I Hate Inconsiderate Texting…


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Some of you who have followed my blogs over the years may know that I spent most of my life as a top Amateur soccer player. I started around ten years old and finally calling it quits after my knees gave out in 2008  at the age of 72 having been an active player for 62 years. I would like to say that I was at my peak at the end but nothing was further from the truth. I peaked out between 25 and 30 as I kept myself in good shape and by then had acquired some decent skills. I was never very fast so there wasn’t too much noticeable difference and at the end, I had switched to playing goalkeeper which  required less running on my part.

I am telling you this because this year is a World Cup year for the sport and I and millions of others around the World have been glued to our television sets for almost the past month. I am in the habit of recording all of the games and then watching them in the evening. I do this mainly so that I can skip the commercials which after the first go round are very repetitive and boring. As they are not advertising anything that I am likely to buy, I consider it a small favor that I can miss this part of the broadcast.

Anyway, the tournament is almost over and is at the semi-final stage one of which has already been played with France beating Belgium. Naturally, being from the old country, I am an English supporter and they are scheduled to play today so I have been desperately trying to avoid all of the news sources that are likely to give away the score so that when I watch the game later this evening, I will not know the outcome.

Well wouldn’t you know it that one of my so called friends has just sent me a text telling me that Croatia has beaten England although he didn’t send the score. It doesn’t matter anyway as my hope of watching the game without knowing the result has just gone out of the window.

With friends like that, who needs enemies…I will still watch the game of course and maybe my ex-friend was wrong but without much hope.

Written 7/11/2018

Life is so fickle…


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Rodney and Keith

Once again the side of life that we all try to ignore has raised its ugly head. Yet, it should not come as a real surprise as eventually, it happens to every one of us. Unfortunately, human life has not yet reached the point of immortality no matter how hard we try to convince ourselves otherwise. It is no shock that someone dies as we will all die eventually. No, what is the shock is the why’s and the when’s, reasons that are for the most part, still a mystery even to the greatest Minds of the World.

Would we be better off if we knew beforehand the exact moment of our deaths and maybe even the reason for it? Could we spend a lifetime preparing for such an eventuality and be mentally prepared to accept it when it comes? I seriously doubt that any of us could be that strong knowing that at such and such time today or tomorrow, next week or next year, we will draw our last breath on this Earth especially if the reason for our death is anything less than genteel.

The reason for these morbid thoughts is the news of the death of Rodney Lewis, a former Board Member of our local Pond Society. Rodney passed on July 4, a little over six months after the death of his partner Keith Neuse, whose demise in December of last year caught us all by surprise. Rodney had held up well following Keith’s death and last month had opened up his pond as a part of the Members Only Pond Tour. Rodney was at the last meeting on June 18 and appeared to be in good health and good spirits.

Rodney’s passing is a real shock to us all because of the unexpectedness of it. We were not prepared for this news because as far as we knew, Rodney was in good health for a seventy something man. He wasn’t sick at least that we knew of so how could he die without us having some warning?

For those of you who would like to believe in such things, Rodney has now joined up with Keith to spend the rest of their very existence together and we wish them much happiness. For the cynics among us, who is going to be next on the list. Whoever it may be, I hope they will not be so inconsiderate as to pass on without letting us know beforehand to lessen the shock. It brings home to us all that life is so fickle. Here today and gone tomorrow.

Preparedness is everything. Few have that opportunity…

To read the original blog for Keith, use this link

Written 7/6/2018

Listen and Answer in Kind


This is a great summary of why people do what they do…Thank you Kristen for writing this.

Journeys in Spirit

Immigrant is just another word for person. Illegal immigrants are just people too. People who are trying to find peace, who are trying to escape danger, who are hoping to find equal opportunity. People who had to circumvent the system, but who nonetheless have reasons for everything that they do. Reasons that aren’t all that different from your own.

It’s such an easy and convenient argument. The one where you say that they should have followed the rules. They should have done it right. Then they wouldn’t have to be separated. Then they wouldn’t have to hide. The one where you say it’s their own fault.

