Daily Archives: December 6, 2020

XXXX Spicy . . .

Jan was feeling back to normal this morning, her headache and sore throat completely gone.

So about 2pm we drove up to the Webster area to have lunch at our long-time (40+ years!) favorite King Food for Hot & Sour Soup and Chicken in Hot Garlic Sauce with Jalapenos, XXXX Spicy.

Perfect for a cold (well, coolish) winter day. Then coming home we made an HEB stop for a few groceries, and a stop at Jack in the Box for a couple of Iced Pumpkin Spice Lattes.

A really nice day.

Thought for the Day:

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies.” – Groucho Marx




Another day in our NYC at Christmas Time trip last year.

December 6, 2019

New York, New York . . .

Today was our first full day in NYC after we got in yesterday morning. But before we headed out, first  we checked out the hotel breakfast buffet. And we were happy to find that this was no ‘make your own waffle’, cold cereal, and stale muffins buffet, but a full-blown one with eggs, two kinds, bacon, sausage, basmati rice, as well as baked beans. And of course, all the fruit, cereals, etc.

There were also a lot of other ‘unusual’ breakfast dishes, or at least unusual to us. We did recognize the ‘baked beans’ as being an English breakfast dish, since we saw it on the menus in London. But we don’t know who was eating rice, at least for breakfast.

But the most confusing one was laid out with the oatmeal. They had all the standards, fruit, brown sugar, honey, etc., but strangely never any bananas. What they did have that was different was ‘peanut butter’. Not sure who normally eats that way, but since I really like peanut butter, I might try it sometime.

Leaving the hotel, we Ubered over to the first place Jan wanted see, and that was Rockefeller Center.

Rockefellow Tree Daytime

Our driver let us off pretty much right in front of the big tree, which even in the daytime is pretty impressive.

Walking over to the side we looked down on the famous ice rink.

Rockefeller Ice Rink

I guess I was expecting something a little more grand, but it’s not nearly as big as the indoor rink where Landon plays hockey up in Sugarland.

Noticing a Lego store right next to the rink I took a look inside. Landon’s a big Lego fan so I thought I might find something for him for Christmas. But the only thing that really caught my eye was this Millennium Falcon.

Lego Millineum Falcon

At least until I saw this price.

M Falcon Price

I mean I love the kid and all, but I wouldn’t buy that for me, much less someone else.

Sorry, Landon.

Jan also wanted to look in the window to the Today Show set,

NYC Today Show

but unfortunately they were just doing camera setup shots, so Jan didn’t get to see her favorite, Hoda Kotb.

Exploring further, we walked around the corner and found the entrance to the Tonight Show,

Rockefeller Tonight Show

and, although I didn’t get a photo, we also saw the Saturday Night Live entrance.

I enjoyed seeing all the many Art Deco ornamentations inset into the Rockefeller Center buildings.

NYC Art Deco 1

NYC Art Deco 2

Reminds me a lot of the decorations on the Empire State Building.

Finally, after several hours we headed back toward our hotel. But this time we just walked. I had noticed on Google Maps that we were actually only 5 or 6 blocks from our hotel. It took longer for our Uber because of the one-way streets. I think we were able to walk it quicker than we Ubered.

And cheaper, too.

Rockefeller Balls

Since it was about noon, we stopped off at a Times Square Hot Dog Stand for New York Dogs and Hot Pretzels.

NYC Street Hot Dogs

And of course, ever my little law-breaker, after seeing this sign,

NYC 20191206 Do Not Feed The Pigeons

what does she do, but immediately feed the pigeons a piece of pretzel.

NYC 20191206 Feeding Pigeons

Who then proceeded to fight over it.

Later we checked out a few gift shops as we walked back to the hotel, and then took a nap in our room for a while.

Then about 6:30 we went back downstairs to have dinner at the hotel buffet. And once again ran in to the international cuisine offerings. Among other items we had our choice between Lamb Ragout and Fried Calamari. Not on our Favorites List.

We finally settled on hamburgers. Pretty good, actually.

Then we walked back over to the Rockefeller Center to check out the tree at night.

Rockefellow Tree NightTime

Really beautiful!

And of course, a lot of other Christmas on every corner.

Rockefeller Lights

Rockefeller Building Lights 2

Then it was back to the hotel to rest up, so we could do it all over again tomorrow.

Thought For The Day:

“The further a society drifts from the truth the more they will hate those who speak it.” George Orwell




December 6, 2011

Hawks and Buffets . . .

I kept my phone in the bedroom last night in case I got an early call from AT&T. As it was I got up at 9am to be ready when they called.

