Daily Archives: October 23, 2020

And Now We Wait . . .

Since we’ve got a cold front coming through tonight, down to the 50’s, it was preceded by rain, which means that the rear of the coach is a puddle, so I’ll wait until tomorrow to do a test idle on the rig.

As usual when I’m working on a problem, I’m also working on backup plans for the problem. So today I put a call into Cummins to confirm what I had been told previously about the engine oil cooler.

The latest version is a 1 piece unit, not a 2 piece model like I have now.

Cummins Oil Cooler

So there’s no pesky gasket to leak like I have now. I guess I’m not the only person to have a problem with this.

So why haven’t I gone ahead and just installed this new cooler?

Well, I’m cheap.  But you already knew that, didn’t you.

Honestly, I don’t think I can install this myself. At least not lying on my back like I have to do. It looks like the rig would have to be up on a lift or over a pit to be able to reach up in there to get the bolts. And you can’t to them from up top because the cooler is located right under the firewall between the bedroom and the engine compartment.

But the cost is why replacing it is my last-gasp effort. I can buy it online for about $800, but by the time I have a shop replace it, with their markup and labor we’re probably looking at $2000 or so.

So I want to exhaust all the other avenues first before I go that route. And I still have a few more arrows in my quiver to try first.

I did get our South Dakota Absentee Ballots back in the mail today. Hopefully, since they made it down here in 4 days, they can make it back by the middle of next week or so.

I was originally planned to send them back via Priority Mail, but the ballots are too large to fit in a Flat Rate envelope, so they went out by First Class Mail.

I will be able to check online to see when they’re received in Sioux Falls. So now we wait.

From Around The Web:

Despite the initial hype, according to this British Medical Journal article, Convalescent Plasma is ineffective in fighting CoVid-19

In prespecified, intention-to-treat analyses, the PLACID Trial investigators found no net benefit associated with convalescent plasma in patients admitted to hospital with moderate covid-19.

Thought for the Day:

The only problem with trouble-shooting is that sometimes the trouble shoots back.



Gate Guarding in South Texas

October 23, 2013

It must have been the Nopales . . .

It’s been a busy three days, but not gate-wise. For the last week or so we’ve been doing about 30-35 vehicle a day, with today (Wednesday) doing about 45. A nice change from the 300 a day we had at the peak. But I sure hope it doesn’t get much slower so they don’t get the idea they don’t need us. We’d really like to stay here until we leave for Houston on the 24th of November. We’ll see.

For the last week or so I’ve been fighting problems with my eyeglasses. The ear pieces are those spring-loaded type, and they both just came apart within a week of each other. I tried a number to ways to glue them back together, Gorilla Glue, SuperGlue, contact cement, even ShoeGoo. But nothing would hold for more than a day or two.
Then I got a bright idea. My new frames were identical to my old ones, and I still had them, so I would just take the ear pieces off the old ones and install them on new ones. Piece of cake, right? Well, no. The taking apart thing went just fine. The getting them reinstalled part, not so much.

Holding the glasses frame in one hand, the ear piece in the other, the tweezers holding the screw in the other hand, and of course the little tiny screwdriver in the other…well I think you see the problem.

I could never get everything lined up and the screw started. So after about 30 minutes of wasted effort, I gave up and went with the Nerd method. Holding them together with tape. I figured I would drive into Pleasanton on Monday and let the Wal-Mart Vision Center take a crack at them.

So after handing them off, I did some shopping, picking up some cold stuff so we wouldn’t have to worry about it tomorrow in San Antonio. Getting back to the Vision Center about 20 minutes later, they had me all ready to go. Turns out they have a special little screw-starter to make things easier. They didn’t have any for sale, but I found one on Amazon I’m going to order.

Coming back home I saw this sign again and finally had a chance to take a picture of it.

Pleasanton RV Park

What does it say about your town when the ‘Premier Gated Community’ is an RV Park? Actually it’s probably our kind of place.

Tuesday afternoon about 1pm we headed in San Antonio for our combined birthday celebration. Both of ours are in October, mine on the 5th and Jan’s this Friday on the 25th. Does make it more convenient when we have to renew our driver’s licenses in South Dakota.

Anyway, our first stop was at the Palladium IMAX theater out on I-10 West. This place is huge. Besides the 16 screens and the usual movie food, it has a gelato stand, a Starbucks, two restaurants and two bars. Jan had to try the Pumpkin Gelato and pronounced it fantastic. If they started renting out rooms, you could live here.

