Shak’n’ Up The Old Jello

Yeah…Jello…you know, the stuff that all RVers plans are set in. Wouldnya know it. We got our plan for transiting across US Route 50 this summer about three quarters done…and Neil’s got reservations for campgrounds starting April 17 through when we get to the St. Louis area for Memorial Day…and then we had to go and have Connie’s 3 month follow up today.

She’s been seeing worse over the past month or so…and as we expected her cataract has ripened some…in fact her vision has worsened by 2 diopters since her last check in October. That’s as expected and common with her surgery…the chemical changes in the lens with the cataract increase it’s refractive index and hence make vision worse. So…her retina specialist referred her over to the cataract surgery guys at Bascom Palmer and we headed over there to get an appointment for her workup.

March 30.

Yeah, March 30…like 2 months from now. We were expecting maybe a couple of weeks but apparently not.

So we made the appointment and then thought about things on the way home. March 30 means it will be sometime in April at the earliest before the surgery gets done…and then there’s the inevitable series of “come back in 2 weeks” visits. While we don’t know her surgery date yet and won’t know the recovery process/visit timetable until the work up appointment…it’s not looking good. Apparently a lot of people down here get cataract surgery…and if it takes 2 months to just get a workup appointment I have no idea how long the surgery waiting line will be.

In any event…instead of leaving here as scheduled on April 17…my guess is that we’ll be at least to June 1 before we depart here and maybe even later…but then we won’t really know until the appointment on March 30. Connie is going to try and call to see if we can move that appointment up or get on a waiting list for any potential cancellations or vacancies but who knows.

So…all of these reservations Neil made…well, they’re crap now and we’ll just have to cancel them…although I think he’s going to wait until March 30 to do any of that unless there’s a cancellation window we’re running into. He’s also gotta stop by the office her at Seminole and alert them to the potential longer than expected stay. Fortunately April and May are sort of the off season here so staying in our site 101 shouldn’t present a major problem.

Anyways…that’s all the news that’s fit to print…

Hopefully we’ll be able to get some of the travel season away from southern Florida…because although the weather here in the winter is great it’s sort of hot, humid and beastly in the summer. We have tentative plans to be in SD for the NHOG owners group rally in mid September and were going to go to the Albuquerque Balloon Festival with our friends Bill and Linda after that before heading back this way…we’ll likely go ahead and register for both of those because the Balloon Festival will be sold out if we wait until we know for sure…we can always cancel out on them if we need to.

Enough of that whining…let’s have some interesting stuff.

The real women’s march.

TheRealWomensMarch

So true…

DudeWhatsUpWithThat

Keep this in mind.

BrosNotBros

Google means something different in Vietnam.

GoogleVietnamIsDifferent

 

For students or teachers?

ForStudentsOrTeachers

This is a really neat waterfall named Pearl Falls in mainland China.

PearlWaterfallChina

Jimmy Carter musta been on crack when he wrote this sentence about a single global civilization.

JimmyCarterOnCrack

Flowchart for determining if you should eat bacon. We don’t need no flowchart ‘round here for that…obviously the answer is YES.

ShouldYouEatBacon

Screw the rules.

ScrewTheRules

How to deal with an active shooter. situation.

TheirPlanTexasPlan

And finally…best of the week…no words necessary for this one.

SpeakForYourselfPeasant

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 2 Comments

Tampa RV Show and Friends

Lemme tell ya a little story before I get into the meat of the post. 

I freely admit that I stole this from Mike Rowe’s website…from a post titled “My One Cent”. For those of you who don’t know who he is…Mike was the host of a show named Dirty Jobs where he went around and did a whole lot of dirty, stinky, thankless jobs and made a TV show about it. He was way out in the hinterlands most of the time doing things ya never heard of…goose artificial inseminator, chicken gender evaluator, road kill picker-upper, and the like. He met what he called a lot of ‘real Americans’ who were interested in raising their kids and making their lives a little better than their parents were.

Anyway…there was this man who was elected as President of these United States and there were some things going on when he was elected…here are a few of them.

  • We were a nation divided over taxes, race relations, states rights, and the border
  • He was elected after a bitterly divided contentious campaign
  • The winning candidate was a Republican whom half the country despised and who thought he was going to lose
  • This Republican treated the press with contempt, vowed to restore the border, and vowed to transform the Supreme Court
  • This Republican was believed…by many citizens…to be on the wrong side of history
  • This man was thought…again by many citizens…to be a tyrant
  • He’s been declared to be unethical
  • He’s been declared to be an illegitimate President…then been attacked for defending himself against those claims
  • Nevertheless…he won the election fair and square…true he won less than half of the popular vote (which doesn’t matter anyway…we have the Electoral College)…but he carried 54% of the states and with their electoral votes the election
  • He’s been proclaimed as “the buffoon in then Oval Office” and “not my President”
  • He’s been accused of wanting to institute a police state where only white males are acceptable and all others are 2nd…or maybe even 3rd class citizens…or not even citizens at all

None of these facts are in question…so I ask you…who was this man…hold on…I’ll tellya in a minute.

Did I (well, Mike) intend for you to believe that he was writing about present day events? Did he want to play with your existing beliefs and biases…to juxtapose ironies and coincidences…to deliberately confuse the reader.

Of course he did…that was his whole point.

He was trying to compare the feelings of the country when that man was elected to the feelings of the country today…everything written above has been written about the man who will be sworn in as POTUS tomorrow Jan 20, 2017. He’s been called the next Hitler by many on the left…accused of destroying democracy (never mind that we don’t live in a democracy at all but in a Federated Democratic Republic where…according to the Constitution…all other powers not specifically vested in the federal government by the Constitution remain with the states…as we are after all the United States of America and not just America.)…the devil incarnate…an illegitimate President…and the list goes on and on.

Mike…naturally…received many negative emails about his podcast where he discussed this man…and hence wrote the My One Cent piece to explain. If you want to read them in the original form…take a look here. Speaking of podcasts…if you’re a fan of those sorts of things then you should check out “The Way I Heard It” which is available from his website or you favorite podcast aggregator. He’s a folksy guy who tells stories about people you might not recognize in 8 or 9 minutes…always entertaining and educating as well.

