Daily Archives: December 7, 2023

Never Forget . . .

First up, some of you had trouble getting the link to Landon’s Bridge Design Project to open

Landon Bridge Design Project

Rather than just left double-click on it, right-click and select Open in New Tab at the top of the list. That should work.

I went outside to check out our rig water pump this afternoon and now I’m more confused. I not only don’t have power at the pump, but somehow I’ve lost power at the switch inside. And that was working the other day.

But it does mean that there’s a good chance the pump itself is OK.

After that I prepped the Jeep for the trip up to Brandi’s to pick up Jan tomorrow afternoon, and then the trip down to Cuero for our Christmas In Cuero weekend.

Really looking forward to it.

Saw this on FB today.

Looks like the pay level has really increased. Of course they don’t mention how many vehicles a day you can expect.

When we gate-guarded between 2012 and 2017, our normal pay was $150/day. But in 2014, on what we refer to as Hell’s Gate, we were often making between $550 and $650 per day.

But we had 3 drill rigs, 2 workover rigs, 3 fracs, and 2 pipeline construction sites, getting between 500 and 700 vehicles a day through the gate. That’s pretty much one every couple of minutes, 24 hours a day.

Believe me, we earned every cent.

December 7, 2010

Bingo and Big Trees . . .

This morning Jan and I finally got back to taking our walk again, for the first time in about a week or so. And it really felt good. The weather was crisp and sunny, with just a light breeze. Perfect for walking.

About 1pm I headed out to check in with several clients, and run some errands.

Getting home and finding Jan taking a nap, I decided it was a good idea too.

Then about 4:30 we drove up to La Brisa Mexican Restaurant to meet our friends Bob and Maria for dinner. Afterward, Jan and Maria headed for the Knights of Columbus Hall down in La Marque for their regular Tuesday night Bingo. Jan has worked her way up to playing 24 cards at a time, but, unlike the last two weeks where she won $100 each time, tonight she won zip, zero, nada this time.

After dinner, I dropped Bob off back at his house and then stopped by Kroger’s on the way home to get some lottery tickets.

While Jan was bingoing, (yeah, I know it’s not a word, but it should be) I spent the evening working on a programming project for a client. I would have already finished it, but they keep changing their mind on what they want the program to do. I call it ‘Musical Specifications.” Kind of like Musical Chairs, but with software.

Of course that’s why I bill by the hour.

December 7, 2011

Spoonbills and Armadillo Balls . . .

I patiently waited (well, maybe not patiently, but I did wait) to hear back from AT&T Level II Tech Support this morning telling me they had fixed the problem with my client’s Internet service.

But the phone had been strangely quiet.

I guess it’s a good thing that my client left for San Diego for ten days this morning. I’ll start back tomorrow working on this.

About 1:30 I headed to another client’s house up near Beltway 8. He had two laptops that he wanted me to look at, but the first one was so messed up that I spent almost 3 hours just getting it straightened out. I had to fix a bad wireless mouse driver that was making it hard to do anything on the machine, and then a bad Java update that kept throwing up error messages every time you tried to pull up a webpage.

By the time I got that machine done, it was time to head home, so I’ll come back on Friday and finish up the other one.

Getting back to the rig, and as I pulled in, I saw this Great Egret and a Roseate Spoonbill in the shallows out in front of our site. The Spoonbill was just following along behind the Egret, stirring up the bottom with her wide bill and snacking on what she found.

Egret and Spoonbill

Egret 1

Close up I was able to tell that this Spoonbill was not the one we had seen the other day. It was not nearly as pink.

Spoonbill 3

That became obvious a little later as we were leaving the rig, and saw both Spoonbills out in front. Together, it was easy to tell them apart. The second one (the male?) was the much pinker one we saw the other day.

Heading out to dinner, Ken and Eileen, owners of the Rexhall Aerbus parked next door were with us. They own a goat/sheep ranch about 60 miles east of Cody, WY, and have been on the road for a month.

Real newbies!

We went to T-Bone Tom’s up in Kemah for dinner. Featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, this place is known for their steaks, BBQ, and of course, their Armadillo Eggs.

