Wednesday, September 30, 2015

It’s a miracle!

win10 works

I had pretty much resigned myself to not having full functionality in my free install of Windows 10.

Then everything slowed down and finally my screen went black and unresponsive.

Filled with trepidation, I did a hard reboot of my computer – the first complete reboot since I installed Windows 10 a week or so ago.

Then, wonder of wonders, I started seeing things that I had only seen on other people’s Windows 10 computers and can now say with reasonable confidence that everything that wasn’t working is working now.

Even Cortana, the “personal assistant” who responds to my voice commands via the microphone in my web cam.

Where have all the paper funnels gone?

yellow funnel

Riding home from Billings, Mont. last July, I stopped for gas at a Kum & Go station in Elk Point, S.D and finally got around to checking my oil sight glass.

I found there was no oil showing. Fortunately, I had an unopened quart of BMW motor oil. Unfortunately, the paper funnels I stashed under the seat years ago fell apart because the glue was cooked and dried out. Fortunately, the clerk had a couple of paper funnels, one of which worked perfectly.

I had a little time on my hands this afternoon and decided to ride to an auto parts store and buy some fresh paper funnels.

I got the deer-in-the-headlights treatment at Auto Zone. The counter guy at O’Reilly Auto Parts said he thought they had some back with the plastic funnels next to the motor oil.

They did not.

I was in no mood to ride deeper into town to see if Advance Auto Parts had them, so I just bought a $1.49 yellow plastic funnel and resolved to look for paper funnels online.

Likewise, Academy Sports and Outdoors, which sells tents and camping gear, does not have tent guylines or tighteners.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Adios, iPhone 5

my iphone 5 on ebay

My faithful 43GB iPhone 5 went into service on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012 and was finally replaced yesterday with a 64GB iPhone 6.

I wiped the memory clean this morning, photographed it with my new phone and listed it on Ebay, along with the Otterbox Defender case that kept it in pristine condition for nearly three years.

Monday, September 28, 2015

New iPhones

iphone 5 6

The new iPhone 6s became available last Friday, which means the price of the remaining examples of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus dropped by $100.

Maria and I went to the Sprint store on her lunch hour expecting to be in and out with new phones in short order.

We were out of there sooner than expected because the two young women working there insisted that the low cost of new phones by signing a new two-year contract was no longer available. The only way we could get new phones would be to pay insanely high prices up front or agree to add about $70 a month to our already exorbitant monthly bill for two years.

We had more questions than they had answers, so we drove across the street to the Best Buy store where a helpful Air Force veteran named Randal told us, yes, Sprint is phasing out the two-year contract deal.

But, he discovered, it’s not quite gone and he signed us up and gave us the deal we’d wanted. Maria got a 16GB iPhone 6 and I got a 64GB iPhone 6. Yes, the iPhone 6s is cool, but not that cool to us.

The iPhone 5 is on the left and the iPhone 6 is on the right in the photo above.

Friday, September 25, 2015

They’re back!


My in-ear monitors are back from being repaired and I’m a happy camper.

They are custom molded earplugs with stereo speakers and they take the tedium out of long motorcycle rides, especially on Interstates.

They were made for me in the summer of 2002 by Miami audiologist Marilyn Navia at the BMW RA Rally in Red River, N.M. (see photo below.)

Marilyn has repaired they a few times in the intervening 13 years when I clumsily yanked a wire loose. I had her upgrade them to dual drivers last winter.

The right speaker went wonky on me riding to Billings, Mont. in July. I showed them to Marilyn at the BMW MOA Rally in Billings and she asked me to send them to her in a couple of weeks when she got home from the rally circuit.

I did. She called a few weeks ago to say she was having trouble replicating the malfunction but would persevere. I guess she got it sorted out because she mailed them back to me this week.

Now I can ride to this year’s RA rally with SiriusXM satellite radio and the prompts of my Garmin Zumo 550.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

China? China??? Really?

guylineThe last rallies of the season are looming, so I ordered some fluorescent guy lines and some guy line tighteners from to help stabilize my Eureka! Tetragon 5 tent, should the weather turn windy.

