Daily Archives: August 31, 2022

Glad We Did It Back Then . . .

I spent most of today at work writing a new instruction manual for the machines we’re importing from Poland. Well, not so much writing as translating. Though the supplied manuals are supposedly in English, it looks like it was done by running the Polish version through Google Translate. And for some reason, the topic headings are still in Polish.

So I’m using Google Translate to get the topic headings into English, and rewriting everything into conversational English, that doesn’t read like it was written by a robot. Then I’m putting it all together with new images to make a new manual for our customers.

I’m also going to sent it to the Polish people to see if they want to use it for their other machines.

Saw this article the other day about problems with the water levels in European rivers this summer.

Low Water Levels Disrupt European River Cruises

It talks about how people on cruises are spending a lot of time this summer on buses because of low water levels. But on some level, this happens every year.

Twice in fact.

Back in 2018 when we were booking our Grand European Viking Tour, running from Budapest to Amsterdam, we found the rates during the early spring and late fall were much cheaper. Figuring there had to be a catch, I did a little digging and found out why.

Turns out that in the spring when the mountain snows melt and fill the rivers to overflowing, the levels are then too high for the cruise ships to get under the bridges. And this is such a regular thing that the ships are designed for this as much as possible.

Viking Skirnir Level Deck

Everything folds down, and the wheel house retracts until it is also flush with the deck. There’s even a ‘sunroof’ where the captain can pop his head up for a few seconds to get his bearings along the way.

Skirnir Wheelhouse Tour 2

But if the water level is still too high, passengers are bused around the high spots and spend their nights in hotels along the way.

Then every year in the fall, the river levels are much lower, too low sometimes for the ships to navigate, and then it’s back to the buses.

This is why we paid more and booked our cruise for the sweet spot, the first part of June, and had no problems.

But I’m glad we did our cruise when we did.

Today the U.S.S. Texas, one of only a few Navy ships to serve in both world wars, was moved from its long-time docking near the San Jacinto Monument to a dry dock down in Galveston to have its leaking hull repaired.

USS Texas On The Move

At this time it’s not known where it will be going when the repairs are finished, but apparently it will not be coming back to its old dock at San Jacinto.

Tomorrow we’re doing a day trip down to Galveston ourselves. We’ll do lunch at our favorite brunch spot, Sunflower Café, and then spend some time driving around the island. Then coming home, we’ll probably make a La Marque Sam’s Club stop for a few things that we didn’t find at the one on El Dorado yesterday.

And we might drive by and check out the U.S.S Texas while we’re down there too.,

Thought For The Day:

When Tyranny Becomes Law

August 31, 2011

On to Elkhart . . .

For some reason I woke up at 6:30 this morning, earlier than I planned, but couldn’t go back to sleep, so up early it was.

The only problem was, not normally up at this un-holy hour, I found it was still pitch-black outside. So I had to wait to do outside stuff.

But I was able to spend some time stowing away stuff inside. By the time I got coffee started, it was starting to get light, so I went outside and started bringing in the satellite stuff and tiding up around the rig. By this time Jan was up and about, and a little later, she heated us up Jimmy Dean Egg Sandwiches for breakfast.

After relaxing a while with our coffee we got prepared to leave and I discovered a problem. I had planned to raise the levelers and pull the coach up about ten feet so I would be able to pull the toad in behind and hook up before we pulled out. The problem was, the levelers wouldn’t come up . . . or at least the control panel said they weren’t all the way up.

I went outside to check and found them all the way up, so I went to the right rear bay to check the hydraulic fluid level in the Power Gear reservoir, and as I suspected (and hoped) the fluid level was low. The reason this makes a difference is that these systems use the level in the reservoir to signal to the control panel whether or not the levelers have retracted all the way.  If the fluid level is low, the system thinks the they haven’t retracted.

And of course, the quick (and cheap. I like cheap!) solution is to top on the reservoir with ATF transmission fluid, and all’s right with the world. I always keep a bottle of it in the coach because without it I’m stuck. If my coach thinks the levelers are down, even if they weren’t, it won’t let you put it in gear.

Now if it only did that when your power cord is still plugged in.

By the time we finally left the park, I had decided to get diesel at a station we had passed last week that had it for $3.77, so Jan was following me in the toad, and we would hook up after we filled up.

The problem was, I couldn’t find where I left the gas station. I mean, it was right there last week. Where could it have gone? Who could have moved it?

