Happy Veteran’s Day To All Our Veterans!

Happy Veteran’s Day To All Our Veterans!

As I’ve mentioned in past blogs, both my father and mother were in the U.S. military during WW2. My father was in the Navy Shore Patrol, which was a perfect fit for him, since when he enlisted, he was a  Birmingham, AL police detective, while my mother was a Captain in the Army Nurse Corp.

Based on the trees in the background, I think this photo was taken when she was stationed at Fort Bragg, NC.

Mother In Uniform

Later, she was Chief Of Nursing at West Point, where this photo was taken.

Mother in the Army

She even has her own display area at the Alabama Veterans Museum in Athens, AL.

Mother's Exhibit at Athens Vet Museum

Those are patches she collected from the many wounded soldiers that passed through her wards. And that is one of her actual uniforms.

In addition, Jan’s father was in the Army during WWII and then later joined the Air Force, retiring as a Senior Master Sergeant.

We owe them our freedom and salute them all.

Lunch today was at Snooze for breakfast, with Jan getting her usual Bravocado Toast,

while I got the Shrimp & Grits once again.

Shrimp & Grits obviously is just Shrimp and Grits.

Duh, right?

But what makes the difference is the seasonings. And Snooze has it down perfectly.

I don’t know what’s in the trimmings around the dish, but it’s the best I’ve ever tasted.

Next up was a stop by the dry cleaners to pick up the coat we dropped off last week, and then it was on over to the Clear Lake Kroger’s to pick up some prescriptions for Jan. Then it was back down to our area to try something new. And ‘try’ turned out to be the operative word.

We had read on Facebook about a new Dutch Bros. Coffee opening up in the League City area, and someone was raving about their Caramel Pumpkin Brûlée coffee.

Well, anything with ‘Pumpkin’ in it caught Jan’s attention. But when we tried a location that was on our way home, we found it wasn’t open yet. It looked like it was all ready to go with the equipment inside and the lights on.  So we’ll try again tomorrow.

Our last stop was at our local WalMart for our weekly stuff and then home after a really nice day.

A few blogs back I mentioned how Golden Corral is branching out with two new non-buffet restaurants, and how Denny’s actually owns El Pollo Loco and several other chains.

And now it seems that Denny’s is also coming up with a new concept: a drive-thru version of their regular one located out in California. Supposedly it will have a limited menu (obviously) and they don’t say if it will spread outside of CA.

Drive-thru Pancakes. Yay!

Thought for the Day:

Remember, every bad idea once seemed like a good idea to somebody.

And Now On To Today’s Retro-Blogs.™

November 11, 2009

Smirnoff and SIX…

Sounds like a new drink, doesn’t it.

Today was a twofer.  We saw Yakov Smirnoff at a 3pm matinee,  and then SIX, a singing group at 8pm.

But first we stopped off for lunch at Sadie’s Sideboard, a well-regarded buffet restaurant on the Branson Strip, and not too far from Yakov’s theater. The fried chicken was really good!

Yakov’s show was great!  And as I expected, very pro-American.

What I didn’t expect though, was how decidedly conservative some of his comments were.  Having been born and lived in Russia until he was 26,  he says “ I know socialism when I see it, and I don’t like what I see”.

Smirnoff 1

Smirnoff 2

Smirnoff 3

He also had a team of Russian folk dancers that were really good.

Smirnoff Dancers 1

And the “Santa Claus and the Pirates” was cute , but corny.  As Yakov said during the scene, “Maybe we should have hired real writers”.

Smirnoff Pirates 1

Smirnoff 4

And his President of the United States skit was pretty good, too.  He took real questions from the audience and answered them both seriously, and hilariously.

Smirnoff President

And everyone seems to enjoy his Secret Service detail.

Smirnoff Secret Service

And of course, the obligatory dancing toys Christmas skit.

Smirnoff Xmas 1

Smirnoff Xmas 2

Smirnoff Choir

It was a great show, and as good as we had heard.  It was easy to see why Yakov has been filling an 1800 seat theater almost daily for the last 17 years.

What I didn’t know is that he is a well-recognized artist.  His large mural painting “America’s Heart” has hung at Ground Zero in New York after 9/11.

Yakov Artwork 1

And this one is called ‘God and Country”

Yakov Artwork 2

Leaving the show we decided to eat dinner at El Portal again, since we liked it so much last night.

A little before 7 pm we drove over to the Hughes Bros. Theater to see SIX.  We had never heard of them before, but we saw their billboards coming into Branson, and the ticket guy said it was one of the most popular.  We only got tickets because of a cancellation.

