Daily Archives: September 5, 2022

Happy Labor Day . . .

Brandi, et al., including Landon’s BFF, Sophie, got home a little before 4pm and had a great time. They were at the Gaylord Texan Resort in Grapevine, TX near Dallas for the Labor Day weekend.

Seems to a hotel/event center/water park all under one roof. And I mean ‘one roof’

Gaylord Grapevine 1

Gaylord Grapevine 2

Gaylord Grapevine 2a

Gaylord Grapevine 3

So now Brandi has to see how her Federal Jury summons tomorrow turns out, before I know when I’ll get my Jan back. But hopefully tomorrow.

I’ve mentioned before that Sophie, Landon’s BFF, got her ‘growth spurt’ before Landon, actually not that unusual.

Here they are a couple of weeks ago.

Landon and Sophie at Andretti's

And here they are two years ago when they had just turned 10.

Landon and Sophie 2022

Thought For The Day:

So The Tesla Service Vehicle Is A . . . Ford?

With A Gas Engine?

Tesla At The Pump

Is Elon Not Telling Us Something?

September 5, 2009

A Rough Night at Sea…

After finally falling asleep about 1 am,  we woke about 7:30.  It was a rough night.  People coughing all night, people snoring, people talking in their sleep, etc.

About 8 am we headed down to Deck 5 for breakfast at the Cafeteria,  stopping off to go outside on Deck 6,  for a great view of the ocean.

Ferry at Sea

After breakfast,  we went to one of the many lounges to spend the morning.  Jan settled in to read and I found an outlet to plug in my laptop.

Our ferry,  the “Joseph and Clara Smallwood” is 587 feet long and can hold 1200 passengers and 350 cars, RV’s, and semi’s. We’re 200 miles out in the North Atlantic, and I have both WiFi Internet and cellphone service. This ship is really something.

But being built back in the 1990’s, I.e. ‘pre-laptop’, there are not enough electrical outlets in the lounges for everyone.

They were also showing movies on big screen TV’s. We watched ‘Night at the Museum’,  “Shrek II”, and others.

Around noon we headed back to the cafeteria for lunch of soup and sandwiches.  And then after lunch we moved all our stuff down to Deck 5 so we would be closer to our truck on Deck 3 when the time came.

We docked about 2:30 pm and were called to our vehicles about 2:45.  We were told not to start our vehicles until it came our time to move,  and then we started up and moved out…not.

Actually,  I turned the key and only got a ‘click, click, click’.  Dead battery.

I still don’t know what the problem was.  None of my lights were left on.  Anyway,  I wasn’t the only one.  Two other vehicles needed a jump start, also.

Finally,  we were off the ship and on our way.

We decided to head south down the peninsular to drive what is known as the Irish Loop,  though we only did a half-loop since we wanted to get back to St John’s to get a hotel room before dark.

And now some pretty pictures of our drive.

Tors Cove

Tors Cove

Irish Loop 1

Irish Loop 2

Irish Loop 3

Irish Loop 4

Irish Loop 5

And I’m glad we did come back a little early,  because we had to try three hotels before we found a room.

While we were hunting hotels,  we saw Montana’s Steakhouse and thought we’d give it a try later.  And we did.  And it was good.


September 5, 2010

Fall is in the Air . . .

Fall is here, at least in northern Indiana. Yesterday’s high was 63 and then down to 50 last night. Today it made it up to about 68 with a low tonight of 58.

Of course, if it’s too cool for you here, you could try Yuma. It was 114 on Friday, and 109 yesterday.

But it’s a dry heat.  Of course, so is an oven.

About 11 this morning Jan and I headed over to Bob Evans for breakfast. As usual on a Sunday morning, there was a wait, but only about 5 minutes. Bob Evans has moved into their Fall menu so they’ve got their flavored cappuccino’s again. Really good.

After breakfast we drove over to the National New York Central Railroad Museum here in Elkhart.

They have a dining car set up and all ready to go for the restaurant they hope to open soon.

Dining Car

And here’s a display of signal lanterns ranging from the 1860’s to the present.

Signal Lights

Maybe the most amazing thing they have there is this 8 foot long toothpick model of a Pennsylvania K-4 Pacific locomotive.

Toothpick Train 1

It has over 420,000 toothpicks, 40 pounds of glue, and took 7 years to build. The brakes, wheels, tie rods, and windows actually move.

Toothpick Train 2

The builder, Terry Woodling, has built several other toothpick models, including a DC-3 with a 5 foot wingspan, a Huey helicopter, a touring motorcycle, and a Learjet with an 8 foot fuselage.

Toothpick Train 3

They also have a model railroad layout that’s under construction.

RR Layout

Wall of Trains

Outside in the freight yard they have a number of old engines and railcars. The oldest locomotive is this L3A 4-8-2 Mohawk built in 1940, one of 25 in the series.

