Monday, December 29, 2008

Catching Up

Merry Christmas, Happy Boxing Day, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanuka, etc! Hope the holidays, whichever you may observe, are great. Even us atheists enjoy the time; parties are always fun. These days I certainly prefer giving gifts to receiving them.

Haven't been blogging much lately because the internet service here is so lousy. Even in the clubhouse it is slow. Heaven only knows what it is going to be like in the future. We are going to try a service that uses accesses the house using a microwave technology. It should work IF they can see a tower from our location.
If that doesn't work, we'll have to go satellite.

Had an amazing experience on Christmas day. We went over to Las Vegas to spend the day with our daughter; had a great time. About 16:00 we headed home; it was raining pretty steadily. Las Vegas is at about 2500 feet above sea level; Pahrump is about the same. However, there is a 5400 foot mountain pass between the two. When the snow level is 4000 feet; you can see the problem. This is compounded by the fact that this is a desert area where they get very little precipitation in any form so they have no snow removal equipment. We were getting into the area where the road was getting slushy when a police car with it's emergency lights on did a U-turn onto the road in front of us. He then proceeded to lead a group of 10 or 15 cars up the pass and down the other side single file at about 35 mph. We even met another cop doing the same thing going in the opposite direction. When we got down the other side, he made another U-turn and lead some other cars up the mountain and down into Vegas. What an idea! It keeps the road open; keeps the speeds down and if someone does go off the road, it won't be long before they get help. I'm just blown away by that kind of thinking. It is FAR too rare. Someone deserves an award.

Now it is the 27th. Haven't been able to use the net here so am simply adding to this text file. It got pretty cold last night - we saw 24 degrees (-3 C) and that is what it was when I walked the dog at 08:00. It is sunny so it should warm up to 50 or so (10 C). Our daughter didn't want the bone from the ham so we have that; I'll be making bean and ham soup later this morning. That will warm up the trailer!

So far it looks like we will be able to close on the house on Monday the 29th but I won't be happy until everything is signed and sealed. This is what we get for wanting to do close this year but the bank owning the property is giving us a bonus for closing in 2008 so we are willing to work for it.

We are getting things going. The electric is being moved into our names on the 29th. We have a guy coming to install a weird microwave internet service on the 31st. Our insurance will come into force on the 29th; including flood insurance! Our furniture and books that have been stored in Florida are scheduled to be loaded on a truck on the 5th to be delivered a week or two later. We have very little furniture, just a few sentimental pieces and a bed that we just bought. Besides that there is our art work; a box or two of clothes; a couple more of tools; and about 30 boxes of books. Because the shipment is so small, we'll have to be on a truck carrying things from several families. So the truck might go from Florida to New York before coming here then going on to California. There is no real way of telling at this point. We'll just wait for the driver to call.

You may recall that I had several difficulties with the water hose freezing. I was in the local museum yesterday and was talking with the curator. In the course of the conversation he mentioned that his well head has frozen for the first time. Oh s*&t, here I was hoping to be done with that particular problem. Not sure what we'll do; but maybe a shed to cover the well and pump might be a good early purchase.

Good morning! Looks like I might get to post this on the 28th. Well, I'll try! Another freezing morning. Cold and clear in the desert. May head over the hill to Vegas to look at furniture today. I was thinking yesterday that we are looking at spending at least $25K to furnish this house. Looks like it was lucky that we got a good price on the house itself.

Now let's see if I can load this - nope! I can read the blog but can't get to the sign in screen. Hmmm, maybe later. At any rate, have a good one!

Now it's Monday the 29th and we have a closing scheduled for 14:00 this afternoon!!! Yes, I'm amazed. Lots of stuff to do this morning but I wanted to post at last. Went out yesterday and bought a new clothes washer and dryer. Wanted to buy the refrigerator but they didn't have any in stock so couldn't sell it. Oh well, we'll try somewhere else. Gotta go. Hope everyone is doing well.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Questions 'n answers

Here's one of those getting-to-know-you things. I don't send shit like this around to friends but I'll at least post my answers here.

1. What is your occupation right now ? Retired

2. What color are your socks right now? black

3. What are you listening to right now? tv - some show my Judie likes

4. What was the last thing that you ate? ice cream

5. Can you drive a stick shift? I prefer it.

6. Last person you spoke to on the phone? wife, before her our realtor

7. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Hell, yes!

8. How old are you today? 60 years and a couple of months

9. What is your favorite sport to watch on TV? F1 racing - my only sport too!

10. What is your favorite drink? scotch if you mean alcohol, water otherwise

11. Have you ever dyed your hair? no

12. Favorite food? Stew or soup

13. What is the last movie you watched? Room with a View

14. Favorite day of the year? Today

15. How do you vent anger? Workout or at least walk

16. What was your favorite toy as a child? Guns

17. What is your favorite season? shoulder seasons - spring and fall

18. Cherries or Blueberries? Blueberries

19. Do you want your friends to e-mail you back? no

20. Who is the most likely to respond? not sending it on

21. Who is least likely to respond? duh

22. Living arrangements? 26 foot trailer - house 10 times larger soon

23. When was the last time you cried? no idea

24. What is on the floor of your closet? spare towels are stored there

25. Who is the friend you have had the longest that you are sending to? see #20

26. What did you do last night? Surfed and drank scotch

27. What are you most afraid of? heights and underground

28. Plain, cheese, or spicy hamburgers? Spicy cheeseburger

29. Favorite dog breed? Mutt

30. Favorite day of the week? Don’t have one

31. How many states have you lived in? IA, TX, WA, NJ, FL, NV - the Netherlands

33. What is your favorite flower? No favorite

Nice day - good food

We are having a bit of a break in the weather today; it's nice! The rest of the week is supposed to be rainy or at least breezy and cloudy. Not that it is like the midwest or northeast where it is really nasty. The winter here just isn't going to be really awful. Heard on the tv this morning that the record is for nine inches of snow in Vegas. That's just a dusting to someplace like Buffalo, NY.

Enough of the weather, I'm off doing laundry this a.m. One of the things about living in a trailer is that you don't have room for lots of clothes so..... I get this opportunity quite often. The upside is that the internet is usually slightly better here. Not today, of course! That means that I can't upload a photo of the snowy mountains. It's interesting looking at the snow/rock formations. There must be some pretty amazing cliffs and valleys up there; I'm hoping to check them out next spring: too cold now; too hot in the summer.

Had fun cooking last night. Made charcroute garni - or at least my version of it! Yum! We didn't have any carraway seeds so that was missing. Also we usually end up with way too much sauerkraut so I don't put as much in as most recipes want. However we did have smoked pork chops which are an improvement over the unsmoked variety that I usually use. I was looking on the web for recipes and found one of Emeril Legasse's. I love his show but he is always SO over the top that I could never actually follow one of his recipes. In this case he had three different sausages that probably aren't even available in the US. Honestly, have you ever seen blood sausage here? But I knew right off the bat that I wouldn't be cooking his way when he started out with a gallon of water! Still, it's fun to watch and the guy does just keep being amazing.

Keep up the good work & stay out of trouble.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Yep, it's snowing in Las Vegas. It's pretty unusual but it does happen and here it is! Of course the news stations are playing it for everything it's worth. I must admit that they have closed the main road west to California so that's something.

I managed to give my cold to my wife so now we are two sickies in this small space. Talk about life in the fast lane. LOL At least I'm on the mend while she is still going downhill. There is a theory that there is a correlation between illness and disruption in your life - disruption defined as moving or the death of a family member or something equally important. Certainly we are having a lot going on with this move and all. At least we should be healthy for our closing - whenever that is!

This home buying from Freddie Mac (one of the federal home mortgage guarantee companies) is a pain in the ass. They are a huge bureaucracy that basically doesn't care. They have things written into their contracts that they simply ignore - things like closing will be seven days after the contract is signed! And they just act like it isn't there. I suppose one could sue them but who's got the money for that? We questioned our real estate salesperson and he just laughed. Said something like 'what can you do'. How's that for helpful.

Have a good one; even if it is snowing where you are too!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


It is chilly today but at least the sun is out and it isn't windy. Yesterday we had 40mph winds (65 kph). There is a casino near here that has a huge US flag that was blowing straight out. This morning is is just hanging there. Much better!

Having said that, this trailer isn't very well set up for cold. Our water comes in via an ordinary hose. We weren't sleeping well because of the wind so got up several times in the night to run the water to keep it from freezing. The water was just fine when I left with the dog for her morning walk and was almost frozen when I returned. Bah, humbug!