SIX is a group of six brothers who have been performing since the late 70’s.   They are the six oldest of ten boys and no girls.  As they said, their parents really wanted a girl!!

The really neat thing is that they perform everything a cappella, but not without instruments.  They make the instrument sounds, too.

They do drums, trumpets, trombones, clarinets, etc., and they are dead on.  It’s really amazing.

And their harmony is fantastic.  Check out their version of the Star Spangled Banner on YouTube.  And this one too is done a cappella.



And they do dead-on voice impersonations of Elvis, Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, etc..

SIX Elvis

They also did a great “Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons”.



And their tribute to their mother who died of cancer in 1992 brought tears to everyone’s eyes.


If you’re in Branson, this is a show to see.

By time we got home it was almost 11 pm.

Tomorrow we’re going to take a road trip about 90 miles up the road to Colaw’s RV  Salvage in Carthage, MO.

November 11, 2010

Birds and Books . . .

We started with more of the norm this morning, more rain, but it least it dried up long enough for Jan and me to get our walk in.

Coming back to the rig we saw these two white pelicans swimming out in the bayou in front of our site. Jan collects pelican knickknacks and we have them all over the rig.

GB Pelicans

About 2 pm Jan and I headed up to League City to have a late lunch at Cracker Barrel. Jan always likes to go on Thursday since it’s Turkey and Dressing day, and that’s Jan’s favorite.

After lunch we headed up the Interstate a mile or so to Fry’s Electronics so I could return some software that I decided not to use. I looked around to find something to use my store credit on with no luck, but their new sale flyer comes out on Friday, so I’ll check the paper tomorrow.

Leaving Fry’s we drove down the NASA Parkway to Half-Price Books so Jan could look for a book she wanted, but with no luck.

Leaving there, we drove back down toward Kemah and home. But on the way I stopped off at Home Depot to check out some plastic sheets to make a new mount for our satellite dish, but they didn’t have what I wanted.

Braving the returning rain we stopped off at Wal-Mart for a couple of things we forgot yesterday, and then it was finally time to head home.

Tomorrow Jan’s going to spend the day with Brandi and Landon, while I’m going to work on our toilet seals.

More toilet news tomorrow…

November 11, 2011

It’s a Small World After All . . .

(Insert annoying theme song here.)

About noon Jan and I headed over to Huntsville for some lunch at Rosie’s Mexican Cantina. We had first eaten here several years ago, and we always make sure to go back when we’re in the area. It’s that good.

After lunch we made a quick stop at Sam’s Club for kitty litter and vitamins, and then it was back to Athens, where we found a note on the door telling us to come over to my Uncle Ed’s for dessert about 5:30.

We ended up going over earlier so I could see my cousin Anna Jean, who had dropped by for a few minutes.

And now back to the small world.

Our regular blog readers may remember the story of this picture. It was taken at Busch Gardens in Tampa FL when we visited there in April of 2009. Jan and I were riding the ‘baby’ roller coaster in the kiddie area. Jan still swears it wasn’t the ‘baby’ coaster, but Busch Gardens disagrees and says it is, but it’s now called the Sand Serpent.

To quote:

Travel to Timbuktu and you’ll find young kids’ favorite ride in the park, Sand Serpent, formerly Cheetah Chase.

This fun-filled family coaster zips, zooms and climbs five stories into the air before bringing riders back down in a roar of laughter.

As you can see one of us is having a good time, and one of us, not so much.

Anyway, when I first posted it here on our blog in 2009 it was apparently picked up by a reader and posted here on Awkward Family Photos.

Thanks a lot!


A few months later, we got an email from some friends back in Houston who told us our photo had gone viral. They said their son was in class the last day of school, and to kill time the teacher had brought in his laptop and was showing the kids some of the photos on AFP.

Finally the teacher said “And this last one is my favorite”. Our photo popped up and the class roared.  Then after a few moments, our friend’s son pointed at the screen and said “Hey, I know those people.” And the class really broke up.

But wait, there’s more.

In November of 2009 we were back here in Athens on our way back to Texas, and visiting relatives. Coincidently, my cousin Glee and her husband were up here visiting from Florida. Now, I hadn’t seen Glee since I was about 13, and I had never met her husband before, so we had a good time catching up on things.

Sitting around talking, it turned out that Glee and her husband lived in Tampa. So I then related the story and showed them the photo on my phone. I also mentioned that I had wanted to ride SheiKra, the big vertical dive coaster, and had convinced Jan to do it with me by not telling her that it was 200 feet high, and that at the end of the ride, it drops you straight down from that 200 feet at 70 mph.


