Daily Archives: April 3, 2024

Good To Go . . .

Not much going on today, so not much in the way of a blog.

Looks like Rob’s new sites are ready to go, since this sign appeared on Monday.

But no takers yet, though someone left the old area this past Monday.

Our daughter-in-law Linda texted us this afternoon saying that RV boondockers are already showing up at the Wal-Mart parking lot in Marble Falls. However it looks like the Eclipse viewing in Marble Falls isn’t predicted to be any better there than with us up in Killeen.

But here’s hoping.

Thought For The Day:

How soon after walking into someone’s house is it acceptable to ask for their WiFi password?

And Now On To Today’s Retro-Blogs.™

April 3, 2009

Trivial Pursuit…

We ended up staying two nights here in Carrabelle, FL, riding out some bad weather that was passing through.

Thursday night, we went to a small local restaurant that was recommended to us called 2 Al’s, and it was really good. So good, in fact, that we went back this morning for breakfast.

But last night was interesting in that we ended up in the middle of 2 Al’s weekly Trivial Pursuit contest.

The 6 teams were divided up by tables and we were the only 2-person team. And we were in the lead too, until another couple and a lady joined our table. It was all downhill from there.

The guy part of the couple was three, maybe four, sheets to the wind, and kept yelling out wrong answers. His companion couldn’t make up her mind about anything, and the other lady kept getting upset that we weren’t asking for her input, but when we did, she never had any answers, right or otherwise.

We finally came in third. We’d have been much better off if we had sat at a table for two, instead of a table for six.

This morning, after breakfast at 2 Al’s, we headed out for Old Town, FL, about 140 miles away, getting in about 3pm. We’re staying at a Passport America park called Old Town Campground. It’s a small park, only about 100 sites, and really out in the woods.

At Home in the Woods

As I mentioned, this is a Passport America park. We like these when we can find them, because as a Passport America club member, we can stay here for half price, in this case, $12.50 a day instead of $25.

Hey, it adds up!

We plan on being here for a few days seeing the sights in the area.

April 3, 2010

“The light of a thousand suns”…

We got up at 6:30am this morning (man, that’s early!) and after grabbing breakfast at the hotel, we headed about 85 miles south of Albuquerque to the town of San Antonio, NM.  San Antonio is the jumping-off place to Stallion Gate, the northwest entrance to White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) and Trinity Site.  I used to enter WSMR thru this gate back in the early 80’s when coming back from the White Sands Test Facility (WSTF) in Los Cruces.

But before we left San Antonio I stopped and filled up at the one and only gas station in town. We had read that they also have fantastic homemade fudge, and it looked great. So we decided to stop back by on our way out of town.

After making the 12-mile drive out to SR 525 we turned south and entered Stallion Gate about 3 miles later. They had people handing out directions and security guards checking I.D.

Then it was another 14 miles out to Trinity Site itself.

Along the way, we came across this sign several times.


If I hadn’t seen this sign in 2007 when we visited the WSMR Missile Museum I would have been very confused. That’s an Oryx. And Oryx are native to Africa, specifically the Kalahari desert area. So what the heck were they doing here?

It turns out that in late 70’s, 93 Oryx were brought over from Africa and their offspring were introduced into the White Sands Missile Range. They were expected to stay on the Range, but apparently, the Oryx didn’t read the signs and they began to wander far and wide as now animals have been spotted from 60 miles south of Albuquerque all the way down to West Texas.

And without any natural predators, their population exploded. The coyotes and mountain lions in the area were no match for the large antelope with their razor-sharp horns.

Someone then looked at importing the Oryx’s natural enemy. But this came to a screeching halt when it was discovered that the Oryx’s natural enemy was lions. And no one could get the lions to promise to stay on the Range either.

So now there are over 5000 Oryx in the White Sands area, more than there are in the Kalahari.

It’s not smart to mess with Mother Nature.

Arriving at the Trinity Site parking area about 10 am, we found a large number of visitors already there.

Making our way to the entrance, we encountered Jumbo.


Originally it was 25 feet long, 12 feet in diameter, and weighed 214 tons!

This is what it looked like in 1945.

Jumbo 2

Before testing the first A-bomb, called Fat Man, scientists were worried about whether the bomb would actually work the first time.

The bomb was to be triggered by a large conventional explosion which would then trigger the chain reaction. But, if the chain reaction didn’t occur, they didn’t want the precious plutonium scattered all over the area. But by the time of the first test, scientists were more confident of the bomb’s success, and Jumbo wasn’t used. Later the Air Force detonated 8 500 pound bombs in Jumbo, blowing out the ends as seen here.

