Well, I Went And Did It . . .

Today was another of those days at work where I didn’t do anything actually work-related. Things like soldering a broken lead in a Nissan Altima key fob, replacing a bad circuit breaker in the office breaker panel,  repairing the AC power plug on a heat sealer unit, or using my Bluetooth Code Reader to read a trouble code on the previously mentioned Nissan Altima. (It was P0442. A loose gas cap)

Well, I finally broke down and did it.

For the first time in almost 20 years, I have a credit card.

No, not another debit card, but a real-life, actual credit card.

We got rid of our credit cards (I think we only had two or three) back in 2005 or so. Debit cards were well accepted, and I kind of like being forced to keep every thing on an essentially cash basis. And it was a big help when we started prepping to go full-time RV’ing in the 2006-2007 time frame.

And until very recently, like last week, I haven’t needed a credit card. At least until Enterprise Rent-A-Car changed their rules and will no longer rent me a car with a Debit card.

So since Capitol One is always sending me these credit card pitches, I went online and 5 minutes later I had a credit card on the way, and a virtual one to use in the meantime.

Doubt I’ll ever use it for anything except car rental. And that’s usually only once a year or so, so it’s not going to get a lot of use.

Tomorrow it’s lunch at Twin Peaks with some errands afterwards. Then on Friday we’re meeting up with long-time friends Peri & Jim Dean, and his sister and brother-in-law. They’ll be down in this area getting ready to leave on a Carnival Cruise on Saturday. So it’s a perfect time for a get-together.


Thought For The Day:


“You may be right, dead right, as you speed along in your argument; but as far as changing another’s mind is concerned, you will probably be just as futile as if you were wrong.” – Dale Carnegie


November 30, 2010

Work, work, work . . .

Today was just work, work, work.

Jan and I tried to walk our mile and a half this morning but it turns out my ankle just wasn’t up to it. So we ended up doing the 1/4 mile circle and that was it.

Then about 11 I headed out on my errands. My first stop was at my son Chris’ to pick up a Santa Suit from his wife Linda to take to our daughter Brandi’s for Landon to wear for his picture with Santa at the Mall tonight.

Then it was off to a client’s office for a while, then to the bank to deposit a check for the fruits of my labors.

Then off to another client’s at about 1pm. I ended up there for the rest of the afternoon, before getting home a little after 4, just in time for Jan and I to head up to League City to meet our friend Maria at Kelley’s Restaurant for supper.

The I headed home, stopping off at Wal-Mart for gas.

Jan and Maria went down to La Marque to play Bingo. And once again Jan won $95 ($100 before taxes), just like last week.

I need to take this girl back to Vegas quick.

I drove down to pick her up about 10 pm, getting us home about 10:30.

Tomorrow we’re heading up to Fischer, TX to visit our friend Gina who lives on a 600 acre cattle ranch. We’ll be there for two days, and then Friday we’ll drive on up to Burnet TX to meet the kids at the lake house for our annual Christmas at the Lake get-together.


November 30, 2012

Getting My McRib Fix . . .

About 1pm I headed out to check in on a client and straighten out a couple of problems they were having. Turned out to be “Operator Error” with a new employee.

Then it was back to Lowe’s to double-check a price I saw yesterday. I was confused because they had the price of an 8 foot 1” x 6” listed as $6.97 and a 10 foot piece of 1 x 6 was $5.97.

Huh?

Turns out that the price difference is due to the fact that the 10 foot pieces are slow sellers, so they’re priced cheaper. Great for me.

Then it was off to the bank to make a deposit. I keep meaning to stop off and get a replacement debit card, but never seem to remember it until I’ve left the bank. My old one is getting kind of flakey and some machines won’t read it. Maybe next time.

Next I went across the parking lot to the Kroger’s to pick up a few things, and while I was there I decided to get a coffee at the Starbuck’s located in the store. And that was a big mistake.

I go to Starbuck’s regularly, but in all those years I’ve never actually had their coffee. Not once. Actually I normally get a latte of some sort, usually a Cinnamon Dolce Latte. But this time I decided to have a coffee.

