1,000 Foot Ore Freighter, Soo Locks, MI

1,000 Foot Ore Freighter, Soo Locks, MI

Near Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia

Near Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia

Colorful Truck Sales, Weed, CA

Colorful Truck Sales, Weed, CA

Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Sign

Mackinac Bridge, MI

Mackinac Bridge, MI

Pelicans, Grays Harbor, WA

Pelicans, Grays Harbor, WA

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park

Saturday . . .

The cold front that came through yesterday afternoon resulted in high 50’s last night and a bright and sunny low 70’s day. Really nice.

After retighten the oil head adapter bolts yesterday, about 1pm I was outside today while Jan cranked up the rig. And after about 10 minutes, I was seeing a little leakage, less than on Thursday, and dripping down from a slightly different area. But leakage still.

And, of course, there should be none.

I  still have a couple of more things to try before I throw in the towel (and the checkbook). One of the 4 bolts still doesn’t feel right, so I going to try to replace the Heli-coil through the bolt hole without removing the head itself.

Hey, it’s worth a try. What could possibly go wrong?

A little after 4pm Jan and I headed over to the Victory Lakes area to have Brinner (breakfast for dinner) at Denny’s, and like usual, we both got their really good Ultimate Omelet. With 3 eggs, sausage, ham, bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes, green peppers, onions and cheese, and fruit instead of the hash browns, it is really delicious!

Denny's Ultimate Omelet 3

Tomorrow, A Celebration!


October 24, 2010

Wings Over Houston . . . part 1

Yesterday we spent the day at the Wings Over Houston Airshow. We used to go just about every year when we lived here full-time, but the last time we did the show, it was 2007, right before we hit the road full-time. The problem was that the show is always the end of October, and we don’t normally get back to the Houston area until right before Thanksgiving.

But thanks to the arrival of Master Landon, we’re back early this year, so we couldn’t pass up a chance to go again.

Luckily, my Sweetie is an Air Force brat and likes air shows as much as I do. The last show we actually attended was at Eielson AFB, Alaska in June of 2008. We saw the AF Thunderbirds then, too, just like we saw yesterday.

The first thing we saw walking thru the gate was NASA’s Super Guppy. This is the last one of four that is still flying. We saw one one of the others this past February at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, AZ. The later ones were kind of Frankenstein’s monsters, patched together from several different aircraft types, including C-97J’s, Boeing 707’s, and others.

NASA used these to transport large rocket, Shuttle, and Space Station parts around the country.

Super Guppy


The next thing we came across was NASA’s 747 Shuttle Transporter. I guess this will end up a museum pretty soon.

747 Shuttle Carrier

Right next door was one of NASA’s T-38’s. The astronauts use these to keep their flying hours current and to fly back and forth to the Cape. They were also used by NASA to fly along side during the Shuttle’s approach and televise the landings right down to the runway, and the NASA contractor I worked for maintained the cameras. I worked on them a few times back in the 80’s myself.


The show started out with the landing of the Flag by the REMAX Jump Team.

Parachute Jump

Here is a C-17 backing out to the flight line. It’s neat to see these newer jets backing up on their own, without a tug to push them out.

C-17 Backing Up

An AH-64 Apache attack helicopter

AH-64 Apache

A P-40 Warhawk. This was the plane used by the AVG (American Volunteer Group) Flying Tigers flying in China against the Japanese before America entered the war. Later, after America entered the war, this group, known as the ‘Black Sheep” Squadron, of Baa Baa Black Sheep fame, was absorbed in the US Marines.


A Grumman F8F Bearcat. One of my favorite WWII planes, the Bearcat was designed to out-fly any German or Japanese plane in the war. Unfortunately, it did not enter active service until right after the war ended. It was the last new prop plane ordered by the military. Flown by the Blue Angels from 1946 to 1950, in 1946 it set a world time to climb record of 94 seconds to 10,000 feet. This record was not broken until well up into the century series of jets.

F8F Bearcat

An AD-1 Skyraider. Another plane delivered too late for WWII, the Skyraider, (nicknamed the ‘SPAD’), was used as a ground attack plane as late as the Vietnam War.

AD1 Skyraider

One of several B-17’s at the show.

B-17 A

Close-up of the engine on another B-17.

B-17 B

A C-130 landing.  Up until a few years ago, one of the demo flights here at the airshow was a JATO short field takeoff which was very impressive. JATO stands for “Jet Assisted Take Off”, but they’re really RATO “Rocket Assisted Take Off”, units, and are used to basically just ‘jump’ the plane into the air with little or no take-off roll.


Here’s a shot of the Blue Angels C-130 transport doing a RATO take-off at another airshow. Supposedly they don’t do the demos anymore because they don’t make the RATO bottles anymore and the supply is starting to run low.

Bummer!  Watching a big C-130 just leap into the air and start flying is really something.


A B-25 Mitchell bomber, like the ones used in Jimmy Doolittle’s famous Raid on Tokyo in April 1942, the first US raid to strike the Japanese homeland.

B-25 Mitchell

An F4U Corsair. Called “The Whistling Death” by Japanese pilots due to the sound it made in a steep dive, the Corsair more than out-matched the Zero in all regimes except slow speed. And being very well armored, it was also hard to shoot down. “Pappy” Boyington, leader of the Black Sheep Squadron, is credited with 22 kills in one.

F4U Corsair

An SB2C Helldiver.  This is the last one still flying in the world.

SB2C Helldiver

As usual, the crowd was very large. especially since the weather was so good.

AirShow Crowd 2

AirShow Crowd 1

A C-17 C-47 Heritage Flight, showing 70 years of cargo plane history.

C-17 C-47 Heritage Flight

Tora, Tora, Tora.

Every airshow they do an Attack on Pearl Harbor reenactment with a lot of planes in the air,

Tora Tora Tora

and a lot of big explosions on the ground, along with very large balls of fire coming up. They also do reenactments of the Battle of Midway, and a Vietnam War firefight.

And, up until a few years ago, they always finished up with the A-Bomb drop on Hiroshima, but, apparently that was deemed offensive by some, and it was discontinued.