Next, we made the 1/2 mile walk to the fenced-in area of Ground Zero itself. There in front of us was the marker commemorating the first A-bomb.



Nearby are the remains of the 100-foot tower that held the bomb before the test.

TowerRemains 1

TowerRemains 2

This shows what a 10-million-degree fireball will do to solid steel. And here’s what the tower looked like before.

Fat Man Tower

Also inside the fenced area was a mockup of the Fat Man bomb itself.

Fat Man 2

Fat Man

There’s a joke here, but I won’t go there.

Ground Zero is littered with Trinitite, a green rock/glass, created by the searing heat as it fused the sand into glass. It is a Federal Offense to remove any of this from the area. And it’s also radioactive.


Trinity Site is an eerie place to visit. It’s hard to imagine the destructive forces unleashed here, even hotter than the surface of the sun. On the other hand, it’s hard to tell if anything ever happened here.

The scrub grass looks the same here as it does miles away. There is no crater remaining. In fact the original crater was only about 4 feet deep and 240 feet in diameter, more of a small depression, rather than a distinct crater.

The observers were in a bunker about two miles away when the bomb went off. Windows were blown out 120 miles away and the shockwave was felt 160 miles away. Other observers, 10 miles away, said they could feel the heat, like opening up an oven door.

To conceal the test, the Army said that a munitions storage area had accidentally exploded at the Alamogordo Bombing Range. The secret wasn’t revealed until the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 6th.

Leaving the site about 11:30 am, we were glad we had come early. There was a solid line of cars, about a mile long, lined up at the gate waiting to get in.


Arriving back in San Antonio, we decided to eat lunch at the Owl Cafe and Bar, one of only two restaurants in town. I had read about their great green Chile cheeseburgers and we wanted to give them a try.

The place was already pretty busy and we waited about 10 minutes to put in our orders. A little later waiters were telling their tables that the food would be a “long” time, as a tour bus had come thru and they were being served first. Well, didn’t we feel special!

While waiting, I pulled out my Blackberry Storm 2 and started checking the Internet for recent reviews of this place. And they were uniformly bad. After talking it over, I left a $5 bill for my ice tea and we hit the road.

To the gas station right next door with the great fudge. And this time the reviews were right. The fudge is fantastic.

About 10 miles down the road we stopped at K-Bob’s Steakhouse, a western chain of restaurants. And I had a fantastic green Chile cheeseburger, so there!

After topping off the tank at the station next door, we headed for Gallup, NM where we are going to spend the night.

Tomorrow, on our way back to Las Vegas, we plan on stopping off at the Petrified Forest National Park about 65 miles west of Gallup. The Painted Desert is also part of this, so we have a lot to see.

And now I have some sad news to report.

Moose is gone. Or rather, Moose 2 is gone.


This is the 2nd Moose Antenna that has been stolen by nefarious moosenapping thieves, probably to be stripped for parts and sold on the black market.

He will be sorely missed, but quickly replaced by Moose 3. Or maybe Mickey Mouse, or an M&M.

Fame is fickle.

April 3, 2011

Landon Skyping . . .

I went out early to Home Depot for some project parts, and before heading home, I ran next door to the Fry’s to pick some blueberry muffins for Jan, who had stayed back in the rig. I also grabbed a bouquet of fresh flowers for my sweetie. I consider them a kind of a ‘Get Out of Jail’ card, for when I screw up at a later date.

And you know I will.

Later I fixed coffee to have with our muffins, and we settled down to get ready for our scheduled video Skype session with Brandi, Lowell, and Landon.

Lowell skyped us about 10 am and we had a great time seeing and talking to Landon. It was obvious he could see and hear us, based on his looking at the screen and reacting to our voices.

Landon Skype 9

Landon Skype 12

Landon Skype 21

Our call lasted about 15 minutes, and it was amazing to see how much Landon had grown and changed since our last Skype.

Our call ended much too soon, and then it was back to the RV life.

For lunch, we first decided to try Hog Wild BBQ again, hoping not to be blocked by another shooting. But as it turned out, it only needed to be Sunday to block us. Hog Wild is closed on Sunday.

So our next choice was to try the gas station-looking burger joint we’d seen earlier. It turned out to be Bing’s Burger Station, complete with a

Bing Burger Station

shiny red 1950 Plymouth at the pumps. And inside it had the look of a 1950’s diner.