The reason we passed so many closer theaters is that we heard if you were going to seen “Gravity”, the new Sandra Bullock-George Clooney movie, see it in IMAX and 3D. And this was the only place in town that had both.

We’ve seen IMAX movies before, and we’ve seen 3D movies before, but this was our first IMAX 3D one. And it was worth the trip. And the movie itself was great. The action started very quickly and just never let up until the end. Jan compared it to an Indiana Jones movie that just never stops.

The story is about a Space Shuttle Hubble Telescope repair mission with Sandra Bullock, the Mission Specialist, doing the repair in space, and George Clooney as the Shuttle Pilot. And then everything goes terribly wrong.

Although the movie has a lot of special effects, they take a backseat to the story and the characters. And we did like the fact that they didn’t overdo the 3D part just so you wouldn’t forget the movie was in 3D.

Having worked on the Shuttle Program for 10 years at Johnson Space Center, there were a few things I noticed that wouldn’t have happened that way in space, but nothing so glaring that it interfered with my enjoyment of the movie.

This one is a must-see.

Getting out of the movie about 4:15, our next stop was a nearby SuperCuts so Jan could get her hair trimmed. I always kind of dread taking Jan to get her hair done, because if they don’t do it like she wants, she comes out very unhappy, and then for some reason, I end up very unhappy. Strange how that works out.

Then it was on to La Fonda on Main for dinner.

Jan had this Beef Chile Relleno with a Verde Chicken Enchilada.

La Fonda Food Jan
And I had the Pork Carnitas with a Avocado Bowl. The pork is resting on a grilled Nopales (cactus) leaf

La Fonda Food Greg

For dessert we split a piece of their delicious Tres Leches.

La Fonda Food Tres Leches

And here’s the beautiful Birthday Girl herself.

La Fonda Birthday Girl

Our meal was as delicious as usual and we always enjoy going back.

Now it was shopping time with Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, and Barnes and Noble on the list. Finishing up about 9:30, our last stop was the Pilot/Flying J on the way home. They had Jan’s Pumpkin Spice coffee, but had apparently run out and stopped selling the Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino that they had last time. When I mentioned to a young lady cleaning up nearby that it wasn’t even Halloween yet, much less Thanksgiving, and they’d already stopped selling it, she said, “Yes, it’s very popular and everyone waits for us to start selling it every year.”

When I said that maybe that meant that they should, you know, order more maybe, she just looked at me like I had two heads, or something.  It’s amazing that some places can even stay in business.

Wrapping up today, I’ve had some sort of stomach bug all day. Don’t know if it’s just something going around, or if it’s something I ate. Personally I blame the Nopales on my pork carnitas dish last night. Yeah, that’s it.

I mentioned the other day that one of the truck drivers had seen a bobcat near our gate so here’s Mister doing his best ‘Bobcat Bait’ impression.

Mister Bobcat Bait

After all the guy did say the bobcat was smaller than Mister, but we’ll keep a close eye on him anyway.

Thought for the Day:

We’re Not Retreating, We’re Just Advancing in a Different Direction – General Douglas MacArthur

Between Gates in East Texas

October 23, 2014

Black or White . . .

Well, our 2nd full day of freedom was just as good as our first one yesterday, but a lot more relaxed, since we didn’t go anywhere or do anything. Jan did give the rig a good cleaning, and I assisted by doing what I was told, and otherwise staying out of the way.

It’s safer that way.

While I’m deciding what I want to do with Jan’s Paperwhite, I went ahead and ordered a 10.5” Galaxy Tab 4 from Amazon yesterday that should be here tomorrow.


We’ll see how good FedEx is at delivering to an address along an Interstate feeder out in the country, two miles from town. There is a sign on the fence that says “Gate Guard Services”, and the address on the package says, “Big RV in Back”. So we’ll see how it goes.

The Galaxy Tab will combine the features of our Kindle Fire and Jan’s Paperwhite, so we’ll see how it works as a Paperwhite replacement. In the meantime I’ve got a couple more things to try and revive Jan’s dead Paperwhite.

One thing I found kind of funny is the pricing of the Tab. If you want it in black, it’s $299. But if you want a white one, it’s only $259. Exactly the same specs, just a different color.

