergency room when this little scene is played out.

She walks while a terrible cloud of guilt settles down on me. Okay, I should have gone with her. Meanwhile, I finish the grill; Paulette returns unscathed and forgives me. A quick admiring look at the grill and she turns and says "Come on in, dinner is almost ready." I am stunned. I want to grill. I remind myself I am a grownup and follow her in to eat.

The next evening the grill is fired up and I am off to the races with a few burgers on for the first test run. Yummy…

Oh, is that an adult beverage the chef has at his side? <wink> Yep!

The trial run was a success. I am now off to Pixiedustnme’s journal to steal all the grilling secrets she coaxed out of us a couple of weeks ago. 

Happy grilling folks! It’s summer and if you want to find me, I’m out by my new grill! Oh! I almost forgot. My Grandson Trenton calls me "The Tool Master." How cools is that!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


Well, nothing is certain in life, but change. I am going to change my journal style and habits just a little.

When I decided to start a journal, I wanted to pattern my journal along the lines of BlondepennieRae over at "A Pennie’s Worth." Like Pennie, I wanted to leave a collection of stories that my Grandchild can read when he gets older and more curious about my life. So far, that is what I have offered here.

I am going to start commenting on more of my daily life in between my stories. This may not be as entertaining to most of you, but, this journal is mine and I feel the need interject a few things here and there that will give my Grandson, at some later date, an insight on things that are happening now that he may not fully understand.

There are some events that have caused me to change up my style here. For instance, I took my darling wife to the Emergency Room at the hospital last Monday afternoon. She was having chest pains and shortness of breath. She has felt tired constantly lately. After running tests on her all night Monday and all day Tuesday, her doctor finally discovered two of her medications were conflicting with each other.

Paulette is a heart patient and had two stents put in a year ago. She should have bounced right back to her old self, but there were complications and she still is struggling her way back to some semblance of feeling normal. During the night on Monday, her heart rate was so slow the nurses nearly woke her doctor up at 2am to request he rush back to the hospital. The problem was finally discovered late Tuesday and I was able to bring her home around 8:30pm.

Now, Monday and Tuesdays are my days off. I work every weekend. I usually post to my journal on those days, or write my entry and post it the next day, which would be Wednesday. With Paulette in the hospital, I could no more come up with any story to tell than I could jump 10 feet high. I was at the hospital most of the time and the time I was at home, I couldn’t even think of writing a story. So, another week went by with no entry here.

I have been elected by my family to start watching my Grandson, Trenton, on my two days off. This way, Trenton’s parents are spared the expense of day care on those days and I get to spend some time with the little guy.

Trenton is six years old and chock-full of fun, excitement, and energy. He likes to play with toy swords and his favorite movies are the Star Wars Saga and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I have all of these on DVD and/or VHS. Oh, and let’s not forget The Pirates of the Caribbean, I’ve got that one too. That makes me very popular with Trenton. Trenton always brings an extra sword for Grampa to use.

This arrangement started this week and I am learning that my time on here on my days off will not be the uninterrupted sessions I have been used to. I started this entry around noon and it is already almost 8pm.

So, what I am saying is this: I will write shorter entries about what is going on with my day or loved ones and post more frequently. Don’t worry, though, I still have a lot of stories to tell and I will add them to the mix as I can. My thanks to all those folks who have emailed me or left comments wondering about my absence.

Monday, June 6, 2005

Jack's Grouper

I was sitting here this morning thinking about the days when I was still a Producer/Director and I remembered an old associate and friend of mine by the name of Jack Cosgrove. Jack was a cinematographer and an excellent audio technician as well. Any time I needed film shot for a client instead of videotape, I would call on Jack first.

Jack and I teamed up on many projects during my stint in the Tampa Bay, Florida area. Like myself, Jack loved the water and we shared a passion for fishing. Shortly after acquiring "Halcyon," I asked Jack to come down to Bahia Beach Marina in Ruskin, Florida so I could show her off to him. Ruskin is about twenty minutes south of Tampa on the Tampa side of Tampa Bay. I did a little rummaging and found some PICS that were taken that day.

Jack arrived and I gave him the tour of "Halcyon." I had mentioned fishing over the phone as an added attraction to get Jack to make the drive down. I could see his puzzlement as he asked if we were still going to take her out and wet a line that day.

You see, "Halcyon" was not made for fishing. It was a comfortable boat made to live on and was quite stately. No one would ever confuse her with a fishing vessel of any kind even though I had added rod holders to her stern on both sides. I fired up the twin 453 Detroit Diesel engines and told Jack to come aboard, as we were about to cast off.

In those days, you had to go out into the Gulf of Mexico many miles to hit a reef or rock outcropping that held what I had promised Jack we were going to catch. We were in search of the coveted grouper. I had learned a secret not many knew about and told Jack we were going to fish for grouper in the bay. He said he was just glad to be going along on a boat ride. He didn’t believe me that you could catch them there. On the way out, dolphin swimming through our wake entertained us.