And they did call about 10:30. But instead of giving me the promised 1 hour heads up, I got 10 minutes. Typical of Ma Bell.

It took me about 25 minutes to get up to my client’s house, where I found the technician still outside at the circuit box checking things out. But after checking out the line, and replacing the DSL modem inside, we still could not get an Internet light.

So by 11:45 I was back on the phone with AT&T Tech Support trying to work out the problem. But after another hour on the phone, and running a lot more tests, on my end and theirs, she gave up and bumped us up to Level II Support. She said they would call me within an hour.

Since my client was leaving town tomorrow, and needed Internet access today, I took the hour to head back to the rig to get my Verizon Aircard and Cradlepoint router. Since I’ve recently been using the park WiFi with good success, I haven’t been using my Aircard.

So I used my Aircard to plug into their router and get all their machines and network printers back online. They were happy, and it took some pressure off me to this problem fixed immediately. They’ll be gone 10 days, so hopefully, AT&T will be able to figure it out by then.

Finally, about 3:45 I gave up on hearing back from AT&T within “one hour”, and headed back to the rig.

Jan had a fun day with her bird feeder. It seems like every bird in the area showed up.

Birdfeeder 1

A little bit of everything here.

But a little later, all the birds suddenly disappeared. And then she saw why.

Another feathered visitor was checking things out.

Galverton Bay Hawk 2

Galverton Bay Hawk 3

I guess this Coopers Hawk (I think?) thought this place was a bird buffet. But he doesn’t seem to have dined this time.

About 5pm Jan and I headed up to Nassau Bay to pick up our granddaughter Piper so she could accompany Jan and our friend Maria to play Bingo down in La Marque. Piper, Jan and I ate supper at Monterey’s Little Mexico before Maria picked them up about 6:45, and I headed back to the rig for a couple of hours.

Later I drove down to La Marque to pick them up about 10pm. No luck this time, although the lady next to them won the $750 jackpot, and our friend Maria won $200.

Maybe next time.

Thought for the Day:

Vene, Vidi, Vacuum.

I came, I saw, It sucked.




December 6, 2012

Sous-Vide and Cheesecake . . .

Jan and I headed out a little before 2 pm for couple of clients and dinner, with my first stop being at a client’s home office.

They’re out of  town until the end of the year, but I do so much work for them, I have access to a key. The problem was that while I was on the road this past year, the two-line phone system I had installed several years ago, had gotten zapped somehow.

Apparently they tried to replace it themselves, but just managed to screw up their phone lines, so they disconnected everything and left it for me to sort.

Oh, and even better, they lost the manual. But lucky for me, they have this thing called the Internet that let’s me just download another one.

Then it was on to another client for a few minutes to straighten out a printing problem. Turns out that someone had been playing with the network settings on the computer and it couldn’t see the remote printer anymore. But it’s fixed now.

Leaving the client’s, Jan and I headed over to the Cheesecake Factory to meet our friend’s Bob and Maria, and Connie, and her mother. We had decided to eat early, about 4pm, because just a little later they were on a wait.

Along with the good meal, we had such a good time talking and reminiscing, that we spent about two hours there before we finally left. We also made plans to meet again at King Food in two weeks for another get-together. We’re looking forward to it.

Next up was a quick stop by Brandi’s to pick up the mail and some Amazon packages that had come in. Then it was right down the road to the Sam’s Club to pick up some vitamins. And then finally back to the rig for the night.

I came across something interesting the other day. It’s how to cook meat in a Beer Cooler. Of course, in the world of haute cuisine, it has to have a fancy name. And in this case, it’s called “Sous-Vide”. Which, I think is French for “Cooking in a Beer Cooler”, but I could be wrong about that. Apparently restaurants have been doing this for years using a specialized appliance that cost around $500.

Basically the idea is to immerse your meat, packaged  in vacuum-sealed, or even ziplock,bags, in water held at the temperature you want meat to end up at.

For example, a rare steak should be cooked to an internal temperature of 125 degrees. So you immerse your steak in 130 degree water (to allow for a slight cool-down from adding the cold meat) and leave it in the closed cooler for about an hour.

Your meat will come up perfectly cooked, edge to edge, and moist and flavorful. And even better, because the meat cannot overcook, it can be held for several hours without losing quality or flavor. It’s for this that many high-end restaurants use their Sous-Vide cookers.

They can have five different ones, each set for the required temperatures for rare, medium rare, medium, etc. Steaks are held in the cookers all evening, perfectly cooked. As they’re needed, they’re pulled out of the cookers, thrown on a hot grill for 30 seconds on each side to char the outside, and off to your table it goes, perfectly done and delicious. According to the article, the process is also good for tenderizing tough cuts as well.

