Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Bloggers block is often about what not to say

I find I often struggle to put content in these blogs and not for the reason one usually thinks.   I have a desire and content to post but the content I can afford to allow into the public eye may be too hard to work around.

For instance, if we have been involved in detailed struggles with an entity and I post about it, I may skewer my future choices if things go sideways.  Once it is over, I may still not want to put it all out there, just in case it comes back on me at a later time.

Sure, I suppose I could rattle on about not sleeping last night, getting up, doing the bathroom dance, eating breakfast (when I do), etc. but those are pretty much what everyone does in their own way… boring stuff.

When we have life happen around us that involves other people I am also hesitant to get into much detail. While I want to be personally connected with friends and family, I don’t want much public access to those relationships.   Again, someone may get hurt and it might turn out that it was me that threw the damaging stones with my view or attitude.

So finding palatable content that is not hum-drum daily fodder for most people, whether they are RVers or not, is not such an easy thing to grab and use.  Sometimes it is just not possible to even mention it.

Any suggestions from you folks are certainly welcome.  If you find some of my content interesting (that does not necessarily mean that you like it) please let me know.  It really should help the progress.



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Aha! They are moved!

Merrily’s brother and wife have been trying to get downsized from a rental house to a more affordable (and more convenient) apartment.  With ongoing struggles with neuropathy and the big “C”,  they have both needed a level playing field. Unfortunately, these struggles have also limited their individual physical abilities to actually “do the moving”. 

A bad fall and a broken arm has made even just packing up boxes pretty impossible for Bette.  We have been “supplementing” their manual skills for the past several weeks and they are now moved in at their new diggs.  Settled in???  Not quite but the boxes are slowly disappearing so it should not be too much longer before they will be.

As for other stuff of the day…  The 8” convex mirrors mounted on Clifford’s fenders have long been frozen in a poorly adjusted position and are not repairable so I bought 2 replacements from TA for about $13@.  Merrily and I depend on those a lot and neither one was aiming much where we needed to see.

I still need to fix the kitchen slide out.  The tree that the tornado 2 years ago knocked down on it did no obvious damage but now it appears that it punched the support roller up into the floor. This causes the slide to drag so I need to fix that. I figure a 12” plate of 16 gauge steel should make a decent surface to support the weight on that roller.

I actually washed the Smart car day before yesterday.  We had a rare 3 days of Off/on rain with reasonable air temperatures so I washed the truck, RV and the Smart in the rain with Simple green.  It goes much faster this way, uses a lot less spigot water to rinse and keeps me cooler while doing the work.

As previously mentioned, our plans for the summer include going to the great Pacific Northwest. To this end I have been building travel scenarios to compare various routes and costs. It is a work in progress but so far, it looks like our best plan is to get to the “banana belt” of the southern Oregon coast, find a place to spend the coming winter and then just explore whatever is within reasonable. 

Next spring we should be in a great jumping off spot to start exploring to BC and Seattle to the Rocky mountains until the following winter.

Meanwhile, I still have a few chores here, so TTFN.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Time Warp–I feel like I am on Fringe

So much for last year's resolutions.... A whole year has disappeared and it’s time for another update.  Honestly, I really meant to keep up with this. … Maybe starting now, I will.
First, a little history:
  • The 2.8cm (that’s 1.1 inches to Americans) football shaped kidney stone I had a year ago is history.. if you wondered.  it was plugging the outflow of my right kidney and threatening to shut down the kidney if it completely blocked it off for more than a few hours. Just one lithotripsy, though, and it was gone.  The only bad side of it was that it apparently contained Enterococcus Faecalis, a really nasty antibiotic resistant bug which put me into the hospital for 5 days. Once busted up by the lithotripsy the bugs went wild and really buggered up my life. I have to give big Kudos to Flagler Hospital and its doctors for their effectiveness in finding and eliminating this threat to my life. Had this happened out in the vast expanses of the great NorthWest I could not have survived. The slow recovery took a number of weeks but I am back and better than ever.
  • We went back to Raleigh in September for a few weeks. We needed a "kids fix" and despite a really major effort by Emery and Christi, we still had a lot of unfinished "basement" stuff to deal with.  After more than 2 years of research and procrastination we hired Blue Moon Estate Sales to get rid of it. They took 35% of the gross as commission but it was well worth it as an auction would have taken 50%. We got more than we had hoped for by a large margin.
  • Emery and Christi are doing well and have made really great improvements to the house and yard.