You ever go into a diner about 4 in the afternoon and get a coffee that tastes like it was brewed up at lunch and then sat there on the hotplate cooking down to a sludge with the flavor and consistency of burnt crankcase oil.

Unfortunately this wasn’t that good.

I can only assume that this was an anomaly, because otherwise I’m going to start selling the coffee I make and run them out of business.

Getting back home about 4pm, Jan and I headed back out to a nearby McDonald’s so I could get my McRib fix, before they disappear again.

As far as McRib trivia, the sandwich was developed in the early 80’s as a Chicken McNugget replacement. McNuggets were so popular that McDonald’s ran into a chicken shortage for several years. They just couldn’t buy enough to keep all their franchisees supplied. So the McRib was offered to take up some of the slack.

I’ve also heard that McDonald’s waits to bring the McRib back each time for when pork prices are at their lowest, at least that’s the way it’s worked since 2005. Then when prices rise too much due to the demand, they discontinue it for the year.

Hmmm! McRib!

On another note, I put out Jan’s birdfeeder the other day and it didn’t take long for the birds to find it. But this year the feeder has some new visitors.

Birdfeeder Ducks 1

Ducks.

Lots and lots of ducks.

Birdfeeder Ducks 2

Knowing the way ducks eat, it’s going to be fun? to try and keep them all fed.


November 30, 2013

Elephants and Llamas and Camels, Oh My!

Today was our trip up to the Texas Renaissance Festival about 70 miles north of here. The last time Jan and I came up was in 2007 right before we started RV’ing. But we first started coming here in the early 80’s when the kids were little. Then in the 90’s we brought Miss Piper up here several time too. So now it was Master Landon’s turn.

Jan and I left the rig about 8am heading for Chris’ with a stop at the bank for money, and Jack in the Box for breakfast sandwiches for everyone. And then a little after 9am we were back on the road with Chris driving.

Brandi’s group was going to meet us there. And by group, I mean a bunch. It included Brandi, Lowell, Landon, Lowell’s parents Lendel and Sonja, and Lowell’s sister Sherry. With our car-full that makes a total of 11.

It’s going to be like herding cats.

We made a quick trip up to the area, but hit bumper-to-bumper traffic as we got within 10 miles and that took us a while to get parked. But finally we were through the gate and  into the park.

And it’s like entering a whole different world. One inhabited by dragons

TexRenFest 22

and even fairy queens.

TexRenFest 4

TexRenFest 16

You’ve got gypsies,

TexRenFest 6

nobles,

TexRenFest 23

TexRenFest 24

or even royalty.

TexRenFest 25

Or commoners.

TexRenFest 5

And of course, Landon enjoyed taking it all in.

TexRenFest 3

I mean where else can you ride a real Brahma bull,

TexRenFest 7

a zorse,

TexRenFest 26

or even a dragon’s egg.

TexRenFest 8

And, apparently, Landon will ride just about anything with his cousin Piper, including

TexRenFest 9

an elephant,

TexRenFest 10

TexRenFest 11

a llama, (it was a one person llama, so Piper just watched)

TexRenFest 12

TexRenFest 13

and a camel.

TexRenFest 14

And even a really big swing.

TexRenFest 18

One of our favorite shows is the Birds of Prey demonstration.

TexRenFest 20

And yes, that’s a full-grown owl, a Screech Owl.

TexRenFest 19

This is an African Augur Buzzard, but more like a hawk or falcon, not a buzzard of the US kind.

TexRenFest 21

We finally all staggered out to the cars a little after 4pm, feeling a lot like this camel. And yes, that’s how they rest when they’re pooped.

TexRenFest 15

Getting back to Chris and Linda’s about 5:30, we headed back to the rig, stopping only at Buc-ee’s for coffee to help keep me awake to do the blog, and Cranberry muffins for breakfast.

We had a great time, a lot of fun, but boy, are we tired. Maybe even camel-tired.