It’s an easy argument because, to you, it’s an easy thing to do. Following the rules is no big deal. It’s no big deal to jump online and start researching how to go about applying and filing the paperwork. It’s no big deal because…

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A Trip to My Ford Dealer


As I wrote in a previous blog, I have the good luck to own a new Ford 150 truck that I bought a few months ago. It really is a nice piece of equipment and very comfortable to drive. I tend to spend a lot of time in it just driving around and listening to Audiobooks.

It does have a few drawbacks that I wish I could do something about but somehow, I can’t see that happening. I don’t know if any of you may have noticed but the size of regular pickup trucks especially the double wide cab has increased dramatically. When I first drove it home, I did as I have done for years with my other vehicles and that was to open the garage door and drive it in. As I slowly made my way into the garage, it was obvious that this truck was going to be a tight fit if there was any fit at all. When the front of the truck was touching the far wall and the back was still sticking out beyond the overhead door, I knew I was in trouble.

I backed the truck out of the garage and from that point on, the truck has had to sit outside. The good thing about it is that I have a lot of free space in the garage now that the truck is not there. Bad news is the truck is already super heated with our Texas temperatures by the time I want to get into it for any reason and it seems to get dirty a lot quicker. The other problem that I have is in parking the darn thing. I’m not talking about the actual process of parking but about the fact that I cannot see the front of the hood and have no idea how close I am to anything in front of me. I have to park, get out and take a look and then make the necessary adjustments if they are needed. The truck is fitted with what Ford calls a “back up assist” which is essentially several cameras located in the rear bumper that show a picture on the dashboard screen. I used to have front ones installed on the Escape that I traded in but I guess I didn’t get the right model for front cameras on the truck. Oh well, I will just have to back in to all of my future parking places.

The reason for writing this particular blog is due to the fact that I keep getting a message on the little screen telling me to “Change oil very soon”. So, I am currently sitting in my Ford dealership waiting to get the truck serviced with an oil change and tire rotation. They told me when I came in that it would take at least two hours they were so busy. If you think that is a long wait for an oil change, I was here yesterday both in the morning and afternoon and both times was told there was a four hour wait to get the service work done. Needless to say, I declined both times and was about to drive on my way when one of the Service Reps came out and gave me her card and told me to call ahead next time and she would be able to tell me the estimated length of the wait. They have this flag system so that the Service Reps have a rough idea of the time. The black flag means around four hours, the green flag around two hours and the white flag means come back some other time. I had followed her instructions and gave her a call and she had told me to “Come ahead” which is Texas talk to get here as quickly as you can because the situation may change. It is a thirty minute drive from my house to the dealership and any number of vehicles could drive inline in front of me in that time.

So, I am in the waiting room sitting in front of my Surface computer and writing away hoping that the promised two hours will be a lot shorter. It does allow me time to write so it is not all bad. Wait, I hear someone calling my name. It is my service guy telling me that my truck is ready. I quickly made my way to the front desk to settle up my account very pleased that in fact, it had only taken forty five minutes and I will be on my way.

Not bad at all. Now to face the rush hour traffic which will be stop and go for a large part of the way home. I know of a Starbucks just around the corner so a Grande Latte will sure help as I sit in that traffic along with all of the hundreds of frustrated drivers.

Written 6/8/2018

Politics


politics
As most of you that read my blogs already know, I am a Democrat and I really don’t have too much time for the current President for many reasons. I don’t plan on going into them here but would like to comment on the American way of how Politics are run.

Being from the old country where a stiff upper lip and a gentleman’s word really meant something, at least back in the day. I was there long enough to vote in several elections and apart from flyers stuck on every pole and the occasional Town Hall Meeting, most of the aspiring politicians knocked on doors to get their message out. Of course, I am talking of the time period when TV was comparatively new and the BBC who stood for no nonsense or advertising on their programs and was at the time, the only TV and Radio available. Later on, ITV, an independent and commercialized station came on the air giving the general population a choice of watching the riffraff shows on ITV or the very British and straight laced shows on BBC.

