It Wasn’t Henry Ford . . .

Lunch today was our first visit to a new addition to our area, Velvet Taco. The place was really busy when we got there a little before 1 pm, but we were able to snag a table right away.

It turns out the table turnover was pretty quick. As Jan said when we were leaving, “These seats are really uncomfortable, and I said, “That’s by design.”

No lingering, long lunches here.

VT is much like our other favorite, Torchy’s Tacos, with a selection of tacos made with a wide range of ingredients, like carrots, slaw, and maple syrup.


From left to right, it’s Jan’s Buffalo chicken with crisp tenders, house buffalo sauce, carrots, bleu cheese, ranch crema, and a flour tortilla.

Next up, it’s her Rotisserie chicken with queso blanco, roasted corn pico, charred tomato poblano salsa, cilantro, and a flour tortilla.

I got the Chicken & waffle version with crisp tenders, peppered bacon, peppercorn gravy, green apple slaw, maple syrup, red chile aioli, scallions, and a house-made waffle tortilla.

Then on the far right, it was my Chipotle BBQ pork with slow-roasted pulled pork, chipotle BBQ, ranch crema, napa slaw, smoked cheddar, crispy jalapenos, cilantro, and a flour tortilla.

I had expected my Chicken & Waffle taco to be my new favorite, I mean, look at it,

but I had eaten the Chipotle BBQ pork taco first. And it was by far the best one.

So good that next time, I’m getting the Chipotle BBQ again, and probably the Cuban Pig which comes with slow-roasted pulled pork, gruyere cheese, queso blanco, honey ham, peppered bacon, mustard aioli, house-brined pickles, and a crisp flour tortilla.

Jan said she really liked her Buffalo Chicken best, so next time she’ll add either the Chipotle BBQ or the Cuban Pig to her meal.

Really good, and we’ll be back.

Next up it was on up to the Wal-Mart up on El Dorado, which we refer to as our ‘old Wal-Mart’ since it was the closest one to our house before we started RV’ing in 2008. So that means we called the one in League City our ‘new Wal-Mart’ where we normally go if we’re not up in this area.

I ran across an article today that answered one of my long-time questions.

Why Americans drive on the right and the UK drives on the left

Turns out that you can blame it on Conestoga wagons and Napoleon Bonaparte.

Some people credit Henry Ford with standardizing US traffic on the right side of the road because, in 1908, Ford Motor Co. put the steering wheel on the left side of the hugely popular Model T. Really, though, Ford was just responding to driving habits that had been largely established long before.

Conestoga wagons were developed by local carpenters and blacksmiths to carry goods, including farm produce and items bartered from Native Americans, to markets in Philadelphia. Philadelphia was, at the time, one of the biggest cities in the colonies. The wagon driver could ride one of the horses or sit on a “lazy board” that slid out of the side of the wagon. But when more active control was needed, he walked alongside the horses, pulling levers and ropes.

For just that reason, Conestoga wagons had the controls on the left side, close to the wagon driver’s right hand. That meant the driver was toward the middle of the road and the wagon to the right.

In 1804, New York became the first state to dictate traffic stay to the right on all roads and highways.

The really weird thing is that most of the rest of Europe, besides Britain, drives on the right like Americans do.

The French revolutionary government under Maximilien Robespierre — best known for leading the late 18th-century “Reign of Terror” in which thousands were guillotined — dictated that everyone should drive on the right.

The French policy is said to have been spread by Napoleon as his armies marched through Europe. Some evidence for this can be found by looking at a map of the Napoleonic empire in 1812.

Britain, literally, went the other way from France.

But it seems Sweden couldn’t really make up its mind.

Sweden drove on the left, up until one surprisingly uneventful day in 1967 when drivers there switched to the right.

And now you know.

Tomorrow is lunch at Schafer’s Coastal Grille over in Kemah with Barbara, and then back to her apartment for some computer help.

Can’t wait.

March 2, 2009

Hollywood Casino RV Park

We arrived here at the Hollywood Casino RV Park after a 390-mile, 9 1/2 hour drive, that included a lunch stop at Mulate’s.

Typically we try to hold our travel days under 300 miles. Since we keep our speed set at 55 mph, this means we normally travel about 5-6 hours. This lets us get set up at our next stop before dark, without having to get too early a start.

I mean, we’re retired.   We try not to do ‘early’ anymore.

As usual, when we’re parked for several months, there’s always something that doesn’t want to work when we’re ready to hit the road.

In this case, it was the retractable step under our door. It didn’t want to…retract, I mean.  A few swift kicks got it under control, but it goes on my list of things to double-check when we next park for a while.