The man he was talking about in the podcast by the way…was not Donald J. Trump. I know you were convinced it was…but actually…his  name was Abraham Lincoln…the 16th President of these United States and one thought by many on both the left and right as in the top 3 of best President ever.

He wasn’t comparing the two men…and by no means was insinuating that the 45th President will be better or worse than the 16th…but to state that the feelings amongst our citizens with being severely divided and not trusting the other side are very similar. How will the 45th President rank? Who knows…let’s wait and see.

OK, what else we been doing. Long story short…not too much.

Neil ordered us some new computer network stuff and the parts necessary to convert our DirectTV installation over from multi-wire mode to single wire mode…this will allow us to replace our 5 year old receiver/recorder with a new one that’s half the size, has twice the storage, and most importantly has 5 tuners instead of 2…this limitation has caused us (well, Connie actually as she’s in charge of what we watch, what we record and when we do either of those) no end of trouble. With only tuners…you can record 2 things simultaneously…or you can watch one and record one simultaneously but if things overlap you have to find other spots on the calendar when you can record things and have to contend with the frequent 1 minute overlap in the scheduled times on the DirectTV guide. Anyway…with 5 tuners in the Genie we’ll not have to worry about that.

Yesterday we got up early and drove up to Tampa to visit the Tampa RV Supershow…we’re not buying another rig…and didn’t bring home anything other than memories and good feelings from our visit with our friends Bill and Linda Napier. We wandered around the show awhile…picked apart the specs and capabilities of various RV brands that we don’t own, wandered through New Horizons latest model which is a Majestic like ours but is built as a travel trailer pulled by a bumper hitch rather than a 5th wheel. The guy that bought it wanted to carry a SmartCar on the deck of his truck and didn’t want to have a heavy duty truck which that normally requires…so with the help of a pre-existing design the Majestic travel trailer was born. Looks pretty nice both inside and out…and shorter than the Majestic 5ver is.

We had both lunch and an early dinner with them before heading home about 1700.

We worked twice in a row at the Elks for dinner…working both fish last Friday and chicken last Monday…and will do fish again tomorrow night.

Neil finished (almost) maintenance on our water systems…disinfected and sanitized the fresh tank and piping, replaced the anode in our water heater, and changed out all the filters except the one under the sink for the fridge and sink-side water dispenser.

On to interesting stuff…

Bill sent me this with a “Thinking of You” subject line.

ThinkingOfYou

Ya don’t see this every day…I just don’t know what to say.

DontSeeThisEveryday

Nope…absolutely not.

WaitWhat

RVing at it’s best.

RoughingItInTheWoods

And finally…when your mechanic calls in two priests…just let it go and buy a new car.

MechanicTwoPriests

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | Leave a comment

2016 Year in Review

Well…just as I said last year at this time…another season in the books and we’re back at our usual winter site 101 at Seminole Campground, North Fort Myers FL.

Alabama’s football season ended last night just slightly short of the goal of another national championship. They fell 35-31 to Clemson on the last play of the game when the Clemson quarterback threw a short touchdown pass. It should have been called back for offensive pass interference…just like one of their previous scores should have been called back…but even though setting a pick play like they do in basketball is illegal it’s rarely called. The rules say that obvious attempts to impede the ability of a defensive back to cover his assigned receiver should be penalized. Teams that throw the ball a lot run what they call rub plays with 2 wide receivers on one side crossing…the outside one cuts inside and the inside one cuts behind him as he passes and goes outside. That’s fine…but in both of these cases the Clemson outside receiver blocked the outside defensive back into the other defensive back…preventing either from covering his assigned receiver. Clear case of offensive interference to me…but then I’m not a ref so that doesn’t really count. It’s not really sour grapes either…after we scored with about 2 minutes left to go ahead by 3 there were plenty of opportunities for the D to stop Clemson’s last drive. Unfortunately…the Clemson QB is really good and was feeling it by that point in the game and he was helped out by some outstanding grabs of passes on the final drive. They were also helped out by an injury to our power running back in the 3rd quarter which limited the offense.

Much was made of Alabama’s freshman starting QB last night and in the previous couple of weeks before the playoffs…but by this time of the season he’s not really a freshman anymore. Not as experienced as Clemson’s QB…and doesn’t have the touch he needs for long throws yet. His leading of the offense to score and take the lead with 2 minutes remaining was the way we should have called the whole game…but at this point in his career they were trying to get him to be a game manager and not game winner. Ah well…we’ll start up again in the fall.

The two teams have now played the last two championship games…with an overall point differential of 1 in Alabama’s favor…they really were the two best teams in college football this year and Coach Saban and the boys have nothing to be ashamed of. It’s only about 8-1/2 months until kickoff again…and Alabama once again has the highest rated recruiting class. I wouldn’t be surprised to see both of them back in the playoffs again next year.

Let’s recap the year…shall we.

We departed the day after Easter in the spring…our immediate goal was to arrive in Hanna IN on May 1 where we were going to swap BAT for Big Red. On the way we had stops in Valdosta GA, Knoxville TN and Charleston IN. We were originally supposed to be in Hanna for a week followed by heading back south to Chattanooga for the NHOG rally then northwards through PA and NY and up on into the Canadian Maritimes where we would spend the summer then head south to arrive back in Cedar Key FL for the last 10 days of October then on to Seminole on 1 Nov.

Connie’s eye…however…had other plans. As we drove into our scheduled stop at the Last Resort Campground in Hanna…the closest campground to Valparaiso where Big Red was being built…Connie noticed her eye issue…what she called a black rocket ship sticking into her vision from the side and loss of acuity. After parking we did a little internet research…figured it was probably a separated retina…and searched for a retina specialist who was in the Tricare Network. We found Retina Associates of Chicago…who have an office in Michigan City IN just north of Hanna. Called them and they said that since she wasn’t a patient to go to the ER. So we go there…they said to go to an opthalmologist the next morning for a consult. Did that…and he said “Yup, separated retina, go see a retina specialist.” His staff got her an appointment for that afternoon at…you guessed it…Retina Associates of Chicago office in Michigan City.