Bing Burger Station 1

The staff was very friendly, and even better, the food was delicious! Jan had a burger and fries, and I had the Steak Sandwich, made with a REAL steak, a 7 oz. Sirloin Strip, on a hoagie roll, with all the trimmings.

Just the BEST steak sandwich, ever. We’ll definitely be back.

April 3, 2012

Las Cruces in the Rear View Mirror . . .

Today was the day, we hope.

We left Coachlight RV Park about 10:30 to take our rig back over to Rush Truck Center to hopefully finish up our repairs and get us back on the road. But on the way we pulled into the nearby Pilot station for what turned out to be 118 gallons of diesel.

And just in time too. When we got diesel, it was $4.05 ($4.03 with our Pilot Loyalty Card). But later in the day, it had gone up to $4.09.

We pulled into Rush’s right at 11am, got parked, and our tech, David, got right to work. It turns out that our parts had come in early, and they were ready to go.

While they were working on our coach, Jan and I decided to have one last meal at Chachi’s. But we weren’t going for more Mexican this time. We were going for their hamburgers.

Every time we had gone there we noticed how many customers were ordering hamburgers, not Mexican dishes. We asked our waiter and he said they’re known for their burgers, and it’s one of their best-selling items. So we had to try them.

Jan had a Cheeseburger with Guacamole, and I had the Works Burger with Cheese, Hatch Green Chilies, and two pieces of thick-sliced bacon. And along with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and onion, they were really, really good. It’s easy to see why they were so popular.

Getting back to Rush Truck Center about 12:30 we found David close to being done. At 12:45 we started the engine and let the air system come up to full pressure until the valve popped off, and David checked for any leaks.

I noticed the air pressure came up quicker now, and the coach came up on the airbags faster too.

After settling up the bill, we pulled the coach out of the bay and over to an area where we could hook up the toad. I also took a few minutes to add some hydraulic fluid to our PowerGear leveler reservoir. When we left the park, the levelers came all the way up, but I was still getting a “Jacks Down” alarm. This normally means the fluid level is low and some needs to be added. And so it was this time.

As far as improvements from the exhaust manifold replacement, it was certainly evident.

I now have much better low-end power and acceleration, especially from a standing start heading uphill.

But the big eye-opener was the increase in MPG. Even driving at 60 instead of my normal 55, I traveled 239.1 miles and used 24.2 gallons of diesel. That’s 9.88 miles per gallon. WOW!

That’s better than I usually get at 55. And I’m really looking forward to seeing what I get doing 55.

We got into the Saddleback RV Park at Balmorhea about 6:50pm (We lost an hour going from MDT to CDT) after a very smooth trip.

Jan fixed us a great supper of cheese and bacon quesadillas and warm cookies for dessert. Hmmm!

Sometime during the next few days, I will go over in more detail what I had done on the rig and why.

April 3, 2013

I’ve been waiting 4 years for this . . .

or Snap, Crackle, Pop, Bzzzz !

This morning started out nice and easy, at least until about 11. That was when the front AC came on for the first time today.

And that was when I heard the Snap, Crackle, Pop, Bzzzz from overhead. Oh, yeah, and the burning smell, too. Definitely a burning smell.

The first thing I did was to turn the front AC off, and then the rear AC on with the thermostat turned down so it would keep running. Since the front and rear AC ducts are cross-connected, this puts some cold air up front too.

I was pretty sure I knew what the problem was, but since it was warming up quickly I decided to wait until this evening when it was cooler to go up on the roof and take a look.

My next task was to get on the phone with Direct TV to try and get them to send me a new DVR. Mine has started randomly rebooting three or four times a week. I had already talked to them last Friday and thought it was all set up. I was just waiting until we got to Apache Junction for two weeks since I didn’t know if they would ship it to me, or send a tech out.

But this time they started out telling me that it wasn’t rebooting often enough to be replaced. Basically, they said I had to wait until it started rebooting 3 or 4 times a DAY.


As soon as I was told that, I asked to speak to a Level 2 supervisor. Any time you’re talking to tech support and aren’t satisfied, always ask for a Level 2 person. And if Level 2 can’t help, ask for Level 3.

Level 1 guys have no power. They are usually reading from scripts that cover standard problems and have no technical knowledge. Last week they were probably asking, “Do you want fries with that order?”

Anyway, within about 5 minutes with the Level 2 guy, he was taking my name and address and said my replacement DVR would be shipped out Overnight Express, and should be here tomorrow. We’ll see.

About 1:30pm Jan and I headed out for sightseeing and shopping. We drove over to the Gilbert area, just driving around, and finally ended up at SanTan Village.

