Happy New Year !

New Year

After a quiet morning with coffee and conversation, we headed out about 12:45 for clients, movie, and dinner. Well, that’s the way it started, but not the way it turned out.

After spending a couple of hours with two clients, we were planning to catch a 4:45 movie and then have dinner. But we decided we wanted some Landon time instead as we hadn’t seen him since Christmas.

When we got there Landon was still napping so I tried to help Lowell with a VPN problem he was having. His company requires him to communicate with the company computer using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection for security.

Before he and Landon went to Oklahoma after Christmas it was working fine, but now back home, he can’t make a connection.  These VPN connections are always kind of finicky to set up, and Lowell said he had to spend some time on the phone with Tech Support to finally get it working.

I tried several different tricks I’ve used in the past, but with no luck. This VPN is a little different in that it uses an RSA SecurID card to authenticate the user.

RSA Card

The SecurID card generates a constantly changing 6 digit code that must be entered during login along with Lowell’s 4 digit pin. I’ve seen problems with these in the past when they get out of sync. I finally suggested that Lowell deleted all the VPN software and just start from scratch with the installation.

By this time everyone was hungry so off we went, and since everyone wanted steak, it was back to Outback again. Jan and I just ate there night before last but had no trouble going again.

But just like last time we had a great meal, but not so great service. So I guess our last visit wasn’t a fluke. Brandi especially was upset because she worked there for several years in the 90’s while she was in college and hates to see this.

Saying our goodbyes at the restaurant, Jan and I headed back to the rig to celebrate the arrival of the New Year in our normal fashion: falling asleep before midnight even arrives.

Happy New Year!


Thought for the Day:

Power can be checked only by other power.


Still Nothing from Antarctica . . .

Well, we did it!

We pretty much did absolutely nothing again today. We didn’t even leave the rig. Nice!

This was fine with me as I’ve been fighting off a low-level cold for the last few days. Just nasal congestion, no cough, no sore throat, nothing else. And for feeling under the weather, what could be better than chicken soup?

Well, Chicken Tortilla Soup, anyway. I shredded a couple of the chicken breasts I had poached a few days ago, put them in the slow cooker along with some of the liquid from the poaching, and another container of chicken stock. After it started getting warm, I added containers of Monterey’s salsa and pico de gallo, along with some extra cilantro.

Then it was off for a very nice nap. It’s been a cold, dreary day here. I don’t think it even got out of the 40’s. You’d almost think Nick was in the area. But just perfect for a good nap.

Up a little after 4 pm, I dished out the soup, added some shredded Monterey Jack cheese and crumbled tortilla chips, and we sat down to some delicious Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Later, Jan made some fantastic Baked Kale by taking fresh kale, spraying it lightly with olive oil, sprinkling it with salt, and then baking it in the convection for about 10 minutes. It comes out crispy, crunchy, and delicious.

Try it.

I got my yearly blog report from WordPress today and it was a real eye-opener.

In 2010 we had 56,000 visitors to the blog. And last year we had 133,000.

But this year we jumped to 174,000 visitors with them coming from 144 different countries.

And still no one from Antarctica. I had visitors from the other six continents, just not Antarctica. I keep hoping that someone down there at one of the research stations would check in sometime. Just once, OK?

For some reason I had only 147 visitors from Mexico, but 233 from Brazil. And 2 from China and 1 from Nepal.  Nepal?

We also had 62 from South Korea, but 0 from North Korea.

Hey, just because your country is an oppressive dictatorship, doesn’t mean you can’t check in once in a while.


Thought for the Day:

Violence is rarely the answer. But when it is, it’s the only answer.


In The Outback . . .

We woke up to a clear, but cold morning so it just seemed to be a good idea to sit around, enjoy the day, and do pretty much nothing.

Jan read, watch TV, and napped, and I played on the computer and napped. Like I said, pretty much nothing.

A little after 4pm Jan and I headed up to Webster to have dinner at Outback Steakhouse. We were supposed to meet Brandi there, but she called a little earlier to say she wasn’t feeling well so she wouldn’t be getting together with us.

I had an 12 oz. Outback Special Steak, while Jan had her usual Alice Springs Chicken. Yes, she goes to a steak place and has chicken.

After a really good meal, but so-so service, Jan and I stopped off at King Food to get Brandi some of her favorite Won Ton Soup, kind of like Chinese chicken soup, I guess.

After dropping off her soup, we left Brandi’s and headed over to Sam’s and then Wal-Mart for a few things before we got back to the rig a little before 8 pm.

Tomorrow we plan on doing pretty much nothing again. We’ll see how it goes.


Thought for the Day:

"God made man but Sam Colt made them equal."


