Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Spot on!

Well, crap!


I finally got around to using the Amazon.com gift card I received from Steve and Nicky last week and ordered a pair of Celestron SkyMaster 20x80 binoculars that I've had a hankering for.

FedEx delivered them a few minutes ago, but they are damaged and will be returned via UPS this afternoon.

The left and right eyepieces are supposed to be held in place by a screw or shaft that runs up the central axis of the binoculars. But it is missing, making it possible to lift the eyepieces right off of the binos. WTF?

Monday, August 07, 2017

A good sign


It's a good sign.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Good stuff


The Amazon Vine Program sent me a can of Forcefield waterproofing to test.

I applied a couple of coats of the stuff to an old Land's End field jacket and tried it out in yesterday's downpour.

The rain beaded up nicely. Good stuff.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Jeepers!


I noticed a Jeep on fire at the Brookland Citgo station as I drove to the post office this morning. The fire truck was just arriving

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

No problem

Our waitress at lunch yesterday committed what I consider a breach of etiquette.

Whenever we thanked her for something - drinks, food, extra napkins - she responded with "No problem."

No, young lady. The proper response is "You're welcome."

Saying "no problem" suggests that we have somehow inconvenienced her and she's forgiving us.

Does this annoy anyone else, or is it just me?

Monday, July 24, 2017

The date is the Zip Code for Brookland, Ark.


The folks at the Brookland Post Office are in a festive mood today because the date coincides with the Brookland Zip Code. They have a special postmark for the occasion, along with cookies and lemonade.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Getting out of the house with the dogs


The most challenging and awkward part of staging our house for viewing by prospective buyers is taking both dogs with us when we leave the house. We spent yesterday with the dogs at Morgan Sallee's house.

We had five showings yesterday and got one unacceptable offer. Got another showing set for this evening.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sitrep at 72


I woke up this morning (didn't we all?), mildly amused to find that I am now 72 years old.

And living with about half of my stuff and both of my motorcycles 450 road miles away in another state.

We are on the threshold of listing our Arkansas house for sale in what, we are told, is a red-hot seller's market. We have a carpet cleaner scheduled to come this afternoon or evening and anticipate a weekend of frenzied cleaning before we get serious about staging the house and listing it next week.

Our tenants in our Indiana house have been apprised of our intentions and are presumably searching for new accommodations. Since it will take 30 days to close, once we have a buyer, we hope to be back in Indiana in September. Considering that we started hauling stuff north back in January, this has taken way longer than we expected, but then doesn't just about everything?

This project, as I have complained previously, is costing me most of my 2017 riding season, including the BMW RA and BMW MOA national rallies. I'm still holding out hope that I can make the Falling Leaf Rally in Potosi, Mo. on the second weekend of October.

In the meantime, our efforts to sell our commercial building in downtown Jonesboro seem to have stalled out. The logical purchasers appear to have given up because they can't raise the money for a down payment. We had hoped it would sell first and finance our move, and it could still happen, but we have to assume not.

I could complain that I'm too old for this crap, but it doesn't matter and apparently I'm not.

I'm just eager to be done with this project - divested of our Arkansas properties at a modest profit and back in our Indiana house with money to repair a decade of neglect.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Portrait of a ripoff artist


This is George O'Dell, the contractor we trusted to build a two-car, two-motorcycle garage with a second-floor photo studio back in 2007.

He's holding a piece of the $9,000 concrete pad we bought that had to be ripped out because the concrete guys George hired didn't bother to dig proper footers and because it would have gone to pieces if we had stuck a garage and vehicles on top of it. It would have had to be demolished anyway, because George didn't bother to contact Thorntown building officials to learn he was putting the pad too close to the property lines. (The tattoos represent the birth dates of his children. Isn't that darling? What a loving, Christian parent. At least that's what he professed to be.)

The photo was taken on May 3, 2007 - two days after we gave George a check for $14,920 to buy construction materials for the garage. He presumably was going to complete the demolition of the faulty concrete pad and have a good one poured.

George and his crew made their last appearance at our place the next day. On June 28, we hired another contractor to remove the remaining 20 percent or so of the concrete and grade the back yard.

George had told us he used our money to buy our construction materials at Menards. A check with all of the area Menards stores showed that no such transaction took place.