Finally, after circling around, and up and down several country roads, Jan called me on her cell and ‘suggested’ that I was lost and she was tired of driving around in circles. And that we should just head on out along our route and fill up along the way, which we did in Rockville, about 15 miles down the road.

I didn’t think she really needed to use that ‘tone’, though. You married guys know the ‘tone’ I’m talking about. You know the one where she thinks you’re lost, and she thinks you’re an idiot for getting lost, but she wants to be nice about it because she knows that otherwise you just might circle around central Indiana three or four more times before you give it up as a lost cause.

That’s the ‘tone’ I’m talking about.

Anyway, taking US41 north, we finally picked up I-65. And as seems to be a usual ‘feature’ of Indiana (and Illinois, too) Interstates, the road immediately went to crap. And the I-80 Toll Road was even worse.

Why is it that toll roads always seem to be even worse than non-toll roads. Where’s all the money going? Certainly not to maintenance.

We finally pulled into the Elkhart RV Campground a little after 4 pm and were directed to our site.

Brandi sent this picture of Landon at his daycare entitled “Couldn’t quite make to nap time”.

Landon Asleep 2

August 31, 2014

Magic Liquid . . .

No, not booze

Still no gate news, but as I said yesterday, I don’t really expect any until tomorrow, or even Tuesday. The entire facility has been locked up all weekend with no one around except us and our neighbors.

Later in the afternoon, Jan fixed up a cold tuna pasta salad for us to have over the next few days. For the pasta, she tried something different – Wacky Mac pasta.


All different colors, the pasta is colored and flavored with tomato, spinach, and beet powders, so it will be interesting to try it out. Along with the pasta, Jan mixed tuna, chopped-up bread and butter pickles, mayo, and Provence Spice. Then stored it in the fridge for a couple of days to let the flavors merge. Really looking forward to it.

One thing Jan wanted me to pass on to those of you who have bought the Microwave Pasta Boat. that I mentioned earlier. Pasta Boat

She loves this for doing pasta, any type of pasta, in the microwave, but she has found that if you use the normal cooking time for your pasta, in the Pasta Boat it will probably be overcooked.

For example, if your cooking directions say 18-20 minutes, Jan suggests starting with 15 minutes instead.

Brandi, Lowell and Landon are spending the long weekend at the Woodlands Resort, north of Houston.

Landon - Spiderman 1

They have a two-story waterslide, a river for tubing, and a dancing water fountain for the kids to play in.  And of course, face painting and balloon animals (superheroes?)

Landon’s having a ball.

The magic liquid I’m referring to is Strike-Hold. Here’s what I said about it back in June.

What I saw when I walked up to the booth was a guy holding an extension cord with a small lit light bulb screwed into a socket on the end.

And his hand, and the lit bulb looked something like this.

Strike-Hold Electric Bulb


Now that got my attention.

Turns out it’s done with a product called Strike-Hold being sold at the rally by Ken Murphy and his wife Marilyn.

Strike-Hold CLP is marketed as a cleaner, lubricant, protector, and demoisturizer.

Strike-Hold Bottles

It was originally developed for use by the military to protect weapons from sand. When the parts are sprayed with Strike-Hold and allowed to dry, it functions as an excellent dry lubricant that repels the sand.

As far as the underwater light bulb, the spray has a dielectric insulation value of over 38,000 volts. Thoroughly spraying the socket and the bulb base is all that’s needed. Ken would even unscrew the bulb while it was underwater and then screw it back in again.

And on the website is another incredible demo where an electric drill is sprayed internally, and then while running, it is immersed in a bowl of water, and keeps running.

I came home with several bottles.

If you would like to order some, you can contact Ken Murphy at 214-850-4677 or [email protected].

I’ve been using Strike-Hold since then on anything electrical, from my 50 amp power plug to my toad taillight plugs. And it works great.

Jan and I have been going through stuff getting ready for our gate. And one of the things I was checking out was our Kindle Fire. The last time we really used it was last November when we finished gate guarding.

Jan used it at night on the gate to surf the web and read Kindle books. But I remembered that toward the end, I was having a problem charging the Fire. So I was not surprised to find that it would not charge now either.

I tried 3 different chargers with no luck. Whatever the problem was, it seemed to be in the Fire itself. And a little Googling told me there was a known problem with the charger socket itself. Since we’d had the Fire for over two years, there was no warranty, so I was about ready to think about chucking it.

But Jan, bless her heart, suggested I try the Strike-Hold. Turning the Fire upside down, I sprayed some into the socket and let it sit for about 30 minutes.

And plugging it in, the Fire went right into charge mode until it was fully charged.