So it seems OK to show the Japanese attacking us, but it’s not politically correct to show us attacking the Japanese. Who knew?

Tora 2

This AT-6, SNJ, Harvard, Zero Heritage Flight shows the various models of the venerable AT-6 advanced trainer, including the one in front made up as a Zero for the movie “Tora, Tora, Tora”.

AT6 Family

A P-51C painted in the colors of the famed “Red Tail” Squadron flown by the Tuskegee Airmen.

P51 RedTail

A couple of shots of two of the B-17 Flying Fortresses at the show.

B-17 Flying

B-17 Flying 2

A B-24 Liberator. The B-24 holds the record as the most produced American military aircraft, at over 18,000 units. At its peak, Ford’s Willow Run plant was building one an hour.

As compared with the more famous B-17, the B-24 was faster, had better range, and carried a larger bomb. But it was harder to fly, and due to its design, more prone to battle damage. Also, it’s high wing design was much less safe during a ocean ditching, or a crash landing.

B-24 Liberator

The B-52



This A-10 Warthog was the jet-age replacement for the AD-1 Skyraider, and excels as a ground attack and tank killer.

A-10 Warthog

The UH-1 Iroquois as known as a ‘Huey’. The Huey got its nickname from the fact that the original designation for the helo was the HU-1, and although it was changed to UH-1 in 1962, the name Huey stuck.

This one is still flying, unlike the one I had an rather unpleasant experience in back in 1967.

UH1 Huey

One of several aerobatic displays, this one flown in a T-34 Mentor trainer is amazing due to the fact that the T-34 is not really considered a aerobatic plane. The pilot, a retired airline captain named Deborah Rihn-Harvey with over 30,000 hours with Southwest Airlines, does some outstanding maneuvers with the T-34 since its oil and fuel systems are not certified for inverted flight.

T-34 Mentor

T-34 Mentor 2

T-34 Mentor 3

I’ll finished up the rest of the show tomorrow since this has been a long post.

More then…

Thought for the Day:

“You can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.” –Al Capone



Almost Done In Elkhart

October 24, 2011

Loose Ends . . .

I got up about 9:30 this morning to find a call from the RV/MH Hall of Fame. The accountant was there to do the payroll and was having problems with the program.

Getting down there I found the problem was with the setup of the new copy of the program I had installed. Apparently some settings are kept in the program directory, and not with the data, so we had to go back in and configure the correct check formats to get everything working OK. I ended up staying until about 4:15 fixing up loose ends, and double-checking everything.

On my way home I stopped off at Lowe’s to pick up a 2” wood chisel to help me get the rest of the carpet up. When we leave here Wednesday we’ll have 12 days at the Indian Lakes Thousand Trails Preserve in Ohio, and I hope to make some more headway on the floor. We’ll see.

I’m more and more impressed by the 4G speeds on my new Droid Charge . . . when it’s working.

Not my phone, it’s working great. But the 4G has only been turned on in this area since last Thursday, and apparently they’re still working out the kinks. Within a 15 minute period, I’ve had 4G, 3G, 1X, 4G, 3G, 4G, all sitting in the same chair.

But when it’s working, it screams. This evening at dinner, I checked with Speedtest.net and was showing 20 Mbps down and 10 Mbps up. Then Jan took my phone away and said it was impolite to play with it at the table. Awwwwh! No fair.

Four years ago, the last time we had broadband in a Sticks & Bricks, I had 5 Mbps and thought that was fast. But 20, WOW!

Wanted to give you a sneak peek at one of Landon’s Christmas presents. Hopefully he doesn’t read the blog and won’t see it.

We saw this rocking horse yesterday at Sam’s Club and just had to get it. Besides rocking, if you squeeze his ears, he whinnies and his head and tail move back and forth.

Landon's Horsey

Tomorrow is our last full day here in Elkhart, and we plan on spending it driving around through the Amish countryside around Shipshewana, and then end up back at El Maguey for dinner.


Thought for the Day:

“Always yield to temptation. It may not pass your way again. ” — Robert A. Heinlein

October 24, 2012

Quito and Quesadillas . . .

One of my website client’s called yesterday afternoon asking permission to give my phone number and email address to a friend of his who wanted some website work done. I told him to tell his friend to give me a call.

So a little after noon today the guy gave me a call.

From Quito, Ecuador!

He’s an American who owns a Bed and Breakfast down there, and also does some immigration work, and he wants some updates done to his websites, and also some help getting higher in the Google listings. So it looks like I’ve got a new client, albeit a longer distance one than normal.

On the strange side, a little before 3pm Jan and I heard a sizzling pop in the rig, and then a few seconds later smelled something getting hot. She thought the sound came from my side of the rig and I thought it came from hers.

I started checking everything electrical in the rig with no luck. Nothing that was on quit working, or smelled burnt. And in a little while the smell was gone and never reoccurred.

So I guess I’ll just have to keep a close eye on things and see if it comes back.

About 5pm Jan and I headed into Savannah to have dinner. Since we were wanting Mexican we ended up at Jalapeno’s Mexican Restaurant. Jalapeno’s is pretty much at the top of everyone’s list of best Mexican in Savannah, and after eating there this evening we all agree.

Jalapenos Mexican Restaurant

And the Combo Platter Jan, and I had was just fantastic.

And we weren’t the only ones who liked the place. The parking lot was overflowing, with cars parked on the grass, on the road shoulder, and in front of No Parking signs.

We both agreed we wanted to come back here before we leave.

So many restaurants, so little time.


Thought for the Day:

Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don’t. – Pete Seeger



Waiting For A New Gate in Buffalo, TX

October 24, 2014

A New Toy . . .

We plan to have dinner tomorrow night at Outback Steakhouse, one of Jan’s favorite places, while we’re over in B/CS.

FedEx came through and found the GGS yard out here in the middle of the country, delivering our new Galaxy Tab 4 about 11:30 this morning, so I’ve been having a lot of fun getting it set up, duplicating many of the apps I have on my phone.

Galaxy Tab 4

Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1-Inch, White

So far I really like it. I’ll keep you updated as I get to spend some more time with it.

