Friday, December 29, 2017

Snug and warm


It's been snowing steadily since about 1 p.m. and the forecast is for as much as 3 inches of snow before it stops this evening.

I came home from running errands yesterday to find our window guys wrapping the big set of windows that are the major architectural feature of the front of our house. That was the last few windows that needed sealing and caulking, now that we have replaced all of the other windows in the house.

I think it's safe to say this is the tightest this house has been in its 114-year history.

We have two furnaces - one for upstairs and the other for downstairs - and both have programmable thermostats that I have set up to achieve maximum heating efficiency.

There is still much to do before we can relax and enjoy the house, but I feel very good about the energy efficiency. I am also in the process of replacing every lightbulb in the place with an LED bulb. The furnaces need replacing and we hope they can get us through the winter. Our favorite HVAC folks are coming in a couple of weeks to do a tuneup on the furnaces, just to be sure.

In the meantime, the Whirlpool microwave that our renters installed needs about $175 worth of repair work. I'm inclined to replace it with a new microwave.

It's always something. But we're more prepared for winter here than we ever have been.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

40 days of eyedrops


Cataract surgery requires a lot of eyedrops.

My ophthalmologist has be using four different medications at the moment, meaning that I will consume 252 drops over a 40-day period. Here are the charts.

What the hell? It's a small inconvenience for being able to see better than I have in my 72+ years on the planet.

My right eye is almost up to speed. I'm seeing about as well with it as I did with a contact lens, and I know it will get better, probably by New Year's Eve.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Fucking pathetic

It's time to turn in my BMW motorcycle mileage for the year for the Indianapolis BMW Motorcycle Club records.

I went out to the shed this afternoon and noted the odometer readings of the two bikes. When I pulled up my previous mileage records, I was absolutely appalled. I rode a pathetic 144 miles this year. One hundred forty-four freaking miles!

It goes without saying that this is the most pathetic mileage figure I've racked up in the 40+ years I've been riding. Hell, I did better than that when all I had was my first bike - a 1970s Kawasaki K175!

Curiously, the odometer readings show I rode 72 miles on each bike.

I took my last ride in Arkansas on April 8 - a short jaunt over to Lake Frierson State Park - before I hauled both bikes up to a friend's barn in Brownsburg the next day. They sat there until I retrieved the K75S on Sept. 18 and rode it home. The battery on the K1200GT was kaput, so I had to have it hauled to the local BMW dealership on Sept. 22. I picked it up there and rode it home a couple of days later. With the exception of a quick 5-6-mile spin on the K75S out to Dairy Queen and back, I have done no more riding in Indiana, largely because of the difficulty involved in backing the bikes up an incline onto our gravel driveway.

It is my fervent hope that we can sell our commercial building in Jonesboro, Ark. and use some of the proceeds to build a proper garage and pave the driveway.

But when they hand out the 10,000-mile awards at the annual club banquet in February, I will come away empty-handed.

I can see clearly now...


I awoke this morning with the realization that it's the first time since the spring of 1954 that I am no longer dependent upon glasses or contact lenses.

My right eye cataract removal went flawlessly yesterday morning and my right eye vision is already on a par with the clarity of a contact lens with the expectation that it will get much better over the next day or two.

The temperature was -6 degrees this morning and we are grateful that we got all of the windows replaced before the serious cold weather arrived.

The photo is from yesterday morning after surgery when we went to Einstein Bros. Bagels for a post-op breakfast. The Oakley sunglasses were a Christmas gift from Steve, Nicky and Lisa and are very much appreciated. They help herald a new era of seeing for me.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Looking a bit more like Christmas around here


I retrieved these ceramic Christmas trees from a storage bin this afternoon and set them up in the living room.
The white one was my mother's. I think Maria brought the green one into the family.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Do you really listen to music?


I'm convinced that a lot of people - maybe most people - don't know how to listen - really listen - to music.

As long as I can remember, I have been captivated by music and its complexity. My favorite thing is to become totally immersed in my music with eyes closed, sitting in a comfortable chair and with a really good set of headphones. My current headphones of choice are Bang & Olufsen - either the H8 on-ear model or the H9 over-the-ear 'phones. They continue to reveal to me hitherto unnoticed musical and instrumental gems that are an absolute delight and make a piece of music brand new all over again.

I have a couple of really good speaker systems, but I much prefer the intimacy and isolation of headphones. Speakers seem to invite interruptions and make details more obscure.