November 30, 2015

Sorry ‘bout That . . .

Our blog readers who subscribe by email received four blogs this afternoon from June 2014.

Sorry ‘bout That!

In July 2014 I moved from my old blog format over to this one. At that time I used WordPress’ export and import functions to move all the pages, posts, and comments from the old blog to this one.

But for some reason everything didn’t move. For example only the last 10 days of June 2014 moved over. The first 20 days didn’t make it. So after trying several things to fix the problem, I came up with a cunning plan.

I would just copy each post, one at a time, from the old blog and then paste them into a new post and then change the date from today’s to the correct one for the month of June 2014. I guess in the back of my mind I thought that this date change would keep the posts from being sent out to our blog subscribers.

I was wrong.

After I did the first four pages, June 17-20, 2014, and it seemed to be working, my daughter Brandi texted me to see if I knew that I was sending out year-old posts.

No, I didn’t.

But I quickly heard from several blog readers about the problem. So now I’ll have to come up with a even more cunning way to do this.

Later in the morning I went online to the EZ Tag website to add my new car and rig tags to my EZ Tag Toll Road Account. It wasn’t very obvious how to do this, so it took me a while to figure it out. Another example of bad website design.

Next, I again tried to call Clark’s Allstar Glass to see if they could reset my rig windshield. I noticed while we were parked on the gate that my passenger side windshield, that was replaced this past June, was starting to pull away from the frame leaving a quarter-inch gap about 8 inches around the top outside corner.

The windshield was not cracked during our blowout this past May, but was cracked when the repair place lifted the front of the rig with a single point hydraulic lift while working underneath.

It had previously been replaced the year before up in Elkhart, IN, and we had no problems since then, even going through the severe shaking during the blowout recovery.

So my insurance company, National General, told me find a local place to remove and replace the glass, but Clark’s is closed until next Monday due to a family emergency. So I’ll call back then.

About 3:30 Jan and I headed down to The Woodlands for a movie and dinner. Along the way our first stop was at a UPS store to send my defective transfer switch back to the manufacturer.

$23 later we were back on the road. Kind of expensive for a ‘free’ warranty replacement.

We had been wanting to see The Martian ever since it came out while we were on the gate. Jan and I both really liked the book, and hoped they had done a good job bringing it to the screen.

Starring Matt Damon, and directed by Ridley Scott, who directed Thelma and Louise, Alien, Blackhawk Down, Bladerunner, and a number of other blockbusters, who did an excellent job making this book into a movie.

Although a science fiction story about an astronaut (Matt Damon) accidently left for dead on Mars during an emergency evacuation, it’s really a man against nature story that could have taken place in a remote jungle or even the Arctic, anywhere a man is fighting to survive against overwhelming odds.

The book, The Martian, written by Andy Weir, is kind of a rag to riches story. Andy, a software programmer, wrote the book in his spare time, posting it one chapter at a time on his website where anyone could download it for free.

When he was finished, friends urged him to post it on Amazon as a $.99 Kindle book. And when he did, it jumped to the top of the Bestseller Lists, even while it was still available for free on his website.

The book made such a splash that Weir was quickly approached by Random House with a publishing contract, followed by Hollywood, Ridley Scott, and Matt Damon.

See The Martian. You’ll like it as much as Jan and I did.

After our movie we were close enough to just walk up the hill a little ways to our dinner destination, Grimaldi’s Pizzeria, our all-time favorite pizza place.

The Woodlands was covered in Christmas lights and decorations, covering every tree and lining the curbs along the way, making for a nice stroll to and from our car.

Woodlands Trees 1

Woodlands Trees 2

We first ate at Grimaldi’s in 2009 when we were visiting New York City with our daughter Brandi, and our granddaughter Piper. At that time we thought it was the best pizza we’d ever eaten. And it looks like we’re not the only ones.