Guess which one I bought?

About 5:30 this afternoon we got a neighbor here at the yard. They’re just coming off a gate down near Madisonville and are taking off a week or two, leaving their 5th wheel here in the meantime. At this point the lot is full.

Rather than have our leftover steak from last night, we decided to start working our way through some more of our Frack Food from the gate. No telling when we’ll get any more. So our dinner tonight was crispy catfish fillets, corn on the cab, potato salad, and BBQ Beans. And pumpkin pie with whipped cream for dessert.

We’re going to miss that gate.


Thought for the Day:

Some people are pretty clued in. Some are just clueless.



Gate Guarding near Carthage in East Texas

October 23, 2015


When I got up about 10:15 this morning I found the rains had finally arrived. I also found that our canopy had some leaks.

In anticipation for the forecast next five days of rain that was coming in, yesterday I had used Gorilla Tape and Rust-Oleum Clear Leak Seal Spray to patch the few weak places I could see. But unfortunately what I couldn’t see were the ones up under the small cupola cover at the top of the canopy.

Since I was just leaving for my Wal-Mart run, Jan suggested I just get another tarp to throw over the top of this tarp. Sounded like a good idea.

And right before I left for Carthage, Jan, having read my blog this morning and not taking any chances, surprised me by saying she wanted Whataburger for lunch.

Darn, that just takes all the fun out of it.

Finally on my way, and getting out to the main highway, I first headed about 3 miles in the wrong direction to check out the Citgo station back toward Henderson. A number of the rig guys had said they had good food at the diner there and I wanted to check it out.

One thing kind of strange is that is that though it was overcast and raining at the gate, three miles west here, it was sunny with blue skies. Huh.

At past gates we’ve found the food pretty good at these places so we’ll probably give this place a try too. To make it easy for Jan to know what they have, I always just take a picture of their menu board.

Citgo Menu 1

Looks like the usual fare, with burgers, chicken, other sandwiches, and various other accoutrements. One of our favorite things at these places is the chicken strips and steak fries, and it looks like they’ve even got that covered.

And breakfast as well.

Citgo Menu 2

Though I don’t  know if they serve it all day or not.  McDonald’s does now, so they should too.

We’ll have to check them out soon.

A little later, after Wal-Mart, but before Whataburger, I dropped off my Amazon return package at a local UPS shipping ‘place’, which turned out to be a little computer repair store. This was the return of my defective Mighty Mule Alarm system. Earlier in the morning I had received an email saying that Amazon had issued my $63 credit on this.

The replacement has been working fine so far, except when the water guys knocked it over removing the frack water line the other day.

* * * * *

For some reason, it seems to get more and more difficult to put in my order at Whataburger every time I go.

To be sure I have it right, I read it off my phone. I tell them what burger I want and exactly what I want on it. But today she kept trying to get me to tell her what I don’t want on it, i.e. no lettuce. But the problem with that is that I don’t know what comes on their burgers normally, and no where on the menu board does it say.

And besides if I do it that, then I’m telling her what I don’t want on it, i.e. lettuce, and then what I do want on it extra, i.e. tomatoes, bacon, etc. I kept trying to tell her, start with a plain #6 Double Meat Cheese Whataburger Jr., just meats, cheese, and bread, and then I’ll tell you exactly what I DO want on it.

There is one guy that works there that I’m always happy to see at the counter. He takes the order perfectly, and we’re done it just a minute or so.

Later in the afternoon we did get another visit from the donkeys as they passed by. The brown one always just stops and stares at us while he waits for the 40 year old one to catch up.


Based on the radar, it looks like we dodged most of the heavy rains today. Most of it stayed to the north, running from southwest to northeast of us.

But there’s always tomorrow . . . and the next day . . . and the next day . . .

I guess we’ll see how the new tarp works.

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.” – Robert Conquest’s Third Law of Politics



Shack Gate Guarding near Kenedy, TX

October 23, 2016

Gateworthy . . .

Things they keep a changing.

Jan and I spent some time playing with the iPad Gate Program last night until I think we both have it down. It’s pretty much identical in function to the one I wrote 3 years ago, except my is text-based and runs on Windows 7, and this one is touchscreen graphics and runs on an iPad.

Gate Guard Progaram

The only other difference is that SiteWatch’s iPad version is online and configured to upload data to the company server.

