Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Not a good day

We wandered over to the Toyota dealer yesterday to have an oil change.  The local EZ-Lube or whatever does it in about 15 minutes.  The dealer managed to stretch it out to over 2.5 hours!!!  Needless to say, we were under-whelmed.  I must say the Service Director did give us basically a full refund.  Still, my bride was pretty darned hungry by the time we got to eat.  We also got to deal with a fouled up prescription so by the time we got home about 16:30 we'd been gone all day and had darned little to show for it.  We didn't even get close to the Smith Center for the Performing Arts as we had hoped.  Oh well, I guess it isn't going anyplace.

I've been staying as far away from coverage of the Republican National Convention as possible.  Mr. Romney is now the official candidate and I actually rather respect him.  The medical insurance scheme he came up with while Massachusetts governor was pretty clever.  And since he was a Republican there was no use of the 'socialist' term at all.  I'm a little worried that the remainder of the party may pull him to the right and he'll end up like that idiot from Missouri who talked about 'legitimate rape'.  Mr. Romney has already proven on his swing through Europe and the Middle East that his brain isn't always engaged while his mouth is in action.  I'm not so certain about Mr. Ryan who is to be the VP candidate.  He wrote a Republican version of the budget that I thought pandered to the naivety of  the 'tea party'.  His own legislative background is slight; but since Mr. Obama's is pretty slight as well maybe that is the new 'normal'.

I don't tend to watch a lot of television but do end up watching more than I should!   Last night I found a show called "Hard Time" on National Geographic Channel.  I guess it's been on for several years but I only just found it.  I do recommend it if you want to see a very strange side to life.  The particular episode I watched followed some inmates at Ross Correctional Institution in Chillicothe, Ohio.  It was very touching how these guys became institutionalized and were soon close to unfit for life on the outside.  One guy was 16 when he was involved with a murder (didn't actually do it, just tried to cover it up); now he is 27 and has been paroled.  He was clearly worried that he wasn't going to be able to make it on the outside.  A guard takes him outside the gate and stands around in the snow with him while they wait for someone who is coming to pick him up.  He says something like "So I'm free.  I could just walk down the road?"  He has never driven a car.  He has never slept with a woman.  He has never held a real job.  He has tattoos all over; on the back of his neck, his throat, his skull.  The show made it clear that even in a prison where they were really trying to give inmates a chance to learn; the inmate had to motivate himself and some of them, like this guy, didn't care at all.  I was almost surprised he didn't get into some kind of trouble so his parole would be revoked.  It was an amazing view of life.

Here's to living life on the outside.  Makes the idiots at the Toyota garage seem endearing; almost!  Have a good one.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Odd things....

Yesterday we had some odd happenings around the old homestead.  I noticed it when I went outside with the dog.  The cover of the hot tub had been removed; non-trivial since it had two concrete blocks holding it down.  The other odd thing was that the Weber propane bbq was moved.  Ok, wind COULD have done these things but I find it hard to believe.  However, we have a 5 foot fence around the back yard and all the gates are locked; so anyone who would do anything like this would be pretty athletic.  I just don't know and doubt if I ever will.  Just odd stuff.

Kids are going back to school now; yesterday was the first day.  Boy, do I remember the mixed feelings about the first day of school.  You get to see all your friends again but... school!  For me it was as bad as having a job.  Well, not quite as bad.  At least the teachers were easier on me than my dad!

Have to cut this short.  Taking the car in for service today so we are off to the big city.  We also want to check out Smith Center; a new civic auditorium in Las Vegas.  Should be fun; maybe I'll even take the camera. 

Have a good one.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Insurance Folly

I read blogs from other countries where there is some sort of socialized medicine and think that if only we could call it something other than 'socialized' it would be a big hit here in the U.S.  Unfortunately that particular word is misunderstood in this country.  I blame it on the abysmal job done by our education mafia but I digress.  I got a letter from my doctor's office yesterday containing a bill for an x-ray I had done.