The point is that I cannot remember for the life of me ever contributing to any of the aspiring MP’s (Member of Parliament) in their quest for election. I’m sure they must have held some sort of fundraisers if only to pay for the printing of the above mentioned flyers. Whether they got elected or re-elected certainly did not hinge on the amount of money they had raised which brings me to the point of this blog. By the way, I have no idea what English Politics is like nowadays. It could be as bad as the American Way for all I know.

As like most people, my inbox is bombarded with emails from the different would be politicians all asking me to vote for them and “oh by the way, It would be really great if you could chip in yet another dollar or ten as my opponent is currently beating us in raising funds”. Now I am not averse to making the occasional contribution understanding the need to cover some of the outlandish expenses that running for any office seems to generate but I have to admit that I am really sick and tired of every email requesting such funds. They all start with, “My Opponent is outspending me by…”

When I look at the vast amount of funds that it takes to run for most political office on the National and State level, the mind boggles. It seems that it doesn’t matter what message you are trying to get out, unless you plaster it all over the media, your chances of success are very limited. Gone are the days when a persons personality and the ability to appeal to the general public would get them into office. Now it is based on whatever the spin doctors can get out there.

There is something majorly wrong with the American Election System when Politicians are already bought and in the pockets of the various groups and organizations and lobbyists from the first minute they take office. What chance does Democracy have for the average Joe when the almighty buck rules the day and that many working class Americans pay the price either indirectly or otherwise.

One thing I do know is that nowadays when I read an email requesting money for a political cause or get something in the mail, I just ignore them. I have figured out that I can’t change things for the better as the system is now too corrupt so I might as well keep my money in my pocket, vote for my candidates of choice when the time comes and hope that somewhere and some when, the country will wake up and the average Joe will realize that he is being made a complete and utter fool, used for someone else’s benefit.

Maybe I should become a Politician and get me some of the cash…

Written May 31, 2018

Sitting and Waiting


Today it is raining but the forecast is that it will clear up this afternoon. That is good as I really need to get outside to continue work on my latest project which is to install permanent electricity to three of the ponds.

The first pond that I built more than 30 years ago was around 2500 gallons and actually looked very nice with a patio that surrounded the entire pond. It developed a leak and even by letting the entire pond drain down to nothing, I was still unable to locate it to make a repair. By then I was hooked on Ponding and I decided to rebuild the pond and at the same time, enlarge the entire thing. The end result is a 5000 gallon pond. I did this one right and it has a permanent electrical supply to it.

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5000 Gallon Pond

I spent the next 30 years messing around building other ponds and streams sometimes even rebuilding because of a change of heart or of different ideas. Because of my restlessness and having a very hard to please attitude, I never installed permanent electricity to any of the 3 other ponds for good reason. For example, the middle pond was actually 2 ponds in the shape of an “L” with water from the top pond filtering down to the bottom pond and then recirculating back to the top pond.
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The original “L” shaped pond

The smaller of the two ponds in this system developed a leak so I decided to separate them into two ponds which meant installing a Sanyo skimmer and another pump on the upper pond. I completely rebuilt the lower pond and installed a new liner and increased the depth to almost 4 feet. It too has its own skimmer box and pump. The electricity to drive the pumps was supplied by lead chords and temporary outlets and worked very well and I kept telling myself that as soon as I was satisfied with the ponds themselves, I would change the setup to something more permanent. Besides, I lived alone with no desire for any sort of company other than my dogs and reasoned that I would be careful as I worked the yard.