I love this stuff.

August 31, 2015

Even Less Happened Today . . .

Trucks stopped coming in. Trucks stopped coming out.

I made my sojourn into town this morning a little after 11am. Besides lunch and a couple of grocery items, I wanted to check out a Print and Mail place to see if we can receive packages there.

Turns out that they ship stuff out, but they don’t receive anything. And as far as they knew, no place in Carthage can handle receiving FedEx, UPS, or USPS, since you never know how Amazon is going to ship something. I guess now I’ll have to check in Henderson to see if they have anything.

After stopping at the Brookshire Brothers for a couple of things, I picked up lunch at the Whataburger again, basically for two reasons. We were still in a burger mood, and I need to get rid of some trash.

We still don’t have a trash trailer here (and may not ever, apparently) and if I went somewhere else to get lunch, I’d have to make a whole ‘nother deal to drop off garbage.

We still want to try out El Rancho Grande, the Mexican place that Lynette and Gregg McHenry recommended, so maybe that will be this Friday. I did notice that the Jalapeno Tree, another Mexican place I passed today, was really busy.

When our Company Man left a little after 3pm, he said they were finished up and he would check with his boss to see if they were going to keep us here until the frack crew comes in, or dismiss up and then bring us back then.

And he had no idea when they would be here, since they’re working at another site right down the road. But our site is still active, since the production crew is still here. And when the last of them left about 5pm, they said they’d be back at work tomorrow morning around 7 or 8am.

As far as the site itself now, it’s completely dead with no lights at all. So as it stands right now, we’re shut down for the night, but not officially, so we’re still manning the gate. Although Jan stayed inside on her 6 – 11pm shift tonight, and just kept an eye out for anyone, I’m now outside as usual. We’ve had cases where we’ve been told everyone was gone for the night, and then someone shows up at 3am to do something.

So we’ll see how it goes the next few days.

August 31, 2016

It Walks!

Turns out our Drill Rig has feet.

And it just walks from hole to hole.

The last drill rig gate with multiple holes we worked was back in July-August of 2012, our very first year gate guarding, We were following a Marathon-H&P rig for most of the 4 months while we were down in south Texas, and our very last site was a two-holer,

But when they got ready to move to the next hole, about 25 feet away, it was a 2-3 day process. And we got those days off.

With pay.

Just as with rigging up and rigging down, we don’t do any logging with the moving either.

As far as the procedure, like here the rig was built up on large flat metal plates, and when they got ready to move the rig, they first oiled up the plates to make them slippery. Then they brought in two big 100 ton cranes and positioned them side by side in the direction they wanted to move the rig.

Then, with the cranes pulling, they slowly moved the rig over the new hole, steering the 100+ ton rig by the cranes tugging more on one side than the other.

But on this Nabors rig, there are hydraulic pistons in the 4 pillars that support the rig and they just walk it into place, steering it with a joystick, I’ve seen photos of walking rigs online, but they all had their ‘feet’ out to the sides of the rig and you could see them walking. But with this rig, it’s all internal.

Blue Moon Gate Rig Pillars

What I’m not clear on is how the rig actually moves. And nobody I’ve asked seems to know. I mean, the pistons lift the rig, but what propels it in any certain direction. I can think of several ways, but I’ll find out for sure and let you know.

Anyway, with this setup they can move the rig in just a few hours.

And we don’t get any time off.

I mentioned before about the sucky Verizon Internet here, but it turns out it’s only 3G part that’s sucky. 4G is fine, with 8-10 Mbps down, and around 1Mbps up.

I noticed that when I did something datawise on my Galaxy S5 phone, it moved right along. But anything through our Verizon AirCard (circa 2007) pretty much ground to a halt.

The reason I’m still using a 9 year old 3G AirCard is that it’s grandfathered in with unlimited data. With all the Internet stuff I do, I use 25 to 30 GB a month. And that’s not streaming any movies, or the like.

And if I upgrade to a 4G MiFi, I lose my unlimited data. I keep hearing about people getting special upgrade deals at RV shows or other places, but they never seem to apply to me. But I’ll keep looking.

I mentioned last night about the loss of Guide data that I was getting on my DirecTV system, and how I was going to swap out my new ‘dumpster diving acquired’ Winegard dome with my old original one that I’ve had since 2010.

I figured that the problem was either with my DirecTV HD receiver, or something on their end not sending the guide data, but I was going to swap out my dome and then my cables to eliminate them before I called DirecTV.

But I may have been wrong.

