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Fuquay Varina, North Carolina, United States
A guy finding out if life really does begin at 50.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I Remembered my Camera

So I had another quick trip up to Toronto this last week. We needed to be there Monday AM so Wally and I flew up Sunday. We decided to take a late morning flight so we have time to do a bit of sight seeing. I had been to the Rogers Center on a earlier trip but forgot my camera, so I didn't get any pictures. I got a few this time.

Oh BTW - I'm on Facebook now. Look me up, and let's connect.

Friday, October 30, 2009

1223 Vs 858

So I picked up a pair of New Balance 1223 to replace my 2 year old 858 at the New Balance Outlet store in Lawrence, MA. In the store I had a new 858 on one foot and the 1223 on the other and liked the 1223's better (they were the same price). So when I got home I was surprised when I ran that the 1223s sort of jarred me way more than I remember the 858s did. So next day I ran in my old 858s and sure enough THEY JARRED ME more than the 1223s! WHAT!

So I'm now running in the 1223s. Moral of the story: Don't take 4 days off from running before buying shoes!
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall of a Different Color

New Hampshire
Spent a 4 day weekend with Gail and John in New Hampshire. I've known John for 15+ years through work. He's been telling me about his passive solar house, pellet furnace, and Maple syrup making for a couple years now so I wrangled an invite and flew up to check it out.

All I can say is New Hampshire and it's people are SWEET! Especially John and Gail. They were wonderful host and hostess. They went out of their way to make sure I had a great weekend. I hope to return the favor soon. Enjoy the pictures and comments!

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Not been up to a lot lately. I've had a phone line to the satellite receiver/DVR running across a doorway for a couple years now. I've been wanting to run a phone line through the wall to get rid of that wire since it runs across at the floor. Some of you might remember I don't like visible wires (see Mission Accomplished). Been living with this because besides the phone wire I need to have wired Internet access for the satellite/DVR. That requires an Ethernet jack, and I didn't have the tools to work with Ethernet cables. So time sort of went by.

Well I ordered some Cat5e crimpers and 8P8C connectors. Then I ordered some jacks and a 110 Punch Down tool along with some Cat5 cable and now I have two Ethernet jacks and a phone jack in the closet. The other end of the cables go to a new outlet with jacks I installed in my home office near the router. I also expanded my home network by adding a 4 port switch. I was out of ports on my router.

The satellite receiver will down load movies from the internet (for a price). I decided to wire two Ethernet ports so that I'd have a back up or extra in case of failure. Running two Cat5 cables through a wall, then the crawl space then up and into another wall is as easy as one. I might use the other jack for a wireless access point since the closet is on the opposite end of the house from my current access point. We'll see. Stay tuned...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Better idea...

One advantage that the old gravel drive had was I never notice all the debris that fell on it. Sure from time to time a tree limb would come down and I have to toss it to the side, but I never notice the sweet gum balls, acorns, or leaves. I just drove over them. The new paved driveway really shows the debris, so I bought a blower to keep it clean. It's a cord less blower that uses a 18v nicad battery pack. Worked pretty well doing the drive or the parking area, but not both. The 18v battery pack just doesn't have the capacity to handle both areas on one charge. Most people would just get a 2nd battery pack. However, it takes 24 hours to charge a battery, so I could still only do one area or the other each day. What good is that? I had a better idea...
It just so happens I have two 18v Lithium ion batteries that powers the drill, saws, and flash light that JB left here. It also has a quick charger to recharge the lit-ion packs in a couple hours. So my idea was to use a lit-ion pack to power the blower. Since both are 18v it was just a matter of connecting them somehow. Well with a bit of tinkering I was able to connect the flashlight to the blower and use the flashlight's connector to the lit-ion battery to power the blower. A Velcro strap

holds the two devices together, and a polarized quick disconnect connector keep the two devices safety connected.

I'm happy to say that one lit-ion pack has the capacity to do both the parking area and drive on a single charge. An added bonus is the lit-ion battery pack regulates its output so that the blower motor runs full speed right up to the point the pack shuts down. No more weakening blowing action as the battery discharged.