    As I write this, they are building a nice retaining wall along the driveway to finish up the major exterior home improvements. They have repainted the whole house and we love what they have done with the place.  Work has really picked up for Emery since the middle of 2012 so he is staying very busy and we appreciate every moment of time and effort he and Christi spend to maintain the house.
  • Randy and Shawna have moved from Raleigh. Randy got a job offer from Volition Software in Champaign, IL and started there December 2012. Although he was never unhappy at Red Storm Entertainment he felt he needed a broader industry experience base for his career growth. So far, it has been a very positive move for him.
  • Katie-the-Poo is doing great, seems happy and her seizures are averaging about one per 50 days. The Zonisamide Seems to keep a good balance without making her a zombie or hyper. Usually one per day is enough.  
  • We are still living in the Stagecoach RV Park in St Augustine, FL and loving it. The weather has consistently been milder (year round) than anywhere north, west or south of us.
  • Merrily's Brother and his wife are doing well, just completed a downsizing move of their own and her cancer seems to be controlled.  It will take 3 clear PET scans that show no sign of any latent cancer before they will say she is in remission but she has had 2 in a row so maybe by her birthday in July, she will have great news and can finally move on.
  • Last summer, while in Raleigh, we traded our 2009 Smart Car for a lease on a 2013. Though nothing was wrong with the 2009 the warranty was gone and it had 46,000 miles on it so all maintenance was going to be on us.  The 2013 rides better, shifts smoother and has a 4 year / 50,000 mile warranty by Mercedes so this is a significant comfort factor for us.  Our monthly payments also dropped $115 and it is identically equipped to our 2009... plus Cruise control!!!! That is  a real biggie to us.
  • Carol has gotten a big boost at work and is very excited. It will involve a move from Raleigh to Charlotte, NC, and since Samantha is just graduating to Middle school the timing is very good. Other than being very, very busy, their lives have settled down enormously in the house they are currently renting. I know another move will be a lot of work but it sure sounds like it will be really worth the effort to make it happen.
  • Smith has now become a member of the million mile club. He is rolling 1 million miles of over the road professional driving for TransAm Trucking. He still loves the work, has stayed employed and now is getting good miles every week so he has paid off all his debts.  He is looking forward to actually having a little money to spend on some electives.... after they get the roof on their home fixed.
Moving forward: We are preparing to head out for the Pacific NorthWest in about a month. We will stop in Raleigh for a week or so then pause in Champaign to see Randy and Shawna before heading straight for the Rocky's.
Our plans are pretty loose but basically involve seeing Glacier National Park and points west. Just how far we can go and how much we can see will depend on how much good weather we have left this year as well as how the money flows. Obviously, the cost of fuel is a huge factor and since we have some interest in spending a few years out that way we need a place to winter in the RV without driving all the way back to Florida or even the Texas coast.  We have been looking at the southern Oregon Coastal area, sometimes called the banana belt, as an area that should be mild enough. According to Sperlings Best Places to live, it appears to have about 30% less winter overcast and rain than even 100 miles farther north.  This we will play by ear depending on how our summer goes.

Merrily has a cracked molar and is getting a crown in a few weeks. I also need to fix 2 slideouts that are dragging / hanging up. I need to put in a new Fuel Temperature sensor on Clifford, too. Once these niggling little annoyances get cleared, we are gone for awhile....  Hopefully, I can get all of these cleared up while we are in Raleigh.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

A little hitch in our get-a-long

Hello, and time to catch up a bit on who, what, where, when and how we are doing.

My last post left us with the loss of Poppy, our son's German Shepard. His passing has been something of a wakeup call for the whole family and most of us have made some adjustments to our life assumptions, goals and lifestyles.  Nothing major or magnificent but positive results have already begun to surface.

