Friday, June 30, 2006

Just So You Know

I am not a big AC user. I believe that half of the reason it feels hot and miserable outside is from spending too much time in artificially cooled places that shock your system each time you move from one to the other. Now this doesn't mean that I am in judgement of anyone that uses AC, or that I don't use AC myself, it just means that I try to limit my use. We keep our house at about 78-80 degrees F during the summer, which by some standards would be considered warm. I would go higher even but then the fish tank gets too hot and I don't want them to die. We live in a very warm and humid climate so a bit of AC is needed just to keep things in the house dry and must free.

So following along with these beliefs, I tend to not use the AC in my car much. I have several reasons for this, one of which being listed above, but also because I figure it eats gas (which is expensive enough as it is), and because it makes the car work harder (and on older cars, can cause overheating). J and I pretty much didn't use the AC for the entire trip out to NE and while we were there. It was usually in the mid 80s and it wasn't necessary. There was a couple of days in Michigan and Minnesota where it got into the 100s but you only really noticed it when we were sitting still.

Anyhow, we were discussing AC use at Grandpa's house in NE when J's aunt told us that she had read that using the AC in the car didn't hurt the gas mileage any worse than the drag from driving with the windows open did. I figure this could be true and that it is possible as well that newer AC units are probably much more efficient than when I first started driving. So J and I decided to test it out on the way home.

We used the AC (even though it wasn't that hot) pretty much the entire way home (about 1200 miles) up hills, down hills and in some stop and go traffic and I am here to report that we got the same gas mileage on the way home as we did on the rest of the trip (between 25-29mph). It was nice to have the windows closed because I didn't have to deal with tickling wispies and we could both hear the stereo much better. Anyhow, I just thought you would want to know in case you have be denying yourself to save gas.

Note: We drive a small 4 cyclinder truck with a canopy on the back, and 29 mph on the highway is the listed estimated gas mileage for the vehicle. We also didn't run the AC at full blast, once the car cooled down, leaving it on the lowest setting was plenty cool for us.


When we got home yesterday, there were several messages on our machine. One of them was from our water company. As you remember from this post, we had technical difficulties when we were both gone in May and we received a huge water bill because of it.

Well the letter I sent in paid off. They reduced our water bill by 350 dollars....I couldn't believe it. That is much more than I was expecting. Now I have to finish our claim with the company whose product failed to get the remaining out of them (not to mention cost of the items themselves).

I guess sometimes a little follow through is all that is needed...wish I could be more active in following through in other aspects...haha (referring to the 101 projects I have going on right now).

Monday, June 26, 2006

Family Reunion

Well, the reunion is over and all is well. We are getting ready to leave Nebraska tomorrow and head towards home.

From my last post, we had landed in Nebraska onWednesday night. We went out to dinner with Grandpa and Jo and then had a game of cards before heading back to the hotel. On Thursday we played golf with Grandpa at his club and got all the golfing muscles working again. It was great fun. Some family was expected to show up that night so we hung out near the house waiting for new arrivals. Turns out we even had family come that we didn't know were going to be able to come. It was a great surprise. We ended up putting a few leafs in the table and setting the table for 10 by the end of the night and had a great visit.

On Friday we played golf again but this time at a different place, it was a nice course with lots of hills on it. After golf, I went with Grandpa to Omaha to pick up a couple people that were flying in, and then we all went out to dinner at this cool restaurant and had some terrific prime rib and conversation. I took lots of pictures while we were there because it was almost like a mini-reunion as almost everyone got in that night. Many of us headed back to Grandpa's after dinner but didn't stay late as we had an early tee time the next day with the reunion picnic to follow in the afternoon.

On Saturday, much needed rain showed up (almost ruining the golfing plans) and made for a cooler morning. We still played golf and it was actually almost perfect. The early cloud cover kept things nice and cool. We played a scramble format so our big group would move quicker through the course and so we could have a little competition. It was a fabulous time. After golf we went back to the house and got ready for the picnic which we had moved from the park down the street to the house for logistical reasons. J's sister had done all the food preparation and we would have all starved if it wasn't for her. She did a terrific job and didn't even seem to be stressed at all (I probably would have lost my mind). Everyone had fun and lots of food. J's mom wasn't feeling too hot on Saturday (although she did play golf with us) so I made sure to take lots of pics and video so she could see everything. Hopefully when I get home and look at the footage and the pictures, we have something to work with.

