Daily Archives: February 10, 2024

One More Day . . .

‘til I pick Jan up tomorrow.


I plan on getting there around noon and then Jan and I will have lunch at Grimaldi’s, followed by a Trader Joe’s stop for Jan.

Me, I just read in the car.

I spent the day taking care of a few chores around the rig while the weather is nice. Recently the days have been in the low 70’s and low 60’s, but after tomorrow’s 73, tomorrow night it’s 43° and raining.

I put in a call to the Galveston Saltgrass Steakhouse this afternoon to double-check our Valentine’s Day reservation. I originally made it about 3 weeks ago, got the email confirmation and thought everything was fine.

Until I got an email from them yesterday changing the time from 5:30 to 5pm. And then 3 minutes got another email changing it back to 5:30 again. But when I checked with Galveston they had no idea what I was talking about, and said my reservation was for 5:30 and was just fine.

A mother online said her 6-year-old loves owls, and she is begging to go to the Owl Restaurant. This is where she meant.

Well, in her defense, it does have an owl on the front of the building.

Thought for the Day:

What if when you can’t sleep it’s because all the sleep servers are overloaded and spots only open up when other people wake up?

And Now On To Today’s Retro-Blogs.™

February 10, 2011

Landon and Kitty, and No Moose. . .

2 Days and Counting . . .

First off, Brandi sent over these photos of Landon and his new best friend, Kitty. And yes, Brandi and Lowell have a 105 lb. Black Lab/ Shepard mix named Kitty who just dotes on Landon.

Landon and Kitty 2

I sure hope Kitty is just licking and not tasting here.

Landon and Kitty 1

We left the rig this morning about 10am for a morning of errands, with a little breakfast thrown in for good measure.

Our first stop was Fry’s Electronics where I was looking for a XM Radio antenna for a client. With no luck on the antenna, we headed over to the Egg and I for a little breakfast with some of their great Hazelnut coffee.

Next it was off to Best Buy for another try for an XM antenna, and once again, no luck. They did suggest that I just buy a complete XM Radio for $70 just to get the $8 antenna.

Ain’t gonna happen. I pulled out my Blackberry, went online to Amazon, and had a new antenna on the way in about 3 minutes. Done deal.

Then since I was right there, I ran next door to Lowe’s to get a 3/4” deep well socket to make it easier to pull the coach chairs up to finish removing the last of the carpet.

Then it was time for my semi-annual haircut, which as Jan said “wouldn’t take too long.” I think her snicker was the worst part.

After a quick stop at the bank, we made our last stop at a client’s for a few minutes, and then we headed back home to the rig.

Getting home Jan started packing up for our “test drive.” We’ve been parked here for 5 months, and I didn’t want to be trying to leave on Saturday morning and find something isn’t working. You know, things like the leveler jacks won’t come up, the slide won’t come in, little things like that.

I had plugged in the engine heater last night just to be sure the oil was somewhat thinner than Vaseline, so with fingers crossed, I started the engine, and let out a big sigh as our ‘ole faithful’ roared to life.

After a few seconds I had good oil pressure, so I started raising the leveler jacks. And once again, no problems. Now it was time for the slide to come in, and again, no problems. Well, maybe a little more groaning than normal, but hey, it’s been 5 months.

Three for three so far.

Then while I went out and unplugged and stowed the power cable, Jan was out with her broom, ready to sweep the concrete pad to clean off the gravel I had earlier washed out of the leveler jack feet. While I was outside I did notice the coach was slow to come up on the front airbags, and I could hear a lot of escaping air. When this first happened to me several years ago I thought I had a leak, but was informed that this was the air system automagically venting water from the tanks. Then after a few minutes the hissing stopped and the rig came up on the front bags.

Finally, back in the coach, I put it in reverse and slowly backed out of the site. Again no problems.

So while Jan was sweeping, I made the short loop around the bayou/marina area, just to check things out in general.

The first (and only) problem showed up when we tried to put the slide back out. And it was dead.

Not a sound or anything going in or out. After checking the fuses, I did what I always do when I have a coach problem. I called American Coach for help. And as usual, Deb at American came through.

After first asking if the keylock was On, she suggested I check the Air Brake knob. And she was right. I knew the Air Brakes were set because I heard them when I pulled out the knob.

But I apparently hadn’t pulled the knob out quite far enough. As soon as I touched it, it jumped a little bit and clicked. Trying the slide again showed that fixed the problem. Apparently I had pulled the knob out far enough to set the brakes, but not far enough to trigger the interlock switch. I guess it makes sense to interlock the Air Brakes and the slide, I just never thought about it before.

Air CompressorAfter getting us hooked back up again, I gave my new Sears Air Compressor a workout by topping off all the rig and toad tires. It took the rig tires up to 105 lb. on the front and 100 lb. on the rear with no problems. I love this thing. So much easier than using the onboard air compressor.