About a month or so after George quit returning our calls, Maria left him a voicemail saying we needed the promised revised garage plans, proof of bonding and insurance and a receipt from Menards for the building materials. Now, a decade later, we're still waiting for a response.

After three months of silence, we filed a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division of the Indiana Attorney General's Office. Several lawyers told us we were guaranteed a victory if we took the matter to court, but that we would never see a dime of restitution. The only way to get leverage on people like George, they said, is to attach the threat of criminal prosecution to the case, which is what happens when the Attorney General gets involved.

Months later, the Consumer Protection Division said they couldn't do anything because there was no history of criminal activity for George.

Maria did a Google search last week and discovered there is plenty of criminal history on him now.


She found that George was convicted in 2015 of eight felonies, including one count of fraud on a financial institution, five counts of forgery and two counts of theft.

According to court documents, O’Dell used someone else’s identity to gain employment with a locally-based property management company. While working for the company, he informed two investors in California that an apartment complex was available for sale.
He had funds sent to him from investors and a subsequent investigation determined the apartment complex was never for sale.

One of the California investors heard through a friend about an investment opportunity with a man named Emmanuel Roddy. The investor said that he never met the man in person and that they only communicated by text message and email.

The investor said he began his business relationship with Roddy, really O’Dell, by buying a house in the 9400 block of Rochelle Street on the Far Eastside of Indianapolis, court documents said. The investor paid more than $10,000 to complete repairs on the home and decided to continue working with the man because the transaction went well.

O’Dell continued to find homes in Indianapolis for the investor to buy, including properties on Sawyer Street and Olney Street, court documents said. In September 2014, the investor wire transferred more than $11,500 into O’Dell’s bank account for the Sawyer Street home, and more than $27,400 was moved into the account for the Olney Street home.

The investor said the sale of the homes was never completed because he was told there were problems with the properties, court documents said. The money the investor wired into the bank account was never returned.

O’Dell then told the investor about an opportunity to become part owner of an Indianapolis apartment complex, Woodview Terrace. O’Dell persuaded the investor to transfer an additional $1,600 into the bank account in December 2014, court documents allege, making his total investment about $40,000.

Before the Woodview Terrace deal, the investor also told a California friend about the home in Indianapolis he bought through O’Dell.
Interested, the second investor started working in a similar fashion with O’Dell, still known only as Roddy. Court documents said he paid O’Dell $13,500 in October 2014 to invest in a home on Boulevard Place. When the deal fell through, the money stayed in O’Dell’s bank account.

When he learned of the Woodview Terrace opportunity, the second investor moved an additional $16,500 into the bank account in November 2014, making his total investment in the property $30,000.

Afterward neither investor was able to contact O’Dell.

The initial investor called Park Place Property Management officials, who informed him that O’Dell, a maintenance worker and contractor, was no longer with the company and that Woodview Terrace was never for sale.

Park Place officials contacted authorities.

A detective learned that on May 12, 2014, O’Dell opened a bank account under Roddy’s name, court documents said. The bank signature card included Roddy’s social security number, another individual’s driver’s license number and an address belonging to O’Dell.

A managing partner for Park Place Property said he first met O’Dell, posing as Roddy, when he rented a property managed by Park Place, court documents said. The managing partner said O’Dell did some repairs on the property that turned out well, so O’Dell was brought on as a contractor.

The managing partner fired O’Dell after he admitted to stealing two checks from the company, court documents said. O’Dell also sent an email to Park Place management admitting that used a company credit card to make personal purchases.

O’Dell was arrested and booked into the Marion County Jail on July 29, 2015. He was charged Aug. 4. He remained in custody on a $50,000 bond until his sentencing three months later.

He was sentenced to three years of home detention and a year of probation.

Monday, July 10, 2017

A visit to the Memphis Apple Store


My 2-year-old iPhone 6 needed a new battery.

I was having to re-charge it multiple times every day. So I contacted Apple and made an appointment for 1:10 p.m. today at the Saddle Creek Apple Store in Germantown, Tenn. - an eastern suburb of Memphis.

After confirming that the battery was, indeed, hosed, the Genius (that's what they call their representatives) gave me a claim slip directing me to return at 2:45 p.m. to pick it up.

I went across the street for a lunch at Wendy's, then sat in my air conditioned car and read a Mark Twain story on my Kindle Paperwhite until the time came to return to the store.