I'm sure everyone has heard about the US auto industry asking for financial help. It's a tough decision: thousands of peoples jobs are at risk and thousands more if those autoworkers lose their jobs but what can we really do? Is the government going to come to me and tell me I must buy a new truck simply because I can afford it? Britain, France and Germany have all supported their auto industries at one time or another; maybe it is our turn. Those countries are considerably closer to a Socialist form of government than the US; is it our turn to move to the left as well? It would be funny if in the final days of the Republican presidency just before the new 'liberal Democrat' takes office, Socialism manages to get a start here in the land of idiots and nitwits.

Speaking of our wonderful country, I could hardly believe some of the trash I was hearing on tv the other day. This is a small town (not even incorporated as a town) but we have a tv station. (All the other stations are from Vegas.) On our local station there were these two people showing a photo supposedly released by NASA taken by a Venus probe. In the photo there was lots of dirt and something shaped like a log - long, straight & rounded. These two idiots were claiming that it WAS a log; that it proved that there were forests on Venus and the the planet is habitable. My God, how long did they stand out in the sun to get that weird?

Have a good one.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pahrump Days

Sun is up but it's kind of windy this a.m. I was glad of the hood on my jacket. Took a few photos of the full moon but I doubt if they are worth sharing.

Yesterday was a cloudy day in the desert. Temp was in the 50's (12C). When I walked the dog a bit of sunshine managed to shine on the base of the western mountains but not on the tops. Interesting. In a few minutes, it was gone.

I'm going to have to buy some warm clothes. Nights are near freezing and will be getting cooler still for the next few months. When we left Florida we gave away almost all of our clothes; there isn't much storage in our trailer and we thought we would be in warm places. I have one long sleeve shirt! I guess it will be a sort of economic stimulus for the local merchants. (Walmart since it's the only game in town!)

Speaking of things economic; I hear some liberals are worried that Mr. Obama's choices for his cabinet are too centralist. I wonder what they thought they were going to get? If Obama is going to accomplish anything he is going to need the support of lots of lawmakers who are a lot more conservative then he. By selecting
people who are not terribly liberal he may have a chance to get some liberal ideas across. For example, I suspect that if we had a national health service the automakers would be doing just fine. Just my guess but it would be interesting to see some of the numbers.

It does bother me that there are so many people from the Clinton era. (Including most of all, Hillary.) I've read lately about corruption in Bill's White House (including Hillary and her brothers amongst others) and I'd sure like Mr. Obama to get through his term or terms with an untarnished record.

Sorry if my post is all gloom and doom. I've picked up a slight cold and I think it makes me grouchy. Maybe I need to go look at the mountain for a while. Hope you and yours are all doing just fine.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Am I dull or what!

My blogging is getting even duller than when I don't blog! All we are doing is working on this house thing. Yesterday we spent half the day looking at furniture and appliances. It's interesting to my wife who has definite opinions on what features she wants; for me it is torture. Take a clothes washer: I do probably 75% of the laundry in our house. I always use the same settings, the same detergent, etc. I dump everything in the tub and turn it on. However, she is the one who wants the 6 speed washer with eighteen settings and automatic dispensing of every thing you can put into your laundry. She's even joined Consumer Reports to see how they rate the various machines. Guess that's the difference between Mars and Venus.

Just for fun, here's a picture of the house that I keep going on about. It's a 3 bedroom, 2 bath on one acre. Pretty typical of the upper scale home in this area. Nothing too fancy but nice enough. (Sorry about the dog butt in the foreground but she was enjoying sniffing her new yard.) Have a good one!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

House in process.......

Not doing a lot these days except getting crap going with the house purchase. Getting a mortgage, mailing stuff all over hell, signing all the stuff, getting things notarized, inspected and sniffed all over! (That last sound like dogs meeting but what the hell.) Of course we've never purchased a house that was foreclosed on before so the process is somewhat different. I won't go into details because it's just too dull and awful. The only thing I will say is that our mortgage is going really easily (so far!) because we have FANTASTIC credit ratings.

However, I'm SO GLAD that the country is moving down a new road from the last eight years. Please don't think that Mr. Obama is going to fix things in five minutes. It could be a long cold winter but at least I think we are making changes in this country that will bring us more into line with the rest of the world. There will be things happening that I don't personally agree with but I think we've got to change a few things.

The first thing Mr. Obama has done that I really don't like is the appointment of Mrs. Clinton to State. She is one nasty woman; her and her husband's connections with India; Israel; the whole Black Rock thing; there is a LOT of dirt there. I'm hoping it takes both of them out of the political world forever without killing the optimistic attitude that Mr. Obama is bringing to our country. That attitude is key to returning to prosperity; maybe we can have prosperity AND honesty. (How's that for optimism?)

Have a good one!

Friday, November 28, 2008

I've been gone; sorry!

Well, I've been quiet for a long while haven't I. There are a variety of reasons but today I want to blog.... First of all, for those in the US, Happy Thanksgiving! For the rest of the world, Happy Thursday! Second, it's been raining in the desert! Las Vegas got between a quarter and a half inch (1 cm maybe) yesterday and are getting more today. Of course the drivers forget that water on the oily film on the road equals danger. There were lots of people slipping off the roads. Then when I got up this morning there was a beautiful fog. It was just lovely; I'm crazy about fog as long as I'm not driving in it. Finally, we did find a house, put in an offer and it was accepted yesterday. So our lives are about to change again.

This will be very different from any place I've lived before for a lot of reasons. The house has it's own well and a septic system. Pahrump is built on top of a large aquifer but I get the idea that the water is of variable quality. Lots of people have reverse osmosis systems to purify their water. Hope we don't need that! The septic system is also going to be interesting. I take it there isn't a lot of maintenance but you need a professional cleaning every few years.

The whole idea of living in the desert is new as well. Anyone know anything about decorating the yard with rocks? LOL Happily there are nurseries in the area that can help us with plants that won't need much water. The houses in this area are almost all built of wood with a cement stucco exterior. It seems odd to me; I was expecting cement block. There are a few homes built from adobe brick but not many! Adobe is probably too labor intensive; not to mention the difficulty of finding people who know about it. Of course a wood house can burn down and there isn't much water out here; I'm told that the volunteer fire department brings a truck full of water with them!

Internet should be interesting too. There aren't enough poeple for cable companies to run cable so everyone uses a satellite television connection. Unfortunately they don't do a real good job with the net. One company does offer it; that is one possibility. The phone companies MAY have DSL in our neighborhood; we'll have to check that out as well. I may be driving around town looking for hotspots for a while!

When we sold the house in Florida, we sold and donated almost all our furniture, clothes, kitchen stuff, etc. We are certainly going to be helping the local economy! My wife is already talking about measuring spaces and what we want to buy first. We've not bought furniture for a specific house since 1982; I think our dishes were from then as well. The house has built-in ovens, a dishwasher and a microwave but no refrigerator; no washer or dryer. Hmmm, this could get expensive!

(This post was to have been made yesterday but the internet connection in our park is always questionable. Yesterday it was dead. Today it is fine so Happy Belated Thanksgiving or, internationally, Happy Friday. Have a good one!)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Pahrump Nights

One of the things I'm enjoying about Pahrump is that there is relatively little light pollution. I was raised out in the country miles from the nearest town so there were lots of stars to be seen. I've lived my entire adult life in cities except for the odd vacation week. Coming here, the stars are back!

It isn't like it was when I was a kid, there is pollution and, of course, my eyes aren't what they were! But it's a tremendous improvement on, say, Seattle where there was both light pollution and lots of clouds. In Florida the Tampa Bay area is totally populated so it is never really dark. I feel sorry for people who haven't had the experience of star watching. (No, Brittany Spears doesn't count.)

My point and shoot camera probably isn't up to recording stars, this is the best I can do. When we land somewhere, maybe I'll get the old Nikon and the telescope out and see what I can get. Do they still sell film? Have a good one.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Well, we have a new President elected. Let's hope he can make at least some of his promises come true. I was worried that there might be a silent majority who would not vote for a black man. Thankfully, that did not happen.

Unfortunately, in at least two states (California and Florida) there were votes outlawing gay marriage. I think that violates the separation of church and state. Marriage is a religious ceremony; having a partner is a civil matter; I think it's that simple.

We are still hanging around in Pahrump; in fact we'll be staying here until the middle of December. We are looking at homes in the area as well as in the Las Vegas metro area. The problem in Vegas is that the homes are built on tiny lots: a 2,500 sq ft house on a 3,500 sq ft lot!!!

