Daily Archives: September 6, 2020

My Baby’s Back Home . . .

I headed up to Katy about noon to bring my Sweetie back home. We did take time for lunch at El Pollo Loco, one of our favorite places. We had a couple down in our area a couple of years ago, but they went under late last year. Both very badly managed and never once got our take-out orders right.

El Pollo Loco Chicken Meal

But the one up in Katy is always great.

I was back to looking at the fuse/relay panel on the rig’s dashboard this morning, and I think I made a little headway. I’m hoping that I found the interface plug from the fuse panel that feeds the wiring harness back to the PDC (Power Distribution Center) at the rear of the rig that then feeds the taillights.

RV Dashboard Wiring Harness

I found it tucked away off to the side out of the way. So now I’ve got to start ringing it out, since I have absolutely no data, pinouts, or color-codes for it.

Somewhere around here I’ve got a circuit tracer that should help me out.

Thought For The Day:
“The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.” –  Conquest’s Third Law of Politics


More From Newfoundland

September 6, 2009

Icebergs and Puffins…Not!

After availing ourselves of the free breakfast at our hotel, we headed out for the 280 mile drive to Twillingate, an island peninsular north-north west of St. John’s.

Twillingate is known as Iceberg Capitol of the World and has boat tours to see them, and also puffins and whales. And we wanted to see them all.

But on our way out of town we stopped to take some pictures of St. John’s. It’s a very quaint town of about 100,000 people, with brightly colored buildings, and, of course, the beautiful backdrop of the countryside.

St Johns 1

St Johns 2

St Johns 3

And St. John’s has its own version of the iconic mascot statues we’ve seen in other towns. In this case, it’s an mermaid perched on an iceberg. Here’s an example.

St Johns Mermaid

On our way out of town, and talking over our schedule, we decided to stay an extra day in Newfoundland if we could. So I called the RV park in Louisbourg to see if they could accommodate us for another day. When they said they could, I then called the Ferry to see if we could move our return trip from the 8th to the 9th. No problem. Five minutes and it was done. Aren’t cell phones wonderful!

Along the way, Jan finally had a moose sighting. It didn’t appear scared at all. It just stood there like a statue.

Moose Sighting

About lunch time we stopped at place called “Mary Brown’s Famous Chicken and Taters”. This is a Newfoundland chain that seems to be everywhere here. The ‘taters’ are fried potato wedges. I’m not sure it would beat “The Colonel”, but it was good.

After lunch we drove across the street to a combination gift shop/visitor’s center, where we had another moose sighting. This time it was a whole family. And, again, they seemed strangely unafraid of us. It was like we could have just walked right up and petted them.

Moose Sighting 2

A while later we stopped at a scenic pull-out to stretch our legs and take in the view. Noticing one of the telescopes you see at these spots, I walked over to take a look.

Telescope 1

And I was surprised to see who the manufacturer is.

Telescope 2

I know this family, or, at least, I think I do. I assume they still own it, since it’s the same name.

I took piano lessons in the late 50’s, early 60’s from Mama Dot Cain. Her husband owned this company and they must be doing good, since I see them everywhere, and now in Canada, too.

Small World!

Along the way we saw a lot of interesting flora.


Flowers 1


Flowers 2

Arriving in Twillingate, we found a small, neat fishing village with a lot of local charm and atmosphere.

Twillingate 1

Twillingate 2

Twillingate 3

On our way into town, we stopped at the place that offers the boat tours to sign up for a tour tomorrow morning. And were very disappointed to find out that both the icebergs and the puffins had gone south for the summer. All we could see were whales and dolphins.  Bummer!

We decide to pass, so went to check into our hotel. While we were registering, the manager said “Susan, come out here. These people sound just like you!”

Turns out the reason she sounded like us is that she’s from Houston too. She was here visiting the manager and his family. She lives in The Woodlands, and also worked at Johnson Space Center, like me, although she was just starting about the time I left. We even worked in some of the same buildings at JSC.

Another Small World moment!

After getting set up in our room, we took a drive out to Crow Head, an area at the tip of the island, that juts out into the North Atlantic, with some spectacular scenery just as the sun was going down.

Sun on Water

Crow Head 1

Crow Head 2

Crow Head 3

Crow Head 4

Crow Head 5

Coming back to the hotel, we had a very good meal at the restaurant, and then turned in after a long day.

More Tomorrow…

Gate Guarding in South Texas

September 6, 2013

It once was lost but now it’s found . . .

Our replacement canopy came in yesterday, right on schedule. So sometime in the next couple of nights, Jan and I will take down the old one and set up the new one. But first I’m going to check all the joints to be sure the bolts are tight so we don’t have a repeat of what happened with the first one. Hopefully it will only take about 30 minutes or so to switch them out, but it will also depend on how much traffic we have through the gate then. We’ll see.

