My Marvin Wristwatches

I’ve started a small collection of vintage wristwatches. I actually stopped wearing wristwatches about 10 or 15 years ago when I started carrying a cell phone because it seemed redundant to have a phone on me all the time where I could see what time it was. But recently, for some unknown reason, I’ve become interested in these small mechanical marvels. It’s become a small obsession really. There is something about all of the tiny gears, pinions, jewels and springs of a fine Swiss timepiece that when put into motion, plays the smooth song of time with the precision of a professional orchestra playing a classical classic. No one can make a watch like the Swiss.

The Marvin watch company can be dated back to 1850. Rather than re-write an article on their rich history, I’ll defer to two resources that have already done a great job of it. One is at Matt Baily’s blog and the other is on the Marvin watch company’s website.

Debbie’s watch (pictured above) is the first Marvin that I purchased. It is in mint condition and It came from a watch maker’s personal collection in Hungary. It was manufactured in the early 1970’s and has obviously been treasured and meticulously cared for for the past 40+ years. I have no idea what this watch would have cost back in the 70’s, but I paid $116.48 for it. It had already been recently serviced. It looks and runs like a brand new watch.

The next Marvin I purchased was a 1960’s something model for myself. It has a beautiful silver colored dial and the quick set date, with second hand, 17 jewels, crown and dial signed by Marvin, and it has the original plastic sticker affixed at the back to protect the watch case. The hands and hours glow in the dark. This was a New Old Stock piece that a collector bought from a watchmaker’s estate in the UK. I don’t believe that this watch had ever been worn until I bought it. I’ve worn it about 5 times so far. I paid $223 for it. While it is in new condition, I’ll need to send it to my watch maker to have it serviced since it’s been sitting dormant for so long and I don’t want to run it too much without a fresh oiling.

And last but not least, I’ve just received my white faced 17 jewel Marvin dress watch. I don’t know much about this one. Judging from the style, size, and signing of this watch, I think it’s from late 50’s to the early 60’s. It has a textured dial around the outside where the position markers are and the inside circle of the dial is smooth. The dial is bright white and the hour and minute hands glow in the dark. It is in excellent condition with a brand new leather band. While it runs perfectly, I will have to send this one off to my watchmaker to have it serviced as well because I do not know it’s history. I paid $51.25 for this one and will pay another $60 to to have it cleaned and serviced.

RIP Sky Blue 2/14/2000 – 8/8/2013

I’m not sure how to write this. I don’t think my heart has ever been so heavy with grief and my soul feels empty. There is an undeniable emotional connection between a man and his dog that can’t be matched in any other kind of relationship. There’s an unspoken mutual understanding that if shit really hit the fan, he’d die for me and I’d die for him. He’d kill for me and I’d kill for him. Dogs are pack animals and deep down I think that men are too. When we establish this relationship with our dog it’s our chance to be the leader of our pack. Our dog will spend his life with his main goals of pleasing us, being loyal and faithful to us, and doing whatever is in his power to protect us and make us happy, from the moment they wake up to the moment the drift off to sleep. You will not find a more pure example of unconditional love between any two living beings on this earth. It’s the way a dog loves his man and the man loves his dog.

I’m an emotional basket case right now, but I’ll give this my best try. In the winter of 2002 I had to put my 17 year old Siberian Husky to sleep. It was one of the lowest periods of time in my life. I grieved heavily for months and without that dog, my life was empty. My house was empty. I was empty. Towards the back end of my grieving process I realized that those 17 years of joy that Crystal Dawg brought me was well worth the few months of emotional torture that came along with her death, and it was time to get another companion. The online search of began with a 30 mile radius, then 60, then 120, then 180 and there he was. Sky Blue was in a rescue shelter in Queens New York. One look at his picture and I knew he was the one. I felt a connection with him as soon as I looked at his picture. For all the paperwork involved, you’d think I was adopting a child, but before long, I was driving to New York to pick him up.

Without going into a biography of Sky’s life, I’ll just tell you that his previous owners abandoned him at the groomer. He went to a kill shelter and was on death row and was rescued by Bobbi and the Strays, a no-kill shelter in Queens NY. He spent nine months there in a cage waiting. He had several people that wanted him in that time, but thankfully, no one passed the test. I adopted him in the early spring of 2003. I taught him to swim and he loved the river. He loved the boats. He loved my friends and they loved him. He’d swim up to the pontoon boats and stand on his hind legs like a bear and beg for ring bologna. He was with me though thick and thin and I love him dearly. He protected me when I needed protecting and even when I didn’t. He loved me every day of his life and I loved him the same. Ten years goes by so fast.