Well, my devious plan was working until we took the train ride around the park right before riding the coaster. As we pulled into the station nearby, the conductor who had been narrating our trip, said he had ridden SheiKra once, and he never would again. He said it scared him to death, and he almost wet his pants. Well, of course, that ended any chance of getting Jan on the ride.


As I’m relating this story, Glee’s husband looked over and said, “At the end of the ride, did the conductor say, “If you enjoyed your train trip today, my name is Dave. Otherwise, it’s Mary”.

I said, “As a matter of fact, he did.”  And then Glee’s husband Dave said, “That was me!”

You can start humming the ‘Small World’ theme here, because there’s still more to come.

On our visit here this time, my cousin Jimmy who is visiting from Fort Myers with his wife Beth, and who I also don’t think I’ve seen since we were kids, mentioned he was a Chiropractor there.

I then said that one of my clients, Dr. Heimlich, that I do the computer and website support for in Houston, was a Chiropractor.

Jimmy then said, “Well I went to chiropractic school with a Myron Heimlich in Texas.”

OMG! Segue the Small World theme into the Twilight Zone theme.

I don’t know what it is about coming back to Athens, but strange things happen here.

Tomorrow Jan and I are having lunch with two of my second cousins, Anna Jean and Marjorie. We got to see Anna Jean for a while this afternoon, but with both of them together, it should be a hoot.

November 11, 2012

B. D. I. F. D.

After coffee for breakfast, and our leftover Sonny’s BBQ for lunch, Jan and I just enjoyed the day. Good coffee, good BBQ.

After lunch I started looking at my Battery Control Center problem again. I printed out some schematics of the box, and with my voltmeter, I went outside and started tracing out the circuits. It took an hour or so, but I finally got it mapped out on paper, and was starting to get a picture in my head, too.

Now for some studying and thinking about it.

About 1:30 I emailed our friends Jeannie and Eldy to see if they wanted to get together for dinner tonight. Thought we might go to DeSoto’s. We’ll see.

One thing I noticed while I was outside is that the wind is really picking up. We’ve got another front moving through, a cold one this time. Tonight’s low is supposed to be 63 and tomorrow’s is supposed to 41, with a 70% chance of rain, and maybe even some flooding.

About 3:30 after some more time looking over the schematics I suddenly had a B. D. I. F. D. moment.

Could it really be that simple? And if that is the cause of my BCC problem, then there’s something else I don’t understand about the system. Of course that wouldn’t be the first time.

At the entrance to the coach, on the left-hand side, there is a control panel for inside/outside lights, the manual step control, and the chassis and coach master disconnect switches. The disconnect switches are right at floor level and the indicators are hard to see without moving some stuff.

But when I checked, the indicator lights were not lit on either the chassis battery or the coach battery. Pressing the buttons turned the lights on, but did it fix the problem? My first check was to toggle the step switch and close the door.

Eureka! The step retracted!

Next I went back to the BCC and checked for the missing voltages. And they were all there. I’m going to assume that the engine will now crank normally too. So the BCC problem is fixed.

But now I have two new questions. How did both disconnect buttons get pushed? And more importantly, I thought that with both batteries disconnected, everything electrical on the coach would be shut down. Why did only the step and the ignition crank signal not work?

And a third question just occurred to me. Could this chassis battery disconnect have anything to do with my fuel problem up in Athens last week? Did something happen to the power feeding the fuel pumps or injection system?

Well, I guess it’s back on the phone with American Coach tomorrow. At least I’ll have a whole new set of questions.

BTW B. D. I. F. D. stands for Boy, Do I Feel Dumb.

About 4 I checked back in with Jeannie and Eldy to find out that they were out running around, so they hadn’t seen my email, and had already grabbed a bite to eat. So we’ll have to get together another time.

About 4:45 Jan and I headed into Gulf Shores proper to have dinner at DeSoto’s Seafood Kitchen, another of our favorite must-eat-at-while-we’re-here restaurants.

DeSoto's Seafood Kitchen

Jan had the Fried Seafood Platter, and I had the Shrimp and Grits, with Fried Green Tomatoes and their wonderful Sweet Potato Casserole.

Shrimp and Grits

It’s all good every time we come here.

Before we set down I went to the restroom to wash my hands and found this sign over the lavatory where the mirror would normally be.

You Look Fine Mirror

Glad they think so.

November 11, 2014

Go. See. St. Vincent !

