Who Knew?

With all bad weather running around, our friend’s Ron and Anne decided to head out today, a day earlier than planned, on their way to Yuma. And along the way they did have their first Buc-ee’s experience at the one in Luling. They’ll probably never be the same.

Jan and I really enjoyed getting to know them, and spending time with them.

Hope we can see them again soon.

Since Brandi and her family will be home late tonight/early tomorrow, I’m heading up to Katy to pick up Jan from her dog-sitting gig about 1pm. Then we’re having lunch at our favorite Grimaldi’s Pizza before Jan does some Christmas shopping at the Trader Joe’s right next door.

It’s a two’fer.


Yesterday a man who apparently fell off the Carnival Cruise Ship Valor on Wednesday, was rescued Thanksgiving Day after spending 12-15 hours treading water in the Gulf of Mexico.

He was last seen leaving the bar about 11pm, saying he was going to use the restroom. And he wasn’t seen again aboard the ship again.

After the cruise ship reversed course, and with the Coast Guard helping, they found the guy and pulled him aboard a helicopter. When rescued, he said he had no idea how he ended up in the water.

Personally, I figure he was drunk enough that he decided to pee over the railing and fell in.


Then while reading this article, I can across this about another man-overboard incident.

I used to work for Royal Caribbean / Celebrity. I had to go on cruises about twice a year to manage IT deployments. Honestly, it was so automatic I didn’t do much other than lay in the sun during the day and play blackjack at night.

Anyway about 12 years ago I was on a Celebrity ship, Solstice I think. Casino closed early because the clientele was older. I’m getting a snack around midnight and there was an announcement “all crew alpha alpha alpha port side. Ship starts a turn at the same time. (Seas were 8-10 feet.)

It took a solid 45 minutes for the ship to make a full circle back. In the meantime, you could see a flashing beacon out there.

And this is crazy: the spotlights were so bright that even from a few miles away there was a red dot. That red dot was actually the reflection from the overboard passenger’s bald head.

Alright so we sort of stop a mile away. A skiff (probably 25 ft. long) pops out the side with three guys. It runs to the pink dot. Sits next to it for a minute and starts drifting away. 10-15 minutes later another skiff pops out. It runs out to the pink dot…. And makes its way back.

A buck naked 50-60 year old man is passed out. They put the skiff back in the boat and all the passengers and crew watching disperse.

The next day my team got the full story from the bridge. The guy was there to get married. He got rip roaring drunk and got in a fight. So he strips naked, stands on a rail near the bridge. When someone notices him, he jumps.

The crew deployed a beacon. That is how they knew where to find him. That was the blinking light.

When the first skiff got out there, he refused to get in. A guy reached for him and he punched the crew member breaking his nose.

The second skiff went out with the ship doctor. This is where I thought it sounded odd, but the bridge swore it was true. The ship doctor has a tranquilizer gun at his disposal. They shot the passenger and pulled him into the second skiff.

He got expelled from the ship the next day in Honduras. He was alone. His new wife, and all the family that came for the wedding stayed on the ship.

So who knew that cruise ship doctors carry tranquilizer guns?


Thought For The Day:

In the words of Robert Heinlein: “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.

Specialization is for insects.”



November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eve…

Today was a ‘get ready for Thanksgiving’ day.

We headed out about 8:15. I was dropping Jan off at Brandi’s to fix her Thanksgiving dishes and I was going to beat the crowd at the HoneyBaked Ham place.

NOT!

When I got there at 9, the time they opened, there was already a line out the door and down the block. About 150 feet.  So much for early.

About 90 minutes later I had my ham and headed back to Brandi’s. Then after Jan was finished, we drove over to King Food for lunch. And it’s still great as always.

Getting back to the rig, I left Jan and headed back out.

I first went by the park office to settle up and then headed over to pay a visit to one of my clients who had called with a problem.

Finally got back to the rig about 5pm and we settled in for the night.


