Wondering about wild grapes

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Woke up in Ben’s Back yard.

Finally pulled into Ben’s place about 14:00 yesterday afternoon. Got a fairly late start, got up the road a few miles and couldn’t hear my wife taking to me and realized that I had forgotten my hearing aids. Had to go a couple more miles before I could find a place to turn around. Just love this CRS old age sickness.

Anyway, Ben was waiting there with Windy Bob and he directed me into his fabulous RV park. He really does have a very nice place. He has neighbors near enough if he needs help but his place is big enough to give him privacy. Very nice place and he is such a gracious host and a really nice guy. I can’t say anything bad about him, of course I am still here and he might read it (grin).

My wife, Ben, Bob, and me all sat around telling all these great TRUE stories about just any subject that popped up. Had a wonderful time. When Windy Bob was about to leave, I told him he couldn’t go without a cowboy song and some poetry. He had this lame excuse about not having a guitar with him and had to get home and feed the dog. Well, I couldn’t help him with the dog, but I did go out and bring in my guitar. He entertained us with song and poetry.

Ben whooped up one of his famous pizzas which was the best I have ever tasted. After some delicious dessert, we got back into the story telling and some serious talking. This has been a wonderful experience for my wife and I. So far, I have only met five of my blogger friends in person, and one of them for just a minute or two, only long enough for introductions. They have all been great people.

I was so busy talking that I didn’t get any pictures. Will try to correct that later this morning. Maybe I will be able to get some on tomorrow’s blog. Till then, think I will go chat with Ben awhile.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wondering about strange weather.

How many different types of weather have you experienced? You know, like hot, cold, dry, humid, rain, lightening storms, snow, sleet, ice, tornadoes, hurricanes, dust storms, and any other you can add. I can say that I have experienced all of the above and probably some I have forgotten about. I have never experienced a tsunami and do not want to. What about you?

I guess living in different parts of the U.S. and also traveling a lot, gave me the chance to be in and witness all kinds of good and bad weather. Just a wondering what all strange weather you all have experienced.

This subject was used because I am going to take a trip up to see Ben and my wife a day ago said that I picked the worst day of the month and maybe the year so far, to go anywhere. Temperatures dropping and storms around the Houston area. Oh well, everyone needs some luck, whether it is good or bad (grin).

Got to go, get the final stuff packed into the RV, eat, get the dogs stuff put in, and get a shower. It will take me about 4 hours or so to get up there after I finally get out of here. Ready or not Ben, here I come.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Wondering if I am getting . . . what was I wondering?

Some times I wonder if I am getting senile. Have you ever had one of those moments, you know, when you were really forgetful or just plain acting dumb? Well, sometimes I think that I was born that way. Why just a little bit ago, my wife asked me a very simple questions that only needed a “yes” or “no” for an answer. I was putting stamps on a couple of envelopes and just couldn’t seem to be capable of doing or thinking about more than one thing at a time. She had to wait until I was through, then I answered her.

I can remember (yes I still can remember some things) when I could do all sorts of different things at the same time. Multi-tasking was one of my better traits. Now, it seems, just one task is sometimes too hard to handle at one time. Like spreading nutter butter (I don’t use peanut butter, but use almond butter) onto crackers. Sometimes I like to only do half at a time, collect my thoughts, and then finish that huge project. OK, I admit, I am not quite that bad yet, but I am working on it.

During the day, I come up with these really great ideas for my blog. The trouble is, the next morning when I turn on my computer, put the keyboard on my lap, put my fingers on the keys, my mind goes blank. I can’t remember any of those super ideas that I had the day before. I guess I will have to start carrying 3”x5” cards in my pocket. Hey, I already do carry 3”x5” cards in my pocket along with a pen. I just never think to write the ideas down.

OK, I admit, I cheated on this one. After the situation with the stamps and my wife’s question, I got this flash of an idea to use it in this morning’s blog. So to be on the safe side, I went straight to the computer and wrote the first two paragraphs. I figured that doing that would allow me to remember what to write about today. So far, it is working.

Now, I can’t remember anything else I wanted to say.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wondering about CSI TV shows.

Those TV shows that seem so popular, you know, the CSI ones. They have the original CSI show supposedly in Vegas, they have CSI Miami, they have CSI New York, and probably one coming to a town close to you. What is your opinion of them?

I enjoy them, but do believe that they are so far from the truth that it is on the comical side, if not just darn right ridiculous. The first thing that is not true to life is that they are the ones who go out and capture the criminal. Yea, right. In real life, the CSI people come to work and run their tests, etc. and then go home. No chasing criminals with guns, no shooting, no fighting, and very little time for field work. Here in Houston, they can’t get all their simple tests done and have to out-source a lot of their lab work.

And what about all the ultra-modern equipment that they have on those shows? And they can do miracles, too. A bad guy can commit a crime wearing a hazard suit and breathing bottled air into a sealed helmet, and they can detect a molecule that is misplaced and just happens to be part of the custom made toothpaste that the perpetrator has especially made for him self.