One funny thing came out of all this. Our two cats, Mister and Emma, normally ride in the front seat with Jan, and as soon as I started the engine they both raced to her seat to get ready to travel. But since I had some stuff on the seat, there was only enough room for one of them. So they were kind of sitting on top of each other, almost like playing musical chairs. Wish I’d had the camera.

About 4:30 we headed up to Webster for one last dinner at King Food with our friends Bob and Maria. We had such a great time we ended up talking for almost 3 hours before we split up.

Leaving King Food, we stopped off at Sam’s Club for a few things before heading over to Brandi’s for a last goodbye. It’s hard to think that the next time we see Landon he’ll be a year old.

Finally it was time to head home again after a very busy, but productive day. And tomorrow will be even busier as we wrap things up before heading out on Saturday.

February 10, 2012

A Landon Weekend . . .

Today started with a heavy downpour that began during the night and continued into the late morning.

About 11:30 I headed into town on a bunch of errands. But my first stop was the RV park office so I could get our reservations set up for next year, and also to let them know when we would be leaving.

Then it was on to Fry’s Electronics to take back some bad RAM. It’s a very bad feeling when you take a client’s very expensive laptop apart to install new RAM and when you turn it on, it’s DEAD!

The procedure in this case is to reverse what you just did, so I installed the old RAM back in.

And it worked again. WHEW!

So now I put the new RAM back in . . . and it’s dead again. So then I took the other stick of new RAM that was in the second slot and put it in the first slot. And it worked fine.

Again I put the first stick of new RAM back in, and it’s dead again.  So now I know for sure that one of the two new sticks is bad. So it’s back to Fry’s to swap it out.

This was Patriot RAM, one of the top names, and I’ve never gotten a bad stick before. But it sure gave me a fright this time.

My next stop was a quick one at a client’s to let them know I’d be in the office tonight working on some things.

Then it was on to Sam’s Club to try and get our prescriptions straightened out. It ended up taking me about 45 minutes, but I did make one big improvement. I got the $717 for a 3 month supply of the drug down to $10 a month.

Before leaving Sam’s I filled up with gas and then headed back to the rig to pick up Jan so we could turn back around and come back up to Brandi’s.

We’re Landon-sitting (well, Jan’s doing most of it) this weekend while Brandi and Lowell take the weekend off to celebrate his birthday out of town, so we had to stop off at their house to get the car seat so we could pick up Landon at his Day Care. He seemed really glad to see us which made Jan happy.

Getting him strapped in, we drove up to Sam’s Club again, this time to pick Jan’s new glasses that they’d called and said were ready. I know they said they’d expedite them, but we just turned the order in yesterday afternoon, so it was hard to believe they would be ready this soon.

And they weren’t. It was a false alarm, but they should be here in the next day or so. As long as they get here before we leave next Thursday, we’re fine.

Leaving Sam’s, we drove up I-45 to the Golden Corral Restaurant for dinner.

Landon discovers Chocolate Syrup

This is a good choice when we’ve got Landon because there are plenty of choices for him. One thing he really, really liked was the chocolate syrup from the chocolate fountain. You might say he really got “into it”.

Landon fell asleep on the way back to Brandi’s, and it’s always amazing how, although he never opens his eyes or wakes up, he knows to pull his arms out of the straps and then hold them up for you to take him out.

When we got back to Brandi’s, Lowell’s sister Sherry was there to help Jan if she needed it getting Landon to bed, so I headed over to my client’s for a while.

I did manage to finally get the UPS software problem fixed so I’m glad that’s out of the way.

I finished up and headed back to the rig about 9 after a long day. Getting back to the park I did get this shot of the moon rising over the bayou.

Unfortunately the photo doesn’t do it justice.

Moon on Bayou

Tomorrow I’ll head back over to Brandi’s about 10 am to pick up Jan and Landon for breakfast at the Egg and I, and then we may bring Landon back down to the rig to show him around and introduce him to Mister.

February 10, 2014

Two Weeks and Counting . . .

This morning started early, at least for Jan. She was up at 5 AM to be sure she was awake when Landon woke up. Since Lowell had to leave for work around 5:15 and Landon’s daycare doesn’t open until 6, we filled in the gap, which is why we spent the night here at Brandi’s.

And you can never tell how early Landon will get up. Brandi left on her business trip at 4 AM this past Saturday. And Landon, hearing the commotion, was up at 3:30.

Upset that his mommy was leaving, Landon started crying until Lowell told him they’d go out for donuts after Brandi left. So Landon stopped crying, kissed his mommy goodbye, and was ready to go out for donuts. And go out they did.

Landon at Denny's

Note the time on the clock at the top of this photo. After Brandi left, Lowell and Landon drove around, but found no donut shops that early on a Saturday morning. Landon then saw a Denny’s and said, “There’s Denny’s. Denny’s has blueberry pancakes. I want blueberry pancakes.”