Charlotte, our relief guard, showed up right on time, a little before noon. Jan had been on the gate since her usual time of 7am, so while she was inside changing, I briefed Charlotte on the peculiarities of our gate (believe me, there are a lot: residents who will almost run you down, kids on horseback who delight in ringing the bell so they can gallop by as you come out to get their ‘tag’ numbers. 4 Wheelers that zip by at about 60mph, etc.)

So by about 12:15 we were on our way. But our first stop was only about 5 miles up the road in North Zulch to check out the diesel price and accessibility at one of the local gas stations, as I wanted to get diesel for the rig somewhere along the line on our way to Lake Conroe. It’s usually cheaper on the back roads as opposed to the Interstate.

We took our time making the 25 mile trip to Bryan/College Station, just enjoying each other’s company, not trying to talk over the generator 15 feet away and jumping up at the sound of the bell.

We had our usual leisurely breakfast at IHOP, spending almost an hour just talking and eating. By the time we had finished, we had decided that the movie we wanted to see was “St. Vincent”, with Bill Murray and Melissa McCarthy (Molly on TV).

All I can say is –

Go. See. St. Vincent !

This is a great movie. Laughing out loud one minute, and tears rolling down your cheeks the next, it grabs you and never lets go.

I’ve always enjoyed Bill Murray ever since his SNL days, and his movies I’ve seen since then also. But in looking over his filmography, the last one I saw of his was 1993’s “Groundhog Day”

Although not much of a departure from Murray’s serious roles for him, “St. Vincent” is a real change for Melissa McCarthy. Her role as Oliver’s mom really shows off her dramatic range. No “Molly”, “Identity Thief”, broad slapstick humor here.

But the real focus of the movie is the developing relationship between Murray’s character, Vincent and McCarthy’s son, Oliver.  And even the secondary roles are great, from Father Geraghty, the Catholic School teacher/priest to Daka, Murray’s Russian pregnant stripper girlfriend. So –

Go. See. This. Movie.

I’ll finish up today tomorrow because it’s 37 degrees here on the gate, and my fingers are freezing to the keyboard.

November 11, 2015

They’re Bakke . . .

After a number of days of no attempts to break into this blog, last night I started getting a few failed logins. Nowhere near the number I was getting before I installed the CAPTCHA program, but a few anyway. And based on the fact that they are limited in number, using one of the correct login names, and getting past the CAPTCHA graphic, I suspect this is an actual person.

But why, I don’t know. If they were to get control of the blog somehow, I could almost instantly log in through Godaddy and shut it down.

It’s a mystery.

Yesterday I started working through some things on my Leaving The Gate checklist. Although today made it up to 77 degrees, the rest of our time here looks to be in the 50’s and 60’s. So I went ahead and packed away the AC window unit we’ve had sitting here on the table. It was heaven-sent earlier this summer, but now we haven’t turned it on in over a week. So that’s one more thing checked off.

I also dumped the bottle of Diesel Kleen and 4oz of Biocide in the rig’s fuel tank so any problems, i.e. algae growth, that might have already occurred will be taken care of by the time we leave here next weekend.

I did have a chance last night to revisit my Paracord shoelaces construction. I made a new, longer pair, 52” this time, instead of 50, and taking blog reader Lloyd Jackson’s suggestion, I covered the ends with heat shrink tubing instead of trying to melt them to stop them from fraying.

New Paracord Shoelaces

And as you can see, it worked great. Later I’ll probably make another pair, in brown this time, since the boots are brown, but right now this is fine.

I’ll keep you updated on how they last.

I was hoping the forecast Thunderstorms would bypass us today, and they did for most of the time. But around 7pm, unfortunately on Jan’s shift, a long line passed over us, but fortunately in the narrow direction.

11-11-15 Storm

The storm was actually moving in two directions at once, with the line moving lengthwise from the southwest to the northeast. But at the same time, the entire line was moving sideways from the northwest to the southeast.

What you’re seeing is a couple of hours after it passed over our little blue dot. And it had a lot more red and orange in it then.

Jan said she thought about going inside a couple of times, but decided to ride it out. That’s my sweetie.

Wrapping up, long-time friend, client, and blog reader Tricia Hammack commented on yesterday’s Thought for the Day with a novel thought of her own, and in case you missed it in the comments, I thought I’d repost it here.
Here was last night’s Thought.

Never throw anything away.
Everything will have a use someway, somehow, someday.
But you won’t realize it until you throw it away.

Words to live by for me, as Jan will tell you.
But here’s what Tricia said.