On Sunday, we played golf again at granpa's club in the scramble format. It was a lot of fun and my team ended up winning. We didn't get to warm up much so my first half was a bit iffy but my drives came back by the second 9. A few people had to leave on Sunday so the goodbyes started then. After golfing we had some lunch, and hung out playing cards and exchanging stories. Sunday evening even more people had to get going but we were able to get a spreadsheet started with contact infor for everyone so hopefully that will make it easier for all of us to stay in touch.

On Monday, the few of us that are still left got together for lunch and dinner. Grandpa didn't play golf with his league since he had been playing so much this week. We played some cards and got things organized for our trip back home. Tomorrow morning we are meeting everyone for breakfast so we can say goodbye and get on the road. I don't know how far we will drive but we want to get some miles under our belt. I have 4 new states to find geocaches in, and that will require some research on the Internet. I think I am only covered for half of the trip so far.

I'll update more as the trip winds down. Sounds like we are getting lots of rain on the East Coast so I am thinking that our sun here might be the last for a while.....hope not.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Quick Trip Review II

Okay, we are in Nebraska and I have Internet so I will update our trip thus far.

Day 6: Headed out from Gaylord Michigan early in the morning North and cross into the Upper Penisula of Michigan. We stopped in Macinaw and in Sault St. Marie on our way through the UP. We saw a 300 foot ship move through the locks in Sault St. Marie that go between Lake Huron and Lake Superior. I had only seen Lake Michigan in the past so this trip allowed me to see four of them (the glance at Lake Erie didn't really count). We stopped late to camp for the night, and had some fun throwing the fishing line in along a small river near our campsite.

Day 7: Left Michigan, traveled through Wisconsin pretty fast, and entered Minnesota. We ventured into the area that J used to live in and fished at some of his old holes (and caught a few too, although we let them all go). We ended up heading a bit south near the end of the day so we wouldn't have such a long drive the next day. We camped near a lake and battled the mosquitos but still had some fun fishing and hanging out.

Day 8: Got up early, left the area pretty quickly so we could get on the road. Finished up in Nebraska by the end of the day. Ate dinner with Grandpa and his girlfriend and played some cards before heading back to the hotel.

Day 9: No traveling today, will be in Nebraska for 6 days and will have a family reunion on Saturday. Plan to get some golf and visiting in with Grandpa today.

I guess I should mention too, that I have been geocaching along the way, and have managed so far to get a cache in every state we have visited. Most of them haven't been great caches (a lot of rest stop park and grab micros) but that is okay since I am just looking to cover each state and we can't venture too far off the road when we are trying to cover 400+ miles a day. I will get a few while we are here in Nebraska, in fact I have a travel bug I picked up that I need to drop off.

So that is it for now...I'll try to get some more exciting posts done while we are here since I will have consisted Internet access for a few days.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Quick Trip Review (So Far)

1st day: Drove about 400 miles, slept in Aberdeen Maryland at a nice hotel and had great Italian food at this small local restaurant.

2nd day: Drove to Newark International Airport to park the car for our visit to the city. Took the train into the city, walked a bit to get to the hotel. Dropped off stuff, visited the Empire State Building (with no crowds on a Thursday afternoon), stopped at a pub for some beer and snacks while watching some World Cup soccer, then went to the Circle Line tour and did a harbour tour that was a lot of fun. Took the bus back to the hotel and then headed out to Times Square for some sightseeing, dinner at Yoshinoya, and having a few drinks while people watching.

3rd day: Slept in, and headed to the subway terminal for a metro fun pass for the day. Took the subway to Central Park and hung out for a while, then walked to Rockfeller Center and along 5th Avenue. Had some lunch and watched soccer at a restaurant/pub on 5th Ave. Then took the subway to the WTC site, Battery Park, Wall Street and the Stock Exchange, Union Square (where we went to a pub for some beer and snacks) and checked out the Farmer's Market. After that we headed to the room for a bit, and then out for dinner and some more at Time Square.

4th day: Got up early and headed back to Newark to pick up the car. Drove upstate and finished up at Niagara Falls by late afternoon. Checked out the state park on the American side (taking photos and video) and then headed over to Canada to see the other side. It was amazing to see. We got some dinner at the park there (very reasonably priced I might add) and ate with one of the best views ever imagined. At nightfall, the Canadians turn on some cool spot lights so you can still view and photograph the falls. We hung out for a while and then decided to just find a room there.

