The Best Laid Plans…

Yeah…I’m sure ya already know the rest of that cliched saying.

Despite that…we’ve got a long history ‘round these parts at playing things as they are rather than what we want them to be. What is…is…ya know…and you works with whats ya got…and ya gotta do what you gotta do…so that’s just what I’ve gotta do.

(Neil sez…You’re probably wunderin’ what this is all about or what it has to do with anything…but he’ll get to it…eventually…maybe…unless it gets to winter and he has to hibernate…but then do bears in Florida hibernate? Do Pooh bears hibernate…or are they even bears? Most bears hibernate but Pandas do not…but then they’re really raccoons and not bears anyway so they don’t count. I dunno either…so I checked…and according to the Googles© bears in Florida (well, black bears anyway…which as far as me and the Googles© know is all we got down here) don’t hibernate since food is plentiful year round but do enter a semi-hibernation state named torpor it it’s extremely severe winter weather…which in Florida means it’s below 60. My definition of extremely severe winter weather these days is…any day that I can’t wear shorts and flip flops. Anyways…that’s the way I heard it sez Neil).

As you probably know…we’re proud South Dakota residents ever since early in 2012 when we started our preps to be “On the road again, just can’t wait to be on the road again”. We made this decision for tax purposes…we were paying way too much money to VA and since we were going to be not in VA…and because you’ve got to live somewhere…we picked SD as it has no state income tax. Back in Feb of 2012…we drove…believe it or not…all the way from Fairfax VA to Box Elder SD on the western border of the state…in the first week of February and were in shirt sleeve weather the whole 7 day trip. We did run into some snow on I-90 but the traffic only slowed from the speed limit of 75 down to maybe 65 so we just agreed that it was an easy trip.

Anyways…all was fine but we knew that Connie’s drivers license expired in Dec 16 and Neil’s in May 17. So…we took a look at things last year and were deciding whether to remain SD residents or switch over to FL…which we would eventually be doing anyway…and as of November 2015 the answer was clear. You could renew your license online easily as long as you had the Gold Star for a Patriot Act compliant license. No muss…no fuss. We had what is known to be one of those “best laid plans…” that was just not to be.

So’s we get here for the winter this year…and what with Connie’s eye surgery and all we went ahead and tried to renew hers in SD…no need for an eye test to do that and while she may or may not be drive-legal now or later…if the old license expires then you have to start all over with taking the test and all…and well, let’s just say that her ability to parallel park…even before the retina separation…well anyway it’s pretty dismal…like non-existent dismal…like don’t even go there dismal.

So Neil goes online, does the whole renew my license thing paperwork for her…and the page says “Your new license will be there in 2-3 weeks.” Great we thought…but then the subject line of this post kicked in.

Earlier this week…she gets an email from SD that says…essentially…that you have to spend one night in SD within the past year in order to renew your license. It’s not quite clear whether this is a new requirement or just a better explained on their web page or just a reinterpreted requirement…but anyways you now have to have spent a night in SD within the past year. So Neil quickly checks our “campgrounds we stayed in” spreadsheet…and we were overnight in Oacoma SD at Al’s Campground on 9/11/15. As Maxwell Smart would put it…”missed it by that much.”

So we reviewed our options.

First one was to drive to SD and back. It’s about 2200 miles there from North Fort Myers…so figure 4400 miles round trip. That’s probably 8 days driving and on the order of $800 in diesel fuel plus 8 nights in a hotel (we wouldn’t take the rig or it would be more days and more fuel and while campgrounds are cheaper than hotels it’s not significantly cheaper in the grand scheme of things). Add in eats and brews and such…and this gets to be a pretty expensive alternative.

Second option is to just go ahead and change our residency/domicile over to FL…which would let us get a DL here. The kicker there is that you have to do things in a certain order down here. Due to living full time in our RV…you have to have a vehicle registration first…rather than your mailing address they put your RV tag number (for full timers) as your address on the license. So we need tags first. However, getting tags means you have to have 2 pieces of mail with a FL address on them and that obviously requires a FL mailing address. Add in the time to get said pieces of mail (they want bank and/or insurance company somethings) and it takes awhile for these to happen. She called up and talked to SD and they’ll give her a temporary one for good up to a year but we have to wait closer to her birthday when the old one expires. Once she’s got an unexpired license and all the other stuff is taken care of then she can get a FL license…assuming she can pass the vision test. We’re not sure yet whether she’ll be drive legal…but at this point she’s decided that if she’s just barely drive legal then she won’t want to drive in unfamiliar places…so we’ll plan on not having a car for future travel seasons. We do plan on replacing our dead Mazda and then we’ll just store the car here in North Fort Myers while we’re traveling. That way we’ll have easier parking times and better fuel mileage while we’re here in FL…and she’ll (assuming she is drive legal) feel better about not having to have Neil schlep her everywhere she wants to go.