Maybe I should cut back on the Ghost Chilies a little bit . . .

Regular blog readers know how much I like hot, spicy foods, the hotter the better.

And so far I’ve never found anything too hot for me. Nick and Terry gave me some Ghost Chili salt a while back and I regularly use it to spice up my meals. Ghost Chili’s, also known as Naga Jolokia, were, until recently, the hottest chili pepper in the world. Now it’s number 3, behind the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T chili and the Naga Viper.

But after reading this article, maybe I’ll rethink the heat.


Mala Soup

The guy ate soup so hot it burned a hole in his stomach. WOW!

Lowell and Landon are up in Oklahoma visiting Lowell’s parents until this Sunday, and sent along these photos of Landon and his Grannie.

Landon in OK 1

Landon with Grannie in OK

Brandi, who stayed here for work, is really missing them both, and Sunday can’t come quick enough.

I dropped Jan off at her hair place about 10am while I ran some errands. Between EPO – Electronics Part Outlet, a client’s and then Home Depot, I got back about 2 hours later, just as Jan came out. Nice timing.

After Jan was finished getting her hair done, we decided to have lunch at the new Jimmy Changa’s Mexican Restaurant. It just opened about a month ago and it seems like the parking lot is full whenever we go by. But we figured that on a Friday after 1:30 pm that we wouldn’t have a wait.


We ended up waiting almost 40 minutes to get a table. But it was certainly worth it.

We ate at the Jimmy Changa’s up in Pasadena last year and Jan loved their Beef Chili Rellenos, so she got it again and said it was as good as last time.

I was going to have a bowl of their Chicken Tortilla Soup and a Taco Salad. But luckily for me, the waitress warned me that their ‘bowl’ of soup was about the size of a serving bowl, not a regular bowl, and that I might not want to get that and a salad too. And she was right.

The big bowl of soup was plenty, and it was really, really good, too.

I also really liked the chandelier in the main dining room. It’s made up of individual lights, all different, and all very beautiful.

Jimmy Changa's Chandelier

By the time we left the restaurant after 3pm, they were still on a wait. In fact they seem to be busier than when we arrived.

Than after making a couple of stops at client’s, I took Jan back by the place she got her nails done yesterday with Piper. Jan had smeared the polish on a couple of toes and wanted to get them touched up. Turns out that it only took about 10 minutes and they didn’t charge her. Nice!

Later in the evening I put 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the slow cooker to poach them so we can make up some soup. Boy, does it smell good in here.


Thought for the Day:

“I hold it, that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical” – Thomas Jefferson writing to James Madison


It’s Dead, Jim . . .

Jan and our granddaughter Piper had scheduled a Girl’s Day Out with lunch, a movie, mani/pedi’s, and shopping, so they headed out a little before 11, with me about 15 minutes behind.

As for me, I was heading over to a client’s to earn some money to pay for lunch, a movie, mani . . . you get the picture.

I was going to finish the setup of the new computer that I started yesterday. But I should have known this machine was snake-bit right out of the box. In fact it crashed pretty much right out of the box.

The first odd thing was that it tried to turn on as soon as I plugged it into power. But powering down and back on brought it right up. Then, further into the initial setup, as I was entering the Account Name and the PC Name, the machine blue-screened, rebooted, scanned for HD errors, found none, and then settled down and worked fine.

I should have given up then, but it worked fine the rest of the afternoon as I installed more software. But then this morning right before I left the rig, one of the office people called and said they had been installing MS Office 2010 on it, and when they rebooted at the end of the installation, the machine would not come up. The power light was on but that was it.

And when I got to the office I found the same thing. I did unplugged it for about 5 minutes, but after I plugged it back in, the power light came back on and that was it. So I packed it back in the box and off to Fry’s Electronics I went.

Of course, when they booted it up at the store, it worked fine. Of course.

But after I explained all the problems I’d had, they quickly gave me a replacement machine and then it was back to the office. Back at the client’s office, I started the setup over, and this time everything went fine, with no problems.

Finally finishing up for the day, I stopped by another client’s to check in before heading over to the house to wait for Jan and Piper.

And as soon as they showed up, we said our goodbyes to Piper and then Jan and I headed toward home with a stopover at Monterey’s Little Mexico for dinner.

Chicken Tortilla Soup on a cold, wet evening. YUMMM!


Thought for the Day:

Officer: “Why did you shoot this man 6 times as he broke into your home?”

Home Owner: “’Cause the seventh time I pulled the trigger it went click.”


Happy Boxing Day . . .

After our morning coffee, I headed out to a client’s home office to set up the new computer that I got for her before Christmas. But I quickly ran into a problem when I tried to hook up her older model Sony LCD monitor.