Checking projected delivery dates, I see that both products are coming from freaking China and may not be here until somewhere between mid-October and November.

I went back and examined the listing and can’t find any clues about these having to come from the other side of the planet.

Unless they show up miraculously early, I foresee a trip to Academy Sporting Goods.

50 years ago today

Fifty years ago today, I raised my right hand at the Armed Forces Induction Center in Indianapolis and took this oath:

"I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

Then my fellow U.S. Air Force inductees and I were bused to Weir Cook Airport where we boarded a DC3 to fly to San Antonio, Texas, with stops in Shreveport, La., and Houston.

We arrived in San Antonio around 2 or 3 a.m. and were bused to Lackland Air Force Base where we were assigned to barracks organized into flights and squadrons.

I was in Flight 1499 of the 3703rd Basic Military Training Squadron.

And thus began my 41-day career in the Air Force, cut short by a medical discharge based on the results of tests at the allergy clinic at Wilford Hall Air Force Hospital.

Here’s what we looked like after a week or two of basic training.

Flight 1499, 3703rd BMTS, Lackland AFB, September-October, 1965Click the photo to see a larger version. That’s me in the red circle.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


I’ve felt the first twinges of conjunctivitis (pinkeye) coming on for a few days now.

It prompted me to switch from contact lenses to glasses late yesterday, but it wasn’t any better when I woke up this morning, so I headed down to Clopton Clinic for 8:30 a.m. sick call.

The nurse practitioner concurred with my diagnosis and prescribed antibiotic eye drops – one every four hours for five days.

I wear my glasses only rarely and the transition from contacts to glasses always leaves me with a period of borderline dizziness – not enough to fall down, but enough to keep me off of a motorcycle.

It should clear up by the weekend.

Monday, September 21, 2015


showstoppers steve boxed

Here is the orchestra for Steve Wynn’s Showstoppers at the Wynn in Las Vegas.

My son Steve plays bass (red box).

Click the photo to see it larger.

If it’s not broke, don’t fix it

A little more than 24 hours after I “updated” my desk top computer from Window 7 to Windows 10, I have some serious regrets.

Happily, all of my old programs/apps that I’ve tried still work under Win10, but with some unwelcome changes.

A lot of it can be traced to the fact that I do not have full Win10 functionality.

I can’t use the built-in browser, so I continue to have Chrome as my default browser. The little Windows icon in the bottom left corner does nothing except turn green when I click it. Likewise, the text box next to it is useless. And Microsoft Edge doesn’t do anything at all.

Formerly, when I connected my card reader with a memory card in it, I’d get a little screen offering several options including to download the contents to Adobe Bridge, which is my go-to photo organizer.

Now I have to open Bridge and sort through the various folders and sources to find the card reader and its contents.

Likewise, when I download an image from the Internet, it goes to the non-functioning Microsoft Edge – or at least it tries to – instead of my preferred destination of Photoshop.

And I can’t find my games, so I can’t play Freecell.

The bottom line – I have reduced functionality. Win10 turns out to be worth what I paid for it: nothing.

Sunday, September 20, 2015


win10 screenshot

Maria and Morgan stepped up to Windows 10 this week and seem to love it, so I did the free install this morning.

I think I’ll like it, but I’m not sure yet.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

New tent poles


Tent poles arrived this morning to replace fractured fiberglass pole segments that were damaged the afternoon of July 22 in Billings, Mont.

Shortly after I arrived at the BMW MOA Rally venue and set up my tent, a powerful windstorm swept in and threatened to destroy my tent. Happily, a couple of my Indianapolis BMW Club friends came to the rescue with guy lines and extra stakes, but I discovered later that a segment of one of the two cross poles that form the dome of the tent was fractured. The photo shows the tent being deformed by wind even after the guy lines were in place.

Two shorter poles shape the fly into a kind of an eyebrow over the front and back of the tent. I forgot that they extend from front to back and in my road-addled condition, tried to flex one to fit both pockets at the rear of the fly, fracturing one of the fiberglass segments. Happily, it held together for the duration of the rally, which included a couple of smaller wind episodes.