First of all, I have intentionally lost 20 lbs since Christmas. 295lbs is still too much and I am no longer comfortable in calling it my playing weight so 230lbs will be a lot better on several levels.

Our plans to leave for the northwestern US territories is on hold for the moment.  This 2cm kidney stone has shifted to a point that it is intermittently blocking outflow from that kidney. A completely blocked kidney can fail within 6 hours or so of becoming completely blocked off.  I certainly don't want to be in the vast spaces of the west and have it get plugged so I am getting it blasted by a lithotripsy this coming Thursday.  I have found a couple of really great doctors in St Augustine and feel I am in very good hands.

My new GP here is also a full cardiologist and has gotten my blood pressure under control for the first time, ever. I assure you that failure to this point has not been due to lack of vigilance or trying.  Meds just do different things to me than they are supposed to do so nothing has worked before now.  Although 150/80 isn't really scary bad, my urologist would not proceed until a cardiologist would pass me so getting my bp down is a prerequisite to having the lithotripsy.

Mer is doing very well, getting in a lot of reading (her passion) and has been able to improve her BP and glucose with significantly less meds.   We are very happy here, but really miss being nearer to our kids.

Katie the Poo is doing very well, too. Her seizures seem to be much less frequent. She is on day 80 since her last one and that one and the one before it are the only two seizures that she has had in the past year that happened in less than 70 days. Compared to having them every 15-25 days for most of her life, this has been a real gift for her.

On the less positive side, I forgot to pull the power plug for the trailer tail light converter and have not started Clifford since January.  The batteries are stone dead (maybe 6volts but not much more). It was always one of those TODO things that I never did.... My Bad. I usually try to leave a maintenance charger on them when I can but that got left in Raleigh at Thanksgiving along with the air compressor and a few other non-essential "essentials".

Today, we are having rain in the campground. This is only the second rain we have had this year and it has been so dry that a lot of fires have sprung up all around north Florida. One of the worst is north of us and when the winds come from that direction it is hard to see across the campground. Fortunately, the breezes rarely come from the north.

It's been a big gap in this journal and I will try to keep it a little tighter from now on.


Friday, February 17, 2012

Poppy the Protector has left the building….

My little buddy made his 9 years count well and even his short fight with cancer never diminished his presence. Genetically, his bark was worse than his bite but woe be to anyone or anything that he KNEW was a threat because they would never hear him coming. He would just cut to the chase, without hesitation and could take down a horse in a heartbeat without sweating.

I never feared anything or anyone with him around because he was as powerful and stealthy as a Navy Seal and just as devoted. His bark was just so all knew where the buck stopped.

Thank you Poppy for your life, love and dedication to us.

His duties have passed to Hercules the Humongous but Roxy the Religious also stands ready to be reckoned with. Just think of her as a Hippy that ran out of drugs…. and mind your manners. She might look like a pussy cat but she has the heart of a Wolf.

Ok, Herc, it’s up to you, now as chief peacekeeper. We are in your hands.



Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pollen Time

Weather like we have been having all winter was bound to have some disadvantage show up… I guess it is early pollen.  Hard on folks with contacts and neat freaks.

The good news is that it is nowhere near as bad as it gets in Raleigh or Boulder Colorado, or a lot of other places I have been… but it is still here and I left my HEPA filter back in Raleigh when we left. It’s not a bad thing but it is a little annoying to keep finding grit in your eyes.

Today was another beautiful day, a few degrees cooler than it has been but mid-60’s is not something to grouse about. We ate at the Sonic Drive-in and then drove on to the beach and just sat watching kite surfers, waves and birds.  A nice park ranger came by and told us we could not park out on the harder damp sand but had to be back “behind the cones".  If I had wanted to be back there in the loose and drifting sand (did I mention it was a bit windy today) I would have parked back there. There was no one on the beach other than the 3 Kite surfers, a couple of cars and someone riding a bike out on the hard sand.

I am not really afraid of getting the SMART stuck back there but I really did not like the stuff getting up into the bottom because of the low ground clearance.  Still, we moved back behind the line and sat there for a very long time just absorbing the beauty of the day and our own company.  It is impossible to not be thankful for every moment we have together, whether we have to park behind the cones or not.