The monitor only has a VGA input and the computer didn’t have one. Only HDMI and DVI. Or rather, it had both a VGA and HDMI output on the motherboard, but there were stickers on both ports saying “This Port Has Been Disabled”.

Instead of the motherboard ports, there was a separate video card with an HDMI and a DVI port. And of course, no VGA ports.

So it was off to Fry’s Electronics to pick up a new monitor so I could get back to work. I also picked up an HDMI cable since most monitors don’t include HDMI cables, though it did include a VGA cable. Lot of good that did me.

Then it was back to the client’s, and back to work. I spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning off all the junk that comes on new machines, and then started installing support programs like AVG, ZoneAlarm, SuperAntiSpyware, etc.

Finally, a little after 4pm, I wrapped up for the day and headed back to the rig, where I picked up Jan and we headed back out to have dinner at the Chili’s up in Kemah.

Then it was off to Wal-Mart for some groceries before heading back to the rig for the night.

Later I spent some time on the phone with my friend Nick Russell trying to fix his rig’s heat pump via remote control.

You’d think if he wanted it fixed for free, he’d at least bring it to me.

But, nooooo!


Thought for the Day:

A Nation of Sheep will beget a Government of Wolves – Edward R. Murrow


Merry Christmas . . .


Well, the incoming cold front made itself known early this morning with 40 to 50 mph winds rocking the coach about 6am.

The high yesterday was 78, and the low last night was 68. But today the high is supposed to be 74 with a low of 31!


About 10:30 Jan and I headed over to Chris and Linda’s for Christmas dinner. Jan fixed a delicious corn casserole and deviled eggs.

As far as the eggs, we decided to try a different way to hard boil them.  We BAKED them in the convection oven.

According to the Internet (and everything on the Internet must be true, right?) you can hard boil eggs by putting them on a rack in a 325 degree oven for 30 minutes, and then dumping them in an ice water bath. It worked pretty well, but a few egg whites had a partial brown discoloration, I think because they cracked.

The other problem was they were very hard to peel, but I don’t think this was because they were baked. Both the Internet and our daughter-in-law Linda said the fresher the eggs, the harder they are to peel.

And these eggs were very fresh. They were being loaded in the cooler as we were taking them out. Most websites say to buy them a week ahead of time and then boil them, We’ll try that next time.

Linda fixed a great meal with a spiral ham, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry gelatin salad, and delicious yeast rolls. And of course, a heavenly butter pecan cream cake.

Christmas Dinner 2012

After that fantastic meal, and fighting off a nap attack I spent some time cleaning up Chris’ computer and hooking a new laser printer. I also set up Google Cloud Print on the machine, and then on Piper’s iPad and Chris’ Galaxy SIII.

This way Piper can print to her home printer from anywhere she has Internet access.

Forgot to mention that Santa brought Piper a new bike this Christmas. Apparently they’re bringing back bikes in the retro style that look like they were built in the 50’s.

Piper's Christmas Bike

Since Chris had to go into work tonight, Jan and I headed home about 4pm, still fighting a lot of wind. And the temperature was distinctly cooler than this morning.

And it just got cooler all afternoon. And then the bottom dropped out. At 6pm it was still 70 degrees here at the park, but by 8:30 it was 40.

That’s quite a drop. And it’s supposed to go down to 31 tonight.

More BRRR!


Things you thought were true, but aren’t:

Dinosaurs were cold-blooded. Increased K-12 spending and lower pupil/teacher ratios boost public school student outcomes. Most of the DNA in the human genome is junk. Saccharin causes cancer and a high fiber diet prevents it. Stars cannot be bigger than 150 solar masses.


Christmas Eve Traditions . . .

Jan and I spend Christmas Eve morning doing pretty much nothing. Really nice.

Later in the afternoon I had a chance to try out my new Quad-Copter.

Quad Copter

It quickly became obvious that it really wasn’t flyable inside the rig. At least until I get it trimmed out so that it flies a little more stable.

So I decided to try it outside. I had a couple of good flights, but I was constantly fighting the wind which took a lot of the fun out of it.

I plan on taking it with us over to Chris’ tomorrow where I’ll have more room.

About 5pm Jan and I met the rest of the family at King Food for our traditional Christmas Eve family dinner.

We’ve been doing this at this same restaurant for about 25 years, and always look forward to it.

King Food Panorama

One of the most memorable times was in 2004, when Houston got its first ever Christmas Eve snow. We were sitting there eating and all of a sudden these large white flakes started cascading to the ground.

The Weather Service had said that we might get a few flakes, but no accumulation. Well, by morning we had 4 to 5 inches of ‘no accumulation’.