Here’s what online says about them.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria is one of the most popular in New York City. In recent years, Zagat Survey has rated Grimaldi’s No. 1 Pizzeria in New York. It was named one of the top 10 restaurants in New York by Let’s do New York City. As Grimaldi’s does not take reservations, lines for tables are often long in summertime and extend far up Old Fulton Street.

Grimaldi’s Pizzeria was chosen as one of the five best pizzerias in United States by the Food Network. Their pizza was featured on the television show The Best of….

At that time there was only the one restaurant located in the DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan-Bridge Overpass) area of Brooklyn. So we were very happy when our friend Lyn Cross alerted us to the fact that Grimaldi’s was spreading out, with a new location nearby in the San Antonio area. Since then we’ve eaten at Grimaldi’s all over the country, and it’s always great.

We finally got home about 9pm, finishing up a very nice evening together.

Coming up tomorrow, a batch of Jan’s world-famous chili. Really looking forward to it.


November 30, 2016

Supply and Demand . . .

Today was my last day at this gate, at least until next time. I never know.

One gate I’ve been to 4 separate times, so I’ll probably be back at this one too. And I wouldn’t mind it either. This was actually a really good gate.

I actually only had about 10 vehicles in and out of the gate. Nothing like the 60 truck convoy that came through yesterday. But I did have about 30 vehicles come in who were lost. I would tell them they were at the wrong pad, but some just wouldn’t believe me.

I had a small convoy of 10 welding trucks come in who insisted they were in the right place and insisted on going in. I told them no one was on site, but they just wouldn’t listen.

Then about 5 minutes later here they come back out and then the lead guy sheepishly ask me where the ‘other’ site was.

Well, after trying unsuccessfully to out-produce us, OPEC and including Russia, has finally gotten their act together enough to make some slight cuts in oil production. But the cuts were enough to jump the price of oil today almost 10%.

We’ll see how long the cuts hold, but it does bode well for US companies. And of course for us gate guards as well. But in the past as soon as the price goes up some, individual OPEC members get greedy again, increase their production to take advantage of the higher prices, and then it all falls apart again.

Supply and demand. Supply and demand.

As it stands right now my next gate is this Sunday on days, back at the gate where I got lost going to this past Monday. As I told Todd, at least I know where it is now.

Tomorrow Jan and I are making a day trip into San Antonio for some shopping, a movie, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”,  and then dinner at Magic Time Machine, one of our three favorite places in San Antonio.

“Fantastic Beast” is a prequel to the Harry Potter book and movie series, both of which Jan and I really liked, so we’re looking forward to it.


November 30, 2017

A New Ride . . .

Jan and I headed up to the Clear Lake area about 4pm to meet up with Chris, Linda, and Piper at Cheddar’s for dinner. But we left a little early so we could make a stop at Sam’s to pick up a prescription and 6# of JIF Creamy Peanut Butter.

Then it was on over to Chris’ to wait for Piper to get off and meet us at the restaurant. The first thing we noticed when we pulled up to the house was this.

Piper's New Ride

Turns out that this Mazda Miata is Piper’s new ride. Don’t remember what year it is but it only has about 64,000 miles on it. But there’s a problem.

Piper can’t drive a stick, and a 6-speed stick at that. So it’s back to Driver’s Ed for Piper.

I told Miss Piper that she was taking after her PaPa since this is what I was driving when I met Jan down in Florida. Of course this is an Internet photo.

65 Triumph Spitfire

A 1965 Triumph Spitfire. Of course knowing me, it’s not surprising mine was somewhat souped up. (Well, maybe a lot souped up!)

Dinner was just as good as we’ve come to expect from a Cheddar’s meal, with Jan having the Key West Chicken and Shrimp with Bourbon Glaze, and Green Beans and Broccoli-Cheese Casserole

Cheddar's Key West Chicken and Shrimp

while I had the Chicken Tenders, with Green Beans and Broccoli-Cheese Casserole.

Cheddar's Chicken Tenders 2

All as delicious as usual.

I did this group photo after we finished eating,

Cheddar's Group

with everyone in the Christmas Spirit except Miss Piper.