Armadillo Eggs 2

Armadillo Eggs are jalapenos, stuffed with BBQ, and then battered and fried. They end up the size of tennis balls, and are really delicious.

We really had a great time hearing all about their ranching experiences and how they decided to start RV’ing.

December 7, 2012

“A Date which will live in Infamy” – Never Forget !

Pearl Harbor Battleship

Jan’s sister Debbie sent over this latest photo of her new granddaughter (our grand-niece), Annisten. She looks like a real cutie!


A little before 5 pm Jan and I headed over to Dickinson to have dinner at Monterey’s Little Mexico. Love their Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Then it was on down to Galveston to meet Brandi, Lowell, and Landon at Moody Gardens to take Landon through The Festival of Lights.

But since we had to go to the Aquarium building to pick up our tickets, we did a quick run-thru for Landon.

One of his favorites was the seals and sea lions, but the lighting was just too dark for any photos. But my favorite were these baby seahorses. This photo is a real close-up since in reality they’re only about a half inch long. Just amazing.

Baby Seahorses

Landon also really enjoyed the tunnel through the shark tank. His head was just spinning around as he watched the big sharks swim overhead, as he pointed and said, “Shark, Daddy. Shark”.

Moody Fish Tunnel

Moody Garden’s Festival of Lights contains over one million lights and 100 animated scenes, complete with sound effects, and takes about an hour to walk through.

Moody Gardens = Overall

A lot of the fun was watching Landon as he ohh’ed and ahh’ed at everything. His head would keep moving back and forth like a bobblehead doll.

Festival of Lights 1

Festival of Lights 2

Festival of Lights 3

Festival of Lights 4

Landon - Festival of Lights 5

Festival of Lights 6

Festival of Lights 7

The big Christmas tree out over the lake was really something. A perfect end to the night.

Festival of Lights 8

December 7, 2013

Foot Stomping and Doing Nothing . . .

Friday was basically an errand/client day with stops at Fry’s and several other places checking out laptops for a client, Then it was off to Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart to pick up a few things. I also checked what they had in the way of laptops, but didn’t see anything in my price range. Or my client’s anyway

My next stop was a client’s office to take a look at a printer problem he was having, The culprit was a Canon Copier/Printer similar to this one.

This is a network printer that the client uses to print out 1000’s of pages for the catalogs he sends out to customers. The computer said the printer wasn’t online, but the printer said it was too online. So I went back to the computer and tried to set up another printer driver, but was not able to see the printer at the static IP address it was set to (192.168.1. 10).

Next up I checked the CAT5 cables connecting the printer and computer to the router. I knew the computer line was OK since it was able to see the Internet.  And the connection lights on both the printer and router ends were flashing away, a pretty good indication that that line was also good.

So it was back to the client to get some more info about when the problem occurred. After repeatedly pressing him on when/how it had quit working. He finally said “Oh, yeah. I switched our Internet service from the phone company to Comcast and they mentioned that they made some changes to the router.

Well, doh!

At this point, I was almost certain I knew what had happened. Comcast had probably changed the local private IP address from192.168.X.X to the other main one 10.0.X.X. (There is a 3rd one, 172.16.X.X, but it’s not used very often).

And as it turns out, I was right. So rather than trying to change everything back on Comcast’s end, I just changed the printer’s static IP address to, and then changed the IP address in the printer driver , and now everything worked.

So after fixing his problem I felt a little less guilty about picking up my check while I was there. My next stop, (after the bank to deposit the check) was our storeroom to drop off some stuff and pick up some stuff, mainly Jan’s bird feeder to put out in front of the rig.

Finally getting back to the rig about 4:30, I turned right around and Jan and I headed out about 5 to meet a couple of friends, Maria and Connie, at the Joe’s BBQ over in Alvin, TX for dinner. Then all of us headed over to the Alvin Opry for the Friday night show.

As usual, Gene Hofford, the owner (along with his wife, Sue) of the Alvin Opry opened the show with a rousing number.

Gene Hofford

Like many of the band and performers here, Gene had a number of  hits back in the 60’s, including ‘Better Hang On Girl’ and ‘Surf Bunny’. Then after a number of local favorites, it was time for the feature, and who we especially came for, John Mark Davis.