One thing I’ve noticed recently is that apparently, bugs, specifically moths, have schedules. We have a couple of these work light stands that the company gives us to light up the gate at night.

Work LIght Stand
And of course they do attract moths. But only on certain nights. So one night we have almost none, and other nights it’s like a plague of locusts. They’re everywhere, swarming around the lights and landing on the ceiling of the canopy, and on us. Other nights, zip, zero, nada.

The only thing I can figure is that they all get together as a group and rotate through visiting each of the gate guards in the area on different nights. Don’t want to get bored with just one location. Makes sense to me.

Speaking of lights, we love these powerful LED flashlights.

LED Flashlights

Techlite Lumen Master 200 Lumens High-Intensity CREE XPG L.E.D. Tactical Flashlight, 3 Pack

The 3 pack is only about $36, and you can get them in singles too, I believe. You just cannot look at one of these directly without being blinded. They have a high setting, a low setting, and an emergency strobe light setting. You will be amazed at how far these will throw a beam.

We use them to be able read license plates at a distance at night, and occasionally, I will flash one at a big rig driver who hasn’t dimmed his lights like he’s supposed to. It gets their attention quick.

I guess there was a late night party going on at the fracking site last night/this morning because at about 2:30 am, the Hell Fighters’ Kitchen truck came by and dropped off two Pork Tenderloin Dinners for us. This is the 3rd time they’ve stopped, and it’s always been delicious. We’d heard that fracking crews get fed more often than drill rigs and it’s looking to be true.

Under the Lost and Found department, I went in to Pleasanton to get groceries at the Wal-Mart today, and managed to lose my phone. Well, let’s say, misplaced. I was buying cat food, and at first, couldn’t find the flavor that Jan wanted (well, I guess it’s the flavor the cats wanted. I don’t think Jan has tasted it to find out if it’s a flavor she likes.) So I got out my phone to call her to get another recommendation. But I saw the one I was looking for and set the phone down on the shelf. Then after loading the cart, I wheeled away minus my phone. I wasn’t more than 30 feet away when I realized I had left it, so I went back.

NO phone.

I couldn’t figure out where it went. There was no one else on the row while I was there. I thought it might have fallen behind some of the cases on the shelf so I found a young salesgirl and asked her to call my phone.

NO luck.


So I went ahead and finished up my shopping and checked out, stopping by the Customer Service desk on the way out.

NO luck.

No one had turned it in. So I headed back to the rig after a quick McD stop for our lunch. After getting home, and Jan and I eating outside together, I called my phone from hers.

NO answer


Then waiting a few more minutes, I called again. And Wal-Mart answered.


Someone had turned it in, so I told them I’d be back tomorrow and gave them my name. As I hung up, Jan mentioned that Rhonda, one of the railroad crossing gate guards down the road, had left a little while ago, heading to Wal-Mart. So I called and asked her to pick it up for me.

And about an hour later, she shows up with my phone. Said she had a little problem getting them to give it to her. She said they told her they wanted to call me and get my permission. She said how are you going to do that? You have his phone. Duh!

I wasn’t really worried about any of the info on the phone getting into the wrong hands. There’s no passwords or any like that stored on it. And besides, I have “Where’s My Droid” on it.

This program gives me complete remote control of the phone. From another phone, or from their website, I can make it sound a siren noise, strobe the camera flash, take pictures from the front or back cameras and email them to me, locate the phone from the phone network or GPS coordinates, email them to me, or even display the location on Google Maps.

Finally I can lock the phone where it cannot be used, and, if worse comes to worse, I can ‘brick’ it, wipe it clean.

And if it was stolen, and the thief took the battery out for a while, just in case, then all of this will happen as soon as he puts the battery back in. This can also happen if he tries to remove the SIM card so he can reuse it.

Great product. Check it out.

Thought for the Day:

The reward for a job well-done is usually just a harder job.

Gate Guarding In East Texas

September 6, 2014

Why did the Armadillo Cross The Road?

Gate traffic really picked up today with 144 vehicles through, most of them big trucks bringing in the drill rig that’s going up across the road from us. But things quiet down a good bit after dark. I normally only get 3 or 4 vehicles between 11pm and 7am.

Rig Going Up 1

This is what it looks like so far. I’ll post more photos as it goes up.

One thing nice about these rig trucks coming in is that it’s the same ones over and over, so once we recognize the tag number then we can just wave them through. Really speeds things up.

Now that the housing trailers are in place and set up, we’re getting the first of the crew in who will live onsite, either in one week or two week shifts of 12 hour days, seven days a week.

The armadillo apparently crosses the road to get to the scummy pond behind us.

Scummy Pond

He came across the road about 3am, and along the way, he bumped into the light stand and then into the generator trailer before he disappeared into the dark behind the rig. But about an hour later, he showed up again, heading home, I guess. Unfortunately I didn’t get the flash turned on on my phone camera in time to get a photo.