While we were parked here at the yard, I thought I’d take a go at replacing our lavatory faucet. I hadn’t tried it while we were on the gate because I knew I’d have to turn the water off, and these things always take a lot longer than they should.

And today was no different. I got the water hoses disconnected with not a lot of problems, but the fasteners that hold the faucet to the counter proved to be a lot more trouble. In fact, after fooling with them for about 3 hours, they proved impossible . .  for today.

There is a special wrench available for just this purpose, and I’ll pick one up at Home Depot tomorrow when we’re over in Bryan.

I’m not sure where the name comes from, but I came across a interesting website called CamelCamelCamel. You enter an Amazon product and CamelCamelCamel tracks the price for you, letting know when the price drops.

Turns out Amazon, and apparently many other online sellers, regularly raise and lower prices based on some weird algorithms that they’ve come up with. So CamelCamelCamel will let you know when the price drops.


Thought for the Day:

Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise.



Heaven’s Gate in Carthage, TX

October 24, 2015

Not Even For Special Occasions?

or It’s Alive!

Well, it started raining yesterday and it’s still raining today. And it’s supposed to rain tomorrow and the next day. But if we had to have a lot of rain this is probably the best way to have it. Just a steady, light to medium downpour, with no wind.

And even better, we stayed inside pretty much all day since we had almost no traffic. Jan did stay outside for part of the morning, just knowing that the long-fabled Flowback crew was going to start coming in today. But she gave up after a while and came in where it was dry.

While we were having a lunch of Jan’s delicious homemade Pimento Cheese and fresh sliced tomato sandwiches, I suddenly had a thought about how to fix my problem with the new charger port on my ASUS laptop.

As I mentioned a few days ago, after I got my laptop disassembled and the old charger port unsoldered, I discovered that the new, supposedly OEM, replacement did not fit. The leads themselves were too big to fit in the circuit board holes, and, in addition, did not match up with the holes either. So I did what usually works for me. I just put it all aside and didn’t think about it. And today the solution popped into my mind.

I didn’t need to solder all five leads to the the board. I only needed two, power and ground. I checked the new port with my ohmmeter, and as I had hoped, the power from the center pin came out the lead at the back of the charger port.

Laptop Charger Port 2

The other four leads and the case were all grounds. So I snipped off the four ground leads flush with the bottom of the port, fastened the port to the circuit board with a drop of Super Glue, and then soldered the single rear lead into place. The rear lead was always the correct size so this wasn’t a problem.

Then I soldered a small piece of wire from the case to one of the ground pin holes, and it was done.

To recap, here’s how I took the laptop apart.

Laptop Repair 1

Laptop Repair 2

Above on the left is the hard drive, in the center is the Wi-Fi chip, and the green boards are the system memory.

I use cupcake papers to hold the screws for each step, and label them as I go.

Laptop Repair 3- Cups

I also have this set of tools for the small or weird screws. It also has the plastic ‘splugers’ that are very useful for prying things apart without scratching or breaking them. A great deal for less than $7.

Kaisi 16-Piece Precision Screwdriver Set

Laptop Repair 4- Tools

The keyboard now just pops out.

Laptop Repair 5- Keyboard
There are a number of these small ribbon cables that must be unlocked and carefully removed from the socket.

Laptop Repair 6- Cables
One more screw lets you remove the DVD drive.

Laptop Repair 7- DVD

At this point the top of the computer can just be popped off,

Laptop Repair 8- Top

and seven screws later, the motherboard comes out.

Laptop Repair 9a- MB

And finally the culprit is revealed.

Laptop Repair 10- Culprit

Here I’m using the solder wick to ‘wick’ the solder from the joints to remove the old port.

Laptop Repair 11- Solder Wick

And this is pretty much where I left things until today when I figured out how to make it work.

About 45 minutes after I soldered in the new charger port,  I had it all back together.

And now for the moment of truth, I.e. the ‘magic smoke test’. Because everyone knows if you let the ‘magic smoke’ out of a piece of electronic gear, it won’t work anymore.

So holding my breath, I pushed the power button . . . and no magic smoke. Instead it started booting up. And a minute or so later I was looking at my desktop.

Laptop Boot Up

And note in this photo, I have the obligatory one screw left over. As they say, if you don’t have parts left over, you didn’t do it right.

As least that’s what I say.

After checking things over, like the keyboard, sound, Wi-Fi, and the touchpad, it was time for the final test.

And after plugging in the charger cord, I now had a charge light.

It’s Alive!

That done, I took the rest of the afternoon off. It’s not like I was really planning to do anything else, but I took it off anyway.

Later I came across this product on Facebook, and asked Jan what she would think about me doing this for Christmas.



“Not even for special occasions?”


Party Pooper!


Thought for the Day:

Reduce the Stupid!

Our First Night in A Guard Shack

October 24, 2016

Jan Did Good . . .

Jan’s definitely not a night person, so she was worried about staying awake all night last night, but she did fine

Of course I helped out by calling her about every hour, just to be sure.

It wasn’t a very busy night, with most of the traffic after midnight. And even with that, the iPad locked up on me. Well, not as much locked up, as locked me out.

I last used it around 6:30, and then no one came or left until after midnight. But when I went to log someone in, I found the program had dumped me out and was now asking for a username and password. Which was nowhere to be found. So it was back to paper logs. Not a problem for me. I later found out there was supposed to be a sticker on the back, but nothing was there. I looked.

I think I mentioned that we have TV in the shacks. Nominally I think it’s so we can monitor the six cameras around our site, but it is set up for over the air TV. And I was very surprised how many stations we get. Probably about 30.

But probably the most entertaining ones are MeTV and Cozi TV, both of which show oldies. As in VERY oldies, like Car 54, Where Are You?, Sgt. Bilko, Maverick, Love Boat, Kojak, Our Miss Brooks, Donna Reed, Hogan’s Heroes, Perry Mason, etc.