Which is why Lowell and Landon ended up as the only people in a Denny’s at 4:35 AM. And why Jan was up at 5 AM to be sure he didn’t want to go out for pancakes when his daddy left?

On the other hand, I was able to sleep in until 8:30. After all, Landon didn’t need TWO people to watch him.

I fixed coffee in Lowell’s K-Cup Keurig brewer, and one thing I noticed is that his machine starts up much quicker than my machine, which takes about a minute or so before the coffee starts flowing. It may be because his has a water reservoir built into it.

Lowell said we didn’t have to take Landon to his daycare until a little before 10, so we got to spend some time with him. For breakfast he decided he wanted to have a Chocolate Chip Eggo waffle, so I fixed him one up.

And then he wanted a second one, so back to the toaster. So Landon’s breakfast was two Eggo waffles and two glasses of chocolate milk. But this was probably because he didn’t really eat much of anything for supper last night.

Later, Jan was trying to get him dressed and told him, “Landon, come here and put your shirt on.” Landon said, “Say the word, Nana. Say the word.” Jan said, “What word, Landon?”

Landon looked at Jan and said,” Say please, Nana, Say please!”

Out of the mouth of babes.

After dropping Landon off at his daycare, Jan and I left about 11 AM and drove over to Grimaldi’s Pizzeria for lunch. Our favorite pizza place anywhere, we try to eat at one whenever we’re near. Rather than just repeat what I’ve said about Grimaldi’s before, and why it’s so great, you can check out what I’ve posted before.

Leaving Grimaldi’s and heading back toward Clear Lake, we stopped off at a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee and a couple of donut holes to finish off a great morning.

The reason we were coming back so early was that Jan had her eye doctor appointment this afternoon. She had thought (hoped) that it was time to get her cataracts done, but the doctor said that her eyes were doing great, with no new problems and no reason to have the surgery yet. So it was all good.

Leaving the doctor’s, we stopped off at a client’s for a few minutes before picking up some prescriptions at Sam’s Club.

Then it was back home to the rig, with Mister very glad to see us.

Tomorrow will be probably a stay-at-home day, very cold and rainy.

Lastly, two things. First off, we’re starting our two-week countdown here at Galveston Bay RV Resort. We plan on leaving here on February 24 and then spending two weeks at the Colorado Thousand Trails in Columbus, TX. So we’re going, but we’re not going far.

Lastly I’ve posted a couple of new things under the ‘What Were They Thinking? tab at the top of the page. Check’em out.

February 10, 2015

A Happy Kitty . . .

Today was nice. It was the first time in about a week that I hadn’t had to be up by 8am. And tomorrow I’ll be back up early since Chris will be back over to work some more on the fiberglass repair problem.

But today we slept in and made it a stay-at-home day.

I did have one project for the day though, I wanted to flush the rig’s water heater. With all the medical stuff last year,  I didn’t get to it then, the first time I’ve missed it in 7 years. Rather than just repeat myself, here’s the link to how I did it two years ago. Water Heater Flush. And since I skipped a year, I used the vinegar treatment that I mentioned here.

I remember when I did this after our first year on the road at the end of 2008. It was pretty obvious that it had never been done before on our 1999 American Eagle. When I used this Water Heater Cleaning Wand,

Water Heater Wand

‘gunk’ just came pouring out. In fact I think it must have been half full of stuff, because after the flush, we seem to have a lot more hot water.

And today, probably because of the vinegar, I got a lot more stuff out than in other years, a lot of black ‘gunk’ and little white stones of calcium carbonate.

So that’s another thing checked off my list.

Later in the afternoon I went up to the office to pick up my Amazon mail. And Mister was happy for two reasons.

He got a new box to play in,

Mister's New Amazon Box

and the box contained 48 cans of his favorite cat food.

Meow Mix

Apparently the flavor he likes is very popular, and no matter where we shop, they’re quite often out of it. So checking Amazon, I found I can buy it cheaper online, and get Prime two-day shipping.

So Mister’s a happy kitty.

February 10, 2016

Rustlin’ and Grazin’ . . .

Today was our Fredericksburg road trip, so I was up at about 8:30am and we were out the door at 9. And after a quick stop at the park dumpster to drop off some garbage, we were on the road west.

Our first stop was the Buc-ee’s at the Luling exit about 60 miles away for a potty stop, a breakfast kolache, and coffee.

And friends.

Our next-door neighbors, Vance and Bonnie Clegg, had left out for the Lake Medina Thousand Trails about 15 minutes before we also headed out, and we both got to Buc-ee’s about the same time. This was their first time to stop at one, so we got to show them around a bit before we said goodbye again.

Hopefully we’ll cross paths again soon.

Our next potty stop was the Love’s at the Comfort exit for US 87 about 110 miles later. Then we only had about 20 miles to Fredericksburg and our lunch.