When I first saw the pond I was worried about mosquitos, but so far this gate has been remarkably bug-free. No tarantulas. No scorpions.  And no enormous grasshoppers.

Besides the scummy pond we do have a nice view in the other direction.

Nice View

Certainly a lot different than our gates down in the Whitsett area.

Lowell sent over this photo of Landon at T-Ball practice. He’s playing pitcher, though the pitcher doesn’t pitch in T-Ball. It’s mainly a fielding position as the pitcher and the first baseman get most of the action since 4yr. old’s can’t hit the ball that far.

Landon Pitching

Since he’s a lefty at writing, I assume that he will be at ball-throwing too, although that’s not always the case.

For dinner tonight Jan fixed up another batch of her wonderful Nachos, and like the other day, made them with crushed canned Hot Chili Beans, rather than bean dip.


Quick, easy, and delicious. One of our favorite gate meals.


Thought for the Day:

“A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.” — Sir Francis Bacon

More East Texas Gate Guarding At A Really Slow Gate

September 6, 2015

Nuttin’, Honey . . .

and probably not tomorrow, either.

Despite several workers saying they’d be back in today, nobody showed up, except the landowner’s son, and he was just passing through.

Because we thought we would have traffic this morning, Jan sat outside until about 10:30am when it started to get hot and she still hadn’t had anyone come through.

A little before noon I drove into Carthage to pick up some 20 amp ATM fuses to replace the one that blew Friday night, taking out our bathroom 12 volt lights. Since the fuse panel also uses some 10 and 15 amp ones, I picked up some of all three types. After replacing the bad one, I tucked the rest away inside the panel so I’ll know where they are when I need them again. Otherwise, if it’s another 8 years until another one blows, I probably won’t be able to find them.

And of course I made a stop at Whataburger to bring back lunch, and also drop off a bag of garbage in their dumpster. The manager told me a couple of weeks ago that it wasn’t a problem, which really helps since we don’t yet have, and may not get, a trash trailer here.

Later in the afternoon, I dug out my other LED bulb to replace the one that burned out in the shower.


Both of these came out of my outside patio lights when I upgraded them to use the LED strips that give out a lot more light.

LED Replacement Lights 1

But after plugging the new one, I got an idea of what happened to the first one Friday night. As soon as I flipped the switch, the bulb lit up, and then flared and popped with a loud snap and a burst of light. The bulb itself had turned black and partially melted the housing.

Looking back, I guess we’re lucky that only the fuse blew. It takes a pretty good short circuit to blow a 20amp fuse, and not telling what could have happened.

Finishing up, here’s another photo of Landon having fun at the Woodlands Resort this Labor Day weekend.

Landon at the Woodlands 3


Thought for the Day:

Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered – either by themselves or by others.” – Mark Twain

September 6, 2016

Well, At Least They Were Nice About It . . .

With 61 vehicles through the gate today, our count was back to normal after the slow holiday weekend. Nice, but it didn’t last.

I did get both bells working again, at least for a while anyway. The one behind us, at the entrance from the highway, the one we really need, wears out the fastest, because it’s on hard pavement. But the other one, at the entrance to the actual pad, is on dirt, so it’s a little more forgiving and lasts longer.

About 12:15 this afternoon I drove over to the Hearne Post Office to retrieve my wayward Amazon package. I had called them at 7am this morning hoping to catch someone there early before they had a chance to send it back.

The lady was very nice and quickly found my package and said they’d hold it for me. But after getting there, it all kinda went downhill.

But they were nice about it.

I explained my situation, and that according to the landowner, that this is valid address, and that he’s received UPS, FedEx, and Priority Mail there with no problems. I said we were just a quarter mile down the road from Blue Moon BBQ, and that I’d seen the mail truck there delivering mail.

They said that to have mail delivered to us I needed to put a mailbox out on the highway. I said that Blue Moon doesn’t have a mailbox. The carrier walked inside and handed them the mail so why can’t he just stop here and hand me my package.

That stumped them for a minute, before one of them said that I could just get a PO Box at the post office. I explained that Amazon won’t ship to a PO Box because they can’t guarantee how something would be shipped. If it comes by UPS or FedEx then the PO Box address won’t work.

I then ask if I put a mailbox out on the highway and I get a package that won’t fit in the mailbox, which I doubt any of ours will. (today’s package was the size of a briefcase), what’s going to happen? Will he drive the additional 50 feet and hand the package to one of us, or will he put a slip in the mailbox telling us we can pick our package up at the Post Office?

Stumped ‘em again.

Then I ask that if I were to get a PO Box there, and a package came in and it wouldn’t fit in the box, what would happen? One of them said that they would put a slip in the box telling me I had a package and that I could pick it up at the counter.