Gotta go. Have a good one.

Friday, October 31, 2008


We arrived here on 13 October. Today is the first day that was other than warm and sunny. It rained; here's proof. Any questions?

I posted this and didn't do a good job of explaining what all is going on. First of all, when it rains in the desert like this, you really smell the dust. It's weird but that's mostly what you smell. In Florida it was humid and when it rained you smell the rain. Here our humidity has been in the single digits; today it is in the twentys. That's a giant change.

This is a reasonably close representation of the amount of rain we received. It's a photo of the concrete pad next to our trailer. There were a couple of other photo opportunities that I missed where there were more droplets but; well; let's just say you wouldn't have gotten wet!

Also last night was the first night when we could not see the stars. We have moved from a heavily populated area (Tampa Bay) to this lightly populated place and there was a huge increase in the number of stars visible to the naked eye. Last night they were gone; tonight they are returning so I can tell the front has past us. My wife looks at the mountains and says she has been mountain deprived. I think I've been star deprived. (And, yes, I'm depraved as well but that's another blog!)

Oh, and I've got something screwed up in blogger - it's only about 22:30 on 31 October here but I notice that this is postmarked 1 November. Gotta be something simple but I'm simpler. LOL

Have a good and safe one!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Visit to Vegas

Went over to Vegas the other day. We've been carrying a bunch of stuff in the back of the truck and wanted some air conditioned storage for it. Couldn't find any in Pahrump so over the hill we went.

Stopped and checked out the storage and went to get back into the truck when I discovered I didn't have my keys. Went all over the storage place and couldn't find them. My wife looked in the ignition; no keys. Finally I looked into the truck and something clicked: when we parked we'd been charging the cell phone and I put the cord in the back seat and there were my keys. Bah!

The guy at the storage place just happened to have this wire hanger... and I had happened to leave the window down about a quarter of an inch... so after five minutes work we managed to hit the unlock button. It set off the car alarm but that was easily fixed once I had the keys back! Dumb! And it should be only about fifteen years before my wife stops laughing about it. Jeez!

We are wandering around Pahrump trying to learn about the place; deciding if we'd like to live here. Need to meet with some people in the city planning office to learn about development plans. And I found this place: need to learn about it too!

Have a good and safe day, y'all.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

More Pahrump

Ok, I thought it would be a good idea to pass on a few photos of the town and county around here. We are hanging around just relaxing. Later in the week we'll get really ambitious and get over the hill to Vegas.

Here is another shot of the mountains from the valley floor. They are at least 20 miles away.

Our park is a mile or so from Homestead Road. Here is where Homestead kind of changes character.

At the very end of the road is this place. It is one of the legal brothels here in Pahrump.

This is the "real" Pahrump. This is about as close to a downtown as Pahrump owns. Of course, the Walmart is down the road out of sight!

Talk about life in the fast lane! BTW, I forgot to list the Escapees website: - it's a great organization for rv people. Have a good one!

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Yep, there is a place called Pahrump, Nevada. And we are there!

We've belonged to a camping club called Escapees. They cater mostly to people who live in their rvs full time. We are staying in one of their parks called Pair-A-Dice. Nevada humor, I think! Anyway, it's a nice spacious place in this little town. There are 4 or 5 casinos; 2 grocery stores & 2 hardware stores. Not a lot more.

It is out in the desert between two mountain ranges but is only about 60 miles from Las Vegas. We went to a casino for dinner last night; they all have a cafe and have almost driven everyone else out of business. That's sad.

Driving down here we came up over a rise and saw the road snaking out in front of us. I measured it as best as I could and the next time we were on a rise was 15 miles later. It's a big country. Not many people either. The photo is from our park looking at the mountain between us and Las Vegas.

Have fun but be careful!

Monday, October 13, 2008


Yep, this is coming from Tonopah, Nevada. It is a town that needs to be here so people can buy gas and have a place to stay between Reno and Las Vegas. There used to be mining here; not sure if it is gone or not but the tourist is the big deal here. We haven't seen a single police officer is 200 miles; in Tonopah I've seen four. Traffic citation revenue must be a large part of the city budget.

We are parked behind a motel-casino-restaurant-rv-park. Had a drink in the bar; dinner in the restaurant and won about $3 in the casino. Obviously it's best to leave soon!

Camping in this weather is new for us. It is only a couple degrees below freezing but I seem to have to learn these things one by one.

The first night I shut off the water and unhooked one end of the hose. Unfortunately, it didn't drain so in the morning I needed 2 teapots of water and about two hours trying to thaw it.

The second night I shut off the water and unhooked both ends of the hose being careful to drain it. Something happened to the tap however and it broke leaving us without water in the morning.

The third night I shut off the water and unhooked both ends of the hose being careful to drain it. I also drained both our waste tanks so they would be in no danger of freezing. Unfortunately I forgot to carefully drain the drain hose so it froze & it took a teapot of water in the morning to thaw it.

This is the fourth night; scary isn't it! Being me is SO interesting. Have a good one.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Well, lots of shit has happened. For various reasons, I've fallen behind. Let's try to get it all in order. The 5th, we drove from Woodburn, Oregon to Weed, California. Went to Starbucks in Woodburn for coffee and a breakfast sandwich. Sandwich made me ill shortly after we got on the road. I wanted to stop driving but my wife didn't really want to drive in the mountains. SO I got to drive. Stopped once to see if I throw up but couldn't however, the attempt did seem to make me feel better. Found some mints and ate them all day. Did the Siskiyou mountain range - not much going on since it was a lovely fall day but you can see where lots of ice and snow would make it more interesting. Went to some park from the Escapees book - it was a hole next to the freeway but about 60 feet lower. No tv, cable, wifi, etc. I went to bed as soon as we landed.

The 6th was quite a day. Left Weed earlyish. Felt better; at least. Drove across one of the most lonely roads in California. The towns were population 200 size and there were only two of them in a 120 mile segment. Nice day though. We were uncertain about where to stop in the Reno, Nevada area. We were actually driving along looking at this rv park when someone flagged us down; we had smoke coming off the left rear wheel. One look told me 'wheelbearing' so we pulled into this park. Decided to stay a week. Anyway, it was only about 15:00 so I called around; made an appointment with a guy to fix it Tuesday a.m. Had dinner at the Boardertown casino; not awful but not memorable either.

Today I went over to the casino for breakie - finest piece of ham I've seen in quite a while. Only $8 too. Then I spent the morning watching a guy fix the trailer - $500 later things are cool, I think! Had to replace both bearings on the one wheel and another on the right side of the rig. Then he did grease all the rest of the bearings.

Wandered around Reno quite a bit yesterday. Got home 17:00 after lots of grocery shopping, etc. Went out to dinner. Looked for a place that the GPS knew about - it was some house out in Lemmon Valley; not a restaurant, for sure. So we tried another one; turned out to be another casino but at least they had a restaurant. Got home and watched 'In the Heat of the Night' on tv.

Now to see what kind of trouble we can get into today! I'll try to add some photos later. Have a good one.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

OJ Simpson

The news is full of the fact that OJ Simpson, one of the finest football (American) players ever has been convicted of trying to steal some of his own memorabilia. Simpson is over sixty so he is of my generation. When I was younger I watched some football (not a lot, never a real fan) and really enjoyed watching his performance. Now he has been convicted of trying to steal this stuff. Here is a quote from the Yahoo! news article:

The case was set in motion by Thomas Riccio, a collectibles broker who tried to bring in the FBI when he heard that two memorabilia dealers were planning to sell a trove of Simpson artifacts. Failing to get their attention, he helped set up a "sting" by promoting an anonymous buyer who turned out to be Simpson.

Riccio, who has peddled goods including video of Anna Nicole Smith's breast implant surgery, saw a chance to profit by recording the confrontation between Simpson and collectibles dealers Alfred Beardsley and Bruce Fromong.

He rented a cramped hotel room away from the Las Vegas Strip for the meeting and planted a digital recorder atop an armoire. Riccio then sold the recordings of the six-minute confrontation for $210,000 before turning them over to police eight days later. Although they couldn't be authenticated, the recordings became the heart of the prosecution's case, along with audio recorded by gunman Michael McClinton at two wedding parties.

What gets me is that this sleaze bag who sold video of a surgery (!) got over $200K for a video of what was basically an argument. What a wonderful world this is. What wonderful people there are taking video's of others for their own profit. What crap. And who the hell would buy photos of some bimbo's operation; even if it was breast implant surgery. Oh jeez, there I go again.