So our first stop was Der Lindenbaum, a German restaurant right on Main St. We’ve eaten here for years, and it’s always been great, probably the best German food we’ve ever eaten.

Jan always gets her favorite Jager Schnitzel, which is a breaded pork cutlet covered in a mushroom wine sauce, along with red cabbage and German potatoes.

Der Lindenbaum Jagar Schnitzel_thumb[1]

Over the years I’ve worked my way around their menu, this time settling on the Zwiebel Schnitzel, which is also a breaded pork cutlet, but with a pan-fried onion sauce, as well as the red cabbage and potatoes.

Der Lindenbaum Zwiebel Schnitzel_thumb[1]

Although we didn’t get there until about 1pm, the place stayed pretty full the entire time. Then after a great lunch, we headed out to check out the many shops up and down the streets.

Fredericksburg Street_thumb[1]

Jan checked out quite a few stores, but didn’t really find anything that caught her eye.

Finally on the other side of the street, we came to Rustlin’ Rob’s Texas Gourmet Foods, a long-time family favorite.

Rustlin' Rob's 0_thumb[1]

Rob’s has pretty much every sauce, butter, rub, jam, jelly, salsa, preserves,  and dip you can think of. And even better they’re all available to sample.

Every little alcove has something different. One has just a large number of ‘butters’.

Rustlin Rob's 1_thumb[1]

Amaretto Pecan Honey Butter, Honey Chipotle Butter, Chocolate Banana Peanut Butter, Praline Pecan Honey Butter, Jalapeno Honey Peanut Butter, etc. In fact they have over 40 different flavors.

As I said, every flavor of every type are available to taste-test.

Rustlin Rob's 2_thumb[1]

And they have either wheat thins, or pretzels available for your tasting pleasure

Rustlin Rob's 3_thumb[2]

It’s very easy to just ‘graze’ from one item to the next, which is why we never come here before Der Lindenbaum. We would be too full afterward.

And another thing to note about Rustlin’ Rob’s is that it’s the original home of Jan’s Moose Footstool that I mentioned last week.

Moose Footstool_thumb[3]

But no more moose are in stock now.

Rustlin Rob's Footstools_thumb[1]

After checking out the rest of Main St, along with some bench-sitting and people-watching, we made our way back to the truck, and drove about 5 miles east to visit Wildseed Farms, another place we always check out when we’re in the area.

Wildseed Farms 1_thumb[1]

Billed as the largest wildflower farm in the country, it’s a fun place to visit with a lot of paths and walkways through trees, bushes, and flowers.

Wildseed Farms 2_thumb[1]

Inside is a lot of other stuff that makes Jan happy.

Wildseed Farms 2a_thumb[1]

Wildseed Farms 3_thumb[1]

Wildseed Farms 4_thumb[1]

In fact, this was the only place where Jan found something she just had to have.

Finally heading back into Fredericksburg, we made a quick Wal-Mart stop and then another one at the Fredericksburg Pecans store for a big bag of shelled ones.

This was another place that had samples, four different varieties of pecans that are supposed to taste different, but neither Jan nor I could tell the difference. Maybe it’s just us.

Then we were back on the road toward home, again stopping at the Love’s right before got back on I-10E.

We had kind of thought about stopping off at one of our two favorite San Antonio restaurant’s, either La Fonda on Main, called the best Mexican Restaurant in San Antonio, or the Magic Time Machine. But as we got closer, we both realized we were still just too full from Der Lindenbaum and ‘grazin’.

So we headed on around San Antonio to our last stop, again at the Buc-ee’s at the Luling exit. Besides our potty break, we got a couple of their BBQ Brisket Sandwiches for dinner after we got home, and also a couple of their great kolaches, and a couple of cranberry muffins for breakfast the next couple of days.

Leaving Buc-ee’s, we checked in with our daughter Brandi and her Strep Throat. She’s feeling a little better, and neither Lowell nor Landon have come down with it so far.

And neither have we.

Knock on wood.

February 10, 2017

So What’s Your Bacon Number?

And No, it’s not how many strips you had for breakfast.

Well, the frack stuff is mostly gone and the coil tubing stuff is mostly here. But there are still a few dribbles and drabs of both wandering in and out.

Luckily for me, but unluckily for Art, my daytime counterpart, the big stuff can only be moved on Texas roads during daylight hours. Or at least from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.

Which means Art got the brunt of the traffic while my night should be relatively calm.

I mentioned a while back that I was trying to come up with a better gate vehicle sensor. Although our Mighty Mules normally work great, they’re still at the mercy of any RF interference, like we’re seeing at this gate.

Day in and day out, the most reliable system seems to be the old-fashion gas station bells with the rubber hoses, exactly why our previous gate guard company, Gate Guard Services, still uses them.

But with that reliability, comes some problems. Like hundreds of feet of fairly expensive rubber hose. At least if you want the ends out far enough to give you ample warning of an incoming or exiting vehicle so you can…you know…wake up.

