Daily Archives: October 11, 2020

Making Up For Yesterday . . .

As I mentioned yesterday, the drilling and tapping for the Helicoil installation in the rig’s oil filter adapter mount went very easy, too easy, I suspected. And I was right.

Today more than made up for it.

After chamfering the edges of the holes, I started trying to screw in the first Helicoil, which took me several minutes to get it started, but it did screw in fairly easily until it bottomed out. But then the problem started.

I couldn’t get the tool back out of the hole. I could wiggle it but it just wouldn’t come loose. And there shouldn’t have been anything to hold it, it should have just pulled back.

But I wiggle it back and forth, pulled and pushed on it, and even rapped on it with a pair of pliers. And finally after about 10 minutes, it dropped free.

So then it was on to the next one. Which went exactly the same way. Hard to get started, and a lot of trouble getting it loose again. In fact it took me even longer to get it loose this time.

And the 3rd one went south very quickly. First off, when I tried to stick the coil on the tool, I found that the slit in the end of the tool had closed up enough that tang of the coil would not fit down in it. So I had to pry it open a bit with a screwdriver.

Next I got it started with the usual difficulty, but 30 minutes later I still had not gotten the tool to come loose. So I now I started banging on it with a rubber mallet, finally getting loose, only to find that the tool was bent.

Bent Helicoil Tool

At that point I gave it up for the day, and after I got cleaned up, Jan and I headed out for dinner once again at Denny’s.

Jan and I both had the Ultimate Omelet, with bacon, sausage, ham, peppers, onions, and mushrooms, along with fruit and an English Muffin. Really, really good.

Denny's Ultimate Omelet

Coming home I stopped off at O’Reilly’s Auto Parts to get a new Helicoil kit, this one with a new type of tool.

New Helicoil Tool

The coil threads on to the tool and it has a shank that will let it be locked into my tapping tool. So it should easier next time. But we’ll see how it goes, maybe tomorrow.



October 11, 2009

Lazy Day Sunday…

Today started out with a late breakfast at Cracker Barrel.

At least this time we beat the lunch rush.

After Cracker Barrel we drove over to Menards.  Menard’s is a chain we’ve encountered before here in the Midwest.  It’s kind of a cross between a Home Depot and a Tractor Supply Store, with a little Walmart thrown in.

Jan was looking for some storage containers, and I was looking for a drain cleaning brush.

I found my brush, but Jan’s still looking for the right sized container.

That’s it for today…

Thought For The Day:

When you ask me what I am doing today, and I say “nothing,” it does not mean I am free. It means I am doing nothing.

October 11, 2010

Monkey Butt . . .

Jan left about 7 am driving Brandi’s car to pick her and Landon up for a doctor’s appointment. She did this so i wouldn’t have to get up so early to drive her over there.

Thanks, Sweetie!

I left at 10 to head back over to my client in Pearland for several hours. In the meantime Jan and Brandi ate lunch downtown after her appointment and then came home, where i picked her up about 3 pm.

But before heading back to the rig, we stopped off at Spec’s to pick up a a couple bottles of wine for our dinner invitation tonight. It’s called Monkey Bay, and it’s from New Zealand. We just call it Monkey Butt.

It’s funnier after 3 or 4 glasses.

A little before 6 we headed up to Pasadena for dinner with our friend Barbara Cutsinger. She had invited us over to dinner, and while I was there she wanted for me to look at a problem with her laptop.

We had a great time and a great meal. We always enjoy getting together with her.

We got home a little before 10 and that was it for a long day.

I thought I was supposed to be retired. This is too much like work.

More tomorrow…

Thought for the Day:

“The reason that the American army does so well in wartime is that war is chaos, and the American army practices chaos on a daily basis.”   A German General Officer



October 11, 2011

Bagels and Pizza . . .

Today was a travel day so I was up at 7:30, got the coffee started, and then went outside to pack away the satellite stuff and stow the chairs.

By the time I came back inside, it was 8 am and time to wake my sweetie.