SanTan Village 2

SanTan Village is an inside-out shopping mall consisting of over 1,200,000 square feet of shops, stores and restaurants. Configured like a small town, it seems to be the new version of the old-style mall.

SanTan Village

After driving up and down several streets, we were happy to see a couple of our favorite restaurants. You’ve got to like a place that has a Famous Dave’s BBQ and a Grimaldi’s Pizzeria on the same block.

We first made a stop at Barnes & Noble to pick up a couple of magazines, then headed across the street to the Wal-Mart for a few things before heading back to the rig for the night.

After a dinner of left-over Chinese from Tucson, it was time to tackle my AC problem. My thought (and hope, because it would be easy and cheap to fix) was that it was the Start Capacitor on the AC compressor.

Back in May 2009 when we were in Titusville FL, the Start Cap in the rear AC went out. Finding a local RV parts store that had a replacement, I bought two, figuring that the front one would go soon.

And it only took 4 years.

I got my extension ladder out to get up on the roof because I really don’t trust the 14-year-old screws that hold the rig ladder on.

AC Repair 1

Nothing but RV’s and RV parks as far as the eye can see.

AC Repair 2

The first task was to get the four screws out and get the shroud off the AC,

AC Repair 3

so I could get to the AC chassis.

AC Repair 4

Getting the access door off, the first thing I noticed was a big mud dauber nest. But since it was only attached to one of the wires, it didn’t look like it had anything to do with my problem. Probably a remnant of our oil rig gate guarding gig last year.

AC Repair 5

I loosened the wire strap holding the unit’s capacitors and pulled them all out. There are three caps in this unit: the start and run caps for the AC compressor, and the run cap for the AC fan.

AC Repair 6

This is the new one that I’ve been saving for four years, just for this moment.

AC Repair 7

There are only two wires so it was an easy replacement.

AC Repair 8

And here’s everything tucked back in and fastened down, ready to go.

AC Repair 9

Buttoning everything up and replacing the shroud, I got down and went inside, and crossing my fingers, turned the AC on. And in just a couple of minutes, I had cold air.


Then it was time to join Jan back outside and enjoy the beautiful sunset.

Apache Sunset

Life is good.

April 3, 2014

All Things in Moderation, especially Moderation . . .


A terrorist in Dublin, Ireland was trying to set up a car bomb, and apparently blew himself up because he forgot to allow for the recent change to Daylight Light Savings Time.

Don’t you just hate it when that happens?

I knew it!  I just knew it!

A recent scientific study now shows that high-mileage runners have shorter lifespans. In fact they have the same lifespans as people who get no exercise at all. Moderate exercisers live the longest.

Walking from the car to the restaurant and back, that’s ‘Moderate’, right?

I was up about 9 this morning (early for me) because I wanted to equalize my 4 6V house batteries. These Interstate U2400’s are 6 years old and I’d like to nurse them along for one more year, if possible. They’re doing OK, but then we don’t really boondock or use the inverter very much.

One of the things I do is run an equalization cycle on them once or twice a year. My battery charger will do it, but the batteries need to be taken offline and separated into 4 individual batteries. The equalization cycle takes about 90 minutes so I start one up and then go off and work on other things.

While that was going on, I packed away the last of the winter stuff into Vacuum Space Bags, compressed them, and stored them under the bed.

Later in the afternoon I got to meet Tom Shaughnessy, our next-door neighbor, and talked about our travels for the year. Hopefully, we’ll meet up down the road.

For dinner, Jan and I fixed our version of Taco Salads, starting with lettuce, spinach, and spring mix (weeds). Then we mixed up a box of this Texas Chili Beef Chili,

Texas Chili Beef Chili

a can of black beans, and a heaping amount of the really good homemade salsa that Gregg McHenry gave us recently. We also added the remainder of the hot salsa we got at Los Cabos Mexican Grill over in Columbus when we ate there last Sunday with Brandi, Lowell, and Landon.

Heat up the chili/bean/salsa mixture, layer it over the greens, and top with shredded cheese. A really great meal.

We try to keep boxes of this frozen chili beef on hand for quick meals. It’s really good and can be used in all sorts of meals.

Jan also made us a great dessert with starting with Rice Pudding with raisins, and then mixing in fresh sliced strawberries, sliced bananas, and peaches, and then chilling it. Quick, easy, and really, really good.

Tomorrow more chores, and then dinner tomorrow at Peters BBQ for their great Friday night buffet with Lynette and Gregg McHenry, and Jim and Peri Dean.