Long story short…she got a bubble injected into her eye to stick the retina back down, some laser surgery to weld it in place and a whole bunch of followup visits with the retina specialist up there. That…naturally…pretty much killed our Canadian Maritime plans as we spent May, June, and July in Hanna. We did get out of there for a couple of short trips in between follow up visits…the NHOG rally, over to DC and Midlothian to see Alex and various doctors and such, and spent the week of Independence Day up in the MI lower peninsula seeing where Neil’s ancestors were buried and the various sites up on the lake.

In late July…her doctor wondered why she wasn’t seeing any better as the retina healing looked great…so she ran a test and found that the center of her retina was bunched up. Turns out that a frequent complication of detached retina is that some cells get released into the goop inside you eye. Once the retina is flat again the cells attach to the front of the retina and sort of scrunch it up like a Kleenex…which means the vision doesn’t get better. Fortunately it’s an easy fix…basically you scrape the cells off and it gets better. Unfortunately that requires some more followup visits…and by this time it was almost the end ofd July. So we asked what happens if we wait 6 weeks until we get to FL…turns out that the answer is nothing, just longer before it gets fixed. So we packed up and left…did a quick run over to Kansas to visit Camp Horizons and get some warranty work on our fiberglass cracks…then skedaddled down to FL arriving on 1 Sep. She had an appointment with Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in mid September, had surgery the next day and we did all the followup visits down here…and her eye is pretty much back to normal. We originally planned on going up and doing our 10 days in Cedar Key the end of October…but then the hurricane went through there so we ended up just moving those reservations to same time next year.

OK, let’s have a few photos…just to help recap the year.

Paddlewheel steamer in Louisville.

D71 8012

Small waterfall in Louisville.

D71 8017 HDR

Hawk in KY or TN…can’t remember which.

D71 8056

Amazingly brilliant green bug.

D71 8097

Samplin’ a little bourbon in Louisville.

D71 8103

Connie and her best Vanna White imitation as we picked up Big Red in Valparaiso IN in May…you can’t tell it here but she’s pretty much blind at this point as her separated retina was healing with the gas bubble in her eye.

Big Red 2

We didn’t get any closer to Chicago than this…she wasn’t comfortable going into the big city with limited visibility.

IMG 1992

Another waterfall…

DSC 3775

E8…the surviving eaglet from the spring 2016 nesting season by our local Fort Myers eagle Harriet and her mate M15. This was just a couple of days before he fledged (first flight) in March.

D711011

Connie at her alma mater for her graduate degree…Central Michigan University in Mount Pleasant MI.

D71 8156

Lighthouse on the lake shore at Frankfort MI on the western side of the lower peninsula…we spent the Independence Day week here.

D71 8181

The dunes on the Lake Michigan shoreline at Indiana Dunes State Park and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

D71 8214

Tombstone of Neil’s 5x great grandfather buried in Michigan…he was one of the members of the group that founded the settlement that eventually became Detroit. The Connor Greenway in downtown Detroit is named after him and we visited both his second homestead as well as the original area he settled in on Connor Creek off of the Detroit river…but the original homestead is now covered by the. airport.

D71 8250

The creek surrounding his second homestead…none of the structures are left but there’s a small peninsula in an oxbow bend on the creek where he lived.

D71 8280

Abraham Lincoln’s father’s house.

D71 8309

Back in Florida again…at Pelican Roost RV Park at Naval Station Jacksonville…by this point she was pretty limited visually…the retina had healed but the scar tissue on it hadn’t been surgically removed yet so we mostly just stayed around the rig pretty much from May to September when we got back south.

IMG 2119

Grand baby Alex’s second birthday party…we drove up there in December for the festivities.

IMG 2194

Ok…let’s check out the stats for the year…they’re not nearly as impressive as 2015 was but then we didn’t do much…out of our normal 7 month travel season we spent 3 in Hanna and got here to Seminole 2 months early so we really only had a 2 month travel season.

  • States visited: 13
  • BAT/Big Red Miles: BAT 1403 all towing, Big Red 6352 towing, 8329 solo, 14681 total. I expect this trend to continue with solo mileage on Big Red about the same as the towing mileage unless we end up buying another vehicle for our daily driver. Neil offered her a Harley trike…and she turned him down.
  • RV Miles: 7,755 on 29 towing days
  • Average towing miles: 267 (high of 445 and low of 78)
  • Car Miles: 2,298 until we donated it in May 
  • Campgrounds stayed in: 31
  • Number of RV travel days: 29
  • Northernmost and southernmost points reached: Lake Leelanau MI and North Fort Myers FL
  • Easternmost and Westernmost points reached: Junction City KS and Fairfax, VA
  • Number of contributions to the “Connie Meets the Town Drunk” page: just 1 but Mikey at Down the Street in Casey IL is one of the better contributions over the years…you can read about him as Town Drunk #6 on the Town Drunk page from the menu at the top of this page. We never did get our blueberry cobbler from him…dang it!
  • Bicycling miles: 1026.5 miles on 71 rides, average speed 15.22 mph, fastest speed 32.82 mph (musta been downhill)
  • Photographs taken: 663 frames for 20.24 GB…Connie’s eye limited our Fun Stuff© this season
  • Photographs published: 156
  • Blog posts published: 54
  • Blog views: 4836, busiest month was May with 909 views…the rest of the blog stats like champion commenter and such got deleted this year as WordPress stopped sending you the end of year review apparently…and I’m too lazy to figure them out…usually you get the summary from them the last day of the year but apparently they’ve stopped sending them out. Poop. MJ is still far in the lead with 188 total comments though.
Disasters for the year. Yeah…2016 was pretty much a year with a lot of problems in it for us…here’s a list of everything that went less than fully satisfactory shall we say.
  • Connie’s retina detachment and associated treatment and surgery when we got back down to Fort Myers.
  • Connie had some sort of respiratory disease at Easter right before we left…and couldn’t sing all the Easter music she had practiced.
  • Problem with our A/C condensate pump requiring ordering parts and dismantling half of the LR A/C unit to fix it.
  • Awning issue…we found the morning we were leaving in April that our awning would not fully seat…we figured it out but were scared to use the awning most of the summer unless it was a more lengthy stay. Finally got that fixed once we got back to Fort Myers as it was a real pain to get back in if we put it out.
  • Our Mazda 6 died while we were in Hanna. We got ripped off by the local Mazda place since we weren’t locals and they refused to make it right. Turns out that we ended up donating it to the St. Vincent de Paul Society anyway since Connie could not see well enough to drive safely from May until October. We hated to waste the 600 bucks we spent getting it not fixed though…the rip off artists at Kennedy Mazda in Valparaiso IN should never be patronized for any reason ever again. Service Manager and General Manager both declined to make it right and we could not convince them to let us talk to the owner. That would likely not have helped anyway as greed and lousy customer service that pervasive most likely starts at the top.
  • Fiberglass cracks on our rig on the driver side above the basement door and slide openings. Turns out that New Horizons had some faulty design and installation of the walls back in the 2012 time frame and we needed some relief cuts put into our wall after the fiberglass was repaired. The frame flexes and fiber glass doesn’t…hence you get these little hairline cracks. It’s an easy fix…and while we figured it was their fault so they should have fixed it we also realize they need to keep the company in business so their policy for out of warranty units like ours was to only charge half of the labor hours it took to fix the cracks and put in the relief cuts. Not as good as them fixing it on their nickel of course…but we are out of our 2 year warranty by over a year so that seemed fair enough.