“Regarding the idea of keeping everything, I pacify myself when I have to re-purchase something I threw away with the idea that the store has just been holding that item in storage for me.  I owe them nothing for doing this service – unless I need that item.  I just pay them the storage fee to get it out.”

A really great way of thinking about it.

But in my case, I’m cheap, and I figure why pay someone else to store all my stuff when I can store it myself for free.

Much to Jan’s despair, let me tell you.

November 11, 2016

Back To Work . . .

Jan and I have really been enjoying the cooler weather, with the door and windows open all day, and the AC’s not running.

For lunch we decided on the Chicken Fried Steak Strips and Fried Catfish Buffet at Barth’s once again. Normally we go around 1pm or so, but today we got there around 11:30. They’re always busy, but today they were really busy at this time.  So much so, that we had trouble finding a parking space, and a table inside, for that matter.

But as usual, it was worth the effort.

Coming home we stopped off at HEB for a few things, including a couple of their Pumpkin Pies. Regular readers know how much Jan likes anything pumpkin so this time of the year she’s in high cotton.

A couple of weeks ago we picked up one of Wal-Mart’s Pumpkin Pies, and we were both pretty disappointed. The crust was kind of doughy and the filling was pretty blah. Probably because the label said the first ingredient was WATER, with Pumpkin showing up second.

So when we were at HEB last week, we checked out their version and found Pumpkin came up first in line. And it certainly made a big difference in the taste.

So we were back for more.

Getting back home, I used my new jigsaw to cut down the 1/4 piece of plywood to fit on my dolly platform. With that done, I went in to dig out my  WORX driver so I could screw the new board onto the others.

But the battery was too low and I couldn’t at first find the charger. And by the time I did and I got it fully charged, it was really too late to go ahead and pull the washer out, since I didn’t want to leave it sitting in the middle of the kitchen overnight if I didn’t really have to.

So the repair is now pushed back to tomorrow.

Our water pressure has really slacked off in the last few days, so I figured it was time to replace our Camco filter element. And it was definitely needed replacing.

Water Filter New and Used 2

The new one is bright white.

And checking after I swapped the cartridges out, the water pressure was back to normal.

Todd called this afternoon and I’ve got another gate starting Sunday night. Well, actually it’s the same gate I was on last week, but this time it’s on night shift, from 6:30pm to 6:30am. My favorite shift.

After a number of requests, I’ve posted yesterday’s Jan’s Chicken Vegetable Soup recipe under the Jan’s Favorite Recipes tab.

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Get it try.

It’s got a secret ingredient.

November 11, 2017

A Piece Of Cake . . .

After a really quiet, really nice morning, about 12:30 Jan and I headed up to the Clear Lake area for lunch, shopping, and package pickup.

Our first stop was at our long-time favorite, King Food.

As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve been eating here since December 1978. In fact it was December 18th. I remember the exact day because it’s where I ate my very first day at NASA.

I had been Chief Electronic Tech for Alabama and Georgia with Storer Cable in Montgomery, AL since 1975.  (Storer later became TCI, with part of it split off into Comcast.) But back in October I had seen an ad in the Birmingham paper looking for technicians to work at Johnson Space Center on the Space Shuttle Project.

How could I resist that?

They flew me down to Houston in October and hired me on the spot, but I ask to not start until the 18th of December, the start of Chris and Brandi’s Christmas vacation from school (Chris was 10, Brandi was 5).  So the moving van came on Thursday, (NASA moved us. Nice!), I finished work at Storer Friday afternoon and then we hit the road for Houston along with my parents, a caravan of 3 cars.

We spent the night in Meridian, MS before getting into Houston around 8pm Saturday night. Of course now we needed to find a place to stay, and quickly, because the moving van with our furniture would be there Monday afternoon.

But luckily for Jan and I, we were used to coming into a strange town and getting set up ASAP. When we spent those years working for the DOD, we regularly moved to a new town and in one day had an apartment, and the utilities turned on. So Houston was a piece of cake.

So Monday morning I started work at JSC while Jan waited at the house for the movers. And when we all went out to lunch from work, King Food was where we went.

So we’ve been eating at King Food for 39 years next month, and as it happens we’re on our 4th owner, though the present ones have been here the longest.

As far as lunch, we started with our usual Hot & Sour Soup, the best we’ve found anywhere in the country during our travels. But somehow I’ve never gotten a photo of a bowl, I guess because we’re always in a hurry to dig in.

After the soup we both had our usual Chicken with Hot Garlic Sauce and Jalapenos, XXXXX Spicy.

King Food Chicken Garlic Jalapeno

It really doesn’t get any better than this.