After our shift was over, we got back to the rig about 6:30am. Jan went right to bed, and was already asleep when I came in about 10 minutes later. I had to email our invoices in to the office. Yesterday was the last day of the two week pay period, and the invoices had to be in by 9am this morning. Of course we only had one day on this one, but hey, money is money.

Jan actually got up about 10:30, grabbed a bite to eat, and then went back to sleep on the sofa, while I didn’t get up until about noon. I made coffee, fixed us some muffins, and got a load of laundry going. Later, we heated up our leftover La Fonda from last Friday. Still good.

Then it was another nap until about 4:30 when we started getting ready, and were out the door a little before 5pm. It’s only about a 15 minute drive so we were there in plenty of time.

Since I’m normally a night owl anyway, I’m not having a lot of trouble adjusting to the long nights, but it’s a little more difficult for Jan. But a couple of more days of this shift should help.

Of course that presupposes we’ll stay on this night shift. You never can tell.

Thought for the Day:

Laziness is nothing more than the habit of resting before you get tired.

October 24, 2017

I Know It Doesn’t LOOK Good, But . . .

About 2:30 Jan and I headed into Conroe to first have lunch, well, breakfast anyway, and then do some shopping.

Jan has been seeing the Denny’s ads on TV  showing their Holiday pancakes, Pumpkin Cream and Cranberry Orange. So she decided we were having breakfast for lunch.

She got the Pumpkin Pancakes with the Cinnamon Cream topping, as well as eggs, bacon, and hash browns.

I went with the Cranberry Orange Pancakes with the Orange Glaze Cream sauce, also with eggs, bacon, and hash browns.

Denny's Craneberry Orange Pancakes

Denny's Craneberry Orange Pancakes 2

I know in the photo that it doesn’t look that good, but the Orange Glaze Cream Cheese topping has bits of orange in it was delicious.

Next up was a stop at Sam’s for a couple of prescriptions, and then Wal-Mart for some groceries before heading home. While I got all the groceries in, Jan walked next door to spend some time with the Evanses, et. al. while I tried to fix some client stuff that just broke.

One of our blog readers, Snowbird, commented, reminding me of some info about Sears that I forgot to pass on yesterday. People talk about how Sears could have been Amazon by moving their catalog online if they hadn’t dropped the ball. But Sears actually had already dropped the catalog in 1993, just as the Internet was getting started.

Amazon got its start the next year, 1994, selling books out of Jeff Bezo’s garage. And it actually might have been very difficult for Sears to put their catalog online. The necessary net infrastructure just didn’t exist.

But anyway, corporate infighting had already doomed the Sear’s catalog sales model. The problem was that the stores and the catalog operation were two separate corporate entities competing with each other under the Sear’s umbrella, and they hated each other with a passion.

The store side of things saw every catalog sale as one the store was losing, and the catalog group accused the stores of sabotaging the in-store catalog sales pickup. This was because although the stores got nothing from a catalog sale in-store pickup, they still had to supply the manpower to staff the in-store catalog operation.

Finally in 1993, the store side of things managed to kill off the catalog, even though it was still profitable, by saying that the money would be better spent using it to expand and upgrade the stores.

Now Sears seems to only exist as a real estate and product liquidation company. They’ve been selling off stores and real estate in a frenzy and sold off their fabled Craftsman tool brand to Stanley Black & Decker this past March, so can Kenmore be far behind? And today it was announced they’ve severed their 100 year old relationship with Whirlpool.

So it looks like eventually it will all go down the tubes. Sad to see.

The Word of the Day is:  Farceur

Thought for the Day:

High Flight — With FAA Supplements

“High Flight” is a famous poem by John Gillespie Magee Jr (1922-1941). A Royal Canadian Air Force pilot, he died at age 19 …in a mid-air collision during World War II.

Here’s his brief poem — with a few notes now required by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth (1),

And danced (2) the skies on laughter silvered wings;

Sunward I’ve climbed (3) and joined the tumbling mirth (4)

… Of sun-split clouds (5) — and done a hundred things (6)

You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung (7)

High in the sunlit silence (8). Hov’ring there (9),

I’ve chased the shouting wind (10) along, and flung (11)

My eager craft through footless halls of air….

Up, up the long, delirious (12), burning blue

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights (13) with easy grace.

Where never lark, or even eagle (14) flew —

And, while with silent, lifting mind I’ve trod

The high untrespassed sanctity of space (15),

Put out my hand (16), and touched the face of God.


1. Pilots must insure that all surly bonds have been slipped entirely before aircraft taxi or flight is attempted.

2. During periods of severe sky dancing, crew and passengers must keep seatbelts fastened. Crew should also wear shoulder belts as provided.

3. Sunward climbs must not exceed the maximum permitted aircraft ceiling.

4. Passenger aircraft are prohibited from joining the tumbling mirth.

5. Pilots flying through sun-split clouds under VFR conditions must comply with all applicable minimum clearances.

6. Do not perform these hundred things in front of Federal Aviation Administration inspectors.

7. Wheeling, soaring, and swinging will not be attempted except in aircraft rated for such activities and within utility class weight limits.

8. Be advised that sunlit silence will occur only when a major engine malfunction has occurred.

9. “Hov’ring there” constitutes a highly reliable signal that a flight emergency is imminent.

10. Forecasts of shouting winds are available from the local FSS. Encounters with unexpected shouting winds should be reported by pilots.

11. Pilots flinging eager craft through footless halls of air are reminded that they alone are responsible for maintaining separation from other eager craft.

12. Should any crewmember or passenger experience delirium while in the burning blue, submit an irregularity report immediately upon flight termination.

13. Windswept heights will be topped by a minimum of 1,000 feet to maintain VFR minimum separations.

14. Aircraft engine ingestion of, or impact with, larks or eagles should be reported to the FAA and the appropriate aircraft maintenance facility.

15. Aircraft operating in the high untresspassed sanctity of space must remain in IFR flight regardless of meteorological conditions and visibility.

16. Pilots and passengers are reminded that opening doors or windows in order to touch the face of God may result in loss of cabin pressure. Military pilots shall avoid touching face of God to maintain separation of church and state as required by law.



October 24, 2018

“I Know Nu . . . ting!”