Have a good one!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Unusually nice!

We are having fantastic weather for this time of year and this place. It is in the 70's during the day; 50's in the night. It hasn't rained in at least five days. I've lived here; this is unusual!

A few photos seem to be in order. First, we traveled up US-101 highway to get here. Homes are situated along the edge of the road where there is space between it and the shore. These are typical; the water is the Hood Canal.

Our park is on the Olympic Peninsula. You can see across Puget Sound to Mount Baker northeast of Bellingham, WA. A reasonable guess is that it's about 75 miles away.

These characters are having an afternoon nap in a playground that the camp provides for kids. At this time of year, the kids are in school so guess who gets the playground.

In the midst of all this beauty, the stock market dumped almost 800 points today as the Congress expressed it's displeasure with the financial bailout plan proposed by the President and his advisors. I imagine that the plan will ultimately be passed but it is tough going through all this. We have substantial investments in the stock market so we are taking some large losses. Happily, we don't need the money 'today'. Every time I hear the idiots reporting the news talking about 'investors on Wall Street did such-and-so' I cringe. Most of those people on Wall Street are traders, not investors. Warren Buffett is an investor; in my own small way, I am an investor. We look carefully at a company before we buy into it and we keep it for a long time. Many, many of the mutual funds run by those Wall Street guys and gals have turnovers of 200% a year. That means they might buy a stock in January, sell it in May and buy it again in November. That just isn't investing; it's trading.

Hope you are all having a wonderful day. Take care.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Western Washington

Good Morning! We are currently parked on the Olympic Peninsula in Western Washington. It is unseasonably beautiful here right now. High temps should be in the 70's and lows in the 40's - AND - it's sunny! Very unusual.

We had a great trip up here. Driving along I-84 you are next to the Columbia River. It is a great river. It divides Washington and Oregon. The eastern part of each state is dry; the western parts of each is very wet. Parts of the Olympic Peninsula is actually a rainforest! I had to take photos of the river.

This is in the eastern part of the state:

This is the western part:

You go from desert dry and sunny to rainy, forested and overcast just by crossing a few low mountains.

I'll have more to say later. Have a good day!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Hello from Eastern Oregon


We were camped in western Wyoming and were talking about this trailer we like: the Arctic Fox 29V. We have never even seen one but like the layout. We have also heard that you should visit the factory before buying something. SO, rather than continue on southwest to Reno, Nevada we came northwest to Le Grande, Oregon where the Arctic Fox rvs are made.

We went through the factory with one of their reps the other day. Typically factory tours are given once or twice a day; in our experience there will be six to twenty visitors. In this tour, it was me, my wife, the tour guy and a company salesman. Hmmm. Part of that is because it is late September and normal visitors aren't going to be here - it's cold. Unfortunately, the other reason is the economy/cost of fuel/lack of credit/etc. Want to know who's going to have a rough few years in the White House? Whoever wins! At this point they are both facing a lose-lose couple of years.

We liked the build quality so went to the local dealer. We don't know how closely connected they are to the factory but..... Anyway, they had 2 examples of the model we like - the 29V. So we checked them out pretty carefully. The first had a door that was sticking and a broken window. It also had a color scheme that we don't care about. The second had a color scheme that we actually like but had several options that we wouldn't ordinarily buy. Finally we discover that the factory is making some changes in the layout that we like for 2009. So we are faced with a trailer that we wouldn't buy; one we would buy if the price was right and some new ones that we like better.

In the end, we decided to ask about pricing on the 2008 that we thought was ok. Turns out that they liked it more than we did - couldn't come to an agreement on price! So I called them late this afternoon and said we were leaving town and thanked them for their time. Maybe they will figure out that they've pissed off a cash customer or maybe they won't. We are ok with either decision.

We would also have to purchase a truck to pull the trailer since our current truck is too small. We checked with the GM dealer (Chevy and GMC) - they don't have a truck available that meets our specs. The trailer dealer checked with the Ford dealer; there is one truck between here and Springfield, MO (1000 miles or so east) that is a good match though it is four wheel drive and we don't want that. Hmmm. We smell a rat or eight! Again, thanks for your time.

We are happy to leave with our current set up. We will go up into Washington to visit our family. They are out on the Olympic Peninsula so we don't have to worry about freezing. We should leave there in about a week and head south. When we are down there, we can order the truck we want. Dealers order an almost endless series of $300 options that inflate the price of a $35K truck to $45K. Ordering from the factory you order and pay for only what you want. THEN we can order the trailer we want - again, not something stuffed with options that inflate the price and give the user nothing. This could be good!

Hope you are having fun out there. It's sunny and warm but not hot here. I'm not saying anything about the drivers; no one's hit me yet! Take care.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Trucking West

We finally got out of Colorado Springs. Don't get me wrong, it's a nice town but we need to head west. So, of course, we went North. Wanted to catch I-80 for the trip west so.....

Denver was a breeze; went through mid-morning and didn't really slow down the entire way. Then Cheyenne, WY; there we just touched the city; saw the gleam of the capital. Now we are in Evanston, WY. Small town near the Utah border. Had some really LOUSY Mexican food for dinner; will not post the name of the resturant to protect the innocent but I will say it was a guy's name.

It occurred to me that you might not know about trucks & trailers. Here is a photo of our truck & trailer parked in Rawlings, WY. The truck is a 2000 GMC Sierra; what we call a half-ton pickup. The trailer is a 26 foot Cameo by Carriage; also manufactured in 2000.

The doors are open because it's time for the big fuzzy dog to get into her seat. Here she is looking somewhat odd. She is a mixed breed dog that we got from the Humane Society when she was about four months old. I always tell people she has a little of everything in her breeding. She is seven years old. The back seat of the truck is covered with an old blanket in an attempt to keep some of the dog hair off the actual seat.

So now you have an idea of the size of our trailer; truck & dog. Hope it all makes sense to you. Be careful out there; it's crazy!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Greetings from Colorado Springs

Sorry, I've been bad about updating the blog. It isn't as though we haven't had wifi. I'm actually surprised but we have had it almost the entire trip.

Went from Nashville up towards St. Louis then turned west. We prefer to travel on smaller roads but don't have a lot of time to spare so we opted for the Interstate. I-70 has been our friend. Stopped in Independence, Missouri to check out the Truman Museum. It sounds like Old Harry had a tough Presidency. The next day, we stopped in Abilene, Kansas to check out the Eisenhower Museum. Possibly a little easier but maybe it was just that Ike had more charisma. Anyway, we really enjoyed both experiences. Then we continued west on I-70 again until it was time to turn off for Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs is a fairly military town: the Air Force Acadamy; two air bases; one army fort. At the same time it's kind of a tree-huggy place. Lots of natural food stores, cute little shops, etc. There is a modern downtown area, of course, but we are managing to avoid it!

The rv park we use here is a real parking lot. Our front door opens onto our neighbor's water and sewer connections. There is no place to park our truck except on the street if all the places are rented. Fortunately, we are here to visit friends so spend our days at their home. This works fine for sleeping.

We'll be leaving here on Tuesday or Wednesday headed for Reno. We'll go north to pick up I-80 (new road!) and turn west to go through Salt Lake City for our destination on the western side of Nevada. Who knows if we will find a place we like or not. It seems like we are having an early fall this year so if it starts snowing on our parade we'll have to head for warmer climes.

My wife is talking about remaining in the rv rather than immediately buying a house. I'm kind of ok with that but there are a few kinks that we'd have to work out. This trailer is eight years old and needs to be replaced if we are going to be living in it. We have read about one we like on the internet but that isn't the same as seeing and touching one. If we can find what we want, we may be vagabonds for a while. I'll keep in touch.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Just a few more things.....

I was looking at some of my posts and figured out that I haven't mentioned a few things that might make our weird journey more understandable.

We have wanted to leave Florida for some time. This isn't the best of times to sell the house but because we bought before the big increase in prices we could sell and still make a little. We want to spend some time visiting some of the natural wonders found in the Western part of the US. Driving 1,500 miles from Florida for every trip got boring not to mention expensive. So we sold the house and are planning on buying another, simpler home, in the Southwest. We'll start checking out Nevada but Arizona and New Mexico aren't out of bounds.

We've been on I-10 many times but now with Gustav around, going North would seem reasonable. We also have relatives in Northern Missouri and friends in Colorado Springs we want to visit. So it's I-70 for us; life on the big slab. It's not fun but how much fun is Kansas anyway?

