Monday, August 31, 2015


I had a few minutes and chose to update the Home Page pic with one I took from the Incline lookout as I began my trip back from Tahoe on August 10th.  That view always makes an impression, eh?

It may be the last day of August, but Summer returned today with a high near 90, and they say this week will all be the same.  At least with tomorrow being September (!!!), the heat will not be with us forever.  And the nights cool down for decent sleeping.  The glass is more than half full...:)

I'll save the details, but I've had two visits to my family doc over the last couple of weeks to clean out my ears.  The first visit for my right ear was a necessity as hearing shut down on that one and it was either a squeeze-me-in-appointment with my doc or a drop-in to Redi-Med.  Let's just say that the remedy was relatively painless...but not pretty.  He told me to try some drops on the left ear and then come back in two weeks to see if the drops were effective.  They weren't.  But my hearing is now fully normal.  And they did have to bring in a HazMat team to clean the examination room.

Yeah, I didn't even come close to watching the video awards show last night.  Isn't there a limit on how many times the same reality-show fools get camera time?  Really, people!  Let's find other topics to occupy leisure time.

I've begun making my lists for Barcelona.  On that first trip 2 and I took in 2009, we had to turn around right after we got across the Mississippi Rive bridge (we flew out of ORD) because I remembered that I had forgotten my cycling helmet!  And the trip's primary goal was the ride up the Galibier! 

When I travel, I have one mental checklist for drugs, another for hygiene items, and one for electronics.  And I've done okay with those items in recent years.  But with a cycling trip, a whole other checklist comes into play with the gear, the clothing, etc.  And with Europe, you have the over-packing-urge to beat down.  2 has helped me get better with that over the years.  But getting a head start on the checklists is a good way to avoid panic on the day before departure.

All for this evening.  Have a great start to September!


Sunday, August 30, 2015


Kind of a no-headlines weekend on Maplecrest. Not that that is a bad thing.

The Sunrise Cafe ride wasn't going to happen anyway, but the fog this morning would have scrubbed the trip regardless. I had taken The W out for an early walk, and the street lights weren't even visible from 200 yards. Hitting the road on a bike in that shroud wouldn't have been an option. I plan to ride in the morning, so I hope there's not a repeat performance of the fog.

It's always a change of pace for me to host The Winniferous. She's a needy girl. But for a single night like this time, I don't have to make many adjustments. We do our walks. I always bar-b-que something with a leftover bone as a special treat for her. And she follows me everywhere!! On a weekend with fair weather, we spend a lot of time outside. She knows most of the squirrels on my block by name.

The new truck is a hit. I still need to adjust to its size. In my driveway, that parking spot to the East side of the front of my garage is kinda tight for this ride compared to the Taurus. When I tried to back the Buick out one day last week, it was a multi-positioning effort. Given that close of a squeeze, parking Margret in the garage on that side is no longer even an option. (The license plate from the Taurus was transferable...the BEATER lives. My insurance premium went up by $6 compared to the Taurus. Since I only cover the other guy in an accident, not my vehicle, does that mean that the truck can cause more damage?)

The 2015 calendar must work out more traditional. Last year, I was at the first Iowa football game with my pal Doc Doug that last weekend in August. Must be something about how Labor Day falls because I left the game after halftime for a visit to Harvest I must have had Monday off. I like this year's schedule better. Football in August goes against my grain.

When I ride in the Buick, I listen to Prime Country on the Sirius radio service. That station plays predominately '80's and '90's music. (In contrast to Y2K Country which is the newer oldie channel playing songs form the 2000's.).
Anyway, I now find myself turning the channel elsewhere when I am in one of the other vehicles with the local country FM station WLLR on the radio. New country is way too too for me. How old does that make me?

How's this for bringing generations together? We OWG's are paper-readers, right? (Except when they raise the prices past the value point...or when the papers are so bad you elect not to read them.) Millennials have always got their news online. I find myself reading the local Illinois paper on line now since I stopped buying it each morning. It doesn't feel the same.

Lots to do this week. Really looking forward to FFF in Iowa City.

Make it a good week in your neighborhood.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, August 27, 2015


Throwing up a few lines here in the last hour or two of the continuing education conference in C-town. I plan to get out of here a little early to get in line for the rush hour traffic around O'Hare. These programs continue to test my sanity.