The park here is scenic and quiet. Jan is happy because it has cable TV, and I’m happy…well,  because Jan is happy. I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying “If Jan ain’t happy, Greg ain’t happy”, or something like that.

Words to live by, I say.

Our Temporary Home

Our Temporary Home

My kind of park. Easy in, easy out, with wide pads.

Nice Park!

Nice Park!

As part of our stay here, we each received a $25 Player card for use in the Casino. Somehow I got 2 cards instead of 1, but they’ll probably get it all back anyway.

The restaurants here are really good, better, and cheaper than L’Auberge du Lac in Lake Charles or the casinos we ate at in Las Vegas.

Tomorrow, after we lose the last of our ‘freebie’  player cards, we head out for Gulf Shores, AL for a week or so stay.

March 2, 2010

Last Day in Paradi…uh…Gila Bend…

Today is our last full day in Gila Bend, AZ.

And it was another work-around-the-coach day. And, as usual, everything took longer than I expected.

I started out trying to finish up my earlier repairs on the water bay in the rig, but, although everything is working OK, I was unable to get one of the panels back in place.

At this point, I can only believe that the panel was put in place, and then the coach built around it.

At least, that’s my story and  I’m sticking with it.

My second task was to start going through the bins in the basement, sorting stuff into ‘Keep” and ‘Throw Away’ piles, and then consolidating similar stuff.

I did make a start on this, but basically ran out of time.  There’s always another day, or another park.

We really like this little park. It’s nice, quiet, and cheap. It’s our kind of three’fer, especially the ‘cheap’ part.

And it’s pretty scenic too.

Holts Shell RV 1

Holts Shell RV 2

Maybe it’s not quite as nice as Voyager RV in Tucson,



But then Voyager costs over 5 times as much per day.  $10 vs. $53.

One thing that seems strange to find out here in the desert is a…

Shrimp Farm!


The Desert Sweet Shrimp Company

So when we were here two years ago, we weren’t surprised to find that a local Mexican restaurant called Sofia’s.


sells a Shrimp Burrito that Jan says is to die for. So we figured that they got their great shrimp from the local shrimp farm. But when I asked I was quickly told that the shrimp farm shrimp had no taste, and they didn’t use them.

Who knew?

Tomorrow we have about a two-hour drive to Yuma to get set up for a Rally that starts next week.  But before we leave tomorrow I want to weigh our coach at the truck scales here at the nearby truck stop.

March 2, 2011

Date Trees and Christmas Trees . . .

Just to recap yesterday. . .

Today started out with me dropping off Jan at Wal-Mart to get her cute little toesies done. Before they were bright blue, and now they’re bright pink.

While Jan was busy with her toes, I headed back out to the Fortuna area to check out several more places, including the DQ that gave us gift cards last year.

Getting back to the Wal-Mart about noon, I picked up Jan and we headed across the parking lot for lunch at the Der Wienerschnitzel, a hot dog chain that we enjoy. While we were there I noticed that they had Tastee Freez ice cream products.

I asked the manager, who bought who, as I was curious since my father and I owned a Tastee Freez in Greeneville, TN back in the early 70’s. For those who aren’t familiar with them, they’re like a full menu Dairy Queen. We had hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, and pressure-fried chicken just KFC, and, of course, ice cream.

Although Der Wienerschnitzel bought Tastee Freez, they both carry each other’s products. DW’s have TF ice cream and TF’s have DW’s hot dogs.

After lunch we went next door to Barney’s to fill up for our trip to Gila Bend this afternoon. And since it was convenient, I also got a car wash. According the sign on the pump, a Deluxe Car Wash was $7, or $6 with 8 gallons or more of fuel. I put in about 14 gallons so I was surprised to find that I was charged $7 for the car wash on my credit card. So cheap me, I went inside to get my dollar back.

Hey, it’s a whole dollar!

The counter lady seemed kind of miffed that I was even asking. I just wonder how many people don’t notice the extra charge.

But, hey, it’s a whole dollar!

Getting back to the rig, we both took a nap before we headed out about 3pm toward Gila Bend for my Elk’s Lodge initiation.

On the way we did make a couple of stops in Fortuna again to pick up some more gift certificates from Applebee’s and Tiki-Hut.

Then, soon after leaving Fortuna, Jan talked to both our son Chris and our daughter Brandi, catching up on Piper and Landon.

About an hour out of Yuma we encountered this Christmas tree in the median between the lanes. Don’t know who did it or why, but it is kind of neat.

Interstate Christmas Tree 1

Interstate Christmas Tree 2

It even has two of Jan’s favorite animals hanging from the limbs.