L3A 4-8-2

It ran until 1957 when the New York Central completed its transformation from steam to diesel.

They also had one the first diesels on the NYC, an EMD E8. Built in 1953, it’s 70 feet long and weighs over 330,000 pounds.

E8 Diesel

This wooden boxcar probably dates from the 1920 – 1930’s, but according to the reporting marks, it was rebuilt in 1965, probably as a maintenance car, and then retired in 1975.

Wooden Box Car

This tank car is somewhat newer, being built in 1952, rebuilt in 1977. and then retired in 1985. It’s really in good shape.

Tank Car

This caboose was built in 1963, and was in use until the 1980’s when most cabooses were retired from service due to their function being handled by more modern technology.


Across the tracks from the museum is the Elkhart train station. Built in 1900, it replaced one built in the 1880’s. It’s still in use today as a regular stop on the daily train from New York to Chicago and back.

Elkhart Station

A lot of the museum is still under construction and we look forward to visiting again next year to see how things are coming.

Leaving the museum and heading home, we stopped off at Ace Hardware to pick up some new bolts for my cargo bay doors, and then stopping at Martin’s for some cat food.

About 5:30 Jan and I drove over to Cracker Barrel for supper and then back to the rig for the night.

We’ve only got two more days here in Elkhart before we leave on Wednesday.

September 5, 2011

Labor Day . . .

We woke up this morning to beautiful Fall weather, and about 50 degrees. I don’t think it finally hit 60 until later in the afternoon. Nice!

After coffee and bagels, I worked on organizing stuff in the coach for a while, and then about 12:30 Jan and I headed over to Wal-Mart to pick up some groceries and other stuff.

Getting home about 2 and getting things put away, I set up Skype on my computer and waited for Lowell to call.

About 3pm Brandi SkypeCalled us and we spent about 15 minutes watching Landon play with his toys and run around the living room.

Video call snapshot 311

Video call snapshot 316

One thing we noticed when we saw him at the reunion a few weeks ago is that he’s not bald anymore. He’s actually got a lot of hair, but since it’s kind of white-blonde, it’s hard to see in photos. His mother Brandi’s hair was the same way when she was young too.

Video call snapshot 322

Video call snapshot 332

We’re really looking forward to seeing him again when we’re back in Houston right before Thanksgiving.

Earlier in the day Brandi and Lowell emailed us these shots of Landon at a nearby park.

Landon on Park Railing

I think he’s saying he’s No. 1 in this photo.

Landon and Lowell on Railing

And here he is having his first Tookie’s hamburger. Tookie’s was/is a famous burger place in Seabrook, TX that had been around since the early 70’s. It was heavily damaged in Hurricane Rita in 2008 and never reopened, until just a couple of weeks ago. Took’em long enough.

Landon at Tookies

Brandi said no matter when you go, there’s always a wait.

September 5, 2014

Found’em . . .

Well, today was a little quieter on the gate than yesterday, with only 119 vehicles coming through, against yesterday’s 130.  Of course, that really means 238 vehicles, counting coming in and going out. But they’ve been bringing in house trailers for the new well, so we’ll be having people staying over pretty soon.

Another gate guard company is looking for a couple for a gate near Bristol, TX, about 30 miles southeast of Dallas. It pays $200 a day, which sounds great until you get to the kicker.

It’s a 600 vehicle a day gate!

So let’s see. $50 more a day than our $150, and you get to quadruple your work load. Sounds like a great deal to me. I wonder why they’re having trouble finding anyone?

In other news, I found my set of longer cables for the satellite dome, so Jan has TV again. The cables were right where I left them, but not where I remember leaving them. That seems to happen a lot lately. But the real culprit is the fact that before we left Houston I went through and reorganized all the basement bins in a logical fashion.

But apparently, what was logical then is not quite so logical now. That’s what I get for tidying things up.

Unlike a lot of gate guard couples, Jan and I don’t work 12 hour shifts. We find it much easier to split it up.

Jan works from 7am to 2pm, and brings out something for breakfast that we eat together. I’m scheduled come back at 2pm, but usually it’s earlier and I bring out coffee.

So I work from 2pm to 6pm, and Jan brings out supper that we eat together. Jan then works from 6pm to 11pm, and I work from 11pm to 7am.

Wash, Rinse, Repeat.

So Jan works a 7 hour shift and a 5 hour shift, and I work an 8 and a 4. Works for us.

Today was a sad day. Dinner finished off the last of the Sonny’s BBQ we got in Pensacola, FL while we were staying at Gulf Shores, AL about a month ago. We went there twice and always bought extra to freeze.

But on a bright note, there’s a Rudy’s over in College Station, not too far away.

September 5, 2015

Summer’s Last Gasp?