John Mark Davis

John Mark is the full-blooded son of a chief of the Adai Caddo Indians of Louisiana, and has performed all over the country. He has opened for Mark Chestnutt and Tracy Byrd, and was offered a slot opening for Dwight Yoakum, but due to a prior obligation was unable to accept.

He was also twice an award winner in the Nashville’s Music City Song Fest, and really knows how to work a crowd and keep you entertained. He’s also know for his hilarious versions of Kaw-Liga, Running Bear, and Please Mr. Custer.

You can go here and download for free, or listen to one of John Mark’s songs on his website.

So you can blame John Mark for us getting home late and you not getting a blog yesterday.

Today, Saturday, was pretty much a hang-around-the-rig day. I did spend some time pulling our winter coats out from the back of the truck, since it looks like we’re going to need them for a while. But other than that, we just goofed off all day.

BTW right now at 11:55pm Saturday night, it’s 29 degrees in Whitsett at our old gate. Really glad it’s our OLD gate, and not our present one. Feel sorry for Jim and Linda.

December 7, 2014

I Give Up . . .

Today actually did turn out to be a stay-at-home day, the first one we’ve managed since we got here the 26th of November. I did go out to the truck a couple of times, but that was about it.

After our morning coffee, I decided to complete the frig cleaning resulting from the coffee creamer misadventure a couple of days ago. I figured since I’d cleaned the inside shelves, I’d go ahead and remove all the door shelves and clean them and food containers too. Once again, I only did a couple of shelves at a time so the temperature did rise too much.

Later, while Jan worked on our Christmas cards,  I went through a couple of boxes of papers that I brought up from the storeroom yesterday. Most of it was junk (canceled checks and bank statements from banks that went under in the 80’s, copies of contracts with computer clients from the same time period, business cards from people I no longer remember, old restaurant receipts, etc. Did you know that a 16 oz. Ribeye at Outback Steakhouse costs $6.99 in 1986?), but I did find a few things we wanted to keep, so it was worth the time.

While we were visiting with Chris and Charles Yust last month at their place in Livingston, Chris turned us on to the Savings Catcher feature of the Wal-Mart Android app. It’s real easy to use and can save you money.

Just use the Savings Catcher to scan the QR code at the bottom of your Wal-Mart receipt. Then the app compares the prices you paid for the items you bought at Wal-Mart with the prices of the same items at other stores in your area.

The first time we used it on a $20 purchase at the Wal-Mart in Livingston, we didn’t get anything back, but with our $154 purchases there a few days ago, we got back $8.22. That’s a 5% savings that you can get on a gift card. Or you can get 2X the amount back if you credit the amount to a Bluebird card account.

Easy and Neat.

Last night I finally gave up nursing along the Source Manager I unit in our rig. This unit, originally made by Heart Interface (now Xantrex) combined a 2500 Watt Modified Sine Wave Inverter, a 40 amp Power Converter/Charger, and the Shore Power/Generator Transfer Switch all in one box under the bed. But besides being all in one box, it’s actually all one interconnected piece of equipment.

Which means a problem with one part, i.e. the transfer switch, means you’ll probably have a problem with something else, like the power converter/charger, in my case. Which is why I’ve never been a fan of Single Point Failure Equipment.

I’ve been trying to find a manual/schematic for the unit for a good while. American Coach doesn’t have one, and neither does Heart/Xantrex. I’ve even checked with Kevin Mallory of Cruising America RV Service in Celina, OH, and he doesn’t have one either, even though he used to work on the units when he was with American Coach, and can still round up parts for it sometimes.  I have found a manual for the Source Manager 2, but it’s a completely different unit, so no help there.

Last night I decided to replace my Source Manager with 3 separate units, so I started by ordering this Power Converter/Charger from Amazon.

Powermax 110 Volt to 12 Volt 55 Amp Power Supply Converter Charger

This unit was $117 and for $10 extra,  I got another 2 years of warranty, for a total of 3 years.

I found a number of people recommending this unit online, and out of 35 Amazon reviews, it had 29 5 star and 6 4 star reviews. But even most of the 4 star reviews should be 5 stars.