I know people, particularly young people, who don't seem to connect with their music. They talk over it, socialize over it, use it as background noise and apparently never give it their undivided attention. This seems horribly self-absorbed to me and I can't understand it. But then a lot of what they listen to is (c)rap, so it's not really music anyway.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Success!


The cataract surgery on my left eye went flawlessly yesterday morning and a followup visit this morning with Dr. Michael Behforouz, the ophthalmologist who did the surgery, confirmed that everything is as it should be.
The right eye gets upgraded on Dec. 26.
I wouldn't trust my eyes to anyone but Dr. Behforouz.
I can even see my computer screen clearly with my left eye. I expected to need readers for anything that close.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Cataract surgery


I'm scheduled for cataract surgery on my left eye at 6:50 a..m. tomorrow.

The right eye goes under the laser on Dec. 22.

The work is being done by Dr. Michael Behforouz, who I consider the best in Indiana - maybe in the country. He saved my right eye from a pernicious bacterial infection about 12 years ago and I purposely put off the surgery until we got back to Indiana because I don't trust anyone else.

I was heartened last week when our new primary care physician said he interned with Dr. Behforouz and that Dr. B performed lasik surgery on him with great results.

I'm also grateful that Medicare covers the complete process, at no expense to me. (It would cost more if I had opted for one of the fancier lens jobs, but the standard focus-to-infinity lens arrangement works best for the way I live.) It nice to know that some of those thousands of dollars of lifetime payroll Medicare deductions are coming back to me.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Bright, but noisy


I replaced three 60 watt conventional light bulbs in the kitchen ceiling fan with these LED 100 watt equivalent bulbs back in late August.

The improvement in lighting was dramatic, but we soon discovered that each bulb has a little cooling fan that makes an annoying noise.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Windows

Our windows - all 24 of them - are in, wrapped and caulked and they look fabulous.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Stenstorp!


It only took us about six weeks, but we finally got the IKEA wall shelf (called a Stenstorp in Danish) hung up just inside the back door yesterday.

All of the new windows except one are wrapped in exterior vinyl cladding and they make a huge improvement in the appearance of our house. The window guys are coming back tomorrow to finish up.

The novelty of looking out through clean clear windows hasn't worn off yet.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Window World at Work


The installation of windows, begun on Tuesday, continues today with the exterior trim.

We contracted with Window World to replace 24 windows and, so far, we love the results. It's not cheap, but it's an enormous improvement to the function and curb appeal of the house.

Monday, November 27, 2017

DIY


Slowly but surely, we're restoring our 114-year-old house to its former glory, and beyond.

Maria got a killer deal from Wayfair.com on a bunch of oak flooring. We used four boxes of it in our office and office closet and had plenty left over. The next project was the closet in what was the master bedroom and over the weekend we did a second bedroom closet. Both closets got fresh wallpaper and quarter-round trim. (That's the second closet in the photo.)

There is no way we could have done it if we hadn't invested in a miter saw and a pneumatic nail gun. Those are tools I never expected to own, but then I never expected to own two chainsaws and a generator when we moved to Arkansas 10 years ago.

The next project is a linen closet. It already has the original quarter-sawn oak floor, so it just needs wallpaper and fixtures.

A crew is scheduled to come tomorrow to install 27 new windows. In some cases, the original windows have come apart and one of the guest bedroom windows has only the plastic sheeting the tenants put on it.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

20 years gone


My dad, Charles M. Flora, died 20 years ago today. I miss him every day.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Repps come to visit


Longtime friend Joe Repp and his wife Diane stopped by this afternoon. I got up to fetch something and found Dora had stolen my place on the couch.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Miserable weather, going to get worse


It sure didn't feel like 60 degrees a few minutes ago when I was being pelted by wind-driven rain while chasing one of our trash cans down the street.

The forecast is for more rain and steadily falling temperatures and we are resigned to the fact that the cold November rains are upon us.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The TV no one wants


This RCA television has stood at the curb in the first block of North Pearl Street in Thorntown for several weeks.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Winning big and getting bigger


I am astonished at how immature the Democrats and other leftists are in that they have had a whole year to come to grips with the reality of a Trump presidency and they're still throwing tantrums.

I, on the other hand, thank God every day for last election day's miracle.

Apparently, liberals don't care about a booming economy and a low unemployment rate, and the prospect of more economic good news with the passage of tax reform. No, they continue to pretend that Trump is a racist, sexist and any other despicable thing they can think of in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Happy birthday, Sean!