The replacement battery cost me $79 plus tax and I went away a satisfied customer.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

More Bang & Olufsen audio stuff

I'm evaluating the Bang & Olufsen Beoplay P2 wireless speaker for the Amazon Vine Program. It's 5.5 inches long and weighs 7.2 ounces, so you would expect just so-so sound.
But this is a Bang & Olufsen product and their Danish engineers know their stuff. This little speaker delivers big rich sound with characteristic B&O clarity way out of proportion to its diminutive size.
I got it for my wife to use at work. She synced it with her iPhone last night and played several of her favorite songs. She remarked that she was hearing stuff in her music that she never heard before.
That's one of my requirements for an exceptional audio device and Bang & Olufsen never fails to deliver.
She bought a Bose wireless speaker a couple of years ago and the P2 - at about half its size - blows it into the weeds.
At $169, it may seem a bit expensive for a pocket-size Bluetooth speaker, but quality like this doesn't come cheap. I also ordered a hard shell carrying case for it.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Going home to Indiana


Our 10-year Arkansas adventure is drawing to a close.

We made the decision late last year that we want to go home to Indiana. It's where Maria's family is, including her new granddaughter, and most of our friend are in Indiana. And we have a sturdy old 1903 house waiting for us to come back and show it some love.

I swore I'd never do another Indiana winter, but I've decided Arkansas summers are just as painful.

We have tenants who have lived in the house for about eight years and we informed them of our decision yesterday. We're giving them plenty of notice - our Arkansas house isn't on the market yet and it takes 30 days to close, so we won't be needing our house in Thorntown until sometime in August at the earliest. We also pledged to give them a good reference if they apply to rent somewhere else.

A lot of our stuff is already in Indiana in storage and with relatives and we reckon we have one more 5x8-foot U-Haul trailer load before we can stage the house for selling.

We had U-Haul install a trailer hitch on the Lexus RX330 in late February and have made half a dozen trailer runs - one with my two bikes on a motorcycle trailer borrowed from a Jonesboro friend - since then. There have also been a few trailer-less runs with the Lexus or Morgan's Honda stuffed to the gills with boxes.

As a consequence, with so much of our stuff in storage 450 miles away, we're subsisting on just the essentials in household goods and clothing. I'm getting tired of the same old selection of t-shirts and jeans and I'm having serious motorcycle withdrawal. The project has pretty much killed my riding season. I had to pass on the European Riders Rally in Burkesville, Ky. at the end of May and won't be able to ride to Salt Lake City next month for the BMW MOA National Rally. It looks like the Falling Leaf Rally in Potosi, Mo. on the second weekend in October may be my only rally of 2017.

We've busied ourselves making repairs and improvements to get the Arkansas house looking good. I had the mower serviced and new blades installed that result in a much nicer looking lawn. We trimmed low-hanging tree branches that block the view of the house, spruced up the shutters, pressure-washed the exterior, painted the front door an attractive dark blue, replaced the dog-ravaged back door and porch furniture and replaced the broken-down ceiling fan on the porch.

Maria brought home a dry erase white board to list to-do projects and it's helped us both stay on track.

We also have a business property in downtown Jonesboro to sell and are hopeful for good news soon on that front.

The Thorntown house will need about 200 feet of chain link fence to keep the dogs in the back yard, we'll need to build a garage for cars and bikes, and the hot tub will need to be refurbished or replaced. There is plenty to do and now that we've been able to share our plans with our renters, I can report the progress here.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Google finds


Every now and then, I Google my sons to see what turns up. Here are a couple of photos I've not seen before.

Did I ever tell you how proud they make me?

Monday, June 19, 2017

The "A" Paper


Pattie Doty, former News correspondent and Metro North administrative assistant, found these two old-fashion/rocks glasses at a Goodwill store and sent them to me.

My guess is that they date from The News's 100th anniversary in 1969. We always were the "A" paper.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Three Dog Morning


Most mornings these three pups, or some combination of them, come running when Maria opens the garage door to go to work. We hit the trifecta this morning. They are (clockwise from bottom right) Sammie, Joey, and Harper Lee.

We keep a box of dog biscuits handy for them in the garage.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Steve at work


My son Steve hard at work in Las Vegas.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Planters


Maria found some planters to add a little color to the front of the house.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

More audio


Meet the Bang & Olufsen BeoSound2 wireless speaker.