From what I have heard on the news, our local CSI is under staffed, under paid, doesn’t have the equipment needed, and out-sources a big percentage of its work to private labs. All this and the budget keeps getting cut.

I just wonder what the people who work in the real CSI labs think of those shows. Do you think that they go to their boss and ask why they don’t have all that fancy equipment that looks like it came from star-trek and why they don’t have guns and go chase down criminals so that the real police don’t have to? Do you remember back when the first CSI show started? It was more realistic; they didn’t carry guns and physically chase the bad guys. Then as time went on and more spin-off series appeared, they started to really stretch the truth to get a more shocking story line.

If anybody out there knows what goes on for sure in CSI departments, please correct me if I am wrong. From what I know, in reality, they are extremely hard working people trying to do a good job on a small budget.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Wondering - two moons?

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to have more than one moon? Would the nights be twice as romantic? It may take more than two moons to help me out. This ugly old country boy has to rely on his magnetic personality (yea, right).

Anyway, we did have two moons and not very long ago. It was back between September 2006 and June 2007 when the earth captured a small (16 feet wide) asteroid. It actually orbited our world four times before it went on its way. Do you think that the coyotes howled a little more?

Speaking about astronomy, do you know how things have changed just in a few years? Before the digital camera, images where taken on photographic plates. Astronomers and scientists could study them completely and wish for more data. Today with the advent of the digital camera the tables are turned. There is now way more data than the scientists can sift through.

The sky surveys are an example of too much data. Now, there is a new telescope being installed in Chile and should be producing data by 2019. It will use a 3.2 billion-pixel camera. Yes that is billion with a capital “B”. It will produce 30 terabytes of data nightly. That’s a lot of data. “Some experts have dubbed it the age of peta-scale astronomy – that’s 10 to the 15th power.” A “tonabytes” as one astronomer calls it.

For some insight, I will compare it to my two cameras. My first camera took .jpg pictures 0.3 million pixels and .bmp at 5.3 million pixels. My newer one takes .jpg pictures at 6.1 million pixels. Just a drop in the bucket of what all the telescopes can produce in one day. Now, instead of not having enough data, they have too much. So, they are going to the internet and let everyone help decipher the data. (This information was from April 2011 Discover and Feb. 2011 Astronomy magazines)

On parting, one last question. Since they are now finding billions of galaxies which contain billions and trillions of stars, don’t you think there is intelligent life out there somewhere? I do. No matter how religious you may be, there is nothing in my Bible that says earth is the only planet that God placed humans.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Wondering about some old songs (again).

Go to my old blog:
and you will see where I wrote about a couple of old songs that mean a lot to me, ones that I have heard since the beginning of my memory. I have not been able to find any information about the “K-K-K-Katy” song. I still remember the words and its tune echoing through the rooms of my Grandparents home. Warms the cockles of my heart. (As if there are any bi-valve shelled creatures living in my heart – at least I hope not) Gee, I wonder how that saying got started. I am always curious about the origins of sayings, aren’t you? Anyway, if you know anything about that song or the other one mentioned in my older blog, let me know.

Yesterday, my wife started singing another old song. It is not quite as old as the ones above, but my Mother used to sing it a lot. So, it must have originated in the 40’s or early 50’s. The words go like this:

I love you,
A bushel and a peck
A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck
A hug around the neck and a barrel and heap
A barrel and heap and I’m talking in my sleep
About you. . .

It is amazing to me that I can remember all the words and the melody to a tune and I can forget what I just came in a room to get. Now a days, just listening to songs on the radio or TV, I don’t seem to remember the words, but back when I was young, every one sang those songs. If you sing a song a lot, you will remember the words and the tune.

What are some of the unique old songs that keep going through your heads? Everyone has some, and there is usually a couple that you keep remembering more than others.

When I said that I could remember music but not other things, maybe there is a logical explanation for that. The brain processes music on the opposite side as it does speech. Just look at Mel Tillis. He stutters when he talks but not when he sings. Maybe if I want to remember something, I should write a song about it (grin).

You all start humming some songs and have a great weekend.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Finished reading that old book.

Well, I finished reading that old book. You know, the one that I bought at the flea market thinking it was an old western because it had pictures of horsemen on the cover and was called “The Dead Ride Hard”. It was printed in 1926. Although I was wrong about the American old western theme and the only horses in it was when the heroine rode to her parents’ home in a buggy pulled by an old horse, (most of the time, when traveling, she rode in a “motor car”) it was a good read that kept me in suspense. The story line was centered around some very troubled times in Buda-Pest. I will say no more about the contents, just in case any of you decide to read it. One thing I can say about it is that it was different then most books that I have read. But then, I never seem to have the time to read a book anymore. I have read the Bible through many, many times and still read it, but I can not remember the last time I read fiction.

If the Auto Dealer is not too busy this morning, I will take my Jeep Liberty in for service. Preventive maintenance is the secret to a vehicle’s longevity. I usually sit and wait on it, but last time they said it would be quite awhile, so I took the shuttle service home. Wasn’t home for very long and they called to tell me that the shuttle would pick me up soon, that the Jeep was finished. So, I guess this time I will just sit and wait on it, unless they say it will not be ready until the afternoon. I don’t like skipping lunch.