But mine is just as fast and easy to use. It’s just not tablet size

I have thought about converting it over and I still may. I already have a program to write it in, so it wouldn’t be a real problem. We’ll see.

If I did it, it would just be for fun.

Todd came back and picked up the iPad from Jan this morning about 8am before I got up at my usual 10:30. Then just as we were leaving the rig about 11, I got another text from Todd letting us know that our work schedule had changed again.

Rather than us both working the outside gate from 5:30p to 5:30a tonight, Jan will be working the outside gate and I will be working the inside gate from 6p to 6a. This kind of concerned Jan because she was counting on me being there to keep her awake. But I guess it means that Todd thinks we’re gateworthy.

But as it turns out, she had no trouble staying awake.

The reason we were heading out right then is that, as I said last night, we wanted to have the Sunday Turkey and Dressing/Fried Chicken buffet at Barth’s. And like yesterday’s meal, it was really good.

Turkey and real (cornbread) dressing, not that cubed bread stuff, along with really delicious Fried Chicken, creamed red potatoes, fresh vegetable medley, as well as white turkey  gravy, and cranberry sauce. Oh, and along with the salad bar, the homemade soup was Broccoli Cheese, just as good as yesterday’s homemade Beef Vegetable.

Even nicer is the price. The regular price is $10.99, but with $3 Senior Discount, ours was $7.99. Very nice. Just like yesterday’s $9.50 one was $6.50 for me.

And you know you’re in the oil fields when your large iced tea glasses don’t say Coke or Pepsi, but instead have the name and advertisements for an oil field service company called Rockwater.

Rockwater Cup 1

Rockwater Cup 2

Getting back to the rig a little after 1pm, we both went down for naps to prepare us for tonight’s work.

We had both packed bags with snack, drinks, Kindles, laptop, power supplies, chargers and flashlights. So we’re ready for any thing.

We got to Jan’s gate a little after 5pm, and I helped Jan get set up after Tam left. She does look pretty comfortable.

Jan at New Gate

Then a little after 5:30 I drove the 1/2 mile or so down to my gate next to the pad.

Not much is going on right now so it should be a quiet night for both of us.

We hope.

Thought for the Day:

Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please. – Mark Twain


Getting Ready to Move Down to Santa Fe, TX

October 23, 2017

Last Trip South . . .

I headed out on my last trip south about 10am. I say ‘last trip’, since I’m not going down on Wednesday and then we move down to Santa Fe on Thursday.

So when I go back to work on Friday I’ll be making a 30 mile round-trip and not a 140 mile one. Yay!

I really wish Facebook would just stop fooling around and changing things. When I first started posting our blog to FB every night, I could pick what photo I wanted to show on the front page. I couldn’t pick from all the blog’s photos, but most of them, anyway.

Then months later, I could no longer pick from the photos, but had to take the one they picked for me. And the one they picked was never consistent. Sometimes it was the first one, sometimes it was the last one, or maybe one in the middle somewhere. But at least I could delete it if I didn’t want that one use.

But then a couple of weeks ago they changed it again. Now I can’t delete it at all, but I’m just stuck with which ever one they pick. Bummer!

Then a couple of weeks ago, the crying emoji disappeared from the the display shown when you clicked on the Like button. In its place was just a hole. Then a few days later it was back.

Now the entire emoji display is gone completely. Now we can only select ‘Like’ and nothing else.


Recently I came across this article about Amazon selling houses online.


They’re actually tricked-out shipping containers, selling for about $36,000

Amazon House 2

Amazon House

Not bad. And no, it doesn’t ship under Amazon Prime.

But this got me thinking about another big company that used to sell homes online . . . well, the online of the time, the Sear’s Catalog. And they not only sold homes, but also ‘mansions’.

‘The Magnolia’ seems to be the largest model sold by Sears. At ten rooms, two stories plus a basement, it was a real ‘kit’ with every piece cut and fitted. And included everything down to the nails and paint. Here’s a full size copy of the Sears ad.


There are still a number of ‘Magnolias’ around the country. Here’s one in North Carolina.


Still looking good. Apparently it’s now a Dolce & Gabbana store.

Well the vote is in. And it’s 26 to 0 in favor of blue awnings on the rig.

Beauty New Awnings 468

It’s gonna look great.

The Word of the Day is:  Pelf

Thought for the Day:

“A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”—Winston Churchill



October 23, 2018

They’re From The Government, and They’re Here To Help Us!