After coffee and cinnamon bagels, we finished packing up inside just in time to spend some time with Amy and her family when they came over to say goodbye. We really feel like we’ve found a second home here and look forward to coming back for a visit next year.

Amy and her family will all be spending the winter in Florida so they’ll get some extra time together this winter.

Jan and I are jealous.

Finally about 10:30 we were hitched up and heading out of Smith’s Campground on our way back to Elkhart, IN for a couple of weeks before we start making our way back to Houston for the winter.

The trip was pretty smooth except for a couple of times our GPS routing led us a little astray, so we ended up trundling through a couple of neighborhoods to get back on track, but with no problems.

We got into Elkhart Campground about 3:30 and got set up in our usual sites. By 4 pm we were heading out to our favorite local pizza place, Mancino’s. Since we didn’t stop for lunch, we were all pretty hungry and the pizza and garlic breadsticks really hit the spot.

Finally getting home I got the satellite set up and we were in for the night.

Thought for the Day:

“In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American… There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile…We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language…and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.” — Theodore Roosevelt, 1919



October 11, 2012

Wakefield, Pizza, and Mt. Vernon . . .

You may remember the new moose that Jan bought a couple weeks ago.

New Moose in Car

Turns out that Mister likes it too.

Mister and Moose


About noon we headed out, first to visit Wakefield, the George Washington’s Birthplace National Monument, located about 10 miles south of where we’re parked.

This is a replica house, built in the 1930’s, on the foundation of what was thought at the time to be Washington’s birthplace. But it turns out that this was the second house built in this area.

Washington House 2

Further excavations in the 1970’s found the actual foundations of Washington’s birth house about 100 yards southeast of the house above.

You can see them outlined in white below.

Washington House 7


We were told the rooms are furnished with pieces of furniture from the era, although Jan and I wondered about this because the dining room chairs shown below are identical down to the fabric, of ones we had in our sticks & bricks. So who knows.

Washington House 1


The canopy bed below is one of only two pieces in the house that actually belonged to the Washington family.

Washington House 5


This is the outside kitchen located about 15 yards away from the main house. This was done for safety reasons because of the fire danger.

Washington House 4


Washington House 6


This is the view of Pope’s Creek and the nearby Potomac River. Like the view from the porch at Mt. Vernon, it’s humbling to look out at this scene and know that George Washington once stood here and looked out at this same view.

Washington House 3


One thing we noticed is that there are squirrels everywhere here. And they’re pretty fearless, sitting right in front of you and staring right back at you.

Washington House 8


Leaving Wakefield, we headed south about 10 miles down to Montross to check out Angelo’s Pizza, a place recommended by several  blog readers. And boy was it good!

Jan loved hers too.

I had the Combo Baked Spaghetti with sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, and meatballs.

Angelo's Baked Spaghetti


And we all had some great baklava for dessert. We agreed we wanted to come back.

Coming back to the park I was hoping to pick up an Amazon package from the office, but they were already closed, so that’s for tomorrow.

Tomorrow we’re looking forward to visiting Stratford Hall, Robert E. Lee’s birthplace. As it turns out there’s a lot of ‘birthplaces’ around here. James Monroe’s is right down the road, but it’s already closed for the season. So maybe next year.

Following up on the Washington theme, I’ve reposted our visit to Mt. Vernon in 2009.


Thought for the Day:

Luck is the residue of opportunity and design.

– John Milton

Mt. Vernon, George Washington, but no cherry tree…

Originally posted on July 11, 2009

This is our last full day here in the Washington DC area, so we started it with breakfast for one last time at the Silver Diner.

After that we drove down to Mt Vernon to visit George Washington’s home on the Potomac River.

Mount Vernon


We got there about 11 am and the place was packed. They were already into overflow parking.

After watching a very good film at the Welcome Center on George Washington in the French and Indian War, and the Revolutionary War, we headed up the house itself.

And ran into a very long line.



They said it would take about 55 minutes to get into the house.

They lied. It took over 90 minutes to get in.