CPE programs like this have embraced the technology revolution. They did snail-mail me my attendance badge, but everything after that is electronic. You scan your badge to register your presence...but only once a day...why not for each session? Your session attendance gets formally credited when you go online to give your session evaluation.

The presenter outlines are all electronic. Really, the amount of paper used on-site for these seminars has become a single-digit fraction of what was handed out say, 10 or more years ago. Save the trees.

I'm surprised that the price of the conference includes no lunch or break munchibles. No free coffee. Usually, program sponsors make an effort to provide these types of things to encourage return visits to the next year's seminar. I'm guessing that it's a budget thing for this one, but I'd rather pay a little more and have some options. Whatever.

My hotel accommodations a couple miles from the conference center closely approach the "it's a dump" category. Old. Located about 10 feet from the busy 294 Tri-state Tollway. Loud. Half the channels on the tube. My employer needs to upgrade the travel budget.

State CPA societies have become societal leaders in pulling the equal rights bandwagon. Both the Iowa and Illinois groups' monthly journals go to considerable lengths to emphasize and recount current examples of their commitment to inclusiveness. The two first keynote speakers here were preaching from the PC bible.

The thing that occurred to me as I was listening to the PC news was that all around me were mostly OWG's. I'd say that the attendees here are 85% male, 15% female. There might be a total of 10% non-whites in the group. Professionally speaking, there's gotta be opportunity in them thar hills; I mean, these OWG's are going to be retiring sooner rather than later.

Now later...home on Maplecrest. Another relatively painless, but sufficiently traffic-y, drive home to remind me that Chicago's expressways are not for the faint of heart. And that is disregarding the miles of construction in central Illinois.

Hats off (not mine ��) to 3 who is chasing bid'ness in the City of Angels. You are DAUGHTER OF THE DAY !

I did get most of the Wednesday and Thursday puzzles done, including the patternless ones, during the sessions. Wednesday's were too easy. But today's NYT trick puzzle was a bit of a challenge. Getting "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" into a normal puzzle's format was a bit creative by Will (or whomever chose to claim authorship).

Now bed for me. Hope it is a Good Friday in your neighborhood.

Monday, August 24, 2015


I had full intentions of posting an entry here yesterday, but the old body had a very poor response to the DeWitt ride yesterday, and I spent a majority of the afternoon and evening on the couch.  It was almost like I had a 24-hour virus of some sort.  Extreme body aches, upset stomach, headache, and loss of appetite. I am marginally better today.  Kinda like bad shrimp.  Whatever.

So the big news on Maplecrest is my acquisition of the latest BEATER.  My "new" 1996 Ford F-150 was picked-up late yesterday afternoon.  This is a very basic vehicle with few extras.  With only 110,500 miles, it should have plenty of useful life ahead of it.  I'm sure that there will be some repairs on it in my future, but I'm glad to get back into a truck.  Soberingly, this truck is 15 years newer than my first F-150 that I drove in the early '80's.

The purchase transaction was not without a procedural snafu.  The truck was located on a farm about 10 miles into the country from town.  I was to meet the seller's dad there at 4PM to complete the paperwork.  When I left my house, I was sure that I had locked the door with the set of keys that had remained in the lock since returning from the DeWitt ride before lunch.  And I was equally sure that I had dropped said set of keys on the floor of my friend's car when I got into the car for the ride out to the farm.

When we got back to Maplecrest with the truck, I didn't have that set of keys with the "stuff" (paperwork, garage door opener, pen, pliers, checkbook, etc.) that I had transferred to the truck at the farm.  And they weren't in my friend's car. I figured that I had somehow dropped them in the course of putting the license plate on the truck and helping the seller' dad clean out the glove compartment and other areas of the truck.  Typical mental displacement when doing unusual, non-repetitive tasks.

The extra element of aggravation was that that set of keys belonged to MARGRET.  And, I think, my only set of keys for MARGRET.  So I call the seller's dad.  No answer.  I then conclude that I had to go out and scour his gravel/grass driveway and near-by areas where I may have walked.  Which I do.  10 miles out.  10 miles back.  Again.  Absolutely no luck.  Consternation.  Irritation.  Frustration.  A real gloom on what should otherwise be a fun/enjoyable situation.