Although today was Tuesday, and I don’t normally work at my client’s, I went in today to kind of make up for being gone for 3 weeks.

I had been monitoring things remotely so I knew that nothing had really cratered, but you never know. However I ended up spending most of the day working for the US government, specifically the US Census Bureau.

My client had received a letter from them requiring that he fill out an online 2017 Economic Census form. ‘Requiring’ as in a $5,000 fine for not doing it, and a $10,000 fine for ‘deliberately’ submitting false or incorrect information.


Apparently a tiny subset of US small businesses are selected at random to participate in the survey.

Lucky us!

And some of the detailed questions are for things we don’t really track. Like how much we charge customers for shipping on the items they order. Since we only pass on the amount that USPS, UPS, or FedEx charges us, we have no idea what the total amount is. So now I’m having to try and pull all this info out of the USPS and UPS apps.

And this is just one of 100’s of questions. So I’ve got my work cut out for me for the next few weeks.

After I got home we turned right around and headed back out to first have dinner at Los Ramirez Mexican Restaurant, the first Tex-Mex we’ve had since before we left for Florida, so we’ve been going into withdrawal.

Then it was on over to the storage room to break out our electric heaters for the winter. It was down in the low 50’s last night, with more of the same tonight. And the high tomorrow is forecast for the low 60’s.


Then coming home, we stopped off so I could buy the winning Mega-Millions ticket. At $1.6 Billion+, it’s certainly worth risking a few bucks. And as usual, I got the 30 Annual Payments option, rather than the Cash Payout. As far as I know, Texas is the only state that requires you to make that decision up front when you buy the ticket. Or at least the only one we’ve encountered in our travels around the country.

The Annual Payment value is $1.6 Billion, with the Cash Payout just a little over $900 Million. So you’re giving up about $700 Million to get the money up front.

If you take the Annual Payments, you’ll get about $32 Million a year after taxes for 30 years. If you take the Cash Value and then spread it out over the same 30 years, you would have about $18 Million a year.

And realistically, what could you do with $900 Million up front that you couldn’t do with $32 Million per year?

Thought for the Day:

Did you ever notice how good you can be at something until somebody actually watches you do it?



October 23, 2019

Now, On To 2021 . . .

We’ve now got our deposit in on our Alaskan Cruise, and we’ve got our hotel reservations made for our pre-cruise week in Fairbanks. All that’s left now is our flights and our car rental in Fairbanks.

I had mentioned that we were getting an inside room, and found that for an extra $65 we can get a larger inside room, bigger from 155 sq ft to 233 sq ft. But our great travel agent, Chantelle Nugent, found out that for an additional $25, for a total of $90, gets us a slightly larger, large room up on a higher deck, Deck 8, or the Navigation Deck.

Noordam = Navigation Deck

Much better than our original inside room which is down on Deck 1, the very bottom deck. Kind of like being in Steerage on the Titanic.

HAL MM8008

Very nice room. Chantelle always takes great care of us.

One thing Jan and I were happy to see is that PMJ (Postmodern Jukebox)) one of our favorite groups will be performing on HAL Alaskan Cruises during 2020. But I haven’t yet been able to find out what ship they will be on, or if they will be moving  from ship to ship. But hopefully  we’ll be able to see them.

Check’em out here.

Also this morning I booked our NYC Holiday Dinner Cruise for Sunday, December 8th, while we’re in NYC.

Bateaux NYC Dinner Cruise

We paid extra for a window table, though that doesn’t seem to mean we’ll actually be right next to the window, just at a table BY the window, with four other diners.

Bateaux NYC Dinner Cruise Inside

But close enough, I guess.

One thing that always ticks me off, especially when it involves my money. We paid extra for the window table, and also a photo on the ship. But when I went to pay online with my card, I found, in addition to the $28.64 in NYC taxes, there was a $63.33 ADMINSTRATION FEE, and an $8.99 MARINE FEE, I guess because it’s a boat.


Finally, looking forward to 2021 we’re looking at maybe doing a cruise out of Galveston taking in the Mayan ruins of Tulum from Cozumel and Chichen Itza from Progresso. And any more we can cram in.

After that we’ll probably be cruised-out.

But you never know.

Thought For The Day:

Remember, Big Brother (or Alexa) is always listening. Everything you say can and will be used against you.

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