But in the meantime, we got to see some very old trees lining the path that were planted by George Washington.





They even have these old trees protected with lightning rods to keep them safe.

Lightning Rod


Finally we got within sight of the actual house itself.

Mount Vernon2


After touring the very large house (over 9000 square feet in three floors) we got to sit on the wide front porch and look out on the same river view that George Washington used to enjoy.

One interesting tidbit we learned from one of the guides during the house tour was that George and Martha must have presented a somewhat odd appearance as a couple.

George was about 6′ 3″ and Martha was 4′ 11″. Talk about ‘stooping to conquer”.

View from porch


And from the big smile on her face, Jan enjoys it too.

Jan on Porch


After leaving Mount Vernon, we drove over to Alexandria, VA to eat at the Chart House restaurant on the Potomac River.

After a very good meal we headed back to the coach to get ready to leave tomorrow morning.

Thought For The Day:

I hate it when a couple argues in public, and I missed the beginning and don’t know whose side I’m on.



October 11, 2014  

They Roam in Packs . . .

Well, the frack equipment really started moving in today with our vehicle count jumping up to 224 for the 24 hours, roughly one vehicle every 6 minutes or so. Now that doesn’t seem too bad, and it wouldn’t be, except it doesn’t work like that.

Because like I’ve said before, they roam in packs. I will have nothing for 15 minutes and then suddenly I’ve got ten trucks lined up trying to get in. And of course, this is the perfect time for six trucks to try and leave, all on our little one lane road, and all at the same time.

Then the opposing sides play ‘chicken’ trying to decide who’s going to have to back up or pull off to the side. But pulling off to the side was very risky today because of all the rain we had this morning, turning the road shoulders to muck.

But we’d finally get it all worked out, and then15 minutes later do it all again. Rinse, Lather, Repeat.

The way the rain started this morning was kind of weird. It had been nice all night, short sleeve weather, about 74°, and then a few minutes after 5am, it suddenly got very cold, almost a 10° drop. No wind, just cold.

Then after about 10 more minutes the winds really kicked up, with some very strong gusts. Finally after about another 30 minutes it finally started raining. And kept at it pretty much all day. Yuck!

One thing I’ve noticed about rain in this area is the way the roads handle it. Down south of San Antonio where we gate guarded the last two years, the oil lease roads are all made from caliche, a form of limestone. It makes a very hard road, very strong, as it gets packed down.

But let it rain, and the surface turns to . . . well, one guy described it as ‘slicker ‘n snot’. Crude, but very descriptive. It’s almost like trying to walk on ice. And then after it gets in your boot treads and it dries, you have to chip it out with a screwdriver because it’s hardened like concrete. No fun.

But the roads up here are obviously made differently, and don’t seem to have the ‘snot’ problem. That’s a good thing.

When Jan retired the end of November, 2007, she took off her watch and didn’t put it back on for 5 years, and that was when we started gate guarding in 2012. So now it gets used about 3 months a year.

But when she pulled it out this year, of course the battery was dead. It took a while to find the right one, but I finally found one and installed it the other day. And the watch ran great . . . for about two days. I pulled the new battery out and put in the 2nd one in the pack, with no luck. Bummer.

Then I thought about the ‘magic fluid’, Strike Hold. I was first introduce to this stuff at a RV rally in Goshen, IN this past year, when I saw a guy put his hands in a vat of it with a lit bulb, unscrew it and then screw it back in.

Strike-Hold Electric Bulb

I had to have some of this.

Turns out that it was developed for the US military to clean weapons, and keep them lubricated without attracting dirt. And it’s also really good about cleaning electrical contacts and circuits.

A couple of months ago I pulled out our Kindle Fire and found it would not charge. Googling, I found it was a known problem with the power connection in the Kindle, and Amazon would replace your Kindle under warranty. Well, my Fire was almost two years old, so that was out. Then I thought about Strike Hold, and thought I’d give it a try. Didn’t have anything to lose.

I stood the Fire on its end and spray a couple of squirts of Strike Hold down in the connector and let it sit overnight. Next morning I plugging in the charger cable, and presto, it started charging.