Sorry I didn’t have anything very interesting or exciting to say today. For those of you who took the time to read it, I thank you for stopping by today. You all have a good weekend now, you hear?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My first digital camera.

Way back in the day, when Polaroid sued Kodak and won, I had a Kodak and I liked it very much. It wasn’t long after Polaroid won, that I was unable to find any film for my Kodak instant camera. Then, after some time had passed and I ran out of Kodak film, I finally gave in and bought a digital camera. It was a Sony Digital Mavica, and it uses 3.5” floppy disks as its storage medium. It also had a 10X zoom, a built in flash, and all the neat things that made it user friendly. I liked it because it used the floppy discs, and at that time all computers had a 3.5” drive. That way there was no trouble getting picture files off the camera and into a computer. I could go on a trip, take pictures, and show them to people who had a computer.

I had a 3.5” drive put in the last computer I had built. They are not standard equipment anymore. I think that I will buy one of those external 3.5” drive units that use USB to communicate to the main computer. Since I still use that old camera once in awhile and like to have a means of downloading and reading the files.

In March of 2008, when almost to Gallup, New Mexico on one of our trips, the camera quit working. Actually, a full floppy disc was stuck in it and we could not remove the full disc. That was quite a disappointment. We were in some scenic country and would miss a camera. Here is the last picture that the old camera took on that trip:

We were planning on stopping in Gallup to visit my wife’s cousin, so the first thing I did was purchase one of those disposable film cameras. Then a few days later, after getting settled and the first few visits with wife’s cousin, we went to Wal-Mart and I purchased a FUJIFILM FINEPIX Z5. They said that it was on sell, that they were discontinuing that model. Well, it turned out to be a good camera for us and it is still my primary camera today.

I purchased a universal chip reader that plugs into a USB port. It has slots for 4 different size chips. I carry it in the camera bag and thus have instant access to the picture files and it can be plugged into any computer with an USB port. Works for me. . .

BTW, the old camera started working later in the trip. Still has a lot of life left in it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wondering why the IRS has been good to me.

Maybe with that title, I better knock on wood. Hey, does anyone know how that saying got started? Anyway, maybe I better explain. I was originally mad at the IRS for not sending me the usual book full of forms and instructions. It is so much easier for me to use that book, by filling in forms and leafing through the instructions. I could read the instructions with the form in front of me. Yep, I sure missed that book.

Well, I went to the internet, looked up the directions I needed, filled in their forms, and printed out the completed forms. That all went much, much better than I had anticipated. Checked everything over and signed the forms. Before mailing them in, I did remember to make copies. Hey, that wasn’t too bad. The most time spent is the preparation and finding all the information that I needed to fill them out.

I noticed that my refund was deposited in my checking account on the 17th of this month. That was quick. Now, I don’t usually get a refund. In normal years, I try to make fairly accurate estimated quarterly payments, using the fourth quarter to adjust the amount. I can usually hit it within a hundred or two to the total owed. Now last year was different. The first three quarters were based on the year before and I only had les than 40 hours of work last year. That is why I had a refund. I will call it a forced savings account, and be happy with that.

Now, what the heck do I do about the quarterly payments this year? I have already, last week, worked as many hours as I did all of last year. There are still 9 months left, so I must assume that I will get some more work, but how much. I guess I will continue the estimated payments, but cut them way down. Like I said, I will just figure it as a forced savings account if I don’t get the expected work. Actually, I don’t really want the work but it does help pay for the gas for any trips that we may take...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wondering about strange events.

Did you ever have something happen that at the time seemed very ordinary but proved to be unexpectedly tied into something else that was part of your past, present, family, friends, etc.? You know, like something unexpected or a remarkable occurrence that at the time seemed completely random but later proved somehow to be tied to you? Maybe I am confusing you, I sure am confusing myself, and so let me just tell you what recently happened to me.

As you know, if you read my blogs, I frequent the local flea markets. Well, a few weeks ago, I was walking along and stopped at a table and just casually looked at the lady’s items that were for sell. There was this book propped up and on the front cover was a picture of two people riding horses up a hill at a fast gallop with a huge red sun and many birds behind them. I thought that it must be a western novel. The title was “THE DEAD RIDE HARD”, by Louis Joseph Vance. I never heard of the author and didn’t know anything about the book. The lady said it was printed in 1926 and I could have it for $4.00. Well, I thought to myself that it would be really interesting to read a western written back in 1926, so I purchased it and took it home. There it laid for a week or so. Here is an image I borrowed from Amazon.com:

Like I said, it laid around the house awhile, but I finally picked it up one day and looked at it closer. Started to read the first page and realized that it was not a western but was about a revolution in Hungary. So the book laid around another week, but after I finished up my “paying” job, I decided to start to read it. After the first chapter, I was into it and am still reading it when I get the chance.

OK, this doesn’t seem like a strange occurrence does it? Are you ready to stop reading and go on to someone else’s more interesting blog? Just wait, this surprised me.

