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Old dog, new tricks

When I was in school, they used Ditto machines to copy documents.

Xerox machines were the rage when I entered the work world.

When I worked in the oilfield, we made blue line copies of our logs and transmitted them over the phone using a telecopier, which took about 7 minutes to send one page.

After I left the oilfield for journalism and  fax machines revolutionized the world, though their reign was shortlived thanks to the advent of email and document scannerd.

And that’s pretty much where my knowledge of getting a document to you quickly stayed until a few weeks ago.

When I moved to the ridge, I couldn’t get a landline for my home because AT&T got out of the landline business a year before. Voice over internet wasn’t an option because I can’t get broadband internet because I’m out in the sticks, not that thete’s anything wrong with that.

Instead, if I needed to send or recieve a fax, I’d do it at work.

A few weeks ago, I needed to send a friend a document, but was nowhere near the office. He suggested I download a document scanner app and use my phone camera to scan in the documents.

“They got that?” was my initial response.

A quick look at the app store, and I discovered thst they got that. I opted for FastScanner, and in a few minutes was able to send him a high resolution copy.

My mind was blown.

My phone is a freaking copy machine now. I used it to scan a page from a book that had a quote I wanted to memorize and worked on it during my lunch break.

This week, I needed to fax a signed document to my insurance company, but I was at home and I’m not going into the office again until next week.

“Damn.” was my first response. “I’m screwed,” was my second.

“I wonder if my scanner app can fax,” was my third. And as we all know, the third time is the charm.

I printed the document on my laser printer. (I finally bought one last week.) Signed it, scanned it in to my phone, and there was a fax symbol in the app, so I pushed it.

That started the process of me downloading and installing EasyFax. The app is free, but you have to pay a small fee through the use of tokens to send a fax.

I bought the minimum number of tokens and sent the document in from the comfort of my little house in the woods.

Not bad for someone who is fixing to turn 61. Old dog. New trick.

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One day King Solomon decided to humble Benaiah ben Yehoyada, his most trusted minister. He said to him, “Benaiah, there is a certain ring that I want you to bring to me. I wish to wear it for the Sukkot festival, which gives you six months to find it.”

“If it exists anywhere on earth, your majesty,” replied Benaiah, “I will find it and bring it to you, but what makes the ring so special?”

“It has special powers,” answered the king. “If a happy man looks at it, he becomes sad, and if a sad man looks at it, he becomes happy.” King Solomon knew that no such ring existed in the world, but he wished to give his minister some added humility.

Spring passed and then summer, and still Benaiah had no idea where he could find the ring. On the day before Sukkot, he decided to take a walk in one of the poorest quarters of Jerusalem. He passed by a merchant who had begun to set out the day’s wares on a shabby carpet. “Have you by any chance heard of a special ring that makes the happy wearer forget his joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget his sorrows?” asked Benaiah.

He watched the elderly man take a plain gold ring from his carpet and engrave something on it. When Benaiah read the words on the ring, his face broke out in a wide smile.

That night the entire city welcomed in the holiday of Sukkot with great festivity. “Well, my friend,” said King Solomon, “have you found what I sent you after?” All the ministers laughed and Solomon himself smiled.

To everyone’s surprise, Benaiah held up a small gold ring and declared, “Here it is, your majesty!” As soon as Solomon read the inscription, the smile vanished from his face. The jeweler had written three Hebrew letters on the gold band: Gimel, Zayin, Yud, which begin the words “Gam zeh ya’avor – This too shall pass.”

At that moment King Solomon realized that all his wisdom and fabulous wealth and tremendous power were but fleeting things, for one day he would be nothing but dust.

— Author unknown

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My water tank ran dry on Saturday afternoon, right in the middle of my last load of clothes for the week.

I’m not sure how I miscalculated how much water was in my tank, but a toilet that sometimes runs when you flush it was probably the culprit.

When I woke up Sunday morning it was raining. By noon the rain had started to taper off. I checked my rain gauge and it was at 0.1, roughly 90 gallons of water. That was enough to last me the coming week, including redoing that last load of laundry.

IMAG0073But as I stood on the deck in the light mist, I looked upward, and said “Lord, I really could use a lot more rain right now.”

In theory, my water tank holds 1,500 gallons, but in reality, it starts overflowing out of the space around the intake pipe when the level is at 1,100 gallons. An inch of rain produces about 900 gallons. A full tank will last at least 2 months without rain.