So I decided to give it a try on Jan’s watch I popped the back off, removed the battery, and thoroughly soaked the insides with Strike Hold. After letting it sit for about an hour I turned it over to let it drain.

Then after a couple of more hours, I put the battery back in and the back on, and presto again, it started working again.

Strike-Hold Bottles

Like I said, Strike Hold, The Magic Fluid. Give it a try for what ails you.


Thought for the Day:

The United States is 3rd in murders throughout the World.

But if you take out just 4 cities: Chicago, Detroit, Washington DC and New Orleans, the United States is 4th from the bottom, in the entire world!

ALL 4 of these cities have some of the toughest Gun Control Laws in the U.S.

Might there be a connection?



October 11, 2015

Dang Cold Mule . . .

Well, I think I’ve figured that my ‘lazy’ Mule isn’t ‘lazy’ after all. He’s just cold.

After last night’s blog post, I was thinking about what was causing one of my Mighty Mule Driveway Alarms not to work at night, when it worked perfectly in the daytime, especially now that I moved it a little closer to us. Then, in one of those ‘Doh’ moments, I realized what the problem had to be.

It was cold.

Up until recently our night time temps have been the 70’s, with dips into the high 60’s. But in the last week or two, the temps have started dropping into the 50’s, at least for a few hours. So yesterday I had Jan start noting the time it stopped working and then started up again. And last night was a great test. Especially with tonight as a comparison.

Last night’s low was in the low 50’s, and the 82° day temp started dropping fast as soon as the sun went down. When I came out at 11pm, Jan said it hadn’t been working for a while, and it never worked all night for me.

But about 9:30 this morning, Jan said it suddenly started working again, and was fine all day. Now at 8am this morning the temperature here was 55°, but by 10am it was 75. So somewhere in there the unit warmed up enough to start working again.

The real proof, however, is that tonight, at midnight, it’s still working. Because the temperature is 72 degrees right now. It’s supposed to go down to between 65 and 68 degrees later tonight, so I’ll see if it drops out in that range.

Of course, at the same time, my other Mule is still working fine, hot or cold. So tomorrow I’ll call the company to see about getting a replacement transmitter.

I recounted last week how much trouble I had checking out at a Shreveport Wal-Mart using my new ‘chipped’ VISA debit card. BTW when you use your ‘chipped’ card in one of the new readers, it’s called ‘dipping’. Chips and Dip, get it?

No? I didn’t think much of it, either.

Anyway, apparently, I’m not the only one having problems with these cards and readers. Check it out here. Chip Card Problems

I’m just glad to see that the Carthage Wal-Mart still hasn’t started using the new readers, even though they have them installed.

Wrapping up, once again today, we did 55 vehicles coming in the gate. It’ll be interesting to see if this is the norm from now on, or just a weekend thing.

We’ll see. Either way, it was nice.


Famous Last Words:

From Oscar Wilde on his death bed –

“This wallpaper is dreadful. ‘Either it goes, or I do.”



October 11, 2016

Strike-Hold Strikes Again . . .

Last week I mentioned having a problem with the rig’s rear right turn signal. Of course I figured it was probably the bulb, especially since in the 8 years we’ve owned our rig, we’ve never had any outside bulb burn out. So it was about time.

But when I removed the lens and pulled the bulb, it looked fine. But just in case, I tested it with my ohmmeter. Yep, still good.

So today I pulled out the big gun,  the wonder fluid, Strike-Hold, fixer of all things electrical. And a lot of other stuff too.


I’ve used Strike-Hold to resurrect a Kindle PaperWhite that would no longer charge, and a number of other devices, so I had big hopes this time too. And once again it came through. I turned on the emergency flashers and went outside. After a quick spray of S-H in the socket, I plugged the bulb in and it was now working.  Done.

Since I was on a electrical bent, next up I replaced the truck battery with the new one I got at Sam’s Club yesterday. Since I had already sprayed all the terminals and hold-down screws with PB Blaster yesterday, every thing came loose pretty quickly.