I had other water feature that I had built, one in the shape of a “Y” with two streams running into a small pond. This one actually worked pretty well but again, only had temporary electricity to drive the pumps. In a fit of madness, I decided to enlarge the pond at the end of the streams which eventually led to me taking out one stream completely along with the small pond. The end result was a 6000 gallon large pond, quite a bit larger than the 1000 gallon pond it replaced. I kept the one small stream and it still runs very nicely. Throughout all of this building and rebuilding, the electricity to drive the pumps was all supplied through the same system as outlined above, lead chords and temporary outlets.
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The New 6000 Gallon Pond

Human Nature being what it is and with everything running smoothly, I moved onto other things and although the thought would cross my mind very occasionally, I never seriously considered doing much about the electric supply to the ponds. Things were working fine so why mess with it. Besides, I had plenty of other things to do that seemed to be more important and anyway, I was not in the mood to dig trenches and bury conduit.

Then, a couple of mornings ago, I came out to check on the ponds and everything was very quiet except for the 5000 gallon pond, the one with permanent electricity, that was running just fine. I wandered over to the other ponds and both the “L” shape and the 6000 gallon pond were very still. None of the pumps were working. Luckily, the system can be down for a few hours before any problems are likely to develop in the form of oxygen deprivation and less dangerous but just as frustrating, muddy water. As it is still early Spring, temperatures would not be high enough to really cause oxygen deprivation problems.

I traced the lead chords as they snaked from pond to pond and quickly discovered that the very first chord was scorched where it connected to the next chord. Even as I watched, the next junction suddenly burst into flames. At least I knew where the problems were located and went to work in temporarily replacing the burnt out lead chords with different ones so as to keep the pumps running while I planned out the new permanent power supply.

As luck would have it, years ago, I had installed an outlet by the back porch directly from the Main Junction Box which also happened to be the one that the temporary supply is plugged into. I figured that I could come from that one and then run the wire through conduit to the first of the GFCI outlet boxes that I planned to install. I have two metal boxes that contain two GFCI outlets in each box that I acquired over the years. Bit of an overkill as a single GFCI would protect all of the outlets downline from it but as I happened to have the boxes, why not use them.

So, with a plan in mind, I went to Home Depot and purchased the necessary supplies and to start work on the project. This is actually a three phase project the first of which is to install the conduit from the supply to the location of the first outlet box about 45 feet away. The second phase will be to run the conduit to the second of the outlet boxes another 50 feet further along. The last phase will be to complete the run another 25 feet to the last of the boxes.

I started work on Phase 1 which entailed digging a trench to bury the conduit. This is the hard part of the project mainly because I hate digging and it takes more of a mind set to actually start the work than to do the work. I managed to convince myself that as hot as it was, I needed to get after it. The digging was pretty easy but it did entail swinging a pickaxe to break up the ground, something I haven’t done in years.

The next part of Phase 1 of the project was to lay out the conduit and then pull the cable through each piece before gluing the conduit together. The whole thing was placed into the trench and covered over, with sufficient conduit and cable exposed at each end to make the connections. And that is where we are today and it has just come on to rain again. It doesn’t look like I will be working outside today, darn it…

Look for part two of this thrilling instalment of DIY.

Written 5/20/2018

Politics


politicsI find that I
as time goes by
grow weary of politics
and all of the dirty tricks
that the man in charge
who by and large
likes to pull
because he is a fool
a wealthy man
in this land
a one percenter
a climate change hater
whose only goal
to get others to follow
to turn America white
and to put out the lights
on all who have the American Dream
and send them back to countries unseen
to make the rich richer
and to make it clearer
that the man on the street
whoever you meet
whose voice is not heard
without any words
can no longer prosper
or even foster
with no money to spend
and who at the end
will vote out the problem
that won’t be forgotten
as the list grows long
what will be his song
and who will he blame
and I wonder what names
he will call his successor
as he tweets his final letter
when the impeachments comes
and he turns to his chums
for help and support
and they will have thought
thanks for the money for our wealth
now it is time for stealth
your on your own Donald old friend
for Jail is where you will probably end
half the country will certainly rejoice
and will speak together with one voice
you are not above the law they will say
and  must pay the piper as today is the day…
Here’s Hoping…

Written 4/9/2018