So…what are our plans this year. Good question…we haven’t really made detailed ones yet but here’s a general idea of what we’re doing before Neil does all of the detailed planning.

We’ll again depart Seminole the day after Easter on April 17. Our first real stop will be Midlothian to see Alex and the kids. Don’t know exactly how we’re going to route ourselves yet but not through Orlando…we’re planning on spending the first night at the Elks Lodge just north of Tampa then overnight in Brunswick GA and Florence SC. Then we’ll head on up to Northern VA for financial/dentist appointments…and to do the portion of our Fun Stuff© from Ocean City MD to Fairfax VA via an overnight trip over to the coast without the rig.

After that’s done we’ll start the Fun Stuff© portion of the summer. We’ll transit the length of US Route 50 from Ocean City MD to San Francisco…all 3,008 miles of it although the signs at each end claim 3,073 miles…but it’s been rerouted slightly since those signs were put up. We used to live right off of US-50 at our sticks and bricks in Fairfax VA and always wanted to see the whole length. A lot of it is 4 lane at grade crossing highway, some is dual numbered with interstate highways, and some of it is just a 2 lane road. Nonetheless…we’re doing it…in fact the portion of it in Nevada is known as “The Loneliest Highway in America” and there’s a certificate you get for completing that portion of it. We won’t do our usual detailed planning of every stop along the way except for figuring out where to spend holiday weekends as reservations for those can be hard to come by. Instead we’ll meander as seems necessary as long as we get to holiday campgrounds on time and meet the rest of our schedule. We figure on spending May through July getting to the west coast…with particular time spent in Utah and Colorado as we haven’t seen the southern portions of those states…Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Zion National Park all beckon us along with the portion of the road in Nevada and several earlier portions in Ohio and IL.

Once we get to the west coast…we’ll head generally northwards and catch northern CA and southern OR that we missed in 2013 when Neil broke his foot…our next real commitment is the NHOG Rally in mid September in Spearfish SD in the northwestern corner of the state. Our friend Joe Claxton and his bride live up near Coeur d’Alene Idaho and we hope to get by and see them…but it all depends on when we get to the west coast and how quickly we want to get to Spearfish.

Once the rally is over on 20 September…our next firmly scheduled stop is Cedar Key FL on 20 October. We were originally going to just meander south and east to get there…at least until our friends Bill Napier and Roy Brody got involved. They’ve got this itch to go see the polar bears in Churchill Manitoba…which means you leave the rigs in Winnipeg about 100 miles north of the border of Canada with ND and MN…and fly about 700 miles to Churchill to see the bears…then return to Winnipeg and head south. The bears are there in September and October…and the cold weather arrives by late or maybe mid October. Anyways…Roy is doing some information gathering and the plan is for at least the 3 of us…plus whoever else wants to come along…to sort of loosely caravan from the rally in Spearfish to Winnipeg. We’ll all make our own reservations and travel together or separately as we desire…more of a friends traveling more or less together than a formal caravan.

It’s about 3 days travel from Spearfish to Winnipeg…then figure a week to go up and back and see the bears. That would put us back in Winnipeg ready to head south by about the 3rd or so of October. That’s about 1950 miles from our reservation in Cedar Key on October 20…which means we would have 17 days to get there and it’s 6 or 7 travel days. If we go…we won’t be doing a whole bunch of Fun Stuff© on the way south…mostly just getting south. It’s 3 days to get to Cedar Rapids IA including the delay for getting back across the border…and by that far south we’ll be out of any real possibility of bad weather. We’ll probably…assuming the plans come to fruition…go ahead and plan to go via Winnipeg as we can always cancel it if looks like winter isn’t going to cooperate with us. The overall trip would give us about 9,000 miles before getting back here to Seminole…and maybe 1500 less if we skipped Winnipeg because of winter and headed home via Nebraska and Missouri instead.

Our guess is that although there will be some cold weather in Winnipeg by early October the likelihood of heavy snow conditions that last and essentially winter us in is relatively low. Even if it snows…the roads should be plowed in a couple of days and we should be able to head south…once back into the US we’re continuing to get toward less wintery climate. Neil’s wanted to see more polar bears and Winnipeg isn’t that far out of the way.

If Winnipeg and the polar bears doesn’t work out we’ll either head south to Albuquerque NM for a few days at the balloon festival there before heading eastward across the southern states…or we’ll just head south and east gradually from SD towards our eventual reservations at Cedar Key FL on 20 Oct and back in North Fort Myers on 1 Nov.

Ok…gotta have a couple of interesting things ya know.

Who wore it better?

WhoWoreItBetter

You know what this is…doncha?

FredFlintStone

Why…it’s Fred Flint Stone of course. Wiiiiilma!!