We talked about it a bit…well, they did but certainly didn’t ask *my* opinion…but then as a bear I’m a citizen of the world and don’t limit myself to such minor territorial things like man made borders and such…anyways they talked about it and decided to go ahead and switch to FL. 

Neil got us a new mailing address…we’re going to use a service named St. Brendan’s Isle in Green Cove Springs. It was originally setup for full time boaters…hence the name…but expanded into RV full timers as time went on. They’ve actually got a better service than our old one Americas Mailbox does…almost everything is done online and the instances of actually having to get paper sent from the service to wherever we actually are will be way fewer…especially as the vast majority of our mail gets scanned and shredded anyway. Cost-wise…we’re not sure how it’s going to work out as it depends on how much actual mail they open and scan for us and how many actual shipments are sent out. Total cost will be in the $500 per year range…and we’re paying the same ballpark now with Americas Mailbox…but even if it’s more expensive by 300 bucks a year that’s 25 per month and as Neil used to say back during his DoD budget days…that’s just decimal dust or rounding error.

So now comes the fun part…we get to change our address everywhere. Neil went online yesterday and changed all of our banking stuff over and has our truck insurance broker working on redoing that policy. We’ve got a spreadsheet from back when we moved out of the house with all of our addresses that got changed then…so he updated it and we’ll crunch through and get them all done. Luckily…you can do almost everything online these days instead of having to send out change of address cards.

We’ll keep our Americas Mailbox account through it’s current expiration on 1 Mar 17…that way we’ll have some overlap and anything else that comes in we’ll just make sure we add to the spreadsheet.

That’s about all the news that’s fit to print for us…we’re pretty much doing our normal nuttin’ these days. Connie’s got another followup with her eye surgeon Dr. Smiddy a week from Monday. I can report that she’s seeing more and more…and better and better…just about every day. She’s gone from not being able to read anything on the TV to being able to read the scores of the football game as long as it wasn’t black print on a light background…to being able to read all scores…to being able to read the time remaining…to being able to read the play clock. Don’t know if that’s drive legal or not…but she feels like she could drive safely as long as it was daylight…the night and her right eye being able to see some in the dark sort of confuses her brain…and she knew where she was going so no need to read street signs and it’s not rush hour traffic. She can see traffic lights, traffic, and things like speed limit signs just fine. We’ll keep ya updated on that front.

Alabama’s football team continues to roll along…we’ve watched a bunch of football this season and they’re clearly the best overall team in college this year. Nobody’s unbeatable though…that whole any given team on any given day thing…so they just need to keep following the process and do your job as Coach Saban would say…but if they play their game than it’s hard to imagine anybody beating them during the regular season. The SEC Championship game should either be…assuming the Tide wins out…against Tennessee who they’ve already beaten 49-10 or Florida who lost to Tennessee. The playoffs are a whole ‘nother thing…but that’s why they play the games ya know. What the NCAA really needs to do is expand the playoff field to 8 teams, and play the first round on campus at the stadium of the higher seeded team…just like they do in all other divisions of football in the NCAA. The semi finals can remain on New Years and the championship game a couple weeks later like they do now. Actually…expanding to a field of 16 and playing 2 rounds on campus immediately after the season would be even better but there’s too much money involved for that to happen…but expanding the field to 8 would mean you need to win 3 times to be the champ…and while there will always be arguments from the 5th seeded team in the current 4 team playoff that they shoulda been included…you can be pretty sure that if you pick 8 teams that you’ve gotten all the actual contenders and not pretenders on the list. Here’s a shot of the Tennessee mascot earlier last week before they got obliterated by the Tide.