He went downhill pretty quickly in the last six months. First there were seizures, then his belly got big and he had trouble walking. He got tumors in his lungs and a big one on his liver that was pushing his stomach tight against his spine. I took him to the vet yesterday and they said they couldn’t fix him. They said if I brought him back home that he’d basically suffocate from the pressure of the tumors, so I really had no choice. I put him to rest and eased his pain. I loved him. I petted his head and told him “thanks” and that I loved him as he took his last breaths.

I’m the one in pain now. It feels like someone ripped a huge hole right through the middle of my soul. My throat feels like it has a grapefruit in it and tears flow freely out of my eyes. I can’t speak. My spine is vibrating and there is a pain in myself that originates from my brain that I just can’t describe. it permeates every sense of my being. It is uncontrollable. I wish right now that I went with him. But I know that my pain too will pass as I remember every scratch of his head and every wag of his tail. Every moment that he snuggled up to me is now a precious memory and every time I hugged him I wish I’d have hugged him longer. We had a great life together. He rescued me as much or more than I rescued him. I’ll love and miss him deeply as long as I live and I hope he’s waiting for me for when I go. RIP Sky. I will love you always.

To be thankful…..

A deer was grazing outside my window yesterday morning when I woke up and was getting ready for work. I feed the wild birds in my back yard every day, and every evening they perform a playful dance for me that no human being could ever choreograph. There is a creek that rolls along behind my house with waves of tiger lillys and a plethora of other wild flowers and natural flora that sway in the breeze along it’s banks. I am thankful for the natural beauty that surrounds me every day of my life.

I am married. I was fortunate enough to find the soul that loves me unconditionally and fills my heart with love. I am fortunate enough to love her just the same, perhaps even more deeply. I am fortunate that the time in our short lives was right to share that love with one another for the rest of our lives, and to take it to eternity with one another. Not everyone gets that chance. I am thankful for that.

I have friends and family that go way above and beyond to show their kindness and caring for me. There are no dollars to pay for that. The only way to pay for that is to return the respect, loyalty and friendship that I am shown but it never feels like I’ve paid enough. I always feel like I come up short. It’s overwhelming sometimes. I am truly blessed to have such warmth surrounding my soul. I am thankful for that.

It makes me realize how much I’ve taken for granted over the years. While technology seems so cold and heartless, the reality of it is, is that when someone sends us a text, it’s not just a text. They are sending us a message because we are a part of their lives. We are in their thoughts and in their hearts. When some one posts on our wall or sends us an email out of the blue, they are doing it because we are in their hearts and they are thinking of us. It is the equivalent of years gone by when someone would walk a mile to your house to bring you a fresh baked apple pie. As I grow older and wiser I am learning to appreciate with profound gratitude the importance of the little things in life that I had often overlooked in my younger days. I am thankful for the wisdom that God has given me to see this and I wonder in amazement what tomorrow will bring.

Net10 and the cell phone wars

I recently switched cell phone providers. I had Verizon for about 15 years because they were the only cell phones that worked at my house in the early days. Times are changing. There is an explosion of new cell phone companies out there that are offering cheaper phones and cheaper service than the big guys. An Android phone with unlimited talk, text and data will likely cost you $300 for a phone and $100 a month or more through one of the big guys like AT&T, Sprint, Verizon etc… and they require a two year contract.

Enter the new small guys like Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Tracfone, Net10, Straight Talk and Cricket just to name a few. With these guys you can get a cheap Android phone for less than $100 and $50 a month for unlimited everything with no contract. They ride on the same networks that the big guys do and so far, it’s been my experience that the quality is good.

I’ve had the same phone number through Verizon for 15 years. It was costing me $49 a month just for the minimum plan of 200 minutes a month. No text, no data. I bought the Net10 android LG Optimus Net phone for $99 from Radio Shack and brought it home and it worked very well. I decided I made a good move so I ported my old Verizon number to the new service and phone through easy online tools that Net10 and the others provide. It took about 3 days to complete. When the number port is complete, if that’s the only number that you have with your old phone company, then that account is automatically closed. My Verizon contract was long since satisfied so no penalties were due. Bottom line is that I got rid of the old guys, got better service with the new guys and got to keep my phone number so I didn’t have to go through the hassle of changing phone numbers.

The common thread on the internet is that the customer service sucks for these smaller companies, but that was not my experience at all. I suppose if you are the type that requires a lot of customer service then that might be the case, but the dealings that I had with them through the porting of my number were pleasant and professional. Also, if you are a cutting edge type of person, these guys are not for you. While the big guys are rolling out 4G everywhere, the smaller guys are just now rolling out Android phones with 3G.