Today is my firstborn son Sean's 50th birthday.

It's hard to believe he's old enough to order from the senior citizen's menu. He'll always be a kid to me.

He makes me proud.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Testing


I'm evaluating the new Epson ProSense 57 GPS Running Watch for the Amazon Vine Program, even though, like Calvin Coolidge, I do not choose to run.

I took it for a 1.1-mile walk yesterday, which it mapped on the Epson View smartphone app.

I've reviewed several activity trackers and this is, by far, the most accurate in terms of steps and heart rate. It's also the first GPS unit I've tried and I'm very impressed.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

People with eyes


When I was a young, timid photographer, I spent a lot of time shooting scenics and still lifes and just about anything that didn't involve interacting with people.

There's a young man on Facebook who has shot for at least one newspaper who set himself to the task of posting a new photo every day for a year. He posted number 330 today - a picture of a wall with a bunch of collectible plates hanging on it. An awful lot of his photos have been like that, with a heavy emphasis on weathered barns and crumbling structures.

I think this is very telling. I think it shows that he's insecure and afraid of engaging with possible subjects. And he's probably going to stay stuck in that box until he realizes that people are the most interesting subjects and make the most compelling photographs.

Maria had a young photographer working for her years ago at a small-town daily newspaper who seemed to have an aversion to photographing faces. Most of the people in his photos had their faces turned away from the camera. He was a photojournalism graduate from Ball State University and apparently thought he had learned all he ever needed to know about photojournalism in college. Maria tried to get through to him by requiring that all of his photos had to show the subject's eyes.

"Is this some new thing in photojournalism - this eye thing?" he asked her.

Robert Capa told photographers, "If your pictures aren't good enough, you're not close enough."

I would add to that, "If your photos aren't interesting, maybe you need people in them. People with eyes."




Wednesday, November 01, 2017

We love small town life


I don't recall having a single trick-or-treating kid come to our house in Arkansas in the entire decade we lived there.

Not so, here in Thorntown.

We were visited by scores of polite, well-mannered kids, most of whom were accompanied by their equally polite parents. It was a real pleasure and another reminder of how special life in a small town can be.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Puzzling


We sold our house in Brookland, Ark. last Aug. 23.

But our old neighbors tell us the buyers, who tore out the old carpeting, still haven't moved in.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Dora 's wall


We were sitting in the parlor a little after 2 p.m. today when a neighbor boy appeared on the porch to report that Dora had escaped from the fenced back yard.

I'm afraid I reacted strongly, asking if he or one of his siblings had let her out. In retrospect, I was a bit rough and I think it freaked him out. Will have to make amends soon.

It developed that Dora had tunneled out under the deck, emerging from a hole next to the driveway.

Maria went out the front door and I went out the back, calling for her. She came running around the back of the neighbors' house and Maria was able to grab her collar and escort her back into the house.

Austin, Megan and Hayden arrived minutes later and Austin helped me (he did all the heavy lifting) move several hundred pounds of landscaping stone from the side and front of the house to make what we hope will be an impregnable wall around the base of the deck.

Truth be told, I expected her to eventually notice and exploit the opening under the deck. I'm just glad we were alerted before she got lost.

Halloween haters here

Just for the record, we don't like Halloween and we refuse to decorate for it. We'll have candy for trick-or-treaters, but that's as far as it goes at our house.
I am uncomfortable with the idea of trivializing evil.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Home improvement


This was the nastiest closet in the house before Maria went to work on it. It had crumbling plaster, crappy poplar flooring and some openings that she was sure was where mice used to get in.
A little wallpaper and hardwood flooring left over from the office and, voila!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Exceeding my expectations


My desktop computer refused to boot when I set it up after the move.

I knew something was wrong when it rattled.

So I bought a new Dell computer and ordered a hard drive dock from Amazon.com. The dock came yesterday and pulled the hard drive this morning and mounted it in the dock. Then I went looking for software to rescue my data and programs.

I ended up buying a copy of PCMover for about $40, which included free online assistance.

The technician took control of my new desktop and set up the transfer, which took about five hours to complete.

To my amazement, virtually everything important made the jump to the new machine and all of the programs I've tested seem to have full functionality. I was especially worried about Photoshop, but it's working fine.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Auditioning a new all-in-one


Evaluating the Epson WorkForce ET-4750 EcoTank Wireless Color All-in-One Supertank Printer with Scanner, Copier, Fax and Ethernet for the Amazon Vine Program. Took a couple of hours from box to fully functioning, including a firmware update.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Crazy-fast!