I had read about a quarter of the book when for some reason I looked inside the front cover. There, written in pencil, I found a note. It said, “Charles Groover, Greenville, Pa., R.F.D.#3 – Please read and return”.

I’ll bet you still don’t see the connection, do you? Remember the cards that my wife and I make up every day and send to my Aunt who had broken her hip and the screws came loose from the surgery and she can’t have another operation because of her breathing problems? Well, she lives in that town in Pennsylvania.

What would be the chances of a book published in 1926, purchased in Greenville, PA and wind up in a Texas flea market for my to buy for no good reason. I have never bought any books to read from the flea market before. It just hit me as being so such a huge coincidence.

Monday, March 21, 2011

It’s as easy as brain surgery. . .

You know the old saying, “it isn’t brain surgery”, meaning that what you are doing is not as hard or delicate as complicated brain surgery. We all stand in awe of brain surgeons and for some reason most people think that they are special. Not me, I think that everyone is special in their own way. (Well, to really be truthful, there are a couple of people I have met along the way that were far from being special in any aspect of the word’s meaning.)

Last night I read something that really surprised me. It was only a very short article in “Discover”, but it packed a wallop. It had a picture of a 4400 year old human skull that had an “L” shaped hole cut in it. Well, I just figured that some other guy or gal some 4400 years ago just whopped this guy over the head with an “L” shaped tool. Then I got thinking, “Hey dummy, that hole looks way to perfect to have been made by a club or spear and the shape was just too complicated and precise.” Therefore, I read the article.

This skull, along with four others, was found at Ikiztepe, Turkey, a small settlement near the Black Sea occupied from 3200 to 1700 B.C. The article started out like this: “You might shudder at the mere thought of ancient brain surgery, but recent studies of the practice at Bronze Age sites in Turkey suggest that early neurosurgeons were surprisingly precise and that a majority of their of their patients may have survived.”

How did they know that some survived? Well, they found evidence of new bone growth around the incision. They also unearthed a pair of razor-sharp volcanic glass blades that were believe to have been used to make the careful cuts. OK, do you have the shivers yet?

I wonder if they had a good method of deadening the pain, other than a rubber hammer (grin). Actually, other than the cut through the scalp, there is no pain felt inside the brain. I knew a lady who had brain surgery and was awake though out the whole process. They only gave her a local to deaden the scalp for the initial incision. She said she could hear them drilling and cutting through the skull. She was a brave lady, for sure.

Since many survived the brain surgeries 4000 years ago, I wonder how far we have progressed with the procedure. I don’t think that we have done all that well in all that time. Back then the scientists believe that the surgery was done to treat hemorrhages, brain cancer, head trauma, or mental illness. Sounds like the same thing modern day surgeons do. Wouldn’t you think that after all that time we would have come up with a better way?

This article really caught me by surprise. I had no idea that brain surgery was done that far back in time. We sure do under estimate the abilities and intelligence of our ancestors!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Got the job done.

OK, got that paying job done and got all the drawings emailed in around 14:30 yesterday. Sure glad that it is over. Like Barney, The Old Fat Man, commented on my last blog, “Careful all work and no play makes a man Dizzy”. Yep, Barney, I have had trouble standing up today. . .

Let me tell you how I work when I get a job. As soon as I receive a job, I start on it and don’t quit until it is done. The only brakes I take are for self preservation, like eat, sleep a little, etc. I start as soon as I wake up and usually don’t quit until an hour or so before I go to bed. I like to take some time to wind down.

In the past, when I was busy, I worked through Christmas and New Years, straight. I never charged an exorbitant amount, so to get ahead, I worked a lot of hours and as many as I could fit in each week. Now that I have had a taste of what I used to do, I have decided that I like retirement better. I do not want to get busy again. A small job now and then would be OK to keep my abilities well tuned, but I am hoping I can stay in tune for long periods without any retuning required. (grin)

Thank you all for your comments containing support and humor. I feel that I have found a treasure in my blogging friends and sure did miss you this past week.

That sure was a bright moon last night. It was clearing off real fast and I had to wait awhile for a littlie bunch of clouds to come by to get this picture of the largest moon through the east Texas pines and the clouds.

Glad to be back and thanks for waiting.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Maybe a hold on blogging for a few days.

I checked my email early yesterday afternoon and found an email from my favorite customer.  He had some work for me.  It will probably take up most of the week.

When I have work, I usually spend all the time on it that I can.  The sooner I get it done, the better my customers like it.  Therefore, I will not be writing a blog until I get the job done.  I may sneak in here and comment on some blogs, or maybe do a quick blog of my own, but don't expect to see a lot of me for a few days.

Thanks for understanding and don't forget about me (grin).

Monday, March 14, 2011

Wondering about people we don’t know.

Wow, that is kind of a confusing title to this blog. Of course I have been known to have been confused a lot in the past and maybe more so in the future. What I meant to say in the title is you see people that you have never seen before, or people who you have seen but have never spoken to, or have just casually spoken to but do not know much about them, and wonder what they are really like or what all they have done.