November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving . . .

Today began early for Jan, but lucky me I got to sleep in until 9 am.

She had to get up and put her Squash Casserole in the oven. She had prepared it yesterday, but it needed to cook for about an hour. Everything else was done.

Then a little after 10 we headed out toward Shawna’s, a trip of about 70 miles out to the Katy area. We did a quick detour by Brandi’s to pick up the HoneyBaked Ham and the two pumpkin pies we had stored in her fridge there.

We got to Shawna’s beautiful new house a little before noon and the first words we heard were “Where’s the Sausage Balls?”. Just like I said yesterday.

Jan, of course, immediately went for Landon.

Jan with Landon

And here’s Mr. Landon getting the giggles, bouncing on Lowell’s knee.

Landon Laughing with Lowell 1

Landon Laughing with Lowell 2

And here he is surrounded by his many female admirers.

Landon and Friends

As always, the meal was fantastic, with ham, turkey, cornbread dressing, corn casserole, squash casserole, green bean casserole, salad, rolls, and a number of great desserts.

After lunch, some people wandered off to watch the games, some of the kids went upstairs to watch movies in Shawna’s beautiful new theater room with a really big screen, and some people, like me, wandered off to take a nap, after that great meal.

A little after 4 we headed back home to the rig, getting back about 5:30 pm.

I mentioned yesterday about the changes in Direct TV’s Distant Network Service that let’s you get the East Coast and West Coast Network Stations.

Well, after reading about the changes, I checked my Direct TV service and found that I had lost the West Coast feed. I figured I would call them on Friday.

But getting back this evening, I found we had not only lost the West Coast, but now we had lost the East Coast feed, and the Houston local channel spotlight, as well.

It took almost 30 minutes on the phone to get things turned back on, but I still need to call them tomorrow to try and get our West Coast feed turned back on. The guy on the phone had no idea why I had lost the feeds as there was nothing in my records about them being turned off.


November 25, 2011

Almost Home . . .

Once again I was up about 9am since we were suppose to move this morning , , , maybe. So about 10 I headed over to the office, with a detour by the site where we supposed to move today.

But as you can see it was still occupied

Galveston Bay 77

So I checked in with the office and they had no news except that the 5er was supposed to leave today.

We’ll see.

Since we couldn’t move yet, about 11 I headed off to see a client. I’m still working my way through all their computers, cleaning and tiding them up, doing updates on the OS and programs, and clean out the gunk.

About 3:30 the RV park called and said we could move anytime as the site was now empty. I told them we’d move tomorrow since I wasn’t at the park and they said no problem.

I headed back to the rig about 4, stopping by the newly vacated site to check out our view-to-be.

Looks pretty good.

Galveston Bay 76

The only downside is that since the site is set up for a 5th wheel, if we want to have our windshield looking out over the bay, (and isn’t that the whole point of parking on the water?) I’ll have to cross-connect the utilities under the rig.

No problem, but I’ll probably have to buy another length of sewer hose.

Jan and I then headed back up to Seabrook to have dinner at Chili’s, with Jan having the Baby Back Ribs, and I had my usual Grilled Chicken Caribbean Salad.

We’ve been eating this salad for years, but in 2008 they discontinued it. And we stopped eating at Chili’s for two years. When we finally went back it was back on the menu. The waitress said they’d had a lot of complaints and requests for it, so I guess our boycott worked.

We’ll probably try to move about 11 tomorrow, but it depends on the weather since we’re supposed to have heavy thunderstorms tomorrow.

Just what you want on a moving day.


November 25, 2012

Back home again . . .

We left our Lake House Thanksgiving retreat about 8:30, but before we left Marble Falls we wanted to have breakfast at the Blue Bonnet Café.

First opened in 1929, it’s served the likes of President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, Ethan Hawke, James Lovell, Lyle Lovett, Texas Governor Rick Perry and First Lady Anita Perry, Willie Nelson, Darrell Royal, Roger Staubach, and Chuck Woolery.