But after I reminded her that there was still room on the Naughty List, she perked right up.

Cheddar's Piper

After dinner, we drove over to the other ‘new’ thing in Piper’s life. To go along with her new ride, she also has a new job and a new apartment.

Piper's New Apt 1

Her new job is here in the Clear Lake area where she does Medical Coding and Insurance Billing for a company that furnishes Hospice services for both individuals and medical Institutions.

Piper's New Apt 2

Piper's New Apt 3

A really nice place, and as she say’s, ‘Only 4 minutes, 31 seconds from work.”

Nice.

Piper's New Kat

This is little fellow is Kat, a kitten that Piper rescued during Hurricane Harvey.

Jan and I have been going through the slides that we came across while Chris was cleaning out the attic at the house.

I was able to borrow a slide projector from my client so

we’ve been going through them one carousel at a time, picking the ones we want to have digitized by Legacy Box. Looks like we have 5 or 6 more carousels to go.


November 30, 2018

$1.84 A Gallon . . .

Stopped by the Costco this afternoon on my way home from my client’s to fill up before I pick up Jan on Monday.

And the price has now dropped to $1.84. And then on the way home, the HEB that was $2.12 this morning, is now down to $2.01 to match the WalMart right across the Interstate. But as before, still not any real change in the diesel price.

I did stop at the Denny’s down here to have breakfast, just so I wouldn’t have to fix anything myself. Besides breakfast sounded good.

Tomorrow I’m going to get back on looking for the oil leak on our rig’s Cummins 360 ISC diesel engine. To recap, the leak first appeared on our trip up to Illinois back in June. Since it occurred during our first trip after having the engine serviced and the oil filter replaced, and that the leak seemed to be coming from the vicinity of the filter, I called RV Mobile Lube to come back out and replace the filter. And several engine tests, and even a 2 hour test drive seem to show the leak had been fixed. However, when we headed down to Florida this past October, the leak was back.

Coming back to Houston I tried to use my WiFi Endoscope Inspection Camera to see what was happening.

Depstech Endoscope

But there was so much vibration that the picture was just too blurry to see anything. So tomorrow I’m going to lift the bed up again, remove the Endoscope, and then use one of my Wyze cameras

Wyze Camera

mounted on the end of a long rod to just take a look at the area where the leak seems to be originating and see what’s what’s.

It only leaks when the engine is running, and except for needing to add oil, a couple of gallons every 400 miles or so, the engine runs perfectly. So hopefully I’ll see something tomorrow that will shed some light on things.

Looks like things have warmed up down at Disney World.

Brandi et all at Disney 2

Where it was in the 50’s a couple of days ago, it’s shirt sleeve weather now for Brandi, Lowell,and Landon. Looks like they’re still having a blast.

Only two more days until Jan’s back home. Karma and I are both giddy.

And lonely.


November 30, 2019

Still Thinking About It . . ..

I’m still working out what I plan to do next about my oil leak problem, but I want to talk to Cummins again before I try something else. However, before I do anything, I’m going to crawl back under the rig and pull off the filter and the new gasket and adapter head and see if I can see a problem.

My reasoning is that after I replaced those parts and we headed out on our Kingsland trip a couple of weeks ago, we had absolutely no leakage when we stopped at the Buc-ee’s in Katy. Every other trip we’ve had leakage by then. So something I did worked, at least until we’d traveled another 75 miles or so, and the leak returned, worse that ever.

Because of this I’m going to retrace my steps and see if anything jumps out at me

But none of this is going to happen for a couple of weeks, since this coming Thursday we’re leaving on our Christmas In New York trip. So pretty much nothing is getting done until after then.

As I mentioned the other day, when I got back from Kingsland this past Wednesday afternoon, I found a bad 50 amp breaker in our pedestal. And strangely enough this same thing happened to us back in April of 2018, too. That time it was when we got back from one of our local oil leak test drives.

But this time I had my 50 amp Tester all ready to go. And it worked great.

So I thought I’d repost this part of the blog from April 29, 2018.