As you know, if you read my blog, that my wife and I frequent flee markets a lot. She is always looking for something for her crafting and art work and I just look and sometimes find something I want. (Remember the paper cutter I found?)

A month or so ago, I was just walking down one of the outside covered tables and up a head I heard a fellow say “Hey, ZZ Top”. I looked up and he was looking at me!! I said, no I am not, but I did see one of them at the NHRA Drag races. He laughed and we chatted a little bit. He was selling prints of his art work and they were very nice.

Since my wife likes to walk through the outside part both Saturday and Sunday each week, I would get to see him often and he kept calling me ZZ Top, or Billy Gibbons. We would talk some unless he was busy with a customer. Well, yesterday I stopped and talked to him. He showed me an old guitar that he brought in to sell to some fellow for $30.00. We talked for awhile until my wife came back to see where I was. I bought one of his prints:

Sorry about the quality of the picture, I didn't want to use a flash and I used my old camera.  Did you see the wolf paw print on the horse? I wonder what else is hidden in the picture. He is a great artist, and being a Native American (Shoshone), he specializes in Indian art, and he is a soft spoken, well educated man. When I said educated, I mean educated:

Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas – BA

Lee College, Baytown, Texas - AAGS, AST, AA

Lee College, Baytown, Texas - Electronics Technician Certificate: 1986

He also gave me a calendar with another sample of his artwork. His name is L. David Eveningthunder and he is one of the most interesting persons I have ever met. Tell you what, go to his website and take a look:

While you are at that site, don’t forget to click on “Biography” and learn about his past. He is very talented and interesting fellow. I feel blessed to have met him.

On our short drive home, we stopped at another smaller flea market. I got talking to another vendor about the tragedy in Japan. He told me that he (a young man) was going to retire until this happened. What is the connection? Well, this guy has a website that gets way over a million hits a month and a Japenese business was going to buy him out. Life is tough, but right now it is a lot tougher for the Japenese.

Have a good week now, you hear?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Wondering about my work

First off, did you all remember to reset your clocks? I did, and when the dogs woke me this morning I thought that I had slept in an extra hour and was happy about that, and then I remembered that I had set the clocks ahead last night.

Windy Bob left this comment on my Friday’s blog, Retired, Semi-Retired, or Just TiredMe...me, I want in this club. I agree with all the above! I just want to know one thing from you...what did you retire from? I know you worked from home and just have a couple of customers left but what did you do for a living?

By the way, Windy Bob is the best singer, song writer, and guitar picker I have heard in a long while. And he writes poetry and stories, too. Now, I wonder when he gets time to ride his Harley.

OK, I will try to answer that question. The short version is that I do engineering design and drafting work. But when have I ever just given a short answer?

I made up my mind to start working for myself full time back in January 1984 when the forging plant I was working at shut down and laid everyone off. I actually did a project or two during a layoff in late 1981 and early 1982.

My first full time job was at Pullman-Standard (they built railroad cars) and it lasted over 16 years. I left there for a position of as Chief Manufacturing Engineer at a company that, among other things, built the enclosed double decker automobile carrier RR cars that you may have seen.

That plant was shut down by a strike and the President of the company told me to find another job, that they were going to shut the plant down for good. I was only there for about a year and a half.

I received an offer as “project manager” from a Texas based rail-car builder, Richmond Tank Car Company, and decided to take it. Another enjoyable job, but the RR car market disappeared and I was out of work again. I was starting to get good at closing down plants (grin). That is when I took the forging die design job in Dallas.

I was getting tired of getting laid off, had to do something, so started working for myself. Slow going at first, hard to find a customer. Now, I can’t remember how I found this next customer, but it was a new forging company starting up in Texas which had a main plant in Pittsburgh.

To make a long story a little shorter (yeah right), after doing a few projects for them, they offered me the job of “manager of engineering”. I refused at first and then they talked me into it. The president said that if it would help, he would give me the title of vice president. I told him to call me the janitor and give me more money. We worked things out and I enjoyed my work there. We were going good and had a back-log, but our sister plant in Pittsburgh wouldn’t modernize and went out of business as did the corporation, which we were part of.

I again started working for myself. I saw an ad in the paper for a short term project, and thought I would give it a call. It turned out that it was not local or any where near Houston, but in North Carolina. I ended up taking that job as a contractor at G.E. Nuclear Fuel and Components, expecting it to last 3 to 6 months. I really loved that job and the people that worked there. But after three years, I had to quit and go back to Texas. Keeping up two homes and separated from family was getting to me. Sure hated to leave that job, best one I had ever had and learned a lot from it.

Went back home and tried to get my work going again. In the meantime, I took on a full time job with Smith International. Worked there for almost three years and learned a lot about the oil industry. They were bought out by Halliburton and Smith moved to Fort Worth. They wanted me to go with them, but a friend of mine who was only a few years away from retirement was not selected to go. So, I made a deal to take him instead of me. Therefore, my job came to an end there in Sept. 1993 and have been working for myself ever since and wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

OK, that was the short version; do you want to hear the long version??? (grin).

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Explanation of Monster Story.