So I had the old one out and the new one in in only about 15 minutes. And after spraying the terminals with Battery Terminal Protectant, I was done.

The only hitch was one of those little things that just strike me as stupid. There are three nuts on the battery and the mount. One on the negative terminal, one on the positive terminal, and one on the hold-done bolt.

And all three are a different size. A 8mm, a 9mm, and a 10mm. So what, they can’t standardize? It takes 3 different sockets to take the battery out?

Tomorrow I’ll take the old battery back to Sam’s and get my $18 core charge back.

I mentioned yesterday that a prospective new website client, Asian BBQ & Grill, was interested in my setting up an online ordering system for take out orders.

Since I had never done this before, and didn’t really know anything about it, I told him of course I could do it with no problem. LOL.

It wouldn’t be the first time over the years I’ve done this, and so far I’ve always come through. Once I took a consulting job to reprogram the CNC computer system in a machine shop. CNC stands for Computer Numerical Control, and is the programming language that runs routers, lathes, milling machines and others.

This was on a Thursday, and since it was a 3 day weekend coming up, I told him I’d be back on Tuesday. Then on my way home I stopped off at Barnes and Noble and picked up 4 books on CNC programming, from beginner to advanced. By Tuesday I was an expert, at least in book learning. But I was able to able to complete the job ahead of schedule and the client was happy.

Jan says I like to ride that ragged edge. So true.

But with a little research last night on ordering systems, I came up with this one. And you can give it a try for yourself.


It’s a dummy version that let’s you order from an Italian restaurant. When you’re done, and check out, you will get an email confirmation. It also saves your name, email, and phone number, so the next time you order it knows who you are. Looks like it will do the job.

Check it out.

For dinner tonight Jan fixed salads and homemade pizzas. The pizzas were done on flour tortillas, with pepperoni, sliced mushrooms, and pizza cheese. And then it’s all melted together in the microwave.

But the salads are a little new for us. Last week we came across these ‘salad kits’ at the store and decided to give them a try.

Sweet kale Salad Kit

Turns out they’re really good.  The Sweet Kale Chopped Salad Kit has broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale and chicory, topped with all natural, dried cranberries, roasted pumpkin seeds, and a really delicious poppyseed dressing.

Then Jan adds cukes, cherry tomatoes, and croutons, and it looks like this.

Chopped Kale Salad

Really good. They also have several other Kits that look very tasty too.

For dessert, earlier in the day, Jan cooked up one of her delicious Sopapilla Cheesecakes. Really quick and easy, and a great dessert.

Sopapilla Cheesecake 3

Things may be looking up in the search for a new gate position. Earlier today I had emailed an application in to SiteWatch, and about 7:30 this evening I got a email back from Cole saying he’d contact me tomorrow.

Hopefully  we’ll here something before we have to move to Colorado River on Thursday.

Thought for the Day:

Shouldn’t the Discovery Channel should be on a different channel every day?



October 11, 2017

Powerball and Poultry . . .

Again getting down to Clear Lake, I hit the ground running . . . and printing this morning. The CD/DVD labels had come in, as well as a new Black Ink cartridge for my old HP 2542 printer

Rather than throw away/give away my old HP printer, I took it into work to repurpose it as a product label printer for the many produced-in-house products we have. Besides the DVD’s, they buy many products in bulk and then repackage and label under their own brand.

Since the old IT guy didn’t like to fool with this, they were way behind in labels so I spent the entire day catching up. Really wasn’t difficult since once you make up a basic label for that brand name, it’s just fill in the product and save it off, ready to print more as needed.

Getting home a few minutes after 5pm, Jan and I turned right around and headed back out to meet Debi and Ed Hurlburt at China Delight for dinner.

Jan and I both tried something different tonight. While I got the Black Pepper Beef,

China Delight Black Pepper Beef

Jan got the Volcano Chicken. (which I didn’t get a photo of)

Really good, but not very spicy. Even the small red peppers weren’t hot at all.