I got this tent for Christmas and love it for its extravagant 9x9-foot roominess and the fact that I can stand up and not hit the 6’ high ceiling with my head. There’s even room inside for a camp chair next to my riding gear and sleeping kit.

When I got home, I hung up the tent and fly in the garage to let the Montana dew dry before packing them for the next rally. I went to the Eureka! (the exclamation point is part of the name) web site operated by Johnson Outdoor Gear Inc. and ordered some pole replacement segments, found them to be the wrong size, sent them back and ordered another set that also proved to be wrong.

I had several back-and-forth email exchanges with customer support which culminated with a request to check the tent for a tag indicating the lot number. I did: YF-259-2314. I was advised to continue the conversation by phone.

I got around to calling the company’s customer service folks on Wednesday morning and found myself talking with a very helpful woman named Tammy. She determined the appropriate pole lengths and graciously offered to send replacement free. I accepted gratefully.

The FedEx driver delivered them to my front porch this morning.

I bought extra stakes at the rally and now I need to add guy lines to the package. I think I’ll look for glow-in-the-dark lines. (A hapless drunk rode a bicycle into one of my guy lines one night during the rally.)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Calamity averted


About 24 hours after I updated my iPhone 5 with iOS9, I grabbed my phone to photograph a couple of Amazon purchases that arrived today for Morgan.

But it would not turn on. And it would not reboot. And it would not connect with iTunes to do a restore.

I jumped to the conclusion that some fatal flaw in the new operating system had turned my phone into a brick.

I went online and asked my Facebook friends and members of the Apple Forum for advice. None was forthcoming.

Finally, out of desperation, I held down the home button and power button simultaneously for a minute or more. Presently the white Apple logo appeared on the black screen, signifying a reboot was underway.

It was a very long reboot – a couple of minutes that seemed like hours – and then my familiar startup screen lit up.

Now, I’m feeling a bit sheepish for freaking out and decided my phone was hosed.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

At last!

windows-10Pardon my absence. I’ve been busy and our internet provider has had prolonged outages this week.

You may recall that the 1TB hard drive in Maria’s laptop computer crashed recently – irretrievably, it turns out.

So I got a newer version of the drive and installed it, but we seem to have mislaid the backup software to restore the operating system.

After two nights and days of fruitless searching, I bit the bullet yesterday and bought a copy of Windows 10 from Best Buy.

But when I got it home, I found the software was on a USB drive and not a CD/DVD as in the past. I plugged in the USB drive, fired up the computer and hit F12 for Boot Options. That’s where my day went to hell.

The Dell did not offer a USB port as a boot option.

I called my unofficial IT guy, Tim Balough, in the highest incorporated town in the United States and he suggested trying to copy the contents of the USB drive to a DVD. I did and it failed.

I woke up this morning ready to throw in the towel, sell the Win10 software at a loss on Ebay and buy a copy of Windows 7 on DVD.

Then Maria suggested checking with the Best Buy Geek Squad. So when my internet service was finally restored about 10 a.m., I went online to the and had an on-screen chat with Agent Samantha.

No worries, she said. Just take it to your local Best Buy and they will install Win10 for you.


Down at Best Buy, the Geek Squad guy plugged the USB drive into a different USB port and, wonder of wonders, it showed up in the boot options.

No charge.

Back at home I plugged the USB drive into the port the Geek Squad guy had used, but it didn’t appear in my boot option choices. I repeated the exercise about six time until the USB port finally appeared.

Now we have a new hard drive running a new operating system that is nothing like what we’re used to.

Happily, the Amazon Vine program picked today to offer me an introduction to Windows 10 book with instructional CD.

We’re gonna need it.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Can’t beat it

reddick house drone

Our neighbors listed this property – two lots with an in-ground pool and a detached shop – for sale last May and spent much of the summer looking for a place they liked better.

They couldn’t find any location (read:neighborhood) they liked better and finally took their house off of the market.

That’s a ringing endorsement of our little wooded subdivision. We absolutely love it here. We looked at dozens and dozens of houses eight years ago before we found the house you can see at the top of the drone photo.