I'm sitting here evaluating this phenomenal speaker, listening to the original version of "Who Wrote the Book of Love" by the Monotones and I suddenly flash back to the winter of 1957-58. I'm in the home of seventh-grade classmate Jack Klepinger in Delphi, Ind. and he's playing that 45 rpm record on his older brother's high-end (for the time) hifi system. He's more impressed with the song than I am, but it still sounds pretty damn good on his brother Dick's system.

We couldn't possibly have imagined that one day this recording would be digitized to be played through a cell phone via Bluetooth to a $1,900 Danish speaker. It was monaural then and is still mono on the B&O speaker, but the clarity is simply astounding. No background hiss and pop, just pure pristine music.

This is a quantum leap from the Bose Bluetooth speaker we bought a couple of years ago and even the Bang & Olufsen S3 wireless speaker Amazon sent me about a year ago. I wish it was stereo, but then I'd have to worry about how to position two speakers rather than put one wherever it works best.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Thank you very mulch


Maria and I spent several hours last weekend on landscaping in the front of our house.

We put down 20 forty-pound bags of red mulch and planted an evergreen and a couple of boxwood shrubs and are rather proud of the result.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Absolutely stunning 3D surround sound


This week, I found myself in possession of Sony's new flagship sound bar - the Sony HT-ST5000 7.1.2ch 800W Dolby Atmos Sound Bar (2017 model).

We had an inexpensive home theater setup when we lived in Indiana. It had six speakers - left, center, right, bass reflex and left rear and right rear - all of which were wired to a receiver/amplifier. We really loved it, especially with action movies like Band of Brothers in which we could hear bullets whizzing all around us.

When we moved to our Arkansas home, we never hooked up the rear speakers because I was loathe to run wires through the walls or under the carpet. I thought wistfully of the day when I could buy a wireless speaker system to replicate the surround sound.

It never happened, but this week I received this kick-ass Sony system to review for a major retailer. It was startlingly easy to set up and I had it up and running within an hour of when the freight company delivery guy brought it to our house. I was greatly relieved that it works just fine with our 10-year-old 42" Sharp Aquos LED TV.

The 3D surround sound works even better than our old six-speaker system. I confirmed it by playing the Day of Days episode of Band of Brothers and was excited to hear the same realistic whiz of bullets.

The 3D surround sound uses a couple of speakers mounted in the top of the sound bar that bounce rearward sounds off of the ceiling. You can fine-tune the sound, based on the distance from the sound bar to your seat and the height of your ceiling. The separate bass reflex speaker is wirelessly linked with the sound bar, so the wires and cables are kept to a minimum.

You can also play music through it from your cell phone or other device via Bluetooth and the quality is absolutely stunning.

We bought a Blu-Ray copy of the first Guardians of the Galaxy as an inaugural test movie and the effect was every bit as impressive as watching the movie in a quality theater.

We were streaming the most recent version of The Jungle Book the other night and my wife complained that the dialog was hard to hear. No problem - just press the button on the remote control marked "voice" and the dialog comes to the forefront and is immediately clearer and more understandable.

The system has myriad other features that I have yet to explore, including capabilities for Spotify and Google Home for wireless multi-room home listening.

The price tag - just under $1,500 - may be intimidating, but once you experience the Sony HT-ST5000, you'll understand it's worth the investment.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Good thing I mowed the front yard yesterday


It's been three years since my John Deere LA125 lawn tractor/mower has gone in for service and it's showing some wear.

The guy from Greenway Equipment picked it up this morning and said it will probably come back around the middle of next week.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Happy Birthday, Lisa!


Our gorgeous, brilliant granddaughter Lisa is celebrating her 13th birthday today!

Steve is teaching her to play the bass guitar. If memory serves, this is about the age when Steve took up the bass after playing trumpet for a few years in the Orchard Country Day School orchestra in Indianapolis. Lisa says she has already gotten a couple of blisters on her fingers from practicing.

Here's the uncropped version of the photo with Steve looking very proud and smug.

Friday, May 26, 2017

WTF, Facebook


I woke up this morning to find that I've been suspended from posting on Facebook for 24 hours because of some photos of my Third Reich flag collection that I posted on a WWII collectors' site more than a year ago.

