Monday, July 6, 2015

Can anybody use a record player ... or 7?

So much has happened in sports since my last post that I'm not about to try to play catch-up in that department. So ...

Robbie and I just got back from the Chicago area, where we spent a week cleaning out my 89-year-old father-in-law's townhouse (while he stayed with his niece in a different suburb). There are pack rats ... and then there is Frank, who merits a special category of his own.

Here is what we found -- AND I AM NOT MAKING UP ANY OF THIS:

++ 9 TVs, including what had to be one of the first gigantic projection TVs ever made, 3 TVs with screens so small viewers might have needed a magnifying glass to see the picture, and a TV/VCR unit designed to fit between the seats of a full-sized van. Ben got the newest TV of the bunch -- a 50-inch HD flat screen that Frank bought last year; Frank's niece's granddaughter got the small flat screen that was in his bedroom; and, aside from the projection TV that still sits in his living room (or, in Frank's parlance, his "parlor"), Robbie and I put the other 6 TVs by the curb with "FREE" signs on them. All 6 were taken by passers-by.

++ 7 record players. Again, my son took what appeared to be the best one -- which had a built-in 8-track player. Can't beat that! A neighbor claimed one of the others. We put the 5 others on the curb and 4 were snapped up. We ended up throwing away one that looked like it had been through several wars. Frank also has probably 5,000 albums -- 4,950+ of which he has never played. We haven't figured out yet how to get rid of those.

++ At least 100 flashlights, most cheap plastic ones Frank had gotten as freebies over the years. We threw out almost all of them.

++ Hundreds of batteries, most past their expiration dates and many corroded.

++ More than $1,000 worth of coins that Frank had collected in various desk-top banks and boxes, including $700+ in quarters alone. We took that to his credit union and got it deposited in his account. We then closed his account -- which had been paying him no interest -- and moved all of his money to an online account we had previously set up. The online account pays him 1.05% interest -- not much, but it's better than 0.00%!

++ Two orbital waxers that a UPS driver claimed from the curb, along with a huge bucket of car-care products. One waxer was still new in the box; the other had been used maybe once. Why did Frank need 2 orbital waxers? Because if he hadn't gotten the second, he would have only had one!!

++ A dozen or so heaters, fans and air purifiers of all shapes and sizes. These were popular items among the free stuff we left on the curb. Frank's house was so filled with dust, that he must have felt the air purifiers were a must.

++ An old elliptical trainer and an even older step-climber, neither of which worked. They sat for awhile but were eventually claimed. Frank was NOT an exercise guy.

++ Dozens and dozens of framed pieces of "art" -- if pictures of fake flowers, ducks and Dennis Rodman can be called "art." All the sports-themed stuff went to Frank's great niece, who is setting up a basement bar. The rest went on the freebie pile.

++ Tools, tools and more tools, most of which were claimed by family friends.

++ Bags and bags filled with clothes, many of which were still in their original wrappers. Frank wears a total of 2 pairs of pants and 3 shirts, so he doesn't need 200+ outfits. That clothing -- along with usable linens and kitchen dishes and utensils -- were donated to Frank's church for distribution to the needy.

++ Five boxes of self-help books, most of which were based on various conspiracy theories. Ugh.

++ Carpet-cleaning equipment and at least 4 bucket/mop combos. Frank used to be in the floor-cleaning business. Friends took some of the stuff, the worst junk got pitched.

I could go on, but I won't. Frank used to go to garage sales and flea markets and just buy crapola. I don't know if his goal was to sell it or what, but he must have done 100 times more acquiring than selling. He also was seduced by infomercials, magazine ads, etc. That led him to buy stuff like "exclusive Michael Jordan collector plates featuring genuine reproductions of the greatest player ever's autograph!" He was on every list, and he responded to far too many sales pitches. In addition to the needless stuff he bought, Frank had cases and cases of supplements, creams and other products that were supposed to ward off the aging process.

It's all a form of addiction. It gripped Frank and continues to grip many seniors like him. They are classic victims of those sales schemes.

All of the above referred to Frank in the past tense, even though he is very much alive. Why? Because his days of buying crapola are over. He no longer can drive and he is with us pretty much all the time, so there no longer is the opportunity. Thank goodness!!!

Although cleaning out Frank's place was extremely hard work -- I lost 5 pounds during the week despite daily consumption of a full breakfast, a nice dinner and 2 beers -- it did provide lots of laughs for me and Robbie. I'd be in one room and she'd be in another, and I'd hear:

"Why? Why? WHY? Why does he have 4 or 6 or 8 speakers in every room? Why? He never listened to music!!!!"

We dined three times with friends and twice with Ben and we always had plenty of fodder for conversation!

We are scheduled to go back in October as part of a whirlwind trip that also will take us to Philly for my brother's wedding. We will drop Frank off for an extended (4-6 weeks) with his niece and spend a day or two at his place -- maybe even get it listed with a realtor? Between now and then, I might go back for a long weekend, try to sell some of the furniture he has, arrange to have the rest of the garbage tossed, line up somebody to re-carpet and paint the place, etc. We'll see if I can swing it.

One thing for sure: This reinforced our resolve to NOT be collectors of crud -- so Katie and Ben don't have to go through this someday!!


Upon our return to N.C., I had so much to do that my head was spinning.

One pleasant surprise: I have moved to No. 1 in readership "rankings" for Seeking Alpha's "Dividend Investing Strategy" category.

I'm long past needing my ego stroked for such things, but it's always nice to be No. 1 at anything!


Right before our trip, I ran my week-long girls basketball camp at the school where I coach, Scholars Academy. Everybody had fun and improved a ton, and I might have a new prospect or two for next year's team!


OK, I've got to run now and declare my candidacy for president. I mean, why should I be the only one not to do it?

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