August company indeed.

We really lucked out getting there when we did, since we got seated immediately. By the time we left, the line was out the door.

Besides their delicious food, especially breakfast, they’re also well-known for their pies.

Blue Bonnet Cafe Pie

So yes, there’s about 9 inches of meringue on that pie.

After saying our goodbyes with Lowell and Brandi, and getting our Nana and Papa hugs from Landon, we all headed back home.

Our first stop was at our favorite Buc-ee’s on I-10 at Luling. Landon had enjoyed playing with some marbles in a game left at the lake house, so Jan got him a set while we were there.

After a second stop at the Flying J in Brookshire, we got back to the rig about 3pm and found that Laura Lee had done a great job taking care of Mister and Emma.

Tomorrow it’s back to the grind with clients and chores.


November 25, 2013

I Hear Bells . . .

or at least I think I do  Every time I start to fall asleep, I keep thinking I’m hearing the ding,ding of the driveway bell on the gate. Same thing happened last year, too. And also just like last year, we both find ourselves looking at car tags to see if we recognize them. It’ll pass.

Well, if we thought the weather was bad last night, all we had to do was wait for today. It got colder and wetter. And of course I had to wait until this morning to hook up water and sewer. Doing it this morning meant  I had to get down on my hands and knees in the cold water so I could run the hoses under the rig to the pedestal on the wrong side.

Fun.

But the first thing I did after getting up was to start checking on rental cars since I’m going to have to have the truck towed into the shop. And I quickly ran into a problem.

There are pretty much no cars to be had, especially from Enterprise, the ‘we’ll pick you up’ people, which is what I need. Apparently everyone rents cars to travel for Thanksgiving. Although this year it was worse because of the bad weather. They’re supposed to be bringing in more vehicles tomorrow, so hopefully I’ll luck up.

I also talked to Brock’s Automotive, the car repair shop I’ve used for years. Turns out my Dodge Dakota doesn’t have conventional front wheel bearings. Instead it has an integrated hub-bearing assembly like this.

Dodge Dakota Hub Bearing Assembly

If I I had a 2WD, it would be a quick and simple repair. Just remove the tire/wheel and then remove the 3 bolts, and then remove the old hub and reinstall the new one.

Unfortunately the 4WD repair is a little more involved.

About noon I walked up to the office to pay for the month and also get the park WiFi code. They have a very good system here with good coverage, and excellent speed. Here’s the SpeedTest results from earlier this evening.

SpeedTest - GBRV

During the day when the load is lighter, I’ve seen 20Mbps download speed. Very nice

Although it was overcast and rainy all day, we still got to enjoy the view out our windshield.

Galveston Bay View Site 77 2013

Galveston Bay View Site 77 2013a

Galveston Bay View Site 77 2013b

One of many reasons why we like this park so much.


November 25, 2014

How Do I Clean Off Drilling Mud?

Chris and Charles Yust pulled out of their site here at the Livingston Escapees Park about 8am. But I only know that 2nd hand from Jan since they did it so quietly that I never woke up. Which is surprising since their engine was only about 10 feet from my bed.

We’ll head back to the Lake Conroe Thousand Trails tomorrow morning, but in the meantime, I wanted to use Charles’ pressure washer to try and remove the drilling mud residue from the roof of our rig.

Drill Mud Roof

I made up a bucket of water, Dawn, and Awesome, and started in on the front cap and the edges of the windshield that I hadn’t done originally when it looked like this.

Drill Mud Windshield

I used my long-handle scrub brush to spread the cleaning solution around and then let it soak for a few minutes. Then I used Charles’ Karcher Pressure Washer to hose it off.

Karcher Pressure Washer

I was pleasantly surprised to see all the mud came off the front cap and windshield and left things sparkly clean. I was much less pleased to see that the mud at the top edge of the roof wasn’t touched. So it was up on the roof, after all.