A couple of weeks ago when we got back from our RV test drive we found that our pedestal was dead.

And as I was sticking my VOM probes into the 50 amp receptacle, wiggling them around to be sure I making a good connection, it galvanized me to build up the tester that I had mentally designed a few years back.

So to refresh my memory, I sketched it out on a pad and started sourcing out some parts. Then it occurred to me that rather than reinvent the wheel, I might ought to check to see if somebody already sold one, saving me the time and effort.

I didn’t find anything commercially-made but I did come across this home-brew effort.

A couple of weeks ago when we got back from our RV test drive we found that our pedestal was dead.

And as I was sticking my VOM probes into the 50 amp receptacle, wiggling them around to be sure I making a good connection, it galvanized me to build up the tester that I had mentally designed a few years back.

So to refresh my memory, I sketched it out on a pad and started sourcing out some parts. Then it occurred to me that rather than reinvent the wheel, I might ought to check to see if somebody already sold one, saving me the time and effort.

I didn’t find anything commercially-made but I did come across this home-brew effort.

http://www.myrv.us/electric/Pg/tester_50amp.htm

Pretty much my same design, but I did like the box and the connector he used so I borrowed that idea, and then went all digital with it. Great minds, etc.

And here’s what I ended up with,

50 Amp Tester Finished

based on this design that I drew up.

50 Amp Tester Schematic

It only took about 30 minutes to wire it up and get it put together. So the first thing I did was to take it outside to the pedestal, disconnect the coach, and hook it up.

50 Amp Tester at Pedestal

And it worked perfectly. But in the bright sun the lights didn’t photograph very well. So I connected it up again after dark.

50 Amp Tester at Night

Much more visible on camera.

The two circuit testers check L1 and L2 for open grounds, open neutrals, reversed grounds and neutrals, etc. All of which I have encountered at campgrounds over the years.

I would have used two voltmeters but couldn’t find one narrow enough to fit two side by side. So I just swap the one back and forth as needed.

The green LED on the top left checks to see if you have real split phase 220VAC coming from the pedestal and not just two 110VAC lines coming into it. Again something I’ve seen several times over the years.


Tomorrow I get my Sweetie back home, after I drive up to Brandi’s to pick her up. It’s kind of lonely here because Karma is just not very good company.


November 30, 2021

Pumpkin, Pumpkin, Pumpkin . . .

We had planned to head down to Galveston about 12:15, but instead I first headed into work about 11am to fix a not-really-a-problem. I did make back home and we were on our way pretty much on time.

Our first stop was the Mosquito Café for brunch. We’ve passed this place a number of times, because our long-time favorite Sunflower Café is right on the next block.

But Sunflower is closed on Tuesday’s so we thought we’d give Mosquito a try. And it turned out be pretty good, though not quite as good as Sunflower.

We both had their Plain Ole Breakfast, with 3 eggs, bacon or sausage, toast, and a side. Jan got the Hash Browns and I got the Cheesy Grits.

Mosquito Cafe Plain Ole Beakfast

Jan also started with a cup of their Pumpkin Bisque.

Mosquito Cafe Pumpkin Bisque

She thought it was so good that as she was finishing it off, I told her that I would be the lookout if she wanted to lick the bowl. To her credit, she didn’t take me up on it. But I think she thought about it.

We both got a dessert from their bakery. Jan got one of their Pumpkin Bars, while I got a piece of their Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese frosting.

Mosquito Cafe Pumpkin Spice Cake

I’m sensing a theme here.

The kicker to all this was that we couldn’t even eat half of this, so we had a lot to bring home for tomorrow night’s dinner.

Then it was off to my client appointment. Took about an hour to go over things to find out what they needed. Looks like I will be taking over their website, but I’m not sure yet how much other support they’ll need. We’ll see.

Looks like Branson is prepping for our Christmas visit next week. While this week it’s been in the 70’s there, next week looks to be in the high 50’s in the daytime, and the 30’s/40’s at night.

No snow forecast though.  Yet.

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