Anyway, that's why we are in Nashville; our intermediate stops and our eventual destination - so far as we know. We are good at changing direction in the middle of things so don't hold me to any of that stuff! The only thing I'm sure of is that we are in Nashville.

Take it easy!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Nashville Cats

Hello from Nashville, Country Music capital of the world. Got here this afternoon after another tiring drive. Atlanta was a giant pain even on the weekend. We are planning on spending a few days here to regroup. It's a nice enough park; even has a dog run.

Didn't see any cops on our trip Friday up to Perry, GA. Today we saw 6 or 8 including several who were busy writing tickets. Don't know if it is the holiday or what. Of course, pulling the trailer on the open road; we don't have to worry much about speeding. We might speed in town but 60 is a comfortable speed on the highway. It also gets us mileage that is marginally acceptable (9 or 10 miles to the gallon). Gas has been from $3.49 to $3.69 a gallon; diesel is a bit over $4. The parks we have used so far have been in the $15-20 range. Mastercard will love us this month!

Take it easy out there; them people are plum crazy!

Friday, August 29, 2008


Now I've got a problem: we are leaving Tampa Bay, probably for ever, so what's with the title of the blog? Hmmmm. Guess I'll have to move on.

Today we left Florida soil; we've no idea if or when we might return. We moved to Florida in 2000 because our mother's both lived near St. Pete. They have both passed away so now there is no reason for us to live here. We have friends and an aunt/uncle in Florida; otherwise, there are no familial obligations here.

Perhaps I'll start a new blog and leave a link here. I just haven't a clue about it's name! LOL Isn't life fun. John Lennon is supposed to have said 'life is what happens while you are busy making other plans'. Well, it's sure working for me. Maybe that should be the title of the new one: 'While I'm making other plans'. Sounds ok, any thoughts?

I'm tired; it's been a long day and I'm tired. Have a good day & take it easy.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Still having fun

We have decided that we are leaving this park in Dunedin on Thursday morning and heading north on I-75. It will take a couple days to get out of Florida since we need to stop and see family. I'm glad I'm not being chased by a hurricane!

Went down to Englewood yesterday to drop off some family memorabilia with a cousin. Funny how some people are really into that kind of thing. It doesn't mean a lot to me but, of course, I don't have any children to "build a dynasty". And I learned something interesting! I am a second generation Irish immigrant for I am eligible for Irish citizenship. Hmmm. Interesting! Maybe I'll try for it.

Hope things are going ok. Have a good one.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Haven't I been bad!

No posts in three weeks. Well, sorry but I'm in never-never land. Or somewhere close to it. Actually, I'm in Dunedin, FL about 10 miles from our old house. We parked the rig here because it would make it easy to load it with stuff from the house. As you saw in my last post, that plan worked almost too well. We had to treble the size of our storage overflow area. Now I have to figure out how to dump all that STUFF!

We hoped that we might find a new rig to replace this one. The newer trailers have slideouts that add perhaps 30 square feet of living space. That doesn't sound like much until you think about our trailer having 200 square feet TOTAL. That even includes the area taken up by the stove, sink, bed, etc. 30 square feet; something around 3 sq. m. would be a lot.

We've looked at most of the trailers in the area, and because this is a vacation destination there are plenty. We haven't found anything that has both good construction and nice usage of space. Even the Airstreams, the all aluminium ones, that cost about $80-90,000 and have beautiful wood work, aren't acceptable; the shower in them is too small for me to use! Honestly, I'm not THAT big! We want to buy the trailer before buying the truck because it is easy to buy a trailer that is too big to be towed by a given truck. If we buy the trailer first, we can use it's size to help with the truck purchase. Generally, buying a truck larger than needed is more expensive to buy, more expensive to run and less comfortable while you are riding in it.

Anyway, we've pretty much decided to take this trailer and this truck and drive out west to where we might want to buy a house. Then, if we can find anything, we'll buy house, truck, trailer & whatever else in whatever order! At least we will have the dealer's who sold us the stuff near by so we can beat on them as necessary. If we can't find the stuff we want, who the hell knows! We may emigrate!

Hope you are having fun but do be careful out there!

Oops, two more things: Tropical Storm Fay was headed our way but missed us entirely. Rained a bunch on Eastern Florida though. The other thing is that I'm back in the Microsoft fold - this is being done on my new Toshiba laptop. I just couldn't take that awful Apple hardware. Threw it in the trash and enjoyed the experience. Sure wish I had that operating system though. (Sigh!)

Friday, August 01, 2008


We closed on the house yesterday. It was one of those closings that doesn't do much for your blood pressure but it did happen. The night before the closing, the purchaser started complaining (via his agent) about lint in the attic. I called him up and told him that if he wanted to use this as an excuse to not close it was fine with me. He decided to take care of the lint himself. Hell, it's been there since before we bought the house eight years ago. Our inspector found the dryer vent hose was broken and had spilled lint into the attic. They fixed the hose but didn't clean up.

Then at the closing, the first paper my wife was to sign had our last name mis-spelled in two places (MY name which is the same, was spelled correctly). So we all sat around for about 20 minutes while the title company rep corrected and re-printed all the paperwork. What an idiot! Nikki, I sure hope I never see you again.

So now we are living in our twenty-six foot travel trailer - with our dog and cat! It is so crowded that the dog can only turn around in the bedroom and under the dinette. We dumped stuff in here for later sorting; guess we'd better get busy! You can see for yourself here:

We are having second thoughts about the boat. Getting rid of it in a couple of years might be really difficult - that bothers me a lot. Then my wife is now saying that she used the boat idea to try to get me to leave Florida. It's crazy and manipulative but it does sound like her. We'll have to discuss that when we are more grounded. Right now we are just feeling too tired for sane discussion. But I'm thinking a new RV (larger!) is in our future.

Take it easy out there, it's dangerous!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Jeez, time flies, etc.

Wow! Guess I've been slow about updating my blog. Sorry!

Things are going along just fine except that we are going somewhat more than slightly crazy. The house appraised at more than the selling price but it really had to; it would have killed the sale otherwise. Then we had a wood destroying organism inspection. Fortunately we knew it was coming and I'd noticed some dry rot on the garage door. So we spent the odd $1000 on a new door. Just had to do it.

Last week we went up and got our trailer. We took the time to clean it from roof to wheels since you can't do that kind of cleaning in most parks. The interior is awful but it looks good outside! Anyway then we brought it down to a park in the area. We plan to move into it after the house is sold. We have a few things to do around town so it's nice to have a place to stay that isn't a hotel. I haven't even been over to check on it again because we parked it on Thursday and haven't stopped moving since. Friday and Saturday we had a garage sale. Now remember that the object was to get rid of things so in that regard we were successful. Making money wasn't much of a success but who cares. For example, we sold a bunch of lawn tools (shovels, rakes, etc) for $1 each. Considering that they are $15 to $25 each at the store, a slightly used tool for a buck sounds good to me. It did to others as well! LOL

Saturday was our daughter's birthday (still under 40!) but we couldn't really celebrate but she did come over yesterday & we had a nice time. Nice enough that she decided to stay over even though that meant sleeping on the floor since we sold the guest bed. She left this morning with a box full of pots & pans. We are scheduling last payments for utilities, changing mailing addresses, ordering a dumpster; all the fun stuff.

Hopefully, I'll be posting again early next week. I'll either be using the old laptop (Sony Vaio from 2001) or I'll have a new one. The Apple iMac G5(from 2005) has died. The troubleshooting part of their website says the logic board needs to be replaced. That company has such a wonderful operating system and such shitty hardware. It's just a shame.

Go forth and prosper folks! And be careful out there.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

This should be a good day. A combination of traditional and non: the traditional is a bbq at the neighbor's; the non is that we will have the VA appraiser looking at our house today for the prospective buyer. It's gotta be done but I admit to amazement that someone is coming out to do it on the holiday.

Yesterday we signed a contract to store our furniture with a moving company. We'll be paying them somewhere between $250 and $300 a month to keep our things safe, dry and cool. We opted for air conditioned storage hoping that the furniture will survive in better condition. What a deal!

Have a Happy 4th of July!

Monday, June 30, 2008

There are some pretty spots around here.....