Really looking forward to it.

April 3, 2015

It’s A Keeper . . .

Last night was our first night on our new Dream Serenity 2” Memory Foam Gel-Filled Mattress Topper that we got from Wal-Mart a couple of days ago. And it looks like it’s a keeper. At least I hope so, since we threw the old one away this afternoon.

Jan said the first thing she noticed was that when she slept on her side for a while last night, she didn’t wake up with hip pain like she did on the old one. So she’s happy.

And I noticed that, although I couldn’t say the new topper was any ‘cooler’, at least it didn’t get ‘sweaty’ like the old one. So I’m happy, too.

I spent the afternoon working on some client website issues, as well as working on a couple of other small problems. Then one of my clients called about some missing email addresses, but I finally squashed that bug too.

About 4:15 Jan and I headed over to Los Gringos Locos for a last dinner here since we’re leaving in a few days.

Tomorrow I’ll start putting away some stuff outside, check the tire pressures and fluids, and load some things in the truck to get ready to leave Sunday morning and make the 135-mile trip up to the Verde Valley Thousand Trails where we’ll stay for two weeks before moving on to Las Vegas.

Then later tomorrow afternoon Jan and I plan to have linner/lupper at the Famous Dave’s BBQ over in SanTan Village and then pick up a few things at the Wal-Mart there.

April 3, 2016

WOW! XLTE . . .

Jan and I pretty much took the day off today, and did pretty much nothing. All in all, a very nice day. I didn’t even work on my AC problem.

I did make a stop by Barbara’s, the park ranger who was looking for a new refrigerator. She found one at Lowe’s and it’s being delivered tomorrow. Unfortunately, Jan and I will be in Pasadena while I take care of a couple of computer clients so I won’t be able to help out, but I told her I’d check in with her on Tuesday. And I still want to take a look at a taillight problem she’s having.

For the last couple of days, I noticed that our usual 3 bars of Verizon 4G had been replaced by 2 bars of 3G. But then today it all changed.

Around noon I happened to look at the signal strength graphic on my Galaxy S5 and saw that I now had 5 bars of 4G. So to check out what I suspected, I ran the SpeedTest app on my phone and WOW!

SpeedTest Photo_thumb[2]

XLTE has now come to Columbus, TX, and the Colorado River Thousand Trails. At 48.51 Mbps, that’s over 5X the speed here the last time I checked. And the upload speed is about 10X before. Very Nice!

Recently whenever I tried to update programs on my Galaxy Tab 4, I would get an “Insufficient Storage Space” notice. I would go through and delete some seldom-used programs, and then finally I could get my updates. But it kept getting worse.

This was especially galling since when I looked at my memory, it showed I still had almost 750 MB of storage space. But then it was Google to the rescue.

Apparently, the Android OS is a little weak on keeping a program’s cached data cleaned up. So the fix is to go through each program in the Application Manager and clear the cache.

Or, much easier, you can just download the App Cache Cleaner from the Play Store and let it take care of it for you. And even better, it’s free.

Check it out.

As we’ve traveled back and forth on I-10 just outside Katy for the last few years, we’ve always checked out the Hamilton Metals scrolling sign.

For the last several years the sign has displayed the latest price of a barrel of oil, the latest price of a mBtu of natural gas, and the weekly rig count. And they’ve all been falling off a cliff. Among other things, Hamilton supplies drill pipe and casing to the oil industry, so they also have stake in the prices.

Hamiliton Metals Sign_thumb[1]

I  remember a couple of years ago, the rig count was up over 2000, but the last time I saw the count it was 419.

How the mightily have fallen.

But somebody at Hamilton has a sense of humor. A sarcastic sense of humor, maybe. But a sense of humor, anyway.

When we were traveling here to Colorado River from Lake Conroe a week ago, the sign no longer listed any counts. It just said, “WE’LL START REPORTING AGAIN WHEN IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE!

And yesterday, coming back from Brandi’s, it said, “WILL TRADE PIPE FOR FOOD!

Like I said, a sarcastic sense of humor.

April 3, 2017

Road Trip!

I spent the morning and early afternoon answering a bunch of questions and finishing up a website proposal for a new client so I could email it off.

Then about 2pm we headed out to take back my non-working Moen Cartridge Puller to Home Depot and get a new one at Lowe’s. But since it was in the area, we did another run at Woochi, nee #1 Eastern Buffet, over on Signal Butte. And it was just as good as last time. Which actually was just this past Saturday..

Although I had to backtrack, I first went to Lowe’s to pick up the new puller, the one that had worked last time.