We started trolling for the grouper on the edges of the ship’s channel while we were still in sight of the marina. I was up on the upper steering station; Jack was down on the deck in the stern watching the lines. Jack thought he was just going to have a nice ride and that was all, so he pulled out a folding chair and started to get comfortable. That's when it hit.

Well, Jack was so surprised that he nearly fell overboard getting out of that chair and to the bent rod. He started shouting to me and I slowed the boat down and got her into neutral while he fought the fish. As you can see from the picture, Jack landed the grouper and became an instant believer.

We spent the day leisurely plying Tampa Bay and came home with all the fish we needed. This is the sunset we enjoyed as we made it back to the marina.

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

The Canadian Penny


Well, the holiday weekend is over and it seems most of us in J-Land made it through relatively unscathed. For me, it was the busiest weekend of the year. I am glad to report that it all went off safely and all the boats that left came back.

I was at a store the other day and paid in cash for my purchase. The cashier gave me my change back and there was a Canadian penny amongst the coins. This reminded me of a story I would like to share with you. It became known throughout an entire corporation as "The Canadian Penny Story." Unfortunately, it happened to me.

I was managing a marine retail store in Sarasota, Florida at the time. I had been a store manager for this corporation for about a year and was starting to get the hang of it, I thought.

One morning I got a call from the bank the store did business with and was told by a bank employee that my deposit was short. I was surprised, because I had balanced that one out myself. The reason it was short, she said was that the bank no longer accepted Canadian coins for deposit.

This was news to me, and I wondered what prompted this. We had a great number of Canadians living in the area every winter. These were referred to locally as the Snowbirds. Of course, many US citizens from northern states would also be among the Snowbirds.

The point here being that most of our visitors from the north, both U.S. and Canadian had some or many Canadian coins jingling around in their purses and pockets. It was no big deal and merchants accepted them without hassle.

I was a very conscientious manager and it was important for me to balance correctly every night, so, if the bank would not accept Canadian coins anymore, then my store was not going to, either. This went fairly smooth for a while. Most shoppers evinced surprise, but understood about the coins with a quick and polite explanation. Until it happened.

I was at the checkout counter and we were doing good business. A small line was formed, but I was getting them through quickly and efficiently. Until this one man gave me a Canadian penny as part of the payment. I handed the penny back to him and asked if he had a U. S. penny or another coin instead. My explanation for the reason we would not take the Canadian coin angered him. I had said that our bank did not consider the Canadian coins as legal tender in the United States and did not want to honor them because of the exchange rate. The term "not legal tender" hit a nerve and this man physically started to turn red.

Now, I know the customer is always right, and I knew it back then, too. But, I will not back off the truth when I am sure I know the truth. So, I tried vainly to explain to this man why the Canadian money was not legal tender in the United States. He swore it was! I knew it wasn’t!

Once again, let me state that many local merchants accepted Canadian coins as part of cash payments because they did not want to offend any of the snowbirds. But, that did not make them legal as tender. They were legal in Canada. The Canadian government must honor them as legal payment. However, the U.S has no obligation to honor them. We have our own monetary system and have made our own pennies for well over a century.

This guy wanted no part of this. To him Canadian money was legal tender in the United States and I was bound by law to accept it. The redder he got during this "discussion" the louder he got. By the time he stormed out of my store, (without his purchase), every eye in the store was on me.

The next two people in line had this glassy-eyed look of pure terror. No one dared pay in cash and they got out quickly. They had been too close to the action. A couple of people in line burst out laughing as the door closed behind our departing Canadian Penny Spender. They could not believe he was making an issue out of a foreign coin.

Well, this is the age of the cell phone and they were in evidence even back then, (It would be about eight years ago). The penny spender had gone out to his car where he was frantically finding and dialing the phone number to our corporate headquarters. The call came to me quickly, and not from my district manager, but from thevice president in charge of retail sales of the company.

Thank goodness I knew this man and he knew how I normally treat customers and do business. He listened to my side of the story and afterwards said, "Sam, the sad part of all this is that I know for a fact you would have taken a penny out of your own pocket and given it to this man if he did not have any U.S. coins." I told the VP that he was right, I would have given him a penny from my own pocket, but the man was not upset about that. He went nuclear because I would not agree with him that Canadian coins were legal tender in the U.S. I told him I would not lie, even to a customer.

I kept my job, the customer got some VERY nice incentives to come back and remain a loyal customer from the VP, and I learned a valuable lesson in human relations. Yes, I had been right, but the day would have gone much better had I just taken the penny, traded it for one of my U.S. ones later and never mentioned it to the customer.

I still laugh about this with my former associates when we see each other. You see, I went on to win many awards at that store location, and became fairly well known in the corporation. However, alas, I will never live down the "Canadian Penny Story!"