5th day: Slept in and headed from Niagara Falls across the Ontario Penisula to Michigan. Managed to get 2/3 of the way up the state towards the Upper Penisula before deciding to call it a day. Had some terrible rain along the way which killed our camping plans but we will have plenty more opportunities for camping before this trip is over. We'll be heading out to the Saulk St Marie Locks area before cutting across the UP to Wisconsin and eventually Minnesota.

We have taken tons of photos and video so far but posting any of it will have to wait until I get home and have access to my other computer (so I can transfer everything). We are having a ton of fun so far and I haven't had any emergency calls from home so I am assuming the cat and fish are doing okay.

Just wanted to get an update in so no one would think we had dropped off the planet. Will update more as we go and I get Internet access.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


It makes no sense to me. Hotels are built specifically for sleeping and when people come in at night, they pretty much realize that and try to be explain to me, why at 6am the same rules don't apply? Doors slamming, cars revving, people shouting all at 6am for some reason. It is now 7:30am and all is quiet again....hmmm.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Father's Day Trials and Tribulations

Okay, I bitched about this last year in this post but it came to me again this year and I just have to revisit it. I was forced to buy cards for Father's Day this year, even though I have small fortune in card making supplies in my possession. I just ran out of time and had to resort to the card aisle at Hellmart.

While I was there, I realized exactly why I make most of my cards these days (even as limited as they are). The cards offered for Father's Day were absolutely horrible. The same idiotic jokes on the "humorous" ones and the same dumb assumptions of golf, mechanics, remote control ownership, and the farting and snoring laziness that all fathers apparently partake in.

I was forced to pick 7 cards from the lacking selection and to anyone that might be reading this that receives a card from have my apologies in advance...I had no choice.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bluebird Status

The first clutch fledged when I was on the west coast but we currently have a second clutch of 5 eggs, and they have been in the nest for about 9 days now. They will be hatched and almost ready to leave the nest by the time we return home from our excursion across the US...I hope they do okay.

Feeling The Crunch

Updated before leaving at 1pm with the last of the DONEs...I'll pay bills on the road, and the geocaches will have to be on the road too....grr.
Updated at 7:52am with more DONEs....I just might make it.
Updated at 9:46pm with more DONEs....
Updated at 7:15pm with DONE after the ones I have finished already....we'll see if I get everything done.

I have about 24 hours before we leave on a 2 week vacation. This is a driving/camping/touristy/family reunion kind of vacation. Should be lots of fun.

Thing is, I have about a million things to do before we go and I am not getting much checked off the list today.

Absolute have to do before leaving house (or else we can't go):

  • Set up cat food, litter box and water (plus vacuum floor). DONE
  • Check hot tub chemicals, and strap down top (so neighborhood kids don't drown in it while we are gone). DONE
  • Get fish pellets for fish and leave out with note for friend who is feeding them every three days. DONE
  • Pack up camping gear. DONE
  • Pack regular stuff (clothes, toiletries).DONE
  • Pack golf clubs, cameras, laptop and Ipod. DONE
  • Color hair.DONE
  • Spray campdry on slicker. DONE
  • Finish letters for water boy and fish feeder friends. DONE
  • Show water boy what to water. DONE
  • Post office to mail stuff and put mail on hold for two weeks. DONE
  • Set plants and sprinklers up for water boy. DONE
  • Pay bills that might be due while gone.
  • Clean fish tank.DONE

Really need to do but can get by without (although I'll worry about it a lot while traveling):

  • Get toilet in bathroom fixed (simple trip to Lowes for this one). DONE
  • Plant petunias in pots in backyard so they don't get wasted sitting in their original nursery containers. DONE
  • Grate soap near gardens to keep deer away.DONE
  • Put veggie food on garden. DONE

Should do so I can leave stress free:

  • Research geocaches and figure out which ones I want to do along the way. I am done through NY, NY but not any further than that.
  • Update virus software and Windows on laptop (could do this on the trip somewhere). DONE

The garden stuff I was going to kick out this morning first thing has been put on rain hold (we are getting some weather from that storm in Florida). So I guess I will be running a few errands here in a bit, the cat, fish and hair color will be done tomorrow before leaving, so that leaves the rest of the stuff to be checked usual, way too many things to do and not enough time to do them in....oh did I mention that I am trying to get a bit of World Cup soccer in amongst all this? Welcome to my world. I'll let you know what I accomplish.