For the first time since Aug. 11, I have computer access to the Internet.

And, wonder of wonders, I have crazy-fast fiber optic Internet. Who could have imagined such a thing in this little town of 1,520?

Our computer savvy neighbor told me about Metronet and their fabulous speed when I complained about the pathetic performance we were getting from Frontiernet.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The right tool for the job makes everything easy


After much frustration and swearing, we gave up trying to cut baseboard trim with a hand saw and a miter box and went to Menards where we bought a Hitachi compound miter saw with laser. Suddenly, the job became ridiculously easy.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

New specs


I picked up my new glasses yesterday afternoon at the Lafayette (Ind.) Meijer store and notified my eye doc that I'm ready to proceed with cataract surgery.

Everyone tells me it's a breeze and my vision isn't what it used to be, so why not?

I need to be without contact lenses for at least two weeks prior to the evaluation and surgery and my old glasses have vanished in the move, so I spent $150 on a pair that I plan to wear less than a month.

The really good news is that Medicare covers 100 per cent of cataract surgery.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Got him!


We were eating dinner in the kitchen last evening when Maria noticed a mouse scurrying along the base of the sink and dishwasher.

Maria hates mice like I hate snakes, so I promptly drove down to Menard's in Lebanon and bought a four-pack of Chinese-made mousetraps.

We baited them with peanut butter and arrayed them around the base of the cabinets.

We heard a snap a few hours later, but the trap was empty when I checked it.

However, our luck improved at 9:50 a.m. today. I heard the trap snap as I walked into the kitchen and saw a motionless mouse caught by the foot. It was hardly a mortal injury and I guessed the mouse was either playing possum or in shock.

Either way, I picked him up by the trap and dropped him into a trash can with a secure lid to be picked up tomorrow morning with the rest of our trash.

I suspect there will be more mice. They start looking for new homes this time of year when the fields are harvested and the weather turns chilly. This 114-year-old house doubtless has lots of places where mice can get in, no matter how diligent we are about stuffing holes with steel wool.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Taking care of loose ends

It's still a struggle to get motorcycles out of our shed because of the upward slope to the loose gravel driveway - impossible to paddle walk. I did manage to get the K75S far enough out to make a loop through the back yard and onto the drive yesterday afternoon and go for about a six-mile ride. And, yes, it felt fabulous.

My camping gear continues to elude me, so it looks like I'll have to skip the Falling Leaf Rally in Potosi, Mo. this weekend. That was my last chance for a rally in 2017 - the price I paid for moving back to Indiana.

In the meantime, I have to figure out a way to load northeast U.S. regional maps to my memory-challenged Garmin Zumo 550.

But first, I had business to take care of this morning.

I finally got through to HSA Home Warranty, which had proven itself utterly useless in recent months, and canceled our account, thereby saving us $58.25 a month for the next 10 months. Their inability to respond to calls was a factor in our renters not being able to get things fixed in a timely manner.

And I just wrote a painfully large check to the Craighead County (Ark.) Tax Collector for our commercial building in Jonesboro. Please join us in praying that the building sells very soon.

Monday, October 09, 2017

Getting our driveway back


Last week's torrential rains caused the mounded dirt and gravel over our new sewer line to subside into a foot-deep canyon that effectively trapped the wheeled vehicles - two motorcycles and a mower - in the utility barn.

I called Batts Trucking this morning and here's Tracy about to grade the load of gravel he just dumped in the drive.

I love quick service like this!

Friday, October 06, 2017

Fencing - after seven weeks of leash-walking Jack and Dora


We moved back into our Thorntown house seven weeks ago today and for the past seven weeks have had to take our dogs out on leashes to do their business at all hours of the night and day.

I got out of bed at 2:45 a.m. today after Jack made it crystal clear that he needed to go out for a drink and a walk.

We tried to hire a guy from Lafayette to install a dog fence several weeks ago, but he refused to show up. (JT Fencing, if anyone cares.) Finally, I contracted with Lowe's to do a fence and the installation date was supposed to be yesterday. But it rained like a Mofo yesterday morning and the job got postponed indefinitely. I figured it would be Monday at the earliest.

So imagine my happiness when a fencing crew showed up in our driveway at 9:50 a.m. today.

At this writing, they have installed all of the posts and are about to add the cross-members and then the fabric and the gate.