Once up there I had Jan connect a line to lift the brush, the bucket of cleaning solution, and the pressure washer up there with me. And it was even worse than I thought when seen from the ground.

The front 10’ of the roof was pretty much solid black with the mud, as well as the front AC cover and the vent fan cover. I found the AC and vent covers cleaned up very easily, and there was a 2 foot wide strip of smooth plastic that did as well. But the regular roof surface, a pebbly vinyl-looking area, just refused to clean up.

My next attempt was a can of Gunk Engine Degreaser to see how that worked. I sprayed it on a small area, let it sit for a few minutes, and then tried again. And again with no luck. By now I was running out of time, so I wrapped up and put things away, to try another day. I guess I could always just spray paint the roof white again.

I had told Dennis Hill yesterday at his party that I would come down and take a look at his computer problems, so Jan and I headed down there a little before 3pm. Although we spent more time talking to Dennis and Carol than working, I was able to get most of Dennis’ problems worked out.

Later, we all headed out to eat dinner at Texas Pepper, a Mexican place they like. And for good reason, as all our food was really delicious.

Getting back to their rig, we talked a while longer, before it was after 7:30 and past Jan’s bedtime. Or at least when she starts to fall asleep, so we headed home.

Luckily we won’t have to be up too early for our trip back to Conroe tomorrow.


November 25, 2015

Just Puttering . . .

Today ended up being a nice ‘just putter around the rig’ day.

After coffee in our repaired Mr. Coffee (it’s still working fine) and a couple of slices of pumpkin bread, I started going through some bins looking for a couple of things I need for projects.

Once we move over to Colorado River TT in a couple of weeks, I’ve got a extended plumbing project planned. And since I’ll have the water shut off for a while, I’ll send Jan off to stay with Brandi, Lowell, and Landon for a day or so.

First I want to replace the flush ball mechanism in our Sealand Traveler toilet. Since while we were on the gate, we’ve actually been flushing it with a pair of locking pliers. The plastic shaft finally rounded off and the spring cartridge and the foot pedal would no longer flush it.

And while I’ve got it apart, I want to replace the seal kit, and that’s one of the things I’m looking for in the bins. I bought a seal kit a while back as a spare, but so far it isn’t where I thought it should be, so today I’ll be looking in places it’s not supposed to be.

My second project is to replace the lavatory faucet. I’ve got all the parts, so it’s just a matter of taking care of it when the water is off.

But the last one is probably going to be the tricky one. For a while now we’ve had a small leak in our shower, apparently at the back of the shower faucet itself. I’m assuming it’s on the input side to the faucet since it seems to leak whether we actually use the shower or not.

The real complication is that fact that there’s no access panel to the rear of the faucet from the bedroom. There’s supposed to be one. American Coach said so.

When I called them, they said the access panel was right behind the mirror on that wall. I said there wasn’t a mirror on that wall, and there wasn’t any access panel, either.

Their answer to this, “Well,there should be.”

Thanks for your help.

So this means I’m going to have to cut my own access panel, and then come up with some sort of cover for the hole. Presently we have a large picture hung there, but right now it’s hung too high to cover the area where the hole will have to be, and it wouldn’t look right if we hung it lower.

But the important thing is to first fix the leak.

Next chore was to install my new vehicle tags. My present ones run out the end of November so I wanted to get them on before I forget about them. Normally I just get the stickers, but my tags are 8 years old, and are getting pretty beat up, especially the one on the front of the rig which is mounted down fairly low. So this year I paid the extra $10 each and got new tags, and of course new numbers.

Another thing on my list was to install some cable clamps in my electrical bay. Unlike newer rigs that control the engine block heater with a switch, mine has to be plugged in. And it seems like the cord is always hidden away behind the coils of my shore power cord.

So I installed some cable clamps to hold the block heater cord up out of the way.

Block Heater Plug

Sometimes the easy chores are good too.