Blogging Updates

Well, I finally did it. I set up my blog roll and installed it on my blogs (at least on the three that are on blogspot). I am looking forward to when I have to update again and not having to change it everywhere...oh, and I added links to a few that I started reading recently. Figured this way, I don't have to look them up in my favorites all the time. We'll see if I am able to keep up with them all.

I wish it was a bit more indented but I definitely like the "New Stuff!" labeling and the fact that it moves blogs to the top that have been updated...will make staying caught up much easier for me. Downside is that if you don't update, you move down...don't want that to happen to anyone but that is how this thing works. Had some trouble getting the preferences to work the way I wanted so I am not messing with it is like it is for now.

On another note, I have a couple of notes for bloggers that I read or used to read. Graculus, I am still reading, I am just not commenting...can't seem to muster getting yet another password (the blog is looking pretty good by the way). Kate the Peon...I was reading but can't do the password thing for yet another blog. I understand completely why people have to resort to password protection so please don't think I am being critical, I am just explaining my absence from reading. Betty if you ever come back, drop me an email with the site location...loved your stuff even if I didn't comment much.

That is it for now...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

World Cup Soccer

The World Cup is in day 3 today. We have been watching what we can when we can and it has been great so far. I will miss part of today's last game because I have a game myself to attend to, but I did manage to get most of the games this weekend in (or at least highlights).

Too bad I can't play as well as those guys...our team could use it. We had a bbq at one our friends yesterday and they play soccer too. We used to play with them when we lived in the same area before. I hope to help them get connected with some players around here and perhaps we will all get some playing in again.

ABC and Espn seem to be covering the games pretty well, and the broadcasts have not been limited to only US matches so I am thrilled. We'll see who comes out on top of this one this year.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Camping and Fishing

I went camping overnight last night with J about an hour from here near a lake. It was a nice little escape.

I headed up that way in the afternoon (J was working up there already). We met around 4pm and set up camp at the state park. Then we headed out to find a couple of geocaches, grab some dinner and meet some friends for some fishing. The geocaches were only micros but at least they were in a cool park I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise.

Around 7pm we met up with a couple of friends, one of which owns a pontoon boot. We went out on the lake to catch some catfish but since the dam wasn't running water out, we ended up just spending some time catching some brim and hanging out. It was a lot of fun and when we finally did get back to camp it was after 11pm. We had parked one car on the inside of the gate so we wouldn't have to walk the 3 miles to the campground from the outer gate. Worked out well for us.

We slept in a bit in the morning and then broke camp and headed for breakfast. J had to work some more, so I went to find a couple more geocaches and then headed back towards home. Overall, it was a nice little trip, not too much rain (thank goodness for tarps) and cool enough to be enjoyable. I hope we get to do it again soon but I think by the time we get home from the family reunion in Nebraska it will be too hot to camp again until the fall...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Construction Woes

The second house across from our house is almost done now...propective buyers have already started looking at it. First picture is what the lot looked like in January when they first cleared it, and the second is what the house looks like so far.

Late January/Early February construction progress

Late May/Early June construction progress

A couple of days ago, I got a notice from the city that another house was going up next to the one pictured above and then yesterday they started clearing yet another lot down the street. Here we thought we were moving into an older wooded neighborhood and now they are starting on the 6th new build since we moved here about 1 1/2 years ago. Just call this construction alley...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Friday Night

J and I went out to dinner at the sushi restaurant in town. I was supposed to go there with a friend for lunch that day but we didn't, and I think J was bummed that he was going to miss it, so it worked out that we ended up there for dinner instead. We had some great sushi and conversation with one of the ladies that works there. I was able to use my limited Japanese, which is probably getting rusty these days.

Anyhow after a fabulous meal, we decided to stop at the local Irish pub next door for a beer before heading back. We saw our neighbor's truck parked nearby so figured we would see them inside, which we did. We hung out for a while, ran into another guy we know, and caught up with everyone.

At one point these two 50ish aged women (who I am sure were perfectly nice) came in, in the worse outfits I have seen in some time. They were wearing tiny tank tops (with technically enhanced boobs), short short miniskirts and plastic shoes that flashed little lights in the heels when they walked. Now, normally in a bar, this might not be a bad thing, however they stood out a bit at this place.

