Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Move

Well, we've done it. Me, Sam, and her mother, Flo. We don't plan to do it again. It's too much work. We've moved from our town home in Riverview to a paired villa in Sun City Center.  Reduced our living space from 1858 square feet down to 1503. More importantly, we no longer have to contend with stairs. Not that Sam and I had problems with the stairs but we're not getting any younger. Every time I watched Flo negotiating the stairs in our town home I held my breath, just waiting for her to take a header.  That was always a scary sight. Anyway, here we are, safe and sound and no stair scare war stories to report.  Now we live in a one story ground floor abode where the only stairs are the one step up or down at the front door. And here we are in a 55+ community with six golf courses, two huge rec centers with indoor and outdoor pools, and more clubs and activities than you can shake a stick at.  (If you are familiar with that term you probably belong in a 55+ community yourself.  So come on down and join us.  Meet you at the shuffleboard courts! ) Truth is we haven't seen any shuffleboard activity here; it might be more of a mobile home community activity than here in Sun City.  Not that there's anything wrong with mobile home parks or shuffleboard. It's just that we've been there, done that, and are excited to be in our new ground floor home.

The pics below are out of sequence but I'm not tech savvy enough to fix.  The captions should be your guide as to whether you're viewing the old or the new place. And fifty minutes from now who's going to care anyway.
Measuring how furniture will fit in the new place

We were soooo scientific! Didn't work out quite the way we planned.

Our new street as viewed from front of our villa.

Boxing up living room stuff at the town home.
Flo takes a breather on the couch with boxes for headrest.
Sam dials in her setting on the sleep number air mattress.
Boxes filling up the kitchen floor in the new digs.
The new "Man Cave" looking more like a crawl space. 
Made dinner 1st night with scissors only utensil we could find. 
Movers wheeling in the household goods.

More boxes and **THE STAIRS** at the old house.
My desk in my "Man Cave" at the old house.
Flo views the packing process in the old place.

We moved in yesterday and are still unpacking boxes.  Hope our kids and grandkids will be able to help us finish up the job tomorrow.  We'll mail out cards next week with our new address and telephone number. 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Good Read

Recently read "AFTER VISITING FRIENDS" by Michael Hainey.  I read a review of the book in the Tampa Bay Tribune describing the investigative reporting by Hainey, an editor for GQ.  The review interested me because the author was investigating the circumstances of his father's death in 1970 at the age of 35.

The book did not disappoint...I had a hard time putting it down. And I can assure anyone who gets the chance to read it, Michael Hainey invested a full measure of investigation and a whole lot more attention to detail than I could  (as evidenced by the fact that I cut off his last name while scanning the book cover pictured above)!  Don't rub your eyes to focus the photo on the's meant to be blurry. Unlike Michael Hainey's story which I found intriguing.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Letter To The Editor Unsent

The world is full of grumps, bellyachers, and whiners. I believe this to be true because I am one of these or any combination of these traits from time to time.   It's easy for my mind to rationalize my membership in this not so exclusive club as something I'm entitled to because of my age. After all, I'm sixty eight years of age and if I want to complain about something I'm gonna' do it and that's that! But while I quickly embrace that justification for sounding off on things that concern me, the few functioning brain cells in my head that might retain shreds of common sense will remind me that increasing age doesn't always ensure a pathway to increased wisdom.

Another reason for including myself with the world's curmudgeons is that I am hopelessly drawn each morning to my newspaper's editorials section. And that includes reviewing the letters to the editor. Reactionary by tradition and perhaps by definition, letter authors are quick to grumble about everything you can imagine, often responding to previously published letters from other readers. People just love to disagree with each other it seems. It's a vicious cycle but fascinating to read. I will admit, there are many I dismiss as meaningless and unworthy of full scrutiny after I read just a few lines. Any religious tones, like quoting gospel or denouncing other religions are of no interest to me. I say, keep that stuff in church and out of the newspapers. I'm all for prayer and praise of good works, but your religion may not be the same as my religion or the next guy's so I don't feel it should be used as a basis for reasoning in public forums like newspapers. Beyond that, letters to the editor can really be fun to read and especially so when the writer condemns one political party or the other, attacks politicians or public office holders for perceived ethics violations, and, last but not least, uses constitutional interpretations to build a case for whatever point they are trying to make.  Oh, and cites facts and figures and percentages to support their cause. I think a lot of facts are pulled out of a hat and other irrelevant places.