When I changed out domes early this morning the problem went away, and has stayed away for almost 24 hours. I’ll wait another day or so and then swap them back. And if the problem reappears I’ll know for sure.

And if the dome IS the problem, I’m even more confused about what’s happening. The data stream coming down from the satellite is just 1’s and 0’s, with the guide info riding on a subcarrier along with the video information, If the receiver gets the video, it should get the guide data also. And the satellite dome shouldn’t be able to strip it out. It just doesn’t work that way.

And the other thing is that the guide data loss is intermittent, with the problem coming and going, because it does get data sometimes, otherwise it wouldn’t work at all.

Of course, in the back of my mind, there’s always the thought that this problem was why the dome ended up being dumpster-dumped in the first place. But then why did it work fine for several months before the problem reappeared.

Just another question to keep me entertained.

Today was Blue Moon BBQ day, our first visit, and it won’t be our last. And even better, it’s only about a quarter mile back up the road.

Jan got their Stuffed Potato, filled with chopped brisket, sauce, and covered in cheese.

Blue Moon BBQ Stuffed Potato

She said it was really good and she’ll have it again next time.

I went with a combo of their Cowboy Cornbread and the Bean Pot beans.

Blue Moon BBQ Cornbread and Bean Pot

The Cowboy Cornbread has chopped brisket, tomatoes, chilies, and onions mixed into the batter, and then it’s all baked in a cast iron skillet, and then covered in cheese. And what you end up with is almost more fixin’s than you do cornbread.

And it’s delicious.

The Bean Pot is about half and half beans and brisket, mixed with their BBQ sauce and then covered in cheese. I’m sensing a theme here.

I really like their BBQ sauce, very tasty and it’s very hot. Even hotter than Famous Dave’s Devil Spit, or Rudy’s Hot Sauce.

We’ll be going back very soon, in fact probably this Saturday. Because Saturday is the only day that they have Hotshots. Hotshots are large fresh jalapenos, stuffed with 3 cheeses and chopped brisket, then wrapped in bacon and cooked on the pit.

Really looking forward to Saturday now.

August 31, 2017

Nana To The Rescue . . .

Although Fall doesn’t officially start until September 22, according to the forecasts for next week, it’s sneaking in a little early. And it’s going to help all the folks who still don’t electricity for AC’s, and probably won’t by next week either. Although it hit 90° today, and we’re looking at 91° tomorrow and Saturday, Sunday the temps start dropping until were looking at the low 80’s/high 70’s by next weekend. But even better we’ve got nighttime temperatures in the low 60’s/high 50’s.

Very, very nice.

There’s been a lot of talk on Facebook about the new Trails Collection membership now being offered to Thousand Trails members. If you haven’t noticed the link on your TT members page, it’s at the bottom of your Account Information On the face it looks to be a good deal, but as seems to be usual with TT deals, there’s a few gotchas.

The Trails Collection is $199 per year and gives you access to 106 TT and Encore parks, with 13 on the list having an extra $20 per night.

Trails Collection Map

As you can see, the new parks are mostly clustered in 8 areas around the country.

Now for some of the fine print gotchas.

1. Your Trails Collection membership runs concurrent with your TT membership. And if you buy it at another time, it’s not prorated. So if your TT membership renews April 1st,  and you buy your TC membership on February 1st for $199, then when your TT membership renews in two months later, you owe another $199.

2. You can stay for two weeks at an Affiliated Park but you can not then move to another Affiliated Park. So you can’t go from park to park under the TC plan.

If my current Thousand Trails membership agreement allows me to go park-to-park among the Thousand Trails preserves, will I be able to go park-to-park among the Affiliated Resorts in Program?

No, if you stay more than four nights at an Affiliated Resort in the Program, you will need to wait seven days before visiting another Affiliated Resort in the Program.

But then the question comes up, can you move directly to or from a TT park to an Affiliated Park. And that’s where it gets a little fuzzy. Based on this paragraph in the Frequently Asked Questions, you can’t.

Can I go directly from a Thousand Trails preserve to an Affiliated Resort in the Program? Likewise, can I go directly from an Affiliated Resort in the Program to a Thousand Trails preserve?

No, if you stay more than four nights at an Affiliated Resort in the Program or a Thousand Trails preserve, you will need to wait seven days before visiting another Affiliated Resort in the Program or a Thousand Trails preserve.

So this morning I put in a call to TT to ask about just this fact and here’s what Latoya said.

If your TT membership presently allows you go to got park to park, then you can go directly to/from an Affiliated Park to a TT park.