About 4 Jan and I went into Conroe to have dinner at the local Culver’s. While Jan had a burger and fries, I guess I finally burned out on all the Whataburgers we had on the gate, so I went the soup and salad route, with their Cranberry Bacon Bleu Cheese Salad and a cup of  Cheesy Tortilla Soup.

Culver's Salad

I don’t normally care for Bleu Cheese, but the crumbles in this salad add a nice touch of tartness against he sweetness of the cranberries. Very good.

Tomorrow we’ll head down to Chris and Linda’s in Friendswood to have Thanksgiving dinner. With Brandi, Lowell, and Landon in Oklahoma for the week, we debated what to do for Thanksgiving.

No one really wanted to cook, and no one really wanted to fight the crowds at a restaurant, so we compromised and did a little of both. On our way down to Chris’, we’ll stop off at the Conroe Cracker Barrel to pick up  their Thanksgiving To-Go meal for six.

It comes Turkey and Dressing, Ham, Three Quarts of Sides (for us it was Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Green Beans, and Mac & Cheese), Cranberry Relish, Biscuits, and Corn Muffins.

Linda has fixed some of her delicious Cranberry Salad and a Pumpkin Pie, and we’re also bringing a homemade Coconut Cream Pie from yesterday’s visit to the Fish Pond Restaurant.

So no crowds and easy cleanup.

Happy Thanksgiving!


November 25, 2017

Great Friends and Good Food . . .

Janice and Dave Evans invited us over for lunch today, so we walked over about 11:45 for a great meal of Red Beans and Rice, and Jalapeno Cornbread with brownies for dessert.

We also got to meet their son John, as well as Dave’s brother John, and his wife Lisa, Then later their friend’s Joe and Joanna, so a big, fun group.

We stayed for several hours before coming home, after setting up a rendezvous for later this afternoon.

We met Janice and Dave down at Pho 20 about 4:30  and were greeted by our favorite waitress, Mariah. (Named for the singer, not the wind. We asked.)

Everyone got something new, except me. Of course since Janice and Dave hadn’t been here before, it was all new to them.

Dave got the General Tso’s Chicken,

Pho 20 General Tso's Chicken

while Janice got the Chicken Pho.

Pho 20 Chicken Pho

Both Janice and Dave said it was really good.

This time my Jan went with the Orange Chicken,

Pho 20 Orange Chicken

while I stayed put with my Jalapeno Chicken.

Pho 20 Jalapeno Chicken 2

As with our other visits, Jan and I started off splitting the House Crunch Salad with Miso Dressing. Really good. Going to have to get some of this dressing.

Tomorrow looks to be another quiet day around the rig, with not a lot going on.

So nice.


November 25, 2018

A Typical Fall Day In Texas . . .

Today is going to be one of those typical Fall days in Texas, what with running the AC’s this morning and the heaters tonight.

It was sunny and 75° today, but it’s going down to 41 tonight. And only up to 57° tomorrow and 38 tomorrow night. Of course it could be a lot worse like up north of here where the roads are closed due to high winds and heavy snow.

Today was just a nice stay-at-home day for us, computing, napping, TV’ing, reading, etc. Couldn’t be much nicer.

My project for today was to replace the HD in our ASUS X53E laptop, circa 2012. I’m starting to get errors from the S.M.A.R.T. (Self-Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting Technology) firmware system built into the HD itself. Every time I boot up it gives me a DOS warning message that the HD needs to be replaced ASAP. But since I’m not seeing any ‘actual’ errors during operation, I’m thinking that the drive is probably sensing more and more intermittent read/write errors.

This happens when the HD tries to read some data from the drive and gets an error the first few times before finally reading the data correctly. Or the same thing when it tries to write some data to the drive.

So in preparation for this changeout, a couple of days ago I made a complete System Image of the laptop’s HD onto my 2TB WD external drive.Then all I had to do today was to find the replacement 500GB drive I had ordered for another project a while back but never used.