A couple of days ago in my blog “Wondering about Monsters”, I told a story about getting a package, opening it, and being carried off by a huge flying monster and even posted a picture of the event. I would like to explain what prompted the story. You see, I really did get a box full of monsters and broken eggs (from which they hatched?). Let me explain.

Last year, my only surviving Aunt fell and broke the leg bone part of her hip. They operated on her and reattached the broken bone with screws. A couple of months later, the screws pulled loose and of course the bone separated from the upper hip part.

She has gone through a lot and even came down with pneumonia while in the hospital. (If you want to get sick, go to the hospital) She wants a hip replacement done, but now they tell her that her breathing is not good enough to be put under for the operation.

My wife and I decided to try to keep her spirits up and the only way we knew how to do that was to send her a pretty or humorous (or both) card every day our local post office is open. (I don’t have a mail box at my property, but use a P.O. Box at our local post office)

My Aunt and her daughters that are staying with her to take care of her, really seem to like the cards and look forward to receiving them. In fact, they tell me that my Aunt anxiously awaits the mail delivery and is disappointed if she doesn’t receive a card.

Out of appreciation, they send something to us. The first package we received awhile back had two cute Teddy Bears in it for us. So, the other day when another box arrived, I had no idea what would be in it.

The box was securely taped shut and was marked “Fragile” and had arrows pointing up, so I figured whatever was in that box must be something special. I started to cut the tape with a knife and tilted the box slightly and I heard something rattle around inside. I said to my wife, “Oh no, it must be broken”. Then as I cut a little more, some small thin white pieced fell out. I mentioned to my wife that it is broken and it must be a really delicate ceramic sculpture. I was feeling real bad that whatever was in this box from my Aunt was broken.

I gently continued to open the box and to my surprise I found nest. In the nest there were broken egg shells and a bunch of toy pre-historic monsters better known as dinosaurs.

They got me. They finally retaliated from the time I sent them some rattlesnake eggs. Here is a picture of what I sent to them:

I just couldn’t take that sitting down (grin), so I made up that picture with a scary story to go with it and sent it off to my Aunt and my cousins.

Of course Barney and Ben couldn’t tell which was the monster. . .

Friday, March 11, 2011

Retired, Semi-Retired, or just Tired.

I was asked one day if I was retired. Well now, I just had to stop and think about that for awhile. Am I retired or semi-retired, or am I just out of work? Good question, I just didn’t stop one day and say, “I am now retired”. No, it just sort of crept up on me and now I kind of like it.

As I got older, I weeded out all of my customers except for two. These two have been my customers for many, many years. I have learned what they usually expect of me, I know the employees, they know me, and we are friends. At least I feel we are friends.

In 2010, I worked a total of 160 hours and so far this year I have only worked 3.5 hours. That is down a lot from 2009 when I put in a thousand hours for the same two customers. I have done some additional stuff for them, but at no charge. Sort of a good will thing. Times have been bad, but I was old enough, so at age 66, I started receiving social security benefits. Being self employed, I have to pay 13.5% off the top to social security. That has been quite an amount over the years, probably a lot more than I will ever get back, so I don’t feel guilty taking it.

OK, so am I retired, semi-retired, laid off, or just plain out of work? I will let you decide. The truth is, I do not want to get busy again. I probably wouldn’t object to a small job now and then, but maybe out of the above choices, I am just tired. You know, “been there, done that” and now it is time for something different. At least something that doesn’t have a tight schedule affixed to it. I don’t mind doing work, or traveling, or playing, or whatever, as long as there is no strict schedule.

Know what I mean?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wondering about Monsters

Have you ever wondered if there are still monsters roaming the earth today, left over from ancient times or crashed landed from who knows where? Yea, I know, some really bad people are considered monsters and most deserve that title, but I don’t mean extra bad humans.

Have you ever wondered what all really does live out in those desolate swamps? Why, you would be surprised what I have found living in and around my little swamp and I am less than a quarter mile from civilization. Remember my post on the Greater Sirens.

Here is a picture of a siren that I found on the internet:

Not only are there 3 foot long or longer Sirens out there, I have heard some really strange sounds coming from that area. All kinds of yells, screams, growls, grunts, and some sounds I just can’t possibly spell. So nothing would surprise me; yeah, right.

I received this big box the other day. Started to open it and chunks of white fell out. I thought that it must contain a ceramic sculpture and part of it must have been broken during shipment but on closer inspection it looked like pieces of a large egg. I carefully continued opening it and this giant flying creature burst out of the box, grabbed hold of both my hands, crashed through the screen door and started to fly away with me. My wife was quick enough to snap a picture and that may have scared it or maybe it was camera shy, but it dropped me.

 Thanks to my quick thinking wife, I am now safe and sound and able to write this blog. Now, there is something really scary in my swamp.

Oh yes, here is the picture that she took:

Hay, and it ain’t even April 1st. . .

(Don't forget to click on the picture to enlarge it)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spring time flowers

A week ago, I picked up my camera and took a little walk around my place.  Thought at the time you may like to see some of our spring flowers, but somehow, I got distracted and didn’t get them posted.  Well, today I couldn’t think of subject; then I remembered the pictures I took.  They are not all that great, but for any of my readers up north, it will be a breath of spring time. . .or not.