One 4 star review said the fan was a little noisy, but another said it was quiet.

Another buyer gave it 4 stars because the mounting tabs of the new unit did not match up with the screws where the old unit of another brand was mounted, so he had trouble getting it installed. Really?

And here are the 4 other 4 star reviews in their entirety:

so far so good works fine, I realy (sic) like the fuses externally instead of internally

I haven’t used it for long, but it seems to be a great value. It works fine so far.

this has performed great so far and was a breeze to install thanks

was easy to install, seems to be working fine to date

The only thing I can figure is that for them to give it a 5 star review, they would have gotten the unit for free, and someone would have installed for them . . . for free.

Later this month, I’ll order a Transfer Switch and get that installed too. These two units will cover about 90% of our use. We only boondock (Wally Dock) once a year or so, so we seldom have use for an inverter.

But I’m looking at replacing our 2500 watt MSW unit with two new units, a 2000 watt and a 1000 watt unit, both FSW (full sine wave), for a total of 3000 watts. And by doing it with two separate units, it’s only about half the cost of a single 3000 watt unit. i.e., $575 vs. $1100 or more.

Right now I have a couple of small inverters (a 250 watt and a 400 watt) that will run most of what we need, .i.e. the computer system and the TV/Satellite system.

If I do the 2 bigger units, I will wire up the 2000 watt one to run the microwave, and the 1000 watt unit for the rest of the stuff. Or I may just get 2 of the 2000 watt ones. We’ll see how it goes.

December 7, 2015

Surf and Turf . . .

Jan and I headed out about 4pm this afternoon for BBQ in Ellinger  and the Wal-Mart in La Grange, but as often happens, it didn’t quite work out that way.

On our way up to Peter’s BBQ, we detoured by the Ellinger PO to drop off our last Landon Gingerbread Man project picture postcard (you send yours in, didn’t you?), then we pulled into the empty parking lot of Peter’s.

And the reason it was empty was as we discovered to our disappointment, that Peter’s closes at 4pm on Mondays.  In thinking back, we’ve never been on a Monday. Usually we come on Friday nights for their BBQ & Seafood Buffet., and I think we’ve come on a Saturday afternoon once or twice, but that’s about it. Lucky for future visits, Monday is the only day they close early.

So now we needed to pick another place for dinner, so we headed on into La Grange, while trying to think of another place to eat. About that time we saw a  big billboard advertising Back Porch BBQ in La Grange, right off TX71, so that became our new go-to place.

But when we got there, it was not only closed, but didn’t look like it had been open at all for a good while. So next up was our fallback place, Sealand Seafood, which was right down the road. We really like Sealand’s seafood platters, but we were in the mood for BBQ, so if hadn’t come up.

When we placed our orders, Jan was surprised, and even teased me a bit because, while she got the Catfish & Oyster & Shrimp Platter,

Sealand Seafood Platter

I got an 8oz. Flatiron Steak with Grilled Shrimp.

Sealand Seafood Steak

She said, “I thought you said to never order steak at a seafood place.”

I told her, “Well, I did order some seafood”, pointing at my Grilled Shrimp, “And just because we have always only ordered seafood here doesn’t mean it’s only a seafood place.” Saying this I pointed to the name on the wall.

Sealand Seafood & Steaks.

So if it’s got ‘steak right there in the name, I can order it.

And it was a very good steak, tender, juicy, and perfectly done medium rare. I would definitely have it again if I wasn’t in the mood for seafood.

Finishing up dinner, we made a ‘stuff’ stop at the nearby Wal-Mart before heading home. Although this one is called a “SuperCenter’, it’s more of a mini-SuperCenter. You can always tell these because they only have one door instead of the normal two, and they don’t stock as large an inventory as the full-sized ones. But they had everything we needed, so it was fine.

Tomorrow afternoon we’ll head into Katy about 1:30pm for some shopping and then we’ll meet up with Lowell, and later Brandi for a trip to the Houston Zoo Lights, a Christmas Light display at where else, the Houston Zoo.

Chris, Linda, and Piper will be coming up to meet us too.

Really looking forward to it.

December 7, 2016

Six Down, One to Go . . .