We stopped looking the day we toured this house – Sept. 29, 2007. We knew immediately that we had found the home we were looking for. We made an offer the next day and it was accepted that evening. We took possession Oct. 28.

Friday, September 11, 2015


sam poop

Has anyone in all of recorded history seen a dog barf or poop on tile, vinyl, hardwood, or concrete if there was carpet nearby?

Sean at work

Thursday, September 10, 2015

64 years ago today


That’s me on the left, then Jeannie Taylor and then Susan Kent.

I looked worried, but the day turned out okay.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

It takes SpinRite a long time to sort out a 1TB hard drive


Maria’s laptop didn’t heal itself after all, so I opened it up this morning and removed the 1TB hard drive, put it into an external hard drive station and turned SpinRite loose on it.

I don’t expect to be thwarted by problems with the motherboard because it’s not working through the laptop motherboard.

SpinRite estimates the process will take 6 days and 20 hours, so my netbook will have to fill in while my desktop computer is occupied. When Maria’s hard drive is finished, I should probably run SpinRite on my desktop as a routine maintenance procedure.

It’s been hung up for about an hour with no sign of activity, except I can feel the hard drive spinning when I put my hand on it. Tim Balough reassured me that it’s not unusual for SpinRite to do that while it chews on data in a particular sector.

In the meantime, I called the audiologist in Florida who made my in-ear monitors back in the summer of 2002. The right speaker went wonky during my Montana trip. She looked at it at the BMW MOA Rally and told me to sent it to her when I got home. I did but now she can’t replicate the problem. I told her I’m not freaking 0ut, but I would like them in time for the BMW RA rally in October.

++++++++++++++ SpinRite crapped out after chewing on the same sector for nearly a whole day. I think the drive is hosed.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Labor Day, 99 years later


It was 99 years ago when my dad, then 6 years old, took the history of Democrat Township of Carroll County, Indiana from his father, Democrat Township Trustee Irvin M. Flora, and placed it into the time capsule in the cornerstone of the Carroll County Courthouse.

My family goes way back in Carroll County history. Floras were the first white settlers in the county.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Free sample, what could possibly go wrong?


The sample dispensing machine detects movement nearby and propositions passersby with, “Would you like a free sample?” in a friendly female voice.

All I had to do to get a free packet of delicious Lance cheese crackers was scan my Sam’s Club membership card.

Here’s what I got:


I left it in the hopper.

Fast food kills trees

valero and sonicThis is how the intersection of U.S. 49 and School Road in Brookland looked from space 18 months ago.

The red box is now a Valero gas station and Taco Bell that opened in the spring and the blue box is now a Sonic Drive-In that opened this week.

All of the trees on the west side of the intersection are gone.

Friday, September 04, 2015


laptop fixed maybe

After consulting with the SpinRite folks and my personal IT guy, Tim Balough, I concluded the only way to do a complete SpinRite scan of Maria’s laptop hard drive would be to remove the drive and scan it without working through the problematic laptop motherboard.

I left the computer running last night – blank screen with just the cursor arrow showing.

When I returned to it this afternoon with the intention of performing surgery, I found Windows 7 running and asking for a password. I obliged and a minute or so later I had a screen full of icons presumably ready to do whatever I asked.

The only thing I can think of is that Windows 7 spent several hours sorting out what was ailing it and finally fixed itself.

We shall see. For Maria’s sake, I hope it’s a good solid fix.

Thursday, September 03, 2015


I occasionally get products through the Amazon Vine program that my wife might use.

I let her try the product and she gives me comments that I incorporate into my review.