Interstate Christmas Tree 3

Interstate Christmas Tree 4

About 50 miles out of Gila Bend, we made a pit stop at Dateland, obviously named for the many date palm plantations in the area.

DateLand 1

The place had a very nice gift shop where Jan found a bracelet she really liked, and we had to try a date shake from the ice cream shop. It was good but I’m not sure I could have recognized it as date-flavored if I hadn’t already known what it was.

DateLand 2

I thought it was a nice touch that they had kennels for your pets with shade and water misters to keep them cool while you’re inside. Not really needed today, but probably a good idea when it’s 120 degrees in the summer.

DateLand 3

I also saw this marker at the entrance to the store telling about the crash of a B-50 bomber on a training flight nearby in March, 1950. The “Long Ranger” as the plane was known, apparently blew up in mid-air after an engine caught fire. Only two of the crew of 14 survived by being blown clear in the explosion.

The B-50 was the last of the piston-powered bombers built after WWII, and was basically a souped-up, highly-modified B-29, but with so many changes that they gave it a new designation.


Getting into Gila Bend a little after 5 pm, we stopped off at Augie’s Quail Trail RV Park to check it out. While we were there I saw this satellite dish with a really nice paint job. Wonder where I could get mine painted.

Augies Antenna

I had been told to be at the Elk’s Lodge at 5:30 and that they would start about 6pm.

Yeah, right!

They finally got started about 7:45 and the initiation was over in about 20 minutes. The part with the donkey wasn’t too bad, but I wasn’t too crazy about the thing with the goat in a dress!

I hope the cheap RV parking was worth it.

They had a total of 10 people going through the initiation, including two women. And half of us were RV’ers.

After the initiation was over, we were stuck in a routine board meeting, with really interesting stuff like the reading of the minutes of the last meeting, and the detailing of the Treasurer’s report.

And poor Jan was waiting out in the car all this time.

Finally, a little after 8:30 we were released and Jan and I headed down to Sofia’s Mexican Food for dinner before heading home. Jan had her usual Shrimp Burrito and I had my usual Carnita Dinner. And of course, delicious as usual.

We finally got home a little after 11pm, and I was just too tired to do the blog, so there.

This morning started off with our usual coffee and an unusual email.

It was from John Anstey, the manager of the Anchor Inn we stayed at in Twillingate, Newfoundland in September 2009.

In fact I had recently reposted our trip there about a month ago. You can check it out here.

He remembered us and just wanted to check in and say Hi. Nice man.

Then a little later our daughter Brandi called to check in and see if I had survived my Elk’s initiation. I didn’t tell her about the part with the goat. It’s too embarrassing. I can probably never eat cabrito again.

About 2:30 Jan and I headed out to beg for more door prizes, and had good luck at Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and several others. The last place we stopped was Kneader’s Bakery where we dropped off a door prize request, and also bought two Pumpkin Spice Muffin Tops.

Finally on our way home, we stopped off at Sam’s Club for a couple of things, getting home about 4.

Tom called about 5pm to see if we were ready for supper.

Of course

So Tom, Barb, Jan, and I headed off to IHOP for dinner. And even better, they were having a Buy one dinner, Get one free special for Seniors. Wheee! Cheap Food!

After spending almost two hours at IHOP, we were ready for dessert so we adjourned the meeting to a nearby DQ for another hour and a half or so.

Can we talk, or what?

Finally got back to the rig a little before 10pm. Counting dessert it was a 4 and a half hour meal. I think that’s a new record.

March 2, 2012

Dust Storms and Seminars . . .

This morning started out with hot coffee and high winds, with a lot of sand and dust tagging along.

Yuma Dust Storm 1

At times, it was hard to see the rig right in front of us.

Yuma Dust Storm 2

I spent some time working on my seminars for next week’s Rally, I got talked into doing 4 different ones this time.

The first two, “10 Things to Never Do with Your Computer”, and “Do’s and Don’ts of Computer Security”, I’ve done before, both here and in Celina, OH.

But this time I’m doing two more, “10 Things Every RV’er Needs”, and “Computer Q&A”.

The first is a demonstration of 10 things I think every RV’er should have for their safety and convenience. The second one came about because one of the most popular parts of my other two computer seminars is where the audience gets to ask questions about problems they may be having. So I decided to just do an entire seminar of questions and hopefully, answers.

At about 1pm I headed back over to the Good Sam’s Rally vendor area before making one last door prize pass.

Today was mostly going by and picking up prizes that were promised for today, i.e. Cracker Barrel, Westwind RV Resort, Big O Tires, Log Cabin Quilts, etc. I’ve still got a few more places that are supposed to call me this weekend, and that will wrap things up.