Lowes Moen Cartridger Remover

Then it was on to Home Deport to take back the one that didn’t work.

Home Depot Cartridge Puller

I did it in this order so I could show Home Depot that I had really bought another one first so they wouldn’t just think that I had used it to pull the cartridge and then brought it back.

Getting home about 5pm, I decided it was kind of late to get back on the shower with the new puller, so I took a nap.

Funny how that worked out.

I don’t know where it came from, about 8:45 this evening the wind really picked up, enough to really rock the coach and flap the window awnings. Then right before the rain hit, the satellite went out. But not from the rain, but from the wind blowing over the satellite stand.

Santa Fe Site 99 2

But it was raining so hard for a while I waited out the storm before I went outside to set it up again. I just left it on the ground for now, and in a bit, we had DirecTV again.

A little after 4pm I made a phone call that set up our road trip tomorrow. Jan had been craving a Shrimp Burrito from Sofia’s Mexican Restaurant down in Gila Bend, and I wanted to use the trip to renew my membership at the Gila Bend Elk’s Lodge.

But I wanted to be sure that someone would be there in the afternoon to renew me.

So we’re good to go.

Road Trip!

April 3, 2018

Happy 96th Birthday, Aubrey!

After an easy-going day, Jan and I headed out about 5pm, first to drop off some prescriptions at the WalMart and Sam’s Club on I-45, and then over to Friendswood and Ellie’s Greek Kitchen for dinner.

Ellie's Greek Kitchen

But more importantly, we were there to celebrate the 96th birthday of our long-time friend Aubrey Weldon.

We’ve known Aubrey since the late 90’s when we first started going to the Alvin Opry and it’s always good to see him again.

We’re not really into Greek food, but we both found something good.

Jan had the Grilled Tilapia with Broccoli and Potatoes, along with a Greek Salad.

Ellie's Grilled Tilapia

I went the Soup and Salad route with a Small Greek Salad and a bowl of really good Cabbage Soup. All of it good for both of us.

Ellie's Greek Salad and Cabbage Soup

We had a great turnout with almost 20 people attending.

Ellie's Group 1

And then there was cake for dessert for the Birthday Boy.

Ellie's - Aubrey

Finally saying our goodbye’s and getting in a last few hugs, we headed out about 8:45. We made a stop at WalMart for a few things, but were too late to pick up our prescription. So it will have to wait until Thursday.

Tomorrow I’m back at work.

April 3, 2019

The Sadness Will Last Forever . . .

Following up on yesterday’s blog, after our lunch at Katz’s Deli, and stocking up on hot stuff at iBurn, we got to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts about 1pm for our much-anticipated visit to their Van Gogh, His Life In Art exhibit.

We picked up our pre-paid tickets at the Will Call desk and joined the small crowd entering the hall. ‘Small’ is the reason we went on a Tuesday, and it worked.

First up was one of his most famous works, ‘Sunflowers’, though in this case, it was a reproduction.

Van Gogh Sunflowers

This is probably the prime example of Van Gogh’s Yellow Period, painted when he was staying in the Yellow House in Arles, France, along with then-friend, Paul Gauguin.

Next up was another reproduction, ‘Undergrowth’.

Van Gogh Undergrowth

‘Undergrowth’ is a prime example of Van Gogh’s ‘Pointillism’ phase. Pointillism is a method of painting using small dots (points) of paint, rather than stroked with a brush.

Van Gogh later incorporated this style as well as several others, combining them to come up with his own style.

Another famous work, and another reproduction, is his ‘Blossoming Almond Tree’.

Van Gogh Blossoming Almond Tree

Earlier Van Gogh had become fascinated with Japanese styles of painting with ‘Blossoming Almond Tree’ one of the results.

Next up, and the last reproduction in the exhibit is ‘The Potato Eaters’.

Van Gogh The Potato Eaters

Considered his first true masterpiece, it was painted in his native Netherlands, before he moved to France. He was intrigued with the faces and figures of the farm families and workers in the Dutch countryside and painted many scenes of the area.

The dark lighting and gaunt faces held his interest through many paintings.

Van Gogh painted more than 30 self-portraits during his career and this is one of the most famous.

Van Gogh Self Portrait

And also the real thing, on loan from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, a place we hope to visit next month.

One of my favorites, this next work, painted only about a month before his death in July 1890, shows off his combination of styles.