When I get back to Maplecrest, I'm still singing the blues on my inattention.  It just didn't make any sense.  So I make an effort to mentally retrace my steps from the original departure to the farm, remembering that the keys had already been in the lock from the return from DeWitt.  And I remembered that I had considered not even locking the door for the trip to the farm, it being the middle of the day and the likelihood of an intruder being extremely remote.  But I did anyway...

That's when it more or less hit me, I may have locked the door, but could I have just dropped the keys into the geraniums to the side of the steps like I do when I head out for a bike ride?  Uh, yes you mental giant, there are your keys, right where you left them!!  Amazing.  Really.

The truck takes up a lot more space in my driveway than did the Taurus.  It makes backing the Buick out from the garage a little more exciting.  And it will make things really cozy in the Winter with the truck in the garage (after MARGRET goes to storage on Century Heights).  But I sure like sitting truck-high on the road again.

More carnage on Wall Street today.  Every pundit has their own spin. Everybody says that China is a big part of the problem.  Add in the business about interest rates and the price of oil, and you have lots of doubts out there.  Cash sounds pretty good these days.

Really enjoyed these pics of the kids yesterday.  They are growing up so quick!

All for now.  Hope it is a good week in your neighborhood.


Friday, August 21, 2015


Hello Friday.  Looks like a great day out there.

This has been a tough week in the markets.  I think there was a fair amount of pent-up selling sentiment, and once the ball got rolling, gravity took over.  Its August.  China.  Oil.  Iran.  The Fed and interest rates.  Take your pick.

I find it interesting that the business channels are quick to bring out the mouth-pieces of the short-sellers in these bearish times.  They had James Chanos on today at considerable length talking up how China is "worse than whatever you think it is".  Its to his advantage to spout from his bible, and I'm convinced that these before-the-close commentaries of doom-and-gloom do not go un-noticed by traders and retail investors.  Can you say, "self-fulfilling prophecy"?

My RCL is on vacation this week...and the substitute is otherwise not available.  So I've had to do my own laundry, water the plants, and all that other stuff that the RCL has taken care of these last few years.  She's back next week, thank goodness.

The new truck was supposed to have been in my possession tomorrow, but there has been a small delay to Sunday evening or Monday.  The owner actually lives in DSM and had planned to be over here early Saturday for the exchange, but there was a change in plans due to a family matter, so he's sending the title to his Dad who will handle the paperwork with me.  No biggie. 

For the record, the BEATER was sold for $1 to a needy family in the snow-plow-neighbor's church.  I expressed a complete disclaimer on the car's mechanical status.  But really, even if there is a repair necessary, it will be a relatively small one to keep it on the road.  I just had reached the point where I was done spending on the thing.  When I had to replace the water pump a few weeks ago, I drew the proverbial line in the sand.

(That same snow-plow-neighbor just traded up to one of those new, fully-loaded aluminum-body F-150's.  Very sharp.  But really, I have lots of different ways to spend $50K.  My new ride might be 20 years older, but the no-payment arrangement is my idea of sound financial planning.)

Tiger is playing this week in the PGA stop in Greensboro, a tournament that he has never played in previously.  The A-Team members (Spieth, Bubba, Phil, Rory, et al) are taking the week off.  Not that there aren't really good players there this week, but it is different.  Anyway, Tiger basically needs to win or his season is done.  The way they have the play-offs in golf these days, you have to finish in the top 125 to advance to the first round.  Tiger is so far back, a win this week is the only way he can play in the next tournament.  Its hard to be humble.  (Drink for a country-song-title.)

Those pics from earlier this week of 4 and me on our 2011 trip were great memories for me.  Note the Guggenheim in the background here. Staying in that small French town near the Tourmalet was a wonderful experience.  Looking forward to more of the same next month in Barcelona/Bordeaux. 

Make it a good weekend in your neighborhood.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015


OK.  This is another big day in my cycling history, a day I had the pleasure of sharing with 4.  It's the four-year anniversary of our climb up the Col de Tourmalet, the most iconic summit in the Pyrenees for cyclists.  4 was a star.  It was a death march for me.  Let's make her Daughter of the Day...again!! 

Make it a good Tuesday in your neighborhood.


Monday, August 17, 2015


Just a special note.  Today is the four-year anniversary of 4 and I making it up the Col de Aspin in Spain.
This makes another day when she is Daughter of the Day!
More later.
Happy Monday!