I live near an area that has been set aside as a wetland. It's the reason we have so many bird and animal visitors. This little backwater is about a mile from my house. During the dry season, it is completely dry. Now it obviously is not. Here's hoping for lots of rain this summer. The aquaifer needs it.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Things may be moving

We have a contract on our house. There is, of course, a hangup. The buyer wants a 100% VA loan. That means that the VA will have their own inspector/valuation specialist evaluate the house. If they think the house is worth what we are asking, then he gets the loan. If they don't think the house is worth it, he doesn't. So we'll just have to see how it appraises. The problem is that there are so few comparable sales that it's tough to value it. Bottom line, more waiting.

It was pretty overcast in Florida today. Took this photo out where there is a way out to the Gulf. It is low tide so the barrier islands are more obvious than usual. Even though it isn't nice, people are out collecting shells. Have a good one.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Boring Me!

Well, I'm sitting here surfing along trying to catch up on the 2.2 million blogs I've bookmarked. It's tough but that's what some of us retirees do! So I'm checking out and he's got a test for "How Evil Are You?" Here's where to find the test: Of course I had to take it! Well, here's the proof:

How evil are you?

Yep, I'm a pussy. Not evil at all. Except, of course, in the eyes of my step-children who I beat and molested at every turn. Hmmm, well, maybe not at every turn; most? LOL No, not really. Really I'm just a softy who longs for world peace and step children who don't require money after they are 30. LOL And a magic formula for losing weight without any effort. (NO laughing matter!)

Recently I figured out that I'd exercised twice this year and six times in December of last year. I was afraid to go back farther! Isn't that an awful statistic? I was appalled. When I was in the Army we learned an exercise routine called "The Daily Dozen". It wasn't considered good; just kind of minimalistic. Guess it is 20 years since I've done it. I'm working on getting back into it now that our exercise equipment is all in storage. At least I've tried 4 times in the last 8 days. Hope it does something!

Speaking of the house - we've countered an offer we received. It isn't what we wanted but we can live with it. Now we'll see if the other people can manage it. Please think good thoughts for us if you can. And regardless, be careful out there, it's dangerous!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Kitty Jail

Whoa! My first screwup!

Don't know what happened but somehow the Blogger software only kept about half of my post! First time I've had anything like that happen. Fortunately, I prepare my post offline and still have the original. Just so you don't miss out on any of my fabulous prose; here's what got deleted. Have a good one!


Yes! Yet another pointless American holiday who's existance is a boon only to retailers. Gee, I'm looking forward to it.

Actually, it should be a pretty good day. Our daughter is coming up and will bring dinner; a dinner carefully selected so that I don't have to cook anything! Usually dinner might be something for me to grill but not today. She's always careful that on Mother's Day it is something that she and I can do and on Father's Day it is something she & her mom will do. Kind of cute, huh,

Went up to see relatives who live outside of Crystal River on Friday. My wife's aunt was having a birthday so we took them out to dinner. They are only a few years older than we so it's not like the traditional 'aunt' relationship. Had a good visit. The place they like to eat has halfway eatable food but they seem to have never heard of herbs. I had a large piece of tuna; it must have been 12-16 oz (400 g). Unfortunately, it was dry & poorly seasoned. A little sauce and it could have been magnificent. My wife & her uncle both had "prime rib". They serve huge portions, probably 3 lb (1.5 kilo) but, again, unseasoned. Still, they like the place so we keep going back. There aren't a lot of nice restaurants in their area and this one certainly gives you quantity and basically good ingredients.

Happy Father's Day!

It's summer here even if it doesn't officially start for another week. Took this photo of our weather station this morning. It tells the whole story. Not yet 07:00. Outside it is 93% humidity and 74 degrees F (say 23 C). Thanks to air conditioning it is the same temperature inside but only 39% humidity. It's hard to imagine living here without the air conditioning.


Have a happy day and be careful out there!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Can it really be June?

The year just seems to be flying by; can it really be June already? I guess we are doing things but wow. It is 93 degrees outside (like 34 C) so I guess our defacto summer has begun. The rain hasn't begun yet and we are needing it. Florida has had a drought for several years; we need our rain.

We've had a couple more people look at the house. Boy, I sure hope someone buys it soon! My wife is driving me crazy. She is worried that it won't sell and we'll have to stay here. She gets herself all worked up then lashes out. This morning, for example, she was wiping off the stove when she just started swearing and banged her hand down on something. When I asked what was wrong, she said she needed some water to clean the stove and had already cleaned the sink so she'd have to clean it again. I mean really, is that a reason to fly off the handle? Jeez!

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all well. Every other day I hear about someone with some horrible disease or other not to mention the hundreds of thousands endangered by cyclone, flood and famine. All we can do is keep on but it's an amazingly dangerous place out there. Take care.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Hurricane Season

Howdy, y'all, from the great state of Florida! Hurricane season begins day after tomorrow so the stores are starting out with their sales on generators, shutters & all that stuff. Personally I think I prefer leaving if a hurricane is on the way. If the house is trashed; me being here won't help much. And it's all just 'stuff' so maybe we would have to do without or buy new. I can live with that.

The house has been on the market for three weeks and we've had six or eight showings. We've had two offers both indicative of the lousy real estate market here in Florida now. The first was just low; we rejected it. The second is a full price offer (great!) BUT it is tied to some kind of 'gift' program. The purchaser is given a gift of money to be used as a down payment by some foundation no one has ever heard of. The seller is then obligated to repay the down payment and then some to the foundation. This doesn't sit well with me.

There are several things I don't like. 1) The purchaser is given something that they needn't repay. I don't believe in the 'free lunch'. 2) The purchaser is not really involved in the transaction. They filled out some paperwork but.... When one works for and earns something, one is involved. When something is given to one, it just feels different. 3) This is clearly intended for "first house" buyers; this house is not a starter home. 4) The last thing is simply practical: they are asking for a larger discount than we wish to give.

So we are keeping the house extra clean. We pay rent on a storage unit with some of our things packed away. We are ready at a moment's notice to take the dog and leave so someone can view our house. There are several restaurants in the neighborhood who have tables outside where one may take a dog. We are getting to know them all! We are also creating a monster. The dog doesn't like all the traffic around our table. In an attempt to give her something else to think about, I feed her a few french fries. (Almost everything come with fries! aka chips in the UK, pomme frites in France, etc.) It does keep her quiet but maybe at the cost of her waistline! Hope the house sells soon!

Take care out there, it's dangerous.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Still truckin....

Originally I started this post whining about things around the house that are breaking. Then the ridiculous nature of the post hit me. I'm whining about a leaking filter and this is in a month when there are maybe two or three HUNDRED THOUSAND Asians dead from earthquakes & cyclones. There must be at least a million people in danger from who knows what diseases, lack of food and water, etc. That says nothing about the people in Africa caught in the many wars on that continent. Damn, it's getting rough out there and I'm whining about a leak in a pool filter. Isn't that crap!

It does, however, provide a segueway into the bigger question: my responsibility to the world. In this age of instant communication I can know about many of the problems on our earth. To effectively help with ANY of these problems, I'd need to do quite a lot of research. But, even if I could find an honest way to assist there is still the question of rightness. How much of my emotional/economic strength should I invest in the war in Dufur? How much in the Chinese earthquake? How much in the Myanmar cyclone? How much in the human rights fights in: China; Tibet; Palestine; Lebanon; Cyprus, etc? How much in the fight for economic progress & transparency in the US financial markets?

Isn't it right for me to be involved in my own (local, state & national) problems; and simply wish the best for others in their struggles in far off lands? Honestly, why would a fat, old American like me should have anything to contribute to the cause of freedom in Tibet? We have little enough freedom here, why am I setting myself up as someone who can advise them? I think I'll go have a V-8!

Good luck, y'all! It's dangerous out there!


Friday, May 09, 2008

Not a lot to report

Things are quiet around here for the first time in quite a while. Getting the house ready for sale was a lot of work. We had a couple of showings the first day but nothing since. I'm not expecting a lot really. The housing market is stuffed to overflowing with houses so the few buyers who are out there are kind of lost. Once in a while one might decide our house calls to them but it's probably not going to be very often. Just in case you would like to check out the house it is listed here: The MLS number is 7344770. The photo they show is just of the pool.

Mother's Day is coming up on Sunday. It is always difficult to go out and seldom satisfactory so we stay in. Our daughter will come up and do dinner; possibly with some help from me though I've been told that all I'm supposed to do is to provide champagne & beer. We'll see. These made up holidays are so stupid. They are just an excuse to buy cards & crappy little presents that no one wants. Bah, humbug!