“I really could use an inch of rain,” I added quietly.

The light rain continued Sunday afternoon. I was able to take a shower, wash that load of clothes and wash the dishes, which I had put off all week.

When I got home Sunday after the officers’ installation at my Masonic lodge, the rain gauge was up to 0.2 inches.

“Thank you Lord,” I said alone in my house.

My plan was to call a water transport company on Monday, but at the installation, someone said they caught the weather forecast that morning and more rain was in the forecast. It hadn’t been two days earlier.

So the rain started on Tuesday afternoon and continued overnight and into this evening. The half inch in the gauge this morning had grown to an inch by the time I got home tonight.

I just heard on TV that we’re going to get another 4 inches of rain on Friday and Saturday.

My cup runneth over and my water tank will soon, too.

Be careful what you ask for, but always be thankful.

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On track

It was almost twilight this past Sunday when I noticed the footprints.

As I was getting in my car, I spied a couple of sets of animal tracks in the almost dry dirt between my house and the hill.

I hadn’t seen them there two hours before when I got home from the store.

My mind started working out the possibilities. I got out of the car.

I pulled out my Sherlock Holmes magnifying glass (my smartphone’s camera) and took a closer look.

Definitely two different animals.

Did I mention that I used to be a Boy Scout? I wish I still had my old Boy Scout manual.

No cleft in the track, so it wasn’t from the doe and her fawn that I have startled in the yard several times in the past few weeks.

Too compact to be a rabbit. Too small to be a bear. Too big to be a possum or raccoon. Definitely a mammal, though, which eliminated the turkey family that hangs out on Collier Bend Road.

“What’s left?” I said to no one in particular.

Coyotes and bobcats, my mind replied. Maybe a panther.

I consulted my esteemed colleague, Mr. Google.

“Dog,” Google said.

“Dog?” I scoffed. “Dogs bark. How in the hell do two dogs walk between the hill and the house with me inside watching TV and not bark?”

I asked Mr. Google to double-check coyote tracks.

He did. “Dog,” was still his answer.

“Can’t be a dog,” I said. “There hasn’t been a dog here since …”

I paused. I do that sometimes when my memory wakes up from a nap.

“… John and Kathy were here with their two dogs yesterday.”

Old age is not going to be kind to me.

dogtracks

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Logistics

When I was in my early 20s, working offshore with lots of time to read, I read General Omar Bradley’s biography. General Bradley pointed out that wars were won through logistics — getting the right equipment to the right people at the right time.

In my 40s, working as an automotive writer for The Tennessean, I listened to a vice president of Toyota explain at the Detroit Auto Show that Toyota wasn’t a car manufacturer, it was a logistics company that made cars.

Now close to being 60, and being my own general contractor on what should be my last home, I’m reminded how important logistics is and how I didn’t learn a darn thing about logistics despite my exposure to it for the past 40 years.

I’m just lousy with logistics.

The house couldn’t be delivered on time because I couldn’t get the septic tank and land work done in time.

Once the house was delivered, it took two months to get the electrical lines, plumbing and gas lines roughed in and the house’s frame inspected, because I didn’t get the timing right.

And once I got the interior walls done, it took another month to get the electricity final and HVAC installed so I could get the flooring installed.

As I sit in the hotel room that has been home for the past 3 months since my apartment lease expired, I have to wait almost 3 weeks to get the last of the work finished on the house so I can get final inspection and my certificate of occupancy.

Why? Because I was focused on getting the plumbing finished and the kitchen and bathroom working that I waited until they were almost done and inspected before calling the insulator, who it turns out is booked solid until two and a half weeks from now.

I still haven’t found a company to install the skirting, but I have 3 weeks to find one now.

Hopefully, my logistical ability is improving. I have two out-of-town trips scheduled this month and they’ll allow me to finally check out of this hotel. But there’s some logistics involved in that too, and more hotel and motel stays ahead.

When I get back to town after my trip to Atlanta next weekend, I’m checking into a Bed and Breakfast (which doesn’t offer breakfast) that’s closer to my house. I’ll stay there 10 days, during which time the insulation should get done.

I have to head to Thibodaux for my grandniece’s wedding around the time the skirting needs to get installed and hopefully, I can get the final inspection scheduled then, too.