I think the dogs sense something good is happening because they're not making a fuss about strangers on the property.

Monday, October 02, 2017

Safe

I was greatly relieved this morning when my son Steve, who frequently plays gigs on or near the Las Vegas Strip, reported he was safe in the wake of last night's bloody massacre.

Sadly, hundreds - including more than 50 dead - were wounded or injured.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Progre$$


Slowly, but surely - and rather expensively - we're reclaiming our 114-year-old house after a decade of neglect and abuse by renters.

We bought a new gas grill a couple of weeks ago and I finally got around to assembling it early last week. It took me about three hours, but I seem to have gotten it right and I cooked steaks on it later in the week. The deck needs to be pressure washed and rehabilitated with a few new boards, but we now have a place to grill and dine on evenings when the weather is nice.

I picked up a Craftsman tool chest for $40 at a yard sale last weekend and emptied my various tool boxes into it. Now, I have a general idea where specific tools are, at least until they get used and misplaced.

A crew from Lowe's is coming this week to build a chain link fence enclosing about half of the back yard, which should give Jack and Dora much more freedom and let us sleep a little better.

Godspeed, Emily


We got word this morning that Emily, who was Steve and Nicky's dog for 18 years - predating granddaughter Lisa - has died. She was a great little dog with lots of heart and she had a very good life in the Flora house.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Both bikes are in the shed. Finally.


I picked up my 2003 BMW K1200GT from Falcone BMW in Indianapolis yesterday afternoon.

They determined the 10-month-old brand X battery from the Memphis BMW dealer was dead after five months in storage and installed a new BMW battery that, properly maintained, should last seven years.

Having dropped me off, Maria drove home. I found myself on West 16th Street in rush hour traffic.

I noticed traffic was heavy on I-65 when we drove into town and decided I-74 to Ind. 75 would be a less hectic ride. When I got onto Ind. 75 at the Jamestown exit, I realized why my Garmin Zumo 550 was telling me to go all the way to Crawfordsville to pick up U.S. 36 - the last time I updated the Zumo, I was contemplating riding to the BMWMOA Rally in Salt Lake City.

Since the Zumo has limited memory and can't store data for the whole country, I am forced to choose a specific region. I chose the Western region which does not include Indiana, hence the GPS database I was using did not show Ind. 75, which connects I-74 with Thorntown. Instead, it showed me riding through blank space through Advance and Dover to Thorntown.

The two bikes - sans saddlebags - fit snugly in the 12x12 shed along with the lawn tractor and other stuff. Maneuvering is tricky, but this will have to do until we can build a proper garage.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Oooops

The first sign that something was wrong came when we noticed our dishwasher wasn't getting our dishes clean.

We have very hard water, so a water softener is essential here in Thorntown.

I called Culligan and they sent Randy out to have a look at our softener. When he set it to cycle manually, water spurted out of the discharge hose.

It seems that when plumbers reconstructed all of our drainage pipes in the basement a couple of weeks ago, they forgot to reconnect the water softener discharge hose.

I called them this morning and they promised to send someone out today.

Way cheaper than the new water softener we almost bought.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Can 5 months of idleness kill a battery that's less than a year old?

I got a call late this afternoon from Falcone BMW Motorcycles saying they have determined my battery is dead.
Really?
I bought that battery last Nov. 19 at Performance Plus Specialists, the Memphis BMW dealership. It was less than a year old. The previous battery lasted five and a half years.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

I just spent a miserable hot (91 degrees) afternoon waiting for a wrecker driver to haul my BMW K1200GT from Jay Beery's place in Brownsburg to the BMW dealer in Indianapolis.
Jay provided space for my two bikes from April until now. I retrieved the K75S over the weekend, but the GT wouldn't start despite being on a battery charger for several hours. No sign of electrical activity at all.
I solicited help from my Indianapolis BMW Club friends and got offers of a couple of trailers but no volunteer assistance to help load, secure and unload the bike. Not feeling confident to do it myself, I called the American Motorcyclist Association's Road Service and arranged for a wrecker to be sent to the Beery home.
I waited about 90 minutes and when the wrecker arrived, the kid driving it said he was told it was a BMW car. He had never hauled a bike before and didn't have the equipment to secure and move it safely. By the time we discovered all of this, it was too close to closing time at the dealership to proceed with a new wrecker and new equipment.
So I resolved to try again tomorrow morning.
Fuck!

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

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.