Vegetables also come out moist and flavorful, but since they require higher water temps and longer cooking times, you’ll probably need the real machine.

So if you’ve got a beer cooler and a steak, have at it. Just be sure to invite me over when dinner’s ready.

Thought for the Day:

Those of us who work for a living are almost outnumbered by those who vote for a living.




December 6, 2018

I Was Hoping For a Pirate Eye Patch . . .

We were up too early and out the door by 4:30, getting to the Bay Area Surgicenter for Jan’s cataract surgery by about 4:50, before the free valet service had started up, so we had to park in the next lot and walk over to the office.

And after being called into Pre-op about 6:15, she was being wheeled into the operating area by 6:45, and ready to go home by 7:30. She was still a little groggy, but ready to get out of there.

Besides all the after-care instructions, they also gave Jan a clear plastic shield to wear over her eye for the next three days while she’s asleep to be sure she  doesn’t rub her eye.

Personally I was hoping for something like this.

Jan at Margaritaville

But no such luck.

After a quick stop at my client’s to check out a problem, we made our planned breakfast stop at Snooze. While I got my usual Shrimp and Grits with a side of fruit, Jan got her favorite Avocado Toast. At least that’s what she thought she was getting.

Snooze Smashing Avocado Benny

But it turns out that Snooze does their version as a Benedict, with Hollandaise Sauce. Plus she asked for her eggs well-scrambled, but they came out much less then ‘well’, but more like ‘wet’. I told her to send it back, but just didn’t feel like it. So she just scraped off the eggs/sauce and ate it  that way.

Coming home we made a Costco stop for gas, and it was a new first. It was the first time that we’ve gotten gas at Costco that it wasn’t cheaper than the last time. It was still $1.81, just like last week.

Getting home we both did the nap thing for a few hours. And since Jan kept her glasses on I didn’t worry about putting the shield over her eye.

Later, about 3pm, and Jan not being really happy with her breakfast, we drove over to the nearby Chili’s for linner/lupper, unusual for us since we usually only have one meal a day.

Jan had the Ribs and I had the Grilled Chicken Caribbean Salad, both really good.

Tomorrow Jan had her follow-up checkup on her surgery, and hopefully a schedule for her right eye. We had thought it might be next Thursday, the 13th, but it looks like it will actually be Thursday, the 20th instead. But we’ll see tomorrow.

Actually the 20th works best for us anyway, since my second of Photo Dynamic Therapy, i.e. setting my head on fire again, is already scheduled for the 13th.

But whenever her next surgery is, at least the eye patch is reversible.

Thought for the Day:

I seldom regret doing things, but I always regret getting caught.





Masks Now, Masks Forever?

Jan has been feeling a little under the weather since last night, with a bad headache and a sore throat, and wasn’t feeling much better today. So we just stayed at home until about 3 pm when I picked up a Take Out order from Jason’s Deli.

Jan got a Broccoli-Cheese soup and a Quarter Roasted Turkey Muffuletta, while I got a Southwest Chicken Chili and a Nutty Mixed-Up Salad with Grilled Chicken, Fruit, Green, Blue Cheese Crumbles, and Jalapeno Ranch Dressing.

And with today’s cold, overcast weather, the hot soup really hit the spot.

Hopefully she’ll feel better tomorrow.

A recent New York Times survey of 700 epidemiologists shows a lot of variation in their beliefs about the virus, including a large number who think we’ll never really get back to normal, well, 2019 normal, anyway.

“I expect that wearing a mask will become part of my daily life, moving forward, even after a vaccine is deployed,” said Amy Hobbs, a research associate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Karin Michels, professor of epidemiology at U.C.L.A., said it would probably be many years until it was safe enough to “return to approximately the lifestyle we had.” She said, “We have to settle to live with the virus.”

“I expect that wearing a mask will become part of my daily life, moving forward, even after a vaccine is deployed,” said Amy Hobbs, a research associate at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“It’s hard for me to imagine that it will ever go back to our previous ‘normal,’ but I do think that new preventive measures that we’ve had to adopt, like masks, will feel normal in time. In that sense, I’m optimistic that life will settle into a new kind of normal.”

“It is normal now; similar to 2019, never again.”

And this MSN article worries about the vaccine’s side effects being so severe as to take healthcare workers out of service right when they’re needed most.

Vaccines’ Side Effects Risk Sidelining Health Workers While Cases Surge

Well, certainly makes me wan to be at the front of the line for the shot, or shots, as they’re saying now. Or maybe just a like a ‘yearly’ flu shot now.