Both ours was supposed to be really, really hot and spicy. But their idea of ‘hot and spicy is apparently completely different than ours. So I added some of my Volcanic Pepper Flakes to spice it up a bit. Or a lot, depending on your taste buds.

Coming home, I made a stop to get a few Powerball lottery tickets. Sine tonight’s drawing is up to $128 Million, I thought it was worth gambling a few bucks.

This Update Just In: I didn’t win. But you already knew that, didn’t you.

Chicago’s Soda Tax that went into effect August 2nd, has, as I predicted, already crashed and burned, and as of today, has been repealed by the City Council, effective December 1st.

But Chicago’s Soda Tax has been through so many iterations, they actually had trouble figuring out which version they were repealing. The first version taxed the distributors who then passed it on to the buyer. But that resulted in a tax on a tax at the retail level, which is illegal under Illinois law.

Their next try was to add the tax at the cash register like sales tax. But the Federal Government quickly told them that they couldn’t tax any food product bought with Federal nutrition benefits, so that took 870,000 people out of the taxing loop, collapsing the expected revenues.

Plus as businesses tried to frantically reprogram their cash register systems to separate out the the purchasers buying with bennies, many of them crashed and burned, leaving customers unable to check out at all.

In addition many people lost their jobs as bottlers cut back due to greatly-lessened demand. and a number of convenience stores near the city limits went under due to people going outside the city to buy soda, and of course while there, buy gas and other stuff they need.

Philadelphia, another city that started taxing sodas in January, really jumped the gun and set up a massive pre-K education system that was to be funded by the soda tax money that was just going to roll in.

But now, 10 months later, they’ve collected less than 25% of the monies expected, leaving them scrambled to find other funds from an already tight budget to the keep the program running. This because they signed long-term leases for buildings, and signed teachers to contracts that they’re now stuck with.

Seems like they forgot the whole thing about numerical calculations with unborn poultry.

The Word of the Day is:  Interdigitate

Thought for the Day:

One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity, there ain’t nothin’ can beat teamwork. – Edward Abbey



October 11, 2018

Unicorns and Rainbows . . .

I went out this morning to try and get our DirecTV satellite set up. I knew if was going to be touch ‘n go due to the tall trees directly behind our rig. I spent about 15 minutes walking around the rig, using the Satfinder app to try and find a  gap in the trees that  would let me get a shot at the DirecTV satellite located at 101°

Finally I found one spot at the front edge of our site, almost out in the road, that looked like it might work.


So I got the dome in position and went inside to see how it was going to work. And though I’m only getting about 75% signal level, it is working so Jan’s happy with it.

For dinner tonight at Beef O’Brady’s Jan got a Mushroom Cheddar Burger with Grilled Onions,

Beef O' Brady's Mushroom Cheddar Burger

while I got the Amarillo Firecracker Burger with Fried Jalapenos, Bacon, and Monterey Jack Cheese.

Beef O' Brady's Amarillo Firecracker Burger

Really, really good, and worth going back for.

Tomorrow we’re driving down to West Palm Beach to catch with our long-time friend, Charlee. Jan and Charlee worked together at M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital back in the early 80’s before she moved out to Florida. We last got together with her and her husband Bill back in 2009, so it will be good to catch up.

We’ll spend the night before coming back on Saturday afternoon. Really looking forward to it.

Now on to Landon’s latest artwork. Or maybe I should say “Fartwork”.

Brandi asked him to draw her a picture of a Unicorn. So 8 year old boys being 8 year old boys, Landon drew a Unicorn and an Ogre having a farting contest.

Landon Unicorn Fartwork

It’s kind of hard to read the speech bubbles, but the Ogre says, “I have the most powerful fart in the world” and the Unicorn goes “Oh yeah I have a rainbow missile!!”

But it is a real good drawing of a Unicorn.

Thought for the Day:

Don’t fire unless fired upon, but if they mean to have a war, let it begin here — Captain John Parker, The Battle of Lexington – 1775

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