So then I ask how is that any different than what I’m doing now? Why do I need a PO Box when Amazon won’t ship to a PO Box.  When Amazon notifies me the package is here, I’ll come over and pick it up.

Stumped ‘em again.

But they were nice about it.

So I don’t know where I stand on this. I’ve got a couple of more packages in the pipeline, so we’ll just see what happens.

But I’m sure they’ll be nice about it.

On the subject of Amazon, one of the things in our Amazon care package today was a Laptop/Book light like this.

Laptop LIght

I’ve already got one like it for our big clock in the rig, but I wanted another one to light our clock outside under the canopy.

New Clock Light

One thing that I like about this one is that it is both battery-powered and USB rechargeable. Some I’ve used only work when they’re plugged into a USB port, and others are only battery-powered so you have to keep replacing the batteries.

Works great.

Wrapping up, it looks like Fall may be peeking around the corner, at least for a few days. By next weekend we’re looking at highs in the low to mid 80’s and lows at night in the mid 60’s.


Thought for the Day:

“In the scientific world the worst kind of evidence is eyewitness testimony because it is so unreliable. Yet it will get you convicted in the a court of law.”

Jan’s Petting Sitting At Brandi’s While The Rig, Karma, And I Are At The Conroe Thousand Trails RV Park.

September 6, 2017

Little Green Trees . . .

Not wanting to get bit again by Miss Karma due to not feeding her at the accustomed time, I was up about 8:30 this morning.

But I also needed to be on the road to Clear Lake by about 9:45 to get down there for another client visit. But first I had to check out of the park here and then check back in for our next 11 day stay, ending on the 17th. Of course that’s only 11 days so we can extend another 3 if we have to. But sometime in there we’re going to have to move I imagine, since we will have been here over 30 days. All of course due to Harvey.

But I guess it’s still up in the air if we’re going to be able to move over to Colorado River as scheduled due to the severe damage they had from the flooding. So we’ll see.

My next stop was the Kroger’s over in Willis for gas. Found no lines and a $0.20 per gallon discount with my Kroger card, leaving it at $2.19 a gallon. Not bad under the circumstances.

Somewhere along i-45 south, near the Dairy Ashford exit, I saw this place.

Headstone World

Headstone World

I figure it must be new, otherwise I’m sure I would have noticed it before. But maybe not.

So what’s next? Drive-by Cremations?

Don’t know what was going on today, but the traffic going through downtown Houston and out the other side was really terrible. Almost like suddenly there were twice as many cars on the road as before.

Didn’t any accidents or breakdowns. Just solid traffic.

Getting to the client’s, I started trying to diagram out the hardware to get an idea of what’s what. I’m pretty much just going to wire everything up from scratch since I can’t really trust anything done by my predecessor. Right now I’ve got cables running down the hall keeping things going.

Client Computers

I keep finding hidden routers and switchers, wires that he pulled that seem to have no purpose and don’t really go anywhere, and a server that is online and flowing data, but does not show up on the office network. That’s the one labeled ??? on the diagram.

It’s up on a top shelf in a closet with no monitor or keyboard/mouse connected to it. Of course it could be the almost-mythical porn collection that I’ve always suspected was around here somewhere. It is possible to to ‘hide’ a server so that it’s only accessible if you know its name. Otherwise you can’t see it.

This is kind of like on a WiFi signal you can set it not to broadcast the SSID, the name that people see when they scan for signals in an area, i.e  Gerald4269 or Jabba162. Or my favorite, FBI Surveillance Van No. 7. And the only way to connect to one of these WiFi signals is to know the name and type it in.

After about all the frustration I could take for the day, I headed back for Conroe a little before 4pm. Now normally heading north that early it’s not too bad. But this afternoon was just like this morning, but on steroids.

No accidents or breakdowns on the road along the way, but just bumper to bumper traffic, even in places where it normally moves right along at this time of the day.

As usual, coming north like this, I took 610 east and got on the Hardy Toll Road. Of course right now it’s just the Hardy Road since they’ve waived all tolls because of the Hurrican Harvey recovery. Don’t know how long it will last, but it’s nice while it does.

One of the things Jan and I have always notice as we take the Hardy is a huge parking area where the new cars are unloaded from the incoming train cars. Now normally that lot seems to be only half full, or even less. But today it was jam-packed to the fences with no visible open spaces, and the long line of train cars parked there were full too.

Looks like the car dealers are getting ready for the insurance checks to start flowing and people replacing their flooded-out vehicles.

And of course up north, they can expect an influx of late-model, low-mileage used cars and trucks in perfect condition with prices that can’t be beat.

Just ignore the slight musty smell.

Hang one of those little greens trees from your visor and you’ll be fine.

Thought for the Day:

“Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win the war.”

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