Another interesting story we saw this week…ever since 1984 when the Macintosh was introduced they’ve been pooh-poohed (as opposed to Pooh which would be that I/Me bear idea or Pooh-poohed which would be that whole ‘in the woods idea’)…as being more expensive for bidness than a Winblows computer. This “truth” was propagated by Microsloth and corporate IT departments for years…even as file compatibility became not an issue between Mac and Winblows operating systems…and as Winblows viruses numbered in the high hundreds of thousands while Mac based attacks were in low double digits…and as Internet and collaboration workflows made file type and not computer type the thing you cared about. Anyway…back in 2015 IBM expanded on a 3 year pilot program and offers each employee either a Macintosh or Winblows computer at each 4 year technology refresh. They’ll deploy their 100,000th Macintosh this year…about 80 percent of users are choosing Macintosh over the alternative…and total support costs are up to $543 cheaper per user over the 4 year period. IBM has a total of 5…count em 5…support admins for their 90,000 installation. Granted…they do use a remote management and update application to help manage them but the simple fact is…and has always been…that Macs are cheaper to operate and maintain in the long run since they have fewer bits of malware to worry about and most users can solve most of their own problems. Neil’s always called that other operating system the “IT Department Full Employment Act”.

For instance…suppose you’re at work…or trying to fix your grandmom’s computer over the phone…and you have a Mac and a Winblows machine…and each has crashed to the point where it will not boot. Powers up fine…but does not recognize a bootable operating system partition…this happens a lot with that other OS but not so much with Macintosh as they went to a unix based kernel type operating system 15 years ago…this is inherently a more stable and self repairing architecture. We’ll assume that it’s just the operating system that’s failed…not the hardware…and that the user’s data is safe…it’s mostly on a company server or auto backed up by the operating system if you’re using a Macintosh…Winblows has an auto backup routine but it’s not nearly as seamless. Anyway…broken operating system but data is fine. If the drive itself is corrupted and must be reinitialized…then you need one more menu drag down and maybe 3 more mouse clicks to reinitialize the drive.

How does one recover from this…let’s assume it’s your grandmom and she’s got you on the other end of the phone.

On a Macintosh

Step 1…you have her power up the computer while holding the option key down. From the existing screen she chooses the icon named “Recovery Disk” and hits OK. Recovery partition operating system loads and connects to her internet connection. She clicks “Install OS”. The image of the latest operating system is downloaded and the installer application starts automatically. It asks her to choose a disk…you tell her to select the icon that says “Macintosh HD” or whatever you named the hard drive when you loaded the machine for her. She clicks OK.

Step 2…she’s finished. After 20 or so minutes the computer boots up to the desktop, she logs in with her password and all her stuff is where she left it.

Step 3…there is no step 3…well unless you have to initialize the disk as noted above but then step 1 becomes step 2, and 2 becomes 3.

On a Winblows machine.

Neil was a former Windows Systems Administrator…and he says that he guarantees you can’t successfully talk your tech luddite grandmom through all the possible choices for reloading the Windows OS. Between finding the installation key, choosing the right thing to install, and picking the right install options there are just too many choices to make…and he’s had many experiences trying to talk people through it over the phone…that it’ll almost never work.

I realize many of you use those other machines…but as the famous author Tom Clancy said “Never ask a man what kind of computer he uses. If it’s a Mac he’ll gladly tell you but if it’s a Windows machine…why embarrass him?.” I’m just (well, Neil is actually sez he) glad that that old “truth” has been demonstrated to be false. Mac users knew it all along…but like those northeastern elite liberals…Micsosloth users just knew that they were better off and didn’t want to be confused by the facts.

Truth is…these days it doesn’t matter what you use. Files and internet protocols are platform agnostic…so use what appeals to you. Neil even knows a guy that still…to this day…uses BSD Unix and has his desktop load to a command prompt…and runs text based based email and web browser applications. Not sure what he does for web pages that are more complicated than just words on the screen…there are applications for unix that spawn a window/mouse/icon/WYSIWIG interface for you and you can run Firefox or whatever browser you want in there.

And they’re not more expensive either…as long as you’re comparing similarly spec’ed and quality of component hardware…but you can still buy a machine that runs Windows for less money…but then you get what you pay for…Apple’s not interested in making low end, minimal spec, bottom feeder, built in somebody’s garage, almost non profit hardware.

Ok, on to interesting things found on the net this week.

First up is Jeopardy…and it’s the Daily Double…and it’s a picture…The category is TV shows and the clue is “To see an iconic TV character” . Make sure you phrase your answer in the form of a question. I’ll get back to you later for your response.


Yeah…about that.

YMCA Chinese

So very, very accurate.


This is the coolest sea creature ever…a Spanish Dancer Jellyfish. Wow.