And now it seems that just because you get the ‘vaccine’ doesn’t necessary mean you won’t be able to transmit the virus to someone else.

Pfizer chairman: We’re not sure if someone can transmit virus after vaccination

It just gets better and better.


This blog recounts the first day of our Christmas-time visit to New York City last December. 

December 5, 2019

A New York State of Mind . . .

The day couldn’t not have gone more perfect.

We were up at 3am, our car service guy showed up about 4:15, and we were on our way up to Hobby Airport by about 4:30. Right on schedule. And I didn’t forget my camera or laptop this time.

We got dropped off at the Southwest entrance a little after 5am, and we tagged and checked in our 3 suitcases a few minutes later.

On our way to our gate (why is it that it always seems like our gate is #36, out of 1 to 36.), we were offered a chance to sign up for the CLEAR program, in which, once you’re registered, means you bypass the normal check-in line and pretty much just get waved through. And even better, it was free.

The only real problem was trying to get a good scan of my fingerprints. Due to a lot of scar tissue due to some burns, I don’t really have much in the way of valid fingerprints. The last time this caused me a problem was when I was fingerprinted for our gate guarding security licenses.

And before that, my numerous security clearances for the DOD and NASA. You would think by now that I would be in the system enough that they would know me. I mean surely my scar tissue is pretty distinct.

But luckily for me there was the option of a Biometric Iris Scan, which did work.

One thing nice about this flight is that, unlike our recent European flights, we could check in 2 bags each, not just one. So we had no carrying-on stuff, other than Jan’s large purse and my laptop bag.

One thing nice about this flight is that, unlike our recent European flights, we could check in 2 bags each, not just one. So we had no carrying-on stuff, other than Jan’s large purse and my laptop bag.

The only problem was that our online check-in got screwed up and we ended up boarding in the last group. So by that time there were only center seats left so we couldn’t sit together. But it was a nice smooth flight and we actually got in at 10:50am (9:50CT), 5 minutes early.

Probably because we were doing almost 600 mph.

NY Trip Speedometer

This was from a phone app called Speedometer.

We had to wait about 15 minutes for our luggage, and while we were doing that, an enterprising Skycap came by and asked us where we were going. I told him that we were going to get a taxi or Uber to a hotel near Times Square.

Now there were signs all over the baggage area that due to the ongoing construction of a new terminal at LaGuardia, you had to take a shuttle bus to a place about 15 minutes away where you could then get a taxi or an Uber. When I mentioned this to him, he said this was not necessary and he could take care of this for us.

Kind of wary of the City Slicker swindling the Country Rubes, I asked how much this would cost and he said he just worked for tips. And since he had his own luggage cart, I didn’t have to rent one for $6, so I told him OK.

So he grabbed our 3 suitcases when they came around the carousel and off we went. Jan, of course, was somewhat suspicious.(make that VERY suspicious) but gamely followed along, knowing at any minute we were going to be ravaged and pillaged.

After about a block we turned a corner and there was a long line of people waiting for one of shuttle buses. Positioned around were electronic signs saying the wait for a taxi or Uber at the other end of the shuttle ride was 55 minutes. And based on the length of the line on this end, it was going to be at least 30 minutes here.

Resigning ourselves to the wait, we started to get in the long line, but he shook his head and motioned us to follow him. And since he was leaving with our luggage, we decided to tag along.

He led us around the outside wall of the covered shuttle waiting area, past several policemen, who nodded to him (made us feel better), and then across the street. There, behind a police barricade, was a line of Yellow Cabs being waved forward, one by one, by another police officer.

Our Skycap put our luggage in the trunk, I tipped him (WELL!) , and we were on our way, less than 10 minutes after we got our luggage.

And less than an hour later he was letting us off at the Hotel Riu Plaza-Times Square, about a block and a half off Times Square. And even better, our Uber ride was listed on the app as being about $80, but our taxi ride was only about $60.

Very, very nice.

Checking in, we were told our room was ready, and we ended up with a very nice room on the 25th floor, with an open balcony that we can walk out on, with a great view.

Riu Room

Riu Room Balcony View

Even better, though we knew our room came with a full breakfast buffet, we were happily surprised that it also came with their full dinner buffet. Which is advertised as being $35 per person if you had to pay for it.


Then it was, of course, time for a nap.

About 3pm we made the 2 block walk over to Times Square to check things out, and then headed over to Junior’s Restaurant, just about a half block off Time Square

Jan got their version of the her fav Wedge Salad,

Junior's Wedge Salad

while I got their 10 oz. Steakburger,

Junior's Steak Cheeseburger

which we then split with each other.