So I decided to combine the best of both the purely mechanical and purely electronic systems.

So I still will use a length of rubber hose as the actual vehicle sensor lying across the road. But instead of running the hose all the way back to the bell, I will connect the hose to a mechanical pressure switch.

Available in various pressure sensitivities and costing $20-30, they will momentarily close a switch contact when a vehicle runs over the hose. This way I can just run wires back to the control box.

I can buy a 1000 ft. spool of twisted pair wire for about $50, giving me as much as 500 ft. of warning in either direction, just pulling out as much as I need, and then winding it back on the spool when I’m done at that gate.

And even the control box is simple.  A small plastic box, a wall wart 12v power supply and a couple of buzzer or chime modules with different tones to let you differentiate between ins and outs.  Kind of like the doorbell modules where the front door one goes “Ding Dong” and the rear door goes “Dong”.

If you wanted to get a little fancy, for a few dollars each you can buy those record and playback modules that come in the greeting cards that let you record your own message. Then you could have one saying, “Vehicle Coming In” and the other saying “Vehicle Coming Out”.

So it’s something I’ll be trying out on our next gates later this year.

So what is your Bacon number?

A couple of days ago I was reading an article about the “Six Degrees of Separation” concept. First put forward in the late 1920’s, it says that any two people on earth can be connected by only five other people in between.

And computer simulations done in the 1970’s seem to show that you only need three degrees of separation to connect any two people in the US.

Just to clarify, a ‘degree of separation’ is from one person to another. So if I know one person, that’s one degree. And if they know another person, I’m two degrees from that second person. And so on.

There’s even been a couple of games invented that use this idea, the most famous being “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon”. Which is where your Bacon Number comes from.

The idea is to connect the actor Kevin Bacon to any other actor in as few degrees as possible, but only by using movies they were in.

For example, Kevin Bacon to Elvis Presley. This is an easy one.

Elvis Presley was in Change of Habit with Edward Asner.

Edward Asner was in JFK with Kevin Bacon.

So with Kevin Bacon always having a Bacon Number of 0, that means that Edward Asner has a BN of 1 and Elvis has a BN of 2.

And strangely enough if you want to add in plays (the movies of their day), you can give John Wilkes Booth (yes that one!) a Bacon Number of 5, or even a 4

JWB was in an 1863 production of Macbeth with Louisa Lane Drew.

Louisa Lane Drew was in an 1896 production of “The Rivals” with her grandson Lionel Barrymore.

Lionel Barrymore was in “It’s A Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stuart.

Jimmy Stuart was in “Airport ‘77” with Jack Lemmon.

Jack Lemmon was in “JFK” with Kevin Bacon.

But someone else brought JWB’s Bacon Number down to a 4 with this shortcut.

Lionel Barrymore was in “Right Cross” with Kenneth Tobey.

Kenneth Tobey was in “Hero At Large” with Kevin Bacon.

But another game takes this to a more personal note, with someone picking a famous person from history, and then the rest try to link themselves to that person with the smallest Bacon Number, still using that concept.

For example, Jan and our son Chris, (not sure about our daughter Brandi) met Michael Jackson in Montgomery, AL when he came to the TV station where I worked in the mid 70’s. He was appearing in town and came by the station to do a promo.

So Jan has a BN of 1 to Michael Jackson, and oddly enough, a BN of 3 to Elvis Presley through Lisa Marie Presley.

For me, I was thinking more historical, and was surprised to find that I have a BN of 3 to Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin.

When I was 9 or 10, I met, shook hands with, and talked to Eleanor Roosevelt when she was on a book tour in Nashville, TN in the late 50’s. So that gives me this.

From me to Eleanor Roosevelt to FDR to Churchill and Stalin at the Yalta Conference in 1945. So a BN of 3.

Unfortunately Eleanor did not go to Yalta, otherwise it would have been BN of 2.

But I was astounded to find that I had a BN of 2 to Adolf Hitler from two different directions.

In the mid-60’s my father was working for Boeing on the Apollo project in Huntsville, AL. Boeing had a big party for the employees and my father took me along. When I found out that Werner Von Braun was there, I went and introduced myself in the stumbling German that I was taking at the time. (Hey, at least I didn’t call him a jelly donut like JFK called Berlin)

And since von Braun knew Hitler, that gives this.

Me to Werner von Braun to Adolf Hitler. So a BN of 2.

As for the other path, I mentioned a few days ago that I worked as a Broadcast Engineer at a black radio station (Oh, the stories I could tell) in Birmingham, AL in the early 70’s, and so got to meet Jesse Owens, the famous Olympic athlete who embarrassed the German athletes at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.

Contrary to popular ‘knowledge’, Hitler did shake Owen’s hand, because the Olympic Committee demanded it, but Hitler did refuse to ‘congratulate’ him.

Me to Jesse Owens to Adolf Hitler. So a BN of 2 there also.