Since I didn't modify the battery in any way and I used a connector instead of hard wiring them together the blower can still use it's nicad battery if needed and the flashlight still works.

Hey! Another idea just came to me! If I were to spin the flash light around I could have a blower with a work light! SWEET!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

O' Canada, Good Friends

I when up to Toronto on a customer visit last week. Took the 7am Tuesday flight and came back Friday afternoon. It was a busy trip, but Wally was able to drive me around some on the way back to the airport so I could get some pictures (thanks Wally). It was an overcast day so I didn't get what I call any really good pictures, but at least I did get a pretty good shot of the CN tower and the Hockey Hall of Fame.

My last trip to to Toronto was in March of 2001. On Thursday, Larry, a retired IBM'er (42 years) invited Wally and I over for a cookout. Larry to this day is still an example of what IBM used to be full of. Men and women who lived IBM's basic beliefs: 1) Respect for the Individual 2) Best possible customer service 3) Excellence in all ways. One of the high point of my 30 year IBM career to be able to work and learn from Larry, and a real honor now to be invited to his home for a cookout.
It's funny, but one of the projects Larry, Wally, and I worked together back in our IBM days was code named BBQ. The project was so named because we were at a cookout at Dan's house here in North Carolina when we decided to take the project on. I learned a lot from Larry doing that project. Management killed the BBQ project, but a lot of what was in BBQ was used in the last project I worked on which shipped 3 releases before I retired.

Larry - Me - Wally
When I think of Canada I'll always think of people like Larry that I'm honored to know, and proud to call a friend.
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Sunday, July 5, 2009

How I spent my 4th of July

Mama used to point out every chance she got that if I didn't do better in school I grow up to be a ditch digger. Well I never seriously considered ditch digging as a career, which is a good thing. It's too much work! I've dug ditches from time to time over the years, but never did it for a living. I seem to do it every few years when the memory of the last one fades. So over the holiday weekend I spend about 18 hours using the business end of a pick and shovel to dig a 30 ft long ~ 12 inch deep, shovel wide drainage ditch. The ditch goes around the corner of the parking area and gives the water some place to drain off instead or washing under the parking area.

Mama with all her negative reinforcement did me a favor. She knew I was too lazy to dig ditches for a living. Thanks Mom!
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Well the 1st brood flew the coop about 3 weeks ago and I cleaned out the box. A week ago I checked and there was pine straw in the cup. Yesterday when I checked there were three Bluebird eggs. She was not in the box when I tapped so she may not be done laying yet. It was a cool 70 and rainy here today, so I didn't want to drive her off if she was sitting. I'll check Sunday and see.

The funny thing is I just put the box up for Gale to enjoy when she was here. It's just out from the front porch, so Gale could view it when sitting out there. I'm totally surprised that I had one brood already, and now on the second clutch of eggs. Bit early to start calling me the Bluebird man. I have to say I've been looking around for the pair when I'm outside. Now if I can just get some bats to nest in my Bat box I'd be happier since the mosquitoes are breeding a million times fasted than the Bluebirds are.
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Monday, June 15, 2009

20 Years, 165 days after I first had the dream...

It finally came true. Please, no wise cracks about my other dreams that went bust or were disasters. Accept that this one did and it is something I wanted and wished for since the 1st day I moved into my house 20+ years ago. I've always liked my house. I like the almost 2 acres of woods it's on. I like that the house can't be seen from the street. I like that it has a creek running across the property and the elevation changes. One thing though that I've never liked from day 1 - the driveway.

Most home owners take driveways for granted. I don't. Some people admire homes with beautiful gardens and manicured lawns, not me. I admire a good driveway. Others ooh and ahh over the Bentley or Rolls parked out front to show off. Not me, my heart flutters over the drive they are parked on. Over the years of admiring good driveways I've learned the good ones have one thing in common - they are PAVED! If your driveway is not paved, it might be a lot of things but it's not a good driveway! Sorry, that's just the way it is. I know this because I've had 3 not good ones. I've had one driveway that circled the house, one that angled across in front of the house, and one that winds scenically through the property, and I didn't like any of them for the same reason. They were not PAVED! After a few years, their crushed stone washed away and they each turned into a muddy mess. I replaced one with the next, and each time the replacement pleased me for awhile, but soon - too soon, I would start hating it just like the last one, as it turned into a muddy mess.