Well, I guess I saved my client $5,000.00 today by getting the Census Bureau’s 2017 Economic Census finished up and submitted online. The review process said there were no errors, so hopefully  there won’t be any problems. But if government agents show up at the front door, “I Know Nu…ting.”

And thirdly, when we got home on Monday and got set up, our desktop computer was working fine. However when we got up Tuesday morning our Acer Monitor had died. I mean, it’s only 9 years old. So what’s up with that?

So I put in an Amazon overnight delivery order for a new Acer S241HL 24-inch monitor, a step up from the 21-inch we did have. And about $90 cheaper than the 2009 model.

Acer Monitor

Besides being bigger, it’s also much sharper and brighter. Things have improved a lot since 2009.

So that’s about it for our trip. Hopefully nothing else is on the horizon for a while.

Thought for the Day:

“Why is it that when one man builds a fence, the next man immediately needs to know what’s on the other side?”

October 24, 2019

A Phone, Resurrected . . .

Jan’s phone, my old Galaxy S5, started acting up a few days ago, constantly rebooting, even after pulling the battery out for awhile. And that’s when I noticed how swollen the battery was.

S5 Batteries

Seeing this I was pretty sure that the battery was the problem, even with the phone plugged in. This is because the phone is actually powered from the battery, so even with the phone plugged in, if you pull the battery it won’t work.

So I put in an Amazon order for a new battery, but as usual I had a backup plan. I’ve had this S5 since June 2014 when we were up in Elkhart, IN  so refurbished ones are available on Amazon for about $75. And since Jan pretty much only uses it for calls at home while I’m gone, a 5 year old phone is just fine.

But I lucked out because the new battery fixed the problem.

I had originally planned to get under the rig today to reinstall the oil filter adapter and the oil filter, so I had left the adapter soaking in a pan of Purple Power degreaser/cleaner overnight to get all the ‘gunk’ off.

Oil Filter Adapter before cleaning

Oil Filter Adapter Cleaning

But this morning I found that parts of the old gasket were so encrusted on the base of the adapter and that even scrubbing it with first a brass brush  and then a steel brush wouldn’t remove it, so today I’ll get emery fine grit sandpaper to burnish it down.

So we’ll see how it goes on Saturday.

Not So Fast:

I mentioned yesterday that after we possibly do a Mexico/Ruins cruise in 2021, we’ll be ‘cruised out’. But regular blog reader Lois piqued our interest in maybe doing a Mississippi Riverboat cruise.

So I guess we’ve got something else to keep simmering on the back burner now.

Thought For The Day:

You ever meet someone you just know is crazy, and about the time you think you’ve reached the bottom of their craziness, you discover a whole new crazy underground garage. Yeah, that person.

And Now We Wait . . .

Since we’ve got a cold front coming through tonight, down to the 50’s, it was preceded by rain, which means that the rear of the coach is a puddle, so I’ll wait until tomorrow to do a test idle on the rig.

As usual when I’m working on a problem, I’m also working on backup plans for the problem. So today I put a call into Cummins to confirm what I had been told previously about the engine oil cooler.

The latest version is a 1 piece unit, not a 2 piece model like I have now.

Cummins Oil Cooler

So there’s no pesky gasket to leak like I have now. I guess I’m not the only person to have a problem with this.

So why haven’t I gone ahead and just installed this new cooler?

Well, I’m cheap.  But you already knew that, didn’t you.

Honestly, I don’t think I can install this myself. At least not lying on my back like I have to do. It looks like the rig would have to be up on a lift or over a pit to be able to reach up in there to get the bolts. And you can’t to them from up top because the cooler is located right under the firewall between the bedroom and the engine compartment.

But the cost is why replacing it is my last-gasp effort. I can buy it online for about $800, but by the time I have a shop replace it, with their markup and labor we’re probably looking at $2000 or so.

So I want to exhaust all the other avenues first before I go that route. And I still have a few more arrows in my quiver to try first.

I did get our South Dakota Absentee Ballots back in the mail today. Hopefully, since they made it down here in 4 days, they can make it back by the middle of next week or so.

I was originally planned to send them back via Priority Mail, but the ballots are too large to fit in a Flat Rate envelope, so they went out by First Class Mail.

I will be able to check online to see when they’re received in Sioux Falls. So now we wait.

From Around The Web:

Despite the initial hype, according to this British Medical Journal article, Convalescent Plasma is ineffective in fighting CoVid-19

In prespecified, intention-to-treat analyses, the PLACID Trial investigators found no net benefit associated with convalescent plasma in patients admitted to hospital with moderate covid-19.

Thought for the Day:

The only problem with trouble-shooting is that sometimes the trouble shoots back.



Gate Guarding in South Texas

October 23, 2013

It must have been the Nopales . . .

It’s been a busy three days, but not gate-wise. For the last week or so we’ve been doing about 30-35 vehicle a day, with today (Wednesday) doing about 45. A nice change from the 300 a day we had at the peak. But I sure hope it doesn’t get much slower so they don’t get the idea they don’t need us. We’d really like to stay here until we leave for Houston on the 24th of November. We’ll see.

For the last week or so I’ve been fighting problems with my eyeglasses. The ear pieces are those spring-loaded type, and they both just came apart within a week of each other. I tried a number to ways to glue them back together, Gorilla Glue, SuperGlue, contact cement, even ShoeGoo. But nothing would hold for more than a day or two.
Then I got a bright idea. My new frames were identical to my old ones, and I still had them, so I would just take the ear pieces off the old ones and install them on new ones. Piece of cake, right? Well, no. The taking apart thing went just fine. The getting them reinstalled part, not so much.

Holding the glasses frame in one hand, the ear piece in the other, the tweezers holding the screw in the other hand, and of course the little tiny screwdriver in the other…well I think you see the problem.

I could never get everything lined up and the screw started. So after about 30 minutes of wasted effort, I gave up and went with the Nerd method. Holding them together with tape. I figured I would drive into Pleasanton on Monday and let the Wal-Mart Vision Center take a crack at them.