This was to leave us room to Jan’s Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake

Junior's  Chocolate Moouse Cheesecake

and my Carrot Cake Cheesecake.

Junior's Carrot Cake Cheesecake

And of course you can’t have Junior’s World-Famous Cheesecake without a nice hot Cappuccino to go along with it. Complete with Rock Candy stirrer.

Especially when it’s 39 degrees outside.

Junior's Cappucino

We ate at Junior’s several times when we were here in 2009 and really loved it, so it had to be our first place to eat when we got here again.

By the time we finished it was getting dark here (about 4:30 here in the ET) so we walked back out to Times Square to check out the lights.

New Times Square View

One big change we noticed since we were here in 2009 was that Broadway is now open to traffic.

But when we were here in 2009, Broadway was closed to traffic for many blocks in each direction, as you can see here.

One thing new was that every surface is a TV screen, sides of buildings, doorways, and even bus stop enclosures.

Time Square 2009

It was a little warmer then, since we were here in August. It was about 36 degrees when we sat out for a while this evening.

And of course we had to take the obligatory Times Square selfie.

Time Square Selfie 120519

Getting back to the hotel after about ten minute walk, we checked out the view from the 25th floor at the end of the hallway.

Riu 25th Floor View

That’s our balcony and room behind the railing on the left.

Thought For The Day:

The Four Stages of Life –

1. You Believe In Santa Claus
2, You Don’t Believe in Santa Claus
3. You ARE Santa Claus.
4. You Look Like Santa Claus





December 5, 2012

Ducks and a Dynasty . . .

Today was another nice, quiet stay-at-home day. It was overcast and never got out of the 60’s. Just perfect for sitting back with a large mug of hot coffee and enjoying life.

Later in the morning Jan went out to feed the birds, and it’s amazing how quickly the word gets out. Within just a few minutes the ducks show up in a line from their pond about 100 yards. They can’t see the feeder from the pond so the only thing I can figure is that they post a lookout to keep an eye on things. But show up they do.

Duck Line 1

Pretty soon the feeder area is swarming with birds, and a lot of squawking, chirping, and tweeting commences.

Duck Line 2


About 6pm Jan and I headed out to meet Chris, Linda, and Piper at the Mario’s Flying Pizza up in Seabrook, one of our regular dining spots.

After a good meal, Jan and I followed them home so I could get their Epson printer installed on their new laptop.

While there I got shot of our beautiful granddaughter Piper. I fondly remember the good ole days when she would pose at the drop of a hat. Now she grew up and got shy.

Piper in A Blanket


I guess I’ll just have to repost this photo from a couple of years ago.

Piper at Chuys 5


When we got home we found that Lowell had sent over a photo of Landon’s visit with Santa Claus.

From the look on his face, I think Santa just told him he’s on Santa’s Naughty List.

Landon Christmas 2012

While we were up in Marble Falls over Thanksgiving, we stumbled upon Duck Dynasty, a reality program showing on the A&E cable channel, when they were running a show marathon.

It’s the story of the Robertson family, living in Monroe, Louisiana, who, 40 years ago, started a company called Duck Commander, and became millionaires making and selling duck calls.

Yes, duck calls!

Miss Kay, Phil, Willie, Korie, Jase and Si Robertson (from left)

The show is hilarious, and these guys who look like rejects from a ZZ Top look-a-like contest, make the show. Although it’s called a Reality Show, the family refers to it as “guided reality”. Every show had a theme and ends with a life lesson, usually centered on the family.

It’s funny, and well worth watching.

But wait, there’s more.

Phil Robertson

Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the family, and the one who started the company, has another side. He’s a graduate of Louisiana Tech University, and actually has a Masters of Education degree.

And while he was at Louisiana Tech, he played football. And as the 1st string starting quarterback, he was very good. So good in fact that he had an offer from the Washington Redskins.

Even his 2nd string quarterback said Phil had the best arm he’d ever seen. He also said he knew Phil really liked to hunt because he would show at practice with squirrel tails hanging out of his jacket and covered in duck feathers. But since he was obviously a very good shot, no one complained.

But with a year of eligibility remaining Phil decided that as much as he loved football, he loved hunting better. So he gave up football to have more time for hunting, and a few years later started Duck Commander.

And the rest is history.

Oh yeah. The 2nd string quarterback who said Phil Robertson had the best arm he’d ever seen, and who didn’t get much playing time until Phil quit football … that would be Terry Bradshaw, top draft pick in 1970, who played 14 seasons with the Pittsburg Steelers, won 4 Super Bowls, and a spot in the Hall of Fame.

That Terry Bradshaw.

Thought for the Day:

“Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred.” – Jacques Barzun