Well, it was another quiet day in the oil patch, our part of it, at least. We had 7 vehicles come in and later leave. Most of it was the Swire water guys finishing with setting up the pumps and water lines feeding from the frack ponds.

But there were a couple of guys out in the back laying out and discing up the area where they’ll put the used mud. And that was about it. And we expect even less tomorrow, and if we’re lucky, maybe nothing on Monday.

So we’ll probably go out to dinner again Monday night, since it’ll probably be our last chance for a while.

Our days and nights have heated recently with temps in the mid-90’s in the daytime, and mid-70’s at night, while just a week ago it was low 90’s and mid-60’s.

But starting next Thursday, Fall may be here. According to the Weather Channel, we’re looking at a week of low to mid 80’s and high 50’s to low 60’s at night. At least that’s the forecast. We’ll see how it pans out.

One thing nice about this site is that the rig blocks us from those cold north winds that will sweep through. Much better than the last two years.

After our iced coffee this morning, I took a look at my ‘no 12 volts in the bathroom’ problem we came home to last night. As I suspected, I found a blown 20 amp ATC fuse like this in the panel at the bottom of the bed.


I’ve never had to open this 12 volt panel before, since I’ve never had a 12 volt problem before, so I was surprised to find it use the larger ATC fuses, since everywhere else in the coach uses the smaller ATM fuses. The problem with this is that I don’t have any spare ATC fuses, just the ATM size. I checked the rest of the panel to see if there was one I could borrow, but no luck.

I did borrow one temporarily though, to be sure that it did fix the problem, and it did. Except for the light in the shower. It uses one of these LED bulbs and it wouldn’t come on.


I pulled the bulb out and checked the voltage at the socket and had 12 volts, so the bulb was the problem. But why?

That bulb gets left on as a night light, so it was on when we left for supper. The only thing I can figure is that the bulb shorted long enough to blow the fuse, and then opened. I say ‘opened’ because it had to short to blow the fuse, but it had to then open, otherwise it would have blown the new fuse when I plugged it in. I’ve got another of those bulbs, so I’ll have to get it out.

I’ll probably go into Carthage tomorrow to get some new fuses and also bring back lunch.

Brandi, Lowell, and Landon always spend Labor Weekend at the Woodlands Resort and Landon has a blast. Apparently he can even hula-hoop.

Landon at the Woodlands 1

Landon at the Woodlands 2

September 5, 2017

Leaving The Seat Up . . .

I had planned to sleep in this morning, I really did. But Karma had other ideas.

Turns out that just because Jan’s not here, doesn’t mean that Miss Karma doesn’t still plan on being fed at 7:30am like Jan does every morning. So her patience finally ran out  about 9:30, and she jumped up on the bed and started BITING me.

One of the first things I did this morning (after feeding Karma) was try to get Jan out of Jury Duty. It seems like every year or so one of us gets a jury summons from Harris County. And we haven’t lived here since 2008.

The only thing I was able to do was to ask from disqualification due to not residing in Harris County. But I’ve done this before, and it never sticks. So I’ll probably have to just do it again next time.

I started to order something from Amazon this afternoon and have it delivered to my client’s office for working on his system. With 2 Day Prime delivery I figured it would be there on Thursday so I could use it Friday. And Amazon said it would be delivered on Thursday, but on September 14th, not September 7th.

So I guess they’re still having problems with delivery to this area. We’ll see.

Looks like our forecasted cooler weather is coming through tomorrow right on schedule. Today’s high here in Conroe was 91 with tonight’s low of 68°. But then tomorrow’s high is only 84 and tomorrow night we’re looking at 58°.

Then day temps in the 80’s for at least the next week.

So Fall is here early?

A couple of microwave updates.

Concerning the tabletop Frigondas unit that both cooks and freezes, one reader says his already does this. It’s easy, he said. He just turns the the wall plug around and run the microwave in reverse. Works every time, he said.

Y’all give it try and let me know how it works. My microwave just completely fixed itself and I don’t want to annoy it anymore.

I mentioned the other day how I had worked on it and fixed a persistent problem, but the light stayed on all the time. But since it worked now, I was going to just leave well enough alone.

Well, that worked out great, because I noticed this morning that now the light is going off and on just like it’s supposed to.

There seems to be a theory among wives that as soon as we slide that wedding band on her finger, our I.Q. drops 50 points and we are no longer able to feed and clothe our selves, by ourselves. Instead we can now only function under our wife’s detailed guidance and instruction.

Now in one way or the other, I’ve been taking care of myself since I went off to military school when I was 15. And from then until I met Jan almost 4 years later, I managed to feed, bathe, and dress myself, by myself, without anyone’s assistance.