Next up I made a drive-by to my client’s office which also doubles as my Amazon package receiver. I had gotten texts that said that several had come in so we stopped by to pick them up.

Then it was on over to Harbor Freight for a few things before going on up I-45 to Wal-Mart for a couple of prescriptions and some groceries.

One of the things that came in from Amazon was a new bottle of Biobor JF Diesel Fuel Biocide.


I use this to keep the algae from growing in our rig’s diesel tank when we’re parked for long periods in cold weather. We try to keep our diesel tank full during these times so that a cold snap doesn’t condense moisture in the tank, which leads to algae growth, which then clogs your engine fuel filters.

In the past, I’ve found Biobor in the Marine sections of sporting goods stores like Academy and Cabela’s, since it’s used in marine diesel engines as well. But lately it seems they’ve stopped carrying it, which is strange since it’s actually made here in Houston.

Tomorrow Jan and I are planning to see Blade Runner 2049 before it goes away.  It’s only being shown in one theater in the south Houston area, and that’s the AMC 30 one up by the Sam Houston Tollway and I-45. So I wouldn’t be surprised to find it gone next weekend with all the new movies coming out.

November 11, 2018

We Really Lucked Up . . .

We were out the door and into a dreary 50° morning about 8:15, heading for the IHOP over in Kemah to meet our good friends,  Barb and Tom.

Barbara and Tome

The place was really crowded, and on a wait when we left, so since we had bogarted the table for almost two hours,  I slipped our patient waitress a $20 when we left to to make up for her lost tips.

Saying our goodbyes and leaving the IHOP we headed back over to the WalMart to pick up a couple of Jan’s prescriptions.

Coming down Bay Area Blvd, we noticed that Snooze, The AM Eatery, the new Breakfast/Brunch/Lunch place, had done a soft opening. So soft that they didn’t even put an OPEN sign or banner out.

The prescriptions were two different drops for before and after her upcoming cataract surgery on Dec. 6th. Why is it that these drops, $15 and $183, cost more than the cataract surgery itself? I can only hope that this covers both eyes, but for some reason, I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t.

Then, as I’ve been doing lately, I asked if they had gotten any of the Shingrix Shingles vaccine in, and as it turns they got a box in last night. So we put our paperwork in and sat down to wait for the Pharmacist to stick us.

When I asked the cost, I was told $167 each, but we had GoodRx coupons out in the car for $155. So did I walk back all the way out to the car at the far end of the lot to save $24?

What do you think?

They didn’t seem to appreciate my humor (a lot of people don’t. Just ask Jan) when I suggested that I could just give us the shots to save time. I mean, I’ve given them to hundreds of dogs, cats, horses and cows. Can’t be much different on people. Just grab’em by the scruff of the neck and . . .

Well, maybe not.

I spent the summer after 10th grade working as a Veterinary Assistant for a large and small animal practice. You haven’t lived until you’ve chased an angry bull around the pasture trying to give him a Brucellosis shot. Though it was more like, sometimes I chased him, sometimes he chased me.

And as I said, we really lucked up. A box of Shingrix contains 10 doses, so we got two of them. Now if we can just manage to get our recommended second dose in the next 2 to 6 months.

Leaving WalMart, we headed down the feeder to get some of the $1.99 gas from Costco. They’ve got 36 pumps, 6 rows with 6 pumps, 3 on each side, and the place was packed.

I did notice that they’ve started putting seals on the credit card slots.

Costco Gas Pump Seal

Hopefully this will deter scammers from installing their own readers on top of the real one.

Remember the good ole days when Cheerios were good for you?

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios

Apparently, not so much now.

Several readers pointed out something that I missed in the Zombie commercial. They didn’t just re-edit it to not show the arm falling off. It’s a completely new ending, because the guy and the girl have switched sides.

And they didn’t just flip the video, because the statue is still on the left. Of course it all may have been done deliberately to keep us talking about it. If so, it worked.

November 11, 2019

Almost Ready . . .

Today started off a little different. Jan rode into work with me this morning so she took care of some shopping as well as getting her toesies done. This way we won’t have take care of these tomorrow.

And in fact she enjoyed being on her own so much, she said she’s going to do this about once a month in the future.

Our Kingsland trip prep is being complicated by the oncoming drop in temperature. Although it almost made it to 80 today, by 6pm it was down to the mid-50’s and in the mid-40’s by 9pm. And after an expected low of 35° tonight, we’re only looking at a high of 46° tomorrow.