So after handing them off, I did some shopping, picking up some cold stuff so we wouldn’t have to worry about it tomorrow in San Antonio. Getting back to the Vision Center about 20 minutes later, they had me all ready to go. Turns out they have a special little screw-starter to make things easier. They didn’t have any for sale, but I found one on Amazon I’m going to order.

Coming back home I saw this sign again and finally had a chance to take a picture of it.

Pleasanton RV Park

What does it say about your town when the ‘Premier Gated Community’ is an RV Park? Actually it’s probably our kind of place.

Tuesday afternoon about 1pm we headed in San Antonio for our combined birthday celebration. Both of ours are in October, mine on the 5th and Jan’s this Friday on the 25th. Does make it more convenient when we have to renew our driver’s licenses in South Dakota.

Anyway, our first stop was at the Palladium IMAX theater out on I-10 West. This place is huge. Besides the 16 screens and the usual movie food, it has a gelato stand, a Starbucks, two restaurants and two bars. Jan had to try the Pumpkin Gelato and pronounced it fantastic. If they started renting out rooms, you could live here.

The reason we passed so many closer theaters is that we heard if you were going to seen “Gravity”, the new Sandra Bullock-George Clooney movie, see it in IMAX and 3D. And this was the only place in town that had both.

We’ve seen IMAX movies before, and we’ve seen 3D movies before, but this was our first IMAX 3D one. And it was worth the trip. And the movie itself was great. The action started very quickly and just never let up until the end. Jan compared it to an Indiana Jones movie that just never stops.

The story is about a Space Shuttle Hubble Telescope repair mission with Sandra Bullock, the Mission Specialist, doing the repair in space, and George Clooney as the Shuttle Pilot. And then everything goes terribly wrong.

Although the movie has a lot of special effects, they take a backseat to the story and the characters. And we did like the fact that they didn’t overdo the 3D part just so you wouldn’t forget the movie was in 3D.

Having worked on the Shuttle Program for 10 years at Johnson Space Center, there were a few things I noticed that wouldn’t have happened that way in space, but nothing so glaring that it interfered with my enjoyment of the movie.

This one is a must-see.

Getting out of the movie about 4:15, our next stop was a nearby SuperCuts so Jan could get her hair trimmed. I always kind of dread taking Jan to get her hair done, because if they don’t do it like she wants, she comes out very unhappy, and then for some reason, I end up very unhappy. Strange how that works out.

Then it was on to La Fonda on Main for dinner.

Jan had this Beef Chile Relleno with a Verde Chicken Enchilada.

La Fonda Food Jan
And I had the Pork Carnitas with a Avocado Bowl. The pork is resting on a grilled Nopales (cactus) leaf

La Fonda Food Greg

For dessert we split a piece of their delicious Tres Leches.

La Fonda Food Tres Leches

And here’s the beautiful Birthday Girl herself.

La Fonda Birthday Girl

Our meal was as delicious as usual and we always enjoy going back.

Now it was shopping time with Sam’s Club, Wal-Mart, and Barnes and Noble on the list. Finishing up about 9:30, our last stop was the Pilot/Flying J on the way home. They had Jan’s Pumpkin Spice coffee, but had apparently run out and stopped selling the Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino that they had last time. When I mentioned to a young lady cleaning up nearby that it wasn’t even Halloween yet, much less Thanksgiving, and they’d already stopped selling it, she said, “Yes, it’s very popular and everyone waits for us to start selling it every year.”

When I said that maybe that meant that they should, you know, order more maybe, she just looked at me like I had two heads, or something.  It’s amazing that some places can even stay in business.

Wrapping up today, I’ve had some sort of stomach bug all day. Don’t know if it’s just something going around, or if it’s something I ate. Personally I blame the Nopales on my pork carnitas dish last night. Yeah, that’s it.

I mentioned the other day that one of the truck drivers had seen a bobcat near our gate so here’s Mister doing his best ‘Bobcat Bait’ impression.

Mister Bobcat Bait

After all the guy did say the bobcat was smaller than Mister, but we’ll keep a close eye on him anyway.

Thought for the Day:

We’re Not Retreating, We’re Just Advancing in a Different Direction – General Douglas MacArthur

Between Gates in East Texas

October 23, 2014

Black or White . . .

Well, our 2nd full day of freedom was just as good as our first one yesterday, but a lot more relaxed, since we didn’t go anywhere or do anything. Jan did give the rig a good cleaning, and I assisted by doing what I was told, and otherwise staying out of the way.

It’s safer that way.

While I’m deciding what I want to do with Jan’s Paperwhite, I went ahead and ordered a 10.5” Galaxy Tab 4 from Amazon yesterday that should be here tomorrow.


We’ll see how good FedEx is at delivering to an address along an Interstate feeder out in the country, two miles from town. There is a sign on the fence that says “Gate Guard Services”, and the address on the package says, “Big RV in Back”. So we’ll see how it goes.

The Galaxy Tab will combine the features of our Kindle Fire and Jan’s Paperwhite, so we’ll see how it works as a Paperwhite replacement. In the meantime I’ve got a couple more things to try and revive Jan’s dead Paperwhite.

One thing I found kind of funny is the pricing of the Tab. If you want it in black, it’s $299. But if you want a white one, it’s only $259. Exactly the same specs, just a different color.

Guess which one I bought?

About 5:30 this afternoon we got a neighbor here at the yard. They’re just coming off a gate down near Madisonville and are taking off a week or two, leaving their 5th wheel here in the meantime. At this point the lot is full.

Rather than have our leftover steak from last night, we decided to start working our way through some more of our Frack Food from the gate. No telling when we’ll get any more. So our dinner tonight was crispy catfish fillets, corn on the cab, potato salad, and BBQ Beans. And pumpkin pie with whipped cream for dessert.

We’re going to miss that gate.


Thought for the Day:

Some people are pretty clued in. Some are just clueless.



Gate Guarding near Carthage in East Texas

October 23, 2015


When I got up about 10:15 this morning I found the rains had finally arrived. I also found that our canopy had some leaks.