I tried to get a close up, but the wind was blowing the flowers and blurred the shot, but I am going to show it to you anyway:

Now, how about that sweet smelling Jasmine that grows wild all over my place:

And in a different location:

We can’t forget all the wild berry bushes and vines, like blackberry, dewberry, and raspberry.  The next picture is dewberry, I believe:

And of course we can’t forget the red-bud tree that really brightens the landscape this time of year:

This is by no means all the wild flowers that grow around here this time of year, but just a sample.

Have a good mid-week bog-down.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

More postcards and a Good thing made Bad.

Here are more 1910 era postcards to bore you, but since I have them scanned, I may as well share them with you.  The last one surprised me and I learned something from it.  I should have known, but just never thought about it.  But first, how about a humorous one:

And here is another one from that little town of Foxburg.  It feels like the glitter on it is cut class.  Very sharp:

This next one is from a guy who is telling the recipient of the card that he works in the building under the “X”.  Dang, there must have been pictures for postcard pictures taken of every building, bridge, and scene.

And how about an old railroad station?  I have never heard of the P.F.W. & C.R.R. railroad, have you?

OK, now for the good thing made bad.  Isn’t it amazing how someone or some organization or some country can take a symbol that throughout history had meant something totally different and turn it into something totally different?  This next postcard was post marked 1910 and it held a completely different meaning than what it does today.  Take a look at the front of the post card and then below it read what it says about the symbol on the back of the post card:

And on the back:

Well, I learned something about that symbol.  It is terrible that a symbol that stood for Luck, Light, Love, and Life was turned into such a bad sign!!  Of course, maybe I was the only one who didn’t know what it really meant.  How about you?

(Don't forget, you can click on any picture to enlarge it)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Wondering about vintage postcards.

I have hundreds and hundreds of old postcards that were sent back and forth between my relatives and friends. I looked through a stack of about 50 or 60 last night and pulled out and scanned 13 of them. I am going to show you a few of them to give you an idea of the variety.

All the postcards that I looked through were post marked between 1909 and 1913. As there are now, there were pictures of natural beauty and parks and memorials, but I am more interested in the more unique ones. Postcards of that era where more than just pictures of a scenic place, they told a story, a joke, or something personal.

This first one is claiming that Foxburg, PA is a “fine town”.

Foxburg is a small town located on the Allegheny River. It began as a railroad town. Both the Pennsylvania and the B&O Railroads went through that little town. There was a double decker bridge with the PRR on the upper level and the automobile traffic on the lower level.  My Grandparents on my Dad's side lived there.

This one shows a little humor, too, saying “the crowd that met me at Atlantic City, N.J.”.

This next one of the Oil City Fire Department was postmarked 1909.

I am sure that this team of horses was faster than any motor vehicle of the time and could get places a motorized vehicle could not go.

I am not sure about this next one. It was probably sent by someone who had been called a “Hay Seed”. Back then a “hay seed” was a good ole country boy. To me, the hearts look out of place. Must have had some special meaning, two hearts wrapped up with ribbon and tied with a bow. And those butterflies are little hearts with faces on them. Enlarge the picture and take a look.

And here is one that is self explanatory, don’t you think:

And I will leave you with one that gives an uplifting quote:

Have a good day and hope you enjoyed a glimpse of the “good old days” though vintage postcards.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Answer to yesterday's question, etc.

As I promised, I will give you the answer to yesterday’s question that asked, “What is the name of the star with the shortest name”. Well, that star also happens to be the closest one to us, our Sun or Sol. See, I bet you knew all the time, right?

We took a ride into Conroe yesterday to pay my yearly dues at Sam’s Club and then go to the book store. I wonder why they don’t update my picture that is on my Sam’s Club card. It is so old and worn that it is hard to see the picture, and if you could see it, it would be a lot younger version of me. Of course, since the picture is old and worn and so am I, I guess it sort of suits. Do they still issue cards for business owners with their pictures on them? I guess I should have asked them.

On the way into town, a place that sells tractors and related stuff had a guy dressed in a Santa Claus suit waving and holding a sign saying open house. The Santa suit seemed strange to me, since we have been having days in the 70’s and 80’s for quite a few weeks now. But this morning it was 35 degrees here and is only going to get up into the mid 60’s, so maybe it was a sign of the change in weather.

My wife and I always enjoy going to the book store. She bought crafting books and I bought some song books. I just never can remember all the words to the songs that I like. Sometimes, it surprises me to learn that I have been using the wrong words. Of course my wife tells me that I say the wrong things most of the time. . .

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I think it is Saturday

Went to bed last night and it was in the mid to upper 60’s here. Then about 04:30 my one dog woke me up. She is deathly afraid of anything that goes “Bang”, like guns, fireworks, and thunder. She can hear it when it is way, way off in the distance. Distance doesn’t matter to her; she started prancing around the bed stopping once in awhile to lick my face to make sure that I was up. She must have thought that I could make it go away.