When I began this journey, I thought I would be in the house by Thanksgiving. Then Christmas, Groundhog’s Day, Mardi Gras, then Easter and April Fool’s Day.

I’m shooting for May Day now. I wonder if I should have been saying “may day” all along.

 

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Home Sweet Home, one of these days …

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Yeah, though I walk …

This Virginia Tech fan is my new hero …

 

Virginia Tech wins at Ohio State

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This is art:

Howick, South Africa

This ain’t:

Riverside Park, Nashville, Tenn. (proposed)

 It’s a twisted piece of metal that Nashville will pay $350,000 for (the equivalent of the cost to build 7 houses for the homeless).

This is art:

Bank of America Building, Nashville, Tenn.

Chet Atkins. Nuff said.

This ain’t:

Music City Roundabout, Nashville, Tenn.

They’re painted poles stuck randomly in the ground at a cost of $750,000. (That’s equivalent to 15 houses for the homeless).

This is art:

Riverside Village, Nashville, Tenn.

This ain’t:

City Hall, Nashville, Tenn.

 I have no idea what this is, but the city paid $308,000 for it. (There’s a matching piece to this on the other side of the park.) That’s the equivalent of 6 homes for the homeless, which anyone could look at and not ask what they are.

I have a simple rule. If you have to ask, it ain’t art.

So you tell me, art or a rock on bent pipe?

Edmondson Park, Nashville

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Plenty of 20s

I bought a flag to hang at the property tonight. It cost $20.

Looking at shovels in hardware stores this week. Know what they cost? $20.

Axe to cut firewood? $20.

Garbage can? $20.

Rakes? $20.

The scythe I bought day before yesterday cost $20 when you added in the new mailbox letters I bought while I was there.

Speaking of the mailbox, you’ll never guess what it cost after taxes — $20.

Padlocks for the door and gate? $20 apiece.

Nail puller/pry bar with a box of roofing nails and a pack of brass screws for the mailbox? $20.

New rain barrel. $40 (That’s $20 x 2).

Lunch today? $20.

So tonight, when I opened the birthday card from my mother, what do I find? A $20 bill.

Thanks mom. Whatever I buy tomorrow is covered.

 

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Now cut that out

Dear Sure Deodorant,

Enough already with the rebranding.

I’ve been using your product since the early 1970s, after you employed actress Glynnis O’Connor as your spokesmodel for a series of commercials. I had a major crush on her at the time and the thought of her bumping into me and a) detecting the scent of Sure regular on me or b) actually seeing me pick Sure out from among the dozens of other choices in the supermarket and smiling at me could trigger daydreams that lasted most of Algebra II class.

Glynnis O’Connor

Though Glynnis stopped being your spokesmodel after a short while and took up with that awful Robby Benson, I held out hope. Whenever I ran low on deodorant, my spirits were lifted as I spied your familiar white can with the wavy blue shield and bright orange bar that contained the word REGULAR in bold white letters.

Imagine my chagrin last week, when I looked for the wavy blue logo and could not find it among the ever dwindling number of brands of aerosol deodorants that super markets carry these days.

“How could they not carry Sure any more?” I asked to no one in particular. “Right there,” a lady said, pointing to a row of cans with translucent purple tops.

Gone were the cans with clear tops and wavy blue lines, replaced by purple-topped cans with a purple and blue X. Not a lick of orange to be found on the darn thing.

Here’s the deal. I haven’t given up on Glynnis. And I fear that if you keep changing the way your can looks, she may walk up to me in the store when I have my perplexed, “WTF did they do with the can now?” look rather than the confident look that comes with scooping up that can with blue waves and an orange bar as I stroll through the personal care aisle.

You started this thing. I need you to stick with me.

Sincerely,

A loyal customer

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Shower problem solved

Between vacation in July, my parents’ accident and trying to monitor Hurricane Issac from afar, I haven’t had much time to blog, but I ran across this gem from a tiny house blogger and thought I’d share.

Water is always a challenge for people who want to live off the grid. Running water can be even more so. But this couple solved the shower issue using a chemical sprayer easily found in any home and garden center. Warm the water to whatever temperature you’d like, pour it in the sprayer bottle, pump it up and enjoy a hot shower.

This could work for camping, too.

I’m glad they thought of it because I never would have.

You can read more about how they did it at this link.

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