Van Gogh Portrait of A Girl In a Straw Hat

‘Portrait of A Girl In A Straw Hat’ with its bright colors and tight composition. His muted and almost impressionistic background makes the figure of the girl stand out from the canvas, almost in 3D.

‘Irises’, also painted only a couple of months before his death, combined several of his favorites, irises, Japanese style, and his favorite color, yellow.

Van Gogh Irises

Fittingly, the last ‘painting’ on the tour was actually his very last work. ‘Wheatfield with Crows’.

Van Gogh Wheatfield with Crows

I said ‘painting’ because it was actually a photo-reproduction, blown up to about 10’ x 12’ and mounted on the wall as you leave the exhibit. The size allows you to see how he took Pointillism and then elongated the points, using slashes of paint that capture your eye, and at the same time, blend into a complete picture.

However the wall was not big enough to show the entire painting, so here it is below.

Van Gogh Wheatfield with Crows Full

On July 27, 1890, at age 37, Van Gogh shot himself in the chest with a 7mm revolver, and died 2 days later, not from the actual gunshot, but from the infection that set in due to a surgeon not being available to remove the bullet and treat the wound.

In fact, if he had been treated he very possibly would have survived since there was no obvious internal organ damage and he was able to walk back to his room after he shot himself. He was sitting up, smoking his pipe, and in good spirits, when his brother Theo arrived the next day. But then quickly went downhill, dying on July 30th. According to his brother, Theo, his last words were, “The sadness will last forever.”

I’ve just given you the highlights here, but there were many more paintings in the exhibit, showing the evolution of his style.

One thing I didn’t know, or may have forgotten from my art classes, was that Van Gogh was not a ‘natural’ painter. It was not something ‘he always wanted to do.’

After failing at a number of other occupations, one day he just ‘decided’ he wanted to be a painter. So he started off copying drawings and paintings from books, and even took some lessons at an art school.

But I guess there had to be some real talent buried in there somewhere.

The Van Gogh exhibit is here in Houston until June 27th before it moves on around the country.

Well Recommended. See it if you can.

April 3, 2020

Bad Combinations?

On the way home from work this afternoon, I stopped by WalMart and Sam’s Club to drop off some prescriptions and pick up a couple that Jan’s doctor had sent over directly.

Getting home about 4pm, Jan and I got right back on the storage shed, in case it did rain all weekend as forecast.

I got the roof rollers installed, and with a little adjustment, the roof moves back and forth very smoothly. After that, it was only a few minutes to get the doors installed and screwed down.

Rubbermaid Shed with Doors and Roof Slide Back

Rubbermaid Shed with Doors

It’s really nice how the sliding roof lets you get to the rear of the shed without stooping over.

Now all we lack is to screw the walls down to the flooring and install some inside bracing and the door hardware. And then we’re done.

Once it’s done, Jan and I will slide it back onto the rocks behind the concrete patio. I’m looking at getting a 4’ x 8’ x 3/4” sheet of marine-grade ground-contact pressure-treated plywood as a base for that. That way I won’t need any pavers to to keep it off the rocks.

April 3, 2021

Lego My Lego . . .

Following up from last night, we lost power here at the RV park for about 5 minutes around 7:30. So no problem. But then a little before 8pm it went off again and didn’t come back on until a little after 10.

And it wasn’t just us. Looking at CenterPoint’s Outage Map, it looked like it was most of the Santa Fe area.

At least it wasn’t off for 3 days like last time. And speaking of ‘time’.

It’s About Time.

As I’ve mentioned before, Jan and I are big Murdoch Mysteries fans. So we were really happy to hear back in January that Season 14 would be premiering on February 20th. But much less happy to hear that it would be premiering only on Ovation TV. Which only seemed to be available on Apple TV or cable systems. And not on YouTubeTV or any of the other streaming services we use.

But it was just announced today that Murdoch is finally being released into the wild, and is now streaming on Acorn TV, where we’ve been watching it in the past.


Apparently gangs of ‘International Lego Thieves”? are roaming the world stealing Legos.

Toy shops in France have been targeted by a gang of international Lego thieves who attempted to steal valuable collectible sets, police allege.

Officers took three people into custody — two men and a woman — who had traveled from Poland to Yvelines, a town outside Paris, where they were allegedly caught raiding a shop.

While millions of children have grown up playing with the plastic bricks that start selling for around $10, rare series such as “Lego Ultimate Collector’s Series Millennium Falcon” have reached $15,000, while a “Taj Mahal” first edition had a value of around $3,864.

An officer quoted in Le Parisien newspaper confirmed the arrests, saying: “They come to France, set up in a hotel in the Paris region, then set about raiding toy stores before returning to Poland to sell off their haul.