In anticipation for the forecast next five days of rain that was coming in, yesterday I had used Gorilla Tape and Rust-Oleum Clear Leak Seal Spray to patch the few weak places I could see. But unfortunately what I couldn’t see were the ones up under the small cupola cover at the top of the canopy.

Since I was just leaving for my Wal-Mart run, Jan suggested I just get another tarp to throw over the top of this tarp. Sounded like a good idea.

And right before I left for Carthage, Jan, having read my blog this morning and not taking any chances, surprised me by saying she wanted Whataburger for lunch.

Darn, that just takes all the fun out of it.

Finally on my way, and getting out to the main highway, I first headed about 3 miles in the wrong direction to check out the Citgo station back toward Henderson. A number of the rig guys had said they had good food at the diner there and I wanted to check it out.

One thing kind of strange is that is that though it was overcast and raining at the gate, three miles west here, it was sunny with blue skies. Huh.

At past gates we’ve found the food pretty good at these places so we’ll probably give this place a try too. To make it easy for Jan to know what they have, I always just take a picture of their menu board.

Citgo Menu 1

Looks like the usual fare, with burgers, chicken, other sandwiches, and various other accoutrements. One of our favorite things at these places is the chicken strips and steak fries, and it looks like they’ve even got that covered.

And breakfast as well.

Citgo Menu 2

Though I don’t  know if they serve it all day or not.  McDonald’s does now, so they should too.

We’ll have to check them out soon.

A little later, after Wal-Mart, but before Whataburger, I dropped off my Amazon return package at a local UPS shipping ‘place’, which turned out to be a little computer repair store. This was the return of my defective Mighty Mule Alarm system. Earlier in the morning I had received an email saying that Amazon had issued my $63 credit on this.

The replacement has been working fine so far, except when the water guys knocked it over removing the frack water line the other day.

* * * * *

For some reason, it seems to get more and more difficult to put in my order at Whataburger every time I go.

To be sure I have it right, I read it off my phone. I tell them what burger I want and exactly what I want on it. But today she kept trying to get me to tell her what I don’t want on it, i.e. no lettuce. But the problem with that is that I don’t know what comes on their burgers normally, and no where on the menu board does it say.

And besides if I do it that, then I’m telling her what I don’t want on it, i.e. lettuce, and then what I do want on it extra, i.e. tomatoes, bacon, etc. I kept trying to tell her, start with a plain #6 Double Meat Cheese Whataburger Jr., just meats, cheese, and bread, and then I’ll tell you exactly what I DO want on it.

There is one guy that works there that I’m always happy to see at the counter. He takes the order perfectly, and we’re done it just a minute or so.

Later in the afternoon we did get another visit from the donkeys as they passed by. The brown one always just stops and stares at us while he waits for the 40 year old one to catch up.


Based on the radar, it looks like we dodged most of the heavy rains today. Most of it stayed to the north, running from southwest to northeast of us.

But there’s always tomorrow . . . and the next day . . . and the next day . . .

I guess we’ll see how the new tarp works.

Thought for the Day:

“The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.” – Robert Conquest’s Third Law of Politics



Shack Gate Guarding near Kenedy, TX

October 23, 2016

Gateworthy . . .

Things they keep a changing.

Jan and I spent some time playing with the iPad Gate Program last night until I think we both have it down. It’s pretty much identical in function to the one I wrote 3 years ago, except my is text-based and runs on Windows 7, and this one is touchscreen graphics and runs on an iPad.

Gate Guard Progaram

The only other difference is that SiteWatch’s iPad version is online and configured to upload data to the company server.

But mine is just as fast and easy to use. It’s just not tablet size

I have thought about converting it over and I still may. I already have a program to write it in, so it wouldn’t be a real problem. We’ll see.

If I did it, it would just be for fun.

Todd came back and picked up the iPad from Jan this morning about 8am before I got up at my usual 10:30. Then just as we were leaving the rig about 11, I got another text from Todd letting us know that our work schedule had changed again.

Rather than us both working the outside gate from 5:30p to 5:30a tonight, Jan will be working the outside gate and I will be working the inside gate from 6p to 6a. This kind of concerned Jan because she was counting on me being there to keep her awake. But I guess it means that Todd thinks we’re gateworthy.

But as it turns out, she had no trouble staying awake.

The reason we were heading out right then is that, as I said last night, we wanted to have the Sunday Turkey and Dressing/Fried Chicken buffet at Barth’s. And like yesterday’s meal, it was really good.

Turkey and real (cornbread) dressing, not that cubed bread stuff, along with really delicious Fried Chicken, creamed red potatoes, fresh vegetable medley, as well as white turkey  gravy, and cranberry sauce. Oh, and along with the salad bar, the homemade soup was Broccoli Cheese, just as good as yesterday’s homemade Beef Vegetable.

Even nicer is the price. The regular price is $10.99, but with $3 Senior Discount, ours was $7.99. Very nice. Just like yesterday’s $9.50 one was $6.50 for me.

And you know you’re in the oil fields when your large iced tea glasses don’t say Coke or Pepsi, but instead have the name and advertisements for an oil field service company called Rockwater.

Rockwater Cup 1

Rockwater Cup 2

Getting back to the rig a little after 1pm, we both went down for naps to prepare us for tonight’s work.

We had both packed bags with snack, drinks, Kindles, laptop, power supplies, chargers and flashlights. So we’re ready for any thing.

We got to Jan’s gate a little after 5pm, and I helped Jan get set up after Tam left. She does look pretty comfortable.

Jan at New Gate

Then a little after 5:30 I drove the 1/2 mile or so down to my gate next to the pad.

Not much is going on right now so it should be a quiet night for both of us.

We hope.

Thought for the Day:

Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please. – Mark Twain


Getting Ready to Move Down to Santa Fe, TX

October 23, 2017

Last Trip South . . .

I headed out on my last trip south about 10am. I say ‘last trip’, since I’m not going down on Wednesday and then we move down to Santa Fe on Thursday.

So when I go back to work on Friday I’ll be making a 30 mile round-trip and not a 140 mile one. Yay!