Saturday, January 21, 2012

Just a Beautiful Day

Even a bird knows a nice day when he sees it. Just stood there for a long time.
What can I say? We have not been over to the beach since before Christmas and today seemed to be the perfect day for it. Sure, 5 degrees warmer would have made it the best possible but no worries. It was grand!

We first felt it calling on my birthday (yesterday) but it was still kinda cool for the beach breezes.  We wound up down on St Augustine Beach – public access beach and pier at the north end of A1A just before the Anastasia State park property.  They had pulled in all of the stairs down to the beach so it would have taken some risky rock climbing to get to the sand.

We just drove farther down A1A to find another access where a walk out onto a dune bridge convinced us to find a drive on access ramp.. and we did.  The tide was low so there was a lot of well packed  exposed beach and very few cars or people.  Quite a contrast to the same place in September and October.

Mer decided she wanted to walk on the beach so off she went and I just sat in the car and watched her along with the surf, the sand, the birds and a few people that came by.

30 minutes later, she was back and I had collected a few photos of the events around me which I put into this album. I thought it might be nice for me, later, on a gloomy day, to pull up a video of such a glorious day at the beach.



Monday, January 16, 2012

Make-Do’s and MileStones

I did take the Verizon Pantech UML290 USB Modem (“..eh… what’d he say”) back to Best Buy. Maybe common sense won out…. or maybe it didn’t but I am not locked into two years of $80 (plus taxes and fees) per month payments.
I am also locked out of  30+ megabit-per-second data rates…. I am not sure that I can say exactly that I feel better but I do feel a touch of relief.. when I think about it.
I will make-do with what I have left, which is the irksome 802.11b park wifi with dialup speeds (when I am lucky).  I also can tether through my Sprint phone but since Christmas, the 4g data rates have been cut in half and though that is better than the park wifi, it is more of a hassle to keep using as it ties up my phone.
I saw an announcement of a Sprint Samsung Galaxy Nexus with Sprint LTE compatibility coming out in the next few months and that gives me some hope for a better solution, long term.  Short term, I am still very frustrated.
Cousins Bob Fisher and Jim Sargent dropped in for a couple of days last week.  They are from the Toronto area, really great guys and usually spend their winters in their Airstream trailer in southern Florida. It was really nice to get to see them, again, even if it was for such a short visit. It has been several years since we have been with them and nearly 10 since we got to have a reunion of sorts with them and Bob’s Family.  It was a hoot.
Of considerably more importance, a milestone of sorts has been reached in SIL Bette’s treatment and the second of the two mandatory operations was completed last Friday.  She is still in the hospital until the end of the week but the surgeon feels really confident that with some long months of chemotherapy, she should now have a long life ahead.  I think we all sighed in unison when we heard this.  I feel like I have been holding my breath for months. I really can’t begin to imagine what Bette feels, though. Her spirits are up despite the grueling prospects of the next few months. She is one really special person and more than deserves special prayers.
We have had a cold snap (of sorts). It’s hard after living in North Carolina and seeing week long stretches of freezing weather, to call low to mid 30’s “a cold snap” but when in Rome….
Mer is great and so is Katie. The RV park is full most nights and we are still loving life, here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Post Christmas Trauma

Yep, here it is, two weeks after my last post and I am in a real quandary.  Yes, Christmas was great!  We spent the eve with Mer’s brother and his whole family.  I think there were 27 of us and only 1 was missing due to being out of the country.

The snackers’ buffet dinner was delicious and varied so we had plenty to eat without a massive sit-down meal of gigantic proportions. A much easier solution for a large family gathering than our Thanksgiving dinner which took 4 tables, 3 cooks and two kitchens to pull off for 13 folks.  Granted, Thanksgiving was a more “traditional” meal but no one left either one, hungry.

But, back to my quandary.  I mentioned in my last blog (I still hate that word) that I was going to get “my precious”, a Pantech UML290 Verizon USB Modem.  Well, I did… eventually.   Sure, I got there and sure the order, placed online on BestBuy.com for store pickup had gone through including the charges. But actually getting this little guy in hand at the store turned out to be a 90 minute hassle of mind numbing proportions.