Now that you’ve heard my Bacon Number stories, let’s throw it out to our blog readers.

What’s your shortest BN to a famous person?

February 10, 2018

The King is Dead . . .

Well, by the time the rain stopped and the weather cleared, it was really too late to fool with taking down the last awning. Maybe tomorrow. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

As I had hoped, today turned out to be a do-nothing day, just reading, napping, computing and snacking. A perfect day.

The King is Dead. Long Live The New King.

For the last 4 years I’ve used a Bubba Keg like this for my morning coffee.

Bubba Keg 34oz

At 34oz it holds the 5 cups I brew with a little room to spare. Actually, I brew 8 cups, but Jan’s mug holds the other 3 cups. I had another, smaller before that, but I wanted something a little bigger.

But although it was foam-filled, the Bubba Keg just didn’t my coffee warm for more than a couple of hours. But since I normally nurse my caffeine fix over the day, I wanted something a little better.

I had looked at the stainless steel vacuum mugs like the Yeti and the Ozark Trail models, but they weren’t large enough, only 30oz, and that was to the very rim. So a week or so ago when I saw this at WalMart I got one immediately.

Ozark 40oz Mug

It’s the new 40oz model from Ozark Trail, WalMart’s brand. But it needs a handle, so I immediately ordered one from Amazon.

Ozark 40oz Mug Handle

Unfortunately these new mugs haven’t been out long enough for someone to come out with a lid that seals like they have with the smaller ones.

Ozark 40oz Mug Lid

All the new ones just have the drinking hole in them. So I’ll have to find some way to seal it up when I’m taking it into work.

Our daughter Brandi and her family are presently scattered around the country. Brandi herself is out in San Diego at a ‘business conference’. That’s her on the right.

Brandi in San Diego

Yep, looks like business to me.

Notice how these ‘business conferences’ are always in places like Las Vegas or Miami, or San Diego? And never places like Duluth, or Des Moines?

Why is that?

And while Brandi is partying out west, Lowell and Landon were up in Pauls Valley, OK with his parents, celebrating Lowell’s birthday, for which Landon and his grandma Sonja baked him a birthday cake.

Sounds like fun.

February 10, 2019

Green Beans and Cockroaches . . .

Jan and I headed up to the Sugarland area about 11, to meet up with Brandi, Lowell, and Landon, for Landon’s hockey practice. Actually it’s all practice since they’re still learning the necessary skills and don’t play in games yet.

We took gloves this time and dressed a little warmer so we were a lot more comfortable than last time. It’s cold in there.

Since we were last at one of these practices a few weeks ago, Landon had been taking skating lessons on the side, with two under his belt so far. And it really shows.

He’s taking lessons from a female figure-skating instructor, learning more of the fundamentals of just skating, rather than hockey. And now he can skate backward pretty good and he’s much more fluid on the ice.

I think he’s signed up for 10 lessons, so he still has 8 more to go, so that should make a big difference in his skating skills.

After practice was over we all headed over to the nearby Floyd’s Cajun Seafood, our usual place to eat. But, usually this time, it was really busy. Normally by now the lunch crowd has thinned and there is plenty of parking and tables.

But today the place was jammed packed. And when I asked the waitress why it was so busy today, she looked at me like I was from another planet, and said, “It’s CRAWFISH SEASON!” And yes, she said it in all caps, too.

Well, excuse me!  When I was growing up in south Alabama, crawfish were for bait. Nobody would dare eat a ‘mudbug’. They were just giant cockroaches.

Jan and I noticed that they had new menus since we were there a few weeks ago, and they’ve added some new sides, one being Grilled Green Beans.

With Lowell getting the Chicken Fried Chicken, and Brandi a Boudin Link, Jan got her usual Grilled Catfish Fillets and the Green Beans, while I got Shrimp Gumbo and the Grilled Veggies.

Wish I’d gotten the Green Beans. I will next time. They were grilled with onions and bacon, and were delicious. At least I think they were, based on the small amount Jan was willing to share.

Next time, for sure.

I did surprise Landon with a kit that I think he’ll like.

Smithsonian Rocket Book

It’s from the Smithsonian people, and lets you build a 2-1/2 foot tall rocket, which looks pretty much like a Saturn 5, I guess. Told him I wanted pictures.

I went online this evening to renew the PO Box that we have here in Santa Fe, and found they offered a new service.

You can now receive packages from any shipper, UPS, FedEx, etc., at your PO Box. It’s a free additional service called Street Addressing.

You just go online, log into your PO Box account, and click the Street Addressing box under Additional Services. You will have to drop off some paperwork at the PO to finalize it, but that’s all there is to it.


Tomorrow it’s back to work, hoping to see that my webserver hard drive cloning job is done. Maybe.

February 10, 2020

“You’re A Car”

After visiting the hotel’s ‘Coffee Bar’, our Extended Stay America’s version of the Free Breakfast, we were packed and on our way by 9:15am.