I honestly couldn’t be more pleased with my new phone and service. The Android 2.3 operating system is awesome, everything works and syncs with Google, and the great GPS and voice/speech applications work flawlessly. Do yourself a favor and look into these phones if you feel you are stuck paying too much for your cell phone service. I’m glad I did!

A new paint job

The website was due for a makeover. I wanted to clean everything up a bit and make some changes and I really like the new look. As is my style, I’ve kept it simple. There are a few new pages at outside of this blog. Some are for you and some are for me. All in all I like the new look and I hope you do too.

My thoughts on what I know about Obamacare and PCIP

First off, I’m opposed to any and everything that is “big government”. To add to that, many of these bills that pass through are so large, loaded and complicated that even the experts don’t understand them. My initial feeling down in my spine is that I don’t want government to get involved with universal healthcare, at least until such a time that the corruption and greed that the insurance industry and the medical industry enjoys is repaired.

Right now you have a system that is wildly out of control. I saw an ad for a urologist three years ago in the paper. The starting salary was $375,000 per year. That tells me something right there. Medical supplies are through the roof. Just google some and you’ll see. Example: I buy a new below knee prosthesis about every three years. The cheapie costs $6000. It takes about a day to make and it has about $250 worth of parts in it. So why is it so expensive? Because it’s a medical supply. Why are medical supplies so expensive? It’s because it’s part of the medical and insurance wildly broken and corrupt system.

It starts with malpractice lawsuits. (Yes, of course layers had a part in making it this way) Judges and jurys hand out outrageous settlements in malpractice cases. Those awards must be paid for, so doctors and medical suppliers charge outrageous fees for medical services so that they can afford malpractice insurance, so that judges and jurors can continue to hand out outrageous lawsuit settlements. That’s why you see $7 dollars for an aspirin on your hospital bill. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You go to the doctor or the hospital and get your care and then they bill your insurance company, who of course denies the payment. Then they go back and forth with paperwork for several months saying “you owe me this” and “I’m not paying you that”. They have to hire people to generate all of this paperwork and their salaries translate to higher medical costs, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg too.

These are just some of the things that are wrong with the current healthcare system in America that need fixed BEFORE we even try to get government healthcare coverage for every American.

I got into an interesting discussion on Facebook the other day. You may have seen this picture.

Well, everyone started either ragging on or defending Obamacare and I was no different. I was one that was ragging. But then I did a little looking into exactly what PCIP was which is what is referenced on her sign. It stands for Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan. So what is that? Well, it varies state by state but in Pennsylvania it means that basically, insurance companies have to insure you even if you have a pre-existing condition. You have to pay for it, but they they have to make it affordable and they have to offer it. That’s where I was wrong. I had assumed that the government was just paying for some slacker’s medical bills with my tax money. I admit. I was wrong.

Well, this I agree with! It’s just like the “high risk” car insurance for bad drivers. It’s not paid for by the government and our taxes. It’s paid for by the person who needs it. Sure, you and I pay too through higher premiums, but in the grand scheme of things, I can live with that. People have pre-existing conditions and everyone, including myself is tired of seeing the big fat insurance companies slamming the door in the faces of people in need. Perhaps someday I’ll get the chance to read more about Obamacare. I really wish they’d simplify their bill passing and stop porking every bill they pass though with thousands of pages of self interest bullshit. Bottom line, I like the thought behind PCIP but I get the feeling that this is a bright point in an otherwise dark bill.

Hello Everyone!

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything. So much to do and so little time. Now that winter is here, I hope to be able to write a little more. I was busy over the summer with vacations and floods. It seems I moved my boat away from flooding rivers more this year than I actually sailed it. My house got flooded in September too. It ruined almost all of my computers and basically everything that was in my great room, which is about 2 1/2 feet lower than all the rest of my house. My garage had 3 feet of water in it so my motorcycle, tractors, tools, welders, air compressors etc.. were all under water. I’ve been pretty busy fixing things and fixing my house. It’s nice living by the creek until it gets angry and ruins everything you’ve worked for over the last 15 years.

Debbie and I are looking forward to our first Christmas season together. We still haven’t picked a date for the wedding yet but hopefully it will be this summer. We want to get married on the sailboat. As soon as we hash all of that out I’ll post it here. Well, I have a fresh batch of Boilo cooking so I have to go for now but I’ll get back into writing mode soon.

Ciao for now!

How the Zimmermans became my heros

It was all planned. She was supposed to land at Harrisburg International Airport at 9:19PM. I was going to be there waiting at the bottom of the escalator to watch her come down and propose to her right then and there. My friend Charlie Zimmerman and his lovely wife Shelly are awesome photographers. The best I’ve ever seen. They were going to meet me there and capture the entire event on film. I didn’t want video. I wanted it in still photography in Charlie’s unique creative style. But Mother Nature had different plans.