So not very conducive to getting us ready to roll Thursday morning, so I won’t be able to finish up power washing the rig. So I’ll get all that stuff packed up and ready to go back to the storeroom.  And while I’m there I’ll pick up the BrakeBuddy for the trip.

I spent most of the day at work looking at converting a bunch of our machines from 110 volts to 220 so they will work overseas. Most of them are crystal-controlled so the whole 50/60Hz shouldn’t matter.

(BTW  As I’m typing this, I’m thinking how long I’ve been doing this stuff, since when I started it was cps (cycles per second and not Hz. Then it was renamed in the 1960’s.)

It looks like in some cases I’ll have enough room to just replace the transformer. In other cases we may have to supply an external converter box. A lot of trouble, but this is a big potential order.

Coming home we stopped off to have dinner at our local Black Bear Diner.

Black Bear Diner Bacon Cheeseburger Salad

Black Bear Taco Salad

Delicious as always.

My new tag stickers came in on Saturday so I got them stuck on this afternoon, so I’m done with this for another year.

First thing tomorrow, before we head out for lunch, et al, I’m going to crank up the rig and do a trial pull-in of the slide, just to be sure we don’t have any problems Thursday morning.

Really looking forward to the trip on Thursday.

November 11, 2020

Happy Veteran’s Day To All Our Veterans!

As I’ve mentioned in past blogs, both my father and mother were in the U.S. military during WW2. My father was in the Navy Shore Patrol, which was a perfect fit for him, since when he enlisted, he was a  Birmingham, AL police detective, while my mother was a Captain in the Army Nurse Corp.

I think this photo was taken when she was stationed at Fort Bragg, NC.

Mother In Uniform

Later, she was Chief Of Nursing at West Point, where this photo was taken.

Mother in the Army

She even has her own display area at the Alabama Veterans Museum in Athens, AL.

Mother's Exhibit at Athens Vet Museum

Those are patches she collected from the many wounded soldiers that passed through her wards. And that is one of her actual uniforms.

After driving our new baby into my client’s this morning, (with no tags still) I had hoped to get it insured and tagged this morning. but I ran into a problem.

My first task was to get it insured with National General, and that went very quickly. Then as soon as they emailed me my proof of insurance, I was online to the South Dakota DMV, hoping to do as much as possible there. But it looked like I was going to have to talk to someone.

But that’s where the problem came in. Though I obviously knew it was Veteran’s Day today, for some reason I didn’t connect that with the fact that the South Dakota DMV wouldn’t be open today.

So I get to drive another day or so without any tags. As soon as I get it registered with the DMV, I can then download a temporary tag that I can print out and use until my real ones get here.

So maybe tomorrow.

November 11, 2021

Under The Knife

or Adventures in ACDF.

Our faithful readers may have noticed that for the last month or so my blogs have been short, spotty and even non-existent.

Well, there’s a reason for that.

About six weeks ago, I went to bed one night feeling fine, no problems that I knew of, and then woke up the next morning with a stiff, sore neck. And during the rest of the day, in fact the next 24 hours or so, I pretty much became, I guess you could say, severely handicapped. And I have the newly-issued blue handicapped placard to show for it

I have difficulty walking. My legs are weak and rubbery and I have no sense of balance so I have to have some sort of support when I’m when I’m walking. And, unfortunately my legs weren’t the only problem actually.

The upper part of my body is worse. I’ve lost pretty much all feeling in my hands. I have no grip strength, and my arms won’t go up any higher than my shoulders. And this goes back to why the blogs have been so spotty, because I really can’t really type anymore. I’ve gone from being a fairly accurate, fast touch-typist, to falling back on hunt and peck, which has degenerated into hit or miss with emphasis on the ‘miss’.

I cannot feel if the keys have been pressed, I have to watch each key press, so each blog every night has been pretty much as far as stuff that I comment or say, has been pretty much an exercise in futility.

To help write this I’ve been using an Android app called Otter, which is a very good, and free, Speech To Text converter. It allows me to dictate my thoughts and export them as text files via email, which I then paste into the blog.

At this point, I’m using a walking stick, called that because I refuse to call it a cane yet.

Walking Stick

It’s one of a set that Jan and I took to Europe back in 2019. And so that gives me enough support to kind of weeble-wobble along, as Jan calls it, from place to place as I do now.

I also purchased one of those rollators, I.e. wheeled walkers, that you can sit in when you need to. I bought that specifically for when we went to the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit last month. And it worked great.

RollatorAnd I had planned to use it at the Nutcracker Christmas Market today, as well. But Jan and Brandi cajoled, I.e., threatened me into not going, and just resting up for tomorrow. More about that in a minute.