I'm posting a photo of my room. I'm really proud of the way I've cleaned it up. The trash can is full for about the 4th time but otherwise, it's pretty good. I used to have an easy chair in front of the desk but it makes the room smaller so I put it in storage. The closet is packed full of crud, of course, but you can't see it!

Have a good one & be careful out there.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Operation Sellthehouse is underway

We choose our realtor and signed the papers to put the house on the market. The relief was physical. For better or worse we are going to find out if it sells or not. Actually, I'm not sure that I care. I'd like to go boating certainly but this isn't a slum and if times are going to get worse, it's nice to have settled expenses, knowledge of the area and all the rest. We'll see.

The news out of Myanmar is so awful. It's hard to imagine tens of thousands of people dead. They say twice the number known dead are missing. It is such a tragedy. For us in North America it is a little known place and the thousands of people lost are hard to imagine. Wikipedia suggests that about 1,800 people lost their lives in Katrina; so this is more than ten times worse! Not to mention that these people started with so much less than the people of New Orleans. The people of Myanmar will be in my thoughts for a long time.

I have no real opinion on the Olympics in Beijing. Clearly the country has human rights problems but since Mr Bush the 2nd came long, so do we. Not to mention that I can hardly conceive of the path China has followed for the last 20 years or so. I should have said they were the country most true to Communist ideals. I know that Communist does not equal socialist but there was some similarity. No longer! In a couple more years, they will have more billionaires than the rest of the world combined. But I imagine they will still have a government run by the Communist party for the party elite. It's an amazing place. Guess I'll have to visit one day. In the mean time, here's an Aussie who just spent a few days there.

Well, I'm off to bed. Can't do this stuff all night long. Be careful out there, it's dangerous!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Still struggling

We are still struggling with our house and realtors. The third realtor we talked with didn't help matters when she said she would market the house at $325K - now we have a $75K difference and none of the people seemed to be totally insane. We are still working that problem.

Our family visits were great. No one got crazy though we did certainly drink more than would be good for us. My stepson is 36 though when around your parents you always remain the child. He and his 'significant other' have been together for almost 12 years. They talk about marriage but we told them that it is a two edged sword. Lots of long-term couples have broken up after taking their vows. It it also true that legally we (and his father) are his next of kin; not his life partner. At least I hope he makes a will.

The 'significant other' is a nice person but she hates to travel. Therefore, the only time we've spent with her was when we were visiting San Diego; which isn't much! She works as a nurse and usually works the night shift making it even more difficult to spend time together. Stepson kept saying how she would like it here just relaxing so maybe someday we'll get to see them together outside San Diego.

It was really easy having him here. He is interesting to talk with and undemanding in the extreme. We talked quite a bit about cooking since he also likes to cook. He works in the IT department of a construction sub-contractor. They do a lot of work in hospitals, hotels, etc so haven't stopped work like the people who build houses. He and his sister went out together one day & finally made it home about 22:00 - sounds like they had a good time which isn't always the case. All in all, the perfect visit.

In our spare time we are still fixing things around the house. Funny how fixing something brings something else to mind that needs work. My last big thing is replacing a few posts in our fence. They are sagging and just can't look like that. The other thing is to get my room, this room, looking like a person lives here! Now it looks like a 15 year olds room except that I don't have any posters on the walls. The two computers is kind of a problem but they'll just have to get over it. I'm putting the laptop in the truck so no one will see it and I can check out wifi at Starbucks. The storage area is close to full but I'll keep jamming stuff in there until it screams.

Take it easy out there; it's dangerous!

Friday, April 11, 2008

I'm still here....

No, haven't died or even moved but we have been busy. I rented a storage unit and we have it about half full of books, exercise equipment, boating stuff; all kinds of stuff. I've also made trips to Goodwill and Hospice with donations. It's all part of getting the house ready to be on the market. I have some fence repairs to make and a small deck to replace. Yesterday and today we talked with realtors.

Now we have some interesting decisions to make. The housing market here in Florida stinks. Trying to price the house so we aren't giving it away yet are scaring potential buyers away is a trick. The two realtors we found weren't a lot of help. One suggested pricing it in the $250K range; the other said $300K. Hmmm, a 20% variation is not really what we were wanting. Of course, there are only about two houses that have sold in our neighborhood in the last few months. Both realtors said the banks are being very picky about having recent appraisals but there just aren't enough sales to be meaningful. It's a tough situation. We'll see what happens when we get another realtor or two in here.

On an completely different topic, you've probably heard about Mrs. Clinton claiming to have come under fire when she visited Bosnia. Then just when the reports leave the front page, Bill starts complaining that the reports are being unfair to her. Ha! If I didn't know better I'd be wondering if he isn't really working for Mr. Obama! What a hoot.

Finally, I may not post for another ten days or so. We have family coming to visit Sunday through Thursday. And our son, who lives in California, will be here through the following Tuesday (if American Airlines gets their planes back in the air). He's 36 but he's still my wife's little boy.

Good luck, it's getting weirder and weirder out there!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Last weeks comics.....

I'm usually three or four days late looking at the Sunday paper. I just find it a lot of noise that means very little to me. But once in a while I find something I especially like. Here is a link to the Non Sequitur strip from 9 Mar 08. It describes me almost perfectly.

I stupidly registered as a Republican when we moved to Florida. Thus before every election I receive fifteen or twenty calls trying to get me to vote for some idiot Republican or another. Please don't get me wrong, all Republican's are not idiots but sometimes it sure seems that all people running for office are!

Polls and statistics are another hot button. Mr. Miller has really nailed the pollsters in his strip. Well, you have to remember that the pollster is being paid by someone who wants a certain result from the poll. Yes, Virginia, even tv sponsored polls can be slanted. Even if you want to be fair, it's tough to both write questions and provide answers that will enable a range of answers to complex questions.

Enough rant. Tonight I'm off to a meeting of my local American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) group. Every month we have a speaker from a mutual fund company, brokerage or such who talks to us about their investing methodology. Many are a little too technical for me; I think the markets are both emotional and political so technical answers don't really satisfy me. But that's just my un-humble opinion. There are plenty of technicians who have made money in the stock market. Still, I learn something from every speaker. If nothing else they pique my interest in areas that I've never before considered. Here is the national web site: for those who might like to check it out.

Take it easy out there; it's dangerous!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Florida Scene

This is an odd winter. We had one freeze that damaged a bunch of plants. But we haven't had the consistently nice weather that one comes to expect. There has been a lot of cool cloudy weather and quite a lot of rain. The rain is good because the state has had a water shortage for many years; but in the Tampa area we are almost 2 inches above normal so far this year. When our friends were here we went out to Clearwater Beach and got sand blasted off the beach. The breeze picked up that sand and just peppered you with it. Today we are having 20 mph gusts. It's just different this year!

Yesterday I was in John Chestnut County Park. It is on the other side of Lake Tarpon from the photos I posted few weeks ago. Here there is a boat ramp and some places where you can fish from the shore. I got a kick out of the avian help that these two guys had.

Have a good one!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Alone at last!

We've had friends visiting us since the 28th of February. It's a long time even though we love them dearly. It's a long time even though they took time out to visit other people in other parts of Florida. But now they are gone.

Back to my morning computer fix. Back to a 'normal' amount of coffee. Back to cooking for two. Back to quiet. Back to blogging!

The couple who visited are really nice but the woman can talk non-stop for several hours. I've no idea how she breathes since she certainly doesn't have to pause for it. She does read though and that quiets her for a while. Maybe she is storing up oxygen during that time for later use. The guy doesn't talk as much (how could he?) but he doesn't read. So he is always around to talk if his wife is reading. Of course, this last week has been fairly cool so we were stuck in the house a lot. Yeah, just to make escape more difficult. LOL We did go out to the beach but the wind was kicking up the sand so it was practically sand blasting our skin off.

All I can say is "Thank Goodness for alcohol"!!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Gas mileage woes

Recently I posted couple of photos and complained about the streets/highways we have around here. Of course, the price of gasoline is going up; and fluctuating as well. One day it is $2.95 a gallon and three days later it is $3.15. Nothing to many other countries but for this country clearly someone in the chain is making serious money. I'm expecting a Congressional investigation after they get tired of bothering baseball players.

It is very flat here, no hills to speak of, but most speed limits are 45 mph (traffic moving a bit faster) and there are stop lights every 1 to 3 miles. Now in a reasonable world, these lights would be coordinated so one could travel many miles on a main road without being stopped. Not so here! There are lots of local governments that have control over their own lights. Therefore, they aren't in sync and the driver gets to stop a lot.