Except for our initial keycard problems, our stay here was pretty nice. Our room was really a studio apartment, with a 4 burner oven/stove, a large apartment-sized refrigerator, and a microwave.

Extended Stay Room 1

Plus the dining table made a nice computer table. A very nice stay for about $70 a night, including all taxes.

Although a little disconcerting to start with, the ‘Coffee Bar’ turned out to be pretty nice. Especially since the coffee was really good.

Extended Stay Coffee Bar

Plus they had pre-packaged muffins and granola bars, as well as 4 different flavors of do-it-yourself oatmeal.

And since this is a long-term residence type of place, with a stove and fridge, they even have an online cookbook for cooking on the road.

Extended Stay Cook Book

Although we were heading for Athens AL, about 180 miles north, we made a zig-zag stop at the Golden Rule BBQ out in the Irondale area of Birmingham about 90 miles along the way.

I’ve been eating here since the early 60’s, but I’m a youngster in regards to this place. It’s been in business since 1891, yes, almost 130 years. And it’s listed as the oldest continuously-operating restaurant in the state of Alabama.

So they must be doing something right.

Jan and I got the same thing, a Jumbo Sliced Pork Sandwich, mine with Outside Cut, and fries.

Golden Rule BBQ Jumbo Sliced Pork

‘Outside Cut’ means that the meat is cut from the outside char or ‘bark’, giving the meat a little sweet crunch. Delicious.

And of course, we had to each have a piece of their famous homemade pie. I got my favorite Lemon Cream,

Golden Rule BBQ Lemon Cream Pie

while Jan got a slice of the Double Chocolate Cream but she wouldn’t let me take a photo of it so no one would know she had dessert. You didn’t hear it from me.

Though it was raining a little as we left Montgomery, it started coming down in sheets as we got out on the other side of Birmingham. So much so that finally I got behind a brightly-lit semi and followed him, hoping he could see the road better than me, since I couldn’t see it at all.

This long-distance trip in our truck is the first one we’ve done like this since 2015 and it takes a little getting used to. So as we are pulling into a Rest Stop, Jan reminds me, by saying, “You’re a car”, that I need to stay on the Auto side, and not the Truck/Trailer side. Everything helps, I guess.

We got into our Day’s Inn in Athens about 2pm, and got unloaded during a lull in the rain into our very nice room.

Day's Inn Athens Room

A King, Non-Smoking room for only $66/night total. A great deal from Expedia.

Later, around 4:30 we drove right down the road to do something unusual for us. Two meals in one day. But it was to keep up a tradition.

We always have dinner on our first night in Athens at the nearby Catfish Cabin, and hey, who wants to mess with tradition, right?

We both had the Blackened Catfish Filets with Steamed Veggies.

Catfish Cabin Blackened Catfish Filets

And of course a basket of their fantastic homemade hushpuppies.

Catfish Cabin Hushpuppies

Really, really good.

Catching up on yesterday, we met up with long-time friends Kathy and Weylan, up in the Prattville area at the Longhorn Steakhouse there.

Kathy and Weyland Wilkes

Jan and Kathy worked together here at Jackson Hospital back in the mid-70’s and have stayed in touch. So we always get together when we’re in the area.

While Jan and Kathy were talking over old times, Weylan and I were talking over old jets, specifically F-4B, C, and D Phantoms, his in the Air Force, and mine as a DOD tech working on Marine F-4’s at the Marine Corps Air Station in Beaufort SC, part of Parris Island.

For about 3 years, I worked for both Lear-Siegler and Qualitron-Aero, moving around the country to different bases, ones like Otis AFB on Cape Cod MA, and England AFB in Alexandria LA. Jan and I really enjoyed this, but our son Chris was reaching school age and we didn’t want to have him changing schools every few months. So we settled down after that and I went back to working as a Broadcast Engineer.

It was really good getting to see Kathy and Weylan again, and we’re looking forward to next time already.

February 10, 2021

Next Up In The Queue . . .

I mentioned the other day that we’ve started watching Disney+’s The Mandalorian, a Star Wars spin-off, and we enjoyed episode 3 a lot more than the first two. And that’s because I realized that it would be a lot more enjoyable if we could actually see more of what was going on.

Even the daylight scenes seemed awfully dark and muddled. So before we watch episode 3 I went into our Samsung TV’s settings panel and changed the Picture Mode to Dynamic and then bumped the Brightness up from 0 to 3.

And it didn’t seemed to make a lot of difference with normal programming, but really brightened up this episode. We could actually tell what was going on for a change.

We’ve also been looking for the next series that we want to watch, and I think we’ve decided on Battlestar Galactic. No, not recent one where the Cylons looked human and Starbuck was a girl. But the original one from the late 70’s that starred Lorne Green. It only ran for one season of 24 episodes, so it shouldn’t take us too to long watch it all.