But I will use it for our second Van Gogh exhibit on the 21st of this month, if necessary.

Now to the cause of all this.

So after two sets of X-Rays, and MRI’s on my cervical and lumbar areas, it shows severe deterioration at the C4-5, C5-6, and C6-7 areas of my neck, as well as the L4-5 and L5-S1 areas in my lower back.

In other words, it seems my spine has started to come apart at the top and the bottom.

Now according to the radiologist report, some of the damage may be ‘congenital’, which to me means ‘from birth’. So it took 73 years to show up?

But when I asked my neurosurgeon about that, he said it really just meant ‘a long time ago’.

Now it’s true that in my ‘wild and crazy’ youth, in my ‘PJ’ era, (Pre-Jan. Somehow, ‘BJ’, Before Jan, just doesn’t work here.) I got, well, let’s just say, majorly banged up a couple of times. And when I explained those circumstances to my doctor, he agreed that they might be a contributing factor.

But that’s all under the bridge now.

However, the most important thing he said was that, due to the fast progression of the symptoms, I was at risk of becoming a paraplegic, or even a quadriplegic, if something wasn’t done pretty quickly.

Not words you want to hear, believe me. So I was happy to hear that my Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion (ACDF) was being scheduled for the following Friday, November 5th.

Breaking it down, Anterior means they get to your spine by going in through your neck under your chin. Cervical means in the neck area. Discectomy means removing a disc, and Fusion means fusing the vertebrae back together afterward.

Now, in hindsight, and after reading about the symptoms caused by disc deterioration, it seems that I’ve actually been experiencing some indications of the coming problem. But in my case, never having been 73 before, I attributed them to the fact that this was what being 73 was supposed to feel like.

My symptoms are caused by the deteriorating discs, the pads separating the vertebrae segments, coming apart, and bulging against the spinal cord that runs down the center of the spine. In addition, there may also be bone spurs involved, small bone growths also pressing against the spinal cord.


So the procedure will consist of cutting a hole in my neck, probably on the left side, to avoid the esophagus, and then scraping out the bad discs on the 3 levels, C4-5, C5-6, and C6-7, and removing any bone spurs they find.

After the missing discs are replaced with plastic carriers containing a slice of cadaver bone, I will be bolted back together, using a titanium strap and screws.

Titnium Plate

Titanium, because it is inert to the body, and doesn’t show up on airport scanners, though some people have said this was not so for them.

So instead of “I see dead people”, I guess it’s going to be, “I am dead people”.

The titanium strap is actually only there to hold everything together until the cadaver bone and my vertebrae grow together and fuse into one solid piece. To facilitate this, I will use a bone growth stimulator on my neck for 30 minutes several times a day for a couple of weeks or so.

And I will have to wear one of those hard plastic cervical collars for two weeks afterward, which means I won’t be able to drive during that time. So Jan will take over driving duties for a while.

As I said, under the circumstances, I was happy to hear that my surgery was scheduled for the following Friday, the 5th of November. But that was not to be.

At the Pre-Op conference on the Thursday before, it was suddenly discovered that . . . Oops, my surgery had not been scheduled at all. And that there were no openings until the following Friday, the 12th. In other words, tomorrow.

Major finger-pointing between the doctor’s office and the hospital going on.

I’m not a happy camper, believe me. Especially since my symptoms have been progressively worsening during the ‘lost’ week. And the longer things go on, the more possible it is that some of the nerve damage might be permanent.

So tomorrow’s the big day, and I was supposed to be at the hospital at 6am, but I just got a call a few minutes ago, pushing it back to 5:30am.

Well, I wanted it as soon as possible so I guess I can’t complain.

What’s funny is that though Jan is allowed to visit me during visiting hours, she’s not even allowed to wait ANYWHERE in the hospital during the operation, except the parking lot. So she’ll come home and wait for me to call when I’m out of recovery and in my room, I’ll call her to come up. And even though I had to have a CoVid test to be operated on, Jan doesn’t need one to visit me.

Though this is nominally a one-day outpatient operation, my neurosurgeon wants to keep me overnight to monitor changes in my nerve symptoms. So though my 3 hour procedure should be over before noon tomorrow, I won’t get released until sometime Saturday.

Finally, I can’t say enough about my beautiful wife and how supportive she’s been in all this. I know it’s probably trite, but she has been my rock. I don’t know how I could have gotten through this as well as I have without her help.

Sweetie, I love you so much!

Depending on how I feel I’ll try to post an update tomorrow, otherwise, I’ve got a revisit to a past favorite scheduled to post.