Then a little while after I got back to the rig, we headed out for dinner at Las Herraduras, the Mexican restaurant we’d eaten at on Wednesday, and this time the Gang of Six had become the Gang of Eight with the addition of Mike and Elaine Loscher, who had just arrived this afternoon.

Again we had another great meal at Las Herraduras. And Tom and Barb, and Mike and Elaine all agreed with us.

We’ll be back.

March 2, 2013

It’s Delightful . . .

is what Jan said today was like, just sitting around enjoying the RV life, and pretty much doing nothing.

Later in the afternoon I did cross off some small items on my To-Do list. Wouldn’t want to get out of practice.

I did spend some time this afternoon looking at the problem with my toad taillights while I’m towing. They were working when I hooked up at Canyon Lake, but they weren’t working when we got here at Lakehills. My U-Haul brand taillight converter has LED’s on the output connector, and although the rig lights were working, the LED lights showed no output from the converter. So it seemed like there was a problem with the converter.

But today when I turned my headlights and emergency flashers on and went out to check I found the converter working fine. Although I can’t find the manual for the converter, it seems like I remember that this one has a short circuit shutdown mode, so that may be what’s happening.

So now I guess I’ll have to go back and check out my toad lights again.

It’s always something.

For dinner, I once again fixed us Ground Beef Taco Salads just like we had last night. It was good enough to have two nights in a row and we wanted to use up the last of the lettuce mix.

After dinner we sat outside and watched the deer come running after Jan put out the last of the feed. Guess we’re due for another trip to the feed store. Just need to find one around here.

Since we didn’t satisfy our steak craving the other night, tomorrow we’re going to drive into San Antonio, about 50 miles away, do some shopping, and then eat at the Magic Time Machine, probably our favorite San Antonio restaurant.

March 2, 2014

Surf’s Up !

Well, it never really got below 70 degrees last night, but boy, did it change today. I was outside for a while this afternoon talking to our new neighbor, Gregg McHenry, for a while as the front came through. First it started misting for a while, enough to make us go back inside. When I came in the temperature was still 75 degrees, but that didn’t last long.

Within about 15 minutes the temp was down to 69, and then 20 minutes later it was 57 degrees. Then by the time we went over to Jan and Dave Evans’, it was down to 42. And by 6pm it was 32 degrees.

When I went to bed last night, the low tonight was supposed to be 32. When I got up this morning they were calling for 31 degrees. But by noon they had dropped it to 25 degrees. So who knows how far it will actually drop tonight.

I had hoped to be able to work outside today, going through some of the outside bins, but the weather took care of that. I was, however, able to go through more stuff inside and got one of the big bins emptied and moved outside, so some progress. anyway.

Ever go surfing? Well, YouTube surfing, anyway. Jan and I often find ourselves watching a YouTube video, usually starting on Facebook, and then move onto another one, based on the suggestions on the right hand side. And then so on, and so on. So we ended watching the 2 Cellos rock out on ACDC’s Thunderstruck. They’re both great.

You never know where you’ll end up.

March 2, 2015

I Should Listened to Randy . . .

Somehow we got an early start this morning, so we pulled out a little after 8:30 and got hitched up before leaving the park. Our friend Randy was just a little behind us as we headed out.

I was happy to find that our air system and levelers came right up this morning with no delay. I guess after yesterday it didn’t need to purge again.

Our first stop was about 5 miles down on US 71 BUS at the Colorado Oil Co.

Colorado County Oil 2

When we spent December and January moving back and forth between here and Lake Conroe, Colorado Oil Co. was by far the cheapest place for diesel. So I expected the same this time. But our friend Randy said he had heard that the Buc-ee’s in Luling had the cheapest diesel around so he was going to check them out.

We were finished taking on diesel at $2.59 a gallon and were back on the road by about 9:30 with our first stop the Buc-ee’s about 70 miles west. We always stop here for coffee and kolaches whether we’re going east or west. There’s plenty of room to park the rig, and it’s easy in, easy out.

Since it was still the 40’s, Jan went on in while I locked the rig and the toad. As I was walking in, I noticed Randy pulling in and up to the fuel pumps. So after finding Jan inside, I went out to say ‘HI’ to Randy.

And I wish I hadn’t. I wish I listened to Randy.

The diesel at Buc-ee’s was $2.44, 15 cents a gallon cheaper than Colorado County, and it was right on the way. Strangely, the Love’s right across the Interstate was $2.90 a gallon, an even bigger difference.


Our trip was smooth, but mostly shrouded in a light fog that misted the windshield, but really didn’t cause any driving problems.

Trip To Junction 1

Trip To Junction 3

We pulled into the Junction – North Llano River RV Park in Junction about 3pm, and were quickly led to our site, the same site we were in two years ago, the last time we stayed here.