And, of course, the photos - most of them - were deleted.

Seems kinda arbitrary since that's what the site is for.

I guess we know who the real Nazis of today are.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

36 years later, these BMWs still excite me


This is the double-truck (two-page, for those who don't speak Printer) ad for BMW's R100CS and R100RS motorcycles in the May 1981 issue of Rider magazine.

This is when I found myself lusting for a BMW motorcycle for the first time - something I never got over. It was also around this time that I bought my first BMW - a 1971 R50/5 that was originally sold by Roman Cycle Shop in Youngstown, Ohio. The guy I bought it from was an engineer for Allison's who lived in Brownsburg. Since then, I've owned a 1981 R100RS like the one pictured here only graphite gray, a 1991 K100RS, a 1994 K75S and a 2003 K1200GT. I still have the last two and wish I could still have all of them.

Friday, May 19, 2017

My Generation


Pete Townshend of The Who is 72 years old today. He was born nine weeks before me, so I feel a special My Generation kinship.

Happy Birthday, Pete!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Prophetic


My old Indianapolis News compadre Gary Varvel drew this prophetic cartoon in January. Today he notes that the Democrats have reached Stage 6.

We cut the cord


We cut the cord on our cable TV several weeks ago as a money-saving measure.

We had been paying $184.65 a month for basic cable and the highest speed internet connection that our cable provider offers.

I returned the set-top DVRs to the cable office in March and told them to shut off our cable TV. The result is a monthly bill of $91.96, which is still too much to pay for high-speed internet, but they're the only ISP in our neighborhood.

Do we miss TV? Not really. I certainly don't miss yelling at my TV over fake news. Our aging Blu-Ray player offers several streaming options, like Netflix, Amazon Video, and Hulu that make it possible to keep up with some favorite shows and watch content of our choosing.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Not mine


I don't think Maria wants me messing with her radio preset buttons in the Subaru.

Or else she's channeling her inner seagull.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Airport cop scooter


I drove down to the Memphis Airport yesterday afternoon to collect a young couple and, while I was waiting, noticed this scooter in the livery of the Memphis Police Department.

Looks kinda like a Segway on steroids. It's called a T3 and it has a top speed of about 23 mph. A three-hour charge yields eight hours of riding.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

New look for our front door


We pulled the hinge pins on our dull gray front door and laid it on a couple of sawhorses yesterday where Maria gave it three coats of Sherwin Williams Moscow Midnight dark blue paint.

We think it looks spectacular.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Google recon


I've been using Google Maps street view to revisit familiar places. The Google team has yet to travel down the two Delphi streets where I grew up. Ditto for the Thorntown street where our house is.

College Avenue in Indianapolis is a different story and I was interested to note that, as of last October, the house where my sons were raised, has been pained a gray-blue. But the most significant observation is that the present occupants apparently haven't kept the central air conditioning working because they have a window air conditioner in the master bedroom.

Also, the tulip poplar tree in the front yard has grown to enormous proportions in the 16 years I've been gone.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Thanks!


I have an app that makes a record of where readers are from and I'm pleased to see I have a loyal cadre who have continued to check in even though I've neglected this blog terribly.

Thanks for sticking with me. I promise to do better.

Here's the new ceiling fan I installed on the back porch last Sunday - just in time to help the dogs through hot weather.

A mystery and shaving


I have neglected this blog for the past few months because we are engaged in a life-changing project that requires a measure of secrecy. I will reveal all when the time is right.

In the meantime, here's a tidbit.

I've used a shaving mug, soap and a brush since the early 1980s when I bought a mug and brush from a downtown Indianapolis gift shop called Kittle's Other Side - across Pennsylvania Street from Kittle's furniture store.

I say "use" advisedly since I've worn a beard for much of those 30+ years, but when I do choose to go clean-shaven, I lather up with a brush. This is not the original mug - it's one I found on Ebay that has my Alpha Tau Omega coat of arms and was a party favor from some unknown ATO chapter around the time I was an active member at Indiana State University. The brush, however, is the original.

These days, the mug just holds the brush because my shaving soap of choice has its own lidded container. It's Proraso shaving soap from Italy and it's the best I've found. I gifted some to my son Steve and my father-in-law and it was well-received in both cases. I discovered it when it was offered to me in the Amazon Vine Program.