First of all, we have health insurance that is associated with my wife's retirement.  It basically does nothing and costs us about $10K a year.  However, if either of us ever had something desperately wrong, it would pay for itself in moments.   BTW, my wife, being the inquiring sort, has figured out that even though we are pretty healthy, we are actually getting our $10K a year back based on accounting such as I shall relate.  Now, back to my doctor's bill.

On 16 May I had my x-ray.  The statement is dated 16 August; how it only got here on 23 August (from Las Vegas) is between the doctor's office, the Post Office and God.  I was billed $282.00 for my x-ray.  The insurance company paid $79.34 for the x-ray.  The contract between the insurance company and the doctor's office obligated the doctor to 'adjust' the bill by $182.82.  So my bill is $19.84.  Now what kind of screwed up mess is that!  If you walk in without insurance you pay almost $300; with this 'insurance', you pay $20.  Huh???

So folks, if you don't think the medical situation in this country is AFU, think again!

On a completely different subject, I normally use Firefox for a browser.  Yesterday I discovered that trying to view a video on YouTube (a Google company) gave me a message:  "An error occurred.  Please try again later."  Remember I was getting messages from Blogger( another Google company) about using Firefox; well, I fired up Chrome, Google's browser, and was able to view the video perfectly.  Anyone want to guess what's going on?  I'm not paranoid but I could learn to be. 

Have a good one!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

What a difference....

Wednesday was our last day in San Diego.  We didn't do much.  Went down to the beach, walked around a bit and had lunch.  Life in the fast lane, etc!  Here was where we were walking on Wednesday.
The day started out a little overcast but by the time we made it to the beach it was about 75F (24C) and just lovely.  The wind picked up a bit after a while but it wasn't tough to take.  We stopped along the way at a restaurant associated with a wave pool:  the Wavehouse.  It wouldn't have been my choice but it was there.  We were surprised to have a very nice meal!  I had some excellent fish tacos while my wife had some really tasty chicken wings.  Yes, just pub grub, but really nicely done!  My tacos had a really nice creama and her wings weren't slathered with sauce but were just perfectly coated.  Amazing stuff!

Thursday was spent mainly in the truck but Friday morning found us out walking again.  Scenery a bit different though.  This is our normal walk; out in the desert near our house but  definitely not developed!  That black object is our dog, running ahead to be sure the route is safe.  It's good to be home!

Friday and Saturday were spent finding out all the things that had changed during our week away.  Isn't that sad!  I'm becoming my parents!  But isn't that pretty much the way of the world?  We are taught our parents values and beliefs but then are left to apply them to a world that is, sometimes, substantially different.  In 1954 my dad was 50 years old; in a job he wasn't fond of:  supervising a bunch of independently owned 'dime stores'.  On tv, Jackie Gleason was hitting his wife Joyce so hard that she would end up on the moon.  In 1988 I was 40; we had put men on the moon (didn't find Joyce!) and pretty much decided not to try again.  We were still tired out and pissed off from our efforts at being the worlds policeman in Vietnam.  I was ending a relatively short career with AT&T and going on to an 'interesting time' working for PACCAR.  Be careful what you wish for, grasshopper! 

Have a good one!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Still around....

This park was REALLY full when we got here; like there were one or two empty spaces in the whole place.  I mentioned that we had to ask two people to move their cars so we could get into our space.  Since Sunday though it is a lot more quiet.  Here's a shot of the trailer & truck in our space.
As I said, it's a parking lot.  But it is pretty quiet and there is a nice place to walk the dog.  Speaking of dogs, every rig seems to have a couple.  The people behind us only have one but their neighbor has two, the people a space down from us have three.  Jeez. 