So after 5 years with the 3rd driveway - the scenic one - it turned into a muddy mess and I said enough. I called up David who cut the 3rd one in for me and had him come over. David's a good man. Grading is his business. But residential paving isn't, so someone David trusts recommended Champs Asphalt Paving which is located in nearby Wendell, NC. Anthony Champ worked with David and they made my dream come true! I'm now a proud home owner with a good driveway. It wasn't easy - it was mess but they stuck with it. Lesser men would have thrown in the towel and left. But David and Anthony didn't. I'm most grateful to them, and super happy with the result of their hard work.
LOOKY what I have! Anit she dreamy! Man, DIG those curves! Woooo Hahh!
See more pictures here: Driveway

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Oh Deer...

Don't tell Gale, but I went out to water those two plants she got me to buy while she as here (1st plants I ever purchased in the 20 years I lived in my house) and this is what I found was left of them. Some critter is now well feed on some exotic something another plant. Somethings like me having plants were never meant to be. The butterfly bush seemed to not suit their palates and is still mostly there. It was knocked over which is why I figured deer vs rabbits enjoyed the snack.
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

NC Transportation Museum

NC Transportation Museum
This was my 3rd trip to the NC Transportation Museum in Spencer, NC. The 1st trips was with Gale about 1992. The 2nd trip was with a friend, Charlie. I remember on that 2nd trip they said the round house was due to open the following June. Well the Round House opened in 1996. Time sure flies, gulp. I have to say I think they've done a good job with it.

I rode the train on this visit. A diesel-electric GC-30 made in 1963. Gale and I rode a steam locomotive when we were there my 1st trip all those years ago. The ride is worth experiencing the leg and seat room. Oh if airlines could match what trains provide. I was lucky enough to get to ride on the rear observation area this time which was a real treat.

The film at the round house and riding the turntable are a must do when you visit. I got a taste of how noisy it must have been when the shops were in operation. Some of the staff were repairing a engine in the restoration section. You can view them as they work behind a glass wall, but it's open to the ceiling. When you hammer (rivet?) on that steel it makes some kind of noise. It's a similar noise that some acid rock bands make - BUT LOUDER. I can just imagine how loud a power hammer forging a bar of steel with 70 ton blows must have been. One of the video display screen said folks in East Spencer knew when they were forging. The shops were open 24x7x365, so I bet there were sleepless nights a lot back then.

I enjoyed my visit, and can say that kids of all ages love trains. Look forward to visiting again when they finish the Back Shop.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sad to see them go

Gale and JD finished loading up the Tahoe and are now on their way to JB's house in Florida and then on to Niceville, FL to see JD's family then on back to Houston. Gale like me returns to work on Tuesday. They seemed to enjoy their stay, I know I enjoyed having them. The weather was near perfect the whole time. We went and saw Star Trek (the prequel) at the IMAX in Raleigh and ate at '57 Grill Monday. We enjoyed both very much.
Before they left I got a nice picture of them. I hope the reason they are so happy and smiling in the picture isn't because they are leaving....
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Because they sure enough lit out of here, and I just did get a picture of them across the creek! :-)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bluebirds Getting Bigger

When Gale and JD got here a week ago Sunday we checked and we had 4 four bald chicks. We wanted to check yesterday but it was raining and cool here. Today was warm and sunny so we checked and I now have 4 chicks with gray feathers and white specks. This is probably day 9 after hatching, so they are about half grown.

I was surprised that they only moved a tiny bit as I remove the nest to take the pictures. I guess they just stay still until their parents return to feed them. The chicks poop a lot. The edges of the box bottom (not the nest) had piles of poop in them. I guess that's my job as monitor to clean up after each brood. I'm hoping they have a couple more broods this year.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Real Hidden Treasure

Yates Mill
Just a few miles from my house is Historic Yates Mill County Park. Yates Mill is part of the Wake County park system. As a citizen of Wake County I can say we have a real winner here. The park opened in 2006. The mill dates back to 1756 and the visitors center does a great job of explaining the function and history of the mill. The Mill is on the National register of historic places. It still operates on weekends and grinds corn. I signed up for a "Technical Tour" of the mill that happens this June. Looking forward to that. I'll be sure to post and share the pictures I get of the inside and the workings of the mill.