I’ve washed my own clothes, ironed my own clothes (yes, I can iron) and even bought my own clothes. But by Jan’s reckoning, I’m completely unable to take care of myself for the 3 days that she will be gone. So I got detailed instructions on every bit of food in the refrigerator, how to prepare it,  and how many seconds to set the microwave for. And even down to where the salt and pepper are in the cabinet.

It’s amazing I can even breathe on my own. But, of course with Jan gone, I can leave the seat up . . . on purpose.

September 5, 2019

See I Told You It Was Crows . . .

Jan and I headed out a little before noon this morning, with our first stop at the Black Bear Diner out on I-45 for lunch. BBD is presently our new favorite place, but probably just the latest one. At least until something newer comes along.

Though they were busy, it wasn’t like last Sunday and we got seated immediately.

While Jan got her usual bun-less burger with Avocado and a Side Salad,

Black Bear Diner Jan Burger

I went with something new that I saw on the menu last visit, The Bacon Cheeseburger Salad, with their delicious Bacon Ranch Dressing.

Black Bear Diner Bacon Cheeseburger Salad

With a Burger Patty, Bacon, Cheese, Dill Pickle Chips, Tomatoes, and Red Onions, WOW! was it good. And very filling and very Keto.

Finishing up we drove on up to the Webster area so Jan could get her toesies done while I drove over to the Sam’s/Wal-Mart for gas and a few groceries. I was happy to see gas at Sam’s now down to $1.98/gal,

Very nice.

As I was leaving the Wal-Mart I saw a Loomis Armored Car out in the middle of the lot surrounded by about 6 police cars and a couple of black pickups. And there was also a news helicopter circling overhead, though I couldn’t tell which station.

Something was obviously going on, but I never found anything online about what it was.

Picking up Jan when she was done, we headed up to the Katy area to drop Jan off at Brandi’s so she can team up with Lowell’s parents for Grandparent’s Day tomorrow at Landon’s school. Then I came home and then will go back up Saturday afternoon for Landon’s Birthday Party.

I guess because I posted the blog about crows stealing my chrome sockets, this article showed up in our Facebook timeline.

Crows Bringing Gifts

I wonder if she’s got my sockets.

Of course there this 83 year old lady who supposedly trained her 65 cats (and 17 kittens) to steal jewelry from neighboring houses.

Cats Steal Jewelry For Food

So far I haven’t had much luck with Karma, though she did bring us a dead mouse once.

(and yes, I know this is a fake story)

September 5, 2020

Boats and Trains . . .

Brandi, Lowell, Landon, and Landon’s BFF, Sophie, are spending Labor Day Weekend up at The Woodlands, north of Houston, something they’ve done several other years. Which is one of the reasons that Jan has been doggie-sitting at their home in Katy.


Luckily for me, they’ll be home tomorrow so I’ll get my Jan back.

September 5, 2021

Hot-Wired and Hot Water . . .

I was outside about 10:30 this morning to start pulling the old water heater out of its cubbyhole.

I had already disconnected the water lines and the power wires inside, so after I loosened the gas line outside and removed the 16 screws holding the unit to the rig, I started trying to pull it out.

And it would not budge. Not even a wiggle.

And when I tried to stick a screwdriver in between the heater and the wall, I found the problem. Besides the 16 screws, they decided to actually GLUE the unit into the opening. With a very strong glue, too.

So I started prying the sides in so I could cut through the adhesive.

Water Heater Almost Out

Finally then I was able to wiggle and pry, and eventually got the unit out of the hole.

Water Heater Opening

The plywood platform came right out and then I did my best to clean and dry the area out. But before I could go any further I needed to move the inside water connections over to the new unit.

Water Heater Old Connections

No problem removing the elbow on the cold inlet, but when I tried to remove the piping on the hot outlet, the 1/2” plastic coupling just came apart.

So since it was about lunch time, it was off to Home Depot by way of Gator’s for lunch. Turns out Home Deport didn’t stock the plastic couplings and was out of the brass ones, so I bought a valve coupling instead, which will also let me isolate the water heater from the system if needed in the future. It was a little longer, but there was enough flex in the piping to handle it.

Water Heater New Valve

My next problem was that it seems that the new Styrofoam-covered heater is slightly larger and less squishable than the old fiber-insulated and covered-in-cardboard unit. In fact when I gave up for today (I was just tired of fooling with it) there was still about 2” of the unit sticking outside the rig. But I wanted to be sure it actually worked before I went any further with it.

So I hooked up the water and power, filled the heater with water, and then turned it on. And 30 minutes later, NO hot water.

No power was getting to the heating element. Then a lot more search told that this unit requires 12VDC through a remote switch to get it work on 120VAC. So to get us hot water I pretty much hot-wired it directly while I figure out hot to get 12VDC in the water heater area, since it’s only got 120VAC there. But that’s for tomorrow.

Tonight we have hot water.

Thought for the Day:

Civilizations collapse slowly, then all at once.