In short, the order, though confirmed and charged, was automatically cancelled at the store when the clerk tried to pick it up because their inventory said they were out.. Never mind that they had 22 of them sitting in the drawer. So I spent the next hour waiting for various authorizations amidst the turmoil of last minute shoppers that had the BestBuy printers in a tailspin trying to make hardcopy contracts for human signature.

But, eventually, my patience (and Mer’s)  prevailed and I left the store with “my precious” in hand. It was still a half day before I could plug it in and be Wowed…. and I was!

Yes, it is everything I had hoped for. I get up to 31 mbps download and nearly 5mbps upload speeds per Speedtest.net and the dataflow is as good or better than I usually had on my cable internet back in Raleigh.

This was the best I have gotten but you can see the trends over time before and after I got the UML290 USB Modem (prior to 12/18/2011) until today. The first spike was while we were on Time Warner in Raleigh for Thanksgiving. Prior to that anything over about 500kbps was all Sprint 4g/3g and the rest was the campground wifi. Just pause your cursor on the graph to see the date/time and speed of any point.

Now for the quandary….  This device has only two service plans available for it… A 5 gigabyte for $50 plan and a 10 gigabyte for $80 plan. Each comes with a $10 per gigabyte over limit fee.  Ok, you say, I can live with that for such great connectivity. However, it only took 4 days to use up the whole 5 gigabytes of data allowance my contracted plan had.

Out of this, only about 400 megabytes was due to streaming video.  OK, so I wanted to catch up on a couple of Two and a Half Men episodes I missed. The rest, just disappeared, quickly!

No wonder I have been so frustrated with the internet connectivity I have been experiencing “out here”. I am still picking the glass out of my teeth from hitting the connectivity wall and I’m trying to find all the holes in this data bucket.  I think the real issue is that I do a lot of different things besides read email and follow a couple of forums and blogs.  I do have some online backups setup, too, which I am sure may have taken a few hundred megabytes but that is a once a week hit. I just have a lot of stuff in “the Cloud”. Maybe there is a lot of data syncing going on with that stuff but it’s not like it changes much.

The short of it is that I am in love with this Verizon 4g LTE USB Modem and what it delivers in performance, even with no external antennas on it. But I am crushed by the obvious ongoing cost.  The $50 per month (plus a 15% federal tax) was ungainly but I was willing to work around that.  But estimating my ongoing monthly expense for what looks like 70 to80 gigabytes makes it impossible to sustain.

So, I can’t live with it and I can’t live without it and thus, I am heartbroken.  I finally found a solution and can’t make use of it because of the costs and it has to go back to BestBuy in the next couple of days. 

On other fronts, Katie has had another seizure, her second in 26 days, and that worries me, a lot. She is such a sweet individual and just does not deserve this terrible flaw.

We are settled in here until about April. Mer’s brother and his family just can’t get a break. His neuropathy has worsened a lot and over the holidays they found out that his oldest daughter has to have a radical double mastectomy, immediately!  More prayers are surely needed for them.

I hope that we can be here for support for as long as they need but that can not take the sting out of it nor fix any of the problems they are struggling with.  So far, all of these devastating health problems would likely have been caught and corrected during the recommended regular age related health screenings. Sure haste makes waste but it is very true that he who hesitates is lost. I know that sometimes, it is very hard to find the middle ground in a daily swamp full of alligators. Please do your due diligence and keep up with your recommended health screenings. The inconvenience and cost is cheap insurance if prevents even one devastating medical problem later on.

On this note, let me close by saying the weather has turned chilly, too. Freezes are expected over the next couple of nights but beautiful blue sky days are mixed with the anticipation of seeing Mer’s cousins passing through in a few days. They are special people and we have not seen them in several years. They are on their way from Toronto to south Florida, interim weather permitting and it will be wonderful to see them, again.

PS. 1/5/2012 Update: The coldest it got in the campground was only 31 degrees and the cousins are due in this afternoon!