We have a quiet day planned for today; just going out to the beach and hanging out.  We might even get our feet wet!  This week has been a good one for walking; my wife's pedometer has registered over 10,000 steps twice.  For us that's a new record.  Not that I'm fading away or anything, no worry about that!  Tomorrow we will pack up and head for home.  Compared to most people here we have nothing with us so it won't take too long to pack up.  Most folks have at least a shade canopy and a couple of bikes outside their rig.  We enjoy staying in the trailer but it's always good to be headed home.

Have a good one!

Monday, August 13, 2012


We are in the middle of our long discussed trip to San Diego.  The fact that we are paying tons for this rv space is certainly not reflected in the wifi they offer!  It stinks.  Over the weekend it was totally impossible to get on; now that the place is half-empty you are only dropped every five minutes or so.  The name of this joint is Mission Bay RV Resort.  The good news is it is on Mission Bay.  That is very good.  Also there is a lovely walk you can take along the bay shore.  The rest of the story isn't so great.  First of all, it is a parking lot. There are a few trees planted between the sites but otherwise it is total blacktop.  We had to ask two people to move their cars so we could get into our site so it's pretty tight.  It is also a very expensive parking lot > $400 for a week.  There is also a four page list of rules.  We don't usually have much trouble with rv park rules and we aren't having trouble here but it is annoying to have all these rules.  There were lots of kids here over the weekend but they were pretty well behaved.  The park has a small private beach and between time at the beach and riding their bikes/skateboards; they were tired out.  The fact that the park has 24 hour security and lots of it probably has something to do with it as well.

San Diego is as beautiful as ever and, of course, it's great to see number 1 son & his Significant Other.  We visited the Birch Aquarium yesterday.  It's a very nice facility; a little expensive but nice.  They had a large exhibit on Global Warming as well that was quite interesting.  We also strolled around La Jolla; just to see how the other half lives!  I've always heard about artists living in garrets; the ones who sell their work in La Jolla must have really nice garrets!  We've also been working on trying as many restaurants as possible.  Tough work but someone has to do it.

We've got a couple days left before returning home.  The heat wave is affecting the entire southwest except for this little part next to the ocean.  It's only about 80F here; in ten miles we'll gain 20F and it will stay that warm for the remainder of our trip.  Sounds fun! 

Have a good one!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

What do I do???

I had a doctor's appointment the other day with a doctor other than my usual GP.  He was a guy about my own age and asked 'what do you do all day'?  I suppose he associates 'retired' with 'old, useless and discarded'.  I'm not sure what words I would use but relaxed and perhaps too comfortable are part of the answer. 

For example, there is absolutely no reason I shouldn't work out for say 30 minutes a day.  I'm unlikely to make it to the Olympics but that's not the point.  Good health requires some movement and unfortunately I don't make it happen.  We do walk out in the desert four or five days a week for half an hour or forty-five minutes.  When we go places like a museum I can tell that I don't get tired from the walking.  Now when we go someplace like Colorado I sure notice 1) the hills and 2) the altitude.  That would be tough to train for around here but I definitely need to incorporate some strength training into my day. 

Another area that needs some work is our portfolio.  I was checking today and a couple mutual funds that were rated as three-star (by Morningstar) have been downgraded to two-star.  I wasn't happy about having the funds at three-star but I've had them for a long while and thought they might recover.  For them to fall farther is not a good thing.  Generally I don't care much about the prognostications of 'experts' but when there is a calculated reduction in return,  I'm thinking there is a trade in my near future. 

Finally I want to spend less time on this computer and more time 'doing things'.  Like what?  Well, I bought lumber for a bat house but haven't built it.  I'm an amateur cook, that would certainly be a place I could improve!  Ditto with my photography.  I've wanted to learn to juggle for years, why am I not learning?  Finally, there are plenty of places where an unpaid volunteer might make a difference for people in the valley.  I need to raise my hand!  The fact that we are gone for a month or two a year should not be keeping me from the work in the first place. 

Ok, I'm motivated.  I'm going to go work out for a while.  Hope you are having a good one and, you too, can make time to work out.  Take care.