When she gets like that you can not comfort her. So, my good night’s sleep got ruined. Anyway, the front made it through and the temperatures are supposed to steadily drop until it reaches 35 degrees Sunday morning. That will be a shock to my system, just got used to all the 70 and 80 degree weather. Guess it is true that there is nothing between the North Pole and here but a few strands of barbed wire. . .

Speaking of cold, I noticed the beginning of an article in one of my new magazines that started off “Titanic Ice . . .” Of course, the first thought that jumped into my head was about the ship named Titanic and it’s collision with an ice burg. Well, that was not what it was about. The complete title was “Titanic Ice Volcanoes” and it was an article about the largest of Saturn’s moons, Titan, and it’s volcanoes that spew out ice instead of lava. Yep, it is sort of cold there.

Oh, speaking of astronomy, most objects in space have long names, especially stars. Do you know what star has the shortest name? Think about it and I will tell you tomorrow if you were correct.

One more thing, go to Old Fool’s Journal and wish him a happy Dickmas.

Friday, March 4, 2011

This seemed funny to me.

I had to stop at the local hardware store and get some PVC pipe fittings and some purple PVC primer and some PVC glue. I broke a pipe to my outside water spigot. It was a stupid act on my account and I did it back late last Fall when I shut the water off and was draining the outside pipes. Now I need it fixed.

Sometimes I see something that makes me laugh. I see the humor in a lot of things, maybe my brain just works different, but on this one my wife agreed with me. When I got back into the Jeep at the hardware store, I noticed this sign:

In case you didn’t notice, the window glass was broken and looked like the corner was cut off. OK, don’t laugh, I don’t care. I thought it was funny. . .

On an old subject, my lawn mower. It sat outside in the open all winter. And the gas in it and in the gas can has to be a year or more old. I brushed off the accumulation of debris, checked the oil level and pulled the starter cord. Can you believe that it started on the first pull? That was the mower that I tore apart last summer. Remember?
Got to get back to work so I can finish up my project figuring out some wind load problems.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

It’s a Computer Miracle!!

I am back up and running. No, it is not because I am such a good computer technician or a geek, but to the contrary. First of all, I want to thank all of you for your suggestions and I will definitely download Firefox today, as most of you suggested.

First off, let me explain what happened, how it started, and how it got fixed. Yea, sure, and then I will tell you how to eliminate the National Debt and exactly how many planets there are in this Universe that has intelligent life on them. In other words, I don’t have a clue.

OK, the first hint of any problem was the night before, the computer didn’t want to shut down, had to hold in the power button. Then the next day, the first thing that quit working was my thumb drive in a USB port. This has happened before, but a reboot usually fixed that problem, but not this time. Then my printer quit working. Actually, the printer didn’t quit working; it just couldn’t get the information. I checked my printer icon and it showed the print jobs listed but under status it was just blank.

Then the Internet Explorer would not work. My email was working so I knew the internet was OK. So, I tried a reboot. It would not shut down, so I pushed and held the power button until it turned off. Turned it back on but that didn’t fix anything. I had a personal project I was working on in AutoCAD and since that program worked OK, I worked on my project all day, just couldn’t print it.

Then last night, when I tried to print my project one more time, it worked. No, not my project, my printer. The project didn’t work, but I was happy that the printer had started to work, but the thumb drive and IE didn’t. Then last night when I tried the “shut down” process, it shut down on its own. I thought that was a good sign.

I found out this morning that it was a good sign. Printer and Internet Explorer both work. I am going to assume that the thumb drive works but will not try that until I get this posted, just in case.

I am going to take all of your advice and down load Firefox and give it a try. Thank you all for all the advice, it was appreciated.

Cross your fingers, I am going to plug in the thumb drive. . .

Adding this note, the thumb drive worked OK.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Computer Problems

My computer is having problems.  Internet Explorer will not work.  The program does not always come up and when it does it crashes.  Therefore I can not get on the internet with my computer.  The internet is working  because I can still send and receive email, so it is my Internet Explorer program that is the problem.

May be off line for awhile.  Have other important things to work on first.  Maybe I should just shoot it and have a new one built, but then look at all the info that would be lost.  Yes, I do back up, but not real often and only files.  Can always reload the programs.

Be back when I can. . .

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Repurposing, etc.

My wife told me that she has been repurposing. OK, what the heck is “repurposing”. My old dictionary doesn’t have it listed. So, I have to break down and admit to her that she may know something that I don’t. She tells me it is using something for a different purpose than it was originally designed or made for. OK, that makes sense to me.

She went on saying that the last card that she just finished was repurposed. She made it out of stuff that had been used for something else. So, I guess that this was not the first one made that way.

I found the last three cars she was working on and thought that you would like to see what she has been up to the last couple of days. This first one is her “repurposed” card. Here is the inside

And here is the outside:

Now here is the inside of one that she made for St. Patrick's Day:
Now the outside:

And one with travel posters all over it.  The inside:

and the outside:

BTW, all you old people out there like me should go read Nick Cooper’s blog and watch the movies.