Sunday, December 18, 2011

And the countdown to Christmas is underway

We are officially decorated for Christmas! Well, not completely.  As usual, my memory of where I put stuff last year was a bit fuzzy and I forgot that there were several strands of lights that I drool around the cabinet tops and all that were decommissioned due to a failure to illuminate.

So, I am now mostly decorated and a WalMart trip is in order to round out the decorations.  That is ok. I need to pick up a few other things, too, and I really don’t like to drive 7 miles to get just 1 thing.  The problem is that I am still in the habit of “making a mental note” of what I need. Of course, that scratchpad is almost used up and I keep forgetting to check it, anyway. Hmmm, maybe I should write THAT down so I don’t forget to check it….. Obvious flaw in that, somewhere.

On to better things.  I have really been unhappy with my internet connectivity “out here” in RVing land. So far, the campground supplied Wifi, whether paid or free, has been outright frustrating.  Likewise, my Sprint 3g/4g service, even when using the HOTSPOT feature on my phone, has been unruly and I am tired of having to work out some Rube Goldberg workaround to get everything connected consistently every time we move or I take my phone out of the process to use it.

Yesterday, after a lengthy amount of research, I ordered a Verizon 4g LTE USB Modem.  It’s a Pantech UML290 which should just plug right into my Cradlepoint MBR1000 router and provide the best of the best in a connectivity hotspot.  That is what my Verizon based Kids keep telling me, but that’s another topic.   I chose the UML290 because it has held the Editors Choice awards for a long time and is still up there. A really big reason, though, is because it has external antenna connections for 3g and separately for 4g external antennas.  This is a biggie!

I thought for a long time that Campground Wifi problems were surely in the CG system but I now have it clear that very often if not most of the time, the problems are in the backhaul side provided by the ISP that delivers the broadband connection to the campground.  Nothing I can do in my RV will make up for that other than to have other connectivity options, like Verizon.

The BestBuy store in south Jacksonville is holding my USB modem for me and from the data rates I have seen from others around here, it will be an awesome solution.   I just have to go pick it up sometime today.

I have been a loyal Sprint customer for many years and money wise, their unlimited everything plans are big $$$$ savers over everyone else’s plans. But I depend on good Internet connectivity to keep me sane and it is very unlikely that I will ever be in a campground that is close enough to a major city to get their 4G Wimaxx service solidly. I know they are putting in an Advanced LTE 4g service over the next 18 months but I need it now!

I will still keep my phones on Sprint but the only likely alternative to Verizon might be Millenicom but they only offer 4g on their hotspot device and not on a UML290 USB Modem. Living in an aluminum cage in the walls of the RV makes it mandatory to have a way to put up an external antenna for the best wireless connectivity.

So, now it’s time to go pick up “my Precious!”



Saturday, December 10, 2011

The birds are scrambling

The marquee at the Fargo Theater in Fargo, Nor...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s 58 degrees on a fine sunny Saturday morning and it’s warming up nicely but the way the snowbirds are leaving this campground you would think a bad weather witch was coming to turn this place into Fargo, ND. It has been a pretty steady stream since about 7  AM.

For us, there is no problem at all. The projected temperatures of mid 50s to upper 60s are right in the middle of our favorite comfort zone so we will enjoy the elbow room… for a day or two… maybe. This RV park is so roomy that their presence is not particularly noticeable other than when we are walking around the roads and see the empty sites.

Enhanced by Zemanta

We are comfortably settled in for the winter and I even pulled out the collapsible leaf rake and swept up the site around us though it was little more than a few pine needles and pin Oak leaves.

I parked Clifford a little differently this time to give me better access to the Sprint 4G service tower to our east but so far it does not appear to have made much difference in my signal strength. I can, however, stream movies and other video content through it with no blurps or gags so I am happy for now.

I setup the Dish antenna, yesterday, and we get a great signal.  I signed onto the Pay-as-you-go Dish Network plan for RVers that lets you suspend/resume your dish subscription without extra fees. It just has to be done by prepaying month to month. If you don’t pay then the service stops until you do.  Makes it easy.