Christmas Eve 2004 Snowfall


The way we do it as a family is everyone orders their favorite entrée dish, and then we all share. But strange as it may seem, no one wanted to share Jan’s and my Chicken in Hot Garlic Sauce with Jalapenos, XXXXXX Spicy.

Just left more for us.

After our meal we all headed over to Brandi’s to open family presents, another family tradition. We have always open gifts from one another on Christmas Eve, and then Santa comes on Christmas morning for the little kids.

Christmas at Brandi's 1

Christmas at Brandi's 2

But the Christmas morning part had fallen by the wayside recently since Piper got older. But now with Landon around, Santa is back in town.

We all had a great time watching Landon open his presents. He was a little hesitant at first, but soon he was ripping off the wrappings like a pro.

Tomorrow Jan and I will be going over to Chris and Linda’s to have Christmas Dinner with them. Brandi, Lowell, Landon, and Aunt Sherry are heading up to the Katy are to have dinner with our friend Shawna and her family.


Thought for the Day:

They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.

But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe. — Rudyard Kipling, 1919.  “The Gods of the Copybook Headings”


Sunflowers and Stew Kits . . .

Jan and I were up very early this morning, but it was for a good reason. We were meeting Lowell, Brandi, Landon, and Aunt Sherry at the Sunflower Bakery & Café for breakfast down in Galveston about 8:30am.

On our way, leaving the park area, we took down the signs we had posted after finding the lost dog last Thursday.

Found Dog Poster

Since we never got a call from anyone, we’re even more convinced he was dumped. But he’s got a good home now.

Just not our home.

We had our usual great breakfast at Sunflower, but what was funny was watching Landon flirt with a cute blonde hostess. He would stare at her with a big smile on his face, and then when she would smile back at him, he would quickly look away or put his head down below the table edge.

Landon at Sunflower Cafe 2

He would then peek back over the edge to see if she was still looking at him. And he did the same thing with the same hostess when we were here two weeks ago. He’s gonna be a real heartthrob.

Leaving the café we all drove down to the Seawall to let Landon run around on the beach.

Galveston Seawall

Landon at the Seawall 1

Landon at the Seawall 2

I think Brandi and Lowell’s real reason for this was to just let him run around and tire himself out.

Finally saying our goodbyes, we headed up to the Kroger’s on SR96 to get some groceries.

While perusing the meat department I came across a Beef Stew Kit.

Really. A Beef Stew Kit?

Some Assembly Required?

Is it a kit because you still have to cut up the veggies?

Tyson Beef Stew Kit

And it was $13.95!

For a couple of bucks of veggies, and 3# of stew meat. Sorry, but this is just ridiculous.

Are people really this lazy that they can’t spend 5 minutes in the produce section?

The bright note in our Kroger’s stop was getting gas there. Their new method of giving you gas points for your purchases meant that I got $1.30 per gallon off my fill up.

Which meant that I only paid $1.67 per gallon.



Thought for the Day:

By reading this blog, you’ve collapsed my wave function. Thanks.


Jabba the Catt . . .

or, this is why keeping the dog was a bad idea!

Jabba the Cat

Here’s Mister in his “Jabba the Cat” pose. He likes to sit like this in my computer desk chair. Kind of Master of All he Surveys.

Tonight Jan talked to the lady that took in the dog we found. They’ve named him Opie and said he’s doing fine. Seems like he’s found a good home.

Just as long as it’s not ours.

Brandi said Landon has become the front page poster child for the Children’s Lighthouse Childcare Center where Landon goes. You can see him here.



Jan and I headed about 1pm to first have lunch at the Chili’s up in Kemah before doing some errands.

Our first stop was at Fry’s Electronics looking to purchase 3 copies of Microsoft Office 2010 for a client, but all they had was the Student version which does not have Outlook which the client needs. So I’ll have to see about ordering it, or downloading it.

My next stop was right up Hwy. 3 at EPO – Electronics Parts Outlet, to find a replacement switch for a client’s computer. They had what I wanted but I found a little something extra.

A G-Maxtec 860 Quad-Copter at 40% off.

Quad Copter

You can fly it inside or out, and it will do flips and rolls. Check out the video below.



Our next stop after EPO was Brandi and Lowell’s for a little Landon time, and also to pick up our mail. Then after a nice visit we headed over to Kroger’s to pick up some things before we met our friend’s Bob and Maria, and Connie at Coffee Oasis, a local coffee shop. We had a great time talking and drinking coffee. In fact we spent about 2 hours without even realizing it.

All in all, a nice day, well spent.


Thought of the Day:

The NRA set off a firestorm suggesting that we put armed guards in schools.

If we can’t have armed guards in our schools, why do we have them in our Federal and State office buildings?

Why will we protect our politicians and not our children?