February 10, 2022

Stranger Than Fiction . . .

We met our friend Tricia up in Pasadena this afternoon at the Pine Street Café which is part of a Wedding and Event Venue called Silver Sycamore. With a rustic look, it also includes a hotel and saloon, as well as individual cabins as part of a Bed & Breakfast.

Silver Sycamore 2

Silver Sycamore 1

A really neat place.

And a really good café, too.

Jan and I started out with a serving of their Baked Potato Soup.

Pine Street Cafe Baked Potato Soup

I actually liked the flavor of it a little better than Gator’s version, but the texture was strange. Rather than chunks of potatoes, it was just smooth, with the texture of Cream of Wheat.

Tricia got their version of Eggs Benedict with roasted potatoes.

Pine Street Cafe Benedict

Looked really good.

Jan got the Grilled Turkey and Sautéed Spinach Sandwich with Provolone Cheese,

Pine Street Cafe Turkey & Spinach Sandwich

while I went with the classic BLT.

Pine Street Cafe BLT

All really, really good.

Coming home, we dropped off an Amazon return at the FM646 UPS store. No box, or packing. Just walk in, hand them the item, they scan the QR code and hand you a receipt. Then about 5 minutes later, I got a text saying the cost had been credited to my Amazon account.


I was happy to see how well the Jeep ran, my first time driving it since the repair. And I don’t know if it was just wishful thinking, or the new O2 sensor, but it did seem a little peppier.

I’ve mentioned before about what a great artist our grandson Landon is. Brandi texted us this photo this evening showing his latest masterpiece.

A family on their street brought home their new baby today and found this chalk drawing on their driveway when they got home.

Landon Baby Welcome Home

I told Landon he needs to always sign his artwork.

February 10, 2023

Poker Face . . .

After about 3 days of having problems streaming Poker Face on Peacock TV, it suddenly worked last night. For some reason when we tried to watch originally, it would lock up at the first commercial. And the only way to get out of it was to reboot our Amazon Firestick.

But the problem was only on Poker Face. Other Peacock programs had no problems.

But once we got to watch it, we both really like it.

Poker Face

Poker Face is kind of a combination of The Fugitive and Route 66.

Charlie Cale is a young woman with a very unique ability. She can tell if someone is lying. In person, or even over video.

In the first episode, while she working as a cocktail waitress in a Nevada casino, she solves the murder of a friend of hers, imbuing the anger of the casino owner who makes it his mission to have her killed.

Then in the second episode, Charlie is on the run, being chased by Benjamin Bratt, her ‘Lt. Gerard’. Her car breaks down in a small New Mexico town where she solves another murder.

Every episode will have well-known guest stars like Ellen Barkin, Simon Helberg, Nick Nolte, Rhea Perlman, and Judith Light, and a new murder for Charlie to solve using her strange talent.

Check it out.

Through a scheduling mix-up, Jan had a last-minute appointment to get her blood work done for her upcoming endocrinologist appointment. So it was off to a nearby Quest Diagnostics to get stuck and have some blood sucked out of her.

Now Jan really, really, really doesn’t like needles. In fact that’s why she went into Medical Records rather than Nursing. Well, that and she doesn’t like to see blood either.

But she got through it, so to reward her for not screaming when they stuck the needle in, we went to Gator’s Grill for dinner.

We both got a Side Salad with their really good made-in-house Buttermilk Ranch.

Gator's Side Salad 20230210

For her entrée, Jan got their Grilled Chicken Sandwich on a Keto Bun,

Gator's Grilled Chicken Sandwich 20230210

while I got a big bowl of their also made-in-house Chipotle Beef Veggie Soup.

Gator's Chipotle Beef Soup 20230210

Finishing up we topped it off with a couple of their Keto Blueberry Muffins.

Gator's Keto Bluebery Muffin  20230210

Keto or not, undoubtedly the best muffins I’ve ever had.

Yesterday I posted a video of SpaceX’s first full-blown Super Heavy Booster test-firing 31 of its 33 engines. The reason for 31 of 33 was that one engine was shut down right before ignition and 1 was shut down a couple of seconds after. But SpaceX said that the Starship would have made orbit with no problems.

Then today I came across this mockup video of what the original Space Shuttle would have looked like launching from the Cape.

As I’ve mentioned before, the original Shuttle design utilized a manned Flyback Booster. Engine-wise the Booster engines were just essentially identical to the ones in the Shuttle itself. After the Booster separated from the Shuttle/External Tank, the pilots flew it back to the Cape for a dead-stick landing, just like the Shuttle would do later at the end of its orbital mission.

Note that the Flyback Booster replaced the SRB’s that were used on the final design that actually flew into space. And also note that with no SRB’s there would have been no Challenger explosion.

Also, one early version of the Shuttle itself had jet engines mounted so that it could actually fly a powered landing, rather than just dropping like a flying brick.