When I ask why the website doesn’t say that, she said she was told that it was because the majority of TT memberships are now Zone Passes, and they don’t allow park to park.

Big surprise.

Jus to double-check, I asked again, “So there are now more Zone Pass members than regular TT members”, and she said yes.

When I asked her why they didn’t clarify this difference in the FAQ file, she said she didn’t know, but she wished they would, since it’s the most asked question by callers.

3. No matter how far ahead you can book a park under your TT membership (for us it’s 210 days), you can only book 60 days under your TC membership.

4. Finally, good luck actually booking a TC park, as there are only about 10 sites at each park reserved for TC members.

Our daughter Brandi called this afternoon to see if Nana could babysit Landon next week. The Houston Independent School District (HISD) announced today that school will not start back until Monday week, the 11th, so they need someone to watch Landon next Tuesday through Friday.

Talk about throwing Brer Rabbit in the Briar Patch.

So I will drop her off sometime Monday afternoon and pick her up probably Friday afternoon. And it looks like it will be just me and Karma next week.

August 31, 2018

All Aboard!

After all the struggles of two old fat guy getting the new 88# AC into the through-the-wall over our heads, we discovered we had a dud.

Like many new appliances, this AC had one of those built-in GFCI modules on the end of the power cord, and ours is bad. The Reset and Test buttons are loose and the power light on the module is dead.

So the company is sending us a new one, which we should get sometime next week. But unfortunately they’re not sending out two young, burly guys to remove the old one and install the new one.

We asked.

So we get a second shot at heart attack territory.

August 31, 2020

In Case You Missed Out The 1st Time Around. . .

Starting November 5th, you can now buy your own, updated C-64.


The New C-64

• The games carousel has 64 pre-installed games including classics such as California games, Paradroid and Boulder Dash, with new additions (including Vic20 games and more) available as a release day online firmware update.
• Connect to a 720p TV or monitor via HDMI for a stunning HD experience.
• Save your progress at any time.
• Via USB, add your own games/programs, update the firmware, and connect your own devices.
• Functions like an original C64 or Vic 20 computer, or play any of the included 64 games in the games carousel.

And it’s only $129.99.

A really great deal since when the original debuted in 1982, it cost $595.00, about $1600 in today’s dollar. But the price quickly dropped to the $200-300 range, or even less, and by the time it was discontinued in 1994, it had sold over 15 million units.

August 31, 2021

Microsoft Says Happy Birthday To Me . . .

Jan and I headed up to Webster about 1pm with our first stop at the local Harbor Freight for a new pop-rivet tool for work. Some of the epilators I work on are plastic-riveted together, so to work on them I have to drill them out and then rivet them back together when I’m done.

Then it was on up to The Cookshack for a rematch, or at least a shot a the two-levels hotter version of the AMF hot Chicken Tenders. But unfortunately it was not to be, because though the owner had told me he had a AMF heat level hotter than what I had last time, he apparently hadn’t shared it with anyone there, since according to them, AMF was AMF, and there were no ‘levels’.

And the owner wasn’t there today. Bummer!

So Jan got the Shack Salad,

The Cookshack Shack Salad

with Grilled Chicken, Avocado, Dates, Almonds, Goat Cheese, Cherry Tomatoes, Corn & Champagne Vinaigrette. But Jan got hers without dates or corn.

I just got the 5 Chicken Tenders, 4 Tenders at Texas Hot and 1 at AMF. And this time I had to sign the Waiver for the AMF version.

CookShack Waiver-1

According to the waiver, the AMF is combination of Carolina Reaper, Trinidad Scorpion, and Ghost Peppers, with a Scoville rating of 2.8 Million units.

I love some of the possible symptoms:

Temporary Loss of Hearing and Sight
Loss of the Ability to Speak
Cause You to Become Dizzy or Faint/Pass Out

Sounds like my kind of fun.

The Cookshack 5 Chicken Tenders

I got as my side their Texas Caviar, a mixture of black-eyed peas, corn, black beans, green peppers, and tomatoes. Very good.

FWIW I don’t think that this AMF tender was as hot as my first one, but it could just be that my mouth is still numb from last time.

Finishing up lunch, we stopped off at the office to pick up a package and then it was on over to Sam’s for a couple of things, and then home.

In apparent recognition of my upcoming birthday, Microsoft has announced that they will be releasing Windows 11 on October 5th. You can go to the link here to find out if your computer will be able to run it.

Thought for the Day:

‘If it’s stupid, but it works, It AIN’T stupid!’