This is an example of queuing level (lining up) Thai.

QueuingLevelThai

And finally…and no, this isn’t a political statement other than that a Republican president will be less likely to take any crap than a Democratic one.

90000TonsOfDiplomacy

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 2 Comments

More New Years Stuff

Nothing’s really going on…but I ran across a couple of interesting things about New Years and 2017 I thought I would post.

First up is the German New Year’s tradition…that you’ve never heard of.

It’s called The 90th Birthday…or Der 90 Geburtstag in German…which you can read about here if you want alllll of the gory details…but here’s the short version.

Back in the ‘60s there was this British comedy duo named May Warden and Freddie Frinton who had this vaudeville skit about an elderly lady named Miss Sophie. She’s invited her friends Sir Toby, Admiral von Schneider, Mr. Pommerov and Mr. Winterbottom for her 90th birthday dinner which will be served by her butler James. Unfortunately…all of these friends are dead…but fortunately Miss Sophie is senile and has failing eyesight…so James decides to pretend to serve dinner …with him playing the parts of the dearly departed. He serves 4 courses at dinner…each of which involves drinks…and he naturally drinks their portions as Miss Sophie keeps proposing toasts. Naturally James gets sort of drunk and has difficulty carrying out his routine.

This skit was seen by a German entertainer Peter Frankenweld…who thought it so hilarious that he convinced May and Freddie to film it for German television…and titled Dinner for One. So they did…and it was filmed in English with no German subtitles. The sketch appeared on German TV in 1963…but in 1972 began to assume a life of it’s own when it was broadcast on New Year’s Eve. Since then it’s earned quite a name for itself…by 1988 it earned a place in the Guinness World Record Book as the most repeated program in history. By 1997 more people were watching it (11.93 million) than watching the German chancellor’s New Year’s speech (9.28 million). It’s been broadcast over 230 times in Germany.

Here’s a shot of James tripping over the tiger rug as he gets increasingly drunk.

1481556221 45053218

I saw on another of my blogs the following tidbits about the new year 2017. It will be a good year.

  • We all know that 2017 is a prime number, but it is more than just another prime number.
  • 2017π (rounds to nearest integer) is a prime
  • 2017e (rounds to nearest integer ) is a prime.
  • The sum of all odd primes up to 2017 is a prime number, i.e. 3+5+7+11+…+2017 is a prime number. 
  • The sum of the cube of gap of primes up to 2017 is a prime number. That is (3-2)^3 + (5-3)^3 + (7-5)^3 + (11-7)^3 + … + (2017-2011)^3 is a prime number.
  • The prime number before 2017 is 2017+(2-0-1-7), which makes it a sexy prime, and the prime after 2017 is 2017+(2+0+1+7). 2017 itself is of course equal to 2017+(2*0*1*7) 
  • Insert 7 into any two digits of 2017, it is still a prime number, i.e. 27017, 20717, 20177 are all primes. Plus, 20177 is also a prime number
  • Since all digits of 2017 is less than 8, it can be viewed as an octal. 2017 is still a prime number as an octal.
  • 2017 can be written as a sum of three cubes of primes, i,e, p^3 +q^3 +r^3 for some primes p, q, r.
  • 2017 can be written as a sum of cubes of five distinct integers.
  • 2017 can be written as x^2+y^2, x^2+2y^2, x^2+3y^2, x^2+4y^2 x^2+6y^2, x^2+7y^2, x^2+8y^2, x^2+9y^2 (for positive integers x, y)
  • 20170123456789 is also a prime
  • the 2017th prime number is 17539 and 201717539 is also a prime.
  • Let p=2017, then both (p+1)/2 and (p+2)/3 are prime numbers.
  • The first ten digits of the decimal expansion of the cubic root of 2017 contains all different digits 0~9. 2017 is the least integer has this property. 
  • 2017 = 2^11 – 11th prime

Yeah…I know…way more than you wanted to know.

This photo is undeniable proof that font selection is…very, very important.

FontIsImportant

That’s all I got for today.

Oh yeah…our local eagle pair…follow along here if you want…Harriet and M15…had one of their two eggs hatch on xx and it appears to be a healthy eaglet. Unfortunately…the second egg which was laid about 30 hours after the first hasn’t hatched yet…and given that it’s now 4+ days after it’s expected hatching time it’s most likely a non viable egg. So I guess Harriet and M15 will be only raising one eaglet this year. We’ll keep track of them and keep ya apprised of the young’n’s progress.

One last request…if any of our readers ever get to Catalan…that’s over in Spain on the Atlantic coast…you gotta get me one of these pooping figurines. Apparently no Catalan Nativity scene is complete without one. You can read all about the tradition here. It’s got something to do with Catalan not really being a willing part of Spain and rejecting the Spanish influence/takeover of the area.

NewImage

Cyas.

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Happy 2017

And I must say it’s gotta be better than 2016 was…at least according to Connie…who declared that 2016 was the worst year evah. What with her eye and all…I can see how she might think it was not so good…but worst evah…I dunno.

Anyway…the new year started off really great for us. We headed down to the Elks Lodge at 1400 for the New Years Party but could only stay an hour. We hadda couple of brews, some eggnog which Neil spiked with some bourbon and found it was a already spiked so I guess it was double spiked…didn’t eat much as it was pot luck and we didn’t take anything as we weren’t staying long but did try the Jalapeño pepper stuffed with cream cheese and cheddar cheese then wrapped in bacon and baked that our friend Art made…they were pretty outstanding. Just a little heat as all the seeds and membranes were removed and they contain most of the capsaicin in any pepper but quite tasty nonetheless.