My conclusion from this is that most people, and especially people who write letters to the editor are, for the most part, full of crap. Perhaps no different from you and me, but nevertheless just full of it.  Apparently full of themselves as well, looking to see their creative writing efforts in print. Come to think of it, I guess that's what blogs are for so I'd better be careful not to pursue this line of reasoning any further or I might be cutting off my nose to spite my face.  But my innocence in this regard is beyond a reasonable doubt when comparing readership of my blog to that of letters to the editor in  newspapers.  No Nielson ratings required to measure who attracts the most readers.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Return Trip from York

A week ago we drove to York, Pa to see our granddaughter perform in a high school play. We encountered some aggravating traffic jams on I-95 in Washington, DC as well as the Washington Baltimore Parkway and some of I-83 while northbound to York. We had already planned our return trip to Florida to travel on I-81 to I-77 and I-26 which routed us back onto I-95 in South Carolina. It was a good plan for avoiding traffic and affording better roads and scenery. But the drawback was the weather...I-81 runs through the Shenandoah Valley between the Shenandoah Mountains and the Blue Ridge Mountains. We knew there might be weather issues due to the geography but figured, "Hey, it's spring! It's late March! What could go wrong?!?  If a picture tells a thousand words..........

Scenery heading west on US-30

This photo taken to show snow in distance (ski trails). Had not seen any the whole time in York.

Gettysburg provides great photo ops

I love the Victorian style architecture

Gettysburg College

US 30 goes right through Gettysburg battle grounds

Love those old fences...if you look real hard you can almost see Pickett and his brigade charging over the horizon!

They might be weak on signage but I bet the food is good.

Oh, Oh! Snow flakes are beginning to fall in Virginia!

This, as I recall, is what's known as a winter wonderland!

Hands locked on the wheel in "ten-to-two" position on slushy I-81

Sure, sure...Sandi's not driving...she can smile for the camera! But  I noticed her stepping on her passenger seat brake pedal!

Meanwhile, I've got a death grip on the steering wheel. Starting to get nasty in the late afternoon.

Finally made it to our motel in Roanoke, VA

Next morning a blanket of snow covers the Terrain

Outside the motel room as we get ready to roll

Roads the next day in pretty good shape...I lost sleep worrying about it for no reason!

Nice scenery, little traffic, I-81 was a good choice

It would really suck to be the truck driver who needs to use this.

Flo and Cathie brighten up the back seat with their smiles

Sign language: Left - What the ___? Right - Loser!

Sign language: Left - Happy trails, fellow motorist! Right - still a loser!

Dogwood trees blooming in North Carolina promise the snow is behind us

Jacksonville skyline

This photo taken while stuck in traffic jam. Where else but I-95!

Flo's getting impatient!

Our most excellent neighbors dressed up our front door for my birthday.

The day we returned, I turned 68 years old. Driving in the snow again made me feel like 78!  Don't miss the white stuff!

All in all, the snow wasn't too bad except for about a 100 mile stretch in Virginia on Sunday afternoon. The worst part about driving on slushy roads is like any other driving...what's the other guy going to do? I really hate the slow drivers that put on their flashers. In my mind the flashers are for emergencies when your vehicle is stopped, not while in motion and because you are scared to drive at traffic flow speed. Nine times out of ten, it's somebody old. (Not a young 68 like me)! And truth be told, the sign language photos above were staged...I learned a long time ago to keep motorist signals of that nature below the dashboard. I'm not as dumb as I look.


Monday, March 18, 2013

In My Man Cave

It's my man cave. It's where I do my work, my manly work, and I cherish my solitude within its confines. The room itself is known by various names...bedroom #3, the office, and the computer room. I guess the man cave title is only accurate when I'm inside it and alone. And "my manly work" when the room and I are in man cave mode consists of genealogy research much of the time (including surfing on for computer generated hints), tracking income and expenditures since I'm still responsible for the family budget (delegated to me abruptly three years ago when I leased the Sorento despite someone else's advice not to), logging medical expenses and charitable donations just in case they are needed for income tax itemization (although with both of us on Medicare now, itemizing doesn't seem to be in play anymore; but I'm not complaining), and blogging from time to time (but my blog production seems to be suffering from retroactive blogging skills have deteriorated the more I work on genealogy...that's my excuse, anyway).