Junction RV 2

This is a really nice park, with a lot of space between the sites, and a lot of amenities like these gazebos.

Junction RV 1

Rather than going out, Jan heated up some of the Rudy’s BBQ that we picked up before we left the Clear Lake area. As usual, delicious.

As I mentioned the other day, Brandi, Lowell, and Landon are on a week-long ski trip out in Steamboat Springs, CO. They’ve got a great view from their room.

Steanbiat Springs 1

And it looks like Landon’s having a great time, too.

Landon with Skis 1

Tomorrow we’re going to have an early breakfast at Isaack’s Restaurant, listed as one of the top diners in Texas. We’ve eaten here several times and it’s always delicious.

Then we’ve got a 320 mile day out to Van Horn for the night.

March 2, 2016

Finally Fixed!

About noon I drove into Columbus to pick up some parts to extend my washer drain hose at the hardware store. I could have just bought a conventional drain hose for $12, but then I would have just had to cut it down from 5 feet to 18 inches, a big waste, and I’m cheap.

So I bought a 24” piece of vinyl tubing for $1.20 and a 1/2” x 2” threaded nipple for $.87, and it fit perfectly, screwing right into the tubing,

Washer Drain Extension 1_thumb[1]

Then the other end screwed right into the original drain hose making a nice, tight fit.

Washer Drain Extension 2_thumb[1]

And now I was ready to go. But since it was now after 3pm and we going to be going out in a while, I decided to wait on the actual install until after we got back, so the path to the bathroom wouldn’t be blocked.

About 4:15 we headed into Columbus to meet up with Jim and Peri Dean for dinner at Los Cabos Mexican Restaurant. And as usually seems to happen with RV’ers, between the good food and conversation, it ended up being another 3 hour meal.

Jim and Peri Dean_thumb[1]

In fact, it was all so good that we decided to do it again tomorrow night. But this time at Sealand Seafood up in La Grange. Really looking forward to it.

After we got back to the rig, I started in on re-installing the washer back into the cabinet. But first  there’s the prep work getting everything hooked up.

First up, I inserted the drain hose into the drain pipe and used a big gob of plumber’s putty around the opening to seal it in place. Then I inserted a long rod into the dryer vent hose and out through the outside vent.

Washer Reinstall 1_thumb[6]

Then I hooked up the water hoses to the washer. At this point, be sure you don’t forget to turn the water valves back before you put the washer back in the cabinet. (don’t ask how I know this).

The string is tied to the drain hose and keeps it up and out of the way so it doesn’t get crimped as I pushed the washer into the cabinet.

Washer Reinstall 2_thumb[1]

Now I fasten the vent hose to the washer. The only way to do this is to use Gorilla Tape since the hose goes inside the connector and not outside where I could use a clamp.

Washer Reinstall 3_thumb[1]

Note that the rod still extends outside so that the hose can be pulled through.

Washer Reinstall 4_thumb[1]

Then it’s just a matter of getting the washer started in the opening and then sliding it in, inch by inch, back and forth.

Washer Reinstall 5_thumb[1]

Once I got it flush in the cabinet, I first ran an empty load to be sure it was all working OK, and then started a small load for real.

So far it’s working great with no problems. In fact a couple of other problems seem to be fixed as well.

The dryer was making a funny noise, and it’s not anymore. And the clothes are now drier at the end of the final spin cycle, so they dry faster. I think this is because the new pump is removing more water during the spin/drain cycle than the old dying pump was.

Tomorrow I’ll finish up by putting the cabinet doors back on, and connecting up the outside dryer vent deflector. Then it will be finally done.

And now it’s on to my oil leak problem.

March 2, 2017

Missed It By That Much . . .

Today was my first day to sleep in a bit, but I still was up at 10 because I had a lot of chores to work through on my list. After coffee,  I took care of some inside stuff before heading outside to see if I was going to be able to change out the fuel filters myself.

As I mentioned yesterday, I changed this filter myself back in 2009 when we were up in Vermont. You can read about it here.

But as I also mentioned yesterday, I did that on 2009 knees.

The coarse filter is easy to get to at the rear of the coach.

FS 1242 Location

However the one I really need to change out is an entirely different story.

FS1022 Location 1

It’s just inside the frame rail and blocked by the exhaust pipe.

FS1022 Location 2

It wouldn’t be a problem if it were not for the pipe, but as it is I have to crawl underneath and then try to come up between the frame rail and the pipe. Well, after crawling under there I quickly discovered that my 2017 knees won’t do this anymore. I almost made it, but not quite.