Afterwards we headed home for the College Football Playoff semi final between Alabama and Washington. Neil wasn’t concerned much after the first quarter as we could run the ball, they couldn’t, and although they got some passing yards early our D had figgered it out by the end of the quarter. We ended up with 2 TD runs by Bo Scarborough…the first was what the guy on TV called a “real man run” as he ran through and over 5 attempted tacklers on the way to the end zone. The second one came in early in the 4th after Washington finally got the Tide in some bad field position via a quick kick punt by the quarter back that rolled out of bounds at our 2 yard line. A couple of quick Bo runs and a pass got us just out past the 30…then it was time for another Bo run…he broke one tackle in the backfield and another right at the line of scrimmage then was off to the races. About 30 yards down the field there were a couple of secondary guys that might have tackled him but a great cut to his right put our wideouts between him and the defenders and they got in the way enough for the 68 yard scoring run. Bo is a lot like Derek Henry who won the Heisman Trophy last year for the Tide…big strong buy who mostly runs over people but once he’s in the open he’s a lot faster than he looks and just runs away from defenders.

We added in another defensive score…22 yard return of an interception…in the second for the final score of 24-7 in a game that really wasn’t as close as the score. In the late game…Clemson blew out Ohio State 31 zip so they’re scheduled for a rematch in the championship game next week. Really looking forward to it.

After the game was over we headed down to the party at the campground…got there right about 2000 and stayed a couple of hours drinking wine, snacking and shooting the breeze around the campfire. Came home and went to sleep in the recliners until 0130 before getting up and drifting into bed.

Today our friend Jeff is bringing down the traditional Tennessee New Years dinner…hog jowls, taters, and black eyed peas. Neil’s passing on the peas of course and baking some sweet taters to go along with the feast…and we’ve got just enough caramel pie left for 3 small servings…which is all you want anyway as it’s really, really rich. Nobody at our house has ever had a hog jowl…he tweeted a pic of him cooking it and it looks like bacon to me except it’s the pig’s face. Hey…it’s pork fat so it’s gotta be good…right?

Ok…what’s interesting on the net this week.

I found this…it’s a picture of a little island named Vulcan Point

Taal lake 33

The water surrounding it is named Crater Lake. Crater Lake is contained within another body of water named Lake Taal…which is then contained by the island of Luzon (the large island in the Philippine chain. So this makes Vulcan Point…an island on a lake on an island on a lake on an island…or what the geologists would call a third order island.

Here’s a larger shot of the whole shebang…the water at the bottom is the Philippine Sea which is part of the Pacific.

Taal lake 56

Turns out this is one of only two known instances of this happening in the whole world. Up in Canuckistan there’s an unnamed island on an unnamed lake on an unnamed island in a finger lake in the island of Victoria Island. This second instance was discovered after hours of searching google images by a guy you might have heard of…Ken Jennings of 74 game winning streak on Jeopardy fame. I was gonna put in a picture…but the only one I could find was on Google Maps…and it’s pretty lousy…Google didn’t bother paying for decent resolution satellite photos up there since there’s absolutely nothing up there.

Ken admits there might be more of them…after all Canuckistan has over 3 million lakes…many of which have islands in them…so if you’re interested in becoming internet famous…go ahead and start searching.

Canuckistan…it turns out…has many other examples of lakeology present within it’s borders.

  • It has the largest lake on island…Nettilling Lake on Baffin Island
  • It has the largest island in a lake…Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron
  • It has the largest lake on an island in a lake…Lake Manitou on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron
  • It has the largest island on a lake on an island on a lake…Treasure Island in Mindemoya Lake on Manitoulin Island in Lake Huron

Lessee…what else I got.

Baby Jesus is getting an early start on his New Year’s resolutions I guess.

EarlyStartNewYearResolution

I never thought of the Second Coming like this…

SecondComing

What could go wrong?

WhatCouldGoWrong

I’m confused.

IAmConfused2

If the light stays on more than 4 hours…call an electrician I guess.

CallAnElectrician

And that’s all I got for today. Ya’ll stay safe and productive in the New Year…Ima still working on the end of the year post…well, it’s all done except for the blog stats and such but WordPress hasn’t sent those out yet.

Cyas.

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Merry Belated Christmas

Yeah…I know…I shoulda posted this yesterday…but I was too busy eating and being lazy. Tough on ya’s.

Oh well…Merry Christmas to all of you…but you need to choose one and only one of the following to provide you our wishes.

For our progressive friends…yeah, we actually have some of those misguided folks in our circle…

Please accept with no obligation, implied or explicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2011 but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere . Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishes.

To our conservative friends…Merry Christmas.

‘Round these parts…we started the merriment with Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve…but in the interests of the old folks down here who (a) don’t stay up late and (b) can’t drive at night (well, they actually can’t drive anytime…leastways not correctly dammit…but at least during the daytime they have a prayer of seeing anything…after dark it’s a lost cause for them.)…anyways it was a 1600 in the afternoon. Father Tom gave a relatively short sermon…he said it was because he was told shortly before Mass started by a parishioner that they had a 1730 dinner reservation. There was a very nice concert by the choir to start…well except for the last piece which depended on the men in the choir…and they pretty much suck (but they try and it’s choir so that’s not too bad)…anyways they got off and the whole last song was a train wreck. For those of you who’ve heard the old Harry Chapin song about the 30,000 pounds of the bananas…”The reaction of the band was best summed by my brother John who said…(music stops and very deep baritone voice here)…Harry, it sucks.”

After Mass we stopped by the local sushi/chinese restaurant and had sushi and Kirin Ichiban brews for dinner then it was back home. Earlier in the day Neil had done most of the cooking for Christmas…made the caramel pies; made the sweet potato polenta and put it in the fridge to be sliced, fried in budda’, and topped with maple syrup on the ‘morrow; and marinated our venison tenderloin (Thanks to Tom…Jenny’s dad…for the meat!!)

Sunday Connie headed back over to St Therese for the 0900 Mass…Neil stayed home so that she could call when she left and he could put the sorta home made cinnamon buns into the oven…the buns part came from a package of Flaky Southern Style Grands biscuits and he made a pecan, brown sugar, butter, and leftover caramel pie stuff mixture. He stretched the buns out into ovals about 6 inches long, schmeared (that’s an Emeril Lagasse term) the mixture on the middle and rolled ‘em up. Tossed into an oven after schmearing a little more butter and left over caramel on the top for 13 minutes at 350…et voila…hot home made cinnamon buns. He added a rum and OJ cocktail once she got home…we had finished coffee earlier before she left…and that was brunch.