Recently, I shared her observations about a Black & Decker steam iron:

I got this iron for my wife, who is an avid quilter and uses an iron in the quilt-making process. Here are her observations:
"This has absolutely the most intense steam I've ever seen come out of an iron.
"The sales pitch claims it will steam wrinkles out of hanging clothes in an upright position. I did the ultimate test. I hung a linen blouse that I'd taken from the dryer without ironing and worn TWICE. The 3/4 sleeves were especially wrinkly where I bend my arms, and the whole thing looked like it had been wadded.
"The iron relaxed all the wrinkles in the arm with one blast of steam. I would never have believed it.
"The point has a brilliant taper that allows entry into smaller spaces on clothing.
I primarily use irons for quilting and have had many. This one heats incredibly fast. I could use it in under a minute, even though the signal light for full heat wasn't on yet. I even got hard-core steam in under a minute.
"A warning: you could burn yourself on this steam. It is intense and fast. I would not let the grandchildren use this one on steam setting. The automatic shutoff is handy, and the iron reheats incredibly fast when you return to the ironing board. I had no disruption of work and did not have to wait for the iron to reheat between quilting tasks.
"The only drawbacks for me is that it is a dark color, which makes it a little hard to read the water level setting, and the icons are small for my older eyes. But neither of those issues is a deal breaker for me.
"It also has the easiest to use pour spout I ever encountered.
"This is a fantastic iron for this price point. I spent far more for less."

Sometimes people comment on the reviews and they’re almost always positive or at least constructive. I was startled this afternoon when a guy from New Jersey named Garrett J. O’Keefe wrote this:

Grandma using a term "price-point"?? The point has a "brilliant taper"?? "Relaxed the wrinkles"?? Almost had me with the "I wouldn't let the grandchildren use it on the steam setting", but Gotcha "grandma"!! Another phony review!

I looked his profile up and noticed that he has reviewed a whopping nine products on Here’s my reply:

"Grandma" is a 52-year-old newspaper editor with a vocabulary that apparently surprises you. She can also ride a motorcycle and handle a pistol or a shotgun and has been published in quilting magazines. I find your comments presumptuous and insulting. And I can assure you that this is a legitimate review. If you read more of my 357 reviews, you'll find plenty of instances where I recommend against buying products.


spinrite error msgI have dutifully reported this to Steve Gibson. If it doesn’t result in a fix for our laptop, maybe it will be useful for his research.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

SpinRite at work

spin rite maria

Maria’s laptop computer went all wonky this evening. Windows 7 spent several minutes trying to sort things out, but didn’t seem interested in launching Windows when it restarted.

I’ve had great results with Steve Gibson’s SpinRite. It rescued my 1TB hard drive in November, 2011 when I was afraid all was lost and it continues to work (knock on wood) today. Maybe I should run SpinRite on it as a maintenance measure…

Anyhow, I set Maria’s laptop up to boot from the CD drive, loaded SpinRite and put it to work on two segments of the hard drive that have significant data. It’s doing the smaller segment that represents about 2% of the drive data right now and will probably finish that job in about 20 minutes. Then it will work on the remaining 98%, which will probably take all night.

The cost of staying mobile

subaru tired and clean[4]

I’m hanging out at Panera with a cheese Danish and coffee this morning, having driven Maria to work because the Subaru is in the shop.

I drove the Subaru in to town yesterday morning to get a prescription filled at Sam’s Club. When I parked at Sam’s Club, I noticed steam rising from the hood. I popped the hood and found water/coolant sprinkled about the engine compartment.

After getting my prescription and a 50-pound bag of IAMS dog food, I took the car to a nearby Gateway Tire shop where we have most of our auto service done and left it for diagnosis, hoping it was just a cracked radiator hose. After all, the car is 13 years old with nearly a quarter-million miles on the odometer. The rubber hoses have to be showing their age.

One of the Gateway guys called me later in the day with the bad news – I need a new radiator for $385. Considering that I paid about $500 for a radiator for my 1995 Honda del Sol a few years ago, I figure this is a reasonable figure.

So I will to and fro in the Lexus today until I get word that the Subaru is fixed.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Happy 4th Birthday, Jack


Our boy Jack, aka Briarbrooks Gentleman Jack Flora, is four years old today.

His forebears include two Best of Breed winners at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, so he comes by his good looks naturally.

We waited more than a year to send in the AKC registration paperwork because we couldn’t settle on a name.

His kind nurturing behavior toward Dora when she came to us as a 6-week-old puppy made it clear that he’s a true gentleman.