Most of the time I work in my man cave alone and with the door shut. I do maintain an "open-door" policy for anyone in the household to come inside the room. The closed door is to eliminate or reduce noises which I find distracting. The television downstairs is set fairly high on volume in deference to my mother in law who's pretty hard of hearing. I'm not sure turning the volume up is really that productive for her because she still tries to read lips but we want to afford her the opportunity to hear in case she's actually watching a program and not dozing. And, truth be told, a loud television audio setting is a hundred times more pleasant to listen to than if she decides to hum or sing her famous nonsense lyrics to, for the most part, non-existent tunes. I love my mother in law and I hope she lives another round of ninety years but it would be a blessing to my ears if she were to take a vow of silence. At least as far as music is concerned.  A loud television is better for all of mankind (and especially to this man). Anyway, the closed  door is free to be opened by anyone with appropriate business to conduct. And when the door is opened the definition of the room transitions to the task at hand: if my wife enters with the mail or packages the room becomes the office. If my wife or a grandchild enter with a request for something to be printed the room becomes the computer room. If guests are visiting overnight the room transitions into either bedroom # 3 or the guest bedroom depending on how formal a title we want to assign. We have a sofa bed for guests to sleep on.  And finally, when my canine granddaughter Coco visits (and back before American Bulldog Lucy passed away) the man cave evolves into a clubhouse of sorts, a place where man and dog can just chat, scratch, sniff, fart, and nap together when we're not peeking out the windows and spying on anybody outside.  When dogs are present I can't officially call the room a man cave because all the dogs I know are female. Due to our gender difference I would be  fully on board designating the room as our "buddy room." That basically covers the bases and is still politically correct.

While in man cave mode I will readily confess that my work area is a little disorganized. Well, not so much as disorganized as it is a little messy. If it was disorganized I might not be able to find something. Given enough time I can usually find things within a reasonable time.  Not super quick like if I needed to grab a specific document or something in case of a fire quick but since that tragedy hasn't happened and I certainly hope it never does, the mess doesn't bother me. A little guilt now and then? Sure, but nothing the next discovery of family history doesn't override.  The real issue at hand here is my procrastination in filing. I'm letting my filing obligations get a little behind. Here's a view of my work desk inside the man cave (or the office, bedroom # 3, buddy room, or computer room, take your pick).

On the far left next to the closet door handle is the postal area, bottom left open drawer is one of three for hanging files, and from left to right on the desk are AARP petitions (not sure I want to sign yet), high school alumni donation solicitation, pedigree chart and photographs of ancestors, statements and documents for filing received in today's mail (behind computer screen), historical publication by an ancestor I recently received from New England Historical Society, all of the data pages and mysearchgoeson blog for my research on Lenora Webber,  correspondence and data pages on my Kentucky cemetery search last summer, and my family files and binders in the cabinet on the far right. There's also a monitor on the floor that's part of my old desktop computer that one of these days I need to get rid of once I figure out how to destroy the hard drive inside the tower.  I've been procrastinating on that since last December when I replaced the desktop with the laptop pictured here.

 I remember when we used to think how wonderfully simple our lives were going to be because we wouldn't have to deal with paperwork anymore. Computers were going to replace paper! Yeah, right.  Granted, I keep too much but old habits die hard. And I've got a great new shredder I bought at Costco that can handle 12 pages at a time and with staples!! So when the filing (if I ever catch up to it) is done but the hanging files are bulging inside the file drawers, all I've got to do is feed twelve page gobs of parchment into Lenny (my name for the shredder) and he gobbles them all up pretty good. The best part about Lenny is he consumes those one half inch thick credit card solicitation letters with no hesitation. No fuss, no muss. ZZZZrrrrrrrraaaaaPPP!!! I love the sound of Lenny devouring unsolicited mail. Better than listening to Mom-in-Law hum, too.  Much better!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Plucked Rants

I heard recently that blogging is just a way for people to rant in public. I don't recall where I heard it or read it or who said it; probably from one of those Law & Order episodes I faithfully and frequently record on my Brighthouse DVR-equipped cable box. I like the old shows best, the ones that strart with the crime, then the police investigation, and finally followed by the district attorney's prosecution efforts. The other Law & Order versions, Criminal Intent and SVU are OK but I'd sooner the original format. It just seems to give a more complete picture of the story. Anyway and whatever the source, the theory of blogging being a public platform for ranting sort of struck a nerve. Well, not struck so much, that's a tad strong...more like plucked a nerve is what I mean. Like a harp player plucks a harp string. Firm, correct, and with flair, but sort of gentle at the same time. Much less violent than striking anything could ever be.  So, truth be told, I was plucked by the thought that my blogging, or anybody's blogging since we bloggers are sort of all in this together, is our means of stepping up on the technological soapbox of the Internet and spewing forth just about anything we want to rant about. And my kids think I'm a technological dope still living in the blinking 12:00 VCR age!  HA!  (I got rid of the VCR years ago but I will admit I sometimes have the instinctual urge to rewind the the DVD disk before I remember what century I'm in). 

So when the hypothesis associating blogging with ranting came to my attention, the sensation of nerve  plucking was followed closely by the shocking realization that this means, I am a ranter. Or I could be a ranter if my blog is brought in as evidence against me. God! How would I react to being interrogated by Detective Lennie Briscoe in one of those dingy "interview" rooms with the two way mirror on the wall with a gallery of detectives and assistant district attorneys on the other side of the glass watching my every move?  And I don't want to diminish the staging of my favorite TV reruns but can't the interviewees see through that shiny mirror the size of a 60 inch flat screen placed in the middle of a concrete block wall? I'm just sayin' ! I've never seen any suspect undergoing interrogation ask for a comb so they could spruce up a little bit. So, they have to know, don't they? Even the dumb ones? 