The park is a good place to spend a couple hours, especially on a near perfect day like today. Nice trails and walk ways. Super friendly staff. Gale and JD enjoyed the park as much as I did.


Mary and Marvin Johnson Gourd Museum
Gale, JD and I stopped Mary and Marvin Johnson Gourd Museum. The museum opened in 1965 and was moved to the Municipal Building in Angier in 2006 after the Johnson's pasted away. Somehow Gale found out about this place. We were on our way to a produce stand in Willow Spring so we stopped and signed the guest book. It's in the Angier Municipal Building along with the library.

Hey, Cut me some slack. I'm on vacation trying to entertain them. You try it sometime.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Day at the Zoo

NC Zoo
Trip to the NC Zoo in Asheboro, NC. Gale, JD and I got there just before noon and stayed until 5. We saw all of 'North America' but only about half of 'Africa.' Gale really likes flowers and they were having the annual Orchid show at the Africa Pavilion I say we saw a 100 varieties of Orchids. I liked the bronze sculptures scattered though out the Zoo. I really liked they way the zoo put real thought into some really fun areas for kids. Big kids (like me) got to enjoy those areas too.

We had a great time, and the ride on the tram from Africa back to North America as we were leaving was very much welcome, as was the soft serve ice cream!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Spring has Sprung

Been awhile since I blogged. I can't believe it's almost May. Not a lot going on with me. I put a Bluebrid box up and I'm happy to say it attacked a nice pair of Bluebirds. Here is the male:

Handsome fellow I say. He has a cute mate. Here she is checking out the box. The box has a hinged front to allow easy monitoring.

Bluebirds will not abandon there nest and will put up with some human interference, so I took a picture of the nest. I was very pleased to find 4 pale blue eggs. 4-7 is normal.

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I look forward to hearing the chirps of baby Bluebirds in a couple weeks! Hopefully I'll keep you all posted.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Why I like wide screen

So I've had my Wii for a couple weeks. I've been using the Wii Fit regular. I'm 56 now. :-(
While I'm not using the Wii to work out I've found a handy use for it. The Wii console comes with built in Wi-Fi access so I hooked that up. That allows you to get a news and weather channels on your Wii Menu, along with shopping. So I went into Wii Shop Channel and looked around and found that for 500 points ($5) I could by Opera browser.
Took a bit to get used to using the Wii remote as a pointer/mouse but after a while I got the hang of it. It supports Flash so that means I can watch YouTube videos on my TV. Better than that I can now watch basketball and browse the Internet at the same time. Who says I can't multitask?
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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wii gets Fit

Last August when I visited Wales and stayed with Bob and Julie I got to play with a Nintedo Wii. I enjoyed it enough that I started thinking about getting one. Anyone that knows me knows it takes me awhile to 'get around TUIT'. Bob had told me he wanted to get something called the Wii Fit that allows the Wii to work you out.

Well I had a chance over Christmas to actually try out a Wii Fit at Wally's and Carol's house. In about 30 seconds their Wii Fit told me I was obese. In another 30 seconds it told me I was 'age 58' - well I'm only 51! Damm computers are just a bit too smart sometimes.

My Wii system was delivered today. I got a Wii controller and Wii Fit from the internet retailer after not being able to find them locally. My Wii Fit was just a quick as Wally's to let me know I was obese with a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30. Mine was a bit closer on my age - it said I was 57. Gurr.

I'm going to keep at it and use the Wii Fit along with my running and shoot for a BMI in the low 20s (that's at least 30 lbs, or 2+ stones for my UK readers). I hope to at least perform the balance test at or a little below my age. Don't laugh until you let it size you up. You can check out the Wii Fit at the Nintendo site.