With today’s cold, gloomy weather, it seemed to be the perfect day for some comfort food.

And the go-to place for comfort food in the Kenedy area, besides Jan’s kitchen, is of course, Barth’s Restaurant. And what is more comforting than Chicken & Dumplings, Hamburger Steak with Gravy, Mashed Potatoes, and Glazed Carrots.

And amazingly enough, that was exactly what Barth’s was serving today.

Barth's Chicken & Dumplings

Jan and I both like to put our Hamburger Steak and Gravy on top of a mound of mashed potatoes.

One thing that makes Barth’s so good is that their cooks really know their way around the spice cabinet. For example the glazed carrots weren’t overly sweet, or using that fake maple syrup taste that Golden Corral is so fond of, but just perfect, with a hint of orange zest.

Of course as you can tell from the photo, no matter how perfectly seasoned it is, it always needs more pepper for me.

Today’s menu at Barth’s marks us having six of their seven daily menus, leaving only Thursday’s Fried Pork Chops and Meatloaf. Looking forward to it.

But not tomorrow.

Then after a quick stop at Wal-Mart for a few things, plus some toy aisle strolling for Landon ideas, we headed back home for the day.

Tomorrow is another San Antonio trip for cards, drugs, a movie, and Turkey . . .  and Dressing, of course.

Our first stop will be Tuesday Morning for our Christmas cards. Jan has been buying our cards there for years since she discovered that they have really high-end cards for cheap prices. Of course they’re last year’s leftover unsold cards, but they’re not dated, so who would know.

Next stop will be Sam’s Club for that $10 prescription that would be $56 at the Kenedy Wal-Mart, actually the whole reason for this trip.

BTW Sam’s has a new app for you. It’s called Scan & Go and it lets you completely avoid the checkout line. As you shop around the store, you use the Scan & Go app to scan each item as you put it in your cart. Then when you’re done, you hit the Pay button on the app, show your phone to the person at the door, and away you go.

Really wish Wal-Mart had this during the Christmas rush.

Next up at 2pm is another science fiction movie, Marvel’s Dr. Strange. Probably a lot more action than yesterday’s Arrival, but it’s supposed to be good.

After the movie, it is Thursday after all, and Thursday IS Turkey and Dressing Day at Cracker Barrel, so Cracker Barrel for dinner it is.

Really looking forward to the whole day.

Google has a neat new Android app called Chrome Remote Desktop. It lets you easily access your desktop computer from your Android phone or tablet. You see your home computer desktop on your phone or tablet and can control it.

Just install the Chrome Remote Desktop app on your phone or tablet, install Chrome on your desktop if you don’t already have it, and run the programs to connect them together. Easy Peazy.

So now if you’re out and about and need some info off your home computer, it’s right at your fingertips.

Last week when I posted my latest screed under Greg’s Musings, “Frederick Douglass, The 3/5 Compromise, and Our ‘Racist’ Constitution”, I mentioned at the end that in two hundred years, our descendants might look back on us with the same horror and disgust for eating meat that comes from live animals, as we look back at the Founding Fathers for not being able to get rid of slavery at the beginning of the country.

Well, here’s a couple of interesting articles about the future of lab-grown meat and milk.



Wrapping up, I’ve seen so many articles about what’s going with the whole North Dakota Access Pipeline thing that I thought I try to sort out what’s really going on.

Reading articles from both sides, it’s sometimes hard to tell they’re actually talking about the same thing. So hopefully I’ll be able to give you my take on it in the near future.

December 7, 2017

Snow Flurries?

Winter is here for a while, at least. It never got out of the 40’s yesterday and was down to 39° last night. Today was another 40’s day and then down to 35° tonight.

And along with the cold temps, we have the possibility of snow flurries tonight and tomorrow. It’s already snowing north of here, up in Huntsville and Livingston, and in south Texas around Tilden and Cotulla.

A little before 1pm this afternoon I got an email alert from UpTimeRobot saying my client’s websites were down. Putting in a call to the office I found the Internet part of their Spectrum service was down, but the phone part was still working. That would normally mean that their Internet Sever was down. And in about 10 minutes it was all back up.