Quite frankly, I've never considered myself to be a ranter. Not a public ranter, anyway. OK, all right, I confess there are times, in the privacy of my own living room,  that I have made disdainful emotion filled comments directed at my 60 inch flat screen television. But I want to make two things perfectly clear. First, only when the television was turned on. I've never ranted against any television or any other appliance for that matter, that wasn't in the "on" mode. That would be grossly unfair and perhaps even cause for a little suspicious concern about my mental status were that to be the case. And second, I have inspected my flat screen (again, when it is off) to see if it could possibly be a two way mirror instead of the television it appears to be and can testify without reservation that it is, indeed, just that...a television. There's no one else on the other side and, I should add, and this is a BIG and...there's no CyberLink YouCam device on it either. That's right folks. You think all that fuss recently about hackers attaching themselves to your computers and watching your every move was scary? Think about what you have done in front of your television screens...the ones in your living room. The ones in your family room. And the one in your bedroom!!  Better check them out. You heard it here. Even if you just picked your nose or simply scratched an itch, the next thing you know you might see yourself on U-Tube with your index finger buried up to the knuckle in your nostril...or worse. 

I imagine there are few of us who haven't ranted a time or two at their televisions. I used to be a New England Patriots fan. Right up until they embarrassed me in the 1986 Super Bowl. I expressed a few feelings in front of my television on that day that could possibly be defined as rants. When I moved to Florida 25 years ago I fell in love with the Buccaneers. Actually my butt fell in love with them because I could sit and watch NFL football in the stadium in my shorts in November and my butt, obviously remembering how many times it was frozen numb at Foxboro, would say "thank you, thank you, thank you!"  But with the exception of the 2003 Super Bowl and a couple of seasons around it, can anyone imagine I would never have a rant or two to express about the Bucs? I'm still a fan but I have become more vocal now about my displeasure. Not at the stadium but only at home in front of the television. I don't believe in "booing" athletes, professional or otherwise...they work too hard to do their best and sometimes their best isn't good enough. Unlike politicians. Needless, to say, my non-YouCam flat screen probably did hear a few boos uttered last year leading up to the presidential election. I'm not going to say what politician or which grand old party was the target of my ranting but they sure gave me plenty of ammunition to rant about. And boo. I have other rant-worthy subjects but I'm going to step down from my technological soap box (I wonder how many people under the age of 50 know what "standing on a soap box" means?) and see what other issues pluck my nerves. And don't forget!  Be Kind - Rewind!  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Itch Scratching

As I neared the end of my three year lease on my KIA Sorento I started to get that new car itch that seems to take hold of me every three years.  And I suppose it's a little pretentious to say "my" KIA Sorento but lease, buy, or steal a vehicle, when you drive it for three years it just feels like you own it.   I could have owned it if I wanted to buy it at the end of the lease and it wouldn't have been a bad move because I knew the vehicle had been taken care of for maintenance and had not been abused. And I liked the Sorento except for one thing...the miles per gallon performance was not nearly as good as advertised. It was supposed to get up to 29 mpg highway. If you drove fifty miles per hour on a straight and level road, I could get 29 and higher. Sometimes as good as 32 mpg. But that's not realistic highway conditions as far as I'm concerned. At 60 to 70 mph the best I ever got was around 25 mpg. I'm not a lead foot driver but if traffic and weather allow I usually try to maintain 4 to 5 mph over the limit.  In Florida that means setting cruise control to 74 or 75 mph. The result was that the Sorento achieved an average of 24 miles per gallon at those speeds. Not terrible performance for a mid size SUV but disappointing nevertheless because it's so much less than advertised.

So, long story short, I did not buy the 2011 Sorento at the end of my three year lease. I shopped around and test drove the Ford Escape, the Mazda CX-5, the Jeep Compass, and the Hundai Santa Fe, and the GMC Terrain. I read all the reviews from Edmonds and Car and Driver. I test drove each of them and they all had their good points. But the one that seemed most likely to satisfy my itch was the Terrain. I've got about 1500 miles on it since I started leasing in December and highway mpg is averaging 30 mpg (as opposed to 32 mpg advertised). Not quite up to the hype but significantly closer than the promises by KIA. Anyway, here's the new wheels pictured below. Ain't she purty?

GMC Terrain SLE-2
She's not top of the line. As a matter of fact she's 2nd from the bottom of five available Terrain models. But she's got enough bells and whistles for me, a comfortable ride, similar size as the KIA, and much much much better miles per gallon performance.  She scratches my itch.