This doesn't help mileage! Going from zero to 50 then back to zero every two miles for a twenty-five mile trip is wasteful; to put it mildly! I typically drive our pickup truck. It's a small one (for the breed) with only a 5.3 liter gasoline engine. It really gets pretty good mileage considering what it is and our local conditions. I have raised it's in-town miles per gallon from 15 to 18 (from 15l/100km to 13l/100km) by using a 2000 rpm limit. I just keep a light foot on the accelerator and it will shift at 2000. I keep up with most traffic using this technique. It's easy enough to pass me while I'm accelerating but only about ten percent of cars do. This country is known for it's non-adherence to the idea of the left lane is the fast lane. I do though, basically I never use the left lane because I know my acceleration will be too slow for those folks. Here's a picture from the driver's seat going over the Bay Bridge; you see 2000 rpm isn't too tough on my desire to move quickly. You might also manage to make out that the truck has 110,000 miles (175,000 km or so); about 40,000 of which were towing our 7,000 pound travel trailer. It's a very nice vehicle; American car manufacturers may be losing money hand over fist but they are building some pretty nice machines.

Have a good one!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Reading corner

Books I've been reading.

For the first time in quite a while I've been reading some non-fiction. A relative loaned me two books on submarines and I've enjoyed both. "Torpedo Junction" by Homer Hickam is the true story of the a little known part of WWII. In 1942 the German navy sent a few submarines to attack shipping off the US coast. They were successful beyond anyone's dreams. The US was doing nothing at all to protect shipping so the subs could just lie offshore and wait until a ship came between them and the lights on the shore. They could then easily see what kind of ship it was and torpedo it if it were big and important enough. It was an interesting story. The author talked to many survivors of the sinkings, ex-submariners in Germany and US Coast Guard sailors of the time. Very interesting and a fast read.

The second book was "Shadow Divers" by Robert Kurson. Another true story, this tells of two men who became obsessed by a sunken submarine they found while diving. It was clearly a German sub but no sub was known to be within several hundred miles of it's position. They spent several years and a bunch of money diving on the sub and researching the identity of the boat they had found. Added to the mystery was the danger of diving at the depths required to reach the sub. Another well researched true story about subs.

Finally, I got "The Club Dumas" by Arturo Perez-Reverte from the library. I found his books in the bookstore and thought it might be interesting. It's sort of a mystery and sort of a thriller. It is beautifully translated from Spanish by Sonia Soto. Reminds me somewhat of "The DiVinci Code" in that I can only follow about a tenth of the references without assistance.

Happy reading!

P.S. "The Club Dumas" turned out to be somewhat disappointing. The person responsible for the murders turns out insane at the end and there is no actual evidence of their responsibility. The motivations behind another character are completely unexplained; even their existance is glossed over. I'll try another of the author's books though because I did like his/his translator's use of language.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Misc. Foolishness

I was reading Wombat's the other day and he suggested that the average age in the Tampa area was 241. He's probably close. I get a kick out of folks like the ones in this photo. It's a new motorcycle club - Hell's Grandparents.

What are they thinking? First of all, motorcycling isn't generally an old person's sport. If either of these people dropped their bike, even in a parking lot, they'd need a crane to help them pick it up. Then, of course, there is the lack of helmets. The law in Florida says they aren't required and actually I prefer that it be left to the individual whether they wish to wear one or not. However, I also think it's pretty dumb not to wear one! These folks are riding on a heavily traveled road. Three lane in each direction and traffic moves between 50 and 60 mph (that's almost 100 kph) though the speed limit is 45. It's just not the place to take chances.

The second photo is of a new 'safety' feature our local government has purchased. It is a new kind of walk-don't walk sign that has a countdown timer to tell you when the light is going to change. This was taken a couple miles away from the previous photo but on the same road. Here the speeds are, if anything, a little higher than there. There are VERY few pedestrians in this area however I think the drivers really like the new signs. It gives them warning that they have to speed up to make the light! I don't think that was the intention but you know how these things work.

Drive safely until next time.

13 Feb 08 - Found these statistics from 2001 - the most recent I could find in the USA Today newspaper.

The metro areas are ranked by the number of traffic deaths per 100,000 residents in 2000.

1. Orlando 18.8
2. Tampa-St. Petersburg 17.6
3. West Palm Beach 16.6
4. Austin 15.8
5. Las Vegas 15.4
6. Phoenix 15.2
7. Memphis 14.7
8. Jacksonville 14.6
9. Fort Lauderdale 14.5
10. Kansas City 14.2

Sources: The Road Information Program, NHTSA

The article suggested several reasons for the number of Florida cities in this list. They included elderly drivers and the number of visitors. There was no information about motorcyclists. I would include the fact that many Florida cities have a large number of high speed streets. In New York you might get hit by a cab but it'll only be going 30 mph not 60.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

It's Over! And a new beginning.

Whew! Having a party is fun but stressful even when you do whatever you can to make it easier. This one was fine. Lots of talk, a little impromptu dancing, eating and drinking; all the usual stuff. I think everyone had a good time. Much to my chagrin I've got a little hang over this morning. Maybe I can blame it on the cigarette smoke. LOL No, Don, don't you think it might be the booze? Hmmm, gotta consider that. The Pinot Grigio was flowing pretty freely, to the point that I lost track of the number of bottles I opened. Guess we have to do our share to prop up the euro. And the scotch I was drinking would help the pound. At least the food was from the US. Well, anyway, now we can go to our friend's parties guilt free.

While we were busy with the party, life went on. We now have a new second cousin twice removed (or whatever) born last night. As an indicator of the quality of life in this country at this time, the child was born out of wedlock so the mother's parent's insurance would cover the birth. I don't really give a *$%& and I know the parents will love and care for their child; indeed, they will probably marry now. But I think it's pretty sad that choices like that have to be made. If you choose not to marry but still wish to have children, that's fine. I respect that. But to restrain yourself from marrying prior to your child's birth for economic reasons is really sad. Having said that, the parents are very young and may decide that they do not wish to marry now that the impetus is gone.

Life in the fast lane, huh. Have a good one.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Quiet Week

It's pretty quiet around here these days. In our neighborhood there are four or five families who ocassionally give parties. It's our turn so we are having a party for 12 - 16 people Saturday afternoon. It will be fun, we, especially my wife, just doesn't like doing it. We know it is our turn, we know it will be fine, we know everyone will have fun but still, it's a struggle. It is just getting through it. Next week will be better.

Weather isn't helping any. Its been warm but now it's cooling off when we will have people over. Our house isn't big enough for 15; we need the outside areas. Oh well, maybe they will leave earlier!

BTW - we are still eating away on the leftovers! We just finished off the chicken rice tonight. That was one big doorstop! Tasty but next time I've got to put in less rice. LOL Leave it to me to screw up something simple.

More next week. Have a good weekend.

Monday, February 04, 2008


The fridge is full of leftovers and I thought I'd share with you all. Wish I could in actual fact too!

A week or so ago Cinn at gave a chicken & rice recipe. I had a little more than 2 pounds (a kilo give or take) of chicken thighs in the freezer and thought it sounded like a great use for them. I tried making it but put in way too much rice. So I added some more chicken and ended up with this mess. It tastes ok but you could make a nice doorstop out of it if you let it dry just a bit.

There's a pork loin roast. We cook it with garlic & herbs then the leftovers get eaten just for snacks. I should probably learn to make something more substantial but it doesn't usually last long enough.

There is some Cajun Roast left from last night. A guy named Justin Wilson used to have a cajun cooking show on public tv. He was actually a Safety Engineer for some public utility but he had the show and wrote a couple of looseleaf books that we found. This is a favorite from one of them. You salt & pepper a chuck roast then cut 4 or 5 slits in each side. You insert a piece of garlic, green onion & pepper in each slit. (We use a jalapeno.) Then you toss it in a cooking bag with potatoes, carrots, onion, mushrooms & wine. In about 3 hours you have a lovely piece of meat. The vegies don't do all that well though; sometime I'm going to try leaving them out but I haven't gotten there yet. I'm sure they add a lot to the gravy though so maybe I should just not serve them. Hmmm, decisions, decisions.

Gotta go. It's "fasting blood test day" so it's nothing but water until we get the test done. Now there is a motivator to get moving! Have a good one.

Almost forgot! Watched the Giants win the Superbowl last night then found this link. Hope it works this year.