The Dish receiver, a VIP211K unit, integrates the Dish programming guide and the local broadcast TV guide into its own guide. It also includes a Digital TV Converter section in the receiver so I don’t need a separate over the air (OTA) converter box for a non-digital TV. I just hook the dish cable and the OTA coax to the receiver and it does the rest to switch between these sources as I change channels.



Thursday, December 8, 2011

Back to the Florida campground

We are back in the Stagecoach RV Park in St. Augustine, FL. Same park and same site that we were in before the Thanksgiving trip back to the Stix n’ Brix in NC.  Boy, it’s nice to be back here.

The whole Turkey adventure was very nice and we did enjoy it but the weather was starting to turn on us. More important, our dear SIL, Bette, had some more stuff to get started on this week so it was time to kiss the kids and get back  down here. We did have an exceptional time while we were there, though and even got an early Christmas (see: wow-we-ve-got-hdtv for the details.)

Just before hitting the road, Katie had a seizure at 4am in the morning. It lasted about 90 minutes and was more severe than the last few. It was only 72 days since the last one that she had but they usually happen more frequently in the late fall and winter than through the summer months. More to come on her blog.

The trips up and back to Florida were uneventful other than the old gremlin of the fuel temperature sensor triggering a false alarm in the engine computer.  Guess I will have to replace that sensor after all.  It has been really nice that Mer drives about half of every day’s mileage. She does an excellent job and I have no problem with going back to the bunk and taking a nap after my shift at the wheel.

The only problem with trying to nap is coming down through central South Carolina on I-95.  They have done a lot of work on the road and most of it is better but it is still really rough enough to bang me around in the bunk.  Just getting horizontal for a bit is still a real help.

More to come…



Tuesday, November 29, 2011

WoW! We’ ve got HDTV!

Remember the RCA color TV ads from the 60s?  “Wow, We’ve got Color TV!”? Portrait of Buffalo Bob Smith and Howdy Doody:...Color media sources are so common today that it is hard to imagine watching shows in black and white that should have been in vivid color, like Howdy Doody,  Sure, Clarabelle finally made it into full living color before the show was cancelled but I don’t think that kids really noticed the lack of color…. until it started being viewable in full color on their home TVs.

High Definition TV is much like this.  What one comes to accept as normal may be really substandard to many others.  Sure, I go and stand in CompUSA or BestBuy and try not to drool like a fool as I slowly cruise through the TV departments. Mer, on the other hand, has really not had the exposure or even the interest in the difference between HDTV and anything else.  Heck, she grew up without TV at all (or mostly… it was a Dad thing). After only a few minutes of watching this new one she is wondering how we ever enjoyed watching anything in non-HD.  As it is with many things it has to be experienced to be appreciated.

Well, our generous kids puddled their Christmas gift funds for us and presented us with a Samsung 32” HDTV and nifty wall mount to hang it on.  Since we are not planning to be back here for Christmas they felt we should have it “professionally” installed (by EmeryIII) before we left.

He put it in on Saturday and it is excellent!  The installation involved removing all the old electronics center equipment and the 27” CRT tv from 1999. That was a four-handed two-person job!

Since we mostly watch the TV from our recliners, we wanted it much higher so our creaky old necks don’t have to get kinks from tucking our chins to watch it over our noses.  We finally figured out that it could be mounted where the entertainment components had been in the upper cabinet and those could be relocated where the old TV had been.

EmeryIII removed the old smoked glass doors and crafted a tight fitting swing out panel to attach the HDTV mounting bracket to.  Now, we have full access to all that space that the old CRT TV took up. 






One big concern I had in trying to plan to put in a larger TV was the overlap with the cabinet doors to either side of it.  The TV mount that Emery found is made to swivel in 3 dimensions so it easily shifts to either side to clear the doors when they need to be opened.  The vertical tilt it allows makes it a perfect viewing angle from our reclined positions.  For the first time, Merrily can see TV straight-on from her chair and we can actually watch TV while eating at the dining table (not that this is necessarily a good thing).

We have such great kids and the installation job that EmeryIII did is truly professional in every way.  Thanks guys and a special thank you to Emery for spending his Saturday doing this right for us.

We are truly blessed beyond our rights.


Thanks guys.