W (neighbor) and I were laughing at the scene the entire time. Part of the fun of that Irish pub is that it is so not typical. While yes, it has Guiness beer and you can order an array of Irish food (although I don't know if anyone that works there is Irish or not), on Friday nights, the DJ plays a lot of hiphop, and there are lots of older countryclub men and tourists hanging out trying to be hip. Part of the reason I go there is for the people watching opportunities. On this night, besides the girls in plastic shoes, we had at least 1 sweater vest, and then this guy came in straight off the golf course I guess because he was wearing a polo shirt stretched over a little gut, bright red plaid pants and golf shoes. It is just great to see these guys out trying to dance to "Push It"...hee hee.

Anyhow, we stayed for a bit and then headed out. W wants us to try this other place out next week...we'll see if we can swing it or not.

Blogger Down?

I tried to post something yesterday but I think Blogger was having difficulties...I couldn't even get my page to load, much less check out anyone else's. Seems to be working now though...

Friday, June 02, 2006

Cache Owner

Well, recently I adopted an abandoned cache from another geocacher, and today, I placed my first one. It is located in the same preserve as the adopted one (in fact I was out there mostly to work on the adopted one, it needed some attention), but much further in.

I made it a bit more difficult than some of the "park and grab micros" that are so common around here. Mine requires a mile hike into the woods to get to it but there are trails that can be followed and the whole walk is definitely worth it.

I'll hopefully get published in a couple of days and we'll see how soon someone finds it. Now I need to go get some more containers since I used both of the ones I bought today updating the old cache and hiding this new one, and I have a few more spots I can think of that it would be cool to hide a cache in. I probably should invest in some stickers from as well.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Final Draft

I finally got the landscape planting completely done, and mulched so I took some pics today. Unfortunately a lot of the spring blooming is over but I think it still looks pretty good and the summer blooming is just around the corner. I cut a few gardenia flowers today and put them in shallow dishes with water throughout our house and it smells heavenly.

This is the before picture looking towards our neighbors on the west side of our house.

After picture from basically the same location but a bit further back.

We pulled the birdbath and feeder out while we did the work. The azaleas in the foreground of the before picture were pulled out and then put back in in a better spot and we moved the little dogwood on the left of the before picture a little further left, so it would get more sun and we would have room to do the plantings like we wanted.

This is the before picture looking towards the back of our property line.

This is the after picture from the same angle.

We planted some shade loving plants on the right side of this picture (which are all under the tree that was hit by lightening and might have to be removed) and then sun loving plants in the rest of it.

The list of plants (and I am sure I am butchering their spellings) are:

Gardenia (2 types for 7 plants total)
Wax Myrtle (2 plants total)
Silver Berry (1 plant total)
Several different Azalea (5 plants total)
Lorepetulum (5 plants total)
Nandina (2 types for 6 plants total)
Day Lily (20 plants total)
Purple Fountain Grass (3 plants total)
Japanese Pieris (2 plants total)
Little Richard (3 plants total)
Hosta (2 types for 5 plants total)

Once we got the bird bath and feeder back in, it really started to look nicer and then the final touch was finishing up the mulch which really completes it. I am thrilled with the way it looks and the plants all seem to be doing great (even the Silverberry that had some issues early on).


Does anyone else but me have routines that they do (for small things) everytime and if they have to differ from that routine, it messes them up? Like if I don't do the same thing my body is programmed to do each time, I might forget a segment completely.

The routine I am thinking of currently is my drying off routine. When I get out of the shower, pool or whatever wet object, I have a specific routine I use while drying off. variation, unless I am interupted by something or I have some sort of reason for not following it (like a wound or injured area). If I have an injured hand, then the whole thing gets thrown off and trying to do the same routine with only one hand is difficult.

Normally, it is not really something I think about, I think it is just muscle memory from doing it so many times. The routine varies only if I don't wash my hair but that only affects the beginning. I can get going in the same routine after bypassing the hair in the towel bit. But if I get interupted or have another reason that requires routine variation, it causes me to have to think about it so I don't end up forgetting to dry my back or something. I had a cut on my left hand the other day and not only did it mess up my drying off routine, it messed up my shampooing, soaping and shaving routine as well....guess that is what made me think of this.

It is strange how you can get so used to something that you can go through the entire thing without even thinking about it, like breathing almost. Unfortunately, I know a few people that do this while driving....the not thinking about it part, not the drying off part...haha.