Later in the afternoon a Galveston County Animal Control truck showed up here in the park, checking out the residence right across the fence. I say ‘residence’, but that’s only if you think that 3 or 4 trashy-looking single-wides, a bunch of abandoned cars, and a lot of trash scattered around constitutes a ‘residence’, then I guess it’s a ‘residence’.

We didn’t call them, but we were about to.  There’s a dog that pretty much stays outside on a long chain, spending hours a day just barking. The other day when we had all the rain he was just standing in the water with no place to lie down. And I think he was outside all last night when it was in the 40’s, but I’m not sure.

We talked to the Animal Control lady and she said there was nothing she could do. The dot has a little lean-to covering, and he had food, water, and long chain. And that’s all they need to be legal. Apparently even being outside in the rain and cold is OK as long as he has shelter.

About 3:45 we headed out to meet friends at the La Brisa (The Breeze) Mexican Restaurant over on Hwy 146. But we made a first stop at the Victory Lakes HEB for gas. Fuel prices have been dropping pretty steadily the last couple of weeks, six cents in the last few days, down to $2.03.

We were meeting up with Wil and Cyndy Olsen who we last saw this past summer while we were both in the Rapid City, SC area. Right now they’re marooned up in Baytown while their truck is being rebuilt after an accident.

La Brisa Wil and Cyndy Olsen

We had hoped to also meet up with Jan and Dale Thompson, but Jan was under the weather so we’ll have to reschedule.

In their spare time Wil and Cyndy guide RV caravans for Adventure Caravans, recently returning from a Maritimes tour of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. And they get paid for this too. Nice work.

Jan had the Pechuga Monterey, a chicken breast covered with grilled mushrooms and Monterey Jack cheese. Her favorite.

La Brisa Perchuga Monterey

I got the Beef Fajita Taco Salad with Queso as a dressing. La Brisa has some of the best tasting fajita meat around.

La Brisa Beef Fajita Taco Salad

Along with eating we spent a couple of hours catching up with all our adventures, more of theirs than ours.

One of our blog readers wondered how the aliens were supposed to play the Golden Record on Voyager. Well, NASA thinks of everything. Including with the record a stylus (needle) and a pictorial drawing showing how it should be played and at what speed, essentially 16-2/3 rpm.

I forgot to mention that the Voyager probably won’t function much past 2025 because the radioactive batteries that power the craft will be too weak to allow continued operation.

Referencing all the different types and styles of music encoded on the disk, Steve Martin, on Saturday Night Live, said that the aliens had responded to the record with four words, “Send More Chuck Berry”.

I guess even aliens know good music.

December 7, 2018

On The Boardwalk . . .

We headed up to Alvin about 11:30 for Jan’s Cataract Surgery follow-up appointment. Early because we first made a lunch stop at our favorite Monterey’s Little Mexico.

We’ve really missed our Dickinson Monterey’s location, which has never reopened since it went underwater during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. We were told that flood waters were almost 8 feet deep inside and that they were fighting with the insurance company.

But we’ve about given up hope, so a necessary trip to Alvin was a real treat for us. And as usual, we both went with our long-time favorites, Jan’s Chicken Ixtapa,

Monterey's Alvin Chicken Ixtapa

and my bowl of Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Monterey's Chicken Tortilla Soup

I’ve tried Chicken Tortilla Soup all over the country as we’ve traveled and there’s none better anywhere.

Jan’s follow-up checkup went fine with no real problems. Her cornea is still a little more swollen than usual, but OK.

She has another appointment with her surgeon next Friday to prep for her right eye. They’ll let her know the ‘when’ at that time. Which still leaves my Photo Dynamic Therapy appointment open for next Thursday.

Coming home we made a quick stop at the Alvin WalMart for a few things,

Later in the afternoon I printed out our Christmas card return address labels that I did in Avery’s Design&Print program, a free program that lets you design and print pretty much anything on every different type of Avery label. I use it at work to print out DVD and bottle labels for the many products that we make ourselves.

2018 Christmas Label

This evening Brandi sent over Landon’s latest artistic opus.

Landon's Dabing Santa

And no, it’s not from a coloring book, nor is it traced. He just sat down and ‘drew’ it from his mind. And Brandi says he’s also really getting into coding using apps like Lightbot and Code Ninja’s. The kid’s scary.