In a emergency I could probably do it if I put the rig all the way up on the rear levelers, but then I’d have to wait for the exhaust pipe to cool down. But it’s not worth doing this with the RV Mobile Lube guy coming tomorrow morning.

Here’s the blog of my last RV Mobile Lube service in 2015.

While I was out and about this afternoon taking care of some prescriptions, I got a call from Maria at Guard 1 wanting to know if we were available for gate guarding. When I told her we had just come off a gate and wouldn’t be available again until the end of August, she quickly asked me if I knew anyone who wanted to gate guard.

So if you’re looking for a gate, call Maria at (713) 337-4300. I guess this is reflected in the US rig count we saw this past week, which was up 25 rigs just in the last two weeks.

March 2, 2018

I’ll Have a #6 . . .

Today at work was spent stomping out a series of small but irritating problems, some new, and some that had been hanging around for a while.

Heading back out to dinner, we once again passed this tree trunk carving so I thought I’d get a photo of it.

Tree Trunk Carving

Very nicely done.

And right next door to this a new small RV park is going in, with about 10 sites.  They’ve still got one or more pads to lay so we’ll see how it goes.

Getting to Floyd’s a little before 5pm, we both ordered our usual. In fact it’s so ‘usual’ for us they should just make a menu item just for us. That way we could just order a ‘#6’.

And ordering a #6 would get us a dozen raw oysters for us both,

Floyd's Oysters2

2 Grilled Catfish Fillets with a side of Grilled Steamed Veggies for Jan,

Floyd's Catfish Filets and Veggies

and a bowl of Shrimp Gumbo, and also a side of the Grilled Steamed Veggies for me too.

Floyd's Gumbo and Veggies

Coming home we detoured by the nearby Kroger’s to get some Mega Millions and PowerBall lottery tickets. Tonight’s MM is at $243 Million, and tomorrow’s night PB is at $321 Million.

Worth risking a few bucks. You can’t win if you don’t play.

By the time we got back to Santa Fe tonight it was dark enough to see how well my new LED headlights work. I really like the ‘white’ light they put out. Really lights things up.

Tomorrow morning sometime we’re heading up to Brandi’s to pet-sit once again, but this time only for Saturday and Sunday.

March 2, 2019

A Change In Our Change Of Plans?

I got an email this morning reminding me that the final payment is due in two weeks for the Paris/London part of our upcoming trip. But as I was carefully looking over our itinerary, I noticed something.

I guess I didn’t make myself clear, but when I originally told Chantelle Nugent, our travel agent, that I wanted 4 days in Paris and 4 days in London. In my mind, I was thinking that I was getting 4 full days in each. But due to the travel days on each end of each city, we only would have 3 days in each, and not 4.

So I put in a call to Chantelle to see if we could add a day in each city, and how much it would cost. It seems to me that, unless there are charges for changing the train reservations, limo rides, etc., the only increased cost should be the extra stays in the hotels.

This means that we would return to Houston on Saturday, May 25th rather than Thursday the 23rd. But as Jan and I were talking about this while I was writing this blog, we decided that if we’re going to add two more days, why not add three, and come home on Sunday the 26th, after adding an additional, additional day in London.

Chantelle may not be speaking to me anymore. We’ll see.

We met Miss Piper at Snooze AM about 1pm, but though it was planned that she and Jan were supposed to go get Mani-Pedi’s, she had to beg off that since she was expecting a repair guy to come by her apartment later in the afternoon to fix a leak in her kitchen ceiling.

Piper at Snooze

Turns out that they were doing some renovations in the apartment upstairs after the latest renter moved out, and started a leak that began pooling in the large fluorescent light fixture over her sink. Not good.

So we made plans to meet again next Saturday, though next time at Cheddar’s at 11pm. Then they’ll try the Mani-Pedi thing again then.

We did some news about Piper’s educational plans, though. She’s decided that she wants to stay in the psychiatric end of the medical field. She’s been working for a psychiatrist’s office as she’s finishing up her B.A., and has decided to concentrate her upcoming graduate studies in that direction. In fact, the office where she works has offered her a preceptorship in psychiatric nursing there.

In case you’re wondering, a preceptorship is a mentoring experience where a practicing physician gives personal instruction and training to a medical student during their medical school training..

So this meant that Jan would be coming with me to my client’s to install the new Brother 2840 Fax machine.

But that didn’t go as planned either, since it appeared to be defective out of the box. I had already cleared all sealing strips hidden inside and out, as well as adding paper, and removing and shaking the toner/drum combination as instructed.

So all I expected to have to do today was to put power to it and program it with our name and phone number. But when I powered it up I got a PRINT UNABLE D1 message. Just to see if it made any difference I went ahead and programmed all our info into it, but with no change.