Back in the day…as an aside here there was a…according to Breaking News at least…massive DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack on the internet in the NE US today…and…again according to Breaking News…a US official announced “looking at all possible scenarios, including cyber-activity”. Me…I thought that it pretty much had to be cyber activity if it was an attack on the internet…but hey…that’s just me…and I’m just a bear so what do *I* know.


I’m sure this actually happened during the recent near miss of Hurricane Matthew off the Florida east coast…and I’m sure she’s blond…she forgot her iPhone.


This is my kinda job…really.


I’m thinking the folks in Cornwall don’t think much of Londoners.


And finally…this is the most amazing lighthouse I’ve ever seen. I know they gotta be on the seacoast…and that they are frequently in precarious looking places and all that jazz…but how the heck does the lighthouse keeper get up there? For that matter…how did the lighthouse itself get there? I’m sure that today it’s all supplied via helicopter since there’s a helipad on the top of the rock…but how did the guys that blasted the top flat and built the helipad get up there? No idea where this is in the world…but way, way cool…even cooler than the Spanish Dancer Jellyfish.


That’s it for now I guess.

Wait…let’s get back to our Jeopardy question. As you recall…the clue was “to see an iconic TV character”. The character is obviously Columbo and his faithful companion Dog…well at least that’s the best guess for what the little d dog was named. He tried renaming him to Beethoven in one 2nd season episode but apparently Dog didn’t like that so he remained Dog…anyways the only things missing are the ever-absent and never actually seen but heard (at least Columbo’s end of the conversation) Mrs. Columbo and his Peugeot. Columbo did tell a boy in one episode of the series that the dog didn’t have a name. Dog was actually only in a half dozen episodes out of a total of 69.

And now for your answer…”Who is Columbo?” you say. Bzzzzzzzzzzzt. The correct answer is…of course…”And you went to Budapest why?”. This statue is in that city and Peter Falk’s maternal grandparents were from Hungary.

Side question…even though Mrs. Columbo was never seen on the original show there was a short lived spin off in 1979 named Mrs. Columbo. Extra points given if you know who plated the title role…the clue is “She later played a Captain named Kathryn.”

Anyways…sorry to make such a long complicated story about changing our address…but I had to write about sumtin’…and as I said way back at the beginning we works with what we got. Neil actually did a 10 minute educational presentation back in the day about the parts (including long scientific sounding names) and construction of a standard black US government ball point pen…but again…if it’s what ya got it’s what ya got. 

Who is Kate Mulgrew? Obviously. The same basset hound appeared in the spin off series as was in the original…although Columbo never put in an appearance. The dog’s name in the spin off was Whitefang…not Dog…so I dunno what to tell ya.

Quick…help me out of this rathole.


About Gunther

The full time RV travels and experiences of Gunther the Bear and Kara the Dog…along with their human staff neil and Connie.
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1 Response to The Best Laid Plans…

  1. seamus says:

    quick kara, the meds !!! it’s SOB !!! (dats Sudden Onset Bloggorhea…)

    ok, in no particuler order…

    “Floppytop, you’ll always (sniff sniff) be… (sorry sis…)

    what’s the damn address ?

    are u gonna havta put pontoons on the trailer ?

    ok, i’m back (hadta scroll up + see where i wuz…)

    i knew that wuz columbo, cigar was a dead givaway… cap’n kathryn was janeway on one of dem star trek spinoffs, deep space nine ? the next generation ? the last generation ? (naw, dat was chris pine…)

    place any available issue of “Hustler” on the coffeee table – you’ll instantly be able to assess K’s visual acuity…

    dat lighthouse was designed in auburn”’

    i been ta england, glad i didn’t git buggered… (didn’t know “bloody” was a bad word over there either…)

    mr. miyagi say “when in rathole, first thang to do ??? stop diggin’…

    ‘puters are kinda like wives – (fer me anyway…)
    a- i’ll never understand ’em…
    b- i’ll never win a argument with ’em…
    c- wives aint got a “log off” icon – at least shug won’t show me hers…

    gimme a sec, gotta scrool up, see what i missed….

    bears don’t hibernate in FLA – they just move into the Homestead suburbs…

    luv’d da jellyfish…

    re the idiots in washington – K is 100% right – as i view the current election coverage i am reminded of these timeless words from Rooster Cogburn: “i find myself in the company of a harpie in trousers and a nincompoop…”

    aw c’mon, drive ta SD – it aint too late… ( if’n ya do, stop by here – i need summa those meds too)

    yall be good…


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