And it’s not just Europe. Lego robberies have happened in the United States as well. Last month, a man in Oregon was arrested after local police suspected he stole $7,500 worth of Lego toy sets.

There’s a lot of money in Legos. Lego sets come out in limited editions and they soon become collectors’ items.

Landon had better guard his collection, I guess.

Jan and I will be heading up to Brandi’s in Katy about noon tomorrow for a weekend

And finally, a funny Easter story about Mister Landon. Brandi asked him if he wanted an Easter basket this year, or would rather have some money put into his online gaming account.

He thought seriously about it for a moment, and then said,

“You know, I’m getting pretty old for Easter baskets, so this may be my last year for one. So I’ll take the basket.”

He’s 10 years old.

Now, catching up on today.

We got to Brandi’s about 1pm, and though it was only about 65° and overcast, we all headed for the heated pool. At least everyone but Jan did. She decided to sit this one out.

Lowell had it heated to 90° and it felt great.

Brandi Easter Pool Party 1

At least Jan was available to take pictures.

While we were all out in the pool, Brandi had a Prime Rib sous-vide’ing in the house.

If you haven’t heard of sous-vide, it’s a method of cooking using precisely temperature-controlled warm water. In other words, if you want your steak Medium Rare, you set your Sous Vide cooker to 132° and the phone app determines the time needed..

Here’s what I said about Sous Vide cooking a couple of years ago.

Later on, Brandi went inside and put the steaks on. Well, she put them underwater, anyway.

Brandi Sous Vide 1

The kitchen utensils are just being used to weigh the bags down and keep them under the water.

Brandi Sous Vide 2

She has one of these Sous Vide Cookers from Amazon.

ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide

It’s controlled by the cell phone app and the app even notifies you when your food is done.

Sous Vide is a method of cooking by placing the food in plastic bags and immersing it in water heated to an exact temperature. In fact, if you got a steak at a restaurant recently, there’s a good chance it was cooked vis Sous Vide and then thrown on the grill for a last-minute sear.

You can learn more about Sous Vide here.

Sous Vide Steaks

Everyone likes their steak at least Medium Rare, so this was perfect. Miss Jan, however, is more of a Medium person, so Brandi put hers under the broiler for a few minutes.

All delicious!

So after Brandi’s Prime Rib sat in the 132° water for about 3 hours, she popped it in the air fryer for a few minutes to brown it up, and it came out looking like this.

Brandi Sous Vide Prime Rib

And then plated it looked like this. Just perfect.

Brandi's Prime Rib Dinner

And paired with Jan’s Broccoli-Cheese Casserole, Brandi’s Stacked Potato Slices, and homemade Honey Butter Yeast Rolls, it was a real Pre-Easter Feast.

And finally, another Mister Landon/Miss Piper story from Brandi.

Landon was working on a school science project and was adding some drawings to it, and I jokingly said he gets it all from me. Of course, the White sarcasm gene is strong and he looked at me dead serious and said ” My uncle (Chris) can draw anything and can build awesome chimes, and you draw stick figures, I think not”.

I just died. Someone can take this kid, and Jack the dog, please.

Then Miss Piper came back with this.

Hahahah! ugh no thank you!! This is why I can’t have kids. I can’t handle my own sarcasm.

More from Chis and Linda’s Utah trip tomorrow.

April 3, 2023

The 3rd Time?

Today was another typical day at work at my IT consultant job, in that I spent most of it out in the parking lot trying to install a new seat trim/control panel on my client’s ‘95 Thunderbird.

Next up, a new left rearview mirror on his wife’s Nissan Altima. I’ll be replacing it for the 3rd time.

With warmer, sunnier weather coming on, it’s time to put our solar screens once again. I put up the side ones yesterday, and I’ll do the windshield ones tomorrow. Always fun.

It’s always something.

Jan and I have started firming up our Alabama trip for the middle of next month. We plan on leaving here on the 13th of May, and after an overnight in Jackson, MS, spend the next two weeks working our way down the state, catching up with relatives and old friends. And then finally getting home on Saturday the 27th, leaving us Sunday to rest up.

Sometime in the next week or so, it will be the first launch of Elon Musk’s SpaceX Super Heavy Starship.


SpaceX Super Heavy Starship

When it goes up it will be the tallest, most powerful rocket ever launched, more than twice as powerful as the Saturn V.

SpaceX Starship Size Comparisons

Our son Chris send over this great video, an animation of the first flight.

Check it out.