But when I found that, I realized I had another problem. I didn’t have a copy of the System Repair DVD here at home that I need to reinstall the System Image. So I’ll bring one home from my client’s tomorrow.

The neat thing about a System Image is that it’s a snapshot of the drive, so when I install the image to a new drive, it starts up exactly like it was before. There’s no reinstalling the OS, programs, data, etc. Just copy and go.

Or at least I will tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, NASA got another Mars Lander touching down around 2pm CT tomorrow afternoon. After it lands (a toss-up since only about 50% of past Mars landers have been successful), it will deploy a seismometer and a probe that will drill about 3 meters into the interior of the planet and then spend the next two years checking temps and monitoring for Marsquakes.

Mars Insight Lander

You can check out the landing on either NASA TV or streaming at Space.com.


November 25, 2019

Almost, But Not Quite Yet . . .

I checked in with Dix Diesel Center about 10 this morning and was told that the gaskets would be in about 1pm, and that it shouldn’t take too long to get them installed.

FWIW I still don’t yet know where these gaskets go, but I definitely want to find out before I leave.

But when I checked back in about 4pm, I was told the gaskets had come in, but the mechanic was working on another job and hadn’t gotten to our rig yet. The dispatcher said he might be able to get to the job later in the afternoon.

When I was pretty adamant that I did not want to spend Thanksgiving waiting for our rig to get repaired, he said he would do his best to push it up in the queue, and to check with him about 8:30 tomorrow morning and see how things are going.

I plan on going ahead and checking out of the hotel and just wait around at Dix, hoping I can be annoying enough to encourage them to get it fixed and get me on the road out of their hair.

We’ve enjoyed our stay here at the Luling La Quinta, nice rooms, friendly staff, 24 hour coffee in the lobby, and a good free breakfast. However I do have to question their Free Ultra Fast Internet.

LaQuinta High Speed Internet

Well, I guess the ‘Free’ part is correct, but I have big questions about the ‘Ultra Fast’ part. But after repeated tests using Speedtest.net, the fastest connection I’ve seen was 1.07 Mbps, with some as low as 0.96 Mbps.

But when I brought my Verizon MiFi back to our room from the rig, I’m getting between 17 and 20 Mbps.

So does that mean my MiFi is ‘Ultra Ultra Ultra Fast’?


November 25, 2021

Happy Gobble Gobble To All . . .

Happy Thanksgiving

The incoming cold front (low of 70 last night, 46 tonight) brought rain with it, not heavy, but just a steady on and off drizzle. Bur it may be part of the reason that when we got to Cracker Barrel about 11, it was busy, but not overwhelmed.

So I dropped out Jan out front while I found a place to park. And since a lot of the clientele today was us old people, there were no handicapped spaces available, but I did find a space not too far from the door, and hobbled in.

And found Jan already seated, and we had our plates in about 15 minutes.

Cracker Barrel Thanksgiving 2021

And it was just as delicious as always. And since it came with cornbread/biscuits, pumpkin pie, and a drink, all for $12.99, it was a great deal, too.

However, our plan to buy a couple of dinners to take home for leftovers was thwarted by the fact that we were now supposed to have ordered them ahead of time. But it still worked out because we had leftovers anyway.

And as we were leaving about an hour later, they were much, much busier.

We chose wisely.

Since we knew we were going to be eating kind of early, I didn’t fix coffee this morning. So we were very happy to see Cowboy Coffee open for business when we went by about 10:45, thinking we could get coffee on the way home. But our hopes were dashed when we came back by about 12:15 and found them closed. Guess they were just open for people heading out to grandma’s house for Thanksgiving.

Bummer!

Getting home, we make calls to both kiddo’s,  Brandi up in OK, and Chris over in Kingsland. Good to hear from both.

After that it was time for a post-turkey nap.

A really nice day.

Hopefully yours was as nice as ours.

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