Tomorrow, if the weather hopefully holds, we’re picking up Miss Piper in the afternoon and heading over to the Kemah Boardwalk for dinner at the Saltgrass Steakhouse there and then at some point we’ll wander over to the walkway along the channel running from Clear Lake to Galveston Bay.

And if the weather doesn’t get too bad, we’ll be able to see the 57th Clear Lake Christmas Boat Parade. We’ve attended the parade a number of times over the last 40 years, but not recently.

It consists of over 100 boats decorated for Christmas and following a course around Clear Lake and then out through the Kemah Boardwalk channel into Galveston Bay. The boats run from a small sailboat with a couple of strands of lights in the rigging


to some that look like they could be in the water-version of the Rose Parade.


So if we’re lucky the rain will hold off.

December 7, 2019

Frigid Fingers . . .

On our Saturday, December 7th, in New York, we spent the day riding buses. Gray Line buses like this one.

Gray Line Bus

Thursday afternoon when first visited Times Square, we purchased a pair of 24 hour Gray Line bus passes from one of the many vendors on every corner.

They listed four Hop-On Hop-Off tour routes: Uptown, Downtown, Brooklyn, and a Night Tour. They also offered a Boat Tour, but since we had already visited Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in 2009, and we were doing an East River/Hudson River Night Time Dinner Cruise the next day, we didn’t plan on doing it.

We planned on taking all four trips, starting with the Downtown one that first left out at 9am, with buses every 30 minutes afterward. And luckily the starting point was diagonally across the corner from our hotel, so very convenient. So after another run at the hotel’s breakfast buffet, we were on the corner at 9am for the first bus, along with a lot of other people.

We actually didn’t plan on doing any hopping-on hopping-off. We just wanted to see the city, as much of it as we could. Unfortunately, we managed to choose the coldest day of our trip . . . to ride in an open-air double-decker bus.

The Downtown Tour was a pretty good overview of the city landmarks, taking in Times Square. Empire State Building, Greenwich Village, SoHo, Little Italy, Chinatown, Financial District, Battery Park, and South Street Seaport.

In the low 30’s, plus of course the wind chill factor, I could only take a few photos before I lost feeling in my fingers, so all you get are these four.

One of our first stops was in, obviously, the Garment District.

NYC Garment District

We were kind of surprised to see Christmas trees being sold on the sidewalks, but they seem to sell everything else there, so why not?

NYC Christmas Tree Lot

I did get to play with the really nice zoom on my Panasonic FZ80 while we were passing the Empire State Building.

NYC Empire State Building

NYC Empire State Building 1

NYC Empire State Building 2

And that’s all the photos I got that day. With my gloves on I just couldn’t operate the camera.

Finishing up our first tour in about 2 hours, and ending up back in the Times Square area, Jan had been wanting some New York Clam Chowder, and Google said there was a place on the next block. But when we got there, they no longer served it. So we didn’t stay.

What we did do was to backtrack a block and have Soup, Salad, and Breadsticks at the Olive Garden we’d passed. Really good on a 35° day.

Back at the hotel we napped a little and then were back out at the bus stop for our Uptown Tour. It covered Central Park, American Museum of Natural History, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Harlem, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Guggenheim and a lot more on the famous Museum Mile.

The Uptown Tour pretty much just segued into the Brooklyn Tour, which covered the Botanic Garden, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, the Antique Furniture District, Fulton Mall, The Brooklyn Museum, Grand Army Plaza, Cadman Plaza, The Brooklyn Public Library and much more.

Back at the hotel in the late afternoon, we crashed a bit, and then had a little supper at the dinner buffet, since we’d also had lunch. Then we just goofed off for a while until our 8pm Night Tour. It included a subset of the other 3 tours, like the Empire State Building, Greenwich Village, SoHo, Chinatown, the Lower East Side, Rockefeller Center, Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn, but at night.

Rockefeller Center Tree

Then it was back to the room, tired and happy, with Jan’s Fitbit saying we’d done over 5 miles today.

December 7, 2021

When Is A Dinner Cruise Not A Dinner Cruise?