I really wish Facebook would just stop fooling around and changing things. When I first started posting our blog to FB every night, I could pick what photo I wanted to show on the front page. I couldn’t pick from all the blog’s photos, but most of them, anyway.

Then months later, I could no longer pick from the photos, but had to take the one they picked for me. And the one they picked was never consistent. Sometimes it was the first one, sometimes it was the last one, or maybe one in the middle somewhere. But at least I could delete it if I didn’t want that one use.

But then a couple of weeks ago they changed it again. Now I can’t delete it at all, but I’m just stuck with which ever one they pick. Bummer!

Then a couple of weeks ago, the crying emoji disappeared from the the display shown when you clicked on the Like button. In its place was just a hole. Then a few days later it was back.

Now the entire emoji display is gone completely. Now we can only select ‘Like’ and nothing else.


Recently I came across this article about Amazon selling houses online.


They’re actually tricked-out shipping containers, selling for about $36,000

Amazon House 2

Amazon House

Not bad. And no, it doesn’t ship under Amazon Prime.

But this got me thinking about another big company that used to sell homes online . . . well, the online of the time, the Sear’s Catalog. And they not only sold homes, but also ‘mansions’.

‘The Magnolia’ seems to be the largest model sold by Sears. At ten rooms, two stories plus a basement, it was a real ‘kit’ with every piece cut and fitted. And included everything down to the nails and paint. Here’s a full size copy of the Sears ad.


There are still a number of ‘Magnolias’ around the country. Here’s one in North Carolina.


Still looking good. Apparently it’s now a Dolce & Gabbana store.

Well the vote is in. And it’s 26 to 0 in favor of blue awnings on the rig.

Beauty New Awnings 468

It’s gonna look great.

The Word of the Day is:  Pelf

Thought for the Day:

“A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.”—Winston Churchill



October 23, 2018

They’re From The Government, and They’re Here To Help Us!

Although today was Tuesday, and I don’t normally work at my client’s, I went in today to kind of make up for being gone for 3 weeks.

I had been monitoring things remotely so I knew that nothing had really cratered, but you never know. However I ended up spending most of the day working for the US government, specifically the US Census Bureau.

My client had received a letter from them requiring that he fill out an online 2017 Economic Census form. ‘Requiring’ as in a $5,000 fine for not doing it, and a $10,000 fine for ‘deliberately’ submitting false or incorrect information.


Apparently a tiny subset of US small businesses are selected at random to participate in the survey.

Lucky us!

And some of the detailed questions are for things we don’t really track. Like how much we charge customers for shipping on the items they order. Since we only pass on the amount that USPS, UPS, or FedEx charges us, we have no idea what the total amount is. So now I’m having to try and pull all this info out of the USPS and UPS apps.

And this is just one of 100’s of questions. So I’ve got my work cut out for me for the next few weeks.

After I got home we turned right around and headed back out to first have dinner at Los Ramirez Mexican Restaurant, the first Tex-Mex we’ve had since before we left for Florida, so we’ve been going into withdrawal.

Then it was on over to the storage room to break out our electric heaters for the winter. It was down in the low 50’s last night, with more of the same tonight. And the high tomorrow is forecast for the low 60’s.


Then coming home, we stopped off so I could buy the winning Mega-Millions ticket. At $1.6 Billion+, it’s certainly worth risking a few bucks. And as usual, I got the 30 Annual Payments option, rather than the Cash Payout. As far as I know, Texas is the only state that requires you to make that decision up front when you buy the ticket. Or at least the only one we’ve encountered in our travels around the country.

The Annual Payment value is $1.6 Billion, with the Cash Payout just a little over $900 Million. So you’re giving up about $700 Million to get the money up front.

If you take the Annual Payments, you’ll get about $32 Million a year after taxes for 30 years. If you take the Cash Value and then spread it out over the same 30 years, you would have about $18 Million a year.

And realistically, what could you do with $900 Million up front that you couldn’t do with $32 Million per year?

Thought for the Day:

Did you ever notice how good you can be at something until somebody actually watches you do it?



October 23, 2019

Now, On To 2021 . . .

We’ve now got our deposit in on our Alaskan Cruise, and we’ve got our hotel reservations made for our pre-cruise week in Fairbanks. All that’s left now is our flights and our car rental in Fairbanks.

I had mentioned that we were getting an inside room, and found that for an extra $65 we can get a larger inside room, bigger from 155 sq ft to 233 sq ft. But our great travel agent, Chantelle Nugent, found out that for an additional $25, for a total of $90, gets us a slightly larger, large room up on a higher deck, Deck 8, or the Navigation Deck.

Noordam = Navigation Deck

Much better than our original inside room which is down on Deck 1, the very bottom deck. Kind of like being in Steerage on the Titanic.

HAL MM8008

Very nice room. Chantelle always takes great care of us.

One thing Jan and I were happy to see is that PMJ (Postmodern Jukebox)) one of our favorite groups will be performing on HAL Alaskan Cruises during 2020. But I haven’t yet been able to find out what ship they will be on, or if they will be moving  from ship to ship. But hopefully  we’ll be able to see them.

Check’em out here.

Also this morning I booked our NYC Holiday Dinner Cruise for Sunday, December 8th, while we’re in NYC.

Bateaux NYC Dinner Cruise

We paid extra for a window table, though that doesn’t seem to mean we’ll actually be right next to the window, just at a table BY the window, with four other diners.

Bateaux NYC Dinner Cruise Inside

But close enough, I guess.

One thing that always ticks me off, especially when it involves my money. We paid extra for the window table, and also a photo on the ship. But when I went to pay online with my card, I found, in addition to the $28.64 in NYC taxes, there was a $63.33 ADMINSTRATION FEE, and an $8.99 MARINE FEE, I guess because it’s a boat.


Finally, looking forward to 2021 we’re looking at maybe doing a cruise out of Galveston taking in the Mayan ruins of Tulum from Cozumel and Chichen Itza from Progresso. And any more we can cram in.

After that we’ll probably be cruised-out.

But you never know.

Thought For The Day:

Remember, Big Brother (or Alexa) is always listening. Everything you say can and will be used against you.

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