We opened presents…Connie got this cool granny mug from grand baby Alex.

GrannyCup

Other than that we got some hair things, a beard trimmer, and a few other odds and ends but nothing really spectacular…but then we mostly just get what we need when we need it anyway.

About 1030 he put the venison into the pot with our sous vide machine. Sous vide is a French cooking style technically meaning “under vacuum” but essentially you put your food into a bag…and either vacuum seal it if you have one of those to just seal into a freezer bag and squeeze the air out if you don’t have the vacuum machine. He had put some rosemary, thyme, and marjoram into the bag Saturday along with a little sherry vinegar and some olive oil to marinate over nite.

Anyways…sous vide cooking actually means cooking your food in warm to very warm water for a long time. Take venison for instance…our tenderloin was about 10 ounces and say 5 inches long and 2 inches in diameter…and we wanted it medium rare…which for venison (as for most other red meats) is about 130 degrees internal temperature. Now if you cook meat in the oven or on the grill you cook it to a center temperature of 125 and then take it off and let it rest for 20 minutes. Since the outer portions are hotter the heat equalizes and the whole thing is now at your desired 130…but unfortunately it’s only pink in the middle. Towards the outside it’s more done as the outside portions of the meat got hotter. To counteract this problem…because medium rare should be medium rare all the way through…sous vide was invented. You put the sealed bag containing your meat into a pot of water which is maintained at 130 degrees for a long time…this venison would have been done in about 2 hours but we actually had it in there for about 5. The good thing is that it cannot overcook because it can never get hotter than the 130 degree water in the cooking container…and the longer you leave it in the more tender it gets. Neil uses his large pasta pot about 12 inches deep and has a portable sous vice machine that clamps to the side of the pot. The machine has an 800 watt heater inside it and a propeller arrangement that sucks water in from the pot, heats it up and shoots it back out. It has a temperature sensor at the intake and a dial where you set the desired temperature (129 in our case since it would warm up a little bit when seared…which I’ll talk about in jus’ a minute if’n ya give me a chance. The controller cycles the heater on and off so the incoming water to the sensor remains at 129 and the propeller ensures that all the water is evenly mixed.

The result is that the meat is the same temperature the whole way through…a very nice 129 which is almost medium rare. Take a look at the cross section of the venison in the photo below and you’ll see what Ima talking ‘bout. See how the meat is nice and pink almost all the way to the outside…that’s the benefit of sous vide.

XmasVenisonDinner

The only drawback is that the outside surface of the meat only gets to 130 as well…and it does not get that nice seared crispy brown outside. That’s technically known as a Maillard reaction and it’s a product of the amino acids and sugars in the meat in the presence of high heat  and it’s what gives browned food that nice browned crunchy bits taste. Anyways…sous vide means no Maillard reaction…and hence no browning so the meat just looks gray when you take it out of the bag. No worries though…you just toss the meat into a very, very hot skillet…or onto the grill…for a couple minutes to sear the outside into that nice browned meat color and taste.

The other stuff on the plate above is savory herb stuffing with mushroom gravy on it and the venison…and the sweet potato polenta. Polenta is sort of like the Italian version of grits except it’s made from yellow stone ground cornmeal ground finer than what’s normally used for grits…you can use grits in a pinch and the flavor is pretty close but (a) corn meal is the original stuff and gives it a creamer texture and (b) we have corn meal anyway for stuff like frying oysters and fish. Cook the corn meal with water and cream for a half hour or so, add in a smashed and baked sweet ‘tater and a little cinnamon, brown sugar, salt, and ground smoked chipotle pepper for a bit of a kick. Next put the mixture into a loaf pan and into the fridge over night where it sets into a congealed mass. Slice, fry in butter, and top with maple syrup and it’s mighty tasty.

We had dinner about 1700 and much later had the salted caramel pie Neil made for dessert.

CaramelPieXmas

For this…you take Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk and put it into a flat baking dish which you then sit in a water bath in the oven for 90 minutes or so…this causes the milk solids in the Eagle Brand to caramelize into that nice gooey stuff you see in the photo and make it so it will set into a custard consistency when put into the fridge. Scrape the mixture into serving dishes that have a graham cracker crust, top with a little fleur de sel…that’s a 10 dollar word for sea salt…which is chemically the same as regular table or kosher salt except it’s made from evaporating sea water and has very nice crystal crumbly texture…sometimes called finishing salt but it’s what we…and fancy chefs…use as salt at the table when a bit more is necessary. Put the dishes into the fridge overnight, top with whipped cream and you’re done. It’s not as salty as either table or kosher salt is…the large crystals are flat like snowflakes and have a lot of air in them so each crystal contains less salt than it looks like it does.

We had a nice bottle of Pinot Noir red with dinner…and a couple of Green Spot Irish Whisky cocktails while he was cooking. Crammed all the dishes into the dishwasher and watched TV until bedtime…and that was our Most Excellent Christmas Day.

One other election related note…as you’re no doubt aware the media, Clinton campaign, and the various liberal talking heads/social media gadfly/et. al. are still complaining about how HRC won the popular vote…and are still making noises about abandoning the Electoral College.

There’s even a thing going on called the 270 Coalition which is trying to get states that represent 270 electoral votes to agree to cast their electoral votes for the national popular vote winner. Now that just seems wrong to me…after all we are the United States of America and not just plain old America…the founding fathers deliberately wanted the states to retain the upper hand…hence that sentence in the constitution about all other powers being retained by the states. Anyways…this seems like an end run around having to have a constitutional amendment to get rid of the EC…just like liberals trying to give the District of Columbia voting rights in Congress and the Senate despite the clear wording in the constitution that States get congressmen and senators, not districts or possessions…funny how those wanting to give DC congressional representation don’t seem to want to give any to Guam, Puerto Rico, or American Samoa…probably because they wouldn’t be reliable Democratic votes but that’s just me.