After yesterday’s busy schedule, with 3 things on our plate, Titanic, Legends, and SIX, it was nice to have a little more free time today with only two.

First up at 10am was a Beach Boys Review, which consisted of two guys and two girls.

Branson Beach Boys Review 1

Actually there was a girl in the Beach Boys for a while, Toni Tennille, of the Captain and Tennille, played electric piano on the 1972 tour.

Though they didn’t look the part, they had the voices down perfectly, especially interesting since the guy on the left is Australian and spoke with an Aussie accent, but sang in American.

They talked about how the Beach Boys pretty much started the ‘Surf Music’ craze, but also what was called ‘Hot Rod Rock’ with songs like Little Deuce Coupe and 409, segueing into their influence on groups like the Mamas & the Papas and others.

A really good show and a lot of fun.

About 3pm we headed down across the Table Rock Dam to, where else, Table Rock Lake, for a dinner cruise on the Showboat Branson Belle.

So when is a dinner cruise NOT a dinner cruise?

When there’s dinner, but no cruise. It just sat there at the dock the whole time.

Now I would swear I booked a Dinner Cruise, but I guess not. It just sat there.

Every photo on the Internet shows the Belle steaming majestically across the lake,

Steamboat Branson Belle

But not tonight. It just sat there.

We did have a great table on the lower balcony level with a perfect view of the stage though.

Steamboat Branson Belle Stage

And the food was really good too. After starting with Wedge Salads, Jan got the Pan-Seared Trout,

Steamboat Branson Belle Trout

while I got the 21 Day Dry Aged Ribeye.

Steamboat Branson Belle Ribeye

Then for dessert, Jan got the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake,

Steamboat Branson Belle Butter Cake

while I finished up with the Chocolate Pecan Cheesecake.

Steamboat Branson Belle Cheesecake

A really great meal.

Then about 30 minutes later the show started, with probably the best production values we’ve seen so far.

Steamboat Branson Belle Show 1

Steamboat Branson Belle Show 2

Steamboat Branson Belle Show 3

A really great night!

And coincidentally, two years ago at this time, Jan and I were on a Dinner Cruise in NYC on the East and Hudson Rivers.

Jan on NYC Dinner Cruise with Roses

And that time it moved.

December 7, 2022

ETR . . .

Since today, December 7th, is the last day of Medicare Open Enrollment for this year, I’m hoping that all those vastly annoying Medicare Advantage commercials will just go away.

I hope. Of course they might just get an early start on next year.

I called Alliance MRI this morning and got my lumbar MRI/X-Ray appointment scheduled for next Monday at 10:15 am. Better than the 11pm one last year. Apparently they are open and scheduling MRI’s 24 hours a day.

I still have not heard back from Cracker Barrel Corporate after I submitted my complaint this past Monday. I did get an automated acknowledgment that they had received it, but that’s it so far.

So now we wait.

I got a couple of comments about yesterday’s Hippo video, and also the I Want A Hippopotamus For Christmas music video. I’m not sure exactly why, but I had always thought that this was being sung by an adult woman singing like a little girl. But instead it was 10 year old Gayla Peevey. And she did a great job on this video which was from her appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1953.

And at 79, she’s still going strong.

Gayla Peevey Hippo Song

Our new Capital One credit cards showed up today, so we’re all set to rent a car now. One thing different is how they’re activated. All I had to do was sign in to the Capital One app on my phone, tap the Activate Your New Card button, and then hold the card up to the back of phone. And beep-boop it was done.

No calling in, no scanning a QR code, or entering the card number.


And on that note, I got a call from Roland this afternoon, the guy that’s looking at our Jeep. He said that the problem was caused by a valve coming loose, punching a hole in the piston, and tearing up the head.

He said the bottom end of the engine is OK, so all it’s going to need is a new head along with new valves and pistons/rings. Even though only one piston was damaged, it’s normal procedure to replace them all at one time. In fact you pretty much replace everything you can get to. And of course the block will have to be bored out to accommodate the new pistons/rings. So I might get a little more power out of the deal.

Unfortunately, since I was driving home when he called I forgot to ask him for an ETR. But I’ll call tomorrow.