According to the manual, a PRINT UNABLE D1 error is a mechanical error, and the only supposed fix is to power the unit off for 10 seconds, then power it back on and let it sit for 15 minutes. And then power it off and back on again.

And if that didn’t fix it, “It’s Dead, Jim.” And to call the company about sending it back.

So that’s for Monday, I guess.

I now have a date to hopefully have our rig oil leak fixed by. The whole family is hoping to meet up at Chris and Linda’s place up in Kingsland for the weekend of April 5th. So I’ve got about a month to get the problem resolved. Of course, if we don’t get it fixed in time Jan and I will just drive up in the truck and stay in a motel. But I really would like to use it as a good test drive for the repair.

March 2, 2020

Angry Management Gone Wrong . . .

Back around the first part of February, I posted a blog called Before Its Time – This Was A Peloton Before There Was A Peloton.

Bally LifeCycle

At the end of that blog I mentioned the rest of that story, involving a hammer, a brutal murder, a psychotic doctor, and 25 years in prison.

I started working with Dr. Patrick Doyle in the late 80’s working on a number of computer-related projects out of his psychology office. At the time I was doing a lot of computer consulting utilizing Commodore computers, both the Commodore 64 and the newer, much more powerful Commodore Amiga.

I had started out writing software to allow the Amiga to control and record data from his Biofeedback machines. But my big project for his office was to build a machine to grade his Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) tests that he gave to patients. At the time, the testing service was selling a grading machine for about $6000, and this was in 1987 dollars.

These tests ran between 400 to almost 600 questions and were a real pain to grade by hand, you know, those tests where you use a #2 pencil to fill in the little bubbles. But after thinking it over for a while I came up with an idea.

I tore apart an old Epson dot-matrix printer, removing the printhead and replacing it with a photocell. Then I wrote a program in Assembly to move the photocell back and forth. stopping at each bubble to record light or dark at each position. Then it moves down one line and does it again.

By placing the test in the sheet feeder, it could grade a test in a just of minutes. I charged him $1000 plus the cost of the printer, which I believe was $200 or so, which he was happy with.

But during all my work with Dr. Doyle, I always thought it was strange that a person who specialized in Angry/Stress Management, among other things, would get so mad about some little thing that he would have to go off into a corner and mumble to himself for 10 minutes or so until he calmed down. And I saw this over and over, even when we were working together at NASA a couple of years later.

10 years or so later, I was WebMaster for the School of Business at the University of Houston-Clear Lake, where Dr. Doyle had been an Associate Professor for about 15 years or so. So it was not surprising that I would occasionally run into him in the hallways.

And in a way I was not really surprised in 2001 when another professor, who knew I knew Dr. Doyle, asked me if I had heard the news about him. When I said, “No”, he told me that Dr. Doyle had been arrested for a brutal murder up in Kentucky.

He had been visiting his mother in Bowling Green, got into an argument with his new stepfather, and beat him to death with a hammer.

UHCL Professor Held in Kentucky for Slaying

It wasn’t until 2 years later that he pled guilty and was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Doyle enters plea in murder trial

He had been diagnosed as ‘vastly psychotic and suffering from several brain diseases”, and was considered a suicide risk.

And according to this, it looks like he could be getting out in a couple of years.

Offender Information

Guess I should be relieved that I never made him really mad.

March 2, 2021

And Now It’s Three . . .

Jan and I left the rig about 1pm first for lunch at our favorite Los Ramirez Mexican. And as usual, it was our usual usual.

Jan’s Pechuga Rellena, a grilled chicken breast with shrimp and broccoli,

Los Ramirez Pechuga 1-05-20

and my Beef Fajita Taco Salad.

Los Ramirez Beef Fajita Taco Salad

Then it was on down to Extra Space Storage to drop off some stuff at our storage room that we’ll come back and sort through later.

Jan has been wanting a new handbag so after our storage shed sortie we drove on down to the Tanger Outlet Mall to check out the Vera Bradley store. We were last here back in September 2018 when Jan was looking for some new things for our upcoming European trip.

She ended up with a couple of travel things, and these two handbags.

Jan's Vera Bradley Bags

But as it turned out, the bag on the left was too big for daily use, and the one on the right, the one she uses now, was too small.

But now, apparently, this one new one is just right.

Vera Bradley Bag - New

And buying at their outlet store, we got a $89 degree bag for $31.15.

And Vera Bradley, the brand that coordinates everything, also had matching masks in stock.

Vera Bradley Mask

Then it was on back up to the HEB for a couple of things before we headed home.

While we were at the storage room we loaded up our hand truck to bring home so that tomorrow we can roll the box with the old toilet in it down to the park dumpster. Of course, getting it up and over the rim may be fun.