I had a lot to do that day to prepare for her visit. There was house cleaning, laundry, and a million other things to do. I’d been in touch with Charlie several times during the day via email going over different parts of the plan. I would meet him there about 45 minutes early to scope out the angles and so forth. That was the plan.

I didn’t have the tv or radio on all day. I was too busy. I had no idea there were severe storm warnings or anything. About 6:30 I started hearing some thunder but nothing to be alarmed about. I got a shower and got dressed and was on the road by 7:30 which would have put me at the airport by 8:30. Here’s where the plan changed. I made it about half way there and on a section of highway with a concrete wall on one side and a guardrail on the other, all traffic came to a complete stop. Parking lot stop. The kind of traffic jam where everyone puts it in park and turns off the engine.

So it’s 7:50 and I’m sitting there. 8:00 rolls by. Then 8:30. I still hadn’t moved. 9:00 comes and goes. I’m freaking out. Still no movement. Unbelievable! I didn’t have Charlie’s cell phone number. He’d heard about the impending doom and sent it to me late in the afternoon, but I hadn’t checked my email before I left. Charlie and Shelly left early because of the forecast and they were at the airport plenty early.

So there they are at the airport. Debbie’s plane lands. Everything is in place except that I’m in this God awful traffic jam with trees blown over the highway and nothing is moving. Debbie calls me to tell me she’s landed. Time for plan B. Gonna have to make this one up on the fly. I described Charlie and told her to look for him. I told her I wanted to have pictures of us meeting at the airport and that’s why they were there. So she finds Charlie and Shelly and introduces herself.

The way it works out is that Charlie and Shelly offer to take Debbie to a local lounge and wait for me. Traffic finally starts to creep. All the while, they’ve been hearing about the destruction of the storm and it’s hitting close to their house. They have no idea if they even still have a house, yet they are doing all this for me. Rescuing my girl from the airport and bringing her to meet me so I can propose to her, and they will photograph it, and that’s what we did.

This is a once in a lifetime shot for me. I am in awe and deeply in debt to Charlie and Shelly for doing all of this for me, all the while knowing that they might be incurring damage to their home while they are doing it. It was a great show of friendship and one that I will certainly never forget.

Also, I can’t say enough about the high quality and unique artistic aspect of their work. Go check them out at and you’ll be glad you did.

To Charlie and Shelly. Thank you so much for everything you did for me. You were my heroes and I will never forget what you did for me.

Speechless and excited

Soon I will ask a question, and if I get a three letter answer my life will change forever.

Tic Toc The clock Is Running

I’m going out to see Debbie tomorrow for one last time before she goes back to Florida. I can’t wait to see her but I know how hard it will be to say goodbye again until May. It makes the whole thing a bit bittersweet. Tomorrow will be pure joy just to be in her company. Sunday will be cold, desolate, empty and lonely as I drive home alone, and those feelings will continue until we see each other again. It will only be 53 days until I get to see her again, but 53 days seems like an eternity when you are separated from someone you love. I’m growing a profound respect for our men and women in uniform who dissect their families to go off and defend our country for months and years at a time. I imagine that that is harder than the service itself.

We talk about closing the gap somehow and being together forever. We’re not exactly sure how we’re going to accomplish this yet but our hearts are one and I’m sure we will find a way. My good friend Jon McDougal offered some advice but I’m having trouble subscribing to it.

He says “Take it slow. You’ve got plenty of time. Sounds like you both have the same goals and ideas, so it isn’t a race”.

I’m about a decade older than Jon and I don’t see it that way. We’re a bit past mid-life. We don’t have as much time as the younger people do. We’re not on the uphill climb anymore where you deal with the daily grind of upward mobility, raising a family and stressing out over all of life’s small stuff where every day is just another grinding day. We don’t take tomorrow for granted. We’re thankful for today and hope and pray that tomorrow comes and provides us with another day to share together. We’re at that plateau in life where you level out and enjoy each others company and every minute counts. We take the time to share a sunset and revel in the moment. We enjoy every moment that we have together. We take the extra time in the morning to let each other know we care and we never pass up an opportunity to hold each other because tomorrow may never come. I’ve endured 33 years of my adult life without her company and now that I know what I’ve missed, I have a new perspective on the time that we have left. Every day that we’re not together is another day of our lives that is wasted and gone. It’s another day that gets chalked up and added to that 33 year sentence. It’s another day lost that we’ll never get back.