Anyways…back to the continued harping on the popular vote. Turns out that the fabled recounts of hacked elections in PA, WI, and MI actually increased Mr. Trump’s winning margin in those three states…and that while it is true that she won the overall irrelevant popular vote by 2.8 million or so…it also turns out that her popular vote victory was due…solely…to vote in NYC and LA County. This means…at least to me…that it’s even more important for the EC to be retained to ensure that the President is elected by all the people…do we really want LA and NYC to control the out come of a national election? Not me.

Neil keeps having the same discussion over and over with his liberal friends on social media…they all claim she won the popular vote and should be declared the winner. He keeps telling them that she was a lousy candidate that nobody trusted based on her record for the past 30 years; that Comey didn’t cost her the election…he actually decided not to prosecute her…twice; that she ran a terrible campaign which assumed traditional Democratic states were in the bag and completely ignored the flyover states while concentrating her energy only on the coasts; and failed to listen to the smartest politician we’ve had in the USA since Ronald Reagan. Bill Clinton…despite his moral deficiencies…was a pretty darned good president…and more importantly is a brilliant political mind. He begged her not to ignore the largely white middle class voters in the center 35 states but she saw fit to ignore that advice and campaigned only where people liked her already or where she thought she could flip a state. Ya gotta take care of your base first and foremost.

Ok, need a couple of interesting things to post…lessee.

You think wimmin are the weaker sex?

TheWeakerSexThose sneaky Chinese.

ThoseSneakyChinese

This should be posted on everything.

ShouldBeOnEverything

Life imitating art.

LifeImitatingArt

Definitely not…Good Eats.

RoadKillSammy

We’ll finish out the holidays this week with New Years and the College Football Playoff games on Saturday…then it will be time to get down to work. In the next couple of weeks Neil’s got a bunch of work items to handle on the trailer…flush and sanitize our water system as it’s been almost 5 years, swap out the resin in our water softener, change the water heater anode element, order more water filters and install a couple of them as part of the whole water system flush/change thing, and get his bike fixed (he broke the front derailleur trying to adjust it…which isn’t surprising as he’s not a bike mechanic and doesn’t know what he’s doing. Hopefully the LBS…er, local bike shop…can quickly fix his errant adjustments.) After all that’s done he’s gotta plan out our next spring/summer/fall travels. I’ll give ya a preview of those next time in my end of the year summary…but it involves a Charles Kuralt like journey across America as well as (hopefully and tentatively) polar bears.

Cyas.

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Trip to See Grand Baby Alex

Well…not really much of anything to report but we did make a trip to to Midlothian to see the human kids…and most importantly to be at grand baby Alex’s 2nd birthday party…although I gotta tell ya going up to Virginia in December is really way too cold for us.

We had dental appointments on Dec 8…and planned on leaving afterwards for Virginia bit the cleanings at the dentist delayed our departure until about 1030 instead of our normal 0700 or so…which meant we had to stop partway up. After completing our cleanings we headed up I-75 and then I-4 through Orlando…and made the decision never to go through Orlando again…the traffic basically sucks and the roads are terrible with construction everywhere. Turns out that taking 75 north to 10 and then west only adds a out 40 miles to the distance from Seminole to Jacksonville…so we’ll plan on going that way in the future…especially with the rig as the construction delays just make Orlando unbearable.

We stopped for the evening in Hardeeville GA just north of the border about 20 miles or so…had a decent hotel and a pretty decent dinner then got up early the next morning…dressed in jeans and hoodies instead of our normal shorts and flip flops and continued north. We got to the hotel right near the human kids house about 1500…had a nap and then headed over to see Alex for a bit before he went to bed on Friday evening.

We spent most of the daytime Saturday at Bryan and Jenny’s house seeing the kid and doing some preliminary party on Sunday stuff…then had dinner and headed back to the hotel.

Sunday was Mass at the local church in Midlothian we usually go to and then we headed over to Alex’s house…spent a couple of hours getting ready for the party and then it was pretty much madness for the next 2 hours…about 20 people in the house with 4 kinds under 5 and a bunch of adults…sliders and cupcakes and opening presents were the order of the day. By the time the party broke up we were beat and ready to head back to dinner and the hotel for the evening…with an early departure scheduled for Monday morning.

We did get some photos at the party…have to have those ya know.

Alex wandering around before the party.

IMG 2194

Having a cupcake after the sliders were gone.

IMG 2205

Getting his height marked on the chart on the wall…he should be just about 5’10” to 6’…based on the two times your height at age 2 metric…when he’s an adult. Don’t know if that will work or not but Bryan is within an inch or two of the metric so maybe it will hold true.

IMG 2215

Serving granddad some tea from his kitchen set before we left.

IMG 2185

We were so tired after the party…just headed out to a local Bonefish for dinner then home for bed. Got up early Monday morning…temp was in the 20s and that’s way too cold for us…and headed south. Our destination for the day was just north of the GA/FL border on 95…we wanted to stop by Green Cove Springs the next morning and see our new mailing service in person and they don’t open until 0900.

After a gradually warming day we had dinner and bed and headed off again early Tuesday…had to get there for choir practice ya know and we had some Xmas deliveries to take care of for Bryan and Jenny at her grandmother’s house in Bradenton FL just south of Tampa. We made a quick stop at the mailing service…which isn’t actually located at the specified street address because when they outgrew their facilities and moved either the city let them keep the street address of 10,000+ clients had to do that whole address thing…anyway we followed the GPS and failed and then the directions on the website and got there. A quick stop, picked up our mail and introduced ourselves, and we were back on the road. Stopped by Bradenton and met Grandma Ruth at the Waffle House to drop off presents then continued on south to Fort Myers arriving just after 1420.

Connie quickly headed out for choir and Neil took all our stuff back inside.

Other than seeing the kids and Alex…the highlight of the weekend was getting some venison backstrap tenderloins from Tom, Jenny’s dad. We had taken him some homemade eggnog and he surprised us with the venison…it’s on the menu for Christmas dinner.

That’s about it for now…gotta run to get to Bingo as Connie’s almost home from choir. Just a couple of quick interesting thing this week.

Too hot on the landing I guess.

LittleTooHotOnLanding

Keep your head down.

KeepYourHeadDown

How to confuse a vegan.

ConfuseAVegan

Cyas.

Posted in RV, Travel | 4 Comments