Today Jan came across a recipe posted on Facebook, purporting to be for Cornbread.

I say, ‘purporting’ because it called for 1 cup of Corn Meal and I cup of Flour. And even worse, 2/3 cup of Sugar.

And here was her response.

Sorry, but my husband says that if it has flour in it, it ISN”T cornbread. At least not in Alabama.

With that much flour and sugar, it’s not Cornbread, it’s just Corn Cake.

Here’s his grandmother’s recipe from back in the 1920’s.

2 cups Corn Meal – Coarse Stone Ground
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Sugar
1/2 cup Powdered Milk

Add water (about 1-3/4 cups) until liquid consistency.

Add 1 Egg and beat in.

Bake in 450° oven until set.
Turn on broiler until brown. Watch carefully.
Best done in a cast-iron skillet using about 1 tsp of bacon grease. Or Wesson Oil.

Since refrigeration was spotty back in that time, they didn’t always have fresh milk, but Powdered Milk was always on hand.

And you only want enough sugar to make the top brown up under the broiler.

Cornbread should not be SWEET!

And don’t have any bacon grease on hand? Well, now you can buy it on Amazon.

Bacon Grease

Bacon Up Bacon Grease

Wrapping up, it was announced today that as of March 10th, Governor Abbot is lifting ALL COVID mandates in the state of Texas, including mask requirements, occupancy restrictions, everything.

And starting tomorrow, Mississippi is doing the same thing.

So now Jan only has a week to wear her new Vera Bradley mask.

March 2, 2022

Beans or No Beans . . .

In last night’s blog I talked about how the list of the 18 oldest restaurants in the US started all sorts of arguments about restaurants some people thought were older. Of course, that’s not the only thing people argue about.

Point in fact:
Aggies or Longhorns
Alabama or Auburn

and important to Texans –
Beans or No Beans

Personally I think it’s probably what you grew up eating. In my case, in Alabama, chili had beans in it. If it didn’t have beans in it, it wasn’t really chili, more like hot dog chili.

Chili is supposed to have beans. It says it right there on the can – Chili Beans. Where else would you put them?

Why is there any confusion?

Another example is that in some places in Louisiana when you order a bowl of gumbo, it comes with a scoop of potato salad that you’re supposed to plop in the middle of the gumbo. Other areas never heard of this.

On the subject of chili again, in the Cincinnati area, another argument is Skyline or Gold Star. Though not chili in the Texas way, it’s really popular in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and even Florida. Skyline Chili has been around since 1949, a few years before Gold Star. And with over 160 locations, it’s the larger of the two chains.

The biggest difference with Cincinnati chili is that it has chocolate in it, not a lot, but just enough to have to give it that special taste.

The other difference is that Cincinnati chili is normally served over spaghetti, like this.

Skyline Chili 5 Ways

Cincinnati chili is rated in ‘Ways’. Above is Chili 5 Ways.
Cincinnati Chili

While Chili 3 Ways is:
Cincinnati Chili

And 4 Ways is with either Beans or Onions.

There is the fabled ‘6 Ways’ that’s kind of undefined. It could be sausage or cut-up hot dogs on top, or anything else you might want.

If you want to check it out for yourself, Kroger sells cans of Skyline Chili.

I mentioned the two new additions to Jan’s Flamingo Flamboyance, and we finally got them put in place the other day.

Flamingo Flamboyance 20220301

They’re the two big red ones in front.

And I think that’s about it. There’s almost no room to put any more.

March 2, 2023

Snoozing . . .

Jan and I were out the door about noon heading up to Webster to have brunch at Snooze AM, one of our long-time favorites.

Jan always gets their Bravocado Toast,

Snooze Bravocado Toast 20230117

while I got one of my several alternatives, this time they’re really good Shrimp & Grits.

Snooze Shrimp & Grits 20230117

Probably the best I’ve ever had, I think all due to the spices used.

And of course, we split an order of their Bacon But Different. Made with Snooze Signature Bacon, rubbed with brown sugar, cayenne, chili flakes, and drizzled with house-made Snooze Sriracha maple syrup.

Snooze Bacon But Different 20230117


Then we made a prescription pickup stop at Kroger before ending up at the WalMart on I-45 and El Dorado for some stuff, some of it stuff that our local WalMart doesn’t carry. And there are things that our local one has that this one doesn’t have.

What’s up with that???

Next it was right across the street to get gas at the Sam’s Club, for $2.66/gal, a new low for recently. Then it was on over to the dry cleaners to pick up a couple of things, before heading home.

POpShelf, originally scheduled for today, got put off till later.